Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 12:19:38 -0600 (CST)
From: Michael Eisenscher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Mumia: THE SECOND RISE OF BLACK CONSERVATISM Column 12/19/98
The second rise of Black conservatism
By Mumia Abu-Jamal, 19 December 1998
The colonialist regime bourgeoisie is helped in its work of calming
down the natives by the inevitable religion. All the saints who have
turned the other cheek, who have forgiven trespasses against them, and
who have been spat on and insulted without shrinking are studied and
held up as examples.
Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (1966)
Throughout the nation one cannot ignore the repeated projection of
so-called 'Black Conservatives' (as if Black folks here have a damn
thing to conserve besides their oppression) as the leaders of
distinction, and proper 'role models' for the great masses of people in
the African-American community to follow.
One hears voices now that are indistinguishable from those of the
ruling elite, and as such, they become echoes of the expressions of the
white elite, in black-face. They thereby join the incessant drumbeat
against the Black community, dark echoes of every supposed pathology
that is said to be the exclusive fault of those who reside within Black
ghettoes. In their perspective, the poor are responsible for their
poverty, and their poorness is a kind of defect of character, or worse,
a kind of sin.
The very notion that space, or more to the point, the uses of space,
are determined by the system's laws, seems lost to them, and anathema.
But it was law, the legal expressions of state power, that built the
walls around ghettoes, and constructed the psychic walls of mental
ghettoes of Race that surrounds us all. Legal scholar I. F.
Law, then, constructs racial differences on several levels through the
promulgation and enforcement of rules that determine permissable
behavior. The naturalization laws governed who was and was not welcome
to join the polity, antimiscegenation laws regulated sexual relations,
and segregation laws that told people where they could and could not
live and work. Together, such laws altered the physical appearances of
this country's people, attached racial identities to certain types and
features and ancestry, and established material conditions of belonging
and exclusion that code as race.
-Prof. I. F. Haney-Lopez, White By
Through a program of blaming the victim, such conservatives blame the
people for their lack of power and influence. At the end of the U.S.
Civil War, after Reconstruction was savagely reduced to the silenced
rubble of history, Afro-America saw a rise in the spirit of
conservatism, a reflection, by Black businessmen, of the chilling and
repressive climate that greeted so-called 'freedmen', and they adapted
to it, be going along with it. Historian Eric Foner, in his remarkable
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution: 1863-1877 (New York:
Harper, 1938), writes:
Conservative ideas found their greatest support among the emerging
class of black businessmen -the same group that would later supply the
principal base for [Booker T.] Washington's ideology. Robert Gleed, a
black merchant reportedly worth $l5,000 in the early 1870s, served on
the central committee of Mississippi's 1871 Planter's Convention.
Other black landowners and entrepreneurs echoed the shibboleth that
government should be "carried on by the men of refinement", and,
especially with the advent of the depression, shared Democratic
resentments about high taxes and state expenditures. After
establishing a land and brokerage business in 1871, Martin R. Delany
lectured blacks repeatedly on the harmony of interests between capital
and labor and spoke out against carpetbaggers -representatives of "the
lowest grade of northern society." Delany's increasingly conservative
outlook blended personal economic interests, disappointed political
ambition, and pessimissism about the future. Utopian hopes for a
permanent change in Southern life, he counseled should be abandoned;
prosperity would eventually rule in South Carolina as it did elsewhere,
and blacks should strike a deal with leading whites while they still
retained significant bargaining power. [p. 546-7]
"Conservatives, bred by the doctrine of their own oppression, become
mouthpieces and echoes of those that wish for the very worst of their
kindred. It was, and is, a doctrine borne of loss, not of hope; it
comes from hopelessness, not progression; and it serves the interests
of the wealthy and well-to-do, not those in need.
Once again, history shines light on the now.
THE SECOND RISE OF BLACK CONSERVATISM
Column Written 12/19/98
© 1998 Mumia Abu-Jamal
All Rights Reserved