Politics, Top Stories

The Spectrum of Black Contrarianism

African-American politics are, it is often supposed, monolithic. Since the late 1960s, following the signing of landmark civil rights legislation by a Democratic president, the Democrats support of The Great Society, the anti-Civil Rights Act campaign of a Republican presidential nominee in 1964, the adoption of the “Southern Strategy” by Republican operatives in the latter part of the decade, and the decline of the Northeastern liberal wing of the GOP, black voters have emerged as the most reliably partisan voting bloc in American politics. They are the cornerstone of the Democratic coalition. This near monopoly of African-American party affiliation however does serve to obscure broad and diverse fissures within the philosophical landscape of the black community. There is wide-ranging discontent with the status quo of African-American politics and relatively little passion for the establishment liberalism that guides it. The question is, could this diversity of opinion allow for the realignment of political forces within the black community? Or are these dispersed frustrations inalterably resistant to meaningful coalitional rearrangement?

On October 11 2018, rapper Kanye West visited Republican president Donald Trump in the Oval Office. He was joined by Jim Brown, an NFL legend who has been revered in and beyond the black community as an icon of the civil rights era. During that meeting, West launched into a series of abstract policy musings and philosophical flourishes (punctuated with some profanity, swipes at liberal critiques, and effusions for President Trump) that left many fans and observers upset and bewildered. That Kanye West, erstwhile arguably America’s most popular African-American artist, could wholeheartedly support a president whose politics and rhetoric seemed to fly in the face of the perceived interests and sensibilities of the black community has mystified many in the commentariat. Indeed, West may have reasons for supporting the president that are inscrutable.

But one plausible explanation for his support also serves to illustrate the basis upon which a broader axis of contrarian sentiment towards the institutional mainstream of black political culture persists. That is the simple fact that the trend of social and economic progress in the black community during the decades of this hegemony has been, relative to all other ethnic groups, scantly positive and, in certain keys areas, dramatically negative. One does not have to spend any great amount of time reminding people where the black community resides on the scales of topline social statistics. African-American men constitute roughly 35 percent of the prison population while representing 7 percent of the total population. They average a life expectancy roughly 5 years below the average of all other American males. African-Americans graduate high school at a mere 69 percent nationwide and do so at the lowest rate of all four major racial groups in America in all but 11 states (where they slightly exceed Latinos).

Then of course there is the obvious fact that African-Americans suffer higher rates of poverty than do any other major ethnic group. In fairness to the record of the Democratic Party in this area however, it should be noted that while poverty rates and unemployment remain starkly higher for blacks than for white and Asians in particular, actual material quality of life has risen dramatically since the 1960s. Alongside most of America’s poor in general (of whom blacks represent nearly 25 percent, as measured by SNAP receipts) malnourishment has been nearly eliminated. The vast majority of poor Americans (including African-Americans) have television, a home computer with internet access, cell phones, and cars. A decline in the price of consumer goods, as well as a dramatic increase in subsidized income (not counted when calculating poverty rates), has made this rise in living standards possible.

Yet this superficial layer of success does manage to highlight a broader failing of the broader Democratic program with respect to poverty and the black community in particular. It is a failing that illuminates the deep frustrations of black critics both in and outside of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. The black middle class has expanded and poorer blacks have greater access to material goods. But a regressive institutional cycling of young black men through substandard educational systems, arguably biased criminal justice processes, and back out into a labor market for which they are no longer qualified, or in which (by virtue of criminal record) they are barred from achieving social mobility, has made this lifestyle of ameliorated poverty nearly as much a ceiling as it is a floor for millions of America’s black poor. It is not difficult to see how this pattern feeds the phenomenon of criminality and dependency that persists in so many of America’s urban centers.

“We say if people don’t have land, they settle for brands.” This was one of Kanye West’s more cogent remarks from the now infamous summit with the president. The remark is poignant: the importance of ownership and self-determination may have come to sound like conservative bromides to some. But for African-Americans across the spectrum—evidenced in part not just by the sermonizing of black conservatives but by the entrepreneurial mythologizing of Hip-Hop icons like Jay-Z, P Diddy, and West himself—there is a lament that a rampant and shortsighted materialism (for which Hip-Hop is also a vehicle) has displaced a focus on economic independence and a culture of self-sufficiency.

Enter Jim Brown. If Kanye West’s newfound political alliance with President Trump is confusing to many people, Jim Brown’s more restrained support is probably more so. Brown holds an exalted place in the rich history of civil rights activism that paved the way for the dramatic social and legal changes that we have largely come to take for granted in modern day America. This places Brown within the pantheon of America’s great left-wing social activists. But a look at Jim Brown’s history reveals a man firstly concerned with not just the social but the material plight of the African-American community beyond the partisan dueling of Democrats and Republicans. Brown was the founder of the The Negro Industrial and Economic Union (eventually renamed the Black Economic Union), launched largely with funds donated by the Ford Foundation with the goal of catalyzing entrepreneurial activity in the black community.

Almost three decades later, Brown would found the Amer-I-Can Program, an organization focused on maximizing the achievements of particularly black youth “by equipping them with the critical life management skills to confidently and successfully contribute to society…through self-determination.” Jim Brown has been a fierce racial critic of American social culture for all of the last 50 years. Yet, as we dig beneath mere social commentary, a deeper look at the substance of Brown’s work historically sheds light on the source of his sympathy with at least the sound of Donald Trump’s economic platform. An affinity for the working class political language of a Republican president, whose rhetoric echoes that of industrial class pro-labor Democrats of Brown’s generation, almost surely plays a role, not just in Brown’s support of Trump, but in his apparent disillusionment with the black political mainstream. It is in understanding Jim Brown’s discontent with black Democratic politics that a common thread of black criticism for this political establishment comes more clearly into view.

There are different categories of black resistance to be found in the Democratic mainstream of American politics in general, and on the elite rungs of black leadership within the Democratic Party in particular. The most obvious category would be the category of black conservatives who stand in opposition to the Democratic Party and modern liberal ideology in general. The likes of Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder reject not only the economic program of the Left but also the racial grievance politics of black activists and politicians such as Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton, and a younger generation of black activists who have articulated the black political mission as being against the hegemonic dominance of “white supremacy” and capitalism.

Sowell describes the roots and impact of such “victimhood culture” in this way:

People have a vested interest in black victimhood…without black victimhood you cannot get black turnout and the Democrats would lose a lot of elections…

…[there was] an order issued during the Obama administration that the schools must reduce the disparity in discipline of black males and that government money would be withheld if they didn’t. And one of the things that has happened is that you’ve seen an enormous escalation of violence…in order to keep their numbers right to please the federal government all kinds of things are ignored… 

They are joined in this latter type of dissent by a small but important coterie of centrist and traditionally liberal black intellectuals including Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, (Quillette writer) Coleman Hughes, politically independent commentators like Tommy Sotomayor, black nationalists like Umar Johnson, and otherwise mainstream black liberal journalists such as Juan Williams who once wrote:

Every American has reason to ask about the seeming absence of strong black leadership. Where is strong black leadership to speak hard truth to those looking for direction? Where are the black leaders who will make it plain and say it loud? Who will tell you that if you want to get a job you have to stay in school and spend more money on education than on disposable consumer goods? Where are the black leaders who are willing to stand tall and say that any black man who wants to be a success has to speak proper English? Isn’t that obvious? 

There is, in other words, within the black community a center-Left to conservative Right constituency that rejects major elements of mainstream black political and social leadership on the grounds that, in its zeal to oppose conservative policies and expand government benefits, it has failed to create the prerequisite conditions for material opportunity. In addition to which, this generically liberal leadership has seemingly failed to set a cultural standard conducive to the character building of black youth and the stability of the black family.

These are the points of discontent advanced by the conservative and more traditionally liberal voices within the black community. Yet there are deep resentments of the prevailing political class to be found on the hard Left as well. This includes the voices of protest intellectuals like Angela Davis, Democratic-Socialists like Cornel West, and a younger generation of progressives and leftists including the likes of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Marc Lamont Hill, and many within the Black Lives Matter movement.

What does this left-wing contrarianism look like? Angela Davis and Cornel West have both been fiercely critical of the “neoliberal” democratic mainstream, the policies of which (as supported by the Clintons and the Congressional Black Caucus, and later by Barack Obama and Al Sharpton) have led to the mass incarceration of young black men (specifically in the 1990s), imperialistic military adventurism abroad, and a selling out of working class interests to “Wall Street Oligarchs” at home. Ta-Nahesi Coates, while critical of Senator Bernie Sanders’s lack of a specific focus on racial justice, nevertheless made a point of supporting him over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary. Marc Lamont Hill, who self-identifies as a leftist, declined to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and, even more tellingly, declined to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. Hill then reflected that in the black faith tradition to which Obama held such appeal, hope had been a “belief that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, our circumstances can be transformed into something previously unimaginable.” But, “In Obama’s corporate-sponsored universe of meaning, however, hope is not the predicate for radical social change, but an empty slogan that allows for a slick repackaging of the status quo.”

The left-wing black discontent expressed by the likes of Hill, Cornel West, and Coates seems fundamentally at odds with the substance of the liberal-centrist and conservative discontent found among thinkers like John McWhorter and Larry Elder. The former would pillory the likes of McWhorter and Hughes for defending the racial politics of what they call “white supremacy,” while the likes of Larry Elder would decry a Marc Lamont Hill or Cornel West for espousing ideas more radically socialist than anything ever offered by Barack Obama. Even in the case of a traditional liberal like Coleman Hughes and a libertarian like Larry Elder, whose views on race reality in America largely align, there is a sharp divergence in the area of policy that would seem difficult to bridge.

There is a cross-spectrum convergence, however, in the spirit of African-American discontent with the black political mainstream. It is evidenced in Elder’s amusement at Sowell’s claim that he would not try to convince Jesse Jackson to abandon his victim-oriented approach to politics because Jackson “would have to reduce his income by 90 percent.” Compare this to Cornel West’s disparaging of Al Sharpton for openly admitting he would never criticize President Obama because he is black, or Coates’s description of Sharpton as “black America’s first virtual leader, a product of a collective longing for the romance of the 1960s and an inability to cope with the complexities of 21st century African Americans.” Whether we are referring to a leftist like Angela Davis, an industrial Democrat like Jim Brown, a conservative like Thomas Sowell, or an enigma like Kanye West, there is a universal sense among black critics of the black mainstream that these leaders, and the larger generically liberal Democratic Party structure which their influence upholds, are fundamentally unserious about solving the graver problems of black community.

Creating agreement amongst these contrarian thinkers around a positive agenda would be a daunting task. But if these are the parties that are willing to have a more serious conversation, it may be that they are the ones who should be talking. Only then can deeper agreements arise, as they occasionally did in African-American history between socialists like WEB Du Bois and conservatives like Booker T. Washington, or between liberals like Martin Luther King, Jr. and black nationalists like Malcolm X.

Unlikely? Perhaps. But necessary? Yes. Consensus over the need for criminal justice reform has grown across the divide over recent years. The need for local community empowerment and personal responsibility is—in theory, at least—a universal value. So too is the desire to oppose racism (however much of it there may be) and to achieve lasting victory in the historic struggles of black America. Stronger bridges of dialogue must therefore be built. In American politics, stranger things have happened.


John R. Wood, Jr. is a former nominee for Congress. He is Director of Media Development at Better Angels and hosts Transcending Politics. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnRWoodJr


  1. Circuses and Bread says

    This is a very interesting article, and remarkably polite given the subject matter. I applaud the author for “threading the needle” and managing to present the subject matter in a very calm and dispassionate manner. Because what we’re really talking about is a system of plantation politics for blacks on the left side of the political spectrum. This system keeps blacks in a position of subjugation while accomplishing little of long term benefit for the constituency. If you listen to the right wing punditry, this political plantation for blacks is discussed in significant and ironic detail.

    I say ironic, because the left wing political plantation for blacks is remarkably similar to the right wing political plantation for Christian conservatives and social traditionalists. This plantation doesn’t get quite the attention that the one for blacks on the left does, but it shares many of the same characteristics. A large constituency that contributes money and resources and allows the right wing to achieve power, but receives the political equivalent of kitchen scraps in return.

    Isn’t it interesting how right wing punditry can wax poetic about the evils of the left wing, while completely ignoring the same sorts of vices in their own midst?

    I’d like to conclude with a comment on the authors call for “stronger bridges of dialogue.” In what context? As a way to come up with actual solutions to problems, or as a way to build new political coalitions? While building “stronger bridges of dialogue” sounds good, within politics it’s merely a prescription for impotence. Why don’t we focus on solving the underlying social problems instead?

    • @ Bread Circus

      I see the point you’re making about “plantations,” but my reaction every time I read or hear the plantation metaphor being used is about the same that it is when I hear someone invoke the name of Hitler in a political discussion. Basically, once someone has crossed the Hitler or plantation threshold in a debate, I just reflexively pack up my bags and leave. It’s almost always an unnecessarily melodramatic and hyperbolic device. There needs to be something like a Godwin’s law that people can invoke when they run into someone complaining about some group being on a plantation. Maybe we can call it “Sharpton’s Law,” in recognition of its most prolific user.

      • Dairy Rig says

        A New Radical Centrist,

        I just became the first human being to ever invoke Sharpton’s Law. I did it on my college Facebook group a few minutes ago when a former classmate was blabbering on and on about the murder rate in Chicago and called city government there a “plantation.” If the term catches on and Wikipedia one day has an entry for it, I expect to be recognized as the first person to ever invoke it.

      • ga gamba says

        I understand your point about the “plantation”, and it can be over-egged, yet there seems to be a very patronising attitude many white progressives have about blacks and their inability to live and function in the modern world as successfully as whites, such as getting IDs, finding gov’t buildings, knowing how to use the internet, etc. This is akin to long-ago thoughts of slavers who justified slavery as uplifting blacks; they were too inferior to manage their own lives.

        Eighteenth- and 19th-century defenders of slavery argued that by comparison with the poor of Europe and the labourers in the Northern states, slaves were better cared for. They said that their owners would protect and assist them when they were sick and aged, unlike those who, once fired from their work, were left to fend helplessly for themselves. By enslaving Africans, people liked to believe they were introducing a better life to them through exposing them to civilization, teaching them a skill, and giving them purpose in life. Defenders claimed freeing slaves would be inhumane as the slaves were thought to have zero capacity to be able to function without a master and overseers.

        Slavery advocates such as former Vice President John C. Calhoun said slavery improved blacks: “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually.”

        I would not be surprised to find slavers who were deluded enough to believe they being supportive, understanding, and were even owed gratitude by their slaves.

        Just as slave owners took their lofty positions for granted – even God-given – and assumed blacks would always be there to serve them, to some the Democratic Party appears to see black voters similarly. Some of this to due to the dichotomy of oppressor-oppressed dogma. “I, a privileged white person, have unlimited access to all the resources and the oppressed don’t, thus they are denied the things I have.” Black activists and political leaders are at fault too for playing this up. Lastly, and most importantly, I think white progressives, who have their own political and economic wants, use blacks and other POCs as a magic shield. They’ve learnt it’s easier to accuse others of isms and phobias than to defend their cockamamie ideas.

        • Jack B Nimble says

          @ga gamba

          Like the recent article by N. Parvini, your comment is a baseless smear against Democrats and progressives, tempered only by weasel words like ‘some’ and ‘appears’:

          “….Just as slave owners took their lofty positions for granted,…. to some the Democratic Party appears to see black voters similarly…..”

          The idea that Democrats were the racists and oppressors in the mid-1800s and are still racists and oppressors in the 21st century is a staple of right-wing polemics. Why then are Democrats defending minority voting rights against attempts by the GOP to restrict access?

          “…..Republicans are fond of recalling a past when the party didn’t so boldly embrace racism, often noting that the GOP began as an anti-slavery party in the 1850s. They regularly claim to be modern-day abolitionists as well, seeking to free black voters from the Democratic “plantation.” If you accept that condescending and ahistorical framing, you might think that Republicans would be working to increase ballot access for people of color. After all, how can black folks escape this supposed political bondage if we cannot vote?

          Georgia’s Randolph County is the latest example of this contradiction. The area is rural, very poor and very black. More than 60 percent of the 7,000 people spread across its nearly 430 square miles are African American. In November, they’ll help choose the state’s next governor. They’ll try to, anyway. Right now, Randolph County has nine polling sites. If Republicans get their way this Friday, the county will have only two, and voters may have to travel more than 10 miles in an area that lacks public transportation just to cast their ballot…..”
          Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/republican-voter-suppression-713557/

          • Jack, if your point about GOP restrictions includes the Randolph county “news” in GA on ADA grounds…yada yada, perhaps you should research beyond the left-wing media’s omission of facts. In that case, a little bit of research/Googling reveals a lot that the media story, filed in a form to drum up left-wing base emotion omits:
            – County board of election commissioners are nominated by the elected county commissioners. The composition of county commissioners is Democrat majority. At least 2 of these were initially elected in 2012. This year is important in a minute.
            – In 2011, the DOJ (not under Trump!) sued Randolph county (and others, the multitude the left wing media drums up as ah HA! GOP!) for violations of the ADA. They outlined all the reasons and entered into settlement agreements in 2012 since many counties could not afford remediation. Part of this settlement was a yearly letter detailing what budgeting was being allocated towards remediation. This letter writing was terminated in 2016 by AG Lynch.
            – In 2012, the Commissioners referred to above can be seen in temporal news articles campaigning on the very issue that many public facilities were not ADA compliant.
            – Roll forward to 2018, BoElections hires consultant to evaluate ADA status “on the cheap” since a county cannot obviously spend $50,000 doing inspections if they can’t put $50,000 into repairs! The BoE doesn’t own buildings, other public works/departments do. Let’s think logically of how one would approach this as a consultant:
            1. Get the letters from 2012 – 2016 sent to the DOJ
            2. Get the budgets for the departments that own the 9 polling stations
            3. Inspect the budgets for ADA remediations against the 9 polling stations.
            4. Check these polling stations against the DOJ filing to see if remediations are complete.
            a. If no, say “not ADA compliant”

            So the consultant flags 7 of 9 non-compliant and all the shouting is “he’s a friend of Kemp! He didn’t say why!” But let’s examine that 2nd part:
            – If consultant simply showed “no remediation budgeted at all/budgeted partial” then he needs not show why…the DOJ said it wasn’t compliant, the county can show no repairs, so why spend $$$s reinspecting?
            – If consultant does inspect, first failure stops inspection. Outlining everything would go against “on the cheap” and would put the consultant between the county and the DOJ in any dispute. Why would you do this versus using the DOJ list unless you desire bankruptcy?

            But that’s ok…according to the MSM, Randolph county is an example of GOP attempts to stifle the black vote! Keep believing your fake media with their alternative facts (by omission). I’m not saying that there may not be cases (redistricting/gerrymandering — done by both sides, see Maryland) where political parties attempt to handycap the oppositions voting blocks; however, I challenge you to do a little research versus buying into the narrative you see in any news media (left or right). At this point, there is no journalism, it’s all narrative but the information is out there for anyone willing to be objective.

          • Jack B Nimble says


            Mea culpa–I cited an outdated article; at the last minute the BoE voted to keep all nine polling places open. That happened on Friday, Aug. 24th.

            There’s still a lot of news about voting rights coming out of GA this month, though. Brian Kemp, the Republican GA SoS who purged hundreds of thousands of voters in 2017 [almost 700K in one year, which is 10% of the total roll] and who settled a federal lawsuit in Feb. 2017 that accused him of disenfranchising minority voters, is running for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. See here for the latest: https://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/53000-pending-voters-georgia-still-vote-what-to-know/

            Since this is a federal election year, Kemp is limited by federal election law in terms of purging voters right before the election. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if he recused himself and handed matters off to a non-political subordinate, instead of calling all the shots himself in an election in which he has a major stake?

          • Constantin says

            If by “….attempts by the GOP to restrict access ” you mean insisting that voters are not illegal aliens, we have no point in common and you are just as patronizing towards the black community as the author discussed. You may be surprised, but black Americans read, write, drive cars, run businesses and can be judges – all the way to the Supreme Court (despite horrific character assassination attempts – one may add) and even be Presidents. Let us, at least for the moment forget the bogus argument that having a piece of ID is too much to ask, would you? I would also add that, God willing, the American black community will finally perceive the threat to its fundamental interests (both social and economic) or allowing the Democrats to rig elections indefinitely and bring wave after wave of illiterate and undocumented competition for any and all available jobs. Could it be that Donald Trump is actually offering policies that will help the Black Community? Clearly they have nothing to lose. Your straw argument about travelling 10 miles to a polling station is pure BS. Most people have to go that much to buy food. I assure you that, if they care, they will make it to the poll stations with exactly the same effort needed to buy milk and cereal. You inhabit an intellectual universe where black people in America cannot find their way across a 10 mile radius. You must be out of your mind, literally.

          • Jack B Nimble says


            Looks like you have taken up where ga gamba left off, in terms of smearing Democrats and progressives with baseless charges. And tossed in a few ad hominem comments as well.

            How baseless? Well, on immigration you can compare four proposals for immigration reform in the form of an easy to read chart*. Contrary to your charge, none of them even remotely calls for unrestricted or unlimited immigration, including those proposals supported by Congressional Democrats.

            “…..Your straw argument about travelling 10 miles to a polling station is pure BS. Most people have to go that much to buy food. I assure you that, if they care, they will make it to the poll stations with exactly the same effort needed to buy milk and cereal…..”

            How can you possibly know when and where most people buy groceries? Some people rely on public transportation to shop, get a ride to the store from family or friends, or have food delivered [as in Meals on Wheels].

            And voting access is more than transportation. Restricting early voting, limiting hours that polling stations are open, and curtailing absentee ballots [these are all in force in my own state, for example] mostly affect lower-income voters–black and white. These are the people who may work multiple jobs, work jobs with irregular hours, have limited access to child care, and so on. Many of these problems could be fixed by moving voting to Sunday or expanding voting by mail.

            I don’t have a problem with voter ID, but voters without a car [see above] may also lack a driver’s license. Shut-ins, the disabled and the poor all deserve access to the ballot equal to the well-off, and a fair society would go the extra-mile to make sure that every citizen who wants to can easily register and vote. Current policy makes voting a privilege available to those who can afford it AND a challenge for the less fortunate.

          • ga gamba says

            Baseless smear? Did you watch that video were real McCoy black people stated such ideas held by white progressives are racist? Appears blacks don’t always get to decide what’s racist when the shade crosses progressive whites’ way. Don’t the blacks know white progressives know what’s best for them? You ought to let them know.

            I think we ought to dig deeper to examine progressives’ racism, and not merely the racism of positive discrimination. Much like how dozens of prominent progressives were exposed as sexual harassers and worse when put under scrutiny, I think such an examination of will reveal a lot.

            tempered only by weasel words like ‘some’ and ‘appears’

            Guilty as charged. Unlike progressives I don’t have the ability to read all minds and know everyone’s motives. How’d you all get those these remarkable abilities? BTW, what am I thinking about you presently? But I encourage you to persist with the sweeping generalisations because it’s working out so well for you. It’s a winning strategy.

            10 miles

            10 miles?!?! Golly, that’s an insurmountable distance. Uphill in both directions too, I’m sure. They’ll never get there. You know blacks don’t own vehicles, bicycles, and ponies.

            I bet the Republicans are doing other deviously suppressive things like campaigning for voter IDs. Can’t have IDs. That’s racist!

          • ga gamba says

            purged hundreds of thousands of voters in 2017

            When people register to vote they include their race on the form, do they? Fascinating. I’m looking at a sample of voter registration cards and don’t see where one provides one’s race – my tired eyes. Be a chum and tell me where on the form that info is. And since you know this system so well, please provide proof that the voters’ races are recorded in the databases that were purged.

            voters without a car [see above] may also lack a driver’s license. Shut-ins, the disabled and the poor all deserve access to the ballot equal to the well-off, and a fair society would go the extra-mile to make sure that every citizen who wants to can easily register and vote.

            I know. Most shut-ins have a far shorter travel tolerance than 10 miles – usually stops at the door threshold of their own homes. If only there were a way for people to post their ballots! But, even if such a fantasy came to be, I’m sure they don’t have post boxes, postmen, and even pens to mark those ballots. Drat! The underprivileged foiled again.

            BTW, in the video I linked to blacks called those progressives who concoct ever more bizarre reasons why blacks can’t do things themselves racist. I’m thinking they were talking about you, Jack.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @ga gambaX2

            “……Unlike progressives I don’t have the ability to read all minds and know everyone’s motives. How’d you all get those these remarkable abilities? BTW, what am I thinking about you presently?….”

            I don’t think that persons are racist and/or evil, only that some ideas–whether spoken or written–are racist and/or evil. I try to restrict my comments to people’s words and actions, not to their imputed thoughts, although I’m not always successful in that. And I try to document people’s objectionable words and actions with links.

            Speaking of links, your comments lacked a link to those ‘real McCoy’ [??] blacks talking about racism among progressives.

            And speaking about mind-reading, what about this quote?

            “….By enslaving Africans, people liked to believe they were introducing a better life to them through exposing them to civilization, teaching them a skill, and giving them purpose in life…..”

            How could you possibly know what people liked to believed in the 18th and 19th centuries about slavery? Can you read the minds of the long dead?.

            “….I’m sure they don’t have post boxes, postmen, and even pens to mark those ballots. Drat! The underprivileged foiled again……”

            I’m sure you are having fun here, but minority voting rights is a serious matter. In fact, some folks gave their lives for this cause in the 1960s. Even so, barriers to voting still remain in many states.

            Some states [not mine] have no-questions-asked mail ballots. In my state, voters have to choose from a limited list of reasons for wanting to vote by mail, including disability [doctor’s note needed, of course] and travel status. If a voter in my state doesn’t have a car and their polling place isn’t anywhere near a bus route–sorry, no vote-by-mail for you!!!!

            “….please provide proof that the voters’ races are recorded in the databases that were purged…..”

            Your silly reductionism on voting rights is starting to get irritating. I said in a previous comment that voting restrictions mostly impact low-income voters regardless of race. In the GA case, persons who moved even within the same county without notifying the local elections bd were purged. How many people, when they are packing and moving their belongings, transfering mail and utilities, etc., think to change their voting registration?

            We all know that low-income people move more often than those with higher incomes, because the poor usually don’t own a house or have a long-term, stable job. So a voting roll purge based on unreported address change will impact low-income persons, who are disproportionately Black. It’s not rocket science–disproportionate impact on minorities is why poll taxes were made unconstitutional via the 24th amendment. It is just a shame that the amendment didn’t outlaw other types of voting restrictions as well. Then we wouldn’t need to have this discussion.

            Finally, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, the GOP doesn’t give a damn whether poor whites are also disenfranchised in these voting roll purges.

          • Black people do not need Democrats to protect our rights in 2018. I live in GA, there is nothing to those accusations. When I tried to vote in the primaries I was given a provisional ballot because I had recently moved so my DL didn’t match my registration address. A perfectly reasonable problem. Why is it that you believe that black people are somehow uniquely unable to meet the basic requirements of life in America? What is it about my skin color that creates that supposition? As for Randolph county, if you live a rural place, unless you are subsistence farming you are going to have a car or know someone with a car and by connection a DL, so what’s the problem with driving 10miles? And for the record, in GA the state ID needed to vote is free, a DL is 25$, is that really a mighty burden? I’d be happy to hand someone 25$ to get a DL if they needed it. If voting is something an individual considers important, they will make a way to get to the polls. Treating people like they are helpless in the face of small obstacles is not helping them.

        • Wow that was a very elegant descrition of what I have thought of the left vis a vi blacks for a long time now. The Dem party, as a group, has since the 1820s had the same opinion of black people: That blacks are helpless and need democrats to take care them. Initially that was done through slavery, then controlled with Jim Crow, then later patranized with Govt handouts. But they have never been willing to just allow black people to exist as equal, capable individual human beings who can live by the same standards as our white neighbors.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @AJ Fav

            If you had read my comment carefully, you might have noticed that I said voting restrictions mostly affect low-income voters regardless of race. How many times do I have to repeat it? Maybe you trust the GA SoS to run the election for governor in a non-partisan fashion, but lots of people don’t:

            ” rollingstone.com
            In Leaked Audio, Brian Kemp Expresses Concern Over Georgians Exercising Their Right to Vote, by Jamil Smith

            Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

            An attendee of the “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” event says they recorded 21 minutes and 12 seconds of the evening, held last Friday at the Blind Pig Parlour Bar near Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. As proof of their attendance, the source shared with Rolling Stone a receipt of their donation, which granted access to the gathering.

            Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

            Kemp then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. “They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”

            On Tuesday morning, a member of the Kemp campaign confirmed that the event took place, but the campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the specific remarks. On Monday evening, a Facebook page for the event was removed from public view. Candice Broce, the press secretary for the Georgia Secretary of State, told Rolling Stone that she does not respond to campaign-related inquiries because she represents the office.

            It is fairly typical for a political candidate expressing confidence in his campaign to lament his opponent’s efforts to increase turnout. But Kemp’s position as Georgia’s Secretary of State clouds his statements. While it is not uncommon for someone in such a position to be on a ballot during an election that he or she oversees — they do have to run for re-election, after all — the state’s top elections official speaking of “concern” about increased early and absentee voting raises further questions about a conflict of interest.

            Kemp’s recent decision to suspend more than 53,000 voter applications, 70 percent of which were filed by black residents, for violating the state’s “exact match” verification standard has drawn attention to his penchant for restrictive voter laws and purging of voter rolls. American Public Media reported last week that Kemp purged an estimated 107,000 voters last year simply because they didn’t vote in the prior election. He is also being sued for leaving more than 6 million Georgia voting records open to hacking.

            Kemp, a staunch Trump supporter who has echoed the president’s language concerning Russia’s election interference, was also the only Secretary of State in the nation to refuse Homeland Security’s help prior to the 2016 election.

            One other reason that Kemp’s “right to vote” line is potentially alarming is that he is facing another lawsuit after reports that an abnormal number of absentee ballots — 595, more than a third of the state’s total and 300 of which reportedly belong to black and Asian American voters — have been rejected in the state’s most racially diverse county, Gwinnett. The Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Asian-American Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed suit last Monday to request that three days be provided after the election for rejected voters to resolve the matter so that their ballots count…..”

      • Circuses and Bread says


        Sharptons law? That’s great! And to think that one of my modest comments was the spark that started it all. I’m touched. I’m also available for autographs, and appearances on “news” shows?

        As for your more substantive remark, I think plantation is a good term to use, and aptly descriptive of the relationship between the right wing and Christians/ social traditionalists or the left wing and blacks. It’s a shame that some cable tv personality has seemingly overused the term. I have to plead ignorance on that score; I don’t watch cable tv news.

    • The DNC machine, including the media, spoon-feeds black-Americans with this fiction that the GOP is racist. In turn, the black-bloc is reliable in voting. The head-shaking result is that the DNC can get away with doing NOTHING to help the black population while the GOP doesn’t bother either. The result of being a reliable voting block is that neither party works for you. The unions/blue collar rust belt were the same until 2016. All of a sudden, they didn’t give their vote away and the result is actually benefiting them. This is the core of what Kanye is talking about.

      If for just 1 election, say 2018s, the black block broke down and split their vote, can you imagine the result? Suddenly, if the black-American vote was truly in play, BOTH parties would be scrambling over themselves seeking ways to address how the War on Drugs has skewed policing. BOTH parties would be scrambling over themselves to figure out how to include young-black-males into societal culture so that they had a REALISTIC alternative to gang membership (or sneaking into the military). It wouldn’t only occur at the national level either, suddenly the inner cities would be in play where a GOP alternative, while it may not get elected, would offer…wait for it…DIVERSITY of thought on ways to address problems and generating INNOVATIVE solutions to the issues that have plagued black-America for generations.

      Until that happens…so long as the black-block is simply “DNC” guaranteed you can expect them to be ignored by both parties the same way the blue-collar union states were. I mean, HRC never even went to those states and yet there was shock and awe that they voted for Trump? As an aside, this is also why popular vote is meaningless for 2016. I live in a solid red state. Lots of voters simply didn’t bother waiting in line to vote when they could see it was already a 7-10 point split for Trump. Why would they if their vote wouldn’t change anything down-ballot either? I think the solution is to get rid of ALL early reporting of results. None. Right now there is a company who sends out all those results and that companies is a big single-point-of-attack for TRUE manipulation. Look at Bush/Gore in FL where the race was reported “won” before the panhandle closed, so the panhandle voting was light..then it’s contested with new tallies showing up in blue districts. Calling early by the MSM manipulated the result by lowering panhandle turnout.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Great comment. I have often wondered why more African Americans don’t vote for the Republican party. Up until the New Deal that is what they did. The provision of welfare changed things.
        I’m sure that if a decent number of blacks voted for the GOP, you would see the death of ”it’s all about racism” as the automatic response to any problem in the black community.

        • Farris says

          @Peter from Oz
          Actually the New Deal, especially The Wagner Act, was a raw deal for blacks.
          “By giving labor unions the monopoly power to exclusively represent employees in a workplace, the Wagner Act had the effect of excluding blacks, since the dominant unions discriminated against blacks. The Wagner Act had originally been drafted with a provision prohibiting racial discrimination. But the American Federation of Labor successfully lobbied against it, and it was dropped. AFL unions used their new power, granted by the Wagner Act, to exclude blacks on a large scale. Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey were all critical of compulsory unionism.”



          This is just but one example of the New Deal harming blacks
          However your point is well taken.

      • O. Kjos says

        Great comment. As Trump said to blacks: “give me your vote, what do you have to lose?” Answer: nothing to lose and everything to gain as then BOTH parties would compete for those votes with real action, not just hollow talk.

    • Lawrence Abroad says

      I am confused about your point of “Christian conservatism,” as a large percentage of African Americans identify as Christians and there is also a high percentage of Christians/other religions that vote for the Democratic party. 90% of African Americans vote for Democrats, yet less than 60% of Christians vote for Republicans. Based on that, how is it ironic that certain people vote a certain way?

    • Damian O'Connor says

      Circuses and Bread.

      In the UK it has long been an observable fact that poorer, more deprived areas vote Left. Nothing changes, so they keep voting Left. These parliamentary seats become safe seats for the Left – look at where Blair, Mandelson and Milliband were elected – and still nothing changes but they keep voting Left. What can we conclude from this? That the Left will keep you poor so that you keep voting Left because it benefits them not you. Someone once told me this when I was a teenager. I don’t believe them then, but I do now. Perhaps if more black people in the US began to vote for Conservative parties, they might get some change?

      And one day soon, perhaps, the leopard will change its spots.

      Damian O’Connor
      Author of ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’

  2. Jack B Nimble says


    ‘Plantation’ is a terrible metaphor to use–if you will substitute the more historically accurate phrase ‘slave labor camp’, the problem is obvious.

    About the article itself, I only have one quibble:

    “…..Kanye West, erstwhile arguably America’s most popular African-American artist….”

    Kanye actually is #114 on the top albums chart at the moment [https://www.billboard.com/charts/billboard-200 ], and there are plenty of Black artists ahead of him.

    Finally, how could a fashion-conscious artist like Kanye make the terrible faux pas of showing up at the Oval Office in a MAGA BALL CAP??** Everyone in TrumpWorld knows that Trump wears a MAGA TRUCKERS’ HAT!!

    **See http://www.kosu.org/post/quite-something-kanye-west-makes-statement-oval-office

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Jack B Nimble

      Thanks for the comment. I happen to like the “plantation” metaphor. It’s accurate, and it has plenty of baggage associated with it. And that’s a good thing as it shocks and prompts action.

      I also think the plantation metaphor is particularly apt in describing the situation Christians and social traditionalists find themselves in. Disclosure: I’m personally familiar with this “plantation” as a Christian and social traditionalist.

      Let’s take a look at what happened here. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, there was a push to politicize Christianity within the right wing. We saw the rise of groups like the Moral Majority and NRLC. I don’t question that the motivations of these groups were sincere at the outset, but the strategy was very ill advised. 45 years after Roe v Wade and where do we stand? Killing off the pre-born with some minor exceptions is just as legal as it was in 1973. All manner of sins are not only practiced but glorified by the culture. Church attendance is dropping precipitously. And evangelization has been a mess. Because once you choose to pick political sides, you’ve tacitly excluded the other side from consideration. You don’t only need to accept Jesus, you need accept a certain political perspective it seems as well.

      Viewed from the perspective of utility, Christians have provided time, effort, treasure to the right wing. In my view we’ve squandered a significant part of our Christian inheritance, and not even received a mess of pottage in return.

      And here is where the plantation aspect enters into the equation. If Christians and social traditionalists want to be involved in politics, the only real choice is on the right wing. Unlike the situation with blacks, the left wing isn’t interested in competing for the votes of Christians or social traditionalists. And you better believe the politicians on the right use this to their advantage. “So what are you going to do, vote Democrat? Har, har, har.” I’d also note that from my personal experience, those who decide to leave the plantation are viewed with some level of suspicion. (But in my case, I guess that’s understandable ?)

      Thanks again for the comment.

      • I think the situation for Christians is even worse than you suggest. The rapid increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as “nones” (they claim no religious affiliation) can be partly attributed to the close association between Christianity and the religious right. The hypocrisy that conservative Evangelicals are currently displaying in their unstinting support for President Trump will only accelerate that trend, especially among Millennials. (I think it’s fair to say that Trump is one of the least Christians Presidents in American history.) Although the religious right may achieve some of their goals in the short-term — including the overturn of Roe v. Wade and, possibly, the Obergefell decision — I think the movement will suffer in the long term.

        “If Christians and social traditionalists want to be involved in politics, the only real choice is on the right wing.” — If I can make a friendly amendment to your post, you should specify “conservative Christians.” There are many moderate and liberal Christians (including Cornel West!) who support progressive causes. I used to be one myself before I saw the darkness and became an agnostic.

        • Peter from Oz says

          It is interesting that here in Oz, where Christian churches and other groups have not really been particularly active in politics since the 1940s, the number of religious people has declined a lot quicker than it has in the US.
          However, I agree that Christians should preach the word of God and stay out of politics. Leading by example is the best way to go.

        • Well then the Episcopal church pews must be full if what Christianity needs is more leftism.

          Oh wait, the Mainline christian churches are all dying off, and the more to the left they are the faster they are dying.

          “I used to be one myself before I saw the darkness and became an agnostic.”


        • Circuses and Bread says

          @lemur lover

          I think you made the point better than I did. There seems to be a sort of fatal attraction there. And I don’t think the end of Roe v Wade will be the Godsend that many of my fellow Christians think it will. If it even comes about, which I happen to doubt.

          Here’s your anti politics PSA for Monday

          Five practical reasons NOT to register to vote:
          -Your registration information isnt given to political parties or made public.
          -You get less junk mail.
          -You don’t get as many robocalls or “polling” calls.
          -You don’t get political spam texts.
          -People don’t bang on your door to solicit your vote.

      • I’m not crazy about the use of the plantation metaphor. I don’t believe that it prompts any of the actions that conservatives want when they use it. The term is both demeaning and insulting and is more likely to turn someone off than to provoke interest.

        The plantation analogy implies that the majority of blacks who vote Democrat are nothing more than slaves who cannot think for themselves. It’s an intimation that they prefer to be reliant on the state instead of independent.

        The reality is that while a significant portion of the black population lives in poverty, the majority of blacks do not. So claiming that these individuals are on some political plantation is not accurate.

        I recently heard a radio talk show host talk about Kanye West’s visit with the president in the oval office. He repeatedly said that the rapper was “leaving the plantation.” My first thought was that Kanye West could buy this guy a hundred times over. He was never on a plantation.

        I’ve seen many black Democrats express their disdain for the term, and the reason why is obvious. When people on the left call me an “uncle tom” for being black and conservative, they are telling me I’m a slave to my white masters in the GOP. I immediately tune them out because I don’t engage with people whose objective is to insult me. But what are we saying to black Democrats when we claim that they are on the plantation? It’s the same exact thing.

        Instead, if conservatives want to win black people over, they should approach them much like they would approach anyone else. Discuss the issues facing the black community and engage in conversation. That would be far more effective than sitting back and tweeting about plantations and the homicide rate in Chicago.

        • Jack B Nimble says

          @Jeff C

          You make some excellent points!

          I would just add that the recent radio ad by ‘Black Americans for the President’s Agenda’ that says Democrats will lynch Blacks if the Dems re-take Congress is another example of trivializing and distorting America’s racial history for political purposes.
          Link: http://time.com/5429216/arkansas-midterms-radio-ad-lynching/

    • Henrie says

      You mean the black Ann Coulter lite who peddles conservative outrage for sport?

        • @Harland: you do know you’re a conservative Troll, right? You’re as much of a comment-section cliche’ as any supposed “NPC.”

  3. This is a partisan comment which I admit, but the strain of racism in the Republican party makes the placement of ethnic minorities much more monolithic than their internal values might otherwise indicate. If elements of one party make you, sometimes, literally fearful for you and your loved one’s safety, its easy to overlook a lot in the other side.

    I want to be clear and say not all Republicans, obviously, but some, and they are scary.

    • But if there’s an assumption that blacks vote democratic when they vote at all, who is racist? If you call everyone in one party racist, and you never vote for the republican ideas of liberty and equal protection and free trade rather than democratic paternalism/authoritarianism (masters of the plantation per this bit’s parlance), then don’t be surprised if they appear that way to you.

    • James says

      Yes. For the present time blacks are indeed stuck in the Democratic party for self preservation. The GOP is in fact doubling down on its tacit acceptance of racism and racists. The real fight here is for the soul of the Democratic party and how it addresses issues of racism.

      • Greg Maxwell says

        Your comment is idiotic, bigoted and unreflective of reality. The GOP (as pro-government as they sadly are) are not tacitly or otherwise accepting of what you delude yourself to be ‘racism’. Try not to let the MSM and Democrats fill define reality for you, NPC.

        • Your comment is idiotic, bigoted and unreflective of reality. The GOP has exploited racial fear and resentment since adopting the Southern strategy in the mid-60s. Try not to let the Fox News and Republicans define reality for you, NPC.

    • What ‘strain of racism in the Republican Party’? could you be more specific? What are ‘obviously’ the ‘scary” ones and what do they say and do? I speak as both a person of color and a jew. If there is any racism honestly I find it in the Dem party,, e.g. Farrakhan – friends with clinton – who just said he wasn’t anti-semite he was anti-termite (a vile sickening statement considering Hitler murdered Jews saying the same thing; he’s an avowed Hitler admirer btw).

        • Isaac says

          You know, your “Southern Strategy” narrative is mostly bunk. African-Americans gradually went over to the Democratic Party beginning with the New Deal. And generally it was because the Party of Slavery could only win them over with ever-increasing incentives. As Al Sharpton once said, “We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres. We didn’t get the mule. So we decided we’d ride this donkey as far as it would take us.”

          By the time there were so many of them on the Democratic side that many outright racists started identifying as Republican instead, the lines could be clearly redrawn. But racism has never been part of the Republican platform, outside of far-Left rhetoric. There’s a straight and consistent line from Lincoln until today.

  4. I agree with the author’s statement that African-Americans as a group are hardly monolithic (although they are considerably more monolithic than European-Americans). Just look at the four guys whose photos are spread across the top of the article. You’ve got two certified nutcases named “West” — one of whom happens to be a bit of a musical genius, and the other a fairly typical opportunistic white-guilt-milking grievance studies lowlife), and two mostly sensible and reasonable guys (McWhorter and Loury). But these men are hardly representative of the range of opinion within the black community. Actually, none of them is located anywhere near the middle of that range (which may be the point being made by the choice of photos).

    My personal experience discussing political and social issues with African-Americans is that they are consistently more conservative than is widely imagined, especially on social issues (try talking to a black guy about gay marriage sometime). My experience also mirrors what recent polling from the outstanding “Hidden Tribes” project discloses: They are far more reasonable and balanced on issues of race than the privileged and insulated white people who populate the progressive left. Many of the black people I’ve known are fully capable of racial self-criticism -– even in the presence of white people and even to the point of viciousness -– especially if you catch them at the right moment or with their guard down. It’s a demographic that’s ripe for political re-alignment. It’s too bad that the Republican Party, in its present and recent forms, doesn’t offer most of them a better place to which to go.

    • Ben W. says

      How would they do that?

      Perhaps wiping criminal records and comvictions for minor drug crimes? (As discussed by Loury and Mcwhorter)

      A lefty friend suggested that Trump reduce military spending and use those funds for a reasonable form of reparations. He said that would win the affection of many-particularly in the affected voting bloc.

      Also removing welfare incentives for single parent homes could be a help too if it is true that it is the cause of increased suffering as Sowell argues.

      It’s important to note the dispute between Cornell West and Coates. Coates shut down his twitter because of it. West felt Coates rhetoric was so exaggerated that activists feel their work is futile and so give up. Loury and Mcwhorter point out that Coates adopting race essentialist paradigms perversely benefits the racist far-right fringe the most.

      Many on the left are shocked to hear Thomas Chatterton Williams reporting in the New York Times that white nationalist Richard Spencer said he loves Coates because (and i paraphrase from memory) “Coates sells white liberals race essentialism-and maybe they’ll be the easiest ones to flip.”

      If these changes were instituted there would also need to be a public education campaign to overcome propagandistic claims. Steps to improve treatment of dacca children would be of value also.

      • Reparations is a dead argument since we’ve devolved the discussion to skin pigmentation and not heredity. What are we going to do, family tree with documentation to PROVE that someone is actually descendant of a slave? Trust me, you’ll get a lot of white folks applying Elizabeth Warren style since — hello, and some of it will be legit due to interracial relationships. Plus you’ll have a big chunk of “african americans” found not eligible as they descend from post-slavery immigration or maybe they were some of the free black-persons who have lived in the US since it’s inception. Can we also track back all the “african americans” related to the black slave traders of Africa so that instead of receiving reparations, they pay? What if their family tree contains both? Do they cancel?

        Now, reducing military spending (or foreign spending) and discussion how that might be aligned to help is a different discussion. Take that money and form a “Peace Corp” type of thing in the inner cities? How about Trade School “free for all” versus college — using that money? Of course, the Unions may or may not like that depending upon whether it’s a right to work state.

  5. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    Like a favourite piece of music or a treasured view of nature, this hope for deeper dialogue of a convivial spirit is what can and must pave the way forward.

    Think Bertrand Russell meets the Dali Lama and the civility flows. And deeply at that. Result- hope and understanding.

    Is there a better manner to get issues sorted!

    • Circuses and Bread says


      I think most of us would dearly love to see a more “convivial spirit” in public discourse. I just don’t see it happening in the realm of politics. It’s a bottomless pit of evil and despair. Dante had it right: abandon all hope those who enter there.

      What I personally hope to see come about in the future is more looking at issues as problems to be solved completely outside of a political context. It seems the one sure way to make sure that a problem isn’t solved is to throw politics at it. Conversely I’ve seen wonderful things happen in the realm of civic virtue when there is a conscious effort to actually solve problems.

  6. Heike says

    A story told me by a coloured man in South Carolina will illustrate how people sometimes get into situations where they do not like to part with their grievances. In a certain community there was a coloured doctor of the old school, who knew little about modern ideas of medicine, but who in some way had gained the confidence of the people and had made considerable money by his own peculiar methods of treatment. In this community there was an old lady who happened to be pretty well provided with this world’s goods and who thought that she had a cancer. For twenty years she had enjoyed the luxury of having this old doctor treat her for that cancer. As the old doctor became — thanks to the cancer and to other practice — pretty well-to-do, he decided to send one of his boys to a medical college. After graduating from the medical school, the young man returned home, and his father took a vacation. During this time the old lady who was afflicted with the “cancer” called in the young man, who treated her; within a few weeks the cancer (or what was supposed to be the cancer) disappeared, and the old lady declared herself well.

    When the father of the boy returned and found the patient on her feet and perfectly well, he was outraged. He called the young man before him and said: “My son, I find that you have cured that cancer case of mine. Now, son, let me tell you something. I educated you on that cancer. I put you through high school, through college, and finally through the medical school on that cancer. And now you, with your new ideas of practicing medicine, have come here and cured that cancer. Let me tell you, son, you have started all wrong. How do you expect to make a living practicing medicine in that way?”

    I am afraid that there is a certain class of race problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.
    If the patient gets well, an entire industry of victimhood will get cancer and die. This would be the best thing for the black community. Until blacks throw off the shroud of victimhood, they will be at the mercy of “doctors” who treat a cancer that does not exist but that they are paying for.”


  7. Annie Simon says

    Contrarian. or you could have said Independent Thinkers. That Contrarian word offends me.. it is condescending really. It carries an implication as in : — quoting from Google definitions — ‘the comment came more from a contrarian disposition than moral conviction” i.e. from temperamental proclivity rather than clear objective thinking. Sheesh !! Is the word applied to someone who started a true transformation of society ?
    These people are at the forefront of a huge cultural change, and there are many Hispanic leaders who are part of the change. Watch the best of #Walkaway. Many persons mentioned in this article are intellectuals having the usual convolutions of the intellectual mindset; others are really cooking in the kitchen. Like Kanye.

    Watch amazing and beautiful Brandon Tatum — both his plain down-home comments on Youtube and the videos of his polished conference talks. Listen to Candace Owens describe how her thinking was changed. That fine and fiery young woman was born in the projects. We are watching history being made.

  8. People may one day wake up and realize that the ideals (even if we’ve failed often in practice, but we are getting better) of liberty, equal protection, free trade capitalism, and government that serves only the common good instead of special interests, and taxes for whatever programs it approves in spending bills, we’d have a nation that would continue to improve for all.

  9. Always look forward to seeing your writing and YouTube videos, John.

    My favorite black Leftist contrarian is the Marxist/Socialist Dr. Adolph Reed, Jr. He has this dogged devotion to a multi-racial/multi-ethnic class politics centered on combatting economic inequality and a disdain for racially essentialist politics that are both so refreshing in the context of today’s reactionary and polarized climate. He is definitely someone I find myself agreeing with on the vast majority of things. His analysis around how “race” was used to red-bait Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary is quite salient. And yet he acknowledged the existential threat posed by Donald Trump and encouraged folks on the Left to hold their noses and vote for Clinton rather than voting third party – wish more people had listened to that directive.

    Reed has been critical of everyone from Cornel West to Henry Louis-Gates to Michele Alexander. I think Dr. West is great – he seems to have lined up much more with Reed recently. Louis-Gates is pretty centrist and supported some of Bill Clinton’s crappy “Third Way” conservative Democrat nonsense in the 1990s. And a number of people have written interesting content on the prison industrial complex and have complicated Michelle Alexander’s overly simplistic “Jim Crow” narrative – Marie Gottschalk, John Pfaff, and James Forman, Jr. in particular.

    Coleman Hughes, John McWhorter, and Glenn Loury are all very interesting to watch in interviews. All three of them seem to have politics to the right of mine, but they do write and say some things I agree with – particularly McWhorter and Hughes’ critiques of some of the excesses of identitarianism.

    I think too many white liberals and progressives operate under the assumption that black people in the United States are a monolithic political bloc. The polarized climate makes it easy to fall into this intellectually lazy trap. MSNBC will often bring on someone like Michael Eric-Dyson or Ta-Nehisi Coates, and they along with MSNBC either explicitly or implicitly promote a racially essentialist, borderline Manichean brand of politics – one that can be incredibly hateful and bigoted at times.

    I particularly have a problem with the idea of “ancestral sin” attributed to white people by Coates in one of his essays, and Dyson has a similar section in one of his books in which he encourages white people to “repent of whiteness.” Yes, there are advantages that come from being white in Western societies, but no one chooses the color of their skin. It’s hard for me to see the argumentation around “whiteness as original sin” as anything other than actively promoting prejudice against people on the basis of the color of their skin. And there are advantages that can be attributed to things other than skin color – economic status being the one that the identitarian bent loves to ignore. This really has a bit too much in common with the Yakub concept from the Nation of Islam, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Even if most black people in the United States vote Democrat, that does not mean that they are all “Leftist” or “progressive.” Tasha Philpot has an interesting book called “Conservative but Not Republican” outlining how she sees an uptick in black conservatism but not a concurrent uptick in black GOP voters.

  10. E. Olson says

    Does any government agency or member of the permanent government bureaucracy ever want to solve the “problem” they have been created/hired to “solve”? Even worse, does any government agency or member of the permanent government bureaucracy ever desire anything besides a worsening of the “problem” they have been created/hired to “solve” so they can ask for a larger budget and staff of “problem solvers”? Even worse, does anyone in government besides Trump ever seriously consider shutting down government agencies that fail to solve the problem they were designed to solve? Slavery has been illegal since 1865, Jim Crow was abolished in the early 1960s, the war on poverty has been fought since the mid-1960s, and affirmative action has been promoted and implemented since the late 1960s. Can anyone honestly say that trillions of dollars spent over many decades by government agencies and NGOs to assist people of color and/or the poor has solved or seriously dented the problem? Is there anyone that doesn’t believe deep in their heart that all this “problem solving” hasn’t made many aspects racism and poverty worse? Has anyone besides the “public servants” who oversee and administer these programs actually benefited from them? And yet the Left persists in recommending the same tired solution of more “problem solving” money, more “problem solvers”, and more “problem solving” regulations, while the right cowers in fear about being called racist or uncaring if they dare question the effectiveness or desirability of continuing to support the racism-poverty complex.

    • The answer to all of your questions is “yes.” In your black-and-white version of the world, “bureaucracy is always bad” and “government programs make everything worse.” Reality, alas, is much more complicated than your rabidly partisan perspective can recognize. Believe it or not, many government workers could make more money in the private sector and take jobs in the public sector because they actually believe in the mission of their agency. Some of the money spent by government agencies does, in fact, help people — it’s not all wasted.

      • E. Olson says

        O – You have certainly convinced me. Thanks for bringing up all those government agencies that have been shut down over the years because they accomplished their mission or because they failed. I also certainly forgot about the high employee turnover at federal agencies. Its amazing the bureaucracy can attract and keep anyone when the Feds can only offer civil service job security, 6 figure salaries, gold-plated healthcare, and million+ dollar pensions.

        • E – Not trying to convince you of anything; you’re a close-minded ideologue who’s convinced he already has all the answers. I’m sure you’re encased in an impenetrable cocoon of confirmation bias which protects you from alternative perspectives. I’m just trying to demonstrate how shallow and biased your hyperpartisan rants are — which is probably a waste of my time, since that’s already self-evident to anyone who isn’t similarly afflicted.


        • E – Not trying to convince you of anything; you’re a close-minded ideologue who’s convinced he already has all the answers. I’m sure you’re encased in an impenetrable cocoon of confirmation bias which protects you from alternative perspectives. I’m just trying to demonstrate how shallow and biased your hyperpartisan rants are — which is probably a waste of my time, since that’s already self-evident to anyone who isn’t similarly afflicted.


  11. Susan says

    “That Kanye West, erstwhile arguably America’s most popular African-American artist, could wholeheartedly support a president whose politics and rhetoric seemed to fly in the face of the perceived interests and sensibilities of the black community has mystified many in the commentariat.”
    Exactly what politics and which rhetoric?

  12. Sydney says

    Candace Owens is conspicuous in this piece by her absence. You can’t write about this subject without dealing with her and her success in reaching people. Very peculiar. (Did I miss a reference to her someplace?)

  13. I said the same thing above (and got an indoctrinated response). One can of course disagree with her, but given her rising reach, it seems a fairly serious oversight to exclude her, almost sexist considering all the people featured on top were men..

    • Agreed, Sydney and d. That child is a true lady, a fiery spirit and a razor-sharp mind. She started as a liberal saw and transformed herself one reasoned step at a time. And she was born in the projects from a broken family — an amazing human human being. Omission of Candace Owens in this article simply delegitimizes the article.

      • Andrew says

        Candace has not accomplished anything in her young career except for gaining the attention of Kanye West and regurgitating the words of her elder constituents. Giver her more time before you place her on the pedestal next to Thomas Sowell.

        • Andrew — fair point. But the internet is very NOW, and very powerful. On the internet her ideas simply have more influence than Sowell’s, except among academics. I like Sowell, but he ain’t cooking in the kitchen.

  14. Nicolas says

    It’s ‘Cornel’ West, not ‘Cornell’. You misspelled his name three times.

    • tarstarkas says

      Nicolas, it is likely a fault of Spellcheck ‘correcting’ Dr. West’s first name for him to the spelling of an Ivy League University. I run into that all the time with scientific names that end in ‘a’ that otherwise match English words.

  15. Blacks keep voting liberal democrat and what has it gotten them exactly to get 90%+ of the vote in every political election? Until more black people break away from the hive mind mentality I would not expect conditions for black people in this country to improve substantially at least compared to other ethnic groups. By all means though keep doing what isn’t working and blaming racism and taking away all sense of personal agency. I have to admit I have little tolerance for these types of discussions. It makes no sense to me for any political party to have monolithic voting block that they do very little for but they keep lining up at the polls saying thank you sir may I have another? And when another black person dares to buck the group think they get the most vile personal attacks hurled at them by the hive mind. Its disgraceful.

    • It got them affirmative action, large welfare transfers, essentially a lockdown on large swaths of some of the most valuable inner city real estate in the world at below market prices, and a shit ton of social/cultural/political power (just think of how easy it is to destroy someones life by calling them a racist).

      It’s a pretty good haul.

      If you think they could have done better pulling up by their own bootstraps then maybe you don’t think its a good enough haul, but I don’t think a group with an 85 IQ can pull itself up by its bootstraps. The political strategy they are pursuing makes sense if you consider how few good options they have. You’ll note that the few blacks that get off the plantation are ones that are very atypical (smart enough to bootstrap and not reliant on the progressive system for their position). They simply have different incentives then blacks generally.

  16. Andrew says

    Business school 101: what’s more expensive? Keeping an old customer or obtaining a new customer? ….So, why do the democrats have any incentive to help black communities? In fact, it’s just the opposite.

    Look at board scores in Harlem in the infancy of welfare reform in the late 1960s compared to earlier. Herrnstein and Murray are correct that there is this indeterminable nature vs nurture multiplier as it relates to empiricism and how we are raised that can greatly effect our IQ, by as much as 30 percent, and steer us toward future successes or failures.

  17. Nathan Zebrowski says

    I have respect for all of these men–Loury, McWhorter, Hughes, even the Wests. A little less for the race-essentialist, race-patrolling Coates (although I have read almost every word he’s published). What I don’t get is why Thomas Sowell is so in the background, so little discussed. He’s an intellectual step beyond everyone else mentioned here and has produced an incredible body of work. I’m reading through Intellectuals and Race right now, and that little book is one of the most lucid and logical and focused books I have read in quite a while. It doesn’t matter whether I ultimately agree with him; I just can’t help but feel in the presence of someone who just thinks more clearly than I do. He’s one of the few writers who makes me rethink my frameworks.

  18. Trajan Fanzine says

    “Since the late 1960s, following the signing of landmark civil rights legislation by a Democratic president, the Democrats support of The Great Society, the anti-Civil Rights Act campaign of a Republican presidential nominee in 1964, ”

    Pure agitprop horeshockey….the ‘civil right leg’ would not have passed without GOP votes in both chambers, go author take a look at the roll call, Democrat support’ indeed lol.

    Next, the “anti civil rights” campaign was an argument re: Nullification”,which is absolutely legally ( and was made as such) valid and recognized even left legal authorities, Dershowitz, Sunstein et al…

    Starting out of the agate with conflation, exaggeration, and frankly lies by omission…I’ll take a pass on the rest.

  19. Isaac says

    “In fairness to the record of the Democratic Party in this area however, it should be noted that while poverty rates and unemployment remain starkly higher for blacks…actual material quality of life has risen dramatically since the 1960s…malnourishment has been nearly eliminated…A decline in the price of consumer goods, as well as a dramatic increase in subsidized income (not counted when calculating poverty rates), has made this rise in living standards possible.”

    Here you have just pinpointed (perhaps inadvertently) that
    1. Democrats have done nothing to raise the relative status of Black Americans,
    2. some of the only positive developments for Black communities have come about due to pure, right-wing capitalism and economies of scale that benefited everyone on a national level, and
    3. the only other positive development for Blacks has been that they are all on the government dole; keeping them in a cycle of poverty that is VERY difficult to ever escape from, AND keeping them dependent on Democrats for their food and livelihood. I don’t think this can be presented like it’s a good thing.

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