“Thinking through the Silence” Dr. Tommy J. Curry

Dr. Tommy J. Curry

“The scholarship surrounding male rape in war and genocides is new and perplexing for many scholars. Whereas previous scholarship simply assumed that women were rape victims and men were the perpetrators, the discovery of male victims of rape has forced many researchers to rethink the politicized nature of older paradigms. Misra for example has argued that “most of the contemporary scholarship on sexual violence in armed conflicts is not only biased towards the female gender but is heavily influenced by a feminist monopolization of that space that has sought to describe such violence as binary in nature: it is only perpetrated again the female gender by male members of the society.” This binary division of violence renders male victims of sexual violence and rape conceptually invisible. Researchers and scholars are simply unable to interpret males, even men subjugated within genocide and war, as victims because the encountering of the male rape victim in real-life conflicts with the pre-determined view of men as perpetrators of rape in theory. Misra continues, “Thanks to this biased interpretation where the feminist concern is primarily to highlight the victimization of women by men, male sufferers have simply become ‘absent victims’ in such gender analyses of conflict dynamics. Therefore, it would not be incorrect to suggest that there is a conceptual and definitional confusion over gender-based violence.” Marysia Zalewki’s “Provocations in Debates about Sexual Violence against Men” takes a similar view of how male victims of rape and sexual violence are theorized. She writes:

Tommy J. Curry’s provocative book The Man-Not is a justification for Black Male Studies. He posits that we should conceptualize the Black male as a victim, oppressed by his sex. The Man-Not, therefore,is a corrective of sorts, offering a concept of Black males that could challenge the existing accounts of Black men and boys desiring the power of white men who oppress them that has been proliferated throughout academic research across disciplines.
Curry argues that Black men struggle with death and suicide, as well as abuse and rape, and their genred existence deserves study and theorization. This book offers intellectual, historical, sociological, and psychological evidence that the analysis of patriarchy offered by mainstream feminism (including Black feminism) does not yet fully understand the role that homoeroticism, sexual violence, and vulnerability play in the deaths and lives of Black males. Curry challenges how we think of and perceive the conditions that actually affect all Black males.

it can be argued that the putative innocence of feminist scholarship, traditionally presented as an emancipatory justice project, works to conceptually conceal not only women’s proclivities to violence, including sexual violence, but also to conceal the ‘truth’ of male victimhood. The veracity of all of these claims might easily be challenged (or confirmed), yet there is surely something about the gendered focus on women and all her epistemological, ethical, ontological scaffolding that might go some way in explaining why there has been so little attention to sexual violence against men, at least until very recently.

Dr. Tommy J. Curry
Chair of Africana Philosophy & Black Male Studies @ University of Edinburgh. 2018 American Book Award. Editor of Black Male Studies Series on Temple Univ Press.

How we come to understand victimization, specifically what kind of violence creates victims, is of the utmost importance in our interpretation of Jewish male victims and their suffering. Jewish male rape cannot be truly understood if it is thought to be exceptional or a lesser form of violence endlessly compared to death. These young men and boys understood themselves—as males—being raped. Said differently, Jewish men are not simply analogous of female sexual experience. Scholars cannot hear the stories and accounts of Jewish males and imagine them to be females to understand how they could suffer rape. Inevitably one is drawn back to their socialized idea of a rape victim who is often a girl or woman. In doing so the researcher asks: “How do women or girls who are raped react?” This is not the proper question to ask in the listening to or reading of Jewish male survivor stories. Jewish men and boys suffered within their male body. They utilized their male bodies to attain food, clothes, and protection. These young accepted the violence of rape and the excruciating pain of anal penetration to escape death themselves or to help spare the lives of their friends.”

About Dr. Tommy J. Curry

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Dr. Curry has been an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice and OCG Incolocotur since 2013.

Tommy J. Curry is an Black-American author and professor of Philosophy. He currently holds a Personal Chair in Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies at the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, he won an American Book Award for The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood. He has been an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice and OCG Incolocotur since 2013.

He is arguably one of the nation’s most prolific philosophers of race, whose research focuses on the Black male experience— is leaving the United States to become the Chair of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Curry, 39, who currently holds a full, tenured professorship in the Department of Philosophy at Texas A&M University  is an expert on Critical Race Theory, Africana Philosophy, Black Male Studies and Social Political Thought and was recognized by Diverse as a 2018 Emerging Scholar.

“The political climate in the United States has made the study of racism a dangerous option for Black scholars,” said Curry, in an interview with Diverse. “Identifying the violence of White supremacy has now become equated to anti-Whiteness. In Europe, there is an effort to understand the Black experience, particularly the Black male experience.”

In announcing Curry’s appointment, Dr. Holly Branigan, head of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh said that the hiring of Curry amounted to a real game changer for the institution founded in 1582.

Associate Professor at Texas A&M UniversityPast: Penn State and Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Studied Critical Race Theory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale Attended from 2005 to 2008

More about Dr. Curry and his current scholarship and research.

Tommy Curry on Facebook On Twitter:

Depression in Black Boys Begins Earlier Than You Think – Psychology Benefits Society

By Aaron Hunt, MS (Graduate Intern, APA Health Disparities Office) and David J. Robles, BA (Graduate Intern, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity)

From 2001 to 2015, the suicide risk for Black boys between the ages of 5 and 11 was two to three times higher than that of White boys, according to a new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics (Bridge, 2018). This concerning trend continues through adolescence as reported by the Nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Kann et al., 2017). The rates of attempted suicide, including attempts that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose, are 1.2x higher among Black males compared to White males.

These persistent trends are enrooted in life expectancy disparities that Black boys face. The APA Working Group on Health Disparities in Boys and Men recently released a new report on Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic and Sexual Minority Boys and Men, which includes a review of research which may help to explain this increase in suicide in Black boys.

Source: Depression in Black Boys Begins Earlier Than You Think – Psychology Benefits Society

The conditioning that fuels the mental health epidemic for Black men, and how to stop it – The Black Youth Project

“Gender, through the lens of white supremacy, prescribes how we should be, instead of accepting us how we are. It tells boys they’re not supposed to cry (or even feel emotion), and it tells girls they’re supposed to be good at cooking and play with Barbies. Those are small examples of a much larger issue, and these gendered lessons exist at every turn, are all-consuming and ripple across our lives.There are people in bodies deemed masculine who have been told they are a boy time and time again, even though that’s not how they feel inside. They are told their feelings are unnatural and irrelevant. Boys are told over and over again that they must follow certain rules, their lives must be a certain way, their dreams must be a certain thing.Gender also tells us that we are not whole and are only one part of a whole; the whole being a man and a woman. This is incredibly anti-queer and an unhealthy way to view yourself and a relationship.

Viewing yourself as less than a whole being who possesses the capacity to be masculine and feminine, and perform a variety of roles or possess skills that are deemed feminine, is illogical.It is terrifying to think that so many of us internalize these messages on a deep, subconscious level, a message that exposes men to constant emotional isolation and violence if they exist outside of these preset parameters. It is alarming that many men move through life seeing themselves as incomplete because they will never be with a woman or because they have yet to marry their “soulmate.” It’s alarming that people will not teach their boys how to cook, robbing them of that  that necessary survival skill. It is alarming how many people feel uncomfortable seeing men cry.”

Source: The conditioning that fuels the mental health epidemic for Black men, and how to stop it – The Black Youth Project

Du Boisian Double Consciousness and the Appropriation of Black Male Bodies in Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ | The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA)

Du Boisian Double Consciousness and the Appropriation of Black Male Bodies in Jordan Peele’s Get OutCivil American, Volume 4, Article 1 (April 16, 2019).

By Darrius Hills and Seth Vannatta |

The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him not true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. ~ W. E. B. Du Bois [1]

Source: Du Boisian Double Consciousness and the Appropriation of Black Male Bodies in Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ | The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA)

New Report: The Capitol of Suspensions: : Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males

New Report- The Capitol of Suspensions: : Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males in Sacramento County

Across the nation, Black males are routinely exposed to exclusionary practices that remove them from learning environments (Howard, 2008, 2013; Wood, 2017; Wood, Essien, & Blevins, 2017). These practices include over-placement in special education, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and even expulsion (Losen & Skiba, 2010). Among these forms of exclusionary discipline, suspensions have been a topic of continued interest in the past several years, with numerous reports and studies demonstrating that California is home to some of the most egregious suspension patterns in the country.

As detailed in a recent report, GET OUT! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools, Sacramento County is ground zero for some of the highest total suspensions in the State. In fact, Sacramento county has the second highest total suspensions in California, falling only behind Los Angeles County. This rate exceeds those in other urban counties, such as San Bernardino, Riverside, Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Joaquin (Wood, Harris III, & Howard, 2018).

Prior research has demonstrated that students who are regularly suspended are being tracked into the prison industrial complex, a pattern often referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. Thus, while some students are being socialized by schools for college-going and entering into the workforce, others are being socialized for prison. Moreover, research has also shown that those subjected to suspensions are more likely to enter into the permanent underclass and to have a reliance upon social services (Darensbourg, Perez, & Blake, 2010; Fenning & Rose, 2007; Skiba, Arredondo, & Williams, 2014). Bearing this in mind, this brief sought to highlight key facts about suspensions in Sacramento County. These facts are meant to generate conversations around issues of racial injustice and educational inequities that permeate the region’s educational institutions that fortify the economic and social health of the region.

This brief details the exposure of Black males to exclusionary discipline in Sacramento County. In particular, this report highlights the high suspensions of Black boys and young men in Sacramento County public schools. Some of the key findings include:

  • Black males are 5.4 times more likely to be suspended in Sacramento County than the statewide average.
  • Nearly 18 Black males were suspended, per day, in the county.
  • Sacramento County has four school districts in the top 20 suspension districts for Black males in the State of California.
  • Sacramento City Unified is the most egregious suspension district for Black males in the State of California.
  • Black males in early childhood education (kindergarten through third grade) are 9.9 times more likely to be suspended than their peers (statewide).
  • One third of all Black male foster youth are suspended in Sacramento County.

Full Report

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We Who Must Fight in the Shade: . . . ” :: Dr. Tommy J. Curry

We Who Must Fight in the Shade: Derrick Bell’s Philosophy of Racial Realism as the basis of a Black Politics of Disempowerment.

By: Dr. Tommy J. Curry

12-10-16-curry-agenticA rather curious change of emphasis has caught my attention recently. Negroes are being accused of racism, that is, of unduly emphasizing racial differences and of advocating racial separation. This would be laughable if it did not have so serious a side. A shattered and almost fatally divided world now making desperate effort to envision humanity bound together in peace and at least with some approach to brotherhood is being warned that its worst victims are contemplating resurgence of race hate! W.E.B. DuBois—1962 Introduction Despite the undeniable failure of integration and multiculturalism, race theory in philosophy continues to endorse a dilapidated hope in liberal democracy that ignores the historic and systemic racism of American society.1 Current theories about race focus on its socially constructed nature—its contingency rather than the actual effect(s) racism has had and continues to have on the lives of African-descended people in America. In philosophy, the tendency to privilege “race” over “racism” is particularly worrisome, as current writings on the question of race remain dedicated to fulfilling the unrealized promises of integration. Despite the work of scholars outside of philosophy like Michelle Alexander’s concrete articulation of the “New Jim Crow,” or the maintenance of America’s racial caste system through mass incarceration,2 or Barbara J. Field’s interrogation of the historical complexity that emerges from the ideological limitations of the race construct in analyzing American racism, our present day philosophical engagements with race propagate a conceptually simplistic view that sees race as a problem able to be solved through dialogue and inter-racial understanding. Ignoring the various social and legal manifestations of anti-Black racism that show the regression of race relations in America, rather than progress,3 this dogma calls for a peaceful coexistence between Blacks and whites in which the long denied humanity of Black people are recognized in exchange for Blacks interiorizing America’s liberal creed of (racial) equality, (Black) individuality, and (African-American) progress. Rather than reacting against the liberal conceptualization of American race relations as gradual and naturally progressing towards the resolution of anti-Black racism, the dominant mode of Black political thought seeks to revise Black thinkers doubtful of the possibility that racial equality is possible in American into optimists who saw equal rights under racial integrationism as inevitable. Recent political works in Black philosophy and race theory like Tommie Shelby’s We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity, Elizabeth Anderson’s The Imperative of Integration, and Eddie Glaude’s In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America follow this mode of uncritically privileging the idea that integration and racial coexistence are the only means of dealing with the racial inequalities that persist in the United States. By contrast, Peniel E. Joseph’s Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama and The Black Power Movement: Rethinking Civil Rights—Black Power Era points out the ironic, but expected popularity of such scholarship, since these theorizations, and the ideological perspectives current scholars hold vary to great degree from the reflections on American racism presented in the majority of works Black thinkers have penned from the 19th century to present. Despite the prevalence of Black Power style Nationalism, and radical (systemic) critiques of white supremacy and anti-Black racism’s permanence in these works, today, “Black philosophers primarily rely on the promises of American liberalism and the hopes of democracy in the post-Civil rights era to fundamentally change the racial context of the United States and remedy individual attachments to 2 racial loyalties,”4 rather than seriously dealing with the seeming permanence of American racism and theorizing from this actuality. Over two decades ago, Derrick Bell introduced a seemingly radical thesis to a white academic community convinced that the Civil Rights Movement had effectively eliminated racism. According to Bell, Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those Herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more than temporary “peaks of progress,” short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it and move on to adopt policies based on what I call: “Racial Realism.” This mind-set or philosophy requires us to acknowledge the permanence of our subordinate status.5 Despite the seemingly nihilistic tone of Bell’s announcement, this idea—that racism is permanent—can be found in the most of the writings of the Black intellectuals (like T.Thomas Fortune and Henry McNeal Turner) and Black nationalists of the mid-1800’s (like Martin R. Delany and John E. Bruce), even W.E.B. DuBois rejects Brown as a signal of racial transformation in the 1950’s.

Historically, the admittance of racism’s permanence has been the hallmark of Black thought in America. Despite the attention that integrationist ideas have received in contemporary works of Black political thought,6 there has been a constant and more richly developed strand of Black thought that maintains the impossibility of persuading whites of Black people’s humanity and accepts the permanence of American anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Today, however, most thinkers dealing with the race question are motivated by the Pyrrhic successes of Brown versus the Board of Education and the Civil Rights Era,7 choosing to read into historic Black works contemporary ideas of integrationism and racial ethics, as if the insights of Black authors who wrote during slavery and Reconstruction illuminate current racial issues in America only insofar as they enrich the racial success stories of liberalism and the possibility of racial amelioration under American democracy. If Black political theory is to move beyond the current apologetic revisionism of historic Black thinkers—a revisionism set on depicting even the most adamant nationalists as closet integrationists—Black political theory must begin to exert new energies toward theorizing about the political and social inequality that Blacks currently endure, which means both creating a discussion in Black social political philosophy open to the possibility of permanent racial inequality in the United States, and engaging in a more diligent and earnest reading of Black resistance outside of the political aims of American liberalism and integration’s racial moralizations. It is my hope that the introduction of Derrick Bell’s work into the Black political arena hastens this detaching of decades old ideology of civil rights era integrationism.

This paper intends to convey four theoretical contributions to our current understandings of racism in the post-civil rights era. First, I want to question the mainstay tradition of Black social/political philosophy and race theory that continues to celebrate liberalism as a vehicle for racial progress. Following the work of Derrick Bell, I maintain that this is in a very real sense an unjustifiable romanticization of the Civil Rights Era, specifically the effect of Brown v. Board on American race relations. Second, I want to clarify Derrick’s position on liberalism and a means through which Black political theorists can distance themselves from this dogma of integrationism which I term “conceptual disengagement.” Third, I argue that this disengagement would allow Black scholars to better understand the relationship that W.E.B. DuBois points out to Black Americans in accepting minuscule political privileges when the consequence of such luxuries is the furthering of American imperialism and the capitalist exploitation of the darker races the world over.

Lastly, I am interested in presenting a contrasting political theory rooted in the disempowerment of white supremacist institutions and structures of American society. 3 Chastising the Idealism of Brown v. Board of Education: Bell’s Indebtedness to Robert L. Carter’s Pessimism of Brown. “In its first words, on the subject of citizenship, Congress in 1790 limited naturalization to ‘white persons.’

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“Imagining Ourselves as Agentic: The Great Fallacy” :: Dr. Tommy J. Curry

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
“Imagining Ourselves as Agentic: The Great Fallacy”

Guest: Dr. Tommy J. Curry, Professor, Texas A&M University
Philosophy and African American Studies

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December 10, 2016 :: LIVE :: 10 pm EST
Join us LIVE Chat and Call-In: http://bit.ly/AgenticCurry

AGENTIC

“1) A social cognition theory proposed by Stanford University Psychologist Albert Bandura that views people as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflective and self-regulating as times change. An agentic perspective states that we are not merely reactive organisms shaped by environmental forces or driven by inner impulses.

2) The capacity for human beings to make choices in the world. HUMAN AGENCY

We see the world as agents of change. We believe that we have choice over our actions and we strive to enable others to make informed, responsible decisions.”

Recently, Dr. Curry wrote in his persistent advocacy of Black males in America, “The reoccuring structure of Black males coping with their rape is to accept its impossibility and imagine themselves as agentic. We need psychologists and social workers in these communities willing to treat these boys as victims , and theorists willing to engage female perpetrated rape beyond the idea of sexual initiation.” In the context of all of us as victims of racial attack, we ask whether any of us can imagine ourselves as agentic and if such a preposition may be impeded by inherent fallacies. Dr. Curry always brings opportunities FOR “transformative discourse”. He will be joining us once again on OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham.

12-10-16-curry-agenticabout Dr. Tommy J. Curry

Dr. Curry is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is a Ray A. Rothrock Fellow 13′-16′ in the Department of Philosophy.

He is an editor of PhilPapers, Choice Magazine and a regular contributor to RacismReview.com and OUR COMMON GROUND. He is Critical Race Theorist, Anti-Colonialist, Applied Ethicist and Black philosopher.

His work in social justice, applied ethics, and bioethics concerns the present interpretation of the Belmont report, and the racial/class barriers to minority access to medical innovation in health care. He has been interviewed by Forbes.com, the Wall Street Journal, Salon.com and other popular venues for his opinions on politics, ethics, and racial justice issues.

His upcoming book in Black Studies and Black Manhood Studies | “The Man-Not” can be Pre-Ordered now on Amazon.com.

A must read is his OP-ED, When Black News Disappears: White Holds On Black Intellectuals’ Minds And Misinforming The Black Public

Racism Review | Op-Ed   Follow him on Twitter:  @drtjc

BROADCASTING BOLD BRAVE & BLACK

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Dr. Tommy J. Curry φ Concepts of Racism and Black Men φ PBS Conference October 26, 2013 Tommy Curry

 

 

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Talking about white Privilege is not Profound, its just for profit. φ Dr. Tommy J. Curry

curryvoicesTalking about white Privilege is not Profound, its just for profit.

By: Dr. Tommy J. Curry

There is a growing economy for discussions about white privilege in this country that are employing Black and brown intellectuals and whites who profess anti-racism, to be the missionaries that save white souls. white privilege, or the idea that white individuals are born with unearned benefits and advantages, over others has been making its way through out the public media as well as the classroom. On the face of it, this seems like a radical conversation. Black, brown and some white people calling out white liberals and conservatives for their racism, and starting “real” conversations about race that air on MsNBC,CNN and even the Huffington Post. But conversations about white privilege are not really conversations about race, and certainly not about racism—its a business—WHERE BLACKS MARKET THEMSELVES AS RACIAL THERAPISTS.

See the first discussions of white privilege like W.E.B. DuBois’s Black Reconstruction (1935) or George Lipsitz’s The Possessive Investment in whiteness, or even Cheryl Harris’s “whiteness as property,” came from the radical Black intellectual tradition (race-crits, Black nationalists, Pan-Africanists) that did not believe that whites would simply donate their power and act against their global racial interests to be good people IN THE EYES OF BLACKS, people they owned and still imprison. DuBois, and Lipsitz understood there is an antipathy and power in being against Blacks. Like George Jackson said, regarding the ILLUSION many Black academics have in romanticizing their ability to solve racism, “the white race, the economic elites of America, are not going to let themselves be educated out of existence. But today, you sound radical, progressive and insightful by MARKETING YOURSELF as a therapist for whites, and know nothing about the actual conditions, structures, and ills that concretely affect the lives of Blacks. You can even talk about white privilege and not even know the names of the Black thinkers, the literature, the context, or the history the term comes from, and get acclaim for only citing white celebrities like Peggy McIntosh or Tim Wise.

It’s not genius to say in an oppressive society there are benefits being in the superior class instead of the inferior class. That’s true in any hierarchy, being on the top is better than being on the bottom, but the speaker of white privilege gets to pretend that America is not oppressive, they love America, they just want whites to surrender their privilege so we can be equal. See the revolutionary doesn’t have white friends: the government killed MLK, Assata is called a terrorist, Derrick Bell is erased from a field he started, because they spoke about the actual racial and economic tyranny of corporations, governments, the military and the white public, but the for profit revolutionary wants to be commodified by whites…that Black friend that feels like they cured the racist white, while that same white person gets to point to these very relationships as proof they are healed and show to other whites they are the “white ally.”

Conversations about white privilege are simply moral appeals to the conscience of whites who have shown themselves to be committed to racism and social inequity IN THE IDLE HOPE THAT THEY change their mind. The implication of talking about privilege suffers from a childlike naiveity, it suggests that simply exposing racism and the privilege of whiteness to the white mind motivates whites to no longer act in their own self interest. See like the liberal utopia born out of integration, there is an unjustifiable assumption that telling whites about their social position means they are willing to surrender their power to appease a pop culture account of oppression. Think about the dishonesty of this approach. Black people, oppressed people, know there is a fundamental difference between being oppressed/Black and not oppressed, a citizen, white. We call for “national conversations on race,” where these public intellectuals get credit for starting conversations that amount to little more than allowing white America the opportunity to deny the actual realities Black America suffer from. And regardless of the outcome they come out LOOKING LIKE PROPHETS. This issue is white supremacy, and anti-Black death…trying discussing that…and see if your oppressor recognizes you then.

I remember at a recent APA I sat next to a feminist of color trying to get her white male student who couldn’t get a job in the white figures he studied and wrote a book on, and never studied race, racism, or Black philosophy, a job. This professor felt comfortable telling him if you start talking about white privilege, where she claimed the field was going, he could land a race job easily. Think about this. So all the Black, Brown, and Indigenous scholars who study the raw histories of oppression and resistance lose out because they don’t want to give white liberals and conservatives a guilt trip. This is a powerful example of how as an academic discussion white privilege distracts the oppressed, and empowers the oppressor class to be employed in discussing systems they have no real interest in dismantling.

Dr. Tommy J. Curry, The Nationist

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When Black News Disappears: White Holds on Black Intellectuals’ Minds and Misinforming the Black Public

When Black News Disappears: White Holds on Black Intellectuals’ Minds and Misinforming the Black Public

Friday, 24 May 2013 09:49By Dr Tommy J CurryRacism Review | Op-Ed

As an historical entity, the Black press has not only offered critical commentaries and political critiques of the sempiternal racism of the modern world, but  correctives as to how white newspapers, opinion-makers, legislators, and most importantly the white public sought to justify their complacency towards and support for anti-Black racism and the sexual brutalization of Black men, women, and children. Today, however, the post-Obama lullabies of racial détente and the progressive liberal passivity of Black intellectuals have allowed the structural and ideological manifestations of white supremacy to remain unquestioned despite their persistence alongside the growing realities of Black death. For example, when Trayvon Martin was killed, Melissa Harris Perry thought it prudent to use the tragedy as a moment to teach white folks “how to talk about Black death”—she literally created a checklist for whites rather than deal with the horrors facing young Black men and boys in their communities.

Currently, the post-racial idea has contoured Black news into a narrow politically progressive ideology. This ideology is thematically geared towards convincing the Black public that the symbols of racial progress are in fact actual progress. This contest over “symbols,” rather than exposing the propaganda of the liberal endeavor, allows Black academics to retreat into their own ideologically predetermined blog’s rendering of “Black” events, so that their views, be it feminist, leftist, or progressive, are legitimized. Meanwhile, the Black public remains victimized by the political interests of multiple entities; each with their agenda rooted in de-radicalizing Black consensus and normalizing Black deaths, specifically the death of Black men, as having nothing to do with racism, merely accidental rather than systemic. As I have argued previously, Black academics and news personalities are rewarded for pimping out “the delusion of hope” to Black people while racism increases alongside the normalization of their death, incarceration, and poverty.

Has the Black Press Lost Its Way?

Since slavery, Black abolitionists, ministers, and revolutionaries understood the need for “Black perspectives,” on the racist evil that plagues America. The Christian theology that justified the horrors of slavery was indicted, and the white Christian, the earliest imperialist, was not held to be the savior of civilization but its greatest detractor whose abuse and degradation of Blacks was rooted in their imperial lust for power and profit. As David Walker says in Article I of The Appeal:

“I have been for years troubling the pages of historians, to find out what our fathers have done to the white Christians of America, to merit such condign punishment as they have inflicted on them, and do continue to inflict on us their children. But I must aver, that my researches have hitherto been to no effect. I have therefore, come to the immoveable conclusion, that they (Americans) have, and do continue to punish us for nothing else, but for enriching them and their country. For I cannot conceive of anything else”

With the rise of Freedom’s Journal, the Black press took on the radical mission of liberation that up to that point was confined to pamphlets, and the now revered slave narrative. The Black press, its editors and writers, were among the most notable Black thinkers of the 1800’s and beyond. T.Thomas Fortune’s (1856-1928) The New York Age was the training ground for no less an intellectual than W.E.B. DuBois. It was a publication where Fortune’s radicalism which advocated for Black self-determination and security, even by armed resistance if necessary, was center stage. It not only gained him notoriety among Black journalists but earned him the admiration of the young Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) who would continue to develop his political philosophy of agitation and help build the first civil rights organization for Black rights; the Afro-American League. This radicality was present in most of the Black journalists at the turn of the century. Henry McNeal Turner and John Edward Bruce exemplified a political tone that was only matched by the radicality of the 1960’s and 1970’s in the founding and growth of the Black Panther Party and the journalistic accounts of the Black Power Movement. As my student, Ms. Judith Bohr, points out in her master’s thesis “A People’s History of Philosophy: The Development and Ideological Segregation of Black Nationalism,” the violence against Blacks in society, be it at the hands of police state militarism or the prison industrial complex, necessitates a compliant and complacent account of reality. As she states,

“The media assists in this erasure of police violence through their portrayals of African Americans as a danger to society…Whites’ fear, however, is for their privilege and not for their safety…Propaganda in the media functions through erasure and through distortions of the state’s as well as the public’s motivations for racial violence” (Bohr 2011, 30).

Thus, the de-radicalization of Black news and the complacency of the Black journalistic endeavor—its commodification into  predetermined categories, that ironically have academic currency despite being driven by political interests—does little to inform, much less improve, the conditions of Black people. The silence of mainstream Black news on the systemic political and economic divisions, divisions made necessary by the militaristic racist endeavors of the U.S. government, even under a Black Obama administration, is imperative in preventing the Black public from engaging the concrete American condition confronting Blacks, immigrants, and the poor.

Most recently, SiriusXM decided to change Sirius 128—The Power to urban driven entertainment programming under the new title of the Urban View. In doing so SiriusXM eliminated ReddingNewsReview, an independent Black political commentary dedicated to exposing the contradiction between Black political representation in the Obama era and Black political exploitation under Obama’s administration. The change in the lineup effectively changed the Power 128 from the “News and Issues” category to the Urban View 110 a “African American Talk and Entertainment” channel. Reacting to this change, Wade Simmon wrote a splendid editorial asking, “Is SiriusXM Trying to Undermine Black Power?” The effect of this censorship could be isolated, but it again begs the question as to why independent Black radio and press that dares to question the status quo of America’s race problem is so easily engulfed by liberal reformist agendas that take Obama’s symbolism to be of more importance than the actual economic and political viability of mass Black agendas.

Despite the criticisms one may make of Redding, the reality is that Black Americans lack a non-partisan interpretation of the Black condition that does not retreat into the ideologies of the blogosphere, where select academics, married to predetermined paradigms of reading Blackness, meet and greet. The Black public is usually deemed irrelevant in these deliberations from the outset. They are to be “spoken about” authoritatively, but rarely “spoken from,” since these Black people are outside the academy, and lack the supposed knowledge/education to “understand” the complexities of Black life. Independent Black radio, reaching back to the Ralph “Petey” Greene and radicals like Robert F. Williams, sought transgressive messages against empire and racism. Whereas today, many Black elites, the Melissa Harris Perrys of the world, confine discussions of racism to their specific opportunities to gain social capital and recognition from whites; choosing to ignore both the material consequences of the liberal agenda for Black people at home and its militaristic program against darker peoples abroad. ReddingNewsReview, like that ofVoxunion, sought to disrupt that narrative.

The same way Ida B. Wells-Barnett decided to report the horrors of Black reality, anti-Black violence through lynching, and the weakness of Black leadership in the 1890’s, so too did Redding in the 21st century. At the very bottom of Black politics, there is a need to recognize that the manipulation of Black media—the Black press and radio—to further the political agendas and social legitimacy of specific parties, namely the democratic party’s claim that they represent the Black/Browning of America, does nothing to arrest the imperial agendas this presidency like all presidencies before it continue to engage in the world over. As Dr. Jared Ball argues in his talk on “Colonialism and Media Psychological Warfare,” media, or rather propaganda, is at the heart of America’s white supremacist empire.

Conclusion:

Race-crits, critical sociologists, and Black, Brown, and Indigenous scholars cannot continue to embrace the symbolism of progress without making those symbols resonate with the actual economic, political, and extra-legal conditions of Black existence. There is a very real contradiction between the symbolism of Obama’s reign and the worsening plight of Blacks under Obama’s reign. Rather than being at odds with the type of progressivism that perpetuates the poverty, the apparati of state sponsored violence, and social repression, the Black press has taken to excusing it—pointing out the extraordinary cases of violence that shock us most, but leaving the racist narrative written into the foundation of America’s democracy, militarism, imperialism, and capitalist lust untouched.

ABOUT Dr. Tommy J. Curry

Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University

Tommy J. Curry’s work spans across the various fields of philosophy, jurisprudence, Africana Studies, and Gender Studies. Though trained in American and Continental philosophical traditions, Curry’s primary research interests are in Critical Race Theory and Africana Philosophy. In Critical Race Theory, Curry looks at the work of Derrick Bell and his theory of racial realism as an antidote to the proliferating discourses of racial idealism that continue to uncritically embrace liberalism through the appropriation of European thinkers as the basis of racial reconciliation in the United States. In Africana philosophy, Curry’s work turns an eye towards the conceptual genealogy (intellectual history) of African American thought from 1800 to the present, with particular attention towards the scholars of the American Negro Academy and the Negro Society for Historical Research.

In Biomedical ethics, Curry is primarily interested government regulation, the ethical limits of government intervention in the practice of medicine, and democratic potentialities that arise from collaborative doctor-patient diagnoses and regenerative medicine like stem cells. Currently his research focuses on the linking the conceptualization of ethics found in the Belmont Report to Civil Rights and social justice paradigms.

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