Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage In Black America

Losing The Race

Self-Sabotage In Black America

John H. McWhorter

by John H. McWhorter
April/May 2001

Excerpt from the book “Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage In Black America


In January 1999, David Howard, the white ombudsman to the newly elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Anthony Williams, casually said in a budget meeting with two coworkers “I will have to be niggardly with this fund because it’s not going to be a lot of money.”

Niggardly is a rather esoteric word meaning “stingy.” Its resemblance to the racial slur nigger is accidental. It has been used in English since the Middle Ages, when black people of any kind were unknown in England, and had been imported to the country by Scandinavian Viking invaders in the 800s, in whose tongue nig meant “miser.”

Howard’s coworkers were a white person and a black person. The black coworker immediately stormed out of the room and would not listen to Howard’s attempt to explain. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Williams curtly accepted Howard’s resignation, his official position being that in a predominantly black city with a history of racial tension, Howard’s choice of words was grounds for dismissal, akin to being “caught smoking in a refinery that resulted in an explosion.” Black talk radio was abuzz with indignation, almost unanimously in support of Williams’s decision. A former president of the National Bar Association, a mostly black group, was uncompelled by the fact that the word is not a racial slur, fuming, “Do we really know where the Norwegians got the word?” Meanwhile, David Howard was contrite, considering his dismissal deserved. “You have to be able to see things from the other person’s shoes,” he explained, “and I did not do that.”

Niggardly is, to be sure, an awkward little word. Its chance resemblance to nigger is such that many of us might quite justifiably choose to avoid it in favor of stingy, parsimonious, or penurious. There are words like that — the original meaning of horny was “rough or calloused,” and one formerly had this word at one’s disposal in describing, among other things, voice quality. In the twentieth century the word happens to have acquired the slang meaning of “sexually aroused,” though, and as such it is now gracious to avoid using it in its original meaning.

Yet it was difficult not to ask whether a man deserved to be cast into unemployment because of this innocent and passing faux pas, especially a man who had dedicated his career to a troubled, predominantly black administration, and who had never shown any sign of racist bias. For many black observers, however, this was beside the point. “How would another ethnic group react if you came close to the line with a phrase inappropriate to that group?” asked the former National Bar Association president.

That rhetorical question cut through the whole issue in its way, because in fact, there is no other ethnic group in the United States today whose sensibilities would lead to someone’s summary dismissal for a mere unintended allusion to a racial epithet applying to them. If Howard had made the equivalent slip-up in a Jewish, Asian, Latino, or even gay association, he would have been dutifully taken aside and informed that such a word was not the most felicitous choice and that he would be best advised not to use it in the future. He would then have been allowed to continue in his efforts to do good work.

Whatever our opinions on what happened to David Howard, only in an African-American context is the image of a man cleaning out his desk for such an evanescent little flub even processible. In other words, the firing of David Howard was “a black thing.”

Like Howard’s gaffe, the niggardly episode in itself was a minor flap, which will surely be all but forgotten by the time this book is in your hands. Yet it was symbolic of larger things, whose significance comes through in a thought exercise.

In the 1970s, an anecdote used to circulate in which a man is killed in a car accident but his son lives and is taken to a hospital where the surgeon says, “I can’t operate on him — he’s my son.” Most people were more likely to puzzle over how the boy’s father could be both the doctor and dead than to even consider that the surgeon was in fact the boy’s mother, and thus a woman.

Now, keeping that in mind, imagine if a Martian came to our planet and asked to interview a representative member of several leading nations, and the representative of the United States was chosen by lottery, and that the person who came up was an African American.

The fact is that for most of us, this would require the same polite adjustment needed to spontaneously imagine a female surgeon. We know that, theoretically, black Americans are “Americans.” However, it’s a rather intellectual point for both blacks and whites. When writers like Shelby Steele and Stanley Crouch wax eloquent about black people being Americans and perhaps even the most American of Americans, they are pushing the envelope, stretching the boundaries, attempting a transformation of thought, not simply stating a truism. The reasons such statements are more transformative than observational is because in all of our hearts, black Americans are perceived as a “case apart” in a way that almost no other native-born ethnic group in the United States is today.

Our archetypal sense of the representative “American” would be a WASP male, for example. However, a female WASP would be perceived as no less “American,” nor would a white Catholic male or female. Except for an increasingly small fringe of fixated anti-Semites, no one would perceive Jewishness as refracting the American essence to any substantial degree. Although the Irish would have strained most Americans’ sense of “American” a hundred years ago, today, even Irishness worn on the sleeve would arouse no comment, nor would being Italian, a Pole in Cleveland, an isolated rancher from Wyoming, or even a poor Appalachian. Whatever their individual heritages, all such people are processed as being a fundamental “part of the fabric.”

The native-born people who strain our sense of who representative Americans are include Latinos, who often speak Spanish natively and have strong ties to other countries; Asians, for whom the same factors apply; and American Indians, who also often speak another language natively, are descended from indigenes torn from this land, and are now often relegated to the margins of society, and as such often have only a hesitant sense of being “American.”

In this light, it is significant that black Americans are as difficult to process as representative “Americans” as many Latinos, Asians, and Indians. This is perhaps unremarkable in the case of inner-city youth. Crucially, however, our sense of dissonance would persist even if the black American chosen was an upper-middle-class corporate manager living in a manicured suburb. Somehow, all of us, black and white, can imagine this person representing the American soul as a whole only after an awkward little pause. And yet, unlike many Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, this person speaks nothing but English natively, as have all of his ancestors and relatives alive while he was. He has no ties to another country: His distant ancestors came from not one but a number of distinct African nations, and which nations these were is probably lost to history; meanwhile, he is unlikely to have even traveled to Africa. This man is an American: there is certainly nothing else that he could logically be. And yet to all of us, what this man is first and foremost, regardless of his tailored suit, Volvo, and walk-in closets, is “black.” Certainly this is how most whites see him — but crucially, this is also how most blacks see him. As the niggardly episode demonstrated, almost forty years after the Civil Rights Act, “black” is profoundly and incontrovertibly “different,” drowning out all considerations of class, income, or accomplishment.

When someone asks “Why does everything always have to be about race?” the usual subtext is that whites keep this torch burning while black Americans are increasingly frustrated in their attempts to be accepted simply as “people.” But this book is written in the belief that the idea that white racism is the main obstacle to black success and achievement is now all but obsolete. Today, ironic accidents of history have created a situation in which black Americans themselves are forced into the dominant role in making it so that most of us have to think twice to remember that even a black corporate lawyer living in the suburbs is an “American.”

This is due neither to opportunism nor deliberate obstinance, despite frequent claims to the contrary. It is instead an externally imposed cultural disorder that has taken on a life of its own. As such, it no more justifies an indictment of the black community than a flu epidemic would justify censuring the administration of a city. However, we can only eradicate an epidemic and heal a community by identifying it — trace it, face it, and erase it, as one hears in twelve-step programs. Along those lines, I will show that black America is currently caught in certain ideological holding patterns that are today much, much more serious barriers to black well-being than is white racism, and constitute nothing less than a continuous, self-sustaining act of self-sabotage.

Importantly, my conception of black American well-being incorporates anything any black American might subsume under that heading. For some, the main index of black American well-being would be integration. In that light, I believe that the black community today is the main obstacle to achieving the full integration our Civil Rights leaders sought.

Yet I am aware that integration is now a tired, distant, and fraught notion for many if not most African Americans. This is encapsulated as I write in a sitcom called The Hughleys, in which a black man moves his family to the suburbs and finds himself uneasy at the prospect that they will lose their cultural blackness in the course of daily contact with whites. Whatever the wisdom or folly of this anti-integrationist trend, for such people, black well-being would be less a matter of integration than basics like financial success and psychological well-being. Crucially, however, the main thing today keeping even these goals elusive for so many black Americans is the very mindset with which history has burdened the black community.

The ideological sea of troubles plaguing black America and keeping black Americans eternally America’s case apart regardless of class expresses itself in three manifestations.

The first is the Cult of Victimology, under which it has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured. Only naivet√© could lead anyone to suppose that racism does not still exist, or that there are not still problems to be solved. However, the grip of the Cult of Victimology encourages the black American from birth to fixate upon remnants of racism and resolutely downplay all signs of its demise. Black Americans too often teach one another to conceive of racism not as a scourge on the wane but as an eternal pathology changing only in form and visibility, and always on the verge of getting not better but worse. Victimology determined the niggardly episode: The basic sentiment that racism still lurks in every corner led naturally to a sense that the use of a word that even sounds like nigger was a grievous insult, in alluding to a raw, relentless oppression and persecution still beleaguering the black community from all sides. The black coworker’s bolting from the room deaf to appeal illustrated this, with the implication that the mere utterance of a particular sequence of sounds was an injury beyond all possible discussion, regardless of its actual meaning. More than a few black Washingtonians even surmised that Howard was using the word as a way of slipping the epithet in the back door, under the impression that racism this naked is still typical of most whites in private. Only in a community concerned less with solving victimhood than nurturing it would a mayor compare Howard’s harmless little blooper to “being caught smoking in a refinery” and deny a man his job, instead of informing him of his mistake and allowing him to move on with the business of running the city.

The second manifestation is Separatism, a natural outgrowth of Victimology, which encourages black Americans to conceive of black people as an unofficial sovereign entity, within which the rules other Americans are expected to follow are suspended out of a belief that our victimhood renders us morally exempt from them. Because of this, the sad thing was that Anthony Williams was in a sense engaging in the business of “running the city” in accepting Howard’s resignation. At the outset of his administration when the niggardly episode happened, the low-key, Ivy League-educated Williams was widely suspected of being “not black enough” in comparison to former mayor Marion Barry. He had first been chief financial officer on the control board that had taken over the city from Barry by order of Congress. He had gone on to be elected by whites and successful blacks, and had then brought a great many whites onto his staff. As such, Williams felt compelled to let Howard go in order to show his allegiance to the predominantly black constituency he had come to serve. Importantly, showing that allegiance meant firing a man for an innocent mistake. This irony was due to the fact that the Cult of Victimology has a stranglehold upon most of the black Washington community, and conditions various local rules considered appropriate for blacks in the name of victimhood, i.e., a Separatist conception of morality. One manifestation of this sovereign morality had reelected Marion Barry after he had run the city into the ground despite billions of dollars in Federal aid and been sent to prison for drug use. The idea that a white official uttering a word that sounds like nigger must be fired regardless of his intent was simply one more manifestation. In other words, for Williams, part of running Washington, D.C., was showing that he was rooted in Separatism.

Separatism spawns the third manifestation, a strong tendency toward Anti-intellectualism at all levels of the black community. Founded in the roots of the culture in poverty and disenfranchisement, this tendency has now become a culture-internal infection nurtured by a distrust of the former oppressor. As I will demonstrate in this book, it is this, and not unequal distribution of educational resources, that is the root cause of the notorious lag in black students’ grades and test scores regardless of class or income level, and this thought pattern, like Victimology and Separatism, rears its head in every race-related issue in the United States. “Do we really know where the Norwegians got the word?” I recall the former president of the National Bar Association asking in reference to niggardly. Yet the Scandinavians are not exactly well known for their role in the slave trade — the Danes and the Swedes tried their hand briefly but never made much of a mark. This man might object that racism spreads nevertheless, but even here, a question arises: Blacks have been unjustly stereotyped as being many things, but “stingy” is not one of them. As such, how likely is it that niggardly would ever have referred to black people? How plausible is it that people picked up the slur nigger in a region where few people had ever even seen a black person until a few decades ago? Even if we somehow allow this, why exactly would they then proceed to apply the word to people who are tight with their cash? (“Come on, Sven, don’t be such a nigger — buy me a beer.”) But this past president of the National Bar Association obviously did not pause to even briefly consider any of this, even before making statements to the press. A minor thing in itself, to be sure, but symptomatic of a general sense in much of the black community that to dwell upon such things as the origins of arcane words and, by extension, books, is “of another world,” specifically the white one.

One of the most important things about these three currents is that whites in America do nothing less than encourage them. This is partly, as Shelby Steele argues, out of a sense of moral obligation that leads most whites to condone Victimology, Separatism, and Anti-intellectualism as “understandable” responses to the horrors of the past. More than a few whites have come to see the condescension inherent in this, but only the occasional few dare express their opinion openly or at any length, since such an act is as likely to attract excoriation from other whites as from blacks. Whites also unwittingly encourage all of these currents via well-intentioned social policies like open-ended welfare and permanent affirmative action, which are intended to help blacks overcome, but in practice only roil the waters under all three currents. Whites are now implicated in nurturing black self-sabotage not because of racist malevolence, but because of the same historical accidents that have encouraged blacks to embrace these thought patterns. Yet the fact remains that interracial relations in America have congealed into a coded kind of dance that unwittingly encourages black people to preserve and reinforce their status as “other,” and a pitiable, weak, and unintelligent “other” at that. This, too, was evident in the niggardly episode, in which David Howard actually accepted the condemnation rained upon him by most of black Washington. Howard thought that he deserved to be fired for innocently uttering a word that even sounded like nigger, even though what he was doing while uttering it was helping to improve the lives of the city’s citizens.

One misconception about these three currents is that they are merely fringe phenomena, minor overswings of the pendulum that need not concern us in the long run. However, adherents of Victimology are in no sense limited to the likes of melodramatically opportunist politicians such as Al Sharpton, academic identity politics mavens such as Derrick Bell and Lani Guinier, or sensationalist cultural demagogues such as June Jordan. On the contrary, Victimology has become, less fervently but with profound influence nevertheless, part of the very essence of modern black identity. It now permeates the consciousness of a great many black Americans in all walks of life, most of whom in a recent poll were under the impression that three out of four black Americans lived in ghettoes, as opposed to the actual figure, which is one in five. Similarly, the furious and militant separatism of people like former Nation of Islam official Khalid Muhummad is but the tip of an iceberg. The general sense that the black person operates according to different rules was eloquently demonstrated, for example, by the muted concern with the open sexism of the Million Man March — what group in America could any of us even begin to imagine convening an all-male march in 1995 other than African Americans? The Anti-intellectual current is often thought to be primarily an inner-city problem typical of underclass youth alienated from poor schools, but is in fact a tremendous impediment to black culture as a whole, as shown by the little-noted fact that even middle-class black students tend to make substandard grades even in well-funded suburban schools where teachers are making herculean, culturally sensitive efforts to reach them. In short, these three currents are neither only inner-city ills, mere cynical ploys by politicians, nor just smug fantasy churned out from the ivory tower by the brie-and-Zinfandel set. They are so endemic to black culture as a whole that they are no longer even perceived as points of view, but rather as simple logic incarnate. In other words, these defeatist thought patterns have become part of the bedrock of black identity.

The most serious misconception about these three currents, however, is that there is nothing wrong with them, and even that they are an evolutionary advance that other identity groups would benefit from adopting. On the contrary, these three currents hold black Americans back from the true freedom that so many consider whites to be denying them. Victimology is seductive because there is an ironic and addictive contentment in underdoggism. However, it also inherently gives failure, lack of effort, and even criminality a tacit stamp of approval. In addition, because focusing on the negative debases the performance of any human being, focusing on remaining aspects of victimhood rather than the rich opportunities before us is a ball and chain restraining any effort to move ahead. Separatism promises the balm of a sense of roots, and offers an escape from the vicissitudes of making our way into realms so recently closed to us. But the wary social remove that Separatism encourages blacks to maintain from whites regardless of actual experience is a much more powerful factor than white racism in making blacks less likely to be hired, or especially, promoted. Black Anti-intellectualism can often seem like a jolly and even healthy alternative to sterile nerdishness, but it is also, as I have noted, the main reason blacks underperform in school. On a broader level, a race permanently wary of close reasoning and learning for learning’s sake is one not only spiritually impoverished, but permanently prevented from forging the best techniques for working toward a better future.

I have written this book under the conviction that it doesn’t have to be this way, and that more to the point, it absolutely must not. Black America is currently embarked on a tragic detour. Accidents of history have condemned us to miss an unprecedented opportunity to reach Martin Luther King’s mountaintop. In the first four chapters of this book, I will discuss the operations of these three currents in modern African-American thought. In the next two chapters I will show how these currents have shaped two race-related issues of wide impact, the affirmative action debate and the controversy over whether or not the in-group speech of black Americans is an African language called “Ebonics,” which ought to be used in classrooms as an aid to teaching black children to read. The last chapter will outline suggestions for getting back on the track that our Civil Rights leaders set us upon. Following that track will require some profound adjustments in black identity, which today would feel nothing less than alien to most African Americans under the age of seventy. Nevertheless, these adjustments are not only possible, but most importantly are the only thing that will cut through the circularity and fraudulence infusing so much of interracial relations in America today, and bring African Americans at last to true equality in the only country that will ever be their home.

About the Book

Losing The Race
by John H. McWhorter


Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America
Click on the image above
to purchase this book

Is school a “white” thing? If not, then why do African-American students from comfortable middle-class backgrounds perform so badly in the classroom? What is it that prevents so many black college students in the humanities and social sciences from studying anything other than black subjects? Why do young black people, born decades after the heyday of the Civil Rights movement, see victimhood as the defining element of their existence?

In this explosive book, Berkeley linguistics professor John McWhorter reports from the trenches of today’s college classroom to offer a daring assessment of what’s plaguing the children of yesterday’s affirmative-action babies. The Civil Rights revolution was the pinnacle of American history, freeing African Americans from centuries of disenfranchisement. Yet, as McWhorter shows, it has had a tragic side effect. As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, most black American leaders and thinkers have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour. Victimhood is exaggerated and enshrined more than constructively addressed. Following from this, young black people are shepherded into a separatist conception of “blackness” defined largely as that which is not “white.” This in turn conditions a sense, embedded in black American culture as a whole, that academic achievement is a “white” realm that the “authentic” black person dwells in only for financial gain or to chronicle black victimhood and victories.

McWhorter addresses these problems head-on, drawing on history, statistics, and his own life experiences. He shows that affirmative action in university admissions, indispensable 30 years ago, is today an obsolete policy that encourages the counterproductive ideologies of what he calls Separatism, Victimology, and Anti-intellectualism. Most perniciously, it prevents black students from demonstrating the abilities our Civil Rights leaders gave them the opportunity to nurture, and it deprives them of the incentive to strive for the very top.

Racism is not dead — but as McWhorter so persuasively argues, dealing it a death blow will require a reinvestment in the strength that allowed black Americans to triumph and survive this far. His pathbreaking book is certain to shock, inspire, and ignite debate among all those who care about race and education today.

John H. McWhorter is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of a number of articles on linguistics and several books on the topic.


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    Copyright © 2001 The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.

  • 5 comments

    1. Excerpt: Losing The Race
      Written by satanexpress, on 12-04-2001 19:55

      I stumbled on this article blindly, and not really sure what i was reading until I finished the first paragraph, which caught my attention and i couldn’t stop reading. I am a young black female part creole on my father’s side. I was raised in Inglewood west of los angeles considered the ghetto to many . And attended inglewood high for no more than year until finally moving to westhollywood in an upperclass neighborhood in the hills and going to hollywood high a more diverse school.I finished my courses but never graduated i completed homestudies and i recieved my diploma where i now attend community college to go on to majoring in film. That’s little of my background i chose to share for a clear explanation on the alienation i endured from most of my “people” coming up.Mainly in Inglewood,yes i grew up in a prodimantly black city but I did not turn out like the majority.I’m very light, tall, with long straight hair , i talk in a conservative manner, i love paintings, books, and di nero movies and for this i was ostracized. I didn’t grow up on hip-hop nor do i choose to listen to alot of it now.But I think the whole time there i felt i knew more about who i was , where i came from, and what those who came before me fought for than that whole school. Reading this book and this article enforced this idea and i no longer feel ashamed of it. I’m not white or spanish , nor do i have the desire to be so. But for a long time i was accused of this very thing because i was not “represanting”. That much is true i refuse to represant a culture that brings my people further from our potential. And make no mistake i’m not bashing hip-hop there is some good out there its just sad that its mixed in with the hype….

    2. Re: Excerpt: Losing The Race
      Written by dlicious2k, on 17-04-2001 03:57

      hello..I read your article and I could actually relate to you. I am white but I was always accepted by blacks more than by my own “people”, so most of my friends were of that color. Well, I have always dated black men and I have realized something disturbing when I go out with my man in public. We are from Long Beach so we do have a little bit of “ghetto” in us. However, when my man and I walk by other black people, he goes out of his way to act more “ghetto”. He says he does this to let his people know that he is still black and proud even though he is with white little me. I take offense to this because I don’t feel that being ghetto defines you as being black. It also upsets me because I feel that he is actually putting down the black race and keeping the mentality that blacks will never achieve anything or be anything else but underachieved….and we all know that the truth is that black people are more than hoodlums and gangsters–shoot, they are the only group of oppressed people that have achieved so much in such a short amount of time. I think you are a leader and that it is a long battle but it will be worth it. Help people realize that being well educated and diverse is a human thing and not a color thing. Accept those who accept you and try to teach hope to those who try player hating and thinking you are trying to be something other than black. Sorry for rambling on, but I want to see the black race succeed as I do for any other race…and I know it will because of people like you. Don’t let your race keep you from doing what you want…people think I don’t want to be white just because I don’t do what stereotypical whites do like surf or skate. But if I were to try to be a stereotypical white, I would be fronting and not being true to MYSELF. Be yourself!
      Much respect,
      Kara– you can write me back if you want

    3. Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 20:23:06 -0000
      From: Valerie Wilkins-Godbee
      Subject: re: Mc Whorter piece

      Letters to the Editor
      re: Mc Whorter excerpt

      At the end of last year, December 2000, I happened on a C-SPAN “Book Notes”, and that is where I saw Mr. Mc Whorter for the first time, discussing his book with an audience at a local California book store. I listened closely as I must’ve come in during the middle of the discussion. But, what I learned was quite enlightening. Although, I had some suspicions that there was a grave problem in the “black” community in the educational arena, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to listen to a lopsided debate. It was very balanced. Henceforth, I was saddened to see some become extremely disturbed and even insulted by what Mc Whorter shared with them that afternoon.

      I attended an all girls prestigious private parochial high school for several years. My parents removed me from a local public high school after some “rioting” with local teenagers after an interracial liaison was discovered by a gang of “white” teens that didn’t approve of the “black” boy and “white” girl relationship. There were clear wrongs on both sides of the aisle. Everyone lost in this relatively peaceful quaint village in Upstate New York. It lasted for a couple of days. We even had a curfew during those unsettling days. Unfortunately, the fisticuffs broke out in the cafeteria. Shortly after, I was out! At first, I “hated” being there. All girls, to boot! There were 136 students w/ 15 “black” girls. Plus, I was, and still am, a Protestant. But, I was always an open-minded girl, and never looked at learning the way I saw it begin to take on a stench among a few of my fellow classmates, that I left behind.

      It didn’t take me long to begin to understand to achieve excellence was an admirable thing to pursue. And, I saw how staunch the sisters were in that you had to apply yourself, there were no excuses. There were no “teachers pets”, which surprised me. And, this, too, helped greatly. RACE was not an excuse! They loved us all equally. It warmed my heart. And, it was a segue into the universe of my mind. I will be forever indebted to the sisters. Not allowing anyone to make you feel nor think that learning was for the “white” society. There were a few students from around the world. This, too, enriched my life. Education became a pleasureable thing. To feel my mind being massaged was a high that continues with me today.

      Also, coming from a diverse tri-ethnic heritage encouraged me to look positively at my “new” school. And, my parents’ decision was the best thing that ever happened to me. They put a high premium on education, although, in later years they allowed me the freedom to decide on higher education. Early childhood education in the publc system was so much more fun! So, no disrespect to the publc school system. But, higher learning was disappointing, looking back today. I still see the difference this has been in my life on a daily bases. Those experiences spill over into ones adult life. And, for so many who ended up in classroom settings that where riddled with peers that believed to underachieve was a ‘badge of honor’ and a strike against so-called “white intellectualism” is dreadful.

      I hear such beauty in the phrase: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I would hope that more “black” children, all children of the rainbow, find a hunger and thirst for knowledge. It is the only thing that is yours to keep, truly.

      What Mc Whorter shares is timely. The three phases, from Victimization, to Separatism that leads inevitably to Anti-intellectualism is a masterpiece!

      As ever,

      Valerie A. Wilkins-Godbee
      founding president of the
      AMEUROFIAN HERITAGE FOUNDATION,
      created name in 1989, group formed
      in 1994. Addressing those no.americans
      w/ native/european/w.african heritages.
      And, past dep. chief nat. dir of
      A PLACE FOR US/NATIONAL, est 1984
      advocacy for interracial community.

    4. Written by bismark2, on 21-05-2001 15:33
      Peace and blessing from Ghana…

      Hi my name is Bismark Agbemble a college student (VCU) majoring in economics. I was born and raised in Ghana a place where my heart longs for. I’ve been in the states for 11 years (too long). I love God because he loved me first. Well enough about me. Lets talk about losing the race. I am getting straight to the point. “we has a people can’t face the truth”. My question is why does everything has to be a black thing. And we has a people intead to blame our short comings on society, the white man, because I am black, I have no money, my father, drugs. Out of that entire list I did not mention the word “ME”. One thing about African Americans is that we blame our problems on somebody else. In response to John Mcwhorter’s essay and book I am not hundred percent supportive of his claims towards our race. But I honor him for coming out and stating the truth because from how the nation and the african community has responed it shows that this is an issue that “we” has a people need to think about it and FIND a solution for it. I knew up in a rich neighborhood, but parents both worked 60 hour jobs just to provide for my family and where we were living. It says in the bible pslams 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, a man sharpens a man. And what that means to me is, we act and become like the people we hang around. For African Americans for those who want to succeed are consider to be acting white and for those who receive F’s on report cards, and into drups and speak a languge that nobody can understand because that same person invented a mintue ago, or pulling their pants down to the ankles and gold inside their mouth is consider “keeping it real” than my brothers and sisters count me out. Because I am a black man not a nigger. Same goes for white people there are white men and white trash. So we need to stop talking about who is what and who has what and starting educating out youth on what it means to have dreams and not allowing the color of our skin be a road block because besides the color of our skin (just a freakin color) others are going to find ways to limit us. We as a people need to learn from the past, and reflect on it, and move on.
      To all me brothers and sisters in the eyes of God, we will be ok, just as long as we believe in something greater than ourselves.
      Thanks for reading.
      Bismark

    5. John H. McWhorter~elitist or outspoken c
      Written by 2 rISE again., on 05-12-2007 13:11

      think alot of the gold jewlery and stuff is to cover up feelings of inferority. Even within the black community, the cult of victimism or whatever, there’s a feeling that dark skin is bad and lighter skin is good. The importance of status is overly exaggerated. Or is it? Is this a class problem or a racial problem? John H. McWhorter fails to point out it’s both.

      It’s easy for Bismark to come in and make comments about not understand working class black america.

      or white trash (because they’ree not all unlikeable, just the Confederate flag waving ones, but you wouldn’t know about that.

      You’re not Afican American, you’re Ghanan. Of course, you’re an outsider! The fact that you are in the United States means your parents are wealthy.

      Don’t act like in Africa black people are ecessarily thriving. Africans have a sense of self-respect but black people are still killing each other over there routinely.

      As a black man, I don’t care about religon of any sort.
      Jesus as white, not that it matters. God is perceived as being white too.
      As anyone in Italy if there could ever be a black Pope.

      I think a lack of hertiage, gives Africa American people nothing to have pride in so as we’re seeing, they’re making it up and unfortuately, secular black culture has no soul.

      -eND rant

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