Black History Month Commentary
Welcome to Black History Month. The January/February issue of the media review Extra! features a compelling package on racism. Particularly recommended are two pieces by Jim Naureckas.
The first, “Racism Resurgent: How Media Let `The Bell Curve’s‘ Pseudo-Science Define the Agenda on Race,” discloses that nearly all the research that `Curve’ authors Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein relied on for their central claims about race and IQ were funded by something called the Pioneer Fund, described by the London Sunday Telegraph as a “neoNazi organization closely integrated with the far right in American politics.”
The fund’s mission is to promote eugenics, the article says, a philosophy that maintains that “genetically unfit” individuals or races are a threat to society. The fund was set up in 1937 by a millionaire who wanted blacks sent back to Africa. The foundation’s original charter set forth the group’s missions as “racial betterment” and aid for people “deemed to be descended primarily from white people who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.”
The second piece, “50,000 Watts of Hate,” documents the racist commentary of Bob Grant, who performs on the most listened-to talk show in the country on New York City’s WABC, the flagship of the ABC Radio Network.
The piece cites on-air quotes from Grant, particularly a predilection that he’s demonstrated for referring to African Americans as “savages.” He has said the United States is inhabited by “millions of subhumanoids, savages, who really would feel more at home careening along the sands of the Kalahari or the dry deserts of eastern Kenya - people who, for whatever reason, have not become civilized.” And that “if they didn’t observe Martin Luther King Day, there would be trouble from the savages.”
High above and beyond the fetid cesspool of white trash talk radio, we find novelist/poet/essayist/ playwright/publisher Ishmael Reed in the current Callaloo, the journal of African-American and African Arts and Letters, doing an extended riff with interviewer Shamoon Zamir about the depleted state of the culture.
Reed says that the black male is being put in the position of the victim who’s required to apologize “to a policeman for putting his head in the way of a broken nightsick” and Reed adds that he’s trying to preserve the black male writing franchise by buying their novels from publishers and keeping them in print.
He also envisages technology as “the black writer’s boon.” Video pioneer “Nam June Paik has said that Rock and Roll is the U.S.’s greatest export and (I think that) Hip Hop, Rap and other manifestations of black culture, or black technology, are being marketed all over the world for billions of dollars, very little of which is being seen by its creators.”
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