Saturday, April 10, 2010
Parable of Neocolonialism
at University of California,
The revisionist neo-colonial elite students and faculty at UC Berkeley are celebrating the forty years since the Third World Strike to establish Black and Ethnic Studies. While the theme is decolonialism, it appears from the program outline that the black students and faculty who led the struggle for human rights at UCB have been marginalized and all other ethnic and gender groups are playing a major role.
While we know blacks have indeed been marginalized at UCB in general, we would not expect an event to celebrate the struggle for human rights would exclude them so blatantly as to downplay the significant and critical role black students played in awakening ethnic and gender consciousness at UCB and nationwide in academia.
After blacks initiated the struggle for academic liberation by calling for the establishment of black studies, other ethnic and gender groups joined in and rode the bandwagon to gain a foothold in white academia. Yes, other ethnic groups were along side blacks as they spearheaded the fight, but the black role in igniting radical consciousness was critical and fundamental. To celebrate without them is like having a party without inviting the cook to join in, leaving her/him in the kitchen.
It has always been my view that blacks will find themselves on the bottom rung of the multicultural ladder when uniting with their socalled third world comrades, thus I maintain a nationalist position first, any other unity is secondary. Otherwise we shall end up diluted, polluted and excluded, as we see at this socalled Third World Celebration to supposedly continue the push for the decolonization of the university.
We know that reactionaries have had forty years to entrench themselves in ethnic studies, to gain tenure and exclude radicals from representation in departments they struggled to establish. This happened nationwide, so UC Berkeley is not an isolated case. But even the reactionary blacks have been outflanked by other minorities, whether Native American, Latino, Asian, Gay/Lesbian, Women, handicapped, etc. These other minorities have conspired with the administrations to eliminate or incapacitate black or African American studies. They have sided with the administration or led the charge that Afro-centrincism was a bogus concept without academic merit. San Francisco State University is an example.
Having worked at UC Berkeley as a researcher in the School of Criminology under Dean Lohman,1964, and lectured in Black Studies, 1972, we are fully aware of how the university purged radical scholars in black studies and brought in handpicked uncle toms to dilute any semblance of radicalism. Although academically qualified, Miller Lite scholars have been present ever since the Bill Banks running dog black studies department replaced the original radical scholars.
It is laughable to hear talk of decolonialism when reactionary professors have had forty years to truly implement an ideology of black national consciousness in academia. Instead they drifted into the otherworldism (Dr. Nathan Hare term) of Pan Africanism and Diaspora Studies, clearly a diversion from the original mission of focusing on the problems of North American Africans, though this is not to be unconcerned with our brothers and sisters throughout the diaspora. It is to make clear the original mission.
With the mission aborted, we see the consequence with the abysmal lack of black males in academia, yet the prison population is full to capacity with them. The cost of housing them annually in prison is more than it would cost for them to Attend UCB, Stanford, Harvard and Yale.
No doubt it was stress and the disconnection from community that caused the untimely death of three brilliant professors at UC Berkelely, namely Barbara Christian, June Jordan and VeVe Clark. UC San Diego lost professor Sherley A. Williams. When Sherley transitioned, Dr. William H. Grier, co-author of Black Rage, told his son, Geoffrey, to tell me Sherley died from the hostile environment at UC San Diego. Indeed, Sherley used to complain to me often about the stress she was under dealing with her racist pseudo-liberal white women colleagues in the English Department.
But we know the stress of collaborating with the colonialists can cause disease, especially when persons have cut off their connection with community. Of course, whenever the crisis reaches a critical point, the tenured negroes reach out to community for help and recite the original mission of black studies--to be integrally connected and directed from community.
The marginalized conference on decolonialism is remarkable in its exclusion of African Americans, but having been conscious of the progress of inclusion on campus since we were employed there in 1964, it is indeed sad to see blacks disappear yet other minorities replace them in great numbers. Of course we credit the supreme reactionary Ward Connolly for part of the dearth in the black presence. But again, Ward had his predecessors in reaction and they must be archived as such, led by Dr. William H. Banks, as much a sellout negro as Ward Connolly.
Perhaps the nature of the celebration is simply the chickens coming home to roost. And being an old farm boy from Fresno, it doesn't make me sad. We don't expect any substantial decolonialism under the present circumstances. Indeed, we have created a new colonial elite of ethnic students who obviously have a form of myopia that has not allowed them to include the founders of radical student struggle at UC Berkeley and elsewhere.
We should blame their elders, not students who have a revised history of academic struggle, if not the black liberation struggle in general, either by the sin of omission or blatant disregard for the facts on the ground.
It is indeed an insult to those African American students who struggled at UCB. I'm thinking of BSU leaders such as Frank Jenkins, Umtu (Gerald Rice, RIP), Fahizah Alim, Nisa Ra, Sonny James, Betty Bromfield, Carl Mack, Lothario Lotho, et al.
Further, if it were not for the literature of the Black Arts Movement, there would probably be no ethnic literature in academia, for BAM awakened the consciousness of other ethnic and gender groups, yet where is BAM literature taught in a substantial manner? When Amiri Baraka read at the UCB Holloway Poetry Series, the Asian student who introduced him was totally ignorant the Black Arts Movement had a key West coast component with myself and Ed Bullins as founders of Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco.
The decolonization of the university cannot happen while the students themselves are yet colonized or shall we say neo-colonialized, for we were the first group of domestic colonials to enter major white universities. We made an attempt to dismantle the university/corporate complex, but as with the liberation movement in general, that effort was aborted. So the task awaits this generation to either execute the plan or collaborate with the reactionaries within their own ranks and within the university/corporate complex.
P.S. Racial events at UCSD forced the conference to include black students at the last moment, including former leaders of the BSU at San Francisco State University, Benny Stewart, Terry Collins and Nesbit Crutchfield.