In 1966 Stokely Carmichael wrote that the “white activist” had “failed miserably to develop the movement inside of his own community.” For Carmichael, the ability of African American’s to obtain equality was dependent upon the willingness of white liberal allies to commit themselves towards a different type of activism, one that was not easy–one that challenged the status quo in meaningful ways and in their own communities.
Below are two of the quotes from Korver’s piece, titled Privileged:
“I know that, as a white man, I have to hold my fellow white men accountable. We all have to hold each other accountable. And we all have to be accountable —period. Not just for our own actions, but also for the ways that our inaction can create a “safe” space for toxic behavior.”
“The fact that inequality is built so deeply into so many of our most trusted institutions is wrong. And I believe it’s the responsibility of anyone on the privileged end of those inequalities to help make things right. So if you don’t want to know anything about me, outside of basketball, then listen — I get it. But if you do want to know something? Know I believe that. Know that about me. If you’re wearing my jersey at a game? Know that about me. If you’re planning to buy my jersey for someone else…… know that about me. If you’re following me on social media….. know that about me. If you’re coming to Jazz games and rooting for me….. know that about me. And if you’re claiming my name, or likeness, for your own cause, in any way….. know that about me. Know that I believe this matters.”
Korver’s comments presented in this piece were, in some ways, a direct response to Carmichael’s criticisms of white liberals in the mid-1960s. Korver was not suggesting that white liberals are the only hope for the equality of African Americans. However, he was stating that they hold a responsibility to “opt-in” and choose to combat racism when they encounter it. He is re-framing the importance of white allies who need to continue to focus on monitoring themselves and others (while also listening!), a challenge that must be met by choosing to confront those closest to them within their own communities. I think Korver’s article does a good job of rising to Carmichael’s challenge.
Here is the link if you are interested:
At the heart of America’s understanding of its own history is an assumed story of progress. This story of progress is often the lens through which Americans (and American historians) have viewed current and past events. The history of the Civil Rights Movement is no different. It was, and has long been, understood as an inevitable outcome of society, a confirmation of Whig history in the twentieth-century.
However, Dudziak’s work undermines this understanding by arguing that the ‘grand narrative’ of the Civil Rights Movement was actually a well crafted propaganda campaign the United States used to further international interests during the Cold War. Brown, far from being an inevitable outcome, was a purposeful ruling that allowed the United States to portray meaningful change without it actually happening. The nation HAD NOT progressed but Brown allowed Americans to declare progress none-the-less. What does this mean?
It means that The New York Times can release a podcast yesterday titled Why Did New York’s Most Selective Pubic High School Admit only 7 Black Students? (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/02/podcasts/the-daily/black-students-nyc-high-school.html) yet people will still argue that America does not have inequality in education. If people assume Brown was an inevitable outcome of progress then they can assume that the nation no longer has issues of racism or inequality in education, effectively shielding themselves from important arguments over issues that persist today. Re-framing Brown as a Cold War case helps to undermine this assumed progress and create room for a broader discussion regarding the reality of the issues that still exist today.
This weekend I had the opportunity to engage with a graduate student at the University of Michigan studying Information Sciences. This student’s work focused upon an area that relates to this class in unique ways. As a professional he worked in the field of robotics and A.I., trying to equip African Americans with access to new technologies. Specifically he was working with differently abled individuals who needed voice command to help them do basic tasks such as write or move.
What he found was a systematic bias in voice operated machines that could not understand the accents of some of the African American communities he was working within. This issue led him to return to school and study the systematic biases that exist in technology. He is conducting research to reveal the racial bias at work in big tech.
This is not an issue we have directly tackled in class but it relates to the broader themes of institutional racism we have discussed. Morality and ethics are important, but issues such as this one raise broader concerns regarding institutionalized racism and its pervasiveness today. What does it say about society today that some groups cannot use technologies because of their race/ethnicity?
For those interested, check back in with the post a bit later. I am going to post a link to his work once he provides me with one.
UPDATE: A link to a page displaying some people doing work and research on this topic:
In the two appeals for secession from William Harris and Stephen Hale there was clearly a concerted effort to put forward two separate arguments, one that appealed to upper-class slave owners and one that appealed to lower-class southern whites.
The first appeal, the one targeted towards the upper-class, was focused mainly upon the political and economic benefits that slaves provided. The essence of this appeal is as follows: not only were slaves a source of free-labor that the southern economy relied upon but slaves had also become a source of political power with the advent of laws such as the Three-Fifths Compromise.
The second appeal is the concern of this blog post. It was an appeal that relied upon inaccurate characterizations of Republican policy and Northern views on slavery. These came on page 85 and 98 respectively, when both authors inaccurately portrayed Republicans (and Northerners) as proponents of racial equality. The purpose of this was to play upon the fears of poor southern whites and make them believe that social, political, and economic equality would soon occur and threaten their way of life. Arguments made to convince poor southern whites reflect the importance of racial attitudes to the continuation of slavery as an institution in the South. As a result, the racial anxiety fueled support of the institution of slavery among those who would have benefited from its non-existence.
In summary, the two primary documents found in Apostles of Disunion showed that often racially charged arguments were used to increase support for the institution of slavery among poor southern whites. In a sense elites, who likely ascribed to ideas of scientific racism themselves, appealed to the racially tinged ‘common sense’ of poor southern whites with the intent to stoke racially fueled fears that led to their support for the institution of slavery. These two primary documents helped to make this clear.