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OpBlog: Racism and Manhood

Does Ignorance Spawn Evil or does Evil produce Ignorance?

Eugene Stovall

Oakland, California November 19, 2014

The mainstream ___ and not so mainstream ___ media seldom celebrate courageous or dignified black people as role models. Taking their cue from the FBI and Homeland Security, the media vilifies anyone attempting to better the black economic and social condition. The Reverend Edward Pinkney and Mumia Abu-Jamal are to blacks fighting for their own civil rights while seeking restorative justice for all black people.

Reverend Edward Pinkney has been an outspoken defender of Benton Harbor’s black community for decades. Last week Rev. Pinkney was convicted on five counts of forgery. The all white prosecutor, judge and jury found this black man guilty of changing the dates of some signatures on a petition to recall the town’s mayor. Each of the felony counts carries a maximum five-year sentence. The prosecutor, Mike Sepic, is asking that Pinkney be given a life prison term under the ‘three strikes’ law. Rev. Pinkney’s prior felony convictions all are associated with his nonviolent protests over the treatment of Benton Harbor’s black community.

Whirlpool corporation once employed many of Benton Harbor’s residents in low-wage paying jobs. But Whirlpool and other corporate interests see better profits in the gentrification of Benton Harbor which is 70% black and sits on the scenic shore of Lake Michigan. Whirlpool wants to create lebensraum for its corporate managers. The dignified and courageous Reverend Pinkney enraged Whirlpool with his opposition to the corporate gentrification of Benton Harbor. So Edward Pinkney sits in prison facing a life sentence for his ministry on behalf of his congregation.

Since 2010, black people living in Detroit, Flint and every other predominantly black city in Michigan have been under the thumb of an emergency manager, appointed by Michigan’s Republican governor. Benton Harbor’s emergency manager eagerly assists the private sector, especially Whirlpool, to loot the city’s public resources. Reverend Pinkney is no threat to the plans to corporatize Benton Harbor’s resources. Nonetheless, Reverend Edward Pinkney sits in a maximum security prison, convicted of the crime of behaving like a man and being “too uppity” for a racist state like Michigan.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent the last 30 years of his life in prison, in the solitary confinement of Pennsylvania’s Death Row. Mumia Abu-Jamal was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Even after a federal judge ordered his death sentence overturned in 2001, Mumia has remained in solitary confinement. In its analysis of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s trial, Amnesty International found that, in 1982, the prevailing attitude of Philadelphia’s political elites prevented Mumia from receiving a fair, impartial trial. Amnesty International reported that Philadelphia’s authorities tampered with physical evidence and suborned the testimony of witnesses. Mumia Abu-Jamal, too, is being punished for having more dignity and courage than black men are allowed America. Unless a black man fits the stereotype of the ‘good ole darky’ and supports corporate greed, he is characterized as an ‘angry black man,’ profiled as a criminal and interned in prison with the other million black convicts.

Andrew Young spoke to a group in Richmond, California on behalf of Chevron Oil whose candidate, Nat Bates, was running for mayor. Young whose foundation received a $550,000 gift from Chevron and Nat Bates, a black Democrat, whose campaign was being financed by Chevron both sought to confuse and deceive the predominately black, church-going crowd. Andy Young lectured the black audience on the need for private public partnerships ___ partnerships that allow public services to be contracted to “for profit” companies. Even though black people all over the country have suffered from the privatization of water, education and prisons, Young praises Bates plan to give Chevron control over the City of Richmond’s environment in order to avoid paying the damages that the oil company has already caused and continues to cause to Richmond’s environment. “We’re not going to be able to raise taxes,” Young told his church-going audience. “People are paying enough in taxes. You can’t do it with government money. It’s got to be private-public partnerships.” Nat Bates lost his bid to become mayor of the predominantly black City of Richmond to a white Republican. That racism is an important cause of the lack of manhood among black elites was studied at the University of California, Berkeley. In the early 1970s, I received an appointment to UC, Berkeley’s Institute of Race and Community Relations [IRCR] as its manager/coordinator. IRCR was a research institute established to support the university’s newly created Ethnic Studies Department. Like all other research institutes IRCR housed research projects and awarded scholarships and fellowships. IRCR also supported visiting scholars, such as Alex Haley, who wrote Roots with institute support. As the coordinator, I reported to IRCR’s oversight committee which was chaired by Robert Blauner, a Jewish sociologist and included Harry Morrison, a physics professor, Kenneth Johnson, an english, professor, both of whom were black and Paul Takagi a Japanese professor, in Asian Studies. IRCR housed to major projects. Robert Blauner received government funding for a project entitled Racism and Manhood and Winthrop Jordan from the history department received funding for a project entitled The Changing Nature of African American Culture. Winthrop Jordan was a notorious racist. His history, White Over Black, essentially reiterated Gunnar Myrdal’s strategies for reducing the black population in America. Jordan later took a faculty position with the University of Mississippi where he is said to have found an atmosphere more congenial to his beliefs and ideals. The budgets for both of these projects, together, was a million dollars. However, unlike any of the other research institutes on Cal’s campus, IRCR was not permitted to charge these research projects the normal 40% residence fee. As a matter of fact, the institute paid all of the overhead for these two projects, including office, staff and administrative expenses. Two funds that had been set up to support deserving graduate and undergraduate students. Both were looted by Blauner and Jordan and given to their white students. I was instructed to take the applications of minority students and inform them that they would be notified of the institute’s awards, even though I knew that the funds had already been dispersed. I protested, to the institute’s academic committee as well as to the Dean of the Graduate Division, to no avail. My advisor, Albert Lepawsky told me that in order for me to have an academic career, I would have to overlook the university’s racist policies. I could not and I was fired. But many Negroes, in academia, as well as in corporations and government positions, easily accommodate themselves to the institutional racism that characterizes America’s domestic policies and is now being spread around the world. The condition in which black people find themselves today, being murdered by cops, lynched by whites, denied adequate education and deprived economic opportunities is a result of a weak, unmanly and servile Negro leadership.