Biography of a Buffoon:
The Monetization of Race — How Reverend Al Sharpton and Black Leadership Demean Dr. King’s Legacy
On April 4th, 2018, we paid tribute to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination on April 4th, 1968. Black leaders, headed by the Reverend Al Sharpton, blanketed the television with tributes and emotional testimonies of what Dr. King’s life has meant to them. For some, like Reverend Jesse Jackson and former ambassador Andrew Young, we were obliged to accept their recollection with reverence, as they were witnesses to the most defining tragedy of the 20th-century for black America. But for Sharpton, it was the usual hypocrisy-in-buffoonery on display. Before he was for Dr. King, he was actually against him. Back then, still in the deification of his former mentor Adam Clayton Powell Jr., this was the advice the forty-two-year-old “Rev.” had given to budding activists in his 1996 book, Go and Tell Pharaoh:
Whenever you study a political leader, Mao or Castro or Churchill, you have to study them in the context of their environment and their times. Northern black politicians and activists should study Powell, because Martin Luther King is not really a model for them.
The nexus of naïveté, arrogance, hubris, and poor judgment had found comfort in megalomaniacal buffoonery. 1996’s Reverend Sharpton was not an admirer of Dr. King. He would later become one only when he saw it as a requirement to plow his way atop black leadership in America.
I coincided the stealth release of my book, Biography of a Buffoon: Reverend Al Sharpton, on April 4th because I wrote it primarily as a statement on black leadership’s degeneration into the outright business-racket outlined by philosopher Eric Hoffer in True Believer. Over the years, issues of race and race relations in America have become enterprising and profitable centers of buffoonery for the enabling media industry and its sanctioned black leaders across the spectrum of the clergy, politics, literature, media, and activism. Today, many in that collective, along with the conniving black media establishment, have cloaked themselves in Dr. King’s legacy while monetizing it — to the detriment of the black masses. They have commoditized and monetized race into a profitable fiefdom, atop of which now sits the reigning champion and master, Reverend Al Sharpton. As I point out in Biography of a Buffoon, these exploiters have commercialized the racial oppression and made a living off racism, discrimination, the second-class citizenry, victimization, and the overall disenfranchisement of African Americans across the spectrum:
These men and women excel at profiting from black pain. They lead movements that are businesses that have long degenerated into outright rackets [Hoffer ]. The economic interpretation of their activism (business-racket) requires a massive black underclass and widespread disenfranchisement on which to trade. So, while they profess to be in the service of their people, they’re more often in service to themselves, with little interest in improving the lot of the former. In fact, they have as much interest in equality of the races as white racists, because equality would render them no more powerful than the masses of their people that they exploit. More importantly, there is no wealth to be gained from widespread equality. Opportunities lie in the pain and suffering of their own, in stoking the passions and emotions of victims — of those feeling frustrated, deprived, disaffected, or oppressed — but to no avail.
I had expected to see the Rev. all over the media on April 4th, wrapping himself up in Dr. King’s legacy, and I wanted to mark the hypocrisy of the moment. As pointed out in Biography of a Buffoon: The contemporary pretender to Dr. King’s throne had actually started out by belittling Dr. King. The firebrand Sharpton was then still under the spell of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and had wasted little time ridiculing Dr. King and other civil rights leaders around him, urging upcoming black activists and leaders to avoid emulating Dr. King as a model in their activism because Dr. King was pretty much a media-made effigy. As Sharpton evolved, however, he realized that hitching his wagon to Clayton Powell Jr. would’ve gotten him nowhere near the profits and prestige enjoyed by Jesse Jackson, so in the late 1990s, he remade himself into a King acolyte overnight.
Since then, there’s hardly a political-endorsement hustle that Sharpton has allowed to pass him. This includes his 2004 presidential run as a Democratic candidate financed by Republican money and managed by the Republican “James Bond,” Roger Stone. In the least, it was the most blatant form of emotional blackmail of the Democrats by Sharpton. For the Republicans, it was a viable effort to soften support for the eventual Democratic nominee, John Kerry. This campaign took Sharpton from his perfected local New York hustle straight into the national political mainstream. But it’s hard to reconcile the legacy of Dr. King to a Roger Stone financed and managed political campaign. Yet in his quest for glory, dollars, and cents, the bargain-basement-for-sale Sharpton availed himself to high cash bidders and even to low credit card-holding ones as well (Stone’s credit card financed certain campaign expenses). He has since debased the legacy of Dr. King and others by perfecting the most egregious vote-brokering operation for over two decades.
Reverend Sharpton ran campaigns he had neither the chance nor intention of winning. But by accumulating a few votes, he was then able to barter his endorsements of other candidates for cash. Evan J. Mandery, campaign research director for former New York City mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger, wrote of Messinger’s attempt to get Sharpton’s endorsement after the 1997 primary campaign for mayor as follows:
Behind the scenes, Sharpton’s people have opened negotiations with our political department about a possible endorsement. They want money, which is no surprise. What is a surprise is the amount they are demanding…they’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re telling them that we don’t have that kind of money, which is really a polite way of saying we have the money but choose to spend it on television ads.
It’s certainly not an unusual practice to attach monetary conditions like paying off campaign debts in exchange for political endorsements. But for Reverend Sharpton, this became a business — an outright racket that would eventually propel him atop black leadership in America. Admittedly, he’s not alone in this. The media establishment that coddles him while knowing every detail of his unremarkable past is not without blame. The Democratic Party that has tolerated him, given into his emotional blackmail over the years, and imposed him upon our consciousness as an official spokesperson and vote-getter, must also be shamed for its connivance. Over the years, as it deployed men like Reverends Jackson, Sharpton, and others to stitch up the black vote, the Democrats perfected the entrapment of a generation of African Americans in the cycle of dependency and subsistence, under the fallacy of fighting for the poor rather than fighting to remove the poor from poverty.
The False Pretense that we’re still in the ‘60s
As I state in Biography of a Buffoon, in the five decades since his death, black leadership has hardly had a new idea beyond regurgitating the moral suasion of Dr. King’s “dream” a half-century ago. Unlike Dr. King, these leaders have hardly brought about any tangible change in the condition of their people. Where they have, it’s been cosmetic, such as a change from being “black” to becoming “African American” or the decadent suggestion of “Ebonics” — the ludicrous idea of an education in slang because they did not believe the faculties of African-American youths were enough developed to master the English language.
Instead, these men and women have perfected tutelage among the masses — the result of which has been almost a generation lost to decadence, robbed of its potential to full human actualization. Jesse Jackson, Reverend Sharpton, and other leaders have professionalized marching and protesting while nixing the real work of lobbying and legislative engagement to change the landscape for their people. In doing so, they have succeeded in convincing black America of its inferiority by advocating for further dependency through political means rather than seeking independence through education and economic means. By this, they have also made themselves the center of buffoonery-power in black America — believing that, but for their marches and protests, the black community would’ve long gone the route of the dinosaurs.
But this diminishes the history of black progress in the last few decades. When black America was uniformly nonintegrated, overtly disenfranchised, and universally oppressed, Dr. King and other leaders had combined direct action with legislative lobbying and litigation to tear down barriers. However, in today’s bifurcated black America, that universality of the black condition is no longer the case. Television mogul Oprah Winfrey, basketball legend Michael Jordon, rapper Jay-Z, or any number of other African-American athletes or rap stars can now buy up every square mile and the entire economies between Selma and Montgomery if they so choose. Since Dr. King, African Americans have excelled in all domains in the last few decades, and there are now vast stratifications along wealth, class, ideologies, religious, and political affiliations, and so on. So, the march and the protest — when not “celebritized” (free of celebrity involvement) — no longer hold the same appeal, reverence, or effect. Evidence of this is that King was able to command effective boycotts in his time. Today, not a single black leader can muster anything close to a boycott of significance.
Since 1968, so many things have changed in America while yet many have remained the same or have even been degraded. One thing is for sure, though, is that if racism was still a firm barrier to entry and success, outside of politics, entertainment, and sports (where African Americans are now the main product and service), there would be no black faces at the helm of enterprises or at the epicenter of arts & literature and in all facets and domains across the spectrum of American life. So why is black America still stuck in this rut fifty years after Dr. King’s death, with leaders pretending as if we’re still in 1968? While racism is to be blamed for much, blame must also be apportioned to failures and outright betrayals of black leaders and many of the elite class who thrive on the very existence of a massive vicariously-living underclass. They’re celebrated and deified just for being public figures, with but one requirement of their positions — to be able to cry racism and stoke emotions at will.
Releasing Biography of a Buffoon on April 4th was my way of honoring Dr. King’s legacy and memory by showing the dishonor others have accorded it through profiteering and by showing how little many of these pretenders have measured up to the iconic civil rights leader. Among many relevant points is the passage from the book that summarized it all:
To contrast accomplishments, in less than fifteen years at center stage, Dr. King had changed America, leaving both Civil and Voting Rights Acts codified as laws of the land. But in over forty years on the scene, Reverend Sharpton can hardly point to any tangible achievements on behalf of his people.
There is no need here to regurgitate Dr. King’s greatness or his significance to the evolution of African Americans out of totalitarian “Jim Crow” tyranny in the southern states. Nor is there any need to cite statistics on the state of black America relative to white America and others such as Asians, Latinos, or even to black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Additionally, I am averse to quoting statistics, as they are often the empiricist-demagogue’s way of convincing a woman that she’s not pregnant because she hasn’t yet reached the twenty-fourth week of her pregnancy. During the Obama presidency, African-American political leaders and many in the black media used statistics to tell us that we were not doing too bad, relative to our neighbors. Before, they had used those same statistics to declare that the sky was falling.
The point is that the impact of Dr. King’s life must be measured qualitatively and not just quantitatively, as he was neither a policymaker nor a functionary administrator. He was a visionary leader thrust in the fire of selective human tyranny in the middle of an otherwise enlightened democracy. His ideas were not gospels to be enshrined but visions that inspired us, frameworks on which to expound and explore — frameworks on which built in order to ensure democratic and economic ideals for all. Dr. King died young and famous but not rich. At the start of his journey, the very black establishment he had sought to liberate had shunned him — further evidence of his courage in challenging even his own establishment. He had never known the respectability, acceptance, or celebrity accorded to today’s black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and he likely could not have even imagined much of the advancements in individual black conditions a half a century later. It is doubtful he could have even imagined an African American occupant of the Oval Office forty years after his death, equally doubtful that he could have imagined the poor state of race-relations and tribalism of the day.
Like all women and men over time, King was a person of his time, whose ideas came from the circumstances he’d experienced and the education he’d obtained. He was a Christian preacher and a pious man who spoke to the enlightened tenets of his religious beliefs. But he was a human being in the fight for survival and the very liberty of his people that is prescribed “for all” in the American Constitution. King didn’t just speak democracy; he embraced and believed in the cornerstones of the lofty democratic ideals trumpeted in America. Of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, his people stood as the face of America’s paradox: How can there be liberty for a people subjugated by various means and to various gradations? Who can pursue happiness in the deprivation of liberty?
For many years I’d wondered why Dr. King had chosen to champion “civil rights” as opposed to “human rights” as the vehicle for his movement. And then I remembered the words of Thomas Paine, who had delineated his views on natural and civil rights. In Rights of Man, Paine said:
Man did not enter society to become worse than he was before nor to have fewer rights that he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all of his civil rights.
He defined natural rights as:
Those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.
For him, civil rights are:
Those which appertain to man in right of being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.
It was then that I came to realize King’s genius: civil rights are like the money we put in the government’s bank for safeguarding because we cannot individually safeguard them ourselves. King’s movement was, therefore, not one of begging the government for anything but instead, an effort to alert a banker — the government, courts, and wider society — that black America’s money was there for safeguarding and not for wanton abuse. It was time to remedy the injustice of a people that had endured over 240 years of bondage in modern times and another 80 years of Jim Crow tyranny. African Americans were now a mature people, demanding the freedom and protection inherent to all in a democracy based on freedom for all. The lynchpin of the movement was, therefore, a fight for “equality” — the raison d’être of all oppressed classes since time immemorial.
So during this period of reverence and remembrance, we cannot escape interrogating ourselves as to whether the government — so obligated — has honored its obligation. It’s kind of a fallacy and an arrogation to ask the same question of white America, as a man imploring the better angels of the majority ruling class is much like one neighbor making a reasoned plea with other neighbors to tone down their wild partying at nights so that the neighborhood may sleep peacefully. He has little control over the situation or on their actions, as he’s not in charge of the neighborhood patrol with enforcement authority. Although a reasoned man who has made his case, he’s still at the mercy of their receptiveness to reason and decency. But because he can control his own family and the governance of their conduct, it’s entirely reasonable to question how his own family has conducted itself in his absence — how it has honored his memory and the values for which he stood. Therefore, it should be natural that a King remembrance should also center on the interrogation of black America’s conduct. Has it honored his life, work, memory, and legacy through its conduct, achievements, and wholesome contribution to the tenets of his dream and the framework of his philosophy?
The Elephant Not In The Room
In January 2008, the late Christopher Hitchens told Slate Magazine that, “In this country, it seems that you can always get an argument going about ‘race’ as long as it is guaranteed to be phony, but never when it is real.” While this might have been met with pretentious posture by blacks and whites alike, there’s no denying its truthfulness. Honest discussion of race is a foreign language in America. It’s like asking the average Texan or New Yorker — black or white — to speak perfect unaccented Japanese, without ever having set foot outside of Texas or New York. To Chris Hitchens’ point, even in a phony discussion, there is a way to speak about race in America and a way not to speak about it, as the allowable dialectic is governed by either Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal mantras. Stepping outside of these mantras and engaging in any real substantive exchanges is anathema to our culture.
So in thinking of Dr. King’s life and legacy, we have to evaluate not just the philosophy of race but its psychology as well — on both black and white America. In this sense, any serious observer of race relations in America must admit that a principal issue might not just be the underlying tribal nature of America and the existing poor race relations, but also the inability to address them honestly. How can there be any sensible treatment of a diagnosed malady without discussing its causes?
An argument can be made that the particles in a system are the least able to qualify the conditions to which they are subjected but this only further highlights the problem. Neither black nor white America is able to have honest discussions about race because neither knows how to and neither is willing to admit this. Honest approaches are out of scope for both because both are incapable of, and uncomfortable with addressing the nuisances of racial tribalism. All around, hypocrisy stands in for courage. Additionally, as race, like religion and gender, forms the dominant fabric of America’s hyper-emotions, honesty in treatment has no place in society. So the difficulties of addressing the divide between blacks and whites leave a fertile pasture for demagoguery on both sides, as is often reflected on both sides of the political aisle.
For starters, as evolutionary vehicles, human beings are tribal at heart, with a preference for their own kind and a fear or distrust of others. It’s the foundational instinct that produces the old “fight or flight” initial reflex response on contact with others. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s evolved take on the situation was that “hell is the other” — race, nationality, gender, ethnic group and so on. Although slavery and Jim Crow had set the stage for all kinds of evil philosophies, scientific racism, and tyrannical race-based terror in America, Manichean ideologies have existed since time immemorial across societies of antiquity. We find this infused into many of the early sun-worshipping religions and even deep in the heart of “pre-slavery” Africa. But it’s precisely slavery and Jim Crow that make America unique in regards to black-white relations of modern times. Unlike Europe, whose slaves and subjects were located in far-flung colonial outposts, America kept slaves on its very own soil such that some 14 to 16% of the population is the direct product of slavery and tyranny right here in America.
So we might ask, What is the average time frame for underlying cultural sentiments to evolve from such race-based supremacy to enlightened equality? Nobody knows. In spite of Dr. King’s dream and the overall aspirations of black America, one thing for sure is that on planet earth, “equality” is not an edict of God, not a panacea falling from the heavens. Short of the type of revolution that had destroyed “privilege” in France or that which had tackled ignorance on the continent in 1848, it’s all about the evolution of human conditions and cultural sentiments over time.
Different Perspectives, Different Realities
Given a 400-year history, for black America, issues of race and racism are understandably emotional. They elicit anger, feed accusatory mindsets, group condemnation, and so on — all a result of real past degradation and continued discrimination across the spectrum. But there are also the real effects of being the perpetual underclass that often get overlooked in favor of general condemnations of racism by its leaders. Among these effects are the erosion of the two-family household, the family unit, and the cycle of multi-generational dependency and contained lives lived at the mercy of government subsistence. Pervasive agents of decadence are everywhere to be found. Teen pregnancies, domestic violence, drugs, crime, egregious rates of incarceration and other judicial restraints, poor public service, and entire lives spent in acculturated victimization, seemingly deprived of agency and faculties, and, therefore, with little chance of realizing full human potentials, are only the beginning. Although often ignored by the leadership and activist classes, these are just some of the realities and the new norms of America’s most neurosis-prone (albeit undiagnosed) minority group.
In some cases, mental oppression has become even more entrenched than the physical. Resentment from what they deem “white privilege” has further aggravated the neuroses of black youths, as lives lived in comparison to others are bound to be neurotic, especially when underpinned by dissonance. If “white privilege” is real, then slavery, Jim Crow, ownership of legal, social, political, and economic power must also be seen as a “privilege” quite like being elected to serve by the consent of fellow citizens. The greater point is that lives lived in dissonant comparisons to others will always appear to fall short, feeding what mid-century psychologists Abraham Kardiner and Lionel Ovesey, in their study of black America, The Mark of Oppression, had termed a psychosis of deficiency. Of late, the optics of police abuse and killings of unarmed black men have even worsened this psychosis among a generation ignorant of the suffering of previous generations in the long progression from state-sanctioned bondage, deprivation of civil recognition, and tyranny. But again, to view lethal force by police officers who are indemnified as somehow a “privilege” is quite perverse.
For white America, it’s plausible deniability of its supremacy with levels of willing tolerance but rarely any level admission to its prevailing tribalism and racism. For example, I live in one of the most racist cities in the world — Manhattan — yet there’s hardly a racist to be found anywhere on the island, and don’t even try to accuse Manhattan’s establishment of the “provincial proper” of racism.
On the other hand, though, in many cases, that deniability does assume some level of plausibility, albeit questionable. For example, many late European immigrants have nothing to do with slavery or Jim Crow. They too have faced varying degrees of discrimination, exclusion, and hardships at different stages of their American experience, and they resent taking on historical burdens to which they are strangers. Among others, you may find the overly hyped “average Joes,” so to speak, who have experienced plant closures, unemployment, loss of family health insurance and their entire livelihoods in what now look like American ghost towns. Many of these were the Bernie primary voters (wrongly maligned as collective racists) who then supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election cycle. They might not have started life as a racist but grew to have little sympathies for the plight of a black America because of their own hardships. Furthermore, like most human beings who sooner or later grow intolerant of their complaining neighbors, this part of white America gets turned off by black complaints of racism. They’re ordinary people, not trained psychologists with time to examine and understand the nuisances of the black experience. But as products of the American culture, they may or may not be just as racist as anyone else because, at the most basic level, they do not endure the same social stigma as African Americans. Additionally, unlike African Americans, they’re neither looked on with suspicion by the larger society nor deemed as “objective targets” by its agents of the law.
Finally, where white America might indulge in plausible deniability on issues of race, black America bathes in it like a river horse in mud — primarily by disconnecting conduct from consequences in its utopic quest for equality, as amplified by black leaders. With ostentatious black athletes, reality stars, and rap musicians all over the media nihilistically “balling” in/with their million $ “blings,” many in white America have just developed a natural distaste for a culture of wanton exhibitionists. They believe that selective success should translate to mass success — if black America works at it hard enough. They then see cries of racism as “crying wolf” at the drop of a dime. Accordingly, if Jay-Z and Oprah can be zillionaires and Barack Obama, president, then there is no racism in America.
So herein lies a big part of the problem. Where there’s no conversation, there might be pretense but no real changes because there’s no basis for understandings to allow changes in sentiments. Fifty years after Dr. King’s death, this is the state of race relations in America. It’s blame and high-handed moral condemnations from black American and avoidance, denials, and high-umbrage rejection from white America. This has given rise to business models and monetization of race at all levels. Nothing changes at the social, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement levels. The media entertains and gains audiences by giving sanctioned whites and blacks platforms to pretend to air grievances, and for black leaders like Sharpton and others, their celebrated activism is transformed overnight into outright profit centers.
How Might Dr. King Interpret the Result of his Legacy?
Were he alive today, Dr. King might see the result of his legacy as a mixed bag. He would likely be disappointed to see black America as the face of a new American paradox: significant progress by some that is offset by a massive underclass, still lagging others across all major indices and visible conditions of existence. (No need to quote any statistics here. You just need to open your eyes.)
He would naturally be impressed by those advancements while disheartened, if not downright sickened, to see great wealth and status among public and business elites side by side with a “celebritized” and vicariously-living underclass mired in dissonance and connivance on many levels. Dr. King might also note the paradox of inequality in America today — black-to-black inequality is as pervasive as the white-to-black inequality that black America decries everyday. He would also likely be disheartened to see the large segment of black America that came of age under tutelage, proscription, and victimization, now trapped in cycles of perpetual ignorance, dependency, and stunted growth — a result not only of racism but also of failure or betrayal by black leadership and the activist class that has kept it employed and empowered over the decades. Dr. King would be appalled to see his legacy coopted by men like Reverend Al Sharpton in pursuit of that continued betrayal. Finally, he would likely be broken-hearted to see the emergence of young black men as “objective targets” in America.
In The Origins of Totalitarianism, historian Hannah Arendt pointed out that it was the visibility of wealth and status for select Jews without political power in places like 19th century Austria and Germany that had made them early targets as a group. Arendt also made the point that it’s not a stereotype without basis to state the obvious: victims sometimes unknowingly aid in bringing about their own suffering and tragedies — if just by their ignorance or naivety.
In contemporary America, it’s not a stretch to note that the more visible the signs of grotesquely-flaunted wealth and status among black athletes, celebrities, and other public figures, the more resentment grows among others and the more society will continue to recede into tribal divisions that breathe racism. This does not bode well for the masses of the black underclass in the long run, as they are in reach of the effects of such resentment and tribal hatred; they are in the range of the agents with badges and guns — easily meeting any underlying “Selection” criteria. Where Arendt described the Jews of Europe as “objective enemies” of various states, it’s not hard to see young men from the underclass becoming more and more unwitting “objective targets” of the state. So defined and recognized by the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches (lethal force deployment criteria), each day becomes more and more of an open season at the mercy of the racist agent (who might not even be conscious of his own racism) with that badge and a gun.
Betrayals on the Path to Failure
While focusing less on external racism, where there is little new under the sun to be discussed, Biography of a Buffoon chronicles the decades of failed black leadership, its betrayal and abdication of tangible responsibilities in moving the masses forward, and black America’s self-defeating quest for equality, social justice, and acceptance by standing behind visible charlatans as leaders.
This is where Dr. King’s legacy has been most tarnished and maligned. The broader interests of a long-oppressed people once championed by a distinguished and noble man have been sacrificed to the interests of celebrated simpletons, charlatans, and demagogues. A quick rundown of the failures and betrayals of the last few decades by black leadership, its intellectuals and surrogates in activism might include the following:
Poor Leadership and Betrayal
Dr. King’s greatness lies in the fact that even 50 years later, he sits atop only two handfuls of credible black leaders who have served their communities as opposed to their personal ambitions. We have no precedent to tell us how long it might take to move from an underclass, deprived of generations-long traditions in education and requisite technical skills to a class that recognizes the value of education as the primary path in its struggle. We also know that racism is a given barrier, but contemporary black leadership’s decades-long abdication of responsibilities for its community’s development must also be blamed. “Leadership” for Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and others has just meant marching and protesting while leaving the work to be done to the government — in other words, in the hands of white America. When a black man took the helm of the government, Sharpton and others abandoned any pretense of service to the black community and instead submitted themselves as servile agents of Barack Obama’s presidential interests — in exchange for the prestige of White House gate-passes.
According to the Rev., the first lesson Jesse Jackson had taught him, as a young activist, was to ensure maximum embarrassment for the target of a protest in front of the news cameras. They, therefore, believe that their principal role as black leaders is to “embarrass” a largely indifferent white America — a notion of “making them own their shame” that runs deep in black America. But who has ever been ashamed of being the dominant class in any society?
So whether it’s health services or education, national black leaders have never had much appetite for administering the affairs of their communities. They complain of decrepit education and the destruction of the public school systems but never think of petitioning the government for the funds to reorganize and manage the local school systems in order prevent its destruction. As for the curriculum taught, that too is seen as the purview of the government and white administrators. The same goes for local health centers and, therefore, the quality of care received by the black community. The mindset carried over from slavery is that black America’s development must be left in the hands of, and therefore at the mercy of, the government and white America. The most that black leaders will ever seek in the administration of key services to the black community are positions for their select friends. This is a cultural sentiment of the black community that hasn’t changed over time yet it expects a change in white America’s sentiments on issues of race and equality at light speed.
Aversion to Introspection
To note an aversion to introspection as a principal failure of today’s black leaders is an understatement. At the heart of the contemporary black dilemma is the acculturation of snowflakes and victims that has resulted in yet another paradox of black life: black leaders have an entrenched belief that as an oppressed minority, still largely disfavored, the black community can advance without introspection — that its issues are all external. They believe that African Americans will triumph only by looking at the outside world and cursing it and the scourge of racism to which they are subjected. There’s rarely a need to look at or clean up its own house, rarely a need to focus on building internal frameworks of strong families, of educated, skilled, and enterprising communities, or even a requirement to demand accountability from them — its elected leaders. Unsurprisingly, this has not worked out very well for the black community. Indeed, a house built on a shoddy foundation is at best a raft during a tsunami, at worse, sinking pieces of logs to be tossed around.
Poor Education, Rich Ignorance
Minority races and cultures in America are like stocks in an indexed mutual fund. On average, performance should mirror that of the broader market — adjusted as discounts or premiums for prevailing factors such as race, education, skills, and so on. But when the psychology of the market has baked in the underperformance of certain funds as the norm, it then becomes negligible when those funds perform poorly. The fund managers don’t lose their jobs. This is essentially the case of black America, although, surprisingly, low performance is first and foremost, the expected norm of its leaders and elite, as it’s the path to their livelihood in politics, the clergy, media, entertainment, literature, and activism.
Over the years, demagogic comparisons of African Americans to immigrants who’ve done better in America often miss a crucial point. The baseline of an oppressed group — long deprived of the knowledge, skills, and tools to advance — defeats any comparison to others, including to new immigrants with long-established traditions of education. Is this not the reason why some Asians outperform native whites — with a shorter tradition of education and technical skills? There are regions in Western Europe, for example, that produce artisans who’ve had no value for formal education for a half a millennium. But they value the technical tradesperson skills handed down to them from their ancestors. It’s how they make a living. For the same reasons, in black America, we find more ignorant preachers than brain surgeons and physicists because of the extent to which black “enlightenment” was long restricted to the church. But where given the opportunity of education and training, the black community has produced a few notable brain surgeons and physicists. African Americans excel in any domain for which they are given a shot at the requisite education and training. So attempts at demagogic comparisons to explain away black underperformance in society are simply forms of racism that ignore the real factors.
Writer C. Vann Woodward reminded us that even after the landmark 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka Kansas) Supreme Court Decision — the first acknowledgment of the need for some equities in black education in America, it took another twenty or so years to bring about school integration, taking us into the mid-’70s. Many believe this to be a conservative assessment and that a more realistic one might point to the late ’70s or maybe even the early ’80s in some areas. But as black America’s bourgeois classes — in their fear of the dreaded bogeyman suggestions of inferiority — are deign to acknowledge that not all African Americans have had their long tradition of education, they fail to note this fact, allowing racist comparison to continue ruling the day.
The truth is that even after school “desegregation,” populations in many urban centers and other predominantly black areas have never seen adequate funding for education. Black leadership then aggravated its failures by not seeking to manage or to optimize what it has had to work with. In the meantime, the black elites in politics and activism then convinced the broader community of prevailing existential threats from poverty to voter suppression to external racism but never of the number one issue plaguing the masses — poverty in education and intelligence. The black community in Texas that voted for a conservative white candidate who’d run a deceptive political campaign as an African American (using black faces in ads but never his own), has the vote but lacked the education and intelligence to even select the candidate of their choice.
Even worse, the black intelligentsia often feigns ignorance of the many black families — even in urban cosmopolitan America — in which not a single member of any generation has known the feel of a high school diploma or a tradesperson’s certificate. So we understand why demagoguery often rules the day. It goes like this: African Americans do not succeed because they are inferior. With Jesse Jackson once a proponent of Ebonics and Al Sharpton now hogging center stage to eviscerate the English language, the proof is in the pudding.
But spending a lifetime decrying the “racist” underfunding of the public school system in America is often a moot point, given that many parts of rural white America are just as poorly funded. Although they hold to the psychological “blessing” of “at least, not being black,” poor whites are treated no better than African-Americans in many areas across the land. So while there is no denying racism in America, neither can there be any denial of economic discrimination, which at the heart of our society, serves as the primary impetus for advancement. For better or for worse, this is what American capitalism is all about. It’s about seeking and gaining the tools to advance in the pursuit of liberty and happiness or be left in the idiot’s column for a lifetime — regardless of race — which highlights the real issue. Being the perpetual underclass is as big an internal barrier for black America as the racism it faces in the external environment. And how can any minority sector in any modern society advance (or be “liberated”) without the requisite education and skills or where poor education is pervasive and ignorance remains a common trait — even among the educated?
Education starts at home. Where home has been allowed to disintegrate into chaotic environments led by single-parents struggling to survive, with children free of discipline and the upbringing required for civilized classroom integration, we can hardly expect rock stars in those classrooms, hardly be surprised that inner-city schools are now preparatory environments for jailhouses. A few years back, nearing impoverishment from private school fees, I put my teenage son in the public school system in New York City. In no time, he came home black and blue in the face from a beating he’d received from an absolute thug going on fourteen. My son had made the mistake of laughing at this kid a few days earlier during a game. I then had to face the grim reality: we cannot be surprised that decent people take their children out of those school environments — not necessarily because they are racist but because thy fear for their children’s safety. In no time the quality of the school itself degrades, as no municipality wants to throw good money after what is perceived to be bad. The failure to focus on communal and home development means that certain school districts in minority areas will forever be those training grounds for jailhouses and prisons. Yet black leadership nixes any focus on community and home development because they see that as conservative talking points, not as common sense. Additionally, though, that requires real work — something to which they are averse.
As I state in Biography of a Buffon, it is precisely because of prevailing racism and of being a disfavored minority in society why community development, education, and training are ground zero for advancements. But schools are only a part of education and development. National governments and municipalities cannot be expected to raise our children. And basic common sense should not be politicized into conservative or liberal ideas. But the real leadership needed to condition a people to overcome its challenges has long rested in the hands of men and women incapable of speaking the truth to their communities, incapable of emphasizing the value of a free commodity that a prior generation had obtained only under the protection of federal marshals. In the case of the vote that keeps them employed or empowered, black leaders like Al Sharpton know how to reach every voter in the black community come November. But where the issue is education and internal development, they are ignorant of how to reach a single parent or child during the rest of the year.
It requires neither a genius nor the genuine to scream racism from a bullhorn on a street corner. Yet in black America, the loudest screamer is instantly accredited as “leader” or “champion of the oppressed,” regardless of history and backgrounds in charlatanism, demagoguery, or outright betrayals of the community. In today’s “celebritized” black culture, there isn’t even a need for any patriotic pretense of social obligations to the communities from which many have come — no cultural bias to attachment. The only obligation, in particular, of the celebrated and public figures, is the selective cry of racism when convenient, as when some run afoul of the law or when others have a new film or book to promote.
But common sense social responsibility should mandate that before declaring a run for Congress, the Senate, or even for the presidency, aspirants should first be required to demonstrate some track record of having worked for the betterment of their communities — whether in the public or private realms. After all, if I can’t show that, why should America trust any of my campaign promises? However, as social accountability is unknown across much of black America, the community’s exploitation is most perfected by those who aspire to lead it and others who seek to profit as public figures.
The city of Chicago is a profound example of the cultural unaccountability of black leaders and the black elite. Chicago has produced a number of African-American celebrities, millionaires, given rise to the principal civil right leader of over 40 years, and to the only African-American president of the United States. The current mayor is the former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. In other words, the city was once (and in some cases, still is) home to influential African Americans with some of the most impressive and extensive Rolodexes in America. Yet as Chicago’s black communities mire in crime and gun violence that kill even infants and pregnant women, the black president, during his eight years in office, invested none of his political clout to stem the tide of violence in his hometown. Nor did the Congressional Black Caucus or any of its members at the national level. After the egregious Orlando massacre in 2016, Congressman John Lewis staged a “sit-in” on the congressional floor but has never done anything similar for any of the equally egregious shootings of Chicago toddlers, 5- 6- 7- 8-year-olds, or even the revenge execution of a 9-year-old.
So far, we see no high-level public-private commissions championed by Chicago’s ultra-famous African Americans to staunch the tide of violence. There are hardly any big-named celebrities lending their star power and prestige to public service announcements against the violence. We hear of no mega concerts, marches, or rallies organized by Reverends Sharpton or Jackson. Celebrated African Americans with clout and prestige, who got their start in the Windy City, are “AWOL.” They are not there to partner with government or local entities to reinvigorate communities through economic activities — philanthropic or governmental — or through other socially responsible efforts to fund anti-violence campaigns, education, training and development, or other economic ventures. They feel no obligation to lead the charge to return any levels of civility to their hometown.
As the black elite often mirrors black leadership, we do see some of these same black-Chicagoans jumping into the fray, bringing their prestige and star power to other national causes — for women, against gun violence elsewhere, the prevention of school shootings, and so on. But they are averse to giving back, to working to develop the communities from which they came because they see no value in doing so, often for fear of tarnishing their brand. Ultimately, though, as I point out in Biography of a Buffoon, it gets back to having been indoctrinated to leave everything to the government to solve while focusing on being the loudest to scream racism. Yet as consequence of their celebrity status, many of these African-American cultural icons remain perpetually deified by the vicarious living black community for which they do little or nothing.
Finally, when it comes to elected black leadership, in many quarters, it’s still viewed as poor manners or downright betrayal to demand accountability. In his last book, Reverend Sharpton saw any black demand for accountability from President Barack Obama as a betrayal — a thing that is done by blacks “in the pockets of Republicans,” as he, Sharpton, once was when Republican voyeur Roger Stone had financed his mole candidacy. It’s this culture of unaccountability, fostered by the larger impetus to focus on external racism and holier-than-thou moral condemnations, which has made men like Reverend Sharpton into celebrated black leaders.
Holier-Than-Thou Moralism and Abject Idiocy
Since the Middle-Ages, oppressed classes have always viewed themselves as morally superior to the ruling classes of usurping foreign princes and their bands of merry nobilities. So this point is not new but somewhat exaggerated in a black culture that has existed in constant combat against the scourge of inferior attributions for 400-plus years.
To counteract notions that Africans had contributed nothing to civilization, black intellectuals then went to the opposite extreme. Many embellished historical facts while others, including charlatans and religious conmen, simply expropriated them into waves of propaganda literature that have since conditioned “race flight” and moral superiority complexes that assume not only ancient identities but also responsibility for human civilization, for ancient empires from Mesopotamia to Egypt, and for religious developments far in antiquities. The black man is at once the original Egyptian, Israelite, and Christian.
A noted and widely respected ‘80s-era African-American psychologist had written a book, declaring no less than fifty times that whites are the albino children of black Africa who were kicked out in shame by their African parents. This supposedly resulted in the hatred of African Americans, out of jealousy for their melanin — evidenced by white America’s obsession with being tan. It was that simple. The writer had reduced the Neanderthal’s migration into Europe some fifty to eighty thousand years ago to being driven out in shame as if she was there at the time. We just had to believe her, as she was not an ethnologist, a historian, or an anthropologist and had offered no scientific evidence or theories in support. She also claimed that Jesus was black — another reason for white jealousy. But she never bothered to explain his migration from Africa-proper to Judea.
But when superiority is given a moral basis, ignorance and infallibility become legitimized. Wishful thinking then infers misconceptions of living in a moral theocracy as opposed to a liberal economic democracy. With a black leadership that evolves primarily from the church, we end up with modern-day activist-politicians who are little more than provincial preachers convinced of their moral superiority — by a religion given to them by whites. They then see themselves as having somehow been endowed by The Maker — with bottomless pits, swelling with holier-than-thou indignation. Infallible individuals have no need to prove their case. Because they are morally superior, they simply need to clutch their Bibles while condemning others with the indignation of John The Baptist.
Mainstream black leaders like Reverend Sharpton and other black intellectual talking heads on television will often start a discussion by affirming their beliefs in a mythical “moral high ground” that paints African Americans as societal snowflakes or endangered species to be manicured, assuaged, liberated, and protected by the morally bankrupt government and white establishment. In doing so, they rarely fail to trumpet Dr. King’s dream and message. But in “refuting” stereotypes of inferiority, these leaders and intellectuals often end up negating their purpose because those of inferior (or tyrannical) mindsets are indeed the only ones who make such global claims to moral superiority. For example, among some of the zaniest ideas that I cover in Biography of a Buffoon is Professor Michael Eric Dyson’s 2017 book, in which he told white America to pay for African Americans to get “massages” as a part of “reparations.” Although he did have the decency to not specify the parlors across the country in which such comforts might be dispensed, in putting forward such a ludicrous idea, he willingly posited his people as among a pathetic order. But as his entire book was an overall expression of black moral superiority, Dr. Dyson is yet to be laughed out of town.
This high-minded moral suasion and condemnation is the natural refuge of hypocrites because it dovetails back to that failure to be introspective. Preachy high-minded moral condemnation only aggravates hatred and divisions because its focus is external but rarely aimed inward. For men like Sharpton and others, there is never a Kennedy-like moment in extolling a people to ask what it can do to make its communities and itself better. The holier-than-thou moralists are in the business of condemning others but never in favor of casting the beam out of their own eyes. In doing so, they conflate and distort King’s message and legacy in order to satisfy their passions and sensitivities while avoiding any assumption of responsibilities in the struggle, beyond lofty rhetoric and all around condemnations.
But the truth is that in his challenge to America to be better, Dr. King was highly focused on bringing about the conditions for black America to do better, not just to complain of America’s failure to do the same. So today’s distortion of his legacy by the high-minded moralists often serves to further perpetuate divisions in society than to heal them. It’s simple: we engender the enmity of others by constantly pointing the finger at them (albeit deservingly) but never at ourselves.
Among the most egregious crimes of conscience since Jim Crow tyranny is the betrayal by black leaders of many in the black masses — as “progressive” political strategy. In selling out the very soul and dignity of the low-information black electorate to the Democratic Party, these leaders, many of whom are lionized by African Americans, advanced their careers and power by sabotaging the abilities of many in the underclass to become full human beings possessing the skills, intelligence, and the drive to be self-sufficient citizens. A black America that has voted Democratic for nearly five decades or more gets Democratic support in the fight for poverty but little support in its fight for opportunity. Bluntly speaking, multi-generational dependency is a fashionable crime against human dignity. Yet black leaders have been ok with this.
An argument can be made that the Republicans have no interest in black participation in any productive facet of society, but that might simply be a result of “no vote-no interest” — having seen no chance of reconciling its economic philosophy to the philosophy of dependence preached by many black leaders. Richard Nixon had once pushed the idea of “black capitalism” and self-sufficiency, which even if then a cynical ploy to mollify activists, was nonetheless a framework that might have been revived to good use had integrationist mindsets not been so opposed to it. Working actualizes individuals. Ownership, having a stake in their future and being allowed direct responsibility for that future is the essence of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The liberal fight against poverty has largely been a fight for poverty that masks many of its proponents’ belief in the inferiority of a huge sector of the population. This has seen the perpetuation of an indeterminate cycle of a massive black underclass.
In a rich country, we must have safety nets and humane ways of dealing with the less privileged. But safety nets are not economic ladders. Where multigenerational dependency is supported and encouraged, its purpose becomes discriminatory because its beneficiaries are essentially bribed to be kept out of the mainstream economic cycle, except as consumers. If that isn’t racism, I don’t know what is.
One Party Vote
With that said, Biography of a Buffoon explores the nominal political suicide of a disfavored minority that consistently votes for one party in a two-party democracy. This defies reason, except when seen through the prism of Republican hostility and a black leadership — as exemplified by Sharpton — that is bought and paid for by the Democratic Party for the sole purpose of stitching up the black vote come election time. High-minded empty campaign rhetoric masks betrayal and the abrogation of loyalties to the black constituent. For black America, it’s not the typical “feast or famine” situation found in party politics of the developing world because even when the Democrats are in power, the black community still sees a retrograde famine. So the politics it embraces is really “famine or famine.”
Republican hostility notwithstanding, this wholesome engagement with the Democratic Party for as many decades is but one example of black leadership’s gross abdication of care and cruel indifference to the plight of the masses most in need of help. Today, certain members of the Congressional Black Caucus are all over television emotionally deriding the presidency of Donald Trump, but a closer look at their legislative record reveals that they haven’t proposed a decent piece of legislation on behalf of their constituents in many years.
There isn’t a man or woman on the planet who would remain loyal, loving and supportive of a spouse who abuses them, uses them as a doormat, or takes them for advantage, not a dog that would remain loyal to an owner who perpetually mistreats and ignores it. Yet in a two-party system, rather than choosing to be competitive, the black leadership has submitted itself and subjugated its community to the Democratic Party while abandoning any loyalties to the people it represents. Republican hostility, compounded by Party arrogance then makes this even worse. White Republicans who are hostile to blacks are quite visible in their hostility. Otherwise, the party habitually promotes black politicians, businessmen, and brain surgeons capable of proselytizing and prostrating themselves to white conservatives but incapable of appearing as anything but downright imbeciles to black folk. The vicious cycle, therefore, continues.
Utopian Equality, Dissonance, & Connivance
Today, there is a utopian concept of “equality” commonly held by black leaders and many in the black community that defies not only logic but also the realities of human cultural evolution. This concept ascribes a certain level of high-intelligence and discerning consciousness to white America that only a slave would attribute to a master — all-powerful, omniscient, and omnipotent. But the impartial verdict is that democratic ideals, however illustrious, are held by regular human beings of ordinary faculties and sentiments. The white super-specimens (who should completly rid themselves of their tribal nature and ensure equality for blacks) of the black imagination don’t exist.
Dr. King’s fight for civil rights — with a focus on codifying equality before the law as well as in social and institutional realms — has since morphed into desired assimilation and utopic demands for mandated “acceptance” of blacks by whites. Core aims of civil rights protection and the removal of social barriers to black integration and advancement in the mainstream have been subordinated. For many African Americans, such demands are now expressions of desires to extract affection and approbation from white America, whereby the latter loses its natural human (tribal) tendencies to like or dislike anyone, based on any criterion, lest it will be deemed racist. In some cases, “equality” is now a code word for resentment from failed assimilation.
For many black leaders and the pretentious black elite, their notion of equality beckons a critique of practical reason because it is now mired up in emotions, sensitivities, and demagoguery. For them, it’s no longer a demand for equal treatment from the banker but instead, an insistence that she must also love them as much as she loves whites in general or even as much as she loves the members of her own family. Mainstream black web-portals regularly and shamelessly promulgate articles decrying the “pain” of being the unloved ones in America. Again, it’s the slave appealing for the affection of a master. That the legal system discriminates against African Americans is less an issue of inequality to be heralded than one of civil rights violations codified and implicitly tolerated that mandate legislative and judicial remedies. Being “liked” or “accepted” by a sector of white America will do little to stop a policeman, so determined, from shooting a fleeing black man in the back. Changing the laws to ensure prosecution of such acts is the only solution.
But then there are also the misconceptions: it’s as if there is the belief that internally, white America and others enjoy a love-fest and widespread equal treatment among themselves that’s unknown to humanity. From this, we see the mimetic expropriation of terms like “white privilege” — originally coined by a white woman arguing with her father, brothers, uncles, and cousins for her share of the spoils. Today, it’s the mantra of the “white-lite” black activists and political leaders bereft of original ideas. For example, with each silly comparison of President Obama to President Trump, we see attempts to extract equality in sentiments, efforts at the behavioral control that lies at the heart of black unreason. Hypocrisy in American politics is nothing new but who, of sound mind, would expect parity in the sentiments accorded to the first African American president or the first female president for that matter? America is simply not there as yet. Race and gender matters; both make a difference that only time and changing demographics will change. So why waste good capital that’s needed for internal development on a preoccupation with double standards?
In the first place, no acts of governments in free societies can legislate the sentiments of a culture. No acts can legislate social acceptance, fairness in judgments, respectability, or even the approbation of whites that so many African Americans spend a lifetime chasing and seething resentment in its denial. Freedom of thought and sentiment — the free will to like or dislike anyone for any reason — are fundamental and inherent to free societies. As a consequence, both were primary targets for suppression in the epicenters of totalitarianism — America’s antebellum South (for African Americans), Hitler’s Germany, and Stalin’s Russia.
So, for many African Americans, equality demands are now attached to magnanimous ignorance that fails to recognize or to accept that no two people — not even white twins — are guaranteed equal treatment by the randomness of nature or by humanity itself. This ignorant conflation defies society’s most enlightened capacities and has left black America even more alienated from itself and the broader society than in the past when it had endured tyranny and absolute deprivation of freedom. In other words, the “equality” now being demanded, having lost its core focus on legal protections and barrier removals to access and mainstream integration across the spectrum, defies reason. “Equality” has become a pretentious social jargon that ignores the nature of humanity, nature itself, and the means and pace of changes over time.
But then there is hypocrisy as well. When we think of racism and equality, we often hypocritically ignore our own collective tribalism as human beings — a tribalism as old as civilization, endemic to people of all races, nationalities, and ethnic groups. African Americans are no less tribal in their internal discrimination and prejudices among each other than whites are — to poor whites and nonwhites. A quick tour around black elites or even among the mildly middle-class of black America will show that inequality in sentiments and treatment is endemic to black thought and behavior. On any given day, there might be even more discrimination and snobbery among African Americans than there is from whites to blacks. In its treatment of one another, there’s no such thing as equality or social acceptance among blacks of different classes — just as there isn’t among any other ethnic group. Yet many blacks expect the opposite from white America in order to feel bona fide somehow.
As fashioned and encouraged over the years by black leaders like the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, in many cases, particularly among leaders and elites, what amounts to childish envy has now become the intellectual thread that permeates the black community. Black youths have put this belief on steroids. But this is self-defeating, as human nature is such that further resentment will always be the result of forced acceptance. If I don’t like my neighbor, any attempt to force me to do so will only result in deeper resentment or even in hatred.
So the truth is that for many of the modern-day African-American promulgators of equality — the media personalities, so-called public intellectuals, ostentatious writers of propaganda, historians with their false history, political leaders, and activists who make a living off the inequality of their people — their public clamors for equality reflect discomfort in their own skins. They’re running away from miserable and hated selves. Hypocrites are never happy because nature is random, not hypocritical, so it doesn’t favor them. So they interpret humanity as that which is inextricably linked to whites and white standards, and they’ve now invented “whiteness” and “white privilege” as benchmarks of existence. Additionally, the societal inequality that these women and men condemn is the foundation of their businesses-rackets, the path to personal career advancements and moneymaking. In truth, they’re the last ones to believe in equality for the masses, as it would render them and their source of income extinct.
Failure to Understand America — Poor Economic Focus
Finally, to my earlier allusion of the egregious crime of conscience by black leaders and their Democratic overlords, the real crime of racism is an economic one. We live in a capitalist society with inherent drawbacks — the primary of which is that a failure of the individual to recognize her or himself as an economic being means failure to thrive and succeed. Those who find the economic gear get to drive the truck. Others ride shotgun, if at all.
Some of us had mocked former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s linguistic twists and turns during his time at the podium leading the Iraq War. Once we had digested his “known knowns, known unknowns,” and so on, we then had to swallow his take on the army that fights a war: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” But there was some truth to this, and the same goes for the larger society as well. As we work to change it for the better, it’s worth recognizing the gap between the realities of the one in which we live and the one in which we would wish to live. Yet if we listen to many black leaders and their surrogates, the America they speak of is a foreign country — to them. Long oppressed through various means of racism and manifest “destinarian” supremacy, they believe that redemption and liberation will be achieved if we could only get rid of racism and “white privilege” in society. Reaching the “Promised Land” is supposedly all-dependent on white treatment blacks, not at all on internal black development as economic beings in the heart of capitalism. Indeed, many have convinced the young to look to socialism — not equitable capitalism — as the future savior.
19th-century black leader Booker T. Washington has been lambasted, and in some cases, wholly rejected by black history for his 1895 Atlanta “Accommodation” Speech. He’d struck a deal with Southern whites for blacks to relinquish voting rights, claims to social recognition and equality, and submit to white rule in exchange for basic education guarantees and a modicum of relief from tyranny. Love him or hate him, Washington was a utilitarian who firmly believed that integration and African American demands for social equities would’ve been forever thwarted without education, training, skills, and an economic base. He was also a man of his times who’d seen things through the prism of his existence and was aware of the inherent dangers for his people in their demands for social equality. Therefore, fear, as well as practical reasoning, might have likely influenced his position. But as he “accommodated” whites, Washington took their money to build schools and institutions in order to develop that industrial base to see the economic independence that he’d believed would one day command the social equality and independence sought by his people.
His pretentious archrival — the imperious W.E.B Du Bois — the man most responsible for black America’s bourgeois complex in its utopian demands for equality, was at first agreeable but later switched out and chastised Washington for the Atlanta accommodation. Over a century later, Booker T. Washington is known today as the founder of Tuskegee Institute — home to the first African-American airmen who performed so well in World War II and hero to luminaries like Marcus Garvey, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and others of later generations who also shared his belief in liberation through economics. In Dr. King’s work, we also see Washington’s inspiration. So we can imagine that had the black community (before and after Dr. King) embraced the tenets of Washington’s economic philosophy, Silicone Valley might today be full of African-American engineers and power players.
However many might interpret or conflate Dr. King’s dream and ideals, at the end of the day, he was no different from Booker T. Williams in his belief in economic independence as a vehicle for freedom for his people. But for contemporary leaders like Reverend Sharpton, economic viability of black America would mean a transformation of a massive underclass into enterprising women and men, free of the clutches of government dependency, derived decadence, and empty mouthpieces as activists and “advocates.” Again, like notions of equality, it would kill the profitable livelihoods gained on the back of that massive underclass — sending these leaders to now stand in line for government subsistence.
As a result, cries for equality — now as loaded as saying “Amen” or “Hallelujah” — no longer carry the same weight as in the past because they betray needed appeals for, and focus on, opportunities. The ultra-visible signs of black wealth all over America are further nails in the coffin. Though bearing some responsibility, the white America — from which such equality, approbation, and acceptance are demanded — has become conditioned to ignore shepherds that perpetually cry, “Wolf!” It no longer feels responsible for the condition of black America, and it behooves the black community to take note. This note should be a return to the basics of education, training, and internal economic development. If black leaders spent half the time they spend on marching, protesting, and screaming racism to focus instead, on internal development, external legal challenges, and competitive politics, they would serve a better purpose to advancing and realizing the equality that eludes their constituents.
So, at the epicenter of hyper-capitalism, the American — of whatever ethnic background — is an economic being. It is the economic high ground, not necessarily a moral one that might see black America out of its morass. Dr. King understood this well enough; there can be no better way of honoring his legacy than through a dedication to education, training and skill development, economic development, and economic integration, or at least the “self-sufficiency” once suggested, of black America. Again, sentiments change over time, based on changes in human conditions. They cannot be legislated, and no level of high-minded moral suasion will impose fundamental changes in sentiments overnight because morality appeals only to the enlightened mind — few in any society. But for all ethnic groups in America, we’ve seen that integration, advancement, and changes in human conditions have always been accomplished through education and economic development. As we live in the most technologically complex and rapidly advancing society the world has ever known, capital spent on retroactive battles for acceptance and respectability become obsolete with each passing day.
What then, might the future hold for a people clutching to a preposterous first right of indignation? The truth is that black America is still in for a very long ride — a journey that will only be ameliorated through education, skills, discipline, and high-minded economic pursuits. All else is fodder for charlatan political leaders, activists, propagandist writers, and media types who stoke anger to control the masses while engaged in their exploitation and profitable commoditization of at all levels.
 Al Sharpton and Walton, Go and Tell Pharaoh, 41.
 Evan J. Mandery, The Campaign Rudy Giuliani, Ruth Messinger, Al Sharpton, and the Race to Be Mayor of New York City (Westview Press, 1999), 293.
Paul Sinclair is the author of Biography of a Buffoon is—a satirical examination of contemporary black leadership and the state of black America today. Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hgzz4w
Follow me on Twitter: @Bio_of_Buffoon