Dr. Mehler's Archives
African American Racism in the Academic Community
Barry Mehler, 'African American Racism in the Academic Community.' First published in The Review of Education 15 # 3/4 (Fall 1993). Revised and republished as 'Addressing the Problem of African-American Racism in Academia,' in Martyrdom and Resistance (Nov.-Dec. 1993). Slightly revised for posting.
'Nobody wants to talk about what the Jews did. They are always talking about what Hitler did to the Jews, but what did the Jews do to Hitler? That question is never asked or answered.' (1)
Khallid Abdul Muhammad
National spokesperson for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam (NOI)
In a conference on the African 'Holocaust' (i.e. slave trade), organized by NOI, Khallid Muhammad, Farrakhan's national spokesman, 'hammered away at the Jews.... Nobody wants to talk about what the Jews did,' he said, 'They are always talking about what Hitler did to the Jews, but what did the Jews do to Hitler? That question is never asked or answered.' (2) Farrakhan and Muhammad are willing to ask that question and they have an answer. The 'so-called' Jews were really the aggressors, attacking Hitler and threatening Germany. Hitler was merely defending himself and his nation. What happened to the Jews was the will of Allah against a people practicing 'a dirty religion' based on exploitation. (3) These classic expressions of anti-Semitism should surprise no one. What is surprising and disturbing is the extent to which such ideas are being promoted on American campuses and how little effort is being made to combat them.
The African American community has always had small groups of nationalists and separatist such as Martin Delany (1812-1885) and Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), but never has extreme nationalism, anti-Semitism, and Black supremacy been accorded such a sympathetic hearing in academic circles as it is today. The Leonard Jeffries controversy at City College of New York along with the riots in Crown Heights in August 1991 brought the issue to the front pages of American newspapers and magazines. (4)
Despite the publicity there is little understanding of the network of Black nationalist scholars on campuses across America propounding a racial nationalist world view. While Jeffries is currently the most notorious, he is not a key theorist of the movement. This article is an attempt to examine the racial nationalist network within the African American academic community and assess its significance.
Before we begin our examination of racism in the African American academic community it must be stated clearly that the major victims of racism in America have been people of color, particularly people of African descent. Anyone concerned with racism in America must be primarily concerned with the impact of white racism on people of color. Furthermore, the motivation to understand and combat prejudice in the African American community must not be taken as an attack on the Black community or on the civil rights movement. Racism must be fought in all of its manifestation because it is ultimately extremely self-destructive. Those who fight white racism do not hate white people. Adolf Hitler was an enemy of the German people, not their savior. Ultimately, racism undermines a communities strength and makes real solutions extremely difficult to attain. In America, racism in the African American community harms the civil rights movement.
Since the problem of racism in America is primarily white racism, activists in civil rights organizations have tended to ignore manifestations of racism in the Black community, dismissing it as of little consequence. For the past twenty years my own study of academic racism has been a study of white racism. The main body of my own research concerns academic theories of racial inferiority. My specialty is biological determinism and the eugenics movement in the United States. All of my writing to date has focused on white racism. I knew that prejudice existed within the African American community, but I assumed it was insignificant both in terms of its impact on the Black community and in its impact on society as a whole.
Then, in April 1990, the New York Times carried a story on two professors at City College whose racial theories were causing turmoil. One, Leonard Jeffries, chair of the Black Studies Program, had been preaching Black superiority theories. The Times quoted Jeffries as saying that 'rich Jews' financed the slave trade. He was also alleged to have made disparaging remarks about Jews in his classroom. The other, Michael Levin, a philosophy professor, had joined the growing ranks of American academics who are arguing that Blacks are, on average, less intelligent than whites.
As a result of the New York Times article, I was invited to New York to discuss the rising tide of academic racism on the Jane Wallace Show - a syndicated cable network program. While the turmoil at City College involved two professors - one white, the other black - the producers of the show only wanted to deal with white racism. They invited Michael Levin and J. Phillipe Rushton, the University of Western Ontario professor who argues that Blacks have smaller brains and larger genitals than Asians and whites. He claims they are the least evolved of all human races.
When I arrived for the taping I was introduced to Clarence Glover, Adjunct Professor of African-American Studies and Director of Minority Affairs at Southern Methodist University who had been invited to join the debate. Mr. Glover had apparently been contacted at the last minute and was not aware of the recent controversy. He asked me to fill him in.
I pulled out a copy of the New York Times article which contained pictures of the two professors. Pointing to Michael Levin, I said, 'he is a white racist who believes that on average people of African descent are intellectually inferior to whites.' Pointing to Jeffries, I said, 'and he is a Black racist...' Before I could say another word, Mr. Glover interrupted to explain to me that only whites can be racists. 'Racism involves having the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices through major institutions. Only whites have such power. Therefore only whites can be racist.'
'But look at the kinds of things he says,' I declared. 'He calls whites `ice people' born cold and greedy while Blacks are `sun people,' born warm and humanistic.'
That didn't phase professor Glover either.
'That's not necessarily racist. All he is saying is that environment influences evolutionary development.'
Pressing the issue, I went on:
But he believes that Blacks are biologically superior to whites and that the cause of this superiority is the skin pigment melanin.
Professor Glover told me he had recently attended the Fourth Annual World Melanin Conference and began an impromptu lecture on the nature of melanin and its effect on physical and mental performance. He said that melanin was responsible for superior performance in Blacks in a number of areas. He handed me several Xerox pages of notes. According to professor Glover's notes:
Melanin, a dark pigmented chemical substance produced in human cells, is found most abundantly in the skin, hair, eyes and substantia nigra (in the mid-brain). The substantia nigra (black substance) serves as a catalytic agent in igniting starter impulses which facilitate 'the rapid and exact movement of specific muscle groups.' It is found also, in internal organs and muscles. Now it looms as a factor in black expressive behavior... [and] in the regulation of some aspects of human behavior.... Melanin... appears to noticeably determine the quality of black expressive behavior, of soul.
Melanin, according to the literature Glover handed me 'is quite fundamental to the stuff that constitutes the very essence of biological life...' According to Dr. Leon Edelstein, associate professor of dermatology and pathology at the University of California Medical School, an abundance of Melanin produces a superior human being, both mentally and physically. Melanin is 'at the very essence of life' (sic!).
I had never heard of these theories before, but once I was acquainted with them I began to notice their circulation within the African American community. For example, in 1990 Essence magazine, a widely circulated popular black magazine carried an article on the 'Mysteries of Melanin.' Citing Frances Cress Welsing, author of The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism,
The quality of whiteness is a genetic inadequacy or a relative genetic-deficiency state or disease upon the genetic inability to produce the skin pigments of melanin which are responsible for all skin coloration... (sic!)
The... psychological reaction of whites has been directed toward all people with the capacity to produce the melanin skin pigments. However, the most profound aggressions have been directed toward the Black, `nonwhite' peoples who have the greatest potential and therefore are the most envied and the most feared in genetic competition.
The article also cited Carol Barnes, a 'noted melanin researcher' who urges that these ideas be promoted 'to raise Black self-esteem.' Carol Barnes is the author of Melanin: The Chemical Key to Black Greatness,' it is privately published and distributed through Black specialty book stores. While none of the sources for this theory meet even minimal academic standards, they manage to receive a respectful airing in the Black community.
In fact, a good deal of black extremist literature is published without ISBN numbers or other standard publication information. The material is distributed through Lushena Books, a wholesale distribution network which specializes in African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and African books, records, videos, and cassettes. Their 1991 catalogue contains some two thousand titles. Often there is no publication information at all. This is particularly true of the most racist and inflammatory of the materials.
It is through Lushena Press that Black bookstores stock the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and other explicitly anti-Semitic materials. Ironically, these materials are published by Angriff Press, a neo-Nazi organization whose titles include Henry Ford's 'The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem,' and 'The Palestine Plot,' a 1948 volume which purports to show the link between Zionism, Communism, and Jewish bankers.
When I returned from New York, I began discussing these issues with Mr. Raymond Gant, the Director of our Minority Affairs program at Ferris State University. I had worked closely with Mr. Gant since coming to Ferris. To my surprise, Mr. Gant was quite familiar with the ultra-nationalist literature. The Minority Affairs Office maintains a small library for students and faculty. He went to these shelves and began to gather material for me to read. These materials included a magazine, The Alkebulanian, a two hour tape, 'The African Origins of Judeo-Christianity,' by Ashra Kwesi, and a tape of Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan speaking at Grand Valley State College in Grand Rapids in February 1990. Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan (usually called simply Dr. Ben) had been invited to our campus as a guest speaker for our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in 1990.
Mr. Gant asked me to review the materials and tell him what I thought. The Alkebulanian claimed that the Jewish Talmud was written by 'racist dogs' and that the Holocaust was used by the Jews as a means of tricking black people into forgetting that it was the Jews who were responsible for the African Holocaust (the slave trade). The magazine further contended that the AIDS virus was manufactured by white scientists as a means of genocide against African people and was injected into African people as part of a program to inoculate Africans against smallpox. During his talk at Grand Valley State College Dr. Ben ridiculed Nelson Mandela and disparaged the African National Congress's call for 'one person, one vote.' He supported the call for 'one settler, one bullet.'
I explained to Mr. Gant that in my view the material was virulently racist, anti-white, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian. I also made it clear that I thought the material inappropriate for the Minority Office reading rack. What I didn't know at the time was how widely respected and influential Dr. Ben had become among academic Black nationalist. He is considered a founding father of the 'Nile Valley School,' and is revered as an internationally renown scholar.
Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan
As his name implies, Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan claims to be of Jewish descent, although he disparages Judaism and denies that European 'crackers' are really Jews. He is a part of the Black 'Identity' movement which contends that white Jews are actually imposters. Dr. Ben's Alkebulanian magazine claims that the 'so-called' Jews 'have learned to manipulate and control the Mind of the World (sic!), by colonizing the information of, in, and about the world.'
According to a biography published in The Alkebulanian, Dr. Ben has studied in Brazil, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Spain. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and another in Moorish history as well as an L.L.B. law degree. He also claims to be an architect. From 1945 to 1970, Dr. Ben was the Chief of the African Desk of the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He has taught at Al Azar University in Cairo, Egypt and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is chairman of the Alkebu-Lan Foundation which publishes The Alkebulanian. The Alkebu-Lan Foundation also published most of Dr. Ben's 28 works as well as other 'educational materials.' They run tours of Egypt and seminars on Africa.
In a cover article in The New Republic on the Afrocentric school, Dr. Ben is cited as one of the founders of the movement by Mary Lefokowitz, Mellon Professor of Humanities at Wellesley College. I do not wish to discredit the entire Afrocentric school, I study extremism and I do not believe Martin Bernal, for example, is an extremist. Nor do I believe that Dr. Ben's extremist views are characteristic of the Afrocentric school as a whole, although they are shared by some in the movement. However, there is a strain within the Afrocentric school which claims that 'white scholars' have 'attempted to cover up the Black presence' in history 'in a conspiracy to rob' them of their 'rich and glorious' past. Obviously, until recently, white scholars have ignored the history of all minority peoples, although one must note that this is changing and that many white historians have been pioneers in the study of African American history.
The ultra-nationalist scholars have clearly emerged from obscurity in the past decade. The New Republic, Newsweek, and Time, for example have all carried lead articles on the emerging academic debate over Afrocentrism which included references to extremist. The highly regarded journal, Black Issues in Higher Education carried a lead article entitled, 'Nile Valley Scholars Bring New Light and Controversy to African Studies' which cites the work of Ben-Jochannan and John Henrik Clarke as among those who 'have set about the arduous task of telling the truth...'
John Henrik Clarke
Dr. Ben's closest associate is John Henrik Clarke, Professor Emeritus of African World History at Hunter College in New York and editor of Malcolm X: The Man and His Time. According to Clarke:
African people have been manipulated into agreeing with everything white, from a white Jesus to white bread. 'A mere handful of people utilized the word `Holocaust' and made the entire world weep for them making Black people forget that it was this same handful who participated in the African holocaust (the existence of Alkebulanian/African enslavement).
Clarke has vigorously defended Jeffries who 'said nothing he cannot document.' He has been equally vigorous in his condemnation of mainstream Black intellectuals such as Henry Louis Gates Jr., of Harvard and Cornel West of Yale whom he has called 'enemies of their people' and 'avid white behind kissers who do not have the nerve to be African or Black.'
Clarke also wrote an introductions to Michael Bradley's The Iceman Inheritance, a kind of Protocols for the white race. Bradley states his thesis simply enough: 'This is a racist book.' Racism is the 'predisposition of but one race... the white race.' According to Bradley 'the problem with the world is white men' and the problem with white men is biological. Clarke praises Bradley for his 'bold admissions and revelations' about the European's attempts to dominate the world through racism. The book is a cornerstone of the thesis repeated by many of the extremist that the problem with the world is white men. The solution to the problem is a world without white men.
Ashra Kwesi, a student of Dr. Ben, is another prominent spokesman for the racial nationalists. Kwesi is closely associated with the Alkebu-Lan Foundation. He participates both in their seminar programs and in their tours of Egypt. Kwesi is the director of Kemet Nu Productions in Los Angles, California. Kemet Nu Productions distributes two long tapes of slide lectures by Kwesi - 'The African Origins of Civilization,' and 'The African Origins of Judeo-Christianity.'
Kwesi believes that white's are by nature violent, destructive, and sexually perverse. The tapes are peppered with such terms as 'the faggot Pope,' and 'faggot America.' Kwesi claims that white European's stole the humane religious monotheism of ancient Egypt and perverted it. He refers to the European Jews as the 'so-called Jews.' The tape contains a long, bitter, and vulgar attack on Christianity and ends with a prophetic vision of world without white people. Kwesi contends that white men fear the superiority of dark skinned people for they realize that they are destined to extinction. It is this fear that motivates them to attempts of genocide against Black people. After viewing the tape, Leonard Jeffries commented, 'This is the most powerful slide presentation I have seen, Ashra Kwesi has really brought our history to life...'
To my surprise, Mr. Gant, our Minority Affairs Officer, did not seem to understand my concerns regarding the materials and was initially unwilling to remove them from the shelves. It took a year of discussion and debate before the issue was settled. Fortunately, I found allies among African American scholars all across campus as well as from the administration.
But, when I began to send copies of the materials with requests for more information to the major civil rights organizations in the United States including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Democratic Renewal, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, I was surprised to learn that they had little or no information on Dr. Ben, Ashra Kwesi, or the academic racial nationalists.
I even found some moderate civil rights leaders annoyed that I was concerned about the issue. Joann Watson, Director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, was mildly hostile. She is quite influential in civil rights circles. She is not only the director of the largest branch office of the NAACP, but she chairs the YWCA Committee on Race Relations, and is on the board of the Center for Democratic Renewal. I had hoped that she would support my efforts to oppose the distribution of blatantly racist materials on my campus. When I wrote to her asking for information about Dr. Ben and The Alkebulanian - both located in Detroit, I got a lecture on the 'unprecedented level of organizing by white supremacist organizations' on college campuses.
I quickly wrote Ms. Watson back. 'Please understand that I appreciate your point regarding the `unprecedented level of organizing by white supremacist organizations.'... But that is not the issue I am dealing with here and I was hoping for some help from you.' I cited my record of civil rights related work and explained once again and in greater detail the problem I was confronting. I explained that Mr. Gant was offering these materials to our students and in 1990 brought Dr. Ben to our campus as a guest speaker. I also explained that I had discovered that Mr. Kwesi 'is a regular lecturer on the college campus circuit. Mr. Kwesi sent me his promotional material which lists campuses across the country in which he has spoken. They included, Stanford, UCLA, The University of Illinois, and the University of Texas.
I had called Patsy Julius, the Program Director for the Student Union at The University of Texas at Austin and she enthusiastically recommended Kwesi to me as a campus lecturer. I specifically asked her about his use of terms such as 'faggot America' and 'faggot Pope.' Oh yes, she replied, he is quite 'controversial' but he is also 'quite personable' and was always willing to 'dialogue' with students who object to his terminology. She concluded that Mr. Kwesi was an excellent campus speaker who instilled pride in African American students. Certainly, if virulent racists were to be called upon to help instill pride in Black students, civil rights leaders had to speak out - both for the sake of the students and the civil rights movement.
I concluded this letter with another appeal for help. I told Ms. Watson, that I was not criticizing her or the NAACP for not focusing their energies on racism in the Black community, but this was an issue which demanded attention.
On my campus, students are reading that the Talmud was written by `racist dogs.' Last year the leading intellectual of this publication was an invited speaker. The material is directed specifically at minority students.... It is in this context that I seek your views on this subject.
In response I got another lecture on the dangers of white racism. Not only did she ignore my plea for help, but she took offense at my letter. She seemed to think that I was challenging the NAACP's integrity.
Thankfully, when I turned to faculty, administrators and friends on campus I found strong support from both Black and white colleagues. Dr. Phillip Middleton, an African American professor of African Literature forthrightly condemned the material. Dr. Middleton has taught extensively in Africa and is a specialist in African and African-American literature. He agreed to meet with Mr. Gant and myself to discuss the issues. In that meeting, Dr. Middleton pointed out that our students know little of Africa. He asked what value it was to fill such emptiness with The Alkebulanian when you could better subscribe to Africa Now, a scholarly non-racist magazine.
While I won that struggle, the problem continued. The next year in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, our student chapter of the NAACP invited Rasul Muhammad, the State Representative of the Nation of Islam to campus. Once again I called the Minority Affairs office to discuss the matter. I spoke with Terri Houston, Assistant Director of Minority Affairs. I told her that I thought it was inappropriate to bring a speaker from the Nation of Islam to speak in honor of the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.. She answered, 'I couldn't disagree with you more.' The point is not that these people are themselves racist or anti-Semites, but clearly black academic racism and anti-Semitism is not perceived as problematic, dangerous, or particularly offensive, even by academics employed to deal with minority issues.
By the end of my year of discussions with faculty, administration, colleagues, and civil rights leaders, I was convinced that this was an issue which needed more investigation and more attention. One of the things that struck me was how widespread I was finding the materials and yet how ignorant everyone outside the network of ultra-nationalists seemed to be. In March of 1992, I was invited to McGill University to keynote a conference on academic racism organized by the Canadian Center on Racism and Prejudice. When I got to Montreal I found that Dr. Ben had just left. He had been invited by the Black Students Network of McGill to keynote the Black History Month celebrations.
While Dr. Ben was clearly well known to Black students and academics, I found experts in the field had never heard of him. In soliciting a professional opinion with regard to Dr. Ben, Ashra Kwesi, and The Alkebulanian. I wrote to Dr. Ernest N. McCarus, Director of the Center for Near Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. McCarus replied, 'No one at the Center is familiar with the magazine Alkebulanian or the lecturer Ashra Kwesi that you mention.' Dr. McCarus referred me to Charles Krahmalkov, their expert on ancient Egypt. Dr. Krahmalkov is a Full Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Dr. Ben is touted as a world famous expert on ancient Egypt, yet Krahmalkov had never heard of Dr. Josef Ben-Jochannan or The Alkebulanian. After reading a few passages from the magazine, he commented, 'this is really outrageous. You are obviously dealing with a racist and a charlatan.' After calling Krahmalkov, I called Professor James Anderson, an African American scholar and historian of American education at the University of Illinois. I studied under Professor Anderson at the University of Illinois in an NIMH funded program on Institutional racism. He, too, knew nothing of any of these people.
The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.
In 1991, the 'Historical Research Department of The Nation of Islam published a book, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. The thesis of the book is that the Jews were principally responsible for the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery from the colonial period through the Civil War.
The book is meticulously, almost lovingly, researched and heavily footnoted. There is no question that the anonymous researchers who produced this book have scoured Jewish literature. As one who reads racist material for a living, this 334 page book appears to be an dazzling addition to the annals of anti-Semitic literature. I am sure that its influence and circulation will be impressive and long lasting.
It's publication was greeted with national controversy when rap idol, 'Ice Cube' publicly endorsed the book. Bill Adler, a Jewish promoter and defender of rap music responded immediately. 'I think the book and Ice Cube's endorsement of it are indefensible,' he told the press,' I work in the hiphop community, and he's of particular concern to me because he's so popular and influential.' Adler arranged to have Harold Brackman, a California based scholar, write a rebuttal to the book.
Brackman's refutation, with an afterword by Cornel West, a prominent African-American professor at Princeton, is scholarly and restrained. He demonstrates the overall absurdities of the book as well as it many errors of fact; its reliance on well-known anti-Semitic literature; and its biased use of selected materials from Jewish authors. A good short refutation of the book's argument is Saul Friedman's 'An Old/New Libel: Jews in the Slave Trade,' which appeared in Midstream in October 1991. None of the refutations thus far have pointed out the absurdity of the Black Muslims stressing the Jewish role in the slave trade. After all 'Africa's slave trade to the Islamic world began centuries before the Atlantic slave trade and lasted somewhat longer, in some places into the twentieth century.'
Black academics have come forward to condemn the book. Most prominent among them has been Henry Louis Gates Jr., who called the book, 'the bible of the new anti-Semitism.'
Sober and scholarly looking, it may be one of the most influential books published in the black community in the last 12 months. It is available in black-oriented shops in cities across the nation, even those that specialize in Kente cloth and beads rather than books.
In the afterword to Brackman's pamphlet, Cornel West writes:
The vicious murder of Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights this summer bore chilling testimony to a growing black anti-Semitism in this country...
In our present moment, when neo-Nazi like David Duke can win 55 percent of the white vote (and 69 percent of the white 'born-again' vote) in Louisiana, it may seem misguided to highlight anti-Semitic behavior of black people - the exemplary targets of racial hatred in America. Yet I suggest that this focus is crucial precisely because we black folk have been in the forefront of the struggle against racism. If these efforts fall prey to anti-Semitism, the principled attempt to combat racism forfeits much of its moral credibility - and we all lose.
As was expected the book quickly found its way onto college campuses. It is currently being used at Wellesley by professor Anthony 'Tony' Martin, a member of the Africana Studies Department for his introductory class on African American history. Selwyn Cudjgoe, chair of the Africana Studies Department opposed using the book saying it was 'offensive to blacks and Jews alike, who find it more a prosecutor's brief (outlining the calumnies of the Jews as Jews) rather than a scholarly attempt to examine the role of individual Jews in the slave trade...'
The University president issued a statement saying we, 'respect Professor Martin's rights through academic freedom to put this book on his syllabus and teach it in his class. We owe it to him to tolerate his choice. However, we owe it to ourselves and to our community to know exactly what it is that we are tolerating.'
Cornel West argued that the growing acceptance of anti-Semitism in the African-American community represents 'the bitter fruit of a profound self-destructive impulse, nurtured on the vines of hopelessness...' For me, the self-destructive character racism is one of its most extraordinary characteristics.
At the same conference in which Khallid Muhammad accused the Jews of attacking Hitler, 'biochemist Jack Felder' spoke. He is the author of the theory that AIDS is part of the campaign of genocide against Black people. According to these Black ultra-nationalists, the Jews are waging a campaign of genocide against African peoples the world over. Everything is seen in conspiratorial terms - drugs in the ghetto, violence, AIDS, etc. Everything is part of a genocidal war being waged by white people - all white people. This view has led for calls to avoid white doctors. Dr. Ben's Alkebulanian put it most starkly:
If you have small children you should think twice about letting them receive vaccination shots especially in public hospitals in Black neighborhoods and from white doctors. Remember that white people tricked 50-75 million Africans into receiving smallpox vaccinations that have been infected with the AIDS Virus. Rest assured that what they did in Africa they are doing right here in the U.S.
It hardly needs to be mentioned that there is a rampant epidemic of preventable childhood disease in the poverty stricken black ghettos of America. It is the height of folly to tell Black mothers not to bring their children to public hospitals for vaccination shots.
But the dangers of this kind of racism is much broader and less obvious than the above example would imply. The Black racist are embraced by the white racist. They feed off of each other and encourage each other. They also influence the most talented young Blacks in American colleges, encouraging their alienation. The message they sell is that there is no solution to racism. Blacks and whites will never be able to live together in harmony. Dr. Ben also expressed disdain for college education. He compared a Ph.D. to training a 'seal to bark.' Generally, the point made over and over in the literature is that everything one hears from white professors are lies. Such ideas will not help Black students graduate, rather they will exacerbate racial tensions on campus. Clearly, civil rights leaders and academics need to respond vigorously to this challenge.
First, more research needs to be done on the network. We need to understand the range of ideas being propounded. Some of the extremist hark back to Egyptian religion and culture, others claim that people of West African descent are the true Jews, while still others embrace Islam. We also need to appreciate the broader dimensions of their ideology. The State Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin is currently gathering a collection of this type of material. We need to have such special collections to facilitate scholarship on the phenomenon.
Second, there is an apocalyptic element to the movement which has a vision of a world without white people. There is also a strong anti-Christian element to the movement. Whites and Christians do not respond to insults and attacks in the same way that Jews and other minorities do. The Jewish community is very sensitive and responsive when anti-Semitic rhetoric is voiced publicly, but I found the local Catholic church completely uninterested. Catholics and whites simply ignore slurs. No doubt because they don't feel threatened by them. I think this is a mistake. When a minority affairs office or a Black studies professor makes derogatory remarks about any group, anti-racist academics must object. We should not turn a deaf ear to lectures which refer to the 'faggot Pope' even if the local Catholic church chooses to ignore the insult.
Third, there needs to be at least some civil rights effort aimed at combating this movement. We need educational literature which addresses the problem and offers advice on how to respond when extremist literature, professors, or speakers are on campus. I believe every civil rights organization should devote some energy to combating the growing racism within the Black community. At the present time, people like Ashra Kwesi can lecture on virtually any campus in the nation without any administration or faculty response. We need to respond.
1. 'Muslims and Afrocentrics speak out at African Holocaust event' Amsterdam News (12/28/91) pp. 3 continued on p. 30. The quote is on p. 30.
2. 'Muslims and Afrocentrics speak out,' p. 30. The conference was held in 22 December 1991 in Brooklyn, New York.
3. 'Transcript of Mohammad's November 9 Speech,' Barnard Bulletin (11/23/92) p. 13. The entire speech was published in three issues of the Barnard Bulletin (11/23/92) pp. 12-13; (12/7/92) pp. 14-16; (12/14/92) pp. 10-17.
4. Joseph Berger, 'Professors' Theories on Race Stir Turmoil at City College,' New York Times (20 April 1990) p. B1 & B4; 'Why the Delay on Dr. Jeffries?' NYT editorial (30 October 1991); Mervyn Rothstein, 'CUNY Vote on Jeffries Pleases Few: Cuomo and Scholar Assail Probation,' NYT (30 October 1991) p. B1 & B4; Samuel Weiss, 'Outraged CUNY Officials Weigh Action on Professor,' (9 August 1991) p. B3; A. M. Rosenthal, 'This Ugly Echo,' NYT (13 August 1991) p. A17; 'Professor Shouldn't Be Dismissed for Views,' NYT letters (20 August 1991) p. A26); Jay Hershenson (Vice Chancellor of CUNY), 'City University Wanted to Continue Reviewing Jeffries Case,' NYT letters (14 November 1991); 'Professor's Racial Theories Fall Wide of the Mark,' NYT letters (3 September 1991); 'Watching Dr. Jeffries Self-Destruct,' NYT (25 August 1991); Jerry Gray, 'Educators Blamed for Race Remarks: CUNY Panel Decides Against Any Disciplinary Actions,' NYT (24 March 1991) p. 34; Steven Lee Myers, '500 Rally to Support Controversial CUNY Professor,' NYT (12 August 1991) p. B3; Jason De Parle, 'For Some Blacks Social Ills Seem to Follow White Plans,' Sunday Weekly Review NYT (11 August 1991); Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 'Organizations Decry CUNY Decision,' Detroit Jewish News (29 November 1991); 'Lesson in Hate: Supporters of anti-Semitic prof threaten Jews and Post,' front page New York Post (9 August 1991).