From the Editor

Campus Collectivism, the "Privilege" Notion
& Default Political Persuasions

By Charles Michael Byrd
C. Byrd
(Photo by Lynn Goldsmith)

A couple of years ago one of my sons recounted to me how his high school global history teacher had dubbed former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani a fascist. Giuliani -- whose management style more closely approximated the one he affected during his days as a federal prosecutor than that of a local clubhouse politico -- heard this denunciation often during his eight-year term, particularly from Gotham's self-appointed "black" activist leadership and, to a lesser degree, from leftist "whites" -- though the latter usually opted for terms such as totalitarian or dictatorial. What was the source of this vitriol?

One big reason was Giuliani's ordering a much needed police crackdown on crime that had spiraled out of control during the four years of Democrat David Dinkins, the city's first "black" mayor. The underside of this clampdown was a sharp increase in reports of police abuse; the upside was a decrease in the homicide rate from an average of 2,085 a year under Dinkins to 891 annually during Giuliani's eight-year reign. The self-appointed community activists won't tell you, however, that those who benefited the most from this substantial drop in grisly wrongdoing were and still are NYC's minority residents.

I suspect that what irked "black" and leftist activists as much as anything else was Giuliani's unwillingness to acknowledge Al Sharpton as the "black" community's ruling potentate, an unwillingness to offer his humble obeisances by kissing the Pharaoh's ring in a most public setting. Giuliani's mistake, however, was in not traveling to Harlem and the city's other "black" neighborhoods to dine and to schmooze with the local gentry more often than he did. He was correct in not wanting to treat "blacks" as special, but he heeded bad advice when he ignored them to the extent he did -- perchance erroneously thinking they all looked upon Ol' Rev as their lord and savior.

No reasonable person would call the former Mayor a fascist, yet my son's teacher had no qualms about uttering the slander, leaving me with the chore of trying to explain left-versus-right politics to a kid merely interested in achieving academic excellence. Now that he and his brother are college freshmen, the task of helping them craft a politically centrist position -- if, indeed, they take any interest in politics -- is even more daunting, given the left's philosophical supremacy on America's campuses.

Unfortunately, one need look no further than the Sixth Pan-Collegiate Conference on the Mixed-Race Experience -- that transpired in April of this year on the campuses of both Smith College (hosted by the group Multiracial Interracial Smith College) and Cornell University (hosted by the Cornell Hapa Student Association and by Bi/multi-racial Lineages, Ethnicities and Nationalities Discussion or BLEND) -- to find evidence of this clear-cut tilt to the left of the political spectrum.

As per an email posted to the Swirl, Inc. eGroup back in July, one of the conference workshops on the Cornell campus was entitled "Half White vs. Minority Mixes." According to the poster, who not only was in attendance but was one of the organizers, the workshop questioned whether being half-"white" made you more "privileged" than a minority mixed person. She went on to write:

It generally turned into an accusation by minority mixes that half whites do not truly understand the minority experience because we have a certain amount of white privilege afforded to us. From there it turned into half whites arguing that it was difficult to be caught in that borderline where you were only "white enough" on certain occasions. I don't think we ever got anywhere and I don't think either side understands or appreciates each other any better. It may be the one division in the mixed community that will take a lot more rethinking and giving before it really goes away. Still I'm hopeful that we will start being more supportive at future conferences.


Thomas Sowell once made the case that no government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. In a January 2000 essay entitled "A Revolutionary Century" he further stated that, "the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as it is concerned, wealth exists somehow, and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it."

We can say much the same about the practice of browbeating individuals of partial European heritage into admitting they enjoy some degree of "white privilege." What some people cannot manifest for themselves by doing the internal work and practices necessary for spiritual growth, they feel they have carte blanche to appropriate from others and redistribute to themselves by utilizing pathetic guilt-trips. You must find yourself (the spirit-soul) as well as your connection to God-consciousness within. You cannot find it in the immoral act of trying to make someone else feel uncomfortable in his skin, trying to make someone else detest a part of his heritage, trying to make someone else feel bad about the actions of others long-dead, trying to make someone else embrace victimology as a personal religious philosophy.

This is nothing but a watered down version of the "black" nationalist notion that all self-identified "white" folk should forever feel guilty over slavery or should drop to their knees and apologetically cry out, "I'm so sorry I was born white! I wish like hell that clerk had followed me around the store!" Please revisit my May 1998 editorial "White" Skin Privilege and "Black" Nationalism.

You fight racism by deconstructing the belief in not only the existence of separate "races" and a "racial" hierarchy but also in the appropriateness of grouping Homo sapiens into arbitrary "racial" and "ethnic" categories. Deliberately endeavoring to make people feel rotten about themselves is unprincipled.

Echoing this troubling sentiment that people of varied backgrounds should feel obligated to subordinate their individuality to the greater good of some nebulous collective of color were the remarks made by Curtiss Takada Rooks at the August 2001 Asian American Journalists Association Convention. See "Mixed-Race People in the Media: Hapas speak out at journalists convention" by Aric Johnson. According to Johnson, Rooks, an anthropologist and ethnic studies professor at San Jose State University, actually found the means to form his mouth to say that the mixing of "races" is one way a dominant group can conquer a minority group, because it essentially dilutes the smaller group. Over time, Rooks continued, the minority group could find itself fading into the background.

So, again we encounter this notion that one should feel guilty about one's existence if it in any way serves to dilute the political power of a minority group. That these asinine "race" and "ethnicity" boxes serve only to divide Americans into racial voting blocs agitating for one kind of political legislation or another, regardless of whether the individuals within those blocs deem themselves part of the group in the first place -- much less whether they agree as to the appropriateness of the proposed policy -- doesn't faze Curtiss Takada Rooks in the least.

Instead, he advocates the continuance of a modern-day form of tribalism wherein the collective pressures the individual to perform all his duties for its benefit. The problem with this scheme is that the individual spends more time attempting to satisfy the requirements of these artificial racial and ethnic groupings or arbitrarily defined "cultures" in a constant state of flux rather than reestablishing his eternal connection to a much higher spiritual consciousness.

Then we have Matt Kelley's article "Curious George: Does Dubya's half-Mexican nephew satisfy the Latino hunger for a political hero?" For those who don't know, young Kelley publishes an irregularly appearing magazine called "MAVIN: The Mixed Race Experience" and is also Vice President of AMEA (Association of MultiEthnic Americans). Additionally, he was also one of the organizers of the aforementioned Sixth Pan-Collegiate Conference on the Mixed-Race Experience.

In "Curious George," Kelley derides George Prescott Bush -- Florida Governor Jeb Bush's son and G.W.'s nephew -- as simply a creation of the media designed to "woo historically left-leaning Latinos over to the right." (More than being a historical phenomenon, you get the feeling that there is a "default political persuasion" that every minority must adhere to from cradle to grave.) Commenting on George P.'s appearance at New York City's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, Kelley writes in his mag's Summer 2001 issue:

One Latino face in a crowd of two million, George P. shook hands and beamed his brilliant smile. Here was a young man whose name epitomized lily-white conservatism, but whose swarthy complexion pointed due South. Perhaps not Puerto Rico, but close enough.
A quick yet interesting point to ponder here is whether Kelley had any compunction about being associated with "lily-white conservatism" himself when, in November 2001, he accepted a "Points of Light" award from President George W. Bush for "helping to solve serious social problems through volunteer service."

That aside, Kelley goes on to quote Hispanic journalists who reject George P. as not being "Latino enough." Sound familiar, sports fans? He concludes the article by speculating that the young Bush's style and charm could cause -- if he ever decides to run for public office -- "a border crossing even Republicans would support: a mass exodus from left to right."

While it is true that Latinos are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates, they are more willing to give the GOP a look than, say, "black" voters who commonly give Democratic candidates 90+% of the vote in every election. On the other hand, Republican presidential candidates garner about 35 percent of the Hispanic vote on average. A swing of only about 15+% -- hardly a mass exodus -- puts a majority of Latinos in the Republican column.

The larger issue here is what I call "The Curse of Binary Consciousness Syndrome." This is the inability or unwillingness to consider an identity, personal or political, for yourself or for someone else, that transcends "white" and "black" or the latter's amplified form: "of color." Kelley alludes to this syndrome himself when he adds: P. epitomizes the "half-white" predicament of straddling that line between oppressor and oppressed.

In reality, the biggest predicament that people of partial European ancestry encounter is when people of Kelley's political persuasion announce for all to hear that such a dilemma exists in the first place. He, however, is not a strong proponent of transcending race-consciousness, rather he cautions against moving too quickly beyond the current classification scheme. Similarly, Kelley (himself a "Hapa" or someone of part Asian descent) and AMEA both agree with those civil rights groups and politicians opposed to allowing Census respondents to reject racial identification completely.

In another editorial in the same Summer 2001 issue, Kelley hopes "that our transition from exclusive racial boundaries to a more inclusive future occurs without neglecting culture." Read: "Donít forget from where you came, because those communities still need your numbers in the final tabulation."

The truth is that there is no way to finesse race into ethnicity or culture without implicitly using racial groupings to replace racial groupings. What to do?

With no end in sight to leftist "intellectuals" exhorting some of us to "fess up" to our "white" privilege, and with no end in sight to our government's forcing its citizens to participate in a bogus racial classification system (eventually becoming "cultural" with "black" changing to African-American, "white" converting to European-American, etc. and with each minority grouping still being able to soak up the numbers of its own mixed subset), something else might well be looming over the horizon. Whiteness itself.

So-called Hispanics consider themselves "white" more than anything else, so, contrary to those Latino journalists whom Matt Kelley referenced, George Prescott Bush, whose mom is Mexican, is simply being himself -- not acting out of character at all -- if he acts "white." That said, is it possible that future decennial Censuses will see an increase in the "white" population -- fueled in part by mixed individuals of partial European ancestry tired of being dumped on because of their supposed privileged status?

Solomon Moore and Robin Fields touch upon this in their July 31, 2002 Los Angeles Times article, "The Great 'White' Influx: Regardless of color, two-thirds of immigrants choose that designation on census replies. For some, it's synonymous with America":

What white traditionally meant -- the WASP, the blond hair, the California drawl, the Hells Angels motorcycle riders -- is being overlaid with new images of white Russians and Armenians...Iranians, North Africans and Latinos," said USC demographer Dowell Myers. "White is the most polyglot category, and it's morphing."
As individuals of partial European ancestry witness what came to be known as the multiracial movement seemingly metamorphosing into a political front for Young Marxists in Training, will they switch to the "white" box in the future? Who knows?

One thing is for certain, though. My two young men will not likely attend any future Pan-Collegiate Conferences on the Mixed-Race Experience. Eternal spiritual sparks of Divine consciousness they are. Mindless, collectivist automatons they are not.



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