I am confident that this will sound peculiar to most; however, it nevertheless needs to be said. One of the most visible signs that the political priorities of white progressives have altered dramatically in regards to the fight for racial equality is their declining relationship with African-American groups agitating for “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation.”
If the recent Presidential election did not definitively prove that the “White Left” has abandoned their natural political terrain, their gradual drift from a principled position regarding racial reconciliation definitively proves this point. As a historian who has dedicated his life to the study of American Race Relations, it is evident to me that the disappearance of the “White Left’s” voluminous presence in the struggle for racial equality is extremely disappointing. The current absence of a definitive white radical presence in the fight against this nation’s standard racial issues speaks volumes about shifting political priorities among white Leftists. In fact, their silence in the face of ever-increasing racial disparities ‘speaks’ volumes.
As a student of American race relations, I found it startling to witness increased intra-movement ethnic conflict among so-called black and white progressives. It appears that the racial cooperation that undergirded sixties activism is a relic of the past. Long gone are mutually beneficial relationships between groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party whose primary desire was bringing power to the people.
Unfortunately, such progressivism has yielded to a contemporary activist scene whose absence of historical literacy fuels a shockingly unrefined xenophobic impulse that encourages their public articulation of political positions that are outrageously antagonistic to potential coalition partners. Things have gotten so bad among today’s descendants of white radicalism and the Black Power era that they have publicly vowed never to work with one another. This shocking position is counter-productive considering that they both realize that they are often facing the same enemy who gleefully exploits progressives’ disorganization to further their exploitation of America’s poor and working-class.
What an unfortunate moment in time that we exist within.
Despite the unwise posture of non-cooperation that so many Black Nationalist leaders and so-called white progressive groups have chosen, the historical record regarding the path to racial equality is evident; it takes black and white progressives alike to move this nation closer to racial justice.
A recent New Black Panther Party meeting provided voluminous clarity regarding the state of non-cooperation among radicals. I noticed that there was not a single white progressive present. I am certain that white radicals absence had as much to do with their shifting political priorities as it did with the bitter race-based hatred spewed from a roster of race-baiting orators featured at this event. The tone and tenor of the speeches blared that whites were neither welcome nor needed in either this latest expression of Black Nationalist politics or the achievement of racial equality.
I intently listened as these ‘brothers and sisters’ decked out in paramilitary gear ranted against whites via a host of colorful descriptors that would have shamed and embarrassed original Panther leaders such as Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale, and Assata Shakur.
I left this event with a gnawing feeling that every segment of today’s ‘Left’ is woefully ignorant of the coalition building that has always been crucial to progress on America’s racial frontier. The alluded to historical illiteracy not only compromises the activism of today’s leftists but also emboldens and strengthens their opponents. There is no doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is unaware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Peace and Freedom Party and Students for a Democratic Society for logical mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, their ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with those fighting against the same enemy curtails their activist impulses and delays the achievement of all goals. I am left wondering, are black and white ‘Leftists’ fighting for the same goals anymore? It is sad that such a question has to be presented, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to this mundane question.
Fight the Power
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016