Monday, February 19, 2024

Reid's Skewed Perspective

In the video below, Joy-Ann Reid can be seen answering (at 14:04) a question (at 13:33) about "the ways that black people through time have been treated." In the following lengthy portion of the extremely lengthy response, she advocates reparations (a truly bad idea) for blacks while properly speaking in the third person rather than the first person. Daughter of two professionals, a father from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a mother from British Guiana, Reid comes from a reasonably privileged background. Presumably, she understands that any rationale for reparations does not apply to someone of her ancestral background as she remarks

I mean, to be a black person in- you know, in 2024 in America is to be a state of complete perplexed confusion about what is wrong with a country that hates your history to this day can't admit even the basics of what was done to your ancestors, won't accept any responsibility for the fact that has carried throughout the entirely of the existence of you in this country and thins 60 years of relative freedom is enough.

Now blacks who can't get into Harvard, now blacks who can't get any more loans, you can't even give each other loans of $20,000 unless white men who get 99% of funding for their businesses. We want a hundred.


The "loans of $20,000 appears to be a reference to President Biden's student loan forgiveness program, although it's unclear, understandable because the MSNBC host evidently is not in a field in which she is expected to speak clearly and cogently. The program, now suspended by the courts, was not sold as racial preference tool and whites (and others) were eligible for it. If there has been racial bias- uh, er- preference- Reid should have explained it. And if banks are giving all white men 99% of the loans requested for their businesses- and rejecting all black applicants- she needs to expose this extreme racial discrimination. She is, after all, a journalist (supposedly).

Reid employs the general term "blacks" rather than of the smaller universe of "African-Americans. This is especially significant as pertains to individuals being refused admission to Harvard, whose affirmative action program was struck down by the US Supreme Court last June. Three years earlier, the Harvard Crimson explored the changing demographics at the university, which prompted creation of the Harvard College Generational African American Student Association. The writer noted that generational African-American is "a label for the community of Black folk who trace their lineage in the United States back for centuries." Therefore

Within Black communities at Harvard, there’s an overarching belief that GAA representation is disproportionately low, that “we’re in the minority,” as (then-student Samantha C.) O’Sullivan explains. Every Black student I interviewed — GAA or not — expressed this as common knowledge.

As a first-year, I once heard from a teaching fellow of the Introduction to African American Studies course that GAA students make up 10 percent of Harvard’s Black population. For the Class of 2022, that would mean roughly 17 students.

Brown used to joke “that there were only a few of us on campus.”

Within Harvard’s GAA population today, O’Sullivan has noticed a seemingly large percentage of biracial students and students who come from socioeconomically-privileged backgrounds. “If we were to count the number of GAA students at Harvard who were descended from enslaved people, came from low income backgrounds, first generation, four grandparents descended from enslaved people, I feel like that number would be so low — like, maybe one person. It’s just so, so, so low,” she says.

The demographics seem to have shifted from what they were decades ago. Professor Cornel R. West ’74 says that, when he was the co-president of the Black Students Association in the early 1970s, “about 95 percent of the Black folk in the association were Black people from the United States who had been enslaved in Jim and Jane Crow.”

He continues, “So you [have] a fascinating expansion of what we mean by Black people, what we mean by African Americans"....

“I don’t have the statistics and the University doesn’t release them, but a large percent of the Black students in the College are descendants of recent Africans as opposed to being descended from African-Americans who were enslaved in North America,” says African and African American Studies professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In such a context, "black" takes on a slightly, but significant, meaning than "generational African-American."  Harvard fought hard at the Supreme Court, with Reid and the similarly ideologically inclined, cheering it on. Unable to trace her lineage in the USA over a long period of time- and thus not GAA- Reid would be particularly partial to the program at Harvard, which did not broadly embrace black applicants. 

The university enthusiastically accepted blacks who do not trace their lineage in the USA back for centuries. Individuals whose descendants were brought to this land as slaves and whose progeny faced segregation, lynching, and other atrocities in this country need not apply. Harvard still would boast of its racial diversity while largely shutting out the victims of what has been termed "America's original sin." 

Consciously or not, Reid did not explicitly place herself within the cultural group which has endured what she described as "a state of complete perplexed confusion about what is wrong with" the USA. However, she descends into- as she would put it- "a state of complete"- ignorance or bigotry when she claims

And to find out literally Barack Obama's two terms as President are your reparations and Juneteenth, which you already celebrate anyway, is your reparation. And yet, you built this country. You literally, physically, built this country and yet the attitude toward you from a lot of your peers and your fellow citizens is just "shut up" and be grateful.

Whites either accept Juneteenth as appropriate recognition as an historical event or don't consider it important in any way.  And the whites whom Reid believes consider Obama's two terms as President as reparations don't see Obama's election as payback or righting a wrong. Rather, they think of it as vindication, as hard evidence that the USA isn't the land of bigotry and racism which many individuals such as Reid believe it is.

Those conservatives, similar to many on the left, fooled themselves into thinking that the election (finally) of a black individual to the presidency was more significant than it was. Ironically, they bought into the myth of the left- and of the center- that electing Obama was historic in a pertinent way. Election of a black man did not concretely change anything in this country, and was due to events particular to the time. They included his long-time opposition to an unpopular war coupled with opposition from a candidate apparently quite comfortable with a permanent wartime footing- and who put onto his ticket a truly ridiculous first-term governor. Race was less of a factor than commonly believed and revealed little about the fundamental character of the nation. Sometimes an election is just an election.

Far worse is Reid's contention that "you"- by which she means blacks and only blacks- built this country.

It was blacks. It also was whites, with contributions from other ethnic groups. We built this- all of us. One wishes Reid would take the more inclusive and expansive view Tom Paxton recognized several decades ago:



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