Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fixing the internet: Donald Trump is nativist, not racist

Trump's most prominent black fans:

From a recent Facebook conversation:

  • Will Shetterly I hate defending the guy, but he has black supporters because his message isn't racist; it's nativist. Yes, it is ironic when people descended from immigrants become nativists, but privileged people tend to forget their past.
    • D** F******** Actually I think Trump is more of an egoist than a nativist. Read an interesting column where the author said Trump was running a perpetual attention machine - I think that's the most accurate description so far. He may be a nativist but the folks lining up to back him aren't necessarily - simple folks like the KKK etc. If his message is resonating with those folks then the wording on the hat still rings true. That's what THEY think he's saying.
    • Will Shetterly D** F******** Agreed on the egoism. As for nativism, it attracts all the worst people: racists, jingoists, bigots.... I'm not sure offhand how it would attract sexists, but there's probably a way. smile emoticon

      I just hate lightly calling anyone a racist when they have black supporters and haven't done or said anything racist that I know of.
  • Please, internet, do not make me explain this again: If you want to defeat something, you have to understand it. Imprecise insults make the choir roar with laughter, but they don't win new members for the church.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On Dylan Roof and Vester Lee Flanagan II

It's easy to find identitarians who wave away mental illness and blame belief systems when they speak of Dylann Roof, a white racist who murdered black people. Googling "dylann roof white privilege" brings up articles like these:

Calling Dylann Roof a 'terrorist' doesn't erase the privilege of his race | Yassir Morsi | Comment is free | The Guardian

Dear white allies after Charleston: Please understand this about your privilege -

Duke Students: White People Are Basically All Dylann Roof | The Daily Caller

By their logic, when Vester Lee Flanagan murdered white people after writing, 'You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[redacted]!!!”, he showed that contemporary anti-racism is simply a form of racial hatred, no different than the beliefs of the Nation of Islam that inspired John Allen Muhammad, the Beltway Sniper.

Mind you, I'm on the side that says deeds, not words, matter, and all violent people need mental health care. If the beliefs of murderers damn the people who share the belief in some way, both Flanagan, a Jehovah's Witness, and Roof, a Lutheran, damned all Christians. The tragedy of Vester Lee Flanagan is that he undoubtedly encountered racists and homophobes in his life, but because he was mentally ill, he could not see that most and maybe all of his neighbors and co-workers were troubled by him because of who he was, not what he was.

Anyone who insists Dylan Roof is an example of white privilege should accept Vester Lee Flanagan as an example of identitarianism. He understood the world in terms of race and gender, and he based his killing on that understanding.

Because identitarians have such a black-and-white understanding of the world, I'll end with the standard disclaimer: No, this does not mean there are no racists. See The limits of anti-racism by Adolph Reed Jr.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blogging about identitarians in fandom vs. blogging about them in general, and questions about trigger warnings and lesbian content

Q. What's the line between blogging about fandom's SJWs and blogging about identitarians in general?

A. Attention outside of fandom. When something begins in fandom and makes it to a general interest site like The Guardian, it's no longer just a fannish issue, and I'll happily discuss it. Hmm. Or unhappily discuss it.

I've accepted that partisans keep their own histories. So long as they keep them in their own community, I'm grateful for the opportunity to ignore them. But when they try to impose their mythology on the world, I'll do my little bit by writing about it.

Insert here any quote you like about speaking out.

For some insight to what I think is the real culture war of our time: Kenan Malik's FREE SPEECH IN AN AGE OF IDENTITY POLITICS. There are too many good bits to pluck one.

Malik's mention of trigger warnings reminds me of something I've been wondering since I saw Duke U freshmen object [to] graphic novel depicting lesbian relationships. Alison Bechdel's Fun Home is a great book, but believers in trigger warnings don't care about a work's quality. So, two questions:

1. Would trigger warning supporters support trigger warnings for lesbian content?

2. If a school puts a trigger warning on a book, does that mean students  like those Duke freshmen wouldn't have to read it if they said it would be too triggering?

vintage capitalism cartoon: Now He Understands the Game

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An open letter to George R. R. Martin about the Hugos and fandom's SJWs

Dear George,

I generally share your sentiments at Hugo Aftermath - Not A Blog, but I envy your ability to write this:
There were no SJWs, then or now. There were only the Puppies... and the rest of us, who weren't Puppies, and did not like having their choices imposed on us.
Would that were so.

The first evidence that there are SJWs in fandom: Best Fan Writer went to Laura Mixon for writing about the worst of them.

The second: The SJWs are the ones who rejected your reasoning here:
I had picked Mike Resnick in Short Form and Toni Weisskopf in Long Form, and indeed, each of them finished above all the other nominees in the first round of voting... but well behind No Award. This was a crushing defeat for the slates, and a big victory for the Puppy-Free ballot of Deirdre Moen. Honestly? I hated this. In my judgment the voters threw the babies out with bathwater in these two categories. Long Form had three nominees who are more than worthy of a Hugo (and one, Jim Minz, who will be in a few more years), and Short Form had some good candidates too. They were on the slates, yes, but some of them were put on there without their knowledge and consent. A victory by Resnick, Sowards, Gilbert, or Weisskopf would have done credit to the rocket, regardless of how they got on the ballot. (All four of these editors would almost certainly have been nominated anyway, even if there had been no slates).
I agree the Puppies' slates were not in the spirit of the Hugos (though the Hugos have a long tradition of things not being done in their spirit), and I might've voted No Award in the fiction categories (I haven't read the stories, so I have no opinion about their worth), but whatever anyone may think of the reason people rallied behind them, none of the people you mention on the editor ballots are considered "unworthy" by anyone who loves our genre.

But Social Justice Warriors believe they're on a holy war, so there can be no compromise. The self-proclaimed lovers of diversity proudly kept a capable woman from taking home a Best Editor award.

There's a third way to spot the genre's SJWs: Google for the folks who say Game of Thrones is racist because the characters are mostly white, sexist because the societies are sexist, and creepy because rape is included among the horrible things humans do to each other. SJWs do not believe in context and struggle greatly with metaphors.

One other point: I don't know if you've read 2015 Hugo Stats: Initial Analysis, but this should be noted by anyone who thinks the Puppies were solidly defeated:
Goblin Emperor lost the Best Novel to Three-Body Problem by 200 votes. Since there seem to have been at least 500 Rabid Puppy voters who followed VD’s suggestion to vote Liu first, this means Liu won because of the Rabid Puppies.
Which means that thanks to Vox Day, the most important Hugo Award of 2015 is less diverse in gender, but more diverse in race and nationality.

My take on the fight between SJWs and Rabid Puppies is a plague o' both their houses. As for the Sad Puppies, I don't share their politics, but after seeing them abused by the SJWs—few things are lower than, with no evidence at all, calling a white man married to a black woman racist—I'm hoping the SPs will learn from this battle and return for another round.

Ah, well. I do envy your ability to think it's as simple as us versus the Puppies. But for anyone who'd like evidence that it's not, here are a few relevant posts:

Four essential points about the Hugos and the Sad Puppies

On Star Trek and the dark history of "Social Justice"—a post for David Gerrold

A beginner's guide to "Social Justice Warriors" in the F&SF community



ETA: On Twitter, Tim Hall said,
"There were no SJWs"? Who does he think the thousand people who voted No Award over Laura Mixon were?
But I don't think all of those voters were SJWs. I would've voted No Award in that case because Laura's piece treats Requires Hate as a deranged opportunist. Anyone interested in systems and justice should analyze the identitarian understanding of justice that was so easy for Requires Hate to exploit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dear internet, can anyone get in touch with Charles R. Saunders?

We're hoping to republish his Liavek story, "Ishu's Gift", in the fourth Liavek ebook, but we haven't been able to reach him with the online contacts we have or at the online sites we've found. So I'm making a public post in the hope he or a friend will notice. If we don't hear from him in time for #4, we'll just leave his story out and hope to include it in a later volume—fortunately, it can fit anywhere in the chronology. But we'd really like to republish it with his blessing.

He may be keeping his regular email address private, so if you think you have it, don't reply in the comments here. My email is shetterly at gmail.

ETA: I did try to contact him through his web site, Charles Saunders Writer, but I may've goofed up or run into some sort of glitch.

For people who cite the Black Book of Communism or believe "communism killed more people than capitalism"

I am so naive I once believed facts would matter online, that the internet would be the graveyard of bad ideas instead of the place where they live forever. Have a relevant quote:
"Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal." —Anatole France
Today, a friend on Facebook shared:
“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” ― Arundhati Roy
In the comments, someone said, "In my universe it was various flavors of socialism with a little bit of nationalism," and someone else added "The two greatest instances of genocide were Communist China and Communist Russia." So I shared Hitler Explains to GOP Why They Are Wrong about National Socialism, then made these comments:
...if you want to sound informed, you could do worse than this, which begins by pointing out the flaws in the studies you seem to be thinking of:
Attempting the Impossible – Calculating Capitalism’s Death Toll | Peter Says Stuff
PS: I'm not recommending that post in particular. There are many places that point out the flaws of the studies you cite, so you should feel free to try others if you don't like that one. It was literally the first that came up when I googled something like "capitalism or communism who killed more".
And then I relied on a point that I didn't originate: for your insistence that Nazis must be socialists because of their name, do you also insist the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic?
When it occurred to me that this might deserve to be a post, I wondered if I'd blogged about it already (because I've written about it before, in comments if not in posts), so I googled shetterly "black book of communism". On the first page of hits was a Vox Day post that includes this:

62.  bob k. mandoJuly 19, 2014 5:23 PM

Salt July 19, 2014 5:19 PM
What is historically and observably true?

what is historically and observably true?


you go and try to explain to Shetterly or Brust how Marxism is the most murderous ideology ever seen on the face of the planet, more murderous by far than anything any people of 'faith' have done.

good luck with that.

67.  VDJuly 19, 2014 5:44 PM

Dinesh pointed out the mass killings under Stalin, Mao, etc. I never heard him attribute this to VD. But the interesting thing is that Hitchens did not use that argument again.

That argument is not original to me. It's well-known to anyone familiar with the Black Book of Communism. Harris even anticipated it, and addressed it unsuccessfully in The End of Faith.

68.  SaltJuly 19, 2014 5:51 PM


Shetterly or Brust's understanding is not determinative as whether something is true or not.
I'm not bothering to comment there, partly because I agree with Salt's specific comment: we're all human, with all the shortcoming that entails. That's why we should seek facts with a scientific attitude, doing all we can to avoid confirmation bias. If you do that, you won't cite The Black Book of Communism, just as you wouldn't cite The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or any other work based on lies or extremely flawed research.

We are irrational animals—that's all the more reason to value reason.

ETA: Nazism: Position in the political spectrum - Wikipedia

Monday, August 17, 2015

Equality doesn't mean justice — fixed!

This was shared and its shortcomings noted at Equality and Justice and why the difference matters | The Dream Café:

Here's a fix:

ETA: An even better version of this would put everyone in the stands, of course. But there are different kinds of socialism—the one thing they have in common is the desire to tear down the walls that keep the poorest people outside of the game.

An apology, and an announcement of a change

I don't mind repeating myself, but I try to include something new when I do. I failed to do that in my previous post, and I'm sorry. I won't delete the post, but I'm going to take a break from blogging about the things I've been addressing lately. Either there will be a break before my next post, or my next post will be unlike my previous ones. (If my next post is, as I hope, an announcement about the next Liavek ebook, just consider that a message from our sponsors.)

Who is the white Michael Brown, the white Sandra Bland, the white Freddie Gray?

Just saw Sarah Zhang's Police Training Is Seriously Lacking in Actual Science | WIRED. It begins,
MICHAEL BROWN WAS, at best, stopped by police for stealing cigarillos. Sandra Bland for failing to signal a lane change. Freddie Gray for carrying a switchblade.
I completely agree with the article's broader topic, but it assumes police killings are primarily a problem for black folks. I just checked my A handy list of white victims of police abuse, or Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #AllLivesMatter for white people who could as easily have been used in that sentence.

For Michael Brown: James Whitehead, shot in the head by a police officer of a different race than his, or Derek Cruice, shot in the face while wearing nothing but basketball shorts.

For Sandra Bland: Robert Cameron Redus, pulled over for speeding and shot after saying sarcastically, “Oh, you’re gonna shoot me?”, or Brenda Sewell, whose guards withheld her prescription medicine, or David Kassick, shot lying facedown in the snow after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker.
For Freddie Gray: Christine Abbott, who sued Baltimore after a “rough ride” like the one that broke Freddy Gray’s neck, or Michael Saffioti, whose allergic reaction to his food was ignored.
And since I'm quibbling: Ms. Zhang says, "Dozens of psychology studies show that people hold implicit biases against African-Americans—they might not admit or even be aware of these biases, but reaction times give them away." To be precise, studies show that many people hold implicit biases. But Project Implicit also shows some people hold no biases at all, and a large minority of white people, like me, show an implicit bias against white people.

ETA: Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage: analysis - Washington Times

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, the usual: Suey Park, Social Justice Warriors, Police Killings, and apologies

This was quoted on Facebook:
My first reaction: "Oh. My. God. I keep saying these people can grow up, but I never really expected to see it happen." I went to check her timeline, and saw several tweets I liked, including these:
The last tweet will make it very, very hard for her to ever return to the company she kept. I haven't noticed many of her former opponents quibbling about her apology. Had, say, Milo Yiannopoulos regretted his part in #gamergate, his current opponents would be explaining why each letter of the apology and its time stamp was inadequate and should be rejected.

I tweeted this:

I haven't been keeping up with #gamergate, so I decided to check, and found a recent story I suspect the anti-GGs will leave out of their narrative: Bomb threat interrupts GamerGate panel at SPJ conference. I don't know how many bomb threats gamergaters have gotten, but the latest reminded me of an early article about a GG bomb threat with a great title: How GamerGate critic Arthur Chu got me laid.

I keep trying to decide whether "social justice warrior" should be used as a label. Like "Uncle Tom", it's both an insult and a description of something that does not have a better name, so its use is not automatically disrespectful. I was amused to see it's being used critically on both sides of the US's political divide. The Atlantic, which publishes Ta-Nehisi Coates, published Stand-Up Comics Have to Censor Their Jokes on College Campuses, with this sentence: "The college revolutions of the 1960s—the ones that gave rise to the social-justice warriors of today’s campuses—were fueled by free speech. But once you’ve won a culture war, free speech is a nuisance, and “eliminating” language becomes a necessity."

The Atlantic also has this: How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus.

And since this post is kind of a State-of-Social-Justice-Warriordom post, here's a story that #BlackLivesMatter makes invisible: Native Americans Are The Group Most Likely To Be Killed By Police. I hadn't noticed the #NativeLivesMatter tag, but since #AllLivesMatter has been declared racist by #BLM, it seems we also need #AsianLivesMatter, #WhiteLivesMatter, #HispanicLivesMatter, #JewishLivesMatter, #MuslimLivesMatter, #PoorLivesMatter, #MentallyDisturbedLivesMatter....

Respect—given or earned? And why I'm tempted to turn off commenting on my blogs

Some say "Respect everyone," some say "Respect must be earned." I'm with St. Peter and Malcolm X—respect everyone. I don't always succeed because I have a snarky sense of humor and a low tolerance for fools, but I keep trying to suppress the first and raise the second.

People who respect themselves find it easy to respect others. We know we're all fallible and most of us are trying to do good, no matter how foolish the way we've chosen to try.

The people who insist respect must be earned don't see the fine line between "earning respect" and "buying respect", which is why I feel a little sorry for rich people—they can never know if their respect is earned or bought. The idea that respect must be earned is not respectful; it assumes encounters with others do not begin with respect

A few simple truths that the "respect must be earned" camp doesn't understand:

1. Disagreement is not disrespect. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

2. Protest is not disrespect. Malcolm X said, "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." That did not stop him from protesting bad laws, and it applies to the next point:

3. Self-defense is not disrespect, nor does it justify disrespect. Malcolm would have known that Muhammad said, "Do not speak ill of the dead." Which applies to the next point:

4. Telling the truth (which includes telling the truth about the dead) is not disrespect.

So, what does respect entail?

1. Trying to understand the other person's point of view. You do not have to agree with it.

2. Trying to represent the other person's point of view accurately. You may point out aspects of their belief that they do not see, but you may not claim they said things they did not, and you may not characterize their views wilfully.

3. Trying to use the names people use for themselves. Mahayana Buddhists disrespect Theravada Buddhists when they call them Hinayana Buddhists; Muslims disrespect the people of the book and others when they call them kafir, Christians disrespect everyone they call heretics and sinners, Jews disrespect non-Jews when they call them goys....

4. Trying to find precise names for people who do not use a name for themselves or who use names that are misleading. The Nation of Islam is not Muslim, National Socialists are not socialist, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is not democratic. When Jesus spoke of hypocrites, he was being precise, not insulting, just as a psychiatrist would not be insulting when labelling mental illnesses. When Malcolm X spoke of Uncle Toms, he was using a common term for bourgeois black people whose politics did not help the black working class, but he did not mean it as an insult—after he left NOI, he said, "My dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!" (It's likely one of those Uncle Toms was Alex Haley, the Republican who co-wrote and edited The Autobiography of Malcolm X.)

This post was prompted by a couple of recent discussions in which people decided I was insulting them when I failed to be converted by them. I'm tempted to turn off comments on my blog, but for now, I'll just engage less with people who're committed to ideologies that serve the rich.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mini-review: The Almighty Johnsons

The Almighty Johnsons was a New Zealand TV show about four brothers who are reincarnated Norse gods. With a tiny budget, a talented cast, and a clever writing team, they made a show Emma and I wish had continued, but are content with the way it ended.

A few spoiler-free warnings:

Because they had no budget for the first two seasons and the show is often funny, it looks like a sit-com, which can make the darker elements surprising.

One of the brothers is a creep. This seems to be ignored at first, but the writers are very aware he's a creep.

The style of the third season changes, both visually and tonally—it looks better and plays darker. That made me worry; I didn't like the first few episodes. Then it settles down. My only major complaint with the ending is they used cheesy special effects in a crucial scene where, with a little thought, they could've used none and it would've been more satisfying.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recommendation: Black Sails

We're five episodes into the first season of Black Sails and liking it more each episode. I told Emma, "This show is smarter than it needs to be," and she agreed. Whoever assembled the writing staff is someone I would be honored to work with—Doris Egan wrote an episode, so you know they have good taste.

If you don't like sex and violence and sexual violence, avoid this show. If you like smart lines and complex characters, give it a try. Do not assume this has anything to do with Pirates of the Caribbean; they're as different as the American and the British Avengers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dear Sigrid Ellis (and Mikki Kendall)

I just read Evil or stupid, which are you? and left these comments:
  1. When I am the subject of the conversation, I reserve the right to respond. Just as I am responding now.
    Yes, writers who do not care about politics should stay silent. Indeed, writers who only care about sales should stay silent. I’m in neither camp.
    Out of curiosity, do you know where Mikki Kendall accounted for the money that people gave her to start Verb Noire? She says she has, but is strangely silent about where. All I know is that over $10,000 was raised, and it bought Kendall and her partner some computers, a trip or two to conventions, and one ebook with an awful cover. If she had asked for help, I and many of the people she attacked would’ve been glad to assist her.
  2. Oh, and since we’re talking about fannish behavior, did you condemn the doxxing and death threats of Zathlazip, or did you take part in the doxxing, or were you silent? I confess, there were too many doxxers for me to notice all of them; the only person I remember objecting was Pyratejenni, but I might’ve missed some people.
When I returned to the post, I saw my comments had been deleted, and you'd added this:
This isn’t a conversation with the evil or the stupid. You’re all spammed, because I have better things to do with my time. Go have the conversation on your own blogs, AS I DID HERE WITH MINE.
If you vanity-Google yourself, or have alerts for your name, may your life choices bring you all the joy you have earned.
I have noticed that y'all are not interested in conversation, probably because conversation runs the risk of bringing up facts that do not fit your ideology. When you don't have facts, the only effective option you have is to rage, a common way of coping with the contradictions in your belief system and making ignorant onlookers think that if you're upset, there must be some validity to your upset. The second point is a standard tactic: I just this morning read I get Paid to Chat on Reddit, which notes,
There’s even a script for when the other commenter is winning the argument. We’re told specifically to derail the discussion, throw mud, and in the end, accuse the commenter of being a conspiracy theorist/tinfoil hat wearer. That way, anyone reading the discussion will see those negative points as being associated with weird people.
Ah, well. Go in peace.

To those who think I am breaking my promise in Confessions of a Scarred and Broken Man, or If I Blog Again about Fandom’s Social Justice Warriors, Kill Me: Perhaps I am, but I'd meant that I would not pay attention to the squabbles they get into that don't involve me. When I'm misrepresented, I will speak up, even though I know that people who live in black and white worlds cannot see shades of gray. This is another case where Adolph Reed's observation in The limits of anti-racism applies:
Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it.
Social justice fandom, I beg you. Just ignore me, and I will gladly treat you with the same courtesy.

Relevant: The Outing of Zathlazip and the Hounding of William Sanders

ETA: Do identitarian liberals care that their approach leaves people of color disproportionately poor?

If Bernie Sanders is the face of white racism, maybe racism is over after all

I've never been able to find anyone other than Bill Bennett who believes "racism is over", but when I look at the targets of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters, I think that if that's the best they've got, maybe it is. If I cared about racism and the Democratic Party, I would go after someone who opposes raising the minimum wage, which would disproportionately help black folks since poverty is racially disproportionate, and someone who has not indicated they would be open to Martin Luther King's issue, Basic Income. Yet Hillary Clinton has been given a pass by #BLM.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Barbara J. Fields' brilliant observation about race, class, and US slavery

Jonas Kyratzes recently pointed out this bit that Seth Ackerman quoted in Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality | Jacobin. It's from Barbara Jeanne Fields: Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America. New Left Review I/181, May-June 1990:
Probably a majority of American historians think of slavery in the United States as primarily a system of race relations — as though the chief business of slavery were the production of white supremacy rather than the production of cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco. One historian has gone so far as to call slavery ‘the ultimate segregator’. He does not ask why Europeans seeking the ‘ultimate’ method of segregating Africans would go to the trouble and expense of transporting them across the ocean for that purpose, when they could have achieved the same end so much more simply by leaving the Africans in Africa.

No one dreams of analyzing the struggle of the English against the Irish as a problem in race relations, even though the rationale that the English developed for suppressing the ‘barbarous’ Irish later served nearly word for word as a rationale for suppressing Africans and indigenous American Indians. Nor does anyone dream of analyzing serfdom in Russia as primarily a problem of race relations, even though the Russian nobility invented fictions of their innate, natural superiority over the serfs as preposterous as any devised by American racists.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Two ways to convince your allies that you've won an argument on the internet

They both fall under "declare victory and go home." You may either claim your opponent's response was a non-response, or you may use the internet's most abused term and declare it a straw man. The problem is that too often, and perhaps most of the time, your worldview defines what you think is a strawman or a non-response.

Okay, the real problem is that you're arguing on the internet.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The line from noblesse oblige to social justice to privilege theory

The Oxford English Dictionary offers this as the first appearance of noblesse oblige:

1837   F. A. Kemble Let. 1 Aug. in Rec. Later Life (1882) I. 86   To be sure, if ‘noblesse oblige’, royalty must do so still more.

That use has this definition: "Noble ancestry constrains one (to honourable behaviour); privilege entails responsibility. Also in extended use."

For "social justice", there's this:

1824   W. Thompson Inq. Princ. Distrib. Wealth iv. 314   The first principle of social justice, that ‘the sole object of all institutions and laws ought to be to promote the happiness of the whole of the community, or..that the happiness of the greater number should be always preferred to that of the lesser’.

But the social justice movement began later. From Social justice - Wikipedia: "The first modern usage of the specific term "social justice" is typically attributed to Catholic thinkers from the 1840s, including the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in Civiltà Cattolica, based on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. He argued that rival capitalist and socialist theories, based on subjective Cartesian thinking, undermined the unity of society present in Thomistic metaphysics as neither were sufficiently concerned with moral philosophy."

Taparelli saw the revolutions of 1848 coming, and he wanted a solution that would preserve the existing social order. His approach was essentially to endorse noblesse oblige: rich people should be nice to poor people by treating them with respect and indulging in philanthropy when they felt like it.

"Social justice" spread to other religions. The civil rights movement had little use for it—the term appears in King's theological writing, but I don't believe it shows up in his speeches. But it was a source of inspiration for Critical Race Theory by members of the black bourgeoisie in the 1970s and 1980s. I've periodically wondered why the civil rights movement's focus on equal rights was replaced by the identitarian focus on privilege. Like the earlier promoters of noblesse oblige and social justice, privilege theorists don't want to end privilege. They merely want a world in which the rest of us will be convinced their privilege is just.

On Bride & Prejudice and what's essential to adapting Pride And Prejudice

Bride & Prejudice is a fun, shallow updating of Pride and Prejudice, a musical comedy about a family in India whose daughters are looking for husbands, and one candidate is a rich American.

The writers (Gurinder Chadha, who also directs, and her husband Paul Mayeda Berges) make a common adapter's mistake: In the movie, Darcy first notices Lalita/Elizabeth because she's beautiful. The choice is understandable: musicals tell stories in broad strokes and the actress, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, has been called the most beautiful women in the world. But it's wrong. In the novel, Darcy says Elizabeth's looks don't appeal to him. He's attracted to her despite her class and her looks because she's intelligent and independent.

The movie also suffers from what I'll call the Darcy Problem, possibly reinventing the wheel: Darcy is a difficult, minor role that calls for a great actor. Gurinder Chadha, the writer-director, and her husband/co-writer, Paul Mayeda Berges, cast Martin Henderson, who is competent, but who does not simmer—and the fault isn't entirely his. He's playing opposite a beautiful woman who sings and dances, yet he never gets a musical number. At the beginning of the movie, Naveen Andrew's Balraj/Bingley gets a great number in which he's "lip-syncing to the gorgeous voice of Sonu Nigam", so I don't understand why Darcy didn't get an equivalent scene when he finally begins to let Lalita/Elizabeth know him. Darcy's a private person; he should've had two musical moments, one in which he's all alone like Gene Kelly in the sequence that gives Singing in the Rain its name, and one in which he and Lalita/Elizabeth share an Astaire-Rogers falling-in-love number.

And there's another writing choice I don't understand. The magnificent Indira Varma plays Balraj/Bingley's haughty sister, yet when there's a confusion about who Darcy is expected to marry, a new character is introduced, a woman who's only memorable for being blond because her part is so very minor. I really, really wanted more moments than I got with Varma. Ditto that for Naveen Andrews, who kicks off the movie as though he'll be the male lead, then gets almost nothing more to do.

Ah, well.  The best parts are the music, the acting ranges from competent to great, and if you like Bollywood or Jane Austen, see it. Will-Bob gives it four stars out of five.

PS. The bit I quoted is from an article in which Proma Khosla analyzes her mixed feelings about the movie. She briefly mentions "cultural appropriation", but the appropriated culture in this case is the Regency—the director and co-writer is Indian, and while it's true her husband is a white American, he could as easily be accused of appropriating from the British since Darcy's part of the story is mostly set in Hollywood. That quibble aside, her article's recommended if the movie interests you.

PS 2. There's one moment in the movie that's fun, but Emma and I were a bit baffled because we didn't know the cultural reference. She found the explanation in Ash Kotak's India's transgender law is no help to its lesbian, gay and bisexual communities:
In Hinduism, the Hijra community (eunuchs) – neither born male nor female, but self-identified as female – are historically believed to have the power to grant wishes and cast spells, and are often present at weddings and births. A transgender presence within Hindu psyche stems back to the essential Hindu epic text, the Mahabharata, where the male Shikhandi (but born the female Shikhandini) was vital in securing the Pandavas's necessary victory over the Kaurava in the great war of Kurukshetra.

Socialist Bible verses: Proverbs 29:7

Proverbs 29:7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Surprising fact: Blacks in the South are more satisfied with their lives than blacks elsewhere

I've been rereading Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class (pdf), a Pew Report from 2007 that I think gets too little attention for its implications, I spotted something that's irrelevant to my current concerns, but still interesting:
In general, blacks who live in southern states are more
satisfied with their lives than are blacks who live in
other regions. Seven-in-ten blacks in the South say
they are very satisfied with their lives, compared with
smaller majorities in the Northeast (55%), the West
(57%), and the Midwest (58%). In fact, the South is
the only region where blacks and whites do not
express significantly different outlooks on life -- 72%
of southern whites say they are very satisfied, as do a
similar share of whites in other regions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An Open Letter to an Anti-racist

Dear Steve S,

When you re-shared the Reverend Thandeka's "Why Anti-Racism Will Fail" on Google+, I was amused by your comment that it was

...part of the ongoing dialogue with +Will Shetterly about racism, anti-racism, his anti-anti-racism, and my anti-anti-anti-racism. Obligatory "We must go deeper" meme goes here.
That's both funny and true because in the casual sense of the word, we're both anti-racists, but in the ideological sense, I'm an anti-anti-racist anti-racist, and you're an anti-anti-anti-racist anti-racist.

For the sake of our readers who must be completely baffled, I'll try to clarify:

In the casual sense of the word, you and I and Thandeka and everyone we're likely to cite is an anti-racist because we all do our best to oppose racism. I hope my credentials are solid: I grew up in the civil rights struggle—a Florida newspaper called my father the only liberal in Levy County, and I was bullied in school for being a "nigger-lover". Rumors that the Ku Klux Klan would burn down our home were taken seriously by the local insurance company—we couldn't get fire insurance. I would've been about nine when Dad taught me how to carry the shotgun to him if the Klan showed up and he couldn't get it himself. Here's a picture of me and my brother at a march for desegregation in 1964:

My childhood made me obsessed with racial justice, and my writing reflects that: The Feminist SF Wiki said my “work features strong women characters and people of color” and Ellen Kushner called my semi-autobiographical novel, Dogland, "A masterwork. A particularly American magic realism that touches the heart of race and childhood in our country; it's 100 Years of Solitude for an entire generation of American Baby Boomers, and deserves the widest possible audience."

But "anti-racist" has an ideological definition as well as a general one. I don't remember anyone using the term in the '60s, when we tended to talk about what we supported rather than what we opposed. "Anti-racist" began to appear in the '70s and '80s when Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and other black academics at expensive private schools for the US's economic elite developed Critical Race Theory to treat race as though it arose and thrived in a vacuum. Critical Race Theorists needed a casual name for their beliefs, so they took "anti-racism" in much the same way Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam took "Islam" to promote its race-only understanding of racism. (For more about CRT, see The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect.)

When thinkers like Thandeka and Adolph Reed Jr. criticize anti-racists, they're not referring to opponents of racism in general, but specifically to Critical Race Theorists and the people who accept the principles of CRT without knowing its history.

Thandeka summarized its three main principles in her essay:

  1. All whites in America are racists.
  2. No blacks in American are racist. They’re prejudiced just like everybody else, but they lack the power of institutional resources to force other racial groups to submit to their will. Thus they can’t be racist because racism in this conceptual scheme is defined as prejudice plus power.
  3. Whites must be shown that they are racists and confess their racism.
Her critique inspired me to do more research and write about the results:
  1. How racist am I? On Project Implicit and other tests for racism
  2. Racism equals prejudice plus power, so only white people can be racist?
My approach to opposing racism comes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. After Malcolm left Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, he said, "I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled 'Islam' only to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelical foolishness on his behalf has done to others." Malcolm's understanding of power after he went to Mecca led him to say, "I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin."

His final take on power was remarkably like King's—not the mythologized King of '63 who spoke of having a dream, but the radical King of '66 who said, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God's children." In his last book, he wrote, "In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike. ... I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."

King was a pragmatist who saw the economic roots of racism and knew you can't have social equality without economic equality. He always took a universalist approach to fighting racism—the event at which he gave his I Have A Dream Speech was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, not the March on Washington for Equal Rights.

The promoters of Critical Race Theory took a different approach to understanding power. It comes out of "social justice", a religious concept that began with the Catholics in the 1840s and slowly spread to other faiths. I wrote a little about it in On Star Trek and the dark history of "Social Justice"—a post for David Gerrold. The connection to the social justice movement explains why anti-racists use metaphors like "original sin" when talking about slavery and believe all white people should admit their racism like sinners confessing their sin, even though tests like Project Implicit's race test refutes their notion that all whites are racist. (If you haven't taken that test, I recommend it highly. You may be surprised by the result. I was. I had assumed that growing up as a boy in the South, I would be a little racist in favor of white people. It turns out I, like a large minority of white people, have an implicit preference for black folks. I wish I was in the smaller group that shows no preference at all, but I'm content with the preference I've got.)

Enough preamble. Late Saturday night, I saw you'd left a long comment on one of my Google+ posts and shared it on your own timeline. I started to read it, but I didn't finish because:

1. You seemed to be covering material I know very well.

2. You credit a number of things to me that I do not believe and have never said.

3. I was physically exhausted after a long, pleasant day.

4. I'm mentally exhausted after years of trying to explain to people who prioritize race why, as the Reverend Thandeka said in "Why Anti-Racism Will Fail", they "make an erroneous assumption about the nature and structure of power in America."

But I felt like I couldn't leave your post unaddressed, so I skimmed the comments and replied:

I'll have to answer you tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll just repeat what Adolph Reed Jr. said:

"Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it. There can be only Todd Gitlin (the sociologist and former SDS leader who has become, both fairly and as caricature, the symbol of a “class-first” line) and their own heroic, truth-telling selves, and whoever is not the latter must be the former. Thus the logic of straining to assign guilt by association substitutes for argument.

"My position is—and I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this bluntly, yet to no avail, in response to those in blissful thrall of the comforting Manicheanism—that of course racism persists, in all the disparate, often unrelated kinds of social relations and “attitudes” that are characteristically lumped together under that rubric, but from the standpoint of trying to figure out how to combat even what most of us would agree is racial inequality and injustice, that acknowledgement and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism."
I do have a question now, though: If believing what Adolph Reed Jr. believes makes me a racist, does it make him a racist too?
I realize you may not know who Reed is. Katha Politt called him “the smartest person of any race, class, or gender writing on race, class, and gender." I agree with her. Because anti-racists of all races prefer the thoughts of black people on race and dislike conservatives in general, Google will assure you that, like Thandeka, he's a black leftist.
ETA: To save you some googling here are Adolph Reed and Rev. Thandeka:

But I've found that while anti-racists are often described as leftists by themselves and the far right, they tend to be centrists who don't like the left that prioritizes class. Reed notes in "The limits of anti-racism":
I’ve been struck by the level of visceral and vitriolic anti-Marxism I’ve seen from this strain of defenders of antiracism as a politics. It’s not clear to me what drives it because it takes the form of snide dismissals than direct arguments. ... In any event, the tenor of this anti-Marxism is reminiscent of those right-wing discourses, many of which masqueraded as liberal, in which only invoking the word “Marxism” was sufficient to dismiss an opposing argument or position.
Anti-racists call people who prioritize class "class reductionists", which opens them to the charge of being race reductionists. There's some truth to the "race reductionist" label; Jamelle Bouie noted that anti-racists believe "racism is orthogonal to class: They’re two different dimensions of disadvantage, and to improve the picture on one isn’t always to improve the picture for the other."

To be fair to both sides, neither is oblivious to the concerns of the other. The problem is simply that anti-racists see privilege primarily in terms of social identity and the rest of us see it primarily in terms of wealth. Far from being "class reductionists", socialists have always worked to end social injustice. Marx was very aware of oppression by race and gender. He wrote, "Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded," and after his death, Engels wrote, "The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male." Anyone who knows anything about the history of the struggle for racial and sexual equality knows that socialists have always been at the front—Charles Fourier, a socialist, gave feminism its name, and in 1932, at the height of Jim Crow, the Communist Party USA's Vice Presidential candidate was James W. Ford, a black man.

For most of Sunday—another pleasantly busy day—I periodically thought about your post and had almost convinced myself there was no point in answering it. Identitarians and universalists simply have incompatible worldviews, and most people don't change their worldviews until their worlds change. As Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

But late Sunday afternoon, during my favorite dance class, I had an epiphany: I could use your post as an excuse for a public letter, a general response to anti-racists. I could link to it whenever anyone offered the usual arguments of people who prioritize race. Best of all from my point of view, if more needs to be said, I could add the occasional postscript rather than making a new post. So this letter must be long because it needs to be thorough. And it should be kind because most people who believe in the tenets of anti-racism, like most people who share any ideology, mean well and do not necessarily endorse the tactics of the extremists on their side.

I want to stress my intention to be kind. Except for a couple of days that I regret when I adopted the principles of people who reject "tone policing", I've always tried to disagree respectfully with people—I'm a big fan of St. Paul's and Malcolm X's advice to respect everyone. But it can be hard to be kind with people who suffer from crusader logic that justifies the worst behavior—including bullying, doxxing, and death threats—in the name of the cause they think they serve. Still, it's better to err on the side of kindness.

Another principle I need to keep reminding myself of: read charitably. When something offends me, I'll try to look for an interpretation that I may've missed.

With that attitude, I'll go read your long post, A while back, Shetterly challenged me to respond to his anti-anti-racism.


I'm back. I'll address these bits now:

"You said I've been ignoring class, which is demonstrably false, but in your effort to focus almost exclusively on class, it seems to me that you've been ignoring race, and more importantly, racism."

I could repeat that sentence, swapping race for class and capitalism for racism—see Reed's comment about how hard it is for identitarians to hear that people who prioritize class are not ignoring race.

"It doesn't matter that the notion of race doesn't have any biological support or even make much sense when you really think about it. Racists don't care about the science and aren't burdened with an excess of clear thought."

Agreed. But now you're talking about individual prejudice, and the best way to defeat individual prejudice is to leapfrog it by giving poor people of all hues the resources to prove their detractors wrong. If you have a specific way to address individual prejudice that doesn't have a class component, I'd love to hear it.

"Take lynchings in the South ever since the Civil War. These murders were explicitly hate crimes."

Yes. So were the lynchings of white Wobblies. We agree that lynching should be prosecuted, and I hope we oppose all forms of mob justice. If your point is that lynching took on a primarily racist character during Jim Crow, we completely agree. Socialists were very aware of the nature of Southern "justice" and worked against it when liberals did little or nothing. Remember that the case against the Scottsboro Boys was appealed because they got help from the Communist Party USA.

"If they'd been poor but white, they would not have been murdered."

I'm always astonished by anti-racists who don't know that white people were murdered also. As noted at Lynching Statistics for 1882-1968: "Many of the whites lynched were lynched for helping the black or being anti lynching and even for domestic crimes."

You can see the faces of the martyrs of the civil rights movement and know that "whiteness" did protect the white martyrs. (Probably due to a programming glitch, the photo for Viola Liuzzo is James Reeb's, but you may google her if you think whiteness protected her.)

Here's a story about one martyr that I didn't know: Vernon Dahmer and his wife "woke to the sound of gunshots and exploding firebombs. Dahmer grabbed a gun and went to his front door. While the fire raged, he stood in his doorway, inhaling the burning fumes and returning gunfire while his family escaped. When it was over, Dahmer’s home and the nearby store were destroyed. His 10-year-old daughter was hospitalized with severe burns. Dahmer’s lungs were irreparably damaged. He died shortly afterward."

The glitch with Liuzzo's photo reminded me of this bit from a Bill Moyers' interview of Adolph Reed:

ADOLPH REED: . . . I admit that this is kind of treading maybe, into troublesome water, but among the reasons that I know Obama's type so well is, you know, I've been teaching at elite institutions for more than 30 years.
And that means that I've taught his cohort that came through Yale actually at the time that he [Obama] was at, you know, Columbia and Harvard. And I recall an incident in a seminar in, you know, black American political thought with a young woman who was a senior who said something in the class. And I just blurted out that it seems, that the burden of what she said seemed to be that the whole purpose of this Civil Rights Movement was to make it possible for people like her to go to Yale and then to go to work in investment banking.
And she said unabashedly, "Well, yes, yes, and that's what I believe." And again, I didn't catch myself in time, so I just said to her, well, I wish somebody had told poor Viola Liuzzo, you know, before she left herself family in Michigan and got herself killed that that's what the punch line was going to be, because she might've stayed home to watch her kids grow up. And I think--
BILL MOYERS: This was the woman who on her own initiative went down during the civil rights struggle to Selma, Alabama, to join in the fight for voting rights and equality, and was murdered.
ADOLPH REED: Right, exactly. I'm not prepared to accept as my metric of the extent of racial justice or victories of the struggles for racial justice, the election of a single individual to high office or appointment of a black individual to be corporate CEO. My metric would have to do with things like access to healthcare--
BILL MOYERS: For everybody.
ADOLPH REED: For everybody, right? And this is something else, by the way--
BILL MOYERS: Not just a symbolic victory for one person?
ADOLPH REED: Right. Because the way politics has evolved since the 1980s is that what we get now is the symbolic victory for the single person instead of, right, you know, the redistributive agenda.
"when I point out that blacks are more likely to suffer from various abuses, you invariably answer that, if we only compensated for wealth, the effect would disappear. "

No. If you believe I've said that, quote me, and I'll try to explain how you misunderstood me. What you claim is my position is not my position and never has been my position.

"To hear you describe it, racism is long gone and nobody is ever harmed just because they're not white."

Again, quote me. I've bled from the blows of racists. I'm not about to claim racism is gone until the last racist is dead.

"You can't even begin to recast the lynching of Matthew Shepard in terms of economic disparity. He was murdered because of his perceived identity, not his poverty."

Actually, the Matthew Shepard story is not what you think. See The truth behind America’s most famous gay-hate murder | World news | The Guardian.

"Homophobia has its roots in misogyny, which has its own economic basis, but it doesn't boil down to economics."

Agreed. Where have I ever suggested it did? I'm the one who keeps pointing out that the Log Cabin Republicans deserve the credit for defeating Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

But the ACLU can also take a lot of credit for the progress in gay rights. Here's a picture of Emma and me working the ACLU booth to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota:

"what happened is that we collectively changed our minds as a society."

Yes. I've lived through those changes. Few people supported interracial marriage or thought a black man would ever be President when I was born. (I voted for Obama in '08 purely because I wasn't able to vote for Shirley Chisholm in '72, but I confess, helping elect a black neoliberal was no more exciting than helping to elect a white neoliberal would've been.)

"This is the method of change that traditional anti-racism supports: remove bigotry from people and the laws will follow."

It's another example of anti-racism's religious roots. The civil rights leaders had a simpler solution: don't wait to "remove bigotry". Change the circumstances that hold people back. That's why King was less interested in the words people used and more interested in the deeds that would transform society like Basic Income.

"The bigots understand that this is about beliefs. That's why Texas schools indoctrinate children in the "Lost Cause" mythology that indemnifies them for the sins of slavery and justifies further white supremacy."

We completely agree that public schools should not be teaching nonsense. This is another case where I get to point the finger at capitalism: A socialist country would never let a major buyer of textbooks dictate what's allowed in schoolbooks. Public education is too important to be left in the hands of each state.

"You've asked me for an example of how we might successfully target racism without first targeting the underlying economics, so I'll give you one. Target the propaganda."

When censors are allowed to define what's "propaganda", books like Huckleberry Finn get banned. Censors have never been good with subtext.

"This will directly impact racism by causing whites to feel the proper level of shame about the behavior of their ancestors and discourage them from continuing the hatred."

"Proper level of shame" is a fascinating term. Now, maybe I don't suffer from it because Shetterlys have mostly been farmers up until my father's time. My ancestors fought to free the slaves, and so far as I know, none owned any.

The idea that children bear the sins of their parents is another concept that comes from religion. There's support for it in the Bible, but I side with Ezekiel 18:20: "The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

"With diminished racism, right-wing politicians will have less ability to derail social programs that help the poor by pointing out that they disproportionately help minorities. They won't be able to use racist myths such as the "welfare queen" to support economic policies which harm all poor, regardless of race. This reverses the direction of causality with regard to class and racism: it fights classism by fighting racism."

I haven't noticed right-wing politicans saying social programs disproportionately help minorities lately—most of them don't like helping the poor of any hue, and most of the racist ones know sounding racist is bad in an age when most voters in both major parties don't like racists. When rightwingers use coded language to disparage the poor, they usually imply "white trash" don't deserve help either.

"One of the essays you linked to me complained that traditional anti-racism was like an organized religion, and its writings were more like sermons than essays. Of course they are: the goal of sermons is to inspire and to change minds."

That's one theory. The other is that the goal of sermons is to make people content with their lot.

"When Obama sang "Amazing Grace" at the eulogy, he was speaking the language of sermons, and people listened. Hearts and minds were shifted. Confederate flags quickly became as taboo as n-bombs."

Now we're in the realm of myth, where the king sings and the people are transformed. I don't buy it. Obama's an expert at waiting until popular sentiment has changed, then standing up to support what everyone supports. He didn't come out for gay marriage until after the majority of Americans supported it.

"This pointless squabble between the two only benefits the racists. If you keep it up, your opposition to non-Marxist anti-racism will make you a racist, perhaps not in words, but in effect."

If that's true, then it's true for you, too: your opposition to people like Adolph Reed who prioritize class will make you a racist, perhaps not in words, but in effect.

Well, that was long and exhausting. I hope it helped. If it didn't, the comments are open, of course.


ETA: I may make updates in the comments and as ETAs on this post also. Here's my first:
I should've said last night that I'm not opposed to "non-Marxist anti-racism." I'm opposed to identitarian anti-racism. King was a democratic socialist, Malcolm spoke admiring of socialists, and Bayard Rustin was a member of the Young Communists League in the '30s, but many of the civil rights leaders had no interest in socialism. They simply wanted to end racism, and socialists were happy to work with them. Another of my favorite Malcolm X quotes from after he left NOI: "And I, for one, will join in with anyone—I don’t care what color you are—as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth."
ETA 2: A point regarding Jamelle Bouie's comment that "racism is orthogonal to class: They’re two different dimensions of disadvantage, and to improve the picture on one isn’t always to improve the picture for the other."

It's true that improving the economic picture for the working class would not improve the social picture for the black bourgeoisie. I sometimes wonder if that's why black identitarians show so little interest in improving the economic picture for the poor, even though any improvement for the working class would disproportionately help black folks.

ETA 3: There's a simple test to see if something has more to do with class or race: If it primarily affects people of one class, is the racial mix similar to the racial mix of that class? If so, the reason is primarily class. If not, the reason is primarily race.

ETA 4: The Complex Story of Race and Upward Mobility - The New York Times

ETA 5: Do identitarian liberals care that their approach leaves people of color disproportionately poor?