By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said
Sexism from a brown face is still sexism. Male privilege with a unique cadence and sartorial style is still male privilege. Patriarchy is still patriarchy when perpetrated by doctorate-wielding black activists. Demanding that a black woman march in lock step with your agenda or be labeled “treacherous” and “a fake and a fraud” is to further the twin demons of racism and sexism that black women battle every day. It’s disgraceful.
Cornel West on Melissa Harris-Perry in the latest issue of Diverse Issues magazine:
“I have a lot of love for the sister, but she’s a liar, and I hate lying,” says West.
Harris-Perry’s scathing critique, West says, has more to do with the fact that the Center for African American Studies unanimously voted against her when she came up for promotion from associate to full professor, adding that her work was not scholarly enough. “There’s not a lot of academic stuff with her, just a lot of Twittering,” says West, who added that her book Sister Citizen, released last year was “wild and out of control.”
“She’s become the momentary darling of liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised at how treacherous the sister was.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins, who fancies himself “The Scholar for Black America,” co-signed, branding Harris-Perry a sell-out and deifying West:
His willingness to do that which is unpopular (as Dr. King did before his death) will put Cornel West in the history books as a visionary activist and scholar; Melissa Harris-Perry will simply be remembered as another talking head.
In the worst African dictatorships, European corporations seeking to drain a country’s resources realized this simple fact: There is no need to compensate a country’s citizens for their resources if you can simply pay off greedy dictators and figureheads who control what the people think and do. As a result, there are countries where billions of dollars in oil are extracted every year, yet the majority of the country’s citizens remain in poverty.
In the Black community, leading Democrats have learned the dictator lesson well: If we hijack a few figureheads in the Black community and convince them to always speak in support of our agenda, we don’t actually have to do very much for Black people themselves.
It’s much easier to take care of the Head N*gger In Charge (HNIC) than it is to take care of the people they represent – just give them big media guns and have them aim those guns at any of the field negroes who choose to participate in the rebellion. That’s what makes Melissa Harris-Perry so harmful.
The 2008 presidential election cycle marked a turning point in who was allowed to speak on black issues in the media. I recall complaining in the early days of this blog that the media knew no other black voices than the four-headed hydra of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West. I have been so gratified by the addition of fresh perspectives – young voices, female voices, diverse voices, including those of Barack Obama and Melissa Harris-Perry. Of course, West brands the President not black enough and Harris-Perry a charlatan and a mercenary.
It must chafe, I imagine, to lose your privilege. To know that “the black agenda,” if there even is such a thing, will no longer be exclusively dictated and communicated by a certain sort of black man. The young people, the biracial black people, the women are getting uppity. That’s what this is about. It’s not that liberals have labeled Harris-Perry HNIC; it is that men like West thought that position was exclusively theirs.