The Academic Hit Man: Henry Louis Gates and Reparations

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball

Harvard's pet Black professor, Henry Gates, blames Africans for the slave trade "so as to silence calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt." His latest Op-Ed piece "is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West."



The Academic Hit Man: Henry Louis Gates and Reparations

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"He is an academic version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination."

Like elders often say, we must trust people to be who they are.  So when Henry Louis Gates describes his own career as that of an "intellectual entrepreneur" we should believe him to be who he is, an intellect for hire, or more specifically, an "academic hit man."  John Perkins speaks of "jackals" and Economic Hit Men, well Gates is higher education's equivalent.  He is an academic William O'Neal or Cotton Smith, the intellectual version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination.  Gates' targets are not individuals as much as they are entire intellectual communities whose service to their people make his assaults on them assaults on the very people those intellectuals defend.  His are politically motivated hits because of their broader ramifications and like real hits they permanently silence any meaningful public debate.

Gates' most recent hit appeared this week - as they often do - in the New York Times, which has been for decades an ideological "killing field" where anti-establishment intellectuals are routinely left for dead.  In his piece, "Ending the Slavery Blame-Game," Gates returns to his favored, if not entirely discredited, theme of African culpability in the enslavement of their own.  Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement and concludes that because statistical increases in the numbers of those sold into slavery coincides with the rise to prominence of particular African ethnic groups that this is proof of a balance in benefits accrued by the process. 

His selective emphasis, or what Ali Mazrui once called, "ulterior selectivity," on one aspect of slavery versus another is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West.  But as Walter Rodney said himself, "The presence of a group of African sell-outs is part of the definition of underdevelopment."  And now they come again with what is their ulterior motive, the academic hit on Claudia Jones, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney and many others.  In fact, Gates has previously and personally taken John Henrik Clarke to his New York Times "killing fields."  Others like Malcolm X, Chris Hani and Rodney himself were simply killed quite literally.  Each murder was carried out for similar political purposes, to assure the African world's status as permanent servant.

"Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement."

Assassins mute the kinds of debate which might result in their employer's loss of power.  By simple omission Gates kills the arguments of N'COBRA, Ray Winbush, or F. Michael Higginbotham whose thoughts on reparations are far more compelling than can be allowed.  The three scholars Gates does mention, in what is really no more than a simple blog post, will not have their views critiqued by their peers within the pages of the New York Times or a mainstream media which considers the Times as "the paper of record."  So most will never know, for example, that Mazrui, a worldwide recognized authority on African history, dispatched of Gates and this incessant blame of Africans for slavery long ago.  He said that African leaders were forced into the exchange and "were themselves victims."  But, again, this view has been targeted for assassination and is preemptively (and cyclically) silenced so as to also silence, for example, calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt.

Though perhaps this time it was to also save Gates' protector-in-chief from himself.  Remember, it was Obama who went to Ghana and blamed African crises on African corruption.  And it is he who should now have to account for the recent report of the $1 trillion in African wealth illegally expropriated to the West, and this just over the last 40 years.  And, Mr. President, the report concludes that only 3% of that can be attributed to corruption.  To this we can add an earlier claim from former Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer that through denial of access to capital, adequate public service and government benefits Black Americans have been robbed of $10 billion every year since the so-called end of slavery.  And here we have two points whose own "ulterior selectivity" demonstrates the weakness of the argument cooked up by Gates and Obama  - that African involvement in slavery and post-colonial corruption are to be blamed at all or equally to the crimes of Western Europe or the United States.  These, like the other favorite of a mythical Black Buying Power, are mere attempts at the perfect hit; the Western assassination of the Black World all covered up and dismissed as a suicide.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  On the web go to

Jared Ball can be reached at [email protected].


You've got it going on

Indeed.  The spectacle is so nauseating that I've actually gotten tired of writing about it.  On the other hand, it's inspiring to read writing as fresh as yours always is on this question.  Keep cranking it out, Mr. Ball.   Many thanks and kudos.

There are lots of people who

There are lots of people who have been assassinated because of the ideology that they are fighting. The man who murdered Malcolm X at point blank range has become paroled. He admitted to the killing of the Civil Rights Movement leader, but maintains to this day the other two men convicted with him are not his accomplices. Thomas Hagan was due to be released on Wednesday, but due to the fact his agreements was completed early he was paroled Tuesday. He has served 45 years in prison and has tried for parole 16 times before they approved this one. Really though just how much is going to change. I'd bet not much. He received his master's degree in sociology, which is a great accomplishment for a prison inmate; and he has been on a work release program for years. He has had 2 days a week for a really long time to step out and operate a normal job.

Skip Gates, Obama, 25 to 30% Black Unemployment....hmmm?

Just askin', aren't Obama and Gates "best buddies"? And if so, is there any reason to NOT understand why there is so much Black male unemployment in The Hood?? Gates must put the blame for the high unemployment rate on those same Black men too with Obama's blessing?

Two pricks from Haaa vud

who grew up kissing white folk's asses, buttering up to them, seeking a head pat approval from them, while they trash their Black roots.  Now we understand how they could sit down with a cracker cop and toast to his "crackerism."
Btw, didn't "Skippy" Gates VOW to devote future scholarship to police/racial profiling?  Little cocksucker,-- we see how far that promise went.  Like a little roach he scurries back into darkness when the light is on to continue his placating of institutional racism.
When will the Black masses stop looking up and kissing ass of anyone with an Ivy League degree.  It's freakin pathetic, all Ivy League schools do is teach your black ass how to conform. 


Mr. Gates and President Obama both appear to suffer from a malady common to many black people who hold  high positions in this society. Instead of having a sense that they are there because they earned it, many seem to feel that white people have "allowed" them to gain  their esteemed positions in elite institutions, or in government, and, that their white benefactors are "owed" something for it. Such people seem to feel that the easiest way to prove their loyalty is to slavishly mimic the existing culture of whatever institution they belong to, and to make excuses for its shortcomings and for its racism and for its exclusionary practices.


If Mr. Gates actually believes that African chiefs are responsible for his beloved Harvard's long history of racial exclusiveness, or that the chiefs somehow coerced the founders of Harvard into participating in and benefeting from the African slave trade, he needs to seek a refund for the pricey "education" which apparently failed to impart any critical thinking skills. Mr. Gates, and President Obama are two more examples of why blacks need to maintain their own institutions, instead of hoping to create change by dropping a few (self-serving) blacks into white dominated and controlled institutions.