by Danny Haiphong
The most left-leaning ethnicity in the U.S. is (mis)led by a class of scoundrels and servants of empire. “The Black misleadership class unapologetically shoves itself down the throats of young people of color as legitimate political role models while the white capitalist power structure happily provides the financial and political support.”
On the Meaning of "Progress" and "Change" in the Whitewashed Political Worldview of the Black Misleadership Class
by Danny Haiphong
“The time is now to differentiate between 'change' and 'progress.'"
I am in my early 20's and Vietnamese. I would not have lived in the US if the US imperial establishment did not make the conscious decision to occupy Vietnam for nearly two decades. During the occupation, the US military establishment embedded deep-seeded racism into its ranks. US imperial forces and its mouthpiece, the corporate media, created terms like “gook” and “dink” to dehumanize Vietnamese peoples. These terms provided the ideological justification for the destruction of Vietnam and the mass murder of its people. US imperialism’s neo-colonial war against Vietnam ended in defeat in 1975. However, the interests of “Cold War” US imperialism in Korea, China, Vietnam, and the South East Asia region prompted the US corporate media to continue dehumanizing peoples of the region. The same racist language used to justify US imperialist invasion at the time is still commonly used in the 21st century. U S imperialism and racism inflicted violence upon my psyche and body growing up, whether I was called a “gook,” ridiculed by whites for supposed sexual inferiority, or bullied because I was a “model minority” and deserved it. My daily experience with racism is the primary reason I took up the struggle against US imperialism and the neo-colonial conditions of Black America.
A lot of young people like myself are struggling to contribute to the fight against racism, neo-liberal capitalism, and neo-colonialism. This is due largely to the absence of leadership and organization around a political alternative. The ideological positions of neo-liberal and imperial capitalism dominate the US political landscape. US mainstream (corporate) leftists almost entirely support the Democratic Party faction of the capitalist class. The most dangerous element of the opportunist left in the United States is the Black misleadership class. The Black misleadership class unapologetically shoves itself down the throats of young people of color as legitimate political role models and the white capitalist power structure happily provides the financial and political support. This tiny class of Black politicians, corporate media pundits, and police agents represent a calculated move by the white ruling capitalist class to defuse radical dissent and deepen the hegemony of US imperialism.
“The most dangerous element of the opportunist left in the United States is the Black misleadership class.”
One of the most heinous crimes of the Black misleadership class is its participation, through the institutions of corporate media and academia, in the historical revision of the Black freedom movement. The white power puppets of Henry Louis Gates, Al Sharpton, and Melissa Harris-Perry elevate the illusion of "progress" and "change" over a substantive analysis of history and politics. “Progress” and “change have two very different definitions. Progress signifies improvement in condition. Change, on the other hand, could be defined as an alteration in condition or form. For the Black misleadership class, “change” and “progress’ are just brand words for the promotion of a whitewashed narrative of Black resistance.
In this corporate and whitewashed narrative, "progress" is legislation and "change" is shared leadership with white imperialism. The Black misleadership class erases the Black liberation movement and the political prisoners still behind the walls because of the US government’s programmatic assault on Black revolutionaries. And because the Black misleadership class is thoroughly dishonest, it cannot admit that "change" for most of Black America since 1963 has really meant a decline in material conditions. Unemployment is double that of whites in 2014. Income and wealth inequality between white America and Black America is sharper than it was during the original "March on Washington." The US prison system currently incarcerates more Black Americans than were enslaved in 1850. However, these conditions won't prompt an honest response by the Black misleadership class because of its preoccupation with using history as a weapon to collect the crumbs of white imperialism.
The Black freedom movement’s historical victories should not be ignored, but neither should the Black radical tradition. Voting rights legislation, desegregation, and Affirmative Action need to be defended and more importantly, built upon. However, the rich debates around Black communism and Pan-Africanism between WEB Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, Claudia Jones's work with the Communist Party, and the Black Panther Party's internationalist solidarity with Vietnam, Cuba, Algeria and North Korea are just a few examples of Black radical history the Black misleadership class neglects entirely. Black misleaders who joyously praise their ancestors’ sacrifice cannot and will not acknowledge that the specter of a Black-led mass movement for revolutionary change was the primary reason the US government passed reforms in the first place. The Black misleadership class should celebrate the courageous Black men and women who organized the exploited majority for complete emancipation, but we know it won’t do that. One just has to be made aware of Al Sharpton’s alleged attempts to set-up Assata Shakur to understand the Black misleadership class is wholly against any real definition of Black freedom.
“For the Black misleadership class, ‘change’ and ‘progress’ are just brand words for the promotion of a whitewashed narrative of Black resistance.”
Neo-liberal imperialism places enormous pressure on elders who grew out of the Black freedom movement to align with the Black misleadership class. This pressure is expressed in the concrete denial of the present state of Black America, as well as an ideological attachment to the whitewashed narrative of “progress” spoon fed by the white imperialist education system and media. I’ve been criticized for not having lived during the Black freedom movement and for being too “negative” in my analysis of racism today. I’ve been scorned for disrespecting those who died for "Civil Rights." Worse yet, I’ve been told that because I wasn’t Black, I should remember my analysis is just “my opinion.” These defenses of neo-liberal capitalism and racism exemplify Frantz Fanon’s discourse of cognitive dissonance, in which individuals defend certain beliefs no matter how false they are.
The facts of life did not permit me to participate in the Black liberation movement of the 60's and 70's. However, the well-recycled narrative that racial progress was achieved after the end of "formal" segregation is an affront to the past and present. Black America's current economic and political state calls for radical transformation of US society and the elevation of the Black radical tradition into contemporary practice. Although the defense of past victories is critical, the fact remains that reforms of the civil rights period built a foundation for the Black misleadership class. The fight to eliminate capitalism and racism is only stifled by its cooperation with the white capitalist ruling class.
The time is now to differentiate between "change" and "progress." By using the tactics of reform and state-sanctioned violence, the US ruling class divided Black America along political and class lines. The ascendancy of the Black misleadership class is certainly "change," but it's far from “progress.” Conditions have worsened for the majority of Black America while a tiny class of Black elites has surfaced to provide a buffer for white imperialism. For much of the US left, this has been a celebratory development. Even after 6 years of the Obama presidency, the US left has sought incorporation with the US imperialist camp despite overwhelming evidence that doing so is leading to huge losses in material and political power. Our job is to battle back against delusion and imperialist apology with truth and organization against the forces that collaborate with racism and capitalism. An important step in winning this fight is to demystify the ideological anchors of “change” and “progress” that the Black misleadership class and its capitalist masters depend on to continue their system of planetary destruction unchallenged.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]