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September 18, 2003

More Snobbery

Darryn 'Dutch' Martin, a participant in Project 21 sings the praises of John McWhorter and spikes his own little football in the endzone.

Losing the Race opened my eyes to the three cancerous aspects of black American cultural groupthink. It also re-ignited the love of learning that my mother instilled in me as a child. That love, as well as a faith in God, enabled this poor boy from Cleveland to become his high school valedictorian, become his family's first college graduate, earn a master's degree in public policy and management and ultimately become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.
(italics mine)
It's people like this that made me hate the middle class, and I must certainly be feeling as I read this from my parapet, just what Marie Antoinette felt for the hungry peasants. I would love to invite this arriviste into the Old School, but I think he's mouthing off a bit too much.

This is a strong test for me. For if I'm willing to stomach the paleocons in the Republican party, I'm going to have to stomach first generation college churchboys from the 'hood. What does this no-op Negro know about black culture? How is some.. argh.

Let me be charitable, after all he's from a family of six, quotes from the Bible and talks about his mother and not his dear old dad. It's hard to imagine that he heard the sound of the drum in inner-city Cleveland. Neither, obviously did his knucklehead peers, and he was right to dismiss them and follow his own star. The boy was starved for soul from the source and so he sucked on whatever tit was available. John McWhorter, damn.

This is the special brand of withering contempt I have for poor misguided souls of my own racial caste. I'm going to have to get over it to become the man I should be. Maybe he likes Jack Daniels.

Posted by mbowen at September 18, 2003 08:55 PM

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It's yours truly, that "misguided soul" Dutch Martin. I was forwarded your assinine (emphasis on 'ASS') comments about my Project 21 article, and felt compelled to respond. It's one thing to disagree with any of the points I made in my article pertaining to McWhorter's book or its influence on my life. But no! Since you don't seem to have the brain power for intellectual debate and disagreement, you decide that the prudent thing to do is to take cheap shots at me.

To answer your first "question," I know enough about black culture to know that certain aspects of it hold us back as a people in realizing our fullest potential. That's exactly McWhorter's point in "Losing the Race"; if you were to READ THE BOOK YOURSELF, you might better understand where he's coming from.

Furthermore, I want you to get this through your thick, smart-ass skull: I know who I am, I am proud of the man I have become and what I have achieved with my life, and guess what - I don't need your (or anyone else's) "Ghetto Stamp of Approval"!

Since the rest of your comments constitute nothing but garbage that I won't even waste type time to respond to, I'll close with this: Whatever "withering contempt" you have for the middle-class, "misguided souls," or black folks like myself who are proud of who they are and how far they've come, you might want to redirect that energy toward some much-need personal introspection. If I've used a few too many big words for you, let me break it down: CHECK YOURSELF, HOMEY!

It's judgemental, playa-hatin' negroes like you that give "black culture" a bad name.

Posted by: Dutch Martin at October 13, 2003 03:06 AM

You've interpreted me in the wrong direction my friend. I hate the middle class like truly talented people hate the middle class, for being narrow-minded, superstitious, consumerist blithering idiots. I'm third generation talented tenth.

My comments, cruel and unusual, were directed at you as an example of what I don't like about the middle class. I don't know exactly how to explain it other than to say it's snobbery, pure and simple. If there was a proper book to describe that, it would be 'Our Kind of People' by Otis, or 'Rage of a Privileged Class' by Cose.

It's not fair, or gracious and I recognize that I was a bit outre. I apologize if I caused you any personal discomfort. Again, I don't know you from Adam, I'm dissing the stereotype of you.

I'll tell you where that's coming from, because I've been there and done that as far as introspection goes. Back in 1991 when I was something of a poet, like all poets I was very jealous and hateful towards writers who I felt had no talent but got popular. Poets are, of course utterly unpopular, but that's part of the appeal. One such writer was Terry McMillan and the other notable one was Nathan McCall. I called them the McWriters. McCall, symbolized the simple minded ghetto rube who actually made it in the real world and was called a hero. BFD. As far as I was concerned he was a loser and anyone who called him anything other than that was a loser as well. It's all relative of course. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. I recognize that class realities force some people look up to that sort of person, but my class reality forces me to look down. McWhorter offers yet another opportunity for me to deliver the verbal smackdown, because as a cultural critic, his writing is atrocious. As an academic scholar squirrel, he's right on time, but who need him? Furthermore I have yet to be impressed by any writers at Project 21, not that I've given them a fair shot.

Nevertheless I am compelled to knock you just the same. Your bad aim in guessing my perspective is the same poor judgement I ascribe to McWhorter. You take it for granted that all criticism of your middleclass success comes from below, that there is nothing in black middleclass life worthy of contempt. It is a formula for mediocrity which perpetuates racist stereotypes.

Granted, there aren't very many Old School types such as myself, and let me fill you in on the my stereotype - Republican, half of the family could pass for white in New Orleans, some French-Indian Creole slave owners on that side, New England Episcopalian on the other side, educators and jazz musicians, 3 generations of college, Alpha Phi Alpha, Links, private school, snooty looks down the nose at most black people blah blah blah.. So the kind of racist stereotypes I'm talking about are a bit more subtle, but they irk me as much as not being able to catch a cab in NYC must irk the average brother.

I am judgemental. Always have been, always will be. My hateration comes from decades of reading and writing political and cultural criticism. I'm trying to raise the bar. But I'm also trying to do it in a way that screams independent, ego and all that. I've got that kind of Old School black pride that you can't get from reading 50 page books, and I've read enough of McWhorter and seen him speak enough to know that I'm not his audience. His audience are clueless whitefolks, folks like you, and those you have surpassed.

I am not bitter, nor disturbed, nor anything but persnickety and arrogant. But I am thoughtful, not above criticism, and I admit when I am wrong. My aim is to synthesize the best of black nationalism and a lot of other things I call the Old School into political policy and a certain cultural aesthetic. Part and parcel of that is a stronger emphasis on class than on race. So understand that I do not feel wrong to criticize your class standing, but I am wrong to attack you personally. On the other hand, you, by being a member of P21 set yourself up for that anyway, and I will assume that you are thick-skinned enough to take it as well as dish it out.

I also presume that you are younger than I and would only suggest that there are many writings in your future which will surpass that of McWhorter's influence on you. Some of it might actually be found here, so pull up a chair.

Finally, let me say that I respect you for defending yourself in an honorable manner, please accept my apologies for the personal slight, and do tell your pals at P21 that I remain slightly interested in their efforts but that I am more certain that my place remains here in the blogosphere. I look forward to the day when P21 participants put out more writing and works the internet better; I shudder to think what it must be like to suck up to the likes of O'Reilly and Hannity.

Salutations. I consider you a peer in the political redefinition of African America. May the best man win.

Posted by: Cobb at October 13, 2003 09:31 AM

I think so.

Posted by: phentermine at December 5, 2003 01:38 PM