Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia

“But, to the race hustlers, black lives don't really matter nearly as much as their chance to get publicity, power, money, votes or whatever else serves their own interests.”                                                
Thomas Sowell

When I logged on Twitter and saw Thomas Sowell trending I thought he had passed away; I was relieved to find out he was just retiring. That relief was replaced with joy, which was then replaced with apathy. I hope Thomas Sowell enjoys a long and fruitful retirement. I don’t wish him any ill will. I hope he gets to snap pictures for another decade, but I won’t pretend like his career benefited the masses of Black people. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Ward Connerly, and Larry Elder are my Mount Rushmore of Anti-Black-Black academicians and media personalities. In my opinion, their collective efforts to sabotage anyone fighting systemic racism, coupled with their innate ability to attack Black victims of police brutality make them just as dangerous to young Black men as the Trap Rappers who make millions selling the illusion of drug game fame and fortune. The latter have succeeded in profiting from gangster imagery that may or may not be grounded in reality, but the former provide cover to racist elements in the conservative media who portray Black people as willful accomplices to many of the injustices we face. 

I know Black Conservatives who've used Thomas Sowell’s work to ground much of their economic and political philosophies. I can’t and won’t deny his impact on some of my contemporaries. He is an iconic conservative thinker and writer, but I part ways with him when it comes to his commitment to the Black community. Thomas Sowell has always chosen white conservative acceptance over justice for Black people. I know Black conservative writers who will never make it big because they choose their people over their politics. The cardinal sin for a Black conservative is defending Black people from truncated racist tropes. To make it big as a Black person in the conservative media one must deny the racism that exists in too many Human Resources departments, you must defend the police in instances of police brutality (no matter how egregious their behavior), and when in doubt: blame problems in the Black community on the destruction of Black family or Black on Black crime. There are a number of industries where being on that, “Black sh*t” doesn't fly, but I haven’t seen any industry as intolerant of pro-black rhetoric as the conservative media. I can’t think of one prominent Black conservative with a national platform who has routinely called out racism. You can't advance in that system by challenging the conservative media's position on issues related to the Black community.

Putting a Black face on white supremacist ideology and rhetoric is a tactic rooted in slavery. Contrary to the profit centered "race hustling" myth perpetuated by conservatives, the overwhelming majority of Black activists I've come in contact with haven't benefitted monetarily from supporting the Black community. Most have been blackballed at one point or another from predominantly white institutions because of their outspoken support for Black people. Dr. Michael Parenti once said, "a  journalists who writes for any publication can feel free to write what they want, as long as what they write pleases their editor's wishes." This holds true for Blacks on conservative platforms; even some liberal platforms have a threshold for excessive Black content. Black conservatives talk about freedom, but many aren't free to speak out against systems of white supremacy if they wanted to. A majority of conservatives avoid subject matter that challenges their view of America.

I will remember Thomas Sowell as a man who denied the plight of Black men in America when he wasn't too busy ignoring it. He was, after all, one of George Zimmerman’s most prominent Black defenders. I did a quick Google search to see if he's defended any Black Person in any of the high-profile cases of police brutality over the last few years: I couldn’t find one example of him doing so. Dr. Sowell’s retirement isn’t anything for the Black community to celebrate or mourn. He never used his intellect or platform for our benefit. He leaves and opens a space for a new Black face to rise up the conservative media ladder. 

Almost 25 years ago, Dr. Sowell gave a full-throated defense of the L.A.P.D. officers who nearly beat Rodney King to death. In the last few years Black conservatives have been on television and radio defending the N.Y.P.D. officer who choked Eric Garner to death, blaming Freddie Gray for his severed spine, and defending Michael Slager’s character to the detriment of Walter Scott’s life. There will always be a seat at the table for anyone promoting or normalizing anti-Black sentiments (see Tomi Lahren). If Black conservatives ever want to ditch the label of “Uncle Tom” or “Coon” it would behoove them to start supporting Black people in public. I’ve never heard a Black person call someone a sellout because they believed in supply side economics, but I have seen people disown public figures for their silence. When Black conservatives learn they can’t ignore the plight of Black people and build a legacy with us at the same time they might be able to come home, but until then: Bye Felicia!

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