In Response to: Identity Politics

Where do I begin with Poor Randall’s Almanac? He is a classmate of sorts, as he began in the Class of 1976, and he is a wonderful and brilliant conversationalist. Sadly, conversation or “talk” and theorizing alone do not solve the problem of “race” issues in the United States or anywhere else! Kennedy, like so many in academia, has never been a “hands-on” activist nor a “been-there” pragmatist. They have never been “good soldiers” in the struggle and gone on to the next level of commitment of being a community-center director or a group-home or substance-abuse counselor or a youth mentor in a church or in a reading-partners program. Kennedy is a pure theorist who has probably never been at “ground zero” of poverty, crime, adolescent-teen abandonment, child abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, or reckoned with the carnage of adolescent sexual promiscuity on a personal level.

His viewpoints are typical of academics who sit far off and run interference for the right-wing conservative agenda. He is not a “sellout” because he never “bought in.” Unlike Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint p’01, who chide black America for not investing their own resources and sweat equity toward a less-dependent state of existence, the black pundits like Kennedy just want to “theorize” the problems to death. The source and the effect of the problems are well documented; it is the cure that we need to search for!

The black community needs the courage and compassion of Medgar Evers, Nicholas Katzenbach ’43, James Meredith, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Lani Guinier, Lenora Fulani, Brian Taylor ’84, and Louis Farrakhan, who stood up for the “truth” and made a personal investment in their assessments, theories, and conclusions. These were (and are) ordinary citizens who took extraordinary action by simply standing upon their sense of moral duty! I say to all of those on the “right”: “Put up or shut up! 

George A. Bates ’76