In an op-ed for Clutch Magazine, Newsone Contributing Editor, Kirsten West Savali, discusses why Naomi Schaefer Riley‘s scathing indictment of Black Studies is a glaring example of white privilege.
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Every now and again, there is a manifestation of white privilege so brilliant in its ignorance, so delusional, that it actually makes me want to go back to my days of being a mental health professional and offer my services.
This happens to be the case with “The Chronicle” writer Naomi Schaefer Riley.
In a piece reeking with condescension and low-rent bigotry, Schaefer makes the argument that Black Studies is a superficial academic pursuit that hinges on “left-wing victimization claptrap” as demonstrated in dissertations by up-and-coming Black scholars in the field. Peering through her indignation at topics such as “Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s,” she pronounced the fruits of long nights of rigorous research “so irrelevant no one will ever look at them.”
Ms. Riley seems to believe that Black Republicans, such as Clarence Thomas – who have made a living being step-n-fetchit tokens — are being unfairly maligned by liberals who would rather cry racism than actually solve problems in Black America:
“Seriously, folks, there are legitimate debates about the problems that plague the black community from high incarceration rates to low graduation rates to high out-of-wedlock birth rates. But it’s clear that they’re not happening in black-studies departments. If these young scholars are the future of the discipline, I think they can just as well leave their calendars at 1963 and let some legitimate scholars find solutions to the problems of blacks in America. Solutions that don’t begin and end with blame the white man.”
She also has the audacity to say that President Barack Obama should be proof positive that “a change gone come,” (Sam Cooke’s words, not Riley’s) as if we should gaze upon him with pride on our Civil Rights mantles while employment, housing and education opportunities burn to the ground.
But at least a brother is in the White house, right? Cue George Clinton.
It is not surprising that Ms. Riley is so oblivious to “the white man’s” role in the prison industrial complex. Apparently she doesn’t realize that disparities in sentencing, especially as it pertains to cocaine vs. crack – which flooded our communities in the ‘80s under the Reagan administration – has played an integral role in the devastation that has plowed through Black America.
Perhaps Ms. Riley also doesn’t realize that sex education under the Republican agenda is reduced to one long advertisement for abstinence, while simultaneously working diligently to eradicate Planned Parenthoods in urban communities. This ensures that Black women in a certain socio-economic bracket who do dare to have sex, not only are vilified for it but forced to have these children “out-of-wedlock” or risk their wombs being labeled “dangerous” if they dare to choose termination.
Furthermore, it would be ridiculous for Ms. Riley to assert that Black people are wrong to look to “the white man” for issues with public education when it has been reported that Black students receive sub-par educations in comparison to their White counterparts.
Bottom line, unless Ms. Riley has completely lost her grasp on reality – if she ever had one – the “white man” is as responsible for the precarious position of Black America as Black America is responsible for stabilizing it.