avatar
When identity becomes a prison, there can be no liberational politics


Please Help ZNet



 

 

 

 

 

Source: The Real News Network

There is no doubt that racism is real and has negative consequences for people’s lives,” Adolph Reed Jr. and Touré F. Reed note in the abstract to their article “The Evolution of ‘Race’ and Racial Justice under Neoliberalism.” “This is why we have consistently argued for the continued value of anti-discrimination policies. But race reductionism’s insistence on uncoupling disparities from political economy lends itself to individualist reforms (anti-racism training and swelling the ranks of black capitalists) as responses to structural ailments. We must reject race-reductionist analyses and refuse to accommodate charges that a left focused first and foremost on critique of and challenge to capitalist political economy as such, with its corrosive human consequences, is unacceptably ‘class reductionist.’”

What is race reductionism and how does it close off possibilities for liberational politics? How is it that we’ve come to have such a restrictive understanding of race, culture, identity, and “authenticity” today? How have the political, economic, and ideological changes to society that comprise what we call neoliberalism created a situation where discussions of race and racism are divorced from analyses of class and “capitalist political economy”?

As part of a new collaboration between The Real News Network and the podcast THIS IS REVOLUTION, co-hosts Jason Myles and Pascal Robert speak with scholar and activist Adolph Reed Jr. about the genealogy of American conceptions of race and racism, and about the folly of fighting neoliberalism on neoliberalism’s own terms. Adolph Reed Jr. is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, a longtime activist, scholar, and commentator, and the author of numerous books, including: Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American SceneStirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era; and The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics.

Pre-Production/Studio: Jason Myles

Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


 

Rick:             Hey, man, I don’t know about all this, Furious. You got us walking around motherfucking Compton and all that.

Furious:        Rick, it’s the ’90s. We can’t afford to be afraid of our own people anymore, man. Would you two knuckleheads come on?

I want you all to take a look at that sign up there. See what it says? Cash for your home? You know what that is?

Rick:                  A billboard.

Furious:               What are you all, Amos and Andy? Are you stepping and he’s fetching? I’m talking about the message, what it stands for. It’s called gentrification. It’s what happens when the property value of a certain area is brought down. Huh? You listening?

Rick:                     Yeah.

Furious:          They bring the property value down. They can buy the land at a lower price. Then they move all the people out, raise the property value, and sell it at a profit. Now, what we need to do is we need to keep everything in our neighborhood, everything Black. Black-owned with Black money, just like the Jews, the Italians, the Mexicans, and the Koreans do.

Speaker:                Ain’t nobody from outside bringing down the property value. It’s these folk shooting each other and selling that crack rock and shit.

Furious:              Well, how you think the crack rock gets into the country? We don’t own any planes. We don’t own no ships. We are not the people who are flying and floating that shit in here. I know every time you turn on the TV, that’s what you see. Black people selling the rock, pushing the rock, pushing the rock. Yeah, I know. But that wasn’t a problem as long as it was here. Wasn’t a problem until it was in Iowa, and it showed up on Wall Street where there are hardly any Black people. Now, if you want to talk about guns, why is it that there’s a gun shop on almost every corner in this community?

Speaker:        Why?

Furious:            I’ll tell you why. For the same reason that there’s a liquor store on almost every corner in the Black community. Why? They want us to kill ourselves.

Jason Myles:         That clip is from the 1991 movie, Boyz in the Hood, a movie that I enjoyed but is deeply flawed in its analysis of inner-city Black life. There is little doubt that Larry Fishburne’s Furious Styles character’s style of Black nationalists and race reductionist rhetoric is prevalent in today’s political discourses. Gentrification is presented not as an economic or class issue, but simply a case of racial and cultural displacement.

In a recent article, titled the “Evolution of Race and Racial Justice Under Neoliberalism,” our guest Adolph Reed, writing in partnership with his son Touré, challenged the popular notion of a unified Black politics that serves all Black Americans. Indeed, they argue that Black politics is a class politics, namely the politics of the Black political class, which since early in the Civil Rights era, has abandoned the promotion of universalist social democratic programs to advocate for race-based alternatives.

How should we view gentrification? Did Black Power succeed more as a cultural signifier than an actual political movement with material gains, and has the shift towards race-based democracy stifled the advancements for Black America as a whole? We bring in the world-renowned political scientist and critic Adolph Reed to discuss these issues and more. This is Revolution.

Hello, and welcome to This is Revolution podcast. I am your host, Jason Myles, and this is our maiden voyage on The Real News Network. We have formed a partnership where we’ll be taking our podcast, This is Revolution, and airing some interviews on the Real News Network. Some very interesting, hard-hitting interviews.

Before we bring in our guest, let me bring in my cohost. He is a writer for Black Agenda Report, as well as Newsweek. He is the Pascal Robert. [applause]

Pascal Robert:      Peace and greetings.

Jason Myles:              This is a little different for us, because usually we do this as a livestream, so this is prerecorded, because we do actually like to interact with the chat. That being said, before we go any further, if you want to see more shows like this, support by liking and subscribing. So, hit the bell so you get notified when more shows like this drop on The Real News Network. Are you excited about our interview today, Pascal?

Pascal Robert:        Very much so. We’ve interviewed Adolph quite a few times before so we always really have good conversations.

Jason Myles:            You want to tell the people a little bit about what we do at This is Revolution?

Pascal Robert:         Well, This is Revolution podcast is a left podcast where we discuss current events, popular culture, news, and global affairs, trying to root the conditions of the world in analysis of the function of capitalism, imperialism, and race, as well as all of the other ways in which the dominant political economy and social realities function in our society to be an obstacle to a more equitable distribution of resources. We try to bring that up in a more creative and intelligent way as often as possible.

Jason Myles:        Yeah, that’s what we do. What he said. [laugh track] Without any further ado, let’s bring in our guest. Would you call him a public intellectual? I would call him –

Pascal Robert:        No, that would be an insult.

Jason Myles:            I would call him an activist, and an organizer, and a scholar, and an author. But also, what can we call him?

Pascal Robert:       An academic.

Jason Myles:            An academic. And he’s the dad of one of our good friends. He is the Adolph Reed. [applause]

Pascal Robert:         Do I hear…

Jason Myles:          It’s like he was looking around to see who was clapping. How are you this morning?

Adolph Reed:           Oh, good, good. How are you guys?

Pascal Robert:          Doing all right.

Jason Myles:            We’re doing good, we’re doing good. We read your piece that you and your son Touré wrote.

Adolph Reed:       Oh, okay.

Jason Myles:           And in reading it, I was trying to figure out who wrote what.

Adolph Reed:           Couldn’t tell, could you?

Jason Myles:              And I thought I had it down. So the whole first part, I’m reading it and I’m hearing Touré talk. And then, about 10 pages in, I’m still hearing Touré talk. But I’m like, I don’t think this is Touré. And then I had to go back and read some of the first part again and I’m like, you know, these damn Reeds did this on purpose to fool us so we didn’t know who said what. And you guys did an excellent job at that.

Adolph Reed:          Oh, cool. Yeah, yeah. No, we put it together well. I mean, and at this point I can’t remember mainly who wrote what. I know the gentrification stuff I did, mainly, but he contributed to that too, and he smoothed it out. So, it is like a… Well, good. I’m glad it came across as a seamless piece because that’s what one strives for in these things.

Jason Myles:            And I do have to add that your son has been a teacher for me as well, as he has been helping edit some of the things that I write, too.

Adolph Reed:        Oh, cool. Okay, excellent.

Jason Myles:          Shout out to the Reeds and educating the masses. But speaking of educating the masses, first of all, thank you for joining us on our inaugural show on The Real News Network.

Adolph Reed:          Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it, and I apologize again for the technical stuff last time around.

Jason Myles:           Oh, it’s not, don’t even worry about it. Hey, they’ll never know. These aren’t the droids they’re looking for. One thing that Pascal and I appreciate about the Reed tradition, as he calls it, is you guys, especially you, have written, I would say, not exclusively but extensively about the idea of a monolithic Black politics. I don’t know if you coined the term, or if Pasquale… Pasquale? Pascal coined the term racial ventriloquist.

Adolph Reed:       Oh, yeah, I don’t know.

Jason Myles:            Was that you, Pascal?

Adolph Reed:           Well, that’s what the job description is, so…

Pascal Robert:          No, I don’t think it’s an original concept. I mean, I’ve used the term. It’s something that’s transparent in terms of how it functions. But I know I did not coin the term race management. That comes from, I think, Michael West’s book on Booker T. Washington.

Adolph Reed:            Oh, yeah.

Jason Myles:              And that’s exactly who I want to start off with. I do want to start off with a question about Booker T. Washington. Would you say that this phenomenon starts out most famously, and I’m sure it started out maybe before, but it really becomes a thing, so to speak, with the rise of Booker T. Is his legacy the godfather of racial ventriloquism?

Adolph Reed:         That’s a good question. I’d say it could be. I think… So, here’s the thing. Two points. One is kind of ironic, that the moments when there have been identifiable Black leaders, especially at the national level, have been moments by and large when… Moments of political demobilization among rank and file Black people. So, it’s no accident, for instance, that Washington gets dubbed, crowned, as the Negro leader precisely at the moment of mass disfranchisement. Frederick Douglas, for instance, was never the Negro leader.

Jason Myles:           Yeah.

Adolph Reed:            And for all the first generation after Emancipation, the idea that there needed to be or there was space for or a job description for a national Negro leader was a concept that didn’t come to anybody’s mind. And Pascal mentioned a Michael West book.

One of the things that’s really important that West does is to connect the notion of the Negro leader to the birth of the idea of race relations. And the race relations notion, or phrase at least, is so common now that everyone uses it all the time without bothering, stopping to think about what race relations would actually mean. And the question of how the races, if we think of the race relations concept literally in that sense – Which is what it was when it came into existence at the beginning of the 20th century – Connected to and was connected to a practice or an art called race adjustment which everybody talked about in that period as well. And what race adjustment meant was adjustment of the ways that the races related.

Well, first question should be how in the hell can races relate? For a variety of reasons it’s a problematic notion, starting out with the fact that races don’t exist. Well, if races don’t exist I suppose we could have a characterization of how unicorns relate. Because if it’s all some stuff that you make up then you can make up whatever you want to make up. But as Michael West points out – And the book is called The Education of Booker T. Washington – But as West points out, the race relations idea emerged as a way to finesse the fact that since the 1870s Blacks had been full citizens of the United States, but that disfranchisement and the dissent of the Jim Crow regime raised questions about the extent to which Black citizenship rights as individuals were being abrogated.

Well, if you shift the plane of discussion from individual Black people as citizens of the United States or, God forbid, the state of Mississippi, to, well, the real question being how the races get along, then you’ve just managed to sidestep the whole question of Black civic membership completely as individuals. And as Michael points out suddenly Black people no longer exist as farmers, parents, teachers, preachers, bricklayers, whatever, but they exist only as folded into this blanket concept of the Negro which then begets the Black American which then begets the African American.

And Washington adopts, crafts and adopts the role of prime spokesman for this reified construction called the Negro. And it gets better than that because you can’t just be a Negro leader… Well, of course, a Negro leader is one who advances the cause of the Negro. But you can’t just be any old Negro leader. There are responsible ones and irresponsible ones, all of whom are appointed, and this question never got asked by white elites.

But, all right, see, this is where I would amend the story a little bit. Washington was Washington. But Washington was also a leading representative, like an institutionally grounded leading representative of a stratum of Black people that had taken shape in the 1880s and 1890s in different parts of the country depending on where you were. And a number of factors came together, and a lot of people have done good and better work on this period, but you have to take into consideration that this stratum, this was partly an outgrowth of some variants of free labor ideology and included Frederick Douglas, thought that the way forward for Black people was by accumulating property and in gaining standing and stature as freeholding individuals in that way.

And then you stir in late 19th century scientific race theory which posited, for instance, that races are natural groups and that race is an important metric for making sense of the rise and fall of cultures and civilizations.

Jason Myles:           The rise of eugenics?

Adolph Reed:          Yeah. Well this is even prior to eugenics.

Jason Myles:            Okay.

Adolph Reed:            But that the fate or the possibilities of a racial group are visible in the accomplishments and the talents and the attainments of its best members. So you can see how among the stratum of people who own a little property, who have some of what now would be called human capital, this is an appealing perspective, an appealing ideology, as for direct political participation are shut down among rank and file Black people especially in the South. Then this stratum emerges as a group positioned to articulate the needs, concerns, interests, values, potential of the race. It makes sense to people who are in that position because this becomes like an occupational category or a profession. And this is when people start talking about being race men and race women, like in the early 20th century. So it’s not just Booker Washington. I mean, Booker Washington as avatar of a class, of a politicized interest group, that takes shape over the first couple of decades of the 20th century.

And I’ll just say one more thing about this and then I promise I’ll shut up. That Du Bois, that version of Du Bois, because there were several over his lifetime, but that version of Du Bois was committed to the same class-building project and that’s why you can see not only in the Niagara Movement and the NAACP itself, but in Crisis Magazine, and that Du Bois’s view was partly a vehicle for consolidating this new Black professional and managerial stratum all over the country. And this is where stuff like Jack and Jill clubs and later on Links and the Girlfriends and the graduate frat organizations all take shape as part of the sociological dynamic of class formation and class consolidation.

Jason Myles:             So, are you saying that Du Bois and Booker T. were more so on the same page?

Adolph Reed:        Yeah.

Jason Myles:             They definitely didn’t seem to like each other, with all those public debates.

Adolph Reed:            Well, for that period… See, they go back and forth on this. But part of Du Bois’s beef with Washington was A, Washington, he felt, correctly I believe, that Washington was naïve in thinking you could give up political rights and have economic opportunity or whatever. So that had something to do with their disagreement about voting. But as you see in Mr. Booker T. Washington and others’ essay in The Souls of Black Folk, part of Du Bois’s beef with Washington, too, was that he maintained a monopoly on access to the philanthropic money that was necessary to produce or pursue race advancement projects.

And that’s another thing to keep in mind, that during this period, and especially in the early years of Black disfranchisement, a very important question about this professional managerial stratum of the Black middle class was where they saw the effect of agency for Black political concerns to be. Partly because of their own ideological dispositions, partly because of the limits or limited access to suffrage, and partly for opportunistic reasons, they didn’t or couldn’t see the source of Black political agency as lying in the rank and file working Black people, and where it made sense to see the source of effective political agency was in white, or in the philanthropic class and the business class, or businessmen who had their own interests in establishing the terms of Black accommodation to the new [inaudible], basically.

Jason Myles:           Did you have a question you wanted to follow up with, Pascal?

Pascal Robert:          Yeah, well, one of the things that’s interesting about the history that you play out, Adolph, is that we talk about often how the post Voting Rights Act iteration of the Black political class renders Black politics to be a class project, and a class project that inures the benefit largely to their class. And the question I would ask you based on that is, is that actually really a new phenomenon largely of the post Voting Rights era based on the construction for yourself and this history? Hasn’t Black politics kind of always been a class politics of elite tutelage inuring benefit to a certain cadre and largely not to the benefit of the larger majority?

Adolph Reed:          That’s a good question, Pascal. I’d say this. I think that we had a period from like the mid ’30s, maybe to or through the mid ’60s, depending, where there was fundamental contestation within politics. Or, well, it wasn’t exactly contestation. I mean, sometimes. But there were two distinct tendencies, and Preston Smith has been very good on this, too. Two programmatic tendencies that coexisted up to a point coming out of the emergence of mass politics like in the mid ’30s.

But yes, it’s true. Well, and those two tendencies were one that advanced the program of what Preston describes as a racial democracy, which to put it simply is like the realization of a radical regime of equality of opportunity, with all the appropriate measures that would need to be taken to ensure that equality of opportunity is actually equality of opportunity. For anybody. And a regime that Preston identifies as committed toward a social democracy, or a commitment to the working class-based politics that pursued an agenda of more or less radical redistribution from top to bottom within a society.

And certainly prior to 1930 there were Black people, tendencies, nodes of Black political action that were connected to pursuit of a social democratic program now. Like if you want to do it this way, we can go back to the 60,000 Black members in the Knights of Labor and the one and a quarter million members of the Colored Farmers’ Alliance. So there’s no shortage of Black Americans who are active on behalf of more broadly redistributed politics.

But what I would say happened is that because of, or in the context of disfranchisement, the universe of what we think of as Black politics sort of narrowed to this sort of class-driven equality of opportunity agenda. And anti-lynching and stuff like that that appealed to other people. But it’s so nice, I have to say now, it’s so nice to be able to be cavalier in the references to lynching, which wasn’t always the case, but people are saying it pretty much is now at least for the moment. We’ll see what happens after 2022. [inaudible]

But yeah, so for that period, for the middle decades of the 20th century, there were some ambiguous expressions of a more popularly oriented Black politics. What happens with the Voting Rights Act, or the aftermath of the Voting Rights Act, is that the managerial class tendencies consolidated in a new way and to a new extent. Because now we’ve got Black people actually controlling levers of government, working as higher level functionaries in our government, and increasingly over time… I was just writing something about this this morning. Increasingly over time, it being incorporated into or integrated into the governing class at the national or local level all over the country.

Jason Myles:           Adolph, I don’t know if you remember that movie, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka?

Adolph Reed:          Oh, yeah, totally.

Jason Myles:             And there’s this scene with the now late, was it Clarence Williams III, was that his name?

Adolph Reed:             Oh, yeah.

Jason Myles:              Linc Hayes from the Mod Squad, aka Princess Daddy. He has this scene where Keenan Ivory Wayans’s character is going up to him. He’s the revolutionary stuck in 1972 Black politics, Black Power guy, and he’s talking about the brothers for the movement, because they’re going to take down the Man.

Adolph Reed:            Right.

Jason Myles:          And he looks at Clarence, and he’s like, what happened to everybody? And he goes, they all got government jobs.

Adolph Reed:          Yep. Yep.

Jason Myles:           Which I thought, when you, watching it as a little kid, I didn’t get it.

Adolph Reed:         Right, yeah.

Jason Myles:            Now, doing this show with Pascal, who is also another person that is constantly educating me. When brought to my attention about that, and then we found this article in 1973 Ebony magazine really getting into the weeds about the burgeoning Black middle class in the early ’70s and how some of them were tied to government jobs and voted in line with poor and working class Black people, because those government programs that they were now in charge of and the Black people that were receiving those government programs, they were a voting bloc.

Adolph Reed:         Right. Yeah. Totally.

Jason Myles:               But Atlanta had private capital that was bolstering this new Black middle class and they weren’t aligned as well. And I know you spent a lot of time in Atlanta. I think, were you even part of the first Maynard Jackson regime?

Adolph Reed:            Yeah, I was. Yep. But, well, yeah. Here’s the thing. It’s one thing for them to get government jobs. It’s a different order of magnitude when they become the governor. And I mean, both things happened, of course. I mean, I remember, I was just thinking about this this morning in context of something else I was writing, but that… I recall the first cohorts of Black students in the Ivy League in the ’80s. So, not the first cohorts of Black students, but Obama’s contemporary [inaudible].

And what I saw as a common phenomenon with them, and it’s not gotten less common over the years, is an absolute conviction that there’s no daylight between pursuit of their individual career aspirations and realization of the goals and the utopian ideals, even, of the Civil Rights Movement. I even had, I’ve mentioned this a few places, I had one girl in a class, a Black American political thought class, say to me, and I was taken aback by it. She said something in the class that prompted me to blurt out without even thinking, which is something I tried not to do in the classroom, well, from what you’re saying, it sounds like the entire purpose of the Civil Rights Movement was so that you could come to Yale and then go to work with Morgan Stanley.

Jason Myles:           Ooh!

Adolph Reed:          And she said, yes, that’s correct. And again, I blurted out without thinking, well, I wish somebody had told that to Viola Liuzzo before she went down to Selma and got herself killed to help support the Voting Rights Act, because if she’d known that the objective of voting was going to be for you to go to Yale and [work for] Morgan Stanley, then she might have stayed in Detroit and watched her kids grow up.

So, that was ’82, ’83, ’84, somewhere like that, and you can imagine how much more deeply that understanding is embedded in the 40 years that we’ve evolved since then. It’s just totally understood now. I mean, I’ve mentioned this before elsewhere also, but the first time that I saw the three founding women of Black Lives Matter on a panel I was genuinely taken aback, especially Alicia Garza, to see that, from her perspective, and it could be the case for the other two as well, again, there was no daylight between what would advance their careers as individuals or a group or whatever, a firm, and the goals of the left-wing politics. They were identical. But there’s no room for even asking, well, but are these the same? Of course they’re the same because what advances me also advances the movement. And when we’ve gotten to a state like that… I guess one way I’d put it is that the other side has pretty decidedly won.

Pascal Robert:           What’s really fascinating about that is that the best embodiment of that idea, that my aspirations are the definitive hallmark of what the movement was, is the Obama presidency.

Adolph Reed:          Oh, totally. Yeah.

Pascal Robert:        Because if you actually read, there’s an article that I cited recently in a piece that I wrote for Black Agenda Report, there was a – And I’m sure you remember this article. It was written in the New York Times in 2008. “Is Barack Obama the End of Black Politics?”

Adolph Reed:        Oh, man, I taught that stupid-ass article every year.

Pascal Robert:       Yeah. And do you remember the quote from the Obama functionary who literally says that, listen, we’re the new Black politics. We’re not like the old Civil Rights guys. We don’t have those issues. And he goes on to say that Obama is the embodiment of all their dreams, all their fights, everything that they’ve aspired to. That he’s the sum of all of that.

Adolph Reed:          Right.

Pascal Robert:       And I’m rereading this and I was like, it’s amazing that these people are so inured with the hubris and narcissism to think that they are the embodiment of the struggle of people who they had no organic connection to personally but feeling they can actually telegraph into all of their political aspirations and manifest them into their own personal career aspirations. And it’s this, I mean, the narcissism, which was embodied in Obama, is almost transparently sickening.

Jason Myles:        Well, here’s my follow up question to you too, then, and I heard you mention this briefly, Adolph, and I want to take a deeper dive into this. In the mid ’80s we get the rise of people like Spike Lee. We get the rise of this Black middle class that is controlling the colored culture industry, if you will. Spike Lee definitely comes from some nice middle class upbringing and makes a movie, and his movies then become Black culture in a nutshell. Do the Right Thing, She’s Gotta Have It. He then goes on to do the Nike commercials for Jordan.

I don’t know if you saw recently, Netflix did a documentary about Jordans. I, who have never owned a pair, and I don’t say that with some sort of conviction, it was really because I couldn’t afford it when I was younger… Still can’t. There’s a scene where there’s a Black Lives Matter protest and they’re saying that the Jordans are such a revolutionary shoe that… Your face was my face when watching. I mean, what? But yeah, and Spike Lee of course is in it because he’s a very prominent figure in it. And I think this just goes into what you guys are saying, so like from a pop culture standpoint we are taught that these cats are giving us what is authentically our culture even though they’re kind of removed from the culture that they try to speak about.

Adolph Reed:     Right. Well, two things. First of all, next time you’re talking to Touré, ask him about an encounter that we had with a Korean sneaker shoe operator in Hyde Park in the mid ’90s. That Jordans actually figured into it. But I’m not going into it. But anyways. Well, see, if you roll the tape back a little bit, the culture gets invented in a commoditized form in the late ’60s already. I mean, if you think about something called Black culture, well, what is Black culture, really, when you think about it? I mean, it’s like that with the way that immigrants from a lot of different places talk about the ways of the old country. And what becomes the ways of the old country is like shit your grandparents did. So your grandparents stand in for the old country.

And that’s the way, even when I was coming up, older local practices or quirks would stand in for something called how Black people do, or which with the birth of Black studies eventually became Black culture. So, I mean, I remember, and this was a random recollection, but I think it was Gwaltney, the anthropologist who compiled a Black folklore that was titled Drylongso, which is a reference that some Black people somewhere make to something or other. I mean, I noticed that it showed up in To Sleep with Anger. One of the characters, it was either Mary Alice or one of the many Mary Alice knockoffs that have graced the silver screen.

And that was the second time that I had ever heard the term. And I can’t even remember where it is they say it. It’s maybe Georgia or in South Carolina. I don’t know what it means. But all this stuff gets put together as Black culture. But it’s not. There’s no such thing as a Black culture, anyways. But from the late 1960s forward, in the moment of Black Power as a psychological program, you know what I mean? Finding ourselves, coming to terms with ourselves, whatever, various facets of stuff that some Black people somewhere had been known to do become condensed as this thing called Black culture and commoditized.

So, from that perspective, big afros, dashikis, red black and green on whatever the fuck you can find, is part of Black culture. But it’s a [version] of Black culture that is, from the very beginning, filtered through the circulation of commodities. Just as, by the mid to late ’70s when I mentioned that I know there’s a lot of friends and classmates were taking on the character of Jimmy J.J. Johnson from Good Times to perform being Black. So it’s like, Blackness brought to you by Norman Lear.

Pascal Robert:          One of the things that we talk about on our show frequently is about the way in which popular culture creates this constructed notion of Black identity and Black culture, particularly in the post Civil Rights era. So, you know, Soul Train, Good Times, the high commodification of Black culture production that starts in the ’80s. And this is a controversial statement when you say there is no such thing as Black culture, what about organic manifestations of regional Black culture, whether they be food, music, blues, jazz, Gullah culture, or even Black petite bourgeois elite culture, HBCU culture, that revolves around those institutions like fraternities, sororities. I mean, and I’ve had this conversation with Touré about the no Black culture. My position has always been that there are multiple regional Black cultures as opposed to this idea that there is no Black culture at all. So, I’d like to…

Adolph Reed:       Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Well, I think what I would say is that there are practices and maybe even expressions that are associated more or less with groups of Black people in different areas of the country. I wouldn’t even call it… No, I don’t know that I would call them a regional culture. Among other things, like you mentioned Gullah stuff, for instance. White people in South Carolina do the same stuff.

Jason Myles:         I was going to say that, yeah.

Adolph Reed:          Or [inaudible] in the Lowcountry. I mean…

Jason Myles:             When I cooked in Louisiana, the first thing that blew my mind… You know, I’m from California. I’m from an area, that’s all I knew, and going down to Louisiana and cooking and they told me that I had to cook for a crew of white dudes and I had to make them grits. And this was before grits was like a chic-y thing. I’m like, white people don’t eat grits. And they’re like, man, if you don’t make these grits for these…

Adolph Reed:         Yeah, no, I mean, white people eat the same shit Black people eat.

Jason Myles:            Yeah.

Adolph Reed:         So, I mean, there’s that.

Jason Myles:         But is that a sharing, then, of culture, Adolph?

Adolph Reed:            I think that’s what culture is by definition and that’s another reason I don’t like to talk about group cultures. Because the culture is what people do. It’s like plastic and it spreads by diffusion, so in that sense it’s never anybody’s property. Now, I know you get into different depths of the pool, basically, when you talk about patterns of accumulation and distribution in the culture industry and the way that race figures into that. So, the way that everybody except Chuck Berry got ripped off is one thing. But something called cultural appropriation. What part of Africa was the saxophone created in? I mean, how can we have Black music without the saxophone? I can’t imagine.

So, the problem isn’t the cultural appropriation, but this is like a market problem, like a capitalist market problem that has to do with the distribution of the product, basically, or the value that’s associated with the product. And that’s why I wouldn’t sort of defend… Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. Pascal, I’ll say this. I spent the better part of a decade partly encouraged by Habermas to figure out how to narrate a distinction between cultures or culture that is organically produced among a population, of a natural population, versus cultures or culture that’s been strategically developed and projected.

And I struggled with this distinction for, like I said, close to a decade, and then finally decided that I couldn’t specify the distinction because it’s a bogus distinction. I mean, just as juxtaposition of traditional and modern society is bogus. Just as a distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft is bogus and all products of the modern era that are read back as ways of differentiating whatever our present is from other places and times, times we want to see as past.

So, culture is culture, and if it’s diffused and it spreads by diffusion, well, like I said, then there’s no such thing as cultural appropriation, and I think that’s the sense in which I would contend that there’s no such thing as a Black culture. There’s nothing you can find that 42 million Black people do, that nobody else does.

Jason Myles:            Well, let me ask you this, and then we’ll move on because I think this definitely opens a door for our final talking point, which is gentrification.

Adolph Reed:         Okay.

Jason Myles:            I recently saw a video of a young white girl that was trying to stir up, piss off the libs, as the young people say, by dressing in a total Indian, Native American, stereotypical, something you’d probably find at a Halloween store outfit. And she’s walking around a college campus just trying to make liberal coeds upset. And it’s working, and people are calling it cultural appropriation and they’re asking, what are you supposed to be? And she keeps going, I’m Elizabeth Warren. [Adolph laughs] I did laugh at that. I was like, well… And no one really had, what was funny was, no one had a comeback for that. But she also stopped right there like that was her whole point. And then, there was a Black dude with her in whiteface, and he was asking why his whiteface wasn’t offensive.

Adolph Reed:      Okay.

Jason Myles:          [laughs] So when we talk about cultural appropriation and it doesn’t exist or whatever and then people do this, what do we then call that other than just racist and offensive?

Adolph Reed:        Right. Yeah, well, see, that’s interesting too, because there are layers upon layers there. There are layers of ideology and expectation. I have to say, my initial reaction to the report of the Black dude in whiteface was like, nigga, please. [Jason laughs] And that’s why I agree with D.L. Hughley that we cannot ban the word because there are some occasions when there is really, as Hughley pointed out, nothing else that’s appropriate to say except that.

Jason Myles:         That was my first thought, yes.

Adolph Reed:            Okay, right. Well, so, I don’t know. I mean, yeah. I’m not even sure where to begin. I’m really not. I mean, the language… About a month and a half ago, I saw an interesting documentary on the Vietnamese American community in New Orleans. It was pretty good, and my niece was a featured person in it which was also cool.

Jason Myles:          Oh, okay.

Adolph Reed:         But before the documentary – It was shown as part of the New Orleans Film Festival – So before this documentary, I guess they did this for every entry, they showed a little filmed version of what I understand now is called the land acknowledgement. And I’m sure you guys know what the land acknowledgement is.

Jason Myles:             [sad trombone sound effect] Please don’t get me started on those.

Adolph Reed:           Right. Well, I know man, like you can’t go to the damn gas station in California without having to give the land acknowledgement.

Jason Myles:               I was on a tour where every night, the headliner opened the set with a land acknowledgement.

Adolph Reed:           Wow. Wow. Well, it’s impressive that the headliner kept up with whose land was jacked.

Jason Myles:            He did. He did.

Adolph Reed:            But like I said to somebody not that long ago, I mean, it’s always struck me as like… So, giving the land acknowledgement, I don’t care how piously you do it, but it always feels to me like you just kicked somebody’s ass and then talked about his mama afterwards.

Jason Myles:            [laughs] And how their mama is an upstanding citizen.

Adolph Reed:           Yeah. Well, I guess it comes with the way the nationalists do it. I mean no disrespect, brother. But what got me though was, there’s not only the land acknowledgement, but the list of like every Native American subgroup that had ever passed through the area. And then the enslaved Africans, and then thank them for the burial ground that we built the city on. And the first thing Touré said to me, and I was waiting for it too and we didn’t get it, was, well, did they say anything about the upwards of 20,000 Irish immigrants who died digging the New Basin Canal in the 1830s? And of course they didn’t.

So, where do you go with that? I mean, how does all that work? And so, I mean, I don’t know. It all seems to me as a substitution of theater for politics, and it’s a theater that other theater is rooted in a political economy of performance. So I mean now with the multi-billion-dollar, what is it, diversity, equity, and inclusion industry, I can’t even talk about any of this stuff apart from the pathologies that are associated with that industry and all it spawned.

Jason Myles:         Yeah, don’t even get me started on that.

Adolph Reed:         I mean, I forget now what the animating question was. I’m sorry.

Jason Myles:           The question was, what do you do when a white woman is dressed in a total Native American outfit or Blackface?

Adolph Reed:         I don’t care.

Pascal Robert:         Well, the question I want to ask you though, Adolph, is that do you find all of these iterations of racial, ethnic outrage, land acknowledgement, so on and so forth, a demonstration of the way in which identity in the era of neoliberalism is dispatched to obscure the reality that none of this stuff is about actually getting resources to poor Native Americans or Black people who have been shut out of capitalism pretty much for 50 years, as opposed to creating opportunities for someone who’s got a PhD in whatever study from Harvard.

Adolph Reed:        Yeah, or anywhere at this point.

Pascal Robert:          Being able to write a book subsidized by the Ford Foundation.

Adolph Reed:           Yeah. Well, yeah, I think you’re right. I mean, that’s the short answer. I mean, the one place I would modify it a little bit is that I don’t even think at this point it needs to be deployed, you know what I mean? This is like, there’s an ecology that’s developed of this stuff. So, look, Kenneth Warren and I, when we were doing… We did two summers, and for two summers at the beginning of the century a Mellon Foundation-funded seminar for dissertation level students at our respective institutions, University of Chicago and the New School, who were working on projects that bore on race.

And during that time we both learned and acknowledged to each other that we were seeing a pattern of POC applicants to our respective PhD programs, applications whose personal statements talked about wanting to pursue a PhD in the discipline as a preliminary to going to become a public intellectual, which was about getting on MSNBC or doing whatever else. And this is before, I mean, Melissa Harris-Perry was like a glint in anybody’s professional eye, you know what I mean? So, that aspiration was out there, and we’ve seen more and more people.

And I know this might sound funny coming from me in particular, but I’ve seen more and more people moving back and forth. Well, no, sort of redefining their base intellectual community while working as scholars, technically, or at least as professors. More and more inclined to define their core intellectual community as outside the university, and as that world of commentary where you’re dealing with people like, I don’t know, what’s a name? Anna… Not Anna. Hannah Nikole…

Jason Myles:         Jones.

Pascal Robert:         Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Adolph Reed:        Yeah, see, for some reason, Anna Nicole Smith got stuck in my head. But I knew it couldn’t be her, because she’s all white. But anyway.

Jason Myles:            That is a whole different person, and that’s another show. That’s our follow up show. Anna Nicole Smith.

Adolph Reed:        Right, so, but this phenomenon has become increasingly common, and it says something about… It’s not just a matter of a ruling class looking for Booker T. Washington. And it’s not even so much that they looked to him then, although they kind of did. But they don’t have to because there are relatively autonomous dynamics in Black American intellectual life and in academic life and in the world public commentary that produce both the discourses and the people who shape the discourses who are then available. And they don’t even need to be… Some of my old red friends and I keep making this point, that shit, you don’t even have to pay them anymore, you know what I mean? I mean like the idea that X might be a police agent. It doesn’t matter. I don’t know, what’s his name, Glenn Greenwald. He doesn’t have to be on the police’s payroll. He just does what he does, and what he does, he happens to produce for the police, basically. So, that’s a provocative statement that I’ll give you guys.

Pascal Robert:      That’s really provocative, but you…

Jason Myles:            Here at The Real News and This is Revolution, we want to see how long it takes before we get canceled.

Adolph Reed:          Well, [inaudible], because when Chris Leeman first contacted me about doing a column for The New Republic, we had this conversation, and he said, well, I basically took the job expecting to be fired. [Jason laughs] And I helped him realize his expectations. Not by myself. I’m not that kind of arrogant. But anyway, so, yeah. I think that’s a thing.

I think that what’s even more frightening and frustrating about the way this is playing out is that it’s driven by autonomous political, economic, and sociological processes. That you don’t even need… Jeff Bezos didn’t need to go looking for Van Jones or to make him up. And I mean, I know it challenges credulity to think about it because between the end of the Democratic primaries and the murder of George Floyd there was such a rapid and thorough deployment of significant… Pardon me, elements in higher reaches of the American capitalist class that converged on the program of race reductionist Black activism that it was breathtaking to watch. But even more sobering to consider, or when we consider that this wasn’t COINTELPRO. This was like a convergence of people who see the world in the same way and have the same objectives. So that’s how we get to Goldman Sachs having this one million Black women fund or whatever that thing is.

It’s the same phenomenon, and this is part of the argument of not thinking about what we think of as gentrification in the terms in which we’ve been thinking about it heretofore. But because the response to neighborhood displacement when understood as cultural appropriation is to respond or is to deal some co-culture members, let them in on the extraction, basically. And this is where that slip is between first person singular and first person plural that’s the essence of all forms of ethnic or national politics comes into play. Because the whole point of it is, I mean, to paraphrase Rogers Brubaker, that ethnicity is likely to become politicized in the hands of political entrepreneurs who want to pursue agendas that require the support of populations that are much larger than the number of people who are going to benefit from the realization of the agenda. So, we need Cotanga so I can get the uranium for us.

Pascal Robert:       Well, I want to give you the opportunity to address that in this question.

Adolph Reed:            Okay. My time is your time, brother.

Pascal Robert:          One of the things that’s a very common reality on the left, particularly on the Black left, is a kind of fetish obsession with Black Power and the Black Power movement as an ultimate manifestation of Black radical political activity and militancy. And one of the things that you have been most persistent in writing over your many decades as a scholar and writer is in stating that Black Power as a political force was actually a conservative political project, which is something that for many people who are comrades of ours is almost blasphemous in terms of their affection for that era and its politics. If you can, can you elaborate and explain to us why you make that argument that Black Power ends up actually becoming a conservative politics as opposed to a radical transformative one?

Adolph Reed:           Right. Well for one thing, even though that might sound provocative, I’m not saying… That’s a judgment that I made after Harold Cruse made it, and even after Robert L. Allen made it in Black Awakening in Capitalist America. But you remember, part of Cruse’s critique of the Black Power radicals was that the programmatic antecedents were conservatives and they just didn’t want to acknowledge that because they wanted to have more radical antecedents. But their program was a Booker Wright program, and was the [inaudible 01:03:26] program, apart from the Captain Crunch hat and the other crazy stuff that he brought with him from Jamaica. But the radicals didn’t want to deal with it.

So what we had was, and I did a piece in the Socialist Register a few years ago, I’ll send you guys, in 2017, on the idea of third world radicalism as connected with like a proto-neoliberal turn in Black politics. Because what happened in the ’60s was that radicals, in identifying with movements for national independence and decolonization elsewhere, took on the sort of radical rhetoric of those movements. I mean, I was there, I did it. I had a subscription to Tricontinental Monthly and Weekly and Quarterly. And this is when we get the appearance of the notion of a domestic colonialist. Which, interestingly for your audience, perhaps, Kamala Harris’s father wrote one of the most devastating critiques of back in the day.

But so, what happens? People talk a lot about reading but they never really read past the first chapter of Wretched of the Earth, and they just got all excited about the Black Skin, White Masks stuff, and often they didn’t even read past Sartre’s preface to Wretched of the Earth. So, they didn’t get to the part about the pitfalls of national consciousness.

So, through Black Power, yes, there was a lot of expressive politics. There’s a lot of psychologistic bullshit, the same psychologistic bullshit that we see today, but it just seemed like something different then, maybe because it was newer. But the substantive politics that came out of Black Power was actually consolidation of the Black political class right after the Voting Rights Act. I mean, your ersatz homeboy, Peniel Joseph, when I read his book on Black Power I was stunned because he goes up through all of what Touré once called the costume party aspects of 1960s Black radicalism and the Black Panthers, and he does the thing about the Black Panthers. And then he jumps to hip-hop. He jumps straight to hip-hop. It was like the dumb, or the cowardly, I could call it, the Spike movie, or an ending to Spike Lee’s Malcolm X movie.

Jason Myles:         I am Malcolm X.

Adolph Reed:           Yes, right. So, Malcolm is dead, there’s a long pornographic death scene, and then it cuts to a little kid in the classroom here saying, I am Malcolm X. And then a little kid in the classroom in South Africa saying, I am Malcolm X. And all of a sudden we’re in the early 1990s and Mandela’s around and everyone’s saying, wait, so what happens in Black America between when Malcolm died and 1992 or 3 or whatever it was? It vanishes. And Peniel’s book is like that, too.

And this is the part of the problem with the scholarship as well as the commentary. So, you get to this inconvenient moment, or this moment that’s inconvenient for a standard, potted narrative about Black radicalism. So what you do is` you take off the record and you put on another album from decades later. So, how do we explain what’s happened in what’s generally understood to be Black politics since 1965 from that framework? And what happened to radical Black Power then? Did the COINTELPRO kill everybody? Or did the Ford Foundation buy everybody out?

I mean those explanations don’t make any sense whatever, and especially if you start… I mean, this is the most trivial stuff in the world, and mundane, but if you think about stuff like what having a Black mayor and a Black-led city government means. It means, among other things, I think I said this on some podcast not that long ago too, that it means all the sudden it’s routine for people in Black communities and neighborhoods, homeowners, who want like a traffic light or a stop sign to go down to the Bureau of Traffic and Streets or the zoning board or the planning department or whatever and fill out an application. Where six or seven years earlier, like when I was working in North Carolina, a lot of the job was jamming city council meetings with 2-500 angry people to demand a traffic light.

I mean, that’s a significant difference. And it’s a significant difference that not only makes people’s lives better in a mundane but meaningful way, but it’s also part of a difference that shows, I guess I should say, how a new regime gets consolidated. So your Black city council member is the person who can help you do stuff like that. And that also changes the stakes of what you think of politics to be. So, from 1965 to the early ’80s at both the national level and local level in most of the country where there are significant Black populations, this transition was going on within Black politics.

It was also the case that the symbols of Black Power radicalism were so thin, commoditized, and superficial that every bullshit candidate for political office, no matter what his or her claims about the seven principles of Nguzo Saba were, could adorn himself or herself with the symbolic couture of Black Power radicalism. And then, if the sense, if the metric of fealty, or authenticity, I guess, is making claims about commitment to the community, well I mean, who’s going to say, no, I’m not committed to the community? And it was possible for the mainstream petty bourgeois politicians to monopolize that discourse and basically take that away from the Black Power nationalists.

Pascal Robert:        The question becomes, though, do you think that was because of the intentional political emptiness of the actual radical activists, whether they had been the Panthers, the Republic of New Africa? Or is it because, my ultimate analysis, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, is that even the sincerity or the actual radical nature of Black Power political activists, even if they were acting correctly in the political program, announces that they could not overcome the internal class tension and stratification that existed in Black constituencies, that would allow their program to supersede the agenda of those who are already proximate to the ruling class? And I mean, I’m not saying… Where I diverge from your analysis is that I don’t see this as a problem of those who were actors in those radical spaces, whether it be the Panthers or the consolation. What I see is that, as dedicated as they may have been to their agenda, their agenda was not capable of overpowering the reality that the class tensions of Black politics always give voice to those who are more proximate to the ruling class to do the bidding of the ruling class.

Adolph Reed:      Well, see, I don’t disagree with you on that last statement, but I’d push it a little bit, and this isn’t even pushing back. But my take on it is that they couldn’t overcome. And it’s not just that they couldn’t overcome. I mean, they didn’t even get out of the blocks, basically, against the ruling class. But that they couldn’t do it because they couldn’t or wouldn’t see the class character of the politics that they were enmeshed in. Like, I mentioned Bob Allen’s Black Awakening a while ago.

Pascal Robert:       [inaudible]

Adolph Reed:            Yeah. I mean, it’s a great book. But even at the time, if you read it, or you read it, and got to the conclusion and said, well, what’s this? The problem was that he had nothing to call for. And this also took me years, but it’s like the culture thing. But it took me a number of years to figure out why. And the problem is that the standard, or the core political norm that we, because I was in it too. I’ll put myself in. That we operated with in that period was the interest of the community, of the Black community.

Well, there is no Black community. I mean, not like that. Not that comes fully formed and whole with an interest that can be imputed or that overrides all the discrete interests that are at play. And I think this is one of the problems with notions like Black freedom struggle and stuff like that, that there’s a lack of historical specificity that leads the radicals to posit the ideal constituency at a level of abstraction that doesn’t help you connect with actual people’s actual concerns.

And this is, I think, perfectly demonstrated in how radicals moved from generic Black Power radicalism and the warrants, like putting Black faces in previously all-white places and Black economic development stuff, to construct these three different variants of what I would argue are the same ontological fantasy. That’s why it’s called an ideology. Pan-Africanism, culturalism, and the scientific socialism that the new communists embraced.

Because in each case, the move was to withdraw from – And there was a comparable thing going on in SDS too, by the way, or coming out of SDS – But to withdraw from the plane of mundane struggle where people’s lives were played out. To go into the closet, basically, or the sanctuary, and develop some abstraction called an ideology, that in each case was understood to be like an internally consistent belief system. Like a religion, basically. That’s what they all were. And the politics that was warranted from each of these ideologies was in some way apocalyptic. So, when people used to talk about shit like when the revolution comes. Well, in the first place, that’s not the way stuff works. And granted, I was the last [inaudible] so what the hell, right, because they weren’t the only ones doing it.

So, what radicals saw was… We hit the streets like moonies, basically, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or whoever the people are who go around and ring your doorbell. And by the way, it used to work back in the day, a long time ago, that when they rang your doorbell you’d just say, I’m Catholic, and they’d run away like they’d just seen Satan. But that apparently doesn’t work anymore.

But anyway. So what political action was considered to be was proselytizing the ideology, not trying to organize around concrete programs and undertakings that would make people’s lives better. And that brings us back into the thin and abstract character of the symbols of new radicalism. Like, you knew that you were a Panther because you had that beret and that jacket. You knew you were a Nationalist because you had the dashiki and a beard like Maulana Karenga, and you knew you were Pan-Africanist because you dressed like a loser.

But none of those had any concrete content. I know it felt like it to the radicals. The radicals felt that all this stuff was deeply meaningful. But only to congregants in the church and to competitors from those other two churches. And again, bourgeois politicians, both the elected type and the war on poverty type, or the rest of them, were able just to take advantage of that stuff because they had an institutional program to offer people.

So, I think, yeah. I think it’s correct that the radicals weren’t able to overcome the class character or the class forces that were shaping Black politics, but they weren’t able to overcome it because they never engaged with it. Because part of the deal was denying their existence. And see, that’s when you get constructs like, or odd notions of what class meant. It had more to do with behavioral and consumption preferences than with… And see, this takes back to the notion of racial authenticity as the basis for politics.

So I mean, I was thinking about this because the runoff elections for city council and other local posts were just completed in New Orleans yesterday and I was thinking about this reading the reports. That back in 1986 when Bill Jefferson, who later went on to hold the congressional seat from the area and who heartily earned the nickname Dollar Bill, was running for mayor against Sydney Bartholomew, one of the smudge efforts that the Jefferson campaign put out against the Bartholomew campaign was a charge that when Sydney was a young man in the ’60s he often passed for white to get into upscale clubs in the French Quarter. Which would have had nothing to do with anything except to the extent that racial authenticity was like a shadow for whatever other issues would have separated the two candidates.

So, yeah, I mean, to make a long story short, again, I agree, Pascal, with your assessment, but I think the deeper problem is that they failed because they didn’t even try. Because they wouldn’t or couldn’t perceive that there were class wars because everything was reduced to the question of authenticity.

Pascal Robert:         Do you think that part of the reason why they didn’t even try, or didn’t, is because part of the way in which notions of Black collective community coming out of whatever you call Black nationalism or whatever has rendered the capacity to do something I think is necessary, internal class warfare, something impossible to even Black radicals? And I’m not talking about mau-mauing Jack and Jill or the [blue wave]. I’m not talking about that reductionist… I’m talking about literally making it clear to the Black working class that there are class enemies within the Black community who basically will use race as a means to function not to your interests?

Adolph Reed:         Well, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, that’s got to be part of it. And I mean, there are tactical questions about how best to go about it. I mean, it’s important though to avoid what seems to be the shortcut, which is to characterize the class enemies as enemies of the race, because that’s not what’s going on. But the class enemies are configurations that are linked to the class forces that are exploiting you and who belong to social groupings that come together around perspectives on the world and material interests that not only aren’t the same as yours, but are inimical to yours, to the extent that they want to represent themselves and their stratum as the legitimate, or as the voice of Black people’s interests.

I just had an image of Joann Reed putting her hands over her ears, screaming, after those polls showed that Black voters showed higher racial support for Bernie Sanders than anybody else, while she’s trying to hold down the position that Bernie’s not speaking to Black people’s concerns because Black people want a reckoning, whatever the hell a reckoning is. Is that a new fried chicken? Or… Shout out to Jerry Rice.

Jason Myles:         That was your first time seeing that picture of Jerry Rice, wasn’t it?

Adolph Reed:        Sure was, man, and I’m scarred for life. I mean, thank God it’s only going to be for so much longer, but still, the rest of the way I’m going to have that picture. But then now I compare it to Megan Thee Stallion being the Popeyes…

Jason Myles:       She’s got her own sauce.

Adolph Reed:           Being the Popeyes spokesman for Black people, and thinking, so, can we bring that sister back? Because I think it’s like a downgrade. Much shit as I talk about her, it was like a downgrade from her to Megan Thee Stallion.

Jason Myles:          Look, for those of you…

Adolph Reed:       Megan Thee Stallion selling you fried chicken just suggests you should be eating it on the corner at 3:00 in the morning.

Jason Myles:            For those that don’t know, there is a picture of Jerry Rice that I used as a backdrop for the show and I didn’t tell Adolph. So, when he comes on, he sees it. The first thing you see is Jerry Rice with a football helmet on, but the face mask is a regular face mask, but on the face mask is a piece of chicken, is a chicken leg, so he can eat the chicken as he plays football. And it’s a Popeyes chicken helmet and it was a commercial for Popeyes. It was not like some sort of fake internet meme. It actually was a commercial for Popeyes that Jerry Rice did.

Adolph Reed:          So, did they show that outside the Bay Area or was this just a part of trying to sell Popeyes as part of…

Jason Myles:            It was an ad he did, I forgot what the special chicken was, and then it was a print ad as well. So, that’s actually a screenshot from the print ad. And it’s one of those things that you look at it and you’re like maybe he didn’t know what he was getting into when he agreed to do the commercial, but once they handed him the fried chicken helmet he would have been like, eh, this?

Adolph Reed:       Yeah, I hear you, man. I’ve always argued that Ray Charles was neither [inaudible] or at the Republican convention. That his handlers lied and told him that he had gone to play the Sun City Club, which he was supposed to boycott, and they told him that he was at the Democratic Convention, because I would just not accept that about Ray Charles at that point.

Jason Myles:          He wouldn’t have known. And at that point I’m sure he probably didn’t care.

Adolph Reed:          Right.

Jason Myles:              Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.

Adolph Reed:              Hey, no, thanks for having me, man. It’s gratifying and invigorating as always. I look forward to doing it again.

Jason Myles:           Well, we didn’t even get a chance to really take the deep dive into gentrification that Pascal and I definitely want to do, and we didn’t even get a chance to ask all the interrogative questions that Pascal had ready for you. So, we’re going to have to bring you back again.

Adolph Reed:            Okay, well, I look forward to picking it up. Yeah, I’ll be glad to do it, guys. Just let me know.

Jason Myles:             And if you guys want to see more programming like this on The Real News, there’s one way to do it.

Adolph Reed:        That’s a big upgrade to The Real News, I might add.

Jason Myles:          Oh, that’s fine.

Pascal Robert:         Thank you.

Leave a comment