Bruin Alumni Association
UCLA in Black and White:
Radicalism in the African-American Studies Department

Chapter 1 - Joining the Multi-Cult

Chapter 2 - More of the Same (Radicalism)

Chapter 3 - This Is Academics?

Chapter 4 - A Shallow Academic Pool

Chapter 5 - The Dynamic Duo

UCLA in Black and White
Radicalism in the African-American Studies Department

Chapter 4
A Shallow Academic Pool

    African American Politics is in truth anything but a one-way street.  While Democrat registrations still predominate, religious conservatism in the black community drives a strongly Republican streak in a mostly liberal population.  But not to hear UCLA tell it.

    Like so many other classes, the radicalism of the Winter 2005 course “African American Politics” infects the Political Science department by cross-listing.  In this class’ examination of affirmative action, the philosophy of ‘teaching for social change’ seems to have strong root.  Not one to use a rubber mallet when he could overdo it with a sledgehammer, Professor Antonio Brown provides a startlingly one-sided view of affirmative action, assigning Nathan Glazer’s “A Case for Racial Preferences,” along with three other articles.  Not one of the selections offers the faintest suggestion of opposition.  Rounding out his one-sided argument, Professor Brown helpfully suggests reading the affirmative action apologia “Shape of the River.”  The book, cited endlessly by defenders of preference for its quasi-scientific character, purports to show that affirmative action does no harm to whites, while simultaneously lifting up deserving minorities – who were not one bit less qualified, they’ll have you know!  No Ward Connerly, no Dinesh D’Souza, no David Horowitz, no National Review articles…sounds like just another fair and balanced examination of racial issues at UCLA.

    Professor J.C. Djedje’s “The African-American Musical Heritage,” is another of the innumerable music and film classes that comprise the shallow academic wading pool of African American Studies.   And, as with every other African American music class, the professors insists on straining credulity by placing the violence and misogyny of rap into an academic context, here, the article, “Kickin’ Reality, Kickin’ Ballistics: Gangsta Rap and Postindustrial Los Angeles” from the collection
Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture.[1]  Unfortunately, African-American academics have taken the fact that the music form happened to have originated with African-American musicians as sufficient justification for its academic study.

    Professor Scot Brown’s “Introduction to Afro-American History,” cross-listed with the History department, presents the works of two well-known radicals.[2]  “Propaganda as History,” by John Hope Franklin, features the thoughts of the Duke professor emeritus  who has been at the vocal forefront of the reparations movement.  Franklin went so far as to attack David Horowitz, and the anti-reparations advertisement Horowitz placed in the Duke Chronicle in 2001.  Franklin made the radical contention that “Most living Americans do have a connection with slavery,” and that “All whites and no slaves benefited from American slavery.”[3]

    The course also features, as do other UCLA African American Studies courses, the works of long-time Communist Party member Paul Robeson.  Robeson is idolized by, among others, the infamous long-time radical Columbia professor Eric Foner.  Foner, at the 2001 Columbia teach-in that saw Professor Nicholas De Genova call for “a thousand Mogadishus,” recalled Robeson’s declaration: “The patriot is the person who is never satisfied with his country.”[4]  Dissatisfied with America as he might have, Robeson was notably satisfied to receive a Stalin Peace Prize in 1952 from the dictator himself, and a Peace Medal from Communist East Germany.  Professor Brown proudly includes a selection from Robeson’s self-justifying autobiography, “Here I Stand.”

    Professor Kyeyoung Park offers her addition to the African American Studies rolls with her class “Race and Racism” (which for good measure is cross-listed with Anthropology and Asian American Studies).  The same small group of pseudoscholars in the field of “whiteness studies” are trotted out: Brodkin, Roediger, Winant, and Riggs.  Park admits that race is a “historically constituted, socially constructed, and politically contested process,” yet in the same breath complains that “the consequent denial of the existence of race has been used to justify cutting various social programs.”  Park’s words are a coded complaint about the horrors which political radicals have confronted in recent years – means-testing and time limitations on welfare, a developing state-by-state battle to end affirmative action and other “reactionary” events.[5]

    Park hoists herself on her own petard – admitting that race is an invention, but remaining reluctant to abandon it and the benefits that being an “oppressed” minority now confer.  What’s a good leftist to do?

    The answer, so it would seem, is to avoid the question.  Thus, all the readings in this African-American class are about white racial identity – giving the inadvertent appearance that blacks are only able to define themselves through opposition with the prevailing white standard.  In the course, the dead horse of “whiteness” is flogged plentifully, with articles like “The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control,” “The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class,” “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,” “Establishing the Fact of Whiteness,” “Whiteness and Americanness: Examining Constructions of Race, Culture, and Nation in White Women’s Life Narratives,” and “Racial Faultlines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California.”

    This being a UCLA African American studies class, there are several requirements:

    * A selection from bell hooks, here, “Reflections on Race and Sex”

    * An obligatory examination of homosexuals: “‘Claiming’ and ‘Speaking’ Who We Are: Black Gays and Lesbians, Racial Politics, and the Million Man March.”

    * Assignment of the professor’s own work. Park includes in Week 10’s segment, “Race and Resistance: 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest” his essays, “Confronting the Liquor Industry in Los Angeles,” and “South Central Aftermath: Black and Latin Commentaries on Koreans.”

    * Apologia for the Los Angeles riots, described in Park’s title as an “unrest,” and put in scare quotes in the title of fellow UCLA Professor Darnell Hunt’s work “Screening the Los Angeles “Riots”: Race, Seeing and Resistance.”  It is typical Leftist Orwellian redefinition to call riots “unrest.”  Unrest is solved with Unisom; riots are solved with the National Guard.[6]






[6] Ibid.