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 5

The Dynamic Duo

    Rounding out the selection of African American Studies classes for the Spring 2005 catalog is “Non-Violence and Social Movements,” co-taught by two of the most usual of all usual suspects: anti-war radical and dyed-red laborista Kent Wong, and one-time Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. crony Reverend James Lawson.[1]


      The class’s main philosophy, and operating assumption, is that nothing is accomplished by violence.  Lawson’s view is understandable, given that the defining moment of his life was his leadership of the successful Nashville, Tennessee lunch-counter sit-in movement.  But Lawson’s success has warped his view of the world, and convinced him that, as the Daily Bruin summarizes his views, “Violence is effective in creating a change of power, but does not create lasting social change.”[2]    The sit-in was right for the time and place – but did not constitute, as Lawson seems to think, a new paradigm for all human relations.  Any level-headed look at the very warlike, very successful example of World War II will show that sometimes, the best choice is to meet force with force.  

Part and parcel of Lawson’s radically inflated self-perception are his and Wong’s radical scholarship.  Mandatory reading for their class features Wong’s own work “Teaching for Change: Popular Education and the Labor Movement,” published by Wong’s Center for Labor Research and Education.  The very title, “Teaching for Change,” is epitomized in Wong’s dogmatic lectures with titles like “Nonviolence and the War in Iraq; The War at Home: Attacks on Civil Liberties.”  With all the room for dissent that is breathed into a lecture topic like that, the subpoints outlined in the syllabus, like “Why are we waging War in Iraq?” and “Selective Repression” become far more understandable. 

    Just as biased is the syllabus’ list of possible final paper topics, including “The Peace Movement and the War in Iraq,” “The United Farm Workers Movement,” “The Living Wage Movement,” “Homeland Security and the Attacks on Civil Liberties,” “Student Anti-Sweatshop Movement,” “Affirmative Action,” and “Student Movement for Ethnic Studies.”  It need not be spelled out that, from a grading basis, arguing against any of those concepts, other than Homeland Security, would not be advisable.  To paraphrase the course description from the infamous Berkeley class “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance,” conservative thinkers would be advised to seek other sections.  And, if you’re not in agreement with the radical precepts governing UCLA’s African-American Studies, or any other multi-culti major, you’d do best to simply move out of the department altogether.