In this month’s appearance on the Marc Steiner Show, I discussed cultural nationalism with Jerome Scott, Founder and member of Project South: The Institute for the elimination of Poverty and Genocide.
Since we discussed Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X in May, Marc and I have been having a running discussion about black nationalism. I believe that given historical and contemporary hyper segregation (that is, people are segregated by race and class), that cultural work offers us the best opportunity to create spaces that enable people to organize and create new ways of living. Simply reacting against classism or racism won’t work. Now I’m not talking about a top-down dynamic–where someone comes down from on high and gives us “African principles” to live by. And along those lines I’m not talking about going back to Africa at all–even though I came of age studying Ancient Egypt. Finally, as should be clear in my book, I don’t believe any form of black culture (popular or otherwise) is inherently “revolutionary.” PEOPLE are revolutionary, or rather can become revolutionary. The question is how? And the other question is to what end?
The discussion is worth listening to. Particularly because Jerome and I have similar backgrounds–he’s from Detroit and probably around the same age as my father–the discussion was really really rich. I think Marc believed there would be more intellectual tension between the two of us than there actually ended up being.