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On The Black Commentator site, a Canadian woman progressive posted an email exhorting the publishers of BC to expand their target audience. I thought this was a good idea and believed that the publishers, if they published the letter, were at least willing to entertain the idea. I was incorrect.

At first I thought I was being stung because someone assumed I was morally arrogant. Well, I still think I was wrongly viewed for arrogance but Iím now trying harder to understand other activistsí viewpoints more deeply.

Anybody wanna help? Especially African Americans, I would benefit from your viewpoints.

========================================================================

----- Original Message -----
From: "JH Furnish" To: Sent: Monday, October 27, 2003 8:22 PM
Subject: on speaking to everybody/broader focus


"As an Anglo Canadian, living in the USA, I ask you to broaden your
target audience. My feeling is that the African American population is the
canary in the mine of the economy. Look to that community for what is
happening because their economic well being is most at risk, so the trends are
magnified. But this message must be spread to everyone, we are all at
risk. All boats should rise together, and we will all drown together
too."

This is absolutely correct. The struggle of African Americans against
Capital, from slavery through Jim Crow to Now, is inextricably
integral to any successful evolvement of Civil Rights, anywhere, but especially in America. The Black Commentator needs to open up its focus to the whole
working class, to everyone who is truly a progressive thinker and not
a 'limousine liberal' ala Bill Clinton.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, in my estimation, largely
because he was a teacher of the entire American Nation and the world. Malcom
X became truly dangerous after he went to Mecca and forgot his own
racism, and then the US Government tolerated his killing. The Black Panthers
and other Black civil rights fighters were destroyed by COINTELPRO (the
FBI) because they were part of a motive power in the Civil Rights movement
that progressive white people were giving credibility, as was the American
Indian Movement.

Open up the focus: start to speaking directly to all true
progressives. Share some notes, for example, with the Kucinich people and they can help you do that.

The whole Working Class needs to hear all the things you say here,
including on such broad topics as the illegal war and the illegitimacy
of Bush the Pirate, but especially on the inhumanity of racism.

JH Furnish
Philadelphia, PA


From: "Glen Ford - The Black Commentator" To: "JH Furnish" Sent: Monday, October 27, 2003 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: on speaking to everybody/broader focus


Mr. Furnish:

We are already "open" enough. This is a BLACK publication. Our core
audience is African American, plus those whites who work directly with issues
affecting African Americans. This secondary audience will not be allowed
to dominate the conversation, nor should they want to.

Do not presume to tell us how to position our magazine. You don't have
that privilege.

Glen Ford, Co-publisher
www.BlackCommentator.com


From: "JH Furnish"
To: "Glen Ford - The Black Commentator"
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2003 8:48 PM
Subject: Re: on speaking to everybody/broader focus


I apologize. I do not desire to have anyone 'dominate' the focus of the
discourse, just to expand the reach.

I teach African American children and am dignified to do so. I'm not the
enemy, nor someone who wants to create distractions.

Thus by your description, I'm in your core audience. I did not mean to presume the privilege of telling you how to do things. A suggestion is a suggestion.

But if you took it as presumption, again, I apologize.

I can only wonder what you said to the Canadian reader before you
published her note. Her idea sounded very good and I wanted to lend her some voice.

I regret that you misinterpreted that. Why you decided that I was trying to damage or cloud the focus of your publication, I don't understand.

You also misunderstood another previous communication of mine; I had
noted that many African Americans with whom I speak about the left seem very
skittish about getting involved with it, making them difficult to
communicate with about getting more radical. I asked you for advice and
on that occasion, too, you seemed to take offense.

I shall continue to endeavor to spread the word about bc but shall
hereafter keep my mouth shut, which is what you seem to desire in my case.

I do hope you'll do something on the US Army's horrid mistreatment of Ms.
Jackson (former POW), which is why I passed along that news article as I'm
sure others did.

Peace out, as my students say.

JH Furnish


Dear Mr. Furnish:

The Black people you talked to don't want advice from white people about
their condition and the way out of it. They do, however, welcome those who
will fight the enemy. BC is NOT everybody's magazine. It is open to
non-Blacks, but it is a Black publication. To appear to be "everybody's"
publication would destroy it. That's why we have no patience for those who
try to reposition us. We know what we are doing.

Glen Ford, Co-publisher
www.BlackCommentator.com

=====================================================================

So, Lit.Org folks, while I have always thought that I have been a well-meaning servant of the African-American community and the Working Class, apparently I overstep my bounds in ways that I cannot predict.

How can I avoid the semantic traps that foiled my activist strategy and intentions? What is it exactly that Iím doing when I make presuppositions about the thought processes of the people I want to help? I have studied African American culture as closely as I could for many years, and have thought that I was as close to understanding how African Americans think as any other Caucasian of my background.

Tell me what you think.

Thanks.




------
The Alienist
jhfurnish@yahoo.com


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Comments

The following comments are for "Here's an interesting discourse."
by The Alienist

...
Unfortunately, some (not all) Black Americans have been growing extremely separatist these last few years, out of their own 'protection'. Some of these folks, like other ethnicities, don't realize the danger of this. I see in in my own people as well, and I'm growing very upset with it. People are so wrapped up in their little wars and battles that they don't realize they're loosing.

Yes, there are battles worth fighting in the world, and almost none of them are being fought properly.

If people don't start getting together, loving and caring-like, well...I fear for the next generation.

( Posted by: Vember Judgement [Member] On: October 28, 2003 )





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