Neoliberalism and the rise of the Black bourgeoisie

In the 1970s and ‘80s, the image of the Black “welfare queen” was used as a racist scare tactic and a propaganda tool to justify gutting the postwar welfare state, “public good” institutions, and economic programs that benefited the poor and working class. This systemic and systematic assault, which we now attribute to the political project of neoliberalism, was very much a bipartisan effort that extended well into the ‘90s and 2000s. Now, scaremongering about single mothers of color taking advantage of “the system” has increasingly been overtaken by celebrations of “Black girl magic” and the veneration of a growing Black bourgeoisie. How did we get here?

In their latest interview for TRNN, co-hosts of THIS IS REVOLUTION Jason Myles and Pascal Robert speak with Dr. Joy James about the destructive triumph of neoliberalism in the US and about the different institutions, classes, ideological strands, and clashing factions that have developed within the sphere of Black politics in the neoliberal era. Dr. James is a world-renowned scholar and activist, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Humanities at Williams College, and the author of numerous books, including: Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in US CultureStates of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons; and Seeking the Beloved Community: A Feminist Race Reader.

Pre-Production/Studio: Jason Myles
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


TRANSCRIPT

Jason Myles:     Hello everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of THIS IS REVOLUTION in conjunction with The Real News Network. If you are enjoying what we are doing here on The Real News and you want to see more of it, the best thing to do is definitely hit like, definitely hit subscribe. Don’t forget to hit the bell so you are alerted every time The Real News drops these videos. Also, if you like what Pascal and I do, please go on over to thisisrevolutionpodcast.com or youtube.com/thisisrevolutionpodcast and subscribe to our channel. As we do interviews like this Tuesday through Thursday, 6:00 PM Pacific Time, and Saturday morning for me, 9:00 AM Pacific Time.

That being said, let me bring in my co-host, my homie, my dawg. He is the man of the mau-mau hour, journalist writer for Newsweek. He is the Pascal Robert [applause].

Pascal Robert: Peace and greetings to the audience, peace and greetings to The Real News Network, peace and greetings Jason Miles.

Jason Myles:        What’s up man? You know what? I wore a tie for the occasion, and it is the only tie that I have.

Pascal Robert:    It’s okay. I can’t see it because your microphone is covering it.

Jason Myles:       Damn it. I spent all that time making sure that this was tied perfectly and you can’t even see it. Well, at some point during the show – You won’t notice it because I can take myself off screen – I’m going to make that microphone adjustment so you guys can see the work that went into not just the tie, but fitting into the shirt.

Pascal Robert:  Good to know.

Jason Myles:            We have a very good guest today that we’re talking to. We hit you guys first with Adolph Reed, then we came back with Chris Hedges. Then we had the Yanis Varoufakis show, and today who do we have, Pascal?

Pascal Robert:    We have Professor Joy James [applause].

Jason Myles:   Yes, we do. In the ’80s, the creation of the Black welfare queen was used as a scare tactic, a tool to gut public goods programs that benefited the poor and working class. Bill Clinton, who was sold to the American people as a savior from 12 years of neoliberal rule in the form of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Clinton doubled down on the right’s assault against public goods governance with the omnibus crime bill in ’94 and poverty increasing welfare reform in 1996. What we call here at THIS IS REVOLUTION the 50-plus-year counterrevolution against the New Deal and the Great Society programs.

How have we gone from the racist images of single mothers of color living fat off the system to Black girl magic and a growing Black bourgeoisie? Has the Nixonian ideal of Black capitalism finally replaced underclass ideology as a tool of containment for the ruling class? We’re going to discuss this with Dr. Joy James. Dr. James is a renowned scholar of American political philosophy. Her work analyzes the way race, gender, and class are rendered in American society. Today, in the face of the current Supreme court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was appointed by an administration holding the first Black US vice president Kamala Harris, who will discuss race, gender, and class in the current American context. Please welcome Dr. Joy James [applause].

Joy James:       I received applause twice. So thank you for that [Jason laughs]. That rarely happens, like once is rare. And maybe there’s a metaphor here in terms of what we’re talking about in terms of the rise of Black women through empire. You have the 1980s with Ronald Reagan. The two-term president who would have… I’m sorry. I wasn’t prepared for all this. But I was thinking the two terms of Ronald Reagan come after two terms of Richard Nixon who has incredible racial animus against Black people as well. So Nixon is, what, ’68 is the election, ’72, should have been ’76, but there’s the impeachment. You have four years of Jimmy Carter who comes from the South, and it looks like the same with Bill Clinton. Like I’m used to being around Black people so I know how to talk to them and deal with them, et cetera, et cetera.

But you still have no sustained gains where wealth becomes shared among the working class and the poor, but there are these opportunities to enter into government. I think Nixon would’ve been one of the first because of his position on affirmative action. So the larger context is that you have these movements, you have the Civil Rights Movement, you have the Black Power movement, you have the feminist movement, you have the antiwar movements. This is galvanizing tens of thousands of people, not just in the US, but also across the globe in order to critique the US as a racist imperial project.

So that these presidencies that come in, that follow this, it’s to tamp down that desire for struggle. Also I would argue in some ways they have the capacity to tamp down the skills for struggle. That once you start hiring Black people, once Black people in white corporations or firms or in the government itself, in the academy, which is where I’ve worked for the last two, three decades, that once you start to absorb Blacks into the structures, then we become part of the infrastructure of the state itself.

That project, obviously, wasn’t just a personal pet project of Nixon or of Reagan, again, a four year little gap here with Jimmy Carter, or other presidents that followed including the disastrous presidency of George H. W. Bush, who got us into a bogus war in the Middle East. But it’s also the product or the project of Barack Obama, who I see as the first Black president, but also is the first Black imperial president. So the question of all these presidencies, or this legacy of the executive office, is to maintain the state and to allow it to expand and to accrue.

We know that for centuries, accumulations have come out of our labor and out of our loss. I think the question that we’re going to tangle with today has been split into a kind of different gender formations where we no longer have the type of solidarity we used to in the 1960s in terms of identifying an opponent and being willing to move against it.

Jason Myles:       Well, I want to ask this about what you mentioned about the Black introduction into government roles. This is even shown in pop culture of the time. I can’t remember the name of the movie with Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones.

Pascal Robert:       Oh, that’s a very important movie. Claudine.

Jason Myles:         Claudine. Where it actually gets not that deep into the weeds of you can’t have a man in your home. There were people that worked to get the men out of the homes. That’s part of that story where they’re hiding James Earl Jones’s underwear or something like that in one of the scenes.

Pascal Robert:   Very Moynihan

Jason Myles:         Very, very, very Moynihan-esque. But let’s remember that these programs were born out of not wanting even women to work when they were rolled out in the ’30s. That’s what a lot of that was for. I can’t remember the original name of welfare, but it was designed for non working females. This is an era where… go ahead.

Joy James:       It was designed for white women. Particularly white women who were widows.

Pascal Robert:    Correct.

Joy James:    So the whole notion of the family is a white project and a white supremacist nation. I mean, if the nation was born out of genocide and enslavement, then part of what it disposes or tries to kill is the very notion of family cohesion and community cohesion in Indigenous and Black communities or nations. So this is where it becomes really complicated for me when I try to see what the fulcrum is like on this seesaw, how do you balance this? The nation really works for white women, but to some extent it had to include Black women within the category of human. To some extent.

Jason Myles:  Well, what are you saying when people… I’m sorry.

Joy James:              Sorry, go ahead.

Jason Myles:           No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Joy James:                Well, if you were performing the duties of the state, like you can entertain them, but as Eartha Kitt found out in the Johnson administration, once she came out against the war in Vietnam and confronted Lady Bird, the first lady Johnson’s wife, I mean, according to some scholars, president Lyndon Baines Johnson, who supported civil rights, gave the pen to King signing voting rights, Civil Rights Act etc. He used the CIA to destroy Eartha Kitt’s career

Jason Myles:      Destroyed her career.

Joy James:          You’re told if you can entertain and sing for us or dance for us, or we like that movie, or historically, you nurse our kids literally on your breast, if you can reproduce our family integrity, you are tolerable. If you seek agency autonomy for civil rights and human rights, you’re a pain in the neck and maybe you should disappear in whatever way. Lose your job, lose your housing, lose your freedom, go to prison, or like Malcolm and Martin, lose your lives.

Jason Myles:      I just want to add to that, as those original aid packages were being rolled out, as the New Deal was getting rolled out, I think 1935, divorced women could not get it. Non-widowed women with children couldn’t get it. So there definitely were caveats on who could get aid and who could not get aid. But what I wanted to add with your very, very astute point about adding Black people into the government apparatus is when these people were part of the system, so to speak, there was a unified voting bloc with the people that were a part of the system receiving the aid and now the people that have moved up into a new middle class. We definitely see this in the early ’70s that are part of the same system. So they’re voting in unison to keep these programs.

You definitely see this in the more major metropolitan Northern cities. When you look at a place like Atlanta, when they have their first Black mayor in Maynard Jackson, one thing he does is increase the business sector. You turn Atlanta, Coca-Cola, the massive airport which becomes a hub. Private capital is now hoisting the same Black people into the middle class. They’re not so aligned with their poor and working-class Black neighbors. I believe towards the end of the Jackson administration we actually see the destruction of a lot of the housing. What would we call it? Government housing in Atlanta as well. So there’s an interesting juxtaposition when we talk about including Black people into the government apparatus. Trying to protect the system, if you will. Then also when you have private capital and there’s the demarcating line, almost, of class.

Joy James:        This has become a practical or pragmatic aspect. That once you’re included into an apparatus or structure, then the logic would be that you would protect it. So once you have Black people protecting state accumulations, corporate accumulations, those who are left behind are just seen as even more deficient. I mean, this is part of the reason I avoid the language that we’ve inherited today about, it’s not just Black Girl Magic, but Black excellence. As if that everybody else is mediocre or substandard, which is so aligned with the language of white supremacy. How do you know you’re excellent? Is it because you got the corporate job or you got the degree, or JD, PhD, whatever, how many doctorates or whatever is happening here.

But the larger picture is this is a capitalist society that was built on slavery, rape, and genocide, and that the accumulations always accrue to the top. So if you are ethical, you would want to tinker with that machinery and not just be seduced by all the, what’s the glittery? Well, the glittery could be a Tesla. Back in the day it might have been a Cadillac or something. I don’t know. But I think what are the questions we have to think about is what is our collective position on something that looks like a mixed economy or a socialist economy? So how do we stop these buyouts that turn those who remain in certain zip codes as disposable or vulnerable to poisoned water. Think of Flint, Michigan. Poisoned air, disproportionate exposure to police violence and civilian violence.

Pascal Robert:      Well, what I really appreciate in your discourse is that it’s very much in alignment with the narrative that we try to expose on our show is that, like any other people, Black people have class, internal stratifications, and conflicts like everyone else. Unfortunately, because of the way in which society portrays Black life as a unified underclass phenomenon, these stratifications of class, which has been a reality of Black life going back to the days of free people of color societies, is completely obscured to the majority of not only Americans overall, but also to many Black folk in America as well, who are not necessarily connected to those within these communities who are more proximate to capitalist power or the gatekeepers or the racial ventriloquists, if you will.

So the narrative that you are very eloquently exposing is very much in line with what we try to do in terms of trying to complicate the notion of collective community. In other words, and you may disagree with this, and I respect you if you do, is that it’s very important for us to complicate the notion that Black people work as a unified community. Because our argument is that that renders Black people to a politics of containment. In other words, Black politics is contained and used as a pawn of the ruling class because the ruling class will choose the racial ventriloquist who speaks for the masses, undemocratically chosen, while the masses have no say in the agenda and they’re moved like a piece on a chess board. So Black politics becomes a politics of containment in the rendering of collective community in that fashion. It’s something that we on our show try to challenge effectively. I like to make the argument that there are multiple Black communities, not just one Black community, if you will. I like to [crosstalk].

Joy James:       No, that’s great. It’s making me thinking there are multiple Black feminisms in the plural, not just one form of Black feminism. That should also be stated for abolitionisms, plural, not just one form of abolitionism. But I totally agree with your analysis. Then when you’re speaking, I’m starting to think about how we were warned about this. When Malcolm was talking about the big house in the field. So the big house today could be Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, working for the state department and its foreign projects are working for the DOJ.

So there was a moment in the 1990s, I think it’s 1993 or ’94, when Kathleen Cleaver was the first woman to sit on the Central Committee of the Black Panther Party. This is Oakland before things went one way and Cleaver left and the party fractionated, in part because of the violence of the COINTELPRO, but also the contradictions and the violence. Which, based on my assessment, largely started coming or originated from Oakland. But Cleaver says in this interview, and for me it’s very curious because I believe she’s being interviewed by Henry Louis Gates, who’s obviously in the big house called Harvard. So Cleaver is saying that the Panthers had to pretend they were a unified front in terms of as Black people, because that had to be projected out, so they thought, as a political strategy. But they clearly knew that the Black middle class, the petty bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie Blacks with means and money and ambition, that they were going to be hostile to the Black Panther Party as a revolutionary or proto revolutionary formation.

But it wasn’t even an internal conflict, but also they would be hostile to supporting liberation movements in the so-called third world or global South. So there’s always been a sector of the Black communities, as you’ve said, in plural, that have been trained or prone or see it as an opportunistic portfolio, whatever, to work for the state and to work for the corporation. It doesn’t seem to have been really – And impacted people that working in these zones would be an extension of anti-Black violence, but this time with Black faces. I’ve got to plug in my…

Jason Myles:    Oh, no. Pascal, do you want to add onto that?

Pascal Robert:    No, I appreciate that assessment. One of the things that we definitely see is with the rise of this incorporation is that the more that becomes this incorporation into the apparatus of the ruling class by what we call the Black political class over time, the more and more the importance of symbolic representation becomes the focus of what is deemed Black political aspiration, and the less redistributive policy of trying to change the material condition of poor and working-class Black people becomes the focus. So much to the point where – I’m reading, actually, a book on Black political history – Was, cynically, the Democratic Party recognizes in the 1980s that they literally can offer Black people the symbolic representation of appointments and political candidates instead of actual policy that changes the material condition of poor and working-class Black people. What we find is the further and further we get away from the Civil Rights Movement, the easier we find that Black communities, plural, are intoxicated with that politics of symbolism and less willing to demand any kind of truly redistributive materialist agenda for working-class and poor Black folk, who are the majority of Black folk.

Jason Myles:       Would you add to that that there’s something to be said about the Civil Rights Movement really pivoting away from getting the communist and socialists out of the movement and really having the movement be about inclusion? As opposed to… [crosstalk]

Pascal Robert:         Well, it’s a very good addendum to the point, because if we read Preston Smith’s about racial democracy in Chicago, and he talks about how part of the problem of the Civil Rights Movement is that the limitations of the Cold War deny the capacity of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement to really put forth a materialist pro working class agenda. As a consequence, they focus on what he uses the term as racial democracy or racial inclusion. What his argument is is that whenever there’s a policy or politics, of Black politics, that is premised on racial democracy, it basically becomes a wealth transfer to the Black petty bourgeoisie or the Black professional managerial class or the Black elites. Because there’s no redistributive agenda in racial democracy. Because racial democracy can mean that we literally have a ruling class that is 14% Black, 60% white, and 18% Latino, and now that’s democracy and everyone else can basically be either a slave or a surf or a tenant farmer.

That it doesn’t make a difference because as long as they’re proportionally represented in every level. What he’s arguing is that what was needed was social democracy, which was a redistributive materialist agenda that would have changed the actual material condition of poor and working-class Black people’s lives instead of just simply asking for racial inclusion. And even Dr. King and Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph in 1965, they realized that the traditional Civil Rights Movement is not going to do what is necessary to change the condition of working-class Black people’s lives. That’s why they asked for the Freedom Budget for All in 1965, which the Vietnam War denies the ability to really fund it.

Jason Myles:  Well, Dr. James is back. She was having some technical difficulties. Should we start hitting her with the real questions now?

Pascal Robert:     I know we can just go into light.

Joy James:            Sorry, my phone is overheating or something. So I’m back online here. So you don’t have my… [crosstalk] I thought what you just said was pretty real, but what’s more real than that?

Jason Myles:     Oh, those were the warm up questions.

Pascal Robert:       So Professor James, in preparation for this show, we acquired your book, Transcending the Talented Tenth: [Black] leaders and American Intellectualism. As we said earlier, one of the persistent themes that we have on our show is the way class stratification amongst Blacks facilitates a Black political class that works as racial ventriloquists for the majority of working-class and poor Blacks in exchange for their economic patronage and enrichment from the ruling class, largely to the detriment of the Black masses. Where do you see the contemporary Black academic and Black academics in general in this particular hierarchy? Particularly with the rise of the Obama and the post Obama Black political class, are Black academics more likely to challenge this class hierarchy or reify it?

Joy James:          Thank you for that. Howard University professors I believe are on strike right now. That is about the conditions under which they labor, which means teach. But the students had gone on strike quite a while before, I think months before. It may have been as late as last year. That was about the conditions under which they lived. Mold, lack of security, I mean just substandard housing. So the faculty are paid by Howard. The students are, through tuition or grant money, are contributing funds to Howard, but Howard also is an expression of both state and corporation.

If we look at where we are today, I would say we’re just in a slog. We’re in a marsh. I mean, I can keep throwing things out like mud or something like that. I mean, there’s no solid stable ground, in my opinion, in the academy to speak with the integrity, the honesty, and just the brilliance of the people who were intellectuals in the open communities. Meaning, again, plural, Georgia, Mississippi where my mom’s from, Texas where my father’s people are from et cetera, et cetera. Because the academy is now an imposition upon intellectualism that is tied to freedom. That means its function is not to march or articulate, even, a clear agenda or strategy for curtailing an imperial racist project, also known as US democracy. There’s been so much money flooded into the academy in terms of how the administrative strata, which how many provosts do you need, et cetera, et cetera, have turned into a state or private corporation. For those of us who’ve come in decades ago, and I will include myself in it, we’ve been able to secure certain types of monetary packages with health benefits.

But the academy is also, even without a union, they’re union busting. It’s about extraction from the students, their ideas, their energy, their tuition, and extraction from faculty. Even the ones who are conservative and not really committed to social justice. So I think, if I were going to wrap this up and what I’m trying to say, don’t look to academics for answers. I wouldn’t even read their books. You have leisure time, you can afford them. Hopefully libraries have some. But we’re not trained. Even if that were their case like in the 1960s or something when there was a so-called thing as race people, and that was more legible, we’re not trained to serve Black communities. We’re trained to treat knowledge as a commodity and then put it on the shelf and hopefully get enough buyers so that it looks like our brand has some content behind it. And even I would argue, and this will get me in trouble, whatever. I would argue that even some of the writing that is about these movements, the writing, for me, sometimes it’s not imaginative. It doesn’t take risk. It doesn’t speak with the voice of the people who created the movements.

When I think about Erica Garner, for instance, transitioning at 27, leaving a seven year old and a four month old behind. I wasn’t even aware. I was living in Harlem and stuff. So I thought when I can I’ll make a donation or go to a march or something like that. But I didn’t understand her vulnerability to… Not having sufficient support or better doctors or better care or more alliances. I would say the academics could have been much more helpful. I’m not saying we could have stopped the death, but we could have been much more helpful in these movements. But what we tend to do is to write about them, package that content in between two book covers, and have book tours. I’m not saying that’s bad. That is a form of knowledge.

Jason Myles:       That is the reality and it’s a very stark one when you think about it. Because I think one of the better books, let’s just take the Eric Garner case, was not even by an academic. I think Matt Taibbi wrote one of the better books on the Eric Garner situation, really bringing broken windows policing to light for a lot of people. But all that being said, I mean, sadly too, we live in a world where a lot of this stuff is just easily digestible. And how many people are actually even reading the books?

Joy James:           So then what’s our function now? I mean, as academics, I mean, how do you see academics? You can ask me. I mean, I work there, but really you’re the core consumers. I’m supposed to be a producer, but I don’t own the company. So I’m really a worker.

Jason Myles:          Did you ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s work in late ’80s and ’90s about the professional managerial class or Catherine [inaudible] newer work on it [inaudible]?

Joy James:             Yes. Go ahead.

Jason Myles:       No, I think the academy is definitely a part of the PMC and produces more people that go into the professional managerial class.

Joy James:     But I wonder to what extent. I understand we’re a factory, we are churning out people with degrees who then become managers. I’m wondering to what extent we would own up that there’s something much more nefarious about that.

Pascal Robert:         Universities are not created to be counter-hegemonic institutions. I mean, the purpose of the university is to reify a ruling class that maintains the status quo of a functioning capitalist empire, which is the United States, or Western imperialists, or the West overall. Universities are not designed to build revolutionaries. They’re designed to create people to solve problems so that you don’t have a revolution.

Joy James:          But when you get to this moment after the movements where people want Black studies, women studies, LGBTQ studies, Chicano studies, ethnic studies, it all looks like that this is, or at least the right wing says it is, an assault on the academy. Like corruption of its core purity, which is just its white supremacy. But why do we believe, or do we believe that because now we’re writing about movements or writing about feminism or writing about fill in whatever the blank is, all the good fights. Why do we believe that this knowledge from academic sites is trustworthy?

Pascal Robert:     It’s a very, very, very good provocation you put forth. I have a better provocation than I’ve asked before, is that there was a time in which radical politics within Black spaces demanded things like Black studies or Africana studies or African American history departments. Can we evaluate the efficacy of that demand if the quality of material life of Black people is degrading as the existence of these institutions proliferate? Is it not fair to say that perhaps the utility of these institutions is counter indicative to the quality of life of Black people over time, and they’re serving a purpose other than actually helping solve the problems of Black people?

Joy James:      So they’re like a Trojan horse.

Pascal Robert:    I think that there’s logic to that argument.

Jason Myles:         I mean, commodifying education to me is also extremely frustrating. The fact that I just can’t learn something to learn it, it’s kind of a waste of time. I have to spend my money learning something to be some sort of cog in the machine of capitalism. That’s the reality for a lot of people. Now we live in a world where we are the commodity and we’re very well aware of this. People know when they go Google search something on their phone, they know that they’re going to get hit with a whole bunch of ads. Either they ignore them or they succumb to them. But no one seems to mind that they are the commodity. You can turn that commodity now yourself, you can make some money off of it. I mean, we have the rise of hustle culture and which you guys talking about the ineffectual nature of the academy, kind of one and the same.

Joy James:     Can we pose an alternative to it? Can we build an alternative to it? Like we’re doing COVID when they were having those pods? I mean, the wealthy people were having pods that were thousands of dollars to buy in. It’s like a poker game. But other people like in Brooklyn, they were just, I know you got your nieces, whatever. It’s just you start understanding that education cannot belong to the state and it cannot belong to the corporation.

As I said before, for me, there’s only two types of universities, at least the upper tiers. There are the state universities like UT, Austin, or University of California, Berkeley, whatever and then they’re the privates. The Ivy’s like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, et cetera, et cetera. Then the private colleges, whatever, which is also where I teach. So how could we create an alternative zone of intellectualism and critical thinking, knowing that the academy, as you both rightly pointed out, was never designed for that? It was designed for elites.

Even as we said in the Talented Tenth, Spelman is named after a Rockafeller, Laura Spelman, and Morehouse is named after Henry Moorehouse, who is a white missionary philanthropist. I mean, even the creation of these schools were to create a managerial elite. That’s why [crosstalk] the Tenth, it’s one tenth of y’all. Du Bois signed on to it in 1903, because he popularized the concept in The Souls of Black Folk. But then by the time the state was hunting him with McCarthyism and other stuff, he said you can’t trust this sector. Just as Kathleen Cleaver said in the 1990s, Malcolm said in the 1960s, this sector is engineered for betrayal, but it still has credibility because it has all the shiny diplomas and degrees. So how do we change the very meaning of education and wrestle it back from state and corporation?

Pascal Robert:   That’s a great question.

Jason Myles:          First and foremost, we have to start thinking collectively and not so individually.

Pascal Robert:       Well, I mean, I want to go to a basic question which is that, a step I think is even more basic than that is that we have to come to the reality that most people in America, Black or otherwise, really don’t have counter-hegemonic thinking. In other words, most people don’t organically see the system as a problem. They see the fact that they can’t participate in the system as the problem, but they don’t see the system as the problem.

Jason Myles:        Well, because we live in a country, and Pascal, I want to get you and Dr. James’s take on this. Would you say that we live in a country that is literally based off hero narratives? That one good person can get into this system, which isn’t so much corrupt as it just has bad actors? We see the judicial system that way all the time. That it’s not a flawed system as much as it is there’s just bad people inside. There’s bad judges, there’s bad prosecutors, but the system itself was built on honor. So I mean, I think breaking through that line of thinking is the really, really hard part, because it’s baked into the idea of American exceptionalism.

Pascal Robert:    Absolutely. Particularly, and Jason, you said something very, very important. When it comes to the law – I studied law, I practiced law, that’s where my academic training is in – Is that one of the most effective ways the charade of American exceptionalism is perpetuated is in the reverence of American law in the American legal system. When you challenge the efficacy of the American legal system, what you will get from people trained in it is that there’s no other system better in the world. Where else in the world do you have the protection of the rights that you have in the United States?

My response to that is that America creates the illusion of those rights because America has the luxury of extraction to create the comfort that denies the capacity of other people in the world to have that justice because it siphons off so much of the global resources to create this level of diluted comfort amongst its citizens. It’s no actual argument to say just because you are eating spam instead of dog food that you have the best meal in town. So the comparative mediocrity of justice in the Western world doesn’t make America great. It just means America is the best at masking its mediocrity because everyone else is so bad.

Joy James:            I would add to that. The mediocrity is just driven by predatory behavior. It’s like I mean, how many people could you kill? I can’t, nobody can keep count. It’s too much. I mean, it’s both on the international and the national. And you’re right, you get this weird patriotism that’s tied to consumerism, if you get to shop it must be a working democracy. What it’s doing is you’re saying extracting from other countries, other regions, other continents. I mean the Ukraine thing is horrific, but that’s not the first war we’ve ever seen.

When I think of NATO, I’m like, oh yeah, I teach Amílcar Cabral, Return to the Source. Who assassinated him? Well, Portugal and the CIA and NATO because Portugal was in NATO. So Portugal is the first country to get into African enslavement in the 1400s and it’s the last one that wants to get out in the 1970s. So I wonder if we would remember our losses, if that would stop this fetish for this democracy which is really incredibly violent. But as long as that violence doesn’t personally touch us, we seem like we can be compatible with it.

Jason Myles: You see that with the right-wing push against things like critical race theory. The idea that this law theory is being taught in public schools and it’s being deduced to, well, slavery is not going to get taught anymore. We’re not really going to say bad things about white people and damn it, we’re not even going to talk about the Civil War reconstruction anymore. That’s all “critical race theory.”

Joy James:              I wonder [crosstalk] sorry, Pascal.

Pascal Robert:   No, I mean, listen, the forces of reaction… I’ve come to a position, largely as a product of not only doing the show, but really just reading a lot of American political history, is that the notion that America is a center-left country is a canard, is a charade. America is a reactionary right-wing country and it always has been. The problem, and I see this as a significant problem of all factions of America: left, right, so on, so forth. People take the anomaly of the period between 1944 and 1971 i.e. the New Deal, the Brighton Woods period, the post World War II, the massive expansion of American largesse, the quality of middle life for white men, because it was really white men who had the jobs. To leave it to the Ozzie and Harriet narrative of the American family, the standards of what normative patriarchy is, the standards of what a normal family is.

All of these things were an exception to the normal way American capitalism functioned since its beginning. Largely to save capitalism from radicals who wanted something more revolutionary, which brought forth the New Deal. But because that period of time, particularly in 1944 to, say, 1971, is perpetuated through media as the example of America being great, let’s make America great again. No one’s talking about the Lower East Side in 1913 when they’re saying let’s make America great again. When they’re saying let’s make America great again, they’re talking about 1954 or 1952, Ozzie and Harriet.

Joy James:           But you know what? Donna Reed comes to mind too. But we were always the problem. We were always like that, America’s great. Then it’s like, something’s going on with Black people. Because we’re talking about the ’50s and what comes to mind, Pascal, when you were speaking, was what made me [inaudible] with a child corpse. Like an open casket funeral, for me, is a declaration of war against a state. Then the photos go out everywhere around the globe. So I think in some ways in relation to us, and I’m not sure, I just feel like we catch the hell the brunt. It’s not just from the cops. I mean, from everything. This is an anti-Black nation and zone, but it seems to me that they’re always looking for Black people to prop up to prove that this is not as lethal, as violent.

I mean, 1963, you put a bomb in the women’s bathroom of the church to blow up. Spike Lee did the documentary 4 Little Girls right after Martin King did the “I have a Dream.” Then the Klan is like, it’s going to be a nightmare. But I still believe in us as Black people as being the wild card. I think that’s how the state sees us as well, which is why you want a Black president, another Black Supreme Court, you want a Black cop, you want a Black mayor. You want a one of y’all to police y’all moment and to show that we’re not white supremacists to the core.

Pascal Robert:        Well, I really want to respond to that. Jason and I have an ongoing debate, and I’m going to be very honest with you. We have a problem with the trope that exists on the left that Black people are the vanguard of the revolution. I’ll tell you wh., Because it denies the fact that, number one, what makes Black people revolutionary is not the melanin in this skin, it’s the material condition under which Black people are forced to live in a capitalist society in America and in the world that renders them to surplus everywhere, stemming from chattel.

Number two, when you position Black people as the vanguard of revolution, it denies the fact that large segments of institutional mechanism in Black societies, plural, are premised on reactionary politics, ideology, and worldviews that are sexist, misogynistic, are anti-poor, pro-capitalist, abusive. Whether they be schools, universities, churches, membership societies, you name them. That can Black people be revolutionary? Absolutely. Do Black people have revolutionary capacity? Absolutely. But it’s not because of the melanin in their skin. It’s because they are ground down disproportionally and capitalism because capitalism requires an N-word and capitalism requires an N-word so that, unfortunately, white poor people don’t believe that there can be one.

Joy James:           I don’t disagree with that, but I want to trouble it or stir it in the pot. There’s nothing inherently, you’re right about our color, per se except for how people respond to it. Meaning police forces, vigilantes, white supremacists, so on and so forth. I don’t believe that all Black people would mobilize in a freedom movement because that’s not how it works. It never quite worked that way. It’s not working that way now and it won’t work that way in the future. You’re right. I mean, I appreciate your saying, like don’t project some romanticism, we have a unique role and we were anointed for whatever. But I do believe that there’s something about what we’ve accumulated in our consciousness, in our memory, that we remember. Like whatever stories your grandparents told you about Mississippi, whatever, we understand lineage and inheritance. We also understand that the future could just shift and go either way.

Not for people who are like Colin Powell. I mean he can work for Reagan and all those people and still be happy about being an… Sorry, not an admiral, a general and then ending up a secretary of state or at the UN, et cetera, et cetera. However, his true career trajectory goes after coming out of the Bronx. But there’s still other people who are political prisoners today. Other people who are young people who are just organizing, walking away from the degree and from the academy and the corporation. Disproportionately, I feel the material conditions, but also the psychological and the emotional conditions under which we live, like eight minutes to choke somebody out while he’s crying for his mother, that has an impact. That forms a consciousness.

Jason Myles:     It does, but let’s be honest about that. That ain’t affecting everybody the same way. This is where I take a little bit, I don’t want to say offense, but it hits me a little in a personal place because I grew up in… Are you familiar with the Bay Area?

Joy James:            I lived in Oakland for a short period.

Jason Myles:       I was born in Oakland and I grew up in Richmond, California. So you’re probably familiar, mildly even, with those areas. I’ve lived a bit of an economically precarious life. I don’t have felonies, but I’ve spent a long time driving without a license because I couldn’t afford car insurance and my license got suspended. Or I remember there was a time when I couldn’t pay a ticket and I was driving without a license. All told, I think I drove seven years without a license.

If I get pulled over by the cops, I’m going to get effed with. I might even get my butt kicked. Because I don’t live in a good area, I’m driving a crappy car, and I’m driving it without a license. They might want to tune me up just because they can. The prisons are filled with people that committed serious felonies, didn’t get tuned up on the way in. Cops know who to mess with and who not to mess with. I think what happens is, and this is where I get a little upset, is there becomes this, they’re getting all of us thing. It’s like, not everybody is going to face police violence the same way.

Pascal Robert:     This is a statistical fact, Professor James, off of what Jason is saying. At the exact time the rate of mass incarceration increases post civil rights – Which starts in the ’60s by the way, before the end of the movement – The mass incarceration increases for Black males, and eventually females, without a high school diploma starts to increase precipitously. The amount of carcerality or imprisonment of Black males, and eventually females, with any level of college education drops like a rock.

So what happens is that the mass incarceration, is that exclusively an issue of Blackness? It’s an issue of Black race and class, because as James Forman eloquently demonstrated in his book Locking Up Our Own, the likelihood of a college educated Black male having an interface adversely with a police officer compared to a Black male with no high school diploma, it’s like a ten to one. Even in terms of the wealth of the zip code you live in. Over $100,000 of per capita income compared to those under 30. The chances of even having a police interaction skewed. So one of the problems with the way in which we talk about we, one of the things that I don’t even like is even talking about we when we talk about Black people. I don’t want to say we. I want to say there are poor Black people and working-class people who have been ground dust and their class enemies.

Joy James:       This is really helpful because now I understand better, or will try to articulate better.

Jason Myles:         I’m not trying to be antagonistic, if I’m coming off that way.

Joy James:            No, no, no, please. I have a 13 year old, I know what antagonism looks like.

Jason Myles:         [laughs] But I don’t want to come off that way. I just kind of –

Joy James:               No, no, no. This is really helpful because you’re both right, and I’ve got to figure out how my language can be more clear. Because look, when you’re talking, I’m thinking, oh yeah. When Henry Louis Gates was arrested, the inch out of it, he’s on a beer summit on the White House lawn with Obama and Joe Biden and the white cop, and he traces the white cop’s genealogy. It’s like, oh, we might be relatives. I’m like, this makes absolutely no sense to me. Is that what happens to everybody else? It’s like, oh yeah, that was Harvard.

Kind of like Derek Bill says when he gets stopped when he’s driving. He’s got a white judge’s name. He is driving through the South. Derek Bill is the architect of critical race theory, but the radical form of critical race theory. He just talks about calling out the name of the white judge so the white cop knows that he belongs to a white person. There are segments, yes, and you’re right, Black communities in the plural who don’t care about the working class, who don’t care about the poor, who don’t care about environmental devastation or anything else. That’s not us, but then I’m trying to figure out what is the language, or should there not be us? Should it just be radical Blacks, and then what is radical?

Jason Myles:       We had a show the other day, Dr. James, on our THIS IS REVOLUTION channel that sadly YouTube did pull down, where we spoke with a man that was on the cutting edge of house music. If you’re familiar with house music, that really comes out during the mid ’80s and ’90s. In our discussion, we’re going back in the roots of house music, which is of course disco, and he had made an interesting point about how culturally disco was supposed to be the antithesis of funk in a way.

Joy James:          Oh, that makes sense.

Jason Myles:         If funk is their music, it’s ghetto. It’s not refined. When you think of a band like Chic and Nile Rogers, they are the proggy funk. They are the refined funk people. This is for an elevated class of individual here. You can see it in the way the shows looked, how different they were. So I think it is just baked in. We keep talking about how, and that’s why I’m bringing up these kinds of contradictions, because we have to understand how baked into even popular culture there is an otherizing. There’s good Black people and then there’s always the bad. There’s this disassociation. In that documentary on Deutsche Welle about the burgeoning Black bourgeoisie, it starts off with, I believe he’s the richest Black man in America, right? Pascal, that first –

Pascal Robert:     Not the, but one of.

Jason Myles:          I’m sorry, one of the richest Black men in America, that real estate magnate, and he’s got Aston Martins and multimillion dollar condos. And he says, I don’t live like those rappers.

Joy James:         Yeah. Because it would’ve been like a version, like, I guess among white Europeans, their version of old money aristocracy in comparison to crass new money, which is boorish and rough and has no culture. So I mean, their money becomes their culture. Their students go to private elite schools. They don’t socialize with the riff raff, which, probably people on this call [Jason laughs]. So what is their radical project in the face of that? I guess that’s what I’m saying about in terms of the betrayal.

Because when I talk to Black doctoral students, and some of them, they don’t come out of means, they come out of the Bronx. They grew up with Cardi B. So anyway, their families were in the underground economies. They keep saying that when I talk about a captive material instead of about Black feminism, because I’m trying to think of caretaking as a nongendered function. They want to know if I’m willing to engage in the zones of betrayal. Then one of them actually says we should off the captive maternals who betray us. I’m like, no, because that could include me. I have contradictions too. So how do you see the politics now that you’ve differentiated between the posh and the polish and they can be invited to the White House or get a medal or whatever? Some of our luminaries like Tony Morrison, presidential medal from Obama, some other kind of medal from Clinton, from Bill Clinton. But how do you see us, or do you see us forming political alliances that will not be subverted by the rich and powerful?

Pascal Robert:       I think that you have to have something that we have never had in this country, which is a working-class Black politics.

Joy James:     So now you sound like [inaudible]. Is that like from Adolph Reed too, are y’all in line? Or what are we talking?

Pascal Robert:     [Jason laughs] I think there was some people who would say, they would call us fans –

Jason Myles:           Some people that would say –

Pascal Robert:       [crosstalk] just a little bit, maybe.

Jason Myles:        Have you been following what the young man Chris Smalls has been doing with Amazon?

Joy James:               Oh, wait a minute. I’ve been following with the union.

Jason Myles:          I find him fascinating, and I interviewed him a few years ago when the story broke about him. What I found fascinating about Chris was that we had similar stories as far as how we came up and even where we were working. One thing that people don’t really take into consideration, and we talked about this a little bit on our show, is a lot of people on the left got very dejected and confused about Bessemer Alabama not voting to unionize.

One fact that people didn’t really take into consideration, I felt people on the left didn’t take into consideration is that job was more money than most of them people had ever made before. I spent time working in the South on oil rigs. It’s a nonunion place. The South historically is not a very unionized area. To think that you’re going to get cats that, a lot of them, this is unskilled labor. This is the surplus labor we talk about so much when we love throwing around theory. Surplus labor is getting $19 an hour in a place where $19 an hour can probably buy you not a house, at least a nice double wide. I don’t say that with any sort of disrespect. I say it as far as people need shelter, and that’s affordable shelter.

Joy James:       That’s food on the table.

Jason Myles:           That’s food on the table. Why would you want to upset that apple cart? I’m not saying it’s justified to not vote for worker protections and some sort of labor power. I just think that a lot of us are a little disconnected ideologically here from the idea that some of these people in these areas are making more money than they’ve ever made before. It’s very risky to try to organize around that. The one thing that got Chris radicalized was COVID and people literally dying on the shop floor.

Joy James:         Wow.

Jason Myles:         He doesn’t [inaudible] Marx.

Pascal Robert:        If the majority of Black people are working-class and working poor or poor, what sense is there to have politics that’s not rooted in the actual material condition of most white people?

Joy James:              When you say the material conditions of most white people, you mean –

Pascal Robert:        Black people. I said Black people.

Joy James:              Black people, sorry. No, it makes no sense, but let me try to parse this out. Because I’m wearing multiple hats here. Like I got the academic hat on, which feels like I should take it off, but then that would be dishonest because I get paid with the academic hat. So then there’s this other thing, like when was I last a waitress? I did those menial jobs at some point too. But those years are way in the past, decades in the past. So from my setting now, my lifestyle, my employment sector, I can read about the disposition or dispossession and disposability, but I’m not on that shop floor.

I can see that during the first wave of COVID in New York city… And I’ve said before, I’m in my middle-class apartment, but on one side it’s multimillion dollar and the other side is NYCHA public housing. But in New York city, and they stopped giving you the numbers, when they went from losing 20 people a day dying in their apartments, they went from that number to 200 a day, and then they stopped telling you what the numbers were until they could bring them down. The body bags were only coming out on the right side of my apartment where NYCHA was.

That radicalized me, but I wasn’t going to be in a body bag. Because I was like, wow, this is the middle class. We’re the fulcrum on the seesaw. We got one foot on either side and we’re just going to balance. We’re not multi-million like we’re going to jet out somewhere, but we’re also not in public housing and we’re not forced to show up as a nanny or a babysitter, whatever, just to keep food on the table. So what is the role of the people who are balancing between the two zones? They’re never going to be millionaires, but they’re never going to be poor and unhoused.

Jason Myles:    [inaudible]

Pascal Robert:       Well, you are a scholar of Amílcar Cabral. I think Cabral had the great, great, great formulation: class suicide.

Joy James:       Got it. Okay

Jason Myles:         But you know what’s the neutralizing factor in the idea of class suicide?

Joy James:        What?

Jason Myles:        Hustle culture.

Joy James:        What culture?

Jason Myles:    Hustle. You’re not working hard enough.

Pascal Robert:       In other words, if you are middle class and you’re not a millionaire, how come you’re not selling Bitcoin? How come you’re not driving Uber at night to get those extra hours? Why aren’t you doing overtime? You mean you don’t have your own business, you don’t have four LLCs?

Jason Myles:      Even beyond the idea of everyone’s a millionaire, just the fact you are busy, constantly busy, is a function of not so much success, but every day at work you have to be working over 40 hours. If you’re working 40 hours, you’re not working hard enough. We’re going to hit you up all the time and the moment that you stop and say, I need to take my kid somewhere. I need – No, there’ll be someone else to replace you that will work twice as hard. That is very, very prevalent in the PMC culture. When I say hustle culture, I think people just automatically mean, oh, you mean like Bitcoin and those guys. No, I mean, the idea that you have to constantly be working and the moment you’re not working, you should feel shame.

Joy James:         The New York Times picked this up with the Supreme court nominee, a woman writer who said she had to balance being a mother and how she’s raising her [daughter] and feeling guilty. She was like, how do you even make it to this level of a job offer unless you are putting in more than eight hours a day over decades? But then that is expected if you’re to be worthy. Then it’s worthy of what? I’ve called this a predatory democracy. So it’s all around, I mean, unhealthy is an understatement. But there’s corruption and self deception that’s built in. So how do you disentangle your value from the state’s metric?

Jason Myles:     I mean, that’s the hard part, right? Go ahead. Pascal, I’m sorry.

Pascal Robert:      Class suicide, class traitorism. I think it’s a matter of reorienting. I mean, for me, I grew up in a middle class family in Queens in New York. My parents didn’t have elite jobs, but my parents also were Haitian immigrants and they came from an upper middle-class kind of Haitian elite in Haiti. They had middle-class jobs. My mother was a nurse, my father was a car mechanic, he owned a couple repair shops. But because of the time I grew up in New York city, we had a nice middle, upper middle-class lifestyle.

But at the same time, the reality of the precarity of life does not obscure me from the fact that people can be ground to powder. Everyone can be ground to powder. That all of my education does not stop me from possibly, literally being on the margins for reasons, health reasons, personal reasons, economic reasons. At the same time for me, part of the process of realizing this is spending a lot of time with poor and working-class communities of Black people who have been ground to dust.

I went to college and law school. I was in a Black fraternity, so I had Black potential PMC career types throughout my teens and 20s and early 30s. Then I joined a community. Basically, I converted to Islam. I became a Muslim. And I was dealing the same way I was dealing with those professional managerial class, aspiring Black men at 30 years old, my social sphere were Black men who had been ground to dust in prison for years who accepted Islam as adults. What I found is that those men had more integrity in character than the career professional managerial type guys that I had known my whole life. I started to realize that the politics of that first coterie of men has a large role in determining the quality of life in that second coterie of men. That was a radicalizing experience for me. I’m not saying that we should demand that of everyone to go through that. But I think that there’s got to be a process to indulge in that class suicide or that class traitorism to have people realize like, listen, this ain’t working for most people.

Jason Myles:        I don’t think most people understand the statistics. There’s a common statistic. You hear people like Richard Wolff, the economist, talk about all the time that people are producing more now than we’ve ever produced before, working more hours, and making less money. I think that’s hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around, especially people that are in the salaried world. Because they took that job knowing like, I’m going to be probably working a lot more, but I’m making six figures. I’m working my way up to elite status. There’s a ladder that they can see that includes those 100 hour weeks. How do you get those people to see that those 100 hour weeks is the sham?

Joy James:           I think in part they already know it. I think people are miserable and they can shop and be entertained. Like how many Netflix series can you watch? But to go back to what Pascal was saying, if the people who are captive find a spirituality and acceptance of themselves that is not dependent upon running around a hamster wheel and are looking for a predatory structure, then that opportunity is open to everybody. It just would be if you’re willing to let go of the propaganda or the internalization of values that are built on a capitalist economy, if you’re willing to let go of those.

So what would be the incentive? I mean, one would be your misery. Two, would be your compassion because you see how the world is being devastated. But three, I actually think it would take a certain kind of courage. Because it’s not like people just say, oh, here’s the door. Have a nice day. I mean, they tend to track and punish. I mean, the point is there’s not supposed to be an out. When you start creating these avenues or crevices to get out of a kind of machinery, it’s not like people celebrate that. I mean, the people who are receiving you do, the people who are looking at your back as you’re departing, my experience in academia is that they’re going to want to destabilize and delegitimize you. Because once you turn your back on the edifice, it’s like the emperor has no clothes, and that’s not a narrative you’re supposed to be publicizing. I totally agree. I’m just trying to be honest about, I don’t know, maybe there aren’t any contradictions and I’m just letting my head get in the way. But let’s go back to Black women.

The way we are trained is to compensate. Like even the leadership is a compensation packet in some ways. The way I always looked at it, whenever we got a promotion and stuff, it was another form of domestic labor. You were there to clean up somebody’s mess. They put you on a grant, you’re there to clean up. They want you to build Africana studies, it’s because the institution is like, we’re looking a little racist here. Come fix and tape something together. You’re never actually in control even though you’re given these positions that look like you have power. But the fact is, no, like you say, you have more labor and more grind.

Jason Myles:   Well, we’ve been talking for almost an hour and a half, and we do want to close with the final question. Pascal, you’re ready to ask that final question?

Pascal Robert:        There’s so many questions that I have.

Jason Myles:          We had so many questions and this conversation has been so wonderful that we got away.

Joy James:             I’m pacing around the office like, what do I think, what’s going?

Pascal Robert:       I have a question based on the judge. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is currently being nominated to the Supreme Court. Though Judge Brown Jackson has surpassed the rather low bar of having some progressive elements to her judicial record, there is a certain danger to the way neoliberal identity politics was used to advance her nomination. When asked by her Senate questioners as to what value there was to having diversity on the bench, she stated, diversity lends and bolsters public confidence in our system. Can you problematize how that assertion further illustrates the class nature of the Black political project in terms of what the system means for most Black people who are on the margin?

Joy James:         I would say Obama already problematized when he said he wasn’t a president for Black people, he’s the president for everybody. I mean, for me, it’s the dictate of absorption, that you have to absorb, be absorbed by the state and capital, then you have to perform functions of maintenance for it. I mean, this happened to Michelle Obama. She wrote that thesis at Princeton that just was critical, a bit, of racism in America. Then she spent the next eight years apologizing for it. Being like the mom of the nation, like this should be balkanized. That’s my position. I would say let the white supremacists have Idaho, but it belongs to the Indigenous, so you can’t do that. So you still have to fight them. But there’s a way in which our desire to belong as if we thought that was an insurance policy, there’s a way in which we articulate constantly that we’re safe Black people. That we have no autonomy and we don’t even want it no matter how much the white supremacist underground starts to play around above ground.

I think that becomes the moment when we cut our own Achilles heels. The logic is you can’t expect anything from Black officials because they work for the state. The state has already indicated that it is about accumulation through force, and it is not about distribution of equity or goods or material sustenance for the people, for the mass. So I’ve tried to stop being disillusioned every time a Black woman assumes some level of power at a corporation, within the state. I mean, Condoleezza Rice should have cured everybody of that decades ago, or even in academia or in one of these movements.

I mean, I’ve made little, maybe they weren’t snarky, but queries about movement millionaires. How do you monetize Black suffering and end up like a millionaire? I mean, how does that even…? It’s like, oh, that’s what the state and corporations and whites have been doing for centuries. So of course there’s a template. So the way you don’t want to romanticize Black unity or Black community, I will not romanticize Black women just because they belong to the Democratic Party or they go to church or they’re kind or whatever. Just put the descriptors out there.

The only subject that has a true autonomous persona and independent thinking would be those people who understand the state must be not only critiqued but also opposed. Once you take a job within it, then you become the opposition to freedom movements that emanate from the base. Whether they’re are environmental, whether about labor, whether about the right to be trans, or the right to have an abortion, there’s a lot of different issues that we have to deal with. So, I mean, I really appreciate you both because if I had a tendency to romanticize Black people, you definitely killed it [Jason and Pascal laugh].

[sad trombone noise] I just have to figure out where I go from here. But that whole thing about Black women are going to lead you somewhere, no. Just the way you’ve negated the false concept that Black people as Black people are going to lead you somewhere. No. People who theorize, who will engage in material conditions and material struggle and who will be accountable to the people they say they represent, that becomes a collective leadership that we can contribute to.

Pascal Robert:     Awesome.

Jason Myles:           Well, thank you very much, Dr. James, for taking the time to talk with us today. We really appreciate you working with us through all these technical hurdles. Thank you guys very much for checking us out on The Real News. If you like what you hear, please go to youtube.com/thisisrevolutionpodcast and you can see more interviews, conversations like this that Pascal and I have with the rest of the TIR crew. Yes, there’s even more of us. On that note, thank you Real News. Thank you, Dr. James. We are out.

Jason Myles

Jason Myles is the lead singer and guitarist for Bitter Lake and co-host of the podcast THIS IS REVOLUTION. Follow him at @LaFinAbsolute.

Pascal Robert

Pascal Robert is an essayist and political commentator whose work covers Black politics, global affairs, and the history and politics of Haiti. He is the co-host of the podcast THIS IS REVOLUTION, a frequent contributor to the Black Agenda Report, and his writing has been featured in outlets like The Huffington Post, Newsweek, and the Washington Spectator. Follow him at @probert06.