Lettter to Michael Eric Dyson
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Lettter to Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D.

December 19, 1996 

Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D.
Institute of African-American Research
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Dear Michael:

I greatly enjoyed your presentation at the Woodruff Community Foundation Issues Forum on November 25, 1996 in Cleveland, Ohio. I enjoyed having lunch with you and meeting your lovely wife, Marcia. I write to you because you are too young to suffer in error for the rest of what hopefully will be a long life. You have to move on and you cannot stop now. As you hinted that "Jesus sometimes sends a psychiatrist" -- and perhaps he did -- and maybe, unfortunately, it is me!

I obviously have no right to write to you, but from the enclosed materials you will see that I am an inveterate letter writer, and hope you will accept this in the spirit in which it is sent. It is most assuredly NOT sent as a trustee of the Woodruff Foundation. It is sent as an individual struggling with these issues for some time and hoping to make a meaningful contribution. After all, I heard your talk, and we have a long way to go, as you well know.

1. POWER -- POWER IS AN UNNATURAL CONCEPT. Power is a violation of nature's flow. Except on an ind)vidual level and in dialogue between the beasts, power is the end result of Original Sin. To seek it is to create problems. That is an old Christian message. Somehow, somewhere, somebody has to address this issue of "power as an absolute phenomenon." In the long run, it is always detrimental, and even sometimes in the short run. Power should only be used to stop those who are using it. (We need to relate by the alternatives to power which is the best the human mind can do -- which means Western Civilization -- of which you are a supreme wonderful example, whether you know it or not and whether you deny it or not. It should be obvious that people without Western Civilization do not do well -- usually laminating their plight not realizing that if you do not follow Western Civilization rules, you will not gets its benefits.) And, by the way, I always had objections to the "youth power" theme which we have promoted, believing it should be "youth problem solving"! That is where our symbols of togetherness must be: problem solving.

2. STOP REPRESENTING WHAT IS NOT TRUE. Of your talk, I think the most objectionable part of it (and perhaps the only part to which I really object) was your repeating the canard about the CIA promoting drug abuse in the inner cities. This had been explored some four or five years ago and found to be groundless. However, some unscrupulous journalists have found a way to make a lot of money for themselves by selling newspapers and making a movie -- which they are entitled to do -- but it is downright criminal to yell "fire" in a movie theatre with the intent to create panic -- and, in the same way, to repeat this story which falls in the same category. Most assuredly, if any individual, CIA or other party tries to sell drugs, they ought to be shot whether you are for guns or against them. Furthermore, people who knowingly repeat lies ought to be hanged . . . actually, my own belief about capital punishment is that the only ones deserving of capital punishment our those who have willfully spread an untruth (There goes the press and media!).

3. STOP USING BIOLOGY AS RACIAL IDENTITY. One cannot become petrified into a state of self-destructive, self-created racism as occurs when one invokes a biological category for one's so-called "race." Another way of saying the same thing is that the phrase "unity and diversity" means that one notes and then ignores color. My thesis is that color cannot be an identity. Such an identity is counterproductive. For example, when you say that one cannot "bleach oneself" (or figuratively the same, "do not go beyond one's differences because of color"), then you must grant that very phenomenon to those wackos on the other side -- those whose color identity contains oppressing others for some colorful reason -- they too must have the right to keep their stupidity too. Actually, when you draw the line to maintain one's biological identity, it cannot expand to embrace mankind.

In fact, the black enthusiasts (melanomaniacs) are trying to impose blackness on the past which is an outrage. Most Negroes of the past were not accepting of the term regardless of your proclamations, and it insults all mankind especially those so named when it constitutes a defamation of what they themselves called themselves.

You and I both know that the "eggs have all been placed in one basket", i.e. Negro leadership is now based on "black" -- an inaccurate term rejected by Negroes for 500 years until the last 30 years. It is so bad that you almost have no alternative because if you abandon "black," you lose your influence, your leadership, and even your whip -- and it is sad that it has come to this. So, who's enslaving who? Is it not true that sometime if one is not talking "black," one has nothing to say? And when you stop talking "black" will you and other lemming leaders lose your power? Is this a not so subtle need to maintain racism ("black") as a utilitarian power method over people?

There is an irony here -- you must be for racism to play a victim role, to lead, and to manipulate power in conjunction with the trap of being a traitor to blackness if one goes beyond blackness -- which is a double bind. To some extent, if you don't talk about racism or blackness, you end up invoking it as a solution, a calling card, a manipulation, a whip, pretending all the while it is a lament or an accusation. There is an internal self-contradiction here in that by being black (or white!), one cannot be of, by and for the people (but for some people). It is pathetic to see black leaders salivating over racism, but it is your bread and butter . . . in the meanwhile, a full human being will go beyond and pay it no mind and deal with objective issues of human behavior. It is just like the black representatives who won in the racial gerrymandered districts. Yet Negroes won, and black leadership seems disturbed that black representatives were still elected this time even by whites -- so these representatives have an obligation to be representatives of ALL of the people and not just blacks. Tell me that some black leaders don't feel they are losing power. It is counterproductive for humanity to be trying to solidify society along color lines.

The ultimate proof of your using "black" IS a meaningless manipulation is the treatment of Clarence Thomas. His blackness did not do him any good at all. Actually, I think he is "blacker" than you -- and it is meaningless. His freedom is to not talk "blackness" and he hasn't been bleached -- and you can embrace Angela Davis' blackness but not Clarence Thomas'! Now wait a minute: Is it skin color you're talking about or not? You and I both know it is not! You just want it to be because you can manipulate people that way, but if they don't embrace your manipulations, then suddenly "they are not black anymore." Give us all a break!

4. MY X RIGHT OR WRONG. You said you were not a knee jerk apologist for anything and everything from the black community which was well and good, however your words betray your words. At least somewhere in there, you should demonstrate that it is okay to take to task an African-American person who is profoundly and absolutely wrong because of an action itself, without making excuses, explanations or anything else. We will never overcome differences if you do not demonstrate to everyone that it is okay to admit that one is wrong when one indeed is wrong. You, of all people, have an excellent opportunity to put this into action. How about Mary A.T. Anigbo, principal of Washington, D.C.'s Marcus Garvey Public Charter School, totally outrageous and inhuman treatment of the Washington Times reporter?? You need to criticize it and O.J. Simpson and Angela Davis rather than Clarence Thomas. (Actually, the only objective people about O.J. are those who would maintain that their opinions about his trial would not change if O.J. were white and the two dead people were black.) This whole O.J. mess is an excluding of the concept of justice as a unifying phenomenon -- all transcendentals have a unifying concept and they are colorless -- which is what Western Civilization is all about. It seems to me that much of the O.J. and similar events are examples of dwelling on the past which IS repeating the past. (The evidence "convicting" Fuhrman was certainly not handled as the evidence was against O.J. . . . when I heard the stories Fuhrman had told to that interviewer, I said that these were "bullshit, look-at-me, sensational, how-important-I-am fantasies to please the interviewer and pure showboat nonsense which had just come back to haunt him.") And also how can you forgive O.J. because he screams "black" but not Clarence Thomas when he screams "human"?

But "my color (X) right or wrong" does get worse. In justice, one has to offer the same cultural excuses in a relativistic manner to others, the end result is that all values are done away with. Yep . . . it is legal to kill Jews. Islamic men purchase girls in India. X is what we patriarchs do! Clitorectomy anyone?

I don't know how we are going to get beyond this without refocusing on the objective, independent concepts which Western Civilization has had to offer. And if you don't have Western Civilization, you better well define your alternative -- and in fact you cannot define an alternative without using some Western Civilization concepts -- so you are stuck with it. Only it can help us get beyond -- and you can help. When you talk about bridging gulfs -- this is one way to do it.

5. EPICENE RAPE (see my racial packet). From your statements, it is obvious you are into sexuality consistent with today's wacko norms. And you are going to have to get beyond them too if you really want to help people. There is another structure, another paradigm, another perspective, another "truth" (for those who say that truth is relative) -- and I have articulated it -- it is in the packet that is enclosed -- and if you start understanding it at that level, you will be way ahead of the game. The current trends cannot go on for no other reason than they are uncivilized and against the animal kingdom of which we are a part. You commented about masturbation that "everyone does it" (as if that makes it all right -- but you do not apply that acceptance to "everyone does racism"). But even masturbation is not necessarily universal in as far as the animal kingdom goes. Leave it to mankind to pollute even in sexual behavior. Animals do not do it. And read my sex material.

In your book on pp. 92-94, I want to just say: Sex does not work. Sex is not happiness. And about Ms. Bright, read my Epicene Rape -- you and Anita Hill are both described as victims of harassment -- yours in reality and she in erotomanic delusions -- and when Ms. Bright runs for office, are you going to announce to the world what took place?

Finally, see my pamphlet on homosexuality and above all read The Pink Swastika by Lively and Abrams.

6. READ THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY. I think perhaps of the epitome of human intellectual endeavor is the Oxford English Dictionary. There is more brainpower, history, tradition, transcendental goodness and beauty in that book than in any other -- with the sole exception of (I give you as a Baptist minister) -- The New Testament. But to embrace the Oxford English Dictionary is to maintain civility and trust with the nonreligious acme of human advancement and understanding. That is why it is important to stick with it. Not that it is unchanging, but that is where we have been and where we are going and we cannot cut ourselves off from it. There is something unifying about English because it enables concepts to be discussed with nuisances and subtleties unduplicated by most of the languages in an exhaustive way at this point in time. Because of that, it is important that one maintain truthfulness with words as they are.

Look up race -- look up black -- just see the distinctions between "black" and "Negro" in my letter to Anthony Walton. Actually, "black" should not be applied to a person -- blackamoor is okay -- and certainly Negro has more antiquity, history and transcendental aspects to it than "black" ever could have. Black has become a whip. I elaborate on some of this in my enclosed papers. Actually, race is being part of the culture in which one has been born and "allowed" to participate fully in it -- something from which Negroes have been excluded for some time. But to embrace and to live the citizenship, one needs to know one's culture, its books (especially its dictionary) and live it transcendentally.

7. IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO KILL A CHILD. When you keep teaching "black," those taught will know nothing else. It reminds me of how I used to feel about my family refusing to speak Italian around us kids -- but I now know that if all I had learned was Italian, I would be working riding a lawnmower someplace. And the same thing with "black." To have a debate on an issue without using "black" is to be speechless?? -- which is pathetic! And it is almost subhuman. You are paralyzing these kids -- you are making them so black, they cannot deal without it . . . and the consequences belong to the melanomaniacs who, heady in their stupid blackness, persist in blaming everyone but themselves (just like the KKK and "white"). This reminds of the fact that we have an entire generation of Jews now reared that all criticism is automatically anti-Semitism -- just like anything critical of black is considered racism. Look: criticism is not an ISM.

We must offer a national experience -- an American experience -- to get an American race! These kids must get in there and learn English (it is silly that today's immigrants come in and want everyone to learn their language, but if they had any brains, they would demand their children learn English -- and what is interesting is that if you do not learn English, you become an anti-American because one is not able to participate in the national experience).

Black is not an identity anymore than white is. I have already referred you to my letter to Anthony Walton. Ethnicity and one's way of citizenship is one's identity -- but "black" as an identity forces "white" as an identity which then again forces the continued use of "black" -- and this is a vicious circle extraordinaire! We have the reverse of what is going on when the KKK meant "white" to be an identity which created the reaction of "black" as an identity, now better called the BBB. (Do you know the difference between the BBB and the KKK? The KKK wears white sheets and hates colored people, while the BBB wears colored sheets and hates white people.) If one says "black," one must also say "white." Quite frankly, many individuals, ostensibly trying to help our darker-skinned relatives, use the word "black" like the KKK used the word "white." You cannot have it both ways. It "works" but the negatives outweigh the positives. There is a pathetic aspect to seeing all this happening again, even though in reverse direction, perhaps somewhat retaliatory as well as remedial. Nevertheless, the utilitarian, manipulative, mental shortcuts of color are so obvious in terms of the power it gives and helps understand why it is used -- but it still does not make it right. It is a state of mind that is important -- not the state of one's skin. And if it is the latter, it is self-defeating.

To get beyond all this and really hammer out solutions (see my race packet):

Power must be abandoned except to thwart those who use it; and 2. Race must not rule, but national identity and citizenship must be embraced and promoted as one's "race" secondary to identity as full members of human race.

Invoking the "law of unintended consequences," the main problem with promoting blackness as an identity is that it essentially ruins your kids, so that they cannot adapt to be full members of a society which would embrace them. This need to "maintain blackness" has a self-destructiveness to it which is subtle, malicious and undeniable. (Your reciting rap songs was cute and charming and certainly offered a solidification with youth -- but it won't work -- you're going to get old -- and you will never keep up with the latest songs! Sorry about that!) I just wished you would have followed the rap with a little bit something uplifting with a quote from Shakespeare -- or St. Hildigard's fabulous prayer about the environment. (And I would argue the point that Schwartzenagger's killings in movie is pure fantasy and a lot different from music which celebrates killings.) In any case, maintaining blackness is a form of self-violence just like maintaining whiteness is. And you ought to know it. And you of all people could tell these kids this. I have taken care of youngsters who talk about how they do not want to excel in school because to do so is to be mocked and called "white." I most assuredly look towards these kids' "youth empowerment" because they are going to fight this and not let it happen. They are beginning to catch on that to maintain "blackness" for you or anyone else will therefore result in a default from full participation in an elevated, advanced, progressive citizenship. That default is a violence -- self-created. I wish you would start using citizenship -- the American race -- incorporating it -- you could do more good than you realize. (And "black" leaders may not lose their leadership ability -- they may even understand it more and you may lead more than just "black" people as the Negro representatives from the newly-redrawn districts found out. I hope they have caught on to what really took place there.)

 In fact, I think these young Negro youths have already passed you by -- if they could just find out about the real meaning of the word Negro because it is a person rather than a simple color. As Satchel Page (I saw him play on the Kansas City Monarchs as a kid) said, "Don't look back," please Michael, don't you look back anymore. Turn around and look ahead! The perpetual black machine is always paralleled by a perpetual white machine. Enough. When it comes to kids, it takes a village to kill a child -- and that is exactly what is being done by a continuation of racist ideas masquerading as "black self-help" messages to youth.

8. A few comments about your book:

Page 16 - ". . . act your color" -- this is leadership hobbles put on these kids. How in the world do you "act your color?" Would you say that to "whites?" With all the precision of intellectual academia, you cannot make it work. It doesn't fly. You act your citizenship or national culture -- or you do not fit in and color has nothing to do with it.

Page 17 -- "being representatives of The Race" -- Race is a mythical concept.

Page 21/22 -- "To win, you must act and talk white." -- Wrong! Just because you call it "white" does not mean it is white. You want it to be that way so you can manipulate these kids.

Page 30 -- "Black and white responses to O.J. prove how different historical experiences determine what we see and color what we believe about race." -- Not if you think race is a myth or untruth . . . and not if one lives broader universal transcendental principles which are the only things capable of unifying mankind.

Page 31 -- Your belief that you could read Clarence Thomas' mind hoists you with your own petard. Your failure to support Clarence Thomas and other conservative "blacks" actually makes you almost to be a liar! It most certainly demonstrates that it is not "black" what you are focused on -- but "the culture and way of thinking" which is actually more important. This is consistent with my ideas that "race as color" as you have defined it is meaningless, as I say it is because Clarence's color does not count. His color is overruled by the fact he thinks differently -- and you cannot handle the diversity! The very absolute bottom line is that so-called "black" leaders cannot stand Clarence Thomas' INDEPENDENCE -- you want dependency -- and this means that black is dependency. Anyone demonstrating a glimmer of independence is to be mocked out, rejected, and put down -- and their blackness no longer counts! There is an internal contradiction here -- and it is ruining our people. Clarence Thomas' blackness means nothing while Angela Davis' and Mary Anigbo's blackness means everything -- give me a break!

Page 33 -- I like very much your three uses of race as context, subtext and pretext. Analyze it, then throw it all out.

Page 59 -- About the "black public intellectuals" problems -- to me it seems like their "advancement and appointment" is political correctness tokenism. What really is needed is something not "elitist" and "liberal" -- but a real human mixture -- a real intellectual boil -- throw in some of your black conservatives too! What are you afraid of?

Page 84 -- I don't know where you get your information about slavery -- probably from Farrahkan -- which is anti-Christian nonsense -- how any Negro could be Muslim is mind-boggling considering the way Islam treated slaves and was really instrumental in bringing the dehumanization parasitic type of slavery to the planet. See my letter about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Page 104 -- Look, this "homophobia" business is nonsense. Don't be duped by this stuff. I enclose my article on homophobia.

Page 108 -- I don't think you could be more wrong. It has got worse wherever Dr. Elders has gone. Her approach failed and made matters worse. It sounds good but it fails every time. You are beating a dead horse and paddling a boat already sunk. But her "blackness" makes you defend her erroneous thinking! You can defend her -- but not her actions which do not work!

Page 114 -- "As Ralph Ellison said, geography is fate." I like that -- it's true because geography determines your nationality and the citizenship available to you if you are allowed to develop, grow and live it. In a sense, geography and what citizenship/culture it offers is your race . . . unless you default by getting caught up in something separating you from it.

Page 118 -- One need not look to morals and manners among Negro Americans to get rid of nostalgia of the past. Aristotle wrote of the same thing lamenting youths' misbehavior.

Page 135 -- Your comments at the bottom of the page about Cornel West pointing to an innate "nihilism" in the black culture -- all I would add is that the same nihilism exists when any group attempts to make a biological factor to be their race. As long as you are calling it "black" and telling people to "act their color" you have internalized a counterproductive, anti-citizenship lifestyle that is just not going to work as well as one that tries to maintain identity as human beings within one's citizenship.

Page 154 -- Of course a constricted "ethnitopia" will not work -- it has to be one's national culture of origin and development into functional citizenship -- that is the race -- that is the total picture, not the limited tribes trying to be part of it by avoiding being part of it.

Page 156 -- . . . "the cost of colorlessness is always an investment in whiteness. African-American can never effectively transcend race by remaining black. Whites, however, rarely need to get beyond their race to ensure the acceptance as authentic Americans. Whiteness is already viewed as a universal identity." Well, by that you have just defined the problem such that there is no solution. I sort of want to get on my high horse and say "hey buddy, what do you know about being white?" White? White? Actually, it is only the KKK who bark about "white" while many if not most of us want to live Western Civilization's ideals, ignoring white . . . but we keep running into others who do not want to do that but want to live "black." Oh well, color just doesn't work. What you want is for "whites" to embrace black but blacks will not embrace whites because blacks are too busy being black. But more realistically, how on earth can you say that white is important when you really don't know anybody who is white? Just like there are very few people who are black. I saw you. You are not black. The very imprecision here creates confusion. One needs to abandon the whole "race" concept as I have in my enclosed materials.

Page 157 -- "Challenging the codes of whiteness or the conventions of the dominate culture," is a self-created problem. How can one be a member of the American race when one is going to challenge in a way less transcendental than the concepts of virtues, democracy, justice, etc. (all from Western Civilization).

Page 162 -- The resentment of "Powell's transcendence of race" seems obvious. This attempt to maintain "blackness" is purely a matter of trying to control others, to manipulate others, to pretend to "lead" when what one really is objecting to is that he has moved in a direction which you no longer control. And your description of Alma Powell reveals her to have not "outed" anything except her own fixations and need to relive the past . . . you got good control of her.

Page 207-212 -- I think it is fine and a great speech -- just delete your reference to color -- just delete all color -- JUST DELETE ALL COLOR! How does it sound?

Page 214 -- The "black church burning" -- this savoring victimhood is so reprehensible -- it is like the CIA bringing in drugs, the Charlie Chicken place making black men sterile, and all these other "urban tales" to scare, intimidate, manipulate, and control people in really the most unChristian and unhuman way. If it is not true, it is not going to help anything. It may sound good. It may have some purpose -- usually a "look at me/I know something you don't know/therefore I'm your leader" type of storytelling. You're not helping anybody with an untruth.

Page 218 -- The Supreme Court's rulings on minority voters maximizing their electoral strength -- the outcome must frighten you and other leaders -- it is too bad that a minority representative cannot be allowed to represent all the people who voted for him.

Page 224 -- I read you, and I understand -- but your offering is merely "more of the same." No one is said to be "blind to color" but to "note and ignore" and get on to decent human behavior which still knows no color.

9. I finally enclose some of my own items which I hope you will embrace and not use to roast marshmallows. My t-shirt -- it is a unifying idea -- it is not colorless.

Once again, let me emphasize my deepest admiration and respect for your efforts. You must know that you have to continue to talk about these issues, but you cannot also miss your opportunities to demonstrate going beyond -- and in such regards you'll make Dinesh and others come to understand that they are wrong.

In His Name,

Samuel A. Nigro, M.D.



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