Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Melissa Harris-Perry, under attack


For those fans of the Rachel Maddow Show, and other MSNBC offerings who have become familiar with the commentary of Melissa Harris-Perry , just wanted to point out her recent piece in The Nation for those who have not read it.

Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama

and after the shitstorm that occurred, her response to her naysayers:

The Epistemology of Race Talk

If you can stand it – dive into the sewer of the comments section(s) of both pieces.

She is now officially a “racist”, “race-card player” and Obama pony dreaming hack.  

In her response to the storm she makes three main points.

Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives. Some of them are in play here.

1. Prove it!

The first is a common strategy of asking any person of color who identifies a racist practice or pattern to “prove” that racism is indeed the causal factor. This is typically demanded by those who are certain of their own purity of racial motivation. The implication is if one cannot produce irrefutable evidence of clear, blatant and intentional bias, then racism must be banned as a possibility. But this is both silly as an intellectual claim and dangerous as a policy standard. …

2. I have black friends

Which brings us to a second common strategy of argument about one’s racial innocence: the “I have black friends” claim. I was shocked and angered when Salon’s Joan Walsh used this strategy in her criticism of my piece. Although I disagree with her, I have no problem with Walsh’s decision to take on the claims in my piece. I consider it a sign of respect to publicly engage those with whom you disagree. I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We’ve eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends. Friendship is a deep and lasting relationship based on shared sacrifice and joys. We are not intimates in that way. Watching Walsh deploy our professional familiarity as a shield against claims of her own bias is very troubling. In fact, it is one of the very real barriers to true interracial friendship and intimacy. …

3. Who made you an expert?

This brings me to a final point about racial discourse. It is common for my interlocutors to question my professional, intellectual and personal credentials. It is as though my very identity as an African-American woman makes me unqualified to speak on issues of race and gender; as though I could only be arguing out of personal interest or opinion rather than from decades of research, publication and university teaching. …

Why am I not surprised?

Had she joined the Obama Critic of the Month Club she would be crowned Ms. Black Progressive of the Week, standing she had for a while, but which will surely be rescinded.  She’ll probably be impeached …oh wait…she’s not elected to anything.

My bad.

I guess the calls for her to have her own show, a la Rachel will subside, or be swallowed by those who issued them only a few months ago.

I’m solidly in the Sista’s corner, but we all know my POV has been suspect due to past critiques of a certain other Miz.


Post-blackness? Not.


It never ceases to amaze me, the number of ways new memes are tossed out in this country to twist pretzel-like the reality of “race” and how we deal with it. The new opportunism includes black Americans who jump on the bandwagon of book selling to justify themselves as heralds of acceptability, and who push these themes on order to line their pockets, and achieve instant pundit status-by garnering the imprimatur of the New York Times, and other weighty media outlets.

The latest addition to the book pile is Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now, by Touré (he has only one name apparently) with a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson (why am I not surprised?)