Black America and the Class Divide
The economic gap within the African-American community is one of the most important factors in the rise of Black Lives Matter, led by a new generation of college graduates and students.
By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr. FEB. 1, 2016
… The class divide is, in my opinion, one of the most important and overlooked factors in the rise of Black Lives Matter, led by a new generation of college graduates and students. I hear about it from my students at Harvard, about the pressure they feel to rise, yes, but also the necessity to then look back to lift others.
I asked Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, a senior, what was behind the racial unrest on campus. Ms. Matsuda-Lawrence is co-founder of “I, Too, Am Harvard,” a multiplatform campaign that gives voice to students who often go unheard and that brought the concept of micro-aggressions into the light. …Here’s an NYT video of Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence complaining about a child who touched her hair. Judging by the voluble video, Professor Gates’ assumption that Ms. Matsuda-Lawrence “gives voice to students who often go unheard” seems more gentlemanly than realistic. The two non-Japanese black coeds sitting with her can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.
(By the way, back in 2004, Gates and Harvard Law School professor Lani Guinier pointed out that most of Harvard’s affirmative action slots for black students seem to go to exotics, either foreign or immigrant elites or individuals with a non-black parent, rather than to normal American blacks. Gates and Guinier seemed to give up this observation with the subsequent rise of the ultra-exotic Harvard Law grad Barack Obama. But I wonder if Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence’s bid to become the loudest black activist on the Harvard campus triggered any troubling memories in Gates?)
Will the fight against police brutality, symbols of the Confederacy and society’s plethora of micro-aggressions become the basis of a broader movement for the improvement of underfunded public school education, for the right to a job with decent wages, and for the end of residential segregation that relegates the poor to neighborhoods with murder rates as alarming as those on the South Side of Chicago?“Plethora of micro-aggressions?” Is that like a “plethora of piñatas?”
What is certain is that the outrage that led to Black Lives Matter and its spinoffs will be with us for years to come unless these legacies of slavery and Jim Crow become remnants of a racist past.As a part-time satirist, I was concerned that earnest usage of the word “microaggression” would die out from embarrassment before I had fully milked it for its easy laughs. I’m glad to see that even the usually level-headed Professor Gates is using “microaggression” seriously, making my job easier.