Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, June 04, 2007

When Whites Led the NAACP

I'm totally sick of the gripefest that has been going on for the past few days, and I have nothing more to say about it, except to address one point—the "what if whites led the NAACP?" argument.

That's a poor analogy because the Autism Hub is not a major civil rights organization; it's just a group of blogs taking part in an exchange of ideas, information, and personal perspectives about autism and neurodiversity. What's more, even if we look only at the early years of the NAACP, when it had much less influence than it does today, the analogy still fails because the NAACP originally was led by whites.

It's a little-known fact that the NAACP, in its early years, was led and financed chiefly by Jews. This was not done out of a sinister desire to control blacks or a patronizing belief that blacks were incapable of speaking for themselves; rather, the Jews who got involved in the struggle for racial justice knew all too well that they, too, could easily fall victim to the popular ideology of Aryan supremacy. They understood that when society becomes more open and accepting of human differences, everyone's lives are safer.

Could the black founding members of the NAACP have done it all on their own, without the organizational, financial, and legal help from their Jewish allies? Yes, given enough time and enough support from their own community, they could have built an organization led exclusively by blacks. Considering the vicious social climate of that time, however, it's quite possible that in the interim, their entire race might have been lynched by the Ku Klux Klan or sterilized by the eugenicists, or some combination thereof. Both of those hate groups and their repulsive ideologies enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the United States a century ago and had supporters at the highest levels of government.

Fortunately, the black activists who were involved in founding the NAACP had more sense than to jeopardize the survival of their race for the sake of maintaining exclusivity. They made practical compromises and accepted help when they needed it. Eventually, capable black leaders took charge of the NAACP and went on to accomplish many successes in the civil rights era.

Demanding exclusive control of everything from the outset is not always the wisest course of action.

Labels: ,

32 Comments:

  • Okay, I'm glad it's egotistical to decide autistics should have a say over autistics.

    I'm done advocating. Let neurotypicals decide where we should go. We have no right to say that we should be directing our own destiny.

    By Anonymous Joel, at 11:54 AM  

  • Joel, After you are cured, you'll have a much clearer vision to direct yourself. When you become an NT, you will thank us for guiding you out of the cult of Neuroinsanity.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 1:00 PM  

  • Joel,

    I'm just catching the tail end of this debate, but I think this blog helps show why it's ok that things are the way they are today, as long as we work towards more involvement of autistic adults as time goes by, just as blacks gained control of the NAACP as time went by.

    We have to stay involved, otherwise there's no one there to show that we are capable of making our own decisions, controling our own future. Just give it time, but at the same time we have to value the judgement and opinions of those who we want to value ours. We don't have to agree with them, but we do have to respect their right to have their opinion (and they ours.)

    By Blogger Miles Orion, at 2:30 PM  

  • ABFH, this is what I'm all about - I'm a non-autistic ally who knows all too well that "I'm next". I don't want to see that day come. So I do what I can to help open doors and get society to listen to autistic people. I do think that's what most people on the Hub are about. If less people saw it as an organization, it might help.

    By Blogger Jannalou, at 2:59 PM  

  • Amazing. Insults are okay from some it seems.

    I also am not sure the point is that the hub is an "organization." I think the point is that even friends of autistic people need to ask autistics what they think and to let them set the direction of the unorganized movement. This point should not even need discussion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 PM  

  • That's a valid point, but it's important to remember that the NAACP is not and never has been the end-all-be-all of civil rights activism, by any means. Marcus Garvey's UNIA at one point had a HUGE membership of blacks all over the world before the NAACP ever even existed, and that organization was established and run by blacks. The NAACP was/is only one of many civil rights organizations. African-Americans have been engaged in political activism in this country for centuries. There have been all sorts of local and national organizations established and run by blacks. The NAACP was very important, but its significance has often been overstated in history books and these other more "radical" organizations have been overlooked. I would also point out that while the NAACP was largely funded by whites at its outset, blacks, including DuBois most notably, were always publically involved. Even so, for a long time many poorer blacks perceived the NAACP as an organization run by the black middle-class.

    Sorry to fill your blog with these historical ramblings, but I think there are some lessons to be learned from this history. The civil rights example suggests the need for plurality. It's only natural for disagreements to occur within a movement, and there may be different organizations. The idea that a single overarching organization like the NAACP was/is soley responsible for bringing about change is a myth. And, yes, there is a need for supposedly "radical" organizations in which members of the oppressed group are in charge of setting the agenda.

    By Anonymous Sarah, at 4:01 PM  

  • Well said, abfg.

    By Blogger bigwhitehat, at 4:26 PM  

  • I've waited all day to write this, to calm down a bit. I'm still not calm, and am in fact pissed. Not because of disagreement, but for other reasons.

    I will not be insulted like this by any group I associate with.

    The insult to me and some others who agree with me was clear in this blog - an insult which precluded my continued participation: people who disagree with ABFH on who should be "leaders" of the movement are doing it because they are egotistical. I do ask for an appology on this point, as I feel wounded, and definitely feel an appology is deserved. Of course perhaps I misinterpreted - feel free to correct me and explain why the egotistic comment was not directed at me. But ifif this wasn't misinterpretation on my part, it'd show a little class to acknowledge that, just maybe, my motives were other than ego. It might also allow others to take my place and have dialog with you.

    I wish autistic people, including ABFH, the best.

    But other than the few things I already made commitments to do (Autreat & Autcom, as well as some local work), I no longer have a desire to participate in autistic community. I no longer feel safe in the autistic community - not that I expected to, but I didn't exactly expect the attack to be from allies and other autistics. Clearly I'm way out of step with everyone else, and it's probably best for everyone for me to find other things to occupy my time - that has been made abundently clear to me over the last few days.

    By Anonymous Joel, at 6:32 PM  

  • I think Joel is using this as an excuse to begin chelation. I hope he comes back when he's cured to tell us all what a great decision he made.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 6:40 PM  

  • Who started the African National Congress then? in 1912 and who was inspired by the ANC to start the Indian National Congress?

    And where did those two movements lead?

    In either case did the White racists or the British Empire concede power voluntarily?

    No they did not. Yes there were white allies fighting apartheid but who suffered the most in the struggle?

    By Blogger laurentius rex, at 7:13 PM  

  • Joel, I was thinking of Larry's histrionics when I used the word "egotistical." I was not calling everyone who disagreed with me an egotist.

    I think you've been a bit of a drama queen, though, by declaring that you won't participate in the autistic community unless we all take great care not to offend you in any way (feel free to correct me if this is a misinterpretation of your statements).

    Whether or not you participate in the autistic community is your own decision. I'm not responsible for it in any way.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:24 PM  

  • Sarah, thanks for the historical commentary. I didn't mean to give the impression that the NAACP was solely responsible for bringing about change; as you accurately point out, it was not.

    And Larry... sorry to burst your bubble, but you're no Gandhi.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:29 PM  

  • After reading the post again, I edited out the word "egotistical" because it was an unnecessary insult and could be read more broadly than I intended it.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism, Joel.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:38 PM  

  • ForeSkin: "Joel, After you are cured, you'll have a much clearer vision to direct yourself. When you become an NT, you will thank us for guiding you out of the cult of Neuroinsanity."

    ForeSkin: "I think Joel is using this as an excuse to begin chelation. I hope he comes back when he's cured to tell us all what a great decision he made."

    OMG, JBJr... you arrogant and utterly incredibly deluded person. I think you need to see a psychiatrist about your delusions, man. For Sam's sake, if not yours.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 7:44 PM  

  • "Okay, I'm glad it's egotistical to decide autistics should have a say over autistics.

    I'm done advocating. Let neurotypicals decide where we should go. We have no right to say that we should be directing our own destiny."

    Sorry Joel, but since you've shown all too clearly that you have exactly what it takes to represent me and mine, you're not off the advocacy hook yet awhile. That said, of course I'm going to disagree with you. I think I have a slight problem with authority - any authority. And I do think you've got things a bit backwards on the 'autistic leadership', but I may be reading you wrong there. As daedulus asked - what do you mean by that?

    History is not on the side of exclusivity as has been amply demonstrated here. As for using the feminist movement, which I know something about - that's the best example I know of to steer clear of taking too prescriptive an approach to a 'privileged position'. That lead to some real human rights abuses through lousy research methods (used against autistics as well) and dishonest statistics.

    It seems that no successful human rights group has ever gone it alone and those that have tried, have gone off the rails. You think I want that for autistic advocacy?

    I totally agree with autistics being in the driver's seat because we sure know what happens when they are deliberately excluded. So what do you mean by leadership? If we can clear that up, I think this wrinkle in the advocacy fabric might be ironed out pretty quickly.

    By Blogger Alyric, at 7:48 PM  

  • He's not being a drama queen, he's pretty close to the end of his rope in general. There's no good way to announce these things. If you don't announce it people wonder where you are, if you do you're a drama queen.

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 8:25 PM  

  • And I really really doubt that Joel means that autistics should "go it alone", although I'll let him speak for himself if he chooses.

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 8:28 PM  

  • OK -- I'll withdraw the drama queen comment, then.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:16 PM  

  • I've been reading blogs for two days now. I don't understand. What are we, as parents, doing that we should stop doing? I'm not on the hub but I read it every day, autistic and non-autistic blogs alike.

    I read Larry's rant but don't understand it. Maybe I'm not smart enough but what did someone do or not do? Is it just that some don't want parent blogs in the hub at all? Is this all because there's a parent board out there for discussing how to help raise our children with autism?

    I'm so confused. I just don't get the crux of the problem. Someone please explain.

    By Blogger mumkeepingsane, at 9:31 AM  

  • Mumkeepingsane, as far as I know, the parents haven't done anything offensive. The argument seems to be about political advocacy tactics in general, not about anything the parents did or didn't do. It's mainly a disagreement among several people who have strong opinions, have invested a lot of time and effort in their particular brand of advocacy, and feel that their alliances are being threatened.

    By Blogger abfh, at 4:22 PM  

  • Larry, your examples of "struggle", actually were eventually ended by relatively peaceful means.

    In South Africa a referendum.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_South_African_Referendum

    Similarly, India was created as an independant nation by an act of the British Governor-General of India

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_%28India%29

    Black slaves in the US were not freed as a consequence of violence by black slaves. It was violence on the part of northern white soldiers. The US Civil War killed more Americans (558,052) than WWI, WWII and the Korean war combined.

    India and South Africa were relatively peaceful that is compared with Soviet, Chinese, Cambodian, and many other examples.

    In my opinion, choosing a "leader" on the basis of how much he or she has "suffered" is to use a poor criteria. Effectiveness at achieving the goals of the group is (IMO), a better criteria.

    By Blogger daedalus2u, at 7:05 PM  

  • daedalus: "Effectiveness at achieving the goals of the group is (IMO), a better criteria."

    On many things I can tell you that I disagree wholeheartedly. On this point, however, I agree. This is pretty much a researched phenomenon.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 7:16 PM  

  • David, Since nobody can achieve any group goals while operating from the insane position that celebrating brain damage is a good way to go through life, when will you accept the fact that you need a sane leader?
    You will never obtain respect from anyone while operating with an insane premiss.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 8:48 PM  

  • John: "David, Since nobody can achieve any group goals while operating from the insane position that celebrating brain damage is a good way to go through life, when will you accept the fact that you need a sane leader?
    You will never obtain respect from anyone while operating with an insane premiss."

    Firstly, you could learn to spell. It's premise. Secondly, you cannot be seriously expecting to be seen as a sane person yourself... even the NH DDC has no faith in that idea!

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 12:50 AM  

  • David, Sane people don't add Summa Cum Laude onto their signature element or "distinction" or "sanity pending".
    Brain damaged people can not speak for themselves so you'll just have to count on me to present your case from a rational perspective.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 10:36 AM  

  • ForeSkin: "David, Sane people don't add Summa Cum Laude onto their signature element or 'distinction' or 'sanity pending'."

    Um... John, since your brain obviously leaks information selectively - and therefore is clearly not working properly - let me refresh your memory: you came up with 'sanity pending'.

    As for degrees and grades awarded with them... hell, yeh! Of course sane people do that!

    "Brain damaged people can not speak for themselves so you'll just have to count on me to present your case from a rational perspective."

    You? Rational? NH DDC evidently didn't think you could be seen as a rastional human being... and nor do the rest of the world, man. If you are rational, Ghengis Khan was a frigging saint!

    Ever thought about stand-up comedy, John? No? Good. You don't have the chops.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 1:05 PM  

  • Dave, I came up with "Sanity Pending" to help people recognize your condition so they'd treat you with kid gloves. You are the only person I have ever seen that adds such things to a signature.
    As long as you make yourself look absurd, you really should let someone with a firm grasp on reality represent you.
    The more I talk to you, I see Leitch's point but he still shouldn't have insulted Larry.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 4:37 PM  

  • ForeSkin: "Dave, I came up with 'Sanity Pending' to help people recognize your condition so they'd treat you with kid gloves. You are the only person I have ever seen that adds such things to a signature."

    You don't look far; I've seen a few tdo that. As for the Sanity Pending... classic projection, John. You vilify people you are most similar to, and you do indeed show some of the very perserverative features noted in Asperger syndrome. You may well be an ego-dystonic autistic person, which is pretty bad - not for you, but for Sam. Not me that needs the kid glove treatment, John. It's you.

    "As long as you make yourself look absurd, you really should let someone with a firm grasp on reality represent you."

    Um... looking absurd (as demonstrated by the NH DDC) is your job, John, and it was always so... And you have no real grasp on reality, since you persistently deny the reality of the lack of a link between mercury and autism.

    "The more I talk to you, I see Leitch's point but he still shouldn't have insulted Larry."

    The more you talk to me, the more you know that you are a loser; let's face it... you're talking to someone you think of as a nothing, and trying your damnedest to make a point. Why? What good does it serve you, really? I don't give a shit that you think I'm a nothing, John: that's how a great many people actually see you, and that's okay.

    Difference between us, John, is that I work for my pay, and you have to gamble because the urge to fritter money away is too strong an impulse to resist. Get a job, John; get a life. Ah, but you can't... because deep down, you actually know that you're the nothing.

    Neat.

    Deal with your life, John, and get out of other people's.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 5:21 PM  

  • "You don't look far; I've seen a few tdo that."

    "You don't look far; I've seen a few do that."

    And - hey - at least we actually get to do that.

    Poor Johnny-got-nothing.

    Military career, and BA and an MPA and what's his life....?

    Gambling addict.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 5:41 PM  

  • And not to let an ineducable man hijack the thread with his narcissistic trolling behaviours;

    ABFH: "Demanding exclusive control of everything from the outset is not always the wisest course of action."

    I agree. On this matter, there is research. Not all organisations would benefit from a hierarchical/vertical structure, being better served by using a horizontal one. I'll refrain from pointing out a blog setting in which one person demands total control (clue: not Kev's).

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 5:44 PM  

  • Who says that autistic people being basically in control of a movement about autistic people, has anything to do with hierarchical/vertical structure?

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 12:14 AM  

  • "Who says that autistic people being basically in control of a movement about autistic people, has anything to do with hierarchical/vertical structure?"

    I wasn't saying anything about any specific organisation or any organisation of specific people. I was mentioning a general research finding regarding organisatonal leadership in response to a remark concerning the notion of 'demanding exclusive control of (an organisation) from the start'.

    Sorry I opened my bloody mouth.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 2:03 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home