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Gates, 1996: ‘Racist White Institutions’

A 1996 speech by that expert on race relations, Professor Gates, from the archives of C-SPAN via YouTube:

Without affirmative action we would have never been able to integrate racist historically white institutions in American society…

I taught at Duke for one long painful year, I don’t even like the airplane to flyover North Carolina…

Because of racism I never would have been allowed to compete on a more or less level terrain [sic] with white boys and white girls…

Mr. Gates also makes a watermelon joke. And of course he gets in a dig about the hypocrisy of Clarence Thomas.

He even works in the ‘N-Word.’ A perennial favorite of his, it would seem.

But of course everyone else is a racist.

(Thanks to Christopher at HotAirPundit for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, July 26th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

17 Responses to “Gates, 1996: ‘Racist White Institutions’”

  1. Fuzzlenutter says:

    This man wouldn’t have been able to get a job cleaning out sewers if not for affirmative action…

    • curvyred says:

      I think he is intelligent and talented but like so many people who exist because of past racism he fails to realize that we have made great strides in that arena – they do not want to give up their power. They live in the 1960’s while we reside in the present.

    • zbigkid says:

      Yep. We are white racists, and he is just another n***. sheesh. What a waste of a degree. we get another angry person who should probably be thinking more, than lashing out at a white cop who he thinks is out to get him and every other person of color.

      there is no teachable moment here.

      He’s an angry man, and he is unable to control himself in a very public setting where the incident is perceived by others as a possible break in. it was a mistake. get over it. stuff happens.

      Grow up gates.

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    Now we are seeing who the R-E-A-L racist are and how ugly their talk truly is.
    Too bad we have fallen to this level sooooo quick. Uh….it isn’t going to get better from here on in so let me give a shout out to all the new racist in America.

    I knew you were there………you just needed Barry to push your “Hate” button and say you aren’t racist if you go after the crackers.

  3. proreason says:

    Co-author of “The Future of the Race”.

    Well he better be hoping there will be a few “white boys and girls” around, or else the future of “the Race” will be dependent on “Afro studies” scholars (and hunting and gathering, if they can whip up the energy).

  4. bronzeprofessor says:

    I’ve been studying Gates’ work for 20 years. To be honest, he is brilliant as a scholar, and his work in the late 1980s was groundbreaking, especially his notion of signifyin(g) and his stance — which ran against much of the reverse racism of Black Studies at the time — that African American literature had to be understood in relation to all literature, rather than apart from it.

    I know it may be hard to believe, but within English literature, Gates actually had a viewpoint that was far less essentialist and much more trans-racial than countless of his colleagues. While many people in African American Studies wanted to reject everything European, Gates insisted that critics read black writers as people who were in constant dialogue with the Western tradition. He also rejected the idea that Western philosophers like Hegel were somehow “foreign” to black studies; he promoted the idea that European and American white theorists could be applied intellectually to African American writers.

    Gates’ importance as a moderate black scholar makes this recent controversy all the more disappointing. I think the following:

    1. Gates’ reaction was not driven so much by an ideological hatred of white people, but rather, by his own ego. As someone who is universally respected among English professors, it was unfathomable to him that a police officer had the right to make him do anything or be humble.

    2. Obama does not fully understand Gates’ work because Obama, as a lawyer and busy politician, has probablly not had the opportunity to read all of Gates’ work in depth. Much of Gates’ scholarship is actually long and trans-disciplinary and takes a lot of reading and discussion to understand.

    3. Gates is a Harvard professor first, black man second. He has made a huge name for himself and wields a great deal of power in Boston. He has a home in Martha’s Vineyard. He has a driver. He has had trouble acknowledging his own elitism. Perhaps being forced to understand that behavior toward Crowley was classist and disrespectful will force him to understand his own privilege and how that complicates things.

    4. This episode will actually be good for other minority scholars who have been crowded out of the publication racket by Gates’ hogging all the attention. Other people of color have often found that Gates, as well as other Harvard ethnic studies experts, are unwelcoming to new people of color in the field, partly because the latter represent competition. If this episode shakes Gates’ monopoly on the discord it will be good.

    5. In addition, everyone will be helped if this episode diminishes the holiness of Harvard’s reputation. Every field from Biblical studies to Black Studies has been dominated by Harvard for so long,it is about time that the thousands of other departments have respect and access in the discourse.

    Robert O. Lopez
    (My dissertation used Gates extensively)

    • JohnMG says:

      …..”Gates’ reaction was not driven so much by an ideological hatred of white people, but rather, by his own ego….’

      Maybe so Professor. But I think it is driven by the fact that we now have a black U.S President, and it’s time for Whitey to get his comeuppance….or something like that. We-uns of the Caucasion persuasion are now fair game, and all that latent “racism” is rearing it’s ugly head. I do think LD has it pegged.

    • proreason says:

      Being educated and being a racist are not mutually exclusive.

      Neither are being educated and being ignorant.

      In the last few days, Gates has demonstrated ample doses of racism and ignorance.

      If he is indeed an esteemed scholar, it has been well-hidden in this episode.

    • bronzeprofessor says:

      PR, I just listened to the clip posted above and have to say, this 1996 speech is far more troubling than the things Gates argues in his publications. I don’t see why he sees affirmative action as so holy. I don’t understand why he thinks he’s better off going to Yale instead of Howard like his ancestors. I was Yale class of 1993, but compared to my public high school and SUNY Buffalo, where I got my PhD, or even compared to the colleges where I’ve taught — Rutgers Camden, low-key & Jesuit Canisius College, or uber-state school Cal State Northridge — I think Yale did the least, by far, to develop my scholarly strength and composure necessary to succeed as a minority in America. Ivy League minorities are often riddled with insecurities and infected with the pointless competitive one-upmanship of their elite classmates.

      I am disappointed listening to the speech above, because in it Gates seems a faint fraction of the wisdom he shows in his academic work. In this speech Gates simply trumpets the easy, predictable party line of the Martin Luther King Left, neglecting entirely the strident approach of someone like Malcolm X, who wanted the black community to build itself up from within rather than beg white society for handouts.

      It seems that in his personal life Gates is conflicted and confused. He wants to be proud of being black but he sees the key to his personal worth as getting ahead in elite white institutions like Yale and Harvard. Howard isn’t good enough for him, because black people go there, yet Harvard is offensive to him, because that’s where rich white people go. Black institutions are deficient in his mind, while white institutions are racist. And anything that isn’t totally black is, in his mind, a “racist white” institution.

      Gates’ reaction to Sgt. Crowley must be viewed as a reflection of Gates’ own inner demons, his ambivalent desire to be admired by white people for being black, yet at the same time, to be unquestioned and unchallenged because he is a black man at the most powerful white institution in America.

      Poor Crowley. He just wanted to answer an SOS call, and he got stuck between this man and his demons.

    • proreason says:

      Professor, this racism/affirmative action thing has been pounded into young heads for so long that it is now like the air they breathe.

      I don’t know how you avoided it, but somehow you did. Knowing that raises some hope for the survival of the species.

      But for most of them, they are educated idiots or in a case like Mr. Gates, dangerously demented educated idiots.

      It’s the reason I don’t contribute to so-called higher education.

    • bronzeprofessor says:

      Thanks, PR. I think affirmative action is especially damaging because it forces the minority into simultaneously gratitude and resentment toward white people.

      I’ll confess: The only way I escaped the resentment and dependency was that I started checking “white” on all my applications after college. According to the US Army, for instance, I am white. Same for my job applications after my PhD. I came to California because in Cali, affirmative action in hiring was made illegal by a ballot initiative.

      Once I became officially “white”, I felt free. I know it sounds sick, and I am a little ashamed to admit this on line. But it felt good to know that whatever I got, I got based on talent, and I didn’t have to say “thank you” or “I hate you” to white people for everything.

      Yes, I know that physically people see me and code me as “brown.” But on paper, being white means that I am free of the psychodrama regarding admissions, publication, and employment, as well as promotion, etc.

      In the Army, this was also why I withdrew from the Direct Commission program and insisted on doing OCS, which meant I would have to go through Basic Training like everyone else. Under Direct Commission, they were going to waive me through Basic Training, but then I worried I would lose credibility and authority as an officer, overseeing privates who had been through harder training than I.

    • zbigkid says:

      Ok. I will be a little more scholarly here.

      Mr. Gates is human like everyone else. He got angry and shot his mouth off. I have felt the indignity of a police officer, when one teed off on me after another driver who tail gated me, nearly ran me off the road, and then chased me to the police station. I tried to speak and the officer basically told me to shut the F*ck up. I was angry too. But you know what. I kept my mouth shut and followed his orders. he was white, I was white.

      Race wasn’t the issue. Just as race wasn’t the issue between Gates and that officer.

      It was about power. I hadn’t done anything wrong, Another Driver antagonized me, was clearly in the wrong, but the officer didn’t know that. I felt immediately wronged by the officer, and of course the other idiot driver.

      It would be wise for all of us to ignore what level Mr. Gates may have achieved in society, ignore his color, and ignore that there was a white officer involved.

      What really happened here was about power. Also, about Gates lifelong anger. Only a life long anger inside would allow his trigger to be tripped so easily. For had he come from a different paradigm, its likely he wouldn’t have overreacted in the way he did to a situation of power.

      This happens everyday in all sorts of situations. Obama too was attempting to exert his power and politicize something. He too has been bred under a life of hate and anger fostered by his weekly teaching from his pastor or reverend.

      many people in America, of all colors harbor extreme anger these days about a lot of things. They feel a loss of power, a loss of control, by many things occuring they perceive as injustices in society.

      You can see it on these types of chat boards every single day. You see the anger in the media. You see the anger in our governments, leaders, and in businesses. Its buried and its deep.

      In the end we only have control over one thing. That is our reaction to others. In essence our emotions or if you will our thoughts.

      There is no possible way american will ever eliminate so called injustices or inequality, or greed, or power, or so called racism. For we are all human.

      However each of us can control ourselves and our reactions. Its an entirely disingenuous act to say you are fighting for the rights of others in the cause of racism or other injustice. You aren’t leveling with yourself, nor others.

      I think Gates ought to move on. America ought to move on from this. Obama certainly ought to move on from this and start being a leader rather than a judge, or critic or so called thoughtful scholar.

      Gates needs to reflect on who he really is, and why he cannot control his reactions. and so should all Americans. People need to stop looking outward and blaming others for all of societies ills. And then try to decide how they will become part of the solution rather than continue to foster and enable the problem.

  5. neocon mom says:

    I think Gates, as a celeb academic, simply plays it up to the audience that he addresses. I notice that Cornel West is on stage with him. The same year, West gave the convocation at my college. We were also given a copy of his book, “Race Matters” (indeed it matters a great deal to West–his race is a conspicuous part of his identity.) West can only be described as an extremist–his long, rambling speech pretty much assured us, as a majority white audience, that we were racists whether or not we even knew it!!

    Mark Steyn this week in the OC Register has an amusing observation/ anecdote about Gates:

    “I confess I’ve been wary of taking Henry Louis Gates at his word ever since, almost two decades back, the literary scholar compared the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew to those of the Bard of Avon. “It’s like Shakespeare’s ‘My love is like a red, red rose,'” he declared, authoritatively, to a court in Fort Lauderdale.

    As it happens, “My luv’s like a red, red rose” was written by Robbie Burns, a couple of centuries after Shakespeare. ”

    Anyway, I think that anecdotal story and this video probably show Gates as he is when being more of a “celebrity” than an academic. BP, I’ll take you at your word that he has produced some useful work, but it’s also clear that he has taken that credibility and put it all on the line to be a race agitator.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      I call Bullsh*t. He is a classic example of being educated far beyond his marginal intelligence.

      I’ve said it before: worked with a black girl who was hired (quota, of course) from an historically black ‘university’ with a degree in computer science who sat at her desk for eight hours the first day because she couldn’t turn on a desktop computer. I swear to Buddha! Giving something (a degree) to someone (black, white, green, purple) is a sin. It only causes harm…

  6. bronzeprofessor says:

    “BP, I’ll take you at your word that he has produced some useful work, but it’s also clear that he has taken that credibility and put it all on the line to be a race agitator.”

    Fair enough. Well put.

  7. wardmama4 says:

    Are his inner demons the same as The One ™? I truly think that they hate themselves, know that they got a big pass somewhere and resent themselves for 1) taking it and 2) feeling as though they had to take it and thus are indeed less than?

    I can understand the arrogance – I’ve faced it often with people (including my mother and brother) who think that they are better than everyone else – but to spew racism in a simple situation is beyond me. That as BP says – signifies inner demons. Such as shame that we must suffer the consequence of such people. Use to be you could just tell them to go see a shrink and leave you the he!! alone.

    Now that would probably get you killed. It is a shame to see what must have been an inspired man turn so bitter and hateful. As I said – only thing I can think of is a deep self hatred.

    Reminds me of two things – in Dreams from My Father – Obama recounts one of his girlfriends (also half white/half black) saying that it was the blacks who made her choose and tried to confine/define her into a only being black (which she wasn’t) and would not let her be herself. . .(He stopped seeing her soon after that).

    And a great line from Guess Whose Coming to Dinner – Dr. John Prentice to his father – ‘You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man. ‘

    Wise concepts to help move America forward. Tell me what’s progressive about harping on the past? How does that help anyone grow and forgive and move forward? At all.

  8. canary says:

    2nd he said were gonna end “your mama” and “your daddy” b.s. Probably taught students along same lines Obama taught. What ever b.s. they wanted to.


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