Sat, 16 March 2019
“ADOS followers throw away the internationalism of their forbears, embracing instead a sometimes polite, but always frank hostility toward immigrants of all nations on the grounds that they’re either economic competition for native-born blacks...”
Why can’t y’all just decide to be what you already are – more like us – a white co-worker named Travis asked me in the early 1980s. He was a diehard Southern Baptist, Reagan was the president, and we were working at the Hammond Pullman plant, laying on our sides routing ducts and cabling in the tiny equipment rooms beneath Amtrak cars, talking politics and history. I’d just brought up the war in Vietnam, in which the US killed 3 million Vietnamese alone, and the murderous wars in Central America which were happening as we spoke. I probably threw in some references to the ongoing wars for liberation in southern Africa as well.
But you were born here, Travis insisted. Your parents and grandparents were born here, not over there. You’re an American, just like me. What are those people to you?
I never did get through to Travis. War crimes against black and brown people and a mountain of dead possibly communist foreigners meant nothing to him. His identity was not with humankind, certainly not with the working class, his White God and but with his white or mostly white tribe whose flag was the stars and stripes and which had been chosen to rule the world. In the decades since I have heard the same question posed a few more times. Why can’t black folks just be good Americans?Why shouldn’t we embrace empire and line up for our cut like everybody else? Well, now It looks now like Travis got his wish.
There’s an internet current of US-born black people calling themselves ADOS, the American Descendants of Slaves who seem to be trying their level best to be the kind of Good Black Americans Travis talked about. The ADOS people claim to be relentless advocates of reparations for the crimes of slavery, Jim Crow, the prison state and more, but with an important right wing twist which sharply differentiates them from the previous generation of reparistas. ADOS followers throw away the internationalism of their forbears, embracing instead a sometimes polite, but always frank hostility toward immigrants of all nations on the grounds that they’re either economic competition for native-born blacks, that they’re stealing the affirmative action and similar spots which ought to go to native-born black Americans, or that they are somehow cashing in the accumulated moral and social capital which belongs to the US born descendants of slaves alone. It’s a tribal thing, #LineageMatters, ADOSers tell anybody listening, and anyone not a US born descendant of US slaves on both sides of the family is in some other tribe. Until last summer’s wave of revulsion at the deliberately cruel separation of refugee children from their parents at the border, the kindest sentiment you could find on ADOS Twitter feeds was the equivalent of “Latinos don’t stand up for us, why we gotta stand up for them?”
Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore, originators of the #ADOS name and hashtag would like us to believe ADOS is a movement. But that claim is made so often by so many canny self-promoters that it’s hard to take seriously without some kind of proof. Carnell has been doing podcasts, internet writing and commentary, and most reccently YouTube blogging the past several years, while Antonio Moore teaches economics at Duke University. They’ve got a web site at ados101.com and plan to hold a conference this fall in Louisville.
“Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore, originators of the #ADOS name and hashtag would like us to believe ADOS is a movement. But that claim is made so often by so many canny self-promoters that it’s hard to take seriously without some kind of proof….”
Politically bankrupt black Democrats of the black political class don’t know what to make of #ADOS. CNN commentator and corporate lAngela Rye, following the lead of similarly enightened Democratic pundits, would like her audience to believe the ADOS message originates with the Russians. Rye is worse than clueless, she’s lazily chiming in behind the corrupt cops and the so-called intelligence community, a great deal of whom are also Democrats, who guarantee their own budgets and jobs by portraying Americans who disagree with the establishment as foreign-inspired traitors. It’s the RussiaGate scam. Democrats avoid responsibility for the failure of their party to reliably represent anybody but the lords of capital by accusing anybody with unanswerable arguments or inconvenient facts of being mouthpieces for foreign subversion. It’s cynical BS when they level it at the Green Party, or at Wikileaks and Julian Assange. It’s baseless garbage when they throw it at Black Agenda Report – and they have – and its errant nonsense when corporate lazy corporate hacks like Angela Rye throw it at ADOS. ADOSers don’t take money or direction and haven’t borrowed ideas from the Russians Their insular tribalism – and Yvette Carnell frequently refers to ADOS in terms of “our tribe” is entirely home grown and very very tribal. If you look, you can find its like just about anywhere on the planet. Like monarchy, it’s one of those ancient backward looking but widespread human social contraptions which belong in a museum.
The reparations advocacy of ADOS departs from the previous generation of pro-reparations activists, who for convenience I’ll call the Pan Africanists, even though some of them are not. The historic vision and practice of the Pan Africanist movement flowed through the careers of Guinea’s , Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and the final years of W.E.B. DuBois’s life in Africa. Pan-Africanists had their own reparationist ideas, and by the late 70s and 80s significant numbers of Pan Africanists had entered the academy. They were influenced by the current traceable to SNCC’s James Forman who called on white US synagogues and churches to hand over $500 million as reparations to philanthropic organizations, printing and publishing enterprises and organizations that included the National Welfare Rights Organization. These reparistas, reparationists, whichever you prefer, kept the internationalist view of the Pan Africanists, even when they don’t identify as such. They embrace the entire human family, while holding that the political and economic unification of the African continent and the coordinated democratic uplift of the African Diaspora is a giant and indispensable step towards human liberation worldwide. Their fundamental moral and political calculus dictates solidarity, with Africans and their descendants worldwide, and with oppressed people struggling against imperialism everywhere.
“So where, if anyplace will ADOS go from here? Right now it’s just internet noise. A lot of noise. If ADOSers have ever managed to put fifty or a hundred people in a room or anywhere in meatspace, not cyberspace it’s news to most of us….”
ADOSers have taken a different road. Being tribalists rather than internationalists, ADOSers rarely mention the existence of class differences among American blacks. They usually manage to ignore the very existence the US empire in whose heartland they and their tribe were born and raised, let alone explain how that global capitalist generates the influx of refugees to which they object so vehemently, Obviously, the refusal to talk about class is a kind of class politics itself, while their inability or unwillingness to examine and acknowledge the role of empire is a de facto endorsement of the same. Opposing racist and capitalist empire is what a left would do, and ADOSers are NOT leftists. ADOSers are one of the home grown intellectual outcomes of what Adolph Reed calls the substitution of the neoliberal politics of antiracism in place of building an actual left. (IF YOU’RE LISTENING TO THIS YOU SHOULD FIND THE PRINT VERSION AT BLACKAGENDAREPORT.COM AND READ THE PIECE THE PHRASE LINKS TO.)
ADOSers are in a permanent rage against Democrats, who they see as going out of their way to pander to every other constituency but black Americans who are owed reparations. What ADOSers miss of course is that while Democrats rhetorically pander to gays and Latinos every election cycle, they only deliver results to the lords of capital who fund their careers, to Big Insurance, Big Real Estate, Big Media, Big Energy, to Silcon Valley, military contractors, to charter school sugar daddies and hedge fund boyz and similar malefactors of great wealth. Candidate Barack Obama won the whopping majority of the Latino vote in 2008 and 2012 by promising a road to citizenship. But President Obama was the deporter-in-chief, delivering an all time record 2 million deportations during his eight years, so many that even a two-term Trump is unlikely to match is total cause there just aren’t enough undocumented people and green card holders accused of misdemeanors remaining who they can manufacture excuses to deport. President Obama separated immigrant families at the border and built hundreds of miles of border wall, leaving only the last six or seven hundred miles for his successor to complete. Obama opposed gay marriage in 2008, only coming around when election to a second term seemed certain. The pandering to other ethnic voting blocs that so enrages ADOSers is pretty much fakery, but as tribal folks will do, ADOSers seem to see only perceive the slights, the lies, the insults which are directed at them.
ADOS leaders Carnell and Moore have probably never participated in, probably never seen a mass movement against unjust authority. As far as most of us know, they’ve never organized a new union or tried to take over a corrupt old one, never led a rent strike, never founded a cooperative, or gotten themselves arrested for defying unjust authority. There was a time when those sorts of credentials were required for aspiring black leaders.
“ADOS is not a movement. It’s another hashtag, a brand. It’s shrunken, shriveled and tribal brand of reparations politics, tacitly endorsing US global empire and throwing shade on solidarity...”
So where, if anyplace will ADOS go from here? Right now it’s just internet noise. A lot of noise. If ADOSers have ever managed to put fifty or a hundred people in a room or anywhere in meatspace, not cyberspace it’s news to most of us. What put #BLM on the map back in 2015 was their Cleveland conference, into which corporate philanthropists allied with the Democratic party sunk a cool million or two for hotel and conference rooms, travel expenses, food, entertainment, per diems, media production and the organizing person-hours to bring several thousand people into town for the affair. ADOS doesn’t have anywhere near that kind of money, and it’s hard to imagine who might fund them. Carnell and Moore are not about to turn ADOS into a membership supported organization. The only institution I know of with which they’ve cultivated actual ties are some sectors of the black church. But the black church’s pockets aren’t that deep and they don’t have a tradition of funding what would look to them like a political initiative, unlike the mainline Protestant churches who are shoveling money at the New Poor Peoples Campaign.
ADOS is not a movement. It’s another hashtag, a brand. It’s shrunken, shriveled and tribal brand of reparations politics, tacitly endorsing US global empire and throwing shade on solidarity. Its backward looking tribalism, and hopefully its inability to find a way to finance growth into any kind of effective political force will doom it to haunt the margins of black twitter, YouTube celebrity, and some corners of the academy.
If we’re lucky.
For Black Agenda Radio Commentaries I’m Bruce Dixon. Find our audio podcasts – there are two of them, Black Agenda Radio and Black Agenda Radio Commentaries on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Libsyn or wherever you get your podcasts.
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Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport. He answers email, and has also been known to answer tweets to @brucedixon.
Direct download: 20190304_bd_ADOS_tribalism_shrinks_repartionist_politics-FINAL.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:03pm EDT