Melissa Harris-Perry is Blowing Smoke Again

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry brands the NAACP “irrelevant” in a May 30 New York Times opo ed without the bother of naming a single issue on which she disagrees with them. Shallow bran farts like this only make the New York Times because Harris-Perry is the unofficial spokeslady for a different faction of the black political class eager to supplant their elders under the brokerage model of black leadership we’ve been saddled with since Booker T;. Washington.

Melissa Harris-Perry is Blowing Smoke Again

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

MSNBC isn’t giving her four hours of Saturday and Sunday morning time any more, but Dr. Melissa Harris Perry is still the unofficial obfuscator-general for the up and coming faction of our black misleadership class. This special status elevates her brain farts to New York Times op-eds, the latest one of which takes the NAACP and some older parts of the black political class to task.

For those who didn’t take high school Latin, the word obfuscate comes from the verb “obfuscare” which means to becloud, to darken or make opaque, to blow smoke in our faces and other places, which is exactly what Harris-Perry attempts in her May 30 New York Times piece. She notes the NAACP’s chief is resigning, and declares it makes little difference because the civil rights dinosaur “has become marginal” and “an entrenched bureaucracy.” As evidence she points to the impending departure of North Carolina NAACP head Rev. William Barber, another darling of liberal media. The NAACP she continues “...does not seem willing to shed blood, literally, or in terms of the uncomfortable work that characterizes effective activism...” How anybody can “shed blood” any other way but literally is unclear, but this is how the professionals blow smoke.

Harris-Perry’s contrasting example of “effective activism” is Black Youth Project 100, a formation that originated in Chicago and has been prominently identified as part of #BlackLivesMatter. She retells the familiar tale of #BlackLivesMatter emerging from outrage over the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin, the failure of a Florida jury to convict him, and the lived experience of police brutality and impunity in Chicago, Philly and a hundred other places. She brings it back to a supposed contrast between BYP 100 and the NAACP, declaring that if the older outfit doesn’t “become radical” by looking to “undocumented women… queer women...black women” for leadership it may deserve to remain irrelevant.

Not much substance there, but that’s the nature of smoky brain farts.

What Harris-Perry never mentions is that the NAACP and BYP 100 share at least one thing in common. Both outfits funded by millions, in the case of the NAACP, and hundreds of thousands in the case of BYP 100 dollars from corporate one-percenters. Truth be told, the beef Harris-Perry and BYP 100 have against the NAACP is not about any political issues affecting the black masses. She’s just with the new crew, and NAACP is the old crew which Harris-Perry and others like BYP 100 would like to replace as the official spokesnegroes of Black America, and the prime recipient of one-percenter dollars that come with that recognition.

Bruce A. Dixon is ,managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport,com.