With regard to racism at Pacifica
From: Lyn Gerry
Date: Sun Jul 20 15:06:33 2003
Subject: historical summary
I've been listening for a long time in Pacfica. Here's what I 've heard:
Janice Bryant, a member of the iPNB say that WBAI would have a white manager over her dead body. I've listened a long time and never heard anybody make a similar statement about a black manager. In fact, since I've been in Pacfica, it seems that at least half the people in top positions were black, including a majority of the architects of the hijacking, yet though I listened, I never heard anybody suggest that this fact should disqualify black people from further positions of responsibility
When Janice Bryant made that statement I listened, and much to my dismay, the criticism of Janice for making that statement was all on LEGAL grounds - that it could expose Pacifica to a lawsuit as Janice was on the hiring committee.
I don't really care about the legal grounds, I am outraged to know that I shouldn't bother to apply for such a position because my skin color automatically disqualifies me to hold a position at an organization that would quite frankly be long gone if not for a few of us whiteys, myself included, who were fighting the coup while the celebrated (later to be) banned and fired were, apparently, kissing MFB's ass while she planned the sale of KPFA since it was just a bunch of "over 50 white guys with pony tails"
And I listened as Bernard and his pals did their damndest to prevent activists from getting the word out to WBAI listeners about the changes that were about to be made to the by laws in 1999 that would have spelled the end of Pacifica, including having Brother Shine try to lock the doors in the faces of the activists who were trying to attend a public forum so they couldn't address the crowd.
But when Bernard and Valerie and friends decided to join the struggle when the bell tolled for them, I was there to support their asses, and I'm pissed off and fed up with all the accusations of racism and I don't feel like listening to them anymore.
I am disgusted at the attacks on distinguished and beloved comrades like Carol, without whose efforts this thing would be down the drain, especially coming from a bunch of people who either: 1) weren't even around in the fight, or 2) kept their heads down while others got whacked as long as they were getting theirs I've listened for a long, long, long time, to Pat Scott talk about getting rid of the "hippie shit" - which as far as I'm concerned means people like me. And to a black national board rep and a black lab chair at KPFK disparagingly refer to environmental activists in public meetings as "white hippe tree huggers."
I listened for a long time, and the only person I ever heard referring to black folks as niggers on the air at Pacifica is my friend Errol. Certainly, I never heard a white person at Pacifica describe black folks in that way on or off the air.
No black person should ever have to put up with that crap, but then, why do I have to put up with racial slurs and disparagement against "white hippie tree huggers"?
And while we're on the subject of the sacred banned and fired of WBAI that seem to be the epicenter of the accusations of white supremacy in Pacifica - I was banned and fired too - nobody put on any demonstrations for me, and nobody did any on-the-pier fundraisers for my personal finances. In fact, I spent my own personal savings in order to work the equivalent of a full-time job for more than five years on this fight. I didn't expect fundraisers and demonstrations - fine. I didn't expect to be paid back or get post- victory booty - fine. I don't mean to suggest that I am the only person who has made sacrifices - a number of my comrades have lost relationships and careers in order to save Pacifica.
But I draw the line at being relegated to second class citizenship in Pacifica on the basis of my ethnicity. No, nobody has directed these remarks specifically at me, but I'm a white person after all, so this would include me. That's what's up my ying-yang, Janice.
>1. "It's really important to me and my sense of Pacifica that we work this out. Maybe I'm missing something.
Yeah, and while we're at it, let's talk about the "leadership" thing. I'm not into following leaders of any color. Futhermore, people at Pacifica, for as long as I can remembe, have constantly referred to Board members and managers as "leaders" Sorry, but those people are "bosses" not leaders. I never chose any of the managers etc that I had to deal with, some of them I liked, some of them I disliked, none of them were my leader. There have been people in Pacifica that I respected enough to follow - very few of them have ever been assigned some official position of authority by the powers that be in pacfica - none of whom, at any time, have I (or any other peon) had any say in, though we get to watch them sit up at a table and make decisions about something that belongs as much to us as it does to them.
This reliance on "the strong leader" has reached the level of pathology at WBAI. When Samori Marksman died, the whole station was like a chicken with no head, while various individuals competed for the crown, leading to the Utrician mess.
The whole discussion around the hiring of Don Rojas carried on in the same vein - the hope for the return of the good king that will make it all better, it looked to me.
You don't hire a "leader" and I wish people could get over this notion of manager as king/queen.
If Pacifica, an organization founded by anarchists, was meant to teach anything, it would be to teach the human race to learn how to be equals, to end the infantilizing relationship of leaders and followers that is the prerequiste for war-making and other tyrannical mass violence (like white supremacy) which means that a manager is simply an administrator who sees to the nuts and bolts realization of the general will, and stands as a buffer between the hostile institutions of this society and the station.
Obviously, in any human activity, people turn as appropriate to those among us who have the knowledge or wisdom to help the group at any given time. Leadership is situational and bestowed from the bottom up. Leaders are those who people choose to look to. And on the ipnb, that's Carol, which is why I believe she is so viciously attacked by those who desire grandeur and universal admiration but have not earned it by their example and efforts.
The more viciously someone attacks her, the lower they sink in my estimation anyway. This is a pathetic and sick organization where someone who was given what she has given, and achieved what she has achieved for all of us, should be exposed to such ill- treatment. And dare I add that nobody would mistreat her so ferociously if she were not white. or permit her to be attacked if her attackers were not people of color. Just one salient example of the racial problem I see at Pacifica.
We've talked at great length on this list about nstitutional racism in society. But the assumption, that doesn't jive with my experience, is that the race-baed power relations evident in the larger society are replicated in Pacifica. Race is a problem in Pacifica, but the dynamic is very different - this coup came about because many of the people driving it were black, and so they were insulated from criticism by the Pacifica culture where white people are afraid to criticize a person of color for fear they will be called racists.
Therefore, malefactors and opportunists are able to hide in the crevasses of the racial divide. It was that way before the coup; it was that way during the coup; it's that way now.
>4. "Yes, I hear what you're saying, and I respect the truth of your experience."
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