I am a Latino and was an experimental physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During the 1990s, I was put in the position of being an “affirmative action coordinator” (AAC) for my physics division (an administrative unit) at the Lab. The Lab is a good-old-boys club, and being an affirmative action coordinator was one way for an ethnic minority individual to demonstrate their acceptability (submissiveness) and reliability (obedience and loyalty) to upper management, in the hopes of gaining future advancement (getting more pay) by an appointment to one of the few showcase token jobs.
There were certainly sincere trainers of AACs at the Lab, people who believed in the mission of creating greater opportunities for advancement by minorities and women, and I followed through on that training by advocating for such advancements, within the framework of the AAC role. The actual task of the AAC was to assist their management in compiling the annual report (to the Office of Equal Opportunity, OEO) on the ethnic-racial composition of their administrative unit, and the year’s progress or regress regarding the hiring and advancement of minorities and women.
My management quickly discovered that as the OEO mandate was for “minorities and women” they could get just as much OEO credit for advancing white women as anyone of a darker shade of pale. As this was far preferable on the tribal level the Lab embarked on a campaign of major pay raises and promotions for white women, allowing it to continue their traditional neglect of minorities with a sense of relief. To pass the first of my token acceptability tests, my job as an AAC was to go along with these reports submitted to the OEO.
This job experience was my personal introduction to the role of the “comprador” in the colonial administrations of all empires. I describe the comprador, or the native buyer of native labor for the colonial masters, in my article (linked down below) “Blacks, Hispanics and Immigrant Bashing for Colonial Control.” I did not last long as an AAC after my realization of its purpose in the eyes of the management.
The combination of my experiences growing up in white-dominant America and trying to make my career as a scientist, of mentoring minority physics students, and of “failing” my token acceptability test resulted in the formation of my more-or-less unified ideas about “race in America.” However, this is not a topic I wanted to explore, I preferred to think about physics, energy and nature instead of small-minded tribalism and bigotry in the service of careerism. But the course of life insisted on presenting me with “race in America” and I eventually had to “figure it out,” primarily to dispel my confusion and to get beyond my personal frustrations related to it. So, while I have my own synthesis of “race in America,” I have no pretensions to expertise on this topic, nor originality about it. Basically, I have fairly clear ideas about what pisses me off about “race”: I hate to see wasted human potential, and shuttered human minds.
Note added on 4 August 2019
For me, Yvette Carnell has moved from raging insight, in 2016, to delusional irrelevance in 2019. I can’t recommend her to anyone anymore. Jane Elliot, however, remains stellar.
The late Bruce A Dixon (1951-2019, managing editor of Black Agenda Report) was absolutely on target with his commentary on Carnell (27 April 2019), here:
About Bruce A. Dixon:
In searching the Internet for more Bernie Sanders videos to enjoy, I came across some by Yvette Carnell, and thus became aware of her work on politics from the Afro-American perspective. I was very impressed by what I saw and heard. I find Yvette Carnell’s commentary to be very sharp, insightful, erudite, and informed about current events and popular culture, and her delivery to be very spontaneous, fluid, lucid, articulate and witty. It is because of the experiences I mentioned earlier — combined with my enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders — that has made finding Yvette Carnell’s videos such a positive delight.
I love Cuban music, and this last year read a magnificent history on the subject, Cuba and its Music, by Ned Sublette. I recommend this book highly, and have written about it in previous blog entries (Chuck Berry’s “Louis, Louis” is a cha-cha-cha). The history of Cuban music is coincident with the history of African slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas. Sublette’s book opened my eyes about many aspects of my own birth cultures.
The Afro-Cuban experience has been one of interactions (as in the 30 year war for independence) and tensions (as in slavery) between Spanish-speaking Whites, and Blacks and Mulattos who also spoke Spanish yet retained some of their African languages. The Afro-American experience has been largely one of tension (slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Affirmative Action, neo-liberal economics) between English-speaking Blacks and Whites, and between English-speaking Blacks and Spanish-speaking Latinos.
In the same year I read Sublette’s book, which deepened my understanding of the Afro-Cuban experience, I discovered the work of Jane Elliott, which deepened my understanding of the Afro-American experience. If you are not familiar with Jane Elliott, the videos linked below will quickly enlighten you about her work and insights. Note that Yvette Carnell is a political scientist and black woman, and that Jane Elliott is a professional educator (originally 3rd grade) and white women; very morally lucid and intellectually powerful women.
Below, I list web-links to videos of commentary by Yvette Carnell, videos about Jane Elliott, and web-links to most of my writing on “race in America.” Some of my recent articles on “Campaign 2016” (Bernie, Hillary, Donald) are also listed because economic disparity is the driving dynamic of this electoral season, and the point of bigotry and racial discrimination is to maintain vast economic disparity.
Yvette Carnell videos:
Bernie Sanders Is Right: Black People ARE Poor
7 March 2016
Here’s How Black Clinton Supporters Are Just Like Tea Partiers
24 February 2016
Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Wants Them Scraps From Ms. Hillary’s Table
11 February 2016
Black People Obsess Over Black Culture Out of a Desperate Need for Validation
15 December 2015
“Pigment politics doesn’t get you (us) anywhere.”
Crabs in a Barrel Isn’t the Problem. This is.
22 October 2015
Jane Elliott videos:
The Anti-Racism Experiment That Transformed an Oprah Show Audience
Where Are They Now? | OWN (2015)
Jane Elliott: “How can we not be racist?” (1992 Oprah TV)
Being Black, by Jane Elliott
(0:59) (~1990s – 2000s)
Blue Eyed TRAILER – Jane Elliott
(7:03) (~1990s – 2000s)
Jane Elliott “The White Fear” (2016)
A deeper look: The psychology of racism (Jane Elliot on TV, 2015)
Epigenetics of Racism, with Jane Elliott
(Interview of Jane Elliott by Philippe Matthews on 4 November 2015)
(51:50) [Excellent – MG,Jr.]
“Prejudice is an emotional commitment to ignorance.”
Obama and the Psychic Auto-Shrink-Wrapping Called Race in America
20 March 2008
The Heart of Whiteness
21 April 2007
Blacks, Hispanics and Immigrant Bashing for Colonial Control
31 May 2006
Between Slavery and Socialism in America Today
10 November 2015
Red Badge of Bigotry
26 June 2016
The Cult of Hillary, the Ultimate Junk Bond
29 February 2016
Convenient Privileges vs Classified Trust (Hillary’s e-mails)
4 March 2016
Godzilla Breath Flames Naked Crooks (Campaign 2016)
11 March 2016
and, Be kind.
Update, 2 August 2017
During 2017, I read numerous comments (on Facebook) posted by Yvette Carnell, on the subject of immigration (which she is hostile to, particularly the illegal kind), and the presumably increased labor competition Black Americans (the “descendants of slaves,” not the later free African immigrants) face from immigrants generally and Mexicans – Spanish speakers – in particular. The following conclusion is what I consider the significant insight I have gained from a distillation of Yvette Carnell’s commentary:
Black Americans resent White Americans for not loving them, and they resent all immigrants and their American-born descendants for getting in the way of that yearned-for love.