Thursday, November 20, 2014

Savant's Words

Interesting that you mention Paul Robeson. I happened to be re-reading parts of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF W.E.B. DU BOIS, and his comments therein on Robeson. And his comments on the reaction by members of the Black middle classes during the time when Robeson was persecuted by the government. Du Bois himself was in trouble with the government and notes "The intelligentsia, the "Talented Tenth", the successful business and PROFESSIONAL men, were not, for the most part, outspoken in my defense. There were many notable exceptions, but as a group this class was either silent or actually antagonistic... Other Negroes of intelligence and PROSPERITY had become American in their acceptance of exploitation as defensible, and in their imitation of American "conspicuous expenditure."...Their reaction to Paul Robeson was typical; they simply could not understand his surrendering a thousand dollars a night for a moral conviction." (THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF W.E.B. DU BOIS, PP. 370--71. Despite the idealism of the 1960s which affected some members of the Black elite, I fear that today they've become once more as benighted as they were in the era of McCarthyism when Du Bois and Robeson were being persecuted by right wing fanatics. -Savant