The Clare Spark Blog

August 17, 2014

Improving “race relations”: Left, Right, and Middle

racerelationsThe race riot in Ferguson, Missouri (August 10, 2014 onward), is a reminder that we have made little progress in resolving the vexed question of “race relations” in America. This blog suggests that neither Leftists, Rightists, nor Moderates have a clue as to how to proceed in ameliorating what are called “race relations.”

I became interested in this subject while researching my book on the so-called “revival” of Herman Melville, universally lauded for his allegedly advanced position on prejudice and “race.” So I read a book published during WW2, by Gunnar Myrdal, assisted by Ralph Bunche: An  American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy (Harper, 1944), a massive research project funded by the Carnegie Corporation in order to fend off the depression-instigated race riots that were anticipated at the end of the looming conflict with Nazism and other fascisms.  Immersion in the Bunche Papers at UCLA and related materials alerted me to this volatile, incendiary, and unresolved subject.

First, an outline of the positions as put forth by American political factions and organizations:

The New Left: Unlike old Lefties (who viewed the bourgeoisie as developing the productive forces, but doomed) American history is essentially racist and destructive; propertied white males have abused indigenous peoples, blacks, Nature, immigrants, and women. There is no solution to the race problem short of revolutionary transformation achieved through [inter-racial] class struggle directed against finance capital (the master puppeteers). After the revolution, all particularisms (e.g. “identity politics”) will disappear in an internationalist commitment to communism and true individuality.

Liberals and other anticommunist social democrats: It must be noted that Bunche and Myrdal were at odds over prior strategies to solve “the Negro problem.” Bunche was infuriated by the liberal solution of “better communication” between whites and blacks. At that time, Bunche was writing from the left of Myrdal (a Swedish social democrat), and urging that blacks join unions to overthrow autocratic union bosses and all other bureaucrats toward the objective of worker’s control. At times, he (or more likely Myrdal) called for a more effective welfare state. Myrdal’s responses to Bunche’s militant memoranda resulted in mischaracterizing Bunche as an “economic determinist,” while leaning on him to separate troublemaking black “betterment organizations” from the harmless ones. (See Bunche correctly identified the Marcus Garvey movement and its offshoots as fascist and escapist, while criticizing such venerable organizations as the NAACP and Urban League as indifferent to the cause of Labor.

[But during and after WW2, Bunche was successfully co-opted by the liberal establishment and became an ally of the State Department and its British counterparts in his mediation of the “insoluble” Jewish problem (see]

Since the acceleration of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the repertoire of non-solutions has been added to by liberals: affirmative action, separatist curricula in academe, multiculturalism, whiteness studies (the latter adopted by the far left since it damns Amerikkka and the West). Through dwelling on the errors of the  past, while ignoring present-day education and other practical solutions, black rage has probably accelerated, though prominent black writers were angry enough (e.g., James Baldwin, Chester Himes). Since writing this blog, I have reviewed the Johnson administration recommendations now known as The Moynihan Report. See This might upset those conservatives who see the reconstituted nuclear family as the solution to black poverty and illegitimacy.

The Right: There is no cohesive conservative movement on this subject, but the most persistent call for relief from race riots, a threatening black underclass, incomplete transition to middle class status by American blacks, and female headed households (with excessive illegitimacy in “the black community”) has been a call for the rehabilitation of the patriarchal black family along with a religious revival, presumably headed by strong father figures willing to discipline and inspire children to study, to renounce gang membership, and to adhere to traditional religious principles. (The latter is expressed in support of school vouchers that would include sectarian religious schools, hence this strategy implicitly rejects “secular” solutions to group antagonisms.)

Given the sharp disagreements over strategy within the fighting factions of American politics, it is not surprising that Masters of Sex delivered a muddled episode on August 10, 2014 (see

Clare’s advice: Had the phrase “move on” not been sullied by the ultra-liberal George Soros forces, I would advise concerned Americans to stop dwelling on past failures and errors, but to focus on a quality education for all children, neither idealizing nor demonizing those aspects of the Western past that are irrefutably “racist” and demeaning to non-whites. There is a heated debate right now regarding whether or not “race” even exists as it is currently imagined; a revival of Lamarckianism may be in the works, thanks to epigenetics. As for the father-led family, that mostly conservative strategy seems utopian to me, and would take to long to demonstrate results, unlike potential changes in school curricula and in the media. [Update 8-29-14: it has been objected on Facebook that women may be inadequate parents too. This is true, but it is one feature of conservative ideology to drastically separate male and female roles in the family: men are the disciplinarians, while women offer unconditional love. Why should parenting be taught in the schools to prepare youngsters for the likely road ahead? Both parents should be setting boundaries and educating their kids for real life which is always a struggle, whatever the period in which kids must function.]

One thing is for certain: Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools in Harlem have established that black and brown children can “succeed” beyond our wildest dreams if there is strong cooperation between school staff and parents, and a challenging curriculum.

Hope looms on the horizon, but we are all responsible, white and non-white alike, for pushing Eva Moskowitz’s agenda forward, notwithstanding opposition from entrenched interests such as teachers unions (see comments below).



  1. Interesting convo here. Quite enlightening in fact. Nobody allegedly involved in education, and the slamming thereof, deserves a 500 k salary. As a public school teacher, I feel like I have just wandered into the yard of delusional thinking and stepped in something I have to scrape off my shoes. Dr. Doug Martin, author of Hoosier School Heist, should be lauded for his devotion to exposing those who make their living off the backs of children. Perhaps those of you who are displaying these juvenile childish behaviors in your repartee should read Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle. I quote, “Your Majesty. Please…I don’t like to complain.But down here below,we are feeling great pain.” The older I get, the more ashamed I am of people in general. How do they sleep? How do you sleep? Perhaps we should ask those children who suffer in this mess. They are the ones being stood upon by those trying to privatize and make money off of the education of youth.

    Comment by Janet Strole — October 6, 2014 @ 10:18 am | Reply

    • Are you, Janet Strole, a supporter of teachers unions with their outdated tenure rules and other features that make it hard to fire them? You are attacking the charter school movement but not identifying your own commitments or suggestions for improving public schools, which are clearly failing.

      Comment by clarelspark — October 6, 2014 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  2. […] On August 17th, Clare Spark of the blog YDS: The Clare Spark Blog, posted her incisive thoughts on “race relations” with the Ferguson, Missouri police murder of an unarmed Black man and the ensuing riots and militarized response by a swift and brutal police state as the ostensible impetus (Improving “race relations”: Left, Right, and Middle). […]

    Pingback by Clare's Advice: Sink the Pequod! — September 2, 2014 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

    • Douglas Storm, without my permission, quoted my private emails to him. Caveat emptor. And he also accused Eva Moskowitz of taking [bribes?] from billionaires, of whom I am apparently either a patsy or a filthy bourgeois. Another reason for my leaving the “Left.”

      Comment by clarelspark — September 2, 2014 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  3. [Larry Sand’s comment was in answer to one of Douglas Storm’s comments below. CS] Douglas, several issues. First you quote the notoriously wrong-on-every-count Ravitch; then you say you will not speak for her. So why even mention her?

    Then you bring up Eva’s salary. Maybe she deserves it. And she makes less than Randi Weingarten and does a lot more to warrant it. No complaints from you about Randi’s salary though.

    Why bring up the Friedman Foundation? And then Jeb Bush in the same breath? The only thing they have in common is that they favor school choice. And what does the Indiana foundation, Florida’s Bush have to do with New York’s Eva?

    The full name of the book you quote, “Hoosier School Heist” has a colon and then “How Corporations and Theocrats Stole Democracy From Public Education.” Maybe I’ll pick up a copy. But first I will make sure to purchase a tin foil hat so emanations from the black helicopters won’t get me.

    The bottom line is that the teachers unions are out to destroy Eva. Her schools are wildly popular and successful, and traditional unionized public schools pale in comparison. As such, the union crowd and their fellow travelers will do anything to make her life miserable.

    Comment by Larry Sand — August 28, 2014 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

    • What an interesting response. I know nothing of the “persons” we’re speaking of here. I quoted Ravitch and gave a link…facts can be facts no matter who disseminates can’t they? I’m not sure what facts are here on this post or in this comment string to support “Eva.” You seem to want to support a woman and are confounding her person (and your apparent enthrallment with her) with the structure and assessment of her education entrepreneurship.

      Hoosier School Heist is far from a “tin foil hat” document as it is, as I said previously, a book that simply follows the money. If you don’t think Jeb Bush and the Friedman Foundation have operatives in common then you have done zero research. But that’s a wonderfully informed comment you made about it.

      One may say “maybe she deserves it” as regards her salary, but who sets that salary? Who pays Moskowitz’s salary.

      If your interest is in breaking teachers unions it’s okay to say it–it’s all the rage.

      Comment by Douglas Storm — August 28, 2014 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

      • The facts in Hoosier School Heist are easily checked and corroborated.

        Comment by Douglas Storm — August 29, 2014 @ 1:51 am

      • You “know nothing of the ‘persons’?” Who Eva? Bush? Ravitch? Randi? If not, you are playing with a 26-card deck. Please become more informed.

        Re Ravitch – please do some fact-checking before you quote her.

        “Operatives in common?” What does that mean? My non-profit receives money from a philanthropist who also funds Friedman. Does that tie me to the Friedman foundation?

        Who pays Eva? I suppose her board okays the amount. The salary undoubtedly comes from public and private sources. I’m sure you know that nationwide, charters are funded at about 70-80% of trad public schools. As such, it is understandable that charters seek private funds to fill the gap. Hardly a sin.

        Re breaking the teachers unions and “all the rage” – you make it sound like mood rings or hula hoops. Surely you are aware of the damage they have inflicted on education over the last 50 or so years. If not eliminated, they need at least to be reined in.

        Comment by Larry Sand — August 30, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  4. Perhaps you’ve perused the opposition response to Moskowitz’s claimed successes? Having written about Diane Ravitch here as well, maybe you’ve seen this: Besides “fact checking” claims of success Ravitch makes the primary point about how student attrition is intentional in order to “show” well:

    “Moskowitz said, referring to the students in her schools, “we’ve had these children since kindergarten.” But she forgot to mention all the students who have left the school since kindergarten. Or the fact that Harlem Success Academy 4 suspends students at a rate 300 percent higher than the average in the district. Last year’s seventh grade class at Harlem Success Academy 1 had a 52.1 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s more than half of the kindergarten students gone before they even graduate from middle school. Last year’s sixth grade class had a 45.2 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s almost half of the kindergarten class gone and two more years left in middle school. In just four years Harlem Success Academy 4 has lost over 21 percent of its students. The pattern of students leaving is not random.”

    We could also consider that she pays herself about 500k annually as CEO of “Success Academy” as “not without meaning.”

    Of course, at this point in our current reform economy it’s impossible not to feel like schools are simply seen as the best “renewable” resource on the market and this in itself colors one’s view of the great leader of the “measured” success of the great method.

    Comment by Douglas Storm — August 28, 2014 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

    • Douglas Storm’s comment seems to me to be blatant teachers union propaganda. Diane Ravitch is the sworn enemy of charter schools. I have lots of blogs on her much vaunted “moderation” and heavily slanted writings.

      Comment by clarelspark — August 28, 2014 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

      • I will not speak for Ravitch (or for Weingarten) as Ravitch has been too easily on this side and then on that side–politically expedient as it suits.

        But aren’t you parroting the Moskowitz party-line?

        But I will point to all the money that’s come into Indiana (where I live) and a recent book, Hoosier School Heist, is basically one long tax document investigation coupled with a genealogy of crony appointments in service of taking the “public” out of public education. Recall that Indy is the home of the Friedman Foundation and that the “visionary” Jeb Bush has been quite a player here as well as Florida.

        What facts are you sharing that don’t smack of “measurement manipulation” by Moskowitz?

        Comment by Douglas Storm — August 28, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: