Monday, February 13, 2017

#1790: Leonard Jeffries

One of the leading and most famous figures in the movement to push afrocentrism into la-la land, Leonard Jeffries, jr., is a professor of Black Studies at the City College of New York, which is part of CUNY. He is also International Executive Director of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, and a founding director and former Vice-President and President of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). At one point in the nineties Jeffries was discharged from his CUNY chairman position, but he retained his professorship after a lengthy legal battle.

To the general public he is known for arguing that the accomplishments of African Americans go far beyond what is commonly recognized (such as the familiar revisionist interpretations of the history of ancient Egypt) and, accordingly, that public school syllabi are guilty of Eurocentrism (which they certainly are, but not quite in the ways Jeffries imagines). For instance, most people have, according to Jeffries, failed to recognize that Jews financed the slave trade and have later used the movie industry to hurt black people; in particular, “Russian Jewry had a particular control over the movies, and their financial partners, the Mafia, put together a financial system of destruction of black people.” So, not only were they racist; there was a genuine “conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood” by “people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani …” His views came to some attention after a 2-hour public speech in 1991 where he referred to Diane Ravitch, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, as a “sophisticated Texas Jew” (and repeatedly called her “Miss Daisy”) and scholars who disagree with him as “slick and devilish” weaklings before proceeding to give falsetto imitations of various Jewish and other white people.

Jeffries has argued that whites are “ice people” while Africans are “sun people”: “Our thesis is that the sun people, the African family of warm communal hope, meets an antithesis, the vision of ice people, Europeans, colonizers, oppressors, the cold, rigid element in world history,” says Jeffries (whites are also “pathological,” “dirty,” “dastardly, devilish folks”). He is also a supporter of the magic melanin theory, arguing that melanin gives blacks intellectual and physical superiority over whites. According to Jeffries, melanin helps people with dark skin “… negotiate the vibrations of the universe and to deal with the ultraviolet rays of the sun.”

Diagnosis: Anti-semitic conspiracy theorist and deranged lunatic. What is scary, however, is the number of followers he has managed to attract – mostly among people with legitimate claims for redress and justice. Jeffries, though, is probably not helping their efforts.