Black Objectivists


Recommended Posts

I was on google, searching for a perspective from another black objectivist, this site came up in the results. I granted myself a little feeling of excitement, and then I clicked the link and read where the term came up. Someone named Rich Engle posted in a forum,

"Maybe this will all result in us actually locating the Holy Grail: A black Objectivist.

No, no self-respecting brother could get through listening to that thing."

Lol First and foremost I literally laughed out loud. Second I created an account with Objectivist Living. The third thing I would like to do is ask you guys, why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorites? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someone named Rich Engle posted in a forum,

"Maybe this will all result in us actually locating the Holy Grail: A black Objectivist.

No, no self-respecting brother could get through listening to that thing."

Lol First and foremost I literally laughed out loud.

It’s good that you weren’t put off by that, Rich sometimes pushes the envelope:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=8581&view=findpost&p=97953

The third thing I would like to do is ask you guys, why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorites? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

If you go through the Rewrite Squad thread you’ll find a case where Rand was asked why so few blacks are, I don’t remember exactly how it was put, in her entourage? I’m pretty sure it’s in that thread, otherwise it’s going to be hard to find.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7801&view=findpost&p=82475

Yes Objectivism is gaining popularity, but you’re asking why it’s not the philosophy of choice, when it’s not necessarily the case that there’s been a choice. You can’t reject what you haven’t heard of. It’s spread has had a lot to do with word of mouth and that takes extra time when there’s barriers, race included.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jean, the essay on racism that is in 'The Virtue of Selfishness' is the most important essay on race that I've ever read. As someone who was raised in the South this helped correct a lot of stupidity that I had picked up along the way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you go through the Rewrite Squad thread you’ll find a case where Rand was asked why so few blacks are, I don’t remember exactly how it was put, in her entourage? I’m pretty sure it’s in that thread, otherwise it’s going to be hard to find.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7801&view=findpost&p=82475

Here's the one where she was asked about "why the blacks do not seem to take up Objectivism: link.

Here's her long answer on Roots: link. (I was there and remember this answer as one which I found thrilling hearing it.)

There are three other answers among those which have been transcribed on the thread where she said something about blacks.

This one -- link -- pertains to school busing. It includes an obvious mis-speak, which is noted in the transcription, where she said "public" but meant "private." It also refers people to her article on racism for information about her views on that subject. The article appears in The Virtue of Selfishness.

This -- link -- a long answer to a question asking about "the cultural genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of black men in this country, and the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II" -- includes remarks which have occasioned considerable controversy, especially those toward the end of the answer, starting with where she turns to the subect of Native American peoples.

This -- link -- has a passing reference to blacks in connection with the questioner's wondering about "the way feminists have used blacks" in accruing power.

Ellen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> Why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorities? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

Jean, this is somewhat speculation, but I think there may be more than one reason:

1. Interest in the humanities, in philosophical speculation, in reading (long) novels tends to be associated a lot with elites, with leisure time, with college bull sessions, with having free time. Far fewer minority members are in such a high economic stratum, have come form generations of well-off families or those with connections, that they feel they have time for these pursuits. They tend more to feel the need to spend their time on 'practical' matters like breaking through low expectations, discrimination, getting a good job or profession or career. When I went to an Ivy League college, it was clear that the body there of relatively more privileged, secure students felt they had more time for speculation, for bull sessions. Later, when I took courses at a more hard scrabble, ethnic, urban school, any attempts to philosophize or consider the timeless questions of truth, justice, and beauty were brushed aside by students who were more concerned with vocational or every day survival type stuff.

2. Plus, "it takes one to know one": If a group - whether racial or professional - which tends to stick together, mix relatively less with other groups, or look to its own members for cultural models and influences has very few people who are familiar with a certain set of ideas, that will mean you have fewer chances to "know one" who is interested in Rand and thus fewer chances to learn of her from that source.

3. Plus, minority groups in this country have been cultivated by the Left to the extent that this inoculates them even more than the average middle-american against ideas like those of Rand that seem to be on the Right. This is true of all three of the largest minorities in America, regardless of income -- blacks, hispanics, and asians -- they all tend to lean more to the Left (or at least to the Democratic party), probably because of this, than the average American.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jean,

I suppose this had to come up sometime.

Black Objectivist as Holy Grail?

Heh.

You take the cake in the Objectivist subcommunity.

Black. Female. Young.

And you didn't even have to do anything to get it!

:)

Interestingly enough, you will find bigotry in some quarters of the Objectivist world, but it isn't against blacks. Just like with any group or demographic, there are individuals who are nasty and try to use the group's characteristics to promote their nastiness.

In my mind, I set the bar a bit differently for people I respect and admire. Being Objectivist or libertarian just doesn't do it for me, although when I find good ones, I really like them. My division is based on good character and bad character.

If a person has good character, I like being around him or her. If not, I want distance.

And if the person is a bully who won't stop bullying and won't go away, I often pop him one real hard.

Not all that rational, maybe, but it helps.

:)

Anyway, I'm glad you're black. I'm glad you're a woman. I'm glad you're young. But none of that really means much in my mind.

I'm mostly glad you're JeanBean. That, to me is the Holy Grail.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the early 1970s, I became friends with a black Objectivist with the improbable name of Orlis Trone. I got to know Orlis after reading some of his articles in a small circulation zine. (I don't recall the exact name of the newsletter, but it was something like "Freedom Network News.")

Orlis and his wife attended some parties in Inglewood (Ca) that were hosted by my girlfriend and me. When I told Orlis that I enjoyed his writing, he related an incredible story. Orlis was illiterate until young adulthood. While Orlis was working in a factory, a friend and co-worker taught him to read (and write) by using Atlas Shrugged as a text.

I haven't seen Orlis since those early years, but a Google search shows that he is still around and still writing. See, for example:

http://www.lahontanvalleynews.com/article/20100406/NEWS/100409911

Ghs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The third thing I would like to do is ask you guys, why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorites? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

I think aesthetic arrogance is a contributing factor. I've seen white Objectivists tell black Objectivists that their tastes in music are uncultured, unsophisticated and objectively inferior. There's sometimes an attitude conveyed of "you're music is that of filthy, mindless savages" directed at people who enjoy music that isn't based in white/European traditions and preferences. Which is too bad because when Rand wasn't saying similar things, there were times when she recognized that different cultures seem to speak different musical "languages" that won't be appreciated by those who don't speak them.

J

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jean,

I've met a few African-American Objectivists over the years (long enough ago that the same folks might not call themselves Objectivists now, even if their core philosophical views have not changed). None of them are famous.

Among those I haven't met, but whose work I've read, are:

Anne Wortham, an academic sociologist who acknowledges Ayn Rand as a major influence. Here's a brief example of her political writing:

http://james4america.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/no-he-cant-by-author-anne-wortham/

Susan Love Brown is an academic anthropologist who considers herself a Randian. She's published two articles in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, one of which is abstracted here:

http://www.aynrandstudies.com/jars/v9_n1/9_1toc.asp

Robert Campbell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Orlis and his wife attended some parties in Inglewood (Ca) that were hosted by my girlfriend and me. When I told Orlis that I enjoyed his writing, he related an incredible story. Orlis was illiterate until young adulthood. While Orlis was working in a factory, a friend and co-worker taught him to read (and write) by using Atlas Shrugged as a text.

A great story George, and a reminder of how much hidden influence Rand has had.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Orlis and his wife attended some parties in Inglewood (Ca) that were hosted by my girlfriend and me. When I told Orlis that I enjoyed his writing, he related an incredible story. Orlis was illiterate until young adulthood. While Orlis was working in a factory, a friend and co-worker taught him to read (and write) by using Atlas Shrugged as a text.

A great story George, and a reminder of how much hidden influence Rand has had.

Yes, indeed. There must be innumerable stories of Rand's "hidden influence" (a nice phrase, btw), but very few of these will ever be told in books about Rand, unfortunately.

Ghs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The third thing I would like to do is ask you guys, why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorites? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

I think aesthetic arrogance is a contributing factor. I've seen white Objectivists tell black Objectivists that their tastes in music are uncultured, unsophisticated and objectively inferior. There's sometimes an attitude conveyed of "you're music is that of filthy, mindless savages" directed at people who enjoy music that isn't based in white/European traditions and preferences. Which is too bad because when Rand wasn't saying similar things, there were times when she recognized that different cultures seem to speak different musical "languages" that won't be appreciated by those who don't speak them.

J

Would have to say this depends on whether speaking of jazz or rap...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whooo, where do I begin?

It took me a while to read all the gold you guys have given me, but it was worth it. The rewrite squad is by far one of the most interesting things I have read by Rand, and is just another reason why it is crucial for me to pick up her nonfiction works. All of your combined memories and insight mean a lot to me, for reasons I cannot explain it warmed my heart a little to read your comments. I personally am not in the business of recruiting a specific race or ethnicity, but it was interesting to see all of your explanations for the imbalance. Mr.Michael Kelly Stuart you truly speak the truth lol.

I am not sure if I own "black pride" in the sense my family raised me to have, I believe that the term is a large blockade in the minds of African Americans when it comes to developing one's own self of pride and individuality. I grew up in Harlem, and all around me I saw beaten down folks struggling to make their little shop, or street stand stay afloat in a sea of Starbucks, Walmart, McDonald's, etc. I guess I can see why a whole neighborhood would want to band together and seek support from each other, and proudly display little "Black owned and operated" signs on store fronts.

Although it was never spoken aloud, I am well aware that if I was to became successful without the help of my race, and without "giving back" to my race, I would be labeled 'sell out'. I'm sure this is true for every minority group.

I am so happy this website is in existence, just thinking back to my initial quest for another "objectivist like me" almost makes me wanna pop myself in the forehead.

Btw, Anonrobot, can you elaborate on your comment?

JeanBean

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you go through the Rewrite Squad thread you’ll find a case where Rand was asked why so few blacks are, I don’t remember exactly how it was put, in her entourage? I’m pretty sure it’s in that thread, otherwise it’s going to be hard to find.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7801&view=findpost&p=82475

Here's the one where she was asked about "why the blacks do not seem to take up Objectivism: link.

Here's her long answer on Roots: link. (I was there and remember this answer as one which I found thrilling hearing it.)

There are three other answers among those which have been transcribed on the thread where she said something about blacks.

This one -- link -- pertains to school busing. It includes an obvious mis-speak, which is noted in the transcription, where she said "public" but meant "private." It also refers people to her article on racism for information about her views on that subject. The article appears in The Virtue of Selfishness.

This -- link -- a long answer to a question asking about "the cultural genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of black men in this country, and the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II" -- includes remarks which have occasioned considerable controversy, especially those toward the end of the answer, starting with where she turns to the subect of Native American peoples.

This -- link -- has a passing reference to blacks in connection with the questioner's wondering about "the way feminists have used blacks" in accruing power.

Ellen

Ms.Rand's comments on the Roots series really shed a lot of light on some of the feelings I have towards my culture, and helped to put a lot my subconscious feelings into words, true eye opener. Thanks for sharing that link.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anne Wortham, an academic sociologist who acknowledges Ayn Rand as a major influence. Here's a brief example of her political writing:

Anne Wortham was at the seminar back in 1995. I don't know if she has ever returned since.

She was interviewed in Full Context in 1994, but the interview doesn't seem to be online:

http://www.fullcontext.org/people/wortham.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Jean,

Great to have you on board! I am glad you brought this up because I have been wondering if there are some members of minority groups (such as blacks) who are Objectivists.

I am glad to see there are and you seem to count yourself as one.

FWIW, if you like to read, Zora Neale Hurston was black and someone Objectivists and libertarians could appreciate. She is a lesser-known but certainly notable Old Right author who, like her associates (such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Isabel Paterson, and Garet Garrett), was critical of FDR and The New Deal. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a classic of literature.

:)

I was on google, searching for a perspective from another black objectivist, this site came up in the results. I granted myself a little feeling of excitement, and then I clicked the link and read where the term came up. Someone named Rich Engle posted in a forum,

"Maybe this will all result in us actually locating the Holy Grail: A black Objectivist.

No, no self-respecting brother could get through listening to that thing."

Lol First and foremost I literally laughed out loud. Second I created an account with Objectivist Living. The third thing I would like to do is ask you guys, why do you think objectivism is not the philosophy of choice by minorites? I mean, it's not the philosophy of choice by the population in general, but it seems almost non-existent in minority groups.

Edited by Mike Renzulli
Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, if you like to read, Zora Neale Hurston was black and someone Objectivists and libertarians could appreciate. She is a lesser-known but certainly notable Old Right author who, like her associates (such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Isabel Paterson, and Garet Garrett), was critical of FDR and The New Deal. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a classic of literature.

I recently watched a PBS documentary on Hurston. She was a fascinating woman who reminds me in some ways of Rand.

What especially fascinated me was Hurston's opposition to much of the civil rights legislation during the 1960s. She said something to the effect that if people didn't want to associate with her, then that was their loss, and that she didn't care to deal with people who were forced to deal with her. (She put it more eloquently than this, of course.)

I have not read anything by Hurston, but she is now on my "to read" list. to.

Ghs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jean,

Do you know Star the Hater (Troi Torain)? I talked to him a few years ago and he sent me his book, Objective Hate (which is a hoot).

Despite the counter-culture kind of thing of taking a word like "bad" or "hate" and spinning it around, he was cool. (I say that even if he sometimes--er, often--did go too far in rhetorical excesses. :) )

I was sorry to see him leave the public eye. I hope he comes back.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My guess is that the tremendous amount of discrimination have forced African-American to have much more a group mentality than white Americans. Blacks had to band together just to survive and a black man striking it out alone like Howard Roark just wouldn't be realistic. African-Americans are also more religious than white people and Objectivism's views on faith would likely offend many African-Americans who could be seen as conservative or even libertarian. Most Objectivists also opposed the Civil Rights Act, which while it was a government initiation of force on private businesses, went a long way to improve the standing of African-Americans in this country. The Objectivist position, while correct in principle, wasn't Objectivism's best P.R. moment in terms of social progress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now