Black History Is Not Marxist History


Was Karl Marx black?

How about Lenin?

Or Antonio Gramsci?


These are the figures behind the kind of black history being promoted by 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones and her allies. 

The 1619 Project is more accurately a Marxist history than a black history. 

It promotes history through the lens of neo-Marxist Critical Race Theory and the neo-Marxist school of New History of Capitalism, whose practitioners overwhelmingly are white male professors at Ivy League universities. 

Ironically, Nikole Hannah-Jones, in a recent tweet slamming an anti-1619 Project issue of National Review complained that it did not include any black women and only one black person in an issue intended to “write about a slavery project created by a Black woman.” Economic historian Phil Magness, her frequent target who calls the New History of Capitalism “an error-ridden ideological echo chamber,” posted a group of photos of these New Historians, including Project contributor Matthew Desmond,  that looked like it could have come from a reunion of an Ole Miss fraternity in the 1950s. Ironically, Hannah-Jones continues to advance Desmond’s claims, while reserving “most of her ire” for political science professor Wilfred Reilly, a contributor to the National Review issue, who happens to be black. 

Yet, Hannah-Jones has become a sought-out television pundit who frequently appears on MSNBC to commiserate with Joy-Ann Reid about what they call censorship laws against the use of The 1619 Project in schools. Recently, she expressed agreement with Reid, as Reid inveighed against Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s Stop WOKE Act. Citing the Act’s language, Reid said that the attempt to prevent feelings of “anguish” or discomfort applies to “white children” only. Hannah-Jones agreed, “We should feel uncomfortable about racial apartheid.” 

Reid played the statement of Rick Stevens of Florida Citizens Alliance, “We want teachers to take sides that slavery was wrong. But they don’t need to take sides that one race purposely did it, and so now that race is forever condemned and another race is forever exalted.” Twisting around his words, Reid claimed that “You cannot teach this history without race.” Hannah-Jones took the cue, stating, “Slavery was a racist, racialized system. You could only be enslaved if you were of African descent. And the enslavers were of European descent.”

True, laws forbade the enslavement of white people. But not all “enslavers were of European descent.” 

In fact, as I point out in Debunking The 1619 Project, a significant percentage of free blacks — proportionally a third as many as whites — in the antebellum south were enslavers. Hannah-Jones revealed that she knows this too, when in a Los Angeles Times interview, she named The Known World, about a black slaveowner in antebellum Virginia, her favorite novel.

Hannah-Jones also pretends that slavery had been invented in Jamestown in 1619. She ignores slavery’s global and transhistorical existence. In response to my challenges on Twitter, she blocked me and then tweeted, “Like, imagine using 1,000-year-old history to justify downplaying 150-year-old history” — thus revealing that she was lying by omission.

Yet, on MSBC she replied to Reid’s prompt about whether black history would even be legal in Florida with, “When you ask, will we see Black History Month being outlawed, we’re already seeing black history programming being challenged in some states . . . because some white parents think that that’s Critical Race Theory. . . .” 

Well. . . . 

Similarly, Keisha N. Blain, professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, who co-edited, with Ibram X. Kendi a collection titled Four Hundred Souls which included essays by Hannah-Jones and other 1619 Project contributors, in a recent article in the communist-sympathizing Nation, equated black history with CRT. She claimed that the “obsession over critical race theory is a new manifestation” of “long-standing efforts to keep Black history—and the perspectives of Black Writers—out of the classroom.” Yet, she cast  conservatives’ opposition to “’critical race theory’ as being “rooted in a desire to shield their children from the uncomfortable aspects of history and evade ‘sensitive’ topics such as racism, white supremacy, and inequality.” 

The “history” pushed by those like Blain and Hannah-Jones does present an anti-white/anti-capitalist perspective, per CRT. It distorts history. It presents white people as uniquely marked with the “original sin” of slavery.   

It follows the diktats of Vladimir Lenin, not the principles of the “father” of black history month, Carter G. Woodson. After Lenin gave orders that “The Negroes in America” were to be used as “a strategically important element in Communist activity,” the Communist Party USA released a statement in 1921 saying that the “sufferings” of “Negroes” were to be fixed on the “bourgeoisie and the Capitalist-Imperialist System!” Slavery represented the quintessence of capitalist exploitation.

Woodson, in contrast, acknowledged the “1,000-year-old history.” In his 1922 book, The Negro in Our History, Woodson stated, “That the Negro should be enslaved was in the halcyon days of the institution no exception to the rule. Slavery was once the normal condition of the majority of the inhabitants of the world.”

Sadly, in the 1920s, a number of black Americans were lured to the Soviet Union. One of these tragic figures was Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a writer and actor, who became an enthusiastic propagandist, only to meet his death in the gulag in 1939 by starvation, overwork, and beatings. But even such horrific deaths cannot dissuade communist-sympathizing historians like Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore. In Defying Dixie: The Radical [i.e, Communist] Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950, Gilmore defies the observations of black writers of the time, such as George Schuyler, and asserts that the Communists were the only white people concerned about black people in the South. She describes the excruciating death of this “first black communist” in poetic terms, as evincing “the perfect equality of the gulag.” 

Not surprisingly, Gilmore has become a promoter of The 1619 Project on Twitter. 

The attitude of Gilmore is that individual black lives, like Fort-Whiteman’s, don’t matter.

And that is how Nikole Hannah-Jones felt about the loss of life — black and white — and property during the 1619 Project riots in 2020. 

That is how Communists think.

There is plenty of black history and more can be written, especially about conservatives like George Schuyler. But we should not allow Hannah-Jones and revisionist historians to confuse us about what it is. 

Mary Grabar, Ph.D., a resident fellow at The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, is author most recently of Debunking The 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America and is completing a biography of George Schuyler.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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