At Wednesday’s meeting of the Council, Councilmember Inez Barron entertained the Chamber with a lively sing-song recitation of a black supremacist poem which, she explained, she had originally composed to “keep my students engaged.”
The poem describes the glories of “African people,” who “have a common bloodline,” and were “the first to walk the earth.” CM Barron describes the “African by heritage” as “black, red, tan and gold” and “the first of human birth.”
Barron’s poem goes on to resurrect the widely discredited “Black Athena” hypothesis, which stirred up a minor academic controversy in the late 80’s when the argument, which stresses an Egyptian and Phoenician foundation to Greek civilization, was put forth by Martin Bernal. Inez Barron roughly summarizes the Black Athena thesis in the following quatrain:
The Greeks came to African universitiesThe poem also posits a “link” between ancient African and Mexican civilizations, established by cross-Atlantic African seafarers. Certain 19th century pre-Columbian scholars, impressed by supposed facial resemblances between monumental Olmec heads and African people, had made assumptions about the possibility of such a connection; later, Mormon archeologists drew similar conclusions based on the appearance of pyramids on both continents. Mainstream academic research remains skeptical regarding the “link.”
We taught them how to diagnose and do brain surgery
We taught them math, geometry and then we taught them trig,
Physics and astronomy oh yes oh yes we did!
Councilmember Barron, who chairs the Committee on Higher Education, concluded her poem by assuring us that “this is just a tidbit of ancient Africa/She civilized the whole world, we owe it all to her.” It is not a diminishment of Africa and its people to suggest that perhaps “the whole world” was not in fact “civilized” by it. One could only imagine the sentiment on the floor of the Council if a hymn to Europa and its “civilizing” influence upon the world were to be proclaimed aloud.
CM Barron’s spoken word performance has received odd coverage. The Times’ Kate Taylor notes incorrectly that Barron “asked her colleagues to snap along as she recited a poem in honor of Black History Month.” Perhaps if Barron had in fact said anything about Black History Month before her recitation the whole thing would have been slightly less bizarre, although only slightly, because Black History Month typically covers the actual history of African-Americans: pseudohistorical and tendentious arguments about the race of Cleopatra or hyperdiffusionist theories regarding the spread of copper are not usually included in Black History Month syllabi, at least in NYC public schools.
Inez Barron made some other strange remarks Wednesday. Mourning the death of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi, CM Barron noted that Lumumba (who once served as the second Vice-President, and later Minister of Justice, of the short-lived Republic of New Afrika, provisional capital: Hinds County, Miss.) had participated in the legal defense of the Scott sisters, “who were sentenced to an inordinate time for a minor crime.” The “minor crime” of the Scott sisters was armed robbery with a shotgun.
It is really a testament to the form-without-content nature of so much of our municipal politics that Inez Barron received a loud and cheerful ovation from her council colleagues for her poetic performance. Perhaps nobody bothered to pay attention to what she was actually saying, or just gave her a pass and decided simply to applaud the effort.