‘Maafa 21’ insults its audience
Startling to anyone who read Gunnar Myrdal’s work when it was first published and fought through the controversy over it at the time is Maafa 21’s abuse of it:
Maafa 21 moves from distortion to outright deception in its treatment of Gunnar Myrdal, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who, with his wife, Alva Myrdal, championed family planning and pioneered Sweden’s social democracy. In the film, Connie Eller, who is identified only as a “St. Louis community organizer,” but who is actually the founder of Missouri Blacks For Life, discusses Myrdal’s 1944 book An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. Myrdal, says Eller, “believed that not only could blacks not help themselves, he felt that nobody could help them, and the only solution in his eyes was to get rid of them.”
This is an outrageous distortion. Myrdal was initially commissioned to undertake a large-scale study of race in America by the Carnegie Corporation, whose leaders wanted the fresh eyes of a foreigner. He was horrified by segregation and by the conditions African Americans were forced to endure. He concluded that racism was a “problem in the heart of the American,” one that pitted the American creed of freedom and equality against American reality. An American Dilemma was an anti-racist opus; it was cited in the Brown v. the Board of Education decision; one of Myrdal’s collaborators on the project was Ralph Bunche, who later worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement. Maafa 21 quotes descriptions of the mindsets of white racists in a way that implies that they’re Myrdal’s own views. It’s an ugly trick, and a mendacious one.
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