One of the names dropped during the Race and Philosophy episode was that of Stokely Carmichael. Below is a famous recording of one Carmichael’s “Black Power” speeches, given after Carmichael was appointed Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC:
Some quick historical context: This speech was Carmichael’s response to criticism of the new direction he was taking SNCC; to wit, spurning its previously interracial makeup, and turning SNCC into an organization exclusively of, by, and for “black people.”
Some of the allusions Carmichael makes in the speech to Camus, Sartre, and Fanon might initially seem to add little intellectually to its core message. But in fact, Carmichael’s argument mined solid elements from at least two Sartre essays, Black Orpheusand Anti-Semite and Jew.It was in Black Orpheus where Sartre first coined the term “anti-racist racism” to explain “negritude” as a natural Hegelian negation by African peoples against their European oppressors. And in Anti-Semite and Jew, Sartre argued that European Jews could never expect to integrate into European society without living inauthentically (which, yes, is one of those overdramatic technical existentialist terms Mark spoofed on the episode). For Sartre, integration and Jewish authenticity were incompatible, given the choice of European Jewry between (1) anti-Semites, who would go so far as to define Jews into existence, only to destroy them, so as to conquer their fear of modernity, and (2) “democrats” who would assimilate and therefore negate Jews existentially, so as to claim they had conquered anti-Semitism in defense of Enlightenment ideals.
So, yes, Carmichael’s speech can and should be appreciated on its own terms as a rhetorical tour de force. Even so, highlighting its Sartrean kernels may add context to the important, if troubling, philosophical question it poses.