A predictable moment in progressive meetings of virtually any sort, even at incipient stages of an organizing effort, is when someone—more or less piously, more or less smugly, always self-righteously—rises to introduce the concern that, “As I look around the room, I don’t see enough of the X, the Y or the Z present” and to issue the standard calls for inclusiveness and for making greater effort to reach out, etc. This intervention has a pro forma, gestural quality. It is a ritual act that seems automatic and obligatory. Like a mantra or a Catholic prayer of ejaculation, its purpose seems more therapeutic and aesthetic than instructive. It is typically offered as a self-sufficient commentary, seldom accompanied by specific proposals for correcting the perceived imbalances. Sometimes, in the unfolding of a meeting or event, it is possible even to notice identitarians surveying the room, seemingly with only scant regard to the progress of the meeting’s agenda, doing an inventory of the groups arguably not represented— in preparation for tailoring the predetermined intervention to the specific gathering.

– Adolph Reed, Jr., Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (2000)


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