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Friday, February 14, 2020

Krazy Kat and more race riots

Through pure serendipity this week I came across a "Talks at Google" video of journalist Michael Tisserand discussing the life and times of George Herriman, famous for his comic strip Krazy Kat, from his book "Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White."  There's an excellent review here at the New York Review of Books.

Through his studies, Tisserand discovered more about Herriman's ethnic heritage, which was Creole from the free people of color community in New Orleans, although Herriman passed for white for most of his life and the "colored" designation on his birth certificate was unknown until 1971. Herriman died in 1944.
Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse

Tisserand discovered examples of Herriman's work, outside of his Krazy Kat strip, responding to racial strife of his time, including his response to the race riots that resulted when a black boxer, Jack Johnson, beat a white boxer in 1910.

One of the most important realizations I have had thanks to doing this Pinkerite blog is how many times since Emancipation white people have attacked black communities, killing and looting, and yet how rarely these incidents are reported or acknowledged. And here is another example - the hateful retaliation of the white majority against black communities over a boxing match.

Tisserand also makes the connection between Herriman's view on race and the Krazy Kat strip itself. Just fascinating stuff. I recommend you watch this Google talks video.

Meanwhile during this Black History Month 2020 I was surprised to see Steven Pinker tweeting about black history. The same black history that Pinker's friends, like Sam Harris and the gang at Quillette try to minimize as an explanation for the failure of African Americans to thrive post-Emancipation in favor of their claim that the fault lies with the genetics of African Americans themselves.

Has Steven Pinker turned over a new leaf, or is he using Henry Louis Gates as a shield for his own long-standing support for race science? 

We'll see how long it takes until Pinker once again promotes Quillette or another proponent of race science, as he did when defending racist charlatan Noah Carl just last month.

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