Freedom Rider: When Uncle Tom falls

Black people are in a constant struggle for survival all over the world. We have many enemies from many different places and some of them may even look like the rest of us. But like any embattled group we must rejoice when any of those forces are taken out. One of the worst, that is to say a black person who acts against the interests of other black people, recently became compromised and that is always good news.

Roland Fryer is an economics professor at Harvard University. He has all the trappings of success from tenure at a prestigious institution to the obligatory MacArthur genius grant. Rich people like Eli Broad fund his EdLabs think tank and Condi Rice sits on the board. It must be pointed out that these signs of achievement are also proof of traitorous behavior. The elites always get their money’s worth.

Fryer burst onto the scene in 2005. He was an assistant professor at Harvard and quickly became a celebrity academic because he used his credentials to beat up on black people . Fryer posited that perhaps black people are genetically inferior to whites or that black children don’t succeed in school for the same reason. He wondered if black children need to be paid in cash in order to excel.

Fryer didn’t stop with discredited notions of black intelligence. Instead of doing the work of an economist and analyzing the tremendous profits generated by the trans-Atlantic slave trade he wondered if salty black bodies were more able to survive the middle passage. Fryer’s work was already trash before he claimed in a 2016 paper that there was no evidence of racial bias in police shootings.

Every white supremacist and their apologists quote from Fryer’s phony findings. It doesn’t matter that at least one of his colleagues at Harvard publicly called his findings “wrong ” and disputed the manner in which he presented them to the media. But the damage was done and every racist loves to quote Fryer when the issue of police murder is discussed. The New York Times and other opinion makers in corporate media immediately seized upon his work and added to their lying and obfuscations that make white supremacy more palatable to the elites.

The Fryers of the world may really believe in the poison they spread or they may just be opportunists. The difference may not matter. What matters is that they do untold harm to black people. But Fryer’s stock went down recently with the announcement that he has been accused of sexually harassing two students. Harvard University banned him from his own lab and the state of Massachusetts is investigating him.

We must be clear about how to treat our enemies. Fryer may or may not be guilty of sexual harassment but his fall from grace must be celebrated regardless of the outcome. He is a traitor, a quisling, the worst sort of Uncle Tom. Fryer doesn’t have the excuse of our ancestors who did whatever they could in order to survive Jim Crow terrorism. He profits directly from the system because he chose to be a turncoat against his people. As such he is entitled to no quarter, no comfort and no expression of sympathy. When the bottom feeders like Fryer have a fall, the rest of us must rejoice.

Those who are faint of heart may hesitate to condemn black men accused of sexual wrong doing. But Fryer should get no such consideration. His duplicity should never be forgiven or forgotten. He happily chose to push black people under a bus. The inclination to rescue any black person who faces scrutiny and scorn should stop. Everyone isn’t worthy of a defense.

At the very moment when police murder became a galvanizing issue and spawned a mass movement, Fryer used his intellect to undermine the human rights demands of millions of people. His words were a gift to people who want to maintain the right to brutalize and kill. When he pleads for help or cries out that he is innocent he must get the cold shoulder. That is what he did to the rest of black America. When the self-haters and opportunists fall we should not try to pick them up. Let Uncle Roland stay on the ground.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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