Back in 2002-2003 I was a professor of English at Barry University. 'Professor' was actually a sort of honorary, titular identity for me then; more like 'professor-at-large,' because by 2002 I'd left my orthodox faculty position at Florida International University (FIU) in West Miami to go to Barry, located in Miami Shores. I was not really teaching anymore at Barry. I had grown disgusted with being in the classroom due to the growing illiteracy and politically reactionary attitudes of students who came to class resenting the idea of democracy and of public discourse, and determined to avoid free thought. I was also disgusted by administrators who were growing more and more brazen in their attempts to redact, censor and control the classroom curricula of professors.
Barry is a private Catholic college in Miami Shores, Florida. I went there because Barry allowed me to work as a tutor and graduate level academic consultant to students doing term papers, portfolios, and dissertations. I worked a bit on campus in a "Writing Center" there, but I was able to do most of my work online. I could choose to not even set foot on campus if I did not want to.
I was disgusted with professors and with being one, though everyone then, and even now, seemed and seems to spontaneously call me "professor" when they encounter me, even people who don't know me, as if that identity were somehow tattooed onto my head. It's peculiar. But then, my own demeanor, my rhetoric, and my attitude are probably such that, given the severe lack of any frame of reference in American culture for encountering people who read books and are public intellectuals and philosophers, 'professor' is likely the only context into which people can place those who argue (as opposed to bickering), who debate, and who analyze culture, politics, and history.
Even Socrates, dirty, ragged bum that he was, walking the streets of ancient Athens barefoot as a public philosopher as he did, would probably be dubbed 'professor Socrates' were he to stand on a given street corner in America babbling about the problem of forms or the infinite regress. That is, if he were not arrested and forced into a homeless shelter.
At any rate, it was back in the period of 2002-2003 that a sort of half-baked debate erupted between myself and a friend, Cuban-American Professor, Tony Rionda.
* * *
That debate was over the fascism of German philosopher and professor, Martin Heidegger. Heidegger lived from 1889 to 1976. He was born in Messkirch, Baden, on September 22, 1889. He was a fascist.
The debate crackled between Tony and I as we walked around the streets of Miami, at restaurants and café tables across the city, and via e-mail messages. Most of the debate is gone now, disappeared forever into thin air, which is the fate of most personal conversations and oral exchanges. There was no slavish, doting peon like Plato around to dogmatically write down everything Tony and I said to each other for future reference.
Some of the e-mail messages between he and I on the subject of Heidegger still exist, however. down below, those messages are reproduced and only lightly edited for sense (e-mail is a facinating medium: it has the spontaneity and personal tone of conversation which may be witty, sparkling, and vibrant, yet inasmuch as it is written down, it often presents a visual effect of dumbness. There are usually misspellings, half-finished thoughts, and strange, often surrealistic mixing of metaphors, twisted grammar, and tortured syntax). I have not edited most of those absurdities, so that the original ebb and flow of our thoughts are retained. I only edited what would not have made any sense at all were I not to have done corrections (private codes and symbols or jokes between Tony and I, for instance).
At the time we wrote these messages to each other Tony was teaching in the English department at FIU. We had been faculty together there, and we shared a circle of friends who were professors, intellectuals, and cultural workers. Tony and I often found ourselves sitting across the table from each other in various Japanese, Cuban, Chinese, and Thai restaurants around Miami, and at these gatherings someone was always talking, arguing, or debating something or other. Given that most of us were no longer allowed to do this in class or on campus due to the steady creep of corporate realism into the curricula of universities, we were arriving at the point where a restaurant was one of the few places where we could actually act like intellectuals and argue ideas.
As for me, I had remained defiant of the corporatized administrators at the universities where I taught, and I was in constant conflict with those administrators because I was ignoring their rules and strictures. I did and said in the classroom whatever I deemed appropriate to the task of teaching critical thought, literacy, and material analysis. I was labeled an anarchist/Marxist/black nationalist due to my refusal to knuckle under to the power structure of the university. I refused to even acknowledge their supposed 'power'. For all that, I was always one of the most popular professors with politically aware, engaged students. There are for more engaged students on American university campuses that our blind and dumb media might lead one to believe.
I suspect that Tony in fact felt goaded by what many people regarded as my intellectual radicalism. As a Cuban-American living in the city of Miami, a very culturally and politically conservative, even reactionary Cuban-American controlled city, he fancied himself a free thinking intellectual, yet in many ways, I would always tell him, he was failing to challenge himself or his cultural milieux, or so I felt then. Our debate was struck through, therefore with very fascinating, even illuminating racial, cultural, political, and economic dialectical conflicts that often were not openly articulated. My own messages come off as overly serious, maybe even Marxist (gasp!). Tony comes off, probably unfairly, as lazy, when in reality I think most of his writings in the exchange are actually a series of masks. Many of us practice masking in our discursive encounters, taking on voices and repeating formulas in order to avoid the risk of exposure or vulnerability. If anything is significant about the debate whose leftover bits are printed below, it is that reading such records of intellectual debates tell us so much not about the writers but about the cultures they speak from and of.
It is for those reasons that I decided to reproduce the leftover bits here. I did not get Tony's permission to publish his words, though I did inform him years ago that I was saving them for future use, including possible publication, which he did approve.
Perhaps readers will find the following interesting; psychologically even if not culturally. Or maybe the reader will find the following totally uninteresting. So be it. Well, you know what Freud said: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Sept 23, 2003, Tony Rionda wrote:
I have my semesters divided up into waves and particles and you caught me at a wave stage. Soon I will be back to particle status (all papers graded, just coasting and doing what I want), then I will address your email and read Perri's. I had no idea that you did not know about the Heidegger Nazi controversy.
Most who like H do and have a very "president's men" attitude about it. Anyhow, I remembered that I have a book that deals with these issues. It includes H's infamous Rectoral (?) address and his Der Spiegel interview. It is followed by essays by his students on the matter. He had a problem with one of his Jewish students, Jona (?) who is famous for writing about Existentialism and Gnosticism, but I don't remember if he went as far as turning him in.
In a few weeks I will fetch it from my friend's house and lend it to you. And, no. I don't expect to spend too much time talking about Heidegger. Say hi to Perri.
Sept 23, 2003, Ray Waller wrote:
Well, you know, I think Nazism actually is more a wave than a particle. We like to pretend that it is located in Germany in the 30's when in actuality it is a continuity--it is now very much rooted in the United States, and soon enough we will be doing all the very same things the Nazi academics did (if we are not doing it already, given the atrocities our government(s) has/have sponsored in Latin America, the Caribbean, North Africa, etc. Already, American college textbooks are full of fascistic pseudo history and propaganda, and our students are as jingoistic and 'patriotic' as the German youth were near the bitter endof the Weimar Republik).
Having read up now on Heidegger, I put that information together withthe information I had drilled into me at Cornell by a Professor Bathrick, who taught a kickass course called "Nazi Culture". That course taught me that Nazism was so widespread and gained so much legitimacy in the culture of Schiller and Mozart and Goethe not because the Germans were evil people, but because Nazism was shrewdly designed by a collection of political thugs (such as the ones now running our government) who cynically, step by methodical step, NATURALIZED nazi culture so that by the time people woke up to the severe, incremental distortion of politics, economics, culture, education, and even family, (sound familiar) it was too late.
I quit teaching in fact, not so much because the universities are fascist as because the universities are now about midway along the same route of Nazification as a PROCESS that Germany took in the early 1930's (lies in textbooks, the valorization of past nationalist wars of conquest, the sickening mytholization of old veterans of the previous, 'great war', corrupt, and cowardly academics who are not questioning the corporate takeover of curricula, the dumbing down of student intellect, the spread of contempt for art and philosophy in favor of 'blood thinking', and casual racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-semitism--in the form of patronizing, 'Jew-grubbing/Israel worshipping'(in the phrase of Dr. Jim Nadell) masking thinly the underlying viscious contempt in our society for Israelis, Jews, and particularly intellectual Jews)
Unless one is into hokey, 'moralistic' outrage toward people like Heidegger, which I myself do not indulge in--I do not believe in the existence of a 'personal God' and so I prefer ethics to morality--then one would naturally see Heidegger as sympromatic of something much deeper and far more familiar to us, than as a moral abberation. Besides, how the hell could any AMERICAN have the nerve to speak of moral outrage, given the uncounted crimes against humanity on our hands which actually dwarf the scant 13 years and ten million lives of Nazism's run? When I say Americans I include you and me. Lord knows, BLACK people are included, thanks to both Farrrakhan (populist Black bigotry) and Condoleeza (official, Black bourgeois fascism).
I guess I just try hard to remain connected to material reality, being the great grandson of a literal, actual SLAVE (my great grandmother was born a slave on an Alabama plantation and I met her in the 1970's before she died at more than 100 years old), and try to avoid he kind of dementia that passes as analysis and discourse in America. Americans have achieved an advanced case of schizophrenia and profound dementia associated with the very sociopathology that the Fench certainly recognize in us--in fact, the whole world recognizes it at this point, because we have finally produced our very own Nazi PArty (the Republikanische--the Republicans).
Yeah, "OLD EUROPE" has the blood of Colonialism and the very FIRST nazism on its hands, but anybody who has bothered to READ thirty damn years of history (Frank Snepp, Gore Vidal, Bertram Gross, Ward Churchill, Henry A. Wallace, Angela Davis, etc., etc.) knows that the inheritance (technological, cultural, even geneological) of the Nazi party was handed down directly from bombed out Berlin to Washington DC by way of the OSS which later became the CIA and FBI (Old Dulles, and Old Hoover).
Given all that, why the hell would I get worked up about Heidegger's bullshit before getting upset about the bullshit past and future, of those FIU 'professors' I used to call my colleagues. And that's not moral outrage I'm expressing. Black men who are into 'moral' outrage (like that friendly fascist, Bill Cosby, for instance) are the ones who end up as Colin Powell. Give me James Brown abd Dexter Gordon any day.
By the way, Dexter, living in France in the sixties, said to a French journalist, "America is so very sick that I fear she shall never wake up to her own brutality. Particularly with so many qestionable fellows whispering lies to her about how fine and good she is. She is not. She is a witch, my good man. And anyone who wishes to lose their soul, is welcome to her."
Dex's words are not at all undone by his eventual move back to the US. Typically, Black artists moved to France, lived there several years to recuperate, to build self determination, to make some actual money for the first time, to lay down some new roots, gain a wider, international audience, and then came back to the US for the first time with real safety and power. They usually kept right on being vocal about American fascism, too (like Dizzy Gillespie was late in his life, which is actually what ended the friendship between him and Bill Cosby. Cos' wasn't gonna stand still for niggers insulting his beloved Fatherland).
What Dex had to say about American fascism was nothing compared to what Abbie Lincoln (when she was living in France) said about Americans, and of course, Richard Wright (in France), Bud Powell (in France), Chester Himes (while in France and in Germany), Cecil Brown (while in Germany! Dig the big ass clue to some deeper truths involved in THAT irony, huh?), Buddy Bolden (while in France), and even Louis Armstrong (while visiting England--see, the truth about how vocal negroes like ME have always been about American fascism has been censored from the public record. What Americans get to hear from Pops is not his 'London Denunciations' of Hitlerian American government crimes against jazz musicians, but his smarmy, bathetic rendition of "What a Wonderful World"---ohhhhh, yeeeeeeahhhhhhhh.....), and the list goes on and on.
So you see, my original testiness with you over Heidegger was not a white liberal cop-out since I ain't a white liberal, nor could I ever be--America would never let me be. Just because Colin has deluded himself into thinking he's white does not mean his butt is not still Black. No, my testiness was in a context, historical and cultural. To talk about anything related to me outside of that contextr would be insane, brain dead, a-historical and--well, a university discussion seminar.....Well, you know what I mean.
Sept 24, 2003 - Tony Rionda wrote:
I'm not morally indignant over H. The question is to what degree his philosophy justifies Nazism. One of his students, for example, points out that Heidegger's early philosophy extolled commitment without specifying commitment to what. Hence, he claims to not have been at all surprised at his Nazi involvement. I believe he was Nazi till the end. If that is the case, then how can he offer such a radical critique of modernity and have been so totally untouched by it himself, personally? Could anyone have been that Schizoid? I don't believe so. When I deal with the US I do see the Nazi streak in it. However, I consider it to be quite overt and fairly limited (but am open to changing my mind). What I fear with Europe and H is that there is a much more insidious form of Nazism.. One that is never acknowledged as such, and that passes itself of as something new and different. Hence, ensnares even those who claim to be sophisticated intellectuals. As Angelou has pointed out, Europe was very accepting of Baldwin and Wright, but who wouldn't be accepting of blacks if they were all like that? If Europe couldn't even handle living with a bunch of Jews what would they have done with the descendants of slaves?
Now what European intellectual hasn't put down the US? Freud said the US was big, but a big mistake. Einstein complained about his mistake of having come here because of the "freedom thing." I believe that Europe doesn't like us because we are not all white. And, that much of what many here think is left wing criticism from Europe is actually right wing in disguise. I didn't think anyone saw it that way, but recently I saw Benard Henri Levy (had never heard of him before) on Charlie Rose saying that the French anti-American feeling comes from the right and not the left as many Americans believe. I would say that is true for other European states.
Last, I don't believe you will ever get rid of racism or Fascism. The best we can do is get it out in the open and try to keep it from getting out of hand, like we do with disease.
Having said that, I am not sure of the degree problem. I mean, we could be running a fever these days and must try to bring it down to a more tolerable level. But there is a difference in procedure if you accept the containment theory than if you go with the all or nothing view.
Sept 24, 2003, Ray Waller wrote:
Are you going to bother to define, even for yourself, exactly what the hell you mean by "Heidegger's (early) philosophy"? You were a philosophy major! Your professors taught you better than that. You are talking about philosophical discourse in the chunk-handed way that students do--the ubiquitous and naive assigning of possessive locutions to authors and thinkers as if those people own their writings and their thoughts. Also, you are stubbornly repeating the same fallacy (affirming the consequent) over and over again, as if it were an irresistable compulsion rather than an actual analysis.
WHICH of H' s ideas about commitment SPECIFICALLY are you referring to? To be precise, WHICH of the five-or-so specific theories I mentioned in my e-mail message to you last month are you (or was H's student) referring to when you say 'commitment'? What exactly do you MEAN by 'commitment" it sounds almost as if you are making assumptions about the concept in an almost Anselmian sense. Or Aquinas, against the radical delimitationism of Descartes.
Which reminds me, it never really did make much sense for any of us to go about even using the term 'modernity' or 'modernism' with such confidence, because the modern impulse really began in the 1200's, if not earlier--this is exactly the original impetus behind Post Modernism, right? Frederick Jamison, in discussing architecture makes the point that through architecture we can recognize the falsety of epochs, and the CONTINUITY of philosophical ideas (remember what I was saying about continuity vs, particularism in my last e-mail?) In short, the very same dispute between Andre Breton (modern) and Richard Wagner (Classicist) was always already going on between Aquinas (Classicist) and Descartes (POST-modernist). Are you a closet Scholastic?
Remember how in undergrad Shakespear class the professors made a big deal out of the 'mystery' of the rage against the storm scene in "KingLear"? A bizzarely modernist scene which somehow pops up in the middle of an Elizabethan auhtor's works? How? Why? Shakespeare, they taught us, was in no other way modernist, yet this scene presages modernity (rejection of Nature, God, predestination, and the humanist urge against fate. blah blah). Of course, as we got older, and as we became grad students we came to recognize that this is a typical flattening of the continuity of history and culture.
Hell, what were the Hellenic Greeks, but moderns? What was Athens, if not the first modernist city in the West? What was Shakespear if not an inheritor of Hellenic tradition?
Seeing him this way, it becomes possible to suddenly see other so-called 'anomolies' in his othersie Elizabethan ouvre: the radical disunity of Hamlet's psyche (post modernist, which I think even Stanley Fish has suggested); the odd irruptions of modernist amoralism in "Richard II"; the startling, disturbing, even bestial anarchism and wholly ANTI-elizabethan impulse behind "Titus Andronicus" (post-modernism), a play which in some ways anticipates Fassbinder!
Don't be so intellectually lazy, Tony. Hasn't Perri taken you to task time and time again for just that? Maybe you were a little hasty in giving away so many of your books a few years back--BOOKS, man. That is our meat and matter as intellectuals, not bank accounts, cigars, and TIAA CREF portfolios.
Clearly we would have to sit down and have a face-to-face talk about these subjects. I find that your last message is full of half-baked critiques, and outright platitudes, and considering the dire nature of our culture right now, I think I fear for YOU as much as I fear for ME in reading how far your analysis falls short of material rigor. Just one point though: I've spent time in France, and it is straight up baboon reasoning to say that anti-Americanism comes from the French Right and that's that.
For God's sake, the French left is stocked with people whose parents were brutalized by American CIA agents during the cold war (see the books of Le Carre, and even some of Graham Green's writing, both of whom fictionalize the more or less open history of American brutality toward Europe beginning with the Marshall Plan)...geez, it's like saying there's a sun in the sky to say that Europeans are not simply peeved with America, but FRIGHTENED of America, and it would be demented (and a typical example of the 20th century's use of anti-black and latin racism to hide from political and cultural truths that have nothing to do with race) to say that Europeans are afraid of America because it has negroes in it.
That is so unbelievably dumb, which describes Charlie Rose and the awkward intellectual fumbling that goes on between he and his 'guests' to a tee.
For instance, nearly 3 million Europeans (Germans, Italians, French, and Spaniards) engaged in some of the most massive street protests in European history between 1988 and 1998 over the sheer terror they felt about nuclear waste, nuclear fallout, and nuclear war! See Helen Caldicott's latest book about details on this massive movement, which itself fed into the younger European anti-globalist movement currently driving the success of European Green Party politics.
I could go on. But I won't. This is an example of exactly what I wrote to you: to understand anything, it is necessary to examine history, not TV news drivel. The principle way in which we do that, as intellectuals, is through BOOKS. I cited several books and authors in my last message, and I cited some more just now. What is wrong with discourse in America right now, and what in fact makes it fascist is the disappearance of history, and of historians and BOOKS.
Also, what it the world are you talking about, Richard Wright and James Baldwin? I cited some fifteen various Black artists in one of my recent messages. I am not sure what you could possibly mean by saying 'if they were all like that'. Gee, I always thought we WERE 'all like that,' though we don't all live up to it--isn't that what anyone's culture ultimately is about? Identity? Who wouldn't love white people if they were "all like" Noam Chomsky and Emma Goldman? But of course, it's terribly dumb and bigoted to subject a whole race of people to some arbitrary idea like that. White people have no obligation to all be like those two people, nor can we banish those whites who fail to rise to the level of those two people to the margins of dispised whiteness. Most of the white people I know and love DON'T rise to that level, and they are all the more human, interesting, and challenging as human beings precisely because they don't.
Well, be that as it may, I have to say I think that it is an insult to the French to imply that they are so shallow and stupid as to be a culture whose complexity of disaffection could be boiled down to an action news report caption saying that they are really right wingers in disguise. It must be the cheese? Finally, American fascism will indeed be 'out in the open' soon enough. When a cancer grows large enough, it always ends up bursting through the skin. See Albert Speer's "inside the third Reich." He was a Nazi, but he wrote this crucial book which offers invaluable insight into the process by which Nazism grows, and grows, and then finally bursts through the skin.
Sept 24, 2003, Ray Waller wrote:
By the way, you ought to know that James Baldwin is a poor example to use of negrows who went to Europe and was a hit. He was a miserable failure in Europe, and the Europeans were quite disgusted with his hardned, little frog-faced ass. He nearly starved to death in Paris, and wandered around the Isle St Louis behind Wright begging for money.
He was ill tempered, self-loathing, and spiteful while there, and Wright tried to distance himself from him while the Parisians were flatly appalled by his wretchedness. He had similar experiences while living in Switzerland or some such godawful place, in a Chateau above a little Swiss Village where they treated him like he was the Frankenstein monster; and he acted the part, in fact. His wretchedness in Switzerland was a continuation of the horrific rage, despair and self loathing he had undergone while living in upstate New York which had driven him, in his words, to come perilously close to hurling a pitcher of beer at the face of a white female barmaid. It was at that point that he felt he needed to get out of America and move to Europe.
Hey, all this is in his writing, and in the various better biographies of Baldwin. You know, I don't insult you by mentioning the same two Cuban writers that all ignorant Americans know (of)--Zoey what's her face, and Jose Marti. I've actually read Cuban authors (in addition to the deep love African Americans feel for Jose Marti, we also look up to Nicolas Guillen, and I personally like the young Cuban-American playwright, Nilo Cruz, and...well, lots of others).
My point is that you should go off somewhere and read some books if all you can do is repeat the tired old stuff of academic white dudes who couldn't pull off a Socratic session if you spotted them six triremes and a hundred and twenty oarsmen to row them. Like for instance, the only two African American writers you (seem) to know are Wright and Baldwin (so that tired assRalph Ellison can't be far behind) and you think I'm not going to take a shot at you?
My mentors would put you on your ass so fast your media noche would spin, my brother. Okay, so what's my REAL point? Am I just being macho, or just being vindictive? Well, it's like this: my prime mentor, Kofi Natambu taught me that it's wrong to kick the cane out from under a blind or crippled man. It's in bad tatse, too. But if you catch a cat who's walking around PRETENDING to be blind or crippled, when you KNOW he can read and stand on his own two feet, you kick him.
Talk to you soon, Brother.
Sept 28, 2003, Tony Rionda wrote:
Baldwin was not accepted by Europeans because he was gay, he was open about it, and he partied. He was not a "good European". like Wright. In fact, Baldwin is the only black author I have read to any extent. The incident you descriibe is in Native Son, and is also described by Baldwin himself in a documentary about him. He threw a glass of water at a waitress (and smashed a mirror) because she wouldn't serve him, because of segregation. That is when he went to Europe, because he realized he would kill someone if he didn't.
Baldwin has helped me to better understand myself, something few authors have ever done for me, and even fewer people. I would have been dissapointed if he was loved in Europe. He was a parriah. But I will always love him, like a brother.
Marti is a waste of time. I read him because I had to, but did not enjoy his writings much. I think he is only of historical interest.
The only Cuban author I have read and ejoyed is Jose Lezama Lima. I think, am not sure, that he is a darling of the revolution. In any case, in only a few pages, "La_Expression Americana, he does some amazing things! I have rarely felt the sense of liberation that I feel when I read that essay. I fear, however, that it might not translate well. There is still much for me to learn about myself, personally and intellectually, from him. Even, if I never get to adopt his philosophy.
My idea of black intellectuals is West and Gates. The latter is much more to my taste. I have read about four of his essays. The Kitchen was really a pleasure to read and I am grateful for his brief, but enlightening exposition of European intellectual's lack of insight into the new world and its inhabitants.
You are the only Kneegrow, intellectual or not, that I have had any extensive contact with, in Miami or anywhere else. I still have to catch up on reading your Heidegger and "black intellectual" messages, as well as, Perri's, "she can hear me" message. However, I am limited as to what I can read because my spare time is devoted to reading linguistics. The other stuff I read by either working them into my courses (Native Son, Hamlet, King Richard III, among others) or just for curiosity, depending on the time constraint.
However, I do not belong to that European intellectual tradition that you do. If I were to read an Existentialist, other than Nietzsche, which I don't read as an Existentialist, I would pursue Jaspers. Once in a while, I read his intro to Existentialism. However, I sometimes get into reading Heidegger, if only for a few days, usually when I am on vacation at Christmas. I must confess that I get nothing out of reading either Heidegger or Jaspers, i.e, nothing that furthers my understanding of myself or the world around me. Yet, for some reason, I sometimes feel like giving them a new chance. Unlike, say Kierkegaard, whom I will probably never read again. In fact, it's possible that I will never read Nietzsche agaiin, come to think of it.
It's hard to get a Cuban to shut up . . .
Sept 28, 2003 - Ray Waller wrote:
Well, at least now you're getting specific. I'm not sure that one ought to say a poet is 'only' of historical interest--that's a pretty high mark to hit indeed! See the collection of Central American poets from the 80's, Volcan: Poems from Central America. The editors were Murgia, Alejandro & Paschke, Barbara. It was published by City Lights Books 1983. Remember that Pablo Neruda was often referred to as 'of historical (or poliical) significance only, and boy, what a strange thing to say, as if a fistful of gold is somehow inherently inferior to a fistful of diamonds. Both are handy in a recession.
Besides, both Marti and Neruda were heartbreakingly beautiful lyric poets when they wanted to be. This is a talent you don't get much in 19th and 20th century revolutionary poets, and these two were just plain good poets.
Don't you think it would be good to read a little more widely in Black literature? If you had, maybe you wouldn't make that same, tired old white liberal claim: that Black, working class (post Aesthetic, in fact, is what we are referring to here) Black intellectualism is 'European'. Like dullard white hipsters who kept thinking that Rock music is the 'white' opposite of Jazz, which is the 'black' music. Too many foolish assumptions to even go into there, so let's just say that kind of thinking is foolish (both American history AND the history of the Black and the Irish are way more complex than that--if you have to ask 'why Irish' by the way, you'll never know).
Classical music, for instance. So called 'European' concert music is actually national peasant musics adapted by people like Smetna (Germany). Rimsky-Korsakov (Russia), Rossinni (Italy), and Ravel (Spain). The "European" tone poem is rooted in the Cossack Muzurka. So the first thing we have to do is let go of that lame old misconception about what EUROPE is (see Reginald Martin's "New Black Aesthetic"), and then we'll be able to clearly see Black thought, Black aesthetics, and Black arts in a clear light free of cultural arrogance.
So don't 'shut up,' keep talking. And try to pull your head out of your linguistics every now and then in order to keep up with what's happening in the culture around you. REMEMBER HEIDEGGER.