Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. He is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Question: What is the best way to deal with the mortgage crisis?
Michael Eric Dyson: The point is that if you bailed out the lenders because you want to make sure that they can continue in the future to give people money, you’re not dealing with the fundamental issue. The reason: They took advantage of the people that ostensibly they should help, number one. Number two, we bear out- we bail out Bear and Stearns but we sternly bear down on poor people whose backs are against the wall and the people least likely to need the help get the most help and the folk crying out for even the smallest gesture of help are denied any sign of it. And then furthermore, to bail out the lenders so to speak and to bail out these big capitalized entities misses the fact that in American culture the democratic distribution of wealth and resources should be dictated by the largesse of the collective American will and the taxes of American workers paid for that bailing out. That didn’t come from out of the sky. That means that the very people who have been exploited in the process are now dependent upon to bail out some of these major lenders, if you will, while not pointing to how they’ve exploited American workers. And when we look at the racial aspect of this, these lenders have nefariously exploited working class and poor black people and sometimes even middle class black people by giving them loan rates that need not have been as steep as they were only because black people have been segregated, red-lined, steered and other forms of chicanery in terms of the housing market and in terms of loans that they should be able to have capitalized or extended to them. And as a result of that the very institutions that are being bailed out don’t bail out the people that they should ostensibly help, and I think the taxpaying moneys of those poor people should at least … to them positively and be able-- Why shouldn’t we bail out the people who have been victimized by these lenders? Why shouldn’t we bail out? And it’s not about going to one village and getting each village as opposed to saving the entire. The point is how do we identify almost exclusively the self-interest economically of the American populace with lenders who especially when it came to black people had nothing to do with helping them but everything to do with exploiting them? That’s the kind of logic that I think needs to be addressed and dealt with in a very serious and severe fashion.
Recorded on: May 16 2008
I think we have a distorted vision of Dr. King because need him to be useful to us in ways that ameliorate our situation but also mollify our consciences.