Andrea Peyser, New York Post, June 15, 2006
The speech was grotesquely racist — littered with cracks about dead white people. And it featured an insane call for blacks to outsmart the white man by ridding their bodies of all things white: white milk, white sugar, white bread.
But this racist rant was not spoken in a basement somewhere. It was part of a city-hosted “Unity in Diversity” event yesterday — and it took place inside the headquarters of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. During working hours.
Your tax money at work.
The speaker was Dr. Leonard Jeffries, the disgraced City University of New York African Studies professor who rose to infamy in 1991 when he declared that Jews and the Mafia conspired to keep down blacks.
A fire-breathing Jeffries, in African dress and a photograph of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney pinned to his robe, suggested to the standing-room-only crowd of nearly 100 HPD workers that blacks were thinking and acting too white.
“If every white person in the world dropped dead, the system would continue to go on, because it’s in you now,” he said. “The system that white folks rule.”
“That’s heavy!” an onlooker chanted in approval.
Jeffries has learned nothing since he was stripped of his departmental chair for his remarks. He continues to teach to this day, unbowed.
Jeffries suggested yesterday that white people conspired to ruin blacks’ health with inferior food — a ploy to keep them going to doctors.
“My basic rule of thumb is to stay away from things white,” Jeffries told the mostly African-American HPD staffers. “Take the whiteness out of your minds, or at least neutralize it with blackness.”
To do that, he urged people to “start the day with lemon water, not white sugar.”
“Some of you like coffee, too,” he said. “You should take it black.”
“Now corporate America wants you to die.”
It was billed as a “unity” event, one that every agency in the city puts on and is organized by the workers themselves. But the HPD employees who crammed into an eighth-floor conference room — including some high-level administrators — instead got a venomous lesson in intolerance and division.
“You’ve been trained to worship white people. To worship white values. To worship white culture,” Jeffries said.