Yale’s $40K Wet Kiss Anoints #BlackLivesMatter’s Deray McKesson Their Kind of “Transformational” Leader

Black Agenda Report

September 16, 2015

by Bruce Dixon

When Yale Divinity School bestows $40K upon #BlackLivesMatter activist, former Teach For America alum, and current CampaignZero co-founder Deray McKesson to deliver 2 days of guest lecturing on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement”, it means exactly what you think it means. It’s a sloppy wet kiss from corporate America, signifying that Deray is their kind of black leader, leading their kind of “transformation.”

What does it mean when Yale Divinity School bestows $40K on former Teach For America alum, #BlackLivesMatter activist and CampaignZero honcho Deray McKesson for two days of guest lecturing on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement?” It’s not complicated. It simply means that Mr. McKesson exemplifies the kind of “transformational leader” whatever that means, that our elites have decided to laud, to prop up and to place in front of us. It certifies that Deray is their kind of leader, offering their kind of leadership.Deray McKesson is the kind of deep thinker who, during the same week that Apple, apparently through the US Chamber of Commerce succeeded in overturning a law that would have obliged Apple and its competitors to disclose what percentage of their products originated in places like the Eastern Congo, where 6 or 7 million Africans have perished since the late 1990s to ensure the free flow of strategic minerals like gold, tantalum, tungsten and coltan, to the West. Coltan is a vital component of every cell phone, every computer, every car and aircraft manufactured on this planet. Transformational leader that he is instead served his two hundred thousand Twitter followers brain farts about the massive market share of Apple products. Evidently some black lives matter a lot less than others.

Deray McKesson is the kind of slavish “thought leader” whose tweets have likened liken the privatization of education via the wave of unaccountable charter schools forced upon parents and communities across the country, to the free breakfast for children programs of the 1960s Black Panther Party. But what should one expect from a “transformational leader” spit out by Teach For America, a corporate funded outfit that specializes in replacing experienced black teachers with younger and usually whiter temps, who either go on to careers in banking, law and finance, as consultants to the testing and school privatization industry, or as school administrators devoted to running public schools more like businesses.

Deray says he loves your blackness, and his own, and issues scores of tweets and retweets to that effect daily. What he doesn’t seem to love is bottom-up local leadership. Going into the 30th day of a hunger strike by Chicago parents and community leaders resisting the forced privatization of south side Dyett High School, nobody’s haven’t heard a word from Deray on the subject yet.

Deray McKesson is the kind of shallow activist who shows up at the scene of the latest police atrocity to take selfies, maybe with cops and demonstrators in the background, huff a little tear gas and live tweet to his two hundred thousand twitter followers about the persistence of racism.

Deray McKesson’s brand of “transformational leadership” led him to be the first prominent figure in #BlackLivesMatter to eagerly seek and accept private meetings with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and with the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as it led him to co-found, along with Teach For America’s Brittney Packnett and a couple others, to establish CampaignZero, a pseudo ”movement” outfit that is just as non-transparent and undemocratic as #BlackLivesMatter, though unlike #BlackLivesMatter it has more specific and updated demands.

The bottom line is that corporate shot callers at Yale are gifting Deray McKesson because he’s their kind of leader, of their kind of movement, a movement based on what the owners of Twitter, Facebook and the like want us to call social media, but which are really online corporate marketing tools. Deray can probably use the money, having left his six figure a year job in the Minneapolis school system, the kind of school administration gig Teach For America grads who stay in education typically end up with.

Though it happened just last week, the fact that Yale Divinity School is taking Deray on as a visiting professor of black twitter, or whatever isn’t new news, it’s old news, part of an old pattern. McKesson is the latest in a long line of black “leaders,” so-called movement leaders who emerge not from the people’s struggle, but from the gut of their corporate sponsors, leaders put in place by our rulers to speak not for us but to us, with their sponsors’ mouths.

[Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)]


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