Autum's performance also included commanding white students to remain seated as she led black students in a recitation of the "Black Child's Pledge," by Black Panther Shirley Williams, which reads in part:
I pledge allegiance to my Black People.
I pledge to develop my mind and body to the greatest extent possible.
I will learn all that I can in order to give my best to my People in their struggle for liberation.
. . . I will discipline myself to direct my energies thoughtfully and constructively rather than wasting them in idle hatred.
I will train myself never to hurt or allow others to harm my Black brothers and sisters . . .
These principles I pledge to practice daily and to teach them to others in order to unite my People.
Complaints from shocked students and parents led to a tape-recorded apology sent to all parents apologizing for the performance. Autum's father condemned white district officials as "racist crackers." Autum defended her poem by explaining to the Westchester Journal News that white people are "devils and they should be gone. We should be away from them and still be in Africa."
And make note of this: The official who invited Autum to speak, Melvin Bolden, is a public school music teacher, Peekskill councilman and producer of her first spoken word album.
Who is surprised? If you set aside a separate holiday for Black History Month in the public schools, if you set aside separate graduation ceremonies, college dorms, academic departments, recruiting programs, and government contracts and subcontracts by race, you send a message that hard-core racial separatism is not only acceptable -- but desired.
Autum Ashante' is the natural offspring of militant multiculturalism and government-sanctioned identity politics. We reap what we sow.