Ready For Battle

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"He preaches racist messages," says board president Keever. "He believes all Anglos are racist and are only about collecting material things and not about having relationships. If I were about collecting stuff, I certainly wouldn't be in the school board for 30 to 40 hours a week for no compensation."

Although Glover certainly espouses his share of beliefs-from-nowhere, it would be a shame if the taint they leave on his reputation discolors it altogether. A self-described "intellectual militant," Glover possesses some views on race and culture that are not so much silly as original. And in this age of racial conflicts stalemated by political correctness, a mind that isn't afraid to see into corners could use an audience.

Glover says, for instance, that racism is not about individual attitudes toward race. "The most important thing for people to realize is that racism is a system and not an individual act," he explains. "Racism is about power." In America, the system of racism has been set up to benefit white people so that they can maintain power, he says.

Therefore, all white people are racist and only whites can be racist, because all whites benefit from the system and only whites can.

Blacks and other minorities, Glover says, can be bigoted, insensitive, and discriminatory, but they do not have the power to concoct a system that will undercut whites.

And if liberal whites bristle at being labeled racist, Glover tries to bring the focus closer to home. The racist system is like sexism, he says, in that all men benefit from sexism--the system they created to wield power--whether or not they want to in this age of evolving roles. Women simply haven't acquired the power to set up a system to benefit themselves. "You are talking about the dynamics of a collective act," Glover says.

Glover's philosophy examines racism objectively, taking the personal sting from the word by declaring that racism is not an individual act.

There may be no greater indication that Glover sometimes spouts not nonsense, but new sense, than the fact that other racial leaders distrust him, often without being able to condemn him for specific acts. Racial politics are dominated by highly visible leaders, and also by dogmatic and often divisive thinking on all sides. It's a system that may not easily tolerate a man who is thinking for himself and whose goals are broad and best accomplished behind the scenes.

When he describes himself, Glover says he is not a political player in the usual sense of the word--that he doesn't place first emphasis on jockeying for power. He claims to conduct war against hidebound ideologies in favor of reconciliation among groups. His prize, he says, is changed minds.

When his former clients describe him, they talk about peacemaking. "He brings people together," says James Rose, an administrator in the Arlington Independent School District who experienced Glover's methods firsthand when Glover was a consultant there.

When other activists describe him, they hesitate to offer praise. Lee Alcorn, the president of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP, says he will be watching Glover with a "jaundiced eye," and explains that Glover "hasn't been too visible. I doubt that many in the community would consider him to be a player."

It was Alcorn who escalated the district's current racial crisis by leading the protests against the school board, which resulted in the shutdown of one meeting and the cancellation of another. And he isn't happy with Glover's performance at the protests, when Glover met with protesting students at the behest of the superintendent. Alcorn claims that Glover tried to intimidate them into stopping the protesting.

Glover would eventually apologize to the students, whom he claims misunderstood his purpose in speaking to them. He says he wasn't trying to bully them into ending their protest. He simply wanted them to examine their own goals and motivations, and consider whether they were ready to fight for the long haul.

But Alcorn finds this hard to believe. "We are not going to be content to have a black face in that position," he says. "We want to see some concrete efforts on his part."

Richard Evans, director of the Dallas-based African-American Education Network and an activist who helped develop the Townview Magnet school, says there is concern that Glover is "a pawn and is an instrument of the establishment."

"He has traditionally played the role of very passive and conciliatory," he adds. "He has always been the sort of mediating type. That has been interpreted as passivity by those who take a more-militant stance."

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Kaylois Henry