'Funky Academic:' Public has been 'groomed to measure progress by firsts'

University of Georgia doctoral student Irami Osei-Frimpong, also known as the “Funky Academic," argued that progress in politics and society is often tracked “by firsts,” adding that this does not actually provide an accurate measure of success or change. 

In an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Osei-Frimpong explained that when someone becomes the first Black person or first woman in an elected role or other position, people have been “worked on to think of this as a signal of progress.” 

“Firsts more often than not are people who have assimilated into the dominant structures faster than their alternatives,” he argued, providing the example of Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE, who earlier this year became the first openly gay person confirmed to a Cabinet post. 

Osei-Frimpong said Buttigieg, who in 2012 at the age of 29 became the youngest mayor of a city with a population of more than 100,000, gained popularity because he “got there faster than anybody, younger than anyone ever.” 

“He was just like the fastest guy to get into the wine cave,” the YouTube host jokingly added of Buttigieg, referring to the pushback the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate received for a political fundraiser he hosted inside a Napa Valley wine cave in December 2019. 

“You are promoted by these systems because you assimilate into them faster,” Osei-Frimpong added, which he argued is “actually counter revolutionary and counter progressive.” 

Watch part of Osei-Frimpong’s interview above.