Prospects in a Post-Democracy
Lloyd Kam Williams
It is the government itself, the
government of America, that is responsible for the
oppression and exploitation and degradation of black
people in this country… This government has failed the
Whether you're educated or
illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the
alley, you're going to catch hell just like I am. We're
all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the
same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a
white man. All of us have suffered here, in this
country, political oppression at the hands of the white
man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white
man, and social degradation at the hands of the white
Nowhere on this earth does the white
man win in a guerrilla warfare. It's not his speed. Just
as guerrilla warfare is prevailing in Asia and in parts
of Africa and in parts of Latin America, you've got to
be mighty naive, or you've got to play the black man
cheap, if you don't think some day he's going to wake up
and find that it's got to be the ballot or the
bullet.” -- Malcolm X, The Ballot or
the Bullet speech, April 3, 1964
Could the sort of mass-scale insurgency borne
of discrimination that’s breaking out all over France, another
so-called democracy, occur here? Of course, it could. The only
reason it hasn’t is that, as the descendants of ex-slaves,
second-class status is so deeply ingrained in the
sub-consciousness of African-Americans that they tend to accept
the most inhumane of treatment. But that promises to change
soon, given the fact that Islam is the fast-growing religion in
America, particularly among blacks.
The straw that broke the camel’s back over
in Europe was the French police causing a couple of Muslim
juvenile delinquents’ electrocution under suspicious
circumstances. Here, Hurricane Katrina pulled the trigger on a
social grenade just about to explode.
It all started with the hateful way in which
FEMA Director Mike Brown responded to urgent requests for
immediate assistance. When challenged by an exasperated
underling on location that “I don’t know who is ultimately
running this government nightmare show but please get your acts
together NOW!” Brown responded with vain, vapid comments about
his preparation for his next, narcissistic photo-op like, “I
am a fashion God” and “Tie or not tonight?”
Personally, I find it profoundly disturbing
that the government bureaucrat in charge could behave so
cavalierly about intervening on behalf of the suddenly-homeless,
the neediest of souls, including the starving, the infirm, the
old, and the sick. So, I ask you, does democracy work if a man
like Brown is still on the government payroll instead of
indicted after responding with flip quips to increasingly
desperate emails informing him that the levees were failing? He
couldn’t have cared less about the mass scale of human
suffering which was unfolding while the world was watching.
And why not? Because he knew that they were
mostly black and poor, and that, as an involuntary political
minority, they would never be his constituents. More
importantly, he trusted that the psychological sting of the
lingering vestiges of the slave master’s whip would continue
to keep generation after generation of African-Americans
well-trained to adopt a non-threatening manner of interacting
with the white-dominated power structure.
This also explains why black and white
Americans have radically different reactions to the October 8th
beating of a 64 year-old black man to within an inch of his life
by three New Orleans policemen and an FBI Agent. The
videotape clearly shows Robert Davis, a retired elementary
schoolteacher, being punched in the head repeatedly, knocked to
the ground, handcuffed, and then forcibly restrained with his
arms twisted behind him at an awkward angle, even though he had
offered no resistance, and was bleeding profusely.
In a news conference, Davis explained that he
hasn’t had a drink in over 25 years, and that all he had done
was chastised an officer for responding rudely to his question
about the newly implemented curfew. Whites were still willing to
accept the official explanation that Davis was drunk and had
resisted arrest, although nothing on the tape suggested that
that was the case.
By contrast, it was easy for most people of
color to recognize the cops’ behavior as routine, a racist
attempt to intimidate an individual into “his place.” Why
should black people even bother to vote when their civil rights
and basic survival needs are considered totally irrelevant to
the political process?
With one eye on France, the other on election
results, the over 35 million African-Americans citizens of this
nation are awakening to the self-evident truth that
participating in the political process seems to play little or
no part in alleviating their ongoing pariah status. Whether they
opt for the ballot or the bullet is likely to be determined by
the extent to which the system persists in negating their
humanity and their fundamental freedoms.
Lloyd Kamau Williams, a member of the
NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars, is a syndicated
writer whose movie and book reviews, celebrity interviews ,and
other assorted articles appear in over 100 periodicals around
If you like this article consider making a donation
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Conversation: Third World,
Fourth World, Cultural Nationalism, Revolutionary Nationalism
Rudy: Your essay is intriguing
and provocative. But maybe unnecessarily so. First, I do not
understand what Malcolm X's quote on guerilla warfare has to do
with the "insurgency" in Europe, specifically France.
Nor do I see how it relates to the tragedy of New Orleans.
Malcolm makes reference to "third world"
anti-colonial struggle, people trying to recover their land and
achieve power over their resources. It's an inappropriate model.
Also, Islam seemingly has nothing to do with the
"insurgency" in France. (Insurgency implies organized
war against a foreign oppressor.) Clearly, what we have in
France is rioting, which implies a kind of mindless mob action.
In Europe and America we have non-white
minorities suffering from discrimination and marginalization (ghettoization) within
white societies. Malcolm and similar black militants over
identified with methods of "Third World" struggles.
The "Muslim" youths in France causing problems for the
governments by violence (riots), I doubt, have any political
consciousness that relate to the politics of Malcolm, Fanon, or
any such theorists. That too was true of those involved in
America's urban riots of the 60s or more recently. There is no
evidence of political sophistication. It all relates to gut
responses to racism, poverty, and police repression. Thus the
similarity with New Orleans.
Thus the dichotomy of the "ballot or
bullet" is of no help in either case, as you suggest. Both
American blacks and French "Muslim" youth, though
impoverished, have the vote. Of course, the situation was
different in 1964 when Malcolm made his "Ballot or
Bullet" speech. These French youth, like the blacks and
later the Hispanics, are minorities, and thus powerless in a
white unresponsive sea, seeking the bottom line in both
economics and politics.
My friend Amin Sharif
theorizes plausibly that the American black poor and European
"black" poor are part of what he calls a "fourth
world." So, in a sense, third world politics and theorizing
are meaningless in this context. These "fourth world"
peoples thus need a different kind of vision and politics, than
the old 60s politics and arguments. Nor is Islam an adequate
explanations of these European "insurgencies."
In those areas in France where the mosque had
influence those kids were quiet and orderly. The rioting kids
were outside the control of the mosque. They were more French
than African; more post-modern than Islamists. Again, we must
find knew ways to speak to these kinds of incidents and issues.
This lack of respect for the poor and the black in today's
national politics in Europe and America is the source of the
problem. A different kind of argument is necessary than that of
the old radicals and revolutionists, even though the issue is
one of power and brute responses of power.
Kam: Rudy, thanks for your insights.
Because I have meditated with Buddhists, done sweat lodges with
Native Americans and once married into a blue-blooded WASP
family (the Johnsons of J&J who won't even manufacture black
Band-Aids), I tend to see everything as interrelated in a way
many others simply haven't experienced enough of the world to do
so too. I know that my articles often are beyond the ability of
most people to see the interrelatedness of all people, as my
Native Brothers say—
"we are all related," but I see it as second nature.
So I am very comfortable mixing seemingly incompatible ideas
with each other.
For instance, people pigeonhole others all the time. I say there
are more people than pigeons in pigeonholes. I don't profess to
have any answers, and I'm not suggesting armed insurrection.
Just saying it might be on its way. Why? Because I write for
readers who already know that this is a post-democracy, who
understand that the 2000 election was fixed, I predicted that
the summer before in an article entitled "Election or
Coronation," because Bush was related to 16 prior
I predicted 9-11 two weeks before it happened
in an op-ed after Israel and the US arrogantly walked out of the
UN Conference on Racism in South Africa. At that time, I warned
that the 3rd World was angry and that "minorities can no
longer be contained" primarily because the internet had
leveled the playing field. Four years later Thomas Friedman
writes The Earth Is Flat after the fact and everybody
thinks he's a genius.
Black people's vote are meaningless if I can get stopped by a
cop while walking in my own neighborhood and forced
to stand spread-eagled against a police car for a half hour and
gropes my balls while grilling me about a crime which had
obviously been committed by a black person somewhere. I told him
I was a lawyer which only made him angrier and meaner. Black
people have no rights in this country which any white man feels
bound to respect—Dred
I don't know if you're black or not. I hope this explanation
helps, but I can't comprehend it for you.
Rudy: Kam, my intent was not to offend you
personally, in any way. I responded to the essay "Election
Returns," which included an extended quote of Malcolm.
For my interpretation of what you wrote, your personal history,
experiences, background are irrelevant, and thus explain
nothing. Of course, as one brother to another, I appreciate
that information indeed and I can relate.
That is to say, even if I knew of what you
have now informed me, my response to your essay would remain the
same. I quite disagree with how you have lumped people together
into a "third world." The kind of "interrelatedness"
you make with third world armed struggles and the American and
French situation just does not stand up. The analysis of your
article needs finer distinctions than the ones you made.
being a Buddhist, the incomprehensibility of your article for
mere mortals like myself ("my articles often are beyond the
ability of most people"), your powers at predicting the
future ("I predicted 9-11 two weeks before it
happened"), your being treated like a nigger, nor your
status as a lawyer—was
not the kind of response I expected from someone who is clearly
intelligent and informed. I thought maybe you would follow my
lead and respond to what I had written, the ideas contained in
my critique about you relating Third World politics with the
struggle of minorities..
That is, a more critical view than
"Thanks for your insights" was due. But, of course,
prophetic vision is beyond criticism. Pardon me for being
skeptical, for thinking that there might be another way of
responding to the politics of these terrible times.
Kam: Rudy, I apologize for my harsh words. But I write
for 100 papers and I get into battles with folk all over the
place. Since yesterday afternoon, I have been engaged in a
bitter email battle back and forth with the op-ed editor at a
national daily newspaper, who is moved to devote so much time to
my thought provoking pieces, but rarely prints any of them. That
ought to tell you something. The other day, when some writer at
his rag won an award, he emailed me to say that I was a better
I am not fishing for compliments. I see a lot of movies. I can
safely say that Dennis is a great director. Better than most who
have made pictures whose names you would recognize. But if I
wrote an article comparing As An Act of Protest to class
issue classics like Hiroshima Mon Amour or Swept Away, and I got
an email back from a stranger who was asking me how I could
possibly compare films from postwar Japan or about decadence in
Italy excuse me for being curt. I could put out the word about
Dennis, but could not possibly comprehend it for those unwilling
to do the homework or too closed to comprehend.
I didn't know anything about you. I apologize and will take a
different tack in the future.
I am not a Buddhist. I am not saying I'm better than anyone, nor
do Buddhists. They are so humble that they walked away from
their country rather than kill the invaders. I have also prayed
with Native Americans, Baptists and anyone willing to break
bread and see me as an equal.
Please read this piece by me at Black
As for the Malcolm quote it works on several levels.
1) It was Election Day
2) He was a Muslim, and Muslims are rioting in Europe
3) He advocated armed struggle, if democracy didn't work. Even
the recently deceased pope said democracy was worthless if it
just kept the poor poor. What good is a vote if you cannot
improve your lot.
4) Islam is the fastest growing religion here, primarily among
5) Nothing has changes since Malcolm's day when blacks caught
hell for being black, not for being a Democrat or a Republican,
or a Lutheran or a Baptist.
This and many more allusions made the quote very relevant in my
humble opinion. To me these dots are very obvious, and I again
apologize for my condescending tone. But i get a lot of hate and
hostile mail, and without a proper intro, this is my
expectation. I have written 1000s of articles, so it
is reasonable for me to expect someone to be familiar
with my work and point of view.
Let's start over, making believe I didn't write my first
Rudy: you awright with me, brother. It ain't no thing.
Intellectual sparring, I ain't got nothing against it. I found
your piece opportune. The kind of political
"interrelatedness" of your article makes good
rhetoric, a good column. But it's not sound political thinking.
Just recently, I was having a discussion with Amin Sharif
about the same subjects you had in your article. We took
the discussion in a different direction than you have. Sharif argued
the notion of a "fourth world." My response is an
approximation of where I think he is going with his "fourth
He is writing a piece to clarify what he means. I'll
share it with you when he completes it. We both went through the
politics of the 60s and 70s and we agree a lot on the
shortcomings of today's politics and afrocentric thinking; that
is, such analyses do not fully speak to our 21st century
situation, and probably did not speak well to our situations of
the 60s and 70s. Amin Sharif and
I have also similar views about Africa, our over-identification
at the expense of looking at what's under our noses.
I am familiar with your work and your friendship with Dennis. He
needs loyal friends like you. I have great respect for you and
him. Both of you are excellent writers. I am honored to be
associated with both of you. In these kinds of exchanges we
both and others benefit. For me thinking is important, and how
we think even more important.
Since Katrina, I have been moderating a forum with a number
of other people, especially with Miriam DeCosta-Willis. These
discussions—Conversations with Kind Friends—
have been provocative, in that such discussions cause
individuals to look at neglected topics or look at such topics
differently than they had previously. So it was in that spirit
that I responded to your piece.
It is not my attention to stir up ill-feeling,
be disagreeable, or argue for rhetoric sake. Our thinking
requires a sharper edge than ever before. We are in a political
maze and putting our minds together is one way of getting out of
it. We need to find ways for others also to develop clear
thinking beyond the status quo ideologies floating around. What
you are doing with other journalists maybe somewhat similar to
what I'm doing with a few friends. It's healthy when
there's intellectual respect and when each are indeed sincerely
searching for a way out of punditry and mind-boggling
Miriam: Rudy, this is a very interesting interchange
between you and Kam, particularly the concept of a Fourth World
composed of the poor and colored who live in post-modern, highly
industrialized societies, where they are exploited, oppressed,
and discriminated against. You are so right that we have
to find new concepts and paradigms; those of the '60s and
'70s are no longer valid.
Dennis: Regarding the Paris situation,
all I can say is
that the past seven days have been so overwhelming in Berlin (we
went to Paris last week) - the discussions I have had with other
people and specifically the younger black and Arab kids - has
been astounding. These kids got something to say, but have
no idea of how to say it...If Americans want to see
organization, they should look at the precision of these young
people. The French have been saying they are freaked out
that such organization could exist. We are NOT talking
about L.A. riots here, we are talking about an organization
that spawned riots in 300 cities. That may or may not mean
or do or accomplish anything - who knows? What I do know
is that it is personal and that adds to its political
implications. I will try to get a translation of a few articles
for you to read.
Jonathan: rudy, i read with interest the discussion about
the current french situation, and the "fourth world"
concept advanced by sharif, as well as your take on it. many of
my students at the borough of manhattan community college are
similar to the immigrant youth uprsing today all over france, so
we've been talking about the situation a lot in my classrooms.
in my opinion, the "fourth world" concept runs the
risk of idealization. the third world concept came out of the
bandung conference in 1955, and was intended explicitly as a
counter to the state ideologies of the capitalist west and the
soviet east. the third world concept was embraced by newly
consolidated states in africa and asia that were going through
decolonization struggles. it was basically a cultural
nationalist ideology, at its inception, not a political concept.
so if we're using "fourth world" as a political
concept, then i think it fails. if we're using it as a cultural
nationalist concept, i think it works. but the latter is an
idealization of history and society not a political critique of
the limits of the third world concept can be felt in the fact
that cuba is simply not a third world country and never has
been. cuba adopted not third worldism but rather revolutionary
nationalism, which continues to be a model for chavez in
venezuela, back to the sandinistas, the zapatistas, and the
vietnamese in their fight against u.s. imperialism. in other
words, when we say "third world," we are not talking
about revolutionary nationalism but rather the postcolonial
states of india, nigeria, and so on. in the postcolonial states,
you have neo-colonialism, not revolutionary nationalism.
in this light, "fourth world" would somehow refer to a
new wave of cultural nationalism. i don't think this is what's
going on in france right now. it seems much closer to what was
going on in u.s. cities during the late 1960s--youth of color in
rebellion against a future of second-class citizenship.
i'm not sure why we need a new political concept to explain
this. the youth in france appear to be about claiming an
equalitarian national identity. they want to be equal citizens
in france. their targets are all the symbols of everyday french
national identity: cars, subways, shops, social institutions,
clubs, etc. if they were advancing a new cultural nationalism
(fourth worldism), you would expect to see evidence of this in
the form of cultural nationalist underground newsletters, radio,
and so on. this is what happened with third worldism. yet by all
accounts, there is no ideology behind the uprisings.
if an ideology does emerge, i doubt it will be cultural
nationalism. instead it will probably be a kind of civil rights
all of this remains to be seen, however. my thoughts here are
provisional. look forward to reading more of this important
Rudy: Jonathan, yes, the French
situation reminds me of the wave of urban riots in the US
in the mid and late 60s, which I believe was another face of the
civil rights movement of the same period. Of course, I'm not on
the ground and I have been relying basically on news report from
the NYTimes. Sharif, from whom I got the notion of "fourth
world," has not further elaborated on his concept. He
is much more politically astute and informed than I when it
comes to international politics.
What you say about "third worldism"
sounds right to me, though the political and cultural
distinctions are a bit confusing and especially the term
"cultural nationalism," which has its 60s
American referents, especially associated with Amiri Baraka. His
Crisis essay From
Parks to Marxism A
Political Evolution may
be relevant to this discussion.
As I understand Baraka's political
development, the Cuban experiment, Malcolm, and the Black
Power movement influenced his "cultural nationalist"
thinking. Though not exactly clear, the wave of riots probably
proceeded his particular formulation of BAM thinking, which
is dated after 1967 (when Stokely raised the cry of "Black
Thus your statement about "cultural
nationalism" as "an idealization of history and
society not a political critique of it" becomes a bit
confusing to me. For the term itself is a yoking together of
culture and politics, but with an emphasis on culture rather
than politics, yet both at the same time, which is how I
understand the Black Arts Movement, which defined itself as the
"sister concept" of the "Black Power"
movement. I suspect that both fueled the nationwide riots of
April 1968, after King's assassination.
The US 60s riots were indeed a political
critique (as were subsequent urban riots in America), as I
believe the French riots are a political critique, though not
formulated as a political movement. They also have a cultural
basis. Of course, the American so called civil rights movement
had several kinds of formulations as represented by the NAACP,
CORE, SNCC, and numerous local organizations. The teenagers and
young adults who hit the streets in the 60s had at best very
loose ties, if any, with these organizations, though they were
affected by the public rhetoric of these organizations.
Of course, the leaders of the conservative
and militant organizations attempted to give voice to these
urban "disturbances," with the more militant leaders
describing these riots as "rebellions," that is,
making them seem to be more conscious (or organized) acts
than they were. And there probably were pockets of organized
activity in the midst of them. There were those of us who
thought racial riots were on some level beneficial, for
political pleading for reforms were not as expeditious as
LBJ thought that the civil rights and voting
rights bills and their implementation and other government
reforms would stop the riots in their tracks. Of course they
didn't. While he was still in office there were still "hot
summers." Of course, only the 1968 riots rose to a national
wave, as we see in France. Those US 68 riots did indeed create a
sense of black unity and solidarity and did, I believe, expedite
a new wave of political activity, including union organizing,
which might be interpreted as an extension of the civil rights
movement, but also it was an extension of the Black Power
The new leaders that came out of the 1968
riots probably outstripped the participants in the riots and
moved in the public arena far beyond them, as both left wing
ideologues (identifying closer and closer with third world
struggles; and "revolutionary nationalism," as we saw
with Kwame Toure) and as political operatives in the
Democratic Party, and as cultural nationalists (which I include
the NOI, BAM, and other groups). Of course, there were some who
joined the counter cultural movement (including new mores with
respect to drugs, sex, dress, etc.) which was probably the
least political of the social reactions to the status quo.
Whether the French situation will develop
along these lines I am uncertain. I suspect that it might
manifest some of these characteristics. But the times are
different. I suspect that a lot of the kids and young adults are
already at the counter cultural level.
Your point about Cuba—"cuba adopted
not third worldism but rather revolutionary
nationalism"—might not be as definitive as you suggest.
It might be more accurate to say that Cuba wavered between
the two. Third worldism, as you point out, was a non-aligned
statement, apart from Euro-American politics and the Soviet
Union. Of course, Fidel needed the Soviet Union after the Bay of
Pigs and the Soviets influenced decisions with regard to Che and
his support of African liberation struggles. Even though we have
this duplicity, he still was a progressive voice of/for the
To return to the fourth world concept.
Miriam's statement is probably what I had in mind, more as an
identity of a grouping of peoples: "poor and colored who
live in post-modern, highly industrialized societies, where they
are exploited, oppressed, and discriminated against." These teenagers
and young adults, I believe, probably have some sense of Third
Worldism, Islamism, neocolonialism, First Worldism (The New
World Order), and civil and human rights movements.
I suspect the greater number of participants
in the French riots lack political sophistication that would fit
into any of these categories. I'm uncertain that these
"fourth world" peoples will develop an international
political consciousness that will rise to the level of that
found in the concept of a third world, whose advocates were
As I recall the Vietnam War did in some sense
create an international left wing youth consciousness, which I
believe was undermined by a political backward move of
identifying with communism, Pan-Africanism, cultural
nationalism, counter culturalism, and status quo politics. The
French situation as well as the Latin American identification
with Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan experiment, is worthy of our
attention, especially those of us living in First World
Racism, poverty, and police brutality will
always fuel such rebellions, however sophisticated some of their
leaders may become.
Wilson: The most striking difference
between France 2005 and Detroit/Newark 1967-68 is in the number
of people killed. In Detroit, the National Guard was
called up within two days and the 82nd airborne was sent in on
the fourth day. There were 43 people deaths, an amorphous count
of 1189 injured, and over 7000 people arrested in a period of
five days, In Newark too the National Guard was called up within
two days. As in Detroit, the deployment of troops seems to
have intensified the violence. The rioting in Newark
lasted six days and resulted in 23 deaths 725 amorphous
injuries, and some 1500 arrests. By all accounts the
French authorities have exercised considerably more restraint
than the American Authorities during the sixties.
Rudy: You have made a striking
observation about the number of arrests and killings that
occurred in the American riots of the 60s.Of course, in
America, we have had a more extended history of urban
racial minorities and racial riots. The restraints I
suspect are on all sides in the French situation.
I have not done a study of the riots of the
60s so I don't recall all the particulars. For instance, did the
violence escalate on all sides from Watts 1965 to Newark and
Detroit? By 1967 and 1968, as I recall, there was some use of
guns by "rioters," shooting at police and firemen.
Maybe these were just newspapers reports.
I suspect the militant rhetoric of the mid
and late 60s created organized pockets for all kinds of
activities going on beyond the cameras. But you are right the
authorities came down like a ton of bricks--National Guard,
early curfews, use of alternative facilities (like the civic
center) to confine "looters" as well as for those just
sitting on their steps.
Maybe the French (authorities and rioters)
have been indeed much more civil and humane than what we
experienced in 1967 and 1968. I do not recall, however, that we
had a lot of burning of cars. I may be mistaken. Why this chosen
tactic in one place and not another?.
Kam: Fourth World is interesting idea,
but shouldn't somebody explain exactly what the First and second
worlds are before jumping to a 4th. I never hear anybody refer
to them. I think I read once that 1st was White capitalist and
2nd was white socialists, but that was about 30 years ago. I
will continue to believe there's only one world till we find
signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, which is
certainly a possibility.
Rudy: Kam, I think Jonathan hinted at
it with his mentioning of the Bandung Conference and the
formation of the unaligned nations. Probably, most of us came
across it in Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, in Sartre's
"Preface." But below is a fuller background of the
underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and
Latin America, considered as an entity with common
characteristics, such as poverty, high birthrates, and
economic dependence on the advanced countries. The
French demographer Alfred Sauvy coined the expression
("tiers monde" in French) in 1952 by analogy
with the "third estate," the commoners of
France before and during the French Revolution-as
opposed to priests and nobles, comprising the first and
second estates respectively.
Like the third estate,
wrote Sauvy, the third world is nothing, and it
"wants to be something." The term therefore
implies that the third world is exploited, much as the
third estate was exploited, and that, like the third
estate its destiny is a revolutionary one.
It conveys as well a
second idea, also discussed by Sauvy, that of
non-alignment, for the third world belongs neither to
the industrialized capitalist world nor to the
industrialized Communist bloc. The expression third
world was used at the 1955 conference of Afro-Asian
countries held in Bandung, Indonesia.
1956 a group of social scientists associated with
Sauvy's National Institute of Demographic Studies, in
Paris, published a book called Le Tiers-Monde.
Three years later, the French economist Francois Perroux
launched a new journal, on problems of underdevelopment,
with the same title. By the end of the 1950's the term
was frequently employed in the French media to refer to
the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania,
and Latin America.
-- Gerard Chaliand,
"Third World," Third
kam, remember that baraka came
to reject cultural nationalism. see in specific his essays
"the revolutionary tradition in african american
literature" and "on aimé césaire" (in the amiri
baraka reader). in rejecting cultural nationalism he was rejecting
his own cultural nationalist ideology which he had popularized
during the 1960s. but by the mid-70s, he started to see
"third worldism" and cultural nationalism as a new
ideology of the "nationalist national bourgeoisies" of
the newly created african and asian republics. he rejected
cultural nationalism because of its "deceptive
classlessness" (baraka's words). he writes a lot about this
in his autobiography, and also in his critique of spike lee's
revolutionary cuba was exploited by the soviet union, but fidel
and the cuban communist party had no choice because of the u.s.
blockade. still, cuba did not go the "third world"
route, and this was deliberate. cuba's state ideology is not
cultural nationalism, it's revolutionary nationalism, with josé
martí its original political symbol.
the main distinction, as i understand it, between cultural
nationalism and revolutionary nationalism is that the latter comes
out of working-class political struggle whereas the former comes
from the middle class. this is simplistic, but as a general
pattern i think it holds true.
in this sense, the youth rebellion in france is clearly not
cultural nationalism and nor will it ever be. the youth are very
poor and completely marginalized. they are not seeking to take the
place of their french rulers but rather are attacking the very
foundation of french government rule, which is not cultural but
political (anti-immigrant laws, the persistence of second-class
citizenship status, and so on).
so my point was just that concepts like "third world"
and "fourth world" are cultural not political. when the
political and the cultural are combined successfully you get
revolutionary nationalism. when they fail to be combined
successfully you get cultural nationalism.
posted 9 October 2005
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
update 4 August 2008