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A statue of the defeated Civil War traitor Robert E. Lee over a prominent intersection . . .

is a blatant and intentional symbol of racism and white supremacy--and it needs to go

 

 

Making the Crackers Crumble

It's time to put all racists and reactionary icons back in their place

By J.B. Borders

 

Let's face it, crackers--that peculiarly seedy subset of American Caucasians--have gotten out of hand lately. I don't simply mean Trent Lott, the embattled U.S. senator from Mississippi, exercising his constitutional right to speak his gone-with-the-wind mind in public. No, the problem is much larger than one befuddled opportunist.

Country music, stock car racing, rassling, Confederate flags, tattoos, racism and lynchings have always gone hand in hand. It is no coincidence that all--except the barbecuing of black folk--are extremely visible and profitable at present in white communities across this land.

For our own well-being, then, it's time we put all these crackerisms in check. They are, as Lott said apologetically about racial segregation, "a stain on the nation's soul."

Trent Lott, you may recall, achieved popularity initially as a cheerleader at Ole Miss in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He carried the Confederate flag onto the football field. That flag waving helped him get into law school at Ole Miss (he didn't know that in those days all he had to do was be white and show up on the doorstep) and later into a career in politics.

On December 16, 2002, a day that shall live in infamy in the annals of KKKlandom, Lott went on BET to reiterate to African Americans everywhere that segregation is illegal and immoral and that he has been such a good friend to the dark people of Mississippi that it would be immodest to point out that the space research center at Jackson State University is named in his honor. Reports are that when he first attracted notoriety for his verbal indiscretions, Lott even called Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to publicly vouch for him. Both, however, declined.

The timing of this latest racist brouhaha couldn't have been worse. Lott's son, Chester, had just signed on with The Livingston Group, a powerful Washington, DC, lobbying firm. The operation is headed by Bob "Family Values" Livingston, the former right-wing Congressman from suburban New Orleans who had been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 106th Congress before leaving public office in 1999 in the wake of an extramarital sex scandal. Livingston has apparently decided it is more profitable to be the seducer rather than the seduced, so he has become an influential and well-paid political lobbyist.

For the senior Lott, who had just been elected Senate majority leader, the new connection with his former Congressional colleague from the Solid South meant he and his family were finally in position to really start raking in the big dough. The set-up was too sweet. Then Pops opened his big Mississippi mouth and gave his adversaries all the ammunition they would need to thwart his ambitions.

Heart of Dixie
Before I go any further, let's be candid about a couple of things: since the Reagan era, we have generally interpreted "Republican" as code for white supremacist, "conservative" as a byword for de facto segregationist, "neo-con" as synonymous with suited confederate. And long before Reagan, "right wing" always meant racist.

Moreover, there is a corollary between how the Bush administration feels about Iraq and how we should feel about American racism. Baby Bush feels that if the U.S. had clobbered Iraq the last time it went to war with that nation, there would be no need to fight it again.

In our case, of course, if we had wiped out the racists when we had them on the run in the '60s-the 1860s-we wouldn't have to constantly beat back the Trent Lotts, Strom Thurmonds and Jesse Helmses of the world. We wouldn't have to still be dealing with Confederate flag controversies in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi.

In New Orleans, we wouldn't still be tolerating the indignity of having a statue of the defeated Civil War traitor Robert E. Lee towering over a prominent intersection (with its back--some say its behind--turned to the north in true unreconstructed redneck fashion). It is a blatant and intentional symbol of racism and white supremacy--and it needs to go. By the same token, we should have found a new name for Jefferson Davis Boulevard and a new home for the Confederate Museum many years ago.

"And," to appropriate the words of the infamous Trent Lott again, "if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either."

Solid South
Since all our lemming-like political leadership is spouting off about regionalism these days and the need for us to maximize our assets, why not sell the lot (no pun intended) of our confederate monuments to the state or to our neighboring communities. Both Kenner and Slidell are named for Confederate heroes. Let them buy these unwanted assets from New Orleans and use them to brand their communities. We need the money; they need an identity. Let's make a deal.

Deep down, I believe the world should be large enough for white supremacists and normal self-determining black folk. But when the interests of overreaching rednecks clashes with those of striving people of African descent, then I am siding with the black folk 100 percent of the time. In practical terms, that means lots of white racists have to be corralled in, their greed checked, their destructive behaviors circumscribed. Trent Lott, obviously, is one such miscreant. It's time to send him back to his trailer park for good.

Lott, of course, doesn't agree with that analysis. Neither, apparently, does an Insipid Northern Negro (INN) columnist for the New York Times. He says it's not necessary to remove Senator Lott from his post as Senate majority leader. He says we just have to keep our eye on him. That's mighty white of him, that INN. Of course, he's not alone in his views. The organized corps of ultra-conservatives supports that position, too. So do a few Southern Insipid Negroes (SINs). But you must have already guessed that not all INNs need be northern.

At any rate, this let's-go-easy-on-racists attitude has put all kinds of fools in public office and permitted lots more idiots in the private sector to start acting out. Now they want to go gallivanting across the globe, toppling governments, hording natural resources, controlling access to markets, ordering troops into battle, bogarting their way into being 21st century neo-colonial masters of the universe.

Flaunting White Supremacy
This is how bad the situation has become: Last month, 18 of the world's largest and best-known European and white-American museums issued a joint declaration that they would not return artifacts in their possession that were looted from such countries as Egypt, Nigeria and Greece. They just flat out said they really didn't care how the museums acquired these treasures in days of yore, the fact was they were in possession of them now and they were never sending these antiquities back to their countries of origin, damn what the rest of the world thinks. Now, when some little cotton-tailed museum directors can be that flippant without getting their faces slapped in retaliation, then you know crackers in general are full of themselves. Imagine how high-handed the oil men and the bankers must be in their dealings abroad.

This is delusion of the highest order. White folks are less than 20 percent of the world's population. And they haven't proved to be exceptional at anything except killing whatever they have tried to control. But if we don't put our foot down and tell them "No, you cannot disrespect us or violate our rights any more," then we are simply empowering them to actualize their fantasies.

Who do we think we're fooling? The Robert E. Lee statue, for example, is a blatant piece of racist propaganda, every bit as odious as the old Liberty Monument. And the only reason more black people are not in arms about it is because most of them don't yet know what an insult that statue was intended to be to us. When more people are informed, there will be more public outcry. But it shouldn't have to come to that. The city council should do the right thing and get rid of this racist monument without us having to act ugly first.

So, it's time to stop the foolishness. It's time to fire the lot of racists and to get rid of these insulting Confederate monuments scattered across our city. It is time to put the Old South to rest for good. It's time to launch a new frontal assault on racist terror in the U.S. It's time for our political leaders to stop whistling Dixie and stand up for us. It's time to round up the neo-Klansmen and send them to Undoing Racism workshops where they can learn there is life after white-skin privilege.

Later on, they will thank us for it--and the world will be a much safer place.

Borderline 12.02

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J.B. Borders is a social commentator and cultural critic. He is also president of J.B. Borders & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, fund development, and program implementation and evaluation for nonprofit organizations. Borders was the founding editor of the New Orleans Tribune and an erstwhile editor of The Black Collegian Magazine. He has also served as managing director of the National Black Arts Festival and executive director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Borders earned a bachelor's and a master's degree at Brown University, where he co-founded Rites & Reason Theatre in 1969.

James B. Borders IV / J.B. Borders & Associates / 3655 Piedmont Drive / New Orleans, LA 70122-4775 / 504 945-7015, voice & fax
504 442-1645, mobile / jamesbborders4@cs.com

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Great Divergence

America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It

By Timothy Noah

For the past three decades, America has steadily become a nation of haves and have-nots. Our incomes are increasingly drastically unequal: the top 1% of Americans collect almost 20% of the nation’s income—more than double their share in 1973. We have less equality of income than Venezuela, Kenya, or Yemen. What economics Nobelist Paul Krugman terms "the Great Divergence" has until now been treated as little more than a talking point, a club to be wielded in ideological battles. But it may be the most important change in this country during our lifetimes—a sharp, fundamental shift in the character of American society, and not at all for the better. The income gap has been blamed on everything from computers to immigration, but its causes and consequences call for a patient, non-partisan exploration.

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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.

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P.B. Young, Newspaperman

Race, Politics, and Journalism in the New South, 1910-1962

By Henry Lewis Suggs

P.B. Young, the son of a former slave, published the Norfolk Journal and Guide , a black weekly, for more than 50 years, until his death in 1962. From a circulation of a few hundred in 1909 to a circulation of 75,000 during the 1950s, the Guide became the largest press in the South. This book explores P.B. Young's personal history and charts his positions on a variety of social issues.

Historians have largely neglected the Guide and its editor. Henry Lewis Suggs, mainly using Young's personal papers (heretofore closed to scholars) and the files of the Guide, fills that historiographical void  . . .The book will almost certainly remain the definitive study of P.B. Young.—David B. Parker,

Another neglected figure in black history has been rescued from obscurity in this biography of Plummer Bernard Young . . .Suggs has thoroughly researched his subject.—Theodore Kornweibel, Jr.

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A History of the Black Press
By Armistead S. Pride and Clint C. Wilson II

In this work, Dr. Wilson chronicles the development of black newspapers in New York City and draws parallels to the development of presses in Washington, D.C., and in 46 of the 50 United States. He describes the involvement of the press with civil rights and the interaction of black and nonblack columnists who contributed to black- and white-owned newspapers. . . . Through reorganization and exhaustive research to ascertain source materials from among hundreds of original and photocopied documents, clippings, personal notations, and private correspondence in Dr. Pride's files, Dr. Wilson completed this compelling and inspiring study of the black press from its inception in 1827 to 1997.

This is a major and noteworthy contribution to scholarship on the African American press. As Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam concludes in the foreword, “Pride and Wilson’s comprehensive history is a lasting tribute to the men and women within the black press of both the past and the present and to those who will make it what it will be in the future.

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

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.     

Professor Perry 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 Caucasian babies.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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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 Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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Related files:  The Venezuela Connection  Making the Crackers Crumble  Power Plays and Useful Idiots  Payback for Bush   What Would "Dr. Kang" Say?