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He concludes all is well except in Jena, Louisiana: "We don't see that many instances of overt,

unapologetic, separate-and-unequal racial discrimination these days, thank goodness" (my emphasis).



Books by Eugene Robinson


 Coal to Cream / Last Dance in Cuba  / Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America


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Minstrelsy and White Expectations

Reviewing Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson

Editorial by Rudolph Lewis


Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is back again after his Drive Time for the 'Jena 6' still seeking a special nationalism for rich and wealthy blacks  (e.g., Bob Johnson and Oprah Winfrey) who live in the suburbs, with Which Black America? (Washington Post). It seems he seeks a special white status for them, exempt from white criticisms by leading white spokespersons, like Bill O'Reilly and Republican Party stalwarts.  That is, he wants an "honest" discussion on race from these white talking heads that does not include the majority of Black Americans whom Mr. Eugene continues to classify as "dysfunctional."

That is, instead of say a marxist class analysis now we have Mr. Eugene recommending a pseudo medical, pseudo social science analysis of his "black americas": one) that is healthy and wealthy and damn near white with its success ethics in tow and two) those that are ill and poor and still just don't get it. Moreover, these two social zones have two different cultures: one) that which comes from below vibrant and funky and often raging and two) that which the near-whites absorb from their white peers much of which is a white version of that which comes from below. 

Eugene seems insanely sincere in wanting to distance himself from those dusty blacks fixed down low by his corporate social buddies who have a tendency to pat him on the head and arse as one of the boys they condescend to allow on the golf course.

But pray tell how can Mr. Eugene be "honest" while a little corporate elite sits on his shoulder whispering in his ear, "Nigger, don't forget how you get paid."

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Hattie McDaniel, one of her famous quips was: "I'd rather play a maid than be one." She had been either a washerwoman or was the daughter of one before receiving her Oscar. 

One should consider as well Eugene Robinson, columnist of the Washington Post (WP), and his Drive Time for the 'Jena 6'. He seems to write with a little white man on his shoulder, that is, with his own particular white fears, like Louie, like Hattie. His column emphasizes briefly the mechanics of how 60,000 blacks come to appear in the isolated white community of Jena, Louisiana; that is, he focuses on the "how" rather than the "why." Yet he places significant suggestive facts on the table.

1) "It's fair to say that without black radio, the case of the Jena 6 probably never would have become a significant national story," writes Mr. Robinson, as he warms up for self-revelation

It was not only a national story; it was an international story. The BBC online covered the story long before for the WPRace Hate in Louisiana.

Isn't that an oddity? One may also ask, Where was  the NAACP? They dragged in last and initially began collecting money that was not going directly for the defense of the black boys. Where was Eugene and his column?

Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner came late. They indeed gave it a boost. They saw that there was a commercial appeal to the story.

2)  "Why is this interesting? Because black America is increasingly complicated and diverse, riven by fault lines that didn't exist back when the great civil rights heroes were marching in Selma," Mr. Robinson informs us

How is that important for the Jena 6? He attempts to clarify but still only suggests the reality that exists.

3)  "There are black families that have had multigenerational middle-class success, and black families trapped in multigenerational poverty and dysfunction," Mr. Eugene grins and genuflects

How is that  important, this "success"? At bottom the Jena 6 situation is about economics, the nooses only symbolical of those economic frustrations, and that which doesn't arouse the "successful" there is silence, he seems to suggest, except from the masses who feel the nooses tightening in numerous ways, for instance, longer hours and decreasing wages; job discrimination without any mechanism which to challenge it; joblessness;  underemployment;  police repression; and other repressive laws and attitudes.

4)  "'the black community' is, for most purposes, best thought of as plural,"  Mr. Robinson distinguishes himself as house negro.

Now we get to the grist of Eugene's racial tale, his perspective from on the colored heights. What does that mean in the real life of the different communities? There will be no second civil rights movement because the superficial elements of Jim Crow are dead, ostensibly?The economic issues are too extensive and would require much more than a civil rights movement; one would have to begin where M.L. King left off with his Poor Peoples March..

The so-called civil rights leaders are reserving their energies, however, for more important game: a get out the vote to install a Democratic president, some of whose candidates spoke briefly in similar tones as Eugene, that is, how regrettable the Jena situation, but little else. So did Bush, for that matter. But a different party in the White House makes no assurances about working class issues and "racial" or police repression. But all these facts receive no analysis from Eugene.

He concludes all is well except in Jena, Louisiana: "We don't see that many instances of overt, unapologetic, separate-and-unequal racial discrimination these days, thank goodness" (my emphasis).

Here he speaks with that little white man on his shoulder. I wonder who is the "We" in this instance when we have "plural" communities.  Is that conclusion really true? Is it true for you?

There's a greater healthiness in Armstrong's antics or in those of Hattie McDaniel, for you know they are playing a role to appease white expectations. With writers like Eugene Robinson, only a few can see he's also playing his role for his white bosses and audience, who read to find out what a certain segment of the black community thinks.

Certainly, the few "instances" are not true for the 60,000 that converged on Jena from all over the country, nor the bloggers and websites that have been carrying the story for months. The repression of the Jena 6 (Black teenagers) is a repression felt nationally. It's not an isolated situation as Eugene suggests. They were marching for themselves as well as the six black boys, who are not too unlike the Scottsboro Boys of the 1930s. But I'm sure I'm speaking to the choir.

photo left: Scottsboro Boys and their lawyer Samuel Leibowitz

Mr. Robinson seems to have learned his racial reasoning from that great Negro scholar at Harvard University. At a 1992 "Responsibility of Black Intellectuals" forum organized by Reverend Eugene Rivers, Skip Gates had this to say:

Gates: To Margaret—you ended by asking what happened to our community between say, 1960 and 1980? To be concrete, I have four statistics that I would like to share. In 1960, 24% of black households were headed by women; in 1990 that number is 56%, and 55% of these women live in poverty. The percentage of births out of wedlock in the black community in 1960 was 21.6%; in 1988 it is 63.7%. In 1960 19.9% of our children lived only with their mothers; in 1990 that number was 51.2%. In 1960, finally, two percent of our children had mothers who had never been married; in 1990 that number was 35%. If raising our children is the most important work of a society, its burdens now fall disproportionately on the much-demonized single mother.

What's happened is that our community has been divided into two. We now have two black communities, not one. We probably have more than that. Yet each of us tends to speak of the black community as if blackness were a class. We have to decide if blackness really does constitute a class. We have to start with this issue, and recognize that the community we were children in no longer exists. There is a new black community—or new black communities—out there, and if we are trying to put it back together then we have to recognize that reality and then talk about new solutions to new problems. That is, I think, the signal failure of our generation of black intellectuals. More often than not we resort to romantic black nationalism or to some other way to assuage the guilt that we feel, and everybody in here knows what I am talking about, about leaving that other community behind.

hooks: I don't know what Skip is talking about. . . .BostonReview

I wonder from what sector of the black community these neo-House Negroes think came those that made the conditions ripe and possible for a Skip Gates to get to Harvard or a  Eugene Robinson to get to the Washington Post. These neo-coloreds have made up for themselves a revisionist history that says that they got to their high positions merely on their own merit.

posted 11 October 2007

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Black power is taking control of your destiny—Black political power has grown significantly in the past four decades, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. In 1970, there were only 469 black elected officials. That number has grown to more than 10,000 in 2007. Sociologist Art Evans of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton said the nation has changed and black people have made progress in just about every aspect of society. "There's been tremendous growth in the black middle class," Evans said. "In the 1960s less than 3 percent of blacks were middle-class; today, 37 percent of blacks are middle-class. . . . [Yet] "We still don't have the control over our lives," [Kwame] Afoh said. Gregory Lewis. “Some see lack of progress, others strides since 1960s.” Sun-Sentinel

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Not Gone With the Wind Voices of Slavery—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—9 February 2003—Unchained Memories, an HBO documentary that makes its debut tomorrow night, provides a powerful answer to that question. It gives us, through the faces and voices of African-American actors, an introduction to a vast undertaking that took place in the 1930's: the collection and preservation of the testimonies of thousands of aged former slaves in an archive known as the Slave Narrative Collection of the Federal Writers' Project. This archive unlocked the brutal secrets of slavery by using the voices of average slaves as the key, exposing the everyday life of the slave community. Rosa Starke, a slave from South Carolina, for example, told of how class divisions among the slaves were quite pronounced:

''Dere was just two classes to de white folks, buckra slave owners and poor white folks dat didn't own no slaves. Dere was more classes 'mongst de slaves. De fust class was de house servants. Dese was de butler, de maids, de nurses, chambermaids, and de cooks. De nex' class was de carriage drivers and de gardeners, de carpenters, de barber and de stable men. Then come de nex' class, de wheelwright, wagoners, blacksmiths and slave foremen. De nex' class I members was de cow men and de niggers dat have care of de dogs. All dese have good houses and never have to work hard or git a beatin'. Then come de cradlers of de wheat, de threshers and de millers of de corn and de wheat, and de feeders of de cotton gin. De lowest class was de common field niggers.''NYTimes

On the Responsibility of Black Intellectuals  / Unchained Memories (HBO on Slave Narratives)

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#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 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


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#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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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. —Booklist

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Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

By Eugene Robinson

In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormous influence, a mainstream middle-class majority, a newly emergent group of recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and an abandoned minority "with less hope of escaping poverty than at any time since Reconstruction's end." Drawing on census records, polling data, sociological studies, and his own experiences growing up in a segregated South Carolina college town during the 1950s, Robinson explores 140 years of black history in America, focusing on how the civil rights movement, desegregation, and affirmative action contributed to the fragmentation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the "best-educated group coming to live in the United States," are changing what being black means.

Robinson notes that despite the enormous strides African-Americans have made in the past 40 years, the problems of poor blacks remain more intractable than ever, though his solution—"a domestic Marshall Plan aimed at black America"—seems implausible in this era of cash-strapped state and local governments.—Publishers Weekly

The Great Unraveling—By Raymond Arsenault—A review of  Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America—Over . . . 200 pages, [Mr. Robinson] demonstrates rather convincingly that no one belongs to the black community anymore. The race-based community that was a fixture of American life for generations — the traditional locus of racial experience and solidarity, the idealized entity that many of us still refer to, indeed still cling to, as an institutional and social reality—no longer exists. That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of this slim but powerful book. During the past four decades, Robinson persuasively argues, black America has splintered into four subgroups: the Transcendent elite; the Mainstream middle class, which now accounts for a majority of black Americans; an Emergent community made up of mixed-race families and black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean; and the Abandoned, a large and growing underclass concentrated in the inner cities and depressed pockets of the rural South.—NYTimes

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification."

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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

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 9 May 2012




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Related files:  On the Responsibility of Black Intellectuals  Unchained Memories   O Black and Unknown Bards