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  Southern members of Congress used occupational exclusions . . . to ensure that national policies

would not disturb their region's  racial order. Farmworkers and maids, the jobs held by most

blacks in the South, were denied Social Security pensions and access to labor unions.

 

 

Books by Ira Katznelson

Black Men, White Cities: Race, Politics, and Migration in the United States, 1900-1930, and Britain, 1948-1968 (1973)

Black Men, White Cities: Race, Politics, and Migration in the United States, 1900-1930, and Britain, 1948-1968 (1973)

Schooling for All: Race, Class, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (with Margaret Weir;1985) / Marxism and the City (1992)

Desolation and Enlightenment: Political Knowledge after the Holocaust, Totalitarianism, and Total War (2003)

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in America

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New Deal / Raw Deal

By Ira Katznelson

 

Hurricane Katrina's violent winds and waters tore away the shrouds that ordinarily mask the country's racial pattern of poverty and neglect. Understandably, most commentators have focused on the woeful federal response. Others, taking a longer view, yearn for a burst of activism patterned on the New Deal. But that nostalgia requires a heavy dose of historical amnesia. It also misses the chance to come to terms with how the federal government in the 1930s and 1940s contributed to the persistence of two Americas.

It was during the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman that such great progressive policies as Social Security, protective labor laws and the GI Bill were adopted. But with them came something else that was quite destructive for the nation: what I have called "affirmative action for whites." During Jim Crow's last hurrah in the 1930s and 1940s, when southern members of Congress controlled the gateways to legislation, policy decisions dealing with welfare, work and war either excluded the vast majority of African Americans or treated them differently from others.

Between 1945 and 1955, the federal government transferred more than $100 billion to support retirement programs and fashion opportunities for job skills, education, homeownership and small-business formation. Together, these domestic programs dramatically reshaped the country's social structure by creating a modern, well-schooled, homeowning middle class. At no other time in American history had so much money and so many resources been targeted at the generation completing its education, entering the workforce and forming families.

But most blacks were left out of all this. Southern members of Congress used occupational exclusions and took advantage of American federalism to ensure that national policies would not disturb their region's  racial order. Farmworkers and maids, the jobs held by most blacks in the South, were denied Social Security pensions and access to labor unions.

Benefits for veterans were administered locally. The GI Bill adapted to "the southern way of life" by accommodating itself to segregation in higher education, to the job ceilings that local officials imposed on returning black soldiers and to a general unwillingness to offer loans to blacks even when such loans were insured by the federal government.

Of the 3,229 GI Bill-guaranteed loans for homes, businesses and farms made in 1947 in Mississippi, for example, only two were offered to black veterans.

This is unsettling history, especially for those of us who keenly admire the New Deal and the Fair Deal. At the very moment a wide array of public policies were providing most white Americans with valuable tools to gain protection in their old age, good jobs, economic security, assets and middle-class status, black Americans were mainly left to fend for themselves.

Ever since, American society has been confronted with the results of this twisted and unstated form of affirmative action. A full generation of federal policy, lasting until the civil rights legislation and affirmative action of the 1960s, boosted whites into homes, suburbs, universities and skilled employment while denying the same or comparable benefits to black citizens.

Despite the prosperity of postwar capitalism's golden age, an already immense gap between white and black Americans widened. Even today, after the great achievements of civil rights and affirmative action, wealth for the typical white family, mainly in homeownership, is 10 times the average net worth for blacks, and a majority of African American children in our cities subsist below the federal poverty line.

President Lyndon Johnson faced up to racial inequality in "To Fulfill These Rights," a far-reaching graduation speech he delivered at Howard University in June 1965. He noted that "freedom is not enough" because "you do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and they say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe you have been completely fair."

What is needed, he argued, is a set of new policies, a dramatic new type of affirmative action for "the poor, the unemployed, the uprooted, and the  dispossessed." He had in mind the kind of comprehensive effort the GI Bill had provided to most returning soldiers, but without its exclusionary pattern of implementation.

This form of assertive, mass-oriented affirmative action never happened. By sustaining and advancing a growing African American middle class, the affirmative action we did get has done more to advance fair treatment across racial lines than any other recent public policy, and thus demands our respect and support. But as the scenes from New Orleans vividly displayed, so many who were left out before have been left out yet again.

Rather than yearn for New Deal policies that were tainted by racism, or even recall the civil rights and affirmative action successes of the 1960s and beyond, we would do better in present circumstances to return to the ambitious plans Johnson announced but never realized to close massive gaps between blacks and whites, and between more and less prosperous blacks.

Without an unsentimental historical understanding of the policy roots of black isolation and dispossession, and without an unremitting effort to cut the Gordian knot joining race and class, our national response to the disaster in the Gulf Coast states will remain no more than a gesture.

Ira Katznelson, a professor of political science and history at Columbia University, is the author of "When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in America."

Ira Katznelson earned his B.A. at Columbia University in 1966 and his Ph.D. in History at Cambridge University in 1969. He has taught at the University of Chicago and the New School for Social Research, and has been Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University since 1994. His books include Black Men, White Cities: Race, Politics, and Migration in the United States, 1900-1930, and Britain, 1948-1968 (1973), City Trenches: Urban Politics and the Patterning of Class in the United States (1981), Schooling for All: Race, Class, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (with Margaret Weir;1985), Marxism and the City (1992), Liberalism's Crooked Circle: Letters to Adam Michnik (1996; winner of the American Political Science Association's Michael Harrington Prize and Columbia's Lionel Trilling Award), and Desolation and Enlightenment: Political Knowledge after the Holocaust, Totalitarianism, and Total War (2003).

posted 18 November 2005

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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 New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

Pulitzer Prize for History 2012 Winner—For a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Awarded to Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by the late Manning Marable (Viking), an exploration of the legendary life and provocative views of one of the most significant African-Americans in U.S. history, a work that separates fact from fiction and blends the heroic and tragic. (Moved by the Board from the Biography category.)—Pulitzer

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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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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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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update 17 April 2012

 

 

 

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