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We need to take up that idea of making Black men stand up and embrace fatherhood (a lifetime gig)

as men and quit winking at the vanished baby makers that litter our community with fatherless children.



Books by Amiri Baraka

Tales of the Out & the Gone  / The Essence of Reparations / Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems  / Blues People

 Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka / Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones / Black Music

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The Parade of Anti Obama Rascals

By Amiri Baraka


We certainly know the animals of the right, the US Reich, the Foxes and Klan in Civilian clothes, e.g., O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh &c and certainly a coon or two Tavis & Andy, some people even came up with the slogan Strangle Rangel. Happily w/the departure of Bonnie & Clyde more of these Negro retainers will replace their “HillJig” buttons with the shit eating grin of exposed Toms as they try to ease painlessly into at least the margin of the masses who support Obama.

But I’m talking about another substantial pimple of soi disant, dare I say, intellectuals & self advertised radicals who are quite audible & wordy in opposition to Obama. You might say, ‘but how is that, since now there is only the prisoner of war, McCain, who proves every time he opens his mouth that he is still a prisoner of the Vietnam war’ that Obama faces. McCain’s major campaign plank is that Americans need to keep dying in Iraq and our tax monies need to keep being fed to Halliburton and the other oilies and cronies. McCain also holds that we continue the Bush type savaging of the US constitution by denying habeas corpus and the legal rights of prisoners in Guantanamo. Keep it open as a Bush-Cheney concentration camp. McCain also wants to maintain the widespread hatred of the US by the world, as well as making Bush giveaway tax cuts for the super rich permanent.

Here’s a charming character who on returning from Vietnam soon dumped his lst wife who had been severely crippled in an automobile accident, to run off with, among others, a beer brewery heiress who cd support his political barn storming. Here’s a man, who for all the media clap about him being “an independent” is the spiritual follower of the man whose seat he sits in as Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater.

I mention all this because it is criminal for these people claiming to be radical or intellectual to oppose or refuse to support Obama. I hope we don’t have to hear about “the lesser of two evils” from people whose foolish mirror worship wd have us elect the worst of two evils.

For those who claim radical by supporting McKinney or, brain forbid, the Nadir of fake liberalism, we shd have little sympathy. As much as I have admired Cynthia McKinney, to pose her candidacy as an alternative to Obama is at best empty idealism, at worst nearly as dangerous as when the Nader used the same windy egotism to help elect Bush.

The people who are supporting McKinney must know that that is an empty gesture. But too often such people are so pocked with self congratulatory idealism, that they care little or understand little about politics (i.e., the gaining maintaining and use of power) but want only to pronounce, to themselves mostly, how progressive or radical or even revolutionary they are.

Faced with the obvious that McKinney cannot actually do anything by running but put out lines a solid left bloc shd put out anyway, their pre-joinder is that Obama will be running as a candidate of an imperialist party, or Imperialism will not let Obama do anything different or progressive . . . that he will do the same things any Democrat would do and that the Democrats are using Obama to draw young people to the Democratic Party. Also that there is a sector of the bourgeoisie that supports Obama to put a new face on the US as alternative to the Devil face Bush has projected as the American image.

Some of these things I agree with, but before qualifying that let me say that no amount of solipsistic fist pounding about “radical principles” will change this society as much as the election of Barack Obama will as president of the US. Not to understand this is to have few clues about the history of this country, its people, or the history of the Black struggle in the US. It is also to be completely at odds with the masses of the Afro-American people, let us say with the masses of black and colored people internationally. How people who claim to lead the people but who time after time tail them so badly must be understood. It is because they confuse elitism with class consciousness.

And at this point, the US body politic has been taken too far in this present election campaign to easily dissolve this heavy challenge to its historic race & class exclusivity. The positive aspect of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and commitment to work in the Obama campaign has certainly shredded some of the gender exclusivity as well, so that there is in reality a prospect  that some substantive change can be made. Obama is the democratic nominee. Only repeats of the outright election theft of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 can put McCain in the white house. In 2 weeks, since the Democratic Party primaries ended, McCain’s poll numbers have dropped from a dead heat w/Obama to trailing by 18 points.

It is up to revolutionaries and progressives and radicals of all stripes to make it difficult for another larceny in November. We should agitate for serious disruption across this country and internationally if such a criminal attempt to steal the US presidency is mounted.   

For the so called left and would be radicals (and some grinning idiots who say they don’t even care about politics) the McKinney gambit is to label oneself “Quixote of the loyal opposition” to pipsqueak a hiss of disproval at the rulers while being an enabler of the same. Neither McCain nor McKinney will help us. Only Obama offers some actual help.

Even the dumbest things Obama has said re: Cuba and the soft shoe for Israel must be seen as the cost of realpolitik, that is he is not running for president of the NAACP and not to understand that those are the stances that must be taken in the present political context, even though we hold out to support what he said about initiating talks with the Cubans, the Palestinians. After years of Washington stupidity and slavish support for the Miami Gusanos and Israeli imperialism, there is in Obama’s raising of talks with the US Bourgeois enemies something that must be understood as the potential path for new initiative. It is the duty of a left progressive radical bloc to be loud and regular in our demands for the changes Obama has alluded to in his campaign. We must take up these issues and push collectively, as a Bloc, or he will be pushed inexorably to the right.

Some people were grousing about the father’s day address and the stance he took lecturing Black men to actually become fathers not just disappearing sexual partners. But can anyone who actually lives in the hood, and has raised children there really claim that what Obama said is somehow an “insult to half a race.” We need to take up that idea of making Black men stand up and embrace fatherhood (a lifetime gig) as men and quit winking at the vanished baby makers that litter our community with fatherless children. This is where a great deal of the raw material comes from for the gangs that imperil our communities.

As I answered one irate e-mailer who was pissed off at Obama for leveling that challenge, a Negro man killed my only sister, a Negro man killed my youngest daughter. I can’t give no mealy mouth slack about that, we need to Stand Up!

Obama has addressed the Israeli lobby and the Gusano (anti Cuba) lobby. But where is the Black left and general progressive, radical and revolutionary lobby? That is the real job we need to address. We must bring something to the table. It is time for the left to really make some kind of Left Bloc to support Obama. I was at the Black Left meeting in North Carolina and had to argue with a group of folks who want to be revolutionary as heck with a Reconstruction Party supporting Cynthia McKinney. Though there was some good discussion, nothing concrete has been offered especially around the Obama campaign.        

There were even a few badly disguised nationalists, posing as part of the left who think such posturing  somehow more revolutionary than getting Obama into the oval office and dealing with getting him there and the rocking and rolling that will go on in this country whether he makes it or not. We ought to be putting together a left bloc document that can be circulated as soon and as widely as possible and in Denver and depending on the circumstances, beyond. Using this as a means of drawing the excited masses to the left.

We always knew that the Obama campaign had the potential to do this. And the closer we get to the convention and then the election even more excitement will be generated. We shd not let our role be to stand on the sidelines and mumble how hip we are, we can’t be so hip we let this cross roads of US history pass us by and possibly even let the lobotomized Robocop of right wing Republicanism serve us up more Bush’ it.                                                      

I am sending this document right after I finish writing it to the Black Radical Congress who is meeting in St. Louis this weekend. I would hope it could be circulated.  6/21/08

posted 24 June 2008 

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We find your argument for voting for Obama over McKinney and McCain interesting but not convincing. None has yet persuaded me that there's a dime's difference between the politics of McCain and Obama. Surely, McCain has yet to insult all black men from a church pulpit. He already has the white racist male vote that Obama seeks.

You have quite over-simplified the issue of out of wedlock pregnancies and so-called absent black dads. You know these deadly tragedies are much more complicated than you or Obama have drawn them. Both you and Obama know or should know that poverty is not an excuse, but rather a crushing reality. I regret further that you have mixed that issue with your personal tragedies, for which you have my deepest condolences.

You also excuse Obama's give-away of Jerusalem and his sallying up to the rightwing anti-Castro forces in Florida. Your win at any cost strategy for Obama you suggest can be countered by a non-existence left wing lobby. The aggregates of left wingers have no counter in actuality to the right wing pressure on Obama to move farther right than McCain. What would you recommend if McCain recants and moves to the left of Obama, which is a possible Republican strategy?

You and many others seem to have concluded that capstoning the defeat of Jim Crow with a black president automatically deals with the problems of labor, low wages, poverty, peace in the Middle East, a flagging dollar, and an impoverishing inflation. I am sorry my dear brother, your eyes are much better than mine.

I have rendered my position as an independent—Straying from Official Orthodoxy. I was enthusiastic during the primaries for Obama, unlike my dear friend Glen Ford, whom you have labeled a "rascal." Though Glen and my position differ, I think that his position and opposition to Obama is sincere and well meaning. I will withhold my support of Obama to November until I see more promise that his election will make a real difference in realpolitik.

Though I am reluctant to rubber stamp this present appeal to vote and support Obama, the pages of ChickenBones are open to you and other Obama enthusiasts for more convincing arguments.—Rudy

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Hi, Rudy, I read your response to Amiri with a lot of interest. I see where you are coming from. While I wouldn't presume to opine about the black family, I have some reservations about Obama, too—I was disappointed by his stand on the recent domestic spying legislation, for example. However, for what it's worth, I am going to work hard for Obama. Either he or McCain will be the next president. I see him as far better than McCain on the war, foreign relations, the economy, the environment, the public infrastructure (esp. education), and human rights (in the Malcolm X sense). If McCain is elected, we are likely to have an extreme right majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. Obama is someone that progressive folks can talk to. He might not do what we want, but we will be part of the conversation. That was not the case with Bush—and won't be the case with McCain. Best, Jim

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Rudy, I do find Baraka's arguments convincing. Take care, Herbert

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The personal is political . . . all people (acknowledged or not) are directly affected by the things that happen to them. Folk who claim an objectivity that makes it possible for them to make decisions, take positions, and act completely separate from their lived experiences are fooling themselves and maybe others—but not me.
Just because someone doesn't mention the lived experience underpinning that (consciously or unconsciously) help shape their thinking-feelings about whatever—doesn't mean they don't exist. At least Baraka's being up front about it—me too because (and especially after 12 years of college and seeing up close and personal how degrees are designed to help folk join the power structure) the way I see the world has a helluva lot more to do with what I've lived than what I've read.
White folks in power (others too—it's not a race thang) have a vested interest in pretending to reason totally separate from emotional, personal, lived experience, and beliefs that have no foundation in what's real—makes it easier for them to otherize us and anybody else they want to control.
Yes, Obama's a politician . . . and politics "everywhere" in the world means to work in the sewer of humanity a lot---political power is wielded in the trenches and it stanks down there. All politicians do a lot of the same stuff to get elected (i.e., whatever it takes)—all of them do some good things and some fucked up things, and some downright wrong things too. For me, it's a choice between what I know (McCain) and what I don't know but have real hope in so far at least (Obama).
If enough of us don't vote, or vote McCain . . . we'll leave samo-samo in power and there'll be no mystery. Many of my friends think the only way for systemic change to happen is to take the current structure down to the ground—4-8 more years of this regime might accomplish that . . . P.S. I note that your issue (mine too) with what Obama said about Black men has "a lot" to do with Black folks oppressive lived experience in this country. Peace, Mary

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It's all about Michelle, Rudy, not Barack. It's important now to have a Race Woman Warrior in the White House, because she will do good and be good for the entire Nation. It's about Black grandmothers and mothers and daughters. It's not about Black males and not about, once again, Black male envy of other Black men.—Mackie

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I think everyone would be better served to look to Mr. Obama as a tool rather than a vessel. I am convinced that any persons or organization who truly have well formulated viable agendas will find a way to use the Obama regime to their advantage. I am equally convinced that however you are living now under Bush will essentially be the same way you're living 8 years from now under McCain. I would vote for McKinney for President Of New Afrika any day of the week . . . but it doesn't exist.—Namaskar

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A powerful statement by Baraka, with which I am in complete accord.Miriam

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Dear Rudy, I'm going on record as agreeing with Baraka.Bankie

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Obama's other Muslim problem—He will not offer even mild criticism of Israel while wholeheartedly endorsing Tel Aviv's refusal to consider granting Palestinian sovereignty over any part of East Jerusalem,  which forecloses any possibility for peaceIt becomes difficult to see how such views would enable the kind of "aggressive diplomatic effort" across the region the senator calls for. Moreover, Obama's much debated willingness to talk to Iran is undercut by his support for implementing confrontational policies. For example, he supported designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation and pushing for increased sanctions against the Islamic Republic -before even sitting down with its leadership. Most importantly, Obama hedges his pledge to remove US forces from Iraq, refusing to commit to a full withdrawal of US troops while calling for a large expansion of the ranks of the active duty military.This suggests that as president, Obama would continue and even increase US military engagements in the region, against the wishes of the vast majority of its inhabitants. Luckily, a burgeoning coalition of people across the Middle East - in particular, the younger generation - are not waiting for "President" Obama, or anyone else, to save them. Aljazeera

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#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


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#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
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#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.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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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 Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values.

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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 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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Home    Amiri Baraka Table  Obama 2008 Table

Related file: Baraka: Act Like We Know  Straying from official orthodoxy  Hunger for a Black Presiden