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   Mr. Smiley, of The Smiley Group, Inc., began the program by thinking his sponsors

 which included Exxon (or some international oil company), and a host of foundations

(the usual ones listed for PBS programs)



Books by Tavis Smiley


My Story of Growing Up in America / The Covenant with Black America  /  The Covenant in Action


Never Mind Success: Go for Greatness  /  Keeping the Faith   /  Black Rage, Black Redemption


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Books by Cornel West

Democracy Matters: The Fight Against Imperialism  /  Race Matters  / Cornel West Reader  /  The Future of the Race  

The American Evasion of Philosophy  /  African American Religious Thought  /  The War Against Parents 

The African American Century White on White / Black on Black  / Prophesy Deliverance  / The Soul Knows No Bars

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Pass the Mic! Tour of Tavis Smiley

Con Game or True Struggle for Social Justice

Featuring Michael Eric Dyson & Cornel West  

An editorial by Rudolph Lewis


Baltimore (12 December 2003) They each in turn (these men in business suits) danced onto the stage of the Lyric Theater (Baltimore) with the latest moves of the Hip Hop Scene. They were cheered and received standing ovations (by some) as they strutted their stuff, shook their tail feathers, and flashed their pearly whites as they approached the mike to entertain the receptive throng of 1200 who each (mostly) paid his (or her) $60 for a ticket to hear the word from three popular and glib black leaders.

Though their lingo and style were that of thugs from the hood, these three men Tavis Smiley, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West are highly respected black entrepreneurs or Baptist preachers, or university professors (with tenure) or all three. With each delivering for forty-five (45) minutes a "sermonic lecture," it was difficult to establish whether the occasion was one for careful reflection on and examination of the plight of the oppressed in America or a combination of an evangelical (get happy) church meeting and a hip-hop rap concert. 

These three black well-known gentlemen are touted especially for their success and wealth and there were many women in the audience who might have indeed paid more to have a closer conference with these handsome, talented, and well-off brothers who, especially Dyson, who can sing and dance as well as any of today's popular R & B or hip hop stars. 

And, of course, there was a surprisingly large number of brothers (admirers of their success and popularity) in the audience including a great number of young men heavily influenced by the hip hop culture. The audience included such social activists as Larry Young, D. Morton Glover, Bob Moore, a congressional representative and many others. None of them was acknowledged by the superstars who were just touring. All of which seemed a case of bad form, if one was interested truly in black leadership and racial unity.

Mr. Smiley's "Sermonic Lecture"

In this introduction, some may think that I have drawn a modern-day minstrel scene which had a superficial layer of intellectuality. It indeed had that flavor of the month. For truly I was reminded, when the lights were turned down to darkness and the spotlight hit the stage and the music began to grind, of my youthful days at the Royal Theater on Pennsylvania Avenue. But, of course, these three highly educated and public experienced gentlemen were totally unlike the traditional 19th century or early 20th century corked-faced minstrels, even though they showed they were the masters of ghetto street antics.

Thankfully, Mr. Smiley made a request to the lighting director to turn up the lights so that he could see how beautiful his audience was. This dim setting did allow me to take a few notes on each of the speakers as they came to the mike to inspire members of the audience to take responsibility for their freedom.

Mr. Smiley, of The Smiley Group, Inc., began the program by thinking his sponsors which included Exxon (or some international oil company), and a host of foundations (the usual ones listed for PBS programs). He then made his apologies to whatever white people who might be in the audience for it was his intent, unlike his news program, to make use of "ebonics" in making his 45-minute presentation. 

It is still unclear to me the need for the apology and why he thought there was a need to make use of "ebonics" in order to relate to the assembled crowd. In any event, each of the speakers took his turn in showing how hip or "down" each was with street talk. Of course, they were different. Though their appeal was sensual and emotional, these men, according to their own words, lived the "life of the mind."

From what I could see or make out the assembled group was highly educated and definitely mostly of Baltimore's black middle class. What other group within our community can afford  to pay $60 to hear three Negroes jive-talk for three hours? I suspect the audience could have forgone the hip-ness and received well enough formal addresses presented with a measure of dignity and integrity if these cats had anything important to say about how matters could be turned around within the present onslaught of the religious right and the greed and bullying of corporate execs and their governmental representatives. 

But the primary tenor of the Pass the Mic! Tour is entertainment.

Mr. Smiley's address, as the other two, was the usual racial and liberal rhetoric of the African-American petty bourgeoisie—an attack on racial supremacy and lack of governmental reform. Theirs, however, was sprinkled exceedingly with humor, which added much to the general feel-goodness of the occasion. No national black comedian could have received as many guffaws and cheers as these three men of purported and vaunted seriousness.

After announcing his wealthy white sponsors, Mr. Smiley proclaimed that the "black man is the most maligned person on the face of the earth." Obviously, it was such a guilt line that enabled Tavis, Michael, and Cornel to get the support of Exxon and foundation money for this Tour. I am sure that Mr. Smiley did not believe in his heart that he was one of the "most maligned" men in America. For when he came onto public radio, he had a number of white men on his program sing his praises and congratulate him on his success. Moreover, it seems as if PBS, an agency he promoted at this affair, will allow him to host a program in 2004. Fifteen million black men would like to be so maligned.

To justify their pretense to legitimate leadership, Mr. Smiley along with his cohorts cleared the board. They each were unhappy with the present state of black leadership. In their Tour of American black cities they will be "fostering questions on leadership." Mr. Smiley started in on black clergy and proceeded to attack blacks who hold high positions in Corporate America, one of whom, he pointed out, is the most proficient fundraiser for the Bush campaign. Mr. Smiley claimed that his Tour was "not about symbols but substance."

In a further attack on black clergy and the Christian church, Mr. Smiley said they had no hope for a "messianic figure" to bring freedom for the oppressed black minority. He believes that black people spend too much time "looking up when they should be looking around." He then tossed the problem back on the oppressed themselves; they, in effect, must free themselves. "Each has a role to play . . . an individual role and responsibility." And he wasn't speaking of "a slick role to get over."

Mr. Smiley then gave his interpretation of the "Parable of the Prodigal Son" and told a joke about the Last Supper. From my perspective, the joke seemed more suited for a street bull session. Jesus, according to Mr. Smiley, said this was the last supper in that none of his disciples brought anything to the table. Then he went on with his biblical explication, which was filled with more humor and guffaws and a repetitious rallying of the crowd.  

Mr. Smiley was assured that the Prodigal Son was not a Negro. For finding himself among the swine, a Negro would not have gone hungry after wasting his inheritance. The practical Negro would have had  not only ham and shoulder, but also pig ears and tails and chitterlings. Like the Prodigal Son, he believes the Negro has "gone too far . . . away from what is right." And that the Negro "spends too much" on that which is unessential, even though economically the Negro is "three-fifths of a person."

For Mr. Smiley and the rest of the speakers, the Negro is less moral than he used to be and it is this immorality (or amorality) that keeps him oppressed. We, according to Mr. Smiley, have been in this state of immorality "too long" and it's "time for us to pick up the pieces." Mr. Smiley is convinced that the Negro has "got the skill" but he doesn't "have the will" to free himself.

The Reverend Dr. Michael Eric Dyson's "Sermonic Lecture"

Mr. Dyson danced onto the stage with the hippest music. He got all the moves with arms, hands, neck, and hips. He was smoother than a baby's bottom as he made his way to the mike amidst cheers and applause. Reverend Dyson began his presentation with much bombast related to the greatness of Tavis Smiley, whom he described as a "media mogul," "single," and "intelligent." Cornel West (his mentor), he declaimed was "the most important black intellectual in America."

Like Mr. Smiley, Rev. Dyson cleared in these "critical times" the board of the present leadership, which he found inadequate or inept.  In these "economic times," declared Dyson, we are swamped by "unprincipled leaders." We have a great "need for principal leaders" and then he went on to explain "what makes up a great leader." 

First on his list was the need for "study."  It was the desire of the Pass the Mic! Tour to "make the life of the mind sexy." The movement of his exposition on this characteristic was at once external and internal.

Rev. Dyson attacked America's general "anti-intellectual" attitude and specifically the attitude of George Bush and his butchering of the King's English. He then defended Negro English or "ebonics" on its effectiveness of removing the superficiality of America's hypocrisy. He pointed out that the Negro has ever been aware of the "privileges of whiteness," even in these times when the religious right and other Republican conservatives aim at reversing the gains of affirmative action. 

"It is not what we say [the lack of traditional grammar], but how we say it." He explicated the Negro use of the verb "be" in which it is generally understooda condition that began in the past, continues in the present, and likely to continue into the future. As in the statement, "It be that way."

To relate to the younger crowd, he rapped out Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Biggie Smalls, and other hip hop stars with great effect and applause. Tupac he claimed, to the satisfaction of many of Tupac's fans, that Tupac stood head and shoulder intellectually above the rest of the hip hop stars. For Tupac appreciated the value of the book and that he read widely. That may indeed be true. But it is evident that Tupac's life was filled more with violence than wisdom or even a commitment to black liberation.

Second characteristic of a great leader on Reverend Dyson's list was "service and self-sacrifice."  For him there is a "crisis of vision." The attitude of "I got mine they got to get theirs" is too prevalent within the community. Again, the audience heard an attack on the black clergy, heads of "megachurches" who pay $20 million for their church buildings, and on "navel gazers," and such ilk who are "backsliding into theological perjury." 

Dyson believes that the "spirit to lift one up from" economic hell has disappeared from the moral make-up of today's black leadership, and that there is such a generational gap within the community that older adults have "gutted the imagination of young people."

As the good Reverend made his remarks on this characteristic, I could not help wondering where was the "service and sacrifice" in their Pass the Mic! Tour. They did mention that they had gotten corporations to buy tickets for young people to attend the affair. But one must wonder indeed what personal sacrifices these gentlemen are making. All three are fairly wealthy with six-figure salaries. Why did they not offer to donate the proceeds of that night's function to some local needy organization. Allowed, for the $60 ticket, they indeed gave away Dyson's books, but that seemed more a matter of self-promotion.

Third characteristic named by the good Reverend Dyson was risk-taking: we need a "leadership that can take a risk." He is tired of "grandiloquent"  and "scared Negroes." What is it with Negroes whose names begin with the "letter C," he asked, "Clarence, Condolezza, Colin, and Connelly. It is a good thing we have "Cornel on our side."  "A black face," Dyson rhymed, "in a high place, "don't necessary represent the race."

Reverend Dyson ended his sermon by promoting his book Why I Love Black Women, which seemed to have been, in his own words, a case of "situational hoodooism." He lauded Harriet Tubman and made a case for patriotism rather than nationalism. He ended on a religious note, stating we are only "pilgrims": "This is not our home." Dyson left the stage with great applause and, from some, a standing ovation. He had indeed wowed his audience. Everything that followed was anti-climatic.

Philosopher Cornel West's "Sermonic Lecture"

If anyone came to this Tavis Smiley Show expecting to hear something enlightening and profound from Cornel West, University Professor of Religion at Princeton, he (or she) was sorely disappointed. He too danced onto the stage but not with as much rhythm and éclat as his two younger buddies. 

For some reason or another he felt that before this middle-class African-American audience he needed to show his hip-ness. He was awkward and stiff and solicited more laughter than applause. One wonders whether the good professor slips and slides when he's at Princeton or when he is before a Green Party audience.

Rather than coming before his audience with a prepared statement or note cards, Professor West decided to compete with his student Reverend Dyson and fell flat on his face. He was tiresome and worn in his remarks, not as glib and smooth when he talks to a white audience. At times he could barely form his words, trying to be what he is nota hip entertainer. So used to being in the ivory towers of Harvard and Princeton, Professor West felt, it seemed, that his black audience at the Lyric Theater would not be able to understand the same kind of spiel he gives to his white university trained audiences. To whom and for whom, one must ask, did he write his nineteen books and numerous articles, and to what end?

Beginning as the two former speakers, Professor West praised his comrades to high heaven and stated his willingness to defend them to the death. With respect to Mr. Smiley and Rev. Dyson, he applauded them for "linking the life of the mind with the struggle of freedom." Mr. Smiley, he said, he met eighteen (18) years ago and that he was pleased that he was able to instruct and inspire across the generation gap. Mr. Smiley, West believes, is "a profound writer." He stood with Mr. Smiley, almost solitary against the injustice of Robert Johnson and BET.

Professor West met Reverend Dyson thirty (30) years ago when he was as "broke as the Ten Commandments." (That got a good cheer and numerous guffaws.) After stating his praise and long connection, West wandered from one topic to another, at times, amidst hecklers from the audience. But again, like the previous speakers, he downed present leadership in relation to the leaders of the past like Martin and Malcolm. Traditionally, black leaders, he explained told "America who it is" and "black people who they are.

He then proceeded to 9-11 and the War against Iraq. "America," he declaimed, "is old but not grown up." America is now as a result of imperialistic aggression "unsafe and subjected to random violence. . . . The whole nation has been niggerized." Professor West explained, "What was American slavery, but terrorism?" Black people have always known terror in America and it is only now that whites are recognizing the phenomena as daily fare.

He brought attention to the hundred-year expanse of American lynchings in the South and Midwest and the courage of the mother of Emmett Till, by whose body (and whose head swollen twice its normal size) 125,000 filed. When asked by the minister John Julius Alston whether she had anything to say, she responded, "I don't have a moment to hate. But I am going to pursue justice the rest of my life."

Professor West, rightly, pointed out that this response was in great contrast to American foreign policy, which is one of revenge in which Iraqis are "cut down like cockroaches." We, he declaimed, must have the "courage to bear witness." The professor stumbled forward to numerous other topics, such as America's "hedonistic" and "orgiastic" preoccupations, the prison system and its culture, the need for education responsibility, and to the problems of black youth.

"Hip Hop culture," Professor West concluded, is "an indictment of the older generation" and of today's capitalist mechanizations in which its economic methodology is a "gangsterism of culture," pointing out the Enron debacle, a stealing of billions, which he contrasted with the petty theft of some welfare mothers. As a Christian, Professor West pointed out, he does not condone stealing of any type, but too often "we see an ATM machine before we see the cross." 

He believes there is "pimp activity" that exists in high places not just in racial ghettos. He was "not talking about all, but too many." Instead of talking about "let freedom ring" there was too much talk about "the bling-bling."

Professor West ended his tiresome exposition with a further attack on the state of black leadership. It was, he concluded, "not Socratic enough." (Professor West emphasized heavily this word "socratic," as if Socrates was his Jesus and the only man in the world who ever asked questions about the Good and the significance of Being in the World.) We are in need of, he declaimed, "those who are willing to die for the people. . . . to speak bold truth about white supremacy." Since Martin, it has not been Christian ministers who have served that function, but a Muslim minister, namely Louis Farrakhan.

Black leadership, West reiterated had "fallen short." But, he claimed "we are making a comeback." There will be no more cases of "HNIC, Head Negro in Charge." We were left to assume that Mr. Smiley's Pass the Mic! Tour was going to turn the trick. 

Professor West wants a "democratic leadership" and went on to explain what he meant by using a jazz metaphor and made reference to I Corinthians 13. He warned that "we are all in it together and that we will be going down together." But ended on the hopeful note that "we want to bear fruit . . . speaking truth and bearing witness . . . [to have a] love of wisdom, freedom, and justice."  

It was then about 9:40 pm, over two and a half hours after the program began. Most, I suspect, was relieved when Professor West left the stage. I know I was.

The Audience Responds

Then there was another 45 minutes in which members of the audience asked questions. Some speakers from WEAA (FM public radio station) came on stage as regulators of how the questions would be asked to the three presenters. I remained for about fifteen minutes into this session. It was too much. Questions I heard were pretty inane and none challenged these three leaders of bombast. And the capable leaders present realized that this was no format in which to challenge these talented demagogues who seemingly had won the hearts and minds of the majority of those present.

When I left home for the affair, I however  had planned to ask some questions about leadership and the characteristics of leadership, since I had been reading an excellent paper by Dr. Ron Walters of the University of Maryland, College Park who had written an excellent examination of the "legitimacy of leadership." But I thought better of it after suffering through three sermonic lectures and so got my hat and my notes and walked away from Smiley, Dyson, and West.

A Last Word

The Pass the Mic! Tour is indeed an interesting and curious affair. I know I would not have paid $60 to hear these three cats talk. But I indeed feel fortunate to have been passed along a free ticket from Larry Young's radio program. Smiley's Tour is indeed a well-organized and coordinated promotional campaign. I have my doubts that it has anything to do with black liberation and more to do with the self-promotion of three highly sophisticated black men, of Africa America's petty bourgeoisie.

Though they have made use of public outreach and rhyming, none of these fellows approach the stature and dignity and integrity of Reverend Jesse Jackson, however far he has fallen in grace. They have indeed under Smiley's leadership added a unique aspect or innovation to political diatribehip-hop entertainment and expert marketing. Their glibness and hip-ness however come off as shallow as stump water. They are hatchet men on the road hawking feel-good elixirs to no sustaining effect.

I do not believe in the least that these cats are, despite their protestations, about service or self-sacrifice or possess a willingness to die for black freedom. They are as slippery as any greased pig that anyone might take hold of. Mr. Smiley has the nerve to promote oil companies when my 92-year-old grandmother is now forced to pay for heating oil as much as one pays for gasoline. They had nothing to say about the impact that oil companies have on our foreign and domestic policies. 'Cause they getting paid.

Smiley, Dyson, and West can't speak forth independently on their Pass the Mic! Tour because they are getting money from this and that foundation. One characteristic of legitimate leadership none of the three speakers named was accountability. Will they give a full accounting of monies they received and what they intend to do with the proceeds and how much they are pocketing?

Instead of rushing through town attacking local leaders, why not set up meetings with local leaders in how they can assist in promoting continuing programs in improving the level and quality of local black leadership. But no, they seem to have little interest in such  programs. They rather played to the crowd, packed their bags, pocketed the receipts, and left town.

posted  15 December 2003

Tavis Smiley is a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist. TIME Magazine honored Smiley in 2009 as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People." He is currently the host of the late night television talk show, "Tavis Smiley" on PBS and "The Tavis Smiley Show" distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). In 2007, Smiley made television history as the moderator and executive producer of the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS, the first Democratic and Republican presidential debates broadcast live in primetime with a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color.

In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has authored fourteen books. His memoir, What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, was a New York Times bestseller.

His latest book, Accountable: Making America As Good As its Promise, addresses how our political leaders, corporations and finally, American citizens themselves can enforce accountability and effect change.

The Tavis Smiley Foundation, a non-profit organization, was established to provide leadership training and development for youth. Since its inception, more than 6,000 young people have participated in the foundation's Youth to Leaders training workshops and conferences.

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Tavis Smiley (born September 13, 1964) is an American talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. Smiley was born in Gulfport, Mississippi and grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. After attending Indiana University, he worked during the late 1980s as an aide to Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996 he hosted the talk show BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. Controversially, after Smiley sold an exclusive interview of Sara Jane Olson to ABC News in 2001, BET declined to renew Smiley's contract that year. Smiley then began hosting The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR from 2002 to 2004 and currently hosts Tavis Smiley on PBS on the weekdays and a weekly self-titled show on PRI. . . .

Smiley was honored with the NAACP Image Award for best news, talk, or information series for three consecutive years (1997–99) for his work on BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. Smiley's advocacy efforts have earned him numerous awards and recognitions including the recipient of the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Minorities in Communications.In 1999, he founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs that develop young leaders in the black community. Since its inception, more than 6,000 young people have participated in the foundation's Youth to Leaders Training workshops and conferences. His communications company, The Smiley Group, Inc., serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lecturers, symposiums, and the Internet.

In 1994, Time named him one of America's 50 Most Promising Young Leaders. Time honored him the next year as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." In May 2007, Smiley gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana. In May 2008, he gave the commencement address at Connecticut College, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate. In May 2009, Smiley was awarded an honorary doctorate at Langston University after giving the commencement address there.

On December 12, 2008, Smiley received the Du Bois Medal from Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.Wikipedia

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Brother West

Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir

By Cornel West

Brother West is like its author: brilliant, unapologetic, full of passion yet cool. This poignant memoir traces West’s transformation from a schoolyard Robin Hood into a progressive cultural icon. From his youthful investigation of the “death shudder” to why he embraced his calling of teaching over preaching, from his three marriages and his two precious children to his near-fatal bout with prostate cancer, West illuminates what it means to live as “an aspiring bluesman in a world of ideas and a jazzman in the life of the mind.” Woven together with the fibers of his lifelong commitment to the prophetic Christian tradition that began in Sacramento’s Shiloh Baptist Church, Brother West is a tale of a man courageous enough to be fully human, living and loving out loud.

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Michael Eric Dyson to President Obama  /  Michael Eric Dyson: To The Young & Disillusioned

Michael Eric Dyson: Obama isn't Moses, he is Pharaoh  /  Smiley and West: Obama & Sharpton

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Cornel West to Take a Job in New York—Laurie Goodstein—16 November 2011—Cornel West, the peripatetic public intellectual and political activist, plans to finish out a teaching career that has taken him from Yale to Harvard to Princeton by moving back this coming summer to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, where he began as an assistant professor in 1977. Dr. West, the author of 19 books, including Race Matters, and a ubiquitous television and radio commentator, said he was taking a significant pay cut to become a professor of philosophy and Christian practices at Union.

The school, where the eminent theologian Reinhold Niebuhr taught, is also known as the birthplace of black theology. James H. Cone, a foremost scholar in that tradition, is still on the faculty.In an interview from Seattle, on his way to visit Occupy protesters there, Dr. West said that his liberal politics were formed in Progressive Baptist churches, and that Union was “the institutional expression of my core identity as a prophetic Christian.”—NYTimes

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#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 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
#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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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.

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 indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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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 update 27 March 2012




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Related files: Cornel West Moves to Princeton  West Cites Reason For Quitting  Cornel West: An Editorial  Pass the Mic Tour  Kam Williams Interviews Cornel West  Responses to Pass the Mic 

The Tavis Smiley Presidential Forum   The State of the Black Union 2009  Smiley vs. Sharpton