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[Henry Louis] Gates doesn’t know about this European history because although he criticizes the Afrocentrics, he sells high priced Afrocentric merchandise. As an example of his reach, his power,

Tina Brown, his friend, got a writer to respond to my Counterpunch piece about Gates

at The Daily Beast. He called the piece a “diatribe.”

   

Books by Ishmael Reed

Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1969) / Mumbo Jumbo (1972) / The Last Days of Louisiana Red (1974) / Flight to Canada (1976)

 The Terrible Twos (1982) / The Terrible Threes (1999) / Reckless Eyeballing (2000)

Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers

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The Return of the Nigger Breakers

An Interview with Ishmael Reed by Jill Nelson

 

Editors' Note: The following is an interview of Ishmael Reed conducted by award-winning novelist, Jill Nelson, author of Let's Get It On and Sexual Healing: a Novel. Reed had just returned from Quebec where his non-fiction work, Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers, was published by Baraka Books. His host was Robin Philpot, his Quebec publisher. In the course of the interview, Reed responds to critics of his CounterPunch essays on Precious, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. His New York Times essay on Precious was also controversial. Most of the essays in his Obama book were first published in CounterPunch.JSC/AC

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Jill Nelson: Would you explain the sub-title of your book, The Return of the Nigger Breakers?

Ishmael Reed: Edward Covey was a member of a profession whose job was to tame unruly slaves. Frederick Douglass was one of those men who was sent to him, a Nigger Breaker, to be disciplined. Douglass turned the tables on him and thrashed him. I argue that this is the aim of the media, and other institutions that are opposed to Obama. In fact, Senator DeMint, from South Carolina, a state that has an active secessionist faction, used the verb, “break,” when describing the intentions of the Republican Party toward Obama. Moreover, with the firing, and buyouts of the hundreds of minority journalists, black institutions, blacks in general, black celebrities and even the president are being judged by a mostly white media jury and a handful of acceptable right wing blacks, a few of whom are farther to the right than the white right.

You wrote the handbook on this trend with your book, Volunteer Slavery [My Authentic Negro Experience].  The Hispanics and the Asian American tokens are also mostly right like Alex Castellanos of CNN, who was exposed as someone who profits from his connections to the insurance industry while making on air comments critical of Obama’s health reform goals. Despite this, he’s still on the air. Another Hispanic tough lover is Ruben Navarrette. He believes in that blacks are the people who are addicted to government handouts. A hoax. A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities entitled “White Poverty in America” concludes that “Contrary to the stereotype, whites use government safety-net programs more than blacks or Hispanics, and are twice as likely as minorities to be lifted   out of poverty by the taxpayer money they get.”

Brookings just issued a report called “The Suburbanization of Poverty,” yet neither Kristof nor cable, which makes money from blaming U. S. social problems on black lifestyles, have attributed this poverty to “personal behavior.” Nicholas Kristof one of several white supremacists who writes for the Times, tea baggers who can spell, also believes that poverty is black exclusively and located in Harlem and is caused by “self destructive behavior.” These are samples of 24/7 propaganda assaults against black Americans.

Jill Nelson: Why were you unable to get this book published in the United States?

Ishmael Reed: This is attributable to the state of black letters. Serious fiction and non fiction by blacks are becoming extinct, except for that which upholds the current line coming from the media owners and the corporations that all of the problems of Africans and African Americans are due to their behavior. This is true not only for literature but for black theater, film, art galleries and opinion columns as well. I saw a show of Kara Walker’s work at the Brooklyn Museum. I feel that this young brilliant artist’s growth is being stunted by museum curators, and big money capitalists. Even some white intellectuals support her most mediocre work and pit her against the great Betye Saar who uses a variety of materials and subject matter and whose work contains more depth. Her supporters limit her work just as David Selznick limited the range of Hattie McDaniel. I’d love to see her do color. The Brooklyn museum used the neo-confederate line when describing her work. That her work presented a south in which “there were no heroes of villains. ” This is the way the slave trade is being described.     

Your readers should review Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, subtitled, The Untold Story of the Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military by Bryan Mark Rigg, University Press of Kansas, yet if you wrote about the cooperation of some Jews and Nazis leading to the Holocaust, you couldn’t get it in the Times and the Neo Liberal Hawks, which includes black pathology profiteer Mickey Kaus, at Slate wouldn’t allow Henry Louis Gates to write about it at The Root. Kaus, quoted in the May 17, SF Chonicle about his Senate race against Barbara Boxer, gave some insight into the Neo Liberal thinking at Slate, which influences the “Black” zine, The Root. Using some code words, he is making an appeal to older white voters with some soft core white power and anti Union rhetoric: “It's clear that the unions own the Democratic partyand it's going to be a disaster unless that changes," says Kaus 58, a long-time blogger for online magazine Slate.com and author of The End of Equality, which urges a rethinking of liberalism. Instead of "chasing after the Latino vote" and pushing for public "card check" elections intended to make it easier for workers to join labor unions, he said his party and Boxer whom he calls an "old-style pol, through and throughshould deal with issues that affect the everyday lives of working Californians. ”

Despite this cooperation by some Jews, Holocaust survivors still receive reparations, though Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, says that middle persons get most of the cash. [Henry Louis] Gates doesn’t know about this European history because although he criticizes the Afrocentrics, he sells high priced Afrocentric merchandise. As an example of his reach, his power, Tina Brown, his friend, got a writer to respond to my Counterpunch piece about Gates at The Daily Beast. He called the piece a “diatribe.” What he [Stanley Crouch] didn’t reveal was that he’d received $50,000 from one of the foundations controlled by Gates. The foundation is bankrolled by Alphonse Fletcher whose brother, Geoffrey Fletcher wrote the script for Precious.

This is what the late Barbara Christian [Black Women Novelists] must have been referring to when she talked about “The Skip Machine.” Gates is Afro-centric focused and doesn’t take the time to study the cultures of other ethnic groups, or he’d know that there’s less substance abuse among blacks than among whites. His fund raising Op ed in the Times was refuted by Eric Foner and others after he said that African participation in the slave trade is some sort of forbidden topic when as Foner pointed out, this information is published widely. He and [Bill] Cosby can carry on about “35 year old grandmothers living in the projects,” but the Times won’t publish a piece by him or Bob Herbert that would scold unmarried white women whose birth to children has risen by 69% over the last two decades according to a report called “The New Demography of American Motherhood, ” published by PEW on May 6.

I’m opposed to the government paying reparations, but the banks and the insurance companies that profited from the slave trade should pay up. They could guarantee the college education of students whose parents are traditional African Americans. It’s been shown that when black high school students are assured that their college bills will be picked up, they graduate. The Gates line is picked up by white critics like Nicholas Kristof urging white rule to return to Africa.  I wrote Kristof a letter about his constant hammering of black male behavior toward women without challenging the wide spread abuse of women by white men. The Times got Solomon Moore a black Times writer to respond. He defended Kristof. (When I challenged NPR’s nasty and depraved “Ghetto Life 101,” they got a token Hispanic to respond)

He wrote “… I think you are accusing the wrong dude of racially slanted coverage. If you read Kristof's writings, I think you will find him to be pretty balanced and empathetic toward the wide variety of victims he writes about, and find him equally pissed off toward oppressors of all stripes.” Yet when confronted by statistics that showed the abandonment of white children by their meth-addicted white parents, he dismissed it as a “fad. ” The old penny press of the 1830s made money by depicting blacks as cannibals. Kristof updates this with his accusation that blacks in the Kongo engage in “auto-cannibalism ” yet on Sunday May, 2, he defended the Catholic Church which has had to pay billions for the pedophilic behavior of its priests and bishops. He doesn’t seem to be “pissed off” at the Catholic Church.

Kristof and Navarrete are not the only ones who draw readers and viewers to their opinion products by dissing blacks, a big business. Michelle Bernard, an MSNBC regular and a black right-winger says that “personal responsibility” is “especially” a problem for black Americans.  She’s irresponsible. There is a higher rate per thousand births to Hispanic unmarried mothers than to black teenagers. They have a higher drop out rate. We thought that when women gained power in the media, they’d be responsible. The producer of MSNBC’s Hard Ball where Bernard is a regular is Jennifer Berman. She books Bernard, whose allowed to run amuck over blacks with spiteful generalizations. If I were on “Hard Ball” and made a generalization about women like if I were to say that women can’t do math, Berman wouldn’t invite me to return. At one time, blacks could respond through writing.

James Baldwin used a diamond encrusted megaphone to plead black aspirations, and his generation of writers could debate their critics one on one. But with the disappearance of serious black fiction and nonfiction this is no longer the case. When was the last time you saw a black author appear on CNN and MSNBC where white authors appear around the clock. Terry McMillan, interviewed in the latest issue of Konch (IshmaelReedpub.com), says that black fiction that is selling is urban fiction that shows blacks at their worst, which is not to say that black criminals don’t exist. But that’s all we get from the mainstream media, television and movies. Anyway, when I was left for literary road kill after the publication of my novel, Reckless Eyeballing,  in which, ironically, the women characters fare better than the men, I decided that never again would the success or failure of my work be determined by the trends in African American culture that are defined by outsiders.

I studied Japanese and wrote Japanese by Spring.  It was panned by American critics but received a very favorable press in Japan where I toured, and signed autographs in Katakana. I studied Yoruba and read poems I wrote in Yoruba before an audience in Nigeria. Now this book, which my agent said no American publisher would publish, was published in Quebec. Between April 14, and 20. I did national media in Canada with front page stories in the major dailies and weeklies and a front page story on The Montreal Review of Books and was greeted by crowds in Montreal and Toronto. In Montreal they had to turn people away. This must have been what it was like when the fugitive slaves traveled abroad and lectured. There is a black reading public in Canada and Quebec, mostly African and Caribbean readers, and some American ex pats. There’s a union movement. My reception in Toronto was hosted by the Steelworkers Union.

By contrast, when I appeared at the Hue Man bookstore in Harlem last summer in connection with my book, Ishmael Reed, The Plays, only three people showed up. The most recent play Body Parts about the exploitation of blacks and Africans being used as guinea pigs by the pharmaceutical industry was dismissed as “angry “by the Times while blame the victim plays and plays about black men as sexual predators, here and in Africa, even MLK, are drooled over by white male and white feminist critics. My advice to young writers is that they seek audiences elsewhere. It’s a big world.

Jill Nelson: Much of your recent work has focused on media criticism. Why?

Ishmael Reed:The segregated American media with its alliance with the right wing and racist forces like the Tea Party movement which was created, organized, and amplified by the segregated Jim Crow media, are the most powerful opponents to black and Hispanic progress. It’s not surprising that they have, using the late Carl Rowan’s expression, “outpropagandized” blacks, but white Democrats and progressives as well. That’s because they have billions at their disposal. The insurance companies put 350 million dollars out to defeat health care reform and bank rolled this faux grass roots movement called the Tea Party. This movement is made up of over 55 year old white men, among the most privileged groups in world history, yet there they are bitching and groaning. Billionaire Willam Mellon Scaife, who backs a far right agenda is so powerful that publishing companies are scared to [write] an unauthorized biography of him. The media have overblown the strength of this movement because racism is big business for them.

Typical was the coverage of a gun rally that was held near Washington on April 19. CNN didn’t do aerial shots because that would have revealed the small turnout. John King the correspondent was very sympathetic to these men although he did point out that it was because of a measure approved of by the president that they were able to carry guns in the park. He said that they remembered Obama’s remark about people in small towns cling to guns and religion . What he didn’t point out was Zogby and Newsweek polls, which were available during the campaign, showed that most people agreed with Obama at the time. What I can’t understand is why a crazy ghetto Negro reading and writing rat like me knows this and someone with all of the resources available to CNN doesn’t.  

While I was in Montreal, two American “experts” were interviewed about the Tea Party. This was carried on the CBC. One of those interviewed was a white woman professor, who didn’t mention that racism was a factor that galvanized this movement. The Canadian interviewer had to bring it up. Another was Christopher Hedges who tried to use this movement to make some hackneyed Marxist points. He said that it was all about the working class striking back at capitalist exploiters. Well blacks Hispanics and Asian Americans are part of the working class. The reason that they are not present in the Tea Party is because they correctly view it as a racist movement. White commentators like these two can’t spot evidence right before their eyes. That’s why a segregated media right or “progressive” are incapable of reflecting American reality. Academia is just as bad.

The media are the mob leaders. And they cater to a niche of people who are addicted to black pathology, people who can’t seem to get a life. When you read that The New York Post (run by a couple of coarse Aussies who, according to an internal memo, intend to break Obama) ran more front pages about Tiger Woods than 9/11 then you realize the sickness that we’re dealing with. Susan Block, a psychologist, at Counterpunch.com, traced the fascination with Tiger Woods to the fantasies of her white male patients. The usual explanations don’t come close. Incidentally, a New York Post ex writer, Sandra Guzman, is suing the Post. She said that she was fired because she objected to the cartoon showing Obama as a dead chimp (The Post also called Tiger “Cheetah” after Tarzan’s chimp companion). She also said that the Post’s men, who are making money from Tiger’s philandering, make sexist remarks to the women at the Post and even go beyond that.

Rupert Murdoch, who has a thing about Obama because the New York Establishment considers him new money and won’t invite him to their A list parties, where you have all of these unemployed and broke Dukes and Counts who are trying to land a rich American woman. He married a young woman and abandoned his wife and kids of thirty five years, yet his operatives are always preaching family values to blacks. He thought he’d impress New York society, useless people who spend hours at lunch and dinner parties and playing bridge and shopping, by buying Laurence Rockefeller’s apartment. It didn’t work.  Obama has access to this circle, a man whom Murdoch likens to a chimp. Murdoch must be burning up over this so he sics his pit-bull underlings after Obama at Fox whose boss is Roger Ailes, creator of the infamous Willie Horton ad and Glenn Beck, who called the survivors of Katrina “scumbags,” which got him hired at CNN.

Jill Nelson: Ishmael, your information about the media seems encyclopedic. What is your average daily media diet? (What do you read, watch, listen to, what sites on the internet?)

Ishmael Reed: I read three newspapers each day, where the typical portrait of a black man has him in an orange jumpsuit. I watch cable and monitor the opinion pages whose post race line is usually challenged by reports and studies printed in the same newspapers. Like the recent report that white and black New York residents are treated differently when it comes to enforcement of drug laws. These reports and studies indicate that blacks and whites are treated differently by the health care industry, mortgage lending, including a criminal bank like Wells Fargo, which recently sponsored one of Bill Cosby’s tough love shows. Wells Fargo recently had to pay a fine of 152 million for laundering money from Mexican drug criminals (March, 18, Times). No wonder they recently announced an over 2 billion dollar profit.

Cosby and Michelle Bernard, who gets money from the Right were on. If Mrs. Bernard scolded Wells Fargo about its lack of personal responsibility her face would disappear from the tube forever. Another right wing manufactured personality is John McWhorter, who gets more media space than any other black person, because of his connections to the Manhattan Institute, which is linked to the neo Nazi race science movement.  One of the Institute’s sponsors is Chase Manhattan Bank. Their favorite politicians are Giuliani and the reinvented Jerry Brown, the bad twin of the Jerry Brown who used to be Governor. MacWhorter says that when blacks point out things like racism in banking and the criminal justice system, it’s because they are “insecure.” He said this on C-Span.

When I debated him on Mike Dyson’s show he didn’t even know the history of the Institute that uses him. He didn’t know for example that it was founded by William Casey, Reagan’s CIA chief, who probably would have been indicted for Iran Contra had he not died. He assured me that the Institute had cut ties to Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve,  who redirects stereotypes leveled at his group, The Scots Irish, to blacks for profit. When Veep Cheney made a joke about having Cheneys on each side of the family and not even being from West Virginia, he was invoking the “incest’ libel aimed at the Scots Irish. Six months or so after McWhorter assured me that The Manhattan Institute, full of second and third generation ethnics, nouveau whites, had severed ties with Murray, the Institute sponsored Murray to talk about the intellectual inferiority of blacks. Al Young says that McWhorter has an excellent knowledge of Linguistics. He should stick to that instead of hanging around people who are ashamed of their immigrant forbearers.

Jill Nelson: Any advice on how to become more critical in news consumption?

Ishmael Reed: Blogs like yours are very useful. I have a online magazine. I get useful information each day from those who write on Facebook. Counterpunch, Media Matters, FAIR and Richard Prince’s “Journalisms” are essential. I don’t know how Richard Prince does it.

Jill Nelson: Do you think technology, particularly the Internet, is loosening the grip of corporate media?

Ishmael Reed: I agree. That’s why they’re trying control it.

Jill Nelson: Given the existence of the "Jim Crow Media" and "The Nigger Breakers," how do people of color, progressives and others critique Barack Obama without colluding with corporate America's agenda?

Ishmael Reed: I have some problems with some of Obama’s policies, but as long as these people are threatening to kill him and his family, calling them monkeys and his children whores and his mother, a distinguished Irish American anthropologist, “white trash” and even worse and assassination threats increase, I’m on his side.  All of the stored up bile of white supremacy has exploded like airborne E-Coli as a result of Obama’s election. A Long Island newspaper with a circulation of 30, 000 just put up a photo depicting Obama and Michelle as characters in “Sanford and Son.” Their new dirty trick is to put this stuff up and then apologize to anybody who might have been offended. He’s not only the nation’s president but chief exorcist.

Like a St. Patrick stoking the nation’s lizard brain. The progressives are uncomfortable with Obama because they’ve been opposed to black leadership, historically. That’s why Askia Toure purged them from SNCC. The white males who dominate the progressive media are used to black guys playing basketball. Their opinions dominate NPR, Pacifica, The Nation even though it has a feminist editor. They’re crazy about Michael Jordan. The progressive media is just as segregated as the corporate media which they are always criticizing from their glass houses. Richard Prince printed a photo of a Huffington Post Xmas party. One black staffer!! The opposition to Obama from people of color comes from the fringes. He has a 90% approval rating from blacks, over 60% from Hispanics and he carried the Asian American vote, yet these arrogant white progressives say they are his base and that he is obligated to them.

Jill Nelson: You wrote very critically about the movie Precious and took a good deal of heat for it. Did you feel compelled to speak out?

Ishmael Reed: Most of the responses I received from whites and blacks men and women were 85% positive. Among the young people at Twitters, support for my point of view was nearly unanimous. This propaganda movie that supported Neo-Con policy points about Eugenics and Welfare had to be challenged because powerful critics were saying that this family was the typical black family living in poverty. Some of the young black women scholars at Duke challenged me and defended the movie, a movie that advocates sterilization of poor black women and draconian welfare policies. Their leader, a black male professor, was brought on WBAI to debate me. He didn’t reveal that he also works for Womens’ Studies at Duke.

When I confronted him about this, one of his friends, another professor, said that I was “bullying” him. His defending this movie without revealing this fact was like someone who is against global warming without revealing that he is on the payroll of the oil companies. I asked him to identify the head of women’s’ studies at Duke because I wanted to examine her writings to detect the ideological bent of the department. He refused. I never denied that child abuse occurs in American communities. What the supporters of this movie were suggesting is that incest is “prevalent” in African American communities! And the media line was that only a few black angry men were opposed to the movie, the line pushed by “progressives” at WBAI.

I pointed out that a number of black women and even white women intellectuals spoke out against the film. In fact the latest issue of my zine Konch (IshmaelReedpub. com) publishes a brilliant article by Hariette Surovell who describes herself as a “Jewish Atheist.” She is vociferous in her opposition to the movie. Also included is an excellent piece by Sandra Goodridge, who confronted Ramona Lofton, when she was trying to push some false science about why the DNA found at Central Park crime scene, where some black and Hispanic kids were supposed to have raped a stock broker, pointed to their guilt. They were innocent and Ms. Lofton’s poem “Wild Thing” helped to create the hysteria that got them convicted. The poem made her famous. Even Vice President Dan Quayle read it.

Now that she’s made some money, she might help those young men whose lives were ruined .  They said the same thing about The Color Purple, the business model for Precious. ”That it was opposed by “angry black men.” Nicholas Powers the only black writer for a progressive site called Indypendent, said that it was opposed only by Minster Louis Farrakhan and me, when the most devastating criticism of the The Color Purple came from Toni Morrison and Trudier Harris. The problem with my critics is that they don’t read anything. Alice Walker once called for a boycott of my novel, Flight To Canada, which has been in print since 1976. They didn’t read that.   

No American institution is immune to tabloid thinking. Not even academia. They said that the character in my novel Reckless Eyeballing was based on Walker because that’s one of three black women authors that they read. We thought that when white feminist progressives gained power in academia they’d end the one at a time admission of black writers to the Canon. The late June Jordan quit Womens’ Studies at Berkeley because, according to her, the faculty members spent all of their time worshiping the French theory of men. When I announced at a panel that most black women authors remain unknown to the general public, I was challenged by two famous feminists, one Asian American and the other Jewish American who pointed to two successful ones. Tokenism.

Instead of these young black women weighing in on Precious and using the curriculum to get even with their fathers and dates, why don’t they do some serious work on black women authors, not just one of two. Over the last six months we lost Ai, Carlene Hatcher Polite, the pioneer black feminist author, Lucille Clifton, and most recently Carolyn Rodgers. Kristin Hunter Lattany went to her grave without the kind of honors that would be accorded a white writer of her stature. Her novel Breaking Away shows what black women have to go through on college campuses. She was driven from academic life because she defended some black co-eds who’d been smeared and accosted with hate crimes. No, these young women and the black male womens’ studies professor at Duke are too busy deconstructing Hip Hop. Charles Murray of “Bell Curve” fame is consultant to the Wisconsin welfare program, which is endorsed in Precious yet they back this movie. 

The most vicious comments about my Times Op ed came from awardsdaily.com, a front for the Oscars’ establishment. They were receiving ad money from Sarah Siegel Precious. This is when I knew that I was drawing blood and jeopardizing the Oscar’s sweep for Precious. Lionsgate was the studio that produced Precious for Sarah Siegel. These comments were from Hollywood bottom feeders and losers who can’t get through the day without a black path fix, and who have a fetish for XXXL black women. The late great author Nelson Algren wrote, in his novel A Walk On The Wild Side (1956) about a special kind of white john who was called “a mammy freak.” In my response to them, I reminded them of the widespread dope addiction in the industry, their segregated institutions like the Screen Writers Guild, and the influence of organized crime on Hollywood. The cocaine epidemic might have begun in Hollywood.  Moreover for M’onique to compare herself to Hattie McDaniel is an insult to the memory of  Hattie McDaniel.

Haitte McDaniel was an innovator. She broke the barrier for women by organizing all black women minstrel shows that addressed the issues of the day when she had the money to stage her own productions and she herself lampooned the Mammy figure, which today’s segregated museums are requiring from black artists. She rejected the script based upon Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gone With the Wind which was written by a pro confederate writer. (NAACP’s Walter White tried to get Selznick to read Du Bois' Black Reconstruction.) McDaniel couldn’t be directed and sassed everybody in sight. She demanded that Selznick nominate her for an Oscar. She had no breathing room in Hollywood. Selznick even tried to copyright her style, yet she continued to talk back to her movie employees and co-stars. The role that they wrote for M’onique was more akin to the kind that Stepin Fetchit played. A slothful, ignorant couch potato and welfare cheat, the kind of stereotype that helped to get Ronald Reagan elected at a time when the majority of women on welfare shared Reagan and Moynihan’s ethnic heritage. 

Jill Nelson: Sapphire has said you are "mentally ill." Any comment on that?

Ishmael Reed: Well, Selznick  used blacks to front Gone With the Wind. Though hers and Daniels, Perry. and Ophrah’s names are upfront, others are behind the scenes. Lionsgate’s Sarah Greenberg said that there was a “gold mine of opportunity” for their studio by producing this film for white audiences. If anybody would follow the marketing plan for this movie available for anyone to track at the NYTimes website where I have tracked the evolution of this project over the last year two years or so, they will see that the marketing plan wrote off a black audience, yet my critics dispute my claim and places like New York Magazine said that I was calling people who liked the film “racists.” That’s what the marketers said! That it was for white audiences. They said that they couldn’t sell The Great Debators or Miracle at Saint Anna to white audiences! After the nominations, Daniels said that he wanted more “middle class whites” to see it. He said that so homophobic was the black community that he had to flee to the white world. Considering the number of Gay people connected to the Precious project, it might be considered a revenge movie. Black gay people getting back at straights whom they feel have abused them. I heard two black Gays on KPFA say that the black community is the most homophobic of all ethnic communities.

If they believed that, they haven’t examined the attitudes of other ethnic communities. I’m all for Gays getting married, but I disagree with the white gays who objected my Counterpunch and Times’ articles about Precious,  when they suggest that the history of white Gays and blacks are similar. Nonsense. During the period of slavery on which side were you likely to find white Gays. Slave masters or slaves. Oscar Wilde, a Gay icon, was pro confederate. The whips?  Dismissing the critics of Precious as “contraian” and “crazy” black men was part of the marketing. Selznick on the other hand wooed his black critics and in a couple of cases he got them to tone down their criticism of” Gone With the Wind, by giving the critics a tour of 20th Century Fox and lunch at Fox’s restaurant that had a phony French name. Though Perry and Winfrey’s names appear as producers, the Oscar people43 whites 37 men and 6 women ( including Kathleen Kennedy vice president of their Board of Govs, and the co producer of The Color Purple) wouldn’t give them credit because they came on when the film was completed.

The real producer is Sarah Siegel whose name hardly came up during the controversy. She says that she was on the set everyday. She successfully warded off critics by sending The Help to debate her critics. Now Sapphire has made me the villain in her travelling sideshow. Her putting me down at the Los Angeles library and in other cities drew “enthusiastic applause” from women from other ethnic groups who are scared to address the attitudes toward women held by men of their ethnic groupslike the Egyptian American father who killed his daughters for dating outand use black men to represent universal male evil. The White women who were photographed as part of her audience are scared to talk about their oppression at the hands of white men according to a study and a book that I read, Tales from the Boom Boom Room: Women vs. Wall Street by Susan Antilla.   

They also use black men as surrogates for their rage against white men. This could be a plot for your next book. Set up an enterprise where women of other ethnic groups can go to a place where they can vent. They can flog the brothers. It would become a big industry. Terry McMillan, who caught Sapphire’s show in London says that she “scares the daylights out of white people.” Sapphire is upset because my Counterpunch and Times’ articles prevented Precious from receiving an Oscar's sweep including Best Caterer. Shows what one crazy ghetto Negro who is a writing rat armed with a 350-dollar laptop can do. Sends a message to all of the other off campus intellectuals, high school dropouts and college dropouts, victims of a Eurocentric curriculum. People living in the projects and other ghettoes. Only 8% of poor people can afford to go to college; this shouldn’t be a barrier to a rich intellectual life. As for her calling me "mentally ill," I don’t want to get into a black man black woman quarrel that’s been an entertainment dating back to minstrel days.  They tried to do that with Alice Walker and me. They failed to notice that she finally agreed with me about how Spielberg interpreted her book.

My critics didn’t read that in her The Same River Twice. They don’t read.   Spielberg, David Mamet, and Ms. Siegel view themselves as a mediators between black men and black women when Jewish gender relations are in such a mess that the Jewish American community is close to extinction. (I just saw David Mamet’s Race on Broadway which was full of old wives tales about Affrimative Action, white guilt, and a lot of cliché philosophical thought which was delivered as though it was profound. If a black person had written this thing, It would have been dismissed as a tirade a diatribe or polemic. In his film, Edmund,  black men are sexual predators, and in Race black women are promiscuous, the typical portraits of Jewish men and women in the media of Nazi Germany. Maybe Skip Gates can write a Times Op ed about why Jewish writers like David Simon, Richard Price, Sarah [Silverman?] and others are pushing Nazi stereotypes on blacks). 

Relations among Jewish men and women are so bad that Katha Politt of the Nation accused Jewish men of having anti Semitic attitudes toward Jewish women a charge that’s been made for over one hundred years, and Jewish feminists accuse the community of covering up the treatment of Jewish women both here and abroad. Reviewing a study called Matrilineal Ascent/ Patrilineal Descent: Gender Imbalance in American Jewish Life by Sylvia Fishman and Daniel Parmer, Politt wrote, July 21, 2008, Nation: “The study is full of unusually frank references to Jewish men's dislike of Jewish womentoo aggressive, demanding, ethnicbut instead of challenging this as sexist and anti-Semitic, it accepts it as a fact of life that women must accommodate for the sake of the community.” A recent issue of a Jewish magazine The Tablet accused Jewish directors and producers of denying Jewish women roles in the movies, historically. Hariette Surovell, who describes herself as an “atheist Jew” does a brilliant historical view of how some Jewish producers have done demeaning portraits of blacks over the years and continue to do so. Her focus is on PreciousHer article is published in the latest issue of Konch.

I doubt whether Speilberg will do a movie or Mamet a play or Nightline do a special about this conflict between Jewish men and women for over one hundred years. In fact the Pakistani American who moderates Nightline,  a reward for Martin Bashir’s slandering of Michael Jackson, might do a special on the conflict between South Asian American men and women, a conflict exposed brilliantly by Bharati Mukherjee in her story, ”A Wife’s Story” that was published by Carla Blank and me in our short story anthology Pow WoW, Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience- Short Fiction from Then to Now. He had to apologize for sexist remarks he made about Asian American women journalists. According to the Telegraph.co.uk, "Bashir made the comments during an annual banquet in Chicago for the Asian American Journalists Association. The London-born presenter, who moved to the US four years ago, said: ‘I’m happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes. In fact, I'm happy that the podium covers me from the waist down."

I witnessed a rehearsal for Wajahat Ali’s The Domestic Crusader erupt into a shouting match between women actors who were Indian American and Pakistani American male actors over gender roles in the South Asian community. I sat there in silence. Stunned. As women demand freedom from their traditional roles, there will be conflicts in ethnic communities. By the way, where is the academic feminist outrage over [Philip] Roth’s latest book, The Humbling, which proposes that all Lesbians need is a good fuck and they’ll not only change to heterosexuals but go out and recruit other lesbians that you can fuck.  These conflicts between other ethnic men and women are not as entertaining as the old minstrel format of black men and women going after each other. Seems to me that Mamet and Spielberg and the producer of Precious have plenty of work to do in their own communities. Make films and television series about that gender conflict. But they will probably ignore the treatment of Jewish women here and in Israel. No box office in it. David Simon is another ghetto entrepreneur who sees his role as that of refereeing conflicts between black men and women.  Spike Lee was passed over by HBO for a New Orleans series. They gave it to David Simon whose The Wire is the urban version of  Song of the South

I’m not surprised that some blacks wrote me letters objecting to my complaints about The Wire and Precious.  This is nothing new. Victims of propaganda supporting it. Julius Streicher, The Nazi editor of Der Sturmer, an evil anti-Semitic rag, which showed ugly cartoons of Jewish men raping Aryan women, said that his newspaper could not have survived without Jewish support. When black pathology entrepreneurs, George Pelecanos, Simon and Spielberg do war movies, the heroic efforts of the one million black men and women who fought in the war are left out. Like this series The Pacific,  which idealizes the role of American soldiers during the Allies and Japan’s struggle over the resources of Asia. The kind of movie that was made to sell Victory Bonds in the 1940s.

American soldiers are shown expressing remorse over the death of each Japanese soldier and insisting that each be given their rights according to the Geneva convention. Right. Left out is the warfare between black and white soldiers at Guam. The black soldiers had become fed up by their treatment. It took novelists John O. Killens, subject of a great new biography by Keith Gilyard, and John A. Williams to tell this racist side of The Greatest Generation.  For contributing to the NAACP, Spielberg will continue to get Image Awards like they gave some to Precious after Tyler Perry gave them one million dollars. Like they gave one to his version of The Color Purple. The NAACP was the organization that during the 1940s tried to reform Hollywood. Lena Horne (whose newspaper obituaries have been half assed) and Walter White put up a heroic fight. They failed.  

It’s even getting worse. Soledad O. Brien does the old Hollywood stereotypes for CNN. She says that blacks make excuses for their plight, even though there are many studies and reports to support the opinion that we’ve not reached a post-race paradise. She believes that crack smoking is confined to black parents in Harlem, and chided a black man for not attending his daughter’s birthday party, yet the National Association of Black Journalists gave her an award. She did two Black Path. entertainments called Black in America,  where they made money and increased their ratings by employing one of the sources of entertainment which is to have blacks on to engage in a verbal shootout with one another, each competing with the other for applause lines, what I call charismatic carnivals. CNN makes money and all the panelists get out of it is a limo ride and croissants in the green room. I attended the NABJ conference in Atlanta where I urged Jesse Jackson to begin a Montgomery Bus Boycott-styled protest against the media.

If blacks boycotted newspapers for six months, they’d change. I compared Ted Turner to Goebbels only to find out that Turner was one of the conferences financial contributors. Ted Turner does films praising war criminals like Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis and greets visitors to one of his homes with the theme from Gone With the Wind.  Think that he would know better having been raised by a black man. Maybe that’s why Soledad got her award. CNN‘s financing of the conference. Incidentally, Soledad only read from a script that others wrote. The person who wrote the script about black males in America was a blonde woman.   I do not come to criticism of the media empty handed. And I have support. After reading an Op ed written by me, the late Reginald Lewis sent me enough funds for me to convert my garage into a warehouse for the storage of books of quality by black, Native American, and other authors. I bought a whole bunch of Alice Walker’s The Temple of my Familiar, in my opinion, her best work.

We still publish. Five black women authors over the last six years or so including an anthology of 16 women short story writers from Nigeria. In production is a book of poetry by Yuri Kageyama a writer who works for Associated Press in Tokyo. I published her first book, Peeling. We published the second novel by Alison Mills entitled Maggie 3 about a woman who rises from heroin addiction to become a born again Christian minister. Steve Cannon Joe Johnson and I published her first novel, Francisco which was hailed by Toni Morrison and William Demby (whom we also published). She took thirty years off to raise five kids, all of whom are achievers in sports and medicine. For equal time, we published Under The Burning White Sky,  by the foremost poet of Vodun, Boadiba, a Haitian. 

In 1980 and 81, Steve Cannon and I produced a movie called Personal Problems,  starring Verta Mae Grosvenor and Walter Cotton. It was directed by Bill Gunn whom Hollywood found “difficult” just as they found Hazel Scott, Honi Coles and Fredi Washington difficult. Steve and I raised the money and gave the director, Bill Gunn full freedom. The actors created their characters based upon a treatment that I wrote. (Author, Terry McMillan was one of the stars of the radio version of Personal Problems, which is housed at my archives at the University of Delaware). Personal Problems cast included Jim Wright who played Johnny Dollar in the old Oscar Michaux movies. Now thirty years later, Bill Gunn is considered a genius, a man so admired by his peers that James Dean did his portrait. We spent $40, 000 on this nearly three hour movie. Black independent movie companies that were formed to challenge Hollywood lost out because of the rise in production costs.

With advances in technology more players will enter the movie business as costs come down. Forget about Hollywood. The black actors there are under the same restrictions as they were during the days of Clarence Muse, Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers. Once in awhile somebody like Lou Gossett can take over a script and run with as he did in An Officer and Gentleman.  But that’s rare. Thirty years after its production, Personal Problems is considered a classic,  recently viewed in April by another generation at Brooklyn’s BamCinemaetex. We tuned down commercial offers. We also produced a short film about a traditional Chinese American mother and her radical daughter based upon a script my Ginny Lim called The Only Language She Knows.

All of my plays are on video including Mother Hubbard starring Mary Wilson of the Supremes, a performer with integrity. She wouldn’t accept payment and learned her part over a weekend. Thirty years from now Precious will seem like an odd throwback to the days when blacks were showing running away from the farmer’s shotgun with chickens in both hands. Check out Judge Priest (1934). This pro confederate movie’s opening scene has Stepin Fetchit in court. He’s charged with stealing chickens. Only they are not processed like the ones stolen by Precious.  The judge is Will Rogers. When Hattie McDaniel and Walter White were going at it about Racism in Hollywood, McDaniel challenged blacks to begin independent movie companies. She was right. 

Jill Nelson: Where do you think American media will be in 5 or 10 years?

Ishmael Reed: Newspapers will be dead and buried and maybe some enterprising scholar will write a book about how they fomented racial and civil strife and helped the Gov. justify useless wars since the 1830s. They continue to do so. Right now the California media, which, in the 19th century, created such a hysteria against the Chinese that there were massacres and exclusion acts aimed at this community, is raising fear of a Black Peril, because of four assaults on Chinese Americans. I was shocked while travelling in the East to learn that an elderly Chinese American was killed in downtown Oakland. William Wong, a friend and a journalist, tried to blame black kids, collectively, for the murder committed allegedly by two black kids. When he brought up black criminality to me on another occasion, I reminded him of a New York Times report that had Chinese gangs in New York distributing heroin in black neighborhoods, which has led to ruined lives and deaths  (“Chinese Now Dominate New York Heroin Trade, ” NYTimes, 8/9/’87). Asian American gangs were ignored by David Brooks, another literate tea bagger, when he tried to use “Asian American” model minorities against blacks, and Hispanics recently.  

These gangs distribute drugs to black neighborhoods in Oakland. Some of them came to San Francisco and Oakland after the Chinese took over Hong Kong. If Wong wrote about Chinese American gangs operating out of San Francisco and Oakland they’d retaliate. When Ben Fong-Torres wrote about Chinese gangs, he was beaten because “I had violated some code of silence that had insinuated itself in the Chinatown underground.” Even NBC and the Asian Gang Task Force say that these gangs are a threat to national security. Wong can’t comment on the thousands of women brought by Chinese gangs to become sex slaves. These clownish black pimps are at the low end of earnings for this kind of crime too. Never were good at crime. Been here since the 1600s and not on single Bernard Madoff. No Goldman Sachs, a real criminal enterprise. One third of the nation’s heroin is trafficked through these China towns. But I don’t lump all Chinese Americans together as he did black teenagers. Even living in this ghetto, I’ve seen black kids go to college. I know Chinese poets musicians artists businessmen professionals, etc. I don’t blame them for the elderly inconspicuous Chinese American couple who were bringing drugs to a house abandoned by an absentee landlord. From a two parent home.

We monitor these activities closely. We’ve tried to get this house demolished for years. The gang leader on our block was Nguyen Ngo a Vietnamese kid until he was murdered a few blocks from here near a liquor store owned by Arabs, who like many ethnic groups make money illegally in black neighborhoods and put me and my neighbors’ lives in jeopardy. The activities of this kid, Ngo, endangered our lives for over four years. The couple who belong to our crime fighting group, had one car totalled and another shot up as a result of these characters. Let CNN do a special on that. Let the Talented Tenth at Harvard and Yale weigh in. Mao had a habit of sending intellectuals among the peasants from time to time so that they might understand what’s what. That’s what should happen with the tough lovers and post race entrepreneurs at Yale Harvard and the Think Tanks. Send them to live in Detroit, Oakland or Washington D. C. inner cities for a couple of years. See what happens. Maybe Bob Herbert who blames all of the “underclass’s” problems on crack mothers and absentee fathers, the editorial line of the Times, would discover the complexity of urban crime were he to live in one of these neighborhoods instead of parachuting in from time to time and coming away with a sensational neo-liberal eye bite.

Source: Counterpunch

posted 25 July 2010

Jill Nelson's latest novel is Let's Get It On

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Ishmael Scott Reed (born 22 February 1938) is an American poet, essayist, and novelist. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.Reed has been described as one of the most controversial writers. While his work has often sought to represent neglected African and African-American perspectives, his energy and advocacy have centered more broadly on neglected peoples and perspectives irrespective of their cultural origins.

Reed was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he attended the University of Buffalo, a private university that became part of the state public university system after he left. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1995. He moved to New York City in 1962 and co-founded with the late Walter Bowart the East Village Other, a well-known underground publication. He was also a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, an organization that helped establish the Black Arts Movement and promoted a Black Aesthetic. Wikipedia

Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch (the latest issue includes a smoking interview with the outspoken Terry McMillan and 3 essays on "Precious.") His latest book is Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media. He can be reached at: ireedpub@yahoo.com

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Ishmael Reed—Samuel Ludwig (University of Berne)—Together with Amiri Baraka, Reed is probably the most creative and controversial African American writer who started his career in the 1960s. Praised for his irreverence and his postmodern experimentation early on in his career, he was later criticized as a misogynist for some of his opinions (”blacklisted by the feminist establishment”) and as a bourgeois apologist for his praise of a black middle-class work ethic and his satirical exposure of empty radical rhetoric (Baraka implied that he should “get iced”). Nowadays Ishmael Reed is well respected by the scholarly establishment and his literary achievements are unquestioned. He is best known for his literary theory called the “Neo-HooDoo Aesthetic” . . .—Lterary Encyclopedia

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Taking on the Jim Crow media—Hubert Bauch, The Gazette—Landing the latest Reed oeuvre was an unexpected coup for fledgling Montreal publishing house Baraka Books. “It came out of the blue and I just jumped at the chance,” said publisher Robin Philpot, who had been reading Reed for years and had struck up an acquaintance and a correspondence. “It’s an honour for us to publish such an important writer.”

Reed says he thought of Baraka after his New York agent, the high-powered Barbara Lowenstein, categorically told him that no American publisher would touch the book. He casts the move to publish in this country as his own flight to Canada, “a Black Rock ferry crossing” of the border so he could make his case. “This one goes against the grain of what is expected of African-Americans, not only in book publishing, but in theatre, film, in television, that race is no longer an issue in American society. The point of view that’s welcomed in the media is that the problems confronting the black poor are a result of behaviour and lifestyle, the self-destructive behaviour of people who live in Harlem.”

He sneers at the establishment line being propagated by mainstream media that with Obama’s election America has entered a “post-race” era. “This whole idea of racism, mortgage lending, health-care problems, racial profiling, all these are sort of ignored in order to present the country as a post-race paradise, like the peaceable kingdom.” He notes assassination threats against the president are up 300 per cent since Obama took office. ”And the media has become the mob leader. That’s why I call them the Jim Crow media”— Montreal Gazette

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Juice!: A Novel

By Ishmael Reed

Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media

The Return of the Nigger Breakers

By Ishmael Reed

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Ishmael Reed talks about this book with Phil Taylor of the Taylor Report (audio)  / Ishmael Reed and Multiculturalism (Jerry Ward)

Listen to interview with Ishmael Reed on KPFA Berkeley (min 32-60) (audio)

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What White Publishers Won’t PrintZora Neale HurstonI have been amazed by the Anglo-Saxon’s lack of curiosity about the internal lives and emotions of the Negroes, and for that matter, any non-Anglo-Saxon peoples within our borders, above the class of unskilled labor. This lack of interest is much more important than it seems at first glance. It is even more important at this time than it was in the past. The internal affairs of the nation have bearings on the international stress and strain, and this gap in the national literature now has tremendous weight in world affairs. National coherence and solidarity is implicit in a thorough understanding of the various groups within a nation, and this lack of knowledge about the internal emotions and behavior of the minorities cannot fail to bar out understanding. Man, like all the other animals, fears and is repelled by that which he does not understand, and mere difference is apt to connote something malign.

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Black writers in a ghetto of the publishing industry's makingKathryn Stockett and Sue Monk Kidd are living the dream of thousands of authors, myself included. But they are not the first white women to pen stories of the black American South and be lauded for their efforts. In 1928, Julia Peterkin wrote a novel, "Scarlet Sister Mary," for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Stockett's and Kidd's novels tackle racism and celebrate the power of friendship and acceptance. Both novels were given beautiful covers that did not reveal the race of the characters. Both books were marketed to black and white audiences.

 . . . . Literature about the oppressed written by the oppressor has a long tradition. The trend can be traced all the way to colonialism -- a movement that was not only physical but textual, the evidence of which can be found in the diaries, letters and journals of colonists, settlers and plantation slave owners. Representation of African Americans by white people in texts records a history of "inferiority." Based on these perceptions, African Americans have endured slavery, genocide, medical apartheid and segregation.

This "inferiority" is a tool fundamental to ethnic distancing in society. Today, this tool is used with great precision in the mainstream publishing industry. While, yes, the distancing may not be total -- meaning a few select African American authors have "crossed over" into the mainstream -- the work of many African Americans authors, myself included, has been lumped into one heap known as "African American literature." This suggests that our literature is singular and anomalous, not universal. It is as if we American authors who happen to be of African descent are not a people but a genre much like mystery, romance or thriller. Walk through your local chain bookstore and you will not see sections tagged British Literature, White American Literature, Korean Literature, Pakistani Literature and so on. None of these ethnicities are singled out or objectified the way African American writers are. Washington Post

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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 Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

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King of the Mountain

The Nature of Political Leadership

By Arnold M. Ludwig

“People may choose to ignore their animal heritage by interpreting their behavior as divinely inspired, socially purposeful, or even self-serving, all of which they attribute to being human, but they masticate, fornicate, and procreate, much as chimps and apes do, so they should have little cause to get upset if they learn that they act like other primates when they politically agitate, debate, abdicate, placate, and administrate, too."—from the book King of the Mountain presents the startling findings of Arnold M. Ludwig's eighteen-year investigation into why people want to rule. The answer may seem obvious—power, privilege, and perks—but any adequate answer also needs to explain why so many rulers cling to power even when they are miserable, trust nobody, feel besieged, and face almost certain death. Ludwig's results suggest that leaders of nations tend to act remarkably like monkeys and apes in the way they come to power, govern, and rule. Profiling every ruler of a recognized country in the twentieth century—over 1,900 people in all­­, Ludwig establishes how rulers came to power, how they lost power, the dangers they faced, and the odds of their being assassinated, committing suicide, or dying a natural death.

Then, concentrating on a smaller sub-set of 377 rulers for whom more extensive personal information was available, he compares six different kinds of leaders, examining their characteristics, their childhoods, and their mental stability or instability to identify the main predictors of later political success. Ludwig's penetrating observations, though presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way, offer important insight into why humans have engaged in war throughout recorded history as well as suggesting how they might live together in peace.

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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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Related files: How the Media Uses Blacks to Chatise Blacks    “Preface” to Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice   T he Return of the Nigger Breaker 

The Dark Heathenism of Ishmael Reed   Parable of the San Francisco Negro (2)