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  We often hear that "our nation is deeply divided." Whose nation? Not the African American nation

- they know perfectly well who to vote for. They will vote for freedom and liberty

and they'll kick down the door to do it if necessary



 Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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River Come Down! 

By John Maxwell


It will be fifty years ago next January 12. I remember standing with a huge crowd on Vineyard Road  listening to Norman Manley, with everybody in the crowd it seemed, waving a broom. The PNP slogan was “Sweep Them Out”  after a cartoon in Public Opinion which called on Jamaicans to get rid of the corrupt and scandal ridden government of Alexander Bustamante.

Norman Manley couldn’t be heard for minutes after he reported what he had seen all over Jamaica and ended with the line: "The River come down – from bank to bank!!!”

It had indeed, as the next day’s election results  proved, – a rout  despite the fact that constituency demarcation favoured the JLP. I am reminded of this  by what is happening right now in the United States of America, where the ground is shifting under the feet of the Bush Administration which is displaying unmistakable signs of increasing desperation and panic. In Jamaica, we say “Bad luck worse than Obeah”.  Mr Bush’s luck is running out. Why would Osama bin Laden choose this moment to re-surface?

Mr Bush, I kid you not, has recently been talking about ‘principle’. His declared principle after 9/11 was "to hunt down and smoke out from  their holes” the authors of the outrage and murderers of 3,000 Americans. Yet, here is bin Laden, as large as life, or larger, offering to talk with Bush about disengagement!!!

For most of the last twelve months  Bush’s  basic principle has been to attack the character and integrity of his opponent, to hit below the belt whenever possible, throwing piledrivers at Kerry’s gut, just as George Foreman threw them at Muhammad Ali in Zaire, thirty years ago.

And with the same result.

Bush and his campaign are now,  as Foreman was then, tired and demoralised.After Tuesday, the Bush Administration will have loads of time to attend Grand Jury hearings and similar proceedings. Somebody else will have to deal with bin Laden.

Components of the Kerry landslide

For the river to come down – Lavalas – as they say in Haiti – there must be a lot of rain. And the rain-makers of the Bush administration have made damn sure that the rain falls only on their Just Men. The trouble is that the water doesn’t stop there. Injustice is a trickle down process, and those at the bottom of the hill get   lots of filthy, contaminated water.

My expectation of a Kerry victory rests on several observations and some hunches.

Terror fatigue: A great many people are resolved not to take the cynical colour-coded manipulation of their fears  any longer, and they have enthusiastically heeded the call of those who believe that Americans give away their rights when they don’t vote. They watched the process last time round, when George Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court. Millions of people were disfranchised and they are paying for it in unemployment, deficient education, expensive health care and  record  budget and trade deficits.  

Count in here  a majority of the young, the new voters, the foreign born, Hispanics, Haitians, Jamaicans, some of whom won’t be nationally significant but crucial in local contests.

Scandals  Over the last week the Bush spinmeisters have been producing some of the most elaborate excuses and alternative theories to explain away the inexplicable loss of more than 377 tons of extremely high explosive material from a sealed bunker at Al Quqaa in Iraq. Casting a doubt here, scouting  a rumour there, fiddling with the facts wherever possible  was a game that lasted until Friday, when a Minnesota TV station unearthed footage taken by their news team 18 months ago.  The US Chief weapons inspector, DR David Kay, and most other people appear to believe that the video footage proves beyond reasonable doubt that the missing explosives had  been found by American soldiers on April 18, three weeks after the war started and at least three weeks after Field Marshal von Rumsfeld thought the explosives might have been spirited away  by Saddam Hussein. The circumstantial evidence proves beyond doubt, that the American soldiers in Iraq had not been properly prepared for the war, another major blunder by the Bush-Rumsfeld axis   Then, late Friday night, it turned out that a French journalist had reported a year ago, exactly who had looted the munitions store and how and when it happened.

If ‘Bad luck ‘wuss dan obeah’ an FBI investigation is probably even worse than bad luck, and Mr Bush’s  frightener-in-chief and left-hand man extraordinaire, Dick Cheney may  soon find himself before a grand jury to explain why his old company, Halliburton, was awarded, against the rules, a ‘no-bid’ five-year  contract worth billions. He won’t be able to claim executive privilege this time.

A complaint filed on behalf of Ms Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps of Engineers Chief Contracting Officer, alleges that the  $7 billion contract undermines the integrity of the federal contracts process.

The complaint alleges that the award of contracts to KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary,  to restore Iraq's oil industry and to supply and feed US troops in the Balkans puts at risk "the integrity of the federal contracting program as it relates to a major defense contractor."

The complaint also  asks protection from retaliation for the whistle-blower, Ms. Greenhouse, an African American woman with a strong resemblance to Portia Simpson.

African Americans are expected to vote overwhelmingly (90%+) for John Kerry. According to Internet journalist/editor Marc Ash who is NOT an African American, if American democracy is to be rescued, it will probably  have to depend on African Americans: “For whatever reason, African Americans won't vote against their own best interests. No matter how much you try to convince them, it's like trying to get a cat to take a bath. We often hear that "our nation is deeply divided." Whose nation? Not the African American nation - they know perfectly well who to vote for. They will vote for freedom and liberty and they'll kick down the door to do it if necessary.”

The Republican party obviously understands this. The Internal Revenue Service is to investigate the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with a view to withdrawing its tax exempt status effectively bankrupting the NAACP. The reason? In July the NAACP president, Julian Bond, said:
"The election this fall is a contest between two widely disparate views of who we are and what we believe. One view wants to march us backward through history - surrendering control of government to special interests, weakening democracy, giving religion veto power over science, curtailing civil liberties, despoiling the environment. The other view promises expanded democracy and giving the people, not plutocrats, control over their government."

Count in Arab Americans and most Muslims, Indians, non-Zionist Jews, and others, including some moderate Republicans and other who want to restore their country’s reputation for decency.

Shelf Life  Bush, like George Foreman, had his  plan. Play the strong silent, immovable John Wayne character and push the flip-flopping Kerry around until he collapsed like a rag doll. But, in the debates, Kerry wiped the floor with the President.  While Kerry  concentrated on the issues that burn Americans, in the background was always the injustice of a war in which hundreds of thousands of poor Americans are sent to a foreign country to kill hundreds of thousands of poor people with whom they had no quarrel.

Count here young people afraid of being drafted for Iraq but,  more important, Medicare recipients and the poor generally.

Soldier's feedback  is powerful stuff, and as it percolates through the American consciousness, more and more people are reverting to their pre-war position, when a majority was anti-war. Abu Ghraib has done nothing to reassure them.

“Vote or Die” is one of the slogans used by an NGO supported by Sean “P Diddy” Combs, and he happens to be on the same side as another of the world’s richest men, George Soros. Both believe that George Bush is bad for America and the world. And the work of NGOs like MOVEON and Michael Moore’s  powerful documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, have also changed many minds.

Osama Bin Laden The irruption of Osama bin Laden into the campaign will remind many that while the Iraqi city of Fallujah is being obliterated,  bin Laden is somewhere else, home, dry and still rich.

The Bushies are trying to get Kerry to be a gentleman, to get him to avoid drawing attention to Osama’s freedom and liberty while Americans labour under the Patriot Act and other disabilities. For the Bushies, Osama is the invisible 800 pound gorilla on the bow of a boat rapidly shipping water.

Americans  know Bush lies when he says that his troops are “shrinking the space for terrorists to operate” when they know that even the super-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad is not immune to insurgent attack.

Meanwhile, the invasion has convertedIraq into what it emphatically was not before the war: a haven for terrorists as well as resistance fighters. Huge areas of Iraq are now no-go areas for the US troops and an assault on Fallujah may be as much of a trap as Khe San was during  General Giap’s  Tet offensive in 1968. Count in here all those who couldn’t care less about Iraq, the unemployed, the single mothers with school-age children, soldiers' families.

Debates & the Don't Knows   No pollster has factored in the millions of  new voters, nearly a million in Florida and more than half a million in Ohio alone.  Bush was having things his own way early on,  coasting on the publicity platform of the presidency  until the debates, when  Surprise! Viewers rated John Kerry, the 'aloof patrician’  as more likeable. That’s a hard one to recover from.  

Kerry has simply seemed more ‘presidential’ and certainly more mature than Bush and,  however stupid Karl Rove thinks the US electorate is, I believe that they are more likely to go for someone who seems more level-headed and balanced than the grimacing, posturing  ‘Mission Accomplished’  president. Count in  surprising numbers of well-to-do Americans, who don’t see the Bush fantasies or tax giveaways as everlasting and  may be scared of popular retribution, perhaps civil war, plus all those other  scared voters who lie or conceal their intentions.

And then there are the men surrounding Bush: Ashcroft the  fundamentalist prude with an appetite for shutting up and locking down  people outside of the law ,the constitution and the country; Rumsfeld, the dashing fly boy on leave from a Douglas Fairbanks  war film who thought looting was good clean fun; And Colin Powell, the designated adult in the Cabinet, whose patina of credibility has corroded  to grimy verdigris;  And  Dick Cheney, who – I have on good authority –  is  definitely not related to Lon Chaney, the ghoul of early horror movies; (Lon Chaney needed LOTS of make-up to frighten people) and of course, the Ayatollah, Karl Rove, a spoiled brat with Napoleonic fantasies,   the man who brought you the George Bush show originally; the main architect of the electoral skulduggery, the gerrymandering in Texas, the vote stealing and intimidation  in Florida and elsewhere.

Will Kerry win?

As Sherlock Holmes told Dr. Watson: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is likely to be the truth.

Copyright ©2004 John Maxwell

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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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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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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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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update 4 March 2012




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