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Rudy I want to know.... 

A Post-Imus Discussion

on Race, Gender, & Corporate Power in America

Rudy                                                                                                                                                                                        Mackie



 Mackie Questions Rudy


Dear Friends, I received the questions below from my friend Dr. Mackie Blanton, now teaching in Turkey. He was at the University of New Orleans (UNO) when I taught there a couple of years in the mid-80s. I'm not sure what his specialty is. But it seems to have something to do with education psychology. He is also a poet. I published a couple of his poems in the mid-80s in my rag called CRICKET: Poems & Other Jazz. And I have published some of his poems in ChickenBones: A Journal. Take note of his recent poem Rifts. He is far more skilled than I and has been far more successful. At times I feel quite privileged that he has taken time out of his busy schedule to bother writing me. I assume readily he has a love and respect for me. He is also responsible for presenting me, while he was still at UNO,  an award for my work on Marcus Bruce Christian.

In the last month we have had more correspondence than ever. I assume that is the case because of my responses to the frequency of racial attacks against blacks in America, most recently the kidnapping of a black child by a white police officer in Baltimore and black  participation in this atrocity. Mackie has been trying to teach me lessons on how to be critical of the black lower classes and how to moderate my criticism of racism and racial oppression in America. This morning I received this long list of questions from him. At first I thought it had a poem-like construction, because of the repetitions. Initially, I thought to dismiss Mackie as a smart ass and send him some quip. On second thought I decided to take him seriously and to recast his intellectual attack as a serious interview. Below you will find his questions and my responses. Some may find this exchange instructive and informative.

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Mackie: Rudy, I would like to know why you do not write poems that express the kind of sentiment we can find in “Can You Control Yo Hoe” and “Break a Bitch Til I Die,” by Snoop Dogg, formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg, formerly Cordozar Calvin Broadus.

Rudy: I am not in the crack culture and I'm not very good at rhyming and writing rap lyrics. It may be a generation thing. But, essentially, I'm not that kind of player and I've always had a problem making money at any cost.

Mackie: I know why I don't. I don't because I am not interested in copying the language and sentiments of plantation whites, of rednecks, of feebleminded racists. But I want to know why you don't.

Rudy: I suspect you may have other faults, like others of us, which may be just as dangerous, and more insidious than the behavior of Snoop and other rapsters. They are an easy target. In some sense that might make us worse than Snoop Dogg, whom I should remind you has never been one of my favorite rapsters.  James Brown is my main man, my childhood model of the greatest of entertainers. But I can't do the James Brown either. It may be that my rearing in the countryside and that my being at the university for a great proportion of my life just did not prepare me to be a Snoop Dogg, or even a James Brown. I've had my regrets.

Mackie: I also want to know why you can't see that American Blacks have positivelyand negatively since we are but human beings so successfully transformed American life that white boy adults like Imus and Eminem, along with black boy adults like Ludacris and Snoop Dogg, can make millions for themselves and for corporate Americaand that shows that white and black together collude in the ugly side as well as the beneficial side of corporate America.

Rudy: I can see the positive and the negative. Here you have done a poor bit of psychoanalysis. And it seems you are ready to bring out your guns of character assassination. But, in any case, our differences, primarily, are ones of emphasis. You wish to make the fault one of individuals, that is, to cast racism as a kind of psychological illness; or like some as a problem of genes. I rather see the situation as one in which system developers and system managers find it economically beneficial to socially and politically control blacks. Billions of dollars are at stake. All of which has little to do with persons like Eminem and Snoop Dogg. They have neither the power and influence nor the capital or understanding of this larger game to manage the direction and force of this nation or Congress or elect the Executive. Those powers are in corporate hands. I see these corporations and their execs as the primary villains.

Mackie: I also want to know why you can't see that it's now today Black men who have condemned Black women to the continuation of plantation poverty by copycating the language and sentiment and behavior of past plantation whites and today's rednecks.

Rudy: I have heard this insidious rumor for the last two decades. Coming from middle-class professional Blacks like yourself. This criticism has done more hurt than help. It has further alienated black women from black men. It has played into the tactics of racism and racial oppression to the point that black women became exceedingly intolerant of black men so that families and marriages were destroyed. Destroying black families is an age-old tactic of American racism and racial oppression. There are scholarly studies in this regard. Today, we find over 60% of black women alone as a result of this kind of repugnant propaganda faulting black men. This insidious attack was primarily directed at black working class men and women, who live a much different reality than black professional men and women.

Mackie: I want to know why you can't see that negative Black and white males are today in this condemnation together.

Rudy: At heart, I suppose our training and commitment to truth may be fundamentally different. If black males and white males are as cozy as you suggest, why don't they vote collectively; why don't they fight the economic forces that weigh heavily on both groups? I'll tell you why. Racism and racial oppression keep them apart and at each others' throats. How is that the casebecause Congress and other legislatures and the Executive branches at local and state levels introduce and enact all kinds of legislation that make white skin privileges economically beneficial to white workers and white corporations and white legislators. This has gone on since the late 17th century and when one set of these kinds of laws become obsolete and unproductive (like slavery and Jim Crow laws) they wipe them out and put in a new set that essentially have the same impact, namely black domination. Why can't you see this? Is it because these laws have not had the same impact on you as most blacks?

Furthermore, why place the blame solely on rap music and hip hip, an industry that is not controlled primarily by black men. The pornography industry has had a thousand times more of a negative cultural influence and impact on the perception of black women than the black rapsters. None has accused black men of controlling the billion-dollar porno industry. My suspicion is that Imus and his cohorts got their language not from gangsta rap cds but from porno videos. None has investigated this probability.

Mackie: I want to know why you are waiting in the wings, there in the woods, for an economic analysis of racism, as if that is going to give us a solution to how to eliminate corporate greed, nefarious human nature, male inferiority, dissembling language, general unhappiness, and racism itself.

Rudy: "Waiting"? That's a vile assumption. I put at least 18 hours of productive work in every day, primarily serving others. And without pay. What are you doing to eliminate corporate greed? What alliances have you made with corporations and government forces that make you so content with their power and influence in perpetuating racism and racial oppression, not merely at home but internationally. I prefer a socio-economic analysis rather than a psycho-cultural one because it is much more concrete and get us closer to the truth of things and less likely to get us into imaginative, psycho babble that only priests and experts like yourself seem to understand.

Mackie: I want to know why you give Black men a pass for stupidity and find it easier to condemn only white racist America.

Rudy: As you can see from these responses I am not giving you a pass. The tenor and weight of my condemnations have not so much been directed at white racist America, as it has been a criticism directed at black men and black women who, consciously or unconsciously, act as agents or middle-men (a buffer) in furthering the policies and programs of racism and racial oppression. In the sense or the footsteps of Malcolm when he spoke of the House Negro Syndrome. Or when Marvin X speaks of two kinds of White People in America, those with white skin and those with variations of black skin.

Mackie: I want to know why you find it difficult to condemn black homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynist, racist America.

Rudy: Now you are getting more and more vile by the moment. If you are referring to my lack of condemnation of rap music, Ito tell you the truthI do not believe that rap music is the center—it is merely on the periphery. And to suggest that the black men who are involved in rap are the primary purveyors of anti-Jew, anti-woman, anti-black, anti-gay propaganda and policies is a most outrageous slander of black men and black people. But let me say this, I have never bought a rap album, gangster or not, I have never had cable TV and so I do not watch those videos and even if I had the choice, I wouldn't because I understand the game going on.

Mackie: I also want to know, Rudy, why when Black men equally condemn white and black backwardness, you prefer to call us Negroes and not Black men.

Rudy: I do not think I use the words "Negro" and "black" any differently than Frederick Douglass or Ralph Ellison or Albert Murray or Stokely Carmichael or Rap Brown. Condemning backwardness is not sufficient. Your class of blacks condemned the spirituals. Condemned the blues. Condemned honky-tonks. Condemned those of us who made corn liquor to subsidize our lack of income. Condemned us for running numbers when we couldn't find a job. Condemned our speech. Condemned the clothes we wore. Condemned our manners and our way of walking. All that condemnation of yesterday seems so much similar to the condemnations muttered today about black youth and the masses of black folk. I fail to condemn because I have an ardent love for my people. And thus I stand ready to defend them from those who do not wish to look below the surface or above the curtains.

Mackie: So what is it that you really wish to accomplish in this nation? . . . . All I am asking is that you come clean about the utopia you desire. . .  . Most ideologues of change hate humanity and wish to change HUMAN NATURE.  So spit it out: what outcome do you really want once the correct solution has been found and applied with definitive accomplishment (which I believe is impossible and counter to complicated, complex, beautiful, sinful, contradictory, ironic human nature)? What's your utopia like, Rudy? I want to see the final outcome, not the solution to getting us there.

Rudy: In short, the full liberation of black people from white domination. It is that which Garvey wanted. It is that which Du Bois wanted, what Malcolm wanted,. It is that which C.L.R. James wanted. It is that which Julius Nyerere wanted. It is that which Mugabe wants. It is that which any Negro in his right mind would want. Like in the case of the Irish in Ireland this liberation  project make take many many centuries, and many still more. But it is a worthy and noble project in which we must prepare black children to wage, however long it takes. Do you want that, Mackie? Or are you fully comfortable with your present status in the white man's world.

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Rudy: Your rejoinders to "Mackie" are so lucid, brilliant, and finely-nuanced they should be published as a broadside. Alas, if we were living in the days of Dudley Randall's Broadside Press, the dialogue sequence you just sent would be published next month as a chapbook, under the title "When Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down, vol. 137, no. 4." Jonathan

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Cherished Brother Rudy... I applaud your responses & mindset.  I truly enjoyed the dialog between [you and Mackie].  It seems your friend seeks to push your buttons thereby provoking debate that he cannot hope to win amongst civil rights activists like ourselves.  Like me he likes to examine issues from several points of view & perspectives.  It seems he likes playing the Devil's Advocate.  He spewed the same bourgie rhetoric & complacency that got Condelezza Rice appointed as sole/token head house kneegrow after Powell had sense enuf to get out before he  ended up being a patsy/scapegoat like Andrew Young.

Like you I have much praise for those of us with educations &/or skills that have overcome & moved on up in the world.  It is their credible voices we need to rescue & guide the youth & those left behind still wallowing in ignorance.  But  I must say that Willy Lynch programming still poisons the minds  & actions of Blacks at every socio-economic level.  It breaks my heart to see the repulsion for one's own race in the face & choices of successful snotty/bourgie Blacks unable or unwilling to reach back & help other deserving but struggling Black folks.  We've been programmed to be "THE FIRST BLACK ..." OR "THE ONLY BLACK so & so.."   Tokenism is the best weapon of racism.  The White Man no longer has to do much to us... just put another Kneegrow in charge & watch the fur fly. It is true... as a race we are incredibly self destructive & unable to unite or agree on anything..

The Rap Bizness is all about the dollars & glam.  White Man couldn't beat 'em so he joined them.  Too many young Black hoods/entrepreneurs were using drug money to voice their POV & launch their careers underground & selling CD's from the trunks of their cars and not paying one cent in taxes. R & B artists has been edged out by white pop , jazz & blues artists. These prolific yet vulgar young men carved a niche for themselves in an industry that had closed their doors to opportunities for new R&B artists.  Its profitable to remake old music & movies when the white companies/writers/publishers already own the rights.  But Rappers were making it without major label assistance.  Corporate America had to put the fix in to get a major piece of that pie/action. In a society where even news anchormen are swearing on air, sex, violence,  vulgarity & decadence pays.  Otherwise Rap would have been censored long ago. 

I do NOT buy gangsta rap nor porn films & such.  Its amazing how many Black men are doing life for rape  & sodomizing white women.  Porn films depict women enjoying this abominable act.  In reality women lack the prostate gland that makes sodomy pleasurable for men despite damaging the anal orafice.  There is nothing but pain for women in the butt.  God's rules are pragmatic.  If you go around putting your privates into a disposal chute you shouldn't be surprised to get diseases like AIDS.  Same with hetero intercourse with multiple partners.  Too much mixing of foreign DNA & bacteria in the warm, moist womb.& vagina.  Worse is to mix the bacteria from the anal sex into the vagina.  Good ol' common sense & biology.Like any loving parent God forgives but there remains penance that must be paid.

Anyway, you make so many good points I can't cite them all.  So I'll just say "Write On!"  Let the church say AMEN!  Print it. Just my opinion... like eyes we all have them. May we all be blessed.Crystal 

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Louis Reyes Rivera here. There are three areas of concern I'd like to draw both of your attentions to:

(1) As to the condemnation of Black women by Black men, I think it would be good to revisit Frantz Fanon's Black Skins, White Mask. He laid it all out—the nature of empire, as it relates to all of what the two of you are discussing, requires total control over land, labor, and leg (i.e., natural resources, a viable working force that accepts its position, and complete control over what we refer to as female genitalia) . . .  While land and labor have made their way into all history books concerning the apparatus of empire, the leg part is often as not omitted.

Coming from the lower side of classes in this culture, I can very easily say that we are all conditioned into viewing women as the objective in every brothel.

You might be interested in knowing that during and since the slavery epoch(s), the single biggest cash flow that was available to the masters of slaves came from brothels inside each of the port cities (Le Cap, San Juan, Vera Cruz, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Boston, Charleston), especially prostitution of the women owned. With roughly 500 years (hemispherically speaking/ 400 marked by chattel slavery and 100 plus years since), we have all been conditioned to view women from the standpoint of leg only. The object of desire to control, not just sleep with, but to control. While it is true that today we males should know better, you can't just simply blame the male victims among us for absorbing the victimizer's modus operandi. It's absorbed and justified from childhood. It would take just as many years to engage in eradicating such behavior. After all, it justifies the erection(s) we are subject to.

(2) We do not train or prepare our children with the basic cause: that we have all been lied to about everything, even about the nature of God. Instead of dealing with that factor and engaging in the studies that would help us understand this better, we each cover up our own misunderstandings and distortions of a moral code in order to justify ourselves before the eyes of our children. After all, we come closest to being their models.

To uncover the lies is to engage in political struggle, which also means to confront the social arena. Like Malcolm said, "you wouldn't use that word if you knew what it meant. It's bloody."

The vast majority of humans on this planet shirk and shy away from their responsibilities to themselves (i.e., too many settle for what they can get but hardly ever consider revolutionary action). Thus, not only are far too many of us political conservatives (to what ever degree), too many don't even want to look upon aspiration as something to subscribe to that is greater than that taste of luxury we each might be able to grab hold of.

(3) As to the words we use (none of which are new, despite the sound and fury following the Don Imus affair and certainly despite the uproar towards Gangsta Rap and Gangsta Hop)— this argument is as old as 1888, the year that marked the end of chattel slavery and that marked the beginning of laying down a clear definitive of who we/they are/were—now that slavery was done away with, a renaissance in all the arts had to be given its historical place. From Freedom Songs to Spirituals to Gospel and the Blues, Ragtime, Swing, BeBop, Hard Bop, Doo Wop and Hip Hop, Reggae and Calypso, are all manifestations of that search. Like Sterling Brown once said, "You figure, if it took Europeans three hundred years to get their renaissance going, what makes you think that we could do it in six (years)." 

But let me share a story with you.

I was 16, on one of those calm summer nights. A friend of mine (four years older) and I had been reluctant to turn in just yet, even while it was well past 3am.

So we're sitting on a project bench relaxing the morning hours, and he turns to me and says, "Yo, man, you know what I like about you? You know who you are and you don't try to be anything other than what you are. You Puerto Rican, and you don't deny that. But you one of the fellas. And you know that nobody's gonna get mad or say anything to you if you used the word [that six-letter 'N' word that I hate so much, he used right along here]. As a matter of fact, in all the years I've known you, I've never heard you use it once. But you know you can, 'cause you one of the fellas."

He continued, "Now, you take Papo. He's always using that word like he can. And he's one of the fellas, but he's Puerto Rican, just like you, but he's always trying to be what he ain't, one of us. And that's the difference between you two, and that's why I like you and respect more than I do him. You don't ever try to be what you ain't. It's just that simple!"

While at the time (this was like 1961), we really didn't know or fully understand that there's hardly a big enough difference between Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Unitedstatesians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, Panamanians, Haitians, etc., to warrant the lines my friend was drawing, we both sort of understood that what he meant was that he was from the United States African Community and that I was from somewhere else.

I got up off the bench, turned to my friend, and says, "Buzzy. I understand what you mean and I ain't trying to mess with you none, but there's something you not understanding. The reason I don't use that word is not because I can't or can or anything like that. The reason I don't use that word is because it never enters into my head to use it. That's not how I would describe you. When I look at you, when I look at any of the fellas, I don't see that word. I see more than that. A whole lot more. And that's with all of y'all. It's not just what I can and can't do, but that it never enters into my head that I should use it, no matter what you do or say."

It got quiet after that. He had to think about what I'd said and what it meant. Sure enough, within the next ten minutes, we both agreed to break ranks and turn in.

Here I was, 16, and it wasn't until years later that I had actually realized the meaning, the implications in what I had said to my friend. We'd known each other since I was like 11 years old. And he had taken note that NOT ONCE had he heard that damn word ever come out of my mouth. [And you got to appreciate that there were at least 40 of us who hung together every single day of our teenage youth.

Since I had grown up in a Black Community, I had to have heard it all my life, yet never once did I care to savor its sound or use it to describe another human being, and certainly not anyone I cared for. I must have known, since the first time I'd ever heard it, that there was something wrong with the sound, the meaning, the application and usage.

But all of my friends did use it, and regularly, even in jest, even as an endearment, and, just as often as not, would use it in regards to my own person. The few times that this did happen, I tended to laugh it off, but never once throw it back into someone's face. So, too, the words we males often use against women were words that never really sat well with me.

Notwithstanding any of the above, like it or not, language starts it all -- how you see yourself, how you want to see yourself, and what words are consistently so used as to condition you into using them too, even when you know that others will use them only in a manner that belittles you and amuses them. Later. Louis.  

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Dear Friends, I received the questions above from my friend Dr. Mackie Blanton, now teaching in Turkey. [....] I assume readily he has a love and respect for me. He is also responsible for presenting me an award for my work on Marcus Bruce Christian.—Rudy   

Yes, absolutely. I had often reminisced about you with folks who still remember you up to the time I retired from UNO in 2005. I have always been happy that I never lost track of you. I have always loved and respected you, without irony. I have always loved your contributions to art and have recently become intrigued by how we seem to seem to disagree on so much, that I know we agree on, just because our explanatory language is different. So in some sense I suppose we are both moving targets. But you know, your art and artistry will outlast your politics, which is why I do not like, nor trust, social change ideologies, and am not as optimistic as you are that human nature can be changed. I appreciate your having stayed with me through the thick of our exchanges. I'll sift through what I have learned from them.Mackie

posted 17 November 2008

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Who & What’s Killing Black Babies?  / Black American males inhabit a universe in which joblessness is frequently the norm

Wolfowitz Must Go!  /  Racism, Wealth and IQ  /  Black Male Oppression in USA Deepens  /  Africans mark abolition of slave trade

Government Corruption Threatens Flow of Nigerian Oil  /  Latest Trend in Corporate America

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19th-Century Statements of Racism & Racial Oppression

"The virtuous aspirations of our children must be continually checked by the knowledge that no matter how upright their conduct, they will be looked upon as less worthy than the lowest wretch who wears a white skin. Daily Star (Alabama) 21 May 1867 [James S. Allen, Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1937), pp. 237-238]

John Ridge (1823), Cherokee leader, a man of considerable wealth, supplied . . . this scornful definition of racial oppression of the Indian -- An Indian . . . is frowned upon by the meanest peasant, and the scum of the earth are considered sacred in comparison to the son of nature. If an Indian is educated in the sciences, has a good knowledge of the classics, astronomy, mathematics, moral and natural philosophy and his conduct equally modest and polite, yet he is an Indian, and the most stupid and illiterate white man will disdain and triumph over this worthy individual. It is disgusting to enter the house of a white man and be stared at full face in inquisitive ignorance. Thurman Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (1970), p. 145.

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Invention of the White Race  Theodore Allen begins Volume 1 by reviewing the many histories of American racism written in the 20th century. Dividing the arguments into the psycho-cultural school and the socio-economic school of thought, he teases out the strengths and flaws of their scholarship. Allen then posits racial oppression as a deliberate ruling-class decision (constantly undergoing renewal) to prevent property-less European Americans from allying themselves with enslaved and free African Americans by offering the European Americans privileges based on white skin. His solution is to study "racism" rather than "race" because studies of race always devolve onto discussions of the body--onto those who are perceived to possess race--and thus avoids the real issue. . . . It is a strong, well researched, tightly argued work. He proves that the "white race" can be "gotten on a technicality" because it was and is indeed an invented rather than a natural category. Amazon Reviewer

posted 17 April 2007


*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.—Publishers Weekly

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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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