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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Wright communicates with a sword-like clarity, such as when he writes about the nature

of the debt owed by better-off African-Americans to those still stuck in the ‘hood.



 Books by W.D. Wright

Historians and Slavery  (1978)  / Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic (1997)  / Racism Matters  (1998) 

Critical Reflections on Black History (1998) / Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography (2002)

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Crisis of the Black Intellectual. Third World Press, 2007. Paperback, 380 pages 

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Taking No Academic Prisoners

Kam Williams Reviews W.D. Wright's

Crisis of the Black Intellectual


Today there are many Black intellectuals who do not think of Black people as a people and have no wish to do so. They think of themselves as individuals and look upon Blacks that way as well. And this idea is espoused by more people than just the Black conservatives, although they have made a fetish of this kind of conception and Black social response in America.

Black intellectuals are mainly from the Black middle-class . . . [which] has lost—if it has not abandoned altogether—its historical mission, which was to help Black people as a people, as well as Black individuals, to advance and to be free in America. Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 20)


With the publishing of The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual back in 1967, Harold Cruse issued a clarion call to the emerging black intelligentsia to remember and remain faithful to its cultural roots. Now, 40 years later, Crisis of the Black Intellectual reassesses the state of the African-American egghead and makes the case that an equally-urgent appeal to a collective consciousness-raising is in order.

Taking no prisoners in the process, W.D. Wright initiates a sharp-tongued discourse in order to shake Ivory Tower blacks out of what he refers to as their “comfort groove.” The author, Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut University, repeatedly resorts to cogent, if incendiary reasoning to indict bourgie brothers and sisters out of their middle-class malaise, so that they again empathize with the predicament of less-fortunates yet to get their piece of the pie.

Wright communicates with a sword-like clarity, such as when he writes about the nature of the debt owed by better-off African-Americans to those still stuck in the ‘hood. “No Black intellectual has to identify with being Black or even with Black history, Black culture, or Black social life . . .  but any time  [they] write or talk in a public manner about Black History, Black identity, Black life, and the means Blacks should seek to advance or be free in America, they forfeit their insulated individualist status.”   

 Noting the emergence of the black neo-con, the author astutely observes that “Whites no longer speak on behalf of blacks like they used to do.” Instead, he argues that racist whites rely on black surrogates willing to present themselves as speaking for black people while really representing the interests of whites. I won’t name names (except for the most obvious, Ray Nagin), but many just such an African-American leader came to mind while perusing the pages of this seminal sequel to Cruse’s opus.  

In sum, if W.D. Wright’s aim with Crisis of the Black Intellectual  was to target his self-satisfied colleagues and to shake them out of their complacency, then bull’s eye! 

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Other Reviews, W.D. Wright Books, & Commentary

A reexamination of Harold Cruse’s classic Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, published in 1967 at the height of the civil-rights movement and now required reading in African American studies courses, this polemic pays tribute to the earlier book’s importance and takes to task the current generation of black scholars for failing to meet Cruse’s rigorous standards for public commentary. Detailing the evolution of black-intellectual discourse since the 1960s, this assessment points to a lack of ongoing discussion about the role of intellectuals—black or white—in our society and insists that the experience of black Americans is so complex it deserves the closest and most honest scrutiny possible from black writers and academics. Instead, the book is sad to report, today's scholars are often caught up in media battles such as those described in the chapters "Three of a Kind: Black Conservatives, Black Liberals, and Black Radicals" and "Why Black Female Intellectuals Tend to Shout."—Publisher of Crisis of the Black Intellectual


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The Black experience in America reflects some of the richest dimensions of the human experience and human existence and also some of its most oppressive and wretched realities. Black people are a people 'up from slavery' who survived slavery, developed during slavery, and developed after slavery—all great historical achievements.—W. D. Wright, from the Introduction Crisis of the Black Intellectual

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 Historians and Slavery  (1978) 

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 Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic (1997) 

Neither American history nor American society anticipated, sanctioned, or encouraged the development of either Black intellectuals or a Black middle class. Both emerged and developed against horrendous obstacles and both are great achievements. Both were sanctioned and given moral direction by the American Negro Academy, an organization founded in 1897 by Alexander Crummell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Francis Grimke, and others for the purpose of organizing Black intellectuals to defend and redeem Blacks, through intellectual, artistic, and scientific achievements in the face of racist detractors, and to help the Black middle class develop as the leadership class of Black America. Black intellectuals have had a difficult time fulfilling a leadership role, partly because they have failed to remember the three cultural heritages of Black people: Black, African, and Euro-American. The times demand that Black intellectuals approach themselves and their world from all three cultural perspectives, for the sake of Black people and for the sake of America, both of which desperately need their leadership.

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Racism Matters  (1998) 

This study draws attention to how racism is distinctly different from race, and it shows how, since the late 17th century, most Whites have been afflicted by their own racism, as evidenced by considerable delusional thinking, dehumanization, alienation from America, and psychological and social pathology. White people have created and maintained a White racist America, which is the antithesis of liberty, equality, justice, and freedom; Black people continue to be the primary victims of this culture. Although racism in America has changed since the 1950s and 1960s from a blatant and violent White racist America to a less violent and more subtle White racist America, racism still severely hampers the ability of most Blacks to develop and be free. The continuing racist context in which Blacks live requires that they organize and use effective group power, or Black Power, to help themselves. One obstacle to Black achievement is the use of intelligence tests, which are wholly unscientific and represent a manifestation of subtle White racism. A challenge to the writing on race in this country, this work focuses on the victims and not the perpetrators.

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Critical Reflections on Black History (1998)

Critical of the romantic approach to the subject, Wright seeks to uncover a deeper analysis, knowledge, and truth regarding aspects of black history, even when it involves the presentation of material and viewpoints that some might find objectionable. He predicates these pieces on the idea that history is still a valuable subject, firmly rejecting the postmodern view that it has lost its validity. Wright demonstrates that black history is a vital and necessary subject, not only for black people, but for all Americans. A critical black history is itself, Wright contends, a device to evaluate American history in a critical manner, to get into the subject more deeply, and to adduce deeper knowledge and truths about it. These essays show the author's interest in strengthening that critical capacity of black historical writing and his belief that this is a primary and necessary means to maintain the viability and productivity of the academic discipline and to ward off its detractors.

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Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography (2002)

The author argues that Black Americans are to be distinguished from other categories of black people in the country: black Africans, West Indians, or Hispanics. While Black people are members of the black race, as are other groups of people, they are a distinct ethnic group of that race. This conceptual failure has hampered the ability of historians to define Black experience in America and to study it in the most accurate, authentic, and realistic manner possible. This confusing situation is aggravated further by the fact that many scholars tend to describe Black people in an arbitrary manner, as Africans, African Americans, Afro-Americans, black or Black, which is insufficient for precision.

W. D. Wright is professor emeritus of history at Southern Connecticut State University and the author of Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography, and Racism Matters. He lives in Hamden, Connecticut 

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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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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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 23 February 2012




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