ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

Google
 

In analyzing those confrontations Allen would find that “the key to the defeat

of the forces of democracy, labor and socialism[,] was in each case achieved

by ruling-class appeals to white supremacism, basically by fostering white-

skin privileges of laboring-class European-Americans.” Drawing again

on Du Bois and his notion of the “Blindspot in the eyes of America,”

which Allen paraphrased as “the white blindspot” . . .

 

 

Theodore W. Allen and His Insights

on How White Skin Privileges Divide the 99 Percent

The Developing Conjuncture  by Jeffrey B. Perry

 

Biographical Sketch

Theodore W. “Ted” Allen was born in Indiana and “proletarianized by the Great Depression” in Huntington, West Virginia. At age 17 he joined the Communist Party and Local 362 of the American Federation of Musicians. He served as a delegate to the Huntington Central Labor Union, AFL, worked as a coal miner in West Virginia, and was a member of three different United Mine Workers locals including Local 6206 (Gary) where he was an organizer and Local President and where he co-organized a trade union organizing program for the Marion County West Virginia Industrial Union Council, CIO.

After moving to New York in the late 1940s Allen did industrial economic research at the Labor Research Association, taught economics at the Communist Party’s Jefferson School (in the 1940s and 50s), and taught math at the Crown Heights Yeshiva in Brooklyn and the Grace Church School in New York. He left the Communist Party in the late 1950s and was an important theoretician in the short-lived Provisional Organizing Committee to Re-Constitute a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the U.S.A. (POC) and later, in the similarly short-lived, Harper’s Ferry Organization. Over his last forty years, while living at the edge of poverty in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, he worked as a factory worker, retail clerk, mechanical design draftsmen, undergraduate instructor at Essex County College, postal mail handler (and member of Local 300 of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union), librarian (at the Brooklyn Public Library), and independent scholar.

Allen pioneered his “white skin privilege” analysis in 1965, co-authored White Blindspot in 1967 and authored the accompanying "Can White Workers Radicals Be Radicalized?” (1969), wrote the ground-breaking Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race in 1974/1975, authored the seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race in 1994 and 1997, and wrote a number of extremely important published and unpublished pieces including “The Kernel and the Meaning” (1972), “White Supremacy in U.S. History” (1973), “In Defense of Affirmative Action in Employment Policy” (1998), “‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’: History and the 2000 Census” (1999); “Toward a Revolution in Labor History” (2004), and critical reviews on Edmund S. Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom in 1978 and David Roediger’s The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class in 2001

Allen’s work influenced the Students for a Democratic Society and sectors of the “new left” and it paved the way for the “white privilege,” “race as social construct,” and “whiteness studies” academic fields. Though he appreciated much of the work that followed, he also offered criticisms of developments in those areas.13 In addition, he pointed out that many who referenced his work mischaracterized it; in one case he felt his work was plagiarized; and, in a number of other cases, where his work was used, it was omitted from sources or not properly cited. Such practices did not encourage, and at times discouraged, the reading of his original writings and the sources that he so meticulously cited.

In his work Allen focused on racial oppression and social control (the two volumes of his magnum opus are sub-titled Racial Oppression and Social Control and The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America) and he emphasized the centrality of  the fight against white supremacy to struggles for “democracy, progress and socialism” in the U.S.He called for efforts to “dismantle the ‘white race’”16 and he urged European-American workers to challenge white supremacy, to struggle in ongoing efforts to repudiate the system of white privileges, to break from “the incubus of white identity,” and to “resign from the white race,” which he understood to be a “ruling class social control formation” and a principal form of “class collaboration.”

*   *   *   *   *

The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control and The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-AmericaGroundbreaking analysis of the birth of racism in America.—When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people, nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. In his seminal two-volume work, The Invention of the White Race, Allen details the creation of the “white race” by the ruling class as a method of social control, in response to labor unrest precipitated by Bacon’s Rebellion. Distinguishing European Americans from African Americans within the laboring class, white privileges enforced the myth of the white race through the years and has been central to maintaining ruling-class domination over the entire working class. Since publication in the mid-nineties, Invention has become indispensable in debates on the origins of racial oppression in America. Volume One utilizes Irish history to show the relativity of race and racial oppression as a form of social control. Volume Two details the development of racial oppression and racial slavery in colonial Virginia and, more broadly, Anglo-America. A new introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry discusses Allen’s contributions, critical reception and continuing importance.

*   *   *   *   *

Insights

 

Theodore W. Allen was a self-avowed Marxist, a historical materialist who believed that class struggle was the driving force of history. Starting in the 1960’s, Allen began an important 40-years-long study and reflection on white supremacy, racial oppression, and the class struggle in American history. In this he was informed by the civil rights, anti-colonial, and national liberation struggles; by his prior experience as a communist, a labor activist, and a student of history; and by close readings of Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction and Marxian political economics.

An organizationally independent working-class intellectual, Allen combined the drive to end oppression and exploitation with the thirst for understanding and awareness based on historical evidence and analysis. An early manifestation of his new thinking occurred in 1965 with his pioneering use of the “white skin privilege” concept while he was a member of the “John Brown Commemoration Committee.” Allen wrote the Committee’s “Call,” which put forth that “White Americans who want government of the people, by the people, must begin by first repudiating their white skin privileges and the white ‘gentleman’s agreement’ against the Negro. John Brown . . . wrote from the very shadow of the gallows to his own family: ‘Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them.’” The “Call” added, “The false belief that equality can somehow be achieved without disturbing ‘traditional’ white skinned privileges has provided a sanctuary” for “‘liberal’ white supremacist” thinking.

He saw this “repudiation of white-skin privileges” struggle as an ongoing struggle. This idea that equality could not be achieved without ongoing challenges to white racial privileges is crucial to Allen’s developing work. He would often say, “‘Solidarity forever!’ means ‘Privileges never!’” Interestingly, Richard B. Moore (1893-1978), Hubert Harrison’s close friend and co-activist, had reached a somewhat similar understanding years earlier. During his lifetime Moore was active with the Socialist Party, African Blood Brotherhood, Communist Party, Scottsboro Defense Campaign, Caribbean causes, and the Frederick Douglass Book Center in Harlem. In the 1930s Moore, according to his daughter, the historian Joyce Moore Turner, supported “campaigns designed to secure employment of Afro-Americans in the completely white-dominated businesses in Harlem” while the Communist Party, of which he was a member, “took the position that the employment of blacks was not intended to effect white workers.”

Moore argued “that the unemployed in Harlem would neither understand nor rally to campaigns that promoted the protection of [such privileged status for] white workers.” He was expelled from the Communist Party in 1942, after he (foreshadowing Allen) pointed out “if you are fighting for jobs for Negroes, you can’t stop short of a white worker being fired.” Moore was essentially arguing that job struggles, like civil rights struggles, like workers’ strikes, can offer no “guarantees” and should not be undermined by the maintenance of privileged status for “white” workers. Abner W. Berry, an organizer for the Harlem section of the Communist Party and prosecutor in Moore’s internal charge, explained that before the trial the Communist “Party had decided that we would fight for the right of Negroes for jobs, but would guarantee that white workers would not be fired.” Berry later acknowledged being “remorseful” over Moore’s firing because Moore’s was “a consistent approach” and “was not incorrect.”

In 1966, during what he described as “the changed ambience of the African American Civil Rights struggle . . . [and] the peace movement,” Allen began his historical research in earnest. He was specifically inspired by Du Bois’ insights that the South after the Civil War “presented the greatest opportunity for a real national labor movement which the nation ever saw” and that the organized labor movement failed to recognize that “in black slavery and Reconstruction” could be found “the kernel and meaning of the labor movement in the United States.” At that time Allen conceived of the idea of writing a historical study of three crises in United States history in which, as he would later explain, there were general confrontations “between capital and urban and rural laboring classes.” The crises were those of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Populist Revolt of the 1890s, and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In analyzing those confrontations Allen would find that “the key to the defeat of the forces of democracy, labor and socialism[,] was in each case achieved by ruling-class appeals to white supremacism, basically by fostering white-skin privileges of laboring-class European-Americans.” Drawing again on Du Bois and his notion of the “Blindspot in the eyes of America,” which Allen paraphrased as “the white blindspot,” he would go on to describe the role of the theory and practice of white supremacy in shaping the outcomes of those three great crises. This assessment by Allen of the important lessons from past crises takes on added significance during the current conjuncture as poor and laboring people seek to wage and influence struggle today.

In a 1969 letter to Noel Ignatin [Ignatiev] and Hilda Vazquez that accompanied a 35-page draft of his book in progress, Allen explained that his work, like Lenin’s, emphasized “The decisive subjective factor.” That draft would grow into one of his major, unpublished works, “‘The Kernel and the Meaning’ . . . A Contribution to a Proletarian Critique of United States Historiography” (1972). While working on his draft and the longer study Allen started writing assorted articles, pamphlets, and reviews that were spinoffs from his research.

White Blindspot

One early spinoff, White Blindspot (1967), was based on Allen’s research and coauthored with Noel Ignatin (Ignatiev). By 1969 it contained three parts. Part one was entitled “White Blindspot.” Allen had major input while Ignatiev took the initiative and had final say on the contents of that article. Part two was “A Letter of Support” (1967) by Allen, which appeared at first under the pseudonym “M.” for “Molly Pitcher,” an Allen pseudonym, and then under the names of Allen and Esther Kusic. Part three was Allen’s “Can White Workers Radicals Be Radicalized?” (c. 1968-1969). 

These pieces, printed together as White Blindspot & Can White Workers Radicals Be radicalized?, were published in 1969 by both the SDS-affiliated Radical Education Project and the Revolutionary Youth Movement and developed the arguments that: (1) white supremacy, reinforced among European Americans by the “white skin privilege,” was the main retardant of working-class consciousness in the United States; (2) struggle for radical social change should direct principal efforts at challenging the system of white supremacy; and (3) this challenge to white supremacy required ongoing struggle for “repudiation of white skin privilege” by European American workers.

Allen thought the concept repudiation, or throwing-off, was more “all-encompassing” than rejection and that it indicated the ongoing nature of the struggle. The pamphlet sharply addressed the issues of fighting white supremacy and whether, or not, that fight was in the interest of “white” workers. Allen and Ignatiev argued that for European-American workers the “white skin privileges” were not “benefits,” but that they were “poison,” “ruinous,” a baited hook, to the class interests of working people. The White Blindspot pamphlet sparked considerable discussion and debate for many activists within SDS (whose National Office called for an all-out fight against “white skin privileges”) and the emerging new left including many who used Allen’s “white skin privilege” or “white race privilege” phrases (but not the analysis that went with it).

Some who were influenced by Allen’s work subsequently played major roles in anti-white supremacist activism and scholarship. By the 1990s such scholarship was attracting considerable attention.

Why No Socialism? . . . and the Main Retardant to Working-Class  Consciousness

In his historical research Allen was addressing the question of “Why No Socialism in the United States?” His historical findings led him to challenge what he described as the prevailing consensus among left and labor historians, a consensus that attributed the low level of class consciousness among American workers to such factors as the early development of civil liberties, the heterogeneity of the work force, the safety valve of homesteading opportunities in the west, the ease of social mobility, the relative shortage of labor, and the early development of “pure and simple trade unionism.”

He argued that the “classical consensus on the subject” was the product of the efforts of such writers as Frederick Engels, “co-founder with Karl Marx of the very theory of proletarian revolution”; Frederick A. Sorge, “main correspondent of Marx and Engels in the United States” and a socialist and labor activist for almost sixty years; Frederick Jackson Turner, giant of U.S. history; Richard T. Ely, Christian Socialist and author of “the first attempt at a labor history in the United States”; Morris Hillquit, founder and leading figure of the Socialist Party for almost two decades; John R. Commons, who, with his associates authored the first comprehensive history of the U.S. labor movement; Selig Perlman, a Commons associate who later authored A Theory of the Labor Movement; Mary Beard and Charles A. Beard, labor and general historians; and William Z. Foster, major figure in the history of U.S. communism with “his analyses of ‘American exceptionalism.’”

Allen challenged this “old consensus” as being “seriously flawed . . . by erroneous assumptions, one-sidedness, exaggeration, and above all, by white-blindness." He also countered with his own theory that white supremacism, reinforced among  European-Americans by “white skin privilege,” was the main retardant of working-class consciousness in the U.S. and that efforts at radical social change should direct principal efforts at challenging the system of white supremacy and “white skin privilege.” As he further developed his analysis Allen would later add and emphasize that the “white race,” by its all-class form, conceals the operation of the ruling class social control system by providing it with a majoritarian “democratic” facade and that “the main barrier to class consciousness” was “the incubus of ‘white’ identity of the European-American.”

Allen discussed reasons that the six-point rationale had lost much of its force and focused on historical analyses. He noted that the free land safety valve theory had been “thoroughly discredited” for many reasons including that the bulk of the best lands were taken by railroads, mining companies, land companies, and speculators and that the costs of homesteading were prohibitive for eastern wage earners. He similarly pointed out that heterogeneity “may well . . . have brought . . . more strength than weakness to the United States labor and radical movement”; that the “rise of mass, ‘non aristocratic,’ industrial unions has not broken the basic pattern of opposition to a workers party, on the part of the leaders”; and that the “‘language problem’ in labor agitating and organizing never really posed any insurmountable obstacle.”

He then focused on what he described as “two basic and irrefutable themes.” First, whatever the state of class consciousness may have been most of the time, “there have been occasional periods of widespread and violent eruption of radical thought and action on the part of the workers and poor farmers, white and black.” He cited Black labor's valiant Reconstruction struggle; the Exodus of 1879; the “year of violence” in 1877 marked by “fiery revolts at every major terminal point across the country”; the period from “bloody Haymarket” in 1886 to the Pullman strike of 1894 during which “the U.S. army was called upon no less than 328 times to suppress labor's struggles”; the Populists of the same period when Black and white poor farmers “joined hands for an instant in the South” and when Middle Western farmers decided to “raise less corn and more hell!”; and the labor struggles of the 1930's marked by sit down strikes and the establishment of industrial unionism.

Allen emphasized that in such times “any proposal to discuss the relative backwardness of the United States workers and poor farmers would have had a ring of unreality.” He reasoned, “if, in such crises, the cause of labor was consistently defeated by force and cooptation; if no permanent advance of class consciousness in the form of a third, anti capitalist, party was achieved . . . there must have been reasons more relevant than ‘free land’ that you couldn't get; ‘free votes’ that you couldn't cast, or couldn't get counted; or ‘high wages’ for jobs you couldn't find or . . . the rest of the standard rationale."

His second, “irrefutable” theme was that each of the facts of life in the classical consensus had to be “decisively altered when examined in the light of the centrality of the question of white supremacy and of the white skin privileges of the white workers.” He again reasoned, “‘Free land,’ ‘constitutional liberties,’ ‘immigration,’ ‘high wages,’ ‘social mobility,’ ‘aristocracy of labor’” are “all, white skin privileges” and “whatever their effect upon the thinking of white workers may be said to be, the same cannot be claimed in the case of the Negro.”

Note

Ignatin (Ignatiev), “Author’s Note,” October 5, 1969, in Ignatiev and Allen, “White Blindspot” & “Can White Workers Radicals Be Radicalized?” writes: “The impact of the concept ‘white-skin privilege’ (to my knowledge, the term was first used in 1965 in a piece written by Ted on the anniversary of Harper’s Ferry) may be noted in the fact that in just two years from publication of the White Blindspot, ‘repudiation of the white-skin-privilege’ has become a central ingredient in the language of both major groupings within SDS—‘Weatherman’ and ‘RYM II’—and the focus of widespread debate among white revolutionaries.” Allen’s use of the “Molly Pitcher” pseudonym stemmed from the end of the McCarthy era and his work in the late 1950s with the Provisional Organizing Committee (see note 70).

Noel Ignatiev, who was also active with Allen in the [Provisional Organizing Committee] POC days, offers background on Allen’s choice of the “Molly Pitcher” pseudonym. Ignatiev writes: His choice of a nom de guerre was a tribute to the American Revolutionary War hero who had “seen her duty and done it”; it was also intended to mislead the agents of repression: “Let the bourgeoisie pay for their male supremacy,” he explained. The choice was fitting: one of the first things that struck me about Ted was his manner, so tender as to seem feminine, or else homosexual. (I grew up with the standards and prejudices of the 1950s.) I learned later that his manner was part of a conscious effort to shed the male habits of dominance: he used to quote Bernard Shaw, “the perfect man is a woman.” At internal meetings of the POC he was always referred to as Molly, and for many years that seemed the most natural thing to call him.

Source: The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight against White Supremacy

Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working-class scholar formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia. His work focuses on the role of white supremacy as a retardant to progressive social change and on the centrality of struggle against white supremacy to progressive social change. For over thirty-five years he has been active in the working class movement as a rank-and-file worker and as a union shop steward, officer, editor, and retiree. He has also been involved in domestic and international social justice issues including affirmative action, union democracy, and anti-apartheid, anti-war, and anti-imperialist work. Perry was influenced toward serious study of matters of race and class in America through personal experiences and readings and through the work of an independent scholar and close personal friend, the late Theodore William Allen (1919-2005), author of The Invention of the White Race, (2 vols. Verso, 1994, 1997).

Allen was an anti-white-supremacist, proletarian intellectual and an autodidact whose research and writings, on the role of white supremacy in United States history and on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy, disposed Perry to be receptive to the life and work of Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927), another independent, autodidactic, anti-white-supremacist, working class intellectual.—JeffreyB.Perry

*   *   *   *   *

Theodore W. Allen Interview on the Invention of the White Race, part 1 (13 May 2004; mp3)
 

Theodore W. Allen Interview on the Invention of the White Race, part 2  (20 May 2004; mp3)

Chad Pearson of the University at Albany, SUNY, interviews Marxist historian Theodore W. Allen

*   *   *   *   *

They would have destroyed me’: Slavery and the Origins of Racism—The pioneer slaveholding sociologist George Fitzhugh described in terms even more explicit the indispensable role of the poor whites in the social order established by and for the plantation bourgeoisie. "[The poor whites]," he said, "constitute our militia and our police. They protect men in the possession of property, as in other countries; and they do much more, they secure men in the possession of a kind of property which they could not hold a day but for the supervision and protection of the poor." Here Fitzhugh has perfected our definition of racial slavery. It is not simply that some whites own black slaves, but that no whites are so owned; not simply that whites are by definition non-slaves, but that the poor and laboring non-slave-holding whites are by racial definition enslavers of black labor.

Contrast the serene sense of power expressed by Fitzhugh and Harper in the nineteenth century with the troubled mind of the seventeenth-century planter elite at the time of Bacon's Rebellion. "How miserable that man is," wrote Sir William Berkeley to his friend Thomas Ludwell, "that Governes a People where six parts of seaven at least are Poore, Endebted, Discontented and Armed." Since 1642, whenever kings had reigned in England, Berkeley had served as Royal Governor over Virginia, which then had two-thirds of the total population of the South. Now in the last year of his time, he was to be driven from his home, his capital ,city was to be burned, and most of his territory was to be taken over by armed rebels.—SojournerTruth

*   *   *   *   *

White Supremacy in US. History (Ted Allen)—The capitalist system of production was in force from the beginning in these colonies. The central problem of the plantation bourgeoisie was what form of labor was best for its needs. It could not work the land under a feudal system of hereditary bondage to the landlord's ground. That would not work because of the unlimited availability of free land on the frontier. Wage labor was not feasible because it would be so costly in relation to wages in England as to lower profits below the critical point for colonial development. The method struck upon was unpaid labor for a fixed term, usually five to seven years.

To get an adequate supply of labor was an enormous problem to the planters. After the English Revolution of 1640-1660 demand for labor expanded in England and limited the supply of English labor available to the colonies, the planters turned increasingly to African labor. Up to the 1680's little distinction was made in the status of Blacks and English and other Europeans held in involuntary servitude. Contrary to common belief the status of the Blacks in the first seventy years of Virginia colony was not that of racial, lifelong, hereditary slavery, and the majority of the whites who came were not free.

All bondmen stood somewhere 'midway between freedom and absolute subjection." Their common lot led them to make common cause and to a qualitatively different relationship between Black and white labor than what it came to be later. Blacks and whites ran away together. Black and white servants intermarried. In 1661 Black and Irish servants joined in an insurrectionary plot in Bermuda. In 1663 in Virginia former soldiers of Cromwell's defeated New Model armies who had been transported to servitude plotted an insurrection for the common freedom of Black, white, and Indian servants.

The leaders of Bacon's rebellion in 1676 enlisted Black and white bond-servants to bolster the faltering revolt. "Bacon's followers having deserted him he had proclaimed liberty to the servants and slaves which chiefly formed his army when he burnt Jamestown the Virginia colonial capital." Upon defeat of the rebellion, Capt. Thomas Grantham, acting on behalf of the Governor, was by a policy of conciliation able to arrange the surrender of a part of the rebel forces at a place called West Point. "Grantham then went over to the south bank of the York and marched a few miles to Colonel John West's brick house, which served as the chief garrison and magazine of the rebels. There he found four hundred English and Negroes in arms.—SojournerTruth

*   *   *   *   *

American Exceptionalism—The specific term "American exceptionalism" was first used in 1929 by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin chastising members of the American Communist Party for believing that America was independent of the Marxist laws of history "thanks to its natural resources, industrial capacity, and absence of rigid class distinctions." Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense. To them, the United States is like the biblical "shining city on a hill," and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries. Since the 1960s "postnationalist" scholars on the left have rejected American exceptionalism, arguing that the United States had not broken from European history, and has retained class inequities, imperialism and war. Furthermore, they saw every nation as subscribing to some form of exceptionalism.—Wikipedia

*   *   *   *   *

On Roediger's Wages of Whiteness—Theodore W. AllenAmerican Exceptionalism—That white blindspot, which is inherent in the doctrine of American Exceptionalism, has historically frustrated the search for an explanation for the degree of class consciousness with which European-American workers have perceived, and still do perceive, their class interests as workers.

It would seem that David might have found American Exceptionalism's historiographical tradition of white blindness relevant to his purpose of correcting the tendency of "new labor historians" who fail to pose the problem of why "members of the white working class came to consider themselves white." Yet he ignores it. A close reading of the book reveals why. For one thing, as a disciple of Herbert Gutman, Roediger proceeds on the assumption of parallels, rather than contrasts, between the development of the consciousness of the English working class in the late 18th and the early 19th century, and United States labor history in the 1812-1860 period, even though he believes that adjustments need to be made in its application. That assumption contradicts the predicate theme of American Exceptionalism. Gutman's approach, furthermore, denies the premise that there is a historical role for the working class.

When asked by an interviewer, "Why has there been no mass socialist movement in the United States," Gutman replied that that was a "nonhistorical question," because it rested on an assumption that there was a "proper" and an "improper" way for a workers' movements to develop. Having made his decision to align his thesis with Gutman, why should Roediger want to get involved in the issue of the comparatively low level of class consciousness of the American working class? Secondly, David's psycho-cultural analysis finds no relevance in objective factors such as constitute the standard rationale for the low level of class consciousness of workers in this country. Indeed reference to them could only obscure, or even contradict, Roediger's concept of his subject, designed as it is to steer clear of a class struggle interpretation of the etiology of "white" identity. He seems to have as little use for "an historical task that workers faced" as Gutman did.—Cultural Logic 

 *   *   *   *   * 

In Defense of Affirmative Action in Employment Policy—Theodore William Allen—I cite just two such examples of how the basis for today's persisting pattern of racial preference in employment was put in place a century and more ago. In the years 1840-65, "whites" drove African-American wage-workers out of longshoring, tobacco manufacture, carting, table-waiting where African-Americans had been regularly employed since the founding of the Republic.

In the late nineteenth century, when ninety percent of the African-American population of the country lived in the South, the "Cotton Mill Campaign" established that region's flagship manufacturing industry with an employment policy that deliberately aimed "to keep that avenue open to the white man alone," because "the white mill workers ought to be saved from negro competition."

Case 4) A quota of jobs for African-Americans leads to a complaint that such a policy is racial discrimination against "whites," that it disregards the need to reward merit, and that there is no overriding public interest served by quotas. What is it but white racism to reserve the criticism of quotas, goals, and timetables favoring opportunity for African-Americans, while ignoring other "quotas" that are, or have been, far more widely imposed and practiced?

Take the quotas in the United States Constitution. Prior to the Civil War, the slaveholding States had a quota of additional representation in Congress, proportioned to three-fifths of the number of African-Americans they held in bondage. That quota made it possible for the slaveholding states to dominate the United States government from the 1789 to 1860. After the Civil War (by virtue of a provision of Amendment 14, but one that was in effect nullified by the Hayes-Tilden Deal of 1876), those same states were to have their Congressional quota reduced in proportion to the number of disfranchised African-Americans, thus diminishing the weight of the franchise of whites in those states.

Or, why is it that our "quotaphobes" can seem completely at peace with numerical quotas in our Constitution that absolutely disregard the question of merit for office, or deliberately negate the principle of one person one vote--quotas that are in full force to this very day? They are content that the United States Constitution in effect bars any two persons from the same state from serving together as President and Vice-President even if those two are the best qualified for those positions. They take no exception to the inequity of the Constitutional quota of two Senators per state, whereunder Wyoming, with a voting population of less than 200,000, gets two Senators, equal in national governing authority to the quota-limited two Senators from California, a state with a voting population more than 50 times that of Wyoming, thus diminishing the political voice of the California voter to a mere fraction of that of the Wyoming voter in this aspect of governmental affairs. (Substantial discussion of these matters may be left for another forum; they are cited here merely to draw attention to the "two-eyed-mule-one-eyed-argument" tendency of the opponents of affirmative action when it comes to the subject of "quotas.")

More to the point of "racial preference," is the secret quota by virtue of which for nearly half a century, even by official government estimates, the chance of avoiding unemployment has been maintained at twice as great for "whites" as for "not-whites." When the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill passed in 1978, defining "full employment" as four per cent, the "White" unemployment rate was 4.5%, while the "Black and other" rate was 11.9%. In 1996, when "full employment" had been "achieved" by sheer redefinition as just under six per cent, the "White" rate was less than 5%, while the "Black" rate was over 10%. When a numerical ratio remains constant for nearly five decades, it is a quota; the failure of the opponents of affirmative action to acknowledge this instance of it shows the one-sidedness of their pretended concern with "doing away with quotas to avoid racial preference."—Cultural Logic

 *   *   *   *   *

Why Record Black Male Unemployment Remains Invisible to the First Black President—Bruce A. Dixon—1 February 2012—In the president's world, since blacks fear to criticize the president, black unemployment just doesn't matter. But if you live in places like Milwaukee, a mere 90 miles from the door of Obama's south side Chicago home, or even a mile west on 51st street from the Obamas, massive black unemployment is a crucial and unavoidable fact of collective life.

A study of black male employment patterns in the 20 largest US metropolitan areas over the last four decades just released by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee starkly illustrates the growing and acute racial disparities in employment, disparities the African American political class, sometimes called the Black Misleadership Class don't bring up for fear of embarrassing their president. The truth is sometimes embarrassing. But that doesn't stop it from being true. Barack Obama's wisdom on black unemployment pulled straight from the mouth of Ronald Reagan, who declared that a rising tide lifts all boats.

In fact, however, ostensibly “color-blind” approaches to black unemployment simply don't cut it, and in some cases aren't even meant to. The United States has libraries of color-blind criminal code on the books. But still we manage year after year to arrest, convict and imprison disproportionate numbers of black and brown people for crimes that go unpoliced and unprosecuted among whites. At one time open, public and legal discrimination in the work force was the rule. Now, more than a generation after the end of legal Jim Crow, US labor markets remain racially stratified.—BlackAgendaReport

  *   *   *   *   *

Racism, Wealth and IQI.Q. is a measure of wealth. The children of gangsters and war criminals (i.e., national politicians, corporate executives, race-favored Americans, Europeans, and others from outposts of Pan-Whiteness, e.g., Israel, Australia, New Zealand) will have higher I.Q. because they have been brought up in material comfort, physical security, and they have experienced the best educational systems in existence. There is no genetic basis for this, but there is certainly a racist one. Since the days of Columbus, Pan-Whiteness has used technology (primarily explosives) and piracy (now called finance) to steal world resources, and enslave and exterminate "colored" people. "High" I.Q. is merely a developmental indicator of race-based physical plundering by their elders and ancestors in the children of the Race Warriors of the White Supremacy Crusade. The religious core of capitalism is white supremacy, which is why the nations mentioned are bonded so tightly, and why the U.S. Government will often pursue policies vis-a-vis Israel that logically seem to be at odds with "U.S. interests" (e.g., the pursuit, with U.S. casualties, of war with Iraq and Iran, not just for oil but in Israel's interest). It may be objectively true that a particular policy (e.g., bankrolling Israel's theft of Palestine—"settlements"—backing Israel's stonewalling and aggression (e.g., Lebanon) and blocking U.N. and international efforts to settle the Palestinian issue) seems more to Israel's benefit than to "us." But, when viewed through the emotive religious-mythical lens of white supremacy, the apparent inconsistency dissolves.  Counterpunch

*   *   *   *   *

Why did 58% of Michigan voters vote YES to ban affirmative action  programs, even though the Vote NO campaign  was backed by both candidates for governor and a host of religious, labor, educational and liberal organizations? . . .is it a sign of a new counter-revolutionary form of racism in which workers are finding it easier to  scapegoat blacks for mass unemployment than to wrestle with the reality that the responsibility rests with multinational corporations seeking higher profits by exploiting cheaper labor in Third World countries? -- Grace Lee Boggs. "PROP 2 and the American Nightmare. Michigan Citizen, Nov. 28-Dec.2, 2006

*   *   *   *   *

The Heart of Whiteness

By Robert Jensen

The first, and perhaps most crucial, fear is that of facing the fact that some of what we white people have is unearned. It's a truism that we don't really make it on our own; we all have plenty of help to achieve whatever we achieve. That means that some of what we have is the product of the work of others, distributed unevenly across society, over which we may have little or no control individually. No matter how hard we work or how smart we are, we all know—when we are honest with ourselves—that we did not get where we are by merit alone. And many white people are afraid of that fact. A second fear is crasser: White people's fear of losing what we have—literally the fear of losing things we own if at some point the economic, political, and social systems in which we live become more just and equitable.Robert Jensen  

*   *   *   *   *

Civil War Letters—Union and Confederate Soldiers' Letters / Civil War Letters—A Confederate Soldier's Letter

Civil War Letters—Introducing the Letters  /  Civil War Letters—A Black Union Soldier's Letter

Lincoln, Race, and the American Presidency Chandra Manning: What This Cruel War Was Over Book TV

 Chandra M. Manning on Soldiers and Slavery: Part 1 / The Permanence of Racism (1992)

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

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  Virginia Expresses Profound Regret

*   *   *   *   *

The Invention of the White Race Vol. II

By Theodore W. Allen

In this second volume of his acclaimed study of the origins of racial oppression, Theodore Allen explores the ways in which African bond-laborers were turned into chattel slaves and were differentiated from their fellow proletarians of European origin. Rocked by the solidarity across racial lines exhibited by the rebellious labouring classes in the wake of the famous Bacon's Rebellion, the plantation Bourgeoisie sought a solution to its labor problems in the creation of a buffer social control stratum of poor whites, who enjoyed little enough privilege in colonial society beyond that of their skin color, which protected them from the enslavement visited upon Africans and African Americans. Such was, as Allen puts it, 'the invention of the white race,' that 'peculiar institution' which continues to haunt social relations in the US down to the present. Allen's two volumes are essential reading for students of US history and politics. A monumental study of the birth of racism in the American South . . . a highly original and seminal work.—David Roediger

*   *   *   *   *

 

The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanaper

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: The economy is not an efficient machine.

It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest. We’re all better off when we’re all better off. The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.

*   *   *   *   *

The First Emancipator

The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves

By Andrew Levy

In 1791, at a time when the nation's leaders were fervently debating the contradiction of slavery in a newly independent nation, wealthy Virginia plantation owner Robert Carter III freed more than 450 slaves. It was to be the largest emancipation until the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln. Levy offers an absorbing look at the philosophical and religious debate and the political and family struggles in which Carter engaged for years before very deliberately and systematically freeing his slaves as he attempted to provide a model for others to follow. Drawing on historic documents, including Carter's letters and painstakingly detailed accounts of plantation activities, Levy conveys the strongly held beliefs that drove Carter through the political and religious fervor of the time to arrive at a decision at odds with those of other prominent leaders and slaveholders of the time, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Levy offers a fascinating look at one man's redemption and his eventual lapse into historical obscurity despite his incredibly bold actions. Well researched and thoroughly fascinating, this forgotten history will appeal to readers interested in the complexities of American slavery.—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

  

 

 

 

posted 1 February 2012

 

 

 

Home  Du Bois-Malcolm-King  Education & History

Related files: White Privilege, White Entitlement, Election 2008   White Privilege   White Power   The White Masters of the World  White Anti Racists Open Letter  

Which U.S. Presidents Owned Slaves? Can Soldiers Tell Us Anything about Lincoln?   Derrick Bell Law Rights Advocate  Dies at 80 

Trayvon Martin Murdered by Wannabe Cop   Insights from Hubert Harrison