Tuesday, May 17, 2016

White Nationalism and Reparations


In this powerful and controversial book, distinguished African-American political leader and thinker Randall Robinson argues for the restoration of the rich history that slavery and segregation severed. Drawing from research and personal experience, he shows that only by reclaiming their lost past and proud heritage can blacks lay the foundation for their future. And white Americans can make reparations for slavery and the century of racial discrimination that followed with monetary restitution, educational programs, and the kinds of equal opportunities that will ensure the social and economic success of all its citizens.

In a book that is both an unflinching indictment of past wrongs and an impassioned call to our nation to educate all Americans about the history of Africa and its people, Robinson makes a persuasive case for the debt white America owes blacks, and the debt blacks owe themselves.


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Americans more conservative: study
Scott Kaufman
10 Apr 2014

Two researchers from the Department of Psychology and Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University demonstrated that the more white Americans know about the changing demographics of the United States, the more likely they are to endorse conservative policy positions.

Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson conducted three studies in which white Americans were presented with information about the racial demographic shifts that have led the U.S. Census Bureau to project that “racial minority groups will make up a majority of the U.S. national population in 2042, effectively creating a so-called ‘majority-minority’ nation.” 

In the first study, self-identifying political independents were randomly asked to learn about the majority-minority racial shift in California or about how the number of Hispanics in the United States is now roughly equal to the number of African-Americans. They were then asked questions about their political party leanings and ideology.

The result was that, “[d]espite being self-identified political independents, respondents who were asked about the [majority-minority] racial shift reported being somewhat more conservative than did respondents” who were asked the less salient question about Hispanics being roughly equally to African-Americans. . . .
As Jamelle Bouie noted this study strongly suggests that the coming majority-minority shift “could lead to a stronger, deeper conservatism among white Americans. The racial polarization of the 2012 election—where the large majority of whites voted for Republicans, while the overwhelming majority of minorities voted for Democrats—could continue for decades.”

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by Brenda Marie Osbey

The six sections of the book reveal the breadth of her poetic vision. The first, “House in the Faubourg,” contains poems focused on the people and places of Osbey’s native New Orleans, and the penultimate section, “Unfinished Coffees,” examines the Crescent City within a broader, more contemporary meditation on culture. “Something about Trains” features two suites of poems that use trains and railway stations as settings from which to inspect desolation, writing, and memory; and “Little History, Part One” recounts tales of European settlement and exploitation of the New World. The poems in “What Hunger” look at the many facets of desire, while “Mourning Like a Skin” includes elegies and poems addressing the lasting presence of the dead.

Dynamic and unflinching, the poems in All Souls speak of a world with many secrets, known “only through having learned them / the hardest way.”

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Being deliberately out of touch with much that is trendy and fashionable in the world of 2016, I am not impressed with outpourings of grief each time a person who has accomplished something dies.  Did you know the person as more than a name in a newspaper or magazine or a reproduction on a television or cinema screen?  Did you have meaningful conversations with the person?  Did you have a meal, drinks, tea or coffee, laughter or tears with the person as the two of you discussed issues of mutual interest?  Was the person your teacher or mentor?   

Did you exchange correspondence ( letters/emails) with the personal rather than just professional?  Did you publish constructive criticism of the person's work?  If the person was a fellow writer, did you review the person's  book (s)  or an isolated work that gave you insights about genius, craft, wisdom or just plain common sense? Did you try to help that person get a job or a fellowship by writing recommendations?  Did you publish the person in a magazine or an anthology that you edited?  Did you explain, first to yourself and then to the person, why her or his artistry or argumentation is more than a throwaway item in cultural, social, or intellectual histories?

If you can't say "yes" to most of these questions (and to others I've not itemized), I suspect your grief is not genuine.  I suspect you are an opportunist, lacking a judicious measure of respect or honesty or humanity.  I am so old-fashioned, old school, or downright antiquated in my navigation of feelings as to believe you should share the esteem you have for people when they can see, hear or read it.  In some instances the expression of regard is quite private and remains forever unknown by a public.  

That's cool.  It is more important that the person knows where the regard is coming from.  After the person is dead, cremated or buried, your weeping or your wording of grief contributes nothing to the person's happiness or spiritual balance.  Your chatter is an ephemeral gesture of self-serving desire.  It is merely your ego calling  attention to itself. Publishing well-researched, thoughtful critical assessments of a dead person's achievements and legacy to humankind is quite a different matter.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.            May 13, 2016


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by Ishmael Reed  

Including material and photographs not included in most of the 100 other books about the champion, Ishmael Reed’s The Complete Muhammad Ali is more than just a biography—it is a fascinating portrait of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. An honest, balanced portrayal of Ali, the book includes voices that have been omitted from other books. It charts Ali’s evolution from Black Nationalism to a universalism, but does not discount the Nation of Islam and Black Nationalism’s important influence on his intellectual development. Filipino American author Emil Guillermo speaks about how “The Thrilla’ In Manila” brought the Philippines into the 20th century. Fans of Muhammad Ali, boxing fans, and those interested in modern African American history and the Nation of Islam will be fascinated by this biography by an accomplished American author.

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by Ishmael Reed

The Complete Muhammad Ali is twelve solid rounds of writing. Throughout the text, Ishmael Reed jabs and juts fades and dances. He even plays a little rope-a-dope. In the end, his biography of Muhammad Ali stands above its competition. It is not always pretty and parts of it leave the legend of Ali somewhat bloodied. In doing so, it rings closer to the truth than the sanitized tale today’s public has accepted as real. This text is an in depth and studied look at a man, a sport, a nation and a history. In his contemplation of all of these, Ishmael Reed paints a canvas that is simultaneously darkened with shadows and brightened with hope; defined by history that is certain to be riven with a fair amount of controversy. Muhammad Ali became and remains much bigger than the man who bears that name. Ishmael Reed’s biography of Ali is similar in its breadth and scope.

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