ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The economic equivalent of the individual as power came from author Tom Burrell who was first to
shift blame of Black poverty to Black spending habits with that favorite myth of Black buying power4.
This sophomoric economic analysis was championed again by Julianne Malveaux
and by Louis Farrakhan who took the myth to even greater contradictory heights.
Tavis Smileys Annual Black “Radical” All-Star Game
By Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
For every Louis Farrakhan testicular fortitude there was a Michael Eric Dyson ovarian audaciousness.
This week the already blood soaked, broken and dead carcass of a murdered Black radicalism was further kicked around, then adorned, by Tavis Smiley and all those gathered at his annual Black political All-Star Game. And it truly was an all-star gathering where everyone came to play on the big stage. It had all the political ally-oops, 360 degree word play, dazzling no-look Biblical references and behind the back, through the legs, ankle-breaking alliterations.
Cornell West looked spry prancing around the roundtable cheerleading and for every Louis Farrakhan testicular fortitude there was a Michael Eric Dyson ovarian audaciousness. And all but one of the attendees brought flashy Blacker-than-thou critiques of the president, all in love, of course, as was the theme Smiley laid down literally with a so-labeled centerpiece placed dramatically mid roundtable. But this truly was conservatism draped in radicalism. None advocated breaks with the established political parties, none adopted a tradition of radical intra-racial socialized economics and none called for mass protest or civil disobedience. It was post-election criticism, calls for conservative individualized self-help and obedience to the established political order.
Smiley was clear that he wanted his guests to answer for the absence of an overt support of a Black agenda by the president. So now, and only after his election, Jesse Jackson wonders why it is only a Black agenda that Obama ignores, and Farrakhan says Obama was selected not elected and lords over the White House for white people, and Dyson boldly proclaims Obama to be Pharaoh . . . not Moses . . . or even Dr. King. Dyson went on to say that he has known Obama the longest and supported him first as the political Jackie Robinson who might not be the best but is best suited to be first. This should, of course, be seen as an admission of political ineptitude and the fact that neither Dyson nor anyone else who appreciated that comparison brought up the impact of Robinson on the death of the Negro Leagues or use of him by the state to speak against2 more radical Black leaders like Paul Robeson3, means that the real power of that analogy went without discussion.
And other juicy contradictions were all over the place. Like when the sole youth representative, Raven Curling, asked about the absence of mass protests, and Jackson agreed we should not abandon such tactics, Smiley would later say that he and his roundtable of leaders couldnt make such calls and that actions should be individual. The economic equivalent of the individual as power came from author Tom Burrell who was first to shift blame of Black poverty to Black spending habits with that favorite myth of Black buying power4.
This sophomoric economic analysis was championed again by Julianne Malveaux and by Louis Farrakhan who took the myth to even greater contradictory heights. The minister, with calls of do for self, suggested separately that America was declining and, therefore, was both for sale, and leading toward a time when the U.S. dollar would be worthless. Following this logic we should use a mythological $1 trillion in buying power to purchase equally mythological wealth-building assets from a declining country whose currency is soon to be worthless. With confusion like this it is little wonder why there is so much to lament in the condition of Black America.
There was little more clarity in the arena of electoral politics. Ron Walters twice called for a Black Party but confusingly only as a bloc within the Democratic Party. This kind of blind adherence to the Democrats was further displayed when in response to audience member Phil Huckleberry of the Illinois Green Party5, who said that his party was the only party with a real Black agenda, all-star panelist Angela Blackwell actually agreed but only that green jobs and a green economy, not alternative political party development, were part of a Black agenda. It is this kind of confused analysis that led roundtable participant and Civil Rights veteran Dorothy Tillman6 to say that Black political empowerment is as diminished today as she has ever seen it and that this is a result of the ascendancy of president Obama. But it is also true that Obamas ascendancy and that of the gathered all-stars is also the result of a previous murder of Black radicalism.
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Tavis Black Agenda Event in Chicago
Letter from Carl Dix
Ive had a busy month, and I wanted to drop you a note about one part of that monthTavis Smileys The Black Agenda is the American Agenda event in Chicago. This event came out of a dispute between Tavis and Rev Al Sharpton, among others, over whether President Obama needed to have, or even to address, a Black agenda. This event focused on an important question, one that is up for large numbers of people in this country. That question is, how to assess Obamas 1st year plus in the White House? To be blunt, do we need to give the brother more time to affect the kind of changes needed, or is the oppression of Black people runs so deep in this society that Obama couldnt do anything about it if he wanted to? Ill speak to this question in a minute.
Tavis panel of 11 notable Black people contained an array of divergent views. Angela Blackwell-Glover felt that the Black agenda was clear, and Obama was quietly working on it, tho she wished hed be more vocal about that. From the other end, Cornel West felt that the cabinet and advisors Obama had surrounded himself with and the failure to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pointed to a failure to act for change. Dorothy Tilghman urged people to get active, to mobilize people to speak out for the things they need, just like other groups do. Julianne Malveux felt that the depth of the conditions faced by Black people underscored the urgent need for an approach directly geared to these problems. Louis Farrakhan said that Obama had been selected to sit in the White House to represent white interests. Michael Eric Dyson went so far as to say, Obama is not Moses. Hes Pharaoh!
Despite this diversity of views, there was an overall framework that all the speakers stayed within, and I think this framework is one that needs to be broken out of. That framework was that the way to work to end, or at least ease, the oppression Black people face is within the confines of this system. This approach limits people to working to pressure those with the power to do something about the problems they face. The problem with this approach is that the oppression of Black people and all the other problems people face today around the world are built into the very fabric of the imperialist system we live under. Staying within the confines of the system means putting up with these problems and working to lessen them.
But things dont have to be this way! We could end the oppression of Black people, the wars for empire, the oppression of women, the starvation and disease, everything foul people endure today thru revolution. All this is why we in the Revolutionary Communist Party are involved in a campaign centered on broad distribution of the statement, The Revolution We Need . . . The Leadership We Have. The goals of this campaign are to put revolution back on the map in this country, introduce people to the leadership we have for this revolution in Bob Avakian and to mobilize a core of people who are clear on the need for revolution and are determined to fight for it.
Had I been on this panel, all this would have been injected into the discourse. The 4000 plus people who attended this event, most of whom were in their seats in the auditorium when it began at 8 AM sharp, wouldve heard a radically different alternative to staying within the channels the system puts out there. Which is something I think is critically needed today.
Ill write more on the other things that have taken me from DC to LA to Chicago and back to NY soon. Anyone who wants to get more info on Tavis event in Chicago should go to the web site: www.tavistalks.com.
Office of Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, P.O. Box 941 Knickerbocker Station, New York NY 10002-0900, (866) 841-9139 x2670
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Wake Up, Tavis SmileyBy Stanley CrouchNeither Smiley nor the rest of his panel showed any interest in speaking truth to power when it came to questioning or exposing this smiling stain on their militant dinner dress. Caught up in the tomming before a totalitarian, both were seen and heard co-signing Farrakhan in a way as disgusting as it was consistent.
Jesse Jackson was there and, as I once said to him in Washington when Al Gore brought a number of black people down to dinners in which the color troubles of America were discussed, I am sure that you are aware of the fact that the worst mistake you ever made was to bring Louis Farrakhan out of the dark and onto center stage when you were running for president in 1984. Jackson had nothing to say.
Nor did anyone else on Smileys recent panel go beyond mum’s the word because they have yet to understand the difference between complete honesty as opposed to profiting and gaining attention from their purported victim status. That does not allow them to see and understand the gravity of actual engagement through real politics, not sweating us all down with unending typhoons of hot air. The kinds of solutions provided by the members of HEAF and all of the others are right down there on the ground giving the devil all of the trouble he can stand. TheDailyBeast
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#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
#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
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats 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 Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards 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 familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys 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 isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs 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, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forwardin the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest “real progress toward freedom and justice.” Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. “This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the worldto millions, I suspectfor the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him.” John Pilger In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.Publisher’s Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 28 March 2010