ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Its not surprising that the right and many centrists heeded Bushs challenge.
Most never left his side, evident in recent polls that show Bushs overall popularity
has not been deterred by the war.
Bush was Being Honest
“Youre Either For the American Project or Against It
By Kil Ja Kim
19 September 2004
Despite his being deceptive and a liar, I want to point out that George W. Bush was honest, at least once, in his career. It was on September 20, 2001 at a joint session of Congress that Bush made his infamous declaration towards other nations, who were being recruited into his war on terror: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
Notwithstanding Bushs purposefully amnesiac definition of terrorismin reality Bush could never posit us and terrorists as opposites if he wanted to be honest about the US as a terrorist projectI think Bushs comment needs to be appreciated for what honesty it does have. This is probably one of the most honest comments Bush has made. In his dichotomy, Bush clearly laid it out for the global public: there is no middle ground when it comes to relating to the American project. You are either for it or against it.
While Bush was suggesting that terrorists are a dark-skinned bunch of Muslims bent on rage against the US, the term terrorist is often directed at those who are considered threats to any project that seeks coherence, stability, dominance and expansion. So the term terrorist is nothing new and the strategic use of it by US politicians to suppress political dissent and critique was widely documented and discussed by intellectuals and activists long before September 11.
Although Bushs statement wasnt surprisinghe is, after all, the appointed (public) leader of the American projectI want to reflect on the lefts response to Bushs statement and how this response appears to be embedded in a great deal of political activity, including protests, filmmaking and public discussions at forums, on the web and in print.
Many on the left appear to have a deep anxiety towards Bushs dichotomy, finding it too restrictive or narrow of an option. But what Bush was really doing was forcing people to make a decision, something my generation of activists seems to have great difficulty doing. And for Bush, this meant taking a stand either for or against the American project, which of course is one of imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, white patriarchy and heterosexism, and anti-black and anti-Native racism and sexism.
Its not surprising that the right and many centrists heeded Bushs challenge. Most never left his side, evident in recent polls that show Bushs overall popularity has not been deterred by the war. But while the right and centrists made it clear where they stand, many on the left tried to have it both waysor at least, a middle ground between the two camps that Bush laid out: those who identify with the American project and those who dont.
This difficulty, or unwillingness in some cases, to, dare I say it, appreciate Bushs candidness, was apparent immediately after his September 20 speech. Many activists could be heard lamenting how unfair Bushs dichotomy was, and a flurry of editorials and counter-commentaries were circulated saying as much. Today we still see this anxiety played out in debates over what it means to be patriotic. Some walk around with flags wrapped around their bodies to prove their loyalty while protesting specific decisions about Bush. Others hold signs that say peace is patriotic or ardently defend that being a dissident is the most patriotic move one can make in a (seemingly) democratic society.
Often activists express the desire to be supportive of the nation but not of Bush. Thus, Bushs us that he referred to was not understood as a bigger entity, one that was in place before Bush took office and that will remain after he vacates. Instead, people took the comment to mean literally, youre either with Bush, or youre not. But in reality, the us Bush referred to isnt split along superficial political lines, but rather can be taken as those who believe, for whatever reason, in the inherent goodness of the American project, regardless of how much blood it has on its hands or how many spirits haunt the land and the seas surrounding it.
Some will surely point out that these claims to patriotism are more strategic than anything. I dont doubt that this is the case in many situations. As intellectual and agitator W.E.B. Du Bois pointed out, many are forced to make strategic, and therefore what some will label as reformist decisions, while simultaneously dreaming and battling for a more humane future. But in the course of these debates about whether one can find a middle ground between Bush and what he labels terrorism, the left may want to consider whether the flag waving and fierce debates over patriotism is indicative of perhaps a deep-seated loyalty or faith to the us that Bush referenced. And if so, what does this (in)decision mean for the future of humanity?
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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.WashingtonPost
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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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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 26 December 2012