Conversations with Kind Friends

Conversations with Kind Friends


ChickenBones: A Journal

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Moderated by Rudolph Lewis

Rudolph Lewis                                                                                                                                                                               Wilson J. Moses


An Intro

These files were generated (fall 2005) during the aftermath of Katrina  in New Orleans. As many of us became aware of the devastation taken by the flood and the lack of response by government officials, a network of email messages and inquiries began. (Note Arthur Flowers report in his piece Magical Negro The Root.) Hopefully, we did some good. In addition, the particular situation of New Orleans was of national import, for we knew other cities in the North and West were just as vulnerable as New Orleans—economically, socially and politically. Questions were raised about what should be our response to assure that such neglect to our needs never happen again, nationally as well as locally. Clearly, people understood what we were doing had failed us and our vulnerability was ever so apparent. Clarifications were more forthcoming than solutions or group actions. But understanding the field of operation is necessary. What we discussed has been here recorded, sometimes in the form of a dialogue—which has an interesting impact. These individual statements initially were an exchange of email messages, usually responding to statements by others, that I pulled together somewhat arbitrarily into dialogue format. Though these discussion did not lead to direct action, they may remain for sometime a valuable record of where many minds were during the time of a national crisis and they may provide important information and maybe suggestive how some topics and issues should be handled or thought through.—Editor’s Note

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It’s divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] – 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] – 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Abell Report on Under-Funding Baltimore Education (30 December 2005)

The Acklyn Model Not Sufficient (6 October 2005; struggling for our best interests)

Conversation on Black Film (16 October; Spike Lee, As An Act of Protest)

Conversation on ChickenBones Survival (12 November 2005)

Conversations with Miriam (16 September 2005)

Conversations with Miriam and Wilson (1 October; love, revenge, monstrous acts)

Corporate Colony, Civic Virtue (7 October 2005; purple ribbons, organizing the poor)

Death of the Black Church (17 October 2005; liberation of black female religious)

Defining Religion, Describing Religious Practice (19 October 2005)

A Discussion of “The Gift Outright” (28 December 2005)

Egalitarian Slaveowners (4 October; sexual defense of Andy Jackson)

Election Day Returns (9 November 2005; fourth world peoples)

Empowerment Temples & Ideological Orchestrators (29 September; Turner and Walker)

Feel-Good Giving & Capital (11 October; long-range planning)

History, Intellectual Responsibility, & Struggle (16 November 2005)

I Am We (28 September; Huey; David Walker, Nathaniel Turner)

Love Should Deflect Contentment  (2 October; violence, love, oppression, liberation)

The Middle Class, the Poor, & Socialist Joy (16 December 2005)

Parameters of a Black Political Party (23 October; Sharif, Louis, Wilson, John, Floyd, Miriam)

Political Movements, White Issues (5 October; electoral politics, a black party)

Race, Color, Language & Immigration Hysteria

Racism Republican Style: (13 October; role of art and youth in liberation struggle)

Rebuilding New Orleans Who Decides

Responses to Damon Wayans’ Trademarking N-Word

Secretary Condoleezza Rice as President

Should BAM Conference at Howard University Be Boycotted?

Sowell, Marx, & the Sermon on the Mount (29 October; Sowell on Rosa Parks)

Statistics on the Inequities Facing Baltimore’s African-American Youth

The State of HBCUs  (13 December 2005)

Swazi Virgins  (Publish or Not to Publish; 17 October 2005)

What Is the Source of the Dilemma of Black Urban Education?

 Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators (Amin Sharif)

From Revolutionary Suicide

The Defection of Eldridge Cleaver & Reactionary Suicide (30 September; Huey)

I Am We (28 September; Huey)

Manifesto Revolutionary Suicide: The Way of Liberation  (6 October; Huey)

Related files:

America Beyond the Color Line

Amiri Baraka Table 

Bush cronies turning campuses dissent-free

Corporate Plantation: Political Repression and the Hampton Model

The Du Bois-Malcolm-King  

Editor’s Page 

Eldridge Cleaver Table

Fifty Influential Figures 

Howard Protest

Latino Immigrants, Jobs, and Civil Rights 

Living Scripture in Community

Magical Negro: The Root

Myths of Low-Wage Workers  

Old Civil Rights Groups Missing-in-Action

Press Release from United for a Fair Economy

Responses to Skip Gates 

Revolutionary Suicide

Rudy’s Place

Skip Gates and the Talented Fifth 

Social Role of Black Journalism

State of the Dream 

State of Black America  

The State of Black Journalism  

The State of HBCUs

The State of the Dream 2005

State of Black Nation 2005

The Tavis Smiley Presidential Forum

What Would “Dr. Kang” Say?

Which Way Freedom

White Privilege Shapes the U.S.     

Work, Labor & Business

Conversations Table 

created 16 October 2005–A Post-Katrina Response


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baltimore, cleveland, detroit, d.c., new york, milwaukee, newark. . . . the numbers are basically the same. i think rudy puts it best when he says that white americans equate the reconstruction of u.s. cities with a loss of white skin privilege. how to confront this new white racism, this re-invention of white supremacy, is the question. my view is that it can be best approached from the standpoint of an attack on corporate profits. this requires the leadership of a civil rights-centered democratic party. yet the dems are going down just like the labor party in israel—they haven’t been heard from since oslo. i think the dems will perish completely within 5 years. in the meantime, the task is the same: to build a systemic alternative. this, to me, means a total withdrawal of all african americans from the democratic party. the feminists and “organized labor” are not doing it. it should be led by folk like john conyers and cynthia mckinney, barbara lee. i don’t see any alternative at this point. we need a new mississippi freedom party. the basic demands would be: (1) single-payer healthcare system; (2) 30 hour work-week for everyone, zero unemployment; (3) a moratorium on corporate profits, meaning huge progressive taxation at the state level; and (4) a national education funding system in which every district gets exactly the same money. the demands can be met by simply reforming labor law and taxing the hell out of the rich. if the rich don’t like it, we’ll charge them with treason and seize their passports. Jonathan Abell Report on Baltimore Education

*   *   *   *   * A New Era of Public Service

Conversations with Kind Friends 

  Katrina New Orleans Flood Index Strategy Center /

The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund / Common Ground Collective

 Hurricane Katrina Made Me a Better Archaeologist

Global News: Politics—Literature & the Arts

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Rudy, you address an important issue, but we must concentrate on ideologies and institutions, not personalities.   This “emergency” and the need for “emergency relief” will persist beyond our lifetimes, and we must not console ourselves with charitable donations to mere mortals.  We must be selective and systematic when deciding where our limited financial contributions are to be applied.   I am certain that a large portion of whatever we give should go to education, but our “widow’s mites” are too minute to be effective if dissipated indiscriminately among the several educational institutions.  We must contribute only towards the maintenance of viable institutions. 

Furthermore, we cannot entrust limited resources to the Princess Dianas, whose well-meaning efforts invariably divert energy away from ideological issues. We cannot continue to support the Mother Teresas whose charitable efforts divert capital away from fundamental institutional reforms.  That may sound brutal, but I think it necessary to support institutions rather than persons, after ascertaining which institutions are capable of surviving.  We must focus on institution building, rather than sinking capital into a vortex of heroic, but ultimately futile, efforts. 

Feel-Good Giving & Capital

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The inactivity of my peers is very frustrating, but let me provide some reasons, as I see it, as to why this is. Yes, social consciousness certainly isn’t being transmitted from the parents, or for that matter, any other outlet; thankfully I had the parents and grandfather that I have. In any case, it seems the generational gap is too great. I recall speaking with an older gentleman, a community leader, who spoke of his own community’s apathy to anything, but their own struggles. And this can be expected.

However, this gentleman went on to condemn my generation, without thinking of extending his hand to us, providing us with some mentorship perhaps. I spoke of another gentleman as well whose ideology was similar. There is a disconnect, no dialogue between the youngsters and our “elders.” This leaves us susceptible to other messages, particularly “dog eat dog” and materialism.

Education too is at fault. Take the Baltimore City Public Schools as an example, of which I am a graduate. 73% of the student are receiving free or reduced lunch, that’s poverty, and not once were names such as Du Bois uttered, and Baldwin maybe once, with other black leaders getting their token treatment.

One doesn’t learn of the achievements of younger leaders such as Fred Hampton. My generation is expected to take it upon ourselves for this sort of self-education, and this isn’t an excuse, but things aren’t up in our face as they were in the past…its so much more subtle with said education, and one must commit themselves to discovering these subtleties.  Political Movements White Issues

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Well, Rudy, this discussion has forced me to reconsider the resolution of the Colored Convention in Buffalo 1843, when Frederick Douglass suppressed Garnet’s “Address to the Slaves of the United States,” because he wanted to achieve his freedom “in a better way.”  Maybe Douglass was right, maybe not. 

In any case, I have written about the incident in Creative Conflict, and I suppose I shall write about it (certainly think about it) many times in the future.  For the time being, I can say that no, I could not justify killing baby Hitler on the basis of a mystical vision, and yes, I could have justified killing him according to the reasoning of the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed for collaborating in the failed assassination attempt.

Love Should Deflect Contentment

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There are a lot of derogatory racial and gender slurs that make me cringe, such as “bitches” and “hos,” which are used by male & female rappers and in music videos.  Such terms, as well as “nigger” are examples of internalized racism & sexism, low self esteem, and a lack of self respect.  We have some real teaching to do with our young people.  

Like you, I’m disappointed in some of the recent actions of the NAACP as well as recent leadership (Ben Chavis, for example, and even Ben Hooks, a Memphian and long-time friend), but I’m a life member of the NAACP who applauds the historic role of the organization in helping to eradicate lynching, fueling the desegregation movement, spearheading voter registration campaigns in the South, etc. 

We owe a lot to people like Medgar Evers, Daisy Bates, Gloster Current, Constance Motley, and the branch leader in Florida (can’t remember his name but there was a PBS special on him) who worked for years for little money and who was eventually assassinated in the 1950s.  You wrote in one of your messages that the Civil Rights Movement was a middle-class movement.  Not so. 

In Memphis at least it was supported by carpenters, students, housewives, & church folk, who marched, demonstrated, sat in, and went to jail.  Some of the leaders of the CRM came from the middle class, and this had to be because the barbershop owners, ministers, lawyers, insurance salesmen, small business owners, dentists, undertakers, and doctors were the only ones who were “free” (i.e. who made their living from Blacks). And I can tell you that in Memphis we gave our money and laid our lives on the line, big time. The Middle Class the Poor  Socialist Joy

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Dear Rudy, I am not certain on what scale one measures “the best black minds,” but I can assure you that some of the most intelligent black women and men I know are not teaching at HWCUs.  Having vowed to teach at black colleges—although I have taught very briefly at the University of Virginia, Grinnell, and Wayne State and lectured at a number of white colleges, I do not berate my former students who have Ph.D.s for their decision to make their careers at schools that are well-endowed, equipped with up-to-date research materials in their specialties, and often more concerned with productive scholarship than with the quality of one’s teaching. 

Until HBCUs as we know them vanish at some point in the late twenty-first century, it is necessary that some of us who have good minds, good preparation in our disciplines, and a sense of historic responsibility offer students at black colleges the challenge of high academic standards. Otherwise, they will not be prepared for the challenges of graduate studies or the demands of professional schools.  I do know from bitter experience that a number of non-black teachers at HBCUs do not teach well, and I do not bite my tongue when I inform some of them that they are doing a disservice to black students.

I agree with much that you have written about the pettiness that exists among many administrators at HBCUs, but I must disagree with a blanket condemnation of the black professors who chose not to teach at HWCUs.

The State of HBCUs

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Empowerment Temples & Ideological Orchestrators Or Who to Follow: David Walker or Nathaniel Turner

Conversations with Wilson, Miriam,  Kam Hei, Arthur Flowers  Katrina New Orleans Flood Index


Should BAM Conference at Howard University Be Boycotted?

Economic Penalties for Social Activism on College Campuses

Responses by Amiri B, Jonathan, Herbert, Miriam, Rodney, Chuck, Joyce

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Notes of a Neurotic  Writing on Napkins  


Responses to Damon Wayans’ Trademarking N-Word

By Ro Deezy and Dennis Leroy Moore

A Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   Gargles in the Rat Race Choir  

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Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment

What Is the Source of the Dilemma of Black Urban Education?

Social Policy? Class Oppression? Race Prejudice? Lack of Personal Responsibility?

 Responses by Charles, Latorial, Kam, Miriam, Jane, Jeannette, and Rodney


Statistics on the Inequities Facing

Baltimore’s African-American Youth

A Response to Anti-Black Youth Rhetoric

By Rudolph Lewis and Rodney D. Foxworth, Jr

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Secretary Condoleezza Rice as President

The Best Thing for America & the Survival of the Planet?

The Importance of the Presidency with Respect to the Negro

Conversations with Wilson, Ethelbert, Floyd, Jonathan

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A Discussion of “The Gift Outright”

A Poem by the Pulitzer-Winning Poet Robert Frost

Conversations with Kam, Mackie, Jerry, Floyd

Xmas Fifty Years Ago    Devil’s Got a Lien on My Soul

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Political Movements, White Issues

We Must Say No to Electoral Politics

Or the Need for a Black Independent Political Party

Conversations with Rodney, Miriam, Brisbane, Jeannette, Ben


 Katrina & Kalamu: Creating Community in Cyberspace  /  Conversations with Miriam  / Do New Orleans Folk Have a Choice?

Conversation on Black Film

Spike Lee Will Do Film on Katrina Disaster

With Jerry, Miriam, Dennis, Ben, and Herbert

Conversations with Kind Friends  Katrina New Orleans Flood Index


Revolutionary Suicide: The Way of Liberation

The Defection of Eldridge Cleaver & Reactionary Suicide

I Am We

By Huey P. Newton

“Only the People Can Create the Revolution”

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The Acklyn Model Not Sufficient

Or Struggling for Our Best Interests

Conversations with Herbert, Jeannette, Jerry, Brisbane, Miriam

Katrina New Orleans Flood Index   Love Should Deflect Contentment 

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 Conversations with Miriam and Wilson Sufficiency of Love, Spirit of Revenge

Monstrous Acts, Slaughter’s Accomplishments & Topics Related to Nathaniel Turner & Huey P. Newton


Parameters of a Black Political Party

PACs for the Poor — Government Preserves Inequality

Socialism, Youth & Lack of Political Activism

Conversation with Sharif, Yvonne, Louis, Miriam, Wilson, Floyd, John, Ben


Revolutionary Suicide, Huey Speaks

Conversations with Joyce, Miriam & Wilson

Sowell, Marx, & the Sermon on the Mount

Or Politicians Spitting on the Words of the Christ

Conversation with Sowell, Mackie, and Wilson

Death of the Black Church  Defining Religion  Feel-Good Giving & Capital

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

This video chronicles the life and times of the noted African-American historian, scholar and Pan-African activist John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998). Both a biography of Clarke himself and an overview of 5,000 years of African history, the film offers a provocative look at the past through the eyes of a leading proponent of an Afrocentric view of history. From ancient Egypt and Africa’s other great empires, Clarke moves through Mediterranean borrowings, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonization, the development of the Pan-African movement, and present-day African-American history.

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The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

By  Ilan Pappe

It is amazing, according to Pappe, how the media had not managed to see the similarities between the ethnic cleansing that was happening in Bosnia with the one that is happening in Palestine. According to Drazen Petrovic (pg.2-3), who has dealt with the definition of ethnic cleansing, ethnic cleansing is associated with nationalism, the making of new nation states and national struggle all of which are the driving force within the Zionist ideology of Israel. The consultancy council had used the exact same methods as the methods that were later to be used by the Serbs in Bosnia. In fact Pappe argues that such methods were employed in order to establish the state of Israel in 1948.

The book is divided into 12 chapters with 19 illustrations in black and white, with 7 maps of Palestine and 2 tables. These include old photographs of refugee camps, and maps of Palestine before and after the ethnic cleansing of 1948. Pappe continues his writing as a revisionist historian with the intention of stating the bitter truth to his Israeli contemporaries and the fact that they have to face the truth of their nation being built upon an ethnic cleansing of the population of Palestine. One can sense an optimistic hope in Pappe’s writing when he talks about the few who are in Israel who are aware of their country’s brutal past especially 1948 and the foundation of the state upon ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.—PaLint

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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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 30 May 2009 




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