Economic status of African Americans

Economic status of African Americans


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



African Americans rush impatiently to “problem solving” with their typically American

“can do” attitude.  Yes, Ralph Ellison and E. Franklin Frazier were right,

black Americans always unconsciously betray their Americanism



Economic status of African Americans‏

A discussion with Wilson Moses and Lloyd D. McCarthy



Dear Rudy

I too endorse analysis, as so wisely recommended by Lloyd D. McCarthy, but much analysis is premature.  Furthermore, many authors confuse “analysis” with “synthesis,” both are essential but they are very different.  Many problem-solvers furthermore confuse “analysis” with theoretical framework.  Americans are congenital problem-solvers, and always rush towards solutions, before fully problematizing an issue.  African Americans are what Albert Murray called “Omni-Americans,” and, predictably, share with George Bush the cultural tendency to be contemptuous of “navel gazing.”  Like the protagonist of Saul Bellow’s Henderson, the Rain King, African Americans rush impatiently to “problem solving” with their typically American “can do” attitude.  Yes, Ralph Ellison and E. Franklin Frazier were right, black Americans always unconsciously betray their Americanism,  especially when their touchingly beautiful and heroic black consciousness is highest and most assertive. 

Let’s stop proposing theoretical frameworks for a season, and concentrate on facing the brutal facts before embarking on analysis, or synthesis, or problem solving.  This process of accepting brutal facts will require the thoroughly un-American virtue of patience, along with much unhappy and tedious labor.  Most formulae that are currently presented by well-meaning contemporary Brothers and Sisters are flawed by impatience, and haste, leading to a “magpies nest” of schemes informed by incomplete knowledge of our past, and a failure to engage in the painful and pessimist appraisal of black traditions, that Harold Cruse advised in his flawed, but brilliant masterpiece The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.   His central advisory was overlooked. What he said was:  Declare a moratorium on theory until you have studied our own past. McCarthy is correct.  The black bourgeoisie are often venal and feckless, but they are not the source of, nor can they provide the solution to, the problems that beset the black populations of the United States, or the world political economy. 

When discussing the black worker, beware of terms such as “productive capacity,” which is nothing more than business school jargon.  It is only a euphemism for depressed wages.  The fat cat mathematical model of Wall Street defines “productive capacity” solely in terms of how much can be extracted from a worker’s back at the lowest wages. 

Globalization has been the issue since the 1500s.  It has involved not only African slaves and Native-American peasants, but also displaced European agricultural workers, and exploited Asian workers.  Revolutionary solutions must be formulated globally, and regional nationalisms and ethnocentrisms are universal components of, although not fundamental causes of, global economic problems. 

Anyone who looks at the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim nations situated on the Arabian peninsula, must consider that the nationalistic fragmentation of the region since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire—including the region once called Palestine—is the source of many modern problems.  Jews, Muslims, and Christians have all spread nationalistic and religious poison in that corner of the globe and the rest of us must suffer because of their theocratic superstitions and ancient nationalistic ambitions.   I would encourage black folk to avoid the suicidal tar pit of nationalism.

In my most recent book, Creative Conflict in African American Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2004).  I pointed out, with reservations, the validity of E. Franklin Frazier’s Black Bourgeoisie, but also stressed the necessity of understanding the tradition to which it belongs.   It is also essential to read the two articles that Frazier wrote on Marcus Garvey during the 1920s.  Frazier, E. Franklin,  “Garvey: A Mass Leader,”  Nation (18 August, 1926), 147-48.  Frazier, E. Franklin.  “The Garvey Movement,” Opportunity (November, 1926), 346-48.  Also essential is August Meier’s famous chapter on “Booker T. Washington and the Talented Tenth.”  These are fundamental to an understanding of Frazier’s ideas, which derive from those of Louis Woodson in the 19th century and Carter G. Woodson in the 20th, as mentioned in note below.

In my book, Creative Conflict, I wrote the following:  “While studying briefly in Washington, D.C., Booker T. had the opportunity to witness the flow of cash through the black community as “young men who were not earning more than four dollars a week spend two dollars or more for a buggy on Sunday to ride up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, in order that they might try to convince the world that they were worth thousands.”  [page 172, footnote, 1] [footnote, 1] Ironically, E. Franklin Frazier, who was among Washington’s most hostile detractors, later published Black Bourgeoisie (1957) which was practically an extended footnote to Booker T’s castigation of the black petit bourgeoisie.   See, for example, Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, reprinted in Harlan. ed., Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 1., p. 261. Frazier also repeated ideas that had earlier appeared in Carter G. Woodson, The Miseducation of the Negro (Washington; Associated Publishers, 1933).  Woodson, unlike Frazier, admitted his debt to Washington. [This footnote has been revised and expanded].

Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Author of Creative Conflict

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Greetings Bro. Rudy,

As you have already discerned, some of these studies on the status of the Black economy is woefully short on analysis. They provide very little by way of critical explanation regarding why Blacks are far behind in the American Economic system.

I find the work of Franklin Frazier of Baltimore and former Howard University Sociologist and Dept Chair, conducted in the 1950s still relevant. The short title of his (1957) study is entitled, Black Bourgeoisie.

To broaden the perspective of his study, one could also look at Andre Gunder Frank’s “Lumpen Bourgeoisie” 1970, on Latin America.

For more recent analysis,  examine the “Hu Run” study on the rapid rise in the number of “Communist” China’s billionaires.

I am also sure that there is a host of other works that can be used to fill in the blanks to look at the Black  economy critically in the national, regional and global context.

The findings will no doubt show that African American workers, like the horde of workers and peasants world wide have increased their productive capacity and economic output under the current economic system. Yet, their condition, social and economic, is becoming worse—as they are pushed to greater wretchedness and poverty while the owners of property and capital (the propertied class) accumulates more . . . and more.

The Black Bourgeoisie, in their own scheme to accumulate more at the expense of the African American community seems to provide leadership so far as it allows them to mediate as patrons to the black majority, on behalf of those who exploit the community in the most barefaced and criminal manner.

I am in Raleigh, NC, and here I see Black Church leaders building huge church buildings, etc., no doubt with “Faith Based Initiative Funds.” I see Black professionals providing privatized social services, of a lower quality, designed in a fashion to provide more wealth to the contractors/consultants and owners of private social service companies, but less service and helpful uplift to the poor that they claim to serve.

Thus, the lumpen-black-bourgeoisie preys upon the black community, as the lumpens in Latin America and Communist China are exploiting their own. Indeed in the Black Diaspora as well. This compounds the problem of exploitation by international capital. The status of Black Community underdevelopment and poverty can be explained within this context. 

Peace, Lloyd D. McCarthy

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With slight breezes scattering brown leaves on the lawn, today is sunny and in the mid-70s—shirt sleeve fall weather. The tree leaves colors are brilliant. It’s a beautiful day, though we are slightly annoyed with a plague of black spotted orange beetles flying about. Clothes are drying on the line near the garden. Windows and doors have been opened to enjoy the warm sunshine. My aunt has received four large heads of collards from her sister’s garden. Mama (96) seems calm and more in her right mind today. Yesterday she complained from early morning until night about a conjure woman in her room and animals sucking her flesh. She said conjure is conjure but poisoning is something else altogether. You just can’t put everybody’s food in your mouth. Today she slept until after midday.

All seems right with the world, more or less. People go about their affairs quite normally. There is no panic on foreclosures or America becoming fascist. There are more complaints about family members than Bush and his two political parties.

Here’s what troubles me. Our Negro experts (including sociologists, psychologists, and pollsters) seldom give credit to the greater numbers of blacks who try very very hard to improve their lives intellectually and economically and to attend to their familial responsibilities. However hard they work to struggle against the odds and the social and economic walls, all of that is ignored to indicate that Negroes have not caught up to artificial standards and norms because of some inadequacy (moral, intellectual, or otherwise). It’s a centuries old tale—those who commerce in the pathologies of the Negro always get the headlines. People allow that race and racism play a role—that they are genuine traps and barriers to progress. But that perspective is discounted for an emphasis on the Negro’s personal lacking of character, e.g., a failure of personal responsibilities, as if such failures are not generally human and often occur across the board, to one degree or another. There is little regard given to the work and discipline put into day-to-day life (the human struggle for existence) despite the racial (not racist) attitudes and contexts which make a frustrating difference in America life not only when it comes time to make up the statistics of comparison, but in the general day-to-day social and economic operations within our society. These critics are rather socially blind when it comes to such acknowledgements. Seldom is there genuine applause and appreciation for the little guys below (be they white, black, brown, or yellow)—their challenges, their victories, however small, in the context of rising economic production and decreasing wages. One has to make it really big like entertainers or athletes to receive slight regard. Those celebrated athletes and entertainers (many who come from the lower echelons of black society) are probably deserving of criticisms in reference to their lack of social conscience receive however a deluge of ethical and social complaints, concerning their dress, the company they keep, the way they wear their hair, how they paint their bodies. The discipline, hard work (intellectual and physical), the focus, the denials in order to achieve superiority in their fields of endeavor, all those features of character are glossed over. The emphasis of the Negro experts is that they still have not fully assimilated culturally on the high end. Recall the Mike Vick Case. Of course, we know, those are all false (“white”) markers of civil propriety.

But this constant complaint against those who are nearest the great numbers of our children—parents and neighbors—their lack of recognition and regard is an insidious attack on black integrity in general. I hear post-modern echoes of Alexander Crummell in this species of cultural criticism, as in his characterization of freed slaves as culturally depraved. Of course Crummell did not see this depravity as innate, but rather derived from the evil economic system in which the Negro was entrapped, an economic system which had respect neither for their minds nor their souls. Both then and now these are problems of ideology from above and without rather than sympathy and close observation of daily life from within or from below. But these superior tones (a la Anglo-Saxonism) bring us no closer to the truth and beauty of the lives of working men and women than gangster hip hop lyrics.

I do not like this continuing portrait of the Negro on the whole characterized as a PROBLEM (or a cancer) in American civil society and democracy. Worse I do not like that so many black-on-black experts (a la Judas Shinola Bottom, employed by noted Republicans) participate in this cultural con game. The I-am-more-civilized-than-you ploy should have ended with the lessons learned in the downfall of colonialism but it is constantly still strutted out by contemporary arbiters of taste.

Life indeed may be bleak and may get bleaker. But let it not be said that the majority of blacks did not work with all the energy their hearts and souls could master to do their best in and on the playing fields laid out by their betters. Let it not be said that they did not or have not creatively work to make the burdensome world they inherited a better one. Let us have some grace if we are must suffer.

However the Negro has come up short, lay the blame elsewhere, such as on those who were or are running the con game of global business and profits at others expense with their own special set of rules and ethics, backed up by national armies, like aggressive mortgage brokers or global financial houses. Those for which governments were established (the rich and powerful) have always sought scapegoats for their  depravity. I would not be surprised, at all, if someone is writing right now a “white” paper on how the Negro should be blamed for the declining dollar—Rudy

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Dear Professor M.:

I find your response quite interesting, and so, I wish to comment further. . . .

While, I am not a student of E. Franklin Frazier, nor a sociologist, or even consider myself to be a “Writer,”  after examining Frazier’s  opus and drawing upon my own experience  and common sense, I find a great deal of similarities in Frazier’s conclusion of the lumpen-bourgeoisie and  my own. Of course, as a workingman, I arrived at my assessment based on encounters with that class, long before Frazier’s research came to my attention. I also find Frazier’s “expanded footnote” quite useful.

Frazier has made a contribution from the field of sociology, complementing those from other fields, such as history and political science.  Let’s add to this lot, the artist, whose expressions are not influenced by the milieu of the class in question.  And, yes, of course, the everyday encounters of the black underclass with the “black lumpen-bourgeois” have provided a wealth of knowledge about race-class relations in the American society.

Additionally, to further understand, in the most basic manner, how the average black workingman or woman is treated by the black bourgeoisie, all that is needed, is to put on, or take off, a jacket- n- tie, and exchange it with the blue-collar suit, then walk into their business or government office of the, average, black bourgeoisie.

With that stated, I wish to examine in a rudimentary, but, important, manner some of your points, as follows:

“I too endorse analysis, as so wisely recommended by Lloyd D. McCarthy, but much analysis is premature.” 

What analysis is premature? Measurements and estimations are very important in everyday life, in struggle, as well as in capitalist society. The class of traders and financiers measure everything and charges for imperceptible fraction of percentages, projected into decades, to accumulate, based on their estimates. To bring about meaningful change in society competent study (analysis) by progressive elements is a pre-requisite, a necessity, which is far from being premature.

What analysis is premature?  Is the analysis of the historical development of African America society, as it interacts with white-racist-capitalist society over the last 500 years pre-mature? Or is the study of the relations between social classes in society premature? The status of the black underclass or the underclass, period, is defined by class relations and the analysis of such relations need sound analysis. Thus, this is not about analyzing text, but social classes and their relations.

“Many authors confuse ‘analysis’ with ‘synthesis.’”

I will not dispute this statement. In fact, I agree.  As I am sure you will no doubt glean, that this is not a fundamental issue for the black underclass or the oppressed in society, who are struggling to relieve themselves of their oppressive conditions. It is only a problem for the privilegentsia who writes profusely to defend class society and the status quo— they are avid advocates (as far as change to benefit the poor are concerned) of “let nature” or “let God.” The oppressed in society is concerned about “research methods” so far as it is used to oppress them or to extricate them from under the heels of their oppressors—a primary outcome of privilegentsia research (analysis/synthesis) in class and racist society is the former use.

“African Americans rush impatiently to ‘problem solving’ with their typically American ‘can do’ attitude.”

The African-American underclass is impatiently seeking relief from the oppression that they face in the American Society, in multiple layers.  They are oppressed as a race and they are oppressed as a class. In contrast, the black-lumpen-bourgeoisie, as a class, is motivated and driven by the dominant values in the society. Consequently, they are as competitive as any white-American male, they firmly believe in the idea of survival of the fittest  and vigorously ‘problem solve’ with the ‘American can do’ attitude to survive in the American society at the expense of the weakest, but strengthening, underclass in the American society and globally. Since 1946 American capitalism has provided a wider bridge, accommodating them, for internal/global exploitation.

“Let’s stop proposing theoretical frameworks for a season, and concentrate on facing the brutal facts before embarking on analysis, or synthesis, or problem solving.”

 The black underclass and the global oppressed know, quite well, the brutal facts of life in society, which is “No society can survive if it cannot procure the fundamental means of life—food shelter, clothing.” The majority of the world’s natural resources are now owned by a few. The products of the worker’s labor are owned by the same few, with minimal returns going back to the worker.

 Progressive minds need good theory to understand the development of society in order to time, and bring about the changes necessary for the survival of mankind in a society dominated by greed, deception and massive exploitation. We are surrounded by the ‘brutal facts’—environmental degradation, poverty, desperation. These are all well known!

“Most formulae that are currently presented by well-meaning contemporary Brothers and Sisters are flawed by impatience, and haste, leading to a “magpies nest” of schemes informed by incomplete knowledge of our past.”

 I can only respond to this statement by repeating my above comment, “let nature” or “let God” is not a solution to the problem confronted by the black or the global underclass. Additionally, for the theological minded, I say that “only God have complete knowledge of our past.”

Further, if the “Brothers and Sisters were not impatient and in haste,” to reclaim their humanity and to demand a better society, then I would have to say to them: “well, lift your worthless hand, cast your lazy-eye upon heaven, curse God with your foul-lip for your miserable life, then fall down and die!”

Fortunately, many of our ancestors left us with a historical legacy for which we can be proud. Among these are: the underground railroad, the Haitian revolution, the civil rights movement, the plethora of slave uprisings in the Americas that has never ceased since the first slaves arrived in the Americas. These strugglers rejected the idea of waiting for “God’s,” intervention, the kindness of the slave-masters or for the attainment of perfect knowledge about how to struggle.

History has also shown that the European, American or the Asian bourgeoisie did not wait for complete knowledge about their past, before they acted to liberate themselves.

  “Declare a moratorium on theory until you have studied our own past”

As J. Sakai in Settlers (1989) pointed out, It is not “Ourstory” that we do not know it is “HiStory.” I commend the work being done in reclaiming African history and development’s in Africana Studies. Yet, as Sakai correctly suggested, we should understand these patronage-programs in academia in the context of classical jujitsu—“study your history, not ours.”


Peace, Lloyd D. McCarthy “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do make it under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.”

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Lloyd, I think that both you and Wilson are in agreement with respect to the black petty bourgeoisie. His criticism is rather subtle and I think he had other things in mind than your response. For instance there are those who wear what may seem to some radical masks, like Pan Africanism, black nationalism, and Afrocentrism, but who are indeed rather black conservatives.  You recall the case of the Ghanaian and his views on Mugabe, who in many ways is not unlike Kwame Nkrumah whom he admires.

I shared with Wilson recently a piece by a Dr. So-And-So (with an African name) who was throwing ice cold water on the effort of the Jena March in Jena because their protest used “white” facilities in order to get there. And thus concluded “protest” was “reactionary” and that a Buy Black program was what was needed. Then there was the recent speech of Rev. Farrakhan who has returned to his mentor’s position of black separatism; that is, the American government should give blacks land and finance that new country for 25 years.

So there is a lot of nonsense sheistering going on. Of course, I do not know Wilson’s mind but he might have had these instances and others before him when he spoke of “analysis,” “synthesis,” “impatience,” “problem-solving.” Taking just those instances above I think you will more readily favor the way he cast his argument.

Further, I think he would not disagree with anything you have recently written on the problem—the position of the working classes and the need to redress their grievances. But there are so many charlatans and demagogues out here masking as black spokespersons (from the left and the right) who are strutting out time worn solutions that will not address the urgent problems of our time. They may mask themselves in broad masses racial rhetoric but in fact are really interested in their narrow and personal interests. 

Wilson seems to caution us in joining or jumping on every bandwagon that has (red-black-and-green flags) that comes into the community or those who make use of authoritarian names as a mean to boost or bolster their argument or recommendations. He recommends study and some reserve in our theoretical response to the Negro’s dilemma. That seems rather a sound stance, though some may view it as a conservative one. But it is not a political conservatism as the ones I listed previously. It is rather the skepticism of the scholar. In that I can find no fault—Rudy

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Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth —Last week, the Pew Research Center published the astonishing finding that 37 percent of African-Americans polled felt that “blacks today can no longer be thought of as a single race” because of a widening class divide. From Frederick Douglass to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the most fundamental assumption in the history of the black community has been that Americans of African descent, the descendants of the slaves, either because of shared culture or shared oppression, constitute “a mighty race,” as Marcus Garvey often put it.  “By a ratio of 2 to 1,” the report says, “blacks say that the values of poor and middle-class blacks have grown more dissimilar over the past decade. In contrast, most blacks say that the values of blacks and whites have grown more alike.” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. NYTimes

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The Good Times Roll, for Some—In the upper echelons of society, these are halcyon days for African-American achievement. Never before have so many blacks reached the highest levels of government, business, media, entertainment and sports. At the same time, however, the success of people such as Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington and Tiger Woods has masked a troubling trend. Reports last week from the Pew Research Center documented extensive downward mobility among the sons and daughters of the black middle class: 45% of black children from those families end up “near poor,” Pew reported. The comparable number for white familiesis 16%. . . . . Too few African-Americans benefit from that trend: The percentage of married blacks in their 30s plunged from 68% in 1969 to 42% in 1998. (Whites have also experienced a decline in marriage rates across generations, but from considerably higher starting points.) Moreover, nearly 70% of black babies are born out of wedlock, up from about 25% in the mid-1960s. Any discussion of the class divide that ignores family factors ignores a root cause.Yahoo

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Who’s Got Wealth?—Black households were especially unlikely to hold financial assets such as stocks and bonds. In 2004, the average financial wealth of black households (as shown in Table 5.6, fourth panel) was only 15% of the average financial wealth for white households, an increase from 12% in 2001. The median financial wealth for blacks (as shown in the last panel of Table 5.6) was just $300, less than 1% of the corresponding figure for whites. The vast and lasting disparity in the distribution of wealth between blacks and whites is indicative of the lasting legacy of discrimination. To summarize, the data on net worth reveal a highly unequal distribution of wealth by class, which has been further exacerbated by race. A significant share of the population has little or no net worth, while, over the last 40 years at least, the wealthiest 20% has consistently held over 80% of all wealth and the top 1% has controlled at least a third. There is no reason to believe these wealth disparities will lessen anytime soon.” The State of Working America

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Manipulating Global Markets—the Falling Dollar

The inflation of oil prices is merely the index of a more important problem, the general weakening of the dollar. . . . Foreign countries may accelerate the process, already in motion, of dumping dollars, and switching to some other currency for international trade.  As the dollar loses its status as the world’s most stable currency, it will become impossible for a newly-elected Democratic Party to borrow money from other countries to run the United States government.  The Democrats would have the alternatives of either raising taxes, thus assuring the death of their party, or shutting down the government. . . . This predicament could lead to the destruction of the two-party system, followed by a tremendous Constitutional crisis and ultimately a military dictatorship in the United States.—Wilson

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I have not yet measured the full gravity of the national crisis, it seems. Gas prices are tied to the price of barrels of oil (now near $100 a barrel), most of us believed. Gas prices are now only around $3 a gallon, in some places less. But that does not make sense. Last July when gas went above $3 a gallon, the price per barrel was around $60. That does not make proportional sense. The price of gas here goes up daily, which makes people think gas stations are gouging.

It seems there need to be a popular course in practical business and economics. But everything is so obfuscated on the news and talk programs, no one can make sense of what is going at all. There’s the belief it is as usual, a temporary condition.

Moreover, I thought that the Chinese would always be there to protect their own investment in the US economy so that our borrowing from them would go on rather indefinitely. Maybe their business sense is much more practical and that they know indeed when to cash in. There are possible other willing investors in the US economy, which is one if not the largest market in the world.

We have never known a time when the dollar lost its respect and magic worldwide. If there was a fall, there was usually a bounce back within a year. But from what you are suggesting that this time it might indeed be more critical and that structural changes might be necessary to maintain law and order and political stability.

Still I find the whole idea of an unconcealed military dictatorship in the USA mind boggling, inconceivable, and unnecessary—the American public is as pliable as it has ever been. Last night I did hear conservative—talking heads insist that stability was better than Democracy.

But if it is true that the future Democrats will not be able “to run the government,” make its payment to employees and citizens (social security, Medicare, etc.), I can see a not-so pliable, angry, and disappointed citizenry. But that would only create mass support for a tax hike on the rich, with a significant number of Republicans joining in.— Rudy

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Dollar supremacy is an artificial structure that decades ago lost its usefulness to global capitalism, and now serves only the “national” (state) interests of the U.S. and as a weapon of the U.S.-led imperial apparatus. Post WWII, dollar supremacy served to stabilize capitalist recovery in Europe, Japan and elsewhere. Now the artificial edifice actually hinders global productive forces, that is, dollar supremacy is an ever-growing tax on and impediment to every other nation’s economic, social and political potential. For this reason, it MUST collapse, if only because capitalist elites around the planet can no longer tolerate or support it. However, the process of extricating one’s economy from the web of dollar-based relationships is excruciating and uneven, and will be punctuated with all manner of crises, military and economic (it’s hard to separate the two).

We are in the midst of the unraveling, at the end of which process lies the death of U.S. Imperialism, although not necessarily global capitalism. The “punctuations” of war may yet prove fatal to humanity since, just as during the Fifties and Sixties the (white) Americans declared they would “rather be Dead than Red,” they cannot envision a world in which American Manifest Destiny goes into the dustbin.

Here at home, our prospects for “normal” lives will be savaged – which is why it is most important to build defensive structures and strategies for inexorable decline in living standards and inevitable collapse of the huge sectors of the U.S. domestic economy that are directly dependent on Imperialism, a system that is now based solely on dollar supremacy and military coercion.—Thus sayeth Glenathustrah

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Well, I’d ask Glen a couple of questions, maybe out of ignorance.     Is it possible the sinking value of the dollar is giving a shot in the arm to U.S. exports, and if so, how does that square with dollar imperialism?     And isn’t China, holding all that U.S. currency in its central bank, and dependent on the U.S. market, going to have to take steps to prop up the dollar enough to slow its decline?    Actually, a third question occurs to me to pose for Glen. As it becomes apparent that we’ve already hit peak oil and the price goes up in relation to dwindling demand, what’s that going to do to the dollar? As I understand it, oil sales are generally denominated in dollars. So will some other currency replace the dollar, and before something like that happens, isn’t it going to be inflationary as all hell? I don’t mean to wander too far afield here, but this question is really bugging me.—David

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Dear David,  just some brief responses, since I’m way behind deadline.

There should be some growth in U.S. exports due to the falling dollar, and in fact modest increases have already been recorded in some sectors. This is to be expected based on simplistic notions of economy – that there is a neutral, “invisible hand” – but it’s a minor and transient aspect of the larger picture. Please understand that the people that RULE the U.S. are not much interested in promoting exports, but in manipulating global markets and money. Otherwise, they would not have spent the last three-plus decades denuding the U.S. of export capacity.

These true rulers are multi-national players in finance and the creation of unfair markets through rigged trade arrangements and/or military coercion. They will not allow the global “race to the bottom” to be substantially interrupted by growth in U.S. high-wage (relatively, even now) production. Do not expect any serious or lasting institutional support for U.S. manufacturing exports – no matter what the “logic” of the market says. (The real logic decreed that these criminals should have disappeared long ago. Imperialism was erected to insulate them from actual market forces.)

China’s policies should be seen in geopolitical as well as Chinese domestic terms. My own belief is that the Chinese Communist Party has been telling itself for decades that they will turn on the U.S.-based economic matrix “when the time is right.” Well, if they are looking for some easy exit, the time will never be right. Extrication will cause excruciating pain to everyone, and the Chinese are in no position to mediate, or even in the long term mitigate, the crisis of U.S. Imperial capitalism. They are already taking unprecedented steps to divest themselves of a “balanced” measure of U.S. financial instruments – as they must, since almost everyone else is doing (or preparing to do) the same. The Chinese are not supermen, and cannot act like Atlas, holding up the (dollar dominated) world order while it becomes increasingly imbalanced by imbedded contradictions coming home to roost.

Regarding dollar-denominated oil: every oil-producing nation has long sought ways to escape this trap, which constantly loses them return on their principle resource. They have cautiously created limited “market baskets” for some oil-related exchanges, while futilely searching for a way around going cold-turkey. This is especially painful for states governed by elites that are heavily invested in the U.S. and/or militarily dependent on Washington (Gulf states). But the slow-motion collapse of the dollar forces their hands, nonetheless. The “transition” from dollars – if jittery foreign elites had their way – would be gradual, and is in fact underway, unevenly. However, “punctuations” in the “equilibrium” ALWAYS upset everyone’s plans. Since dollar-domination (at whatever relative currency value) is central to U.S. rulers, they will intervene by all means necessary to halt the process. Who knows what will set off an acceleration of the inexorable decline? Could it be a total withdrawal of Venezuela from the dollar-denominated oil game (Venezuela is about to officially announce that its reserves are the largest in the world), or a U.S. strike against Venezuela, or Iran? Believe me, the Imperialists are more confused than you think you are. But they will ACT.

“Peak oil” doesn’t alter fundamental contradictions; it simply exacerbates them. Follow the contradictions, not the transitory by-products. And prepare for the unknowable.—Sincerely, Glen Ford 

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Two Million Homeowners Are Too Many to Fail: We Need Action—Single women, young couples, Latinos and African Americans were particular targets of aggressive mortgage brokers. The brokers didn’t care if the loan made sense because they sold it off immediately to the financial houses. And they had a big incentive to hide the fees and interest rate jumps because those made the loans worth more when sold. Now new homeowners who have kept up their payments are facing foreclosure. Citibank warns that it is too big to fail, that the Treasury must act to bail out the banks. But 2 million homeowners are too many to fail; they will take down our economy if they do. So it is time to challenge the timidity and the cribbed imaginations in Washington and to demand action before the crisis brings down the entire economy. We need action to postpone all resets for those who have maintained their payments.— Jesse Jackson Sun Times.

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Race or Over-Reaching or Gullibility or All Three?—Study after study show that minorities are more likely than whites to get subprime mortgages, which are high-cost loans made to people with poor credit. In its heyday earlier this decade, the subprime market was cheered as an avenue through which historically shut-out borrowers could get loans. That frequently meant minorities. So long as home prices rose, the subprime market seemed a positive example of how to increase home ownership, but as the housing market weakened this year, many began to question whether the loans were fairly priced. In September, the Federal Reserve released a study that found 52.8 percent of African-Americans got a high-cost home loan when they refinanced in 2006, compared to 37.7 percent of Latinos and just 25.7 percent of whites in the same year. A similar study by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known by its acronym ACORN, in September found the same pattern even when income was equal.— Yahoo

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Obama and Black America Unconditional, unrequited love?—By Kevin Alexander Gray—2 September 2011—For all Americans, the average life expectancy is 78 years and two months according to the Centers for Disease Control. But for black Americans life expectancy is 74 years and three months—for black women it’s 76.8 years, and black men 70.2 years. If Commission members had their way the retirement age for full benefits would be raised to 69 from 67 by 2075. Obviously, black males would be the biggest losers in such a setup, literally working till death. At the moment, one in five blacks has no health insurance, compared to 12 percent of whites. And insurance companies routinely reject covering former inmates with the claim that they come from an “at-risk population.” One in seven African Americans is out of work—the highest in nearly a quarter century. More than two out of ten African Americans—and three out of ten black children— live in poverty. For every dollar of wealth owned by the typical white family, the typical family of color owns only sixteen cents, according to a study published last March by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development entitled ”Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America’s Future.” Nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debts exceed all their assets. The median wealth for single black women is only $100, for single Hispanic women, $120. This compares to just over $41,000 for single white women. About a third of single Hispanic women and one-fourth of single black women have no checking or savings account. Overall, blacks continue to earn far less than whites. The median annual income for a black household in 2009, the most recent year statistics were available, was $33,463 while for whites it was $54,671.—


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Speak My Name

Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream

Edited by Don Belton

It is rare in America for African-American men to have the opportunity to express who they are, what they think, or how they feel. As the nemesis in the American psyche, they have been silenced by an image that is at once celebrated and maligned. In this first anthology of contemporary African-American men’s writing, black men share their experiences as the revered and reviled of America. Through the voices of some of today’s most prominent African-American writers, including August Wilson, John Edgar Wideman, Derrick Bell, and Walter Mosley, Speak My Name explores the intimate territory behind the myths about black masculinity. These intensely personal essays and stories reveal contemporary black men from the vantage point of their own lives – as men with proper names, distinctive faces, and strong family ties.

Writing about everything from “How it Feels to Be a Problem” to relationships between fathers and sons, these men reveal to us both great courage and in an amazing love for each other and themselves. In a stunning tribute to a centuries-old brotherhood of heroes, black men come together to challenge America finally to see them as individuals, to hear their long-silenced voices—to speak their names.

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This diverse anthology, mainly of original essays, serves as an excellent counterpoint to media stereotypes of black men. Topics include black male images, relations with women, family life and heroism. Some favorites: soft-voiced scholar Robin D.G. Kelley recounts how his newly shaved head scared people; novelist Randall Kenan recalls a mysterious, kind and loving mentor; Quinn Eli faces the tendency of black men to accuse black women of not being supportive; filmmaker Isaac Julien and poet Essex Hemphill debate whether black unity can include gay men; novelist Walter Mosley muses about why his PI protagonist, Easy Rawlins, needs the backup of the remorseless killer Mouse to survive in an oppressive world. Belton, a former reporter for Newsweek who teaches at Macalester College, contributes his own touching effort, which treats the gap between himself and the ghetto-trapped nephew he loves.—Publishers Weekly

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Black masculinity has built and shaped America. It is an old story which our fathers taught us; it is measured by their quiet dignity as well as their fears. What is heroic about Speak My Name is the fact that the contributors are men who decided to become writers. They all made the decision to use words instead of fists. They are writers shaped by the 1960s, like Arthur Flowers, who writes:

And, understand, the 60s were more than street battles or sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, the 60s were about commitment. We cared. We tried. It was important (and do-able) for us to make a better world. It was important to save the race. And it still is.

While our society still attempts to come to grips with the lyrics of tappers, Don Belton’s book is a gift which offers insight into how a few Black men think and feel. For sisters who are still waiting to exhale, it serves as testimony that there are good men in the world and we only have to speak their names.

Belton’s purpose for editing the volume was to “experience a richer sense of community and communion among other Black male writers.” This is evident in the interview conducted by Lewis Edwards of Albert Murray. Here, a young writer sits at the feet of an elder with an acknowledgment of inheritance and a respect for tradition. When Murray (author of The Omni-Americans and Train Whistle Guitar) talks about his friendship with Ralph Ellison during their days at Tuskegee, he conveys to Edwards how two Black men enjoyed reading and developing their intellect.

Speak My Name , according to Belton, is structured in “jazz music’s compositional model of theme and variation, giving my contributors a series of extended solos that develop toward visions of masculinity as a struggle for hope.” Belton divides his book into five sections, although these categories are unnecessary. One can enjoy the entire volume the way one appreciates the old Ornette Coleman “Free Jazz” album; just open the door to the studio and let the brothers play. The music will find its own center.—

Black Issues in Higher Education, March 7, 1996 by E. Ethelbert Miller—FindArticles 

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Race Men

By Hazel V. Carby

Carby compares Toussaint L’Ouverture, the ex-slave who liberated Haiti from the French in the 19th century, to Trinidadian writer C.L.R. James, whose Marxist interpretation of the Haitian Revolution, the Black Jacobins, unveiled the complexities of colonialism, class, and the sexist aspects of radical black leadership. She discusses jazz icon Miles Davis‘s quest for freedom and his misogynistic persona articulated in his autobiography, then praises science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany’s Motion of Light in Water as “an effective counterpoint to Miles … a magnificent attempt to reject the socially created obstacles separating desire from its material achievement, and in the process demolishing and transcending the limitations of heterosexual norms.”  Indeed, for Carby the major flaw of race men is that their upholding of “the race” does not prominently address the concerns of African American women as well.—Eugene Holley Jr.

In a discussion of “The Body and Soul of Modernism” Carby reads Nicolas Murray’s nude photographs of Paul Robeson, as well as black male nudes by other European and American artists, and argues that for these modernists the black male body represented “essentialized masculinity.” However, because the black subject was unable to “gaze back at the viewer,” these photographic texts reproduced “the unequal relation of power and subjection of their historical moment” in the early twentieth century. Carby also discusses Robeson’s roles in Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones and All God’s Chillun Got Wings, concluding that, in contrast to the character Robeson portrays in Oscar Micheaux‘s film Body and Soul, O’Neill utilized a “strategy of inwardness” to present racialized emotional conflicts for Robeson’s character, rather than outward resistance and rebellion. Carby’s notes that, with his expanding political consciousness and increased commitment to the advancement of the working classes worldwide in the 1930s, Robeson rejected these types of roles. Unfortunately, how these ideological changes were reflected in Robeson’s racial consciousness (was Robeson a “race man”?) are left unexplored.

Carby describes the authentic and inauthentic nature of the relationship between ex-convict and folk singer Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter and folklorist John Lomax and his son Alan. She believes that this unusual partnership demonstrated an attempt to use “the aesthetics of the folk” to create a “fictive ethnicity of blackness” that allowed the incorporation of potentially threatening black males into the national community. For C. L. R. James the cricket field in England’s colonial territories not only was the space where “ideologies of masculinity” were put to the test, but also was “the battleground out of which nationhood . . . [had to] be forged.” Carby argues that in James’s Beyond the Boundary (1963) and the novel Minty Alley (1936), “intellectual practice, racial politics, and cricket were . . . unquestioningly imagined within a discourse of autonomous, patriarchal masculinity.” In Black Jacobins(1938) James posits the existence of a “revolutionary black manhood that, both individually and collectively, gives birth to an independent black nation state.”—

African American Review, Fall, 2000 by V.P. Franklin, FindArticles

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Relevant Links: Many Blacks Earn Less than Parents Did / Economic Mobility  / Two Million Homeowners Are Too Many to Fail (Jesse Jackson)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#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 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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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. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign.  The Economy

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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

Browse all issues

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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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posted 14 November 2007 




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