ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Why the Gates provocation? Why did Gates take advantage of the young white man? Now?
Why he put him in the spotlight? For fun? Light-headedness, long trip? He wanted to see
how far he could go to make the cop uncoolthreatening, brutalizing . . . stupid.
Books by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
* * * * *
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man
By Rudolph Lewis
The less said about Skip Gates the better when the issues are controversial. We all know that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is brilliant, creative, and at times scholarly. Signifying Monkey, however mistaken and disappointing, is a major achievement in racial literary criticism using texts of identity to search and construct an essential self from fragments of sociology, psychology, history and other social sciences. It is when criticism in part becomes fiction. Skip Gates has that kind of talent.
His Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man is wonderful. Very creative exhibiting the diversity and the controversial beauty of black men. What is always clear is that Skip thinks big. Some have called him enterprising. How literature and the arts pay are important. Its a case for Booker T. Washington. Can we live without a Skip? Could we have progressed without Skip in the last twenty years? I think not. Comfortable Id keep one hand on my wallet and one ear closed when he speaks.
In the great scheme of things, Professor Gates was necessary. A way of pointing, directing, making choices. He ushered in a new eraa wrong-headed elitism, the Talented Fifth opposed to the Untalented Fifth. All under the Umbrella of he Black Arts/Black Studies. How can they be made respectable, institutionalized as areas of specialization that can be mastered with all the manuals and support in reprints, and at times discovery. One has a beef with Skip Gates?
One cannot avoid it. His snide remarks. His always failing humor. The Black Arts under his microscope was a failed era, as if his excellences are not a continuation and an evolved sophistication. Gates wanted to add something new: the notion of a successful W. E. B. Du Bois. Like many he has taken the notion of personal responsibility and self-indulgence to absurd heights so that one can only snicker under ones breath in his narration of his documentaries.
But what IF? What if Officer Crowley is truthful: Gates provoked the incident. Gates took advantage of Officer Crowleys stupidityof his youth. Thats what teachers often do: they go pedagogical at you, if you dont keep an ear on them. Gates asks Crowley, “Are you not responding to me because youre a white police officer and Im a black man?” That’s something that would set the young man back on his heels. Gates was not concerned about race so much as his power, wealth, and influence. He did not expect deference on the basis of race. He is one of the leading Harvard professors, known by presidents, scholars, and other honored men, near and far.
Maybe Officer Crowley did not know Skips résumé. Maybe it would not have mattered to him at all. Mr. Gates, for Crowley, is only a citizen like other residents of the area. Hes not greater than the law. And Mr. Crowley when he is on duty is the LAW. That means Mr. Gates must have more respect for the law than mockery and mockery of one of its officers.
Why the Gates provocation? Why did Gates take advantage of the young white man? Now? Why he put him in the spotlight? For fun? Light-headedness, long trip? He wanted to see how far he could go to make the cop uncoolthreatening, brutalizing . . . stupid. At bottom it could be another story to document. Come on, Rudy. Stop being cynical. Professor Gates would not plan such a humiliation.
All I can say is like Kilson, Gates is enterprising. They will always come up with some new way of getting controversy (dust unsettled) going. And that means money. Like the enterprising slave who bet his master he could make more money than him by killing his horse making it into a leather blanket of oracles. The slave went into fortune-telling. There are always some coming up with new smart ideas. Can the resentful white boys do better than obstinacy, brutality, and bullets in the back. Any duplication ends in failure. On the gathering for beer on the lawn, Mr. Gates told Soledad OBrien of CNN (a former student),
Mr. Obama had allowed us to begin to bridge our divide and make a larger contribution to American society.
Only he could have done that, Professor Gates said, before catching a flight back to Boston. I dont think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together.
Professor Gates added, He thought what Crowley and I had discussed was just right on target. The president was great he was very wise, very sage, very Solomonic.
Skip and Barack seemingly are both prophetic, fortune tellers for the nation. These guys know how to seize the day! Salute! Go on Skipyou Barack!
* * * * *
This is about the vulnerability of black men in America.
By Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
I gave him the two IDs and I demanded to know his name and his badge number. Are you not responding to me because youre a white police officer and Im a black man?
It looked like a police convention, there were so many policemen outside. I stepped out on my porch and said, I want to know your colleagues name and his badge number. . . . It was the fault of the policeman who couldnt understand a black man standing up for his rights right in his space. And thats what I did. And I would do the same thing exactly again. . . .It was terrifying. And I realized
I knew that I was in danger but I knew, too, that as soon as my friends could get to jail, starting with Professor Charles Ogletree, who is my friend and lawyer, that eventually I would be OK.
But what it made me realize was how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable all people of color are and all poor people to capricious forces like a rogue policeman. And this man clearly was a rogue policeman. They took me to the Cambridge Police station and booked me, fingerprints, mug shot, which has now been all over the universe.
* * * * *
Henry Louis Skip Gates, Jr., Ph.D. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor and public intellectual. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study black culture. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.” The lecture resulted in his 2003 book, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley.
As the host of the 2006 and 2008 PBS television miniseries African American Lives, Gates explored the genealogy of prominent African Americans. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts, cultural, and research institutions. He serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Michael Kinsley referred to him as “the nation’s most famous black scholar.” However he is criticized as non-representative of Black people by prominent African-American scholars such as Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, and Maulana Karenga. . . .
On July 16, 2009, Gates returned home from a trip to China to find the door to his house jammed. His driver attempted to help him gain entrance. A passer-by called police reporting a possible break-in and a Cambridge police officer was dispatched. The resulting confrontation resulted in Gates being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.The incident spurred a politically charged exchange of views about race relations and law enforcement throughout the United States. The arrest garnered national attention after the President declared that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. The President eventually extended an invitation to both Gates and the officer involved to share a beer with him at the White House.
* * * * *
Charles Ogletree on Profiling to Beergate to the Obama
By Barbara Ransby
Skip Gates “End the Slavery Blame-Game” Nonsense
By Dr. Ron Daniels
* * * * *
Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Presentation of the National Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities medal.November 5, 1998THE PRESIDENT: Near the beginning of this century, W. E. B. Du Bois predicted a “black tomorrow” of African American achievement. Thanks in large measure to Henry Louis Gates, that tomorrow has turned into today. For 20 years he has revitalized African American studies. In his writing and teaching, through his leadership of the Dream Team of African American scholars he brought together at Harvard, Gates has shed brilliant light on authors and traditions kept in the shadows for too long. From “signifying monkeys” to small-town West Virginia, from ancient Africa to the new New York, Skip Gates has described the American experience with force, with dignity and, most of all, with color. Ladies and gentlemen, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Applause.) The Medal is presented.)clinton6
* * * * *
Reviewing Houston A. Baker’s Betrayal of Black Intellectuals
* * * * *
Unedited video supports Sherrods claim she wasn’t racistThe full, uncut video of a federal agricultural official’s NAACP speech purporting racial scheming, told a different story than the barely-three-minute snippet that cost her her job. Despite admitting in the edited version of the taping that she once withheld help to the couple on the basis of race, Shirley Sherrod was defended Tuesday by the wife of a white Georgia farmer. Sherrod, “kept us out of bankruptcy,” said Eloise Spooner, 82, of Iron City in southwest Georgia. Spooner, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, added she considers Sherrod a “friend for life.” She and her husband, Roger Spooner, approached Sherrod for help in 1986 when Sherrod worked for a nonprofit that assisted farmers. Sherrod, who is African-American, was asked to resign Monday night by a USDA official after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the Web Atlanta Journal / NAACP / Politico / Politico 2
* * * * *
#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
* * * * *
Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.
This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
By Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Among those whose roots he traced are Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, Quincy Jones, and Peter Gomes, all of whom recall cherished family legends and intimate secrets.
* * * * *
By Adam Fairclough
Better Day Coming is intended, in author Adam Fairclough’s words, as “neither a textbook nor a survey, but an interpretation” (p. xiv) of the circuitous struggle for racial equality pursued by African Americans and their occasional allies between 1890 and 2000. Chronologically organized, the narrative moves from an evaluation of the hard-pressed, contending forces vying for ascendancy in the black South at the nadir to the interwar period and well beyond, into the urban cauldron of the northern ghettoes at the high point of the Black Power movement. Fairclough brings to his project a fluent understanding of the shifting institutional configurations of opposition to Jim Crow and a keen sensitivity to the ways in which the efforts of those who fought it were hampered, circumscribed, and occasionally crushed by the pressures of operating in a society formally committedfor most of the period under discussionto aggressive defense of the racial status quo.
Fairclough’s “basic argument” seems at first glance uncontroversial: that “although blacks differed . . . about the most appropriate tactics in the struggle for equality, they were united in rejecting allegations of racial inferiority and in aspiring to a society where men and women would be judged on merit rather than by race or color” (p. xii).
But his ultimate aim is more ambitious: he sets out to rehabilitate the accommodationist tradition represented by Booker T. Washington which, though “apparently unheroic,” in the author’s view “laid the groundwork for the militant confrontation of the Civil Rights Movement” (p. xiii).h-net
* * * * *
Edited By Henry Louis Gates and Donald Yacovone
Generations of Americans have debated the meaning of Abraham Lincoln’s views on race and slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation and supported a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery, yet he also harbored grave doubts about the intellectual capacity of African Americans, publicly used the n-word until at least 1862, and favored permanent racial segregation. In this bookthe first complete collection of Lincoln’s important writings on both race and slaveryreaders can explore these contradictions through Lincoln’s own words. Acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., presents the full range of Lincoln’s views, gathered from his private letters, speeches, official documents, and even race jokes, arranged chronologically from the late 1830s to the 1860s.
Complete with definitive texts, rich historical notes, and an original introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this book charts the progress of a war within Lincoln himself. We witness his struggles with conflicting aims and ideasa hatred of slavery and a belief in the political equality of all men, but also anti-black prejudices and a determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of preserving slavery. We also watch the evolution of his racial views, especially in reaction to the heroic fighting of black Union troops.
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
posted 1 August 2009