ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Jackson maintained that: Forced voluntarism under penalty of eviction demeans
residents by saying they are lazy. It tells them that we do not trust them to take part
in their own communities, so we must force them to do so.
Books by Ronald Walters
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Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community
By Ronald W. Walters
Ronald Reagan saw the need for a kind of nationalism, as indicated by the documentation that he left, that was necessary at that time. Professor Douglas Brinkley, Presidential Reputations, conference September 11, 2000
A striking feature of the 2000 presidential election, among the many associated with that historic event, was that it completed the capture of the American political system by the radical Conservative wing of the Republican party, a project begun when Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House in 1980. In this work I argue that race has had much to do with the evolution of this politics and that, as consequence, Blacks have constituted the base target of a set of public policies initiated by the Reagan regime. Thus I will discuss the development of the Conservative movement and its influence on public policy from the perspective of its focus on the Black community.
The force of this politics has caught the Black community off guard, since it deviates substantially from the Liberal vision that resulted in the civil rights laws of the 1960s and 1970s. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we appear to be living in an era when a dominant sector of the White majority seems to have lost confidence in the promise of America as a liberal democratic state and has been recoiling from this vision, which implies shared power based upon racial equity. Instead, the White majority is proceeding to concentrate economic and social power within its own group, using its control over the political institutions of the state to punish presumptive enemies.
The targets of this punishment has been Black, Hispanic and other non-White communities. Here I use the term target with the connotation Helen Schneider and Ann Ingram assign it: The social construction of target population refers to the cultural characterization or popular images of the persons or groups whose behavior and well-being are affected by public policy. These characterizations are normative and evaluative, portraying groups in positive or negative terms through symbolic language, metaphors, and stories.1
In many ways this work activates the Schneider/Ingram thesis, extending the targeting phenomenon to the supposed ally of Blacksthe U.S. governmentwhich is also presumed to constitute a threat to the interests of the White Conservative sector. Perceiving itself under threat, this sector mobilized, pursuing a politics that dictates institutional resources should be withdrawn from the target group and rules eliminated which are in any way conceived to disadvantage Whites. I argue that this was accomplished through the fomentation of nationalist movement by a substantial sector of the White majority.
The case made in this work for the existence of White Nationalism is a sociopolitical phenomenon is based on substantial evidence which suggests the proposition that if a race is dominant to the extent that it controls the government of the statedefined as the authoritative institutions of decision makingit is able to utilize those institutions and the policy outcomes they produce as instruments through which it is also structures its racial interests. In short, it may reward, punish and so structure outcomes as to protect and enhance racial interest.
The problem in recognizing the purely racial interests of the majority is different from discerning those of a minority group seeking equality. In the case of the Black minority, this group often seeks parity through movements that explicitly expose Black power or other forms of Black Nationalism, practically elaborated as economic, political and group self-determination, and equality with Whites.
Given a condition where one race is dominant in all political institutions, most policy actions appear to take on an objective quality, where policy makers argue that they are acting on the basis of national interests rather than racial ones. In fact, how to separate the objective civil interests of the state from the subjective racial interests of those who manage it constitutes a critical problem, posing an impediment to the achievement of democracypartially defined as racial equalitywithin the context of multiracial state. How does one recognize the racial interests of the majority in policy making, since policy is rarely articulated in terms that directly imply favoring the dominant group? Often the straightforward articulation of racial interests is not only difficult to discover but generally from public discourse.
The discovery of racial interests under such conditions, then, must be inferential. Policy actions and outcomes must be examined in order to understand which groups interests are advantaged or disadvantaged. For example, I argue here that the detection of national White-majority interests can be achieved by understanding the sources of White racial alienation that led to the development of an intellectual rationale of policy failure. Together with the notion that government actions were detrimental to Whites in the social arena, this rationale was used as the pretext for attacks upon policies oriented toward Black group interest and on the federal government which supported them.
Policies oriented toward Blacks, it was argued, must be devalued of their perceived advantages, and the federal government must be weakened. This could be accomplished through policies which redistribute power to states and localities and promote flexible regulations of programs, thus permitting resources to be utilized in the interests of White-majority communities.
The consequence of this new set of policies is that Black advancement in society is defined as a threat to White national interests in the competitive context of the zero-sum concept. If Blacks are empowered, then White interests suffer. This interpretation is reflected in the new definition of racial discrimination, whereby courts have reversed policies designed to provide fairness to Blacks because they are seen as unfair to Whites. Indeed, this view has been constitutionalized, resulting in the decimation of large areas of civil rights and the devaluation of Black social mobility. Moreover, this logic promotes government actions which have had the consequence of punishing Blacks by withdrawing resources and subordinating them by such practices as racial profiling and high rates of incarceration and execution.
I will also argue that the racial character of White Nationalism has been further confused by the use of Blacks to promote aspects of White policy interests. Blacks, especially Black Conservatives, serve as proxy agents to legitimize the strategies that further White interests. Blacks have assumed prominent roles in support of policies such as school choice, which promotes the use of vouchers for students to attend private schools, or the faith-based administration of social programs.
Identifying White interests and examining their impact upon the Black community, this work attempts to describe why a new White Nationalism movement has emerged, the nature of its politics and the characteristics of the resulting policies affecting Blacks.
This new Conservative movement has a historical parallel in the backlash to the nineteenth-century Reconstruction program, when Whites fostered a political revolution that overthrew a Liberal regime which they perceived as a threat to their national unity. This new White Nationalist movement presages the return of an era most Blacks believed could never come again, but the full force of its impact has persuaded many even beyond the Black community that is an alarming phenomenon, with critical consequences for American democracy. Indeed, there is such a strong historical predicate for what has been occurring in the past two decades that some have described the current period as the second Reconstruction.
In the election of 1880, Republican James Garfield won the presidency with no southern electoral votes. But in 1884, in a scenario reminiscent of Bill Clintons election in 1992, Democratic party centrist Grover Cleveland gained the White House after a campaign in which he claimed he had broken with his sectional allies in the South; he pledged to support the rights of all citizens. Four years later, with the majority of Blacks voting for him, Republican Benjamin Harrison won a narrow victory over Cleveland. Yet the 1888 election showed Blacks that there was little difference between the two parties, since Harrison calculated that his slim margin meant he needed to strengthen his appeal to southerners, which he promptly did by excluding Blacks from his administration.
Those who were convinced that Reconstruction constituted an immoral attempt to raise the status of inferior Blacks to that of Whites set about the political disenfranchisements of Blacks, which had begun as early as 1880. This was undertaken with ferocious vigor and largely completed by 1900. In many ways, the 1896 decision of the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson represented the icing on the cake.
In his seminal work, The Black Image in the White Mind, George Frederickson included a chapter on White Nationalism which describes the efforts in the mid-nineteenth century of a group of White intellectuals and civic leadersled by Dutch sociologist H. Hoetinkto effect the racial purification of America and achieve a homogeneity that allegedly would result from the narrow localization or complete disappearance of an inferior and undesirable Negro population.2 Frederickson notes that one objective of this group was the containment of the Black population; this project involved antislavery activists who believed that the geographic dispersal of Blacks would make it more difficult for them to achieve social accommodation with Whites as well as Conservatives who believed deeply in Black inferiority. The groups efforts led to such activities as agitation to stop the expansion of slavery and the limitation of Blacks to a southern Black Belt that still exists today.
Another group of nineteenth-century White Nationalists attempted to construct a pseudo-homogeneity that could attained by the exclusion of the Negro from the community of citizens.3 Their influence generated the idea that particular areas of the country would be reserved for Whites, and it led to the vicious suppression of Blacks, through such means as deportation and even sanctioned violence. Another result of this movement, Frederickson suggests, was the rise of a new sense of American nationalism that had clear racial overtones. By the 1850s, the destiny of America had been racialized as a White project; this helps explain the 1854 Supreme Court decision which voided Dred Scotts claim to citizenship on nationalist grounds.
Against the backdrop of this movement, the politics of the last decades of the nineteenth century could be conceptualized as an attempt to re-invoke the White supremacy that was temporarily shattered by the Civil War and forestall the emergence of Blacks as a substantial civic and political force. This was effected by a return to Black subordination through the reinterpretation of the Constitution and the perpetuation of a reign of terror. And it was paralleled by a series of electoral events remarkably suggestive of the politics of the last decades of the twentieth century.
In racial terms, the dominant intent of the first Reconstruction was that peace between North and South would be constructed by the convergence of the interests of Whites in both regions with regard to the Negro question, effectuating a unity that was, implicitly, of demonstrably greater priority than the freedom of Blacks. Although radical reconstructionists purportedly upheld the logic of the Civil War in their attempt to construct a regime of rights that would ensure Black equality, the greater lesson of the Civil War came to be the domination of the state by Whites who instituted a Conservative regime that virtually eliminated Blacks from political participation and limited their access to national resources until the coming of New Deal politics in the 1930s and 1940s.
Both the first and second Reconstructions suggest the kernel of a theoretical proposition designed to answer several questions. Among these is: What processes initiate the kind of White Nationalist movements that have had such disastrous consequences for Blacks? Within the context of the maintenance of White supremacy, nationalist ideology historically took of two forms: paternalism, whose adherents considered Blacks childlike, or autocratic engagement, a policy based on the conception of Blacks as beasts. Frederickson has suggested that White paternalistic engagement with Blacks during the late nineteenth century was accompanied by a considerable degree of Liberal noblesse oblige, which encouraged a moderate form of engagement and quasi-democratic forms of equality.4
These would be allowed in situations where Blacks engagement with Whites was considered to be appropriate, as in political activity, and most often this happened under the direction of radicals within the Republican party.
By contrast, autocracy was a harsher version of racial relations. In this formulation, individuals who held that Blacks were beasts sought forms of social engagement designed to subordinate, punish or eliminate them altogether. John Cell describes this phenomenon vividly: The extremists left no room for ambiguity. In speech after speech they proclaimed their harsh, violent, nasty views. God had placed blacks only a little higher than the apesand there was apparently some doubt about that. Intending them for severity, He had marked them with His curse. Anything that might raise blacks from their naturally inferior status they denounced and, when in office, vetoed. As a corollary, anything that the white man might do to defend his supremacy was fully justified.5
What the two perspectives, one Liberal and one Conservative, have in common is that they both affirm the subordinate status of Blacks in relation to Whites as a basic value, a paradigm that, if challenged or changed, would activate both Liberals and Conservatives alike to seek to protect their status and reimpose subordination upon Blacks. This paradigm is so powerful that it has the capacity to energize Whites to invoke common interests and come together regardless of differences of political ideology or party.
The convergence of White political interests also helps explain why, historically, Blacks who have been engaged in political coalitions with one party or the other were abandoned when historical circumstances appeared to threaten White interests from either the Left or Right. What this seems to suggests is that temporary coalitions between Blacks and the Republican party or the Democratic party violated the racial order of unity among Whites but were tolerated as long as these coalitions served a great value, such as economic growth.
The prime example of this would be the Civil Rightsera coalition of the 1960s between Democrats (including some southern Democrats) and Blacks that existed so long as Blacks were still clearly subordinate in the South and economic growth was occurring in the rest of the country. In the late 1970s and 1980s, when Whites began to perceive that their dominant status was threatened, White racial convergence acted to maintain the racial hierarchy by effecting policies that began to dismantle the civil rights protections.
The political behavior described above classically fits that noted by Professor Clarence Y. H. Lo, who, in his analysis of busing as a countermovement motivating force, confirmed the reports of other observers such as Michael Unseem, Gary Orfield and David Sears that there was a strong correlation between antibusing sentiment and the perception that Blacks were making social gains faster than Whites.6 Lo further argued that the federal government did not operate as a passive judge of competing interests but responded by providing resources, legitimacy and leadership to the developing White Conservative movement.
Such appraisals are consistent with those of status crystallization theorists, who assume that class plays a role in building alienation and, therefore, in the types of manifestations of activity perpetrated by alienated groups.7 However, I will argue here that race also plays a role in the process of White alienation, since it has the capacity to motivate groups across class lines. Social psychologist Johann Galtung suggested that culture was an important intervening variable in disrupting the structural dimensions of status, and that the improvement of economic and educational opportunities for Blacks promoted conflict between Blacks and Whites.8 Thus, the manifestation of alienated behavior may be expressed differently according to class, with lower-income alienated groups expressing more violent, socially aggressive behavior and higher-income groups utilizing institutional processes aggressively.
I will also argue here that just as the first Reconstruction was driven by a convergence of interests on the part of a critical mass of Whites, the second Reconstruction has replicated this convergence through a political movement led and joined by radical Conservatives. Though public discourse neither recognizes nor names this as a nationalist era in American history, Faye Harrison has argued that historicized analyses of whiteness go against the convention of ignoring yet universalizing whiteness as an unspoken but naturalized norm presumed to be unaffected by racism.9
This characteristic of unspokenness and the presumption of being unaffected by race allow and promote the reluctance of intellectuals to evaluate Whites in terms of the same racial dynamics accorded other groups. This study seeks to unearth the determinants of White Nationalism through an examination of its impact on the politics of public policy where African Americans are the target population.
THE POLICY IMPACT OF WHITE CONVERGENCE
Since the policy manifestations of White Nationalism in the first Reconstruction were measures that opposed Blacks as part of the process of advancing the restoration of White power in the South and White reconciliation in the nation, the major reason for engaging in such a study is to deepen understanding of a growing impediment to modern Black progress. By the end of the Plessy era, a series of Conservative public policies were in place that mandated racial containment, and these will be characterized here as policy racism. More recently, what has become mainstream politics also fosters the reconsolidation of White power, largely by attempting, and in some cases succeeding, to weaken the civil rights policy legacy that advanced the status of Blacks in American society.
A poignant example of the racially divisive and oppressive strains in modern public policy reside in an example taken from a congressional debate in 1997 over public housing legislation. In this debate, the central issue was an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.). Jackson wanted to eliminate mothers with children under the age of five from the requirementsponsored by the Republican majoritythat all inhabitants of public housing be subject to a mandatory, uncompensated, community service work requirement of eight hours per month. Jackson maintained that: Forced voluntarism under penalty of eviction demeans residents by saying they are lazy. It tells them that we do not trust them to take part in their own communities, so we must force them to do so. There is no pride in community service when it is mandated as if residents have done something wrong.10
Republican House members responded. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) asked: Are we invoking some sort of slavery, as some have suggested, on these individuals? No, there is another purpose behind this. It is to let that individual who stayed within the walls of public housing get out into the community and learn what skills are necessary to get a real job.11 Rep. Merrill Cook (R-Utah) added: The overwhelming majority of my constituents tell me that they are troubled by government handouts.
We have seen time and time again that handout programs do not work. Public housing was intended to be helping hand toward self-sufficiency, not another handout. I urge my colleagues to defeat any attempt to remove the work requirement.12 Next Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa) said: We have get people who are getting apartments with several bedrooms and a kitchen. They are getting free electricity, free heat, and the gentleman is saying they cannot work 2 hours a week. Come on. Give me a break. That is one Oprah Winfrey show, that the cannot find somebody to mind their kids for 2 hours within the authority.13
The Democrats counterattacked. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) argued:
[Speaking to Rep. Jim Leach] It seems to me that it is eminently reasonable for us to characterize the way your party acted towards the poorest and most vulnerable as insensitive to their needs.
I would just point out to the gentleman that another gentleman on your side of the aisle suggested that what the poor in public housing do is sit around and watch Oprah Winfrey. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that that has racist characteristics that ought to be dealt with by the gentlemans side. That is a mean-spirited comment.14
Next, Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) said: I would suggest that what this entire process is really about scapegoating; is having the middle class and the working people think that their problems are because of the poor, rather than looking at what the wealthy and the powerful are doing.15 Finally, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) declared:
We all know what is going on here. We should know what is going on here. It is nothing different from the welfare housing that we saw in the last Congress.
What I am saying, Mr. Chairman, is they are going to pass a policy here that says make the poor pay, because we know what the poor are. We are talking minorities here. Make the poor pay. OK? What they should be doing, if they really thought that the people, the federal government, ought to be getting a little bit of return on its investment, which is what they are trying to cloak this argument as, then why not apply it to every other federal contract and federal program that is out there? They are receiving taxpayers money. Why are they not volunteering? Because they know and I know what we are talking about. Theyre talking about the perception out there of the poor being minorities, and they are thinking, they ought to go out and work, because my taxpayers back home are sick and tired of this welfare state.16
The ideas expressed by proponents of the community service requirement in this debatewith their vivid racial stereotyping of the poor, racial scapegoating, and racist innuendoare commonplace in the radical Conservative political discourse of the 1990s and beyond. The point, however, is that the policies on which such ideas are based have had real and negative consequences upon the socioeconomic status of a significant sector of the Black community.
Political discourse exhibiting the dominant public attitudes in support of the devolution of government power has grown so pervasive that spokespersons for both major parties have formulated and learned to speak in the new coded public language of class and race when discussing public policy. They value being tough on crime and enacting welfare reform. They express support for the the middle class and for the future of our children. They espouse family values and individual responsibility.
How to deconstruct this language, uncover its hidden meanings and demonstrate how it is used to define new principles and policies for society is a subsidiary task of this book. Its principal aim is to describe the phenomenon of White Nationalism in the politics of public policy, which has had little direct exposure either in the public arena or in academia.
In this work, I seek to represent aspects of the more radical sector of the Conservative movement in national politics, its use of a reawakened nationalist ideology and the impact of this upon issues of interest to the Black community. It is an attempt to understand this movement more clearly by discussing the subject in terms of a series of broad stages: the evolution of the White Nationalist movement and its causes; the impact of the movement on the political culture; the movements subsequent seizure of the political system; and its promulgation of policy racism.
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1. Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, The Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy, American Political Science Review 87:2 (June 1993): 334. The authors also suggest that the social construction of target populations has powerful influence on public officials and shapes both the policy agenda and the actual design of policy. They additionally deduce that public officials often devise punitive, punishment-oriented policies for negatively constructed groups, which they say helps explain why the policy system advantages some groups more than others.
2. George M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 18171914 (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), p. 130.
3. Ibid., p. 133.
4. Frederickson cites Rev. Atticus Haywood, president of Emory College in Atlanta, Georgia, as representative of many moderate southern Whites; Black Image in the White Mind, p. 204.
5. John W. Cell, The Highest Stage of White Supremacy: The Origins of Segregation in South Africa and the American South (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 178.
6. Clarence Y. H. Lo, Countermovements and Conservative Movements in the Contemporary U.S., Annual Review of Sociology 8 (1982): 117.
7. Christopher Bagley, Race Relations and Theories of Status Consistency, Race (London: Institute of Race Relations, 1970), p. 267.
8. Cited in ibid., 269.
9. Faye V. Harrison, The Persistent Power of Race in the Cultural and Political Economy of Racism, Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1995): 63.
10. Congressional Record, House, May 1, 1997, p. H2124.
11. Ibid., p. H2129.
12. Ibid., p. H2133.
13. Ibid., p. H2137.
14. Ibid., p. H2139.
15. Ibid., p. H2143.
16. Ibid., p. H2144.
Source: White Nationalism Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and The Black Community by Ronald W. Walters Detroit: Wayne State U. Press © 2003 amazon.com * * * * *
Dr. Ronald Walters is internationally known for his expertise on the issues of African American leadership and politics, his writing and his media savvy. Walters carries three major titles. He is director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program, Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and professor in government and politics at the University of Maryland. For the 2000 presidential election season, Walters also served as senior correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association and political analyst for Black Entertainment Television’s Lead Story.
Walters is a frequent guest on local and major media as an analyst of African American politics.
He has appeared on such shows as CNN’s Crossfire and The Jesse Jackson Show, Lead Story (BET), CBS News Nightline, NBC Today Show, C-Span, public television shows such as the Jim Lehrer News Hour and Think Tank, Evening Exchange, radio shows such as All Things Considered (NPR), Living Room (Pacifica), and many others. Dr. Walters also writes a weekly opinion column for newspapers and sites. Dr. Walters is the author of over 100 articles and six books. His book, Black Presidential Politics in America (SUNY Press, 1989), won the Ralph Bunche Prize, given by the American Political Science Association and the Best Book award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientist (NCOBPS). Pan Africanism in the African Diaspora (Wayne State University Press, 1993) also won the NCOBPS Best Book award. His most recent books are African American Leadership, (SUNY Press, 1999) and, with Cedric Johnson, Bibliography of African American Leadership: An Annotated Guide (Greenwood Press, 2000). Walters is the winner of many awards, including a distinguished faculty award from Howard University (1982), Distinguished Scholar/Activist Award, The Black Scholar Magazine (1984), W.E.B. DuBois/Frederick Douglas Award, African Heritage Studies Association (1983), the Ida Wells Barnett Award, Association of Black School Educators, (1985), the Fannie Lou Hammer Award, National Conference of Black Political Scientist (1996), Distinguished Faculty Contributions to the Campus Diversity, University of Maryland (1999), and the Ida B. Wells-W.E.B. DuBois Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the National Council for Black Studies (March 2000). He was awarded the honor of “Alumnus of the Year” by the School of International Service of the American University in April 2000. Walters received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Government with Honors from Fisk University (1963) and both his M.A. in African Studies (1966) and Ph.D. in International Studies (1971) from American University. He has served as professor and chair of the political science department at Howard University, assistant professor and chair of Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University, and assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University. He has also served as visiting professor at Princeton University and as a fellow of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is a former member of the governing council of the American Political Science Association and a current member of the Board of Directors of the Ralph Bunch Institute of the CUNY Graduate School and University Center. Walters has also served as the senior policy staff member for Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr. and Congressman William Gray. In 1984, Walters served as deputy campaign manager for issues of the Jesse Jackson campaign for president, and in 1988, he was consultant for convention issues for the Jackson campaign directed by former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. He serves as a senior policy consultant to the W.K.Kellogg Foundation and is consultant to its Devolution Initiative Project and Director of its Scholar/Practitioner Program.
Ron Walters, Director African American Leadership Institute (AALI) and Distinguished Leadership Scholar 301.405.1787 and 301.405.2560 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
posted 31 December 2005
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Dr Ron Walters Dies at 72
Ronald W. Walters, one of the country’s leading scholars of the politics of race, who was a longtime professor at Howard University and the University of Maryland, died Friday [September 10, 2010] of cancer at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 72.
[Ronald William Walters was born July 20, 1938, in Wichita, Kansas.. His father was a musician and had served in the military; his mother was a civil rights investigator for the state.]
Dr. Walters was both an academic and an activist, cementing his credentials with his early involvement in the civil rights movement. In 1958, in his home town of Wichita, he led what many historians consider the nation’s first lunch-counter sit-in protest. Later, he became a close adviser to Jesse L. Jackson as one of the principal architects of Jackson’s two failed presidential campaigns. “Ron was one of the legendary forces in the civil rights movement of the last 50 years,” Jackson said Saturday.
Dr. Walters also helped develop the intellectual framework of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1970s. Some of his political ideas, such as comprehensive health care and a proposed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, were viewed as radical. A quarter-century later, they are part of the intellectual mainstream. . . . Dr. Walters had recently edited a book about D.C. politics, Democratic Destiny and the District of Columbia and was at work on a book about Obama at the time of his death. In an essay in January, Dr. Walters defended Obama’s record in the face of criticism from the left and the right.WashingtonPost
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Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperityand What We Can Do About It
By Les Leopold
How could the best and brightest (and most highly paid) in finance crash the global economy and then get us to bail them out as well? What caused this mess in the first place? Housing? Greed? Dumb politicians? What can Main Street do about it? In The Looting of America, Leopold debunks the prevailing media myths that blame low-income home buyers who got in over their heads, people who ran up too much credit-card debt, and government interference with free markets. Instead, readers will discover how Wall Street undermined itself and the rest of the economy by playing and losing at a highly lucrative and dangerous game of fantasy finance. He also asks some tough questions: Why did Americans let the gap between workers’ wages and executive compensation grow so large? Why did we fail to realize that the excess money in those executives’ pockets was fueling casino-style investment schemes? Why did we buy the notion that too-good-to-be-true financial products that no one could even understand would somehow form the backbone of America’s new, postindustrial economy?
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By Derrick Bell
In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school’s hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell’s fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard’s president and all of the school’s black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell’s And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.Publishers Weekly
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Federal Politics and Public Policy
Edited by Ronald W. Walters
Washington, D.C., is among the most known and least understood cities in the world. A collection of emerging scholars and activists have produced a rare volume exploring the nations capital, or as some describe it, the nations last colony. Michael Fauntroy discusses the Home Rule Charter; Toni-Michelle Travis presents chapters on mayors Walter Washington and Sharon Pratt Kelley; Wilmer Leon III writes about Mayor Marion Barry, Jr.; Daryl Harris writes on Mayor Tony Williams; ReShone Moore and Darwin Fishman analyze the citys educational system, Kevin Glasper presents a chapter on crime; Angelyn Flowers discusses the dynamics of poverty; William Jones analyzes housing policy and Jared A. Ball writes on the impact of the citys media environment.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 23 May 2012