ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
What Jackson contributed to black life and culture is no small matter. When he joined Martin and SCLC in 1963,
he organized Chicagos black clergymen in support of King. In 1966, he coordinated efforts that
challenged the northern racism that prevented integration of schools and open housing. He also
led campaigns for enlightened hiring and employment policies.
Jesse Jackson Scourged in The Baltimore Times
Promoting Project 21 & Conservative Blacks
Editorial by Rudolph Lewis
Language is a dangerous thing. Sometimes it is only the speaker that it hurts. Man gotta be wise! It is through the WORK that change cometh, not through the WORD.
Theres a media move by a phalanx of black conservatives to displace the traditional civil rights leadership. Jessie Jackson is the face on their target sheets. If he can be eliminated or dislodged from the sympathetic hearts of African-Americans, these conservative cohorts of the Republican extremists believe that the entrepreneurial field will be cleared for their own brand of selling out the aspirations of black people to the highest bidder.
Baltimores No.1 black weekly, The Baltimore Times, recently placed on center stage Lisa Fritsch, one of these glib conservative media hounds who is a member of Project 21. Ms. Fritschs article, Jesse Jackson: Can He, Please, Just Move Along (January 9-15, 2004), argues that the primary obstacle to black progress is black leadership, a position representative, it seems, of the papers Editor and Publisher and many leading local black commentators.
I was stunned by this venomous attack on Jackson and other black leaders and surprised to find such an editorial in The Baltimore Times. Fritschs views are so radically racist, the most conservative white commentator would not dare make such public statements.
Whatever critique I might have of Jesse Jackson, I respect this former lieutenant of Martin Luther King, Jr. I admire him for the sacrifices he has made on behalf of black liberation. In 1960 at North Carolina A & T, Jackson became the point man in the Greensboro sit-ins, which speeded up integration in that city, daring deeds performed in the Southland at a time when black men could be lynched and murdered without fear of prosecution.
What Jackson contributed to black life and culture is no small matter. When he joined Martin and SCLC in 1963, he organized Chicagos black clergymen in support of King. In 1966, he coordinated efforts that challenged the northern racism that prevented integration of schools and open housing. He also led campaigns for enlightened hiring and employment policies. Such campaigns changed the tenor of Americas treatment of all African Americans.
When confronted by these new conservative demagogues, we must ask, “What selfless acts has The National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans (Project 21) committed on behalf of the black poor and disenfranchised?” By their own mission statement, their primary intent is merely writing opinion editorials for newspapers, participating in public policy discussions on radio and television, by participating in policy panels, by giving speeches before student, business and community groups, and by advising policymakers at the national, state and local levels.
Theirs is a reactionary program, as agents of Republican extremists, designed to attack and discredit the present black leaders who fight for the economic and political rights of African Americans.
According to the elitist Fritsch, It is an insult to be led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. For these leaders, according to Fritsch, lack character and dignity. They cannot legitimately push for progress in our schools because they lack a solid education or background in teaching.
Fritsch then strikes below the belt. Is it too much to ask that the man leading us not have fathered a child out of wedlock while married. By the thrust of her argument, should we also, one may ask, demolish the Jefferson Memorial, or erase Strom Thurmond from the honored rolls of the U.S. Senate? But these obsequious sycophants lack the courage to attack their masters.
Fighting for equal opportunity in America, argues Fritsch, is archaic talk because equal opportunity already exists. It is ours for the taking. She must be a candidate for Bush’s Mars program. For surely she does not exist in the same sane world as most African Americans.
We mislead our kids, according to these oedipal conservatives, by telling them that racial injustice remains in Americaall they need do is respect their teachers and other adults, study in school to their best and make abstinence a priority. That we complain about black urban schools their under-funding, understaffing, and misguided curriculumsreflects our lack of appreciation of the best of all possible worlds, that is, present-day America.
Whatever education Ms. Fritsch has, she is absolutely ignorant of any basic knowledge of the sociology of poverty and the life of the poor. The notion that the poor exists in America because of their own lack of character and dignity results from a self-willed blindness to the structural economic and social oppression and repression that exists in America. Fritsch’s assessment is insulting. She must be one these comfortable “house nigguhs,” faraway from the cotton fields of reality, defending her largesse or scuffling to get her share of the lucrative shakedowns.
Of course, for these black conservatives, black crime has no relationship with black poverty and neglect. Instead of complaining about Constitutional violations, such as police brutality and other police excesses, black leaders should support the police . . . instead of coming to the aid of scandal for publicitys sake and stop taking up causes of black criminals so that racial profiling will die along with black-on-black crime.
I advise Ms. Fritsch and her cohorts at The Baltimore Times to read about the “round royal” and the “money grab” in Ellison’s The Invisible Man (Chapter 1) if they seriously want to know the nature of “black-on-black” crimes. For their attacks on African Americans’ choice of leaders is itself a black-on-black crime, seemingly one that will go unpunished.
Cleverly and deceptively, Ms. Fritsch and Leadership Network Project 21 argue that the need for a black leader . . . is as outdated as it is unproductive. More precisely, these new black taskmasters prefer that African Americans disregard those leaders who argue for and defend our Constitutional rights and guarantees. According to Fritsch, such Constitutional advocacy fuels the fires of animosity rather than capitulates in the name of racial healing.
If in roughly 40 years of leadership by their stories of discontent and despair these civil rights activists have not yet fully liberated black people, they need to move along and fade away so that blacks can receive proper representation and respect. Fritsch describes our present leaders as shifty black men who move in on a societal cash cow that they are now unwilling to abandon, that they have made a very lucrative career out of fighting on our behalf.
Portraying black peoples as underdogs, these leaders keep us involved in the shakedowns, threats and tirades and discredit our ability to think and speak for ourselves.
For my money, the shifty traditional leadership who place their hopes in the rightness and the fulfillment of America’s Constitution guarantees have the moral upper hand rather than the shifty National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans (Project 21) who have placed their hearts and minds in service of Republican extremists and American corporate power.
Neither set of “shifty” leaders is my preference. The state of America’s poor and working class should be the guideline and measure of the health and welfare of American governance, a topic that these aspiring corporate flunkies conveniently avoid. As it stands presently, 40 million Americans are without healthcare, poverty increases, and our penal institutions burst at the seams.
But, for today’s servile black conservatives, these critical social issues which have an increasing impact on most Americans (black and white) pale in comparison to their immediate task of emphasizing the impotency of black leaders in countering the rising tide of corporate economic exploitation and governmental social repression.
posted 16 January 2004
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 14 February 2012