ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Day to day communications across the continent, as well as between
Africa and the rest of the world will take a gigantic leap in the next
two or three years. This will unavoidably also advance Pan
Africanism, a philosophy which seeks unity of the African world
Books by Kalamu ya Salaam
My Story My Song (CD)
* * * * *
What’s Your Name?
By Kalamu ya Salaam
Wangui wa Goro is from Kenya. A long way from Kenya. She lives in exile in England. Unable to return to Kenya because of the clash of her human rights activism with Kenya’s current barbaric administration.
She is both a creative writer and a translator. Her most well known work is the translating of Ngugi wa Thiongo’s books into English. She is often identified as Ngugi’s translator. Some people even assume they are related.
So there is a double frustration in her life. She can’t go home because home is politically inhospitable — she will be jailed or, worse yet, assassinated should she return. Additionally, her important work of translating overshadows her creative writing.
For a day or so, Wangui stays at the Marnico guest house but eventually moves to another hotel. Later when we all return to Accra after the colloquium, we are staying together at the Mariset Hotel in the East Condonment area of Accra.
There are two Mariset Hotels in Accra. This one is a lovely little, isolated accommodation. There is original contemporary Ghanaian art decoring the walls. The rooms are, for my taste, more comfortable than the Novatel. They have a small fridge in each room. We use ours for water and juice concentrates. There’s a basket in the room with a fragrant potpourri and the telephones have the “standard American plugs” on them. Mariset’s brochure notes them as “international” telephone hook-ups. I resist the temptation to jump on line and check my E-mail.
We see each other at breakfast and are soon conversing.
Wangui is traveling with her six year old son, Mbuguah. A son who has never seen Kenya. “The only time he was in Kenya was when he was a small seed growing inside of me.” Mbuguah nevertheless identifies Kenya as home.
Wangui is also joined by Adotey Bing, the director of Africa Centre in London. I share some of the Tarzan manuscript with them.
I have been working at night throughout the trip and have already completed over seventy-five percent of the writing. Fortunately, in Cape Coast I was able to print out the manuscript. My Mac Powerbook has Apple file exchange. I’ve brought both Mac and DOS discs with me. The setup in the temporary Cape Coast colloquium office is DOS-based. I transfer the file to a DOS disc and print with no problem. There is no way I could have written all of this without a portable computer.
Even while many of my colleagues continue to resist using computers and hooking up E-mail, the fact is the computer revolution is irreversible. In Accra, one small record store on a nondescript side street had a computer. Between computers and advances in telecommunications, Africa will quickly be able to close a significant developmental gap.
Day to day communications across the continent, as well as between Africa and the rest of the world will take a gigantic leap in the next two or three years. This will unavoidably also advance Pan Africanism, a philosophy which seeks unity of the African world and thus grows closer to fruition simultaneously with increased, easier and more accessible communications. To my way of thinking, the computer revolution is a boon for our movement.
As the manuscript goes around the table, we talk. Wangui asks me about my name. She speaks Swahili and wonders how my Swahili name came about. I tell her I took my name at Kwanzaa in 1970 and that it was a political choice.
While we knew that the majority of African Americans came from the West Coast of Africa, we chose Swahili because it was the only African language that was the official language of an African country. Most African countries use the former colonial language as the official language. Swahili was also a Pan African, trade language spoken up and down the East Coast and throughout parts of Central Africa. It was a language that was not associated with any one people. It was easy to learn and had a basic grammatical structural.
Wangui corrected me. Although it was widely used by various peoples, it nevertheless was the indigenous language of a specific group of people. She then commented that she liked my name: “pen of peace.”
Wangui is one of those gentle, iron-willed spirits who possesses a fierce quietness. As silent as a distant mountain in the moonlight, and just as unmoveable in her convictions. She speaks in a tone about two small steps above a whisper but she is also an independent thinker and a person of purposeful movement. From my brief observations during the few days we were together, I surmise there is very little wasted motion in anything she does. Because of her focused intensity, there is no danger that her quietness will be mistaken for shyness or timidness.
Wangui, her son, and Adotey had an earlier flight than we did, and so checked out early in the afternoon. At that time I saw a demonstration of her battle stancing, the kind of principle-based movement which I’m sure drove the Kenyan law and order fascists straight up their government walls. When the hotel bill was presented, Wangui refused to sign for the last day. Wangui’s position, which she stated in calm nonnegotiable terms, was that they were not staying in the room that night and therefore should not be charged for it. The clerk said the policy was they should be charged for the night because they were checking out in the afternoon.
The clerk couldn’t believe what was happening because all she wanted was for Wangui to sign for the bill. PANAFEST was going to pay for it. The money wasn’t going to come out of Wangui’s pocket. But for Wangui it was about principle and not money. Finally, Wangui drew a line separating the charges and signed for the other two nights but did not sign for the last day.
The whole exchange took maybe five or six minutes. The clerk had struck a rock. Wangui was like a tree planted by the water in her intransigence. There was no doubt in my mind that a woman such as this would be killed in contemporary Kenya which is rent by divisive neocolonial tribal politics.
The majority of African states are not politically ready to confront the limitations of tribalism and nationalism, a potent mix which is always self destructive. Moreover, as the conflagrations in Bosnia make clear, the extreme negative that results from mixing tribalism and nationalism is not a racial characteristic, even though, thanks to the cultural hegemony of colonialism, whenever one says “tribalism” one immediately thinks about either Native Americans or Africans.
But regardless of the location or source, we must confront and overcome the limitations of tribalism and nationalism. This process of overturning ourselves is the life work of Wangui wa Goro.
When confronted by a free thinking woman, there is no doubt that many of today’s nominal African leaders (most of whom are not just male — they are also “macho”) will exhibit a negative response. Her traditional opponents notwithstanding, Wangui wa Goro’s no nonsense, principled and fearless attitude is precisely the quality of leadership that (Pan-)Africa needs.
Pan African leadership, as its history demonstrates, will come from unexpected places and in its own time. The first day we were in Accra we went to the DuBois Centre. DuBois, an ardent and globally significant Pan Africanist, is buried in Ghana.
W.E.B. DuBois did not start off his professional life as a Pan Africanist. In fact, when he was a founding member of the NAACP, he was often the only person of color integrating these meetings. Eventually, he broke with the NAACP. As important as his NAACP work was, it was as a Pan Africanist that DuBois made his mark internationally. He was one of the chief organizers of the important Pan African Conferences, international gatherings which fueled the then nascent African independence movements. Attendees included many of the initial heads of state of countries such as Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria.
DuBois’ advocacy of Pan Africanism came as a surprise to some who identified DuBois as one of Garvey’s staunchest and unremitting critics. In his book, Dusk of Dawn, DuBois sums up the conflict between himself and Garvey in a charitable fashion, displaying none of the bitterness and name-calling that was characteristic of their long running feud.
My first effort was to explain away the Garvey movement and ignore it; but it was a mass movement that could not be ignored. I noted this movement from time to time in the Crisis and said in 1920 that Garvey was “an extraordinary leader of men” and declared that he had “with singular success capitalized and made vocal the great and long-suffering grievances and spirit of protest among the West Indian peasantry.” Later when he began to collect money for his steamship line, I characterized him as a hard-working idealist, but called his methods bombastic, wasteful, illogical, and almost illegal. I begged his friends not to allow him foolishly to overwhelm with bankruptcy and disaster “one of the most interesting spiritual movements of the modern world.” But he went ahead, wasted his money, got in trouble with the authorities and was deported from the United States. He made a few abortive efforts later, but finally died in London in 1940, poor and neglected.
The unfortunate debacle of his over-advertised schemes naturally hurt and made difficult further effective development of the Pan-African Congress idea. Nevertheless, a third Pan-African Congress was attempted in 1923. It was less broadly representative than the second, but of some importance, and was held in London, Paris and Lisbon. Thence I went to Africa and for the first time saw the homeland of the black race.
Eventually DuBois repatriated to Ghana and, in so doing, gave his personal answer to the question of “double consciousness” which DuBois eloquently articulated in the The Souls of Black Folk.
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.
What is most interesting is that only after visiting Africa is DuBois able to articulate the Negro “message for the world.” In a word, it is humanism. Africa can teach humanism. Upon reading DuBois’ reflections on seeing Africa, I felt that in December of 1994 I had seen the same essence of Africa that DuBois saw in December of 1923 and wrote about in Dusk of Dawn.
And there and elsewhere in two long months I began to learn: primitive men are not following us afar, frantically waving and seeking our goals; primitive men are not behind us in some swift foot-race. Primitive men have already arrived. They are abreast, and in places ahead of us; in others behind. But all their curving advance line is contemporary, not pre-historic. They have used other paths and these paths have led them by scenes sometimes fairer, sometimes uglier than ours, but always toward the Pools of Happiness.
Or, to put it otherwise, these folk have the leisure of true aristocracy — leisure for thought and courtesy, leisure for sleep and laughter. They have time for their children — such well-trained, beautiful children with perfect, unhidden bodies. Have you ever met a crowd of children in the east of London or New York, or even on the Avenue at Forty-second or One Hundred and Forty-second Street, and fled to avoid their impudence and utter ignorance of courtesy? Come to Africa, and see well-bred and courteous children, playing happily and never sniffling and shining.
I have read everywhere that Africa means sexual license. Perhaps it does. Most who folk talk sex frantically have all too seldom revealed their source material. I was in West Africa only two months, but with both eyes wide, I saw children quite naked and women usually naked to the waist — with bare bosom and limbs. And in those sixty days I saw less of sex dalliance and appeal than I see daily on Fifth Avenue. This does not mean much, but it is an interesting fact.
The primitive black man is courteous and dignified. If the platforms of Western cities had swarmed with humanity as I have seen the platforms swarm in Senegal, the police would have a busy time. I did not see one respectable quarrel. Wherefore shall we all take to the Big Bush? No. I prefer New York. But my point is that New York and London and Paris must learn of West Africa and may learn.
* * * * *
African life with its isolation has deeper knowledge of human souls. The village life, the forest ways, the teeming markets, bring in intimate human knowledge that the West misses, sinking the individual in the social. Africans know fewer folk, but know them infinitely better. Their intertwined communal souls, therefore, brook no poverty nor prostitution — these things are to them un-understandable.
On the other hand, they are vastly ignorant of what the world is doing and thinking, and of what is known of its physical forces. They suffer terribly from preventable disease, from unnecessary hunger, from the freaks of the weather.
Here, then, is something for Africa and Europe both to learn; and Africa is eager, breathless, to learn — while Europe? Europe laughs with loud guffaws. Learn of Africa? Nonsense. Poverty cannot be abolished. Democracy and firm government are incompatible. Prostitution is world old and inevitable. And Europe proceeds to use Africa as a means and not as an end; as a hired tool and welter of raw materials and not as a land of human beings.
I think it was in Africa that I came more clearly to see the close connection between race and wealth. The fact that even in the minds of the most dogmatic supporters of race theories and believers in the inferiority of colored folk to white, there was a conscious or unconscious determination to increase their incomes by taking full advantage of this belief.
And then gradually this thought was metamorphosed into a realization that the income-bearing value of race prejudice was the cause and not the result of theories of race inferiority; that particularly in the United States the income of the Cotton Kingdom based on black slavery caused the passionate belief in Negro inferiority and determination to enforce it even by arms.
This is the DuBois who lived out his last years working in Ghana. This is the DuBois, his eyes opened by Africa, who committed class suicide by siding with the development of the African masses rather than remaining a lionized intellectual in America. This is the DuBois whom most of us seldom encounter. A DuBois who tired of the high wire, double consciousness balancing act, and decided to cast his total lot with Pan Africanism.
DuBois was an intellectual: first, last and always. His was no romantic nor nostalgic cleaving to Africa. He was a rationalist unswayed by emotionalism and appeals to sentimentality. Here’s how he described himself in Dusk of Dawn, his autobiography written when he was seventy years old as a summing up of his life:
My leadership was a leadership solely of ideas. I never was, nor ever will be, personally popular. This was not simply because of my idiosyncrasies but because I despise the essential demagoguery of personal leadership; of that hypnotic ascendancy over men which carries out objectives regardless of their value or validity, simply by personal loyalty and admiration. In my case I withdrew sometimes ostentatiously from the personal nexus, but I sought all the more determinedly to force home essential ideas.
One of the most forceful of those ideas is this seldom quoted insight in which DuBois locates the fervor and future of Pan Africanism squarely in the masses of the diaspora.
From the eighteenth century down the Negro intelligentsia has regarded segregation as the visible badge of their servitude and as the object of their unceasing attack. The upper class Negro has almost never been nationalistic. He has never planned or thought of a Negro state or a Negro church or a Negro school. This solution has always been a thought upsurging from the mass, because of pressure which they could not withstand and which compelled a racial institution or chaos. Continually such institutions were founded and developed, but this took place against the advice and best thought of the intelligentsia.
Pan Africanism will have its day. Will future rise. But not because of ideas, no matter how prescient or how logical. Rather Pan Africanism will rise because the masses of we African people in the diaspora will find that their brightest future is located in the complex matrix/nexus of African unity and not simplistically in the countries wherever we may have been born as a result of colonialism and the slave trade. Our brightest future will be wherever we can band together and work with and for each other as a specific manifestation of Africa, whether that be at “home” in the Americas or abroad, in the diaspora or on the continent of Africa.
The secret of Pan Africanism is that it is about Africa the people and not simply about Africa the land. Make no mistake, the control of Africa the land mass is important. But the ultimate measure of civilization is the social welfare of the people and not the material level of industrial development or lack thereof.
Africa: The children smiling. The women toiling. The men struggling mightily to make things work: old cars, crumbling buildings, underdeveloped townships. The people. Waking up. Walking. Working. Talking. Touching. Singing. Dancing. Collectively.
Tomika. Jamilla. Shaqiel. Kunta. Kwame. Lashawna. Tariq. Kenya. Rhodesia. LaToya. Keasha. Aiesha. Damieka. Damella. Shawneeka. Tupac. Assata.
And the list goes on and on and on. African-sounding names picked by the working class to illustrate their identification with Africa even when they don’t know one word of an Africa language.
To some people this is all laughable.
Pan Africanism is laughable.
Africa is laughable.
These nonsensical, totally homemade, made-up, crazy sounding names: laughable.
Laugh if you want to, but Africa is alive. It’s alive and its the working masses keeping Pan Africanism alive. All across the diaspora.
A child is conceived in Kenya and born in England. His mother teaches him that Africa is his home.
In Ghana we met elderly African American women. Quiet. In their sixties. Some of them married to Ghanaians. They’ve been there twenty, thirty years. Not thinking about returning.
In America there are thousands and thousands, thousands and thousands of African Americans who will never return to Africa but who turned out to support both Winnie and Nelson Mandela when they separately toured the United States.
The will is alive in the hearts of the masses.
The worsening conditions of our inner cities waters the tree of Pan Africanism. As massive lay-offs increase and government entitlements decrease. As personal security can no longer be guaranteed, and, indeed, insecurity and fear become the norm. As family ties unravel and people find themselves living not blocks or a few miles away from the nearest relative, but living in different states separated by thousands of miles. And, conversely, as the world shrinks because of technological advances in telecommunications and computers. All of this contributes to the development of Pan Africanism.
What is now a leap of faith, tomorrow may be but one small and rationale step toward a better life.
As the skilled and semi-skilled working masses of us: the teachers and mechanics, social workers and industrial equipment operators, postal workers and truck drivers, nurses and medical care providers (e.g. x-ray and laboratory technicians, therapists and nutritionists), administrators and office workers, accountants and retail merchants, as those of us who work everyday and help make the world go round, as we assess our relative positions and, increasingly, opt to investigate and exercise other options, particularly the option of living and working elsewhere, for us Africa will become more and more attractive.
Pan Africanism’s most pressing problem is not a lack of will but a lack of leadership. Committed and inspiring leadership which can articulate and implement solid plans which provide linkage and opportunity. Leadership. But it’s coming.
And the bulk of this leadership will not be the extraordinary individual geniuses but rather will be composed of the ordinary, hard working laborers who will choose a historic option, and, in so doing, make real the promise of Pan Africanism. The leadership will rise from among the most capable of the masses. From those whose strange and funny names are illustrative of an undying African dream. From those who right now may not even have a clue. No concern for Pan-anything. Just young and full of themselves, looking to make a way in the world and sure to find no way. None of their names inscribed anywhere. And they will be forced, by circumstance and by the intransigence of our historic oppressors (both internal and external), these young people, if they are to become even marginally productive as adults, these young people will have to struggle for their rights. Indeed, even if all they want to do is party, they will have to struggle for their right to party. They will have to struggle just to live.
The nineties will be both the best of times and the worse of times to be young, not to mention gifted and black. But out of the ever encroaching social malaise which threatens to engulf all of us, a new wave of leadership will emerge. A leadership which will turn to Africa, the Africa within all of us as well as Africa the continent. Some of them will “choose” to turn that way. Others will turn toward Africa because they have no other viable choice. In the long term, in terms of the social development of the masses of our people, linking and uniting Africa, that is the only way ahead available to the leadership that is coming.
From: Tomaniqua. Nefertteti. Ashanti. Cinque. The leadership is coming. From: Oduno. Latifa. Tiaji. Bomani. It’s coming. Leadership, the last missing puzzle piece, is coming.
Source: Kalamu ya Salaam. Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa, But I Can — PanaFest 1994
* * * * *
* * * * *
02_My_Story,_My_Song.mp3 (24503 KB)
(Kalamu reading “My Story, My Song”
Track List 1. Congo Square (9:01) 2. My Story, My Song (20:50) 3. Danny Banjo (4:32) 4. Miles Davis (10:26) 5. Hard News For Hip Harry (5:03) 6. Unfinished Blues (4:13) 7. Rainbows Come After The Rain (2:21)/Negroidal Noise (15:53) 8. Intro (3:59) 9. The Whole History (3:14) 10. Negroidal Noise (5:39) 11. Waving At Ra (1:40) 12. Landing (1:21) 13. Good Luck (:04)
* * * * *
music website > http://www.kalamu.com/bol/ writing website > http://wordup.posterous.com/ daily blog > http://kalamu.posterous.com twitter > http://twitter.com/neogriot facebook > http://www.facebook.com/kalamu.salaam
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
#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
* * * * *
By Juan Williams
Thirteen years before becoming the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall’s place in American history was secured, with his victory over school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. Williams (Eyes on the Prize) offers readers a thorough, straightforward life of “the unlikely leading actor in creating social change in the United States in the twentieth century.” Although he was denied access to the files of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where Marshall devoted more than 40 years of his law career, and worked without the cooperation of Marshall’s family, Williams has managed to fill in the blanks with over 150 interviews, including lengthy sessions with Marshall himself in 1989. Marshall is portrayed as an outspoken critic of black militancy and nonviolent demonstrations. Williams mentions, but does not dwell on, Marshall’s history of heavy drinking, womanizing and sexual harassment.
But his private contacts with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, even while that organization was working to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, receives critical attention. This relationship “could have cost him his credibility among civil rights activists had it become known,” writes Williams. Likewise, it would appear that his extra-legal activities and charges of incompetence and Communist connections would, if publicized, have kept him from the Supreme Court, as he himself admitted. Nevertheless, this work will stand as an accessible and fitting tribute to a champion of individual rights and “the architect of American race relations.Publishers Weekly
* * * * *
By Michael Grunwald
Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obamas policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDRs and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obamas long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. Its carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deals unemployment insurance system.
Its revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money. Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the worlds largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the worlds highest-speed Internet network. Its main legacy, like the New Deals, will be change.
* * * * *
By Peter Edelman
If the nations gross national incomeover $14 trillionwere divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 millionclimbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted forwhile the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.
The structure of todays economy has stultified wage growth for half of Americas workerswith even worse results at the bottom and for people of colorwhile bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.
* * * * *
By James Carville and Stan Greenberg
Its the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfareit is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, Its the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our governmentincluding the White Househas gone wrong, and what voters can do about it.
Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, Its the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.
* * * * *
By Wole Soyinka
Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception
a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits
who alternately terrify and inspire him
all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.” In writing from a child’s perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
update 15 July 2012