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Malcolm has become comfortable, conservative, corporate (a business opportunity),

a Republican. As Amin Sharif, has writtem, “Malcolm is dead!”

His integrity and dignity have been scattered to the winds



Nonwhite Manhood in America

Race Culture Limits Freedom & Speech

By Rudolph Lewis 


Malcolm X

In his eulogy, Ossie Davis gave an exacting name to that phenomena that caused such a variety of Negroes (especially non Muslims) to be attracted to the person of Malcolm X, namely, “manhood.”  Of course, in his eulogy, Davis  becomes appropriately poetic and bedrocks all subsequent altar building for the fallen hero, by calling him our “Black Shining Prince.” Naturally, few of us could fully flesh out the notion of Malcolm’s majesty.

Malcolm, like Martin and Nathaniel, seemed oblivious to the fears of common men. This fearlessness, this daring, like Bruh Rabbit, Signifying Monkey, High John the Conqueror, as well as John Henry was deep-seated in southern Negro culture, flying high above terrorism and brutal repression. Malcolm was only one expression of a native, indigenous need and desire and appreciation of resolute manliness, in the presence of massive odds.

Malcolm expressed, exuded in body and words, in public (for white people to hear) what at righteous times Negroes only dramatized among themselves. It was a daring and a revolutionary stance, revealing, it ran counter to all expectation of public Negro speech.  Malcolm developed a “style to follow.” That outrageous style related a particular vision of America developed through poverty, violent repression, criminality, and the black nationalism of Elijah Muhammad, within whom Malcolm felt “true manhood” resided, that is, a fragile old man, a mystic of great humility and defiance to America’s centuries-reign of white supremacy.

A Stagolee, a hustler by training and career, Malcolm preferred simplicity and directness. He discarded or diminished in his public sermons that which he found useless, namely, Elijah’s mysticism and humility, and with great scorching arrogance emphasized Elijah’s defiance and black “racialism.” His style was one of bitter sarcasm, laughable exaggerations of the hypocrisy of race in America, global analogies of manly responses to white racial repression.

As a humorist, a social critic, a rationalist—Malcolm cleverly led us to devastating conclusions, e.g., defiance to all corrupt authority, racial or otherwise. He could have gone into showbiz like Chris Rock. He was sufficiently self-educated to speak intelligently at all levels of society, including matching wits with the very glib and subtle James Baldwin, yet another daring style of black manhood.

So there are these other traits—Malcolm’s discipline and denial, his determination, his rise against the odds, his persistence and his willingness to risk all for black liberation in the face of threats against him and family, his vision to enlarge the human family. It is Malcolm’s racial tone of defiance,  rather than these manly traits, that too many Malcolm is remembered. The black shell without inner substance.

Malcolm gained his spurs by making scathing and often unfair attacks against Negro leadership, including Dr. King. For Malcolm all that existed outside of the Nation of Islam and its program fell short. That was Malcolm’s reality and answer and Malcolm’s manly response to race in America, namely, a Black separate nation. Black Independence. And possibly a nebulous Pan-African socialism..

Malcolm’s answer was no more reasonable than Martin’s philosophy of love and nonviolence, and his ethical appeal to the consciousness of America. Malcolm’s manhood, for me, was no more vital and enlightening than that of Martin, despite whatever protests Ossie may have had on his ranking. Of course, his smiling militancy was the rage of the time in some quarters. Malcolm concluded that the March on Washington gained nothing. Mocked it. Viewed the most respected Negro leaders as traitors to the cause. That is the problem with the bestowal of sainthood, so many chinks that cannot be ignored by skewed praise.

So what are academics, politicians, pundits, and corporate execs loving in Malcolm, today? Malcolm like Martin has become institutions (supported by organizations and money that Malcolm would have despised), and thus Malcolm has become comfortable, conservative, corporate (a business opportunity), a Republican. As Amin Sharif, has writtem, “Malcolm is dead!” His integrity and dignity have been scattered to the winds that one can barely hear his sarcasm toward black and white hypocrisy.

Jack Johnson

Defining black manhood has always been a great enterprise in America, at least, since the 1660s when Englishmen began to codify Africans as slaves by nature, and as primitives with the the potential to flower under Christianity like Stowe’s Uncle Tom, so exaggeratedly Christian that even a pious Baptist like John Brown scorned to pay homage to such imaginative claptrap and sterility. Jack Johnson wanted his epitaph, people to recall, "I was a man."

For most Americans black manhood is defined at a distance—by the evening news, by sitcoms, and, lately, by documentaries. The violent brutal Negro remains a hit, along with Steppin Fetchit and other clownish comics and oversexed athletes with over-sized shoes. Documentaries, however, possess the notion that we are getting the “truth of things,” the real deal, the real McCoy. Most of us, however, lack schooling in the Uses of Media and Media Criticism and how filmmakers use film to shape how we think and how we should think. That is, most of us are subject to thought manipulation without giving thought to the poisons our consciousness digests by these shapers of image and story.

PBS offers us Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise of Jack Johnson, which Amin Sharif’s calls a “courageous undertaking.”  Why is it courageous to tell a story about a black boxer, long forgotten and disregarded? Of course, the story is titillating, daring, threatening white American taboos. Kobe Bryant, booed at the 2005 All Star Game, is not the first black man challenged and demeaned because of  liaison with enterprising white women, nor "The Juice" freed on a rhyme. Jack Johnson also seized the pleasures and advantages of power and wealth, seemingly thoughtless of the outcome.

And he paid the price. Doubtless Ken Burns, as Sharif reminds us, should be praised for bringing such a controversial figure as Jack “The WhoreMonger” Johnson into our living rooms and bedrooms. The classical way of dealing with such scoundrels and violators of white propriety, such men as Jack, is to kill them off, like in The Birth of a Nation" or “The Long Green Mile”—in the latter, the "nigger" violated white children and a white woman, he had to die, even though he tried to save their lives. And how very  convenient he desires his own death, a body realizing its unworthiness of God's miracles!

Burns documentary ostensibly ends with Jack Johnson’s glove shielding his eyes from the sun’s white rays, he on his back, defeated. White Supremacy thus restored by the fists of Jess Willard. Anti-climatic is Johnson’s submission to America’s prison system and the twenty or thirty remaining years of his life. Jack took it all in good humor. But, of course, it was all down hill in his post-prison years. The flame of vitality, wealth, and fame died on the canvas, the dragon of black sexuality symbolically destroyed.

Every artist must limit his subject and focus. One cannot say everything. But, like Amin Sharif, I sense a “lacking” in Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise of Jack Johnson.  There’s something amiss, as if the story was not fully told, or rather easily told, to a white middle-class (Hollywood-inured and anemic) audience.  Maybe, as commonly explained, it is the black man’s “touchiness,” an irrational element so ubiquitous America has created a corporate prison industry to restrain such indignation.

Good white Americans still praise Gone with the Wind, in its day, our reminder how much Birth of a Nation is yet adored, at times for its effective techniques and then for its assertions of a God-ordered worldwhites on top and blacks in their place of service. That is how the South still wants to recall its pastall is well in the best of all possible worlds. Here whiteness is beautiful, extraordinarily innocent, pure, noble, and generous in its rewards, bountiful for those willing to play to go along with the fiction.

Ken Burns’ use of W.E.B. Du Bois’ term “unforgivable blackness” is deceptive. For the core story of Jack Johnson's life asserts only peripherally his “blackness.” Johnson challenged the defining power of whites to define  “black manhood.” That was his true battle, and at that he was a slugger to the end. The white girls were a sideshow to the real drama of his existential struggle for his balls, not the main stage of Johnson's imagination or sympathy, as Styron tried to recast what he viewed as a self-hating Nathaniel Turner of Southampton County. 

In America since the 1660s  white America’s best men have restricted and attempted to define “black manhood” by law, custom, terror, incarceration, deportation, and murder. Thus after Jack’s defeat Ken Burns has little concern for Johnson’s life, for his lifestyle can no longer be used as a political threat, intentional or unintentionally. In a London letter response to his own slave Benjamin Franklin said that he could tolerate him fairly well if he looked upon him with one eye and hear him with one ear. This white male uneasiness with black manhood (or lack of it) has appeared lately with the brawl in Detroit and Randy Moss, in effect, telling the opposition's fans to kiss his ass.

But a man is not dead until he dies. Ken Burns focused, however, only on Jack Johnson’s public life and how it challenged white America’s civil religion of White Supremacy. As Amin Sharif points out, Burns displaces or diminishes the needed context for an informative discussion of the history of governmental, institutional, and conspiratorial efforts to make black men less than white men and their repressive acts  to freeze them in positions of dependency.  

In effect, Ken Burns has no more insight into black manhood or its struggles than William Styron. Neither knows or sympathizes with the existential reality of black male repression in America.

Ward Churchill

Ward Churchill is an American Indian professor at the University of Colorado who wrote a "gut-wrenching" essay about the 9/11 tragedy on the day that it happened and posted it on the internet. As a result of his academic questioning of the narrative of government power, he has been threatened by UC, the government of Colorado. and by the denunciation of a corps of pundits and politicians. The networks refuse to let him speak or explain himself for fear he may be infectious.

Churchill asks us to consider the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon as other than through the lens, the mantra of the corporate media (and its wealthy talking heads) as acts “senseless” and “attacks on democracy.” In short he asks us to humanize the 9/11 tragedy, to place it in the political history of   America's political and military engagement of  Iraq and other countries and other peoples. From the Gulf War to Bush’s War on Iraq, Churchill claims that over a half million Iraqi children died, and another half million adults as a result of US surgical bombing of water and sewage facilities in Iraq and then the subsequent isolation and stifling of Iraq's economy, by restricting the sell of its cash resource, oil.

Churchill argues the Saudi terrorists indeed had a purpose and that they made use of Pentagon tactics and that their justification for the death of civilians was in line with State Department’s rationale of “collateral damage.” Fallujah was destroyed and we Americans have shed not one tear for the people of Fallujah and their conquest by American marines. Churchill refuses to let America off the responsibility hook, to allow the free reign of smug conservative politicians and pundits to shape all public thinking into a jingoistic and sentimental “support for the troops,” American democracy and the rule of law.

The Mideast Muslim response in the form of al-Qaeda and its attack on the monetary and military centers of America are not altogether surprising and unreasonable, for Churchill, his remark reminding us of Malcolm's statement on the assassination of JFK.  As Churchill describes it:

All of those chickens came home to roost [on 9/11], because there had never really been a response in-kind in all that entire grisly history. It was sort of manifested in the symbol of those twin towers at the foot of something called Wall Street. And Wall Street takes its name from the enclosure of the slave compound for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. So now there's a bunch of those ghosts, too. All the symbolism is confluent [at Ground Zero] . . .

Churchill does not justify the devastating attack of 9/11 nor the death of men, women, and children unconnected with the exercise of US global power. But those Twin Towers “technocrats” like Eichmann and his “technicians of empire” (corporate lawyers and execs, the export trade managers) are they not part and parcel of the apparatus of US global military and political repression? Are all these too eligible for the status of collateral damage? Does not Arab Muslim "manhood" require even of well-educated and reasonable men to stand and fight for Muslim culture and independence, without interference of American military and financial largesse, by any means necessary? Are such men monsters?

Because of such sharp questions, American media and politicians have sought to isolate Mr. Churchill, threaten his employment, and some conservatives have called for charges of treason and his death. All of these terror attacks on Churchill’s character and comfort and none are shocked by such rabid responses in an America which vaunts its freedom of speech (and academic speech) and assembly. But our ideals and promoted freedoms have always been for a precious few and for those of the demos who are willing to walk in lock step with their betters. Ward Churchill refused to play follow the leader, like those hillbillies in Abu Grahib.

We wonder how many of those who love Malcolm are willing to stand in defense of Ward Churchill. How many black politicians and pundits now ready to build altars for Malcolm will defend Churchill’s right to be a gadfly in the sterile and self-righteous atmosphere of American politics and its emphasis on  war and greed? Surely, Malcolm would embrace Churchill in his efforts to enrich the American dialogue, and his unwilling integrity to be satisfied, like so many immigrants, with being an honorary white man.

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My Life and Battles

By Jack Johnson

African American historian Gerald Early refers to Jack Johnson (1878–1946), the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, as “the first African-American pop culture icon.” Johnson is a seminal and iconic figure in the history of race and sport in America. My Life and Battles is the translation of a memoir by Johnson that was published in French, has never before been translated, and is virtually unknown.

It covers Johnson’s colorful life, both inside and outside the ring, up to and including his famous defeat of Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910, in one of the iconic ring battles of the early twentieth century. In addition to the fights themselves the memoir recounts, among many other things, Johnson’s brief and amusing career as a local politician and provides portraits of some of the most famous boxers of the 1900–1915 era.

Johnson comments explicitly on race and “the color line” in boxing and in American society at large in ways that he probably would not have in a publication destined for an American reading public. The text constitutes genuinely new, previously unavailable material and will be of great interest for the many readers intrigued by Jack Johnson.

In addition to providing information about Johnson’s life, it is a fascinating exercise in self-mythologizing that provides substantial insights into how Johnson perceived himself and wished to be perceived by others. Johnson’s personal voice comes through clearly—brash, clever, theatrical, and invariably charming. The memoir makes it easy to see how and why Johnson served as an important role model for Muhammad Ali and why so many have compared the two. With a foreword by Geoffrey C. Ward.  Translated from the French by Christopher Rivers

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Unforgivable Blackness

The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

By Geoffrey C. Ward

Johnson (1878–1946), boxing's first black heavyweight champion, was a lightning rod for controversy in early 20th-century America. Even many of his fellow African-Americans resented his unapologetic dominance of the ring and steady succession of white girlfriends and wives, viewing his behavior as a setback to race relations.

Ward (A First-Class Temperament) depicts the fear and resentment Johnson spurred in white Americans in voluminous detail that may startle modern readers in its frankness. Contemporary journalists regularly referred to Johnson as a "nigger" and openly advocated his pummeling at white hands, though ample quotations from supporters in the Negro press balance the perspective.

Ward first documents the obstacles the boxing world threw in Johnson's path (including prolonged refusals by top white boxers to fight against him), and then probes the government's prosecution of the champ under the Mann Act (which banned the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes") for taking his girlfriends across state lines. Ward brings his award-winning biographical skills to this sympathetic portrayal, which practically bursts with his research—at times almost every page has its own footnote. Though the narrative drags slightly in Johnson's declining years, the champion's stubborn, uncompromising personality never lets up. Even readers who don't consider this a knockout will concede Ward a victory on points. Photos— Publishers Weekly

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              By Lorraine Hansberry

I can hear Rosalee
See the eyes of Willie McGee
My mother told me about
My mother told me about
The dark nights
And dirt roads
And torch lights
And lynch robes

faces of men
Laughing white
Faces of men
Dead in the night
sorrow night
and a
sorrow night


Source: AmericanLynching

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Writer Lorraine Hansberry's sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines.

Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the "Save Willie McGee" campaign and—as Life reported—its "imported" lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951).

Few felt McGee's passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug. Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women's movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)—a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organization—the novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . . Source: https://Litigation-Essentials.LexisNexis

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#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

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong.

We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.   Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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 incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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