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It is equally inappropriate and down right reactionary to resist

the criticism that we African-american men have generally

adopted sexist outlook and behavior vis-a-vis our women.

 

 

Books by Kalamu ya Salaam

 

The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)

 

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Our Women Keep our Skies From Falling

Six Essays in Support of The Struggle To Smash Sexism/Develop Women

 

Revolutionary Struggle/Revolutionary Love

By Kalamu ya Salaam

SEXlSM: The systematic exploitation and/or oppression of one group of people by another group of people based on the criterion of sex. In America today, sexism manifests itself as the male domination of women.

 

I. CONTEXT AND CONDITIONS

Many of us are discouraged to the point of despair about life, love and liberation, about woman/man relationships, about how to stick and stay together. Tragically, many of our leaders and theoreticians are equally as stymied as are the masses of our people.

Too many of us steadfastly and foolishly refuse to recognize and act )n the reality that African-americans are willfully and purposefully oppressed and exploited by the white ruling class.

There are those among us who pretend that the war is over, and even a few brazen enough to contend that we won the war because we have elected a handful of Black officials to public office and have seen a highly visible but, powerwise, an essentially insignificant increase in he ranks of an alleged Black bourgoisie and Black middle class. This deception is the roots cycle.

The roots (or should we say "ruse") cycle contends that we are all now one big happy family, working together in modern america. However, an accurate analysis of our daily existence reveals the opposite. But, like children in a haunted house confused by a myriad of mirrors which throw out intentionally false and deceptive images, many of us believe more in appearances than in reality.

If we weren't so metaphysical (attributing material and social development to unknown and/or incomprehensible nonmaterial, nonhuman forces) and fatalistic (believing that our future is predetermined and/or beyond the influence of our struggle to transform ourselves and the world) we would look beyond the image to he controllers of the image and the mechanisms of image making; we would look for the hidden hand of humans acting in their own interest rather than the invisible hand of "our God(s)" allegedly manipulating reality. Furthermore, what we "think" or "believe" about reality does not determine reality or necessarily aid us in confronting and changing it. We can create better and more beautiful lives only by critically and concretely investigating and transforming material and social reality.

II. THE REALITY OF SEXISM

The oppression of our men is widespread, well documented and undeniable. The exploitation of our women is equally widespread, but is not as well documented and, as numerous writings demonstrate, is often denied. It is important to distinguish between the physical oppression of our men, and the economic and/or sexual exploitation of our women. Misunderstandings between our men and women may be based in part on our failure to recognize that there are differences in the mechanisms used to oppress and exploit our women as compared to our men even though the same external enemy controls both mechanisms. 

The facts of life are that African-american women are more economically exploited than are our men, white women and/or white men.1 Additionally, our women face a sexist discrimination exploitation and harassment which our men do not.2 To deny these facts only aids in perpetuating sexism as we can not eradicate it or it~ effects and influences until we face and fight sexism head on.

It is equally inappropriate and down right reactionary to resist the criticism that we African-american men have generally adopted sexist outlook and behavior vis-a-vis our women. Our lack of the power to institutionalize sexism means little because sexism is already embedded into nearly every institution in America. Regardless of our lack of power, the fact is that we routinely act out sexist behavior and the controllers of society at large condone, seldom punish and even sometimes reward such.

Some people argue that women have made significant inroads into the power structure of america and that sexism is being ameliorated as a major force in America life. These same people argue the "declining significance of race." They are purveyors of grim and gruesome fairy tales.

Sexism, just like racism, is far from dead in america. While on paper (newspapers and congressional records) it may appear that conditions are improving, in reality the results are mixed. It is no accident that simultaneously with the development of a caste like parameter around the Black poor in america, there is a resurgent anti-feminist movement building. It is no accident that ERA is being beaten back in this post Bakke era, an era which can be characterized by a proliferation of both racist right-wingers and pornography profiteers.

III. FIGHTING SEXISM

Instead of attacking Black feminism, we should be fanning the flames of struggle by heightening the anti-sexist critique of America and linking that critique with a critique of capitalism and racism.3

Instead of using the errors and flaws in feminist presentations to deny or downgrade the essential anti-sexist struggle, we should be criticizing and correcting them in order to make the arguments more potent and thereby, advance both the struggle against sexism and our total struggle for liberation.

Our debates and discussions concerning sexism should not be occasions to murder mouth each other, but rather should be efforts to gain clarity and direction in struggle.

Moreover, the war against sexism is no threat to Black "manhood," nor should we confuse being a man with being sexist.

The same enemy, who spearheads the sexist attack on our women, also individually, institutionally and ideologically maims and murders our manhood. It is important to note that, unlike pre-industrial European history, the history of Africa is not a history of women fighting men nor vice versa. The so called battle of the sexes, the preoccupation with a patriarchal and/or misogynic sexist outlook and form of social organization, is, in the American context, mainly the fruit of European history.

Our African history includes a matriarchal form of social organization which should not be confused with amazonism. Classically, matriarchy is blood lines traced through the female and a social organization which insures the economic/political rights of women; amazonism is a social organization based on the female domination of men.4 Furthermore, women ideologically and physically defending themselves should not be confused with women hating men. It is a prevalent and painful fact of life that far too many of our men physically aggress/attack and humiliate our women. Often this is only a thinly disguised effort to regain a sense of manhood. Regrettably, it is true that many men choose to beat our women into a quasi-submission rather than meet (and defeat) the man. 

The hard fact of life is that our economic and political impotence is neither our women's responsibility nor their doing. Besides, there are no real secrets between our women and men. Our women intimately know our economic/political impotence, they know our rage, and know too that our repressed fury will sometimes be turned against them. Yet, they love us nevertheless, none the less. However, we cannot expect their love for us to be a graveyard love.

As Zora Neale Hurston so eloquently addressed the issue in her book Their Eyes Were Watching God, it will sometimes be necessary for our women to literally, as well as ideologically, kill the men whom they love.5 When we men become sick, infected with the misogynic sexism of Europe, we should be struggled with. If the situation warrants, as in cases of brutal physical attacks on women with the intent or potential to kill, our women should defend themselves "by any means necessary. Loving a man is not and should not be synonymous with denying the womanself. Our women are not masochists. They are correct and courageous when they adamantly refuse to be the slave of a slave.

In my opinion, there are far more of our men who hate and/or are afraid of our women than the reverse. One manifestation of this is the Black man/white woman syndrome.

We are concerned about the prevalence of our "men of note" mixing, mating, and marrying white women, However, we harbor no mythical and/or subjective fear or hatred of miscegenation, which is a "biological boogaman" that has no concrete basis among our people. Our people have never rejected each other because of white blood,

But Black men/white women relationships among those of our people who "seem to have made it" (I intentionally emphasize this category of our people) is a burning political issue precisely because when a people's leading males reject their own females in favor of females from the historically oppressor group, then indeed that people are in an advanced stage of self-hate. As Sekou Toure has noted, our leaders should be proactive cultural personifiers of our people and not individual humans who de facto deny the importance of uniting with our women.

Also and not surprisingly, linking the struggle against sexism with the struggles against capitalism and racism synergistically increases the effectiveness of our total struggle. Sojourner Truth understood this well when she said "I am glad to see that men are getting their rights, but I want women to get theirs, and the water is stirring... if colored men get their rights, and not colored women... it will be just as bad as it was before. So I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring; because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again."6

When we investigate the literatue7 and lives of revolutionary liberation organizations and individuals in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World we learn that they made the battle against sexism a major aspect of struggles for national liberation and socialist development.

IV. OUR PEOPLE ARE THE SOLUTION

Some women have given up all hope of our people being made whole again. They do not believe that our women and men can live, love and work together and arguments will not change their minds. However, the social arrangements we develop, if progressive, will give such sisters good cause to reconsider their hopelessness.

If we, who consider ourselves the cadre of the Black liberation struggle, can develop woman/man relationships among ourselves which promote and sustain both individual development and collective commitment to liberation struggle, we will have made a significant contribution to our people which will inject a much needed revolutionary optimism into our movement as a whole and into each of our lives as individuals.

For those of us who have already seen the light and who are wholehearted engaged in this struggle against sexism and for the economic/political equality of women and men, our task is twofold. Firstly, and most importantly, we must create, maintain and propagate profoundly human and non-sexist modes of female/male relationships both individually and collectively. Secondly, we must ideologically challenge and change backward and sexist individuals, institutions and ideas.

Our fears about life and each other, our sexual dsyfunction and incompatibilities, our geometrically increasing separateness (divorces, separations, desertions), our individual dissatisfactions and disgusts, all of these are profound reactions, not to fatal flaws in our nature or to each other as woman/ man, sister/brother, but rather all of these are profound reactions to a society which has systematically severed us one from another and denied and destroyed, albeit in different ways, the sense of self worth of our women and men.

In America today, to truly love another person requires a readiness to face down anti-human reactionaries who view love primarily as a commodity from which to extract profit and also requires that we face our own weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

In short, if we do not share struggle, we can not share love. Love is a function of life and these anti-humans are constantly and consciously committed to oppressing, exploiting and killing us.

During times of war and oppression, such as these are, there is no other love possible but serious and shared struggle. Every battle we

"consciously" wage together will bring us closer and bind us more firmly, will increase our understanding of each other and the world. Revolutionary struggle brings with it revolutionary love.

NOTES

1 Herman, Alexis."A Statistical Portrait Of The Black Woman Worker," THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine, Vol.8, No.5.

2 Stone, Pauline T., "Institutional Sexism And The Quest For Racial Equality," THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine. Vol. 9, No.5.

3 Examples of such critiques are: Beyond Connections: Liberation In Love And Struggle, Dr. M. Ron Karenga, AHIDlANA~Habari, P.O. Box 3472, N.O.,LA 70177. Revolutionary Love, Kalamu ya Salaam, AHIDIANA-Habari. Women And The New World, Pace Setters, P.O. Box 3281, Philadelphia, PA 19121.

4 Diop, Cheikh Anta. The Cultural Unity of Africa, Third World Press, 7524 5. Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60619

5 Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Fawcett World Library.

6 Lerner, Gerda, editor. Black Women In White America. Vantage Books, pp.569, 570.

7 Examples of such literature are: The Role Of Women In The Revolution, A. Sekou Toure, Black Standard Publishing Company, 243 West 125th St., Harlem, NY 10027.

Towards A Science Of Women's Liberation: An Analysis From Cuba, Isabel Larguia and John Dumoulin, New England Free Press, 60 Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143.

Women Of Viet Nam, Arlene Eisen Bergman. People's Press, P.O. Box 40130, San Francisco, CA 94110.

Women and Child Care In China, Ruth Sidel. Penguin Books.

"Revolutionary Struggle/Revolutionary Love" was written as a contribution to the 1979 THE BLACK SCHOLAR (Vol. 10, Nos. 8,9) forum, "The Black Sexism Debate," which was generated around responses to an earlier article written by Robert Staples. 

Cover Drawing by Douglass Redd  copyright July 1980 By Kalamu ya Salaam

 

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Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement

 A Radical Democratic Vision

By Barbara Ransby

One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives. A gifted grassroots organizer, Baker shunned the spotlight in favor of vital behind-the-scenes work that helped power the black freedom struggle. She was a national officer and key figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a prime mover in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Baker made a place for herself in predominantly male political circles that included W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr., all the while maintaining relationships with a vibrant group of women, students, and activists both black and white.

In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a complex figure whose radical, democratic worldview, commitment to empowering the black poor, and emphasis on group-centered, grassroots leadership set her apart from most of her political contemporaries. Beyond documenting an extraordinary life, the book paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across the twentieth century. UNC Press

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Who Was Ella Baker—Ella Baker began her involvement with the NAACP in 1940. She worked as a field secretary and then served as director of branches from 1943 until 1946. Inspired by the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, Baker co-founded the organization In Friendship to raise money to fight against Jim Crow Laws in the deep South. In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta to help organize Martin Luther King's new organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She also ran a voter registration campaign called the Crusade for Citizenship.

On February 1, 1960, a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University refused to leave a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina where they had been denied service. Baker left the SCLC after the Greensboro sit-ins. She wanted to assist the new student activists because she viewed young, emerging activists as a resource and an asset to the movement. Miss Baker organized a meeting at Shaw University for the student leaders of the sit-ins in April 1960. From that meeting, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)  was born.

Adopting the Gandhian theory of nonviolent direct action, SNCC members joined with activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to organize in the 1961 Freedom Rides. In 1964 SNCC helped create Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention on Mississippi's racism and to register black voters. . . .

With Ella Baker's guidance and encouragement, SNCC became one of the foremost advocates for human rights in the country. Ella Baker once said, "This may only be a dream of mine, but I think it can be made real." Her audacity to dream big is a cornerstone of our philosophy. Her influence was reflected in the nickname she acquired: "Fundi," a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation. Baker continued to be a respected and influential leader in the fight for human and civil rights until her death on December 13, 1986, her 83rd birthday.—EllaBakerCenter

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#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

Non-fiction

#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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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

By Annette Gordon-Reed

 

This is a scholar's book: serious, thick, complex. It's also fascinating, wise and of the utmost importance. Gordon-Reed, a professor of both history and law who in her previous book helped solve some of the mysteries of the intimate relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, now brings to life the entire Hemings family and its tangled blood links with slave-holding Virginia whites over an entire century. Gordon-Reed never slips into cynicism about the author of the Declaration of Independence. Instead, she shows how his life was deeply affected by his slave kinspeople: his lover (who was the half-sister of his deceased wife) and their children. Everyone comes vividly to life, as do the places, like Paris and Philadelphia, in which Jefferson, his daughters and some of his black family lived. So, too, do the complexities and varieties of slaves' lives and the nature of the choices they had to make—when they had the luxury of making a choice. Gordon-Reed's genius for reading nearly silent records makes this an extraordinary work.—Publishers Weekly

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 4 March 2012

 

 

 

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Related files: "Revolutionary Struggle/Revolutionary Love"  Our Women Keep Our Skies From Falling  Preface: It Aint Easy   Debunking Myths  Rape: A Radical Analysis   "Women's Rights Are Human Rights"