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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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 If he is disturbed about rape and murder on the continent of Africa, he could ask why the civil rights establishment,

the Congressional Black Caucus, and TransAfrica have not demanded of the UN that something be done about

the terror and the mutilations in Sierra Leone, the murders in the Congo (nearly 1000 last week), and

the sex slaves Naomi Wolfe spoke with Oprah Winfrey about . . .


Books by Stanley Crouch

Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz (2007) / The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity (2005) / 

The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader (2002)  /  The All-American Skin Game, or, The Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994 (1995)

Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989 (1991) /  Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives (1998)

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Stanley Crouch Responds to Haki's Hard Truths

Victory Is Assured

By Stanley Crouch


Is there a cliché factory where they mass produce people like LaVon Rice? Who is unaware of the levels of complexity that pollute human history in any culture and any kind of government? Is Mr. Rice at all aware of the fact that there was NO abolition movement in Africa that had nearly the grand vision of humanity that developed in America? Has he any awareness, at all, of Anthony Benezet, the 18th century Quaker and abolitionist, who has no parallel in Africa and whose ideas were so pure in terms of universal humanism that they laid down the fundamental argument with racism to this very day? In short, Benezet, who had taught both black and white children observed that, given equal training, it was clear that what he called "the African genius" was the same as that of the white.

Is Mr. Rice at all aware of how important to the thinking of the WORLD the American abolitionist movement, at maturity, was? In fact, one could say that all issues of social access to those considered inferior at birth were prefigured and argued by black and white people on a scale that influenced 
women's suffrage, unionism, and just about every other thing that groups have fought for in order to be respected and recognized as human beings, regardless of color, of religion, of national origin, sex, of class, of sexual persuasion?

What the former Don L. Lee is writing about is the complexity of Afro-American life and experience, which is especially refreshing coming from a man of his former black nationalist intellectual limitations. He learned something as a man in the military, which is not the same as supporting every American military campaign. He also went to Africa and realized something, which is that he was not an African.

In fact, I would suggest and, have continued to suggest over the years, that if Negro Americans were as involved in elevating themselves and actually learning how great a tradition they created in this country as they are in romantic blubberings about Africa, we could get these public schools working and bring an end to the intellectual genocide that keeps so many from the levels of success necessary to raise the capital, create the lobbies, organize the voting blocs, create the letter-writing, and so necessary to influence the policies of this country, both domestically and internationally.

It would also do Mr. Rice some good to go to the website and look into the Arab relationship to the selling of slaves right now. This lightweight but fervent identification with the Islamic world is surely not grounded in fact, historical or contemporary. Mr. Rice, poet that he supposedly is and artist surely interested in the images that arrive in world literature, might also be interested to see that the fundamental racist images of black people might well have arrived, first, in the the tale that opens "A Thousand and One Nights." Oops. 

Further, Mr. Rice should contact SOS Slaves Mauritania, where he might find out that the reason that organization did not sign on to the Durban Conference on Racism was that it did not address the racism of Arabs toward black Africans or the tribal racism of black Africans toward other black ethic groups. That is the actual foundation, he must know, of the slave trade that he does so much whining about in his response to the former Don L. Lee.

If murder and rape bothers him so much, he would do well to think about how much of that happens to the black people in this country who are oppressed by street criminals "of color" who have murdered, LITERALLY, thousands upon thousands over the last 30 years, raped thousands, sold drugs to thousands, and have maintained the kind of reign of terror that skinheads never could, had they begun killing black people in the numbers that street gangs have.

If he is disturbed about rape and murder on the continent of Africa, he could ask why the civil rights establishment, the Congressional Black Caucus, and TransAfrica have not demanded of the UN that something be done about the terror and the mutilations in Sierra Leone, the murders in the Congo (nearly 1000 last week), and the sex slaves Naomi Wolfe spoke with Oprah Winfrey about on Winfrey's show a few weeks back. In short, if Mr. Rice is so hopped up about injustice, why doesn't he do something other than run down the same tired list of complaints that we have heard over and over and over and over since black Americans stumbled into another version of Pan Africanism nearly 40 years ago?

If he wants to talk about American companies and their rapacious relationship to the Third World, he should go to and find the Frontline story on Iraq, "The Long Road to War," which looks into why the sanctions did not work against Saddam Hussein. They threatened Iraq's business relationships to, for two major players, Russia and China, those models of social morality and empathy for the oppressed, sweating masses. 

In other words, the kinds of stainless heroes that Mr. Rice would like to have in the world do not seem to exist when it comes to actual power. Europeans, Americans, capitalists, Marxists, oligarchies, and totalitarians have end tended to get away with as much as they could as long as they could. But when the purple smoke of sentimentality clears away--which is almost never--what the former Mr. Lee says is absolutely true. Black Americans, for all of our troubles, live better than any black people anywhere else on the face of the earth. We have also contributed more on every level--intellectual, political, moral, technological, aesthetic, athletic, spiritual, etc.--than any other black people. 

For better or for worse, actually, like everybody else, for BOTH, we were the first modern black people and are the predominate black people right now. The consequence of that is not that we should wallow in bragging but that we should GROW UP. That is to say move up from clichés and start bettering our condition so that we can better the policies with which we disagree--or support! In conclusion, I would say to Mr. Rice and all of those who were wired in the cliché factory, break free and start climbing up the tree of life. You might then see something we all need to know about and learn from you.

Source: Kalamu's e-drum (April 9, 2003)

Stanley Crouch is a columnist, novelist, essayist, critic and television commentator. He has served since 1987 as an artistic consultant at Lincoln Center and is a co-founder of the department known as Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 1993, he received both the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur Foundation grant. He is now working on a biography of Charlie Parke

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#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 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


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#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
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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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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 Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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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 14 March 2012




Home Amiri Baraka Table  Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Related Files:  Haki Madhubuti Bio  Haki's Hard Truths  A Response to Hard Truths  Stanley Crouch's Response to Hard Truths   Response to Crouch's "Cliches"   The Poetry of Don L. Lee by Paula Giddings 

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