Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Black Body as a feared Necessity in the Post-Industrial Urban Economy

The Black Body as a feared Necessity in the Post-Industrial Urban Economy

response paper to the Sixth Annual African American Studies Conference at Macalester College

Freedom Movements
February 16, 2005
Yongho Kim

paper link:

Friday, February 25, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Yo Mama" as a racial marker in 12 Moods for Jazz and Puerto Rico?

first attempt at engaging in discussion via the blog/mailing list:

at our last class discussion on Langston Hughes on Feb 21, ( ) Will Clarke said that the connotation of "Yo Mama" varied throughout the different parts of the clip/concert. I wanted to problematize that.

At the Langston Hughes: 12 Moods for Jazz, I picked up the word "Ask Yo Mama" once, which is when this seriously liberal-minded white middle class woman asks Hughes (and you really need the intonation imitation here to get the right atmosphere/situation) "is it TRUE, that blacks are violent?, is it TRUE, that blacks this, blacks that, is it TRUE?" At which Hughes responds, "Ask Yo Mama"

During a Latin American History class in the Fall of 2002, professor Javier Morillo-Alicea said that in Puerto Rico, when someone pretends to be like totally white, like "yeah, so my family is all white, you know, no browns/indians, all white", people ask them, "Ah so? Where's your grandma [¿y tu abuela donde está?]" Hitting both at the permeability of interracial coupling in the island (e.g., you are really 100% white? you are joking right? were you born in a monastery?) and the place of gender of such relationships in colonial hierarchies of power. (e.g. if there are very few blacks in your family, it's most likely your grandma, not your grandpa)

I think "Ask Yo Mama" can be interpreted along the same vein. That is, who are you, white woman? Is your mother white? What is the position of you asking me, a black male, where blacks do this or do that, as if we were some strange insects put under a microscope? Thus contextualizing the conversation, painting racially the grey-neutral interrogation of the objective white woman into the colored folk.

Also when I was doing research with Mexica dancers and trying to present the women dancers as a danger/problem to the construction of the Chicano nation as an imagined brotherhood of males, Jessie Buendía '04 pointed out that the space of the mother cannot be denied in an ideology of blood-based nation, for she guarantees the nation's production(labor) / reproduction(birth, continuation of kin). So how does the figure of the mother simultaneously present a grave challenge to a patriarchally imagined nation a la Nazi Germany and yet be a critical component in its sustenance? How do patriarchal structures/discourses manage, or fail to, control the mother in the context of the nation?

I think the figure of the mother is closely related to the social relationships and the ensuing racial markership in the constituents of the nation and/or racialized groups, both as a physicomaterial body and an ideological space of contested meanings. The problem is, how do you understand it as an analytical category, do they make sense when all put together, and if so how (keywords, methods) do you weave them together?

So, my question is, how do you swallow this interpreation? How is this paradox manifested in Mandela (still reading through that book)? And second question is, which were the other manifestations/interpreations of "Yo Mama" at Langston Hughes? Because I couldn't read/see others.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Article Reaction: OAH Magazine of History: Martin Luther King Jr. [Will Clarke]

William Clarke
Article Reaction: OAH Magazine of History: Martin Luther King Jr.
HIST-394/01: Comparative Freedom Movements
Prof. Rachleff

Clay Carson, the onetime civil rights activist, and current director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project and Professor of History at Stanford University is mainly concerned with separating Martin Luther King the myth from Martin Luther King the man. In particular, he wishes to challenge the popular notions that the movement began and ended with MLK Jr. Rather Carson is concerned with giving Dr. King his proper due while recognizing the vastly important contributions of grassroots organizers. “I have attempted to balance the perspective of the foot soldiers of the black freedom struggle against that of the visionary leader who bet articulated the struggles enduring ideals” (page 6) Carson states. Throughout the four articles by Carson that appear in the publication, he makes a constant effort at recognizing both Martin and the many lesser known contributors to the struggle.

Carson’s articles conflicts with Bearing the Cross by ardently protesting studies of the Civil Rights movement that too heavily focus on King and his contributions. Garrow, despite his meticulous research, was narrating the events with King as his departure point. Bearing the Cross is a biography of King, and therefore is limited in its analysis of the movement as a whole. Garrow, while appropriate for his purposes, too often forgets the historical forces that helped propel Dr. King to his positions of fame and power. According to Carson, Garrow does eventually agree that “The movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement” (page 8), but his effort ultimately falls short of truly representing Dr. King in the context of the greater grassroots effort.

In his third essay, Carson offers a narrative of the Montgomery Bus Boycott asserting that “a King centered perspective of the Montgomery movement is misleading in ways that also distort understanding of the subsequent decade of southern African American struggles” (page 13). Carson feels that this event in particular must be understood as the work of a diverse group of grassroots organizers, rather than the exclusive work of a few heroic leaders. In my mind, one of the main failures of Garrow in his retelling of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is his almost total lack of biographical work on Rosa Parks and the other main organizers of the MIA. Garrow tends to portray the relationship between the NAACP and King as being often contentious. Instead, Carson tells us, many of the Montgomery organizers who worked with King “were self-reliant NAACP stalwarts who acted on their own before King could lead” (page 13). Through his concentration on King, Garrow seems to have omitted important information on those who stood alongside of King throughout the struggle. Carson does not wish to devalue King’s contributions but rather to place them in the correct historical context.

In his final article entitled The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcon X, Carson speaks to the relationship between the ideals espoused by Dr. King and the more militant views advocated by Malcolm X and the nation of Islam. While King’s rhetoric of nonviolence and Malcolm’s pro-violent oratory were initially seen as conflicting, even by Malcolm and Martin themselves, Carson paints the two ideologies entirely different. Carson contends that, rather than occupying the two extremes of the Black civil rights movement, Martin and Malcolm supported much more adjacent beliefs. Martin sought to balance the need for militancy and the need for nonviolence while Malcolm believed most strongly in violent opposition. Furthermore, Carson explains how the views of each man were strongly influenced by the historical factors of childhood and adolescence. Carson particularly focuses on the latter period of Malcolm’s life, after his split with the Nation of Islam, when he seemingly came to a point where he saw the value and strength in King’s ideas. Carson speaks to the beliefs of Malcolm and Martin were both equally as important to the movement and empowerment of the African American. Once again, this is where Garrow’s work seems to be limited. Garrow hardly mentions Malcolm X in Bearing the Cross. While, superficially, it may seem that the relationship between Malcolm and Martin was tenuous and fleeting at best, the relationship between their ideas cannot be ignored. Both remain tremendous figures amongst African Americans and their posthumous relationship necessitates a firm evaluation of both, often simultaneously. Garrow’s failure to meaningfully include Malcolm X is a void in the narrative of Martin Luther King. It seems, such failures contribute to a general lack of comprehensiveness that exists in studies of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.

Response Paper to Shaun Johnson article You’re Never Too Young [Spencer Edelman]

Spencer Edelman
Response Paper to Shaun Johnson article
You’re Never Too Young

In the third chapter of his book South Africa: No Turning Back, Shaun Johnson traces the youth movements of South African activists from the Youth League of the African National Congress in 1944 through the time he wrote the book in 1989. This chapter is titled ‘The Soldiers of Luthuli’ and it is a very choice word to call the youth in the South African movement soldiers, for it is the youth who become the militants who drive the freedom movement forward. In Mapantsula the Comrades were depicted as peaceful protesters using only model guns, this characterization implies peaceful demonstration by youth, which Johnson denies. Instead this chapter presents as its main argument the enthusiasm of youth driving both the militancy and peaceful protesting of the movement forward, but detracting from the movement’s overall progress through inexperience and impatience.

The most important thing to convey when discussing youth is how “youth” is defined. Johnson defines it this way, “ ‘Youth’, in this context, refers to an attitude of mind as much as it does to age. It connotes the most energetic, volatile and impatient elements of the black communities.” (95) It takes more than energy to make an impact, however, and the drive for change comes when a generation develops a “generational consciousness.” “This unifying consciousness can transcend differences of age, class and race,” and indeed when this develops actions become more rapid and also more chaotic. (95) Johnson argues that as youth pushes the movement forward through its unity and energy, the inexperience and volatility found in youth draws energy away from social change, by fracturing alliances and pushing for more rapid change. As an example he notes the actions culminating on the devastating day of June 16, 1976. Following a government proclamation that all African classes would be taught in Afrikaans, a middle-school aged group called the South African Students’ Movement (SASM) which had formed in 1972 to represent youth, called for a walkout from classes to protest the usage of Afrikaans in all classes. On June 16, the energy and unity of Soweto youth single-handedly created a rebirth of mass protest, when 10,000 pupils took to the streets. Instead of this being the culmination of events, a series of “peripheral exchanges” between pupils and security forces led to mass carnage, with between 600 and 1,000 humans beings dead, many of them children. (102) This is one example of the energy youth provide to drive the movement forward, but at the same time the volatility of the youth. Johnson’s argument becomes much stronger when he discusses what SASM does after this horrific day to build upon the militancy which had unified the Soweto children. Over a two-year period the Soweto Students’ Representative Council (SSRC) (a Soweto leadership group formed to represent all schools) took the unity that June 16 had created and began to form a philosophy beyond educational grievances to a general rally against apartheid. Despite much success in getting labor movements involved, the government’s crack down on Black Consciousness leaders and SASM in 1977 left the leaders in jail. The militancy which had surged to mass protest had fizzled out, and as Johnson says, “The spasm of defiance had highlighted the need for more than just militancy in youth organization: strategies, tactics, ideologies and alliances would have to follow.” (104)

This is an argument Johnson provides evidence for very thoroughly and understandable, all the way up through the militancy in the 1980’s and the government’s huge counter movement operations in 1986. However, in the second part of the chapter, Johnson focuses more and more on the alliances necessary for youth to have a long lasting impact, this was stated in the slogan, “From Mobilisation to Organisation”. (134) At this point it is unclear whether Johnson is retelling things through an historical narrative as he had been in the rest of the chapter, or stating his own beliefs about how the movement would become successful in ending apartheid, and I find that his argument is not as thorough and much less convincing. He states, “Grassroots work no longer involved simply mobilizing a community for a particular campaign; it demanded painstaking, inconspicuous politicization with few visible or immediate results.” (140) In many ways he is contradicting his own argument that youth both drives the movement forward and derails it through impatience, rather he is advocating a tempered youth movement. This moderation he suggests takes away from the militancy and energy which youth bring, and it is this that he stated had driven the general movement forward in 1976.

The most enjoyable and convincing parts of this piece involve the numerous first hand anecdotes and songs which describe the inner-workings and inner-feelings of the youth involved in radical social change. The two parts which stick out most strongly in both an argumentative and literary sense are two songs:

We’re going to take over, take over
Take our country in the Mugabe way
Run away, run away, Boha
Umkhonto has arrived
We are the soldiers of Luthuli,
Led by Mandela,
Even if it is bad we are going
Move aside and give us way. (121)

And the closing words of the piece:
We bold enough to question
We brave enough to fight
We strong enough to challenge you
For what we know is right
We are the young and the strong
And we are the writings on the wall (143)

Linking Racism and Capitalism: Robinson and Frederickson [Jesse Goldman]

Linking Racism and Capitalism: Robinson and Frederickson
Jesse Goldman

Robinson’s chapter "Racial Capitalism: the Nonobjective Character of Capitalist Development" complements Frederickson’s text by providing both a broader historical context and deeper theoretical background for understanding the links between capitalism and racism in the particular case of South Africa and the US. Both Robinson, in a broad analysis of European history, and Frederickson, in the specific study of South Africa and the US, argue that racism predates as well as has been central to the development of capitalism.

Robinson argues that the close relationship between racism and capitalism has its roots in European feudal society. He states, "Capitalism was less a catastrophic revolution (negation) of feudalist social orders than the extension of these social relations into the larger tapestry of the modern world’s political and economic relations" (10). Robinson claims that from its beginnings, this social order was based on the bourgeoisie exploiting migratory and/or immigrant labor, frequently through enslavement (23). For instance, what Robinson calls the "first bourgeoisie," in the 13th and 14th centuries, relied heavily on foreign slaves to work as domestic servants, plantation hands, and miners (16). Robinson emphasizes that this system of exploitation was based on racial hierarchies. He claims that at different points in European history different ethnic groups were naturalized as inferior, For instance, the Slavs were considered natural slaves in the early Middle Ages and then the Tartars were also considered natural slaves in the late Middle Ages (26). He claims that the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, the peasants, and the slaves all came from particular ethnic and cultural groups. It was therefore in the interest of the bourgeoisie to maintain the racial hierarchy in order to sustain their material well-being. He writes, "The tendency of European civilization through capitalism was thus not to homogenize but to differentiate – to exaggerate regional, subcultural, and dialectical differences into "racial" ones" (26). In terms of South Africa and the US, Robinson would therefore argue that the intersecting systems of racism and capitalism have allowed the white bourgeoisie to maintain their privileged position over blacks in the US in South Africa just as it allowed the bourgeoisie to control "inferior" ethnic groups within Europe earlier in European history.

Frederickson focuses on many of the same links between racism and capitalism that Robinson emphasizes in his chapter. Like Robinson, Frederickson recognizes that racism or "white supremacy" predates capitalism. While Frederickson does not go all the way back to the formation of European civilization, as Robinson does, he turns to the 17th century when "white-supremacist attitutudes and policies originated in preindustrial settings where masters of European extraction lorded it over dark-skinned slaves or servants" (199). He therefore goes on to claim that the presence of racism within capitalism is not a result of capitalism itself, but rather "the capacity of the old racial order to adapt to changing economic and legal conditions," in which "privileged groups within a capitalistic society could accentuate traditional racial divisions and distinctions for their own advantage"(200). Like Robinson, Frederickson emphasizes that racism has persisted within capitalism because it is economically advantageous to certain powerful actors. He writes, "Economic discrimination along racial lines would not have developed and persisted in the industrial era to the extent that it did if it had not served in some way the material interests of industrial capitalists and skilled white workers" (205). Through connecting the material motives of capitalists and white workers along of "split labor markets" in South Africa and the US.

Robinson’s chapter helps contextualize Frederickson’s particular cases of South Africa and the US in a broader history of European social order and the development of capitalism. Through Robinson’s broader analytic lens the links between racism and capitalism in South African and US cases appear to be consistent with the longue duree of racism and capitalism from the beginnings of European civilization.

[Rachel Tenney] Response to Steve Biko and Lewis V. Baldwin

Response to Steve Biko: “I Write What I Like” and Lewis V. Baldwin: “Soaring on the Wings of Pride: Martin Luther King Jr. and the ‘New’ South Africa”
Rachel Tenney
21 February 2005

In reading Steve Biko’s selections in “I Write What I Like”, Black Souls in White Skins? and Our Strategy for Liberation, it is clear to see how the ideas of black consciousness are present even in more “mainstream” literature, including the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as interpreted by Lewis V. Baldwin in “Soaring on the Wings of Pride: Martin Luther King Jr. and the ‘New’ South Africa.” Though in some circles Biko is presented as more similar to Malcolm X than King, Baldwin presents evidence of the “beloved community” that both King and Nelson Mandela work towards that is congruent with the ideal society Biko saw coming from true equality and understanding.

Biko describes what he sees as the best country in response to an interview, saying “We see a completely non-racial society…We believe that in our country there shall be no minority, there shall be no majority, just the people. And those people will have the same status before the law and they will have the same political rights before the law.” (Biko, 149) This is very similar to King’s belief “that the beloved community, “an inclusive and interracial society characterized by ‘freedom and justice for all,’” could find fulfillment in South Africa.” (Baldwin, quoting Kenneth L. Smith, 12) He also believed that the South African community would be “one in which ‘the individual soul’ is not ‘shackled by the chains of conformity.’” (Baldwin, quoting King, 12) Mandela’s Government of National Unity (GNU) was some part of this vision of King’s and Biko’s, but there were always problems effectively sharing power. The GNU was never able to rise above party politics to individuals speaking for themselves.

Biko is clear though about the position of white liberals in the time before this ideal state is achieved; they must not take the lead on black rights nor speak on behalf of blacks. In “Black Souls in White Skins?” he talks about how “white liberals always knew what was good for blacks and told them so…It is only at the end of the 50s that the blacks started demanding to be their own guardians.” (Biko, 20) Any compromise on this was seen as detrimental to the ultimate goal of true equality. Whites inherently had their privilege, and would be only working to preserve it; “the integration they talk about is first of all artificial in that it is a response to conscious manoeuvre rather than to the dictates of the inner soul.” (Biko, 20) Blacks and whites cannot work together in some respects as “it is rather like expecting the slave to work together with the slave-master’s son to remove all the conditions leading to the former’s enslavement.” (Biko 20-21) He sees white liberals as desiring to remain “in the good books with both the black and white worlds” failing to realize that “no white person can escape being part of the oppressor camp” because of “the colour of his skin-his passport to privilege.” (Biko, 23)

He may be misinterpreted as against integration, and he is, if it takes the form of blacks fitting in to the white society. The integration he desires “shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people.” (Biko, 24) This ties back well into the position of King and Mandela, as seen by Baldwin, of the “beloved community.”

It is not clear where those of mixed or Indian heritage fit into Biko’s conception of black. I think he, like Strini Moodley, intends that black stands for all those oppressed and all those not white. Moodley would have been classified as Indian under apartheid, but calls himself black. (Moodley lecture, 22 October 2004) Racial classification, a human creation, is confusing in the creation of a “non-racial society.” Baldwin talks about how Mandela had to balance the needs of oppressed groups, and the fear of whites. King also faced similar issues “while meeting demands for peaceful coexistence between all racial and ethnic groups.” (Baldwin, 16) How does this fit with individual rights being recognized? So there is also an understanding that these are just constructed groups, not a reality if one chooses to see this disappear. Even so, Biko and Mandela (and King) see that there is a need to, at the very least, make up for the economic injustices of white domination, along these racial lines.

It is in the economic issues that accusations of communism and socialism come up. The FBI was always trying to link King to communist sympathizers, highlighting the past work of his associates. This is not a threat in South Africa, as much in the United States. And yet there are compromises “with capitalism as much as with democratic socialism” (Baldwin, quoting Egan, 16) in the GNU’s objectives. Biko also had to fight suggestions of communist agitation used to undermine the movement, retorting that unrest was primarily “a simple lack of patience by young folk with a government that is refusing to change…” (Biko, 147)

I think at the heart of similarities between Baldwin’s interpretation of King, Mandela and Biko is the ultimate end they desired. All wanted rights and liberties extended to all individuals, regardless of race. Though they would disagree on who should be involved and how it might come about the goal of a non-racial society was the same.

40th Anniversary of Malcom X's Assasination, Three Missing Chapters, and an interview with Manning Marable

Monday, February 21st, 2005The Undiscovered Malcolm X: Stunning New Info on the Assassination, His Plans to Unite the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist Movements & the 3 'Missing' Chapters from His Autobiography

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On this the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, we spend the hour with historian Manning Marable who has spent a decade working on a new biography of Malcolm X. He is one of the few historians to see the three missing chapters from "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" that he says paint a very different picture than the book with Alex Haley and Spike Lee's film. Marable has also had unprecedented access to Malcolm's family and documents that shed new light on the involvement of the New York Police, the FBI and possibly the CIA in Malcolm X's assassination. Manning today called on the federal government to release all remaining classified documents on Malcolm X. [includes rush transcript]

40 years ago today on February 21, 1965 Malcolm X was shot dead as he spoke at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He had just taken the stage when shots rang out riddling his body with bullets. Malcolm X was 39 years old.

At his funeral, the actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis hailed Malcolm as "our Black shining prince."

Today commemorations are scheduled across the country.

In New York, the Center for Contemporary Black History and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University are sponsoring "Malcolm X: Life After Death -- the Legacy Endures" an educational forum and radio broadcast. The program will be chaired by historian Manning Marable, founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies.

The historic Abyssinian Baptist Church is also hosting a national commemoration of Malcolm X with Percy Sutton, Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti, Dr. James Turner, Gil Noble, Rev. Herbert Daughtry and M-1 of Dead Prez.

Later this year, the Audubon Ballroom is scheduled to reopen as the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center on May 19 on what would have been Malcolm's 80th birthday.

Meanwhile Columbia University professor Manning Marable is working on a major new biography on Malcolm X. Marable has already spent 10 years researching the book which is tentatively titled "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

Today Professor Marable joins us in our Firehouse Studios to discuss the legacy of Malcolm X as well as some of his new findings.

Marable has said "Malcolm X was potentially a new type of world leader, personally drawn up from the 'wretched of the earth into a political stratosphere of international power. And telling that remarkable, true story is the purpose of my biography."

Marable's research has raised new questions about The Autobiography of Malcolm X which was written with Alex Haley. Marable has also examined un-redacted FBI files which provides new insight into the role of FBI and the New York Police Department in the assassination of Malcolm X.

We will be joined by Professor Marable in a moment, but first we begin with the words of Malcolm X recorded a month before he was killed. In January 1965 he gave a speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom."

Malcolm X, speaking in January 1965 giving a speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom." Courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

Manning Marable, one of America's most influential and widely read scholars. He is Professor of History and African-American Studies at Columbia University, and founding Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. He has been working on a new biography of Malcolm X for more then ten years. It will be published by Viking in 2008.

This transcript is available free of charge, however donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: We will be joined by Professor Marable in just a moment, but first we begin with Malcolm X himself in words recorded just a months before he was assassinated. It was January 1965, he gave this speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom."

MALCOLM X: When this country here was first being founded, there were 13 colonies. The whites were colonized. They were fed up with this taxation without representation. So some of them stood up and said, liberty or death. I went to a white school over here in Mason, Michigan. The white man made the mistake of letting me read his history books. He made the mistake of teaching me that Patrick Henry was a patriot and George Washington – wasn’t nothing non-violent about old Pat or George Washington. Liberty or death was what brought about the freedom of whites in this country from the English. They didn't care about the odds. Why, they faced the wrath of the entire British Empire. And in those days, they used to say that the British Empire was so vast and so powerful, the sun would never set on it. This is how big it was, yet these 13 little scrawny states, tired of taxation without representation, tired of being exploited and oppressed and degraded, told that big British Empire, liberty or death. And here you have 22 million Afro-Americans, black people today, catching more hell than Patrick Henry ever saw. And I'm here to tell you, in case you don't know it, that you got a new - you got a new generation of black people in this country, who don't care anything whatsoever about odds. They don't want to hear you old Uncle Tom handkerchief heads talking about the odds. No. This is a new generation. If they're going to draft these young black men and send them over to Korea or South Vietnam, to face 800 million Chinese. If you are not afraid of those odds, you shouldn't be afraid of these odds.

AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm X, a month before he was assassinated. It was January 1965 at a speech he gave in New York, sponsored by the Militant Labor Forum. This is Democracy Now! We're joined by Professor Manning Marable, one of America's most influential and widely read scholars, professor of history and African American Studies at Columbia University, founding director of the Institute for Research in African American studies, again working on a new biography of Malcolm X. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MANNING MARABLE: Thank you. It's always great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: It is great to be with you. Why don't you summarize for us – I mean, you have been studying Malcolm X for more than a decade now - what you think are the most explosive findings and then throughout the hour, we will tease them out and talk about them.

MANNING MARABLE: I think that Malcolm X was the most remarkable historical figure produced by Black America in the 20th century. That's a heavy statement, but I think that in his 39 short years of life, Malcolm came to symbolize Black urban America, its culture, its politics, its militancy, its outrage against structural racism and at the end of his life, a broad internationalist vision of emancipatory power far better than any other single individual that he shared with DuBois and Paul Robeson, a pan-Africanist internationalist perspective. He shared with Marcus Garvey a commitment to building strong black institutions. He shared with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a commitment to peace and the freedom of racialized minorities. He was the first prominent American to attack and to criticize the U.S. role in Southeast Asia, and he came out four-square against the Vietnam War in 1964, long before the vast majority of Americans did. So that Malcolm X represents the cutting edge of a kind of critique of globalization in the 21st century. In fact, Malcolm, if anything, was far ahead of the curve in so many ways.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then when we come back, we are a going to talk about The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the missing chapters, and where they are, which you have got a chance to see excerpts of.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to talk about how the autobiography was written, and the F.B.I., their relationship with Alex Haley. We will talk about these things and more in just a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: We spend the hour today on Malcolm X, today the 40th anniversary of his assassination. Our guest is Columbia University Professor Manning Marable, writing a biography of Malcolm X, and also the editor of the magazine Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society. The winter 2005 issue, photograph of Malcolm X on the cover, and that's what the whole issue is devoted to, with a major article by Professor Marable. Let's talk about The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

MANNING MARABLE: Okay. The -- most people who read the autobiography perceive the narrative as a story that now millions of people know, and it was -- it's a story of human transformation, the powerful epiphany, Malcolm's journey to Mecca, his renunciation of the Nation of Islam's racial separatism, his embrace of universal humanity, of humanism that was articulated through Sunni Islam. Well, that’s the story everybody knows. But there's a hidden history. You see, Malcolm and Haley collaborated to produce a magnificent narrative about the life of Malcolm X, but the two men had very different motives in coming together. Malcolm did -- what Malcolm did not know is that back in 1962, a collaborator of Alex Haley, fellow named -- a journalist named Alfred Balk had approached the F.B.I. regarding an article that he and Haley were writing together for The Saturday Evening Post, and the F.B.I. had an interest in castigating the Nation of Islam, and isolating it from the mainstream of Negro civil rights activity. So consequently, a deal was struck between Balk, Haley and the F.B.I. that the F.B.I. provided information to Balk and Haley in the construction of their article, and Balk was -- Balk was really the interlocutor between the F.B.I. and the two writers in putting a spin on the article. The F.B.I. was very happy with the article they produced, which was entitled, "The Black Merchants of Hate," that came out in early 1963. What's significant about that piece is that that became the template for what evolved into the basic narrative structure of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

AMY GOODMAN: Did Alex Haley know about this relationship?

MANNING MARABLE: There is no direct evidence that Haley sat down with the F.B.I. Nevertheless, since Balk was the co-author of the piece and it was Balk who talked directly with the F.B.I. --

AMY GOODMAN: Did Haley know --

MANNING MARABLE: One can assume that Haley was involved in it.

AMY GOODMAN: Did Haley at least talk to Balk about -- did he know about Balk's relationship with the F.B.I.?

MANNING MARABLE: One can assume that Haley did because Haley and Balk co-authored the piece, traveled throughout the United States together and collected material together to form an article that they co-authored. It would be highly unlikely that Haley did not know.

AMY GOODMAN: Then the writing of the autobiography, Alex Haley and Malcolm X's relationship. How did they do it?

MANNING MARABLE: Over a period of --

AMY GOODMAN: And why did Malcolm X choose him?

MANNING MARABLE: Over a period of about year-and-a-half, Malcolm and Haley agreed to work with each other. They met usually after a long business day that Malcolm put in very tired. He would get there at about -- either at Haley's apartment or they would meet at then Idyllwild Airport at a hotel, and Malcolm would be debriefed by Haley. He would talk, Haley would take notes. Malcolm had a habit of scribbling notes in small pieces of paper that Haley would surreptitiously pick up at the end of their discussions. Malcolm's objective was actually to reingratiate himself within the Nation of Islam, that because he had emerged by the early 1960s as a very prominent figure outside of the N.O.I., there were critics within the organization that were saying to the patriarch of the N.O.I., the Honorable Elijah Mohammad, that Malcolm planned to take over the organization, which was not true. But nevertheless, Malcolm felt that if he could make a public -- a prominent public statement to show his fidelity to the Honorable Elijah Mohammad that that might win him back in the good graces of the organization. But there were internal critics, sharp critics, who were very opposed to him, and who were very -- some of them were members of Elijah Mohammad's family, such as Herbert Mohammad, Raymond Shareef, who was the head of the Fruit of Islam, the brother-in-law of -- the son-in-law of Elijah Mohammad. They isolated Malcolm X and kept him out of the newspaper of the organization Mohammad Speaks for over a year, which is kind of curious. He was the national spokesperson of the N.O.I., and he wasn't represented in their own newspaper for over a year. Haley's objective was quite different. Haley was a republican. He was an integrationist. He was very opposed to black nationalism. His objective was to illustrate that the racial separatism of the N.O.I. was a kind of pathological or a kind of -- it was the logical culmination of separatism and racial isolationism and exclusion. He wanted to show the negative aspects of the N.O.I.'s ideology, Yacub’s history, and all of the ramifications of racial separatism that he felt were negative, and that Malcolm, being as charismatic as he was, a very attractive figure, nevertheless, he embodied these kind of negative traits. Haley felt he could make a solid case in favor of racial integration by showing what was -- to white America -- what was the consequence of their support for racial separatism that would end up producing a kind of hate, the hate that hate produced, to use the phrase that Mike Wallace used in his 1959 documentary on the Nation of Islam. So, the two men for very different reasons came together. What is striking is that from almost from the very beginning of certainly by September and October of 1963, as the book was being constructed, that Haley was vetting -- asking questions to the publisher and to the publisher's attorney regarding many of the things that Malcolm was saying. He was worried that he would not have a book that would have the kind of sting that he wanted. He was also concerned, to use Haley's phrase, about the purported anti-Semitism of Malcolm X, and so he began to rewrite words or passages in the book without Malcolm's knowledge. And Haley, in his own -- this is prior to emails -- Haley had a tendency to write even more frequently and voluminously to his agents and his editors than he did putting pen to paper in his own books. So that one finds in Haley's archives, or the archives of Anne Romaine, who was going to be his biographer until her tragic death in 1995, one finds a copious series of notes from Haley to his editors and attorneys regarding the construction of the autobiography itself. He wanted to steer the book to accomplish his political goals, as well as Malcolm's goals.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Professor Marable, you went to the Haley collection.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that experience and how difficult it is, really, to get original information about Malcolm X, and the Haley example is just one.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right. One of the striking things about doing research on Malcolm X, and I believe that most Malcolm X researchers could tell you their own stories, is that there's this paradox of the absence of critical information. Malcolm X is a person who has inspired -- he has been the muse of several generations of black cultural workers, artists, poets, playwrights. There are literally a thousand works with the title Malcolm X in them. There are over 350 films and over 320 web-based educational resources with the title Malcolm X, yet the vast majority of them are based on secondary literatures, that is, not on primary source material. In the case of Alex Haley, Haley's material is located at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, primarily. But there are a whole series of elaborate steps that one has to -- has to encounter in order to even begin to do research. There's an attorney. If you want to photocopy material from that archive, you have to get permission from the attorney beforehand. You have to name the exact pages you want to photocopy before you can photocopy them. So that there are a whole series of steps. You can only use a pencil rather than a pen to copy down material, etc. It's a laborious process, and it takes a long time just to do a small amount of research. Fortunately, Anne Romaine, who was appointed by Haley just before his death to be his own biographer --

AMY GOODMAN: She was a folk singer?

MANNING MARABLE: That's right. A folk singer and a skillful historian, even though she was not formally trained in the field. She collected her own parallel archive to Haley, and without Anne Romaine's archive, which is also at the University of Tennessee – well, I should -- let me put it in a positive light, with that archive, we have gained extensive knowledge about how Haley and Malcolm actually worked and how the book, the autobiography, was constructed. The raw material for chapter 16, a lot of that material, is actually in Romaine's archives, not in Haley's, which is interesting.


MANNING MARABLE: That's right. But what is most interesting about the book is that as I have read it over the years, something -- something was odd to me. It's like -- you know, Malcolm broke with the N.O.I. in March 1964, and in that last 11 chaotic months, he spent most of the time outside of the United States. Nevertheless, he built two organizations in the spring of 1964. First, Muslim Mosque Incorporated, which was a religious organization that was largely based on members of the N.O.I. who left with him. It was spearheaded by James 67X or James Shabazz, who was his chief of staff. Then secondly was the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This was an organization that was a secular group. It largely consisted of people that we would later call several years later Black Powerites, Black nationalists, progressives coming out of the Black freedom struggle, the northern students' movement, people -- students, young people, professionals, workers, who were dedicated to Black activism and militancy, but outside of the context of Islam. There were tensions between these two organizations, and Malcolm had to negotiate between them and since he was out of the country a great deal of the time, it was rather difficult for him to do so. It seemed rather odd that there's only a fleeting reference to the OAAU inside of the book that's supposed to be his political testament. I wondered about this. It seemed like something was missing. Well, as a matter of fact, there is. Three chapters. Those three chapters really represent a kind of political testament that are outlined by Malcolm X, and to make a long story short, they're in a safe of a Detroit attorney by the name of Greg Reed. He purchased these chapters in a sale of the Haley Estate in late 1992 for the sum of $100,000. Since that time, no historian, or at least I suppose I'm the exception, very few people have actually had a chance to see the raw material that was going to comprise these three chapters. The missing political testament that should have been in the autobiography, but isn't.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is he doing with them?

MANNING MARABLE: Well, they're sitting in his safe. And, I guess the conundrum -- I'm not an attorney or a person who does intellectual property -- but my understanding of the situation is that he owns the property, but he doesn't own -- he owns the physical texts of these chapters, but Mr. Reed does not own the intellectual property, the content of these chapters, so he cannot publish them.

AMY GOODMAN: Is this the same attorney Reed who is involved with, perhaps, a lawsuit to do with Rosa Parks?

MANNING MARABLE: That's right. It's the same one, with the trial with the hip-hop group that's based in Atlanta, and Gregory Reed --.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Outkast?

MANNING MARABLE: That's right, with Outkast. In fact, I was even -- I think even Reed sent something to me asking me to be a -- to give testimony in this trial, which I promptly said, thanks, but no thanks.

AMY GOODMAN: It's because Outkast used in their music, they use Rosa Parks's words, her own voice?

MANNING MARABLE: That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: How does the family of Rosa Parks feel about this?

MANNING MARABLE: I cannot really say. I just know what I have seep on the media. I know that they weren't very happy about this.

AMY GOODMAN: Happy about --

MANNING MARABLE: About Greg Reed's representation, but --

AMY GOODMAN: So, he's not representing them.

MANNING MARABLE: Well, again, I cannot really characterize what is going on with that lawsuit, because I'm not really a party to it.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, you are the only historian who has seen excerpts of the attorney Reed, the three chapters that he has in his safe?

MANNING MARABLE: I cannot say that for certain.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the few.

MANNING MARABLE: One of -- I could say that very few people have seen it. Reed, after a series of conversations -- Reed said he would allow me to see this. This was about two years ago. I flew out to Detroit. I asked when could I come over to the office, and he said, no, let's meet at a restaurant, which struck me as rather odd. We met at a restaurant. He came with a briefcase, and he opened the briefcase and he showed me the manuscripts. He said, I'll let you take a look at this for about 15 minutes. Well, that wasn't very much time. I was deeply disappointed, nevertheless, in that 15 minute time, looking at the content, because I'm so familiar with what Malcolm wrote at certain stages of his own life and development, it became very clear that there's a high probability he wrote this material sometime between August or September 1963 to about January 1964. Now, this is a critical moment in his development. In November 1963, he gives his famous message to the grassroots address in Detroit, which really kind of marks off the real turning point in his own development. But I would argue that equally important is a brilliant address he gives in Harlem in mid-August of 1963, which actually is one of my favorite addresses by Malcolm, which actually is superior in my judgment to the message to the grassroots address, where he lays into a critique of what then is being mobilized, the march on Washington, D.C., the pinnacle of the civil rights movement. Malcolm envisions a broad-based pluralistic united front, which is spearheaded by the Nation of Islam, but mobilizing integrationist organizations, non-political organizations, civic groups, all under the banner of building black empowerment, human dignity, economic development, political mobilization. He's already envisioning the N.O.I. playing a role cooperatively with integrationist organizations. I believe that if we could see the chapters that are missing from the book, we would gain an understanding as to why perhaps -- perhaps -- the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the New York Police Department and others in law enforcement greatly feared what Malcolm X was about, because he was trying to build a broad -- an unprecedented black coalition across the lines of black nationalism and integration. And in way, it presages 30 years ahead of time, the Million Man March.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Marable, we have to break. When we come back, I want to ask more about the chapters and also about the assassination of Malcolm X, 40 years ago today.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Professor Manning Marable of Columbia University, and long time now writing the biography of Malcolm X, which I see has just been bought by a publisher, and is going to be coming out in few years.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right, with Viking Penguin. That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: More on these three chapters, what you saw in the restaurant, and then let's talk about the assassination of Malcolm X.

MANNING MARABLE: Alright. I think that Malcolm was envisioning, even while he was in the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist progressive strategy toward uniting black people across ideological, class lines, denominational religious lines, Christians, as well as Muslims, to build a strong movement for justice and for empowerment. And I think that that is what frightened the FBI, and that is what frightened the CIA. That is what they had to stop, and if one thinks about it, those listeners and our viewers who know the history of COINTELPRO, the counter intelligence program of the FBI that occurred in the 1960s and 70s, that in 1965 or 6, that J. Edgar Hoover wrote an infamous memo called the Black Messiah Memo. He said, "We must stop the rise of a black messiah." That was the concern that the FBI had more than anything else. Either Malcolm or Martin could have played the role of a unifier, but it was -- Malcolm as long as he remained within the Nation of Islam, talking to the converted, he did not represent a fundamental threat to the American government. But when he began to talk about uniting the very fractious civil rights movement, when he talked -- when he began to negotiate with people like A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin and Martin and others, keep in mind that several weeks before Malcolm’s assassination, he went to Selma, Alabama. Dr. King was imprisoned during the mobilization. He went to Mrs. King, and he told Coretta that, you know, that even though we're very different people, that we're really about the business of the same struggle. We just use different tactics. And I want you to understand, and I want you to convey to your husband that I deeply respect what he is doing. So, Malcolm had a clear vision and an understanding that we were -- that he was a part of a broad freedom struggle. As his vision became more internationalist and pan-African, as he began, especially in 1964, after seeing the example of anti-colonial revolutions abroad and began to articulate and incorporate a socialist analysis economically into his program, he clearly became a threat to the US state.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain how events led to this day, 40 years ago, the assassination of Malcolm X.

MANNING MARABLE: I believe that the evidence will show that there was not so much a conspiracy, but a convergence of interests with three different groups that had an interest in eliminating his voice and his vision. The first group, obviously, is the NYPD, the New York Police Department. They had their own red squad, which was called BOSS, the Bureau of Special Services. They had managed to infiltrate Malcolm’s organization and the nation of Islam. And, of course, the FBI. There were over 40,000 pages of FBI documents of which only about half are currently available to scholars and researchers. I think that this 40th anniversary of the assassination is a good opportunity for us to say that now is the time to declassify all FBI material on Malcolm X. There really is a need for us to challenge the US government for its refusal to open up its own archives 40 years after the death of Malcolm. All of that material should be made available to all researchers and all scholars and to the family of Malcolm X. So that -- I believe that the FBI clearly was concerned, wanted to monitor and disrupt Malcolm wherever possible. Gene Roberts, one of Malcolm’s chiefs of security, was an NYPD undercover cop. He later went on to bigger things by being a disruptive force inside of the Black Panther Party. So, that's one element. A second element was the Nation of Islam. Lynwood X, who was one of the leaders of the New Jersey mosques of the Nation of Islam, was at the Audubon Ballroom sitting on the first row. He came in early to observe the events on the 21st of February. He was taken aside by Benjamin 2X, close associate of Malcolm and also Ruben X, Ruben X Francis, who was the chief of security. Lynwood said he just wanted to check out what Malcolm had to say. But my sense is that perhaps his role was more complicated than simply that of a bystander. We know from Talmadge Hayer, one of the men who carried out the assassination, who was shot by Ruben X as he tried to flee the Audubon after shooting Malcolm X, we know that Hayer confessed years later to his Imam in prison that there had been a walk-through a week prior to February 21st at the Audubon Ballroom. So, there was deep knowledge on the part of members of the Nation of Islam regarding the planning, in sight of the OAAU and the Muslim Mosque Incorporated regarding the events at the Audubon. They knew when they were going to be there, they knew what the schedules were. How did they know this? Well, in part because they had informants inside of the organization, and in part because, obviously, they had information that hardly anybody else had. They also knew something else clearly, that on the day of the assassination, and here we get to the third group -- I think the third group are elements within Malcolm’s own entourage. Elements within Malcolm’s own entourage, some of them were very angry with some of the changes that had occurred with Malcolm. One source of anger, curiously enough, was that -- was the tension between MMI and OAAU, that the MMI, the Muslim Mosque Incorporated, these were women and men who had left the Nation of Islam out of loyalty to Malcolm, but then Malcolm continued to evolve rapidly. He never renounced and never stepped away from a strong commitment to black nationalism and black self-determination. That's absolutely clear if you do any analysis of his speeches. But what is clear is that he incorporated within the framework of black nationalism a pan-Africanist and internationalist perspective. In doing so, he began to reassess radically earlier positions sexism and patriarchy. He began to break with notions of sexism that he had long held as a member of the Nation of Islam, and began to advance and push forward women leadership in the OAAU. MMI brothers were very resistant to women such as Lynn Shiflet and others who emerged as leaders within the OAAU, so one of the tensions that occurred was around gender equality and gender leadership inside of Malcolm’s entourage.

AMY GOODMAN: Then, that day, there was the presence, or lack of presence, of the NYPD.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right. The NYPD was ubiquitous. They were always around Malcolm. Whenever Malcolm spoke, there would be one or two dozen cops all over the place. On this day, the cops were nowhere to be seen. The cops later explained that they had been pulled off the Audubon in order to go across the street. Normally, they were in a command center on the second floor adjacent to the large ballroom in the building. On this day, there were only two cops at moment of the shooting inside of the building, but they were as far away as possible from the site of the ballroom. The man who actually apprehended Talmadge Hayer, the only shooter who was shot at the site, Thomas Hoy, was actually driving by by accident. So, clearly, they had been pulled off the case.

AMY GOODMAN: He was an off duty cop.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right. Why did the cops disappear quite literally? Then there were other kind of curious things. There was a complete failure of protection of the principal. The MMI brothers, who provided security for Malcolm had been trained by Malcolm himself that inside of the Nation of Islam, whenever there is a diversion, you protect the principal. The principal, in this case Malcolm, clearly was not protected on February 21st. First off, nobody was checked for weapons as they came in. Now, of course, people know that over the last several months prior to February 21st, 1965, the OAAU and MMI tried to get away from the old practices of checking people at the door for weapons. They wanted people to feel more comfortable. But the guards themselves did not carry weapons. Now, Malcolm’s home had just been firebombed a week before. The guards didn't carry weapons. Malcolm had insisted that the guards not carry firearms that day. I have asked James Shabazz, I’ve asked other people who are members of the OAAU, Herman Ferguson and others, what led to that disastrous decision? James Shabazz said to me with a shrug, you just didn't know Malcolm. Malcolm was adamant, and that whatever Malcolm wanted, that's what we just did. But I said, this is highly irresponsible considering that there were death threats that were constant, that there was FBI surveillance and disruption, and that none of you carried weapons? Well, that's not quite true, because we later learned from unredacted FBI files, that we have discovered and that we have archived in the municipal archives here in the city of New York, that there were at least, according to the district attorney, at least three undercover cops who were at the ballroom that day. We know one of their names. We know that –

AMY GOODMAN: What’s his name?

MANNING MARABLE: Well, we know that Gene Roberts, who was depicted giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to Malcolm –

AMY GOODMAN: We only have a minute.

MANNING MARABLE: Was an undercover cop, but who were the others? Two of the three men, who were imprisoned, Norman Butler and Robert 15x Johnson, convicted and given life sentences, I’m absolutely convinced were innocent. The real murderers of Malcolm X have not been caught or punished. I think that now is the moment for us to rededicate ourselves to learning the truth about what happened on February 21st. The place to begin is to make all evidence public, and we have to begin with the federal government, and the FBI.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Manning Marable, I want to thank you very much for being with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Professor Marable is writing a biography of Malcolm X that will come out in a few years, has a major piece in his magazine, Souls, a critical journal of black politics, culture and society. Tonight, we'll be at Columbia University talking more about his investigation. Thank you very much.

MANNING MARABLE: Thank you, Amy.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Harold Wolpe: Capitalism and Cheap Labour Power in South Africa

In Capitalism and Cheap Labour Power in South Africa, Harold Wolpe analyzes what separates the plight of African workers in South Africa from workers of color in the US. “Apartheid entails a considerable increase in White domination through the extension of the repressive powers of the state…[and] limited local government which, while falling far short of political independence and leaving unchanged the economic and political functions of the reserves” (Wolpe 61). Apartheid not only represents physical separation, but also an economic bind that keeps Africans at a continual level. South Africa’s dual economy is interesting in that it’s both capitalist and anti-capitalist at the same time. By abridging African working rights, South Africa goes against the ideals of efficiency and comparative advantage that a capitalist economy is based on. However, by exploiting the hard work of Africans while rewarding them with minimal payoff, it yields the most economic profit possible for the dominant whites (Wolpe 66). While the US government, in theory, provides protection for blacks against the inequality, both the South African government and the white populous are aligned to marginalize this group. Laws strictly forbid strikes (Wolpe 81), organized coalitions (80), capital investment from whites (83), and land occupation outside of selected areas (71). Also, while US workers look down on African-Americans as inferior in economic value, South Africans view the black Africans as competition for the same jobs (Wolpe 62). Therefore, it was in the own best economic interests of competing workers to impede this class (even if collectively, it would have benefited society to grant blacks better jobs).

While Wolpe’s assessment of apartheid in South Africa as uniquely discriminatory has merit, it unintentionally underplays any possible connections with the United States. Frederickson in White Supremacy spends 280 pages noting the similarities and differences between blacks in the two countries, and by the end, the similarities stick out more. While the US government has equal protection claims on a federal level for minorities, the split-labor market still exists on the state and local level due to the dual-federalist nature of the Union (Frederickson 212). While the laws of the land never say that African-Americans hold a distinctly lower bearing in the economic sphere, it is surely implied. African-Americans are often used a strikebreakers in the factories, fueling resentment amongst the lower-class whites and making it impossible for the two groups to integrate economically (Frederickson 226). Finally, Wolpe argues that black communities in South Africa are maintained in tact by white South Africa so that neighbors could leach off each other as a form of welfare, and make governmental services more obsolete (Wolpe 70). A striking parallel exists in the movie Nothing But a Man where the entire African-American population of Alabama seemingly relies on each other for loans, work, and the other necessities that are systematically excluded from them.

The second and final criticism I have of Wolpe’s argument is that it fails to take into account losses in efficiency and aspiration experienced amongst the marginalized workers. The economics of South Africa are based on exploiting the black African worker’s skills without just compensation. However, this theory assumes that no disillusionment occurs in the process. Nothing But a Man accurately depicts this disillusionment, as Duff Anderson, unwilling to become an economic sycophant, spirals into fury in an effort to support his family. In Mapantsula, Panic, unwilling to work a tedious job, turns to more illicit activities, with his girlfriend Josie relegated to providing welfare. Both men symbolize powerful minds that if not fully utilized, end up attacking and damaging the communities that these economic restrictions create. Regardless of whether the poverty is implemented through law or society, the immobilization is the same.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

can we come up with a solidarity statement?

dear class,

I'm writing again in hopes that a group will get together after Boesman and Lena tonight to quickly draft a statement we can send to the students at UKZN. I've been in touch with a prof at the Howard College campus and he said a statement would be well recieved. It would be so vaulable to draw connections between our own fight to save need blind admissions and the fight of South Africa's poor students to preserve their access to higher education.

There is much more involved, socialists vs. ANC Youth League and the local government, which is ANC controlled, within the student body. There was some sort of agreement reached, but it has not been released in writing and some students are convinced that their student representatives (again mostly ANC) are not being completely honest or fully understanding how students are being screwed over.

Because Howard College is a formerly white institution, some students are crying white racism, completely missing that it is the black ANC government that sanctioned the changes that have resulted in students being turned away at regisration.

It is especially exciting that there are students protesting; historically Durban and students began major anti-apartheid movements. We can only wait to see what happens, maybe spreading to more colleges and other cities. Until then, let us give them encouragement that there are others far away that have heard their calls. Hope to see you after Boesman and Lena.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005


the indymedia south africa pieces on the student action can be found here:

Student Action in Durban

Hey, so this is a little off topic, but I thought it would give a good example of what's going on right now with what's left (as in politically left) of the ANC in South Africa. Two universities in Durban are combining under a single system starting this academic year; Howard College, once white and now primarily still wealthy students, though growing numbers of poor blacks are entering along with well-off Indians, Whites, Blacks and foreign students; AND Durban-Westville-formerly Indian, but presently attracts mostly poorer students both Indian and Black (Zulu mostly) on bursary (scholarship).

So just today when students were trying to register for the new school year the administration tried to impose new fees/raise fees, stop students from registering if their departments had closed, say that some departments were full and say financial aid had run out! Below all this is the most recent piece put out by the students. There will also be an article at South Africa's indymedia site soon.

I talked to some of the young socialists from Howard College (HC) about this when I was there. Its more pronounced at Westville, but a consolidation of campuses/departments has really hurt students, forcing them to attend (in most cases) Howard if they desire science and math degrees, and shuting down a lot of opportunities at Westville, making entire degrees inaccesible because of costs and travel to HC. And then there are those who can't even consider a UKZN degree because it is too expensive even with bursaries. My sister, who went to an elite (aka white) girls boarding school (she was a day student), would have liked to have gone to UKZN and got accepted, but for costs is at one of the many commercial/private colleges in Durban-Oval International College-, studying computer science. She hates computer science but is doing it because she hopes it will get her a good job when she graduates. I hope the students get what they need! It really would be screwing over a generation to make university education inaccesible. Higher education was not just a promise from the old liberation-era ANC, but also of the new govt. I would lose so much faith if the students were left without opportunities. Over and over again I've heard people say reconcilation, economic equality, end to racism, etc is up to our children. We are too old for this, too set in our ways, but our children can solve the problems and create the society we want. Everyone, and I really mean everyone, no matter race or socio-economic status or age, places their hope in the next generation.

Here are the students (this was sent from an American actually, who's a research fellow at UKZN's Centre for Civil Society at Howard College) Note the language they use!
There can be no liberation without socialism!
E-mail: Cell: 072-4729582 Fax: 031-2607073
Postal Address: C/o SRC, Westville Campus University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X54001, Durban, 4001

War is declared on students – time to fight back with "Operation Buyisa"
This year students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal are facing a harsh reality: the ANC government has embarked on an offensive to exterminate the overwhelming majority of students from poor backgrounds from the country’s tertiary institutions – with the UKZN management as their obedient tools. Unbelievable? Many of us are left with no other option but believing it – thousands of students are excluded, fees have been increased with up to 100 %, the management tries to sneak the counseling and appeals process out the back-door, the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) has cut its funding. This is how students are now beginning to feel the concrete effects of the university merger, which the Socialist Student Movement has long warned is aimed as a means of realizing the government’s and its top bureaucrats’ dreams of turning tertiary education into a neo-liberally streamlined production process accommodating only a few highly profitable learners – those who can pay the escalating fees and have attended well-resourced schools and home environments.
At Westville campus 2004’s academic year ended with massive exclusions of for ex. 400 students at the Faculty of Engineering, 300 in Law, 95 in Health Sciences. But the last days of the semester also saw the determined struggle from the students of Science Foundation Programme (SFP) together with the SSM for the university to fulfill its responsibility to them – to bridge them into the sciences of their choice. After two sit-ins (occupations) of vice-chancellor Makgoba’s office, we won a victory – the management promised to meet our demands. This shows how united student action can force concessions. Currently management is however trying to sneak away from fulfilling their promises: SFP-students continue to be victimised and as SSM stressed from the beginning, the victory can only be defended, realised and expanded through continued action.
Now first-year students are told by faculties that "the financial aid-money is finished" – because the NSFAS is consciously under-funded (it does not even cover half of the eligible youth nationally). No issue can be isolated from others. The drastic fee increases – e.g. one semester course up from R1050.00 up to R1800, the R500 "acceptance fee" added to the R2000 registration fee, the hike in the points required for admission (for ex. from 32 to 35 in Science Faculty), the lack of residences (currently students who thought they would stay in former UKZN-res Killarney are left stranded by management as well as SRC, to mention one example), management’s silence about the counseling process which they earlier promised would be in place ("as a uniform policy"), are all measures taken by the UKZN bosses to comply with the directions from their bosses in the ANC-government, which in turn is sucking up to its big business masters (from Sexwale to Bill Gates).
Last year, the Department of Education instructed UKZN to cut its student population from 2004’s 43000 to 37000 by 2007 (in the document "Student Enrolment and Planning 2005-2007"). Students, and thousands denied to become students, now face the consequences of UKZN’s eagerness to obey. According to the Weekend Witness (2005-01-22), management is even trying to cut an additional 1500 students. This is despite claims from management (for ex. Prof. Zacharias on 2004-11-12) that it has "fought" against the cut. If so, the SSM challenges the management to support and join the students in mass action for more resources for the university and education in general, while in the meantime availing resources for all students to learn.
Since our birth in the year 2000, the SSM has warned for the mergers and their consequences. To in effect cut 36 tertiary institutions to 21 when 13 million people in South Africa are functionally illiterate is not to invest in "African Scholarship" (which has become the ideological figue leaf behind which the government and its various disciples at UKZN try to hide their naked betrayal of poor, largely black African youth). Instead it is nothing but an adaptation to the demands big business owners have increasingly put pressure for across the world in the past 20 years as part of their neo-liberal agenda. In South Africa only 18,7 % of passed matrics enabled (in theory) university entry last year. It is no accident that for working class South Africans thousands of obstacles build up a threshold at "the doors of learning" that is overcome only by a small minority. The capitalists, here and internationally, do not feel a need for educated masses (that could even be dangerous) but prefer to let only a small elite develop their talent, preferably in fields like accounting/commerce, management or engineering) while the rest of us are left to provide cheap, unskilled and desperate labour force when called for. This forms background to the mergers and the cuts we are now facing as well as for the government’s unwillingness to provide real free education or deal with a school situation where 1 million learners drop out every year.
Westville’s and UKZN’s SASCO-led "interim" SRC could have had plenty of time to fight off the attacks, since it extended its own term of office in a coup-like manner. Instead they have for ex. defended the merger, spread untrue claims that the fees have been decreased, unasked gone "fundraising" for students denied financial aid (coming back with nothing but lies about more money from NSFAS), and kept quiet about crucial issues. This is no surprise considering that they have each being paid R70 a day by the management to be its "good boys and girls" – they have been here since January 3 as University employees. On management’s part this is seemingly a good investment, but for how long will the students allow what should perhaps be called the "Management Representative Council" to enjoy representing them? As the SSM sees it, this "MRC" is out only to sow confusion and arrest the anger among students. This is dangerous, because what we in fact need to do is to unite, organize and fight.
No one will be excluded, no one will be denied the right to education - if all students stand up and pay solidarity to the affected students today. Therefore, the SSM urges all students to join us in "Operation Buyisa" – meaning a struggle demanding that:
- All those excluded are readmitted with immediate effect
- All qualifying new students are registered
- All fee increases are paid back with a moratorium on fee increases – i.e. fees are frozen - at last year’s level until an agreement has been made involving all students
- All students who need residence are given it now – including former Killarney students!
- The new admission criteria is torn up – for a moratorium on last year’s level until an agreement can be made with all students. All who are willing to study must be assisted to reach their fullest potential.
- The counseling and appeals process must go on until there is free education – which is the only way to guarantee access to education for everyone
- The country’s wealth must be re-distributed to provide for full funding of educational institutions from pre-primary school to tertiary – this means the commanding heights of the economy must be owned and controlled by the people

Contact SSM on the numbers below and at our desk next to Lower Caf. All students who are directly affected now are requested to enlist their names – and all other students are also asked to join us in the struggle. The government and management have begun a war on the poor youth of the country, and we must begin to fight back together or we will all be victimised sooner or later.
Contact us on: 072-4729582 (Sipho), 084-6437961 (Sikhumbuzo), 072-3386434 (Bonginkosi)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

"A War Within a War" summary and analysis

Moriah Berger
January 31, 2005
Freedom Movements

Unsuccessfully Dividing the Racial Formation Process:
A Critical Analysis of George M. Frederickson's White Supremacy

Though released several years before Michael Omi and Howard Winant published Racial Formation in the United States, a work that explores the limits of theories formerly utilized to address the subject of race in order to introduce a novel approach the scholars termed “racial formation,” George M. Frederickson adheres to many of Omi and Winant's proposals in his comparative study of the history of race relations in the United States and South Africa. Frederickson's White Supremacy is aligned with the racial formation tenets that race has a social nature, that the formation of racial meanings are a process transcending both time and space and are historically flexible, and that race relations operate on various levels of scale, from “micro” to “macro-social” levels. Indeed, Frederickson purports that white supremacy is a fluid, variable, and open-ended process. However, White Supremacy is not a study of racial formation, I argue, as Frederickson presents only half of the process. While he delves deeply into the ideologies, the collective white consciousness, the political systems and demographics that developed as well as altered, all resulting in a racial hierarchy with a reserved place at the top for whites, Frederickson fails to grant space in White Supremacy to the communities of people of color, their methods of resistance, struggles to overturn an unjust social structure, and collective consciousness. As Frederick Cooper remarked in his analysis of Frederickson's work, “To analyze an ideology of racial superiority without taking seriously the agency of black people…gives only a partial view.” In the analysis that follows, I juxtapose White Supremacy with a chapter from Nan Elizabeth Woodruff's American Congo, highlighting the differences in approach to discussions of race relations in the United States and thereby offering a complete picture of the racial formation process.

Woodruff presents efforts waged by the wider black community in the United States, with a particular focus on the south and Delta region, that directly challenged unequal race-based distributions of power. Her chapter “A War Within a War” also aligns with Omi and Winant's racial formation approach, as she emphasizes the borderless nature of freedom struggles, stating that they do “not occur within a national or global vacuum.” Thus, though not thoroughly explored within the single chapter, Woodruff recognizes the significance of a larger comparative framework when analyzing race relations and is similar to Frederickson in this regard. Her approach, however, covers ground that did not receive mention in White Supremacy. While Frederickson dedicated his pages to a chronological discussion of the laws, mindsets, geographic alterations, wars, and economic developments instigated by the white community, Woodruff discusses the direct challenges to the system of white supremacy initiated by people of color. Woodruff presents black people as agents with an influence on their social standing while Frederickson's white-based approach does a disservice to such efforts, as they appear entirely reactionary. Whereas Frederickson introduces miscegenation laws, anti-slavery and voting rights mandates and presents a changing racial climate only through the lens of those with the power to alter de jure race relations, Woodruff analyzes the resistance methods of southern rural sharecroppers, the ways they used their “newfound higher wages to gain control over their own time.” A mirror image of Frederickson's exploration of the ways in which white settlement and white-dominated political systems affected people of color, Woodruff concentrates upon civil rights and workers' rights developments in the United States sparked by the collective action of African Americans and the white reaction that followed. “In challenging their employers,” Woodruff writes in regard to black agricultural laborers, “black workers also tested planter dominance of their social and political world.”

In her review of White Supremacy, Shula Marks accuses Frederickson of writing “the history of South Africa…as though the majority of its population had no history.” I selected the following excerpt to emphasize Frederickson's blatant lack of acknowledgement with regard to the agency of people of color in the social, geographical, demographic, and political structures on which he focused:
“In the Cape…the liberation of the Khoikhoi from quasi-serfdom in 1828 and the emancipation of the slaves in 1838 neither involved a substantial political commitment to their subsequent welfare that went beyond 'equality before the law' in the most rudimentary sense nor occurred in such a way as to inspire the newly freed with the kind of communal pride and ambition that would lead them to develop institutions of their own…” (emphasis added)

The above example illustrates Frederickson's chronological approach to racial formations and his dedication to exploring the laws that originated in communities of power-possessing whites. However it also highlights his treatment of efforts waged by communities of color as entirely reactionary to the white-instigated legal alterations. The tone of the passage and Frederickson's failure to include the struggles of people of color leave readers with the impression that black people needed inspiration from whites in order to challenge an unjust society. Frederickson must be credited for publishing, nearly a decade following White Supremacy, an analysis of the remainder of the race spectrum in his work Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa. However the problem remains that he has drawn an arbitrary line, dividing race-based struggles into white and non-white, and has thus attempted to separate a complex web of interrelated efforts either challenging or attempting to maintain the racial hierarchy. As Cooper remarked, “two books on half a topic each do not make a whole.” With regard to racial formations and the elements of the process arising out of communities of color, Woodruff offers a more complete picture.

Works Cited
1. Cooper, Frederick. “Race, Ideology, and the Perils of Comparative History.” The American Historical Review Volume 101, Number 4, 1996.

2. Frederickson, George M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1981.

3. Marks, Shula. “White Supremacy. A Review Article.” Comparative Studies in Society and History Volume 29, Number 2, 1987.

4. Omi, Michael, and Winant, Howard. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960's to the 1980's. New York, NY: Routledge & Kegan Paul plc, 1986.

5. Woodruff, Nan Elizabeth. American Congo: The African American Struggle in the Delta. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Bonner, Delius & Posel: "The Shaping of Apartheid: Contradiction, Continuity, and Popular Struggle"

Lily C. Lyons
Comp. Freedom Movements
Peter Rachleff
January 31, 2005

“The Shaping of Apartheid: Contradiction, Continuity, and Popular Struggle”:
An Overview

In “The Shaping of Apartheid,” authors Bonner, Delius and Posel seek to examine the important trajectories of industrialization, urbanization and popular struggle that played important roles in the creation of the apartheid system in South Africa. In the years leading up to apartheid, the state began to build its economic system around a low-wage economy characterized by mining, agriculture and manufacturing. The emphasis on these industries increasingly brought people to urban centers, creating concentrations of low-income masses that challenged the state’s potential for urban control. As a result, by the 1930s and ’40s, labor shortages and struggles presented major problems, prompting an expansion of the government itself and of its involvement in urban labor issues.

As explained by the authors, South Africa’s reliance on cheap labor had numerous consequences: “while cheap labour fuelled often impressive rates of economic growth, it also entailed losses in the form of high labour turnover and low productivity, in particular for manufacturing” (4). Higher wages in urban areas prompted black migration to the cities, where labor markets were characterized by still-low wages and state interventionism aimed at regulating the distribution of workers and improving productivity and economic growth. Poor working conditions in urban centers were the cause of housing shortages and shortcomings, poverty, unemployment and disenchantment, which were particularly marked in the black proletariat. These workers presented a significant threat the state’s power and control, especially during wartime. In response, the state heightened regulation and surveillance, which gradually grew into a political and social system of racialized control—apartheid—which is generally dated to 1948 when the National Party won the election.

The authors argue that apartheid can be seen as a capitalist attempt at resolving the economic hardship that by the 1940s needed drastic attention. Urbanization and the growth of manufacturing drew workers from the mining and agricultural sectors. Women increasingly took over the domestic work sector, which had previously been a male domain. This newfound economic opening, in conjunction with the building of social networks, often in the context of churches, led to the stabilization female urban populations. Also integral to the rise to apartheid were the movements of organized resistance, including those of the communist parties (CPSA & SACP), which constituted a real challenge to the ideology of the Nationalist party. In particular, the CPSA worked with the trade unions. Finally, in addition to examining the effects of the social, economic and political trends on the black workers and members of the black petty bourgeoisie, the authors argue it is important to examine the situation of the white workers and Afrikaner petty bourgeoisie throughout the same period (20). Clearly, the urbanization of black workers introduced new competitors for the urban white workers, who generally claimed higher wages. As the perceived and real vulnerability of the white working class grew, its members increasingly supported the Nationalist government.

Lastly, the authors examine the workings of the apartheid state and its policies, which they argue were the “Nationalists’ immediate, often ad hoc, efforts to resolve the contradictions of urbanisation and industrialisation, bequeathed to the state in the aftermath of the Second World War” (23). Reacting in fear to being able to control the new and exploited urban populations, the Nationalist party introduced its plan for “stabilisation,” which targeted (segregated) housing, healthcare and education. These plans, which were meant to stabilize, often accomplished the opposite, as the increasingly educated African youth provided heightened resistance and convoluted systems such as “urban labor preferences” failed to address the unemployment, crime and disenchantment of the workers. Segregation, deeply embedded in the prevailing Christian-Nationalism, characterized formal and informal social organization. By the 1950s, it was clear even to the Nationalists themselves that many of the target issues of stabilization had not been adequately addressed, which prompted stricter but similar attempts to control the urban population and the parameters of employment. The chapter ends with a brief description of the 1960s through the 1980s, in which the authors explain that it became more obvious as time passed that apartheid policies had only further exacerbated the problems it was aimed to address.

In my opinion, the emphasis that Bonner, Delius and Posel place on the trends of urbanization and industrialization to the development of apartheid is essential to understanding its origins and perpetuation as a system of social, political and economic control. However, without prior knowledge of the centrality of racism, new readers could read the chapter and come away with a conception of apartheid that lacked a critical analysis of the system’s racism. Perhaps the authors write in response to a history of writing about apartheid as a system of racial control, but I found myself disappointed when the article didn’t make more concrete links about how the processes of urbanization and industrialization, which clearly affected segments of the population differently, were so integral to not just a system of control for the working masses but one that had specific ramifications for people of different races. To their credit, the authors examined the role of women and youth more specifically in relation to the political, economic and social trajectories discussed.

How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America

“As slaves, blacks made an enormous involuntary contribution to economic growth, and thus to the capacity of the economy to generate an industrial order, by producing cotton—the commodity that made up more than half the dollar value of all American exports between 1840 and 1860” (Frederickson 204).

George M. Frederickson in White Supremacy and Manning Marable in How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America are in accordance with the fact that the labor power of African Americans were an extreme driving force to the development of the American economy. In addition, both authors agree to a certain extent that economic discrimination along racial lines during the industrial era were in the interests of industrial capitalists and white workers. However, the point of view of Frederickson and Marable begin to differentiate when one considers the 20th century structures and ideologies of concerned within industrialism, labor, and racial discrimination.
Frederickson and Marable begin their analysis of 20th century labor and racial discrimination using an analysis of both the Black migration and some Marxist theories. Faced with the fear of white lynch mobs and other forms of racial persecution, the massive Black migration from the South to the cities of the Northeast and Midwest began in the early 1900’s. Marable describes the migrations of Black humanity as the actual beginnings of the Black working class. Marable believes that African American agricultural workers were one of the world’s first proletarians because of social structures, culture, labor, and world view. He concludes that there was a division in the world view of this new national minority group in America (Marable 24). In comparison, Frederickson describes the Marxist theory of class formation as former slaves who are transformed into paid workers. Because they lack control of the means of production and sell their labor to capitalists, they should have the ability to develop a similar consciousness or world view to transcend the customary pattern of racial divisions. Frederickson infers that the development of a common world view was destroyed, because of racial pluralism, allowing the working population to become lasting sources of division. Frederickson asserts that the traditional Marxist notion is not a fair judgment of the perceptiveness and intelligence of the white working class and may even exaggerate the “Machiavellian ruthlessness of management” (Frederickson 224). On the contrary, in Marable’s How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, he states that the agreement of white labor leaders and leftists has long been made that racism reduces the maximum living standards of white workers, dilapidates their unions, and inhibits institutional stability of their communities; racial divisions within the working class hastens exploitation of both Blacks and Whites in the workplace (Marable 44).
To further oppose Frederickson’s analysis of Marxists ideals, Marable describes how whites have sacrificed their own political interests to engage in racist violence and terrorism such as lynchmobs, raping Black women, voting for white supremacist candidates, and even striking to prevent employment of Black workers. Marable uses Georg Lukács’s example (author of History and Class Consciousness) of Marxist theories to come to this conclusion: “Racism benefits the bourgeoisie absolutely and relatively; working class whites are usually apart of the “larger “social mechanism” of racist accumulation and Black underdevelopment, serving as uncritical cogs in the wheels of Black exploitation” (Marable 45). Although Frederickson and Marable differ on their analysis of Marxism, Marable concurs in Frederickson’s confirmation that the conflicts arising between both the black and the white working class were related to a struggle over unionization which allowed employers to create a convenient separation between racial groups (Frederickson 221).
George Frederickson states that white working men have often excluded Blacks when they have organized to protect their positions in skilled crafts, but the demands of labor solidarity have been placed above racial exclusiveness when unskilled or semi-skilled white workers have aimed to unionize industries currently employing blacks (Frederickson 224). Frederickson believes a significant portion of the white working class has had the “good sense to recognize” when racial prejudice and economic self-interest have been in obvious conflict—conflict such as that of white workers aiming to unionize industries already employing blacks (Frederickson 224). However, Manning Marable opposes Frederickson in saying that Whites can obtain cultural and psychological satisfaction from the economical, political, and civil suppression of Blacks without even receiving the profitable and material benefits of racism (Marable 46). Marable asserts that much of the white working class is also targeted for elimination; the processes that threaten the Black proletariat also confront white industrial workers.
Whether white workers as a self-conscious mass will perceive that their own “benefits” from racism are only relative to the oppressed conditions of Black labor, and that the social and psychological image of the Blacks-as-inferior beings actually promotes their own exploitation as well as that of Blacks, cannot be predetermined (Marable 46).

On the contrary to George M. Frederickson’s ideologies about industrial labor, the white working class, and racial discrimination, Manning Marable calls for an ideological transformation of the white working class in order to counter capital interests.

Frederickson, George M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and
South African History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Marable, Manning. How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race,
Political Economy, and Society. Updated Edition. Massachusetts: South End Press, 2000.