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By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
Throughout US history, African Americans have pushed the limits — and beyond — of what America claims to be. The questions posed by both intellectuals and everyday African Americans during the Reconstruction, New Deal, and Civil Rights eras have all left lasting effects on the country. So too with the US left: time and again, black radicals have pressed for an expanded scope of political and economic freedoms, for Americans at home and for people abroad.
Christopher Tinson’s important new book, Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s, spotlights one critical organ of the African-American left during the tumultuous Civil Rights and Black Power eras. At a time when intellectual currents were in flux, inchoate and colliding, Liberator simultaneously served as an important forum for debate and a reminder of the diversity of the African-American left. The magazine, Tinson writes, “stood at the crossroads of knowledge production and insurrection,” providing activists and intellectuals a place where they could hash out their ideas and make appeals to others. Intellectually, it proved to be an important waypoint between the resurgent black nationalism seen in places like Harlem in the early 1960s and the burgeoning Black Power movement of the late 1960s.
Liberator magazine was founded in 1961 by several radical African Americans living in New York City. It operated at the nexus of a rising black nationalism, the nascent New Left, the remains of the Old Left, and the more militant elements of the Civil Rights Movement. The founders of the publication embodied this ideological and temporal mix. Pete Beveridge was a former member of the Communist Party, while Richard Gibson spent his early career reporting on the anticolonial struggle in Africa. (Editor in chief Dan Watts was the relative outlier, with a background as an architect.)
Two tenets anchored the magazine’s politics: a Pan-Africanism “that appreciated some sense of the political and cultural unity of African descendants, while also fully embracing local exigencies of considerable difference”; and a skepticism “of liberalism and gradualist approaches to social change.”
Founded to provide news and analysis about decolonization from a more radical perspective than mainstream publications, Liberator was an unabashed partisan of anticolonial struggles. The magazine deplored the depredations of colonial regimes and championed the movements seeking to overthrow them. Emerging as it did in the early 1960s, when elements of the US left were concerned the Cold War superpowers would pull newly independent Third World nations into their spheres of influence, the magazine became an important organ for those opposing oppression in the Global South.
At home, the magazine’s brand of radicalism led it to look askance at more mainstream left figures. In their eyes, Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights leaders were too cozy with liberal politicians, too limited in their tactics and demands. More laudable were figures like Malcolm X and radical organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement, or RAM.
The publication’s analysis of the 1963 March on Washington reflected these ambiguities. While they agreed with the economic aims of the demonstration — remember, it was a march for “jobs and freedom” — many of Liberator’s writers and editors expressed skepticism about the utility of “relying on such a dramatization to generate the full range of black political and economic desires.”
The question of what African Americans could achieve in the US — not just through civil rights victories but through wholesale changes in the American system — kept the Liberator’s pages alive with debate throughout the 1960s. New Left collided with Old Left, old-school Pan-Africanism came into play with the new black nationalism. The journal, Tinson writes, “demonstrate(d) the sheer amount of energy devoted to black radical futures, and yet it also reveals how deeply contested definitions and practices of radicalism were in this period.”
One noted participant in these intellectual battles was Harold Cruse. In 1963 and 1964, Liberator published a series of essays by the University of Michigan scholar titled “Rebellion or Revolution?” Cruse argued that Africans Americans needed to fight for thoroughgoing cultural change, to “move the struggle from a civil rights-based rebellion to a full-fledged revolution.” He explicitly linked the US civil rights struggle to Third World revolutions, where people waging battles for independence from European rule were fighting for control of not just political and economic but also cultural institutions.
Later that decade, in his 1967 magnum opus Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, Cruse would issue stinging rebukes of numerous black radicals and publications, including Liberator. But he was better off for having the magazine as a clearinghouse for his early, wide-ranging essays on black nationalism and Marxism.
Larry Neal also benefited from having Liberator as a playground for his ideas on black aesthetics, which would serve as key frameworks for the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Like Cruse and many others at Liberator, Neal argued that black people had to take ownership of the arts and culture within their community, and use them to benefit their fellow African Americans.
At the same time, he was critical of stalwarts on the black left like Bayard Rustin, who was close to labor liberals. In a 1965 Liberator essay, Neal invoked Malcolm X to push against Rustin, arguing that African Americans had to make their struggle part of a larger, international movement for human rights. Neal’s case for a “black spiritual and intellectual awakening” was, again, a window into the debates among African Americans over the future of the black freedom struggle in America.
Tinson also shows how Liberator served as an intellectual home for radical African-American women. Liberator ran articles about figures like playwright Loraine Hansberry and activist Gloria Richardson, and published some of the earliest works of Toni Cade Bambara, future editor of the groundbreaking anthology The Black Woman. The magazine gave women a chance to hone their literary and debating skills before assuming leadership roles in the Black Power and feminist movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Liberator operated during a golden age for African-American radical publications. Freedomways, cofounded by W. E. B. Du Bois, launched in 1961, the same year as Liberator. By the end of the decade, a revitalized Negro Digest — printed under the Johnson Publication Company banner (the same publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines) — would establish itself as a redoubt of black intellectual thought (and change its name to Black World to reflect its more radical stance on social issues). Black Scholar set up shop in 1969, and helped catalyze the first wave of black studies scholarship in the early 1970s.
But money was always a problem for publications like Liberator. In 1971, lacking a steady stream of income — and beset by personality clashes — the magazine closed its pages. Others on the black left would follow. Black World stopped printing in 1976. Freedomways made it through the decade, but closed in 1985. The Institute of the Black World, a black-run think tank that was another important institution for thinking through the black radical tradition was finished by the early 1980s.
Liberator’s lifespan was relatively short, and its subscription base was relatively small. Yet it was read by radicals across the United States — and quite a few abroad — who wanted to make sense of the world they lived in. Its links to groups well outside its New York City base gave the publication greater influence than its editors could have initially imagined. Fusing intellectual life and activism, the magazine demonstrated anew the centrality of the black radical tradition to the larger left project in America.
Today, as the Black Lives Matter movement calls out the contradictions of American democracy and sparks debates about the direction of the country, Radical Intellect reminds us of the vital role that intellectuals and periodicals can play in that tradition.Post Views: 77
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
A private banking consultant, Nilla Selormey, has reiterated the need for Africa to develop a diaspora strategy that will utilise skills of returnees to harness opportunities in the continent.
She said the strategy must have clearly defined goals based on sectoral analysis that highlight key opportunities in each sector of the economy.
The strategy, she explained, must also involve the segmentation of the African Diaspora into unique segments in order to develop targeted policies.
Addressing a business conference organised by the African Management Services Company (AMSCO), an arm of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Ms Selormey said a critical first move for any African government would be to set a vision that should lead the development of the strategy.
“A vision that is compelling enough to persuade action; and a vision that will drive how we intend to position ourselves to attract the needed attention,” she said, when she addressed the theme, “Homecoming revolution: the future is now, a look at the African Diaspora”.
She said Africans in the diaspora were a potent force for transforming Africa and now was the time for a return to Africa, saying, “there are both push factors, pushing them out of the more developed world and pull factors, pulling them back into Africa.”
Ms Selormey shared the success stories of two returnees, Dr Patrick Awuah, the founder of the Ashesi University, and Dr Ashifi Gogo, the founder of marketing technology company Sproxil in 2009, who excelled in their various endeavours after returning to take advantage of opportunities on the continent.
She said while Dr Awuah was named among the world’s 50 greatest leaders in 2015 by Fortune Magazine, Dr Gogo’s Sproxil Defender technology used to verify the authenticity of products won the company the world’s most Innovative company in health care by Fast Company, and the seventh most innovative worldwide in 2013.
Africa, a continent of opportunities
She said the continent held enormous opportunities that must be harnessed through partnerships to develop the continent.
She identified some of the areas as agriculture, health care, infrastructure, education, financial services, technology and energy.
“Our resource rich Africa presents a “greenfield” opportunity for development with the abundance of its natural resource, vast lands, and the evolution of a young, confident, intelligent and resourceful, hungry and eager to learn and earn generation,” Ms Selormey stated.
Since June 2014, when oil began to plunge, the financial services industry in sub-Saharan Africa outperformed its emerging markets counterparts by 11 per cent.
By and large, the continent has done remarkably well and has outperformed other developing regions and the rest of the world.
That notwithstanding, Mr Selormey, who was the inaugural Managing Director of Universal Merchant Bank, said financial inclusion was low at less than 20 per cent in many countries on the continent, a potential Africans in the diaspora could look at.
“Consider the fact that most countries on the continent lack a proper consumer credit scoring system, hampering the efficient access to credit. This specific problem lends itself to interesting potential solutions with all the advances in big data and predictive analytics,” she stated.
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By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
More African-Americans appear to be taking an active interest in their right to bear arms since the election of President Donald Trump, gun club leaders and firearm sellers say.A national African-American gun club has doubled its membership since Election Day, and gun sellers say they’ve noticed more black customers buying firearms.At Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Atlanta, one thunderous clap after another reverberates through the room, mixing with laughter and the smell of gunpowder. A group of men are bonding over a hobby they love. Moments later, their weapons empty and a stream of hot shell casings on the floor around them, each man holds up his target showing clusters of bullet holes.They are members of the National African American Gun Association, a group that has added 9,000 members since Election Day, said Philip Smith, the group’s national president. The group launched on Feb. 28, 2015, and added 4,285 members over the same time period the year before, between Nov. 2015 and Feb. 2016.“I’d be lying to you if I said Donald Trump hasn’t affected our numbers,” Smith said. “They have jumped off the roof.”
‘You know what, let me get a gun just in case’In 2008, overall gun sales surged after President Obama’s election. Weapons dealers attributed the increased sales to fears that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress would move to restrict gun ownership. In contrast, overall sales of guns and ammo dipped immediately following Trump’s election.NAAGA leaders say that the recent increase in their membership is driven by different concerns. One of the group’s newest chapters formed in response to the election result, launching just weeks after Nov. 9, and now counting 66 members.Dickson Amoah, the chapter’s president, said several members were alarmed byattacks on African-Americans at Trump’s campaign rallies and hateful rhetoric from Trump supporters on social media. That motivated them to organize the new chapter, he said.Smith cited the recent rise in the number of hate groups in the United States as one factor in NAAGA’s growth. “I think the main thing that has really changed is that two years ago, fringe groups were just that: fringe groups,” he said. “But now those fringe groups are kind of like, ‘It’s cool to be racist,’ and they’ve taken that and we — our community sees that, and it scares us. You know what, let me get a gun just in case something happens, just to make sure.”
A more diverse clienteleSeveral gun store owners also said they have noticed a shift in their clientele.Junior Joseph, the owner of a gun shop near a black community in Orlando, Florida, said for years most of his customers were white men. But since the election, he said he has been making more sales to black and Latino shoppers. Kevin Jones, a gun dealer in Ohio, said he had also seen more black customers coming in, particularly older women.Not every gun store has seen this kind of trend. At one shop in Virginia, a clerk said they’ve seen more women shopping for guns, but hadn’t noticed an increase in African-American buyers.Justin Clyde, the manager of Stoddard’s in Atlanta, said the perception of typical gun buyers continues to change. “Your normal response was probably gonna be, you know, 40-year-old plus white guy,” Clyde said. “It’s not the case at all. Here in Atlanta we have a large demographic of different people, and it’s a wonderful thing. Our store, we see huge groups of people that, you know, don’t fit that mold, don’t fit the normal, I guess, stereotype, and it’s a lot of fun. It makes it more fun, more dynamic, and it’s pretty cool.”
A fraught historyRates of African-American gun ownership have typically been lower than those among whites. In 2013, 21% of black households said they had a gun, compared to 46% of non-Hispanic white households, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2014, 19% of black households reported owning a gun, compared to 41% of non-Hispanic white households.While Smith’s group of NAAGA members was hanging out at Stoddard’s, about a dozen other African-Americans not affiliated with the group passed in and out, both men and women. A group of older patrons started talking about how buying and owning a gun wasn’t always an option for African-Americans.When Martin Luther King Jr.’s home was firebombed in 1956, he applied for a concealed carry permit in the state of Alabama. Local police at that time had the right to determine who could and couldn’t get a license. King’s application was denied, despite the fact that his life was frequently threatened.Being a legal gun owner while black can also be a dangerous proposition today, black gun owners say, pointing to the death of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who was shot by a Minnesota Police officer during a traffic stop last July. Castile’s girlfriend said he clearly told the officer he was legally carrying a gun before he was shot. The officer involved was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.But that doesn’t deter NAAGA’s growing membership. They say the Second Amendment should be for all Americans and it’s a freedom they plan to exercise and encourage.NAAGA says nationwide, black women make up the largest share of the group’s new members. For new gun owners like Antoniette Singh, a retired disabled woman who has bought two firearms in the last five months, it’s about safety and security. She says that as a victim of assault she believes her guns give her a fighting chance against anyone who tries to attack her. The group has helped her learn how to handle her weapons properly.Group meetings across the country focus on teaching new gun owners each state’s gun laws, and helping first-time gun owners feel comfortable with their weapons.Michael Cargill, the owner of a gun shop in central Texas, said a group of 100 black women had recently called asking him to set up a class on gun safety and the proper way to shoot.He attributed the recent wave of interest in owning a firearm to a few factors. “Because of the climate in the White House … people in the African-American community and other communities are concerned about their safety,” he said. “I’m seeing people who want to learn how to shoot and then have us help shop for the right gun.”“It’s something that I haven’t seen in years past,” he said.To read more Click or Copy link:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/us/african-american-gun-club-trump/index.html#a-f83e75d4-7d64-4606-b226-e6353f439b10Post Views: 82