Five important books that tell the tale
By Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a professor of history at the University of Delaware. Here, Dunbar recommends five books about the brutal struggle that black Americans faced in the epochal transition from slavery to freedom.
by Eric Foner
Harper & Row, 1988
Buy this book
Now a classic text, Reconstruction examines the period that followed the Civil War. Foner recounts, in stunning detail, the triumph and tragedy of a nation that attempted to rebuild a democratic republic in the shadow of slavery and after years of violent conflict. The book’s major concerns—citizenship, civil rights, and the legacy of racism—remain hotly contested to this day.
by Tera W. Hunter
Harvard University Press,
1998Buy this book
After the Civil War, black men and women created their lives anew as free people, often taking to the open road in the attempt to distance themselves from their memories of slavery and the cotton fields. Hunter offers a compelling narrative about the lives of black women in the urban South who refused to buckle under the challenges of black codes, racial violence, and the rise of Jim Crow. To ’Joy My Freedom chronicles the experiences of the women who worked to rebuild families, earn an income, and find ways to live and love in turbulent times.
by Paula J. Giddings
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In this meticulously researched biography, Giddings uses the life of Ida B. Wells to expose the racial terror faced by African Americans in the post-Emancipation years. Born enslaved in Mississippi, Wells confronted the vulnerability of black life by challenging white supremacy. As a journalist and crusader in the fight to end lynching, she held the nation accountable for its sins.
by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Harvard University Press, 2011
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Muhammad’s book is an impressive achievement and a timely read. He explores the perceived markers of race and criminality in the first generation of black men and women born after slavery. The Condemnation of Blackness explains how the notion of black criminality has left a devastating mark on African-American lives from the Jim Crow era up to the present.
by Talitha L. LeFlouria
University of North Carolina Press, 2016
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This beautifully written book leads its readers on the journey from Emancipation to the devastating convict-leasing system in Georgia. Centering her narrative around black women, LeFlouria shows how the South’s convict-labor system forced African Americans into labor camps and factories where the conditions were similar to enslavement. Chained in Silence examines the exploitation of black women’s bodies, the beginnings of mass incarceration, and the rise of the modern New South
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
Betty Shabazz , born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X.
Betty Dean Sanders was born on May 28, 1934, to the teenaged Ollie Mae Sanders and Shelman Sandlin. While Betty spent most of her childhood in Detroit, she may have been born in Pinehurst, Georgia. At the age of 11, Betty began living with businessman Lorenzo Malloy and his wife Helen, a prominent businessman and his wife. Helen Malloy was a founding member of the Housewives League of Detroit, a group of African-American women who organized campaigns to support black-owned businesses and boycott stores that refused to hire black employees. She was also a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP.
Despite their lessons on black self-reliance, the Malloys never spoke with Sanders about racism. Looking back in 1995, Shabazz wrote: “Race relations were not discussed and it was hoped that by denying the existence of race problems, the problems would go away. Anyone who openly discussed race relations was quickly viewed as a ‘troublemaker.'” Still, two race riots during her childhood—in 1942 when the Sojourner Truth housing project was desegregated, and one the following year on Belle Isle—made up what Shabazz later called the “psychological background for my formative years”. After she graduated from high school, Sanders left her foster parents’ home in Detroit to study at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), a historically black college in Alabama that was Lorenzo Malloy’s alma mater. She intended to earn a degree in education and become a teacher.
Nothing had prepared Sanders for Southern racism. So long as she stayed on campus, she could avoid interacting with white people, but weekend trips into Montgomery, the nearest city, would try her patience. Black students had to wait until every white person in a store had been helped before the staff would serve them—if they received any service at all. When she complained to the Malloys, they refused to discuss the issue; in a 1989 interview, Shabazz summarized their attitude as “if you’re just quiet it will go away.”
Sanders’ studies suffered as a result of her growing frustration. She decided to change her field of study from education to nursing. The dean of nursing, Lillian Harvey, encouraged Sanders to consider studying in a Tuskegee-affiliated program at the Brooklyn State College School of Nursing in New York City. Against her foster parents’ wishes, Sanders left Alabama for New York in 1953.
In New York, Sanders encountered a different form of racism. At Montefiore Hospital, where she performed her clinical training, black nurses were given worse assignments than white nurses. White patients sometimes were abusive toward black nurses. While the racial climate in New York was better than the situation in Alabama, Sanders frequently wondered whether she had merely exchanged Jim Crow racism for a more genteel prejudice.
During her second year of nursing school, Sanders was invited by an older nurse’s aide to a Friday-night dinner party at the Nation of Islam temple in Harlem. “The food was delicious,” Shabazz recalled in 1992, “I’d never tasted food like that.” After dinner, the woman asked Sanders to come to the Muslims’ lecture. Sanders agreed. After the speech, the nurse’s aide invited Sanders to join the Nation of Islam; Sanders politely declined. The older woman told Sanders about her minister, who was not at the temple that night: “Just wait until you hear my minister talk. He’s very disciplined, he’s good-looking, and all the sisters want him.”
Sanders enjoyed the food so much, she agreed to come back and meet the woman’s minister. At the second dinner, the nurse’s aide told her the minister was present and Sanders thought to herself, “Big deal.” In 1992 she recalled how her demeanor changed when she caught a glimpse of Malcolm X:
Then, I looked over and saw this man on the extreme right aisle sort of galloping to the podium. He was tall, he was thin, and the way he was galloping it looked as though he was going someplace much more important than the podium. … He got to the podium—and I sat up straight. I was impressed with him.
Sanders met Malcolm X again at a dinner party. The two had a long conversation about Sanders’s life: her childhood in Detroit, the racial hostility she had encountered in Alabama, and her studies in New York. He spoke to her about the condition of African Americans and the causes of racism. Sanders began to see things from a different perspective. “I really had a lot of pent-up anxiety about my experience in the South,” Shabazz recalled in a 1990 interview, “and Malcolm reassured me that it was understandable how I felt.”
Soon Sanders was attending all of Malcolm X’s lectures at Temple Number Seven in Harlem. He always sought her out afterwards, and he would ask her a lot of questions. He also began to pressure her to join the Nation of Islam. In mid 1956, Sanders converted. Like many members of the Nation of Islam, she changed her surname to “X”, which represented the family name of her African ancestors that she could never know.
Betty X and Malcolm X did not have a conventional courtship. One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their “dates” with dozens, or even hundreds of other members. Malcolm X frequently took groups to visit New York’s museums and libraries, and he always invited Betty X.
Although they had never discussed the subject, Betty X suspected that Malcolm X was interested in marriage. One day he called and asked her to marry him, and they were married on January 14, 1958, in Lansing, Michigan. By coincidence, Betty X became a licensed nurse on the same day.
Over time, the family dynamic changed, as Malcolm X made small concessions to Betty X’s demands for more independence. In 1969, Shabazz recalled:
“We would have little family talks. They began at first with Malcolm telling me what he expected of a wife. But the first time I told him what I expected of him as a husband it came as a shock. After dinner one night he said, “Boy, Betty, something you said hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I’ve been going along having our little workshops with me doing all the talking and you doing all the listening.” He concluded our marriage should be a mutual exchange.”
The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 , Qubilah, born in 1960 Ilyasah, born in 1962; Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and twins, Malikah and Malaak, born in 1965 after their father’s assassination and named for him.
On February 21, 1965, in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X began to speak to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot Malcolm in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting him 16 times.
Shabazz was in the audience near the stage with her daughters. When she heard the gunfire, she grabbed the children and pushed them to the floor beneath the bench, where she shielded them with her body. When the shooting stopped, Shabazz ran toward her husband and tried to perform CPR. Police officers and Malcolm X’s associates carried him to a stretcher, and brought him to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Shabazz had difficulty sleeping for weeks after Malcolm X’s assassination. She suffered from nightmares in which she relived the death of her husband. She also worried about how she would support herself and her family. The publication of The Autobiography of Malcolm X helped, because Shabazz received half of the royalties.(Alex Haley, who assisted Malcolm X in writing the book, got the other half. After the publication of his best-seller Roots, Haley signed over his portion of the royalties to Shabazz.
Actor and activist Ruby Dee and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers, to raise funds to buy a house, and pay educational expenses for the Shabazz family. The Committee held a series of benefit concerts at which they raised $17,000. They bought a large two-family home in Mount Vernon, New York. Also living in Mount Vernon at that time was her close friend, the musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
Shabazz never remarried. She raised her six daughters alone, aided by annual royalties from her husband’s book The Autobiography of Malcolm X and other publications. In late 1969, Shabazz completed an undergraduate degree at Jersey City State College, followed by a doctoral degree in higher-education administration at the University of Massachusetts. Shabazz began to accept speaking engagements at colleges and universities. She often spoke about the black nationalist philosophy of Malcolm X, but she also spoke about her role as a wife and mother. She then accepted a position as an associate professor of health sciences at New York’s Medgar Evers College. The student body at Medgar Evers was 90 percent black and predominantly working-class, with an average age of 26. Black women made up most of the faculty, and 75 percent of the students were female, two-thirds of them mothers. These were all qualities that made Medgar Evers College attractive to Shabazz.
By 1980, Shabazz was overseeing the health sciences department, and the college president decided she could be more effective in a purely administrative position than she was in the classroom. She was promoted to Director of Institutional Advancement. In her new position, she became a booster and fund-raiser for the college. A year later, she was given tenure. In 1984, Shabazz was given a new title, Director of Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs; she held that position at the college until her death. On June 1, 1997, young grandson Malcolm set a fire in Shabazz’s apartment. Shabazz suffered burns over 80 percent of her body, and remained in intensive care for three weeks, at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. She underwent five skin-replacement operations as doctors struggled to replace damaged skin and save her life. Shabazz died of her injuries on June 23, 1997.Post Views: 385
Malusi Gigaba says economy still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past.By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
Malusi Gigaba says economy still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has called for radical economic transformation — once again saying black business is key to economic growth in SA.
Speaking at a Black Business Council gala dinner on Monday night, Gigaba said: “Leadership bears the burden of responsibility; the responsibility to help serve the challenges of our time … The most difficult challenge of out time … is to transform the South African economy and grow it in an inclusive way.”
He said the economy was still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past.
“Our inability to transform the economy has left the poor particularly vulnerable to the shocks of economic growth.
“Black dispossession has been normalised in our society … there are those shocked by the call for radical economic transformation,” he said.
It was important to move towards a diversified economy that was integrated in Africa and globally, as an exporter.
“We are faced with a challenge of undertaking economic transformation in a context that is not our own doing.
“Let us work together to implement programmes and initiatives. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and the circumstances are never perfect.
“We need to adopt the mind-set that growing black business is the key to economic growth. We need to move beyond justifying the need for econ-omic transformation.
“Growing black business is good for SA. We need to stop talking about black economic empowerment and corruption in the same breath.
“They are not two sides of the same coin.”
He said the character and business of white people was not tainted by scandals.
“We need white business to champion transformation and view it in their commercial interests. This task is both urgent and unavoidable.”
To read more Click or Copy link: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-05-16-growing-black-business-good-for-sa-says-gigaba/Post Views: 242
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
Communities of color are actually disproportionately likely to report crimes—it’s police themselves who have maintained a corrosive culture of silence.
IBRAM X KENDI May 14, 2018
A 911 caller living in a nonwhite neighborhood snitches.
A man wearing a black hoodie “busted both my truck windows out,” the caller reported on March 18, “and he’s in people’s backyards right now.” Two officers, Terrence Mercadal, a black man, and Jared Robinet, a white man, arrived on the nighttime scene in South Sacramento. Several minutes later, Mercadal and Robinet were running up a dark driveway, pursuing the suspect, flashlights clearing their sight. “Hey! Show me your hands! Stop! Stop!” one shouted. They turned a corner and through the glare of their flashlights saw a 22-year-old black male in his own backyard.
“Gun, gun, gun!” an officer yelled seconds later. Body-cam footage showed Stephon Clark seemingly abiding by their last order, turning to them to show them his hands, one of which clasped his white iPhone. A belief “the suspect was pointing a firearm at them,” to quote the Sacramento Police Department’s statement, is all police need to become executioners. Police officers do not require certainty to exact the certainty of death.
Both officers unloaded 20 shots into the darkness, at the darkness. “Are you hit?” one officer asked after the 20th shot. “No, I’m good,” the other responded.
Minutes later, a police sergeant arrived. The sergeant escorted Mercadal and Robinet to the street. “Hey mute,” the sergeant said, as he reached for his body camera. The audio of the Mercadal’s and Robinet’s body cameras fell silent, like Clark’s unarmed body nearby. More officers arrived on the scene and muted the audio of their body cameras, as shown in the more than 50 videos and two audio clips that Sacramento Police Department released in April.
Nearly two months have passed and only protesters have been arrested. Was justice muted in those critical moments after the shooting? What were those officers saying that they did not want investigators to hear? Will the Stephon Clark death story begin and end like far too many high-profile officer-involved death stories? A citizen, living apparently in a no-snitch black culture, snitches to police. Officers arrive, use lethal force, claim no misconduct, and every officer on the scene refuses to say otherwise. All too often, police officers appear dead-set on ensuring such incidents do not end how they began—in snitching.
Americans have talked constantly about a no-snitch black culture hampering police investigations, leaving violent criminals on the streets. But what about the no-snitch police culture that has hampered investigations into officer misconduct, leaving violent criminals on the streets?
Police officers should lead the way in fostering an American civic culture of reporting lawbreakers. It is their professional duty to snitch, to enforce the law first and foremost against themselves. How can they expect citizens to snitch to them if they refuse to snitch? How can they expect citizens to trust the criminal-justice system if they don’t trust the criminal-justice system? Snitching on each other remains their only salvation from this hypocrisy, their best tool for building trust with the communities they purport to serve and protect. But first, they’ll have to grapple with an empirical truth: Communities of color are actually disproportionately likely to report crimes—it’s police themselves who have maintained a culture of silence.
That’s not something most law-enforcement leaders seem inclined to acknowledge. “Law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors,” complained Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February. “There is no ‘Blue Wall of Silence’ … meaning no cops are covering for cops in Las Vegas,” an apparently all-knowing Las Vegas real-estate investor and police watchdog claimed in the Las Vegas Sun. “It’s not that we’re all out here covering for one another,” said Sergeant Dan Hils, president of the Cincinnati police union. Loyalty “ends with criminal activity.”
Since the 1980s, police officers have grumbled of a growing no-snitch culture—not within their own ranks, but outside their blue wall in black and Latino neighborhoods. “I have been in hospital rooms, even on the street standing over somebody being loaded into an ambulance, and they refuse to talk, and you think, ‘What in the world are we here for?’” Sergeant Mike Huff said recently in Tulsa. “But you know this violence is going to spread.”
The mix of neighborhood anecdotes, police reports, media stories, no-snitch videos, apparel, television shows, and music lyrics have baked the popular belief in a no-snitch black culture, even among black people. The “no-snitch mentality is killing the black community,” a black prisoner serving a life sentence proclaimed in the Toledo Blade in 2014.
Police defenders like to point to the falling clearance rate for homicides as proof not of the falling clearance rate, but of the no-snitch black culture. In 1965, the rate of homicide cases ending in an arrest was more than 90 percent. By 2015, the rate had fallen to 64.1 percent.
Anecdotal evidence persists about individuals of all races refusing to report crimes. But evidence of uniquely black cultural hostility to snitching does not exist—it is yet another racist idea without any evidentiary standing. But when did Americans ever need evidence to believe something was culturally or behaviorally wrong with black people as a group? Racist ideas are believable, not provable.
The evidence points to black communities perhaps being more likely to snitch than white communities—and Latino communities being the most likely to snitch. The National Crime Victimization Survey compiled each year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found in 2010 that violence against black people and white people were reported at nearly identical rates (blacks slightly higher), while violence against Latinos was the most likely to be reported. The latest National Crime Victimization Survey in 2016 again found violence against Latinos (52 percent) was more likely to be reported to the police than violence against blacks and whites (40 percent alike). For serious violent crimes, violence against Latinos (65 percent) and blacks (60 percent) was far more likely to be reported to the police than violence against whites (45 percent). But these statistics did not inflame the policing community to start lamenting about a no-snitch white culture.
Black youth are especially branded with a no-snitch culture, without evidence, and in the face of evidence to the contrary. Preliminary data from a survey administered to 1,500 community college students showed that if the perpetrator was a relative or a friend, whites were less likely to snitch than non-whites, despite whites reporting they trust the police far more than blacks, and despite twice as many blacks reporting they listened to music that ridiculed snitching.
Urban, black high-school dropouts may be the most maligned for not reporting crimes to police officers. And yet, police officers, ironically, rely on snitching especially from the hyper-incarcerated population of black high-school dropouts. The staggering volume of arrests of black and Latino youth over the last four decades would have ground the criminal-justice system to a halt if every single case went to trial. Plea agreements—defendants snitching on themselves and often snitching on others in exchange for more lenient sentences—have become as endemic as police informants in black and Latino neighborhoods. Over nine out of 10 federal cases, for example, end in plea agreements.
Police officers, however, do not appear to be commonly snitching on themselves, and accepting plea agreements. There is a no-snitch police culture that may be as widespread and harmful as the myth of a no-snitch black culture. The National Institute of Ethics surveyed 3,714 officers and academic recruits from 42 states in 1999 and 2000. A no-snitching code of silence commonly exists, responded 79 percent of officers. More than half of the officers said this no-snitch code does not bother them. Nearly half of the officers reported witnessing misconduct and not reporting it. That’s probably because 73 percent of responding officers said they’d be fired if they snitched. And 73 percent of the officers said the individuals pressuring them to keep quiet were leaders.
In 2001, a national survey of police attitudes conducted by the Police Foundation found that a majority of officers said turning a “blind eye” to police misconduct was not unusual. Meanwhile, roughly two-thirds reported they “did not always report serious criminal violations” by fellow officers and they’d be given the “cold shoulder” if they did.
In his forward to that report, the Police Foundation’s president, Hubert Williams, wrote, “Most of America’s police officers are honest, dedicated, hard-working public servants, and it is they, as well as the public they serve, who are victims of the ‘bad’ cop.” If most police officers are good, then they are being forced to operate in a bad policing culture where the personal desire to report misconduct is tempered by the top-down forces to remain silent—or, by their own self-interest of keeping their jobs and staying out of prison.
Even when undercover Atlanta officers fired 39 shots at 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in 2006 after busting into the wrong home, they refused to snitch. They planted drugs to cover themselves. Caught in their lies, two officers finally pled guilty and received reduced sentences. Three officers were imprisoned. Two years ago, when San Francisco officers accused a sergeant of making racist and sexist comments, the former head and acting consultant of the city’s police union called them “snitches.”
And then there’s the tragic death of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald in 2014. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke claimed he opened fire after the teenager lunged at him with a knife, a claim backed up by on-the-scene reports from three other officers. The dashcam video contradicted their claims, sparking protests that compelled Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to acknowledge the “blue wall of silence” in 2015. The Justice Department’s recent investigations of the Chicago and Baltimore police departments discovered broken systems of silence. When officers have stepped forward in Baltimore, the report found, “fellow officers have retaliated against them.”
In 2011, when a Baltimore detective asked a sergeant about reporting two fellow officers who brutally beat a suspect, he says the sergeant replied: “If you are rat, your career is done.” The good cop decided to be a rat. And the good cop’s career in Baltimore is done. The day before Baltimore detective Sean Suiter was scheduled to testify in a grand-jury hearing against fellow officers, he died from a shot by his own handgun. His death in November remains unsolved—one of the only unsolved deaths of a police officer in Baltimore’s history.
When will police departments focus more on rooting out their own no-snitching culture that undermines their job duties than on attacking a no-snitch black culture that does not exist? Not snitching is not a black problem nor a white problem nor a poor problem nor an urban problem nor a youth problem. Not snitching is an American problem—across races and spaces. When will police officers model for Americans the difficult civic duty of snitching against partners, against close friends, against violent neighbors? When will they show us by their actions that legality must trump loyalty and career and fear?
I want police officers to be comfortable snitching and I want to be comfortable snitching to them. Too often the response to the report of a minor crime like breaking car windows—or no crime at all—has ended in a life being lost and an officer back on duty weeks later. Part of me wants to keep police guns as far away from black bodies as I can. Because we fear their guns. They fear our bodies. Why would I want to play Russian roulette by reporting a crime?
It would be much easier for me to snitch if I trusted police officers around black bodies; if police officers always took the time to defuse and save; if black life mattered more than police fear; if arrests actually reduced crime; and if I saw resources going to rehabilitate human beings, rather than to cage human beings like they are animals.
Black people, in other words, have every reason not to snitch. And yet, the evidence shows, we still do—even as we are ridiculed for not doing so. Police officers have every reason to snitch. And yet they still commonly do not—and get praised as if they commonly do.
Stephon Clark’s death story could end differently if a Sacramento police officer steps forward to lead us all to justice. Police-involved death stories could end in justice if police officers everywhere are willing to do what black people do: start snitching.Post Views: 414