Sunday, February 26, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt twelve)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Weeks before Americans ran out to see Rocky, though, they ran out to buy Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family. And those who did not want to slog through the 704-page tome that claimed the No. 1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List watched the even more popular television adaptation that started airing on ABC in January 1977, becoming the most watched show in US television history. Roots: The Saga of an American Family shared the thrilling, tragic, and tumultuous story of Kunta Kinte, from his kidnapping in Gambia to his brutal crippling, which ended his incessant runaway attempts in Virginia. Claiming Kinte as his actual ancestor, Haley followed his life and the life of his descendants in US history down to himself. For African American in the radiance of Black Power’s broadening turn to antiracist Pan-African ideas, and starved for knowledge about their life before and during slavery, Roots was a megahit, one of the most influential works of the twentieth century. Roots unearthed legions of racist ideas of backward Africa, of civilizing American slavery, of the contented slave, of stupid and imbruted slaves, of loose enslaved women, and of African American roots in slavery. The plantation genre of happy mammies and Sambos was gone with the wind.



Saturday, February 25, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt eleven)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was gunned down by some of those enemies at a Harlem rally. When James Baldwin heard the news in London, he was beside himself. “It is because of you,” he shouted at London reporters, “the men that created this white supremacy, that this man is dead!” From his nationally watched voting registration campaign in Selma, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. was reflectively restrained. “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.” On February 22, 1965, the New York Times banner headline read: “The Apostle of Hate Is Dead.”

Actor Ossie Davis christened Malcolm “our shining black prince” days later in his magnetic eulogy before the overflow crowd at Harlem’s Faith Temple of the Church of God in Christ. “Many will say . . . he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist,” Davis said. And the response would be, “Did you ever really listen to him? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.”



Friday, February 24, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt ten)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

On April 3, 1963, King helped kick off a spate of demonstrations in Birmingham, bringing on the wrath of the city’s ruggedly segregationist police chief, “Bull” Conner [sp]. Nine days later, on Good Friday, eight White anti-segregationist Alabama clergymen signed a public statement requesting that these “unwise and untimely” street demonstrations cease and be “pressed in the courts.” Martin Luther King Jr., jailed that same day, read the statement from his cell. Incited, he started doing something he rarely did. He responded to critics in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” published far and wide that summer. King attacked not only those Alabama preachers, but also the applauding audience of Beyond the Melting Pot. He confessed that he had “almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom” was not the segregationist,” but the white moderate . . . who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” King explained that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”



Thursday, February 23, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt nine)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Hooton’s Up from the Ape received a complement when King Kong appeared on the big screen in 1933. The film shares the adventure tale of a colossal, primordial, island-dwelling ape who dies attempting to possess a young and beautiful White woman. Americans scraped their pennies together, took their minds off the Depression, and gave the film stunning box-office sales. Reviewers were captivated. “One of the most original, thrilling and mammoth novelties to emerge from a movie studio,” radiated the Chicago Tribune. Actually, King Kong was nothing but a remake of The Birth of a Nation, set in the island scenery of Tarzan, and then New York. But King Kong did not invite the controversy of The Birth of a Nation. The filmmakers had veiled the physically powerful Black man by casting him as the physically powerful ape. In both films, the Negro-Ape terrorizes White people, tries to destroy White civilization, and pursues a White woman before a dramatic climax—the lynching of the Negro-Ape. King Kong was stunningly original for showing images of racist ideas—without ever saying a word about Black people, like those southern grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and understanding clauses that had disenfranchised Black people.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt eight)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Physical anthropology, a discipline studying biological racial distinctions, had split off from cultural anthropology, which studed cultural distinctions. Boas was at the helm of cultural anthropology; the anthropologists at the helm of physical anthropology were Earnest A. Hooton and Carleton S. Coon at Harvard. In 1931, Hooton authored Up from the Ape, which became a staple in physical anthropology courses over the next few decades. “Physical characteristics,” Hooton explained, “which determine race are associated, in the main, with specific intangible and non-measurable but nevertheless real and important, temperamental and mental variations.

Many of Hooton’s students entered the health-care sector, where segregationist ideas of biological races were rampant, and where workers were still treating diseases differently by race. Syphilis harmed Blacks much more than it did Whites, argued syphilis “expert” Thomas Murrell in Journal of the American Medical Association in 1910. But this theory had never been definitively proven. So in 1932, the US Public Health Service began its “Study of Syphilis in the Untreated Negro Male.” Government researchers promised free medical care to six hundred syphilis-infected sharecroppers around Tuskegee, Alabama. They secretly withheld treatment to these men and waited for their deaths, so they could perform autopsies. Researchers wanted to confirm their hypothesis that syphilis damaged the neurological systems of Whites, while bypassing Blacks “underdeveloped” brains and damaging their cardiovascular systems instead. The study was not halted until the press exposed it in 1972.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt seven)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

South Carolina senator Matthew Butler and Alabama senator and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon John Tyler Morgan introduced a congressional bill on January 7, 1890, to fund Black emigration to Africa. It was an ingenious solution to the class and racial problems of big southern landowners. Withering under a southern agricultural depression, many White “dirt farmers” were raging against the Black farmers; others were joining with Blacks to rage against White landowners in the rising interracial, antiracist populist movement. The colonization bill was a deflective measure. It pointed White farmers to southern Blacks—and not rich White landowners—as the chief cause of the southern agrarian depression. White farmers could easily see how the mass ejection of southern Blacks would increase their own labor value.



Monday, February 20, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt six)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Six days after meeting with the Black delegation, Lincoln gained an opportunity to emphatically declare his views on war, emancipation, and Black people. The nation’s most powerful editor, Horace Greeley, inserted an open letter to the president in his leading New York Tribune on August 20, 1862. Greeley had been as responsible for Lincoln’s election as anyone. He urged Lincoln to enforce the “emancipation provisions” of the Second Confiscation Act.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery,” Lincoln replied in Greeley’s rival paper, Washington’s National Intelligencer. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” In the New York Tribune, rising abolitionist Wendell Phillips hammered Lincoln’s remarks as “the most disgraceful document that ever came from the head of a free people.”