Putting Wealth & Hate Aside

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At a protest rally in Boston earlier, I told a large crowd of folks that I am not an invisible man. I live in my identity as a Black man born of a Mother who worked crazy hours to support her family. I am a product of my Mother — a Black woman who faced and faces everything from the Jim Crow South to male patriarchy. Men determined her wages and standard of living. With age I have continued to develop and grow in the faith of my ideology in working to eradicate struggle.

However, as I noted in an essay I published, working class struggles will continue unless we can address the divide and bring about solidarity. I noted that:

The search for solidarity has escaped white, black, and brown working class people, in part, due to white people’s historical reluctance to embrace shared experiences that cross racial boundaries. Because of recent political news, mass rallies by Black Lives Matter, and the growing concerns about the economic gap, I aim to resurrect past and present conversations about the “working class.” As we know, it is not monolithic. In order to confront working class issues, society must mend the color line through class, which is complex, as the American race question is the real problem.

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Paper for the ASA Annual Conference

I have joined a distinguish panel of scholars for the 2018 American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Conference, held in the great city of Atlanta. Our panel, Du Bois Lately: Emergent Critiques of W. E. B. Du Bois at 150, brings together a collection of thinkers who spend a great deal of time pondering Black thought from a global and domestic framework.

Some of my most recent scholarship has explored the nomenclature of Black identity, Black radicalism, and ideology. In particularly, the relationship between Blacks and the Communist Party USA. I published an essay here that explored W.E.B. Du Bois and MLK Jr., and their relationship to race, religion, and communism.

My ASA conference paper, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Evolution into the Communist Party USA, delves into the dawn of the 21st century, in the year many celebrate the 150 anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois, much is still to be learned about him as a communist. Carnegie Hall, February 23 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a commemorative speech on the 100th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois. In his speech, King stated, “it is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a Communist”.

This paper provides insightful analysis into Du Bois’s imagination of world revolution. Both his Black Reconstruction and Dark Princess paint the greatness of the Russian Revolution, and the Soviet Union during the Comintern. Du Bois’s imagination after the Revolution shaped a vision for a better world for Black liberation, as Du Bois juxtaposed the Russian workers’ plight to that of oppressed Black Americans and those of the colonized world. However, his contradictions and concerns about communism and that of Josef Stalin denote his sense of self-ideological struggles. Though Du Bois offered a sharp critique of the Committee for International Labor Defense and the Communist Party USA during the Scottsboro trial in the 1930s and during their organizing strategies in the Deep South, his views and trajectory evolved, as his grasp of communism, both domestically and internationally, shaped his evolution toward his eventual membership in the Communist Party-USA.

A twilight Du Bois was energized by the larger stage of the color line and the problems presented by imperialism, and later at the dawn of the Cold War. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America brought forth the forces that promulgated world revolution. However, he was guilty of miscalculations in making false parallels about the American race problem.

Domination and the White Gaze

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Black thought and Black Studies ponder the realities of modern colonial aims. In my readings of CLR, Du Bois, Hall, hooks, Collins, and so on — I too am forced to glance and consider my identity and the identities of others. In the end, this is what academics do as we contemplate 21st century realities. Often such are predicated by past actions. My reflection here is nothing new, nor is it revolutionary. But, it is a baseline for conversations. Can Black people be Black in a world seen through the lens of the white gaze? Must Black people code switch to allow white comfort? What about women and their day-to-day reality in this patriarchal world? Women of color face the greatest threat as they are faced with challenging multiple systems. Such systems (the aggressor) aim to frame women — but particularly women of color in a powerless state.

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The notion of domination has been in constant operation and on my mind. That sense of abject reality for me as a Black man who will always be dominated by whiteness. My intersectional privileges allows for some fortitude (I am male), but the other half of me — my Black self — has and will continue to be imprisoned by the power structure of race (I am Black). This white gaze that decides my fate is the constant narrative of a ubiquitous force that pits Black people against Black people. Hence — Black intra-racial alliance is a myth. Black folk suffocate because of fear. Often this is due to domination and insecurity. Black ally ship might not wholly exist. The intra-racial dissonance is drafted by white domination (jobs, promotion, health care, debt, retirement, where you live, wealth, relationships, etc). I have experienced this. Many of us have. You know that feeling when a Black person rips your heart apart due to their complicity with domination. This knot in my stomach reminds me of the need for interracial solidarity and working class unity. But it also serves as a reminder regarding who makes decisions. Who holds power? And often, how the power brokers do not always listen. A have no power. I lack the wealth to take care of my Black parents. They lacked the wealth to take care of me. King faced this. Du Bois faced this: A feeing of years of betrayal by Black complicity and silence.

Bishop Curry

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There are those standing up for their faith — and truth, and not the idolatry of politics as God. Bishop Curry, who stated that “…. We are Christian leaders bearing moral witness to the teachings of our faith in the public square…. As citizens we want our government to reflect our values. As a Bishop I believe we should follow the teachings of Jesus — who taught us to love God and love our neighbor…. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good — and we will resist it.”

In truth, I never heard of him until the royal wedding; however, since I have watched him protest in front of the White House demanding justice and advocating for human rights. I am one who hates complacency. I have committed myself to defending the weak: homelessness, marginalized, etc.

Let us dedicate each and everyday to being better human beings.

Award

I was caught off guard by this award today for my volunteer service work. I am honored by the “office” and my Brooks colleagues for such recognition. Working at a boarding school does not leave much room for this kind of work — especially when you teach on a Saturday. However, we have managed to spend a great deal of time each Sunday cooking and organizing and prepping food at a soup kitchen.

Award