100 Anniversary of the Russian Revolution and Black Liberation

Saturday’s event sponsored by the Center for Marxist Education and the Boston Socialist school went well. There were 25 – 30 people who attended the session on the Russian Revolution and Black Liberation. My paper was titled “W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction, and his Evolution into the Communist Party USA.” I think all of us went a bit long — but it was a successful celebration of the 100 anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

 

Panel one

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America’s Race Problem

During the Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park here in Boston last night. This is true — even if you are color blind. Party for Socialism and Liberation page stated, “Today, the United States is an example of this kind of “prison house of nations. Since its origins, racism has been a characteristic of U.S. society. This racism has often disguised the fact that the Black population within the United States has emerged with all the main features of a nation within the borders of the United States. Racism against African Americans is a manifestation of national oppression.”

Confederate Monuments

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New Orleans started the process of removing Confederate monuments. Over the years I have discovered that folks know little about historical actors like Jefferson Davis, who was not a great leader. I wrote an essay below for The Christian Century Magazine with a colleague as we noted, “[W.E.B.] Du Bois observed how little had changed in America from his mid-20th-century perspective. Perhaps the conjunction of the #blacklivesmatter movement with challenges against Confederate monuments can help bring about some change in our own day.

See essay here: Confederate Monuments and American Citizenship

The Emergence of Black Atheists in American Culture

I am hoping to get some feedback on a research project I am in the process of conducting. Below is a rough abstract to a paper I will deliver on a panel this summer.

The church — both the Black Protestant and white church cannot fully reconcile their racial differences, due to the barrier capitalism poses toward social and class progress. After 1970, capitalism transformed the Black church from an agent seeking radical change, to one procuring cultural materialism, as noted by a consumer-driven culture that seeks status and measures of wealth. As a result, the Black church continues to fall short of being a revolutionary change agent for Black folk, in the dawn of the 21st century, as self-interest and wealth have usurped the Gospels. Such measures of self have not only divided the Black and white working class from their achievable class interest, but have furthered intra-racial division due to commodification and economic inequality.

W.E.B. Du Bois contended that the white church was incapable of mending the color line, but the Negro church, though flawed, provided hope for Blacks, as it held onto the roots of Africa, which were transported to North America. Du Bois also noted that the Negro church presented challenging divisions among its fellowship. Though he did not delve too deeply into the nomenclature of class division within the Negro church, he took a systematic approach in understanding the notion of faith – and Negro religiosity. Du Bois did, however, write about apathy and self-care, as they pertained to the church. And while Du Bois saw the Negro church as a cultural center and fixture for Black congregants seeking rescue from a racist society, he examined the paradoxical nature of religion and individual values. Carter G. Woodson expressed grave concerns when he noted that the Negro church “suffered from a generational divide, a class divide, and regional one but ultimately from a division over ideas”. By the 1950s, the Negro church evolved into the classical Black church, as E. Franklin Frazier published a scathing critique of the Negro church, he noted it no longer existed; as the Negro church died…it was reborn.

This paper offers a lens to critique the historical and emerging shift away from the Black church and religion. My research furthers that notion, as many within the Black community continue to showcase their religious conservatism and belief in God, while others have slowly drifted away, often due to greater economic opportunities at the expense of the Black community. Due to integration, this post-1970 Black bourgeoisie progressed from the Black church—as well as from religion. With black educational attainment and hence the rise of the Black middle class, more and more Black people are reflecting their values by asking, Do I believe in God? Can I afford to believe in God? This shift, in part, reflects the stark class differences among Blacks by the 21st century. This class divide and shift in faith morphed by Blacks to reflect an emerging non-churched bourgeois attitude. Through countless interviews, observations, demographic studies, and discussions with Black atheist network leaders, my research looks at the rise of Black atheists, and the importance of class and materialism, over the church in the age of Black Lives Matter. For some racial identity will be sacrificed, while for others the loss of religion will advance a new consciousness.