Black and White Working Class

I wrote this essay on the past and current struggles of the Black and white working class in the United States. I noted that:

Racism has long divided the working class, and today is no different. Many white working class people voted for Donald Trump. And much like 2008, race was a reason. While some will salute a strong economy, in truth, wages have flattened for the working class. Because of this, and because white workers have grown suspicious of the burgeoning black power call by Black Lives Matter, the search for solidarity continues to escape a racially divided country, as noted by the current political climate.

This essay was published by the Hampton Institute here.

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Against Bigotry

I spoke to a crowed at the end of our protest march in front of the Boston State House. I am feeling a desire by many to bring true change. But that will not be easy. This march/protest was aimed against policies on deportations and refugees and Muslims.

I am with Jackie here, she is my friend; I am her friend. She is my ally and I am her ally. We stand with others as friends. Let me be clear here: I love people. And because I love working-class people, I have decided I can no longer be a friend with those who support the legislation of hate. What does this mean? I will not travel with you nor visit your home. If you are against LGBTQ folks, female rights, undocumented friends, black, brown, and others, and if you support hate and American exceptionalism, I am not your friend and you are not my friend. This is not just a virtual notion; it is true for me day-to-day. If you believe you are “just” due to your faith — we are not friends. To be my friend means you are my ally, and thus are seeking to evolve by walking with me to denounce bigotry. I will work with you on the job. I am working class and have to pay the bills. I have no interest in your religion or church if your members are not allies. I will be nice and say hello – Mom and Dad raised me well. I will work beside you at work — but just know I cannot be your friend; if you are not my ally, we are not friends. If you are arguing about my realities and the realities of my friends and allies – we cannot be friends. We cannot break bread in my home or have a glass of wine.

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Boston Women’s March

I love you Boston — and the Mass area. This is true for many cities that showed solidarity in protest. With more mass organizing meetings to come — today was beautiful. Really. There is hope and love. We marched in solidarity with family, comrades, women, whites, people of color, and students. We marched with lesbians, transgender, gay, queer, straight, and children who were being taught love and acceptance. We cheered for women’s rights and their reproductive rights. We marched against white supremacy, pay inequality, rape, and mass incarcerations. We marched because the state nor religion can tell a woman about her reproductive system. We marched because Black Lives Matter. We marched because love trumps hate. 125,000 marched and protested because we do not respect the least popularly elected president in history. We marched because no means no. Sexual assault is what weak men do.

White Nationalism

A lot of people in America are very concerned about the rise and influence of “white nationalism” in contemporary American society and in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency.

I would like to know what makes white nationalists more dangerous than black nationalists.

What do you think? My response: white nationalist are the CEOs, bankers, etc…They are positioned to impact the standard of living black folks experience. Black nationalism is a response to white racism.

Jesus, Race, and Ideology Lecture and Book Review

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I am excited about my talk at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge. This talk draws from my research in developing my American Jesus course. The above announcement recently went out; I am hoping to have a great conversation with folks who attend. The last lecture I gave there saw 20 – 25 people who attended. Here is my description of the talk: The Black Christian Communist in America starts with an address by the now defunct Knights of Labor’s Constitution, which opened with a biblical verse from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.” The workers believed Jesus Christ’s teachings promoted a central socialist narrative of love and sacrifice for all people – not one against socialism, the poor, and marginalized, which has long been a construct of American Calvinists, who purported that Christ and his teachings were capitalist. The historical transformation of Christ, as a blond haired blue-eyed capitalist, will be juxtaposed to a darker skinned Christ, who was a socialist and thus marched with the poor, with sinners, and communists. This engaging discussion addresses the relationship of the American church and religion, its members, and the importance of race and socialism in eradicating societal inequalities dating back to the black power movement of the 1960s to ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ in the 21st century.

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H-AmRel (History of American Religion) invited me to write a scholarly review for publication of the book “Black Power in the Bluff City: African-American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965 – 1975.” I am excited about finishing this work and grasping the complex historical narrative of Memphis — as presented by Shirletta J. Kinchen.

Beyoncé wants to be an Active Feminist

An interesting article headlining Miley Cyrus and Beyonce reads: If Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé want to be feminist, they need to quit the celebrity machine. Author Gaylene Gould got it right and in doing so, ignited a conversation between myself and professor Hunter. Our December 18th discussion went something like this:

Hunter: In reflecting on recent discussions on beyonce’s declaration about her feminism, i’m trying to discern the difference between identification with an ideology and activism that leads to social transformation.

Carson: I like this reflection my friend and colleague is wrestling with. Dr. Hunter has given me something to ponder. Though I am black and educated in the spirit of the bourgeoisie, I believe that my activism will always be proletarian, as I noted regarding W.E.B Du Bois. If that means passively protesting a commencement speaker or organizing a walkout during an assembly — both of which I have done, they serve as a model to my students that I am serious about both action and teaching. I can live with that. Folks confuse leadership sometimes. Too many stationary books on what leadership looks like. It is a commercialized industry.

Hunter: knock it off ed. I’m just joe PhD. lol. I’m not trying to set the bar too high for anyone, but the history of black feminism, on all levels, is filled with known and unknown black women who put in work.

Carson: But the fact that you are creating and encouraging this discussion is what validates you and your point. People confuse talk with inactivity. It is the talk that promulgates action. And here, you are speaking towards our cultural ignorance and inconsistencies. Yes, what about the many sisters who are not commercialized but act? I want the bar high.

Hunter: Ella Baker talked. Angela Davis talked and continues to speak. Toni Morrison talks and writes, but in many ways Oprah’s philanthropy speaks to me of a feminist agenda. As you know, I think caring means learning about the conditions of structural violence so that we have good, thoughtful, and articulate hearts that are able to describe the marginalizing structures of power and then in winsome terms attract those with similar moral intuitions or commitments. As you know, discourse is critical to meaningful social transformation. For that reason, as an educator, I’m interested in the intellectual and moral (spiritual) formation of my students AND colleagues.

Carson: Unfortunately, folks either forget or do not want to revisit the narrative once scripted for such dialogue about race and gender. Angela Davis’ dealings with the Panthers and the Communist Party of America denotes her own class and racial alienation. Toni Morrison’s deepest narratives points to matters deemed too taboo to discuss in the mainstream. Intra-class and black racism works against our own sense of being consciously aware — as Marxism has taught us. A history of shade (i.e., high yellow) and incest that demonized blacks folks for centuries continues to hunt us. Both Davis and Morrison have spoken to these matters. Yet, it is Oprah who reminds us through her philanthropy in a different fashion that class and racial consciousness still exist. I think to her support of Obama or the movie Great Debaters that showcased the rise of a young Farmer who became an activist in addressing matters of inequality. Or, her book club. I do not think folks see the thread or theme with her book selections as they relate to your point on ideology and activism. Unlike Davis, who used her action and education to denounce class and racial injustices, Oprah managed to transcend both among the most unsuspecting audience: white homemakers. Unfortunately, I am not convinced she nor Davis nor Baker nor Morrison can compete with the false personification of modern celebs like Beyonce. Young sisters want to shake the booty. And that is okay. As long as the shaking stays in the club and the real work continues through a well articulated message. This has always been my message to the black sisters in my courses.

Hunter: The great debates, zora, morrison, edwidge danticat for morrison, etc and so on. the difference is Morrison’s work began with a self-reflective writing exercise that looked at hegemonic power and internalized oppression and the human condition. Instead of seeking celebrity, she wrote a book that she wanted to read. That personal work translated into social transformation, created other opportunities for black writers, as well as celebrity. These consequences were the unintended consequence of tending to her soul and asking important questions out loud. we can go on and on on this one.

Carson: Agreed!!! Darn did I really forget about sister Hurston? Yes. My mind is now racing out of control. Thanks for giving me so much to think about. I needed this today.

Communist King

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Above: MLK Jr. at a supposed communist gathering. Right-wing conservatives in the age of McCarthyism often disseminated anti-leftist literature to slander King.

Though I am a bigger supporter of the ideas initiated by Malcolm X, I have long grown to admire the intellectualism of Martin Luther King Jr., whom is often lost among many. King’s complexities are at times subject to a mere conversation about his great speeches; I believe it is his thoughts on the economy and war that are more impressive. King is heavily criticized by the Right for being an advocate for the distribution of wealth; I am not sure why that surprises so many, seeing that blacks encompass a large body of the poor. King believed the plight of poor whites and poor blacks would create a unified construct that might advance society pass the element of race, class, and gender. Thus, allowing members to be a part of a more egalitarian society.

Upon his death, King had shifted from the politics of the domestic Negro, and had engaged himself in more international debates about human rights. In doing so, King showcased a strong leftist political leaning — one very similar to W.E.B. Du Bois, who passed away as a self-exiled communist in the African country of Ghana. The radical 60s allowed great black intellectuals to us use leftist thought as a fashion for eradicating domestic and international racism. In truth, King was not a communist; he did congregate with communist as a show of solidarity for the disenfranchised. The same was true of Black Panthers — whom like members of the Communist Party, were in diametric opposition of King. Though King was not a panther nor a communist, he greatly grasped the notion of solidarity with such groups as a method of eradicating domestic and international inequalities.