Soviet relations. He has an M. Thanks for sharing this really useful reading list on the historical intersections of Communism and black radicalism! Columbia University Press, Oxford University Press, Duke University Press, Thank you very much for posting this. Charles White.
Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, Blood in My Eye. The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright. New York: Columbia University Press, Un-American: W.
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Du Bois and the Century of World Revolution. What a wonderful list! William J. Hagerty, B. Peery, N. Chicago: Speakers for a New America. New York: The New Press. Not to mention a bunch of other writings of his at the Marxist Internet Archive. James: The Artist as Revolutionary. Imani Keith Henry, diversity trainer and organizational development consultant, will deliver a lecture on social justice at 5 p.
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The event is free and open to the public. For over 20 years, Henry has worked as a social service professional and community organizer in the cities of New York and Boston. Moore submitted a petition to the United Nations in seeking reparations for African Americans, and she made the demand again during a meeting with President John F.
In , veteran civil rights organizer James Forman interrupted services at Riverside Church in Manhattan and read out the Black Manifesto to its congregation. Financial and legal support from churches, private foundations, wealthy benefactors, and organizations like IFCO Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization flowed to the black power movement, underwriting popular mobilizations and political and artistic programs. Other organizations sought reparations not in the form of individual or collective monetary payments, but territorial sovereignty.
Today the reparations demand is different. The reparations claim no longer functions as an actual political demand for land and territory, but rather operates as a territorial-identitarian claim for power and recognition within the shifting landscape of multicultural capitalism. Coates fits this characterization as well. Aside from his support for H.
This variety of antiracist liberalism appeals to an anxious black middle class battered by the subprime mortgage crisis, economic recession, and repeated raids on the public sector. Throughout his writings, Coates rightly rejects the argument that deep inequality is due to the cultural pathology of the black poor. But he embraces another aspect of Cold War liberalism: the focus on institutional racism — a concept that roots racial inequality primarily in covert, systematized practices like redlining in the mortgage industry, property-tax funding structures for public education, the siting of undesirable or toxic land uses adjacent to black communities, and so on, rather than overt forms of anti-black violence and discrimination.
Coates and others never broach the Cold War origins of institutional racism discourse, however. To do so would mean examining why this particular line of thinking — which treats black poverty as fundamentally distinct from white poverty — survived the Cold War, while the more Marxist class-oriented analysis offered by the black left in organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers was weakened and ultimately defeated through police repression and red-baiting. Many have lauded Coates for his historical analysis, and much of his case for reparations rests on an interpretation of the history of American racism: antebellum chattel slavery, the betrayals of Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, latter-day housing discrimination.
She details the various forms of legal action and political organizing undertaken by residents, progressive lawyers, and civil rights activists to contest these racist practices, and is sensitive to the impersonal processes that shape individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. They acted not solely out of racism but also genuine economic insecurity — especially the newly arrived middle class, who still remembered the hardships of the Great Depression.
Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle
The Lawndale case powerfully illustrates the predatory behaviors of white property owners, who reaped wide profit margins from vulnerable black renters and ill-informed buyers. During the same period Satter discusses, the South Side was defined by a more class-diverse black population, and one where the interests of the black professional-managerial elite as landlords, administrators, politicians, shopkeepers, supervisors, and homeowners sometimes coincided with, and at other times grated and clashed with, the demands and needs of black workers, public housing tenants, and the poor.
Smith documents how the horizon of social democracy embodied in progressive New Deal reforms — the ideal that all citizens should have access to housing regardless of their ability to pay — was ultimately eclipsed within black public life by a focus on racial democracy: the guarantee of access and participation in the consumer society in a manner comparable to all others of equal class standing.
Instead, the concentration of poverty has been paired with the concentration of melanin. His claims reference the denial of black citizenship during slavery and disenfranchisement under the Jim Crow regime, but show little appreciation for the situated class experiences of blacks as freepersons and slaves, antebellum urban artisans and plantation laborers, Reconstruction politicians and indebted, landless farmers — experiences which were consequential not only in material terms, but also in shaping different black political allegiances and aspirations.
Chattel slavery and legal racial segregation were historical phenomena that were maintained through contingent political alliances and ultimately defeated as those power arrangements were no longer morally defensible or economically justified. Like the Cold War liberals who viewed class conflict as a resolved question, and proceeded to proffer technocratic solutions to the conditions facing the urban black and brown poor — Head Start, health care, job training, etc.
What, then, would reparations within the current arrangements and class structure of late capitalism mean for African Americans, especially the black working class, in substantive terms? Even if the most ideal scenario played out, in which a robust national conversation took place, an investigatory committee of the sort Coates has proposed was convened, and some tangible and generous form of reparations was legislated e.
Also, who would administer this new national trust? The black professional-managerial class? What would be the democratic basis for their legitimacy to make redistributive decisions on behalf of the black population? And most importantly, why should this process of reconciliation or the creation of an administered trust to oversee black economic development take priority over the many other immediate needs and demands that are emerging organically from various black popular constituencies?
I was once a Coates fan. More importantly, and aside from these tactical concerns, the reparations issue is a political non-starter. To say that a reparations bill has little chance of passing in Congress is not a mark of racial insensitivity, unless you happen to believe that reparations is somehow an issue that all black citizens see as a real political priority that they are actively working to advance.
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Rather, it is a position rooted in an empirical understanding of previous efforts to achieve congressional action on reparations. The Conyers bill has been introduced during every legislative session for over two decades and has never left committee. Without broad popular support, the reparations demand is an existential protest, not an actual political demand.
Marxism, Interracialism, and the Black Struggle
Perhaps aware of criticisms about the political feasibility of the reparations demand, Coates argues that the kind of social-democratic programs that Sanders has proposed are just as unlikely given the Republican Congress. But there is a significant difference between the two. The left-egalitarian horizon is informed by a rich historical record of impactful reforms and has the capacity to unify broad swaths of the American middle and working class around their shared concerns — desire for a livable wage, economic security, housing, and education — while the reparations demand does not.
As it has evolved from the sixties, the reparations demand has never yielded one tangible improvement in the lives of the majority of African Americans.