Malik Miah

We live in strange times. A white, nationalist, billionaire businessperson has been elected president. His 24-member cabinet is made up primarily of wealthy white men, many former Goldman Sachs executives, who US President Donald Trump’s most extreme nationalist ideologues call “New York liberals.” Trump has appointed the fewest number of women and minorities to his cabinet since Ronald Reagan.

“Trump’s America,” wrote a leading African American journalist, Charles Blow in the New York Times, January 30, “is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

“Trump’s America is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and afraid. There is no hope in it; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.”

There is a lot of disgust toward Trump and his white nationalist strategist Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, a leading promoter of conspiracy theories and white supremacists.

“While police tactics and accountability measures are being examined, many black people are also questioning their safety and place in society,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on July 31. “They worry about the next time they interact with police, and about the difficult conversations they must have with their children.”

Black people make up 6% of San Francisco's population — and suffer 40% of the city's shootings by cops. The city's statistics on police stops of Blacks and violence mirror other cities, especially in the Midwest and South.

Everyone has a story about Muhammad Ali. For me it was as a young Black high school student in Detroit. I had already seen the wrongs of imperialism and its wars — and of course the racism Blacks faced in Detroit.

Ali as a Black man and Muslim was a powerful symbol of courage. His willingness to give up his boxing career in the 1960s to stand with the Vietnamese against the US government waging war on them reflected the stirrings of militant Black pride growing in Detroit.

The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, A Political Memoir
By Barry Sheppard
Resistance Books (London), 2011
345 pages

Malik Miah

The first volume of former United States Socialist Workers Party (SWP) leader Barry Sheppard’s political memoir The Party covered the exciting years of “the '60s”.

What's striking about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement and its popular slogan “We are the 99%” is how much the central demand of the movement resonates with the Black community.

African Americans, with few exceptions, are in the bottom 20% of income and wealth. Double digit unemployment is the norm in “good” economic times.

Yet the social composition of most OWS occupations (some 10,000 including college campuses) has had few Black faces including in urban areas with large Black populations.

There is a sharp reality disconnect in the Black community.

On the one hand, the Black population continues to support the first African American president, Barack Obama, by more than 90%.

Yet the plight of the Black communities is at its worst condition in three decades. Official unemployment is over 16% ― twice that of whites and iabout 30% for young African Americans.

Black household income is in decline and the lowest of the five major ethnic groups. Poverty is at the highest levels in 30 years.

The attempted political assassination of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on January 8 opened a new debate about the depth of political divisions in the United States. It has included hot button issues of gun control and mental illness.

Giffords amazingly survived a gunshot wound through the head, but six of her supporters at the sidewalk meeting died. It included a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. Thirteen people were wounded.

Good and evil is back in vogue with the US far right.

Former president George W. Bush and the Republican Party attacked opponents of his invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as aiding the “evil doers”. And such evil should be tackled by whatever means necessary, no matter what the US constitution or international law says.

This tactic sent the many liberals and Democratic Party politicians running to the corners and lining up behind the war mongers.

Beyond Black & White
By Manning Marable
Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages

Review by Malik Miah

Manning Marable’s latest book is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African American president of the US, Barack Obama, in November 2008.

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