Friday, April 17, 2015

US Tries To Push Cuba Into the Capitalist Muck

Whither Cuba?

  By Cliff DuRand, Truthout | Op-Ed
Cuban President Raul Castro with President Barack Obama in Panama City, Saturday, April 11, 2015. Obama and Castro met in the first face-to-face discussion between leaders of the two countries in a half century. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)Cuban President Raul Castro with President Barack Obama in Panama City, Saturday, April 11, 2015. Obama and Castro met in the first face-to-face discussion between leaders of the two countries in a half century. (Photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015
The US strategy for undoing the Cuban Revolution was laid down in the Eisenhower years in this April 1960 State Department guideline:
"[E]very possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.... a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of the government." [Office of the Historian, Bureau Of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State; John P. Glennon, et al., eds., Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba -Washington D.C.: GPO, 1991, 885.]
Now 55 years later, the Obama administration has accepted that this hard line has not worked in Cuba. In any case, regime change would not produce a stable society - witness Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc.

Reforms involve moving away from the state socialist model toward one with a far more active civil society.

Nevertheless, the basic objective of US policy remains the same, namely to bring Cuba back into the capitalist orbit. What is new in President Obama's strategy is to change Cuba, not through regime change, but by promoting capitalism within the country through support of a petty bourgeoisie. What is new in Obama's approach is an emphasis on economic rather than political subversion. What is new in Obama's policy is a turn away from regime change to systemic change. Recognizing the Cuban government does not mean accepting its socialist economic system. Our political elite still thinks it is entitled to remake Cuban society to its desires.
This strategy takes advantage of an opening to small private enterprise provided by the reforms now underway in Cuba. While not abandoning a central role for the state, basically, the reforms involve moving away from the state socialist model toward one with a far more active civil society. The opening section of the Guidelines on the Economic Management Model brings into focus the changed relation between the state and society that is envisioned.
The management model recognises and promotes, as well as the socialist state enterprise which is the principal form of the national economy, the legally sanctioned modalities of foreign investment (mixed enterprises, international contractual arrangements, among others), cooperatives, peasant farmers, lessors of state-owned farmland, lessors of state-owned premises, self-employed workers and other forms all of which, together, must contribute to boosting efficiency. [Guidelines #2]
Cuba is looking toward a far more mixed economy. Eighty-four percent of the Cuban workforce had worked for the state. This led to overstaffing and low worker motivation. The Cuban state has been the employer of last resort. One might even say, of first resort. As a result, at least 1 million state workers are redundant and the state can no longer afford that. So large numbers are being laid off and are shifting into the non-state sector of the economy. This growing sector encompasses the self-employed or cuentapropistas and the cooperatives. The small private businesses that had been expropriated in 1968 are now being recreated to absorb redundant state workers. There is a recognition that there is a place for a petty bourgeoisie in socialism. The state does not need to, nor is it able to do everything. Many economic activities can be left to individual entrepreneurs so long as they are regulated and taxed so the petty bourgeoisie does not become a big bourgeoisie. As the Guidelines state, "In the forms of non-state management the concentration of property [ownership] by juridical or natural persons shall not be permitted."

The renovation of socialism now under way in Cuba is an effort to reinvigorate civil society, opening up spaces for initiative outside of the state. In the next few years, the non-state sector of the economy, consisting of private businesses and cooperatives, is projected to provide 35 percent of employment and, along with foreign and joint enterprises, 45 percent of the gross domestic product. Addressing the problem of the lack of worker incentives under state socialism, these reforms are unleashing new productive energies that will lift the economy. But beyond that, they stand to replace the passive participation of state socialism with the proactive participation better suited to a democratic socialism. This implies a new relation between the state and civil society.

Obama's relaxation of relations with Cuba presents a new challenge for the revolution.

While the belated decision to recognize that Cuba has its own government is to be commended, there is another, little noted aspect to the new US policy toward Cuba. This lies in numerous measures to assist in the development of a nascent capitalist class from the private business sector. A careful reading of the new US regulations reveals a concerted effort to direct resources to entrepreneurs within Cuba by means of remittances, material aid, training and trade.

For example, the level of remittances allowed is being increased so as to provide increased funding for private businesses. The December 17, 2014, White House press release says: "Remittance levels will be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for general donative remittances to Cuban nationals (except to certain officials of the government or the Communist party.)" Similarly, the US Commerce Department announced in March that exports of equipment and supplies to Cuba are allowed as well as imports from Cuba - as long as the Cuban entity is independent of the government. The United States seeks to expand "opportunities for self-employment and private property ownership ... strengthening independent civil society." The White House explicitly states, "Our efforts aim at promoting the independence of the Cuban people, so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state."

As of July 2014, 498 urban co-ops had been authorized.

Many observers expect a flood of US businesses into Cuba. But they forget that the embargo is still in place. Obama has relaxed aspects of it, but ending it would require congressional action - not a likely prospect in the near future. In any case, Cuba has been very open to foreign investment for 20 years. Cuba recently enacted a new law on foreign investment designed to make it more attractive to investors from abroad. US corporations are eager to get a piece of the action that the embargo has long denied them. But when they are able to get in, Cuba will no doubt apply the same kind of limits as it does on other foreign investment. That means the corporations will be in partnership with the Cuban state and for a specified number of years. Cuba is not about to give up its sovereignty.

What is more likely to transform Cuban society is the increased flow of money to individual private entrepreneurs in hopes of building the germ of a new capitalist class.
This method takes advantage of Cuba's opening of a non-state sector of its economy.

But this non-state sector also includes cooperatives, which are a socialist form of property. While Cuba has had cooperatives since the early years of the revolution, they were limited to agriculture. As part of the reforms, in December 2012, the National Assembly passed an urban co-op law that establishes the legal basis for new urban co-ops. Here are some of its main provisions:
  • A co-op must have at least three members, but can have as many as 60 or more. One vote per socio. As self-governing enterprises, co-ops are to set up their own internal democratic decision-making structures.
  • Co-ops are independent of the state. They are to respond to the market. This is to overcome the limits that hampered some agricultural co-ops in the past.
  • Co-ops can do business with state and private enterprises. They will set their own prices in most cases, except where there are prices established by the state.
  • Some co-ops will be conversions of state enterprises, e.g. restaurants. They can have 10-year renewable leases for use of the premises, paying no rent in the first year if improvements are made.
  • Others will be start-up co-ops.
  • There will be second-degree co-ops, which are associations of other co-ops.
  • Capitalization will come from bank loans, a new Finance Ministry fund for co-ops and member contributions. Member contributions are treated as loans (not equity) and do not give additional votes. Loans are to be repaid from profits.
  • Co-ops are to pay taxes on profits and social security for socios.
  • Distribution of profits is to be decided by socios after setting aside a reserve fund.
  • Co-ops may hire wage labor on a temporary basis (up to 90 days). After 90 days a temporary worker must be offered membership or let go. Total temporary worker time cannot exceed 10 percent of the total workdays for the year. This gives co-ops flexibility to hire extra workers seasonally or in response to increased market demands, but prevents significant collective exploitation of wage labor.
As of July 2014, 498 urban co-ops had been authorized. There are additional co-ops that are functioning but not yet recognized as legal entities. This is a big step forward for Cuba. Cooperative members have an incentive to make the business a success. The co-op is on its own to either prosper or go under. Each member's income and security depends on the collective. And each has the same voting right in the General Assembly where co-op policy is made. Co-ops combine material and moral incentives, linking individual interest with a collective interest. Each member prospers only if all prosper.

In a study of 29 new cooperatives, Camila Pineiro Harnecker [Camila Pineiro Harnecker, "Un acercamiento a las cooperativas en Cuba" (in publication).] found that incomes have increased an average of threefold and as much as sevenfold.

One of the new cooperatives I visited in June 2014 was a small bar and restaurant in a poor section of central Havana. A former state enterprise, the Okinawa bar cooperative has five members. It had been a cooperative for only eight months and the president told me that being able to make their own decisions is one of the greatest benefits they find. He was elected by his fellow workers. Interestingly, the former state manager, who is also a member, was not selected to lead the new cooperative.

Co-op members are motivated by the fact that for the first time, they control their work. They make the decisions.

The motivation engendered by this empowerment was dramatically demonstrated by a self-organized construction cooperative we met at the Institute of Philosophy. They were repairing the Institute building that had been badly damaged two years ago when the ceiling of the main first floor room collapsed, rendering most of the building unusable. A state construction company had made little progress on the repairs for the previous two years. But now the Institute has been able to engage this newly formed cooperative and in a short time, they have made major progress. Our group was scheduled to have a meeting at the Institute on a Monday morning. And between the previous Thursday and that morning, the ceiling had been rewired and plastered. And by the following week, the Institute staff was moving back into their offices on the second floor. The 20 co-op members are motivated by the fact that for the first time, they control their work. They make the decisions. This is a powerful demonstration of the strength of cooperatives.

What we are seeing with the promotion of new cooperatives in Cuba is the constituted power of the state nurturing constituent power in civil society. Cooperatives are a socialist form of property under democratic management. As such, cooperatives have the virtue of nurturing socialist values, responsibility, democratic decision-making, cooperation and social solidarity. They are little schools of socialism. They embed socialism into the daily life of working people, engendering a socialist civil society.

In this respect, they contrast with the new petty bourgeois, small- and medium-sized private businesses now also being opened by the self-employed. A petty bourgeoisie is seen as compatible with socialism - compatible as long as it is regulated and taxed so it doesn't become a big bourgeoisie. Great inequalities of income and accumulation of wealth are to be avoided - a cautionary note made in the Guidelines. But it is clear a petty bourgeoisie is not socialist; it does not nurture a socialist consciousness, but the narrow mentality of the petty shopkeeper. It does not nurture socialist social relations, but individualism. A petty bourgeoisie is compatible with socialism when kept within limits. But it is not socialist.

There is a race for the soul of Cuba between the cooperative movement and expanding private businesses.

But cooperatives are socialist. They represent associated producers coming together on a small scale to govern their work life in a democratic way. It is this relation that the socialist transition needs to point toward. With the current opening to cooperatives, Cuba's state socialism is finding a new road forward. Socialism cannot be built top-down by state power alone. It has to be rooted at the base of society among ordinary people. Its values, its practices and its social relations have to be built into daily life where people live and work. This is the virtue of cooperatives. Cooperatives thus can help make socialism irreversible.

If a social order is to be sustainable over the long run, it needs to be rooted in the character of the people. Their values, their sensibilities, their taken-for-granted understandings, their very subjectivity needs to be consonant with its institutions. The socialist transition is a process that needs a people with a socialist character if it is to continue. The social relations of cooperatives help build such a character among the people.
Cuban farmers, researchers, and government officials have over the years developed what is arguably the most comprehensive, time-tested system of agroecology in the world.
That's why it is of the utmost importance that cooperatives be widely promoted. The benefits of cooperatives need to be publicized and training in cooperative practices needs to be available. There needs to be a network of promotoras who go out into society like the literacy workers in the early 1960s and teach the co-op way. The Cuban Institute of Philosophy is doing just that in central Havana. And our Center for Global Justice, which has been offering cooperative workshops for several years, here in Mexico, is collaborating with the Institute.

To state the current juncture in Cuba's efforts to construct socialism in bold terms, there is a race for the soul of Cuba between the cooperative movement and expanding private businesses. Which will make up the larger part of that one-third of non-state employment? Will it be socialist enterprises or proto-capitalist ones? The Cuban government is favoring the development of cooperatives. Obama is promoting private businesses. This is a smarter policy on his part. But, as a Cuban friend pointed out to me, "Ours is a smart revolution, too. We are a smart people."

Clearly, there are new challenges for the Cuban Revolution. How can the petty bourgeoisie be limited while still taking advantage of its dynamism? Here are some measures presently available:
  • Promotion of an ideology of social responsibility for private businesses, perhaps enforced by the local community.
  • A steeply graduated tax on private business profits.
  • Steep import duties on imported supplies for private businesses.
  • Requirement of a generous minimum salary.
  • Unionization of employees and vigorous enforcement of workers' rights.
  • A limit on the number of wage employees allowed in private businesses.
  • Requirement that when a private business grows to a certain size, it be converted to a cooperative so all employees can share in the profits and decision-making.
A regulatory regime needs to be developed for the private sector. The state seems to be slow in developing this and some complain it is a wide-open free-for-all. Others see that as a virtue, pointing to small- and medium-sized private businesses as well as foreign investment as the key to needed economic growth. There are conflicting tendencies stirring in Cuba today among policy makers and their advisers. [Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, "Visiones sobre el socialismo que guían los cambios actuales en Cuba" TEMAS 2012]

But there are also strong advocates for cooperatives as the key to Cuba's future. Camila Piñeiro of the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy at the University of Havana is prominent among them. She argues that "these socioeconomic organizations are better prepared than private enterprises for economic management that satisfies social needs and promotes socialist social relations.... they facilitate the fulfillment of their members' material and spiritual needs, their full human development, ... they allow for socialist social relations based in equality, solidarity, democracy and justice." It is for such reasons that the state gives preferential treatment to cooperatives over other non-state businesses. [Camila Piñeiro Harnecker "Cuba's Cooperatives: Their Contribution to Cuba's New Socialism" in Moving Beyond Capitalism, Cliff DuRand, ed. (forthcoming).]

Obama's aim is to help private businesses occupy as much of the non-state economic space as possible.

And that is also why Obama's aim is to help private businesses occupy as much of the non-state economic space as possible. Nevertheless, his new regulations apply to any Cuban entity that is "independent of the government." That includes cooperatives. So it is now legal for organizations in the United States to send donations to Cuban cooperatives, to send material assistance, to provide training and education, and even import goods from Cuban cooperatives, providing a wider market for their products.

Progressives need to think seriously about how we can support the growth of cooperatives - genuine democratic worker-run cooperatives. Cuba is now open to that and Obama has cleared the way for us to accept this unique opportunity.

Obama's strategy is to change Cuba, not through regime change, but by promoting capitalism within the country through support of a petty bourgeoisie. After all, the fundamental objective of US policy has always been to bring Cuba back into the capitalist orbit. We have a unique situation in Cuba today. A socialist state is actively promoting cooperatives, thereby devolving economic power to people at the grassroots level. There is a rejuvenation of civil society underway - a socialist civil society. Solidarity calls on us to help it move forward along the road to a socialism for the 21st century.

One of the many urban farm coops that can be found in Havana and other Cuban cities.
Short Bibliography - Changes in Cuba

Beatriz Diaz, "Cooperatives Within Cuba's Current Economic Model"

Cliff DuRand, "Cuban National Identity and Socialism"
____ "Humanitarianism and Solidarity Cuban-Style"
____ "Cuba Today: A Nation Becoming a University"
____ "The Uniqueness of Cuba"
____ "Cooperative Cuba"

____ "US Cuba policy: from Regime Change to Systemic Change"

Marta Harnecker, A World to Build: New Paths Toward 21st Century Socialism (Monthly Review Press, 2015)

Michael A. Lebowitz, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development (Monthly Review Press, 2010)

Miguel Limia David, "The Training of Activists in Local Development" [2005]

Steve Martinot, "The Nation-state and Cuba's Alternative State"

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, "Visions of Socialism Guiding the Current Changes in Cuba"
____ ed. Cooperatives and Socialism: A View from Cuba (Palgrave Macmillan 2013)
Henry Veltmeyer, Human Development: Lessons from the Cuban Revolution (Fernwood 2014)
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Cliff DuRand

Cliff DuRand is a research associate at the Center for Global Justice and editor/author of Recreating Democracy in a Globalized State. He has been organizing educational trips to Cuba for 25 years. The next one is June 16 to 28. Contact him at

Thursday, April 02, 2015

BOOKREVIEW- The Other Blacklist of the McCarthy Era: African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

Kate Baldwin on... 

The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

Black Left, Black List

March 25th, 2015
TOWARD THE END of Gwendolyn Brooks’s novel Maud Martha, the title character Maud fights with a chicken. With the battles of World War II not far in the background, Maud contemplates the parallel violence she exerts upon the chicken’s limp corpse. People could do this to other people, she thinks: “feel that insinuating slipping bone, survey that soft, that headless death.” But could they? In Maud’s supple hands, the chicken becomes a “sort of person, with its own kind of dignity.” Limning the boundaries between human and animal, Maud states: “The difference was in the knowing. What was unreal to you, you could deal with violently.”

I thought about this passage as I read Mary Helen Washington’s The Other Blacklist. It may seem like a surprising comparison. After all, Washington’s book deals with largely overlooked African American cultural producers of the 1950s (including Brooks), not cooking the evening meal. And yet the issue of domesticated violence hovers at the surface of her book’s chapters. Taking up the marginalization of major African American artists in the 1950s not only by government agencies and white media but also by most African Americans, Washington’s book explores the injustices that came from within the black community.
Paul Robeson leading shipyard workers in singing the Star-Spangled Banner, September 1942. Paul Robeson, world famous baritone, leading Moore Shipyard [Oakland, CA] workers in singing the Star Spangled Banner, here at their lunch hour recently, after he told them: "This is a serious job---winning this war against fascists. We have to be together." Robeson himself was a shipyard worker in World War I.
The Other Blacklist, which takes its name from the famous list of names besmirched by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during its investigation of the entertainment industry beginning in 1947, opens with Washington’s compelling memories of her girlhood in Ohio, where political leftists were treated as social outcasts: decent folks snubbed communists and Catholic nuns prayed for the salvation of the godless. Pausing here to frame its narrative, The Other Blacklist doesn’t so much seek to correct past mistakes than to remember them afresh.

Washington’s book asks how black liberalism came to shun the cultural production of leftist dissent at precisely the moment when civil rights energies could have benefited most from it. Washington seeks to “highlight the ways that a deep animosity to black civil rights struggles ran like a vein throughout US Cold War culture, preparing even those of us who benefited the most from civil rights militancy to be stand-up little anticommunists.” Seeing herself as the product of an “antiblack, self-abnegating form of racial identity based on white tolerance and black invisibility,” Washington situates her youthful subject position as representative of a larger problem. It was easy to hurt what was unreal to you, she implies, and her “stand up little anticommunism” contributed to that violence of cultural silencing, which was also a form of self-loathing. In repressing the Left, she argues, the dominant Cold War mindset, held by the black community as well as white, also sought to recalibrate racial subjectivity to a white tune.
The book queries these recalibrations, and in so doing seeks to reclaim energies that were marginalized not only by the dominant white cultural radar, but also by folks like her. Extending the temporal limits of the Black Cultural Front into the 1950s, Washington argues that from Camp Unity in Wingdale, New York, to the George Washington Carver school in Chicago, the spaces and institutions of this front were enabling for black cultural producers. For it was within “the leftist spaces of the Black Popular Front that African American literary culture was debated, critiqued, encouraged, performed, published, produced and preserved.” These people shared an intimate public; they were known to each other. The Other Blacklist is her “attempt to finally overhear those long-forgotten, repressed conversations.”

In this sense, The Other Blacklist is not simply trying to assert the humanity of black lives, but rather to imply that attempts to prove the humanity of people repeats the same identitarian problem that has stymied movements of dissent over and over again. So instead, displays and structures of power, and their subtle and not so subtle shifts, motivate this book. The political thread here is not one that resorts to a politics of identity, but one that seeks to unpack the material infrastructure of black radicalism in the 1950s.

Drawing on archival materials, interviews, biographies, cultural histories, FOIA documents, and close readings of literary texts, The Other Blacklist reconstructs conversations that may have whispered the names of Lloyd Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank London Brown, Alice Childress, and Charles White. Each of these artists serves as the backbone for a chapter. Washington weaves together the missing remnants of the Left in her subjects, thus “mak[ing] connections that reestablish their relationships with the Black Popular Front,” that have been lost “because these subjects deliberately distanced themselves from their leftist pasts or because of the practices of contemporary literary and cultural histories.” Her aim is to delegitimize the common demonization of communism and the Left, and her hope is that this project will open up the subject for future students and scholars.

So, let’s take up the gambit Washington offers here, and imagine, if you will, a generation of children growing up amidst rich historical narratives in which the aspirations and dreams of social justice as etched in the public works of black artists were framed as positive endeavors. A history in which words like “leftist,” “radical,” and “communist” did not summon instant skepticism if not scorn; a world in which these terms could sustain real dialogue about possibility instead of foreclosure, futurity instead of certain doom. Imagine pejorative assumptions banished while positive connections unfurl in their place. Imagine marginal, fractured lives brought forth and celebrated for their stalwart brilliance and unwillingness to cave to social pressure and the pretty persuasion of dollar signs and covert government support. Just imagine.

As literary and cultural history, Washington’s book offers a vast resource for fulfilling that promise. Readers who are eager to place the postwar period in the context of 1930s and ’40s historiography of the left as well as the period of black nationalism that followed in the 1960s will rejoice in these pages. Washington’s prodigious research leaves virtually no stone unturned, and readers will enjoy rich discussions of heretofore woefully under-researched figures. For example, Alice Childress hardly holds the name recognition of Lorraine Hansberry, and yet they worked together and their pieces appeared side by side in Paul Robeson’s Freedom between 1951 and 1953. Alice Childress’s column “Conversations from Life” offered the witticisms and bold critiques of the black domestic Mildred, a character whose inflections can be heard throughout Hansberry’s best-known play, A Raisin in the Sun. Washington’s appraisals of Childress help to move her from the margins of black literary history of the 1950s to a more certain artistic center.

And yet, persuasive as this move is, methodologically the book’s strategies might be termed daring. Seeking “clues” to “establish relationships” and examining “intimate lives and networks” in detail, to prompt “further investigation,” The Other Blacklist feels at times as if it is inadvertently borrowing tactics from the entity from which it most wants to distinguish itself: the FBI. Part of the difficulty of piecing together a past that doesn’t necessarily want to be known, let alone exist, is that it presents an epistemological dilemma. For example, although she hung out with popular fronters and was active in the milieu of the Chicago left, Gwendolyn Brooks adamantly disassociated her work with the leftism of her peers. To press Brooks’s history in this direction pushes the reader to confront one of the book’s dilemmas as historical scholarship: to call Brooks a leftist because she associated with leftists evokes McCarthyite tactics. Because the ends are more altruistic in The Other Blacklist, are the means justified?

Part of the obstacle here may be inherent in Washington’s creation of what she calls “portraits.” Seen in this light, each of the chapters has a predisposition toward the left, a named perspective that is offered as a “way of illustrating the unique relationship between each of the artists […] and the Left.” The goal is to remove the scare quotes of communism and the Left (which, by the way, are often used in this book interchangeably). Could this be the only way forward into a future of dissent, a future so pressing that we can feel its breath on our cheeks?

I troubled over this question for some time. In the end, I decided that we might need to bracket Audre Lorde’s declaration that the master’s tools can never be used to dismantle the master’s house. Doing so — using the master’s tools, as in effect Washington does — might invite criticism. And, to be sure, The Other Blacklist does name names. It calls people out. It creates a blacklist. But it does so in the name of black futurity, not black death. If that future generation is going to grow up amidst positive associations with the left, it may as well start right here, with Washington’s book.

James Baldwin
To that end, Washington’s finest moments come in a late chapter, “1959: Spycraft and the Black Literary Left,” the one chapter that uses a year in place of a grounding, central figure. In 1959, the American Society of African Culture (AMSAC) hosted the First Conference on Negro Writers in New York City. Modeled on the Présence Africaine conferences in Paris in 1958, the conference sought to negotiate slippery terms of black cultural production in the late 1950s — race, agency, the publishing industry, and aesthetics. With the prominent exceptions of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Robert Hayden, and Paule Marshall, the conference gathered some of the best-known black American writers of the era — including Langston Hughes, Saunders Redding, Julian Mayfield, Lorraine Hansberry, Frank London Brown, Sarah E. Wright, Harold Cruse, and Alice Childress — all figures addressed in The Other Blacklist.

In her revisionary history of the conference, Washington argues that the volume of proceedings edited by AMSAC President John A. Davis, and titled “The American Negro Writer and His Roots,” obscures the work of the more radical speakers of the conference, setting limits on black subjectivity through conservative ideas of integration. In his introduction, Davis touts dominant Cold War ideology, implying that racial troubles are on the wane. The work of the participants, however, tells a different story. Julian Mayfield remains suspicious of integration, seeing in it the demise of black life.

And Langston Hughes exhorted his audience: “until you get white — write,” warning them against the crass racism of the publishing industry. For Washington, 1959 is a crossroads wherein the black left vied with conservative integrationists, many of whom wrote for publications that were government subsidized. In Washington’s hands, Davis’s volume thus becomes a microcosm of public memory of black cultural production of the 1950s, full of edits, omissions, rewritings, and government-sponsored corruption. And Lorraine Hansberry, who gave the conference’s keynote, which is absent from the text, sits in the middle of these contested spaces.

I have been immersed in these spaces as I work on my own project about 1959. Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun debuted that year, a few months after the AMSAC conference. As Raisin makes clear, the crossroads of 1959 were also indelibly global. In this close-post era of Sputnik, Fidel Castro became president of Cuba, and Hawaii joined the US as its 50th state. It was also the year that the USSR opened its doors to the US for the first time since World War II, welcoming the American National Exhibition in Sokol’niki Park. ANEM became the site of the famous “kitchen” debate between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Vice President Richard Nixon, a debate that turned heads toward the smooth surfaces of consumerism, the arts of blenders and blending in. With State Department authorized and funded ways of representing black subjectivity, ANEM became a mouthpiece for the multiple wonders of market capitalism.[1]

This was a period when US officials deployed race as part of a national narrative of inclusiveness in order to counteract Soviet propaganda that alleged US hypocrisy along racial lines. From Brown v. Board to the four African American guides on the ground at ANEM, narratives of progress in race relations and interracial cohesion began to feature African Americans. Rather than showcasing capitalism as an evil in concert with white supremacy, this kind of racial progressivism proclaimed the future as bright with cross-racial solidarity.

The proximity of Raisin’s debut and Hansberry’s contributions to AMSAC necessitate rethinking this moment as a shaping one for the confrontation of black radicalism not only with integrationists at home, but also with the global staging of a cultural front as a site for Western triumphalism. Nixon’s rhetoric in Moscow presented a one-sided view of the mechanics of the American kitchen. The push-button features of this kitchen were far removed from the manual labors of Maud Martha’s kitchenette. Forgotten in Moscow were the day laborers who toiled in the kitchens of middle-class whites, and the structural links between these lives.

Similarly, as Washington points out, the account of AMSAC recorded in the proceedings was distorted. As with the suppressed meanings of Raisin’s more potent critiques of racial inequality, the sexual division of labor, and coloniality, in the published AMSAC proceedings, conversations are lost; addresses, photos, and papers are hidden, manipulated, and entirely missing. Held at this critical juncture in global history, the AMSAC gathering put forth what was to be erased later that year in Moscow and elsewhere as African Americans circled the globe, some in search of better options, some representing the US. It’s important to remember that dissenting voices of the left were erased not only in the State Department–authorized publication of the conference’s proceedings, but also in government-sponsored cultural tours that promoted inter-racialism as a defining conceit of US democracy.

Lorraine Hansberry
What interests me beyond the historical proximity of AMSAC and ANEM, however, is the warping of the relationships between Moscow and New York, and between the intellectual vibrancies at work in both places in the received accounts of these events. We need to reactivate the conscious and unconscious longings — the deferred dreams, as Langston Hughes wrote in the poem that became the inspiration for A Raisin in the Sun’s title — displaced by progressivist accounts of history for which A Raisin in the Sun has served as a pivotal marker.[2]

How can you grasp a legacy of dissent from erasure? Washington’s best lesson is that we can’t move forward unless we work through our complicity in the violences of the past. If things are going to change we need to live amongst those we have not been willing to consider fully human: to live amongst chickens, as it were. Until then we are all just wrestling with ignorance, and indulging in our own selfish appetites — licking our lips at the thought of our next succulent meal.

[1] I explore these ideas more fully in The Racial Imaginary of the Cold War Kitchen: From Sokol’niki Park to Chicago’s South Side (Dartmouth UP).
[2] The late critic Richard Iton describes the popular reception of Raisin as marking a shift in the movement from Popular Front politics to those of liberalism’s integration: this reception’s “downplaying, and in some instances suppression, of themes related to anticolonialism, diasporic consciousness, and intraracial class distinctions, along with the implicit engagement of gender relations, mark her creation as a significant turning point in both black politics and popular culture.” See In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Oxford, 2008).
Kate Baldwin is the author of Beyond the Color Line and the Iron Curtain: Reading Encounters between Black and Red (Duke UP).

Monday, March 30, 2015

Why Reconstruction Matters

THE surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, 150 years ago next month, effectively ended the Civil War. Preoccupied with the challenges of our own time, Americans will probably devote little attention to the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, the turbulent era that followed the conflict. This is unfortunate, for if any historical period deserves the label “relevant,” it is Reconstruction.

Issues that agitate American politics today — access to citizenship and voting rights, the relative powers of the national and state governments, the relationship between political and economic democracy, the proper response to terrorism — all of these are Reconstruction questions. But that era has long been misunderstood.

Reconstruction refers to the period, generally dated from 1865 to 1877, during which the nation’s laws and Constitution were rewritten to guarantee the basic rights of the former slaves, and biracial governments came to power throughout the defeated Confederacy. For decades, these years were widely seen as the nadir in the saga of American democracy. According to this view, Radical Republicans in Congress, bent on punishing defeated Confederates, established corrupt Southern governments presided over by carpetbaggers (unscrupulous Northerners who ventured south to reap the spoils of office), scalawags (Southern whites who supported the new regimes) and freed African-Americans, unfit to exercise democratic rights. The heroes of the story were the self-styled Redeemers, who restored white supremacy to the South.
A caricature of President Andrew Johnson’s 1866 veto of a bill to create the Freedmen’s Bureau.
This portrait, which received scholarly expression in the early-20th-century works of William A. Dunning and his students at Columbia University, was popularized by the 1915 film “Birth of A Nation” and by Claude Bowers’s 1929 best-selling history, “The Tragic Era.” It provided an intellectual foundation for the system of segregation and black disenfranchisement that followed Reconstruction. Any effort to restore the rights of Southern blacks, it implied, would lead to a repeat of the alleged horrors of Reconstruction.

HISTORIANS have long since rejected this lurid account, although it retains a stubborn hold on the popular imagination. Today, scholars believe that if the era was “tragic,” it was not because Reconstruction was attempted but because it failed.

Reconstruction actually began in December 1863, when Abraham Lincoln announced a plan to establish governments in the South loyal to the Union. Lincoln granted amnesty to most Confederates so long as they accepted the abolition of slavery, but said nothing about rights for freed blacks. Rather than a blueprint for the postwar South, this was a war measure, an effort to detach whites from the Confederacy. On Reconstruction, as on other questions, Lincoln’s ideas evolved. At the end of his life, he called for limited black suffrage in the postwar South, singling out the “very intelligent” (prewar free blacks) and “those who serve our cause as soldiers” as most worthy.

Lincoln did not live to preside over Reconstruction. That task fell to his successor, Andrew Johnson. 

Once lionized as a heroic defender of the Constitution against Radical Republicans, Johnson today is viewed by historians as one of the worst presidents to occupy the White House. He was incorrigibly racist, unwilling to listen to criticism and unable to work with Congress. Johnson set up new Southern governments controlled by ex-Confederates. They quickly enacted the Black Codes, laws that severely limited the freed people’s rights and sought, through vagrancy regulations, to force them back to work on the plantations. But these measures aroused bitter protests among blacks, and convinced Northerners that the white South was trying to restore slavery in all but name.
There followed a momentous political clash, the struggle between Johnson and the Republican majority (not just the Radicals) in Congress. Over Johnson’s veto, Congress enacted one of the most important laws in American history, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, still on the books today. It affirmed the citizenship of everyone born in the United States, regardless of race (except Indians, still considered members of tribal sovereignties). This principle, birthright citizenship, is increasingly rare in today’s world and deeply contested in our own contemporary politics, because it applies to the American-born children of undocumented immigrants.

The act went on to mandate that all citizens enjoy basic civil rights in the same manner “enjoyed by white persons.” Johnson’s veto message denounced the law for what today is called reverse discrimination: “The distinction of race and color is by the bill made to operate in favor of the colored and against the white race.” Indeed, in the idea that expanding the rights of nonwhites somehow punishes the white majority, the ghost of Andrew Johnson still haunts our discussions of race.

Soon after, Congress incorporated birthright citizenship and legal equality into the Constitution via the 14th Amendment. In recent decades, the courts have used this amendment to expand the legal rights of numerous groups — most recently, gay men and women. As the Republican editor George William Curtis wrote, the 14th Amendment changed a Constitution “for white men” to one “for mankind.” It also marked a significant change in the federal balance of power, empowering the national government to protect the rights of citizens against violations by the states.

In 1867 Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts, again over Johnson’s veto. These set in motion the establishment of new governments in the South, empowered Southern black men to vote and temporarily barred several thousand leading Confederates from the ballot. Soon after, the 15th Amendment extended black male suffrage to the entire nation.

The Reconstruction Acts inaugurated the period of Radical Reconstruction, when a politically mobilized black community, with its white allies, brought the Republican Party to power throughout the South. For the first time, African-Americans voted in large numbers and held public office at every level of government. It was a remarkable, unprecedented effort to build an interracial democracy on the ashes of slavery.
Most offices remained in the hands of white Republicans. But the advent of African-Americans in positions of political power aroused bitter hostility from Reconstruction’s opponents. They spread another myth — that the new officials were propertyless, illiterate and incompetent. As late as 1947, the Southern historian E. Merton Coulter wrote that of the various aspects of Reconstruction, black officeholding was “longest to be remembered, shuddered at, and execrated.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Afghan girls learn what it's like to be visible to the world

"One girl can be silenced, but a nation of girls telling their stories becomes free."

Through the Superhero Project and blogging Afghan girls learn what it's like to be visible to the world.

by Roya Mahboob
Salon-- March 8, 2015
"One girl can be silenced, but a nation of girls telling their stories becomes free"
A classroom of girls in Afghanistan.

Shortly after I started my first company in Afghanistan in 2010, my business partner, Francesco Rulli, and I began to construct Internet classrooms in girls schools in Herat and Kabul. Since that time, we have connected 55,000 students in our networks and directly trained 7,900 in our classrooms. Now we continue the work with my new nonprofit Digital Citizen Fund.

In our classrooms the girls learn how to use the computer, the Internet, email and social media at the same time that they begin to explore ways to express themselves through writing, drawing, and photography. On the computer, they learn where they can have a voice; through writing and art they learn how to have a voice.

The girls write about their experiences, their fears and their hopes. At first they share their blogs only with each other, and then they begin to share their stories online with the world, often under pseudonyms. In order to speak of their true feelings, many still have to remain anonymous. It is still dangerous for girls to talk openly in Afghanistan. A few short years ago, Malala, a young woman from Pakistan, was shot for expressing herself online. Instead of remaining quiet, more women and girls must speak out. One girl can be silenced, but a nation of girls telling their stories becomes free.

The drawings in the slide show below represent a small sampling from the Superhero Project, in which the girls invent their own superheroes. Currently in Afghanistan most heroes are soldiers who have survived warfare and killed many people. The Superhero Project encourages girls to imagine the kind of heroes who can lead them and their families toward a more peaceful future. In the act of drawing, the girls learn that hope is the product of a courageous imagination.

What is true of the Superhero Project is also true of the photographs. By taking pictures, the girls learn to envision the world, not as it is presented to them, but as they see it. Their photos are displayed as posters on walls along the streets outside their schools and shared on the Internet through our Web-sharing site, Artistic Street. The world sees what they see and begins to know something of what it is like to be a girl in Afghanistan, and for the first time many of the girls come to know what it is like to be visible to the world.

Editors' Note:

Weeks after the official end of U.S. military combat operations in Afghanistan, we traveled to Kabul and Herat where Roya could no longer go. Roya was forced to leave Afghanistan last year because of the security situation. We visited the schools where Roya had established IT classrooms and talked with many of the girls who spoke of a future in which they would share power with men. We collected blogs, drawings and photographs from the girls and have selected a few for this gallery.

Elizabeth Brown
Jason Brown

Blog I
"The Rights of Women in Afghanistan"
Rohiyda Hassanzada افغانستان در زنانحقوق
The only ones who can read this article have a clean mind from fresh rain and have a heart with the depth of the sea.
What kind of creature is a woman? Who are women? Women are emotional, kind and filled with pity. And in some places people call women angels. The wings of these angels are burned by the depth of their emotion and pity. In Afghanistan no one cares about women and no one pays attention to them. Having a daughter is a dishonor for parents. They don't let their daughters go to school, and they burn the wishes of the girls. In Afghan society, girls don't have the opportunity to speak of their desires. Always people strangle the girls' voices. Oh God! What did we do to them that they do such cruel things to us? Oh God, why do they always strangle our wishes and burn our desires. What did we do that they don't respect us? Is this freedom? Is this the world that I left my mother's womb for? If I had known they would do these cruel things to me, I would never have come to this world. They don't understand what women can do, and they don't understand that the world won't go on without us. The continuation of the world comes from the blessings of women. I ask you who gave birth to Einstein, Souqrat, Aflatoon, Aristotle, and others? Who were their first teachers? Women, who gave them warm hugs. Their lives grew from this early stage when their mothers took their small fingers and introduced the world to them. Oh God, who can tell Afghan society of these questions? As I take up the pen, I ask you to give the pen to other Afghan women so they can ask that our rights not be devastated. We, the Afghan women, will put our hands together and attend to all stages of life, such as politics, economics, sports, culture and religion. We will be beside the men to promote our country. We don't hear the whispering of some people. We aren't less than men. Under our veil we have hope and power. This is an Afghan woman's speech.
باشند داشته دریا عمق از دلی و باران از طراوتی سفید افکار از جنسی تا بخوانند را مقاله این میتوانندتنهاکسانی ها جاه بعضی در و میباشد دلسوز و احساساتی,مهربان موجودی زن کیست؟ زن میدانید؟ موجودی نوع چه را زنانشما سوختانده اش دلسوزانه و عمیق احساسات را فرشته این پر و بال است,و فرشته زن میگویند و میکنند خطاب فرشته رازنان دختر را,داشتن دختر داشتن نمیشود قایل ارزش ٓانان به کسی نمیباشند برخوردار خاصی اهمیت از افغانستان دراست.زنان افغان جامعه در میزنند.دختران ٓاتش را شان پاک ٓارزوهای نمیگذارند مکتب به را خود میدانند,دختران بزرگ ننگ یکرا
کرده گناهی چه ما ٓاخه است بس دیگر کی به !تا خدایا است ٓاویخته دار به بیانشان همیشه باشند داشته بیان ٓارادی توانندنمی ٓاتش را ما ٓارزوهای بزنند دار به را ما های صدا همیشه باید چرا میشود,خدایا! برخورد ظالمانه اینقدر ما با کهبودیم مادرم شکم به دیدنش بخاطر که دنیای بود این ٓازادی شد هم این ٓاخه نمیشوند قایل ارزش ما به که کردیم گناهی چهبزنند,ما این کردم نمی تالش دیدنش برای گاه هیچ میکنند رفتار وحشیانه اینقدر من به که است دنیای چنین میدانستم اگر میزدملگد میکنند رفتار وحشیانه اینقدر من به که است دنیای چنین میدانستم اگر میزدم لگد مادرم شکم به دیدنش بخاطر که دنیایبود کرد پیشرفت دنیا نمیشود بدون که دانند نمی داریم توانای چقدر ما که داند نمی ٓانان کردم نمی تالش دیدنش برای گاههیچ را وغیره مثل:انشتین,سقراط,افالطون,ارسطو بزرگان بگوید خودتان است زن مهربان قلب برکت از دنیا های پیشرفتتمام ٓانان گرمش ٓاغوش و مهربانش دستان له که زنی ٓان بود زن ایشان دبیرستان اولین بود؟ کی اینان دبیرستان کرد؟ تربیتکی با را ٓانان و گرفت را شان کوچک انگشتان طن که میباشد شان نخست های پله از ایشان های پیشرفت تمام و کرد تربیترا دیگر زنان هم تو میخواهم گرفتم قلم به دست که من برساند افغان جامعه گوش به کی را اینان کرد.خدایا! معرفیزندگی عرصه تمام در و داده هم دست به دست افغان زنان ما کنند پایمال را ما حقوق که نمیدهیم اجازه ما کنی قلم به دست راافغان و پسشرفته افغانستان یک بسوی شانه به شانه مردان با و میگذاریم قدم سیاسی,اجتماعی,اقتصادی,ورزشی,فرهنگی,دینیها این پشت و نداریم مردان از کمی هیچ ما بدهیم گوش مردم از یعضی فکری کهنه سخنان به اینکه بدون میکنیم حرکتٓاباد ٓامدم میدان به چون افغانیم غیرت ندانی گر افغان زنان ما شعار است این و است نهفته توانای و امید هزاران ماچادری

Blog II
"Mines and Their Results"
Sediqheh Rezaei
Mines are things that destroy the lives of men, women, and children in Afghanistan. People are just as afraid when they hear about a mine as they are when they hear about resurrection day. In fact, when enemies attack or mines explode, it is a resurrection day as we see our dear friends, relatives, neighbors, and other people of our country killed by bombs and mines. One meaning of "mine" is "problem" because it causes many miseries like homelessness and disability. The second meaning is "explosion." When the mines explode, people become so afraid. But why should our sinless people feel such fear? Why should they see their relatives killed in front of their eyes? What is their sin? Why can't these people have a comfortable life? It is their right to have a good and comfortable life with their families without hearing explosions. The third meaning of "mine" is "despair" because mines cause our people to emigrate to other countries. The voices of bombs and mines make them hopeless about their own country.
Allah orders all Muslims to not be harmful, so there are many people in this country who are trying to make us safe. But still there is pain in my heart because of the mines. The fourth meaning of "mine" is "chaos." Chaos destroys our homes. Our homes are the only places where we are calm. May God help us have hope to be patient, to be powerful, and to try to make peace, calmness, and improvements in our country. I hope for a country that is far from murder, war and terror. I hope to see an independent and flourishing Afghanistan in the future.
هایش دگرگونی وماین
افغان کودک و جوان ,مرد,پیر, زن همچون گناهان بی از بسیاری رفتن بین از باعث که است ای منفجره موادماین اندامشان بر ای لرزه میشنوند را ماین نام مردم میاورد.وقتی میان به بدبختی و ویرانی خود با باشد که هرجاییمیشود,در و خانه به میکنند منفجر را ماین این که دشمنانی و ماین وقتی است طور همان ,ٓاری شده برپا قیامت گویا که میایدپدید غوطه خون در همه افغان اطفال و زنان و مردان و جوانان و- میاید وجود به قیامت هم باز میکنند تجاوز ما ملت وکشور عزیزانمان از بسیاری شدن کشته و ها ماین این انفجار با بلکه ببینی را ٓان مردی وقتی که نیست این تنها ,قیامت میشوندور وجود به دشمنانمان توسط که است ها ماین اینها تمام سبب و میبینیم خود چشم با را قیامت میباشند وجودمان از عضویکه متشکل که است مشکالت تمام منشا که مشکل میگوییم خاطری به مشکل یعنی میم (اول شده گرفته کلمه چهار از ماینمیٓاید میشود منفجر وقتی یعنی است شده گرفته انفجار از که الف میباشد,دوم شدن خانمان بی و معلولیت عذاب بدبختی ویرانیاز چه؟و خاطر چرا؟به میاید وجود به افغانستان گناه بی مردم قلب در ای دلهره و ترس خراش گوش و بلند صدای این شنیدنبا شاهد کی به تا باشد داشته وجود هایشان قلب در دلهره و ترس این افغانستان ی دیده رنج و دیده ستم مردم ؟این کی بهتا ٓارام گی زنده یک نمیتوانند انان ٓایا چیست میزنند,گناهشان پرپر شان چشم پیش که باشند خود عزیزان از بسیاری شدنکشته گی زنده به عزیزانشان کنار در رفاه و ارامش به نمیتوانند انان ,ٓایا باشند داشته انفجاری مهمات و صالح نوع هر از دورو نصیب را ارامش این ما وطنان هم روزی اینکه ارزوی به و کند گی زنده رفاه در که است انسانی هر حق این بدهندادامه
به را بدبختی یک ٓان حرف هر که نیست شدنی تمام دارد همراه خود با ماین این که هایی بدبختی به توصیف بازهمشوند,اما از دارد,یاس همراه به ناامیدی و یاس خود با میگردد اغاز جنگ و میاید ماین وقتی زیرا یاس معنای ی,که سوم میاوردمیان ناامید وطن از دیگر میشنوند را جنگ و ,تفنگ ماین نام مردم وقتی ؟زیرا وطن از یاس گفتیم ,چرا وطن از ,یاس گیزنده که تا میکنند تحمل را خواری و ذلت ٓانقدر و میکنند مهاجرت همسایه کشورهای اینقدر که است خاطر همینمیگردند,به که فرمودند خداوند هم باز ,اما بنهانند بالین بر سر ٓارامش به و نشنوند را ولوله و ماین صدای شده هم دقیقه یک اگرحتی و افراد هم باز امنیتی بی همه این وجود نکند,با غلبه وجودتان بر نگذارید و نکنید همراه خود با را ناامیدی و یاس وقتهیچ را ٓارامش و امنیت این کودکانشان و اینده های نسل تا میکوشند کشور امنیت و رفاه راه در که هستند گناهی بیاشخاص دختر یک ومن مردم این دل دردهای بازهم گردد,اما همه نصیب امید و برود بین از ناامیدی این اینکه امید به شوندنصیب
نابسامانی از که میفهمیم میرسیم ن حرف به ,وقتی دارد هم دیگری های ظلم ماین این زیرا است نرسیده پایان به هستمافغان ارامش احساس که است جایی تنها که یشان کاشانه و خانه رفتن بین از یا و گشتن در به در یعنی است,نابسامانی شدهگرفته افغانان فغان و اه ؟ایا ندارد پایان اندوه و غم این دیگر ایا میگردند دور عزیزانشان از میشوند مهاجر و میگردند اوارهمیکنند دیگر و ماند خواهد برویشان میشود فغان برداریم را الفش افغان از اگر میگویند که اسم این ؟ای ماند خواهد پایانبی میخیزند برپا و نمیکنند تحمل را اشوب و جنگ این دیدهدیگر ستم مظلوم مردم این نه دیگر .نه ماند خواهد صدا بیفغانشان و صلح در و دهیم پایان خونریزی و جنگ این به تا کنی یاری را ما که میخواهیم تو از خداوندا متعال خداوند یاری بهو ازاد. و اباد افغانستان ارزوی امید
 به و دهیم ادامه گی ه زند بهارامش

Blog III
"Role of Women in Society"
Women are an important part of society. Women always try to fulfill their wishes, even though they have many problems. Violence against women and war in Afghanistan have kept women from being able to have an education. I am a woman trying to have a good future. I am an Afghan girl telling you about the many problems women face in my country. Even though I face problems as a woman in my society, I continue my education because I wish to serve my people in the future by being a doctor. People in my family and other people want to hold me back when I try for my education, but I ignore such problems because I want to be successful.
. جامعه در زناننقش
مشکالت دارای جامعه در اینکه با میگردند,ٓانان محسوب جامعه یک مهم اساسی هایشاخه
از یکیزنان
در پی در پی های جنگو
زنان علیهخشونت
میکنند, فراوانی کوشش و تالش خویش های ٓارزوهای به رسیدن برایهمواره
و روشن های ٓاینده داشتن برای همواره که است زن حالیکه بمانند,در عقب تعلیم و درس از زنان قشر تا شد باعث کشوراین
. میکنند زیادی تالش ترروشن
ٓانان گی زنده تهدید باعث که بزنند ناپذیری جبران کارهای به دست زنان تا میبشود باعث مشکالت اینگاهی
دختر یک عنوان به سرگذاشته,من پشت را زیادی خونینهای
پیجنگ در پی های دهه که است کشوریمیگردد,افغانستان
که حالی میکنند,در نرم پنجه و دست ٓان با کشور این در زنان که میگویم سخن زیادی مشکالت از افغانی ی جامعه درافغان
راهم سد که زیادی مشکالت نمیکنم,با دریغ کوششی و تالش گونه هر از ٓان برای که است زیادی ٓارزوهای از مملووجودم
میدهم ادامه خویش تعلیم و درس به هم باز داردوجود
بتوانم و باشم خویش ی جامعهرای
ب خدمت مسدر بتوانم نزدیک های ٓاینده در که اینست من ٓارزوهای ازیکی
چند کنم,هر خدمت سرزمینم مردم تمام و اطفال و پیر اشخاص برای بتوانم باشم,و خود کشور و جامعه برایموفق
و اذیت مهمتر همه از وممانعتفامیل
همچون مشکالتی با گاهی و داده ادامه خویش درس به مشکل هزاران با روز طولدر
برایم تنها و نداشته نظر در را مشکالت و باشم موفق میخواهم و نگردیده مایوس هم باز ولی میگردم رو روبه مردمٓازار
است. مهم کوششم و تالش وموفقیتم

Blog IV
"My Childish World"
Now I am grown and far from my childish time. I remember those times when my only wish was to have beautiful toys and colorful food. My hands were safe in my parents' hands. I went to the bazaar with my parents. I begged them to buy something for me. When I was sick, they took care of me and gave me gifts. I became older and they sent me to another home, which was a school. Yes, my second home was school, and my kind teacher introduced herself as a second mother to me. I learned the alphabet there. How enjoyable this time was. I grew and grew. My thoughts changed yearly. The sweet times of childhood passed. As children, we have an angel that cares about us. A mother and father encourage their children to have success. Then we enter another time when we must solve our problems ourselves. Childhood is the best time of life, before we know pain.
من ی کودکانهدنیای
و رنگارنگ های خوراکی خوردن ٓارزویم تنها که دور,دورانی بسیار ام کودکی شیرین دوران از و ام شده بزرگ دیگرحال تا بود محفوظ مادرم و پدرم دستان در کوچکم دستان که .دورانی بخیر ایام ٓان بود.یاد زیبا های بازی اسبابداشتن خودو های گیری بهانه با من میبردندو بازار به فراوان شوق با ,مرا زند زمین به مرا جمعیت ازدحام و ها ناهمواریمبادا صد با مرا میشدم مریض زمانی میشدم.تا ٓان خواستار و میکردم دراز سویی هر به را دستم خویش ی بچگانه هایشیطنت میخوراندند. من به زیاد های جایزه ی وعده و متفاوت های بهانه با را هایم دارو و میکردند مراقبت نعمت وناز از تر متفاوت خیلی که ,محیطی کردند دیگر کانونی ی روانه خانواده گرم کانون از مرا و و شدم تر بزرگ که زمانیتا پر دستان و میکرد خطاب من دوم مادر را خویش مهربانم معلم که جایی بود مکتب همان محیط ٓان بود,ٓاری ام کاشانه وخانه دوران. ٓان بود گذر زود چه و میٓاموختاندند من به را گی زنده الفبای که بود,جایی من نوازشگرمهرش
و است گذرا کودکی شیرین دوران قبل,ولی ی دوره از تر متفاوت افکاری با بزرگتر و بزرگتر من و میگذشت روز بهروز زیاد تالش جدید چیزهای یادگیری برای و هستند مراقبمان لحظه به لحظه مان گی زنده ی فرشته دو که دورانی میگذردزود میدهند. سوق ها موفقیت سوی به را فرزندانشان خویش دریغ بی های تالش با که هستند مادر و ,پدرمینمایند به رو تری زیاد مشکالت با که شد خواهیم دورانی وارد ٓان بعداز دانست باید را ٓان است,قدر نشدنی تکرار کودکیدوران باید که است این و میشتابند مان یاری به کمتر نماییم حل را خویش مشکالت خودمان اینکه برای هم والدین و میشویمرو شیرین من نظر به نماییم تالش خویش اهداف به رسیدن برای و بایستیم پایمان برسر تا بگیریم یادخودمان تکرار گیمان زنده در دوران این دیگر باری کاش و رهاییم هایی غم تمام از که دوران است کودکی دوران,دورانترین میشد..

[Roya Mahboob is the founder and CEO of Afghan Citadel Software Co., EdyEdy LLC and a member of 2013 Time 100 Most Influential People in the World. Roya is an executive director and board member of the Women's Annex Foundation, and is a member of the 2014 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards and Civic Innovators. Further, Roya is part of different advisory boards such as Jelly and Global Thinkers Forum.]

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Lighter-skinned Black and Latino People Look Smarter to White People

White Colorism: lighter-skinned Black and Latino people look smarter to white people
Perhaps reflecting a desire to emphasize the enduring power of rigidly constructed racial categories, sociology has tended to downplay the importance of within-category variation in skin tone. Similarly, in popular media, “colorism,” or discrimination based on skin lightness, is rarely mentioned.

When colorism is discussed, it is almost exclusively framed in terms of intraracial “black-on-black” discrimination. In line with arguments highlighting the centrality of white racism, the present paper contends that it is important for researchers to give unique attention to white colorism.

Using data from the 2012 American National Election Study, an example is presented on white interviewers’ perceptions of minority respondent skin tone and intelligence (N = 223). Results from ordinal logistic regression analyses indicate that African American and Latino respondents with the lightest skin are several times more likely to be seen by whites as intelligent compared with those with the darkest skin.

The article below concludes that a full accounting of white hegemony requires an acknowledgment of both white racism and white colorism.

white colorism

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Harlem Oral Histories: Love Thru Struggle

Thanx to the Hard Work of the115th Street Branch of the NYC Public Library...
 Charles E. Wilson

Click Here for AUDIO:

David White

Click Here for AUDIO:

Note: sound quality is not that great... but Brother David is a great Griot!

Sunday, February 08, 2015


The Same Old Dirty Tactics

Venezuela: a Coup in Real Time

There is a coup underway in Venezuela. The pieces are all falling into place like a bad CIA movie. At every turn a new traitor is revealed, a betrayal is born, full of promises to reveal the smoking gun that will justify the unjustifiable. Infiltrations are rampant, rumors spread like wildfire, and the panic mentality threatens to overcome logic. Headlines scream danger, crisis and imminent demise, while the usual suspects declare covert war on a people whose only crime is being gatekeeper to the largest pot of black gold in the world.

This week, as the New York Times showcased an editorial degrading and ridiculing Venezuelan President Maduro, labeling him “erratic and despotic” (“Mr. Maduro in his Labyrinth”, NYT January 26, 2015), another newspaper across the Atlantic headlined a hack piece accusing the President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, and the most powerful political figure in the country after Maduro, of being a narcotics kingpin (“The head of security of the number two Chavista defects to the U.S. and accuses him of drug trafficking”, ABC, January 27, 2015). The accusations stem from a former Venezuelan presidential guard officer, Leasmy Salazar, who served under President Chavez and was recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), now becoming the new “golden child” in Washington’s war on Venezuela.

Leasmy Salazar
Two days later, the New York Times ran a front-page piece shaming the Venezuelan economy and oil industry, and predicting its downfall (“Oil Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare”, Jan. 29, 2015, NYT). Blaring omissions from the article include mention of the hundreds of tons of food and other consumer products that have been hoarded or sold as contraband by private distributors and businesses in order to create shortages, panic, discontent with the government and justify outrageous price hikes. Further, multiple ongoing measures taken by the government to overcome the economic difficulties were barely mentioned and completed disregarded.

Simultaneously, an absurdly sensationalist and misleading headline ran in several U.S. papers, in print and online, linking Venezuela to nuclear weapons and a plan to bomb New York City (“U.S. Scientist Jailed for Trying to Help Venezuela Build Bombs”, Jan. 30, 2015, NPR). While the headline leads readers to believe Venezuela was directly involved in a terrorist plan against the U.S., the actual text of the article makes clear that no Venezuelans were involved at all. The whole charade was an entrapment set up by the FBI, whose officers posed as Venezuelan officials to capture a disgruntled nuclear physicist who once worked at Los Alamos and had no Venezuela connection.

That same day, State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki condemned the alleged “criminalization of political dissent” in Venezuela, when asked by a reporter about fugitive Venezuelan general Antonio Rivero’s arrival in New York to plea for support from the United Nations Working Committee on Arbitrary Detention. Rivero fled an arrest warrant in Venezuela after his involvement in violent anti-government protests that lead to the deaths of over 40 people, mainly government supporters and state security forces, last February. His arrival in the U.S. coincided with Salazar’s, evidencing a coordinated effort to debilitate Venezuela’s Armed Forces by publicly showcasing two high profile military officers – both former Chavez loyalists – that have been turned against their government and are actively seeking foreign intervention against their own country.

These examples are just a snapshot of increasing, systematic negative and distorted coverage of Venezuelan affairs in U.S. media, painting an exaggeratedly dismal picture of the country’s current situation and portraying the government as incompetent, dictatorial and criminal. While this type of coordinated media campaign against Venezuela is not new – media consistently portrayed former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, elected president four times by overwhelming majorities, as a tyrannical dictator destroying the country – it is clearly intensifying at a rapid, and concerning, pace.

The New York Times has a shameful history when it comes to Venezuela. The Editorial Board blissfully applauded the violent coup d’etat in April 2002 that ousted President Chavez and resulted in the death of over 100 civilians. When Chavez was returned to power by his millions of supporters and loyal Armed Forces two days later, the Times didn’t recant it’s previous blunder, rather it arrogantly implored Chavez to “govern responsibly”, claiming he had brought the coup on himself. But the fact that the Times has now begun a persistent, direct campaign against the Venezuelan government with one-sided, distorted and clearly aggressive articles – editorials, blogs, opinion, and news – indicates that Washington has placed Venezuela on the regime change fast track.
The timing of Leamsy Salazar’s arrival in Washington as an alleged DEA collaborator, and his public exposure, is not coincidental. This February marks one year since anti-government protests violently tried to force President Maduro’s resignation, and opposition groups are currently trying to gain momentum to reignite demonstrations.

The leaders of the protests, Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado, have both been lauded by The New York Times and other ‘respected’ outlets as “freedom fighters”, “true democrats”, and as the Times recently referred to Machado, “an inspiring challenger”. Even President Obama called for Lopez’s release from prison (he was detained and is on trial for his role in the violent uprisings) during a speech last September at an event in the United Nations. These influential voices willfully omit Lopez’s and Machado’s involvement and leadership of violent, undemocratic and even criminal acts. Both were involved in the 2002 coup against Chavez. Both have illegally received foreign funding for political activities slated to overthrow their government, and both led the lethal protests against Maduro last year, publicly calling for his ouster through illegal means.

Leopoldo López at a recent antigovernment demo.

María Corina Machado with Pres Bush in 2002.
The utilization of a figure such as Salazar who was known to anyone close to Chavez as one of his loyal guards, as a force to discredit and attack the government and its leaders is an old-school intelligence tactic, and a very effective one. Infiltrate, recruit, and neutralize the adversary from within or by one of its own – a painful, shocking betrayal that creates distrust and fear amongst the ranks. While no evidence has surfaced to back Salazar’s outrageous claims against Diosdado Cabello, the headline makes for a sensational story and another mark against Venezuela in public opinion. It also caused a stir within the Venezuelan military and may result in further betrayals from officers who could support a coup against the government. Salazar’s unsubstantiated allegations also aim at neutralizing one of Venezuela’s most powerful political figures, and attempt to create internal divisions, intrigue and distrust.

The most effective tactics the FBI used against the Black Panther Party and other radical movements for change in the United States were infiltration, coercion and psychological warfare.
By inserting agents into these organizations, or recruiting from within, that were able to gain access and trust at the highest levels, the FBI was able to destroy these movements from the inside, breaking them down psychologically and neutralizing them politically. These clandestine tactics and strategies are thoroughly documented and evidenced in FBI and other US government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and published in in Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall’s excellent book, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (South End Press, 1990).

Venezuela is suffering from the sudden and dramatic plummet in oil prices. The country’s oil-dependent economy has severely contracted and the government is taking measures to reorganize the budget and guarantee access to basic services and goods, but people are still experiencing difficulties. Unlike the dismal portrayal in The New York Times, Venezuelans are not starving, homeless or suffering from mass unemployment, as countries such as Greece and Spain have experienced under austerity policies. Despite certain shortages – some caused by currency controls and others by intentional hoarding, sabotage or contraband – 95% of Venezuelans consume three meals per day, an amount that has doubled since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is under 6% and housing is subsidized by the state.

Nevertheless, making Venezuela’s economy scream is without a doubt a rapidly intensifying strategy executed by foreign interests and their Venezuelan counterparts, and it’s very effective.

As shortages continue and access to dollars becomes increasingly difficult, chaos and panic ensue. This social discontent is capitalized on by U.S. agencies and anti-government forces in Venezuela pushing for regime change. A very similar strategy was used in Chile to overthrow socialist President Salvador Allende. First the economy was destroyed, then mass discontent grew and the military moved to oust Allende, backed by Washington at every stage. Lest we forget the result: a brutal dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet that tortured, assassinated, disappeared and forced into exile tens of thousands of people. Not exactly a model to replicate.

This year President Obama approved a special State Department fund of $5 million to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. Additionally, the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy is financing Venezuelan opposition groups with over $1.2 million and aiding efforts to undermine Maduro’s government. There is little doubt that millions more for regime change in Venezuela are being funneled through other channels that are not subject to public scrutiny.

President Maduro has denounced these ongoing attacks against his government and has directly called on President Obama to cease efforts to harm Venezuela. Recently, all 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations, members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), publicly expressed support for Maduro and condemned ongoing U.S. interference in Venezuela. Latin America firmly rejects any attempts to erode democracy in the region and will not stand for another US-backed coup. It’s time Washington listen to the hemisphere and stop employing the same dirty tactics against its neighbors.

Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code. She can be reached through her blog.