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The Political Thought of African American Resistance
Author: Alex Zamalin
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Category: Political Science
American political thought has been shaped by those who fought back against social inequality, economic exclusion, the denial of political representation, and slavery, the country's original sin. Yet too often the voices of African American resistance have been neglected, silenced, or forgotten. In this timely book, Alex Zamalin considers key moments of resistance to demonstrate its current and future necessity, focusing on five activists across two centuries who fought to foreground slavery and racial injustice in American political discourse. Struggle on Their Minds shows how the core values of the American political tradition have been continually challenged—and strengthened—by antiracist resistance, creating a rich legacy of African American political thought that is an invaluable component of contemporary struggles for racial justice. Zamalin looks at the language and concepts put forward by the abolitionists David Walker and Frederick Douglass, the antilynching activist Ida B. Wells, the Black Panther Party organizer Huey Newton, and the prison abolitionist Angela Davis. Each helped revise and transform ideas about power, justice, community, action, and the role of emotion in political action. Their thought encouraged abolitionists to call for the eradication of slavery, black journalists to chastise American institutions for their indifference to lynching, and black radicals to police the police and to condemn racial injustice in the American prison system. Taken together, these movements pushed political theory forward, offering new language and concepts to sustain democracy in tense times. Struggle on Their Minds is a critical text for our contemporary moment, showing how the political thought that comes out of resistance can energize the practice of democratic citizenship and ultimately help address the prevailing problem of racial injustice.
The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism
Author: Alex Zamalin
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Within the history of African American struggle against racist oppression that often verges on dystopia, a hidden tradition has depicted a transfigured world. Daring to speculate on a future beyond white supremacy, black utopian artists and thinkers offer powerful visions of ways of being that are built on radical concepts of justice and freedom. They imagine a new black citizen who would inhabit a world that soars above all existing notions of the possible. In Black Utopia, Alex Zamalin offers a groundbreaking examination of African American visions of social transformation and their counterutopian counterparts. Considering figures associated with racial separatism, postracialism, anticolonialism, Pan-Africanism, and Afrofuturism, he argues that the black utopian tradition continues to challenge American political thought and culture. Black Utopia spans black nationalist visions of an ideal Africa, the fiction of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Sun Ra’s cosmic mythology of alien abduction. Zamalin casts Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler as political theorists and reflects on the antiutopian challenges of George S. Schuyler and Richard Wright. Their thought proves that utopianism, rather than being politically immature or dangerous, can invigorate political imagination. Both an inspiring intellectual history and a critique of present power relations, this book suggests that, with democracy under siege across the globe, the black utopian tradition may be our best hope for combating injustice.
Frederick Douglass (1818--1895) was a prolific writer and public speaker whose impact on American literature and history has been long studied by historians and literary critics. Yet as political theorists have focused on the legacies of such notables as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Douglass's profound influence on Afro-modern and American political thought has often been undervalued. In an effort to fill this gap in the scholarship on Douglass, editor Neil Roberts and an exciting group of established and rising scholars examine the author's autobiographies, essays, speeches, and novella. Together, they illuminate his genius for analyzing and articulating core American ideals such as independence, liberation, individualism, and freedom, particularly in the context of slavery. The contributors explore Douglass's understanding of the self-made American and the way in which he expanded the notion of individual potential by arguing that citizens had a responsibility to improve not only their own situations but also those of their communities. A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass also considers the idea of agency, investigating Douglass's passionate insistence that every person in a democracy, even a slave, possesses an innate ability to act. Various essays illuminate Douglass's complex racial politics, deconstructing what seems at first to be his surprising aversion to racial pride, and others explore and critique concepts of masculinity, gender, and judgment in his oeuvre. The volume concludes with a discussion of Douglass's contributions to pre-- and post--Civil War jurisprudence.
The twenty-first century presents unique political challenges, like increasing concern over racially based police brutality and mass incarceration, continuing economic and gender inequality, the rise of conservative and libertarian politics, and the appropriate role of religion in American politics. Current scholarship in American political thought research neither adequately responds to the contemporary moment in American politics nor fully captures the depth and scope of this rich tradition. This collection of essays offers an innovative expansion of the American political tradition. By exposing the major ideas and thinkers of the four major yet still underappreciated alternative traditions of American political thought—African American, feminist, radical and conservative—this book challenges the boundaries of American political thinking about such values like freedom, justice, equality, democracy, economy, rights, identity, and the role of the state in American life. These traditions, the various authors show in different ways, not only present a much fuller and more accurate characterization of what counts as American political thought. They are also especially unique for the conceptual resources they provide for addressing contemporary developments in American politics. Offering an original and substantive interpretation of thinkers and movements, American Political Thought will help students understand how to put American political thought into conversation with contemporary debates in political theory.
An introduction to antiracism, a powerful tradition crucial for energizing American democracy On August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a rally of white nationalists and white supremacists culminated in the death of a woman murdered in the street. Those events made clear that racism is alive and well in the United States of America. However, they also brought into sharp relief another American tradition: antiracism. While racists marched and chanted in the streets, they were met and matched by even larger numbers of protesters calling for racism’s end. Racism is America’s original and most enduring sin, with well-known historic and contemporary markers: slavery, lynching, Jim Crow, redlining, mass incarceration, police brutality. But racism has always been challenged by an opposing political theory and practice. Alex Zamalin’s Antiracism tells the story of that opposition. The most theoretically generative and politically valuable source of antiracist thought has been the black American intellectual tradition. While other forms of racial oppression—for example, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Latino racism—have been and continue to be present in American life, antiblack racism has always been the primary focus of American antiracist movements. From antislavery abolition to the antilynching movement, black socialism to feminism, the long Civil Rights movement to the contemporary Movement for Black Lives, Antiracism examines the way the black antiracist tradition has thought about domination, exclusion, and power, as well as freedom, equality, justice, struggle, and political hope in dark times. Antiracism is an accessible introduction to the political theory of black American antiracism, through a study of the major figures, texts, and political movements across US history. Zamalin argues that antiracism is a powerful tradition that is crucial for energizing American democracy.
Still Lifting, Still Climbing is the first volume of its kind to document African American women's activism in the wake of the civil rights movement. Covering grassroots and national movements alike, contributors explore black women's mobilization around such areas as the black nationalist movements, the Million Man March, black feminism, anti-rape movements, mass incarceration, the U.S. Congress, welfare rights, health care, and labor organizing. Detailing the impact of post-1960s African American women's activism, they provide a much-needed update to the historical narrative. Ideal for course use, the volume includes original essays as well as primary source documents such as first-hand accounts of activism and statements of purpose. Each contributor carefully situates their topic within its historical framework, providing an accessible context for those unfamiliar with black women's history, and demonstrating that African American women's political agency does not emerge from a vacuum, but is part of a complex system of institutions, economics, and personal beliefs. This ambitious volume will be an invaluable resource on the state of contemporary African American women's activism.
A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience
Author: Rian Malan
Publisher: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
An Afrikaner crime reporter returns home to face the evil and complex legacy of South African apartheid in “a witness-bearing act of the rarest courage” (Michael Kerr). Rian Malan’s classic work of reportage, My Traitor’s Heart is at once beautiful, horrifying, and profound in ways that earned him comparisons to Michael Herr and Ryszard Kapuściński and inspired the London Times to call him “South Africa’s Hunter S. Thompson.” An Afrikaner, Malan is the scion of a centuries-old clan deeply involved in the creation of apartheid. As a young crime reporter, he covered the atrocities of an undeclared race war and ultimately fled the country, unhinged by what he had seen. Eight years later, he returns to confront his own demons, and those that are tearing his country apart. With unflinching candor, Malan explores the grizzly violence and perverse rationalizations at the root of his nation’s identity. Written in the final years of apartheid’s bloody collapse, My Traitor’s Heart still resonates, offering a “passionate, blazingly honest testament” to the darkest recesses of the black and white South African psyches. “Those who read it will never again see South Africa the same way” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
Social Theory: Its Origins, History, and Contemporary Relevance analyzes the tradition of social theory in terms of its origins and changes in kind of societies. Rossides provides a full discussion of the sociohistorical environments that generated Western social theory with a focus on the contemporary modern world. While employing a sociology of knowledge approach that identifies theories as aristocratic versus democratic, liberal versus socialist and also liberal feminist versus radical feminist; it attempts to construct a scientific, unified social theory in the West. Additionally, it also features African American theory, American culture studies, political and legal philosophy, and environmental theory.
Blood and Wine is complied from a collection of fictional writings, free verse and autobiographical material I wrote and published in several books over the years. I selected segments I thought were essential to the general focus of my book to hone prose and target free verse to signify the creative process within which my book strives. I began the book with a poetic challenge-Intruders, do not enter the mind / of the unborn child in the womb of thought-thereby promoting prose against the originality of free verse.