“Throughout their entire history as a people,” writes Dr. Manning Marable in
Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and
Renewal, African Americans have created themselves.”
did so in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and
two-and-a-half centuries of chattel slavery - a structure
of overwhelming inequality and brutality characterized by
the sale of human beings and routine rapes and executions.
Black Americans were not “a people without history and culture,” he continues.
Their memories of how life should be lived, of womanhood and manhood, of beauty
and aesthetics, of worship and spirituality were not annihilated
by the Middle Passage. But what they could do with these
memories was very much constrained by the conditions in
which they found themselves - the racial and class structure
of enslavement…African Americans created themselves, but
not just as they pleased, not under the circumstances chosen
by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered,
given, and transmitted from the past.
They created “culture, religion, family, art forms, political institutions,
and social and political theory” from knowledge of “their
African history and the prevailing social and economic relationships.”
For all our efforts to survive
as a people, now, engulfed in an illusion of post racial
politics, our “memories of how life should be lived” are
rapidly becoming so much debris…
The second U.S. Civil War went unnoticed by a majority of American citizens.
This war galvanized the North and South, all three branches
of the government, local, state, and federal law enforcement.
It went by the name, COINTELPRO, and its mission sought
to destroy the credibility of pro-democracy,
anti-capitalist, pro-human rights struggle. To effectively criminalize protest
and rebellion within the U.S. borders, the government
sanctioned the use of wiretapping, of agent provocateurs
and informants, of billy clubs and sexual assaults, of narratives
with crucial omissions and narratives with incriminating
evidence, of sentencing laws, and of assassins to silence
national and local leaders. While the more notable Civil
War claimed to free enslaved Blacks, the second Civil War
brandished Black freedom fighters. The struggle for freedom
and its most fierce proponents were now disposable.
bureau operated its Counterintelligence Program, which transformed
many of the extralegal methods first used ad hoc against
the Communist Party into a covert doctrine…[A]n assistant
to the FBI director, William C. Sullivan, called this operation
‘a rough, tough, dirty business…No holds were barred.’ (Alfred
America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and
the Rise of the Surveillance State).
Television did not air the genocide of democracy and freedom, unlike today,
when the U.S.,
declaring American interests at stake, launches an
intervention of smart missiles and drones elsewhere such
as in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and now Libya, to save democracy and
freedom. Every now and then, we really see how well that
mission works when photos are released of American soldiers
posing with the tortured and even the dead. Always determined
to move forward, American ingenuity, aided by technology,
unique brand of romance in which democracy and freedom featured
the New Black American in a post racial era.
Blackness, like the Struggle for democracy and freedom was (and still is) an
obstacle to overcome. The romanticized image of Mammy served
its purpose during slavery when American anxiety over the
actual rape of Black women forced Americans to acknowledge
to the world (predominantly in rhetoric and in the caricature
of Mammy) that they really hate violence, as Barrack Obama
notes time and time again. Romance, in the U.S., Toni Morrison writes in Playing
in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,
is not an avoidance of anxiety but “an exploration of anxiety.”
The literature of romance that makes it possible for Americans
to sometimes safely and at other times riskily embrace “quite
specific…fears,” including “the terror of human freedom
- the thing they coveted most of all.” The actual fighters
for democracy and freedom, disposable, are substituted with
more malleable and more consumable images of democracy and
is not surprising that Oprah, Colin Powell, Condi Rice,
and Barrack Obama, interestingly all three made operational
for international consumption in the 1980s during Ronald
Reagan’s reign, suggest to white Americans that democracy
and freedom had come at last to the nation.
These are not Horatio Alger stories.
Glorify the cultural aesthetics of the no-longer oppressor; negotiate the power
of the no-longer oppressor; consolidate the forces of a
COINTELPRO cabal of Wall Street bankers, Corporate CEO’s
and lobbyists, and military experts - and you have a Romanized
America fit for elevating the Self and pursuing the enemy.
What else is COINTELPRO but the Patriot Act, says Black
Commentator Columnist and Editorial Board member Larry
Pinkney (Pinkney to Pinkney, March 27, 2011, blogtalkradio.com/rev-pinkney).
You are either a Patriot or an enemy - or debris.
But the debris of democracy and freedom still remains - the non-usable,
anxiety-ridden reminders - pointing to the contradictions
in the American Dream, the incarceration rate for Black
Americans, the gentrification policies, the educational
failures, the shock and awe of war abroad and austerity
measures at home. The debris that can be found within these
Romanized images of “impenetrable whiteness,” to use Morrison’s
term, are always present in conjunction with the “dead”
and “impotent” or Blackness “under complete control” as
they serve as “antidote for and meditation on the shadow
that is companion to this whiteness.”
There are many Americans hoping
Obama will come around - but come around to what?
The Romantic (if not literal) blending of Blackness and whiteness symbolized
in Barrack Obama (with whom the world fell head over heels)
permits the showdown between the U.S. and Europe over which
entity, the Old World (or the Newest Empire) will garner
the most influence in, of all places, Africa.
Liberators? The U.S.? The U.S.
does not liberate; it incarcerates! It does so first
in its imaginative representation of itself in relationship
to others and the planet.
According to Prof. Michel Chossudovsky in “‘Operation Libya’ and the Battle
for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa,” [a]n
invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve
the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation
of Iraq. The underlying objective
is to take possession of Libya's oil reserves, destabilize
the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize
the country's oil industry, namely transfer the control
and ownership of Libya's oil wealth into foreign hands (March 29, 2011, Global Researchers).
“Libya is a Prize Economy,”
writes Chossudovsky, as it is “the largest oil economy on
the African continent.”
In a nutshell, the Supreme Court said that, under Discovery, when European,
Christian nations discovered new lands, the discovering
country automatically gained sovereign and property rights
in the lands of non-Christian, non-European peoples, even
though, obviously, the native peoples already owned, occupied,
and used these lands. (Robert J. Miller, Native
America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis
and Clark, and Manifest Destiny).
Africa, the Anglo-American oil interests
know, is a risky place with European and Chinese oil production
and European post-colonial influences. “The financial stakes as well as ‘the spoils of war’
are extremely high.” Chossudovsky continues: “this military
operation is intent upon establishing US
hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated
by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.” In addition, “what is at stake is the
redrawing of the map of Africa.” If
is successful, the “redivisioning” of Africa will not only
weaken “the role of the former colonial powers (including
in North Africa” but will also establish “a broader process
of displacing and weakening France (and Belgium) over a large part of the African continent.
In other words, the U.S. Empire does not want to share with its European allies
The people of Africa are of no concern to the U.S.! In conjunction with
“impenetrable whiteness” are the “dead” and “impotent” or
Blackness “under complete control.”
“The people of Africa,” Prof. Horace Campbell says, “want
political change.” Speaking on Robert Knig ht’s Five
O’Clock Shadow, (WBAI), he states that “the United States
of America can’t represent a force for democracy, peace,
and for decency when the same forces were the ones in bed
with Quaddafi and used the finances of the Libyan society
to buy military equipment from the West so that Quaddafi
was actually keeping the arms industry alive.”
We are witnessing in Libya
“hijacking revolution in North Africa.”
We have seen that here in the U.S.,
Campbell declares, when the Black struggle was
hijacked. He echoes Chossudovsky’s position regarding the U.S.’s humanitarian intervention.
It is about oil and the “legitimization” of Afri-Com. Established
under the Bush regime, Afri-Com lays dormant until “bombs
start flying in Libya,”
Campbell says, then Afri-Com comes alive for the
benefit of oil companies and military contractors.
U.S. interests, Campbell states, are “exploitation, racism, and supporting dictatorships.”
foreign policy of any country is like its domestic policy.
The domestic policy is [to] cut the urban areas where Black
people live, to downgrade [the] educational system, [to
establish] police brutality in Black communities, and [to
put] young Blacks in prison. So if the domestic policy inside
the United States of America
is against Black people, how could the U.S. foreign policy be for
Black people? That’s a contradiction in terms.”
But that is the United States these days, the great humanitarian
- articulating the anxieties of Americans?
It is no wonder that in “just 31 days,” as that First “Black” President, the
mouthpiece of America’s current romance narrative attests,
American humanitarian intervention bypassed those
allied-states of Syria, Bahrain, Yemen (and did not think
twice about humanitarian narrative on Egypt) to land
Tomahawk missiles in Libya. In the meantime, Oprah is tweeting
people to view her new television channel featuring reality
It is all so insane!
cleverly crafted, the corporate capitalist’s Romantic remake
of a global COINTELPRO (or Patriot Act) operation is not
going over so smoothly, as people are waking up to realize
that democracy and freedom have been hijacked. They have
been misled into believing in the normalcy of an irrational
power, based on a fantasy. They are risking their lives
now for change they can believe in and for democracy and
freedom not defined by corporate capitalists’ fiction.
Dr. Manning Marable’s many contributions to maintaining
the memory of democracy and freedom, Let
Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and
Renewal, a “collection of essays, manifestos, interviews,
oral testimonies, and historical documents”…from the earliest
days of slavery to the end of the 20th century, with introductions
by Dr. Marable and Leith Mullings, editors, was my introduction
to the scholar and my students introduction to America’s
longest running reality show.
to send a message of condolence to the Marable family.
Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate
in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click
to contact Dr. Daniels.