Not completely off topic at this point The system of injustice which King tried to fight by mean of the Poor Peoples Campaign has grown worse. The divide between the haves and have nots has worsened. More and more members of the middle Class--educated professionals and moderate size propertyholders--are being pushed into the poverty. The middle class itself is divided into those barely hanging on to middle class standards of living, barely staying out of poverty, and those who are more securely middle class. I think that the former group of insecure middle class folk outnumber the more secure ones. This is especially (though not only)true among Black middle class folk. For thanks to slavery and racial caste, they have mainly been unable to accumulate INTERGENERATIONAL wealth and capital. That's one of the reasons that the recession affected them more severely than it did the white middle class (who were also severely damaged). If the middle classes had good sense they'd make common cause with the poor, especially the working class poor, in the struggle for economic and social justice. They would emphasize solidarity and abandon backward and reactionary ideals of "rugged" or possessive individualism. They would do what Dr. King was urging us to do while he was trying to organize the Poor Peoples Campaign--what he himself was doing as a middle class intellectual man in supporting the impoverished sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968. The choice is still their: to be CONSCIOUS and COMMITTED or to be irrelevant and possibly reactionary.
Well I've noted from experience as well as study certain realities regarding the psychology of first generation middle class Blacks. Other newly arrived people from other groups also experience this insecurity, but with us it is compounded by the stigma of race. As you know, I am myself a first generation college graduate--son of parents from the Jim Crow South who didn't even finished high school. I grew up in the ghettoes of East Bmore. I still recall when I finished school and got my first full academic position. I was actually STUNNED when I paid all my bills and found that there was MONEY LEFT OVER!!! I could even buy a car, rent a decent apartment (not a project or slum), and have money to travel. I'm now a homeowner, but then I was afraid to try to buy a house for fear that my new found affluence wouldn't last, and the bank would come a calling.
Fortunately, the difference in my upbringing---and probably the influence of certain of my high school and university teachers who were Movement veterans--help prevent me from becoming socially indifferent, politically reactionary or simply given to narcissistic self-indulgence. I continued being involved in community struggles, and struggles related to fights for freedom elsewhere--for example, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. But of the few brother and sisters in the hood who "rose" up with me,, that social conscience usually wasn't there.
I believe there was a book written decades ago by Harry Edwards called BLACK STUDENTS. In it he seemed to indicate that the Black students radicals of the time were more often than not middle class youth who--unlike their parents--were born in the lap of affluence. I know that to be true of many white students radicals of that time as well.
However, Howard Zinn in NEW ABOLITIONISTS (originally came out in 1964) stated that most SNCC activists in the South were children of poor, working class Black families who happened to be able to get more education than their parents had. But he seem to argue also that Northern Black and white students who came South to support SNCC and other movements were usually educated middle class people. So, the picture may be a little more complicated.
Je ne suis pas religieuse maintenant. Main je n'ai pas un desire a fais un guerre contra religion. L'ete derniere j'avais un entrevue avec M. Marc Steiner de WEAA, FM 88.9. Monsieur Steiner (un juive tres progressive, former SDS, for Poor Peoples Campaign worker) is at least as old as Barros, probably older. He interviewed me regarding the meaning of King's legacy in our time. He thought it interesting that I, an agnostic, find King to be one of the most admirable men in history. J'a dit a M. Steiner: "Although I am no longer religious, I can find more common ground with a devout Jew, Christian, Muslim or Hindu who is progressive and committed to the freedom of all men, than with an agnostic or atheist who is reactionary and a defender of race and class privilege. After all, Ayn Rand was an atheist and also very pro-capitalist. Her animosity toward Christianity, was largely due to her perception that the teachings of the Christ were implicitly anti-capitalist, anti-elitist and revolutionary.. She would never supported Dr. King's poor peoples campaign. There are progressive religious people just as there are progressive secular people. And there are reactionaries in all religions just as there are reactionary secularists. But I will work with progressive Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, atheists and anyone else who is willing to fight the liberation of ALL the oppressed, and for a community of freedom as the birthright of every man, woman and child on earth. My very religious ancestors used to sing from the dark dungeons of slavery: "Didn't my Lord free Daniel, Daniel? Did my lord free Daniel? Why not EVERY man?"
By the way, mon oncle Oscar (un soldat a Normandie) arrive a Baltimore l'ete derniere about two weeks after you left this past summer. A couple of his sons were with him. He's very old now, but still remembers the war and his days in your country. It would have been interesting for you to have met him. Il aiment le francais beaucoups. "Pas de segregation" dit mon oncle, "pas de KKK, et zero police raciste"--unl ike North Carolina. I was tempted to tell him he had too idealized a picture of France....But I thought "What's the point?" And I understand the point of view of old black men of that generation. It might have been interesting to see what his reaction would have been if I had been able to introduce the two of you. Mon oncle aiment la France et les Francais. He thinks the French are the coolest white folk around....LOL!
There is lot more paranoia about Black criminality. Notice that no one even speaks of white criminality. Take a look at the May 14, 2014 edition of AlterNet.org. Take a look at an article entitled "White People Commit the Most Heinous Crimes, So Why is America Terrified of Black Men." The author is Lisa Bloom, and the article is excerpted from her book, SUSPICION NATION: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN INJUSTICE AND WHY WE CONTINUE TO REPEAT IT.
Well mass deportation is pretty much out of the question, at least without a fascist state. And as long as they're lingering in the shadows avaricious businessman and other scumbags can exploit the labor of immigrants at wages lower than everyone else. That could create a problem for the Black community as well as the exploited immigrant community. Better to legalize and demand DECENT WAGES for absolutely EVERYONE, be that American born or from other countries. Otherwise, the powers-that-be will pit one oppressed community against another.
We must also consider some important economic changes within American and global capitalism which deeply affect the lives of our communities. Kathleen Cleaver, former Black Panther leader and former spouse of Eldridge Cleaver, posed a question while in Baltimore a few years ago: How are things so different? Why is it that you find such militant confidence arising in the poor, especially the Black poor among whom we used to organized? Our people were at the bottom of the economy, as disproportionately we still are. But there was an industrial economy that was relatively stable. Hence even poor people could maintain fairly stable families, schools, and other institutions that were a part of any real community. But things have changed. We were at the last phase of industrialism. What has happened since, and probably was already in its early phases in the late 1960s, was a technological revolution based not on industrialism, but a new information economy, and electronic economy. And the first jobs to be lost were those at the bottom of the industrial economy--in the part of the capitalist economy where Black people were disproportionately to be found thanks to decades of racist discrimination in industry. Where are those old factory jobs? Those jobs in steel? What happened to your Bethlehem Steel company in Baltimore, or the auto industry in Detroit. Even jobs at the bottom of those industries were relatively stable in those days; and they allowed for a stable social existence even within poverty. That is what has changed, and it affects our current efforts to organize." I'm recalling from memory the essence of Kathleen Cleaver's remarks. We might add also observations made by Cornel West in RACE MATTERS, namely the increasing influence of the corrosive materialist and narcissistic values of consumerism, of consumerist capitalism in our communities. Have these maleficent influences weakened former bonds of solidarity, community, communal love, and care for others?
What kind of community and value system had we then that would enable poor people to risk jobs that they were in no position to lose in order to win freedom and self-determination for their people? What values and community had we then that would enable SOME members of the middle and upper classes of Black America---W.E.B.Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis---to risk their careers and what could have been comfortable bourgeois lives for something as "abstract " as freedom, justice, equality, self-determination , and the dignity of the human personality? What values allowed an Angela Davis to risk a promising academic career (after studying at Sorbonne, Frankfurt School, Brandeis) for the sake of a revolutionary movement, or to sully her middle class image by getting involved in efforts to liberate imprisoned brothers from the "hood" like George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and the other "Soledad brothers"? And again, the class divide was not so great as now. Whether the divide of classes can be overcome in some larger solidarity today, I don't know. But I think that we can reconstruct the Black community from the bottom, up. Except for the most degenerated among them, we can re-educate, conscientize and organized the poor and the disinherited. Probably we can win a fraction of the Black petty bourgeoisie, though not on the level of the 1960s.