We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century

We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century

We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century

We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century

Synopsis

An "Indispensable" Book of The Black World Today website

Much has been written about the Black Power movement in the United States. Most of this work, however, tends to focus on the personalities of the movement. In We Are Not What We Seem , Roderick D. Bush takes a fresh look at Black Power and other African American social movements with a specific emphasis on the role of the urban poor in the struggle for Black rights.

Bush traces the trajectory of African American social movements from the time Booker T. Washington to the present, providing an integrated discussion of class. He addresses questions crucial to any understanding of Black politics: Is the Black Power movement simply another version of the traditional American ethnic politics, or does it have wider social import? What role has the federal government played in implicitly grooming social conservatives like Louis Farrakhan to assume leadership positions as opposed to leftist, grassroots, class-oriented leaders? Bush avoids the traditional liberal and social democratic approaches in favor of a more universalistic perspective that offers new insights into the history of Black movements in the U. S.

Excerpt

Each day when you see us black folk upon the dusty land of the
farms or upon the hard pavement of the city streets, you usually
take us for granted and think you know us, but our history is far
stranger than you suspect, and we are not what we seem.

—Richard Wright, Twelve Million Black Voices

Imagine European history from the days of Christ to the present
telescoped into three hundred years and you can comprehend the
drama which our consciousness has experienced! Brutal, bloody,
crowded with suffering and abrupt transitions, the lives of us black
folk represent the most magical and meaningful picture of human
experience in the Western world. Hurled from our native African
homes into the center of the most complex and highly industrialized
civilization the world has ever known, we stand today with a con
sciousness and memory such as few people possess….

We black folk, our history and our present being, are a mirror
of all the manifold experiences of America. What we want, what
we represent, what we endure is what America is. If we black folk
perish, America will perish. If America has forgotten her past, then
let her look into the mirror of our consciousness and she will see
the living past living in the present, for our memories go back,
through our black folk of today, through the recollections of our
black parents, and through the tales of slavery told by our black
grandparents, to the time when none of us black or white, lived in
this fertile land.

—Richard Wright, Twelve Million Black Voices

The nation was shocked by the appearance of more than a million Black men in Washington, DC in response to the call put forth by the African American Leadership Summit, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Reverend Benjamin Chavis. Before the October 16 . . .

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