Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism

Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism

Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism

Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism

Synopsis

Speaking Truth to Power brings together Marable's major writings on black politics, peace, and social justice, tracing the changing role of race within the American political system since the Civil Rights Movement.

Excerpt

Blackness as an identity within American politics and society has always been imposed from without and constructed from within. African-American people are the product of historical forces and events which have given character and substance to their collective development and understanding of reality. Slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and ghettoization imposed structures of inequality and discrimination upon all black Americans. The institutional violence of race, which destroyed millions of black families over several centuries, was an integral aspect of an unjust social order. To be black was to be defined as unequal and inferior by the general standards of the white world. But blackness was also a symbol of hope, a means for asserting our cultural heritage and humanity. Under difficult conditions, African-Americans sought to overcome the burden of race, to redefine the boundaries of democracy, and thereby to reflect the multicultural spectrum of the total society. Thus black identity was inextricably bound to the values, traditions, and rituals of our people engaged in resistance and to the attainment of freedom.

My own particular identity as a black American can be traced to the year of our Lord 1854, when my great-grandfather, Morris Marable, was sold on an auction block, at age nine, for the sum of $500. The white man who sold Morris and profited from this exchange was his master, who was also his biological father. Kinship usually was not a factor which influenced whites' decisions about the purchase and sale of slaves. In the rituals of my family, in our collective memory, I still feel my great-grandfather's pain and anguish. I understand the courage it took to survive the harsh crucible of slavery. And from his and many others' sacrifices and struggles, the foundation was established for a new set of kinships and cultural networks affirming our heritage. African-American identity is part of that long memory . . .

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