Thursday, December 28, 2006

House Cleaning Cures Cancer?

"Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job."

Yeah...right. I'm as weary as the next woman with some of the over-hyped feminist paranoia, but the research conclusions in this article just scream of naked roll-back-the-clock type propaganda. I'm glad these kind of stupid studies are routinely done to gently remind me why we needed a feminist movement in the first place.


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Floodwall

Floodwall
350 Drawers, 225' Long


Moved and heartbroken by the profound loss inflicted by Katrina, New Orleans' artist Jana Na
poli attempts to preserve a small part of what the levees could not. Constructed of more than 300 drawers salvaged from heaps of trash along the curbside of flooded neighborhoods, Floodwall speaks of what was lost to Katrina and what remains of New Orleans. It defies death and reasserts the spirit of the city — made up of the vibrant, diverse culture and history of New Orleans that is tied to neighborhoods, material culture, traditions, and most importantly people.

January 4 – February 9, 2007

7am-11pm daily
World Financial Center
Liberty Street Bridge
Enter at One World Financial Center, corner of Liberty Street and South End Avenue
New York, New York
New York Floodwall exhibition designed by Whirlwind Creative

Floodwall co-presented by arts > World Financial Center and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council



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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On the Internets...A More Democratic Future?

Lately I've felt the doom and gloom overcome me when reading about the Spanish bears that have stopped hibernating, or the right-wing pile on of Jimmy Carter for stating the obvious, or our pResident's new brilliant strategy for dealing with Iraq. And don''t EVEN get me started on the sorry state of affairs in our own backyard. De Nile is not just a river in Eqypt, know what I'm sayin'? It appears to be flowing straight through the American heartland with no end in sight.

However, this Guardian/UK article posted by Will Hutton on Christmas Eve caught my eye. Hutton argues that 2006 was a vintage year for world-changing ideas - and get this, he means positive ones! His first, and I believe his most interesting point, is the importance of the growth of the web. Perhaps as someone who has been bitten by the blogger bug, I have a bias. But I couldn't agree more that the development of this interconnected web community is a world changing, paradigm shifting event.

Yet, I think he only scratches the surface in his analysis. The West has become a completely mediated environment, and much of the rest of the world is fighting to catch up and follow suit. The impact of media on our daily lives cannot be easily disregarded. Given that reality, the media we consume, how it is produced and by whom, makes a difference.

In film school, we were taught that form = content. This means that the way characters stood next to each other on the screen, or the way the lighting cast a shadow on an object, provided certain visual cues that the audience took meaning from. For instance, this image from The Lady from Shanghai gives the viewer a sense of danger and intrigue about Rita Hayworth's character Elsa Bannister because
the low key lighting shadows so much of her face.

Of course, Hayworth does indeed turn out to be quite the femme fatale, embroiling Orson Welles' character Michal O'Hara in a complex murder plot. Damn, don't these gullible film noir leads see the shadows like we do?!!!!

In any case, the 20th century world of mass media is giving way to the 21st century internet world, and given that form equals content the difference is significant. Sure it's all "mass" media - TV, radio, newspaper, internet - but there are qualitative differences between last century's media and today's. TV, radio and newspapers are all produced by "experts" and "tastemakers" who know what's best for us - what we should know, what we should like and what we should want. These forms of media have become all the more toxic as monied, bottom-line interests have taken further root in the production and distribution processes. All one has to do is take a look at NBC's primetime line-up today and compare it to one from just 5 years ago, and the difference is obvious. And how about CNN's all junk news all the time?

No doubt there are pitfalls to online news (and entertainment) segments produced and posted by Joe Blow from the block. But the fact that Joe Blow can see an event with his own eyes, write about or record it, and then share that information far and (world)wide is revolutionary for its democratic possibilities. It no longer requires enormous sums of cash or access to contribute to the community dialogue. Conceivably all voices can be heard in the internet media production model. Not so much in the corporate controlled mass media world of General Electric's NBC or Clear Channel's Z-100 100.3 FM. Can it be a coincidence that the 20th century, with all its flirtations with fascism and its many forms (Nazis, Stalinists, McCarthy-ites, etc.), was also the century that gave rise to one-way mass communication controlled in the hands of the wealthy and powerful few?

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Two for Tuesday

RIP...the Godfather of Soul (May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006)






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Monday, December 25, 2006

Rubba-Dub-Dub Frenchmen in My Tub


Marseille's
Massilia Sound System, from their album Occitanista:


share your files at box.net


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Friday, December 22, 2006

What Black Men Think

Good friend and fellow blogger Alice Backer links to the thought-provoking video clip below of African-American men countering some time honored, yet worn liberal myths.



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Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Ragin Cajuns

Late morning on Monday I boarded Amtrak, and left New Orleans for Lafayette, Louisiana. My day job sent me there for a two-day, in-the-field training session with a colleague. Little did I know that this small town would be such a wonderful gem!

We stayed at a quaint little bed n' breakfast called the Blue Moon Saloon. The early morning banging and fire alarm drill are but a small blip in my memory now, as I recall how the funky ambiance and charming French boarders from University of Virginia entertained my work buddy and me over wine our last night there.

Best of all were the wonderful crew of public radio station KRVS 88.7 who showed us their town, introduce
d us to the cultural movers and shakers of the community, and treated us to the best business lunch on record.

Although not quite the same as New Orleans, Lafayette certainly has its share of beautiful Francophone ar
chitecture, as well as gorgeously landscaped parks and public grounds. University of Louisiana Lafayette's Cypress Swamp, with alligators and all, was particularly pretty even if we didn't get to see any of its reptilian inhabitants.

At our station meeting I met folk musician D'Jalma Garnier, and the host of Zydeco Est Pas Salé John Broussard. These two Creoles were the essence of Francophone Louisiana culture - recounting the area's history and its elders, describing the cuisine and its authentic purveyors, and rolling both French and Creole with ease off the tongue. What the hell does Alan Richman know anywho?

The
piece de resistance was Executive Chef Terryl Jackson's culinary masterpiece at Prejean's Restaurant. He came out to greet us and the station staff as we sampled his delectable selection of Cajun cuisine. Blackened redfish smothered with crawfish étouffée, dirty rice, eggplant and okra gumbo, seafood fried catfish, stuffed mushrooms, pecan pie - the list went on and on and no matter how much coffee I drank after it all I was still overcome with the "itis." I thanked Terryl and his mama for teaching him how to cook like that, and rolled out of my chair and out the door.

I must admit the most enjoyable part was the overall feeling of Lafayette. Sure it's small town living, but the cultural traditions are so rich and so much a daily part of life for the people living there that it's a far more sophisticated existence in many ways than living in New York City. I will have to come back to this place again, and explore this interesting dichotomy more. Maybe in late April?


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two for Tuesday

FAMILY SURVIVAL KIT


A DRAWN TOGETHER CLASSIC



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Monday, December 18, 2006

K'Naan - Soobax

Somalian rapper K'Naan shows us Yankees how the political rap game is done with his scathing commentary on the corrupt regime of his native land. Who said hip hop was dead?



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Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Streetcar Named Desire

At the crack of dawn this Friday past, I headed down to New Orleans to Desire Street where my better half lives in a funky little neighborhood called the Bywater. Dr. Bob, Christopher Porché West and the Flavor League are some of the better known artists who, along with Second Line Clothing, have taken up residence in this old Creole neighborhood.

We've been painting the town in his decked out limo, which he has been adorning with Mardi Gras beads for something like six years now. The infamous Mardi Gras car is stopped regularly by onlookers who want photos, like Bass Goddess Greta from whose site I took this shot pictured above. Vblogger Miss B Havens also included a couple of good pics in her flickr Mardi Gras 2006 photoset.

One might think that riding around in a car like this would make the passenger a magnet for some unorthodox adventures, and they'd be right! Over the last three days I crashed a film crew Christmas party where I met a midget double for Brad Pitt, I was smoked out by a couple of community housing activists and tricked into eating alligator at a New Orleans staple, and I danced with a group of trannies in a second line down St. Claude Avenue. Only in New Orleans!


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Friday, December 15, 2006

Afropop's Picks for 2006



Afropop Worldwide has chosen their top ten "stocking stuffers" for 2006 - and might I say it's quite a nice selection!




Africando
, "Ketukuba" (Stern's Africa) (Senegal)
Various Artists, "African Guitar Summit 2" (CBC Records)
Ali Farka Touré, "Savane" (World Circuit/Nonesuch) (Mali) - A giant of African music who passed this year.
Cheikh Lô, "Lamp Fall" (World Circuit/Nonesuch) (Senegal)
Various Artists, "Congotronics 2 Buzz 'N' Rumble From the Urb 'N' Jungle" (Crammed Discs) (Congo) - Don't bother with this second volume in the series...the Konono No.1 album is far better, but for the full experience you MUST see them live!
Etran Finatawa, "Introducing Etran Finatawa" (World Music Network) (Niger)
Marisa Monte, "Universo au Meu Redor" (EMI) (Brazil)
Salif Keita, "M'Bemba" (Decca) (Mali) - Love this record from start to finish...a moody trip that grew on me with more plays.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, "Living Like A Refugee" (ANTI- Records) (Sierra Leone)
Thomas Mapfumo "Rise Up" (Real World) (Zimbabwe)


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

American Underground #5

On Friday, December 15, Shrine for the Black Madonna returns to the concert stage for the first time in eight months. The gig is at Southpaw in Park Slope Brooklyn, and it's part of the American Underground Concert Series - meaning a full night of hip new music. Admission is $8. Come prepared for moving, grooving, and maximum lift-off.

American Underground #5:
Friday, December 15 @Southpaw
8pm: DJ SPIRITHOOD of the Dustbin Brothers.
9pm: SANKOFA

10pm: FAITH

11pm: SHRINE FOR THE BLACK MADONNA

12mid: IFWHEN


Southpaw
125 Fifth Avenue (between Sterling + St. John's)

Park Slope, Brooklyn 11217

718-230-0236

2/3 to Bergen Street

4/5, Q or W to Atlantic Avenue

M or N/R to Union Street

Copyright 2004 Jose Ivey
All Rights Reserved


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Obama: Black or Biracial in 2008?

Apparently others are wondering the same thing that I am. Barack Obama - black in politics or biracial in politics? Blogger James D. Walton of the site Black in Business, asks the question and links to the reader response blog of Chicago Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell on this very topic.

Obama seems to be riding the middle ground between black Americans who generally one drop anyone with any African heritage, and whites who want to be proven wrong in their desire to one drop anyone with African heritage. Black Americans still seem to believe (erroneously in my opinion) that enforcing a group identity will somehow ensure the social, political and economic interests of black people in America. White Americans appear to be believe that most black politicians aren't fit for national leadership positions because they are too narrow in their focus of securing the interests of black people above the (white) majority. Both positions reinforce each other, and it will take an especially skilled politician of African descent - black or biracial - to sufficiently soothe the fears of either group to be voted into the highest office. Whether Obama can keep it real while simultaneously passing into the mainstream will be a fascinating process to watch in the next couple of years.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Two For Tuesday





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Monday, December 11, 2006

Some Brazilian baile funk for your earlobes

I realized today that I've been quite critical about a lot of music/artists on this blog. Yet I've offered little in the way of alternatives. So I'd like to offer up a segment every week of music I DO like by artists I find interesting. Since I like alliteration I'll call it "New Music Mondays". Enjoy!





Guerreiro by Brazilian artist Curumin




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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Why Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams are Bad for Black Women

Just about all Americans agree that our society suffers from color prejudice. Many would refuse to openly acknowledge it in such blatant terms, but if pressed would admit that European skin and features are depicted as the most desirable while African skin and features are rated at the bottom of the totem pole. Moreover, they may unconsciously (or even consciously) hold these views themselves.

Celebrities of all stripes understand this reality quite well, an
d act upon it accordingly. Yes, we all agree that "black is beautiful", but when was the last time you saw a black female celebrity consistently wearing her hair without a perm?

Black America suffers from some serious schizophrenia on this issue. Charges of light-skinned bias are issued against the fashion, music and film industries on a regular basis for their choices of representation. But black folks complained little when Halle Berry was described as the first African American woman to win an Oscar. In fact, more often then not when racially mixed celebrities buck the black race patrol and refuse to one drop themselves, the outcry of "sell out" and "race traitor" is not far behind.

With the exception of those biracials who are too light to pass as only black, no
one suffers more from this hypocrisy then black women. Not only are they unable by nature's design to compete with European standards of beauty, they are also forced to contend with so-called black women whom they could never look like either. It seems obvious that black women will only be able to develop healthy self images when authentic representations of their physical traits are depicted. Conversely, this means biracial and mixed raced people who refuse to identify as such will continue to disadvantage black women in their ability to find beauty in their African features, kinky/curly hair and dark skin.

Black Americans do not come in all shades and colors. Vanessa Williams does not descend from a blue-eye
d, light-skinned tribe of Africans kidnapped from the coast of West Africa. She is a multi-generational mix of Africans and Europeans who created her right here on this side of the pond. She is not a black woman. She is not a white woman. She is biracial. The sooner black America understands and accepts this fact, the sooner black people - especially black women - will be able to create attainable standards of beauty for themselves that are healthy and affirming.





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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Political Significance of The Flavor of Love



Flava Flav's meteoric rise from sidekick rap hasbeen to pimped out leading man is not just another example of mainstream media's plunge into the depths of mediocrity. It just may equal the final nail in the coffin of Hip Hop as a mainstream source of positive social change in the lives of African Americans.
Formerly one half of the most important political rap group of all time, Flava Flav presently takes minstrelsy to new heights as the monied mac daddy slumming among a harem of 20 video hos for a chance at finding true love. On its face the exploits of the clock slinging lothario are degrading and offensive for the stereotypical way in which women, especially black women, are portrayed as man hungry beasts and black men are hypersexual thugs with only one thing in mind. You won't be finding much in the way of black love on this show.

However, it is this caricature that has been catapulted into the popular culture juxtaposed against the waning significance of counterpart Chuck D that is most instructive. As the front man for Public Enemy, Chuck D was probably the most important political lyricist of the golden age of rap music. Flava Flav's yesman cooning was acceptable solely because it complimented the serious challenge Chuck D's nationalist lyrics posed to mainstream America. In the post Civil Rights era where integration was the (social) law of the land, Public Enemy's
insistence on fighting the powers that be threatened not only the structural racism of white society, but also the efficacy of the Movement and its leadership. Flava Flav's antics confused some and offended others, but smart people understood that he took the heat off of Chuck D to enable those politically challenging messages to see the light of day.

Fast forward 17 years later...Chuck D has seen nowhere near the resurgence in popularity as has his sidekick. His lone regular media outlet bumped him out of a daily primetime morning slot in favor of Jerry Springer. Jerry Springer! The rap icon has been relegated to a Sunday evening talk show that reads more like a description of a James Brown godfather of soul revue than a serious analysis of the day's events. But one has to wonder how much of this is really him. The rank paternalism of a show that insists it's doing its audience (i.e. black people) a favor by delivering news "tidbits" so that they "won't be bored", and because "its positively futile" to think that "journalists can change your unique perspective" with "two hours and one beat to death topic" could hardly be called pro-black or nationalist. But can anyone be surprised of the content when it's produced by Air America - a group of aging white liberals who still haven't figured out that telling people that they just don't know what's good for them is not a winning strategy?

Divorced from each other, the political agency of either partner has been inverted. Chuck D's message of black self sufficiency and black political power has actually become the opposite within the framework of Air America's programming. True it's sad, but hitched to the wagon of the bankrupt station, his redlining has less of an impact than the explosion of Flav's cooning on the pop culture scene. Any political agency Flava Flav had, was by definition as Chuck D's dissembler. Severed from that role his playacting of minstrelsy actually becomes minstrelsy.
One wonders when watching Flav today if he ever understood the nature of the game Public Enemy was playing. If not, he is one of the biggest dupes of all time. If so, he is one of the biggest sell outs of all time. Of these evils, can one really pick the lesser?



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Friday, December 08, 2006

Free Speech or Hate Speech? I Report You Decide...

Found this NYOIL video on the blog Postgradute Musings. Apparently it was banned from YouTUBE in less than 48 hours. One might be inclined to reject the language and the approach, but isn't it about time more of us start having this conversation?

yall should all get lynched

Add to My Profile | More Videos




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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Strong Island Native Drops Science on the Sean Bell Debacle

Fellow blogger William H. Sunday is doing some hard hitting commentary on the NYPD's latest criminal killing of an unarmed black civilian. Check him out at his site Dallaspenn.com...You Can't Handle The Truth.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Can There Be Any Doubt Now That American Democracy Is Finished?

Leading up to the mid-term congressional elections I had many a conversation with friends who were estatic about the impending Democratic take over. The endless Republican scandals spelled doom for the party, my friends insisted, and Bush's wave of terror on both the Iraqi and American people would soon come to an end.

My expectations were far less optimistic.
The Republican alternative was just not all that great to begin with. As the loyal opposition the Democrats have done little to protect the interests of the American people in the face of the Constitution-busting Bush juggernaught. One party rule has certainly enabled the Bush administration to steam roll over our democracy. But the Democrats give new meaning to the phrase "who needs enemies when we've got friends like these?" Having done absolutely nothing of substance to even attempt to slow the Republican roll, minority party or not, the Democrats were no more likely to change the course of the country while in a position of power, either. They, too, are slaves to corporate interests just like their pachydermal cousins.

Not to mention, we have suffered two elections packed with vote fraud that virtually no one within the political elite lifted a finger to address in any substantial way. We know Gore actually won, and it appears that Kerry probably did too, despite himself. The mainstream media waited until the last minute to focus on our broken democratic process, and in doing so at such a focused and intense level just prior to the election may have made voters feel powerless and stay home. After all, those Diebold machines weren't going to accurately register your choice anyway, so why bother showing up to the polls?

But no matter how much Karl Rove insisted he was Archimedes, and the mainstream pundits minimized the sound beating about to be doled out to their great white hope, the Democrats swept both the House and the Senate. Pundits were reluctantly forced to conclude that the vote was a referendum on the Iraq War and Republican malfeasance - and the American people gave a resounding "NO!!!!" to the whole kit and kaboodle. The world engaged in a collective sigh of relief as it became clear that the American people were not completely out of the minds after all.

This December 1 NYTimes article by David Sanger, however, confirms my prediction that none of it would matter anyway. The Democrats are soundly in bed with the Republicans on this thing. Liberals have been making excuses for this completely lame, so-called party of the people based on their inability to wield power from a minority position. I can think of at least two different minority groups in world history that made their all-powerful opposition eat it. The Democratic Party is for the most part composed of a group of rich white American men - the most powerful and privileged people in the history of the world! So what's their fucking excuse?

Wake up America! The first step to recovery is admitting we are in denial.
We can call Chavez authoritarian all we want, but at least he won an overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan votes cast - twice. We can no longer call it a democracy when the people we vote for refuse to do what we've voted them in to do.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Epilogue - Passing

Biracials have been passing as blacks for so long that they themselves don't even know who they are anymore. It took the perennial Vineyard vacationer Skip Gates to make it safe for the rest of us when he coyly admitted after a 50-50 genetic test result that he did, after all, remember something about his family being partly European.

In fact, all of America is confused - black, white or otherwise. And how could we not be with more than a century of biracial faces representing black ones?

Confirmed biracials (50% black/50%white)

Halle (pre-nose job), Barack Obama, Skip Gates

Hmm, if they are...what about?

Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Manning Marable

First "black" to sign with a major Holywood studio? First "black" hopeful for Tennessee Senator since Reconstruction? First "black" nominated for an Oscar?

Lena Horne, Harold Ford Jr., Dorothy Dandridge

Far be it from me to claim some biracial form of "gaydar"; however, the basic principles of heredity, summed up handily here by history and molecular anthropology PhD candidate Frank Sweet, plainly prove that what you see is what you get.
When ideology trumps reality to the point that one cannot admit that there is a difference between and , and how that difference came to be then we’ve all ceased to be rational beings. Can anyone really wonder how such cognitive dissonance as George Bush’s insistence that Saddam = Osama can exist unchecked among the American electorate for damned near 5 years, when something as basic as who we are and where we come from has been denied for the last 100? When effectively 350 years of pre-1900 history has been wiped out of the collective American memory?

Forcing our hand is the wave of mulatto Latin immigrants who have more honest racial identities, as well as the well-educated, middle class African immigrants who give lie to the blackness equals poverty equation we have so ingrained in the American psyche. The jury is still out on whether or not they will fall in line with the prevailing color line myth of the 20th century, or mount a serious challenge to its efficacy. I, for one, am ready to see the bubble burst and the whole damned thing come apart.

I spent the majority of my life being confused, feeling alienated and ashamed for not being able to conform to our American race myths.
Acknowledging obvious physical and cultural markers of European heritage does not negate African heritage; French Creoles prove this and I am so glad to have met some who have provided me with a healthy and positive model to live by. Mixed race people with African heritage should not have to one drop themselves to support any group's agenda - white, black, immigrant or otherwise. I can understand the desire for white Americans and immigrants to employ One Drop Rule, as historically both groups have benefitted handsomely from it. But haven't African Americans figured out already that adopting tactics that their white oppressors have cooked up cannot ultimately be in their own best interests? It's time for African Americans to rethink their political positioning and their group identity. This one is, and she is not looking back.











These series of posts are dedicated to "the finest woman in
East Elmhurst" of her day, my mother Kathlean Elizabeth Barnes. I am bold because she could not be.






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Act Three - Transformation Pt. 2

Understood within the history of fluctuating racial categories in the pre-Jim Crow era, the failures of the Civil Rights Movement, contemporary color tensions within the “black” community and my own personal experiences (and probably that of many other “light-skinned” blacks) make far more sense.

Once the new industrial economic system had been fully established, and the latest wave of European immigrants were fully assimilated into “whiteness”, the American elite was prepared to concede to a change in race relations. The Civil Rights Movement was this change and it reintroduced the two color line system into American society. The integrationist and separatist factions within the 20th century’s “black” leadership have actually represented the interests of two different groups, biracials and blacks respectively. The gains of the integrationist led Civil Rights Movement ultimately only served biracial’s interests, along with those blacks that managed to attain middle class status during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods.

The black integrationist MLK, who himself married a biracial, led the charge. Although the tactics were often economic, the ends effectively called for the reintroduction of a two color line system that also held blacks at the bottom economically. The American elite answered with the legal reinstatement of rights enjoyed by some biracials pre-Jim Crow, and the end of the One Drop Rule. However, the structure that kept blacks at the bottom of the economic ladder remained intact.

When MLK began to challenge this economic order with his Poor People’s Campaign, in effect advocating for black advancement, white liberals (many belonging to ethnic groups that had just passed into “whiteness”) waned in support. MLK moved ahead anyway and was promptly assassinated.

Since the
n the integrationist black and biracial leadership has mostly moved into the mainstream and left blacks to fend for themselves. Hip Hop – a music and culture describing the ghetto experience – was born out of this split. Except for the nascent Black Power Movement that fizzled out in the early 70s, Hip Hop has allowed blacks for the first time to represent themselves and their struggles in their full humanity. (Unfortunately this is in danger from corporate takeover and stereotype propaganda) Some biracials have been making attempts to reject the One Drop Rule and self define as well. And the drowning of New Orleans may be influencing Louisiana Creoles to reclaim their culture and assert their mixed racial identities. The wild card in all this is biracials who continue to one drop themselves. Whether One Drop Rule will continue to serve the socio-economic interests of blacks or biracials, if it ever really did, is being put to the test with this latest wave of immigrants. Time will tell.









- These series of posts are dedicated to the ‘finest woman in East Elmhurst’ of her day, my mother Kathlean Elizabeth Barnes. I am bold because she could not be





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Act Three - Transformation

When biracials were forced onto the black side of the color line (i.e. the Jim Crow period) they brought with them the capital inherited from two centuries of prior middle class status, which propelled them into the black upper class and the black leadership of the 20th century. This prior middle class status was not the middle class we think of today, but the legal class of people who were literally in the middle. Not Africans with no legal rights to anything and not Europeans with legal rights to everything, but Afro-Europeans who depending on the colony they were from had different levels of legal rights.

In French Louisiana biracials could own slaves, hold real estate and be recognized in court. In Spanish Florida biracials could do all that and intermarry with whites. In the British colonies biracials had varying degrees of legal status at different periods until, for reasons unique to the British situation, miscegenation was outlawed and the color line was introduced.
French and Spanish biracials could teach themselves how to read and write, and along with British biracials learn skills as craftsmen and artisans. African slaves, on the other hand, were relegated to hard labor and denied education often times upon pain of death. Freed slaves quickly joined the ranks of their biracial cousins; however, in French Louisiana biracials resisted their entry into Creole society.

In the illuminating text Wealth And Democracy by lifelong Republican Kevin Phillips, the economic factors that led to the Civil War are laid out in detail. The Northern industrial machine outstripped the Southern slaveocracy in all economic indicators except for wealth itself. Slaves were worth $2-$4 billion to the Confederacy. The loss of slaves, and by extension the end of their agriculturally based economy, would mean financial ruin. The North, although quite wealthy from the budding industrial revolution, did not have the resources to compensate their ceding Southern cousins if they were to free their slaves. So war ensued.

Predictably, when the South lost it plunged into total economic collapse. The US govt. exacerbated the problem by imposing heavy taxes on the vanquished to pay off Northern war bonds and pensions for Union soldiers. Wars cost money and the victors usually don’t pay for it.

Followed by a postwar deflation that lined the pockets of bondholders, this wealth transfer according to Phillips “enabled the United States to achieve in four decades what had taken the United Kingdom nearly a century” – namely its position as the world’s leading industrial power. Over the next 80 years poor European immigrants flocked to the country’s industrial centers for a chance at a new life, and blacks and biracials migrated north in hopes of escaping the South’s economic depression.

The new capitalist industrial class now found themselves in the same position as their British colonial precursors, i.e. with a workforce comprised mostly of people of European descent – American whites, European immigrants and biracials. Taking a page out of the Virginian colonial playbook, a race-based divide and conquer strategy was legally imposed nationwide to control exploited workers who might otherwise form coalitions along class lines. American whites and European immigrants on one side, biracials and blacks on other. Jim Crow and its partner in crime One Drop Rule were born.












- These series of posts are dedicated to the ‘finest woman in East Elmhurst’ of her day, my mother Kathlean Elizabeth Barnes. I am bold because she could not be.




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