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A radical vision of border work

July 2nd, 2006 (08:17 pm)

Anyone in the United States that is sort of paying attention to current events gets that there is a crisis on the United States/Mexico border. Living in Arizona, this crisis has become apparent to me, to the point where ignoring it is near impossible. What this piece will seek to accomplish is to give readers an idea of the politics in Arizona about the happenings on the border, the reactionary and progressive groups that are responding to the politics of the border, a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the both sides, along with an attempt to get the ball rolling on what a radical resistance to the United Stats border looks like and to look at the radical potential the current mobilization of Mexican peoples has.

Resistance: Reactionary and Liberal
With the large influx of Latin American peoples crossing the border through Arizona, there has been plenty of folks that have been politically galvanized on all sides. On the reactionary side, I am sure we have all heard of the “they are stealing our jobs” sentiment; however it has propagated in Arizona to horrendous results. Proposition 200 has passed, which pretty much requires all people that would pass as brown to carry proof of citizenship. From that are also vigilante groups springing up that are comparable to the function of slave patrols in the south. Groups such as the Minute Men and the American Border Patrol have propagated their work as something that is the voice and the reason of the masses, this image has made vigilantes in Arizona a voice of legitimacy and the illusion of popular consent. However, this is not reality- these groups are mainly run by Arizona’s reactionary elite and the evidence of most of them not having actual numbers is shown in their press conferences, protests, and even the fact that the Minute Men now have to hire private labor to build the fence since they lack proper volunteer support. It can be summed up that their strengths are their capital which helps their ability to propagate and make quick decisions. However, it should be noted that these groups cannot be ignored. Sending the liberals to deal with the vigilantes has done nothing to stop what they are doing and in turn is making them more brazen in their attempts to push their blatantly racist agenda. A stellar example is that last year the Minute Men were confined solely to the border last year, our radical critique was to let the ACLU deal with it in the form of legal observing- now they are harassing Mexican workers outside of Home Depot’s in Phoenix, organizing rallies on a consistent basis, and holding press conferences in front of the Mexican Consulate office which brings out plenty of mainstream media attention. The reactionary side is also gaining more state sanctioned racism with the inception of Sheriff Joe and attorney Andrew Thomas’s posse in which police volunteers seek to jail all illegal immigrants.
On the liberal side of the coin to the border situation, there are movements across the state that seek to aide Mexicans becoming citizens, religious groups that go into the desert to fill water tanks, legal observing on the border and at the places where Mexican workers are being harassed. It can be reasonably stated that these movements are out of a reaction to the vigilantes and current state repression. There is little vision that goes beyond a reaction and it is definitely not putting anything progressive on the offensive side. With groups such as No More Deaths, Somos America, Justice for All Campaign and the Catholic Workers- the work they do is necessary and is technically ‘good’ work, however; it has failed to capture the imagination of the masses, and does not have a long term vision since it is based in the defense.

A Radical Vision: Against the Laws and Against the Border
Radical resistance to the border is already in effect and need to be something in which we need to look for where we need to put ourselves. Aside from Proposition 200, vigilante justice, and Sheriff Posse repression- people are still finding ways to undermine these laws and continue to find the border as just an obstacle and not a legal boundary. There are groups currently seeking to not observe the behavior of the Minute Men but who seek to disrupt and shut down their activities. Although there is little turn-out that supports disrupting the Minute Men- it is still being carried out with zeal. As revolutionaries that have a good idea of the problems and their roots, it is now time to develop a vision of what radical resistances to the border looks like. There have been sentiments amongst radicals that the Mexican move for citizenship could easily be something that would amount to a leap-frog to whiteness. However, a counter-point to that is the fact he the pure and essential function of capitalism is that it cannot afford citizenship to everyone- it goes against its very nature. A push for Mexican citizens’ rights is very likely something that could expose the vulnerabilities and ineffectiveness of capitalism, although more is needed. The fence on the border needs to come down, resistance needs to be built the opposes not only the state sanctioned segregation of Mexican peoples but one that also has a vision of border abolition. The work on the border will push all radicals and revolutionaries boundaries of political organizing because the resistance has a new face for a new time with slightly new problems.

Humanities 394- two paragraphs on the internet

July 2nd, 2006 (04:15 pm)

I am not optimistic of the liberating powers of the internet. Although I would not characterize it as being down-right repressive, I do not think that it will serve as a main organizing agent against the current oppressive status quo. The internet in no doubt has served as a means for people to have a greater sense of self and community and has challenged certain cultural boundaries. This can be seen in the Multi-User Dungeons gender swapping and the array of forums that provide safe spaces for Queer people. Even though these are progressive, the potential is arguably liberal and not radical and it can be argued that hegemony will work to appropriate that at a rate faster then ever, thus, negating resistance. As far as the actual available content on the web, it appears to me is that there is just a bombardment of old oppressive values and put them in a more modern, more faster, and more accessible package. I believe that it will have great capacities to increase production for the benefit of the elite yet provide more social networking sources for workers in the first world to feel less isolated. Hence the most liberating aspect of the internet has served as a guerilla capitalist pipe dream come true.
While the internet has been very personally liberating for people in the first world, it has broken down a lot of boundaries throughout the globe. This process known as transculturalation has removed these boundaries between nations, communities and people. Yet the fruits of it being liberating is really yet to bear. It is becoming more apparent that it has extremely benefited capitalism at the expense of women, people of color, and to a certain extent- poor people. This can be seen in the marketing and rise in hateful pornography, mail order brides, and fascist organizing. Therefore the internet on a personal level will be subject to stealth hegemony and on a macro level will be used to control and exploit those who are already controlled and exploited by capitalism and state repression. The solution to make the internet as something that would be liberating is a daunting task at best. It will require a direct rejection of capitalism and imperialism to bring to light any true aspect of human liberation.

Humanities 394 paper #2

June 24th, 2006 (06:32 pm)

Heterosexism and the Ideology of NARTH
In a truly democratic society the concept of self-determination (which is the right for determine their own destinies without fear of repression) would be a norm. However, since oppression exists in this world, people are often denied their rights to self-determination and there are certain ideologies perpetuate an anti-humanist perspective. One ideology that negates self-determination and the struggle for humanity is heterosexism. Wikipedia defines heterosexism as a “belief or argument that male-female sexuality is the only natural, normal, or moral mode of sexual behavior”. There are definite privileges the society gives heterosexual people advantages over homosexual people. According to McGill University subcommittee on Queer people the instances of this heterosexual privileges range from the right to “Raise children without fear that they will be rejected or harassed by peers because of their parents' sexual orientation or gender identities… [to] Receive support and validation from a religious community… Not risk being denied employment, housing, or other services because of one's sexual orientation or gender identity…[and to] Not be seen as needing therapy to "cure" one's sexual orientation or gender expression”. This paper will focus on the right to not see ones sexuality as a disease as integral to heterosexist ideology. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) perpetuates this ideology of heterosexism through portraying itself as a professional resource that is concerned with dangerous medial, psychological, and social issues that it believes can be rectified with the ultimate eradication of homosexuality.
According to Ideology: A brief guide by John Lye, when analyzing ideology, one needs to look at the assumptions on what is natural, to critically look at power relations, and to look at the mystifications that are presented. The content available to the reader from the NARTH site is that what is natural is a male-female sexual relationship those that stray from it put themselves in dangerous medial, psychological and social perils. Proof of this are the main icons on the top of the page that follow the NARTH web banner, state Psychological Issues, Medical Issues, and Social, Ethical, and Political Issues, implying that homosexuality bears realistic consequences and is therefore a social ill. It distorts the humanity of Queer people by relating to them as mentally ill, pedophiles, and as a people that can be cured with enough work and a willing participant of a Queer person. For instance; the viewer is bombarded by NARTH’s papers on “ex-gay testimonials” implying that homosexuality is not only a personal disease but also a social problem that has a cure.
Looking even further into the heterosexist ideology of the NARTH site, it is important to analyze the power relations throughout the site and how they are made to appear normal. It is made apparent to the viewer of the NARTH site that heterosexuals’ rights are at stake because of Queer people. Examples are the many readings available to the viewer of with the click of the Gay Activism icon. In reality many Queer peoples’ lives are at stake if they express their sexuality which is not the case for people that choose to present themselves as heterosexuals. Since heterosexism exists, the figures behind the formation of NARTH make this power relation appear normal. NARTH also perpetuates what scholars Indhu and Nis Bojin Ragagopal in their piece titled Digital Representation: Racism on the World Wide Web dub as a survival discourse, meaning that the hate groups makes itself appear that they are victims of their named enemy, which in NARTH’s case are Queer people. Although NARTH is not a racist group Digital Representations still gives the viewer tools to effectively interpret sites that perpetuate hate speech, which is appropriate in NARTH’s case to use this classification.
The style of presentation is also important to look at critically since the colors, set up, and links throughout NARTH’s webpage since it gives the viewer an impression of professionalism and scientific merit. There are many articles written by doctorates and professionals and there are also no vulgarities to describe Queer people which can often leave an average audience to believe that NARTH does not have a specific agenda but are mere scientists just reporting their data. On a personal and societal level, the NARTH site also perpetuates an assumption that heterosexual relationships will provide the agent with a psychologically sound love life, that complex issues such as gender, sexuality, love, and one’s position in their lives can easily be boiled down to a healthy standard, which to NARTH would be a solely gendered male and a solely gendered female will have relationships that are loving and sexual. However, in reality many people wrestle with their sexuality, gender roles, love issues- regardless of their sexuality. It is as if NARTH would lead a reader to believe that a heterosexual loving/sexual relationship would be free from fault, which one need only look at domestic violence rates across the globe to negate that theory.
Personal and political complexities cannot be boiled down to images that people must meet up to. These standards of gender and sexuality are impossible to meet and can often be oppressive to the agent that lives in societies that perpetuate sex and gender roles. The ideology of heterosexism is not only oppressive to Queer people everywhere, it is also detrimental to people who would identify as heterosexual since it puts those agents into roles and images that they did not choose. Groups like NARTH need to be opposed from all fronts, and a system of self-determination needs to be put in place so people can live freely and define love and sexuality that is based on respect and consent- not oppressive standards, images and dogmatic theory.












Bibliography:

1. "Heterosexism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 19 Jun 2006, 04:19 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Jun 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=heterosexism&oldid=59385361>.

2. http://www.mcgill.ca/queerequity/heterosexism/

3. http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/grammar/main_files/ideology1.htm
4. INDHU RAJAGOPAL WITH NIS BOJIN
Digital Representation: Racism on the World Wide Web

Humanities 394

June 24th, 2006 (06:31 pm)

Mail Order Brides and the Ideology of Sexism
In order to work for human freedom- a valid critique of capitalism is absolutely essential. Capitalism relies on an unequal distribution of power and wealth that mainly benefits a group of elite at the expense of the masses. Since the function of capital is to create as much wealth as possible with as little labor as possible, everything in its sight can easily be turned into a commodity and can be boiled down into money and profit. This paper will look at the connection between the ideology of sexism as a arm and working of capitalism. For instance, mail order bride industry has taken human concepts such as sexuality, gender relations, and human relationships and has boiled it down into something that can be bought and sold. A system of patriarchy and the ideology of sexism are necessary to keep this industry flourishing. The example of this can be found throughout the abundance of mail-order bride sites, but this paper will focus on DatingWorld.com, and will look critically at the promotion of sexism throughout the site.
According to Ideology: A brief guide by John Lye, when analyzing ideology, we need to ask ourselves on assumptions, power relations, and mystifications. Throughout the site the viewer will find that the assumptions of what is natural, just, and right as the idea that consent by the Russian women is a given. Datingworld.com quotes that “All Russian brides shown on our website are marriage minded and available for correspondence”. Therefore, what is right is made apparent- women in these countries are something to be purchased and they enjoy the positions that make them a mail order bride. Since these women can easily be interpreted as a commodity, a power relation comes into play. Hence, in system of capitalism the purchaser is valued more than the laborer- the rights of the consumer are of more merit than the work into the product. In this, the bride is the product and the male is the consumer. These power relations are presented as non-existent. When one travels through the site, it would seem as if the women to be purchased have more control over their lives than the male consumer. In the Some Advice link there are tips on how men should behave to gain the validation and acceptance of these women. As if these women had a choice in the matter of who would purchase them or as if they have the upper-hand in the final decision of their status; when in reality they are products.
The negative aspects that are left out in DatingWorld.com in relation to power are the wrecked economic conditions of Russia, the class background of these women, how they brought themselves to the decision to become mail order brides, or the possible predation that comes from brokers and brides in relation to pimp and prostitute. In the Why Marry A Russian Girl icon, one finds the mystified assumption of these women’s consent “They are willing to take a risk and leave everything dear to them in order to experience a happy and loving future with you!” In reality, one can reasonably assume that the decision these women come to marry a total stranger for a price had to come out of a considerable amount of coercion and desperation. The human rights organization Tahirih Justice Center conducted a study on the abuse that many of these mail order brides are subject to once they are purchased to live with their husbands. There are cases after cases of these men abusing or murdering the women they choose to buy. The studies abstract states that “immigrant women whose legal status depends on their US citizen or legal permanent resident spouse—found the rate of domestic violence to be as high as 77%.” These women’s struggles and circumstances are made invisible to the viewer and are presented as non-existent. The dynamic of abuser/victim and male/female are nearly perpetuated throughout DatingWorld.com, in the stylistic and verbal presentation of the website along with the mystified assumptions of the role of husbands and wives along with the roles of women and men.
The heart of the ideology of sexism is that men are superior to women and that women accept their inferiority. Men are fully human while a woman’s job is in the supportive and subservient position. The rise of feminism and women’s rights led to a sexist back-lash by many people in which people viewed women asserting their human rights as unnatural and as a direct attack on men. DatingWorld.com perpetuates a sexist back lash in its stylistic presentation that leads one you into why Russian women are more marketable than the average Western woman because these women have chosen to not buy into a concept of assertion and are traditionally female. DatingWorld.com quotes that “Russian ladies are family-oriented and they can be very good wives. They are but utterly sincere in their wish to meet their lifetime partner and soul mate.” This implies that women that are in the United States are not family oriented, or that the concept of family is something that is antithetical to feminism, when that is anything but the truth. DatingWorld.com continues in its perpetuation of women’s assertion as being unnatural and wrong when it states that “They [Russian women] are loyal and dedicated, stylish and cultural. They traditionally take the family requirements as a priority. This means the great difference with the common attitude of women in the USA, where the materialistic aspect prevails.” This equates to the view of women in Western societies as being pretentious, self-absorbed as if the sexual revolution made women in Western societies want to emulate men. It pits women against each and leads to a hatred of women in the sense that it pits women against each other and also gives calls of what is naturally feminine and what it is to be woman. what really matters they are have a great capability to love passionately. DatingWorld.com states that “Russian ladies are the best! […] The Russian society is very open sexually, unlike the current, restrictive standard in the USA. Russian girls do realize the unique role of each partner in the relationship.” This quote implies that the essence of a woman is also sexual subservience as oppose to looking into the intricacies of sex and creating a male-centered view of sex- being that sex is for the pleasure of men and the goal of the woman is to please men while putting their sexual preferences on the back burner. It asserts that the right to refuse sex is the same as being closed off sexually. It perpetuates that these women in Russia will not be able to say no and will also be able to provide their husbands with ultimate sexual satisfaction- by any means necessary. This is a sexist back-lash as well in the sense that it denies women their complex sexuality and their sexual pleasure and asserts that when women articulate their sexual interest outside of tradition that they must be frigid. The consumer of the brides is afforded the luxuries of what one would consider a sex slave. A woman that will meet whatever needs her potential husband has , because she is open-minded, yet the man is given a guarantee that she will not step outside of the boundaries of her subservient position as a woman and will remain hopelessly devoted companion to her husband.
An ideology of sexism is one that should be vehemently opposed. This does not mean buying into a Eurocentric concept of feminism. What it does mean is that the struggle for feminism is also a struggle against capitalism and other forms of domination in an effort to promote peoples humanity and self-determination. Sexism robs all sexes of their right to fully be themselves, since men are held to unreasonable standards along with women and pits people against each other. The mail-order bride industry should just be looked at in the context of blatant misogyny but that of systemic to capitalism and of patriarchy. Therefore, Datingworld.com isn’t just a plain example of sexism, but one that is a direct effect of the systems of domination that people willingly or unwillingly support.

Leadership and the Black Power movement

April 20th, 2006 (09:08 pm)

Movement building often requires proper leadership. Although leaders can not reflect the consensus of the masses, it is revered when they come close. One man that came as close to the masses and politicized so very many Black people- in the United States and globally was Malcolm X. Malcolm X remains one of the most misunderstood and most romanticized Black leaders ever, evidence of this would be just to poll random people about what they think about Malcolm X. Guaranteed that you will find some of the most random opinions available. Understanding Malcolm X, his full impact and his full potential requires a lot of just a little bit of reading and a measure of critical thinking. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of the most accessible resources available for understanding Malcolm, however; to reach an even better understanding, it is important to look for other works outside of his autobiography.
The late scholar John Henrik Clarke was one a pioneer in bringing Black History to light and was readily defined as a liberation scholar. Clarke’s impact was in the spectrum of Africana studies, there is now a segment at Cornell University devoted to the contributions that he had made. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that in his attempt to present history outside of the status quo of Eurocentricism, he compiled and edited Malcolm X: The Man and His Times. Since so often Black leaders can be taken out of context in the racist inceptions of defining history, it should be noted that this book was written a short time after Malcolm was assassinated. Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that this was to make sure that the leading work out there about Malcolm X was put together by people that knew and understood him before it could be interpreted by white racist historians or liberal intellectuals. This book is written in segments, its first has writers speaking of Malcolm X in retrospect; where there are different reflections of the impact Malcolm had personally on them and on the Black community as a whole. Next, there are pieces on the personal views, in which his close friends and his wife speak to the personal character of the man- Malcolm X. Proceeding that are dialogues which vary from personal and group interviews to even FBI conversations. In the dialogues, you are able to see the sharp character and the poignant use of words that was typical of Malcolm. After the book develops the personality and impact of Malcolm in the United States, Clarke collects pieces of Malcolm work abroad in Europe and Africa. Form there the reader can get a good idea of the effect that Malcolm had in building a Pan-African movement. And to finish, there are pieces written by Malcolm X so the reader can get an good idea of his eloquent and articulate use words and to actually read the speeches that most people have only heard of or read about. Malcolm X: The Man and His Times is very readable and relatively accessible. Because there are so many different writers throughout the text- most written in the first person, it is easy to just fly through the pages. It is now one of my now recommended readings for people that would like to better comprehend the life of Malcolm X.
This book fits perfectly into the Pan-Africanist/Black Nationalism course because one cannot fully understand the entirety of the Black struggle without understanding the leadership of Malcolm X. Studying Malcolm X is essential for all students because most students know very little about Malcolm in and most of their knowledge is inaccurate (i.e.; ‘Malcolm X hated all white people’). It can be reasonably argued that the impact of Malcolm X would have been more intense if he would have not been killed so early on in his career. He was a man who was not to constantly reinvent himself. He went from drug dealer, to pimp, prisoner to convert- from convert to liberation leader. Clarke’s work on Malcolm X is a good piece for understanding the politics of the time and the logical conclusions the Black liberation movement made from integration to Black Power. This book contextualizes the times of Malcolm X and gives the reader a better understanding of Malcolm outside his religious character- and steps into the Malcolm that was a revolutionary.
It is difficult for me to state whether I agree or disagree with the positions that this book takes because all of the pieces are personal accounts that draw political conclusions. However, I think the most important points raised, that were expressed throughout the entire book is that “The racist society that produced and killed Malcolm X is responsible for what he was and for destroying what he could have been” (Clarke, xii). I believe that some of the most essential information that I acquired was a better understanding of the impact Malcolm made for the case for the human rights of Black people. It is interesting that he seems to me to be one of the logical and more pragmatic leader that came from “the strand of Garyeyism” (Clarke, 240). “Malcolm saw the necessity of linking up the Afro-American freedom struggle with those of the colonized and newly independent peoples of the world” (Clarke, 241). To me, I now have moved outside of my thinking and have now realized that Malcolm was a key figure to the Pan-African movement. I also had very little knowledge of Malcolm latter taking an anti-capitalist perspective. “Capitalism […] cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless” (Clarke, 265). This leads me to think that since Malcolm was not afraid to reinvent himself, that has he lived in another time, he would have been able to make the connection that when one group is oppressed, then no one is free.
Malcolm X: The man and his times has the ability to ignite research on many levels. On an analytical level, students and researchers could effectively present the impact of the leadership Malcolm had on the Black masses- in the United States and all over the world. Since most people are able to accept the wonderful leadership that Dr. Martin Luther King provided to American democracy; I think that it would be great to attempt to present Malcolm X in the same light. With more research would come a better understanding of his impact. However, the one thing that I do personally enjoy about Malcolm being misunderstood and misinterpreted, is that he is accessible to anyone who wants to learn more, and because of his nature, he has not been co-opted by what he calls “American dollarism”, similar to the corporate image that Che Gurevera now represents.
This book, on a practical level, could help incite a new movement for reparations. I think that since Malcolm was one of the most ardent proponents of reparations of Black people globally, that there could possibly research that would pragmatically lay out how to institute reparations for all people of color. Although, I think that reparations would be the best way to provide democracy for all people of color, I do not think that the actual struggle would obtain results. A campaign for reparations would be mostly symbolic. By this, I mean that it could really draw to light that economic disadvantage that people of color face everyday. I think that it would really show the most blatant nature of white racism- from liberals and conservatives. And it would also be one of the best ways to show the extreme flaws in the system of capitalism.
On a judicial level, I think that this book could also help to bring to light that assassination of Malcolm X, very possibly was by the FBI and not the Nation of Islam. I think that more research and investigation will prove this to be true. As it is more than likely that “The Black Muslims were set up by the power structure to be immediately blamed for the crime” (97). Although I think a throughout investigation into the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X would lead to the FBI having involvement, I think that because the culture of apathy that we are currently living in, that very few people would actually care; therefore, any investigation would have to remain symbolic instead of pragmatic.
Malcolm X’s impact on the Black masses is difficult to comprehend, due to the predominant misconceptions that exist about him in popular culture. Malcolm taught that no one should “have to suffer peacefully” and when one does it is nothing but foolish (Clarke, 74). Political, cultural and economical- Malcolm X was a revolutionary, and was an uncompromising figure of the Black liberation movement. His greatest impact, in the authors opinion is that ”Vicariously through him, some Negro men got up off their knees for the first time in this lives and touched their manhood as if it were a new Christmas toy” (Clarke, 67). It can be reasonably argued that so long as systems and institutions rob groups of people of their basic right to dignity, people will resist and leaders will emerge. I am curious to see what the next Malcolm X will look like and am excited for the capabilities another uncompromising figure for the current times.

Huntington and Global Politics

April 20th, 2006 (09:06 pm)

Global politics- in the form of global conflict is one of the most difficult problems to pose solutions to. Community conflict can easily be solved by the members affected, however as the scale gets larger, the problem becomes much more complex and difficult. There are many schools of thought available that explain and provide solutions for global conflict, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. Scholar Samuel P. Huntington’s book Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order seeks to explain that “people's cultural/religious identity will be the primary agent of conflict in the post-Cold War world.”(Huntington, 13) Although this theory of international relations seems sound, it is not. The Nation writer Edward Saids’ article Clash of Ignorance critiqued this theory for the reason that the term “civilization” is far too broad of a category to put people inside of for explanatory purposes. Political Science professor Seizaburo Sato piece The clash of civilizations: A view from Japan states that "Huntington is not only inaccurate or wrong in some of the historical facts he presents in his analysis, but his thesis has the potential to be extremely dangerous if taken as a prescription for making policy." This theory is a convenient view of the world because it ignores some very essential parts of global conflict mainly that of the effect of imperialism. It can easily be concluded that imperialisms latest inception is globalization. Both of these factors are not considered in to Huntingtons’ critique of global conflict. When one pays little mention to imperialism and class conflict in the scope of world political theory; the theory empty is at best and a dangerous at worst. If the impact of globalization is not put into the political lens, then one can press any agenda, mainly that of apologizing for war and exploitation on a mass level, writing off capitalist gluttony merely as a natural conflict between civilizations.
Huntington’s ideological roots need to first be looked at in order to understand how he came to the political conclusions that he did. During the cold war, the state of global conflict was seen through the lens of a conflict of ideologies. This means that the main sources of tensions felt between nations were that of western liberal democracy versus communism. Implying that of a clash of ideologies, in which global policy was formed to accommodate. Results of this can be seen in the United States policy towards communist countries such as trade embargos in Cuba, the Vietnam War, and a constant state of cold war with other communist nations. Huntington’s political science career was emerging during the cold war. In 1968 he wrote Political Order in Changing Societies in which he goes against the typical modernization theory that non-industrialized nations can achieve liberal democracy as they modernize. The Yale Book review states that in Political Order, Huntington "argues that order is the most important characteristic of states. Order is threatened when the level of mobilization exceeds the level of institutionalization within a society." This served as an alternative to Modernization theory, also known as development theory which was a very accepted theory as a substitute for Marxism. Modernization theory provided solutions to non-industrialized nations that were capitalist in nature. According to Yale Book Review, Political Order is now required reading for many political science graduate students and is considered a scholarly classic. His thesis is very controversial because Huntington shows a consistent fixation on order as opposed to true democracy and his writing shows his theoretical desire of functional institutions as opposed to human freedom. Knowing the ideological roots of Huntington and the times that he grew in his intellectual career helps explain how he came to form the theories of global conflict in Clash.
It is generally agreed that the end of the Cold came with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall. However, political scientist everywhere attempted to explain what the crux of international relations would become. Francis Fukuyama “argued, “…the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”” (Huntington, 31). Huntington critiqued this argument as one that “is clearly far too divorced from reality to be a useful guide to the post-Cold War world” (Huntington, 32). He introduces that the new conflict will not be between ideologies, but that of civilizations. Clash defines a civilization as “the broadest identifications for people” that is a “cultural entity” and is all-inclusive (Huntington, 40-42). In short “People define their identity by what they are not” (Huntington, 67). Knowing the main points of Clash is important before discussing the critiques of Huntington’s thesis. There is a wide ranging debate about the content of Clash and Huntington’s controversial views, which come as no surprise for most political science scholars.
Moving from the technical flaws in Huntingtons’ argument will now open the door for the ideological implications of Clash. The late professor and literary critic Edward Wadie Said review of Clash, entitled The Clash of Ignorance was printed in The Nation magazine in 2001. Said sharply criticizes Huntington’s as one that is too broad in its definition of what a civilization is and can lead people and policy makers into a type of dangerous thinking. This thinking is “better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.” Huntington’s constant fixation on “the personification of enormous entities called "the West" and "Islam" is recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary.” This is a sheer indictment of the Eurocentric arguments that Huntington consistently sites throughout Clash. Since Huntington so often refers throughout his book of the “”unmistakable signs […] of a growing clash between the Judeo-Christian Western ethic and the Islamic revival movement”” to the point where there an assumption that a jealousy lies between nations, all envious of the super-powers of the United States (Huntington, 213) Huntington constantly affirms that there is “Asian assertiveness” and a “Islamic Resurgence” (Huntington, 20). Said states that; “Huntington writes that "the world's billion or so Muslims are 'convinced of the superiority of their culture, and obsessed with the inferiority of their power.'" Did he canvas 100 Indonesians, 200 Moroccans, 500 Egyptians and fifty Bosnians? Even if he did, what sort of sample is that?” The ideological trap of speaking in civilizations disregards that inter-mingling that all aspects and influences that societies have had on one another, Said provides a prescription for viewing global conflict with stating that “it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis.” Huntington’s thesis is not only too general to work as a analytical lens for global conflict but the real danger is that it is used as sound political policy making in the United States.
Throughout Clash it is assumed that the soon-to-be-enemies of Western civilization have been defined as mainly as Islamic culture and “Asian assertiveness” then it is implied that Western civilization needs “an international order based on civilization [which] is the surest safeguard against a world war” (Huntington, 321). However, it can be reasonably argued that the threats and enemies to the United States and Western civilizations are subjective. Sato Seizaburo article The Clash of Civilizations: A View from Japan states that:
“It is still fresh in this writer's memory that until several years ago, Huntington was asserting forcefully that the worst threat to America in the post-Cold War era was Japanese economic power. Fortunately or not, his opinion has shifted, and today he sees the worst enemies as being China and the Islamic world. In the book now under review, Huntington emphasizes the need to develop links between Japan and the West, civilizations that are very different. Such a willful shift in the designation of principal enemies within such a short time span is concrete evidence of the extent of Huntington's confusion in defining what he means by "the clash of civilizations."”
With the subjective and changing nature of the West’s enemies, it should be taken with a grain of salt when books come out the attempt to define the new nature of global conflict. A good example is the current war with Afghanistan. It can hardly be debated that nearly 15 years ago, Afghanistan was an ally to the United States in the attempt to fight the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Now, the idea of Afghanistan being a potential ally in the war against terrorism is in no doubt absurd. Sato also states that “One serious fault of Huntington's analysis is that he ignores the possibility that while different civilizations that come into contact may clash with each other, they can also learn from each other, and may thereby revitalize themselves.” Since Huntington has a concept of Western superiority, his text assumes that Western civilization, amongst others are according to Said “sealed off entities” which if applied to policy making, would remove all self-criticisms from Western liberal countries. Sato states “If the leadership of a major power--particularly of the United States, the only remaining superpower--were to accept this world-view and systematically adopt and implement policies based upon it, countries belonging to other civilizational spheres would be forced to take counter-measures, and this would in turn cause a series of interactions that would turn Huntington's propositions into self-fulfilled reality.” Sato gives his solution to the appropriate lens for global conflict would be to see it in terms of which countries are modernizing and which ones are not. According to Sato, the rate of successful modernization in developing countries will determine which countries will have problems with Western civilization. However; Sato, Said, and Huntington have failed to acknowledge that globalization as a primary agent in world conflict; which can also rob a theory of a completely accurate analysis. A critique of imperialism- in its inception of globalization will lead to a sound theory and will also lead to the development of more democratic institutions and practices.
Huntington states the concept of globalization in Clash once throughout his entire book (Huntington, 68). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) defines globalization as “the growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide through increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, freer international capital flows, and more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology”. Globalization can be seen in the context of scholar Immanuel Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory in which he provides a multi-level theory of international politics. According to Wikipedia,
“Wallerstein rejected the notion of a "Third World", claiming there was only one world connected by a complex network of economic exchange relationships -- i.e., a "world-economy" or "world-system", in which the dichotomy of capital and labour, and the endless accumulation of capital by competing agents (historically including, but not limited to nation-states) account for frictions.”
This theory can be compared to the modern dependency theory which implies that there in the context of capitalism, not every country can be successful and wealthy. Since capitalism relies on labor that is affordable and needs constant cheap, raw materials, it is necessary for weaker countries, normally ones that can provide cheap labor and raw materials, to produce products for consuming countries. This leads on an inter-dependence where wealthier countries are more likely to receive the benefits of globalization and poorer countries conditions are more likely to suffer politically and economically. There are more applications in seeing countries reaction to globalization as being a source for conflict than civilizations as being agents of conflict. One needs only to look at the resistance to globalization throughout the world to see that globalization is viewed as modern day imperialism. This is one issue that has managed to galvanize the global population on a major level. Huntington would like to believe that the super-power theory does not apply to the global perspective; however, it appears as if the masses across the globe would disagree.
Huntington contends that “The future health of the West and its influence on other societies depends in considerable measure on its success in coping with those [moral] trends, which, of course, give rise to the assertions of moral superiority by Muslims and Asians” (Huntington, 304). Huntington gives examples of these moral trends he perceives as being part of the weakening of Western society such as the destruction of the family unit- such as divorce rates and single families and a decrease in worker morale (Huntington, 304). However, if one just reads the news and looks at global protest on mass levels, it can be seen that it is not Westerners personal life-style choices that are galvanizing people, but a reaction to globalization. This reaction can be interpreted that nations have a desire for self-determination, a right to non-intervention, and the basic first class treatment that first world capitalist nations are allotted. Globalization has left many destitute countries worse before it found them. The author finds it important to note that although, theoretically capitalism in its form of globalization should remain apathetic to race, its pragmatic applications have continually put nations of color on the bottom while placing white nations on the top. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that when one works against globalization, they are also working under a broader framework against racism and class oppression.
Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations provides a theory for a world order that; instead of working towards democracy and human liberation, entails Western dominance on all other countries. The idea that the vague notions of civilizations are the crux of conflict will lead to a consistently defensive Western policy and will also pave the path for Eurocentricism. A better scope of reason is one that is bold enough to critique capitalism and globalization. The benefits of such may directly benefit Western countries and might provide them directly with sound democratic institutions; it is not a thorough global policy. The movement against globalization is one that needs to be taken seriously in the arena of international relations. More humanitarian systems outside of structure capitalism, globalization, and imperialism need to be explored in order to provide a world order that is based on respect, self determination and democracy for all.


Works Cited
1. Huntington, Samuel P. Clash of Civilzations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
2. "Clash of Civilizations." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Mar 2006, 22:17 UTC. 28 Mar 2006, 00:42 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=clash_of_civilizations&oldid=45616381>.
3. "Samuel P. Huntington." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Mar 2006, 04:44 UTC. 28 Mar 2006, 00:48 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=samuel_p._huntington&oldid=45218108>.
4. "Political Order in Changing Socities." Yale University Press. Yale University Press. 10 Apr. 2006 <http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300116209>.
4. Said, Edward W. "The Clash of Ignorance." The Nation 4 October 2001. 27 Mar 2006 <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20011022/said>.
5. Sato, Seizaburo. "The Clash of Civilizations: A View from Japan," Special Column on Huntington's treatise "Clash of Civilizations" : First of the Series (July 1997).
6. "Globalization." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 9 Apr 2006, 04:43 UTC. 9 Apr 2006, 04:49 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=globalization&oldid=47652951>.

from idea to movement after classical black nationalism

March 22nd, 2006 (01:00 am)

The concept of “from idea to movement” entails that the Pan-African movement had moved into a different stage and was now in a new time (115). In order become effective and keep up with a changing political climate- the movement had to come up with successful strategy to make their agenda palatable and accessible to other people. This included a new tactics, the ability to find what battles to pick and what causes to work on- that would advance their liberation in an effective way. In this groping stage the theoretical concept of power was introduced as means of attaining full citizenship in connection to their humanity, hence the familiar term “Black Power”. In an essence the Pan-African movement, mainly in the expression of Black Power tried to create “dual power”. Dual Power is a revolutionary concept of political work that actions must undermine the current oppressive state while working to build more libratory, alternative institutions. Pan-Africanism was able to adapt to cultural and political changes and was able to sustain leadership changes, which most political groups are unable to do. It can be argued that a revolutionary position did more for the advancement of Black people than reform did and this paper will seek to look at the work that was done by Pan-Africanist and the revolutionary character it developed.
Ras T Makonen’s Pan Africanism and the Rise of African Leadership introduces the leadership and the strategies that formed in the second wave of the Pan-African movement. Makonen geographical focus is in England and his strategic success is through reform and group organization. He introduces new groups such as the West African Student Union (WASU), the League of Colored Peoples (LOCP), the International African Service Bureau (IASB), and the International African Association (IAA) which helped the Pan-African movement transition into a new era and develop a new focus (207, 202). Makonen suggests that lobbying in England against the colonization of Africa was essential for the freedom of Black people (201). This is because England was one of the main colonial powers in Africa and it was “at the centre of things” (201). If Africa were to be free from colonization, then it would be able to develop statehood. This is reflective of the Pan-Africans push for autonomy and self-determination. Although the movement suffered from the racist treatment in England that made Blacks feel that they “were a spectator rather than a participant”, it was effective because Blacks lobbying in England made it become “the executioner of its own empire” (203, 202).
Makonen raises a good point with the push for statehood as a means for the advancement of Africa. In order for Africa to be a competitive power it first had to be removed from colonial power. However, I think it would have been more strategically sound if the leadership would have concentrated on building a movement in the continent of Africa while lobbying in England. Makonen makes little mention of governmental plans for Africa, which can easily be interpreted as the movement not having stable plans for Africa. For instance if Pan-African leaders were working to educate and empower the peoples of Africa, I think that citizens of Africa would have been more able to build democratic systems and would have been able to be a considerable threat to colonial powers. It should be noted too, that Africa obtained freedom from colonization not because of its militancy or the benevolence of Europe but because it was a financial burden after the Second World War. This is just to show the dead-end that reformism can lead groups that are working for human liberation. The movement spent way too much time trying to earn the respect of white people which in turn can lead to a movement being short-sighted, however; as Makonen states “they were very much men of their time” (206).
Makonen’s piece on Pan-Africanism helped my become more aware of the key figures of the Pan-Africanist movement while helping me get a better understanding of the ideas and structure behind the movement. I learned the difficulties that the movement faced, for instance becoming co-opted by white communist (205). I also learned that the goals were for the Black peoples to be considered as intellectual and cultural equals or as Kenyatta put it “to get certain things known about his people” (207). Makonen did a very good job in expressing the passion behind the movement, so much so, that you knew that the movement felt a sense of urgency for the humanization of African peoples.
Pan Africanism in Practice by Makonen shows the formation of racial Pan-Africanism in the idea of “racial self sufficiency” that reflected a revolutionary development of the movement. This radical shift was one that refused to be co-opted by white organizations, Makonen states that “The whole point of our creating first the IASB and the federation was to break with the age-old tradition of blacks depending on white organizations” (215). This was an important position to have so that the group could develop an agenda that was specific to the African condition. Makonen even pushed for a critique of pacifism and moralism when writing about the Mau Mau rebellion. He urges readers to take into account “the line that the savagery of white colonialism in Kenya begot the Mau Mau uprising” (216). Makonens’ arguments were brilliant in the sense that he has able to see what “the black problem was” and to keep focus on the connection between African liberation as one of the liberation of Black people across the globe.
Makonen once again was very articulate in his writings to the point where if the reader knew little about African history it was made clear the feelings and ideas behind the movement. I had not even known who Makonen was and knew just a little about the difference between first and second wave Pan-Africanism. It was interesting to become aware of the radical shifts and how important they were for the development in the push for Black freedom. I became more aware of the Mau Mau rebellion, the politics of C.L.R. James, the political history to African nations, and other groups that worked for Black liberation. Makonen’s pieces focused very little on the condition of Black people in the United States and focused more on the condition of people in Africa this might be related to one of functional problems of the Pan-African movement. This was the rift between Africans and African-Americans. And this rift led to a tension in the movement, which was addressed by Temple in her work Healing of Pan-Africanism.
Temples work provides a strategy for solidarity in Pan-Africanism. Temples approach to increase unity and productiveness Pan-Africanist is the acknowledgement of a destructive strain between Africans and African Americans due to the Diaspora. This is a complex problem that Temple explains as one of that the reason that:
“Africans and African-Americans collide [is] because of a general lack of accurate historical information, because of a lack of significant person-to person encounters, because of a legacy of guilt and remorse from the enslavement period, and because of a widely held African perception that regardless of alleged discrimination and decreased opportunity that African-Americans face in the United States, it is still a privilege to be associated with and to benefit from the modernized and “democratic” culture of the United States.” (232).
Temple proposes that their destructive disparity requires healing that will come about through better communication that “promotes the regeneration of kinship and solidarity” (237). Healing of Pan-Africanism is a very easy read because she gives pragmatic and solid examples of a complex problem that I had no idea existed. I had not thought of the effects of the Diaspora as one that would affect the relations and freedom of Africans and Africans-Americans. Her analysis of one the movements’ obstacles are extremely important and she is able to address complex problems while providing realistic solutions. By acknowledging the technical problems behind the full success of the Pan-African movement, Esdebe’s article From Idea to Movement shows how the Pan-African movement dealt with these problems and how Pan-Africanism as a whole functioned.
Esbedes piece mainly concentrates on the many Pan-African conferences and how they affected the ideologies of Pan-Africanism as a whole. It can be summed up that from a broader picture earlier Pan-Africanism looked at citizenship in the United States as being a factor in the underdevelopment of Black people and colonization as being responsible for oppression and exploitation of Africa and Africans. This led to the idea that Black people “deserved the respect of the rest of humanity” and from there Pan-Africanist sought to redefine their culture and history, to show that the “negro race has a grand and noble past (118). This helped rid the backwards racist idea that white people made up to justify slavery and colonization. From redefinition led to the “Africa for Africans” and a “return to the source” which linked the culture and health of Africa as one that is reflective to that of Black people in the Diaspora. It was interesting for me to learn of oll the groups across the world that held this vision in one way or another. They existed in England in the WASU, France as Ligue Universelle Pour la Defense de la Race Noir, the NAACP in the United States, League of Colored Peoples and the UNIA in Africa and the Caribbean. Regardless of all the differences of politics and strategies it can be easily argued that the Pan-African Conventions in the 19th and 20th Century helped better the past perceptions of Black people, redefined history in a more humane manner, empowered Black people to demand rights and citizenship, and galvanize Black masses to work for their liberation. The Pan-African conferences helped bridge some of the gaps between Africans and Africans in the Diaspora. With that in mind, one can start to learn more about the development of Pan-Africanism in the United States.
The Pan-African Movement in the United States by Ron Walters contextualizes the manifestation of Pan-Africanism in the United States and how it related to and affected the broader movement. Walters defines the second wave of Pan-Africanism as one after W.E.B. DuBois died (145). After this time Pan-Africanism was in a “groping” stage in which leaders and organizations were trying to get a better understanding and clarity of their goals, purposes, and ideas; this “groping” stage was given leadership and direction by St. Clair Drake, Malcolm X and Stokley Charmichael (145, 146). New groups in the United States formed out of and through these leaders. These groups were the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Power Movement, Organizations of African Unity, and the Organization for African-American Unity. These groups were “anti- imperialist […] internationalist” and “revolutionary in focus” (148).
The concept of Black Power also emerged from these groups in which they sought to show “the relationship between the concept of Black Power and the new force of Third World Liberation” (148). A critique of capitalism and white supremacy in the United States was essential for forming the ideological base for action. Many leaders in the movement wanted it to be “oriented toward the working class and revolutionary in content” (154). However, there were Marxist and nationalist tensions throughout these groups and their leadership. Race not class seemed to be the burning tension in many groups, because at the time many other activist groups had a class based focus. Walters proves the concept of race as that of being of extreme importance by introducing Poet Haki Madhubuti. Madhubuti explains that “the historical roots of white supremacy […] predated capitalism and imperialism, white supremacy is a basic force in world history and in the United States quite without regard to the economic structure of the state” (154). Amidst the groping and tension the second wave of Pan Africanism can in the United States can be seen as revolutionary from Black brotherhood to that of “revolutionary comrade” (161).
Walters’ text was a very interesting and invigorating read. It was free from jargon and helped me contextualize American history and helped me develop a better understanding of Black history in the United States. I had known of leaders and the groups mentioned, however; I did not fully understand the impact these groups had on the development of Pan-Africanism. Walters’ piece helped my tie in the connection between the civil rights movement, Black Power, and Pan-Africanism. It was profoundly important for me to better understand that groups such as the Black Power movement and leaders such as Malcolm X were intellectuals and not just filled with rage. Walters shows to the reader that although there was a definite case for rage that the Black freedom fighters in the United States were based in intellectualism, had concise goals, and made sure that the ideologies of liberation were in every step of their actions. Walters pieces Pan Africanism in Brazil and the Anglo-Saxon Diaspora all help the reader develop a better understanding of Pan-Africanism, race politics, economics, and the socio-political function of white supremacy.
Pan Africanism in Brazil by Walters takes a look into the conditions of Black people in Brazil He introduces the work of .Abdias do Nascimento was one of the most important people in naming and explaining the problem with race in South America. Nascimento “founded the Experimental Black Theater” and from that “began to examine that nature of Brazilian racism” (164). His work on concepts race and cultural identity in Brazil began theoretical and academic approaches to the “Cultural Identity and Racial Democracy Myth” (165). Walters defines race politics in Brazil with those similar to segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa (165). The Brazilian government was a large figure in the slave trade and after legal slavery; the ruling class had finely developed concepts of racial superiority and democracy through racial separatism (166). The theories of “miscegenation” and “one-drop” policies “legitimized [the] practice of “racial democracy” (166). Through constructs of racial inferiority, whitening of a population or “embranqueamiento” led to the underdevelopment of Afro-Brazilians (167). The “socio-economic problems” Afro-Brazilians faced affected every part of their lives (168). These rights that were denied ranged from economic opportunities, life expectancy, education, full citizenship and the basic right to respect and dignity (168).Walters shows that there was a disparity in these rights and that they had a class face as much as they had a racial face. This racial face put Blacks on the bottom, whites on the top, and a varying treatment for those who lied somewhere in between or the “blanqueamiento” (169).
The political problems that they faced led to an organized and direct response to Brazilian racism that also carried a critique of sexism and class privilege. Figures such as Lelia Gonzales, Jose Correia, and groups such as Institute of Research on Black Culture, Nzinga Collective of Black Women, and the Unified Black Movement; led to Afr-Brazilians becoming more culturally aware, acting on pressing issues of prisons and police brutality, advanced the education of Afro-Brazilians and brought Black political issues to the public sphere (169-171). This work was generally revolutionary in character since it did not rely on government reform for salvation, as Walters states “An investment of organizing work in political parties dominated by whites is questionable. Blacks might be better advises to focus on the development of autonomous centers of Black politics with in the parties or outside that party system altogether” (173). These political groups and leaders were a “Prelude to Political Pan Africanism” in the sense that after the African Diaspora Festival in Brazil that Afro-Brazilians started to make a local and global connection of Black peoples freedom.
I knew absolutely nothing about the race politics of Brazil. It was not until I was in college that I really started to understand the effects and constructs of race in the United States, which has been challenging to critically learn about. From what I know so far about critical race theories and race as an oppressive political construct -Walters’s piece helped me solidify these ideas. I have also developed a better understanding of the connection to cultural invigoration of oppressed peoples as a catalyst for political change. Walters’s piece helped be learn about the Brazilian theater, song, and dance groups and these instances in Brazil are similar to other freedom movements that use their culture as a means of empowerment.
Knowing that race is a political construct that helps protect the power of the mainly white capitalist, I found it to be very amazing that Walters’ also addressed the construction of whiteness in his piece The Anglo-Saxon Diaspora: Britain and the United States. The purpose of this paper is to politically look at the construction of whiteness as a political category and “Pan African politics of both communities in their interaction with the dominant white population in each country” (175). Walters argues that Britain and the United States have both been key figures in maintaining the system of white supremacy (176). They have had “followed similar approaches to the question of race” in the development of “race relations” and in their policies of immigration (176). The rise of race relations in the form of racism has given people of color two options to gain a shred of their humanity, this is “to conform or to be excluded” (176). The paradox is that conforming is meant for people of color to conform to the status quo that denies them their basic human rights and excluded means either physical violence, death, intimidation, or imprisonment; which, from a logical standpoint- are not really choices at all (177-78). The “conform or exclusion” policy in the United States was a condition that European Americans also suffered as well. However, due to the political construction of whiteness, Europeans were allowed to gain access into white democracy and people of color were not (179). This is still the covert policy in the United States and Britain. Walters does a good job at making the connection to white supremacy as being a problem not just in the United States. I think that it was really important that he brought to surface the plight that many European immigrants had when immigrating to the United States. This is important since it is known that race is not biological but was something that was created and that has formed into a functioning political institution. It is also important to look at the treatment of citizens of the United States as in that the people who were kidnapped and brought to America were treated worse that the people who chose to come here. This political institution has been vital to the health of elites and has been detrimental on the basic rights of the vast majority. Walters helps the reader understand the creation of whiteness and that there has been a political response to that institution.
This issue of whiteness and blackness and physical appearances is important to look at to understand the political function of race. With Walters’s piece, it seems apparent that the same disrespectful and dehumanizing treatment is given to many immigrants of color in Britain. It appears as if people of color across the world that immigrate into white capitalist countries are treated with less dignity that whites who immigrate (180). A comparative look can be made with the varying degrees of whiteness that exist in Brazil that determines in the large scope who will have quality of life and who will not (167). This has been seen in Brazil’s policy of racial democracy and can be seen in the United States white democracy. Both of these places it seems to be that these racist democracies problems are “hidden in the definition of class conflict” and not seen as one affecting another. Both pieces by Walters are essential in looking at racial democracies so people can work against these institutions since they are not true democracies and dehumanize a large base of people that live in them. I think that both of these pieces can point towards a new abolitionism, where people work against white supremacy because not only is it in the interest of humanity and cooperation.
The second wave of Pan Africanism was one that took on a more revolutionary tone. This focus attempted to remove the colonial powers in Africa, fought for citizenship and human rights of Black people in the in the Diaspora, built alternative institutions such as schools, in protest of the oppressive ones. In relation to the pragmatic work the second wave of Pan-Africanism underwent a cultural revolution as well. This is because it brought fourth a vision of Black people that was one that had a rich, vibrant past. A healthy vision of the past helped them establish an image of the African that was dignifying and that empowered Blacks to work for their freedom. Although there were obstacles in their work, they were able to focus on the goal that the unity of Africans everywhere is essential to the freedom of Black people. This vision can be taken and applied not only to the condition of Black people but also to other oppressed peoples around the world. When people work against white supremacy I think that they will find that the work also is linked in anti-capitalism and in conjunction with grassroots systems that nurture the human spirit and develop relations based on respect, mutual aid, cooperation and individuality.


Works Cited:
1. Makonen Ras T. Pan Africanism and the Rise of African Leadership. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
2. Makonen Ras T. Pan Africanism in Practice. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
3. Temple. Healing and Pan Africanism. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
4. Esedebe. From Idea to Movement. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
5. Walter, Ron. The Pan African Movement in the United States .Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
6. Walters, Ron. The Anglo Saxon Diaspora: Britain and the Untied States. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
7. Walters, Ron. Pan Africanism in Brazil. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)

Pan-Africanism

February 16th, 2006 (12:53 am)

Human history shows that when people live under oppressive situations will resist; and they will work for their liberation. The history and present condition of Black people is that of victims and survivors of white supremacy. Although there is much more to Black people than of their roles in racist societies, this paper will concentrate on the Black experience of white supremacy. In response to slavery and white racism the ideology of Pan-Africanism was formed for and by black people across the globe to work for their human and civil rights. This was a broad movement that encompassed a large portion of time- so much so that in order to accurately understand this movement it is important to be familiar with its roots, its definitions and its key figures. With this knowledge- people will be able to more accurately understand the Black experience in the modern era and become more aware of the condition of Black people. Knowledge is a key factor in inspiration which can lead to effective liberation for all oppressed peoples.
Pan-Africanism was rooted in the early ideas of Black nationalism. Introduction by William Jeremiah Moses familiarizes the reader with the history and key figures of classical Black nationalism from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Classical Black nationalism as an “ideology whose goal was the creation of an autonomous black nation state [...] usually in Africa” (1).Throughout the text Moses attempts to point to the reader the aspects of classical Black nationalism as an ideology that has “God at the center” mixed with ideas of “religious optimism” that is “accompanied by a belief of consanguinity [and] endogamy” (3, 4, 5) .Like Pan-Africanism- classical Black nationalism came as a reaction to the “segregation and subordination of the African American population” (35). Moses’ concludes the United States has little hope to become a society in which race will not be a political oppressor and that since there is little action to make equal opportunity a realty and that “racial separatism […] will continue to divide the African American people from other Americans, and that feelings of African American racial separateness will frequently find expression in black nationalism” (35). I agree with this point whole heartedly because of the brutality that Black people have experienced in the United States still carries on today is yet to be effectively dealt with. There has been little effort by white Americans to create an atmosphere for people of color to fully express their humanity and receive full citizenry. In order for democracy to be appealing to many oppressed peoples, it has to be one that is radical in the sense that it is freedom and citizenship for all.
The information that I took in from introduction is that of the actual term “classical black nationalism” and how it fits into the general framework of Pan-Africanism. Upon my decision to take a course in Pan-Africanism, I did not even have a clear definition of what it was/is; therefore I think that Moses’ Introduction was the perfect first reading. This is because it is comprehensive, incredibly readable and interesting. It gave me a better understanding to the phenomenon of race in the United States and an even better understanding of liberation struggles. After a comprehensive look is made at classical Black nationalism, it is important to expand the breadth from history and figures to the spiritual look at Black nationalism so one can obtain a better grasp as to the lifestyle values and codes of conduct that was at the core of Pan-Africanism.
African spirituality had many applications for the survival of black peoples in the Diaspora and it was also an inspiration for the formation of liberation struggles. The Spiritual Roots of Pan-Africanism by Johnson gives the reader a good grasp of the connection between African spiritual and religious values, Christianity and the lost history between Native Americans and African slaves. African tales such as the Ibo tribes The King Buzzard and the story of Gullah Joe illustrate the moral meaning and “reflect[ed] not a New World religious concept, but, rather, African ones” (3). “Christianity complemented the African religious and cultural practices widespread in Africa, which encouraged insurrection” amongst slaves (7). Example such as slave revolt Amistad in 1839 and the ‘Back to Africa’ movement to Liberia as having strong ties to Christian beliefs with African slant (5). Christianity was the religion that white slave owners used to strip the African of his/her identity, however; the African peoples used Christian principle and applied them for their own liberation. Many believed “the destiny of the African people [was] to be led to a glorious future through Christianity” (9).
Many of the core values of Pan-Africanism are rooted in the connection between West Indians/Native Americans and African slaves. I had not previously thought about the connection between Indians and African slaves until this piece and it helped me understand American history more comprehensive way. Johnson states that: “23-33% of African-American have Indian ancestors” (11). Such a large correlation between African American and Native American genetics led to the transferring “value[s] on the environment” their “[rejection in] the pursuit of materialism” with a vision of an “economic system based on cooperation” and the anti-capitalist view of “kinship not ownership” (12). Johnson does not necessarily have a political argument here but instead seeks to present history and spirituality in a way that can be considered revisionist. This bias is important because scholars need to recognize that history has been presented through the scope of the white capitalist. Therefore, if one works towards true freedom and liberation, a revisionist slant in American history is necessary. Johnson’s article serves as a complement to Moses’ Introduction because they both give the reader a true foundation of the history of black liberation before Pan-Africanism formed. Both were easy readings in the sense that they used stories as examples and put the key figures in Black nationalism in a light that made it interesting and easy to follow. Following these articles one can start to now look at what Pan-Africanism is and that is when research becomes a little more complex and academic, in the sense of reading difficulty.
What is Pan-Africanism? An attempt at definition by Geiss presents exactly what the title states: definition. The Pan-African movements experienced many changes in growth, leadership, structure and encompassed so many different regions that making a solid definition out of its vastness that Geiss states that it “can best be approached historically”(3). Pan-Africanism “stands for the economic, technological, social and political modernization of a whole continent” (5), thus the health of African and its peoples are directly connected to the health of all black peoples of the world. What I took from Geiss’s piece is that the movement as a whole can be described as a reaction to slavery and the dehumanization of black people. The ultimate solution to the problem of racism was the unity of all black people. I thought the text was written in more of an academic language than one that would be interesting and accessible to non-academics, however based on my other readings, it helped me learn more key figures such as George Padmore, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois (11). What is Pan-Africanism helped me learn the integral role that the West Indies played in the development of Pan-African theory because the “West Indian was particularly brutal and oppressive, and became a model for slavery throughout the African continent” (10). Geiss’s text helped me realize that Pan-Africanism can be looked at not only in the context of a movement is not just action and thought but can be looked at through the context of history and literature. Defining Literary Pan-Africanism by Temple attempts to put a literary spin on the Pan-African theory and its development. Temple’s literary critique was framed well and was easy to understand as he made it very clear that he was attempting to look at Pan-Africanism in literary terms.
Pan-Africanism as a literary movement has an appropriate purpose to inform the reader of the contributions writers made to Pan-Africanism and to also show that Pan-Africanism welcomed and harbored scholarly activism. Defining Literary Pan-Africanism introduced African writers Olaudah Equiano, Kwame Nkurmah, Tom Mboya and Ezekiel Mphahlele in the context that all were very concerned with the “relationship between continental Africans and the Africans brought to America”(5). African writing in the Pan-African time attempted to “improve communication between Africans and African-Americans” while also attempting to be accepted in the scholarly field of literature while also proposing the idea of “African-centered scholarship” (4, 10). With improved communication between black people internationally and acceptance of scholarship, it in no doubt helped the effectiveness of the struggle for freedom.
Temple gives just a slight introduction to scholar activists in the Pan-African movement, which leads the reader to become more intrigued with the contributions of W.E.B. Dubois, George Padmore and Walter Rodney and their impact on Black liberation and on academia. All three scholars brought a new definition of democracy that was radical in the sense that it questioned and critiqued capitalism, white supremacy and imperialism. The Pan Africanism of W.E.B. Dubois by Manning Marable seeks to present the scholarly contributions Dubois made, and deems him as the “Father of Pan-Africanism” because “he was one of the few American scholars who encouraged others to take an active interest in the cultural, economic, and political history of the African people”(75, 80). Dubois’s Pan-Africanism was one of “Africa for Africans” which encouraged the African peoples’ self-determination and a statement that directly attacked white imperialism and African-Indian and African-Americans romanticism with the Garvey theory of “Back to Africa” (80). Manning’s message and argument is that Dubois’s contributions to politics are of helping redefining democracy as one of a peoples radical democracy and not a white-liberal democracy, which by understanding what true democracy is, readers are more able to critique American democracy and democratic institutions. The Pan-Africanism of W.E.B. Dubois helped me understand the concrete contributions that he had made to the movement and helped me understand him outside of just the founder of the NAACP. I did think the writing was dull and the writer did not try to actively engage the reader of the richness and depth of Dubois’s accomplishments.
A better understanding of Dubois’s intellectualism and how it has contributed to the humanization of academia; it is essential to look at other radical academics contributions such as George Padmore. George Padmore as a Prototype of the Black Historian in the Age of Militancy by Tony Martin seeks to show how Padmore as a scholar helped humanize history particularly historical scholarship of “Black History thought by Black Scholars from a Black Point of View” (155). This view of Padmores’ was a great strategy for freedom because when people are acting against oppressive powers and fighting for their citizenship and human rights, it is essential that they carve out academic, personal and political space for themselves and their people. Martin message was that Padmore was successful in providing this space and his success can be seen in the resistance of other white scholars “which caused many of his books, scholarly and otherwise, to be banned from colonial territories as unsavory propaganda” (158). I was very unaware of the contributions that Padmore made to history and was very excited to have a missing piece of black history and scholarship puzzle completed. Martins writing helps uncover the black scholars- particularly Padmores’ contribution to activism and to democratic theories- which is essential to the politics of liberation. Martin’s article was very informative however it is reasonable to assume that Martin had wrote his piece on Padmore for academic historians and was filled with lots of historical facts. Therefore was relatively dry and awkward.
Another revolutionary scholar whose contributions are immense was that of Walter Rodney. The article: Walter Rodney: A Pan-Africanist Historian by Lansine Kaba examines the role of Walter Rodney’s historical scholarship and its revolutionary applications. Kaba argues that the political work of Rodney created a dual power in the sense that it undermined the oppressive powers that be while empowering the people that were oppressed- one that “proved[ed] the historical basis of the search for this rigorous ideology of liberation” (50).. Rodney’s politics were communist in nature, such that he believed that “The control of labor, the ownership of the land, and the differential access to trade and consumer goods became the criteria and symbols of social differentiation.”(51). However, he was able to transcend the typical class only theories of communism into a critical race theory that had a “Marxist analysis” but was in a “clear language, free of jargon, and accessible to the general public” (49). His scholarship was vastly important to “African historiography” and he was able to move showing how greatly he was able to move from ideas to action. Personally, I knew almost nothing about Caribbean liberation struggles and very little of Walter Rodney, this article and further ones that will be covered in this text, helped me better understand the concepts and figures of the black freedom movement, while also strengthening my opinions and critiques of capitalism, white supremacy and theories of democracy. All of the research done one Rodney has led me to the conclusion of the brilliance and danger a freedom fighter, like Rodney, faces- since Rodney was assassinated by the oppressive powers that he fought against.
Walter Rodney and the Restatement of Pan-Africanism in Theory and Practice by Robert A. Hill covers the dynamic aspects of Rodney’s work that reflected true praxis and one that led to a more effective Pan-African movement. Rodney was able work helped with the “building on the [revolutionary] consciousness” of Black people across the globe and equipped many Black people with an ‘awareness and potential for the transformation with in the Caribbean region” (77). Because of Rodney’s work in the Caribbean led to “his career as a revolutionary and a scholar […] Pan-Africanism was no different from other ideologies of struggle” (78, 79). Rodney’s work in Pan-Africanist theory development was to bring the idea that “the overall struggle was against imperialism” and that since his role was that of a “revolutionary scholar who himself was always “connect[ed] to the point of struggle”” (95).
The movement of Pan-Africanism and classical black national theories provided spaces for black people across the globe due to the Diaspora. However it was a theory made by people in the Diaspora and not by Africans. Once theories are implemented into practice the foundation of the theory can be shaken and exposed for its faults. Pan-Africanism: The African Diaspora and the Reality of Africa by Akah examines the detrimental faults Pan-Africanism that Pan-African ideology had on Africa. Akah states that the problem is with black intellectuals and nationals across the globe because
“rather than really addressing the deep seeded and concrete problems experienced by many poor Africans in villages and towns all over the continent, the focus of these black elites was primarily the West. The first theme of Pan-Africanism as outlined does not stem from within Africa, this theme emerged as a response to white racism. Rather than use their brilliance to find ways of helping African people develop viable, sustainable and equitable political, economic and social structures, valuable energy was expended having a debate with the ‘white’ world trying to proved to it was it actually means to be a black human being” (20).
This statement causes one to wonder about the applications of theories especially when they involve other nations. Pan-Africanism could have been more effective of a movement if the energy seeking validation from white supremacist capitalist was used on the development of their people. The nature of the hierarchical structures, mainly that of what author bell hooks deems so eloquently as “the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” is that dominant forces has no interest in humanizing the oppressed or granting rights to the majority of the people, because it has not and never will serve their interest. Therefore, Akah raises the point of defining what actual self-determination is and why the concept of self-determination is essential for human liberation. An example can be seen in the dual power that Rodney was able to achieve in his works, hence with Guyana’s free elections. Because Rodney believed in the self-determination of the people in Guyana, they were better equipped to empower and govern themselves. Akah calls for more effective movements to be done through non-hierarchical and elitist structures with respect to the autonomy of other cultures which is an effective tactic that Rodney implemented by going out into villages in Guyana and talking to people about their history and their roles as citizens who actively make history. Rodney lived where he worked and worked in the places he wanted to change. That is why he was so effective. It can reasonably be argued that is also why the oppressive powers that existed at the time had him assassinated. Both articles about Rodney were an easy and accessible read because I felt that the both of the authors were personally passionate Rodney’s beliefs.
Rodney’s politics are still as applicable now as they were then. For example the television show CaribNation recently interviewed two scholars Dr. Rupert Louis and Dr. Rupert Roopnarine about the political work of Rodney and the desire that people still have to bring to justice those who killed him. The interviews with both scholars show that the repression that Rodney felt was because of his effectiveness. Instances of that are of his assassination, the banning of his books in Jamaica, and the general difficulty Rodney had finding work. By watching the CaribNation show you can get the feel for the tremendous impact that Rodney had, however, unless you are familiar with the political development in the Caribbean it can be difficult to follow. Despite my general lack of knowledge of the history of the Caribbean, it was made clear to me what a incredible revolutionary that Walter Rodney was.
The movement of Pan-Africanism was a direct reaction to the white supremacy, mainly in the form of slavery and imperialism. It provided political, historical, and cultural space for Black people in the Diaspora and in an essence gave equipped Black people with the proper tools for their liberation. The need for Black unity is as important today as it was during the time of slavery since Black people across the globe are still oppressed and in the modern era racism and white supremacy has taken new form. By studying the struggles of Pan-Africanism people can become more aware of the Black experience, see the movements strategic and ideological errors and build a new movements that is empowering and democratic for all peoples of the world. By developing better concepts of oppressed peoples’ history, we can become more aware of a future that is radically democratic and that embraces the humanity of all.

Works Cited:
1. hooks, bell. Feminist Theory from Margin to Center. Massachusetts: South End Press, 1984, 2000.
2. Moses, William Jeremiah. Introduction. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
3. Johnson. The Spiritual Roots of Pan-Africanism. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
4. Geiss. What is Pan-Africanism? An attempt at definition. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
5. Temple. Defining Literary Pan-Africanism. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
6. Marable, Manning. The Pan Africanism of W.E.B. Dubois .Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
7. Martin, Tony. George Padmore as a Prototype of the Black Historian. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
8. Kaba, Lansine. Walter Rodney: A Pan-Africanist Historian. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
9. Hill, Robert. Walter Rodney and the Restatement of Pan Africanism. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
10. CaribNation Television Programming. Date: unknown. Host: David Hinds. Guests: Rupert Roopnarine and Dr Rupert Louis. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)
11. Akah. Pan Africanism: The African Diaspora and the Reality of Africa. Arizona State University: Pan African Course Reader (2006)

Des Colures:

February 1st, 2006 (12:02 am)

Today was a really interesting day at the office. I got in and started working on my DRC presentation regarding raising the minimum wage and why it relates to homelessness. I have personally done the research and I am now ready to make an argument that it sound and eloquent. I am glad that I have done this research because it gave me a new lens as to what the homeless population is and that it is not just people that are addicted to drugs and that are mentally ill. It is almost a silent majority of people that are part of the working poor AND that are still homeless- which is absolutely absurd.
After that I attended the meeting for the Interfaith Worker Justice group where we talked about ballot strategy and then the union struggle of Chas Roberts’ workers. The Chas Roberts Company is one of the largest contractors with the housing developers in the state of AZ and has many offices in Hawaii and Mexico. They gross about 137 million dollars per year and spend about 2-3 thousand dollars per worker per year in hiring union-busting attorneys and consultants. The complaints of these workers is that they are not being paid for the hours they work, they are paying for insurance and not receiving coverage, they are not being able to take lunch breaks, are forced to work with out water and then when they complain about it they are intimidated or fired. The smaller complaints, which I think are still valid but not nearly as gross in negligence, are the culture of fear in the workplace, race relations between white bosses and Mexican workers, injuries sustained while on the job, being trapped in the wage and position that they are in, no raises, extreme pressure to work fast and not provide quality work and that the bosses call them names. When the union formed at Chas Roberts and when the bosses fired people for their union activity, they also called in unarmed police to come and escort them out. I have had a critique of the polices involvement of upholding the current status quo, which is that of – what scholar bell hooks deems as “a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” and that critique was solidified once again.
It was interesting because the shop steward for the Chas Roberts workers introduced himself and then stated that “Slavery today see’s no color”, I think it was misguided, because slavery has and it still does. There was not one white face of the people striking also there was not a black face. Which is interesting thinking about Chicano workers in the United States in relation to Chinese workers in the 1800’s and the enslavement of black people. Still going to show that white bourgeoisie supremacist still have a stranglehold in the United States and we have been duped into thinking that the color and class line does not exist. Other group politics that I felt worth mentioning was that there was also a color line in the IWJ meetings with white upper class clergy serving poor brown folk. Although I think that it is admirable that these people are in one way or another, working against white supremacy by putting their privilege to good use, it was still an interesting dynamic of activism and the color/class line. To get back to the point, the sheet metal worker representative stated that all channels and attempts to work with the bosses have been exhausted and at this point they will only let them talk with consultants- whose main communication tactics have been avoidance and intimidation. Therefore IWJ and the strikers decided to go down to the office of the main boss/proprietors: Robert and Cissy Shanks. We went down there and they snuck out the back door. We stated that we would wait until they came back. A consultant came out and stated that they would not be meeting with us and neither would they consider a meeting if there were people in the office and that we also were taking up too much lobby space for customers. We made adequate space but stayed in the building. The consultant once again said that if we all went to the street, he would consider a meeting with one of two representatives. Consider. We said that was not good enough. He said that we were trespassing. We said requesting a meeting hardly constitutes as trespassing. He called the police to remove us. The police removed us, none arrested, I went home.
I thought a lot about WEB Dubois’ theory of the talented tenth. This is the concept that since only 10 percent of the population is able to go to college, etc. and since universities and colleges are state funded mainly by working peoples taxes, folks that go to college are ethically bound to serve the other 90%. This means when we are done, we go back to the trailer parks, back to the barrio, back to the neighborhoods we have grown to understand or want to understand and work as agents. I cannot figure what would be the right application of this since I am so weary of the white bourgeoisie in their ability to really “serve” the working 90. I guess that is something all of the talented tenth and working 90 should come together and discuss.

Planned Parenthood and Feminist Strategy

February 1st, 2006 (12:01 am)

There were a lot of great aspects of interning for Planned Parenthood which makes the duty of describing the internship an easy one. My duties and responsibilities as an intern were to assist the public affairs department. My main responsibilities were establishing and maintaining a communication log for the group, Parents for Responsible Sex Education. This included setting up meeting space, keeping and reporting meeting minutes, responding to media and member emails. I also worked lightly with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a 501c(4) group whose sole purpose is to run candidates and maintain the financial health of Planned Parenthood. I attended a couple of Action Fund meetings, where my purpose was to not to participate but to keep and report minutes. I also worked on a social marketing research project with the Family Planning Coalition. This research was to find out the basic public opinions of family planning services.
My work environment was comparable to a typical office, and therefore, it was typical to deal with office culture. By office culture, I mean the same problems every office has with politics, gossip, friends, and people who are just indifferent to one another. The PPCNA administration offices were the same make-up as any other office with individual offices for the employees and cubicles for the interns and volunteers, a large conference room and a nice break room that you could easily cook a meal in. We had the same resources available as any other office as well which included a research library, access to Guttmacher; which is the Planned Parenthood research portal, great computers, phones, and very qualified, experienced staff.
The skills I acquired from this internship will be applicable throughout my career and my political science education. I learned better knowledge of campaigns and elections in Arizona this was because when you are an advocate for the pro-choice position, it is essential that you find political candidates that will support that position. I spent many hours researching candidates, working on strategies for running pro-choice politicians, and organizing phone banks to work against certain bills in California. I feel because of the fast-paced and quick changing environment at PPCNA, I now have a better ability to write press releases and letters on demand, which was a skill I was severely lacking once I started. I feel that I have better networking abilities that will help me advance my career as a political scientist. There were nice curves in my growth and development as an intern that constantly changed throughout the semester.
I went through a lot of changes in my internship. I was expecting at first to be coached through a lot of things and more or less just serve as an assistant to Erin and Michelle. However, I quickly learned that I was going to have to jump into everything and learn the ropes myself. At first, I was acting more as an office organizer. I would spend about half of the day filing, cleaning offices and folding letters. I decided that since I was an unpaid intern, that I would let them know that I would really like to learn something from this experience aside from the best way to index files. From there, Michelle and Erin started giving me all kinds of responsibilities and more or less just let me work out the details. I liked being able to deal with ambiguity on my own and I feel that my ideas and contributions were much appreciated. I was now known in the office as that girl who gets things done. I was very scared of being accountable. Meaning that if I messed up on something, that it wasn’t just me who had to deal with the consequences, but my actions were that of PPCNA. To cover myself, I made connections with proof readers, asked a lot of questions and I never tried to pass myself off as anyone but an intern. By asking for more responsibilities, I was more able to critically evaluate PPCNA as a whole.
On the primary level, the most important thing I learned is that I do not wish to pursue a career with Planned Parenthood. I felt throughout the entire time that the work I was doing to socially galvanize people was ineffective. I admire and respect that actual work component of PPCNA in the sense that they are the only organization providing affordable health care to women and are the main voices for healthy sexuality, however, I felt that their tactics in the administration were ineffective. I started there not knowing just how much that the pro-choice perspective relies on politicians and lobbyist to carry out their goals. I felt the entire time that I was working without a sense of urgency, yet we had a campaign to create a sense of urgency. In my opinion, Roe v. Wade will not be overturned; therefore, an effective strategy is not through legislation in my opinion, but one of extremely effective social marketing. Although it was Michelle and Erin’s responsibility to come up with effective marketing strategies, I think that social organizations need someone who specializes in marketing, mass communication and is passionate about carrying out the mission of PPCNA.
To get a better look at my frustration with the strategy of PPCNA, I think it is fair to look at the organization and the responsibilities of my mentors to understand that it is just my opinions of effective organizing and not necessarily to show the PPCNA is ineffective. Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona promotes strong families, planned, and wanted children and sexual health for all. Therefore the services provided at PPCNA are Abortion Services – which include Medical and Surgical abortions, Birth Control: Pills, Condoms, Depo-Provera, etc.; Birth Control without Pelvic Exam , Cancer Screening (Pap Test) Emergency Contraception (which is also known as EC and the morning after pill), Annual Exam, HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling, Male Health Services, Menopause/Midlife Services, Pregnancy Testing and Counseling, Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing & Treatment. Since almost every aspect of peoples lives is legislated, and since women’s clinics have come under terrorist attack, it is important to note that working for the organization, might not be overtly political, but it is very much so political. Therefore PPCNA and the Planned Parenthood Federation have political and social wings aside from the health services provided to help them work out their political goals. I worded in the administration office under Michelle Steinburg and Erin Manning in the public affairs department. We worked on everything that has to do with the public face of PPCNA. This means that we had our hands in about every aspect of the office, which was a real strength for the office setting and one of organizing. The weakness of the position was that there is some financial health of Planned Parenthood, but not enough for Erin, Michelle and me to carry out our goals for the company. Therefore, we were forced to deal with things as they come, which I believe keeps the department from carrying out its long term goals. I think the office setting itself, aside from having basic office supplies, was very limiting in aiding the public affairs department in carrying out its goals. For instance, the idea of encouraging sexual health for all, involves galvanizing people and not having a top-down structure. If the goal of sexual health is to equal empowerment, then it is important that it is from a grassroots level. In the context of a 501c(3) office that doubles as a 501c(4), there is no room for bottom up organizing. I do not have an adequate solution for this problem; however, being an idealistic outsider, this I think is the real problem behind not adequately being able to incite social change. I think that this kind of work requires a nice and organized bureaucratic structure; however, it is part of my personal limitations to see this as just a small part of activating social change. I think my strengths that I had to lend at PPCNA were my abilities to be efficient, creative, idealistic, passionate, and the fact that I am an outsider. I think one of the best ways to see an organizations pure strengths and weaknesses is to be an outsider for a short amount of time. My limitations were that I want to see real social change, not just trying to get bills passed and politicians in office, I think that work is limiting because it is not creating dual power and it is working for concessions, instead of building a movement that challenges the notions of gender and sexuality. Therefore, my passion also worked as a weakness because I found myself becoming frustrated throughout the semester and I now have a completely different integrated perspective of Planned Parenthood, politics, and social change.
My time spent working at PPCNA has changed what I thought about politics because in retrospect, I think that I was very naïve to think that the basic goal of promoting health sexuality for all would be an easy task. I had thought that there are aspects of people’s lives that should be respected and that people’s right to privacy in their sexual affairs was common sense. However, there is so much political resistance to this idea. In my opinion, it is as if we are in a cultural war between a secular idea of sexuality and one of conservative biblical literalism. I have known that there are conservative groups out there that are very excited to tell people how to live their lives and basically do not see any social implications from having a fundamentalist perspective in legislation. For instance, at one point in time, I was sent by PPCNA to do research on the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP). In CAP mission statements their goal is to:
“1. Provide quality research and factual information to policy makers on vital issues affecting the family.
2. Equip concerned citizens and churches to be persuasive advocates for the family.
3. Be a voice for the family by communicating truth through the media.
We battle organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and gay rights groups that seek to destroy traditional families and traditional moral values. We have developed strong bonds with friends like Arizona Right to Life, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Arizona Families for Home Education, Alliance Defense Fund, and many others including local churches.
CAP has been selected and endorsed by Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family to be the Family Policy Council for Arizona. CAP is deeply grateful for Focus on the Family’s support through the provision of research, promotion, materials, prayers and guidance.” http://www.azpolicy.org/html/ourmission.html
My visit to the CAP conference, “Focus on the Family”, made me see that terms like family have been co-opted by the right and that it will be an uphill battle, in what can be defined as a cultural war, to associate healthy sexuality and family planning with family values. I have a good understanding of politics in general, however, this internship made me realize the importance of propaganda and strategy as a imperative part of politics and political organizing. What I experienced and learned through PPCNA relates to my understanding of politics now because I have never, until now, thought of the crisis in the United States as a “cultural war”. And now, as brash as the terms might be, I am positive that this term most effectively describes that current situation in the United States.
There were plenty of significant, surprising, and disturbing things that I learned through out my internship. The most significant thing that I think I learned was that, in the realm of sexual education, for adults and teenagers, we have a long way to go. When I worked on the research project with the Family Planning Coalition, we had found a lot of discrepancies in what people knew and what they think they knew. For instance, there was a good amount of reluctance to accept Emergency Contraception (EC) as being safe for over the counter use. What is interesting to me is that most people do not know that EC is just 4 birth control pills in one dose. So, if they knew that, I think that most people have a general acceptance to birth control, and would not oppose EC for over-the-counter use. Therefore, with this just being the basic of the research, I know that education as being crucial is a very important aspect. My evaluation of our current political system has been unchanged. I have had the same ideas of bottom-up movement building and that legislation is not nearly as important as changing cultural attitudes. Now these opinions are more solidified and my passion has been ignited again. I had been saddened to think that in this society, most people do not have an interest in politics, therefore, it the legislation component is not important since with good propaganda, you can get almost anything passed. I still have a very cynical view of the American political system and I think that as I continue to pursue my education, I think will remain unchanged in that aspect. My evaluation of my political science education has been changed because now I think of political science in a very broad sense. By this I mean that politics encompasses not only legislation and law but that of movement building, social attitudes, lifestyles and mass communication. Politics is everything and are everywhere and now that idea in my mind has been solidified as well. It seems to me that political groups and politicians will have their hand in every aspect of everything in the world. Therefore, whatever people do in their lives is affected my politics, whether they like it or not.
I learned a lot through my internship about politics, my education, organizing and a lot about myself. I think that I will be able to effectively apply these experiences in my education and in my political science career. I can now write letters and press releases on demand, I know a lot more about research methods, the Arizona political structure and a lot about school board political workings. I think that the people at PPCNA were able to provide me with a rich learning experience to the best of their ability. In the small sense, I have no room to critique PPCNA as a whole. However, I think that if I could change something about the experience I would have liked to have more constructive time. For instance, I would have liked to spend more time working on building legislation and talking with our paid lobbyists. I also would have liked to have had better coaching. I felt a lot of my time there I created most of my work and more or less flew by the seat of my pants. I would have like to have had better structure as to what I was going to learn and better feedback on how I was learning. On a positive note, I think that this gave me a better sense of dealing with ambiguity, which will be applicable in all aspects of my future career as a political scientist. The last thing I would have hoped for was to see actual positive social results from the work I was doing and the work that PPCNA does as a whole. I think that if people saw the effects of their work we would see a lot less cases of burn-out and cynicism. However, with the powers that be, I think that all people working towards healthy sexuality would be lying to themselves if they did not know how long they have to go.