Posts Tagged ‘racism’

A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn


I recently finished  A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn, which is a graphic novel adaptation of part of his larger book A People’s History of the United States. The book covers the history of American “adventures,” from the indian wars and the American domination of the continent marked by the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 to the invasion of Iraq and Afganistan following 9/11. One general comment of mine is that I was surprised to learn that American corporations had been for so long tied into American imperialism and general warmongering. For example, the invasions of the Phillipines and Cuba in 1898 were encouraged by american business interests…

This book to me reinforces the value of “people’s history,” which I would define as the telling of history through the actions of average people acting in extraordinary ways against state or military power. As opposed to conventional history, which seeks to make forgotten the stories of the people who were there on the ground. Lately, in my studies of the Canadian working class during the years 1930-36, I have been amazed by how little I (and presumably that average person) know about what actually happened to average people during this time. Or more so, shocked by the incompassionate, selfish, violent, and occasionally murderous actions of the political class and their main weapon, the RCMP.

On Malcolm X

From October 29, 2007:

“Am reading Malcolm X Speaks (George Breitman, Ed.) and while I feel awkward reading it and being white, I am captivated by the truth he speaks, which I imagine is why he was silenced. It is reminding me of what I have heard from Ward Churchill, and also of the slogan “speak truth to power”** I just read a good passage by Malcolm X, his analogy of the march on Washington to black coffee:

“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep. This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it. They didn’t integrate it, they infiltrated it…

**I now think that this slogan is naive, after reading an article by Chris Floyd where he says:

I have always disliked this phrase “speaking truth to power” (although I’m sure I’ve lazily employed it myself on several occasions). No one needs to speak truth to power: power knows the truth well enough, it knows what it is doing, and to whom, and why. What we need, most desperately, are people who will speak truth about power, and speak it to people who might not have heard that truth through the howling cacophony of media diversion, corporate spin and political manipulation.”