Thursday, June 30, 2016

Don't miss discussion of Black Hollywood unChained and Color Struck


Discussion of Black Hollywood Unchained, San Francisco Public Library, Saturday, July 3, 1:30-3:30PM

Some of you know that last year, Third World Press published Black Hollywood Unchained. Edited by Ishmael Reed, the book contains a collection of critical essays by various authors around the country in reaction to Quentin Tarentino’s movie Django Unchained.
On Sunday, July 3, 1:30-3:30 pm, several of the authors will participate in a panel discussion at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch to discuss the impact of Django Unchained as well as other Hollywood movie depictions of African-American life. Included with author presentations will be a time for questions and answers.
Along with Ishmael Reed, other participants include Halifu Osumare, Cecil Brown, Marvin X, Justin Desmangles, and myself.
If you’re in the Bay Area that weekend, hope you can make it.
Jesse Allen-Taylor
 
 
 

Black Bird Press News & Review: Blacks doubt the USA will ever achieve racial equality

Black Bird Press News & Review: Blacks doubt the USA will ever achieve racial equality







If
Blacks don't believe racial equality will ever be achieved any time
soon, what is Plan B? Or should we just stand around with our penis
and/or pussy in hand and hearts racing, waitin' fa Jesus to step off the
mothership bearing the gift of racial equality? What about getting off
our black behinds to do something for self since it is clear we are in
the house of a liar and murderer and what wife would continue to live
with a husband she has discovered is a liar and murderer. If she
remained, would she not be considered an accomplish to said liar and
murderer? 




Do
for self means self-determination and sovereignty, independence,
nationhood, land, somewhere on this earth where we can live in freedom,
justice and equality as Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad taught us. 




Since
Black America is among the richest nations in the world, we can buy
several states and establish the Republic of New Africa. Or we can
separate from these liars and murderers as Pakistan did from India. How
many more generations of our children do we want to raise in this land
of devils who are heartless, greedy, jealous, envious bastards of the
worse kind, even to their own kind. While visiting the South, people
repeatedly told me they treat dirty white trash worse than they treat
nigguhs! And the dirty white trash are so ignut they would die before
they became a nigguh. What did Chris Rock say, "I'm a rich nigguh but
don't no white man want to be Chris Rock!" 




So
forget white supremacy America, just like you would divorce yourself
from an abusive partner. Grab your children and run for your life! Allah
said, "If you flee in My name you will find many places of escape and
abundant resources." The reason you won't consider my words (I'm only
repeating what our ancestors and elders taught us) is because you are
addicted to white supremacy Type II (Dr. Nathan Hare, foreword, How to
Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, Marvin X, Black Bird
Press, Berkeley). If you are ever able to detox and enjoy long term
recovery, you will regain your mental equilibrium and see clearly what
I'm trying to get into your thick skull. Elijah asked, "Why do we love
the devil?" Answer: because he gives us nothing! You voted for Obama but
got nothing. You will vote for Hillary and get nothing, and you will
love nothing like a hog loves slop! You kill each other daily over
nothing. He kills you daily over nothing. You live a nothing life and
love it because you are addicted to the world of make believe. And you
wonder why your children are wild and crazy. You send them to the enemy
schools to become savages, wild and crazy, then you wonder why they come
home from schools, colleges and universities hating you and everything
you're about, even though they don't really know what you're about
(Amiri Baraka) because they have been taught to hate you no matter what
you have done for them, no matter all your sacrifices to keep them alive
in this hostile environment with these devils wearing suits and ties
and smiling faces.


--Marvin X

6/29/16

Counterpoints: Working on a theory about Orlando by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor


WORKING ON A THEORY ABOUT ORLANDO

A CounterPoints Column 
By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
For expert fiction and non-fiction editing consultation, email me at safero@earthlink.net

Among so many other lessons to be learned from the mid-June mass-murder shooting at Pulse, the Orlando LGBT club, is a caution against locking ourselves into assumptions and conclusions before enough information is gathered and known. Now that a few weeks have passed since the horrific event, and the initial furor has cooled off a bit, we can more easily see where some of those early assumptions and conclusions wrong.
Many—including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump—shut off all further analysis once they learned that the lone American-born shooter was a practicing Muslim, had an Arabic name—Omar Mir Seddique Mateen—and that he had both identified himself as an "Islamic soldier" and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (commonly known as either ISIS or ISIL) in 911 calls he made in the midst of the shootings. From that moment on, many declared the Orlando massacre to be an act of "radical Islamic international terrorism."

In addition, many of our more conservative friends concluded that the tragedy might have been averted had there been either "some" or "more" armed security inside the club itself. 
Of course, there was always an alternate theory that the American-born Mateen was less motivated by radical Muslim theory than he was by traditional American-bred homophobia. And within a day or so of the shooting, evidence emerged—though it has still been not been fully substantiated—that he may have been a self-hating gay, and that the public allegiance to ISIL might have merely been a way to paste on a higher motivation to the shooting and cover up conflicted feelings about his own sexuality.

In addition, timelines released by several news outlets showed that an armed off-duty Orlando police officer was working at the club, and engaged in a shootout with Mr. Mateen before Mateen entered the nightclub, and that two on-duty officers entered the club within minutes and exchanged gunfire with the shooter, forcing him to retreat to a bathroom.

But even though some of this information was available within hours of the first reports of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, it was ignored in many minds because it included facts that conflicted with convenient conclusions already drawn.

Jumping to conclusions has probably been one of humanity's favorite pastimes since we first came upon this earth. But that human tendency has escalated in American life especially—on both the left and the right—since the rise of social media as our primary news-gathering medium and national discussion forum. This is in part because if one doesn't enter into the conversation early, and with a strong opinion one way or another, the conversation rapidly passes you by. Two weeks, a provocative tweet Facebook post about the Pulse shootings would have gotten you scores, and perhaps hundreds, of replies. Post something about the shootings now and you may get a small discussion, but more likely you'll generate no more than a reply or two and then silence, as most people have moved on to new things.

Another incentive for drawing an early conclusion is that it relieves one of the responsibility of thinking through what to do about something that has disturbed you. Pick a pre-determined cause, and along with it comes a pre-determined set of actions or attitudes to take in response. In the first few hours following the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, for example, popular opinion in America had labeled it an act of foreign-inspired Arab/Islamic terrorism. I recall that after Timothy McVeigh, a young white American Army veteran, was captured and identified as the bomber, one of the national news outlets interviewed a somewhat befuddled older white woman, asking her about her reaction to the McVeigh arrest. " I don't know what to think, I'm all confused," she replied. "Now I don't know who I'm supposed to hate."

But such confusionment—if that be a proper word—does not have to be. Some years ago, while I was a reporter for Metro weekly newspaper in San Jose, I was assigned to a story that demonstrated to me both the value of waiting before concluding and both a way to bring it about.

Late one weekend night in the winter of 1998, the African-American head of the San Jose State University Black Student Union was discovered lying unconscious in a deserted open-air hallway in an off-campus housing complex, having suffered a severe head injury from a possible assault while talking on a pay telephone. Lakim Washington was a militant and highly vocal leader for Black student rights on the SJSU campus, and had clashed with university administration officials and with a number of white students, including his two white roommates, in the months prior to the assault.

Within hours, leaders of the San Jose State BSU charged that Washington had been the victim of a racially-motivated attack. Although there were no known witnesses to the attack, and Washington himself could give no information because he fell immediately into a coma, my editors at Metro believed the charge. I believed the charge, and was assigned the story, essentially, to provide evidence that it was true.

The problem was, as hard as I tried, I could find no such evidence. No witnesses came forward. Washington came out of the coma, but reportedly could not remember anything about the attack, and his family would not allow reporters to interview him in the hospital where he was recovering. In addition, representatives of the university police began spreading the story that there had been no attack at all, but that Washington had hit his head on the concrete walkway after suffering an epileptic fit, even though he'd had no prior history of epilepsy.

Eventually I turned in a story that presented the Washington assault as an unsolved mystery where a racial attack had been charged but not proved, and which the university police seemed reluctant to investigate. A few days after the article was published  ("Violent Night" Metro newspaper, January 22, 1998), a young woman read it, called the police,  and reported she had information that Washington had actually been assaulted by her boyfriend, an African-American, after the two men had argued over the use of the telephone. In other words, despite the early and "obvious" conclusion of a racial component by so many people, including myself, race had absolutely nothing to do with the assault.

In other words, despite all the first assumptions by so many people—myself, my editors, and members of the SJSU BSU—after first hearing about the Lakim Washington assault, there had been no racial component to that incident.
It was during the Lakim Washington investigation and story that I began to formulate guidelines for guarding against such premature conclusions.

First, work from a "working theory" rather than a conclusion when you don't have enough facts in hand about a particular situation. This is more than just semantics. A conclusion demands defending and is difficult to change because you have committed yourself to it, even when the actual facts eventually prove otherwise. A working theory is just that, a theory. It is presented as a possibility, not as an established truth, is not necessary to defend, and is more easily modified if need be.

Second, continue to collect facts and modify your theory as necessary as new facts are presented.
Finally, use any newly-discovered facts to try to disprove your working theory, rather than trying to prove it. When you try to prove a theory—or a conclusion—you tend to ignore everything that disproves it. But if you work to disprove your original theory, it is easier to see the flaws in it and modify that theory or abandon it altogether, if necessary. On the other hand, if you honestly try to disprove your working theory and find you cannot, it makes it more likely that your original theory was correct.

Using this formula, one could generally start off with the theory that given America's history, any situation involving more than one race in this country is likely to have race as one of its factors, to a greater or lesser extent. But after that, all other possible factors should be taken into account to see if their presence might, in fact, disprove the theory of a racial cause.

Using this method of theorize-and-attempt-to-disprove, its' entirely possible to conclude that there are not enough proven facts available about the Orlando gay nightclub shooting to draw a definite conclusion. It's still possible that Mr. Mateen's actions were inspired by his fundamentalist Islamic religious beliefs and the actions of such terrorist organizations as ISIL. It is also possible that either American-born homophobia or shame-of-being-closeted-gay were the determining factors. And it is possible that the ultimate cause was some combination of these factors or others yet unknown. But it's important to realize that such uncertainty is okay. One ought to be careful not to jump unless one knows where the danger is coming from and which location it is traveling to, lest one ends up jumping directly in its path.

Meanwhile, there's no magic to this method of working through our original theories. Much work has to be done to make it work, in almost every instance. Additional facts have to be ferreted out, sorted and resorted, and retheorized. We often have to throw out our most treasured prejudices. Sticking with pre-conceived notions is far, far easier on the mind, in the short run. In the long run, however, disaster can easily follow if the myths we have manufactured in our heads do not agree with the reality we face in the actual world.
That's my working theory, anyways.

The complete Hidden Colors


The Complete Hidden Colors Series ((BONUS -- 5 Free Digital Downloads by Dr. Boyce Watkins))

The Complete Hidden Colors Series ((BONUS -- 5 Free Digital Downloads by Dr. Boyce Watkins))

$99.99 $149.99

Hidden Colors is a documentary series about the real and untold history of people of color around the globe. This film series discusses some of the reasons the contributions of African and aboriginal people have been left out of the pages of history. Traveling around the country, the film features scholars, historians, and social commentators who uncovered such amazing facts about things such as: The original image of Christ; The true story about the Moors; The original people of Asia; The great west African empires; The presence of Africans in America before Columbus; The real reason slavery was ended And much more.

Please Note: The Complete Hidden Colors Series is a bundle of products that includes four (4) DVDs that will be shipped to you and FIVE (5) digital downloads that is available immediately upon purchase. 

Bonus Digital Downloads:

  • Black American Money (E-Book)

  • Tariq Nasheed visits The Black Wealth Academy

  • What If George Bush Were a Black Man? by Dr. Boyce Watkins (E-Book)

The Complete Hidden Color Series is a bundle of products the Your Black World Network is offering as a tool to spark critical conversations in Black households throughout America.
The package, valued at $149.99, is on sale for $99.99 while supplies last.
Here's what the Complete Hidden Color Series includes: 
  • Hidden Colors: The Untold History of People of Aboriginal, Moor, and African Descent (DVD): Featuring Dr. Umar Johnson and many other influential scholars in Black America, sheds light on the untold stories that America's public school system would never share about African history. Some of the specific topics discussed are: the original image of Christ, the original people of Asia, West African empires, and much, much more!
  •  

    • Hidden Colors 2: The Triumph of Melanin (DVD): Featuring Dr. Claud Anderson, Dr. Umar Johnson, KRS-ONE, and many other notable activists in Black America, sheds light on the prison industrial complex, the downfall of thriving Black economic communities, Native Americans, and much, much more!
    • Hidden Colors 3: The Rules of Racism (DVD): Featuring Dick Gregory, Nas, David Banner, and many other influential voices in Black America, discusses modern-day plights of Black America due to institutional racism. The documentary explores how this approach to oppression is pushed through legislation to maintain control. 
    • Hidden Colors 4: The Religion of White Supremacy (DVD):  In this 4th installment of the Hidden Colors series, the film explores topics such as: The motivation behind European global subjugation The history of rarely discussed vast West African empires How germ warfare is used on melanated people The history of slave breeding farms in America And much more. (The release date for this film is June 7th, 2016.
    •  
    • Get Connected

      Contact Us

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      Ph: 315-308-1029  

    Neo-Griot: Inequality in the United States


    Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog


    economic policy institute


    The Unequal States of America





    Income trends have varied from state to state, and within states.
    But a pattern is apparent: the growth of top 1% incomes.
    Explore inequality in this interactive feature.
    $1,153,293
    Average annual income of the top 1%
    $45,567
    Average income of everyone else (the bottom 99%)


    25.3x
    The top 1% makes 25.3times more than the bottom 99%

    What you need to make to be in the top 1%: $389,436

    The top 1% takes home 20.1% of all the income
    in the United States.
    1% of the families
    income 01

    20.1% of the income
    income 02
     

    Inside the United States

    Metropolitan areas

    • Jackson, WY-ID is the most unequal metro area in the United States.
    • The top 1% there makes 213.0 times more than the bottom 99%.
    • Average income of the top 1% in Jackson, WY-ID is $19,995,834.
    • The average income of the bottom 99% is $93,891.

    Counties

    • Teton County, Wyoming is the most unequal county in the United States.
    • The top 1% there makes 233.0 times more than the bottom 99%.
    • Average income of the top 1% in Teton County, Wyomingis $28,163,786.
    • The average income of the bottom 99% is $120,884.

    See inequality numbers for all counties [+] or metro areas [+]

    Adapted from Estelle Sommeiller, Mark Price, and Ellis Wazeter, Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county, an Economic Policy Institute report published in June 2016. Data are for tax units (single adults or married couples), referred to in the report as families, and for 2013, unless otherwise indicated.

    >via: http://www.epi.org/multimedia/unequal-states-of-america/?utm_source=Economic+Policy+Institute&utm_campaign=a2d9b51854-EPI_News_06_17_20166_17_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e7c5826c50-a2d9b51854-58178541

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016

    Coming soon: Donald Lacy's play Color Struck, Laney College Theatre

     
    Some of you know that last year, Third World Press published Black Hollywood Unchained. Edited by Ishmael Reed, the book contains a collection of critical essays by various authors around the country in reaction to Quentin Tarentino’s movie Django Unchained.
    On Sunday, July 3, 1:30-3:30 pm, several of the authors will participate in a panel discussion at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch to discuss the impact of Django Unchained as well as other Hollywood movie depictions of African-American life. Included with author presentations will be a time for questions and answers.
    Along with Ishmael Reed, other participants include Halifu Osumare, Cecil Brown, Marvin X, Justin Desmangles, and myself.
    If you’re in the Bay Area that weekend, hope you can make it.
    Jesse Allen-Taylor

    Blacks doubt the USA will ever achieve racial equality



    Comment

    If Blacks don't believe racial equality will ever be achieved any time soon, what is Plan B? Or should we just stand around with our penis and/or pussy in hand and hearts racing, waitin' fa Jesus to step off the mothership bearing the gift of racial equality? What about getting off our black behinds to do something for self since it is clear we are in the house of a liar and murderer and what wife would continue to live with a husband she has discovered is a liar and murderer. If she remained, would she not be considered an accomplish to said liar and murderer? 

    Do for self means self-determination and sovereignty, independence, nationhood, land, somewhere on this earth where we can live in freedom, justice and equality as Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad taught us. 

    Since Black America is among the richest nations in the world, we can buy several states and establish the Republic of New Africa. Or we can separate from these liars and murderers as Pakistan did from India. How many more generations of our children do we want to raise in this land of devils who are heartless, greedy, jealous, envious bastards of the worse kind, even to their own kind. While visiting the South, people repeatedly told me they treat dirty white trash worse than they treat nigguhs! And the dirty white trash are so ignut they would die before they became a nigguh. What did Chris Rock say, "I'm a rich nigguh but don't no white man want to be Chris Rock!" 

    So forget white supremacy America, just like you would divorce yourself from an abusive partner. Grab your children and run for your life! Allah said, "If you flee in My name you will find many places of escape and abundant resources." The reason you won't consider my words (I'm only repeating what our ancestors and elders taught us) is because you are addicted to white supremacy Type II (Dr. Nathan Hare, foreword, How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, Marvin X, Black Bird Press, Berkeley). If you are ever able to detox and enjoy long term recovery, you will regain your mental equilibrium and see clearly what I'm trying to get into your thick skull. Elijah asked, "Why do we love the devil?" Answer: because he gives us nothing! You voted for Obama but got nothing. You will vote for Hillary and get nothing, and you will love nothing like a hog loves slop! You kill each other daily over nothing. He kills you daily over nothing. You live a nothing life and love it because you are addicted to the world of make believe. And you wonder why your children are wild and crazy. You send them to the enemy schools to become savages, wild and crazy, then you wonder why they come home from schools, colleges and universities hating you and everything you're about, even though they don't really know what you're about (Amiri Baraka) because they have been taught to hate you no matter what you have done for them, no matter all your sacrifices to keep them alive in this hostile environment with these devils wearing suits and ties and smiling faces.
    --Marvin X
    6/29/16

    Marvin X, aka Dr. M

    June 27, 2016- pewsocialtrends.org

    On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

    About four-in-ten blacks are doubtful that the U.S. will ever achieve racial equality
    -------------
    Many blacks are skeptical that the country will eventually make the changes necessary for racial equality
    Almost eight years after Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president –an event that engendered a sense of optimism among many Americans about the future of race relations1 – a series of flashpoints around the U.S. has exposed deep racial divides and reignited a national conversation about race. A new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white adults in their views on racial discrimination, barriers to black progress and the prospects for change. Blacks, far more than whites, say black people are treated unfairly across different realms of life, from dealing with the police to applying for a loan or mortgage. And, for many blacks, racial equality remains an elusive goal.
    An overwhelming majority of blacks (88%) say the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites, but 43% are skeptical that such changes will ever occur. An additional 42% of blacks believe that the country will eventually make the changes needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites, and just 8% say the country has already made the necessary changes.
    A much lower share of whites (53%) say the country still has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites, and only 11% express doubt that these changes will come. Four-in-ten whites believe the country will eventually make the changes needed for blacks to have equal rights, and about the same share (38%) say enough changes have already been made.
    Perceptions of how blacks are treated in the U.S. vary widely by race
    These findings are based on a national survey by Pew Research Center conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016, among 3,769 adults (including 1,799 whites, 1,004 blacks and 654 Hispanics).2 The survey – and the analysis of the survey findings – is centered primarily around the divide between blacks and whites and on the treatment of black people in the U.S. today. In recent years, this centuries-old divide has garnered renewed attention following the deaths of unarmed black Americans during encounters with the police, as well as a racially motivated shooting that killed nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
    The survey finds that black and white adults have widely different perceptions about what life is like for blacks in the U.S. For example, by large margins, blacks are more likely than whites to say black people are treated less fairly in the workplace (a difference of 42 percentage points), when applying for a loan or mortgage (41 points), in dealing with the police (34 points), in the courts (32 points), in stores or restaurants (28 points), and when voting in elections (23 points). By a margin of at least 20 percentage points, blacks are also more likely than whites to say racial discrimination (70% vs. 36%), lower quality schools (75% vs. 53%) and lack of jobs (66% vs. 45%) are major reasons that blacks may have a harder time getting ahead than whites.
    More broadly, blacks and whites offer different perspectives of the current state of race relations in the U.S. White Americans are evenly divided, with 46% saying race relations are generally good and 45% saying they are generally bad. In contrast, by a nearly two-to-one margin, blacks are more likely to say race relations are bad (61%) rather than good (34%). Blacks are also about twice as likely as whites to say too little attention is paid to race and racial issues in the U.S. these days (58% vs. 27%). About four-in-ten whites (41%) – compared with 22% of blacks – say there is too much focus on race and racial issues.
    Blacks and whites also differ in their opinions about the best approach for improving race relations: Among whites, more than twice as many say that in order to improve race relations, it’s more important to focus on what different racial and ethnic groups have in common (57%) as say the focus should be on what makes each group unique (26%). Among blacks, similar shares say the focus should be on commonalities (45%) as say it should be on differences (44%).
    About a third of white Americans say Obama has made race relations worse
    When asked specifically about the impact President Barack Obama has had on race relations in the U.S., a majority of Americans give the president credit for at least trying to make things better, but a quarter say he has made race relations worse. Blacks and whites differ significantly in their assessments. Some 51% of blacks say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations, and an additional 34% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Relatively few blacks (5%) say Obama has made race relations worse, while 9% say he hasn’t addressed the issue at all.
    Among whites, 28% say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations and 24% say he has tried but failed to make progress. But a substantial share of whites (32%) say Obama has made race relations worse. This is driven largely by the views of white Republicans, 63% of whom say Obama has made race relations worse (compared with just 5% of white Democrats).
    When asked about their views of Black Lives Matter, the activist movement that first came to national prominence following the 2014 shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, roughly two-thirds (65%) of blacks express support, including 41% who strongly support it. Among whites, four-in-ten say they support the Black Lives Movement at least somewhat, and this is particularly the case among white Democrats and those younger than 30.
    Roughly six-in-ten white Republicans say too much attention is paid to race these days
    Across the survey’s findings, there are significant fault lines within the white population – perhaps none more consistent than the partisan divide. For example, among whites, Democrats and Republicans differ dramatically on the very salience of race issues in this country. About six-in-ten (59%) white Republicans say too much attention is paid to race and racial issues these days, while only 21% of Democrats agree. For their part, a 49% plurality of white Democrats say too little attention is paid to race these days, compared with only 11% of Republicans.
    And while about eight-in-ten (78%) white Democrats say the country needs to continue making changes to achieve racial equality between whites and blacks, just 36% of white Republicans agree; 54% of white Republicans believe the country has already made the changes necessary for blacks to have equal rights with whites.


    How blacks and whites view the state of race in America

    There are large gaps between blacks and whites in their views of race relations and racial inequality in the United States. Explore how the opinions of blacks and whites vary by age, education, gender and party identification in key questions from our report.

    The economic realities of black and white households

    Racial gaps in household income persist
    Trends in key economic and demographic indicators provide some context for the experiences and outlook of blacks today. While there has been clear progress in closing the white-black gap in some areas – particularly when it comes to high school completion rates – decades-old black-white gaps in economic well-being persist and have even widened in some cases.
    The racial gap extends to household wealth – a measure where the gap has widened since the Great Recession. In 2013, the most recent year available, the median net worth of households headed by whites was roughly 13 times that of black households ($144,200 for whites compared with $11,200 for blacks).
    For most Americans, household wealth is closely tied to home equity, and there are sharp and persistent gaps in homeownership between blacks and whites. In 2015, 72% of white household heads owned a home, compared with 43% of black household heads.
    And on the flipside of wealth – poverty – racial gaps persist, even though the poverty rate for blacks has come down significantly since the mid-1980s. Blacks are still more than twice as likely as whites to be living in poverty (26% compared with 10% in 2014).

    Blacks and whites are divided on reasons that blacks may be struggling to get ahead

    Despite these economic realities, when asked about the financial situation of blacks compared with whites today, about four-in-ten blacks either say that both groups are about equally well off (30%) or that blacks are better off than whites financially (8%). Still, about six-in-ten (58%) blacks say that, as a group, they are worse off than whites.
    Among whites, a plurality (47%) say blacks are worse off financially, while 37% say blacks are about as well off as whites and 5% say blacks are doing better than whites.
    Blacks and whites with a bachelor’s degree are more likely than those with less education to say blacks are worse off financially than whites these days. Roughly eight-in-ten (81%) blacks with a four-year college degree say this, compared with 61% of blacks with only some college education and 46% of blacks with a high school diploma or less. In a similar pattern, about two-thirds (66%) of white college graduates say blacks are worse off financially than whites, while fewer among those who attended college but did not receive a degree (47%) and those who did not attend college (29%) say the same.
    Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to point to discrimination as a major reason that some blacks have a harder time getting ahead
    When asked about the underlying reasons that blacks may be having a harder time getting ahead than whites, large majorities of black adults point to societal factors. Two-thirds or more blacks say failing schools (75%), racial discrimination (70%) and a lack of jobs (66%) are major reasons that black people may have a harder time getting ahead these days.
    On each of these items, the views of blacks differ significantly from those of whites. But, by far, the biggest gap comes on racial discrimination, where only 36% of whites say this is a major reason that blacks may be struggling to get ahead, 34 percentage points lower than the share of blacks who say the same.
    The views of blacks and whites are more closely aligned when it comes to the impact that family instability (57% and 55%, respectively) and a lack of good role models (51% and 52%) has on black progress. However, the relative ranking of these items varies among blacks and whites. While whites rank family instability and a lack of good role models above or on a par with societal factors as major reasons that blacks may have a harder time getting ahead than whites, fewer blacks say these items are major reasons than say the same about lower quality schools, discrimination, and lack of jobs.
    Blacks are more likely than whites to say a lack of motivation to work hard may be holding blacks back: 43% of black adults and 30% of whites say this is a major reason blacks are having a harder time getting ahead than whites. 4

    More whites and blacks say individual discrimination is a bigger problem than institutional racism

    More see individual, rather than institutional, racism as a bigger problem
    On balance, the public thinks that when it comes to discrimination against black people in the U.S. today, discrimination that is based on the prejudice of individual people is a bigger problem than discrimination that is built into the nation’s laws and institutions. This is the case among both blacks and whites, but while whites offer this opinion by a large margin (70% to 19%), blacks are more evenly divided (48% to 40%).
    Still, large majorities of black adults say that blacks in this country are treated unfairly in a range of institutional settings – from the criminal justice system, to the workplace to banks and financial institutions.
    Roughly two-thirds of black adults say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites when applying for a loan or mortgage (66%) and in the workplace (64%). Somewhat smaller shares – though still upwards of four-in-ten – see unfair treatment for blacks in stores and restaurants (49%) and when voting in elections (43%).
    Across all of these realms, whites are much less likely than blacks to perceive unequal treatment – with differences ranging from 23 to 42 percentage points.

    Personal experiences with discrimination

    A majority of blacks (71%) say that they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Roughly one-in-ten (11%) say this happens to them on a regular basis, while 60% say they have experienced this rarely or from time to time.
    Among blacks, men and women are equally likely to report having personally experienced racial discrimination, and there are no large gaps by age. There is an educational divide, however: Blacks with at least some college experience (81%) are much more likely than blacks who never attended college (59%) to say they have been discriminated against because of their race.
    Experiences with racial discrimination are far less common among whites, but a sizable minority (30%) of white adults report that they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Only 2% say this happens to them regularly and 28% say it occurs less frequently. Whites who say they have a lot of contact with blacks are more likely to say they’ve been discriminated against because of their race than are whites who have less contact with blacks.
    Among whites, young adults, college graduates and Democrats more likely to say their race has been an advantage
    While some whites report being treated unfairly at times because of their race, the overall impact is relatively minor. Only 5% of whites say their race or ethnicity has made it harder for them to succeed in life. A majority of whites (62%) say their race hasn’t made much of difference in their ability to succeed, and 31% say their race has made things easier for them.
    College-educated whites are especially likely to see their race as an advantage: 47% say being white has made it easier for them to succeed. By comparison, 31% of whites with some college education and 17% of those with a high school diploma or less say their race has made things easier for them. White Democrats (49%) are also among the most likely to say that their race or ethnicity has made it easier for them to get ahead in life.
    For many blacks, the cumulative impact of discrimination has had a markedly negative impact on their lives. Four-in-ten blacks say their race has made it harder for them to succeed in life. Roughly half (51%) say their race hasn’t made a difference in their overall success, and just 8% say being black has made things easier.
    There is a sharp educational divide among blacks on the overall impact their race has had on their ability to succeed. Fully 55% of blacks with a four-year college degree say their race has made it harder for them to succeed in life. Some 45% of blacks who attended college but did not receive a bachelor’s degree say the same. Among blacks with a high school education or less, a far lower share (29%) say their race has made it harder for them to succeed. A majority of this group (60%) say their race hasn’t made a difference.

    About half of blacks say people have acted like they were suspicious of them

    About half of blacks say they’ve been treated like they were suspicious or not smart
    Unfair treatment can come in different forms. Roughly half of blacks (47%) say that in the past 12 months someone has acted as if they were suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity. Many blacks also report feeling like others have questioned their intelligence. Some 45% say that in the past 12 months people have treated them as if they were not smart because of their race or ethnicity.
    Roughly one-in-five blacks (21%) say they have been treated unfairly by an employer in the past year because of their race or ethnicity, and a similar share (18%) report having been unfairly stopped by the police during this period.
    Black men are more likely than black women to say that people have treated them with suspicion (52% vs. 44%). And they are more likely to say they have been unfairly stopped by the police (22% vs. 15%).
    Being treated with suspicion and being treated as if they are not intelligent are more common experiences for black adults who attended college than for those who did not. For example, 52% of those with at least some college education say that, in the past 12 months, someone has treated them as if they thought they weren’t smart because of their race or ethnicity, compared with 37% of those with a high school diploma or less.

    Among blacks, widespread support for the Black Lives Matter movement

    About four-in-ten black adults strongly support Black Lives Matter
    Most blacks (65%) express support for the Black Lives Matter movement: 41% strongly support it, and 24% say they support it somewhat. Some 12% of blacks say they oppose Black Lives Matter (including 4% who strongly oppose it). Even so, blacks have somewhat mixed views about the extent to which the Black Lives Matter movement will be effective, in the long run, in helping blacks achieve equality. Most (59%) think it will be effective, but only 20% think it will be very effective. About one-in-five (21%) say it won’t be too effective or won’t be effective at all in the long run.
    Blacks with a bachelor’s degree or more are among the most skeptical that the Black Lives Matter movement will ultimately help bring about racial equality. About three-in-ten (31%) of those with a bachelor’s degree or more education say that, in the long run, the movement won’t be too effective or won’t be effective at all, compared with about two-in-ten adults with less education.
    Granted, many blacks are skeptical overall that the country will eventually make the changes needed to bring about racial equality. But even among those who think change will eventually come, only 23% say Black Lives Matter will be very effective in helping bring about equality.
    For their part, whites have mixed views of the Black Lives Matter movement. Four-in-ten whites say they support the movement (14% strongly support and 26% somewhat support). And about a third (34%) of whites say, in the long run, the Black Lives Matter movement will be at least somewhat effective in helping blacks achieve equality.
    Among whites, larger shares of young adults, Democrats support Black Lives Matter
    Young white adults are more enthusiastic about Black Lives Matter than middle-aged and older whites. Six-in-ten of those ages 18 to 29 say they support it, compared with 46% of whites ages 30 to 49, 37% of whites ages 50 to 64, and 26% of whites 65 and older. Young whites are also somewhat more likely than their older counterparts to say that the Black Lives Matter movement will be at least somewhat effective in the long run (47% vs. 37%, 32% and 26%, respectively).
    Whites’ views on Black Lives Matter also differ significantly by party identification. Some 64% of white Democrats support the movement, including 29% who do so strongly. One-in-five white Republicans and 42% of white independents say they support the Black Lives Matter movement (4% of Republicans and 11% of independents strongly support it). White Democrats are also much more likely than Republicans and independents to say that the movement will ultimately be at least somewhat effective in bringing about racial equality (53% vs. 20% and 34%, respectively).
    When asked how well they feel they understand the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, blacks are much more likely than whites to say they understand it very or fairly well. Even so, about one-in-five blacks (19%) say they don’t have a good understanding of its goals, compared with 29% of whites. But general awareness of Black Lives Matter is widespread among whites and blacks: Overall, 81% of blacks and 76% of whites have heard at least a little about the movement, including about half or more of each group (56% and 48%, respectively), who say they have heard a lot.

    Many blacks and whites say community engagement is key to bringing about racial equality

    Blacks are more likely than whites to see dialogue, electing more black people and organizing protests as very effective tactics to achieve racial equality
    More than four-in-ten blacks (48%) and whites (46%) say that working with community members to solve problems in their community would be a very effective tactic for groups striving to help blacks achieve equality. But the two groups disagree about the effectiveness of some other tactics.
    In particular, while nearly four-in-ten (38%) black adults say working to get more black people elected to office would be very effective, just 24% of whites say the same. Blacks are also more likely than whites to say it would be very effective for groups working to help blacks achieve equality to bring people of different racial backgrounds together to talk about race (41% vs. 34%). Similarly, blacks see more value than whites in organizing protests and rallies, although relatively few blacks view this as a very effective way to bring about change (19% vs. 7% of whites).
    The remainder of this report examines in greater detail the public’s views of the state of race relations and racial inequality in the U.S. Chapter 1 looks at some key demographic and economic indicators where blacks have made progress or lag behind other racial and ethnic groups. Chapter 2 focuses on views about the current state of race relations and its trajectory, as well as the job Obama has done on this issue. Chapter 3 examines the extent to which Americans think the country has made – or will eventually make – the changes necessary for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites. It also looks at perceptions about the way blacks and whites are treated across many realms of American life. Chapter 4 focuses on what the public sees as effective strategies for groups and organizations working to promote racial equality and explores attitudes toward the Black Lives Matter movement and other organizations that strive to bring about equality for black Americans. Chapter 5 looks at personal experiences with discrimination as well as perceptions about the impact race and gender have had in one’s life. Chapter 6 describes the outlook and experiences of blacks, whites and Hispanics, particularly as they relate to personal finances.

    Other key findings

    • About half (48%) of whites say they are very satisfied with the quality of life in their community, compared with about a third (34%) of blacks. This gap persists after controlling for income. For example, 57% of whites with an annual family income of $75,000 or more report that they are very satisfied with the quality of life in their community; just 38% of blacks in the same income group say the same.
    • Blacks are far more likely than whites to say they have experienced financial hardship in the past 12 months. About four-in-ten (41%) blacks say they have had trouble paying their bills, and about a quarter (23%) say they have gotten food from a food bank or food pantry during this period. Among whites, 25% say they have struggled to pay their bills, and 8% report having sought out food from a food bank in the past 12 months.
    • Black men are far more likely than white men to say their gender has made it harder for them to get ahead in life (20% vs. 5%, respectively). Among women, similar shares of blacks (28%) and whites (27%) say their gender has set them back.
    • About eight-in-ten (81%) blacks say they feel at least somewhat connected to a broader black community in the U.S., including 36% who feel very connected. Blacks who feel a strong sense of connection to a broader black community are more likely than those who don’t to say that in the past 12 months they have made a financial contribution to, attended an event sponsored by, or volunteered their time to a group or organization working specifically to improve the lives of black Americans.
    • Majorities of blacks say the NAACP (77%), the National Urban League (66%) and the Congressional Black Caucus (63%) have been at least somewhat effective in helping blacks achieve equality in this country. Only about three-in-ten or fewer say each of these groups has been very effective, likely reflecting, at least in part, the widespread view among blacks that the country has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites.
    -----------------

    Terminology


    1. A Pew Research Center survey conducted shortly after the November 2008 presidential election among 1,500 voters found that 52% of all voters said Barack Obama’s election would lead to better race relations (including 49% of white voters and 75% of black voters).
    2. The survey includes an oversample of black and Hispanic adults. For more details about how the survey was conducted, see the Methodology section of the report. While the overview of the report focuses on the differences of opinion between black and white Americans, the views of Hispanics are presented throughout the remainder of the report. Due to small sample sizes, the views of Asians and other racial groups that make up a relatively small share of the U.S. population are not shown separately, but they are included in the overall numbers for all adults. Demographic data on Asians is analyzed separately in Chapter 1, which relies on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Median household income figures have been adjusted to 2014 dollars and are scaled to a three-person household.
    4. White responses to this item may have been affected, at least in part, by social desirability bias, or the tendency of people to give what they believe is the socially acceptable answer. In this case, 35% of whites who believed they were speaking with a white interviewer said lack of motivation is a major reason blacks may have a harder time getting ahead; about one-in-five (21%) whites who believed their interviewer was black gave this answer.
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    Black Bird Press News & Review: Marvin X thinking out loud on the OPD, Slavery, Global wars and the beauty of life in spite of ugliness

    Black Bird Press News & Review: Marvin X thinking out loud on the OPD, Slavery, Global wars and the beauty of life in spite of ugliness

    Book: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbiuktu by Joshua Hammer




    The Great Rescue in Timbuktu

    Abdel Kader Haidara in Timbuktu with ancient manuscripts from Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria, September 2009. Haider was instrumental in saving the manuscripts during the militant Islamist takeover of Timbuktu in 2012.

    The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

    by Joshua Hammer
    Simon and Schuster, 278 pp., $26.00
     

    1.

    On March 1, the International Criminal Court at The Hague formally charged Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, one of the leaders of the 2012 Islamist takeover of the Malian city of Timbuktu, with destroying the city’s cultural heritage—the first such international indictment. During June and July of that year, al-Mahdi took part in attacks on the mausoleums of Timbuktu’s Muslim saints, shrines that were deemed heretical under the strict Salafist religious code the occupiers tried to impose on the city. Using pickaxes, al-Mahdi and his group demolished the mud-brick buildings that had stood for five or six centuries and were central to Timbuktu’s rich cultural history. 

    Among the targets of al-Mahdi and his fellow jihadists was the fifteenth-century Sidi Yahya Mosque; the jihadists smashed a sacred door that, according to long-held beliefs, would remain closed until the world’s last day.

    The court’s decision to prosecute an act that victimized buildings, not people, says much about the West’s evolving response to radical Islamic jihad, and about the special significance of Timbuktu for the preservation of Islamic architecture and writings. In places like Afghanistan’s Bamiyan cliffs and the Syrian city of Palmyra, jihadists have tried to purge the historical record of what they regard as idolatrous or impure; both sites were mentioned by prosecutors at al-Mahdi’s hearing. Not mentioned there was another vicious act of destruction, aimed at the core of Timbuktu’s unique identity.

    As jihadis retreated from the city, fleeing a French intervention that began in the first weeks of 2013, they set fire to thousands of centuries-old books in the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. It was not the contents of the books the jihadis resented—many were in fact Korans, or Koranic exegeses—but apparently, as Joshua Hammer writes in his new book The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, the historical tradition from which they sprang: a golden age of literacy, learning, and intellectual debate at the heart of Islamic West Africa.

    Timbuktu was founded in the twelfth century by traders traveling along trans-Saharan routes and the great Niger River; its population was a blend of Arabs, Foulani, Songhay, and Tuaregs, and the city soon became a remarkably cosmopolitan and tolerant place. Income from tariffs, and from nearby salt and gold deposits, made it rich as well. Just as in Florence at the same time, merchants in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Timbuktu began spending their wealth on manuscripts—not the bound codices of Europe and Byzantium, but loosely gathered folios, their initial letters often beautifully illuminated, held together in leather folders or tied with string. Handwritten texts on both sacred and secular topics, mostly in Arabic but a few in Greek or Hebrew, flowed into Timbuktu from Egypt, North Africa, and Spain, soon followed by blank Italian paper for the use of native writers and copyists. 

    Learned debates on astronomy, law, and theology, and precious chronicles of otherwise unrecorded local history, were among the important texts. Private libraries flourished. In the late sixteenth century the great scholar and writer Ahmed Baba claimed that his collection of 1,600 volumes was small for its time.

    In Timbuktu as in Florence, large collections of written texts attracted scholars and men of letters to the city. At some 150 schools, there were debates on science, philosophy, and jurisprudence. Most of the schools were small affairs in which a few dozen students gathered at the home of an elder sage, but several, like that centered at the Sankoré Mosque, grew large enough to be called “universities.” The city’s most revered teachers, who were often also its most prolific writers, became figures of mystical power; many were credited with miracles. Their life stories were retold in hagiographic collections, and after death their tombs, following the Sufist practices that have long prevailed in the region, became sites of prayer and worship. As such sites multiplied, Timbuktu became, as one of its honorific titles still proclaims today, “the city of 333 saints.”

    This efflorescence of study and the written word lasted for over two centuries, as two successive West African states, the Mali and Songhay empires—both of which granted to Timbuktu a remarkable degree of autonomy—were able to maintain stability in the region. But internal divisions weakened the Songhay dynasty, and in 1591 a mercenary army sent from Morocco crossed the desert and conquered the city. Timbuktu came under harsh rule and the age of book production came to an end.
    Ahmed Baba, in the middle of his long career as a writer, was imprisoned for suspected disloyalty by the Moroccan rulers of West Africa; his library was plundered and dispersed. 

    But other manuscripts remained, preserved from decay by the dry Saharan climate and stashed away by families who, in many cases, no longer read or understood them. They remained in tin trunks and camel-skin satchels as Timbuktu declined into a place whose name came to stand for distance and inaccessibility. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries French colonial authorities took over local property. This made manuscript owners more wary and drove the texts deeper underground—in some cases quite literally, since burying them beneath the desert sand proved an effective way to protect them from termites.

    Few outsiders knew about the Timbuktu manuscripts when Mali became independent in 1960. But after a UNESCO delegation visited Timbuktu in 1964, the organization took steps to gather and preserve the scattered volumes. A manuscript library was established, named for the great bibliophile Ahmed Baba. It was this institution, along with many of the saints’ shrines in the city, that the jihadists who took over northern Mali tried to destroy in 2012 and early 2013 under the leadership of Salafist zealots, among them Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi.

    2.

    By then Joshua Hammer, a Berlin-based journalist who has written about Mali in these pages as well as for Smithsonian and National Geographic, had become intensely interested in the manuscripts. On an initial visit to Timbuktu in 2006, Hammer reported on efforts to collect and preserve them and met Abdel Kader Haidara, a leading staff member of the Ahmed Baba library. Six years later, the unassuming Haidara, responding to the pressures of the jihadist takeover of northern Mali, would turn out to be one of the heroic “bad-ass” librarians of Hammer’s title.

    Haidara’s father, master of one of Timbuktu’s many small, in-home schools, had collected manuscripts since well before the Ahmed Baba Institute was founded. He was continuing a family tradition that went back many generations. After the elder Haidara’s death in 1981, the executor of his will told a surprised seventeen-year-old Abdel Kader that he had inherited his father’s library, at that time stored in a set of footlockers inside a closet. Abdel Kader had intended to become a livestock trader, not a preserver of books, but he slowly accepted a responsibility for which he had felt no special calling.

    The director of the Ahmed Baba Institute, sensing that bibliophilia ran in the Haidara line, persuaded Abdel Kader to join his staff as a manuscript hunter. The institute’s collection began to swell, as did its reputation abroad. New funding, mostly from Middle Eastern governments hoping to preserve Islamic history, allowed Abdel Kader to be generous when buying books from the wary villagers. In one transaction with a Tuareg nomad, Haidara bought a trunkful of volumes for twenty times what the man had first asked for. By the next morning, Tuaregs from all over the region had dug manuscripts out of their hiding places and brought them, stuffed into skin sacks, to Haidara’s door.

    A chance visit by a television crew filming Wonders of the African World, a PBS -sponsored travelogue, brought Henry Louis Gates Jr. to the Ahmed Baba Institute, and suddenly new doors began opening for Haidara in America and Europe. Grants from the Ford and Andrew Mellon foundations funded new buildings where the manuscripts could be studied and preserved. Visitors began arriving, often having learned that a highly literate, scholarly culture had flourished for centuries in sub-Saharan Africa; many had assumed that writing had only arrived with European colonization. “These are books written by black people?” Gates had asked Haidara during his visit. He was assured that some indeed were. The exchange was later broadcast in the first episode of Wonders of the African World, and as the camera panned over shelf upon shelf of dusty folios, Gates commented: “The mind of the black world, locked into the pages of these priceless books…. Evidence of a great civilization, untranslated and unknown.”

    The very effort to gather and preserve the manuscripts only made them a more visible target when, early in 2012, a military force led by radical Islamists arrived in Timbuktu. Hammer traces the origins of that uprising and describes three of its leaders: Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Abdel-hamid Abou Zeid, both Arabs, veterans of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb ( AQIM ); and a Malian Tuareg named Iyad Ag Ghali, formerly the leader of a Tuareg separatist movement. An alliance between the Tuaregs and AQIM had created a powerful rebel army dominated by the three leaders. Rich with funds paid by European governments as ransom for victims of kidnapping, and having obtained weapons from Libyan arsenals after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, they were emboldened to launch a jihad against Mali’s democratically elected government. They hoped to found an ISIS -like state and attract militants from West and North Africa.

    This was not the first time that Timbuktu had faced a jihad. In the first decade of the nineteenth century in what is now Nigeria, the jihadist Usman dan Fodio established the Sokoto Caliphate, a powerful empire connecting thirty different emirates across much of West Africa. Timbuktu was not part of this empire; but inspired by the success and growth of the caliphate, the preacher Seku Amadu tried to establish his own jihadist empire and in 1825 conquered Timbuktu. During his reign European explorers were banned from the city. But the city’s milder, more tolerant strain of Islam, with its reverence for shrines and its love of annual festivals, prevailed. According to Hammer, when invading jihadis proclaimed their campaign of religious reformation in 2012, the imam of the Sidi Yahya Mosque said, “How dare you say you’re going to ‘teach us Islam’? We were born with Islam. We have had Islam in this city for one thousand years.” The jihad leader Iyad Ag Ghali responded by saying, “We’re going to have to replace the imams in this town.”

    Community leaders leaving a ceremony honoring Timbuktu’s Crisis Committee, formed the year before to mediate between the civilian population and the jihadists during the Islamist takeover, October 2013.

    Ghali interests Hammer as a case study in the often mysterious origins, both personal and global, of jihadism. His Sufi background, his fondness for music and Western-style dance clubs, and his purely secular devotion to the cause of Tuareg rights seemed to make him an unlikely convert to the Islamist cause. But missionaries from Pakistan convinced him to join Tablighi Ja’amat, a fundamentalist movement advocating strict adherence to their interpretation of the Prophet Muhammad’s tenets. Ghali abandoned music and began practicing a harsh asceticism. In late 2007 he took a post at the Malian consul in Saudi Arabia in order to be near the Great Mosque. There, he adopted the views of al-Qaeda. Both Manny Ansar, a close friend in Mali with whom Ghali had once shared a passion for music, and the American ambassador Vicki Huddleston futilely tried to persuade Ghali not to become an ascetic radical jihadist. Hammer, for his part, feels unable to explain Ghali’s decision.

    Before his transformation into a holy warrior, Ghali had helped organize a concert series in the Malian desert, and that event led to the yearly musical festival outside Timbuktu at a village called Essakane. Hammer devotes one of his best chapters to the events of 2012, when that year’s festival closely coincided with the launching of the rebel campaign that would, within a few months, threaten Malian territory as far south as the capital, Bamako. During the preceding decade Essakane, where artists like Robert Plant and Jimmy Buffett jammed with native Tuareg bands, had inspired talk of a Woodstock in the desert. “Swords turn to guitars,” wrote the MTV founder Tom Freston in Vanity Fair after attending the 2007 festival. But radicalized Tuaregs and many Islamists had come to regard Essakane as a “Sodom and Gomorrah” of alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex. By 2012, when Bono performed there—arriving, as Hammer writes, in a well-appointed private jet, “a cocoon of privilege, wealth, and celebrity”—the perimeter of the festival had to be protected by armored vehicles and elite troops.

    Was the Malian government’s support of this and other music festivals, and of Western tourism, a cause of the attempted Islamist takeover? Hammer stops short of saying so, but his juxtaposition of Essakane’s success with the launch of the rebellion suggests that it may have had a part. After a joint performance with the Tuareg band Tinariwen, Bono climbed back into his luxury jet, proclaiming that “music is stronger than war.” But Iyad Ag Ghali and his new Arab allies were at that moment preparing an assault on a remote army camp to the north. Ghali’s forces captured and executed ninety government soldiers and started an aggressive advance toward Bamako. Mali’s president, Amadou Touré, was ousted in a military coup in March and the country descended into chaos. Unwilling to undermine Timbuktu’s relatively new status, he had insisted that the show go on at Essakane, even assigning to it the presidential guard troops that later turned against him.

    When the militants arrive in Timbuktu, proclaiming it the capital of Azawad—an independent Tuareg state—the story of Abdel Kader Haidara and his manuscripts merges with that of the jihadist triumvirate. Haidara and his fellow librarians witnessed the imposition of harsh versions of sharia law, including stonings, amputations of hands, and a ban on broadcasting music. A large collection of cassette tapes of traditional songs recorded in neighboring villages was destroyed. Haidara worried that his books would suffer a similar fate, yet the jihadists seemed strangely indifferent to them. Even though some of the jihadists were assigned quarters in the Ahmed Baba Institute itself, they seem not to have recognized the special meaning the books held, both for Timbuktu and for the Western nations that had pledged funds to preserve them.

    Though no immediate threat was apparent, the Timbuktu librarians decided, presciently as things turned out, that the entire collection must be moved. Hammer describes how almost all of the books were carefully packed into specially made tin storage lockers, then brought south by truck and canoe, past brigades, bandits, and the military checkpoints of both jihadist and Malian government forces. Thanks to Haidara’s orchestration by cell phone of the complex operation, and the funds that allowed him to buy off those who stood in their way, not a single manuscript was lost en route to Bamako, a city then thought to be safe from the jihadist threat.

    As this rescue effort was taking place, the French began the military attack known as Operation Serval, sweeping up from the south in an effort to drive the militants away from Bamako and, ultimately, into the desert north of Timbuktu. Hammer’s account of this operation is tense and urgent. He convincingly shows what was at stake in Operation Serval, and how great a risk was taken by France, both militarily and politically, to support the elected government of its former African colony. The lessons of that intervention have not been lost on policymakers now struggling with the rise of ISIS in Libya, not far from Mali’s northern borders, and with its power over parts of Iraq and Syria.
    Hammer’s tale ends on a note of very qualified triumph. Timbuktu freed itself from Islamist domination in January 2013 and music was again heard on local radio stations, but life did not return to normal. Northern Mali had been freed from a brutal, punishing regime, but kidnappings and suicide bombings continue there today. 

    The Essakane festival has been canceled for the year. Iyad Ag Ghali and a group of his fighters have retreated to a desert oasis on Mali’s northern frontier. And Abdel Kader Haidara remains in Bamako, where he holds a great many manuscripts, uncertain when he can return them to the Timbuktu libraries built to preserve them. The books may have been saved from fire, but they are now threatened by mildew and rot from Bamako’s humid air.

    Though liberated, Timbuktu has become yet one more front, another red zone cut off from the outside world. Its mausoleums have been rebuilt with the help of foreign aid, but no visitors from abroad now risk kidnapping in order to see them. The sources of Timbuktu’s vitality—the connections to travel and trade that once made it a meeting place for West Africans and a haven for writing and learning—have been destroyed, and Hammer’s book, to its great credit, makes us see what a loss that is.

    ----------------------------------
    s. e. anderson
    author of The Black Holocaust for Beginners
    www.blackeducator.org
    www.blackeducator.blogspot.com
    If WORK was good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor. (Haiti)
    --------------------------------------------

    When will the Zionist announce Gaza is no more?

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