Growing Up Black in American Apartheid


The Real News Network has the three part series, the above title comes from the first part.

Growing Up Black in American Apartheid – Ford Pt1

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, tells his story as a red-diaper baby, growing up facing racism in the North living with his white activist mother, and living in the Deep South with his black deejay father


Giving Grassroots Leaders a Voice – Ford Pt2

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford, Exec. Editor of Black Agenda Report, talks about helping create black radio news. He says that news media creates leaders by deciding what events are important and who is authorized to speak on the importance of those events


Black Nationalism and the Peoples’ Movement – Ford Pt3

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford addresses the question whether black Americans constitute a nation, and if so, what is their role in the movement of the whole people


It is interesting to watch Paul Jay struggle with what he elicited from the interviewee here. I think I got it sooner than Paul did.

Ford began with a discussion of two major tendencies in black politics.

“One is the self-determinationist tendency, that is, the political tendency that says black folks have every right to organize among each other for their own goals, regardless of what the larger society, i.e. white folks, think, and that that is legitimate,” said Ford.”

“There is also what I call the representationist strain, which says that black folks should have representation at all strata of the general society and that this can be achieved, and by–progress should be measured by the extent to which there are blacks in business, or blacks in politics, blacks in all of the various strata, and that this does not require any transformation of society.”

“These two tendencies coexist in conflict in every black brain,” said Ford. “And they are at war sometimes with each other. And I think that all black politics actually flows from this twoness, one the imperative to build a world that is worthy of black people, and the other to achieve black representation in the larger society.”


I don’t find it hard to make parallels that I can understand with what Glen Ford is trying to convey here.

Think about the Wall Street powers and their control over the “white” dominated government. They may be “white” like me, but they do not represent my thinking at all. If I had people like Elizabeth Warren in control of the government, then I might feel that there was some representation of the needs of people like me.

Black people may be proud that Barack Obama is President, but they don’t necessarily feel that he fully represents their interests.

To put the parallel on a more focused level, I might have some sense of some cultural pride to see the Jewish Joe Lieberman as President. I certainly would not feel that he represents my interests. If it were Alan Grayson, that might be a different story.

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