Week 11: Black Politics


Photo: It’s Nation Time. Amiri Baraka. Black Forum Records (Motown). 1972.


First, a few housekeeping details:

  • Remember that this class doesn’t use Blackboard. Check the course website every week for updates and detailed reading instructions which will appear on this page
  • Scholarships:
    • The Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship deadline is April 16. Details here
    • The St. George’s Society of NY Scholarship is for students with heritage from British Commonwealth countries. Deadline is May 21. The scholarship application with full details is here and Lehman’s scholarship office asks that you email them before applying at: scholarship [dot] office [at] lehman [dot] cuny [dot] edu
  • Zoom events
    • The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) conference runs from April 9-17 on Zoom. Details here

On the weekly Zoom sessions:

  • Audio of the weekly classes is on the  Zoom archive page. Same password as everything else to access.
  • Sign-up info for weekly Zoom sessions is on the Zoom meet info page. I recommend saving the meeting ID and password in your calendar or elsewhere to easily join

Quick highlights from Week 8 (4/7)’s class:

For Wednesday 4/14, (Week 11), there is one readings to do.

Read all of chapter 7 (Black Politics) in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies.

Also read “Kwame Nkrumah, The Political Rehearsal: His American Years” (101-113) in Dr. Clarke’s Notes for an African World Revolution. Also read “On Leadership” (pp.33-34) and “On Alliances” (pp. 39-40). [Edit: no additional reading–just the textbook chapter.]

What to read for:

Chapter 7 takes a broad look at political engagement from Kemet to the experience in the US. Think about what rooting political responses in ancient texts does. Review the “Crusian Paradigm” from chapter 6 on social organization and think about how that relates to/shapes political engagement. Also think about how the chapter frames political engagement as more than just the electoral process–and indeed what goes into the electoral process behind the scenes.

RESPOND to one idea in the textbook chapter or the PDF and DISCUSS it with classmates and myself with the comment board at the bottom of this post

ATTEND the weekly Zoom session @ 6 PM EST on Wednesday April 14

General reading strategies:

  • Underline/highlight key points in the text
  • Use the reading questions at the back of chapters to focus you: read those first
  • Try to understand the definitions of the key concepts listed at the back of the chapter
  • Make a note to ask the instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand
  • Note key issues, approaches, and dilemmas/challenges Dr. Karenga outlines

Discussion questions

  • See chapter/essay highlights above

What’s Next?

Chapter 8 (Psychology) in Introduction to Black Studies

Comments on posts:

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for the “Leave a Comment” button below. Here’s how it works: you can use this to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates
  • The comments section closes 14 days after a post goes live

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.


9 thoughts on “Week 11: Black Politics

  1. In chapter 7 of the Introduction to Black Studies it it talks about the 60s the era where it was seen as the rise of three independent Black parties. The first is the African American Party in Alabama, then the National Civil Rights Party, and finally the Freedom Now Party. These parties unfortunatly were not to succsesful and eventually faded away from the political scene.


  2. Not my official comment for this chapter, but as I am reading, I’m thinking about writer Charles Blow’s recent move from New York City to Atlanta as part of his own push for a “reverse Great Migration.” He argues that Black Americans could gain greater political control of southern, traditionally Republican states if they build greater voting populations by moving there: “Reversing that tide would create dense Black communities, and that density would translate into statewide political power.” He fleshes out this interesting premise in a recent New York Times opinion piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/08/opinion/georgia-black-political-power.html?searchResultPosition=1


  3. instructions to a prime minister and the book of Khunanpu are concepts and stories that seen so far from our reality and the way the people that occupy our public office behave in present our times. A system that is built to be able to be fair and can guarantee justice even when its weakness member has been victimized by powerful people is something that seems dystopian. The fact that Egyptian Politics was built on these pillars highlights their greatness specially when comparing it to our current system, a system where justice never seems to reach the rich and powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. chapter 7 is more about Respect for the office as a pillar of the entire land, a moral and political center
    – 1 doing all things according to the law (lawfulness)
    – 2 doing things according to the rule (procedure, due process)
    – 3 acting impartially
    – 4 respect for the people and their petition, their needs and aspirations
    – 5 avoidance of arbitrariness, following law, rule and reason
    – 6 doing justice for all people.

    example: This book is very important because it criticizes the leadership on the part of a simple peasant, who recognizes the right of a citizen to participate in criticism.
    also in schools it suggests an active tradition of criticism that practices justice without class prejudice. creating officials of a just society honestly committed to maat, an open and viable process.


    • I agree this chapter stressed structure in terms of doing your job fairly and right pertaining to laws,

      Instructions were also given to the Prime Minister from the King etc.


  5. Dr. Karenga elaborates eight major components of modern political power: 1) key positions in government, specifically Black elected officials (BEOs) 2) voting strength 3) community control 4) economic capacity 5) community organization 6) possession of critical knowledge 7) coalition and alliance and 8) coercive capacity (297). All these categories seem essential and it’s interesting to review them in the light of the current extreme political polarizations, and consider what one might add to this list. For example, we are currently seeing widespread renewed efforts at voter suppression. The Brennan Center for Justice, a pro-democracy policy center counts “361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states” that have been introduced since the 2020 general election https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/state-voting-bills-tracker-2021). At the same time, due to current media hyperpolarization, these bills, some of which have already been passed, are being framed as either “simply asking questions” or a “lethal attack on democracy.” I tend toward the latter view, and find the so-called “post-truth” climate, in which media and some politicians are normalizing white supremacist attacks on government institutions (see: U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021) and political leaders (see: death threats to Michigan Governor Whitmer, among many others) make vital a renewed push to incorporate the concepts of Maat into politics today—“gaining, maintaining and using power to create and sustain a just and good society and world” (294)

    I think there are two more subitems that could be added to Dr. Karenga’s excellent list. In the area of economic capacity, he emphasizes the power to influence campaigns, control local economics, and place media buys. However, with growing economic capacity also comes the power to withhold spending, that is, to avoid supporting corporations who support politicians who espouse views that diverge sharply from one’s own worldview. New fundraising platforms and new methods of information sharing make this progressively easier. The ill-conceived (in my opinion) 2010 Supreme Court decision “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” that affirmed corporations’ rights to make essentially unlimited political donations as a form of “free speech” can work both ways–private citizens can also pay attention and withhold spending from the worst offenders.

    The second item is the power of public witness. New technologies, such as cell phone videos, have achieved huge penetration throughout society, and enable the capture of egregious wrongs frequently perpetrated through coercive control of the State and its apparatus. We are watching now, in real time, whether this will be a harbinger of greater justice in several recent incidents of lethal police violence against unarmed U.S. citizens.


  6. This chapter was an interesting read. What caught my attention is when Dr. Karenga mention that it is imperative that in understanding politics we have to realize that “power in society is ultimately determined by a people’s relationship to the state.”
    Dr. Karenga made mention of eight significant context of political power.
    1. key position in government
    2.Voting strength
    3.Community control
    4.Economic capacity
    5. Community organization
    6.Posession of critical knowledge
    7.Coaliation and alliance
    8. Coercive .capacity. I have never taken all these into consideration but after reading this chapter it does make sense when we look on the way the government is structured.

    What was also interesting in this chapter was when Dr. Karenga mentioned that during the time Obama ran in his campaign how he was compelled to “deracialize” in four basis ways. The ways he had to do so was
    1. self-concealment…where he he could not be too black in his ideas or his action which was a low blow
    2distancing from the community he could not relate too closely with the voters
    3. Denunciation of designated undesirable
    4. Turning to Whites for essential direction and support….. he even had to cross party line and lean on the Republican for support.

    Dr. Karenga also made clear what I always believe that the established order uses Obama’s election as a shield against social justice claims.


    • I agree with you basically if you run your state well, their is respect. It takes a strong person to run

      and effectively do a good job and the people you have to have respect from others as well.

      their has to be reciprocation when it comes to a political leader and the citizens in the state, etc.


  7. Chapter 7 Black politics was interesting to me because it talked about laws and structures and so on.

    It talked about how king’s in this case the Pharoah was telling the Prime Minister what to do and making

    sure the Prime Minister was doing their role properly. It talked about good Governance,

    examples Do things according to Law
    Respect people and their petition basically .

    Justice for all people.


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