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Rhetoric and Reality Essay

In chapter four “Black Radicals: Rhetoric and Reality”, writer tried to locate whether black powers i. e. militants and radicals had any viable program to organize black people or their ideas and action were disarray with no clear agenda. For this purpose, he provides an insight into the ideas and efforts of pioneer of black movement. He starts with the ideas of Malcolm X and analyzed his “intellectual framework for revolutionary Black Nationalism” (p. 246) Malcolm X asserted that psychological liberation and black pride are essential elements to shape black American into an organized whole.

But writer is of the view that mostly. His (Malcolm’s) ideas were misunderstood or misinterpreted and hence they were unable to influence the black movement. He further analyzed the idea of another pioneer of black movement, Stokely Carmichael who stressed on the importance of reformation in black ideology and advocated “independent politics”. His considered the capitalist structure as the primary cause if all injustice and racial discrimination prevalent in the American. He developed a two-pronged strategy to counter racism and capitalistic exploitation.

There is marked shift in his ideology after visits to several south American countries and he considered guerrilla warfare an important tool to establish their right on the land, houses and stores”. Rap Brown, another chairman of the SNCC advocated military and armed struggle in a more unequivocal way. Carmichael developed a new approach after his visits to Latin world and “in February 1968, the enemy of the blacks was no longer the capitalist system. The prime enemy was the white man, the honky. ” (p.

250) So Carmichael added racism to capitalism as the new enemy but his reformatory efforts for restructuring the black community and to counter these two evil systems were ambiguous as he mostly advocated in favor of socialism as the remedy of these evil system. His ideas are mostly paradoxical and writer is of the view that his middle class background torn him “between militant nationalism and accomodationist integrationism” (p. 252). Writer further delves deep into the different strategies and programs of SNCC to charge the batteries of black movement but he asserts that mere speeches and statement does not yield into viable activities.

Writer further explores the black student movements and says that typically black students adopt a bourgeois outlook after their graduation and try to assimilate and identify themselves with white community. This attitude of black students made them distrustful in the eyes of less-privileged classes of black community. As black student were not part of White community so they were entangled into a dilemma and this identity crisis was more heightened in Ivy League Schools where they were labeled as “white Negroes” by their own community.

However there was a growing resentment in black students against the racial policies and they took several armed revolts against the college and government authorities. Writer provides comprehensive details of black students’ struggle in various college campuses across America during 1968. SNCC and other black activists were in favor a political party that would the sole representative of African American. The SNCC experience had taught it that both Democrats and Republican parties are not a cure to their afflictions so they worked to establish a black political party at the national level.

In this attempt, SNCC and “black panthers” created an alliance and advocated a struggle for self-determination. Due to several inherent and structural differences these organization failed to merge and turned into a political party. Writer sums up the chapter by illustrating that although SNCC and black panther were not representative of the all black radicals but their ideas manifested the ideas and activities pf radicals elements during the black movement.

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