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New Media We Recommend

March 1, 2012

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America, edited by Joanne Griffith – This book is a collection of radio interviews conducted by Joanne Griffith for Pacifica Radio. After the 2008 Presidential victory of Barack Obama, Griffith came up with the idea to discuss the meaning of Black Power now that a Black man occupied the White House. Those interviewed include Ramona Africa, Vincent Harding, Michelle Alexander, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Linn Washington Jr and Van Jones. As one could imagine the interviews are as varied as the persons being interviewed. However, there is a virtual consensus by the notable Black figures in America that the election of Barack Obama has not had much of a positive impact on Black Americans. As Michelle Alexander says in her interview, “the idea that we are in a post-racial period in the United States is just pure fiction.” An excellent collection of reflections on the state of Black America. Highly recommended.

Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, by Rob Nixon – Many Americans are quick to response to the kind of violence brought about by war or repression from brutal dictators. It just makes sense to them. However, when millions more die every year from disease, chemical contamination, hunger and ecological catastrophe, people are often less willing to take action. Rob Nixon has done an amazing job of defining this kind of institutionalized violence in his new book Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Essentially, the author is arguing that this kind of violence, a protracted violence that sometimes lasts years, is the major culprit in how human rights violations around the world. Nixon also points out that it is the least discussed within the US, but outside of the US there is a growing body of fiction and non-fiction literature that addresses this theme. The bulk of the book is analyzing this slow violence in places like India and Nigeria through the lens of writers like Arundhati Roy. An excellent book, although difficult at time if one hasn’t read the literature Nixon cites, but a valuable contribution to an analysis of institutionalized violence.

Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala Under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982 – 1983, by Virginia Garrard-BurnettTerror in the Land of the Holy Spirit is a fascinating investigation into one of the most intriguing political figures in recent Latin American history – Rios Montt. Montt came to power through a military coup in 1982 and presided over some of the most violent months of Guatemala’s 36-year war. The General was unique, not because of the support from the US government (which is did provide), but because Montt was the first overtly evangelical Latin American leader that used his faith to justify brutal repression. The author reveal new information about the Guatemala dictator after gaining access to archival material and provides us with an interesting examination into the man that Ronald Reagan referred to as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.” While this book might only appeal to those who have an interest in Guatemala, it also is an excellent case study for those interested in the role of religion and power, along with US foreign policy.

Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD) – In the summer of 1964, 3 young men – two White and one Black – were murdered in Mississippi while working on civil rights and voter registration. This documentary not only sheds light on this brutal murder but the legal case that was re-opened 40 years after the murders. The film relies on archival footage, newsreels and interviews with family members and people of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Neshoba is a powerful documentary that not only reveals a piece of racist US history, it demonstrates that institutional racism still exists today. Highly recommended.

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