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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 3, 2011 12:00pm-3:00pm EDT

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satirical fiction and outspoken social commentary. .. >> guest: i think that's a letter holmes would object to it. it's probably above the waist, most times. but i think a number of people
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have compared writing to fighting. and as a matter of fact, i got the term -- i get the credit for it. the term comes from muhammad ali and i'm writing sort of a biography for him for crown. which i started in 19 -- excuse me, 2003. so when he wrote a book called "the greatest." it was ghosted by another person. he said writing is fighting. >> host: and you goes on to talk about african-americans and you write a black boxer's career is a perfect metaphor for the career of a black male. >> guest: yeah, i read john
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howard griffin's black lightening, which is a classic. he altered his appearance to look like a black appearance and wrote about his experience with his alteration. and he said -- the feature that was outstanding was the hostility and rudeness. and joshua solomon who tried the same experiments and he got such hostility that he quit after two weeks. he couldn't take it. so all those people who believed we live in a post-race paradise, how the john howard griffin altered that experience and see how it works for say a month or two. >> host: has it changed in 50 years? >> guest: well, i think the media don't help showing fear by some groups and by using hate as
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a product. so the media -- and i've been a critic of the media for a number of years informs public perceptions and even public policy by, you know, parading the same old stereotypes that have been around for 100 years. before i began this research, i didn't realize booker t. washington, 100 years ago complained about the images of black men and black women in the media and the first great novelist, charles chestnut, and his two novels both villains are media people. first a newspaper people who get a guy lynched and a second novel a newspaper editor who get -- who foments civil disturbance in north carolina. >> host: in your most recent nonfiction book, "barack obama and the jim crow media," what do you mean by the jim crow media?
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>> guest: i followed a media watcher named media prince -- i don't know how he does it. but he puts out a blog every day from the maynard institute which is named after the late publisher of the oakland tribune. he carries on his work and he puts out this blog under the institute's name and he talks about the -- sort of like disappearance of african-american and hispanic points of view in the media over the last few years. there have been buyoffs, firings. npr was in the news recently and there was a big hubbub about npr firing african-americans who had been there for many years, and so what we get is a disappearance of african-american reporters and journalists in the media, and what we're left with what i
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impolitely call an all-white jury. and so whether the case be the earthquake in japan or the turmoil in the middle east, there's certain points of point of view that are not on camera. i'll give you an example. i watch a very informative, a very intelligent program. last week farouk -- i've been to japan. i try to learn japanese and i wrote a book called "japanese by spring" and i have a couple of inlaws who are always trying to trip me up with my japanese or my wife's relatives. it's all in good fun. but i wrote a book called "japanese by fun" and i went to japan and toured japan because of that novel and met a number of intellectuals, tokyo university all over. as a matter of fact, my partner and i -- my latest book is -- so
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i i met many japanese people who are intellectuals who are able to speak english and who know our culture. so he had a japanese intellectual on last week. and i said, wow, finally we got a japanese person, an intellectual person to talk about the earthquake. what does he do? he wichita, kansas over to new america foundation and this guy carries on so long there's not enough time to left for the japanese person to talk about the earthquake. and i think we all suffer when we don't have different points of view in america. >> host: "obama and the jim crow media, what's the number title of the book." >> guest: the return of the nigger breaks and i use the term in reference to the profession of the underclass whites, probably irish, you know, the irish used to do all the dirty work, although there were alliances between the irish and african-americans. maybe pat buchanan doesn't know.
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but it goes all the way. but there's a man named colby, edward colby, who was a member of this profession. they were called nigger breakers. and frederick douglass, who's one of the unruly black men who was sent to him to be disciplined. and the life and times of frederick douglass. he talks about how he turned the tables on this guy. so guess who lives in everett colby's house now. donald rumsfeld lives in this guy's home. that was in the "washington post." so what i'm saying is we have these neoconfederates. i'm beginning to wonder who won the war. i came up in the car yesterday by the national archive and robert lee's picture is just as
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big as lincoln's. and i guess when we get more tea party in there, it will be larger. but anyway, we have these people and i think as an african-american and being acquainted with the african-american tradition i can read the signs, i can read the language and i can decode things. so when senator demint wanted to bring barack obama, i knew exactly what that meant. and i want to say on behalf of the south that the south is 50 years ahead on the media. in the terms of personnel, the percentage of african-american personnel -- if you go to ole miss, which is i think that's where faulkner was, it was like the deep south. these are people segregation. there's the highest percentage of black enrollment in ole miss. and georgia is one of the five states with the highest number of black officials.
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if you go to the media you don't find that kind of diversity. >> host: so one more time with this book, what's the tie-in with barack obama and the new jim crow media? >> guest: because he's being judged by people who are -- there's not a diversity of representations among those on the panels and among those in general who write about him. as a matter of fact, some of his enemies are giving side. you have mary matlin and she's entertaining. and she wrote a book "obama nation" which was scurriless and she's on cnn. and what i'm say jim crow media means we have a segregated media. that's what the term jim crow comes from. it means laws require that blacks be treated differently from the way whites have been treated.
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so that's where the term comes from. that barack obama is being -- let me give you an example of how things might have happened had there been a diversity in the media. you remember when they were saying latinas would not vote for an african-american president. you recall that. they went on for weeks about that. that, you know, he's going to lose the election in the west and all this. well, there were some hispanic journalists who warned them that they were wrong. that puerto rican voters voted for david in new york city. that hispanic voters had voted for barack obama when he ran for the senate of illinois. and mayor villaraigosa won the election with the help of black constituents. so they went on and on and on but finally what happened, he got the latino vote. he still holds a majority of the
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latino vote or hispanic vote so that turned out to be wrong. and then remember when they went on and on about -- he was overheard saying people in small towns cling to guns and religion? well, there was a zogby poll out in august in the campaign saying the majority of americans agreed. that was made overnight 24 hours, 24/7 thing. >> do you think the president has been treated differently than past presidents? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely. i think some of the racial slurs you don't -- except for abraham lincoln. when i did a book called "flight to canada" i looked at the confederate view of lincoln and they were calling him a chimp. as a matter of fact, they were saying he was a link between man and apes. and that sort of means he was african-american or black. so lincoln got a lot of scurriless press. but they say, well, look at
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clinton. what happened to clinton? well, clinton scot-irish ethnicity has been brought up like barack obama's has. people questioning where he was born, calling him a muslim, calling him the anti-christ -- some of the racist cartoons that came out during the campaign were very repulsive. they were humorous like the one of the watermelon -- or the watermelon patch growing on the white house lawn and there was a woman in california who did -- did a food stamp with his picture on it and all this. i don't recall that happening in past campaigns. so i think he's been singled out because of his race, and i think the tea party was organized on the basis -- i think this is what galvanizes the tea party is that we have a black president. now, they say differently, well, no, we're concerned about the drift towards social. larry o'donnell had him on.
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he had tea party factions on and they couldn't define socialism. and then they said well, you know, blacks are getting all the entitlements. that's what rick santelli calls himself the lightening rod of the tea party. well, ralph waldo emerson continues the moment but says -- well, they get the inside them. the tea party people, they won't want to give up social security. they don't want to give up medicaid and all the leaders from the tea party were receiving aid from the government. all these pieces fell away except for the fact they are upset by a black president. it shows you how -- can i use the term "perverted" racism is. this guy saved us from a depression. some agree that where it was
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heading to a full scale depression so he still gets it anmissity. there's criticisms of him but i got to hand it to the guy that he's able to maintain his cool in light of -- in light of such animosity. i wrote a piece in the "new york times" about why white progressives annoy me. i think what they want chee rivera. that's their aim. they want a government like they have in cuba, a racist society down there. but they want him to be reich roosevelt to start screaming and yelling. truman, truman. that was the gun. a good guy named tom hartman. i was on his show. he's very smart. he said, you know, it should be like harry truman screaming and yelling. they want him to have a musky moment and breaks down.
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can you imagine if barack obama just went around bawling like the leader of the -- i mean, they will say he can't handle it and looks who breaks down in pressure. i have some criticism and like the tough love stuff, i can do away with it. he went to black schools -- i figured this was a campaign speech. you got to make tough love speeches in order to show that he's not partial towards black but he made this speech about the black school overcoming its failures of the past but achieving scholastic success. and he said the reason that from the past they did not achieve scholastic success is because they brought the values of the street into the classroom. well, how does that complain the fact that the majority of white boys can't read? how does that explain wisconsin
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where you have two-thirds of the kids can't read. especially the boys. the public school of hurt the black boys and the hispanic boys and the white boys because they can't read have. you have two-thirds of the kids who can't read. that was in some of the other sources i've read. black population only 6% of wisconsin so you can't blame it on them. are they saying that these are white kids who believe that reading and writing is a white thing? i mean, what's the explanation for that? so i think that sometimes barack obama has to play a cynical politician in order to get white votes. >> in your book "ishmael reed: another day of the front, dispatches from the race quarter." you talk about the battle of san diego. what is that? >> the battle of san diego. that's probably a very obscure
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battle as all academic battles are. i don't know how many people are probably interested in that. but what i found was -- what i found was that the mla has spent a lot of time on deconstructionism and other theories that the french have abandoned years ago. and i interviewed -- i wrote a news story about being there. and i found that most of the professors didn't know what it meant. but they told me not to reveal that. so i said, this shows the lack of original thinking in academia. which has become so hard up now that they are teaching crime shows. i don't know if you saw my piece in playboy or the other places write talked about they are teaching crime shows at harvard and at berkeley. people love that show. i've seen -- i don't like it and
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i've expressed my dislike for the show. but when i was a kid going to school, my mother sent notes to the teachers saying that i was not able to do my homework because i was looking at crime shows. i was like, gee, i'm ahead of my time because they are teaching the crime shows in academia. i think it was a comment on the superficialialities taking place in academia now and also how one friend of mine got lynched for being a woman-hater, frank chen who's one of the great writers in the hundreds i would say he's probably one of the ten in my estimation great writers in the united states. he wrote a book called "donald duck," a novel. he was the first -- he was first chinese american to have a play off broadway. he just has a lot of good stuff, a lot of good writing. and because he objects to some of the theories or whatever you call them of feminist theory, he
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was sort of like sandbagging this meeting. and it was like an academic lynching. so i think these are bad -- these are not healthy trends in academia like first of all you have this robotic response to certain theories. they become fashionable and the idea you get special interest factions in academia that are not open to ideas from the outside or who are -- who are willing to condemn those with whom they have disagreements without debate. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv's "in depth" program. this is our monthly program where we invite one author on to talk about his or her body of work. this month we have author, novelist, playwright, et cetera, essayist, ishmael reed with us. he's a national book award and pulitzer prize winner.
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we're focusing on his nonfiction books. we begin with "shrovetide in the old new orleans." "god made alaska for the indians" which was published in 1982. "writin' is fightin;" 37 years of boxing on paper, 1989. "airing dirty," "day at the front dispatches from the race war it came out in 2003." a blue city a walk in oakland also came out in 2003. "mixing it up" came out in 2008, "obama and the jim crow era" which came out last year. ishmael reed, we're going to put the numbers up on the screen if you want to participate in our conversation. you could also send an email
12:21 pm or a tweet ishmael reed, when did you first start writing? >> guest: oh, i think when i wrote my name for the first time i ran all the way home. i was so excited about writing my name. and that was the beginning. i wrote things in second grade. and then i started really writing in high school. and my tutor was a right wing teacher. that's amazing because i think most people put me on the radical left side. but my teacher in high school, annette lancaster, and she used to give me all these america first pamphlets things and john birch things at first. i'd read them at breakfast and leave syrup on them and she didn't mind. she inspired me to write essays and inspired me to learn theater. i think the reason that i
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probably wrote plays was because of annette lancaster because have to study theater. the other great teacher i had was hortense nance. the only black teacher i ever had. >> host: growing up in buffalo. >> guest: most of the women teachers said i was a discipline problem, you know? i mean, i just had a bad reputation that i was amazed that this beautiful, you know, black woman would take interest in me and, you know, as a matter of fact she married into one of buffalo's historic familiar, the nash family. levin nashua a preacher at the michigan avenue baptist church which was used as a hideout for the underground railroad. but she inspired me to -- she'd give me tickets to the concert and she'd inspire me to write. and the performance of musician. i used to play the violin when i was in school so i think that was what inspired me.
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then i had a great break when i was in high school. i was working at a place called dixie drugs on williams street in buffalo, new york. and anybody in buffalo remember the old times. they remember williams. that was lively. it was dodge city. it was really a lively place. they would go on for hours. i worked for a jewish -- a man named carl pratter who came to the united states from the ukraine when he was 11 years old and he really inspired me a lot. and taught me to be driven, you know? be driven. use your intellect and be driven. this is the guy that the buffalo union gives credit for beginning the drugstore chain concept. all these, you know, wal-mart -- you know, all these stores,
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woolworths and all them -- not woolworths. i'm really dating myself. but anyway the drugstore chain concept. >> host: right. >> guest: one night i was coming out of the drugstore. a guy pulls up and i have these newspapers i'm delivering. i want you to help me on the delivering them. it turned out it was a.j. smitherland, the great man. he was the target of the mob in tulsa, oklahoma, 1921. he was -- he was charged with inciting the riot that led to 300 people being murdered. >> host: he was an african-american newspaper editor? >> guest: that's right. he had a newspaper in tulsa, oklahoma called the tulsa star. and what happened was that this black kid and this white girl, they were going to together. and somebody misinterpreted that and accused the kid of rape.
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and after the whole thing was over, she didn't press charges, right? after all those people were murdered and so they were going to lynch him. nobody thought about a lynch until the tulsa tribune gave marching orders, the mob marching orders. they should have a hall of shame with all these newspaper front page articles that inspired this. they had a headline lynching tonight. he walked downtown to interrupt the lynching and to offer their help to the sheriff to ward off the mob. and the sheriff refused. on the way out, somebody tried to take a gun from one of these guys. these guys were soldiers. they were veterans. and the riot began.
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he was persecuted for all of his life he and then to massachusetts and massachusetts refused to ex tradiet him and he ended up in buffalo. he was pardoned a couple ago. >> host: so he was the one who pulled up in the black packer. >> guest: that's right. and i started writing for the newspaper there i was. 16. he let me write a jazz column. i didn't know what i was talking about. i liked jazz. and that seems to be what it takes to be a jazz critic. i call it a new form of white collar crime. so -- i mean, i was making stuff up. so i wrote for them. and then -- for the newspaper. and then i went to college and dropped out of the college and by the time a.j. smitherland was dead and the new editor was joe
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walker. a brilliant young kid. he turned out the paper. we wrote the whole thing and during that time i met malcolm x which was a life changing experience? >> host: why? >> guest: well, because we all -- we all -- i heard my parents, they all thought the way he thought but nobody -- nobody would you express it, you know? when my parents integrated the neighborhood and were taunted and called names and took abuse, they said they would shoot everybody, and my brothers would go out in the backyard and -- i mean, i'm the considered the patsy because i'm the only one in the family that doesn't own a gun. they started doing target practice in the back and that sort of ended it. people knew about militant self-defense and nobody talked about it. nobody talked about arming themselves. so malcolm x also changed my view about how to express one's
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self, you know? i think i became probably more direct in my nonfiction, although my fiction has been nominated -- i was nominated for an awarded. but he taught us all to be direct to say what was on our minds and he also inspired plaque studies. i just did a piece for american studies magazine, scholarly magazine, about the origin of black studies in the west. and i interviewed bobby seal and bobby seal said it was because of malcolm's death that they began to construct a plan for ethnic studies, the black panthers. so the first words i had from malcolm x was, i think i was real wise. i was really a wise guy. i say well, the host of the
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radio show we were on says, well, i guess -- i said i guess malcolm x wants to talk about his -- no. the host of the radio show said, we're going to talk about black history. and so mr. x, he's sitting there, would say that black history has been distorted and he sat back and he said it's cotton patch history. wow, what does he mean by that? so i had not been exposed to black history. i think in many ways school integration has been a mistake, in the sense that the black students coming up from shaw university and other places who came to buffalo to work during the summer, they knew black history i have a friend named cecil brown who's a great writer and his book is "where's my black studies." he said at the schools in the south he learned black history and black culture.
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charles harris, who was the editor of amistad magazine and had a series on black history. he knew black history, they all knew black history. i knew nothing like this. there was nothing like this available in the university curriculum or any school curriculum that i was exposed to. so that's -- that's the kind of change that he made, but now a kid goes to these integrated schools -- look, i understand why these kids didn't want to be humiliated. i think there's a great anecdote about lyndon johnson's valley is the black valley. and lyndon johnson wanted him to take his two dogs down to texas. and the black valley says i have enough trouble getting down there myself but i'll take two dogs. lyndon johnson, i told him under those accommodations and you couldn't go to the restrooms and all that kind of stuff you can't go to the hotels. the terrible stories about that. but in school integration what
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happens is african-american kids -- they were forced to exchange a well developed curriculum with a narrow one. and with this hysteria accompanying the election of a black president, the curriculum is getting narrowering, so like in texas they don't want to teach islam, they don't want to teach arabic and in arizona they want to eliminate ethnic studies. i'm thinking what has been the bargain in school integration where black kids are told that their history and their teacher mean nothing and they have to submit to what people in this country call western civilization which i don't hear when i go to europe. i mean, you think -- i mean, they're over there, you would think that they would be gung ho about western civilization but what they're interested about humphrey bogart or american
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movies or hip hop. >> host: robert, ishmael reed, emails from las vegas, are you the ishmael reed who said the history of civilization is the history of warfare between secret societies? and what do you think of napoleon bonaparte's quote, what is history but a fable agreed upon? >> well, i think the latter part is quite true. i think -- i think people with the power make an agreement on what the narrative of history should be. and they make big mistakes. and as a matter of fact, in this article i've written for this american studies quarterly. i ask whether there's a tea party branch in academia or is there a pulitzer price winning of the tea party because in tennessee, the tea party wants to eliminate all references to slavery. in the texas books, okay?
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so we're going to have this sort of like, i guess, depiction of the plantation life where everybody is just -- just having a great time and the reason that the african-americans are brought over because the slave masters are lonely? i remember some different kind of interpretation of history. why is that different from john meacham? john meacham is an intellectual and pulitzer prize winner. he did a thing about this musical called "bloody bloody andrew" and he braced andrew jackson and called him a rock star and not mentioning that andrew jackson was one of the most powerful slave owners in the southeast and that he advocated the expansion of slavery into texas. so how could you eliminate that? also, you know, since it's springtime for andrew jackson, you might also mention that he was -- he was into censorship. he got his post-master to censor
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key tabs people who are receiving key be a list pamphlets in the south. you got to -- you got to read the direction that he gave to the -- there were all kinds of grammatical errors not to read. i don't know whether he's a tea party advocate, i don't think so. but if you're going to play in the tea party for things, you got to say there's maybe a tea party branch in academia, maybe there's a branch in the historical societies. and also shelby foote, another one, the late shelby foote, who's considered the ku klux klan as part of the french resistance so that's farfetch. i don't know if the ignorance go from top to bottom. >> host: we're going to start with monica from stark view,
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mississippi. good afternoon, monica. >> caller: good afternoon. >> host: please go ahead. >> caller: yes, i was calling about what ishmael said about academia. and i was in total agreement and i can't wait to rush out and read his book on barack obama. i actually return to get my doctorate because i thought i could go into academia and expand my knowledge in it, and also offer knowledge on business and now i'm in academia and i feel that it is very rigid thought and outside views are not all that welcomed. and i know what i have to offer. >> host: monica, what are you studying or what do you want to study? >> caller: well, i'm study business management. >> host: okay. all right. at what point do you agree with ishmael reed on academia?
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on the segregation integration issue or the reading failure? >> caller: well, he mentioned that academia is very rigid and not open to outside ideas. and we continue to study the same issues continually without expanding those issues. >> host: thank you, monica. ishmael reed? >> guest: yes, i agree with that. i think a certain kind of uniformity in thought is taking place in academia, and i think also there's a tendency to be with it so they're teaching hip hop -- and i don't have any problems with that, but i don't think these 60-year-old professors do a good job in trying to be down, you know what i mean? and i know why they're doing this? they're trying to get an enrollment. they are really trying to cater to students who just want to, you know, study the things they like instead of -- maybe there
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will be teacher courses, maybe a seminar on britney spears or something because the kids like that kind of stuff. >> host: well, you talked at berkeley for 30 years. >> guest: 35 years. >> host: and did you feel those influences to stay in certain boundaries? >> guest: well, i saw a dumbing down among students in the recent months. i don't know whether that's because of the distractions of blackberries and berkeley sent me all over the country. so during one of my last classes there's not a single student who could identify john the baptist and i was shocked. first i was shocked because they couldn't identify lana turner. i mean, john the baptist, this is key in the history of the west. jesus of nazareth is the founder
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of western civilization. john the baptist was his mentor. you don't know that, you don't know that western civilization. these are white kids. these are kids whose s.a.t. scores are shoot through the roof and they don't understand that. and that's not just happening in berkeley. and i noticed that there's not much of an interest in what you call the classics or what you call, you know, of american history or culture. and i find it appalling. so i think -- i think she's correct about that. so there is a certain uniformity. people go along to get along. >> host: there's several lists out there, ishmael reed, and you're on some of them, of books you should read. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: when you see those lists, what do you think? >> guest: i like the books -- the one i'm with. i've tried my hand at cartoons.
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so this is -- this is my illustrated book. the "new york times" says i'm a pioneer of graphic novels but they were doing graphic novels of dickens, john did a graphics novel called "big money" so i've been fortunate enough to be a publisher myself. so the two people who were responsible for publishing my recent books, i published them first. the first one is a student of dartmouth called will value. and he's going to publish that book, a novel. if the cartoons are better. so when i was 70 years old -- i went to cartoon school. the cartoon museum. so my cartoons are now published to chronicled and you can find my cartoons. my other publisher, robin filpot
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and obama wasn't published in the u.s. >> host: why wouldn't they publish in the u.s.? >> guest: i think the points of view that are considered accepted in some african-americans and hispanics and others are those that appeal to -- what you might call a mainstream audience. right? so people want to get that cross-audience. and so when you look at the representations of african-americans in the media, they usually agree with the bosses. you get people from -- well, let's take this contrast. in the 1960s, the left progressive leadership came from the grassroots. you got fds students. nation of islam. black panthers, all these different groups. now you have to be a millionaire
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like arianna huffington to be published. now you have african-americans who mimic the lines of -- the think tank they might be working for. like the manhattan institute, the most prominent spokesperson is an african-american. i see him all everywhere. i see him on tv because they have the power of influence what gets on the tube. one of their -- one of their people who endowed them is -- or one of the institutions that endowed them is the largest banks in the world so a lot of other -- other think tank might be -- you have the head of exxonmobil whose vice president of a think tank and they put their african-americans on. so the african-americans i see on tv now, are either proxies from the white left -- don't forget them. they have their proxies too. or proxies to the right.
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"barack obama and the jim crow law," it doesn't fall anywhere in those camps so i had to go to canada and it's selling very well. >> host: philadelphia, rowan, you're on with ishmael reed. please go ahead. caller: thank you very much. i'd just like to thank c-span2, brian lamb, for this opportunity to talk with authors for three hours. thank you, peter, for reading up on professor reed. professor reed, i've read almost all your works. you are indeed an inspiration. i thank you for most importantly for me as a writer your critique of the white left, your critique of the left and how we will not hear from people unless they agree with their point of view. i have a quick comment and then a question. what you show in the left is their own racism. i just finished "barack obama and the jim crow media" and i was floored by your analysis of the racism within irish catholics, joe scarborough, the
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critiques of obama. and you just talked about how you could not publish this book in the united states because the left wants certain points of view -- certain african-american points of view that are within the mainstream. and your critiques are very deliberately outside of the mainstream. probably the most important work for me as a writer that you have done is something that just came out by press last year called "plays, : ishmael reed place" one of them was called "bodies parts" which reading it twice seems to be a thorough critique of the pharmaceutical industry. and i appreciate in your last book how your -- your analysis mentions how on attacks of obama, like they're waiting for him to blow up, my question is, as a progressive, especially in light of obama's recent invasion
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of libya, which invests in military occupations outside this country when we so desperately need jobs and health care here, how do you suggest we as progressives sift through the racism you talk about in order to help critique in a healthful way to not go down to the bush doctrine of militarism instead of meeting domestic needs. thank you very much. >> guest: i think a lot of the problems the president is facing were inherited from the -- from former administrations. just like buchanan. president buchanan could have done something about slavery but he passed it on to lincoln, with disastrous results. so i think -- i think what happened as far as i can see what happened in libya is that secretary of state clinton and
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the powers of our u.s. ambassador, the three women, who persuaded the president to take action in libya because they remember rwanda, the ghost of rwanda, hovers over what happens in libya. because 800,000 people were murdered there without an intervention. and i think -- i don't think the president had much choice when confronted with this lunatic gadhafi because i talk to african writers about gadhafi and his aggrandizement and his megalomania over there, wanting to become the president or the dictator of the united states of africa. the guy's loony. i think he meant it when he said he wanted to go into the city and kill -- burn the people and go from house to house. that might have been hundreds of thousands of people murdered. and i am -- i'm pleased -- i'm one of these people that doesn't want 100,000 people to be
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murdered. that's what prompted the ghost of rwanda. president clinton regretted the fact that he apologized that he didn't intervene to save those people's lives. they could have hired blackwater or somebody to clear that thing up over a few days in rwanda. and they didn't want this to happen again so i think that's what happened again. >> host: rowan referenced your novel plays. >> guest: no, these are plays i've written. >> host: right. but he referenced that. you've written nonfiction. you write poetry. you've written labretto. >> guest: great songs. >> host: you write music. >> guest: yeah. >> >> host: how do you -- is there a dividing line between -- because your novels -- how would you describe your novel -- how would you describe your novels as opposed to your straightforward -- >> guest: i think the novels
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tend to be more surrealist. and sort of -- there's a tendency toward, you know, the science fiction genre in the novels and that does become a trend among african-american writers. i was at a foundation in minneapolis. i was a teacher there for a week or so. and there were these people who signed up to take writing classes and most of them were writing science fiction. mostly these african-american writers. they are smarter than i am. i mean, the craft of scientific theory and they read all the science fiction and stuff. and i think that's a trend that's happening now that i haven't seen before, before african-american writers. but i think nonfiction is more straightforward. and i just -- i just feel when i read, you know, statements in the press or i read -- i read three newspapers a day, the
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chronicle, the times, and the oakland tribune. i just find things that go unchallenged that should be challenged. now, right now the antidefamation league is doing all the work for us. and i know they're -- i know people would be shocked to hear that because there was incidents on the west coast between blacks and the antidefamation league that wounded both sides. but antidefamation league keeps tabs on the antisemites as well as the racists. i followed this -- i mean, the antidefamation league exposed some of the right wing sort of like maybe even neo-nazi money behind proposition 209 in california. they're the ones who are exposing, you know, people in the tea party. >> host: which proposition was that. >> guest: proposition 209 was the one that ended affirmative
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action in california, it didn't benefited black men. it benefited white program. the typical recipient is the white woman. rabbi michael learner, you know, lifts it, other scholars, other intellectuals have concluded that and also the federal government. and so antidefamation league pulls the covers off of these so-called legitimate movements that have, you know, sort of like hate mongers lurking among these movements. so i think african-americans need something like the antidefamation league; otherwise, i felt like a little like a crank 'cause i write these letters to the editor. these are the letters i've written to the editor that don't get published challenging some of the stuff that i've seen and
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the factual -- the lack of facts from the articles. >> host: next call for ishmael reed comes from portland, oregon, john. good afternoon to you. john, are you with us? >> caller: i was told i was second john from portland. caller: okay. mr. reed talks about superficiality of academia. i think he's a great example of it. he's trying to claim that rare incidents of somebody writing a racist car tune, that means all the media is jim crow media. i mean, that's absurd. and also his claim that majority of white boys can't read. that's absolutely false. he must be confused with not being up to the reading standards or something like that. he's just spouting out false claim after false claim. and i just wanted to share my opinion. >> guest: the study came out
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last month. it shows 60% of white boys in eighth grade cannot read at proficiency levels. the same thing is happening in the state of maine, for example, which is 95% white, i guess. you find appalling rates of reading levels among white boys. so -- i mean, i've been called superficial before. i don't need that. i am quoting a study that was printed widely. >> host: this is afternoon email from -- >> guest: and you can check out the national review. now, that might be a publication that he enjoys. he can check out the national review of the majority -- two-thirds of kids in wisconsin do not read at their expected levels. >> when you read the national review, is that something that you disagree with? usually? >> guest: i agree with it sometimes. and i disagree with it most of
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the time. and i just read a variety of publications. probably the most publications that attract my attention the most are probably online in cyberspace. i read media matters. i read for accuracy and reporting. they do a good job. job corn and some of those other people. i try to look at what's going on behind the news. i read "the new york observer." they have a very good media column. every week. >> host: and that kind of fits in with the email that sammy has sent in to you, with that difficult media situation in the u.s. and worldwide, how do you inform yourself? any other sources you trust or any strategies of getting? if not the good, at least better information? >> guest: well, i think a lot of people send me stuff on facebook. and i want to say hi to all my 2,000 facebook friends, you know. we acknowledge -- >> host: you spend a lot of time chatting with them. >> guest: i maybe spend too much
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time on facebook? >> host: is it addicting? >> guest: we change a lot of information that i wouldn't get otherwise. i don't know why the newspapers because a lot of the stuff i get -- that i get on facebook originally appeared in newspapers. >> host: next call, santa monica, danny, hi? >> caller: hi. first of all, it's a great honor and i'm very grateful to speak with you, dr. reed. hi, peter, thank you. and much respect out to brian lamb. and i agree with a lot of what was said by the caller from philly. and i wanted to ask the doctor if he's ever heard of something called ttsos or pdsod. >> host: what's that. >> guest: post-traumatic slave orders sexual oppressor syndrome or disorder. and i kind of came up with it so i doubt if you really honestly heard it but it has to do
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with -- if you have entitlement without awareness, deny racism -- like the last caller was deny reality. they rewrite history colorblind and i'm a white middle-aged american male, 45. and i -- you know, i've been in an interracial relationship for 20 years and i've seen, you know, a lot of this personally happening so i just wonder -- you know, i believe that most american males over the age of 21, honestly, are just like a soldier who comes back from war, they are having ptsd. a lot of people aren't aware that they're dealing with this disorder and, you know, syndrome/disorder because if it gets worse it leads to hypocrisy, isolation within your own group and you actually --
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your modus operandi. >> host: danny, did you suffer from it. >> guest: the first three years with my partner, a black woman actress here in hollywood she would say yes but she helped me through reading hundreds of books and conversations along with, you know, the burden is usually put on the person on color to inform white people about this history. so i got active in a group that is called aware and it's antiracist against -- whites against anti -- it's called aware. you can look it up. it's a group -- we fight to help inform other white people to deal with things like this, you know, and, yeah, i think -- i don't know about -- truthfully, i'm trying to be kind of funny because the word is ptsos because it's an sos out to people to realize and we have a black president now and people are freaking out.
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and when i say "people" i'm talking mostly older white men that just have a certain mindset that has programmed them for 400 years of white male supremacy. >> host: danny, let's get a response from ishmael reed. do you want to respond to that? >> guest: i wrote a piece in "life" magazine where i talked about how white men in this country are expected to be superman. and this is not a superman. and this is a burden on white men and probably accounts for the high suicide rate among white men. and that i don't have to be superman because there's obstacles in my way that i can't control. i wrote a piece in the "new york times" about how i got sort of like -- got the big switch thing pulled on me because i'm trying to refinance my house. i was living in a ghetto. and my credit is great.
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wonderful credit. my brother who is better than mine got problems too, he had 800. what i found what ghetto people have to go through. i've lived in suburban towns all the way in 1979. i moved into the kind of community i grew up in. and so i got a fixed rate when the papers arrived it was a variable rate, you know? like the foreclosures -- so there are obstacles in my way that i have no control over. but if you look at white men, you know, even the white man who is say of the underclass, the kind of people you only see on the jerry springer show. if you want to see what a lot of white people have to go through. they've been on probation and all this. if he's in a suit he can get into certain clubs that i can't go through. we have this guy called alfonso
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fletcher. he's having trouble because of what they call racism. white men who believe they have a white pass to the american dream and they feel they have to be superman and that when this doesn't happen, they're disappointed and they might get something called post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress is a theory that african-americans men are suffering. the irish-americans might be suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result of the potato famines. the holocaust linger. maybe the caller is on to something, you know, and for people in academia can stop teaching crime shows, maybe they could develop this idea he has. >> ishmael reed, what is el ceritto and why did you live there? >> guest: okay. this is going to cause me to lose some losers. i was living in berkeley and i wanted to get out of perk
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berkley. >> host: why? >> guest: it's like a flower child town. it successfully hides its racism more than other towns. like now they've expelled blacks, the blacks are being removed from berkeley to oakland and jerry is from oakland so berkeley is the whitest city in the county. berkeley, i want to get out of berkeley. i want to move to the most right wing town. here i am. home to the most white wing town in my frustration in northern california and somebody said well, you ought to move to el cerrito and i moved there and my name -- my neighbor was a policeman, a nice guy.
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but, you know, what i found was that that's prepared me for the shock of oakland because the police in el cerrito, as long as you have a little cash, you're like the maitre d' and i moved to oakland because i bought my beautiful victorian. my family doesn't like it. they like something like howard johnson design. i'm going to get in trouble if i say that. queen anne victoria built in 1906. >> host: and you're still in that house. >> guest: we restored it. rain was getting in there. it was like all dilapidated and we restored that house. i thought i was in berkeley or somewhere and i said, you know, there's a crime operation that's happening on the block here. all i have to do is call the police. but we've been calling the police for 10 years. through my daughter's efforts
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and mine, tennessee, who ran for the school board, we got one of these crack houses shut down because people from my background are not going to tolerate. they're not going to tolerate criminal operations on our block. and what surprised me was that the inaction of downtown or the infancy of downtown not to do anything of crime relations is very blatant. there's still one there and we're trying to get rid of it but what people don't understand is that, you know, somebody writing from the "new york times" the columns might say well, you got crack -- you got crack mamas and, you know, antee fathers. ..
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>> is that these crime operations are black. well, that's not true. the gang leader on our block was with vietnamese. matter of fact, if you look at the newspapers in japantown, chinatown, they say, oh, here come the vietnamese, you know? they're the criminal group now in northern california. so this kid, he was murdered a couple years ago. they don't see the complexity of that. they don't see that other ethnic groups are making more out of the underground economy in north oakland where i live. like yemeni -- not all of them, but yemeni store owners, you
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know, south asian motel owners. like, they just had a big entertainment constitution in oakland, so they show these, you know, poor young women out on the block. they went to the motel where the operation curs, the headquarters actually of these operations, and they asked this south asian guy, did he know -- he said, he knew what was going on. he was making a lot of profit from this. the yemeni score owners, they are running liquor stores disguised as grocery stores. so you might get a couple of bananas, maybe a cabbage or something. but they're selling liquor. and carla worked with a young playright, yeah, carla. she worked with a young youngplayright, and he wrote a play called "domestic crusaders" which has gotten worldwide
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recognition. hbo's hired him to do a pilot for a detective series. so he interviewed a yemeni store owner who we've been trying to get to our meetings for years. and every time he comes i said all the murders taking place on your block, crime and everything. he didn't know anything about it. he told the guy who interviewed him thing he didn't tell us, that he's making $200,000 a year in profit, that these yemeni guys have a traditional family, and they have a babe -- baby mama family. in other words, poor black women are exchanging favors for credit. so they have a baby mama. now, you don't get that in the news. you get these journalists who live in the such bushes, a lot of them -- suburbs, a lot of them live in connecticut. and they come in and make forays into the ghetto. they write stories that are based upon a weak analysis.
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but living in a inner city neighborhood has been an eye opener, and i think it's probably several of the people from cambridge or georgetown get here all the time to talk about inner city life. if they lived there for a few months, you would understand it's more complex. >> host: do you have any, any thought of leaving your current neighborhood? >> guest: not at all. i think northern california's the best place for me. i tried new york, but i was beloved to death in new york. and coming from a blue collar background, you're always suspicious when people have a lot of affection for you and want to trot you around like you're a museum piece or something. and i've seen that happen to some people, some writers and artists. so after i got a contract for my first novel, because i knew enough at the age of 22 that i
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couldn't get a -- [inaudible] from buffalo, new york. because i've been sending stuff in. but when i went to new york city, i met great writers like ralph ellison, langston hughes, james baldwin. langston hughes was responsible, the great langston hughes was responsible for my first novel being published, and i've sort of patterned myself after him. instead of going and living in france or going, you know, in the 1940s when you're a african-american novelist, you get a beret and go over there. i said, i want to go to a place where people don't care about writers or culture or anything, so i went to los angeles. [laughter] excuse me. i don't want to, i don't mean that about los angeles. i once wrote that woody allen was wrong when he said the only cultural advantage to california was that you could turn on the signal. i said they have 500,000 people in the arts-related industries in los angeles, and somebody answered, they must be all extras, you know?
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but i actually moved to, we moved to los angeles and practiced a life of austerity. sort of the glamorous things that were happening in new york when i was with leonard lyons column and on tv and going to french restaurants and all this little kind of stuff. and so i wrote my second novel in this los angeles. carla was working at the eddie ricken backer's camp. you remember the flying tigers? he had a camp in the mountains. she was working there. so i didn't have a car, i just spent the summer writing my second novel, "yellowback radio broke down." but new york is a wonderful place, and -- but i just found that there's, there are distractions because when i was a young person in new york, i'd go out of the house, and there'd
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be cecil taylor or all these great painters, or there'd be writers. i mean, just overcrowded with artists and, you know, just book parties every night. just a lot of stuff. and so i live in if oakland, and i think the only thing my neighbors care about is whether i keep my grass cut. >> host: next call for ishmael reed comes from richmond, virginia. hi, deborah. >> caller: how you doing? how y'all doing? is. >> guest: good. >> caller: i'm so glad that i got to see this and thank you, c-span, for having dr. reed on. he's so real, and that's why i'm crazy about him. the previous callers already kind of got him on the subject i wanted to get him on which was libya. and i wanted to know how you felt about obama going over to
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libya and helping those people over there that was going through what they were going through and still are going what they're going through? and discussing the response of farrakhan and others who are talking about obama. what do you feel about that? and thank you so much, and i am going to get your book. [laughter] thank you. >> host: all right, deborah, thank you. >> guest: yeah. you know, from if my book -- from be my book about muhammad ali, i interviewed some of the top african writer withs and intellectuals, and they just have a different view of ghadafi and some of the leaders of islam that they've encountered there. they feel that the arabs in africa are racist, so-called sub sahara africa are racist and
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treat black africans in a racist manner. all of them agreed with that. and that ghadafi is trying to -- that ghadafi's a chemical warfare in chad and that, you know, some african-americans who have this view that islam is a religion of brotherhood do not realize that they are racist features of being among some of the followers are racist because in my book i was trying to discover why muhammad ali and malcolm x had such a favorable impression after going to mecca and finding that this was a religion of brotherhood. well, from the point of view of africans that live there in africa, it's not. so, i mean, that's the only point i was making about ghadafi. i think that americans have let's say the british, the
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americans and the so-called allies have really set up, set up this, set up for this calamity to happen because they supported these despots over so many decades. as a matter of fact, set up some of these regimes. i got a book called "1919" where are they talk about one woman, a british woman set up a monarchy in one of the middle eastern countries. i mean, wrote the -- she committed suicide a few years later. as a matter of fact, somebody's making a movie about her. but it was so arbitrary the way they drew the national boundaries. they did this in africa too. so i think we're paying for a few hundred years of colonialism, and i don't know how obama's going to -- i mean, he's not a miracle worker. as terry mcmillan, the novelist, said. i don't know how he's going to pry us out of this, but what i've found is that if you show
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the least interest, or at least show a little effort in learning people's cultures, they will respond. i found this when i went to japan. even though i signed my autographs in the wrong script when i got back home, my teacher said you should have used -- [inaudible] but, i mean, i i was trying. people were very receptive. i mean, you know, people took us to the airport, invited us into their homes and everything. i found the same thing in nigeria when i went there. i studied the language for a number of years with a great professor who's a nigerian professor and a bookstore owner and did a heavy part of a translation of something i had published. guided me through a sacred
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translation of the people, or the odyssey. so i went to nigeria, when i went to nigeria, i read a couple things, you know, not the great -- hard to because it comes in so many idioms. so i wrote a couple things. and the audience, i mean, the people broke out in song. just the fact that i could do that, people started singing and give me gifts. that's how we should operate our foreign policy. and there are many people -- i've been to embassies all over the world -- on the consular level, those people are ready. they know those cultures. but what happens i might want to say is that they get, these ambassadors who are political appointees, who are just not really that much interested in interacting with the local population. like, i was the first writer, carla and i were the first artists to go to lebanon after
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the war. and i might say that the american embassy had very little contact with the artistic, cultural, intellectual communities. you know with, because we published as american writers. and when i came back here, i published the students of lebanon. i went to israel, i published students from hebrew university and students from if jordan. put out a collection of their work. when i went to nigeria, i came back, we'd published 25 nigerian poets who were unknown in the west. that book is still in print. got reviewed by "the washington post," other places. and carla just edited 16 short stories by nigerian women. that's how we ought to look at the world. look at jazz. look how jazz influenced the breakup of the soviet empire.
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i mean, that's what people say. listening to the voice of america, louis armstrong, listening to lionel hampton and all this stuff, jazz is a more comfortable aesthetic. it's not preaching war at you. german intellectuals told us they adapted jazz because it's a softer thing. i was in an elevator in belgium, and i got on the elevator, and the people were gloomy and depressed. as soon as armstrong came on, man, people lifted right up. so these are our weapons, these cultural -- this is how we influence the world. because people all over the world -- i went to jordan, they were playing hip-hop. in jordan. i mean, there was this thing that ignited, helped to ignite this thing against ghadafi called ghadafi-enough. it's a web site. this guy said he was inspired by hip-hop. you go to egypt. although the american newspapers made light of this, one of these kids was quoting langston
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hughes. what happens to a dream deferred? it dries up like a raise sin. kids in egypt. kids listening to hip-hop using hip-hop against these old men who don't want to give up power. so i think we've spent all this money in defense, maybe some of that budget should be used to send our culture abroad which everybody likes. you go to france, you go to england, they all love american writing. i mean, people -- african-american writing is marginalized here. i went to paris, and people all over the world there come to study or look and talk about african-american writing. hispanic writing. it's an embarrassment. i mean, these people are over here teaching crime shows. while they're teaching crime shows in college, ozzy and harriet, what are they doing? they've got scholars over there teaching chinese-american literature, you know? asian-american literature. hispanic hit church you know --
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literature. you know, jimmy santiago baga, leslie, people like that. they're known internationally. they're marginalized here because the middle persons that went to these schools that were originally christian academies, they're just carrying this thing that the best thoughts and ideas have already been written down. we're stuck with that. they didn't want to coddle white people. they think white people aren't ready for it. i've been on the literary rubber chicken circuit, been all over. i see things that white people might find outrageous. they can take it. so why do they have to have somebody who resemble them act like an anthropologist and interpret things? why can't they come to the direct experience, you know? it's okay to have benny goodman,
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it's okay to have glenn miller. let's go to jelly. who? it's good to have benny goodman and the other guys, but let's go to the primary source. so i think that's -- i made a long speech here. we need more african-americans, we need more hispanics, we need more native americans, we need more writer withs going abroad, and we need more of these people in the state department. >> host: ishmael reed is a very prolific writer, written over 30 books. here are his nonfiction books which we are emphasizing here this month:
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>> host: david in tulsa, oklahoma, thanks for holding. you're on with author ishmael reed. please go ahead with your question. >> caller: how you doing, dr. reed? >> guest: thank you. >> caller: i was listening to you talk about the grant wood work "all riots," and it was a big deal down here in tulsa, oklahoma. matter of fact, the tulsa historical society and the president of that wrote a book on that. and it was an extensive investigation and studies on mass grey -- graves on that that was funded by the state. and they were turning up graves. it was a lot of work. they ran out of -- they were giving out reparations to people that were injured or harmed or
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burn inside that riot -- burned in that riot. i'm holding a book here that has graphic pictures in it of the i grant wood archer pine area which they call -- you mentioned about 300 lives killed. that is approximately right. they had, they had tips on mass graves that they had run out of funds, and they didn't quite finish all of the informations, but i -- invests, but i they i wanted to bring that up to you. i wish there was a way i could get this book to you or a copy of it. and then, also, this guy that called in about something similar to ptsd, i'm a disabled vietnam combat veteran, so i'm
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very familiar with that. and whites that are mostly in denial about what african-americans go through in america because of the hundreds of years of slavery. well, that's actually true. it really is true. we here in tulsa, matter of fact, one of the colleges, tulsa community colleges, had -- you probably heard of ron daniels. he was here on one of the lectures about race. at tulsa community college. he recently passed away. >> guest: yes, i know. >> host: hey, david, can you -- why don't you wrap this up, okay? >> caller: okay, i will, peter. well, we actually had tim wise, dr. shelley tushak that is,
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start add group in california. she's a pa -- a doctor there, a ph.d.. allies, whites that are allies to blacks working with them having a understanding, having an understanding of what african-americans go through and getting out of their denial. >> host: all right, david, we're going to have to leave it there. let's see if ishmael reed has any comment. thank you for calling in. >> guest: i think that, i think that we made a lot of progress here. somebody asked me are things ever going to change. well, if you look at the 19th century, there was genocide happening everywhere. of the native population of california was almost wiped out. there were terrible race wars and race riots in the 20 theth
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century, early 20th century. chicago, new orleans in 1900, philadelphia, 19th century. you had the draft riots in new york where underclass whites held new york city for three days. so you don't, i mean, the 19th century is pretty hot. so when george will said that's his favorite century, not mine. we were all in chains. so i think you don't have that kind of blatant, you know, examples of mobs, you know, going into black neighborhoods and raping people and murdering people as you had in the early part of the 20th century in the 19th century. but now it comes in a more settled fashion. and, you know, i told jack white of time magazine, used to work at time, that in 20 years african-americans might miss the good old days when white races
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was the -- racism was the only problem because now we find racism among some of the immigrant groups. i mean, some white person might be racist toward me, but he's not going to be racist toward me because of sins i committed in a former life. [laughter] so we find among some of the immigrant groups patterns of racism. and some are out front with it, some are not. at the same time, there are writers like elizabeth nunez who's a distinguished professor at city college in new york and has written a wonderful book called "anna in between" about a black woman who's caught between two cultures, caribbean culture, and she's an editor in new york city, you know? and she acknowledges that african-americans have brought us to a point where immigrants have more freedom. because the civil rights
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movement in the 1960s brought everybody, advanced everybody. as a matter of fact, asian-americans or some chinese-americans tell me they couldn't come out of chinatown, they couldn't move to the suburbs until the civil rights movement, so everybody was brought forth because of that. and there's another writer named bronte who also acknowledges the benefits that immigrants have obtained because african-americans fought these struggles. but now multiculturalism has come to mean everybody but blacks. and so the other groups, hispanics -- some of them -- you know and other groups, south asians and others exhibit racist attitudes towards blacks. now, for example, one of the biggest gang round-ups in history occurred in los angeles recently because hispanic gangs were trying to expell african-americans from the
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projects -- expel african-americans from the projects. and there's a reason for this. mexico just came around to acknowledging that there was an african-american cultural component of the mexican experience in 1972. it was only until 1972 that they realize r -- realized what they called the third root. the last governor of california was an african-american. mexican governor of california was señor picot. but they don't want to acknowledge it. so you have these extensions among hispanics and blacks in california. you have tensions between asians and african-americans. so this is, this is a wild hunch, but i think as the asian-american population grows, as the hispanic population grews, there will be -- grows,
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blacks will become the model minority again. i mean, that sounds far farfetched, but at least brothers and sisters speak english, you know? and this is not without a he is to have call precedent -- historical precedent because there's a little book called "course of exclusion." in the 19th century, the california newspapers would bribe the japanese who were hard workers, you know, it goes round and round, but i think in driving some of the hysteria we see among the misinformed are low informational members of the tea party is this birthrate where the white birthrate is gnat or even, you know -- flat or even, you know, not reproducing. i think that's what the abortion issue's all about. because, you know, there's been an uptick in illegitimacy among white women. i mean, the if lieu look at the
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graph -- if you look at the graph there. the gentleman mentioned joe scarborough. when governor palin's daughter came out with an illegitimate child, or a child out of wedlock, or she's an unmarried mother, it was revealing that joe car borrow's brother came on and said, wow, that happens. he's telling me something about the white family that i haven't heard, that there's an epidemic of illegitimacy. the black birthrate, if you look at statistics, is going to be flat. the asian-american population has grown by 43% in the west. the hispanic population is really soaring. so i think i'll probably be learning spanish next. now, some people call me angry. they say i'm a radical. one man said that reading ishmael reed is like having a
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kidney stone. no, really, a guy told me that. but i'm moderate and conservative in comparison to some of the things i read by native americans and hispanics. i'm perfectly willing to say that california is part of the united states. there's a writer named jimmy santiago, hispanic writer, great writer, who says he's an 'em grant in his own -- 'em grant grant in the his own -- emigrant in the his own country. there are people who believe the west is part of mexico. california is part of the united states. i pay my taxes. i've got to pay my taxes soon in the state of california. native american writers who are saying that the blacks ought to go pack to africa, and the whites ought to go back to europe. so when they call black writers angry, his pan kicks and native -- hispanics and native american writers say we're probably moderate. >> host: dave in baltimore, good afternoon to you. >> caller: thank you so much.
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i'm wondering what kind of quarrel the professor would have with the left. as i see, the progressive left standing, saying no to racism, standing for brotherhood, diverse te, and then just exactly what are his politics? >> guest: well, i can say this because at my age i can say pretty much what i want to say. there should be a movement within the republican party to return the republican party to its classical roots. the party of abraham lincoln and frederick douglass. lincoln said the purpose of government is to help those who cannot help themselves. you're not hearing that from these guys who are threatening to cut off medicaid and medicare, social security, all these people who are more or less employees of big business and who get treated by they treat other employees. that governor out in wisconsin said, oh, yeah, i'll be glad to come out there.
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he said, you know, like an employee, you know, answering his boss. so i think that instead of -- i give up on, i'm beginning to give up -- i voted for mckinney even though i wrote a book about barack obama. he came out to california to help my daughter in her run for the school board, and i agree with some of her ideas, but instead of a movement, the democratic party has a death wish. it's always going to be there. they destroyed hubert humphrey. hubert hump -- humphrey came within 1% of defeating richard nixon. even the regressives began a revolt in that party. with their challenge to hubert humphrey. hubert humphrey who a lot of people -- there would be no problems with labor if hubert
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hump try or -- humphrey or his successors had prevailed. he was pro-labor, pro-civil rights, you know? is he's a man who said if i'm a black person living in the ghetto, i've got to revolt. remember? george wallace got on him about that. so they destroyed him. then they destroyed jimmy carter. nothing satisfies these people until they get this utopia, you know, where -- i don't know what it is. i have my ideas about it. but they destroyed jimmy carter. jimmy carter wasn't good, so we got ronald reagan, you know? now they're talking about a primary challenge against barack obama. so that element is always going to be there. the white left has never accepted black leadership all the way back to the abolitionists, you know? when frederick douglass decided to start his own newspaper, lloyd garrison got up and said you're competing with us. white man trying to be independent. so they got somebody else. there's always a token. youyou know, sometimes these
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tokens, the new republic and the commentary take a shot at me, i've seen tokens come and go. they replaced them just like they replaced frederick douglass, and the first african-american novelist. there's always going to be this progressive element. and, you know, the momentum that brought barack obama to the white house, it didn't begin in the best village or the upper west side. it began in iowa. the progressives were for ms. clinton, you know? so these people, they mock and they say, you know, they're, like, square and, you know, don't know the difference between white wine and -- whatever. you know? these people in iowa who are considered like not with it, they're the ones who began the march for, his march toward the
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white house. and when they voted for obama, it was okay for black people to support obama. because before that they supported hillary clinton. so that's actually just an example of the arrogance we face. i hear that all the time. i wrote this piece in "the new york times" about the white progressives is that how can you say you're his base, he's annoyed you? he's 90% among african-american support. so i have one of these markist/leninist -- i know he doesn't want to call himself that, but that's what he is basically. you know, saying african-americans are delusional. they voted for barack obama, he says, well, they're delusional. 65% of latinos are for barack obama. he carried the asian-american vote. you know, people marginalize asian americans, they'll let you in 20 years when they have a big
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population burst. why? they're arrogant. it's an example of the arrogance when they say we're his base, and he ought to do this, he ought to get a public option. and he's got this hostile congress, you know? and these -- he's got these blue dogs, all these people on the payroll. coin-operated congress. and i heard a woman who, i listen to randy rhodes, one of my favorite talk show people because she gives it to the you straight. she had some woman named nicole, she said barack obama's accomplished nothing. this is another myth i challenge. and barack obama and the jim you media. you know that saturday night live thing? this shows you how pathetic american news is. remember that skit they had that barack obama hadn't accomplished anything? nothing. remember? they had some guy back in, like -- they picked that up on cable like a serious news story,
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and the debate became all week how he hadn't accomplished anything because of a comedy show, right? so i have in my book 55 election promises that he had kept, right? by that time. 55. so even last week somebody saying -- a progressive -- he hasn't accomplished anything. so you know what i'm saying to barack obama? he can do without progressives. he can do without progressives. i mean, they have access to the media, and they have magazines like -- i read them, you know, i read the articles and everything. some of them send stuff to me, others i even subscribe to them. he's got 80% of democratic support. he's got -- he's getting the independents because you see less and less people showing up at these tea party rallies as the recovery happens. a hundred people there. a hundred news organizations. 200 news organization os, 100
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people in the tea party. so he doesn't need them. i know that hurts their feelings, and, you know, i often side with the progressives. like, i side with cynthia mckinney on some of her issues. but i'm just saying i've had it with them. and i think for african-americans, we need a revolt inside the republican party. we need the republican party to return to its ancient b roots and not this like, sort of like -- [inaudible] >> host: ishmael reed is our guest. we have about an hour and a half left in our live programs, and we'll continue to take your calls. we'll be right back.
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>> host: ishmael reed, what drew you to poetry? >> guest: i think i was inspired by walt whitman's work when i was in grammar school and even
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tried some imitations of it which were not all that successful. but his eulogy for president lincoln really captured my attention, and i really, i really began to enjoy poetry from that example. there were not that many african-american poets available to us. that was before ethnic studies. so i really didn't read african-american poets until i, until i came to new york. and i met some of them and began to read, you know, 19th century african-american poets, you know, lucy cherry, phyllis wheatley, and a number of other writers. i just took part many that big tribute to dunbar, one of the most versatile writers in american history. novelist, poet, song writer. so that's what turned me on to
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poetry was the poetry of walt whitman. what can you express in poetry that you can't express in a novel or in nonfiction? >> guest: well, i think it's a, i think with poetry there's a matter of originality that as a novelist or as a prose writer one can get away with cliches, and some of the great writers will drop a cliche once in a while. but i think the poets i admire, those who can put together a line or an image that one wouldn't think of. you know, for example, charles sennett, he's a good example of someone who compares, for example, the face of a watermelon with a buddhist face or, you know, just surprising analogies of what poets do. and i think the younger poets, the younger poets fall into the trap of writing long poems.
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i give them the 11-line rule. you know, try to do -- because poetry is compressed, becoming more and more come pressed. compressed. and i tell them because they, you know, like in boxing where you take a young fighter and take him out in deep water, what happens is they keep writing lines. hip-hoppers do some of this, and they're out in deep water, and they drown. although hip-hop has produced some excellent artists. we published dead presidents, our anthology, carla and i, where we have everybody from t.s. eliot to benjamin franklin. we found a short story that i've never seen anthologized. and in this short story he satirizes the anti-muslim hisser hysteria of our time. and we have t.s. eliot, a poem you can understand. and that's original.
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i mean, it's not -- [inaudible] or borrowed like the wasteland. it's by this aunt in st. louis. excellent poem. so, yes, the hip-hoppers contribute amazing stuff. it's an amazing art form these kids, they think they've come up, they've created it, but it goes back to the 19th century. so i think that poets have a different task, it's very difficult to be a poet. very difficult to be an original poet. >> host: as regular viewers of "in many depth" know, we ask our authors what they're reading, who their favorite books are, what their influences are. and with ishmael reed we got about 50 of each. but they were all very interesting, so we want to ask him specifically about a couple of them, and i want to start with who was benny reed and who is thelma reed? >> guest: okay. now, thelma reed, thelma virginia reed is my mother. excuse me. she started writing her memoirs at the age of 74.
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and, now, my mother went to a private school when she was a child or a church school. so she has this, excuse me, penmanship that is a lost art. and so she kept sending us these black and white speckled notebooks with all this beautiful writing. and so part of her book was written, and part of it was dictated on a tape record -- >> host: and that is black girl from tannery flats. and my mother, considers herself to be an ordinary, church-going person. and her book is in the library of congress with lincoln and booker t. washington. i mean, this is really wonderful. but it's a beautiful book, and it talks about her growing up in the segregated south and her being part of the migration to
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the north and her husband, benjamin or benny reed, was a young man who followed her to buffalo, and they were married in the early '40s, and he was, he was was devoted to the work ethic. i mean, he was -- this is a man who didn't take any time off -- >> host: your stepfather. >> guest: yes. very little vacation time and was steady, a steady person. and became a leader in his church although he had very little schooling. he rose to become the chairman of the board of truts tees in -- trustees in a historical african-american church which was a black national church. i didn't want realize that until i began reading. this was called the freedom
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church. this was a church of so europeer truth, freddie douglas and harriet tubman. the church buried harriet tubman in 1919. and so that's the church i grew up in. i don't attend church very very often. i was looking at these poll numbers, and they said even though there's high unemployment in the african-american community, the majority of african-americans were optimistic. i mean, can you imagine what would happen if the white unemployment was 20%? i mean, we'd have a total breakdown of the country. and the whites were pessimistic. but blacks were optimistic. and it took me back to that church because a kind of kid that you don't read about in the newspapers, this kid was a member of a legendary family on our block. i've been writing a lot about people on my block. i arrived there in 1979, i've
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written songs. i've become, like, the official eulogy writer for some of the older people which takes you back to the old african definition of writer. i do the ceremonies. this kid, a beautiful kid whose father, mcclure, david mcclure, was called the gunman. he worked at the navy shipyards or something. he had this whole field of gum, and all the kids would line up to get gum from the gum man. he died. we had a lot of conversations. he would tell me about his grandmother who was born into slavery. and then a church-going, beautiful woman, his wife, died. and we got news recently that, you know, a month or so ago that david, she had a young son, one of the sons of the family died. this kid was straight up. he's 54 years old, and he got a
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job in a managerial position when he answered two questions. they asked him why do you want the job, he said, i am a youth leader, you know, he takes the kids out in the church, and he says, i play organ at the church. so i said, i haven't been to church in a long time. why are these people so on the mystic? -- optimistic? go to a black church, you'll find the answer. you go to a black church, and you'll find the answer. i went to a four-hour funeral, and you could see the hope and the faith and the gospel which says good news. and i said, this is what has held african-americans together. the black churches happied -- has helped, i mean, i have disagreements. maybe people do need some answers to why they're alone here on this planet and there are 100 million galaxies, i mean, i'm thinking like that on
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that kind of scale, but i could see from this church service the songs they were singing. don't give up your hope. don't give up your faith. don't give up your confidence. this is why african-americans are optimistic, because they have faith, they've been through this, they've been think a depression, they've been through a holocaust, they've taken everything, you know? bring it on. and they have this instinct that, i think, after visiting africa it may have been part of, you know, something that we inherited from that tradition. >> host: we want to go back to your phone calls. 202 is the area code, 737-0001 for those in the east and central time zone. 202-737-0002 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zone. you can also send an e-mail,, and a tweet, fort mojave, arizona, mike, you're on with author ishmael
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reed. >> caller: good morning, gentleman. peter, ishmael, i'm really digging your conversation. just a little background, then i have a question for you. i'm a veteran of the summer of, of -- summer of love. my wife taught mostly handicapped children, and i was outside the alameda county courthouse the day, excuse me, that huey newton got out of prison for his illegal conviction. about your statement, ishmael, that the congress was a coin-operated organization, i agree with you there. but that doesn't mean that they're the best legislature that money can buy. now, i have a question about president obama. to e me -- to me, he seems to me as being unable or unwilling to argue a case dramatically and
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emotionally. and just as an example, the tax for people making over $250,000. he should have got on that thing and rid it through the waves. i mean, but he just, to me, he seems to be too polite, too intelligent, wanting to have something, to be somebody for all people. and next time you see him, give him a talk to him. say mike wants him to pick up the volume a little bit. could you do that for me? [laughter] >> host: congressman? [laughter] ishmael reed, sorry. >> guest: i don't know, i think i've heard a lot of his speeches. i've heard a lot of speeches where he condemns the tax breaks for the rich. but not only do they get tax breaks, they get subsidies, you know? like oil companies. this is supposed to be a free market economy, but what we have from what i read is corporate welfare where they not only
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don't pay taxes, but get billions of dollars for research and other things. so i don't know how he could have won that argument even though he did bring it up. i think the problem is he doesn't get the kind of coverage that past presidents have gotten, so people -- he might oppose something, or he might talk about an issue, and people miss it. >> host: california, robert. you are on with ishmael reed. please, go ahead. >> caller: howdy. a couple callers back mentioned that you did a critique of the liberal media, and i was wondering if you'd talk about that for a minute. >> guest: yeah. well -- >> host: several of your books. >> guest: yeah. in new york times they were, i mean, michael learner, i've had a back and forth with him, and i like michael learner because he's a straight talker, doesn't hide anything. and, you know, he's sort of like challenges, challenges accepted
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orthodoxies. israel, they say he's a sellout, you know? every time i go to israel they say michael learner -- michael learner's a courageous man. he wrote a piece in "the washington post" asking for a challenge of obama. i don't know whether he mentioned dennis cue sin niche at the challenger -- cue sinnish at the challenger which, of course, dennis kucinich would win in a landslide, we all know that, even 52 states. so he thought that i was answering him when i wrote this thing about white progressives. i think the gentleman talked about being with the summer of love and demonstrations during the '60s. we have a new progressive community, a new progressive leadership. i don't know where it came from. i think the middle class feminist movement, and i might get a lot of mail, but, i mean, they've boycotted me before, i think they've pretty much destroyed the left in this country.
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they destroyed the left when they said these are privileged women, said their faith was the same as poor people, that they were just as oppressed. gloria steinem said that gender is the most restrictive factor in american life. well, a writer who has a book coming out about norman pay hour where he says one of gloria steinem's teachers is an her rest who's worth about $200 million. so i guess some people are more restricted than others. but i think this was a total turn around in issues that the left was devoted to, and i think this issue of gay marriage, i believe that gay people have the right to get married. i think that i would buy the cake, and i would maybe try to raise a collection for them to go to las vegas to get married.
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but whether this should be the overriding issue of the left is puzzling n. -- is puzzling. and the idea that, i watch what's her name that comes on on msnbc -- >> rachel maddow? >> guest: they always said she's from oxford. first of all, against the president's policies in afghanistan and iraq. yet she's against don't ask, don't tell. she wants -- so they want to be in combat, but they don't want to be in a war, you know? so these are issues, these are middle class issues, and why call them middle class issues? because i listen to a radio station called kpfa in oakland, pacifica radio, and they have something called poor people's radio on there once a week.
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and there were poor gays and lesbians who said that they're not interested in getting married, they're just trying to get a roof over their heads and get something to eat. so i think the middle class issues have taken over the left, and the left believes that these are -- lgbt issues should be the front and center, and that is one progressive said the issues of african-americans should be on the back burner. they swallowed this whole thing about this post-race period. and that's delusional. i read the new england journal of medicine, new england journal of medicine says that there are still disparities in health care between black and white patients, how they get treated. i read the center for responsible lending says if you're black, you have less of a chance of getting a mortgage than, say, a white person whose credit has less of a credit rating than yours. even the bush administration
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agreed that there's such a thing as racial profiling. we didn't make that up. matter of fact, the police department came out and said, yeah, racial profiling exists. "the new york times" has done studies which show a disparity between the way african-americans who possess drugs are treated by the criminal justice system and the way whites are treated. but let's talk about one of these myths. they say, well, well, crack is a black drug and powder cocaine is a white drug. white people do crack, they just don't get sentenced for it, they don't get treated for it, or they don't get sentenced to jail. i loved this movie, "the fighter" came out. i don't like the wire, i don't like the way black people are depicted in the wire. that's just me, okay? here comes "the fighter." you've got white crack addicts in "the fighter." you've got cambodian drug
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dealers because there are 32 -- rudy giuliani when he was attorney for the district of new york, he said there are 32 ethnic groups involved in drug distribution in that movie. that's a quote. and then wintersbone, saw that. rarely do you see the underclass whites depicted, except for on the jerry springer show, all right? ..
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>> host: ishmael reed, this email came from william emerson. who are some other black intellectuals that you admire today and why? >> guest: well, there are a lot of them but they just don't get their books published and they don't get the kind of coverage that others get. like hakim abuti whose book -- about his growing up and his mom -- his mother. i would rate that rate next to the autobiography of the others. there's a lot of african-american intellectuals who are too hard-hitting, their comments are too tart for
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anybody to publish. they don't make people comfortable. justin duman, kofi natabo. there's people like michael young who's -- michael young is a young writer in palto alto who writes for french vogue, the french edition of "vogue" magazine. he's not very well known in this country yet. and there are a lot of good women writers that read like jill nelson. i read her books. i read anything that she writes. she wrote, "let's get it on" and she's a fantastic -- she's one of these writers who use her imagination. she has a great sense of humor, an irony. i'm reading -- i'm reading news lady. >> host: carol simpson. >> guest: carol simpson.
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>> host: we featured this on "after words." >> guest: i'm glad you did. she should read what -- they should read what goes on the inside, the kind of racist treatment that she receives. >> host: it was self-published. >> guest: it was self-published and you can understand why because this is an embarrassment i think for the outfit that she worked for. so -- i mean, lamont stepville is an excellent writer, a good writer, greg teague, palny writers and jj phillips who wrote a book called "the mojo hand" which contains the legend of orfious is a story line that features sunny boy wilson, combining the two ideas. >> host: have you read catcher in the rye? >> guest: a long time when i was in school, yeah. i don't remember that much of it. >> host: we are talking with ishmael reed, author, novelist,
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poet, playwright, national book award finalist, pulitzer prize finalist and mcarthur fines, genius award winner, lock head, pennsylvania, lawrence, you are on with ishmael reed. please go ahead. >> caller: good afternoon, peter. good afternoon, professor reed. i'm also a retired college professor. and i'm also concerned about the dumbing down in higher education. i was curious about what you said about jesus of nazareth being the greatest include on western civilization. that seems to ignore the ancient greeks, especially homer, plato and aristotle. could you respond to that, please. >> guest: yeah, there's no vatican for aristotle or socrates. to say to influence the teachings of jesus has a
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nanofollowing all over the world and you can't say that about the ancients. as you say, the muslims rescued the work of aristotle. one could say you wouldn't have the western civilization you're talking about without ironically muslims. and as a matter of fact, a muslim was a great influence of st. thomas aconfinus one of the greatest influence of church. when you say the clash of civilization i wonder what they're talking about because muslim scholarship not only contributed to the rescue of pagan -- so-called pagan writings but also you could say the ancestor of the novel -- the epics written by muslims could be considered the knowledge. the early english novels acknowledged their indebtedness to semantics and others.
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and if you read -- historians began by a muslim storyteller, so yeah, i think the jesus of nazareth has had a profound influence on western civilization. and i think while so-called pagan philosophers might have speculated about whether space with time or time began with space or whatever things things like that. how many angels in heaven. jesus of nazareth was merciful. jesus of naz receipt be merciful. and treat me the way you treat the least of these. i went back to the new testament. compare the new testament with the old testament. you have this volcano god going out and wiping cities. and it's by the teachings of the teachings of nazareth that we are supposed to live by. that's what they tell us all the
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time. and when i see the christian church tepid in the face of this challenge to the teachings of jesus of nazareth where we take care of others, taking care of our brothers and sisters. i wonder where the churches were. in early civilizations there were churches that were murdered. you look at -- there's a book called "all on fire," they were tarred and feathered. you know, because they were against slavery. now we got this weak church and we got people who are rescuing the christian church and if jesus came back he would flog them. first off he would stop at the wall street like he did it is money changing temple. i could see jesus of nazareth running them down.
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where is the church? why is the church quiet. why are the churches of marvin garrison and martin luther king and the prerevolutionary church where we have integrated congregations? yet, people -- they say well, the most segregated hour of the week. look, you had integrated congregations before the revolution of the country and i think some of the white preachers are afraid the black preachers are going to take their congregation. reverend jackson, they can preach, you know? i would not discount the teachings of jesus of nazareth have been influenced and maybe the organized church we had problems with that. i don't think you can say that a man who was a little more than a peasant -- well, he was a carpenter could have this much influence over millions of people. you cannot say that have
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influence. >> host: ishmael reed, why did you write "airing dirty laundry." >> guest: because i found a lot of fibs being told about african-american experience. that we african-americans get defined by -- first of all, they don't have the means to fight back. so up on the upper west side, they might have several parties where they talk about whether the fiction is dead. that's all we've got. that's the only way we can make our point of view known is through fiction and it's through writing. so i never did like bullies. i used to be a bully. but i think somebody has together try to render more accurate portrayal of what's happening here or we'll get defined by a few people. so i wrote this book this oj simpson case, this novel. i mean, everybody accused every
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black man of being oj simpson. as a matter of fact, the republican party in the campaign in new jersey said barack obama loves america like oj simpson loved nicole. they had to take it down. this is poor taste. you got to take it down. we get measured by tiger woods. i love tiger woods. he's a young man and he made his mistakes. but tiger woods there was more front page stories about tiger woods the "new york post" than about 9/11. so there's this crazy fascination. so you have to try to render -- you have to try to make the case that african-americans are often the victims of collective blame, collective blame. this happens to minorities all over the world. as a matter of fact, when the bernard madoff thing happened, jewish-americans in new york city said they felt -- they were
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indeed guilty by proxy. we get that all the time. and so "airing dirty laundry" tries to straighten stuff that i hear from journalists and reporters. and intellectuals who are not all that intellectually adventuresome. >> host: and in the book you write, even when certain outlets such as npr pretend to solicit a reveal variety of viewpoints -- >> host: next call for ishmael reed comes from durham, north carolina. hi, bill. >> caller: hello. mr. reed, i would like to ask you about a work in progress, particularly since the recent passing of manning marble who i know spent a long period of time writing a book on malcolm x.
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can you give us -- could you tell us where you are with the book on muhammad ali? >> guest: well, i began the book in 2003. and year or so ago, the idea of the book became a combination of memoir and bio. so it's like a autobiography of ishmael reed. and a biography of muhammad ali whom i encountered three times in my life, although i'm not a friend of his. but i mean, muhammad ali -- and muhammad ali influence on me, i became acquainted with muhammad ali when he was a young boxer. and then in 1978, i was assigned
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by the village voice to cover the second ali fight. i went to new orleans and had a great time. i love new orleans. and recently i went to louisville, kentucky, for the ali center. now, this is not a worshipful book of the kind that that i call the ali scribes write. for example, they say that -- they give credit to ali for his stance on the war. but they refuse to give credit to his mentor, elijah mohammed. elijah mohammed was a contentious objector during what is called the good war, world war ii. elijah mohammed refused to fight. as a matter of fact he went
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across the country making pro-japanese speaker. gerald horn -- gerald horn has a book coming out on the relationship between the british and african-american captives during the plantation period. he says there's probably more african-americans belonging to japanese fronts than communist fronts in world war ii and it got so that j. edgar hoover wanted to charge him with sedition because the coverage seems to be a little too favorable to the japanese. and so -- i talk about the nation is islam is considered a bunch of lunatics by the muslim biographers written by muhammad ali. these were people who are into self-sufficiency. you see the conservatives would like that. they had their farms.
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they imported fish. i mean, it's a trade. they went to commerce. there were criminal elements in the nation of islam because they were recruiting prisoners. everything as one -- a man once told me, without elijah mohammed, there would be no muhammad ali so i try to cover a part of that. >> host: rob from me ohio emails in to you. i'm an aspiring writing and i was wondering if i may inquire of your writing habits. i love your work and may it continue with great exuberance. >> guest: you know, i interviewed emanuel stewart, the great boxing trainer for my book that i'm writing and he talked about things as a gym rat. well, i'm a writing and reading rat and i've always been that way. i just read voraciously. you asked me some books. i've got books all over the house. i don't know if i'm able to
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transfer to the kindle. i just like the whole experience of the book and the cover. >> host: when it comes to writing is there a certain time of day? >> guest: well, i get mostly in the morning. i get up about 4:00 in the morning. and i wake up. and she's rewritten a book "rediscover america" i don't know why the publisher is publishing that book. "rediscovering america" is a 19th century multicultural view of the arts and sciences, business, everything. as a matter of fact, i said for a while i couldn't say anything around the house about the 19th century without being corrected. but it's a big book called "rediscovering america" she and her partner jody roberts wrote a book called "live on stage" which took some of the techniques some of the -- post-modernist stance and applied them to middle school teachings and now she's working -- this is a very interesting book. she's writing a book about the
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early women architects, including an imam in canada whose an architect who went around with a hammer and did some of the -- you know, worked what you wouldn't expect an architect to do and the first woman architect who got a license as an architect. and so because of her interest and the interest of others, the beautiful old shell that was in 1902 that's part of the pan american exposition of buffalo is being restored. we went up there and it became i don't know a crack hotel or something. but it was one of the seven luxury hotels in the united states at the time. it was the french style. and that building is being restored and she's writing a
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book about it. i don't know about this women's movement. this is the first woman architect -- can you imagine a woman architect working in the office of men? i mean, that's considered the prime male professional architect. black women architects, too. and so they rejected her from the women's -- she was a feminist, from the women's hall of fame. but there's a revival going on in buffalo, new york, to honor this woman so she's writing a book about it. but anyway, i get up in the morning. sometimes i write all day, sometimes i don't. sometimes i'm in there watching cnn and msnbc. >> host: and c-span. >> guest: of course, i get up early for c-span. i'm able to tape it sometimes. but as a matter of fact, some people are saying it's because that i'm a tv addict that i'm writing these books to sort of justify my addiction to television. >> host: longhand?
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>> guest: no. i use -- no, i use a laptop. and the laptop has helped me a lot to compartmentalize my projects. i think the whole thing turned around when there was a typewriter. i'm able to get more work out and i'm able to put things in separate files. instead of adding paper all over the floor. >> host: las vegas, nina, you're on with ishmael reed. >> caller: hi, peter. professor reed, it is so good to hear you -- hear you talk. peter, there's four things i just want to touch on briefly. and i want professor reed's opinion on this. it's in regards to the black universities. there seems to always be a negative perception put out, especially, by the right wing media that the only -- you know, it's just all about, you know, there's this perception, there's
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a dumbing down, that people should be afraid to attend those universities. but i finished at groundling state and it's one of -- i consider one of the top universities but the only thing you basically hear a lot in the media its negativity and i look at coach eddie robinson and he's never been given his do. and my second point is about, you know, the vouchers and i told a young lady about 5 years ago. when they start talking about the vouchers to the children in d.c. to go to the private schools and there wouldn't be enough and they could accept and reject what they wanted. in five years's time that they would come back like with the reverse discrimination whereas they could turn around and give the vouchers to the mostly middle white class, the whites so that they could just add on
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and take their children completely out of the public schools. and then my third thing is reverend wright. you know, they all castigated reverend wright when he made his speech. reverend wright, and i listened to rush limbaugh and sean hannity, and the tea party, they all went from the people that wore the sheets and things and now they are airwaves in the ties and the suits and then they complain about, you know, abortion and they want to say that, you know -- they want to kill every form of, you know, planned parenthood but yet you never see any of those talking about abortion running down to the adoption places and adopting all these children that are in -- you know, that are in the -- in the system. so, you know, i mean, you don't want the young women to have the birth control but then you want to holler about welfare. >> host: nina, what's your fourth point?
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>> caller: my biggest point is, you know, also about the young black males. they want jobs. but you know when they go and they're turned down and so how can you expect them -- when you put up all kinds of barriers -- when i remember when i first come out it was -- we were looking for someone specialized. well, we're looking for someone with this number of years experience but yet i'm looking at most of the people that were in were wasn't as qualified as i was and didn't have the educational believed. >> host: ishmael reed? >> guest: the first point on black colleges, one of my proudest moments was receiving an honorary doctorate from john c. smith one of the historical black colleges. i think the black colleges have graduated thousands upon thousands of professionals and scholars. great scholars graduated from
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black colleges and i had an occasion to go to hampton, virginia, the hampton university down there, booker t. washington's college. i'm an admirer of booker t. washington. and i looked at his papers. and i had to -- i had the experience of walking around the campus and meeting the students. and i would send -- i regret that didn't go to hampton because it's a first rate school. they have an enlightened president who has brought millions of dollars into the school. they have first rate computers, cyberspace, you know, all that -- when you have a -- all the new technologies there. the coed can walk all night without fear of being harmed. and i think black colleges are like that. as i said, when i was a young person in my late teens, in
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buffalo, new york, the students came up in the black colleges knew more. they had black history and culture down. we didn't. they had to teach us. they even introduced us to john coltrane because we like cool jazz. but they impressed me a lot. and harvey went to write books called "the angry black south" which is published in 1962. so i think that's -- that's, you know -- now, in terms of young black people being engaged in an underground economy, i've witnessed this for -- since the 1989 when i came back -- when i came back from teaching at harvard. i'll tell you what, if we had a work ethic like these kids in
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the united states, there's no vacation time and you can't mess up, this is a very organized thing that they had going there. although people from ethnic groups are suppliers are coming coming from chinatown and other places, they're making most of the money but these guys are something. although, you know, train them to shoot in our homes but i don't want to be facetious. there's a professor at san francisco state and he's a former student of mine. and he had a great idea. we talked about this idea. since you incarcerate these kids, now -- let me say right now, two-thirds of the people -- black people, hispanics in
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prison wouldn't be there if they were white, and we know that. as a matter of fact, a typical substance abuser in california, according to the "new york times," is a white woman. yet the jails are full of hispanic and black women so we know there's a disparity. so if they fill their quotas or treat these people as products, i want somebody from tufts business school, like district court mouth to go into these prisons and teach these guys how to promote a different product. just like we tell these cocoa farmers down there in colombia. you need a different product. these guys have great entrepreneurial skills but they don't have the right product. so instead of locking up the kid and putting it away and three strikes are out where governor brown had three strikes in california. so if a guy steals a pizza or something he goes to jail for life. that's why we have billions of
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dollars because these stupid prison policies that go to community colleges and social entitlements. but instead of on spending his money on that, we need business schools to teach these young men how to go into another business. you know, i mentioned santiago baca, he read and wrote his way out of jail. he went to jail when he was 21 years old. he was illiterate. he got into a correspondence with somebody on the outside and he began to write so he could write to this man and he got him a dictionary and it would take him all day to look up words or things. he's one of our greatest writers but there was a pell grant available at that time. he could get a high school diploma. remember years ago before they cut off the telegrams and things you would see these guys with b.a.'s and all that kind of
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stuff. why be so indicative full of revenge and hate that you throw these guys in jail and don't rehabilitate. i backed jerry brown when he was mayor before he became like lester maddox and i told, jerry brown, listen, when you become attorney general, you'll probably be a better attorney general because you can advocate rehabilitation to these prisoners. but what does he do? he becomes governor of california. california hospitals are so bad that the federal government took them over over the objection of arnold schwarzenegger whose only legacy that he has was to give a $55 million tax break to yacht owners. that's his legacy 'cause he's acting yacht. the "wall street journal" said people of the suburbs, people who have the least to care about crime have the least to drive the issue. they don't go back to hillsdale or riverdale they don't go back to these beautiful communities.
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they come to my block. i know that some back actor is back because he spent a year and he's coming back to my block. this is david hilliard black panthers. a walk in oakland blue city. the guys are illiterate and dangerous. that's why there's such a high recidivism rate in california. because when they got these kids where they're movement is restricted, they should teach them like they do in the old days. get them a high school equivalency. get people from business schools -- you know, we are writers go in there. get people from business schools on becoming entrepreneurs. >> host: now, nina asked also about reverend wright. if very quickly if you want to respond. >> guest: you know, a lot of our problems are because we just don't know the cultures of others. and that's why i thought ethnic
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studies was important. i went to washington league university where they got robert e. lee -- he's buried right behind me. i'm on the 40th and this white kid comes up to me and he says -- he started quoting the black poet. so i think people just misjudge or people misinterpret the motives of others. and the -- what was the question specifically? >> host: it was cultural, about reverend white -- >> guest: so this is the problem -- not knowing the culture of others. what's his name jonathan alters said reverend white was hysterical. every black preacher i've ever met is hysterical. that's part of the style the black preachers have. whereas, like a tribal drum, you
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know, where you just communicate with people in different ways than -- than maybe white preachers would. when i went to london, they built these beautiful cathedrals because the preachers can't preach. it's very interesting the double standard that was used toward pope benedict. i got to say this and reverend wright. reverend was this bad guy and everything. carl rat singer was the one who sent out a communication all over the world that a pedophilia had to be covered up. i mean, there's more and more and "new york times" and other places where he was responsible for covering up the pedophilia and then he brought back the latin mass which has anti-semitic lines and he ex commune indicate a bishop that was a holocaust denier. then he wants to make a saint out of pope pious who prayed for
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a nazi victory. i got this on a film called "liberation." you can check this out. there's a movie called "liberation," a documentary. that's distributed by the simon foundation. it's a great movie on the liberation of paris in world war ii. pope pious is praying for a nazi victory in russia. and he told everybody, what did reverend wright do? he made some over the top rhetorical statements. they ruined this man. they ran it all on cnn and msnbc. yet when the pope came to, everybody is bending and giving him a warm welcome. and one of the few journalists
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who i find comfortable -- he had been brought on. he brought all these people from the "washington times." and jonathan came on to blast reverend wright. what did jonathan say about the pope? he said he calls him his excellency or his highness. this is double standards happening at these parishing and ratzinger and pope benedict is trying to cover it up and he's given all this -- all this praise and reverend wright is condemned. >> host: this email from bill bailey who says he was a classmate of yours in high school. what do you think the u.s. will look like politically in 40 to 50 years when whites are no longer the majority of the electorate? >> guest: well, the problem i'm
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having that the intellectual culture is not preparing whites for this. instead of they're raising fear. and some of the fear is being promoted by billionaires. like i see an ad on tv that's all around the country of a chinese man gloating over the possibility that china will overtake the united states. and just like the old fu man ch movies? this is not the way to educate people about china. and then you go to china and people say, well, you know, these people over there in europe and the united states are barbarians. >> i have a historian coming -- i didn't do so well in japanese but i'm going to try to learn
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chinese. this is the way to do it. we have more cultural exchange instead of these billionaires, you know -- they got these people -- there's an article in "the village voice," "have white people gone crazy" and they have sarah palin looking all wild eyed. can you imagine what happened happened in the '50s if michele bachmann -- if a politician had made a mistake or even in the '80s like those who made a mistake like sarah palin or michele bachmann make? you remember gerald ford that made a goof about poland, that was it. now you can make all kind of fantastical stuff and the president's trip to india is $200 million. yeah, give us more of that. yeah. so we need cultural and political leadership. i've been working together with the hispanics,
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african-americans, asian-americans, jewish, italians -- i learned more about italian americans and irish-americans than i ever lived in buffalo which had a large italian-american or irish american politician. nobody told me italian americans were interned in world war ii or that their restrictions -- their movements were restricted. so we need something -- we need a leadership -- we need -- i mean, i don't mean multiculture cultural stuff that becomes a brand that you see on television but we need an alliance that comes from different parts of the mosaic which is part of american culture to lead us into a period when, you know, the color of your skin can't buy you a cup of coffee. that, you know, we have different majorities. that we have a rising rate of biracial -- well, that's not new. we covered it up.
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joe williamson in his book "new people" -- they say i look like a white man in africa. one of my friends you're like a white american. "new people" he said the united states looks like brazil up into the 1950s. and everybody said that's because, you know, that couldn't be true. we only had one person who got of -- the lone perpetrator or strom thurmond know this instead of has spread. we need to prepare our country for the end of the phase of. native americans have stories that go back 30,000 years in this country. the anglo saxon phase is
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beginning to diminish. i read the new yorker and they said we're all on a blend for the anglo saxon. wouldn't that be bother if everybody wore a tuxedo. i don't have anything against wasps but don't get me wrong. i like diversity. president kennedy, who's one of our prophets like martin luther king, who saw a united states that would be a united states of diversity. and there's a place for all of us there and so one group cannot be dominant anymore. instead enlightening people, instead of re-reading each other's books and tokens from each each other's books instead of looking at each other's culture and our traditions and trying to learn where reverend wright got that style of preaching, these billionaires who like to see us fighting each other all the time are promoting fear. promoting fear. i see it in the media. and hollywood. hollywood is a disgrace.
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but the films about black people out of hollywood are so bad that i'm beginning to think w.d. griffin was a progressive and i'll tell you why, "birth of a nation." he had whites perform black roles because he didn't want to humiliate black people. this stuff is coming out of hollywood. i can't believe this. it's like the old minstrel stuff. i was watching an old 1916 movie, black people stealing chickens. a woman was running down the street with a bucket of chicken. i mean, they are bringing back that stuff. he's bringing back that stuff. so hollywood has done a lot of damage and so have the rest of the media. >> host: byron, you have been very patient and you have been on with author ishmael reed. >> caller: thank you, peter. i appreciate "in depth." and c-span and professor reed, it's a pleasure listening to you.
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and i just have a couple of questions but you've answered two of the three. and i really would like to get -- well -- instead of 40 years from now, what's your projection for 2012, politically and even what the mayans are saying as far as the alignment of the constellation? >> host: thank you, byron? >> guest: well, i don't think there will be an apocalypse although we've got these tsunamis and earthquakes and everything. i don't know what's going to happen in 2012. i think with this decision from the right wing support they might defeat obama. we haven't found anybody bright yet. donald trump -- when he gets 10% of republican support, that shows the republican party is in
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trouble. i don't know if you read gail collins' piece about donald trump the other day where she wrote an article that's mildly critical of him and he sent her the article with her picture and put the face of a dog on her picture. i mean, talking about standards being lowered. i think -- i'm not very proud of this disagreement. i disagreed with him on a number of issues. barack obama is the best you're going to get with the resistance he's for they're against. and i would like to see him re-elected. but at the same time, there's so many threats on his life, 300, 400 threats a day that i can understand why he would pass -- he would not run for re-election. and even if he did not run for re-election, he would be considered a superior president
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by future historians, not by these people who control history. they are like fillmore jackson, or stonewall jackson. and andrew johnson. we love andrew johnson and those like that. but if he -- if he did not run for re-election, he would have a lot of accomplishments. he would have a goodor. if he runs for re-election he might get into difficulty. but i think -- the guy -- i can't believe this guy. he's so cool. i mean, i don't know where he gets his inspiration from, maybe his mom, you know, or -- you know, that midwestern thing. maybe there's something to that, this midwestern, you know, vision of the world. i don't know where he gets it from. but -- but i think he's inspired a lot of people. he inspired young black people, i think. and i think that's -- they can
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look at him and not be deceived by the images that they give us every day, athletes fighting outside of strip clubs. i look at aol and yahoo! news every day. it's about some athlete fighting outside of a strip club or crime. one thing about california, though, we get a night off, they do hispanics crime. so i say, wow, tonight this is our night off. they're not doing us tonight. they're doing hispanics. and this whole thing if it's news -- if it bleeds, it leads. if it bleeds it leaves, if it's black it bleeds. i tried in my humble way in my blog stel "san francisco chronicle" to write stories, other aspects of the african-american experience in the "san francisco chronicle." other aspects in the african-american experience in the west like a young -- a young man, a man who's 104 years old
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and some black guy and somebody telled the old stories and, you know, black kids who go to college. i don't know if you read that article. it was on february 22nd around my birthday. there was an article about all the black boys in his prep school going to college. you know, you don't hear stories about that afternoon. it happens all over the country. so i try to -- i try to, you know, in my books "airing dirty laundry," "mixing it up" and other books that present on the other side. i'm not trying to be over the top. oscar michaud who's a black filmmaker he tried to counteract some of the images that were coming out of hollywood at the time but i think he went over the top in his films. >> host: next call for ishmael reed comes from philadelphia. hi, arthur. >> caller: hi, good afternoon,
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gentlemen. dr. reed, just real quickly about the -- the present prison population and the privatization of the industry itself and the amount of dollars that are going into it, the trading of wall street on it, to me it's modern day slavery. and i just wanted to know your thoughts, whether you're making any directions towards congress people, whatever, to try and change this. >> host: thanks, arthur. >> guest: these drug laws -- these drug laws and the difference of enforcement of the drug laws of whites and blacks is a problem. there's an article in the "new york times" about marijuana busts in new york city where, you know, mostly black, you
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know, or hispanic, they're going to -- and several of the cops apologized. in the eyes some of the cops know this that whites get off. as a matter of fact, i wrote a play called "savage while" about mary berry's bus and a lot of people watching it were political and cultural washington were doing cocaine at the time. he got singled out. at the time the article from the "washington post" reviewed my reading of my play saying i was paranoid. they all are boasting about their drug use. the last two whites who ran for district attorney in new york city -- as a matter of fact, one was the son of a celebrated political family. both the candidates bragged about their cocaine use. so merry berry they spent $4 million.
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i mean, i'll tell you what, if the -- if the government spent as much time, as much money investigating black politicians as they spent on hunting bin laden, they would have caught him. every time you look around some black politician are investigating and they may not find nothing or anything like that. so i think cocaine was a middle class drug. i wrote a book called "senator" about the drug use going on in congress. so this is the problem is these drug laws and that ominous crime bill, 1995, that came under william clinton, president clinton. everybody likes -- black people like president clinton. he's very favorable -- most people call him martha vineyard
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and he played the saxophone and i'm sure george bush wished he hadn't -- wished he had taken up jazz lessons he would have gotten a better deal but a lot of -- a lot of bad law came down under clinton and this minimum sentencing thing, right? sent a lot of black people to jail for a long time. the rockefeller drug laws. these drug laws had destroyed elements of the black and hispanic communities. they're not fair and they're racist and that's why a lot of people are in jail now. california is going broke because of this revenge mentality. and i made a remark about california always had a -- sort of like mean spirit. there's bealways been a mean spirit since the arrival of the americans, you know the indians were almost exterminated and the mexicans were discriminated against and all up to today.
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california has given the world, reagan, richard nixon california cuisine. you pay $50 for a strawberry. and so there's always been this element but now this revenge thing because the tragic murder poly-klass. they rushed through this three strikes thing and now we have an aging population of prisoners. prisoners who are no threat to anybody. we have black kids placed in prison for possession of something. they run into hard criminals. they are teaching one thing in prison is crime. and they have jerome milly used to be on television talking about how the drug laws are disproportionately aimed at the african-american communities. also the sentencing project.
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go online and look at the sentencing project. and so i think this is a disgrace and i think the government should be ashamed of itself and have some sort of recommendation commission for allowing drugs to be brought into black communities so that some of the -- some of these -- these called death scalds and others groups that they were backing could be financed. >> now, dear we -- gary webb brought this up in the dark alliance the late gary webb and the journalists condemned him. but the federal intelligence came out and john kerry before the john kerry had the subcommittees on narcotics. he said that the state department, dea and other elements of the government knew about these guys selling drugs. they did nothing about it.
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so i think the government has -- i'm not saying that they did it. i'm not saying the united states government brought drugs into the -- but they knew that what was going on. and in the name of anticommunism a lot of drug addiction has been introduced into the united states. >> host: ishmael reed, if you were to recommend to -- we've got about 9 minutes left with you. if you were to recommend one of your books for people to read, which book would it -- >> guest: "juiced." >> host: "juiced." >> guest: a gentleman welcomed donkey archives which got the national critics --. >> host: which is a novel. >> guest: a novel. i began the novel in 1994. and finished it last year. >> host: during the simpson trial? >> guest: well, was going on and on. i mean, the old jesse james movie where the guy says -- talked about trying to hold a handful of bumblebees and the
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story kept changing. so you have factual stuff and you have fiction. but i would have them read this because it is sort of like my epic covering the years 1994, the presidency of mr. clinton, the presidency of mr. bush and all the way down to the presidency of barack obama and how these characters' lives are changed. this is one last joke i have on my critics. my critics are criticizing my work calling it post-modernist because i don't like to write the kind of 1950s novel in which the characters are subjected to long-winded psychoanalysis and they call me a cartoonist and that's why i made the hero a cartoonist. >> host: and these are all your drawings on the front. >> guest: all the drawings in the book. >> host: juanita from columbus, ohio, we have about 5 minutes left. please go ahead. >> caller: it's a pleasure, professor reed.
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>> guest: thank you very much. >> caller: i think when obama was elected, i think that america was ready, at least to me as an african-american, it showed that america was ready to move forward. however, the mainstream media, who i think is public enemy number one, quite frankly, was not going to have it. they continuously brought on -- this is the first time -- i'm in my 50s, and i have never known the losers of a presidential campaign to be invited back on television endlessly and critique a new president. this is something new. >> host: all right, juanita, thank you. >> guest: you know, when i was a kid, my stepfather, vinnie reed,
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he turned me into a news junkie. and we have this guy gabriel heater. he used to be a radio commentator and we wanted listen to -- can you imagine edward r. murrow on dancing on the stars, you know? i never imagined gabriel heater or mark would be the head of a political party. look how things have changed and now we have rush limbaugh the head of the republican party. the media has influence. and they began the retaliation against the wishes of the american people as soon as the inaugural confetti was removed. i like some parts of cnn, you know? i listened to cnn last sunday. they were on obama all day. and the streamer, the economy
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improved 3% and all is going to be bad. and i think rick sanchez, he went away mad and he said that cnn wants to get an audience that's made of up of angry white men. and i'm wondering where white men not angry go? where's their network. that's the answer. >> host: cheryl jackman emails to you, author thomas pychon thinks highly of him. what do you think of him? >> guest: i think highly of him and russell banks and also ron sukamek, my buddy who wrote a book called mosaic man. >> host: gilroy, california, you are probably our last call. go ahead. >> caller: yeah, good morning from california. it's not noon yet. i want to thank you very much
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for "booknotes" all the time. i am so appreciative of it. 15 years ago when i retired i tuned in and i haven't hardly missed a sunday. anyway, professor reed, i am -- let me give you a little history. german born, came to this country at 23. my first president was kennedy so, you know, that is my introduction to politics and, of course, i also was very much in love with the american ideal thinking so here we have a president that actually -- without making him hollywoodi i -- holier than thou. he's everything america makes him out to be, young, bright, social responsibility and he has a white mother and a black father. he is actually all -- he represents america. and here we are. we're bombarding this poor man
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like he's responsible for whatever. anyway, my whole feeling is when i look at this and i'm thinking this is a sign for me, that we're no longer that america that i fell in love with 50 years ago. and another thing i wanted to just -- my remark is, you're so full of information and it's wonderful. but basically too much is overriding it so knot one thing can come through. the overriding principle we have to really remember that i remember when the wall came down in '89 in germany in berlin and a professor said to me, it's a tragedy to lose a friend. but it is catastrophic to lose an enemy. >> host: all right. we're going to have to leave it there. professor, we have about 30 seconds to close. any comment for her? >> guest: excuse me, i'm not a
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prophet. i think, you know, we're at a crucial moment where we could go back to the old ways, you know, where we have people who believe in the world is 6,000 years old and you go to a certain point on the earth and you drop off into the abyss, you know? you know dick cheney, people who believe the evolution is a myth or that, you know, all these things sort of like mob hysteria. you can go the way -- she mentioned president kennedy and president obama. we can go in a rational direction. one more word i saw about william blank when reason sleeps, monsters awake. >> host: ishmael reed, we will leave it there. we could spend six hours going through your books at least. thank you for being with us this afternoon on booktv's "in depth." very quickly here, ishmael reed


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