BLACK POWER by Stokely and Charles V. Hamilton Carmichael


Email this review


Put-on or cop-out, this book confounds the expectations raised by Carmichael's name. It consists of three rather disparate sections. The first one draws an important analogy between black Americans and colonized natives, in terms of socioeconomic, political and psychic domination, then affirms the superiority of ""black power"" to phony coalition politics. This is a powerful essay, the academese relieved by flashes of bluntness and some brilliant quotations from Negro intellectuals including Douglass, Du Bois, Fanon and Cleaver. The third section, which sounds more like Professor Bois, Fanon and Cleaver. The third section, sor Hamilton than Carmichael, presents a history of the ghetto; its most radical hope is that some day Negroes will turn down federal funds. The second section mediates the shift with straightforward commentary on the weakness of the Mississippi Freedom Democrats, the potential strength of the Black Panther Party, and the servility of the Tuskegee Negro leadership. These chapters draw on Carmichael's experience. His SNCC rhetoric and recent trip to Cuba notwithstanding, the book only flirts with leftist theory. The ""colonialism"" theme gets wiped out by the antiseptic claim that black power means a ""legitimate and healthy"" demand for participation in traditional American bloc politics. And so the book is far from incendiary--it painstakingly documents the failure of both makeshift palliatives in the North and legalistic, integration-minded civil rights efforts in the South, but never discusses, much less advocates, organized violence as a practical alternative. Indeed, it bears a disconcerting resemblance to a series of grade-A term papers; Carmichael has evidently relied on other writers' aid and comfort instead of working out a new synthesis for himself. White readers hoping for titillation, black militants in search of a program, look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1967
Publisher: Random House