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ashthereader

Uncle tom or New Negro?

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I'm currently reading Uncle Tom or New Negro? edited by Rebecca Carroll, for leisure. Seeking detailed thoughts, invoked feelings and views on this book. Oh and I have just joined the site, not sure if my wording is proper. 

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Ashthereader, your wording is fine, but it would be a good idea to let us know what you think about the book to get the ball rolling. I was not familiar with this book, Uncle Tom or New Negro?, until you mentioned it. SO I can;t speak to it directly, but I do know the issue with Washington is not an either/or proposition when it comes to being an "Uncle Tom."

Indeed, "Uncle Tom" is a confusing term generally meaning a Black who sells out to the white man, but the character from Stowe's book, where the term originates, did the exact opposite. 

I see from the PW review that Malveaux is quoted as saying some of what Washington did was pure evil.  As a president of an HBCU, that is a bold statement.  I hope she backed it up.

Again, what do you think Ash?  

Here is the description from Amazon:

On the ninetieth anniversary of Booker T. Washington’s death comes a passionate, provocative dialogue on his complicated legacy, including the complete text of his classic autobiography, Up from Slavery.

Booker T. Washington was born a slave in 1858, yet roughly forty years later he had established the Tuskegee Institute. Befriended by a U.S. president and corporate titans, beloved and reviled by the black community, Washington was one of the most influential voices on the postslavery scene. But Washington’s message of gradual accommodation was accepted by some and rejected by others, and, almost a century after his death, he is still one of the most controversial and misunderstood characters in American history. 

Uncle Tom or New Negro? does much more than provide yet another critical edition of Washington’s memoirs. Instead, Carroll has interviewed an outstanding array of African American luminaries including Julianne Malveaux, cultural critics Debra Dickerson and John McWhorter, and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and radio talk-show host Karen Hunter, among others. In a dazzling collection bursting with invigorating and varying perspectives, (e.g. What would Booker T. think of Sean Combs or Russell Simmons? Was Washington a “tragic buffoon” or “a giver of hope to those on the margins of the margins”?) this cutting-edge book allows you to reach your own conclusions about a controversial and perhaps ultimately enigmatic figure.

 

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My thoughts on Washington, I haven't read the book either, come from the President of the College the Narrator/Nameless Character in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man attended. They also derive from the BTW vs DuBois discussion. In my mind BTW toed the line in becoming the first Cointelpro spy. He delivered info to the dominating class, but worked within the system doing the work to benefit his people. I hope that makes sense.

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Well we all know Al Sharpton was a informant, and today he has the ear of the President.

Carver wasn't even 60 when he passed but accomplished a great deal.  

I don't know if you've ever visited Tuskegee, but that is in the deeeep south and feels like it today.  If Booker was not as anxious as the Brothers in the north to be so aggressive against white folks I would not be so willing to second guess his tactics.  He was a man of his time and environment.  It is bad in the south today, imagine what it was like 100 years ago.

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What I deduced about Booker T. Washington comes from references made to him in books i've read about other famous blacks. He seemed to have been not only an accomodationist but a supreme pragmatist, not optimistic about black equality ever coming into fruition,  So the college he founded was a vocational one where students were urged to acquire skills in the agricultural sciences and fields of service. He also didn't seem to have a lot of faith in the morals of young blacks because of the stringent rules and strict curfews that were enforced, restricting their social lives  to make sure there was no hanky panky going on.  Attending the campus church was also mandatory.  His goal was apparently to turn out god-fearing subservient graduates, who could earn a living at the only type of jobs available to Blacks.     

Edited by Cynique
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Church is a big component of all the HBCU's as it is for most colleges and universities of the era.  

As far as creating "subservient graduates" that has been the goal of colleges particularly vocational colleges.  College produce people who are ideal for corporate America.  

Most graduates produced today are in a far less able to fed for themselves than a graduate of Tuskegee 100 years ago.  Black graduates today have it a lot harder, with the elimination of affirmative action, finding a job than I did over 30 years ago.  

At least at Tuskegee, people came out with skills that allowed them to create their own jobs.  

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Did they create their own jobs? Was there a lot of black industry in the south?  Or did Tuskegee just provide a permanent work force for low level jobs during this era?  

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A low level work force. Hence my comparison to Ellison's Invisible Man and the idea of The Founder's (BTW's) letters of recommendation for the unnamed protagonist that read, "Keep this nigger boy running," in essence. We're still running. BTW's desire to relegate Blacks to working class status through vocational training appears admirable, but in essence created the foundation of Blacks in the south today being blue collar workers who don't even explore their own cities. They only attend church, bible study and work. The people who do escape this pattern are often isolated and can't find their way in the White world and are side-eyed by Blacks.

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Vocational training is no different that many of the schools of the day.  Even white schools did the same.  Only a small percentage of white were trained for management or leadership positions.  

Remember we are talking about a time when even the majority of white people did not have a college education, and a huge percentage of Black people were illiterate.

It would be very interesting to look at the outcomes of Tuskegee graduates and their descendants and compare them to the outcomes of other Blacks of the day.

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This is true, but all of the colleges were funded by White benefactors primarily churches. They were founded to make sure that Blacks were never to integrate into White schools. Blacks were going to be educated, so why not fund the institutions and ensure they are educated according to the guidelines created by the benefactors. I know I keep harping on IM (it's my favorite novel) but the nameless narrator of the text was sent on his "mission" for exposing the visiting White benefactor to the images the Black college was attempting to hide. The ugly brutal truth that the college was only lipstick on a pig.

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