charles v. hamilton

’…..this is not to say that every single white American consciously oppresses black people. He does not need to. Institutional racism has been maintained deliberately by the power structure and through indifference, inertia and lack of courage on the part of white masses as well as petty officials.‘
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Stokely Carmichael & Charles V. Hamilton.

Excerpt from ‘Black Power : The Politics of Liberation in America’

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In these United States, we’ve used unspeakable systemic violence to create a supremacist culture that has and continues to rob black people of freedom. Here, we don’t need to speak the unspeakable. We see it every single day, all of us. But there are people who fight for power, which is to say agency, which is to say freedom. It takes art and passion and standing up next to each another. The tide-buckers and the oppressed have been for centuries fighting tirelessly for the dignity and equality of their own bodies, lives, loves. The political rhetoric in this fight has lately taken to social media, an outlet wholly democratic for other voices to be heard and social awareness to bloom. 

Forty years ago though, it took place in part on the covers of paperback books. The sale of these books — 99 cents in pharmacies and grocery lines across America — helped shape contemporary discourse and design. Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s Black Power can be examined as an example of one such publication.

The original design by Larry Ratzkin is unassuming yet profound: a white field, with the giant words “Black Power” centered in a thick, slab-serifed type. No images, no frills. The efficiency of the cover appears so natural that any other is hard to imagine; the design has come to embody the political moment in the late 1960s when Black people began uniting in their struggle for liberation. Other variations, iterations and representations of the movement and the paperback below, originally on view in the gallery annex at Ace Hotel New York. 

This selection was curated by the Interference Archive — a Gowanus, Brooklyn-based archive exploring the relationship between cultural production and social movements, and working to preserve the history of movements in an environment that allows marginalized communities to shape the way their own history is represented. 

am i the only person that has noticed the way corporations have leveraged "pro-blackness" by playing on black racial pride in commercials and sitcoms so we can feel good about ourselves as we continue to pay them and finance their white supremacist, corporate dictatorship?

“black visibility is not black power”

- stokely carmichael and charles v. hamilton

Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism. The first consists of overt acts by individuals, which cause death, injury or the violent destruction of property. This type can be recorded by television cameras; it can frequently be observed in the process of commission. The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than the first type.
—  Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) & Charles V. Hamilton - Black Power: the Politics of Liberation ch. 1.

Black Power : The Politics of Liberation

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by Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton

In 1967, this revolutionary work exposed the depths of systemic racism in this country and provided a radical political framework for reform: true and lasting social change would only be accomplished through unity among African-Americans and their independence from the preexisting order. An eloquent document of the civil rights movement that remains a work of profound social relevance 25 years after it was first published.

Those who would assume the responsibility of representing black people in this country must be able to throw off the notion that they can effectively do so and still maintain a maximum amount of security. Jobs will have to be sacrificed, positions of prestige and status given up, favors forfeited. It may well be - and we think it is - that leadership and security are basically incompatible. When one forcefully challenges the racist system, one cannot, at the same time, expect that system to reward him or even treat him comfortably. Political leadership which pacifies and stifles its voice and then rationalizes this on grounds of gaining “something for my people” is, at bottom, gaining only meaningless, token rewards that an affluent society is perfectly willing to give.
—  Stokely Carmichael & Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America

One of the tragedies of the struggle against racism is that up to now there has been no national organization which could speak to the growing militancy of young black people in the urban ghetto. There has been only a civil rights movement, whose tone of voice was adapted to an audience of liberal whites. It served as a sort of buffer zone between them and angry young blacks. None of its so-called leaders could go into a rioting community and be listened to. In a sense, I blame ourselves—together with the mass media—for what has happened in Watts, Harlem, Chicago, Cleveland, Omaha. Each time the people in those cities saw Martin Luther King get slapped, they became angry; when they saw four little black girls bombed to death, they were angrier; and when nothing happened, they were steaming. We had nothing to offer that they could see, except to go out and be beaten again. We helped to build their frustration.

For too many years, black Americans marched and had their heads broken and got shot. They were saying to the country, “Look, you guys are supposed to be nice guys and we are only going to do what we are supposed to do—why do you beat us up, why don’t you give us what we ask, why don’t you straighten yourselves out?” After years of this, we are at almost the same point—because we demonstrated from a position of weakness. We cannot be expected any longer to march and have our heads broken in order to say to whites: come on, you’re nice guys. For you are not nice guys. We have found you out.

—  Stokely Carmichael & Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America