🔢 Key Takeaways
- Charles M. Blow's book challenges the idea of trading in one devil for another and argues that America is fundamentally defined by race. Black people need to demand their rightful power and the book invites all readers to engage in this transformative work.
- Blow proposes Black Americans take decisive action against enduring racism in America, arguing the progress argument is too passive. Black liberation cannot be contingent on white people's evolution.
- Despite obstacles and doubts, it's important to strive for excellence and pursue your dreams in order to make a difference in the world, just as Charles Blow did in his successful career as an opinion columnist.
- Despite facing racism and limited opportunities, Black Southerners migrated to northern cities in search of better lives. They faced challenges, but also created vibrant communities and economies, demonstrating their resilience and determination.
- Despite progress, white supremacy still harms Black Americans. Northern cities perpetuate segregation and police brutality. White terror centers on protecting white femininity and imbalance of power dynamics. The system benefits white moderates and harms Black Americans.
- Charles Blow's big idea is for Black Americans to reclaim the states they would have controlled if they had not fled them, to optimize political power and reverse the impact of white supremacy. It is time to eradicate and not just mitigate systemic racism.
- Moving back to major Southern cities can increase federal and state power, allowing for control over issues like mass incarceration and education policy. The idea is rooted in antecedents like the Republic of New Afrika and Back to Africa movement.
- Blow proposes a plan to consolidate power within southern states to maximize Black political power. He aims to combat issues that hinder Black lives by urging Black Americans to return to their ancestral homeland.
- Racism is systemic and cannot be escaped by simply moving; it requires proactive efforts to achieve political power and cultural unity. We cannot afford to ignore the physical and emotional toll of racial stress on Black lives. Fighting against racism means rejecting all forms of cruelty, including white supremacy.
- Black Americans lack political power to make changes, regardless of administration or political parties, and the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic may instigate a Black power migration, based on compelling data.
- Black political power in Georgia has the potential to lead to progress on the federal level and address important agenda items, but it also comes with resistance and risk for individuals fighting against white supremacy.
- Eradicating racism in America requires sustained effort and multiple solutions. Progress is hindered by a vested interest in the status quo, including among political figures, making real change challenging.
- Black leaders must reject the belief that appeasing white supremacy is the only option and recognize the dangers of succumbing to white-adjacent privilege. Tangible action is needed to combat systemic racism.
- Charles Blow believes that in order to fight oppression, the most talented people must join the battle and work towards solutions that provide equal opportunities for minority groups. He emphasizes the importance of addressing big issues that disproportionately affect Black people, such as expanding healthcare access.
- Reuniting the Black community can empower them economically and politically. Prioritizing Black high-school athletes attending H.B.C.U.'s can circulate money back into their community, while investing in Black talent can lead to sustained growth and liberation.
- Charles Blow proposes that consolidating power in regions where there is no white supremacy can lead to better outcomes for people. To combat racism, it is crucial to not ignore history and accept the tradeoffs that come with certain credentials.
- It's important to create spaces that celebrate Black adventure, invention, and dreams beyond narratives of slavery. We need to reverse the absorption of white anxiety and celebrate Black art, music, and literature.
📝 Podcast Notes
The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto
The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles M. Blow is a book written primarily for Black people, with a message of empowerment and political change. Blow did not want to write a race book in the typical sense, but instead created a manifesto that blends his personal experiences with political ideas. He challenges the idea of trading the devil you know for the devil you don't, whether that be the racist South or supposedly liberal Northern or Western cities. He argues that America is fundamentally a country defined by race, and that Black people need to demand their rightful power. Although Blow wrote this book with Black people in mind, he welcomes all readers to engage with this timely and transformative work.
Black America's Audacious Power Play Against White Supremacy
In his book proposal-turned-book, Charles Blow proposes an audacious power play by Black Americans in response to the enduring feature of white supremacy in America. He argues that too many Black Americans have been abused for too long in too many ways, and that too many white Americans pay nothing but lip service to anti-racism. Blow writes that the Black Lives Matter protests last summer were a 'social-justice Coachella' for those deprived by the pandemic of rites of passage, parties, and proms. His plan is nothing short of the most audacious power play by Black America in the history of the country. However, he believes that his plan is necessary because the progress argument is premised on inching your way out of oppressing someone and is too passive. Black liberation cannot be contingent on white peoples' evolution.
Charles Blow's Memoir and the Power of Generational Legacy
Charles Blow's memoir, Fire Shut Up In My Bones, shows his ancestral lineage of freed Black men and how their resilience and determination have impacted his life. Blow's family history inspires him to excel and pursue his dreams, despite the obstacles he faces as a Black man. He overcomes his early doubts about journalism and becomes a successful opinion columnist at the New York Times, using his platform to bring attention to issues of race and racism. Through his story, we see the power of generational legacy and the importance of striving for excellence, no matter the challenges that come our way.
The Great Migration: Overcoming Adversity Through Resilience
The Great Migration of Black Southerners to northern cities in search of better opportunities was a result of a combination of factors, including systemic racism, lack of access to healthcare and education, and the promise of jobs. This movement resulted in significant demographic changes in Southern towns like the hometown of writer Charles Blow, where the gender imbalance remains to this day. However, despite facing significant obstacles, pockets of survival and prosperity emerged as Black people took matters into their own hands, creating vibrant communities and economies that reflected their resilience and determination to succeed.
The Continuing Harm of White Supremacy on Black Americans
Despite the progress made in the fight for racial equality, white supremacy continues to evolve and harm Black Americans. Northern cities that were supposed to represent enlightenment and progress eventually resorted to the same oppressive tactics as the South, perpetuating a cycle of segregation and police brutality. Many of the seminal moments of white terror in America have been centered around protecting white femininity, perpetuating the idea that white women hold soft power in perpetuating racism. While some white moderates may seek to be allies, the very system they benefit from reinforces imbalanced power dynamics and perpetuates harm against Black Americans.
Proposed Reversal of the Great Migration for Black Americans
Charles Blow proposes a reversal of the Great Migration for Black Americans to colonize and control the states they would have controlled if they had not fled them. Blow argues that the same sense of terror and oppression that pushed people out of the South has been reincarnated in the North and West, rendering destination cities unwelcoming, inhospitable, and uninhabitable. His big idea is a grand generational undertaking, a rescue mission for Black America. This reverse migration can optimize political power and reverse the impact of white supremacy. It's time to eradicate rather than just mitigate.
Charles Blow suggests Reverse Migration as a Way to Gain State Power for Black People
Charles Blow argues that Black people should consider reverse migration to the major cities in the Southern states for gaining state power. State power allows for disproportionate power over issues Black people care about, such as mass incarceration, criminal codes, health policy, and educational policy. As per Blow's suggestion, moving back to the Southern states would increase both federal and state power, giving control over up to 14 Senate seats. The Republic of New Afrika and the Back to Africa movement serve as antecedents to this movement.
A Grand Generational Undertaking for Black America
Charles Blow proposes a grand generational undertaking, a rescue mission for Black America, to consolidate power within the southern states of the US. He aims to maximize Black political power by creating an anti-racist sanctuary in these states. The plan involves reversing the Great Migration of the 20th century and urging Black Americans to return to their ancestral homeland. Blow models his advocacy on the legacy of Black leadership and urges the press to reach out and mobilize Black people. He argues that Black activism faces the danger of elitism and a preoccupation with credentialing, which impedes activism. Blow's plan seeks to combat the issues that bedevil Black lives, such as criminal justice, judicial processes, education, healthcare, economic opportunity, and assistance.
The Persistence of Racism and the Need for Political Power
Racism is everywhere, and running away to the North won't guarantee an anti-racist space. Racism has developmental cycles, and it is important to strive for political power and cultural cohesiveness. Racial stress is literally costing Black people years of their lives. The cleaving point is cruelty, and while some may abhor slavery, they may still believe in white supremacy. Charles Blow wrote his book during the Trump administration.
The Political Limitations and Possibilities for Black Americans
Black people lack the political power to force change in the current system, regardless of the administration in power. The Democratic Party is not necessarily aligned with Black people on all issues, and a change in political parties is possible but would require time. Human beings pick and choose from party platforms, and racial egalitarianism is not necessarily a core component of liberalism. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis for Black people that may serve as the necessary accelerant for a Black power migration, similar to the boll-weevil infestation that led to the Great Migration. Data supports the potential success of this reverse migration.
The Rise of Black Political Power in Georgia
The Black population in Georgia has doubled from 1990 to 2020, and Black people have achieved political representation in major southern cities. Leveraging Black political power in these areas can lead to progress on the federal level, as demonstrated by the Black coalition that delivered Georgia for Joe Biden. Black people have the ability to push for legislation that addresses their agenda items, such as studying reparations, but this comes with resistance and risk. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to decide if they want to work towards creating a society free from white supremacy.
The Persistence of Systemic Racism in America and the Challenges of Eradication
Systemic racism in America continues to persist, with each advance in civil rights met with a white supremacist response. The establishment, including the Black establishment, is hesitant to bring about real change as their power is vested in the status quo. This includes political figures such as Barack Obama who was limited in his ability to address racism through federal government action. Progress towards combating racism requires a sustained and concerted effort, recognizing that the eradication of racism is a complex issue that will require multiple solutions.
The Seduction of White-Adjacent Privilege
Black leaders have historically believed that appeasing white supremacy was the only option, but this has not helped Black people. White supremacy cannot be bargained with or convinced, and no amount of coalition-building or hope can change that. The Black elite are often drafted into a white-adjacent privilege that blinds them to the struggles of their people, becoming passive and placated. Success and talent lead to embrace by the establishment, cleaving away from the plight of their people. It is easy to get lost in this seduction and convince oneself of its reality. It is essential to recognize that hoping for political change is folly and take tangible action to combat white supremacy.
Charles Blow's Fight Against Oppression and Call to Action for the Talented
Charles Blow, a writer for the New York Times, believes that the talented-tenth fallacy is not true and that in order to fight against oppression, our most talented people, strongest fighters, and best writers and artists have to get down in the trenches. He moved to Atlanta believing that it is a solution to what he is writing about and he hopes that younger people, who have always been the majority of any migration, will move as well. He envisions an accelerated attempt to disenfranchise the new voters, but hopes that the forces of change overtake them. He wants to take on big issues that disproportionately affect Black people and make life safer, more fulfilled, and more happy for them. Expanding Obamacare and Medicaid will save lives of those infected with H.I.V.
The Benefits of Black Density
Black density can prove to be beneficial for both political and economic reasons. When Black people reunite, they can combine their purchasing power, brainpower, and cultural power, and use it to benefit the community. To achieve this, sending the top Black high-school athletes to H.B.C.U.'s instead of predominantly white schools could be a step in the right direction. This would enable the money generated to circulate back into the Black community. However, integration works both ways, and just as Black kids go to Black schools, White kids should also be encouraged to do the same. Investing in Black talent and capital can ultimately lead to liberation and sustained growth for the Black community.
Consolidating Power to Combat White Supremacy.
Charles Blow argues that it is better to consolidate power in a region where people are equally conditioned to success, support, and safety, and where they do not have to live under white supremacy. While basic human problems such as poverty, crime, and income inequality will still exist, people who do not live under white supremacy, in the aggregate, do better than those who do. Blow suggests that if racism is almost universal in the country, it is better to have enough power to actually fight it. He also points out that legacy admissions and testing criteria in Ivy League schools have largely excluded people who look like him. Overall, Blow believes that it is important to not divorce history from the present and to acknowledge the tradeoffs that come with pursuing certain credentials.
Encouraging Black Imagination Beyond Oppression and Celebrating Cultural Successes
Black imagination should be encouraged and nurtured beyond the narratives of slavery, oppression, and poverty. It is essential to create spaces that celebrate Black adventure and invention, where Black children's dreams are acknowledged. The Black story must be bigger than white America's literature where stories of racism and struggling for acceptance in a white world are rewarded. It is time to reverse the absorption of white anxiety into our lives and find our true homes. Black people must pray with their legs as Frederick Douglass did to escape slavery. Charles Blow calls for a Black Power Manifesto where Black people take control of their destinies. The world needs to celebrate Black art, music and literature, like the opera adaptation of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, created by Black composers and librettists which will be performed for the first time at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera this September.