Manning Marable, African American Studies Scholar, Dies at 60

Manning Marable, the author of a long-awaited new biography of Malcolm X to be published Monday and director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, died Friday at the age of 60, his wife, Leith Mullings, has confirmed to the New York Times.   His new biography of Malcolm X is scheduled to be published on Monday by Viking.


Here is his website on Malcolm X. Our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.  He was a great scholar and a kind man.  He will be missed.

African Americans’ Social & Racial Identity Under Attack

The social identity of individuals is linked to their racial and cultural identities which give them a sense of purpose in life. It is common knowledge that Italians, Greeks, Russians, Germans, French, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, Spaniards, to name a few, have identifiable cultures that are linked to their social and racial identity and that this identity is embraced, welcomed, and accepted throughout the Western world. These cultural groups are known for their goods and services, foods, modes of production, religions, and regions. However, a radically different story emerges about people of color, specifically African Americans. When reflection is given to individuals of African extraction, what thought comes to mind? Naturally, racialized societies throughout the world associate negative images to persons, groups, or things they do not understand or to those things they perceive as different (See Images of the outsider in American law and culture: Can Free Expression Remedy Systemic Social Ills, Chapter 21, pp. 225-235.) These negative images usually come from a white racial frame that is sustained and maintained by systemic racism.

African Americans have been the subject of racialized and discursive discourse that has socially constructed them as criminals and amoral human beings, which challenges their humanity and their right to a legitimate social and racial identity. Such racialized discourse has its roots in slavery, was reproduced during the Jim Crow era, and is maintained today through systemic racism to keep them from having a healthy identity, one that the world can appreciate and respect. When CNN’s Black in America aired during the month of July 2008, Fox News invited both black and white contributors to share their perceptions of the CNN documentary. These contributing sycophants used offensive and racially-charged statements to demean African Americans. To this end, African American guest speakers were expected to express bigoted and inflammatory statements against their own racial group with reference to crime and out-of-wedlock births, suggesting that African Americans lack moral character and can only be identified as criminals and an amoral people. Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes that

The image of the malevolent black male is based on durable and time-resistant bedrock of myths, half-truths, and lies. The image was created during the European conquest of Africa, nurtured during slavery, artfully refined during the nadir of segregation, and revived during the Ronald Reagan-George Bush years. . . . To maintain power and control, the plantation masters said that black men were savage and hyper-sexual. To strengthen racial control, late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century scientists and academics concocted pseudo-theories that said black men were criminal and mentally defective. To justify lynching and political domination, the politicians and business leaders of the era said that black men were rapists and brutes. To roll back civil rights and slash social programs, Reagan-Bush Limbaugh type conservatives say black men are derelict and lazy.

When racist media, such as Fox News, use black intellectual mercenaries to pander to white audiences to denounce a cultural practice or particular behavior in African Americans in general, they are, in essence, identifying African Americans as subjects worthy to be oppressed, absolving a racialized society of all blame for their oppressed condition and the reason such behavior has become a normalized practice.

With this said, many African American men and women do not have the luxury of marrying and raising a family together under normal circumstances because of many black males’ difficulty acquiring gainful employment with medical benefits. Without gainful employment, African American men are essentially unmarriageable. With so many African American men lost to the prison system and with little economic advantage, many are reluctant to marry because they cannot support a family.

Finally, Kenneth Estell, as well as many other black scholars, documents African Americans’ contributions to America. Estell documents both black achievements and chronicles their accomplishments, such as Blacks’ creation of national organizations, involvement in politics, entrepreneurship, gains in education, religion, literature, the media, performing arts, music, sports, military, science, medicine, military, and many other achievements.