Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from “Civil Rights” to “Sovereign Rights”

by Ezrah Aharone
Paperback, $21.00
324 pages, illustrated
ISBN: 978-1-4389-3858-5

Book Review by Kam Williams

“African-Americans could benefit from a 21st Century approach to freedom and equality, using sovereign principles as its interpretive lens… Sovereignty is an inborn political desire for self-government that is as natural as the change of seasons..
This book shapes the sociopolitical substance of our historical experience into a sovereign consciousness… [A] key factor that distinguishes this work from typical political works of Africans in America, is that it does not regard ‘Civil Rights’ as the standard or goal by which our freedom should be measured or aspired
I rather circumscribe ‘Sovereign Rights’ in a universal and historical context that effectively confers us with just as much integrity and authority as any other people on Earth to espouse and employ sovereign standards for ourselves.
Svereignty, as I exclaim, is the next state in our centuries-old political evolution to regain our true freedom.”
 Excerpted from the Introduction (pages xi-xiv)

The ascension of Barack Obama to the presidency has seemingly put
the political agenda of black America on the back burner. Consequently, many a pundit has come to suggest that this historic moment might simultaneously signal the end of the line for those civil rights advocates whose careers have revolved around petitioning the government for inclusion. This new debate has basically been framed around the question of whether or not the U.S. has matured into a post-racial society where everyone is judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
However, Ezrah Aharone has a very different perspective of the plight of Africans in America. He argues that “the granting of civil rights and voting rights should not be viewed as a marker of a government’s legitimization, since a genuinely moral government would never make its citizenry fight for civil rights in the first place.”
He goes on to point out that the woeful federal, state and municipal response to Katrina proved that black people remain second-class citizens, all the supposed inroads notwithstanding. Ezrah says the problem resides in the question of sovereignty which still “belongs to Euro-Americans who have abused their sovereign powers as a political weapon of control.”
Mr. Aharone’s answers to this dilemma, the assertion of their “Sovereign Rights” by black folks, are all meticulously delineated in Sovereign Evolution, a sequel of sorts to his first book, the equally-incendiary “Pawned Sovereignty.” It takes a lot of gumption for anyone to be proposing what at first blush sounds like a black nationalist agenda in this ostensibly omni-embracive age of Obama.
If not necessarily convincing, the author at least makes a well-articulated, thought-provoking case, pointing to the new president as proof of “our own sovereign potentiality.” As Ezrah puts it, “Black president or no Black president, we need our own political ‘Manifest Destiny’ because their version of ‘Manifest Destiny’ ensures that America will always politically remain majority-owned, fully controlled, and absolutely governed by Anglo-European principles, practices and policies.”
A controversial clarion call for separation just when America finally appears on the verge of actually becoming the melting pot it has long pretended to be. Given that you hear so many black people saying they feel fully American for the first time, pursuing brother Aharone’s divisive dream of black sovereignty is probably as practical aright now as trying to unscramble a bowl of scrambled eggs.
And I wonder on which side of the color line would half-white/half-black President Obama belong anyway?

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1 comment:

Ezrah Aharone said...

This is Ezrah Aharone, the author of Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from “Civil Rights” to “Sovereign Rights.”

While I appreciate Kam Williams taking time to review my book, Sovereign Evolution, I feel blindsided since the book is not about President Obama as one would gather from his limited account. Obama is a relative fragment within a vastly larger body of sociopolitical facts, research, and subject matters spanning 500 years of history. Moreover, the concept and analyses of sovereignty are so voluminous, that I’m perplexed as to why Kam singled-out a few race-related factors and then categorized them as the sum of the book’s 301 pages. This is not only unfair to the breadth of my scholarship; it pigeonholes the book as something that it's not.

My work does not “call for separation.” Never do I use the word “separation,” which is a stigmatized political-term that’s steeped in a racist “segregated” past that no one wants to revisit. Such antiquated language diminishes the value of the sovereign content that the book details in a universal context. As well, the book does not promote “Black Nationalism.” I, in fact, make definitive distinctions between sovereignty and Black Nationalism in both the text and the glossary. Contrarily, I also recognize those who “feel fully American” and the inherent complexities of “unscrambling” as Kam puts it. But being that sovereignty exists in this world; I apply the concept and consciousness of sovereignty as an academic lens to examine the political and historical experience of African Americans – Not to prescribe a racist “divisive dream.” People are racist, not the "concept of sovereignty." At its best, sovereignty is a noble and honorable realization.

Yes, the book unavoidably encompasses racial issues, but it doesn’t espouse racism. If I removed all references to African Americans and then presented the exact same arguments and concepts generically, the book would stand as a comprehensive resource on sovereign ideals that would not be found cover-to-cover in any other single book.

I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything in the book. But Kam did not critique the gist/core/fundamentals therein. Based on the racist connotations of his scope, one would think the book lacks all intellect and requisites for discourse during these trying times of America’s folly. I expected him to carve (pro or con) into the real thematic heart of the book so readers could benefit from a true sovereign appraisal. Honestly Kam, what about the remaining 300 pages of the book?