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The Covenant with Black America: A Review
By Dell Gines

The Covenant with Black America, a book of essays on the condition of us Blacks in America compiled by Tavis Smiley, was one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Based upon the hype, the fact that it was selling out and needed to be special ordered, and the projected transformative content, I had hoped that this book would be something new and unique with the power to transform Black America or at least provide a critical plan of attack. I was wrong.

If you subtract out the excellent statistics that are provided with each chapter you are left with absolutely, well nothing. You are left with nothing new that is as every chapter is a regurgitation of old ideas that are 95% government expansion and bureaucracy creation based. When personal or community solutions are posited they are done so in a hap hazard fashion with nothing provided in the way of real grassroots organization. In fact because it was so government centric in its solutions is exactly WHY I was so disappointed. With seemingly no strategic aim or destination that says...

1. We Should Be There
2. Here is How We Will Get There
3. These Are the Resources Needed
4. This is When It Should Be Accomplished

...the book read more like a collection of topics illustrating inequities as opposed to a true solution based revolutionary manual for us Black Americans.

If a covenant is a binding agreement and that covenant is with Black America, and the book is addressed to Black Americans, it was my (obviously wrong thought) that it would be a book about us swearing to ourselves that we would make a difference amongst ourselves for ourselves and by ourselves first an foremost. That although we recognized the ultimate necessity to create change in our government it didn't supercede our need to create change FUBU style (for us by us) first on a large scale. Ceding virtual God status to the government for the holistic transformation of our people the book in effect minimized the power that we have to create change, not enhance it.

The lack of any real tools provided in each section of the book that concentrate on grassroots organizing, strategic community planning, rebuilding faith, love and trust, self-policing, self governing, and economic development amongst ourselves makes the book functionally weak. Instead of a Garveyistic ˜Africa for Africans', a Booker T Washington artisanship emphasis, a Nation of Islam nationalistic religious self-help, a Stokely Carmichael "Black Power" or a Dr. Claude Anderson Powernomics, instead I got a liberal lesson on the 1029 ways the government should expand and serve us "poor ole blak folk, cuz we be so brokin don".

Until we recognize that internal strength and the competitiveness of our communities is the only way to defend ourselves from external conditions that work to destroy us then we will always be stuck waiting (as a minority in a democracy) for those who do not have our best interest at heart to help us up. Some may hope on the altruism of the modern predominantly caucasian male politician to help us, but I for one will not hold my breath.

So in the final analysis the Covenant with Black America was not a Covenant with Black America at all. In reality it was a request for the government to be the Black man's Jesus. I reject that, and still hold to the Powernomics principles of Dr. Claude Anderson as the most relevant work to come out of modern black leadership in the last twenty years.

To learn more about the book visit the website: http://www.covenantwithblackamerica.com/
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Dell, for the most part I agree with your review of the Covenant. I watched the annual State of The Black Union and was excited about what I heard and was especially excited about the Book. I'm one of those who rushed out and bought it. I too was left feeling I had heard all this before and didn't see how it advanced our cause. To read "here's what you can do today" wasn't very inspiring and left me feeling unfulfilled. Later however I came to realize that for our condition there's no silver bullet that will fix us all at once. There is so much we in the black community need to work on and this book at least ( based on sales) got a lot of us to read, think and talk about our condition. To advance us forward it has to be a collective effort and I'm almost certain the Covenant inspired some and will get them to join in the fight to better ourselves.
quote:
Originally posted by Dell Gines:
So in the final analysis the Covenant with Black America was not a Covenant with Black America at all. In reality it was a request for the government to be the Black man's Jesus. I reject that, and still hold to the Powernomics principles of Dr. Claude Anderson as the most relevant work to come out of modern black leadership in the last twenty years.


Hmmmm ... coming from someone referred here by Cobb ... I can see why. sck
I'm finding the book to be an excellent, hard-copy, reference for African American statistics.

I am, thus far, disappointed.

I have found only rehash analysis, AND rehash 'planning'.

Much ado,... so far.

MBM, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that save the statistics, we certainly can do as good.

And...probably better.

And...issue our own book.

I don't have to guess.

THIS IS NOT THE BEST WE HAVE TO OFFER.

PEACE

Jim Chester
While not the best we have to offer JWC (and others), do you feel the plan is workable in present form? I see the covenants as an organic process. Over time, they can become more sophisticated; presently their "simple & rehash" presentation allow for easy comprehension IMO. This increases the chances of the layman adopting part or all of the covenants. All that's missing is a good, consistent media push to keep this on the minds of African America.
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

I'm finding the book to be an excellent, hard-copy, reference for African American statistics.

I am, thus far, disappointed.

I have found only rehash analysis, AND rehash 'planning'.

Much ado,... so far.

MBM, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that save the statistics, we certainly can do as good.

And...probably better.

And...issue our own book.

I don't have to guess.

THIS IS NOT THE BEST WE HAVE TO OFFER.

PEACE

Jim Chester


I think it makes sense to reserve judgment until we get a chance to discuss the book. I imagine that much will be unsurfaced through the dialogue process.
Hello everyone,
I read the book with a different expectation in mind. I have been engaged in work to address some of the challenges within the topics discussed. I listened to Tavis and others at The State of the Black Union 2006, and I was looking forward to a collection of ideas to expand my current engagement. I wasn't looking for The Covenant to be "The Solution," but the first step in collecting ideas that are working in other places. Perhaps it is not the most comprehensive, nor does it claim to be the best.

It does, however, provide some anchors for discussion, planning, and action. Never before has there been an opportunity to leverage the Internet, in a forum like this and others, where a national thought process can be engaged, without the posturing and pontificating of so-called experts. Each of us is an expert looking for "best practices" to help us all to do better. The Covenant With Black America is "a framework" for those discussions all over America.

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