Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ignore those who point out that they live in a rapacious, white supremacist empire

I'm terribly saddened by the death today of one of my intellectual heroes, Howard Zinn. I'm also saddened to realize that as news of his death travels, most Americans probably won't recognize his name. Zinn's masterwork, A People's History of the United States, opened my eyes, not only to the brutal and racist underpinnings of the country that I live in, but also to the fact that the "country" I live in should be more properly recognized as an empire.

A couple of years ago, Metropoltian Books released a graphic version of Zinn's own process of becoming aware of that fact: A People's History of American Empire. I bought it as soon as I heard about it, and appreciated its reminders about how much blood, suffering, and sacrifice "America" has extracted from racialized others, much of it for the sake of people like me. Here's a video, narrated by Viggo Mortensen, that introduces this book's key ideas (I also included this video in an earlier post, about America as an empire).

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for your awesome yet accessible insight, for your tireless activism, and for your inspiring optimism and faith in the power of us -- the people.


  1. Zinn was outstanding. What a loss to this country.

  2. Well said. Zinn is a hero of mine as well. (None of you are surprised, I'm sure).

    For the African/African diaspora religions class I taught last semester, every student who wrote their term paper on black liberation/womanist theology or the Nation of Islam cited People's History. I like to think that the influence he and his work have had and will continue to have, justify his optimism in the face of centuries of tribulation.

  3. OHH!! I actually just yelled out loud. D':
    I can't believe I'm hearing this for the first time at 10:30PM!?

    Well, he will be missed.
    R.I.P. for real.

  4. So that's why we went in a war with Vietnam. Hey never tell you about that in history class.
    As for Zinn he was a man and I will miss him

  5. OMG. Right after Salinger.....

  6. will be getting my hands on that book asap

  7. I cried when I found out Zinn died. He is one of my heroes...his autobiography (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train) changed my life. What a tragic loss...


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