Week of April 29: The Candidate Selection Process

Important announcements!

Fall Course: I’ll be teaching AAS 245: History of African Americans in the Wednesday 6-8:40 PM time slot if anyone’s interested. Section H81, course code 57646. It meets the “US Experience in its Diversity” core requirement. It is not writing intensive.

Final assignments are posted on the assignments page. There are two options: one assignment for those doing fieldwork from home or who did enough to write about their organization. The second option is the alternate assignment, which uses the Black Panther Party as a case study.

Next week’s assignment will be to read chapter 4 (Consciousness and Power) in Wilson. The final week (May 11) will be reserved for phone conferences/ questions/ work on your final papers.


  • Lehman has a loaner program for computers/tablets if you don’t have a reliable one. Fill this form (link) out immediately to get on the list!

Instructions for this week: Watch to the following interview with NY State Assemblyman Charles Barron, then view the presentation by your classmates and listen to my lecture (it’s about 22 minutes long) then comment on Wilson’s chapter. In chapter 10 Wilson analyzes the process that potential candidates for political office go through to get themselves on the ballot and then elected and why it so often doesn’t result in more power for the black community. Take some time to carefully read, think about, and comment on it.

Watch to the following 8-minute interview with Charles Barron (Go to the direct link on Youtube if you don’t see the video embedded below.) Think about how Barron approaches the electoral process and how it relates to Wilson’s vision in the chapter.

This week’s  student presentation by: Emma, Lyssette, José, and Hadijah

PDF Download: Chapter 10 The Candidate Selection Process

This week’s audio lecture:

It’s approximately 22 minutes long. Play it in your browser by pressing the arrow below. Try it in a different browser or on a laptop/desktop computer if it doesn’t play–especially on mobile devices–and please report any problems to me.

Comments on posts:

You’ll notice the “Leave a Comment” button is now active below. Here’s how it’ll work: you can use these to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either Wilson’s chapter, the presentation, or my lecture using some of the questions raised. conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have until next Wednesday to write those two comments for credit. The comment section closes after 14 days.


15 thoughts on “Week of April 29: The Candidate Selection Process

  1. Fatoumata Tunkara

    In Chapter 10 of “Blueprint for Black Power” Wilson very eloquently explains the candidate- selection process. Similar to the last chapter where Wilson writes about the policy- formation process the candidate selection process is dominated by a small class of the wealthy. These power holders are able to influence candidates by funding their local and national campaigns with money. Wilson also very eloquently writes about the dominance of the Republican and the Democratic party. “It is one party of the corporate class with two wings – the Democrats and Repblicans” (pg 212). I agree with this take in this chapter because even though there are other parties in America the political sphere has been dominated by the democrats and the republicans for years. Even though the parties claim to have different policies and ideas they share many similarities in that fact that they are ultimately catering toward the corporate/elites. Wilson also writes in the chapter about how both parties try to distance themselves from black causes. African Americans are excluded from any decision making or influence over the politicians because it is dominated by the white elite. Wilson suggest that African Americans create their own independent political party to have a group of people who can look over their interests and can influence decision making to attain power in the black community. This chapter I found to be very interesting and informative because one thing that stuck out to me from chapter 1 of the book is when Wilson states that African Americans shouldn’t rely on politics to attain power because of lack of economic influence. So I found the information and the ideas he brought up in this chapter to very informative. In Addition I agree that the two party politics isn’t working for America especially for Black Americans. Money in politics has been a topic of discussion lately due to recent campaigns and I think that by removing the influence of the white elite class Black people can attain progress in many aspects of American life socially,politically and economically.

    1. Hadijah Alhassan

      Hi Fatoumata,

      I love your response. I myself thought that politics was invaluable when it came to the benefits of the black community. Yes, I am understanding that because there is no financial influence we cannot excel in the current political system. So, I see why Wilson would urge people of color to create a independent political party. I think the ruling elite will invest in vandalizing it. I think that is why it is important to take in when Wilson says gaining knowledge and being strategic can get us far.

    2. Bereket Mengistu

      Thank you for bringing up the idea of the democrats vs republicans that Wilson wrote about in chapter 10. It was one of those things that I have always felt but never articulated it in words and Wilson just did that. We were always taught to believe that the Democratic and Republican parties work on a very opposing spectrum of a political field when in reality they go hand in hand. Wilson calls them some kind of twin brothers. Both of them work mainly for the advancement of their own people. They’re playing a tennis game of two where the ball stays on their field. Meanwhile we’re the audience, watching a game we desperately want to play but we are constantly told it is a game of ONLY two. SAD

    3. Aprika T

      Hi Fatoumata,
      The quote that you pointed out “It is one party of the corporate class with two wings – the Democrats and Repblicans” (pg 212) just continues to pull the book together in my point of view, from many of the previous Chapters Wilson keeps brining to light that the elite class controls everything and they have many different branches of it. As well as towards the end of your response when you state “Wilson states that Afrikan Americans shouldn’t rely on politics to attain power” as we seen in other Chapter due to the fact that Afrikan Americans are not as finically up there with the Elites they will never really have any proper representation or the same opportunities in life.

  2. Jose Tejada

    “Another outcome of the American candidate-selection process dominated by ‘big money’ and ruling elite influence, is a two-party system which downplays, discourages or ignores substantive policy issues and discussions, neglects the political education of its constituencies, does not satisfy voter preferences, and which produces two major parties whose ideological orientations are many times barely distinguishable and whose political views and goals overlap at many important points.”As an introduction to the section of Party Politics, this very long sentence serves its purpose it making the attitude clear. Wilson calls the system out on its hypocrisy. Both parties have very similar views and even though they do disagree on many things, their primary objective is to protect corporate interests.
    A theme recurrent in chapter 10 is the similarity of both political parties the Democratic and Republican Party. Putting aside what seems to be clear differences in the way the parties think the country should be run, the core of their work is to protect the interest of corporate America. The issue with this is that both parties are not preaching their ideology to the public to work on their interests. Instead, once the election is over, whoever is in office gets back to their agenda to protect the corporate interest. Also, politicians call the public out for not paying enough attention and not being fully present when it comes to politics. Don’t confuse, however, this attitude with real intention because when they go back to office, both parties bo gack to working on the interests of corporations that fund them.

    1. Fatoumata Tunkara

      Hey Jose,
      I agree with your take on this chapter. Democrats and Republicans alike claim to be for the people but they are really for the interest of corporate America. I think that because money is so heavily involved in politics this has corrupted our political system in America. I think that the shift towards policies actually helping people in America begins w/ removing the influence of corporate America. Would you agree?

  3. Michael Ogundipe

    In chapter 10 Wilson stated that “The Afrikan American community is excluded from the decision-making and governance processes of the White nation which dominates and exploits it. It is excluded from the policy-planning and formation networks which guide or influence governmental policy.” Wilson also called for an independent Black political party, and I agree with him. I’m personally tried of these political candidates going on many black platforms making empty promises just to get the “black” vote to help them get elected. I truly believe if we have an independent Black political party, the black community would have a stronger voice in the government. New policies would be created to help the African American community, and we would gain more political and economic power.

    1. Nevia Cridlan

      Hi Michael I agree with you, all it takes is just one person of color to get a position in the government decision making then the black community will have a better chance getting their own platforms ans their voices heard. Wilson also said that its not all about winning but being independent and working hard towards making a difference for their community.

  4. Nevia Cridlan

    Chapter 10. “More determining than running for office and winning elections, an independent Black political part would be able to do the following things.” (Pages 217 & 218). Wilson is encouraging the black community not to get so caught up in winning elections but be free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority or substance and take more power in the community. When the black community is in control they will be able to be more effective in solving issues, doing fund raising to gather resource to get information, advocate for your community and represent them in a convincing and genuine way. It is time for a change.

  5. Hadijah Alhassan

    While reading chapter 10, I realized that the small class of power holders has more leverage then majority votes. I also realized that because the ruling elite utilize their resources, Wilson is suggestion that the black community needs to do the same. Wilson suggests that we be strategic, and have knowledge when we do so. Wilson makes a valid point when he says that when a candidate has financial backing from a substantial group, that candidate has been compromised in some way. These “financial backings” are disguised as the investor believing in the vision of the candidate, but in all reality it is the candidate being the puppet for the ruling elite. Unfortunately, the way the political system is played and set up it is not for the interest of the people. Wilson also explains how the Republican Party is not to enhance the ideas of conservatism, but rather the conservative people themselves. It is also mentioned that the Democratic Party has an image that it serves the minority, but it also sways to the “white ruling elite” as well. Chapter 10 also talks about how the political system promotes racism and creates a barrier between blacks and whites. There are stereotypes and distorted information created in reference to people of color and the poor-working class. The political system as a well as the democrat and republican party creates a pipe dream for the minority, but really is combating them. Wilson suggests that the black community need to organize and tackle this issue to gain power within the community. In addition, he says to create an independent political party. This would allow the Afrikan American community to have a platform and not fall into the redundant cycle of the political system.

    1. Leah H

      You bring up many really valid points about the politics of the ruling elite and how they operate in order to maintain power and status. When you mentioned stereotypes and distorted information about people of color it reminded me of something that I had learned in a previous African American studies class regarding the use of media and the portrayal of Black men as ‘criminal’ in order to maintain political dominance over the Black community. The white elite uses the news media in order to maintain the prison industrial system and the superiority over the Black community by labeling and targeting Black males as criminal in order to take away their basic right to vote.

  6. Bereket Mengistu

    In chapter 10 of Black Power, The Candidate Selection Process, Amos Wilson breaks apart the ideas of how the system operates. Wilson gives a depth look at strategic tools to benefit the Black Community to gain power. He pays attention to the importance of collective strategy to the broad community. Wilson expresses that his interest is not personality cults and political participations but rather effective strategic approach to give power to Black people.

    Wilson gives three problems that meets the progress in the strategic approach to power: Money; need for candidate name recognition: and the narrowing difference between the democratic and republican parties. To rephrase Professor Williams, who raised a good point on this chapter, he said “know the game exactly so you can use the tool to bring power to the community. “Wilson prescribes many different approaches to defeat the problems. He calls for Black community political parties to take efforts to gain power in the political system so they can benefit the community.

    The interview of Charles Barron, a city council who was a former Black Panther Party member was very insightful. Barron gives Barron gives a parallel yet a bit different approach than Wilson. Barren believes we need to not only make strategic moves in the political system but also march and protest to make an impact. Wilson preaches to learn how to play the game and Barron on the other hand suggests that we “don’t have to learn how to play the game.” If Wilson was alive I would have loved to see a debate between the two.

    I enjoyed the group [presentation and they highlighted many key points from the chapter. I especially liked that they mentioned what Wilson wanted from the Black political parties. “No Black politicians affiliated with any other party should be allowed at any level of organization.” I specifically didn’t like Wilson’s statement and I was glad that the group brought it up. So, if we were to say that Wilson is right about this statement, does that mean Obama will not be welcomed to a new independent black political party? In a sense, does Wilson believe that for independent Black parties to work the members shouldn’t be affiliated with other parties? I don’t quite agree but if anyone else had a different outlook, bring it on the comment below…

  7. Aprika T

    From reading over Emma Ruiz, Lyssette Matias, Jose Tejada, and Hadijah Alhassan presentation I was able to get a better understanding as well as a better insight on Chapter 10 of the book. This group dug deeply into the main topic which was “The Candidate Selection Process” beforehand I was not too sure of what this process really meant. But asI began reading their presentation they broke it down very clearly to me, Although I am not too much into politics myself I have seen some of the things pointed in Chapter 10’s presentation before especially when they speak about choosing the correct candidate they must have a good overall impression and fit specific criteria. Along with simply knowing that each candidate brings to the table is very important when making a selection, money is very important when selecting a candidate due to the fact that they must be able to support their own campaign financially. Moving along through the presentation they bring to light when Wilson speaks about the hypocrisy in the democratic and republican parties, although their overviews are different there are many ways in which they are the same and many people who are not truly educated often get mislead.

    1. Hadijah Alhassan

      Hi Aprika,

      I agree that the PowerPoint presentations helps to break down the chapters. Especially, when it is done collectively as a group. I also don’t like to get into politics as well, but some insight is definitely helpful to have an idea about what is going on in our society.

  8. Leah H

    While reading Wilson’s Chapter 10, Candidate Selection Process, I found many answers to questions that have been brewing as we get closer to upcoming elections. I find that getting involved in politics is incredibly important since we do have a democratic government and we are able to use our voice through voting. However, I find our two party system incredibly frustrating and our democracy to be flawed and therefore have found myself to be less engaged in the upcoming election than I had been with our last. It is incredibly biased that the only way candidates can gain even general recognition is by having funding and wealthy supporters to back up their campaign. When it comes to mostly Black communities, it is important that their representation reflects their population. I do believe that a Black political party could be incredibly beneficial for Black communities so that the people’s needs are properly articulated to the people in power who can make the proper adjustments for the community. I feel that there is a great disconnect in many communities between the needs of the people and the elected officials in charge. A Black political party can fuse this gap on a community level as well as reach even higher levels of government like on a state and national level.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.