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Race Against Empire by Penny M. Von Eschen.

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Introduction

In her book Race Against Empire, Penny M. Von Eschen writes of the African diaspora embraced by African Americans in the United States. Von Eschen discusses the anticolonialistic sentiment that began around the year 1937, and changed its course by 1957. Her study begins with a description of the roots of the diaspora at the time of World War II, and concludes with the dissintegration of the diaspora during the Cold War years. In the 1930's, African American authors and intellectuals began to voice a feeling of concern over the colonization occurring in Africa, Asia, and the Carribean. This concern was sparked by the global awareness that was brought about through advancements in communication and other technologies. People were able to travel from country to country more easily, which allowed for a better understanding of what was going on in the world outside of the United States. Von Eschen asserts that the growth of the black press was the driving force in the idea of the African diaspora. Newspapers such as the Pittsburg Courier and the Chicago Defender began to have correspondance with people familiar to the colonization and oppression of African nations, along with other nations by the European imperialist countries. These newspapers dramatically grew in size during the World War II period. ...read more.

Middle

She writes of the conflict that arose between the United States and the Soviet Union. Also, the author reveals attempts of the United States government to silence any serious opposition to the nation's foreign policy. The author presents her point in an explicit manner which is very convincing. The tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union caused the nations to begin an arms race that was harmful to both nations involved. The Cold War was also harmful to any other real concerns that the people of the day may have had, such as anticolonization. Most of the United States foreign policy during the period consisted of attempts to alienate and silence the opposition to their position. Also, the United States position became a blinder to other problems, both foreign and domestic. As the anticolonists predicted, the Cold War did become an exploitation of smaller and less developed nations, and an attempt at securing the position of world domination. As the Cold War was begginning to heat up, the tone of the civil rights movement and anticolonization began to metamorphasize. The leftist ideals and radical thinking began to relax and become more centered around the domestic civil rights movement. The movement also began to shift from the left to the center. ...read more.

Conclusion

The author describes in her book how the black intellectuals of the 1940's were not nationalists or capitalists. She describes them as internationalists, or people that did not recognize national boundaries. These activists believed that everyone around the world deserved freedom, not just the Africans in the United States. The original civil rights activists believed in the African diaspora. They knew that their race was being victimized by global oppression. Their struggle was not a personal struggle of freedom, but a struggle of freedom for all of their race against the oppressive, imperialists of the western powers. Penny M. Von Eschen uses the writings of the times and government archives from around the world to present a valid point. Her point is that the 1940's possesed a group of black intellectuals that felt pain for all of their people. They understood the nature of the situation, and what needed to be done to correct it. The rise of the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union caused this group to be alienated and their cause forgotten. The author also does a tremendous job in revealing the suppression of these anticolonialist veiws by the money driven capitalists. She reveals that the United States developed foreign policy not to help people around the world, but to establish her own dominance in a world filled with nations attempting to establish dominance. 1 Pettett ...read more.

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