Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice


Roderick D. Bush (1945-2013) was a scholar, educator, mentor, activist and a loving human being. Contributors to this anthology share his lessons on how to effect liberation and radical social transformation in the everyday practices of scholarship, teaching, activism, and personal interaction through a loving spirit dedicated to social justice.

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Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge (ISSN: 1540-5699)
Volume XII, 2019, Edited Collection Series

Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Early Release Date: Nov. 12, 2018

Editor: Melanie E. L. Bush
Foreword: Robin D. G. Kelley
Co-editors: Rose M. Brewer, Daniel Douglas, Loretta Chin, Robert Newby
Series Editor: Mohammad H. Tamdgidi

Contributors: Robin D. G. Kelley, Angelo Taiwo Bush, Chriss Sneed, Daniel Douglas, Godfrey Vincent, Matthew Birkhold, Loretta Chin, Latoya A. Lee, Tatiana Chichester, A. Kia Sinclair, Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome, Natalie P. Byfield, Komozi Woodard, Bob Barber, Rodney D. Coates, Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, Jr., James V. Fenelon, Walda Katz-Fishman, Jerome Scott, Rose M. Brewer, Robert Newby, Roderick D. Bush, and Melanie E. L. Bush

Description of Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

Roderick Douglas Bush (1945–2013) was a scholar, educator, mentor, activist and a loving human being. In reflecting on his life well-lived, the contributors in Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice share insightful lessons from his life and works on how to effect liberation and radical social transformation in the everyday practices of scholarship, teaching, activism, and personal interaction through a loving spirit dedicated to social justice. Rod Bush was deeply convinced that “Pan-European racism is the Achilles’ heel of the modern world-system, and the demographic situation of the United States, with its large, strategically located populations of color, is a key locus of struggle for a more just, democratic, and egalitarian world order.” This book shows by the example of Rod Bush how one can “be the change”—through a commitment to everyday practices and personal transformations that embody, enable, embrace, and engage global social change.

This anthology provides deep reflections on the question of how one can live radical principles in contemporary times. What does it mean to be human? How does one embed love and justice in one’s worldview and daily practice? Rod Bush, partner, colleague, teacher, mentor, comrade, and friend, was well known as an activist scholar who incorporated his values into his teaching, mentorship and everyday interactions. Therefore, his theoretical interests and practical involvements in movements are intimately linked and simultaneous.

In his foreword, Robin D. G. Kelley shares his intimate views of Rod Bush’s life and works. In his view, Rod’s “commitment to study and struggle in the service of human liberation knew no boundaries. His vision was planetary. He wrote critically and brilliantly about Black radical movements—here and abroad—and about the destructive power of racism, colonialism, capitalism (the modern world-system), all with the goal of transforming a society based on exploitation, subjugation, and war into a society rooted in mutual benefit, life, and love.”

At a historical moment when the political landscape is fraught with volatility, and the Movement for Black Lives and other struggles for dignity and justice gain increasing momentum, Rod’s life serves as an example, providing many lessons that we can draw from and practice ourselves. Rod consistently asserted that it is critical to recognize the historical leadership of those involved in struggles for Black Liberation and justice writ large. For, a vision for Black Lives is indeed a vision that benefits all humanity.

The anthology is edited by Melanie E. L. Bush and co-edited by Rose M. Brewer, Daniel Douglas, Loretta Chin, and Robert Newby. Contributors include: Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword), Angelo Taiwo Bush, Chriss Sneed, Daniel Douglas, Godfrey Vincent, Matthew Birkhold, Loretta Chin, Latoya A. Lee, Tatiana Chichester, A. Kia Sinclair, Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome, Natalie P. Byfield, Komozi Woodard, Bob Barber, Rodney D. Coates, Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, Jr., James V. Fenelon, Walda Katz-Fishman, Jerome Scott, Rose M. Brewer, Robert Newby, Roderick D. Bush, and Melanie E. L. Bush. The anthology is a volume (XII, 2019) in the Edited Collection Series of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, edited by Mohammad H. Tamdgidi.

Back cover, Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and JusticeRod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

Published by: Ahead Publishing House (imprint: Okcir Press) • Belmont, Massachusetts • First Edition: January 1, 2019

496 pages • 6×9 inches • Includes bibliographical references, photos, references, and index

Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN): 2018951363

ISBN-13: 978-1-888024-71-5 • ISBN-10: 1-888024-71-2 (hard cover: alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-888024-72-2 • ISBN-10: 1-888024-72-0 (soft cover: alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-888024-73-9 • ISBN-10: 1-888024-73-9 (ePub ebook)
ISBN-13: 978-1-888024-76-0 • ISBN-10: 1-888024-76-3 (PDF ebook)

1. Bush, Roderick Douglas 1945-2013. 2. Black nationalism—United States—Biography. 3. African Americans—Biography. 4. United States—Race Relations. 5. Internationalism. 6. Social Movements. 7. Marxism—United States—Biography. 8. World-Systems Analysis. 9. Sociologists—United States—Biography. 10. Humanism. I. Bush, Roderick Douglas, 1945–2013 II. Title

The various editions of Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice are also available for ordering from all major online bookstores worldwide (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others).

Table of Contents of Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

Robin D. G. Kelley—1

Melanie E. L. Bush, Rose M. Brewer, Daniel Douglas, Loretta Chin, and Robert Newby—7

Melanie E. L. Bush—21

I. Theory in Practice

Angelo Taiwo Bush—27
Photos of Home: A Letter to Grandpa

Chriss Sneed—35
Everyday Conversations with Dr. Rod Bush: The Radical Potentials of Mentorship, Intimacy, and Practice

Daniel Douglas—53
Rod Bush and Radical Pedagogy

Godfrey Vincent—73
The Professor and the Student: Lessons from My Experiences with Rod Bush

Matthew Birkhold—83
Rod Bush: A Revolutionary with a Soft Heart

Loretta Chin—95
Rod Bush: Passing the Torch for Love, Liberation, and Freedom

Latoya A. Lee, Tatiana Chichester, and A. Kia Sinclair—103
Paying it Forward: Lessons from Dr. Rod Bush

Melanie E. L. Bush—111
“Mama, Was it Magic or Just Hard Work?”: Being with Rod Bush, Always

II. Practice in Theory

Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome—131
Rod Bush Fought the Good Fight

Natalie P. Byfield—135
Fighting in the Core: Questioning the Last Century’s Debates over Race, Class, and Gender in Light of the Life and Works of Rod Bush

Komozi Woodard—171
Citizen Malcolm X Blueprint for Black Liberation: Coming of Age with Rod Bush on Race, Class and Citizenship in the Bandung Era

Bob Barber—185
Black Internationalism and the End of White World Supremacy: An Analysis and Application of Rod Bush’s The End of White World Supremacy

Rodney D. Coates—207
Rod Bush and the Quest for Social Justice: Beyond the Binary Constructs of Race and Class

James V. Fenelon—219
Black Nationalism and Native American Struggles through the World-System Lens: Engaging with the Legacy of Rod Bush

Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, Jr.—241
My Dialogue with Rod Bush on Internal Colonialism

Walda Katz-Fishman and Jerome Scott—257
Celebrating Rod Bush: Friend, Comrade, and Revolutionary Warrior

Melanie E. L. Bush—269
From Tensions in the American Dream to “As the World Turns”: Lessons from Rod Bush’s Last Projects

III. From Rod Bush

Roderick Douglas Bush—301
Black Internationalism and Transnational Africa

Roderick Douglas Bush—341
The Internal Colony Hybrid: Reformulating Structure, Culture, and Agency

Melanie E. L. Bush—385

Rod Bush in Memoriam—391

Rod Bush Gallery—401

Rod Bush Vita—425



From the Contributors of Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

“As we struggle to rebuild our movements and develop an expansive vision of liberation, Rod Bush can be our guide. He showed us how to struggle from a place of love, how to model the change we hope to see, and how we might work toward building what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and later Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs, called the Beloved Community. Rod understood love not as sentimentality but as a constant struggle to build and rebuild community.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California at Los Angeles

“What I chose to share on my part for this book are photos I took in Kenya. Being a person of African descent, these images make me feel at home at a higher level than I have ever felt in my fifteen years of life. These images in my eyes respectively represent climbing feats of greatness, strength and courage, love and parenthood, family tree, unity, unbreakable bonds, persistence, patience and hard work, and self-awareness—in short, home—which are all the things that cross my mind when I think of my grandfather, Roderick Bush.” —Angelo Taiwo Bush, High School Student, St. Paul, Minnesota

“Dr. Bush continued, his voice sounding as if he was stating a fact rather than asking a question, “I know you’ve only been working in the department for a few months, but you are a graduate student, right?” Shyly, I laughed and said that I was a first-year undergraduate student. Two brown eyes, framed by thin, silver-ish wire glasses, widened in front of me as Dr. Bush grinned in surprise. “You know, I was sitting there listening to the questions you asked at the colloquium thinking—I know her, I know she’s got to be a graduate student with a question like that! I just had to tell you!” I laughed again—blushing.” —Chriss Sneed, Doctoral Student of Sociology, University of Connecticut

“Love for what? Love for whom? Knowing Rod Bush first as my teacher, it was first and foremost clear to me that he loved his students. But knowing him as a man and as a friend, it is clear that he also loved his family, his community, and the world. Reflecting years later, and having been part of the collaboration that produced this volume, it is clear that these categories cannot and should not be disentangled. Rod’s family and community were indispensable components of his teaching and mentorship; his students in turn were and are viewed as part of his family and community. And so to love one is to love them all, and that integration is precisely what made Rod such a transformative presence in the lives of so many people.” —Daniel Douglas, Rutgers University

“In time as our friendship developed and deepened, I understood that Rod had a sincere love for people. Often in the revolutionary movement, we shout the slogan “Power to the People,” but we less frequently show our love for the people around us in our daily interaction. Rod understood that having love for people in general and in particular is an essential revolutionary characteristic.” —Godfrey Vincent, Tuskegee University

“From it I took a belief that if as people who want to make the world better we build relationships only as a means to a strategic end, we are not doing anything much differently than those we oppose. We are merely separated from our oppressors by our justifications for using people to get what we want accomplished. As Martin Luther King, Jr.—and Rod Bush—understood so clearly, when we treat people as means to an end—rather than as ends in themselves—no matter how righteous the ends, we debase the worth of individual people.” —Matthew Birkhold, Educator and Writer, Washington, D.C.

“Rod Bush’s impact can be felt and seen through all he has done to influence and enlighten those around him. He was like the pebble sent skipping over the waters of life, sending forth never ending reverberating ripples, one affecting the next and resulting in acknowledged (and many more unacknowledged) changes in the lives of those who knew him; in turn, those affected put into motion their own circles of influence, and so on, and so on in a continuing pattern.” —Loretta Chin, Brooklyn College/CUNY, Independent Journalist and Scholar

“When we look back at what brought all of us to Dr. Rod Bush’s class, we laugh because we thought we were just there to get our degree but instead we received lifelong lessons, and a selfless mentor who shared his knowledge, gave of his time and resources, made us feel like family and equipped us to stand strong against the oppression of the marginalized.” —Latoya A. Lee, Tatiana Chichester, A. Kia Sinclair, Graduate Student Alumni, St. John’s University

“Always the internationalist, Rod Bush’s world-systems theory approach lifts us out of the narrow nation-state context and makes Black freedom a global issue.” —Rose M. Brewer, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

“He treated everyone he encountered with respect, dignity, and kindness. … Rod showed the drivers the same kind and considerate attention as he did to the Assistant to the Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellor himself. He was warm, patient, and ever ready to engage in conversation. When you spoke to him, he paid you full attention, truly listening and talking to you.” —Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome, Brooklyn College/CUNY

“Rod Bush’s legacy embodies so much of this love. The legacy is about what his intellectual work and activism do in real terms. He has also left us with a tremendous foundation to support future analyses and movement building. I will always feel his presence here at St. John’s and anywhere else I go. It is a presence through ideas.” —Natalie P. Byfield, St. John’s University

“Rod helped me understand where anti-racism and Black Nationalism fit into the important work with Immanuel Wallerstein linking white domination to the world-system. The global framework established by Rod Bush has clarified my research agenda: How did racism and whiteness develop into basic organizing principles in the making of the modern world? And, based on that research, what must be the content of programs for Black Liberation and for the abolition of racial tyranny?” —Komozi Woodard, Sarah Lawrence College

“How is intersectionality among races, classes, and genders practiced in a non-dogmatic way such that other axes of domination/subordination are also considered? This multi-partite view seems critical to me. To the end, I believe Rod thought that current organizing efforts, particularly by and among youth and with communities of color in leadership roles and women centrally located, provide hope for the future.” —Bob Barber, Activist and Instructor in Oakland, California

“Too many progressives, in their presumptive critical stance, confound race and class. The problem with these approaches is that quickly we get into binary constructs where we argue which is most significant, and by definition which must be addressed in order to provide sustainable, realizable, and substantive change. Bush found such debates not only meaningless but problematic. Race has no meaning without class, and one cannot effectively understand class without an understanding of race. Simply put, race and class are interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent.” — Rodney D. Coates, Miami University

“Literatures were woven together—in the world-systems analysis and radical Black social movement history traditions—by our warrior friend, Rod Bush, in the tradition of leaders of the past, who did not stray from their duties to their people, their society, their world.” —James V. Fenelon, California State University at San Bernardino

“Rod Bush encouraged ideas, whether he completely agreed with them or not. He mentored with love, pressing the positive, embracing agreement even as he stated nuanced differences, gently but clearly. I am sure that if he were here today, Rod would have continued our dialogue regarding Internal Colonialism Theory.” —Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, Jr., Essex County College

“Rod’s life situated him within many interrelated worlds. He bridged these worlds by the way he moved in them through his understanding of the totality, in his vision of an inclusive global society of justice, equality, love, and peace, and through his political practice to realize this vision.” —Walda Katz-Fishman (Howard University) and Jerome Scott, Social Forum and Scholar Activists

“Rather than look toward protest movements, electoral campaigns and reform initiatives, we chose to investigate “be the change” projects, following the wise analysis of movements like the Zapatistas and people like Grace Lee Boggs and the examples all over the world of energies focused on building the world envisioned rather than reshaping current system and structures.” —Melanie E. L. Bush, Adelphi University

Endorsements for Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice

One look at the list of contributors to this compendium with its diverse assembly of scholars, and I knew that Rod Bush’s lessons would be fully absorbed and explicated. I only wish I could have spent more time with him and been a beneficiary of his immense insights on love, liberation and justice. Rod would be proud of the commentaries and the thoughtful devotion of the editors.” — Herb Boyd, writer, activist, and academic, most recently author of Black Detroit — A People’s History of Self-Determination and the forthcoming Black Panther Film: Paradigm Shift or Not? An Anthology co-edited with Haki Madhubuti

Though–sadly–not a household name, when the history of his era is written, undoubtedly the immense intellectual and political contributions of Rod Bush will not only be acknowledged but also celebrated. The volume at hand gives an indication of why this is so.” — Gerald Horne, author, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean

This is a brilliant collection of essays by notable engaged scholars celebrating the life and work of Rod Bush, as a whole forming a textual critique of Bush’s essential research, theory, and writing. It elucidates the most important decolonial movements of our time, including race, class and gender, Black internationalism, Black nationalism and Native American struggles, social justice, and more. Other essays reveal the beauty and ethical stance of the man himself. The book is a treasure that social science and humanities instructors will find invaluable as a teaching text.” — Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor-emerita, author of An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States, and Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment

Rod Bush was a most remarkable person. He started out as my student, and became my friend and collaborator. Rod mixed first-class scholarship with first-class activism. He became a model for all of us. We shall miss him dearly. The way to honor him is to emulate him. We can all learn from him.” — Immanuel Wallerstein, Senior Research Scholar, Yale University, author of The Modern World-System I-IV, and The World-System and Africa

This volume is not only a welcome tribute to a deep thinker, talented organizer, outstanding teacher, and a caring, compassionate human being. It is also a rich tapestry of insights, stories and images that inspires us to keep pushing until everyone — everyone — lives in a world of peace, justice and freedom.” — Max Elbaum, author of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che

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