(By FBI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Book sales for the 1987 edition of the Autobiography of Assata Shakur (born Joanne Chesimard) are on the rise.
The surge comes less than a week after the announcement that Chesimard would be added to the FBI’s List of Most Wanted Terrorists.
That announcement marked the 40th anniversary of a contentiously debated traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike that ended with the death of Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.
The book’s original publisher, Lawrence Hill Books, a subsidiary of the Independent Publishers Group (IPG) indicates they’ve seen a nearly 100% jump in sales over the last two weeks.
In 1984, following a successful prison break, Shakur fled to Cuba where she was granted safe haven. According to the Los Angeles Times, Shakur nor Cuba pose any imminent threat to national security in 2013. Even so, Cuba will stay on the State Department’s state-sponsored terror list citing the country’s refusal to surrender “fugitives wanted in the United States"—like Shakur.
What might move readers to the text?
Well, how hotly debated May 2, 1973 is, for one.
NEWS FLASH: Upper middle class 1960s era “white” people like Don Draper were not, in fact, fancying the struggle. Why? They weren’t struggling!
They may or may not have been racist. They may or may not have been bigots. They were probably indifferent (if the price was right).
But post-Great Depression, they certainly were not struggling, and the demographic block producing their ad sales wasn’t struggling either. On the heels of the seminal desegregation legislation heralded by Brown v. Board of Education (1954), non-white Americans were earning 56 cents of every dollar earned by a white American.
Ten years later, non-white Americans were earning 57 cents of every dollar earned by a white American, according to 1965 U.S. Census data.
(Yes. You read that right. Ten years. One penny.)
While the national poverty rate saw a sharp decline between 1959-1968 (dropping from 22% to ~12.5%), poverty within black communities consistently doubled the national average during the same period. In 1968, the bar graph difference between black, Hispanic and white American poverty is shameful enough to cause a grimace, a wince and outright tears.
So when it comes to disposable income, the substance of ad sales, the suits chasing agency prestige likely thought people of color consumerism a waste of time—that is, if they thought about it at all.
The most powerful, most visible couple in your hip hop times circa 2013 chose Cuba as their destination vacation for their fifth wedding anniversary. Seems benign enough. Anniversary travel.
Only to the former number one communist public enemy of the state!
Now you’ll recall, Bey gets shout outs from the White House when she doesn’t sing for the President of the United States. Jay-Z gets to kick it with little old ladies riding the New York City MTA before he walks into a stadium to watch the team he helped transplant to Brooklyn play some ball. Why should a bitty trade-embargo scuff up this duo’s kicks?
They traveled under a people-to-people cultural exchange provision, but even after confirming and re-confirming their trip was indeed legal, Beyonce and Jay-Z are still the source of state-side skeptics’ handwringing.