Samuel Yette and The Choice: Black Survival in the United States

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Sam Yette chose to speak and write as a Black man and a professional, thus making himself no longer employable at Newsweek magazine during the Black Freedom Movement. In his book, Yette concluded that “black Americans are obsolete people.” It is up to Black people to refuse to accept America’s verdict – and dare to make our own verdict on America.


Samuel Yette and The Choice: Black Survival in the United States

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Yette said that he could have kept his nice job had, ‘I been a nigger instead of Black, a spy instead of a reporter, a tool instead of a man, I could have stayed at Newsweek indefinitely.’”

Samuel Yette died last week and the choice he wrote of, a choice long ago reached by this country, is a choice we’ve still not caught up to. It is a choice of this nation to more or less discard an increasingly unnecessary Black population and a choice poised to that Black population as to how to respond. Our range of acceptable responses seems to have dwindled since Yette wrote the book and much of the bases upon which he developed his concerns seem to have only worsened. Having suffered heavy losses in the fight against the national will to discard its Black population, we have accepted the choices often imposed on the defeated, the colonized.

Yette was the first Black Washington correspondent at Newsweek magazine and author, in 1971, of The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America, the book that got him fired from that position. He said he was compelled to write his book after witnessing an absence of change over the decade of struggle in the 1960s. He said that he could have kept his nice job had, “I been a nigger instead of Black, a spy instead of a reporter, a tool instead of a man, I could have stayed at Newsweek indefinitely.” Instead Yette wrote in The Choice that at the dawn of the 1970s the United States was simultaneously at war with the “colonized colored people of Indochina” and “the colonized colored people of the United States.” He referenced the then exploding numbers of Black un- and under-employment and the statement made by the labor secretary that the nation was “piling up a human scrap heap” of surplus laborers. Yette concluded that “black Americans are obsolete people.” And since then these rates of un- and under-employment have risen while so many more of the Black surplus are siphoned off into the prison-industrial-complex, the post-1970s big boom business which scholar Lawrence Bobo also says is creating “Black internal colonies.” It is no wonder then that the Economic Policy Institute report from 2008 concluded then that Black America is in a “permanent recession.”

Black elected leadership means nothing in the face of a system whose choice has been made regarding Black people.”

And there are more painful similarities. Yette wrote in 1971 of the many preferred distractions liberals maintain to avoid an inward look at the treatment of the domestically colonized. He said that while it may have become more in vogue to focus on the “environment… that it is Blackness that is unsightly in America.” He said that while others feel the war is a more “pressing” issue that it remains “racism” whose “arrogance of superiority” demands “economic and military exploitation” as much here as abroad. And especially given the popularity over the last two decades of the television show and all its spin-offs, it is important that Yette pointed out for those who thought that “Law and Order” was of prime importance that the phrase is but a Nixonian “euphemism… for the total repression and possible extermination of those in the society who cry for justice where little justice can be found.”

Yette also pointed out the fact that Black elected leadership means nothing in the face of a system whose choice has been made regarding Black people. He said these officials are “powerless” but that the “fault” was not with them but “the system” itself. Even they knew, he said, that their elections were false hope that inspired an equally false “confidence” in the political system. But ultimately Yette was clear, the nation had made a choice and it was one that threatens the long-term survival of Black people. And before we are too quick to run off to find solace in the heavily promulgated images of Black success, let us remember what legal scholar and professor Derrick Bell said not too long ago. He equated the nation’s public policies as having the equivalent impact of weekly, random selections of Black people who would be taken to a “secluded place and shot.” Black suffering and the permanent, worsening conditions we face are not an accident of fate or the result of uncorrectable patterns of Black behavior. No, they are intentional. They are national policy.

The nation has made its choice. We, however, seem to have also made ours. Our willingness to not break with convention, to not assume our own agenda and to advocate and implement our own alternatives theoretically, practically and with some degree of unison has resulted in our choice being to go along and hope for a brighter day. Let us heed the warning in his death that we did not during his life. The Choice Samuel Yette wrote of was theirs, but now must become ours.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to

Dr. Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at: [email protected].


So Why Did Newsweek Fire Sam Yette over 'The Choice'???

To Really understand why the Nixon White-House told the Newsweek [owned at the time by the WPost] to fire the late Bro Samuel Yette- Note the Following: 

From Manyard Institute- Jan 21 2001: Yette's controversial Vietnam-era book "The Choice" put him in headlines. It came to be used as a textbook on 50 college campuses, including DePaul University, the University of Chicago and the University of Nebraska, he said, as well as at traditionally black schools such as Howard University.

"The book dealt with things they did not want people to know about at the time," Yette told the Tennessee Tribune [see below], which he joined as a columnist in 1996. "There were those well-placed in our government who were determined to have a final solution for the race issue in this country — not unlike Hitler's 'Final Solution' for Jews 50 years earlier in Germany. I wrote this and documented it. It caused the Nixon White House to say to Newsweek in effect, 'Don't come back until you are rid of him.' " Yette charged that he had become "unacceptable on the scene" as a correspondent for Newsweek as a result of the book, and filed suit. " Yette said at a 1972 news conference w Jet magazine, "Had I been a nigger instead of Black, a spy instead of a reporter, a tool instead of a man, I could have stayed at Newsweek indefinitely..."  When black scholars commemorated "The Choice's" 13th reprinting in 1991, Ronald A. Taylor wrote in the Washington Times that Yette asserted that the book "best documents the genocidal conclusion" held by many about the effect of government policies on blacks.

From the Tennessee Tribune Jan 27 2011: By the mid-1960’s, after a project at Life Magazine with the late Gordon Parks, a job writing for Ebony Magazine and working in college public relations for then Tuskegee Institute, Yette was in Washington serving as executive secretary of the Peace Corps. He was working along side the late Sargent Shriver who also died earlier this month. A few years later, Yette was appointed the first black Washington correspondent for Newsweek magazine, at the time one of the nation’s leading news weeklies. He began covering Capitol Hill with envied passion and a great sense of the institutionalized racism that still prevailed throughout much of federal Washington and the nation.

In 1971, Yette would author “The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America.” The provocative, non-fiction book, based on his reporting in Washington, suggested emerging federal policies being discussed by then President Nixon and Nixon administration officials, such as expanded abortion opportunities and birth control, were converging to promote Black genocide.

Yette’s book created a firestorm of controversy in political and academic circles. Soon, he was out of his coveted job. Yette always cited the furor over his book, widely praised in Black academic circles, as a factor in his termination by Newsweek. 


The Afro-American April 2 1977- Samuel Yette's Tribute to Mrs Fannie Lou Hammer: "” It is still a society in which an injured man must show his ability to pay before getting hospital services, but his daughter or wife can be aborted or fed birth control pills, at public expense…For these and other reasons the recent death of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer …was noted here and across the nation not only with personal sadness, but also with stern political reflection... She also knew the low-down deceptions of high-handed public officials [in Washinghton DC]... But again, she was a gallant lady of action, and her personal integrity made possible things, that, to others, were not even thinkable.

For example when the charades of Richard Nixon included a White House Conference on hunger on December 2-4, 1969, Mrs. Hamer was among the hundreds of authentic grass-roots persons brought here to confir with the highly paid experts.

But the conference (By the Nixon-Kissinger-Ford-Rockefeller-{Mr_CIA_Skull_duggery&_Bones}Bush Sr  Regime] whose name was changed from a conference on hunger to a conference on “Food and Nutrition”) was in reality, one great fraud against the poor. Instead of seeking ways to feed the hungry, the [covert] plan was to get the poor unwittingly to endorse a plan to eliminate from the society those who were hungry..

President Nixon opened the conference with 3 recommendations designed to reduce the number of hungry people [IE: Nixon's program was designed to effectively eliminate them]! He suggested no measures for the relief of hunger in America...

1. He wanted everyone to have a guaranteed minimum income of $1,600 a year. (This is less than welfare was paying at that time.)
2. A supposed expansion of the food stamp program that would be tied into and compliment the welfare reform package in #1. (His plan would have actually reduced the amount of food stamps. Less money + less food =more hunger.)
3. Provide family planning services to at minimum 5 million women in low-income families.

Then a panel of medical experts headed by Dr. Charles Lowe of the National Institute of Health, pretended to be studying what was to insure proper nourishment for babies and pregnant women. Instead it adopted-in the name of the poor at the conference- a resolution recommending Congress pass a law providing for: 

Birth Control devices for young girls, free, and with or without parental approval [NOTE: This, along w abortion referrals without parental consent, has actually gone in effect in many states - often facilitated by many schools' medical / advisory services];

- Required [IE: forced] abortions of unmarried girls discovered during the first three months of pregnancy; and

- Forced sterilization of any such girl giving birth out of wedlock a second time.:

Only one black person-a nurse-was a member of that panel.

In my [Mr Yette's] reportorial role, I found Mrs. Hamer for a reaction to the newly passed resolution.

She responded with shock and outrage at the deception – I didn’t come to talk about birth control, ” she protested, ” I came here to get some food to feed poor, hungry people, Where are they carrying on that kind of talk?”

She went straight to the front of the room and demanded to be heard. With the power and conviction of personal tragedy, she told how she, herself, had once been sterilized under the guise of an unrelated surgical procedure. She told how such tools as their resolution in the hands of racist medical personnel would mean tragedy for the black and poor.

Finally, with several large black men at her side, Mrs. Hamer demanded that the resolution be reconsidered. It was, and voted down...

Though she saw thru the deception and illuminated the society’s most immoral contradictions , she, like the hope and moral vigor of he 1960′s ran out… ""


Its Note-worthy that Roe v Wade became law during the era of the Nixon-Kissinger-Ford-{Nelson}Rockefeller-[Mr CIA Skull {duggery}&_Bones] Bush Sr Regime - a seemingly conservative republican family values type admin. Also of note is Kissinger's NSSM 200 where he states that population control in key so-called 3rd World Latin American, African & Asian countries was a top US national security objective. He states that no population control measures can be effective without abortions [in conjunction w artificial birth-control methods] & that the UN could be used as the tool to roll-out these measures [Bush Sr was UN Ambassador at the time. This was also the time that this cabal encouraged China's one-child policy- which includes forced abortions]. Also he implied that food & famine [often brought on unnaturally via WAR] can be used as tools to impose these policies. The main NGO that is used to push these policies in the  so-called 3rd World as well as Black & Brown communities in the US is Family Planning International [AKA: Planned Parenthood - founded by Margret Sanger an avowed Eugenicist who rolled-out her Negro Project- that she seemingly referred to privately as a covert attempt to 'Exterminate the Negro' ]... Ms Sanger first put her clinics in Brooklyn & Harlem funded by the Rockefellers- who also funded one of  the main Eugenics Institutes in pre-WWII NAZI Germany!!! [NOTE: 75% of Planned Parenthood affiliated abortion &/or birth-control clinics are in or near mainly Black &/or Brown neighborhoods - Black & Brown women = 25% of the population but account for 55-60% of all abortions - 53-55% of all unborn Black babies lives end in abortion vs 33-35% for Hispanics & 9-10% for whites!!!]

If you're stuck{on stupid} in the false so-called political 'left vs right' - Dem vs GOP - liberal vs conservative paradigm- this is not a 'Politically Correct' topic to be really elaborated on- since most liberal / progressive Dems [who Blacks are most likely to support] favor a woman's so-called 'Freedom of Choice' [Ironically the name of Mr Yette's book which was a fore-warning to be wary of artificial birth control & abortion being pushed & facilitated amongst Black, Brown & poor people!]. Also ironic is that besides the Catholic Church, those appearing to be most out-spoken against artificial birth control & abortion [especially for children without parental knowledge &/or consent] are the Republican Fundamentalist Southern Christian crowd who were{are} traditionally the most outwardly racist [Is this a clever way to ensure 'Continuity of Gov't?!]. So if you are Black & trapped in the box of- Dem vs GOP - liberal vs conservative paradigm - you are trapped in a 'Damned if you do - Damned if you don't' situation. The only hope is to mentally break out of this box. 


[From Democracy Now! Tale of 2 Abortioners 1{white} is seen as a hero & 1{Black} is seen as a killer.]

June 1, 2009- Dr. George Tiller (1941-2009): Murdered Abortion Provider Remembered for Lifelong Dedication to Women’s Reproductive Health

Supporters of reproductive rights are mourning the killing of the abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. The sixty-seven-year-old Tiller was shot Sunday as he attended services at his Wichita, Kansas church. The gunman fled the scene, but a suspect was later caught in a Kansas City suburb. The suspect, fifty-one-year-old Scott Roeder, has a history of involvement in anti-abortion activism and was once arrested and jailed on explosives charges. He has ties to the right-wing separatist group known as the Freemen. We look at the life of Dr. Tiller with five women who worked alongside him to uphold reproductive rights: two women doctors who fly into Wichita every month to work alongside him performing abortions; two of the attorneys who defended him through years of legal harassment, one in Wichita and one in New York; and Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation, who knew him for twenty years.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Tiller’s clinic is one of just three in the nation performing late-term abortions after the twenty-first week of pregnancy. Dr. Tiller faced constant threats and incidents of violence and vandalism. His clinic was bombed in 1985. In 1993, Dr. Tiller survived an assassination attempt with gunshot wounds to both arms. Two years earlier, thousands of anti-abortion activists tried to block his clinic during the “Summer of Mercy” protests organized by the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. He had recently asked prosecutors to increase legal action against anti-abortion activists who targeted the clinic. 

President Obama said he’s “shocked and outraged” by Dr. Tiller’s killing. Attorney General Eric Holder later announced he would order the deployment of US Marshals to protect women’s health clinics as well as doctors across the nation. 

In a statement, Tiller’s family said, quote, “George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.” 

Today, we’ll look at the life of Dr. George Tiller with five women who worked alongside him to uphold reproductive rights. 


[Abortion doctor George Tiller is killed; suspect in custody. Tiller, who performed late-term abortions, already had been a victim of violence... June1 2009 LATimes:  For years, abortion foes tried to put Dr. George Tiller out of business. One of the few American physicians who performed late-term abortions, he was targeted by violent extremists as well as principled opponents

In March, Kansas prosecutors tried him on charges of breaking an abortion law; he was acquitted…]

[By John-Henry Westen ARLINGTON, VA, March 19, 2008 ( - Notorious partial-birth abortion specialist Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, KS, was caught on hidden video admitting to aborting babies a day before the mother's due date.  Students for Life of America (SFLA) today released the video which was made at the Feminist Majority Foundation's annual Women's Leadership Conference held at the National Education Association (NEA) on March 9. 

Tiller, who currently faces 19 criminal charges for illegal late-term abortions in the state of Kansas, at first feigned ignorance of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, a federal bill signed into law in 2002 that protects born children from murder and illegalizes infanticide. However when questioned further about the measure he spoke of his ideological objection to the legislation, saying, "Let's say you have 15 or 16, you had 1 slip out with a heartbeat; that is not a viable fetus, but that is born alive or has a heartbeat. Then you have to take that non-viable fetus and rush it directly to the hospital against the woman's wishes..."] __________________________________._____________

DemocracyNow! Jan 2011: Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Accused of Murdering Babies, Patient; Lax State Oversight Faulted

A Philadelphia abortion doctor has been arrested on charges of murder and performing illegal abortions in the deaths of seven babies and a patient. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was arrested last week along with his wife and eight unlicensed employees. A grand jury report accuses Gosnell of regularly and illegally delivering live, viable babies in the third trimester, then murdering the newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. Gosnell and his staff are also accused of killing a pregnant mother by providing her with too much anesthesia. The report singles out Pennsylvania health and medical regulators for ignoring complaints against the clinic dating back to 1993. State officials are said to have deliberately avoided enforcement of laws mandating that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical providers. Gosnell is believed to have earned at least $1.8 million a year for his practice, mostly in payments from low-income women of color [NOTE: 75% of PPFA Abortion Clinics in or near Black & Brown neighborhoods].

Feb 15 2011: AMY GOODMAN: Finally, the very horrifying news out of Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Corbett said on Tuesday a number of state workers have been fired and the state’s abortion clinics will come under greater oversight, following a probe into a Philadelphia clinic where a woman and seven newborn babies were killed. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was arrested last month along with his wife and eight unlicensed employees, a grand jury report accusing Gosnell of regularly and illegally delivering live viable babies in the third trimester, then murdering the newborns by severing their spinal cords. It’s a horrific story.

CECILE RICHARDS [President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America]: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Gosnell and his staff are also accused of killing a pregnant mother by providing her with too much anesthesia. The report singling out Pennsylvania’s health and medical regulators for ignoring complaints against the clinic dating back to 1993. Can you talk about your response to this, Cecile Richards?

CECILE RICHARDS: Look, it’s a horrific story, Amy. And I think that what is—in some ways, to me, it really underscores the danger of what’s happening in Congress, which is, what we’re seeing is this attempt to move a legal medical procedure that many women need—abortion—and putting it in the back alley again and putting it—putting folks like Planned Parenthood, who are responsible medical providers—we have the highest-quality staff. We have medical doctors from the most prestigious medical schools. Our doors are open to anyone to come and visit and see exactly what we do. It’s so important that we have providers who will provide women with excellent care who need it. And I think the case in Pennsylvania is just a case in point. My fear is that if the House of Representatives is successful and they put Planned Parenthood completely out of business, which is their goal, we are going to see more stories like this, because we are going to see women who will be desperate to terminate a pregnancy, and they will go anywhere to do it. We cannot go back to those days in America. I think this is a very cautionary tale. My heart breaks for the women in Pennsylvania that were victims in this situation. And that is why we need providers who are reputable, who are first-class providers, who are well known, so that women can go to get the healthcare they need from someone that they can trust [Its called SPIN].


Notice that both of these guys were in the Abortion BIZ for decades, & both did late term abortions. Tiller was brought upon 19 counts of doing illegal late term abortions - which PPFA strongly advocated for when it was being debated a few yrs ago. So why does  Amy Goodman & PPFA's Ms Richards portray Tiller as a saint / Dr Kill-Dare [ironic name ain't it], but Dr Gosnell as a criminal who should be sent to jail??? Could it be that Tiller was white & Gosnell is Black??!!