Truth will not make you rich, but it will make you free.
--Francis Bacon

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Haitian Declaration of Independence

Haiti’s Founding Document Found in London
By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: March 31, 2010
New York Times

There is no prouder moment in Haiti’s history than Jan. 1, 1804, when a band of statesmen-warriors declared independence from France, casting off colonialism and slavery to become the world’s first black republic.


Haitian Declaration of Independence (pdf)
They proclaimed their freedom boldly — “we must live independent or die,” they wrote — but for decades, Haiti lacked its own official copy of those words. Its Declaration of Independence existed only in handwritten duplicate or in newspapers. Until now.
A Canadian graduate student at Duke University, Julia Gaffield, has unearthed from the British National Archives the first known, government-issued version of Haiti’s founding document. The eight-page pamphlet, now visible online, gives scholars new insights into a period with few primary sources. But for Haitian intellectuals, the discovery has taken on even broader significance.

That the document would be found in February, just weeks after the earthquake that killed so many; that its authenticity would be confirmed in time for the donor conference that could define Haiti’s future — some see providence at work.
“It’s a strange thing in the period of the earthquake we find the first document that made the state,” said Patrick Tardieu, an archivist at the Library of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit in Port-au-Prince. “People were searching for this for a very long time.”
Indeed, decades ago, Haiti’s leaders went hunting for a declaration they could call their own for the country’s 150th anniversary. Researchers combed Haiti’s libraries. Newspapers in the United States, which printed full versions of the declaration when it was made, were also considered a possible source.
But the originals seemed to have been thrown out or destroyed. In December 1952, the Haitian intellectual Edmond Mangonès wrote to his country’s Commission of Social Sciences to report that “the mystery of the original of our national Declaration of Independence” had not been solved. “All searches to date have been in vain,” he said.
Enter Ms. Gaffield, 26. She said she fell in love with Haiti while at the University of Toronto. It was 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide had just been ousted, and after a trip to Haiti, where she worked with street children, she decided to study its origins as a nation.
That eventually took her to Duke University, and last year, to the National Archives of Jamaica in Kingston. There, she found a letter from a British official who had just returned from Haiti around the time of its revolution.
“He wrote a letter to the governor saying, ‘Here is this interesting document that I received when I was in Haiti,’ ” she said. “And he said the declaration ‘had not been but one hour from the press.’ ”
The document he mentioned, though, was missing. She headed for London. On Feb. 2, she found herself poring through the leather-bound binders of Britain’s National Archives. About 100 pages into the book of Jamaican records from 1804, she came across a delicate, yellowed set of pages.
“What I first noticed was across the top it said, ‘Liberté ou La Mort,’ ” she said. There were a few differences from the accepted text of Thomas Madiou, the 19th-century historian who wrote a definitive, multivolume history of the country. Haiti was spelled Hayti in the pamphlet, for example, and in one sentence, Mr. Madiou seemed to have seen “idéux” (ideals) when the print shows it to be “fléaux” (ills).
The bottom of the last page read “De l’Imprimerie du Gouvernement.” That made it the official declaration historians had been looking for. In the hushed London library — even cameras snapping photos of important documents must be on silent mode — Ms. Gaffield could only smirk.
“Being very excited in a document reading room is a bit of a challenge,” she said. “You have to keep it all inside.”
Later that day, she e-mailed her Ph.D. advisers at Duke. They were thrilled. “It is a lost treasure,” said Deborah Jenson, a professor of French who has been overseeing Ms. Gaffield’s research. “This is really the first copy that is directly tied to the Haitian government.”
Professor Jenson said no manuscript version of the declaration with signatures — along the lines of the United States’ document — seemed to have existed. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s revolutionary leader, delivered the declaration as a speech on Jan. 1, 1804, and then had it printed over the next few months. Historians believe that he and others overlooked documentary preservation because they were too worried about another French invasion.
“They were building forts,” said Prof. Laurent M. Dubois, a historian of Haiti at Duke. “It’s part of the larger story: that Haiti knew it was going to be isolated, it knew it was attacking this broader social order.”
He said the pamphlet showed that Haiti was intent on sending out the declaration to get the world to understand its position. “This was a gesture of reaching out, of saying, ‘We have these grievances, and we have decided we have to be independent, to refuse and resist this social order we have lived under,’ ” Professor Dubois said. “They wanted recognition.”
That is exactly what some Haitians hope Ms. Gaffield’s find will bring to Haiti today. Mr. Tardieu said he dreamed of seeing the document returned to its home — “it would be the greatest gift,” he said — while others are praying that its discovery alone will reawaken the world to Haiti’s strong sense of self-determination.
“In the context of the Haitian tragedy, it is important for Haitians and the rest of the world to remember the independence of Haiti,” said Leslie Manigat, a historian who briefly served as Haiti’s president in 1988.
“We must recover,” he said, shouting in order to be heard through a phone in Port-au-Prince that cut out repeatedly. “We must find an alternative to the traditional meaning of independence, now, in the new world.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People I know –a man called Slim

Rodney D. Coates

Some people will take you out for little more than a bottle of Ripple or a pack of Cigarettes. I mean, really, for many life ain’t worth a dollar or the paper it’s printed on. But then those peeps ain’t from my hood. There, you can find really stand up folks, who will take a slug for a brother or put one in to make a point. And then there was Slim. Almost on any day you could find Slim, leaning up against the telephone pole or sitting on the curb or scrunched up in the abandoned door way of a store that closed long back when. Even though the winter winds would blow cold air so frigid it would make the snot freeze on your nose, Slim didn’t give up that corner. He would greet us as we trudged through the dirty grey, black snow –crossing Broadway along 15th street.

15th street –was that strange no-where land where anything could happen, but mostly for us it was the boundary between our world and that forbidden zone that lurked to drag us into drugs, booze, broken dreams, and faded glories. 15th street –Slim’s world that only the fallen walked indiscriminately, and only the foolish tread without trepidation. But 15th street was the constant that immiscibly separated –yet synergistically involved. Two warring souls trapped in the cosmic construct of our being. Willing us to be damned or determined or was it damned determined to rise up from this pit. And there was Slim, staggeringly steadfast in his unwillingness to avoid anything close to work, unless it to open his bottle of Ripple.

Where you boyz up to?

School?

You boyz stay in school, don’t be no fool, and get the funk offa this here corner. Notin but death hangs out here.

Yes sir?

“Don’t need to call me sir .. Slim does just fine, just fine.”

Crazy laughing, nobody knows the depths of his insanity.

Then he slurs:

I ain’t near that crazy. Member –you work crazy, don’t let crazy work you, cause if crazy do you then you be gone for sure..for sure you be gone down that river where nobody returns cause there ain’t nothing to return from, cause you gone lost all your …..

We still walking, Slim still taking, funny nobody every waited till Slim finished, but then he never finished a sentence before he lost track of what he was saying. But he was Slim, and he was a friend of mine.

Fixin to find nother corner soon, this’n here gone trackin the riff-raff, no-account junkies. They steal you blind to get their fix, no self-respecting wino’d have anything to do wit dem. No, no self-respecting …hey you kids?

Yes

You better stay in school. Don’t wanna end up like ole Slim, standing on this here corner, nobody knows my name –but evbody calls’ me Slim. I ain’t no slim why once I weighed moren 200 pounds. But that was…that was…she used to call me….

Tears slip down a dirty face, as memories cascade against the traces of yesterday when another stood in this space.

You boys get on to school, now ya hear. Listen to ole Slim –this ain’t the life you need to live, dis ain’t the world that you need to cover, this nightmare ain’t the end of your dreams tis the beginning of your pain. Go on now…leave Slim to his Ripple.

Walking, long past that corner, long past that moment, long past the time when the best friend we had was a man called Slim.

for more of my work please go to:

http://www.redroom.com/author/rodney-d-coates

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Black Bird Press News and Review: Henry Ramsey


The Life Story of Henry Ramsey, Jr.

An Autobiography;
Hardscratch Press 2008


“Henry Ramsey's open-ended conversation with his descendants is a gift for any reader. His frank and eloquent account of the journey from Jim Crow childhood to a life of activism, public service, and high achievement will be familiar to some, a revelation to others. The challenge he issues is for all: Never forget our past. Never stop working for our future. Always cherish our children.” —Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO, NAACP


(The Life Story of Henry Ramsey Jr., of Rocky Mount, N.C., and Berkeley, Calif., is 6x9 inches, 600 pages, soft-cover, with many photographs and a full index; $25. ISBN: 978-0-9789979-3-9. For more information or to order, contact the author at hramseyjr@aol.com or the publisher at jrbpels@hardscratchpress.com. )




Stylistically, Henry's story is a hodge podge of genres. It could have been a conventional autobiography with the classic example"Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington. There are indications of this as Henry commences with his origins and upbringing in a South Carolina segregated small-town environment.


As Henry's story progresses we have all th trappings of a Horatio Alger, rags to riches, bootstrap pull-up that pervades Booker' story as Henry succeeded from a high school drop -out to law school graduate (Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley); attorney; superior court, Alameda County; and Dean of Howard University Law School.

Then again it could have been a coming of age piece in the vein of Salinger's “Catcher in the Rye” given that Henry reflects on growing up in the aforementioned environment as somewhat of a rebel who questioned the status quo and certain aspects of familial and societal authority. There is also the question of identity as he grew up thinking that his name was Charles Arthur Tillman, Jr., and at age 17 learned that his true name was Henry Ramsey, Jr.

This context includes a spirit of adventure for, during his boyhood, Henry is shuttled between Rocky Mount, South Carolina, and Philadelphia due to dysfunction in his nuclear family. Eventually he drops out of school and joins the U.S. Air Force which provides additional series of adventures in the dynamics of growing into manhood.


Another direction that Henry's story could have followed is the compilation of disconnected but somewhat related memoirs. On a broader scale we have the guidance for this genre provided by
Du Bois' “Souls of Black Folk”. After all, Henry expressly states in his introduction that his reason for writing and publishing the story is to leave his children and grandchildren a record of family history and, apparently, documentation of his thinking on the great issues of religion and politics, including his role as a social and political activist.

In this connection he also shares personal experience and thoughts about treating and coping with medical impairments. Of course, if Henry's only motive for writing was to leave a record for his family, there would be no need for producing such a polished tone or promoting public book signings. Fortunately, for us, he has made his story available to the public at large.

If Henry had placed his story in any one of he foregoing genres and created a cohesive framework for tying it into that genre we may have been spared the somewhat pedantic resort to rather copious, often gratuitous, footnotes throughout each chapter which made for awkward reading.

On balance, Henry's story includes compelling accounts of his representation during the 60's of Richmond's Black police officers' effort to combat white officers racist conduct perpetrated against members of Richmond's African-American community. Similarly Henry gives a detailed report of how he intervened following the death of George Jackson at San Quentin and mobilized the support of Willie Brown, Ron Dellums, the late Carlton Goodlet and Rev. Cecil Williams to access the prison for the purpose of observing the condition of inmates.

At that time Brown was a member of the California Assembly, Dellums a member of Congress, Goodlet a physician and publisher of the Sun Reporter and Williams, of course a Reverend at Glide Church.

Henry was candid throughout the writing of his story. This is especially true when he explains the two instances of regrettable past behavior resulting from poor judgment on his part that caused him to be denied appointment to a Federal Court judgeship.


Equally impressive is Henry's discussion of his battle with diabetes. What makes this discussion valuable is not only the telling of his personal ordeal but the rather extensive medial research that Henry amassed and furnished for the benefit of his readers.

One of the more controversial chapters includes Henry's argument against the existence of God. In doing so, he first sets forth the traditional philosophical and theological theories advanced to support God's existence. Then one by one he methodically spells out his own cogent arguments why these concepts are invalid and why God does not exist.

A significant portion of Henry's story tends to be tedious or esoteric. An example of the former is Henry furnishing an overly detailed list of objectives for his deanship or the bit too extensive account of negotiations related to law school personnel matters. In regard to esoteric, I suspect that much of Henry's discussion of his involvement with judiciary organizations as well as activities related to the Judicial Council and judicial procedure is more suited to the interest of his professional peers than to the average reader.


Overall, Henry's story is highly informative and exhibits the writing craft of a skilled technician. As a special bonus it includes some great photographs, particularly those from the period when Henry, Willie and Ron had heads that were covered with a substantial body of natural black hair.
--Aubrey LaBrie
A Black Dialogue Brother
January 2010
Black Revolutionary Action Movement
The materials in this collection--which center mainly, but not solely, on the political activities and literature of the Revolutionary Action Movement from the early 1960's through the early 1970's--were compiled from the personal archives of Akbar Muhammed Ahmed (Max Stanford), John H. Bracey, Jr., and Ernest Allen, Jr. Founded in 1962, RAM was a "low-profile" organization which sought to transcend what it perceived as the "narrow orientations" of existing Civil Rights organizations (which tended to concentrate on "middle-class" cultural assimilation and patchwork social reform) as well as bourgeois-nationalist organizations (which tended to stress capita] accumulation and withdrawal from mass struggle). In contrast, RAM sought to popularize a program of self-determination for Afro-Americans by means of armed struggle, with the ultimate form of American society conceived in terms of social cooperation rather than capitalist individualism. Included here are internal RAM documents, publicly disseminated RAM literature, as well as media accounts of the organization and its members. An incomplete file of Robert F. Williams' Crusader newsletter, published in exile from Cuba and China, is also Included, as is a full catalog of Soulbook magazine, a west coast-based journal of revolutionary nationalist persuasion.
Much of the history of black political movements of the 1960's is incomplete--if not inaccurate--in part because records of small but extremely Influential organizations such as RAM have not been publicly available until now. For example, RAM influence was felt at one time or another in organizations as diverse as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. This is not a complete collection of RAM documents, however: an unknown (but apparently small) number of items were lost as people moved from one locale to another during the "tumultuous Sixties"; on several occasions, documents seized during the course of arrest of RAM leaders were never returned to them following their trials. No doubt such lapses will be lamented by future political activists and scholars, as they are by us today. But the main body of materials remains intact.Today we are quite conscious of, and perhaps occasionally embarrassed by, the shortcomings of these materials at the level of political analysis; given the historical discontinuities induced within post-World War II American society by the crushing of radical movements, such analytical weaknesses now seem to have been Inevitable. But no matter. For their presentation today in microform, it is hoped, will aid in the accurate reconstruction of the history of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. May they also aid in a coherent program for genuine Afro-American liberation.

Ernest Allen, Jr.
Amherst, MA / August 1979

Book Review: We Will Return in the Whirlwind

Book Review: We Will Return
In the Whirlwind





Black Radical Organizations 1960 – 1975
By Muhammad Ahmad (Maxwell Stanford Jr.).
(Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 2007. Pp.378, Notes, Appendix, $18.00)




This book is a participant – observer investigation into four of the main radical black organizations in America between 1960 – 1975: the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW); exploring their strengths, weaknesses and contradictions. Here is a close to complete analysis of the African American contribution to world revolution through the study of the aforementioned organizations, complete with discussion of their necessary predecessors and conclusions. Considering the time line of 1960 to 1975, this book presents the history of the African-American radical tradition in terms of the overlapping and interrelatedness of the said organizations with raising the consciousness of African Americans as well as all of humanity.


This book is a must read for those members of my age group (the hip hop generation) and below who would otherwise not have a chance to receive this wisdom at the feet of our elders who participate(d) and engage(d) in revolutionary struggle.


Particularly powerful is the qualitative method of inquiry, the blending of the dialectical material analysis with personal reflection, since Ahmed was a participant and not just a mere observer. This is the first time I have read an African theoretician apply dialectical method to African reality in such a clear manner. Of course the few limitations occur only because Ahmed's competency is limited to his experience; his attempt to write a historiography of the Black Panthers is problematic however, especially out here in Oakland.

There is a lack of continuity from RAM to BPP to the contemporary contribution to revolutionary consciousness. I say this because of the claim that Kwame Ture made on the origins of the BPP; both he and Ahmed tie them to Lowndes County but in different ways; also because Ahmed could have done more research and documentation on local origins of the BPP and thus reached clearer conclusions.

When looking at Ahmed's ideological foundations, mentors to his personal development, I can be thankful that he wrote this book and honored Mr. Boggs' requirement of informing the future to talk about generations of the revolutionary and radical tradition that they are part of and must advance from. Reading this book, I can see why many of my comrades do the work that they do, I can also see the impact RAM had on national efforts toward liberation.

Crucial is the manner in which Africans apply dialectical thinking to daily life. I maintain that dialectical historical materialism is older than Marx or Hegel. It is nothing more than a modern way to talk about Maat, the foundation of African thought. As we recall, dialectics is the art of argumentation, one of the seven liberal arts of the traditional mystery system that G. M. James talks about in Stolen Legacy. Sometimes the term logic is used interchangeably with and substituted for dialectics. Logic is nothing more than the rules of thinking, the ability to rationalize, to speak. The materialist aspect was a European contribution to this law of opposites in order to control and manipulate nature.

A couple of concerns I have with the book include the question of the invisibility of the NOI in his analysis. There is no doubt the heavy influence the NOI had organizationally on the black liberation movement. Also there was a lack of West coast primary sources, some of the narrative concerning California in particular, I thought was at best incomplete. The West coast was presented as lacking strong ideology and organizational skills, except when somehow tied to the national concerted effort which Ahmed admits was a constant problem due to serious reactionary forces, internal and external.

James Boggs was able to see a change in the American interpretation of Marxism (another contribution of African philosophy), advancing C.L.R. James analysis which led to their ideological split. Concerning the Boggs/ James connection, Ahmad refers to the Boggs' as mentors to RAM. In discussing the Boggs', Ahmed mentions how they split from James over ideology, specifically over the need to for American socialist theory to take into account the phenomena of cybernation in American factories at the time. For the Boggs' the need to develop theory from the practice of Detroit labor was imperative while according to Ahmed, C.L.R. James seems to gloss over this point in his analysis. I didn't want to say too much specifically about the organizations due to the way Ahmed weaves his story together, showing the contradictions he saw in each organization and how they're overall efforts contributed to the national cause of black liberation.

I wasn't clear on Dr. Muhammad's secondary discussion of the establishment of Black studies in national colleges and universities. As an alumni of the Pan Afrikan Student's Union, the ideological descendant of the original Black Student Union at the San Francisco State University, I was extremely critical on what Ahmed had to say on these matters, to cross reference it with my own experiences. Perhaps I was expecting too much from him. Perhaps, indeed, We Will Return in the Whirlwind is a brief introduction into a world of unrecorded and undocumented revolutionary ideas and actions.

In conclusion this is a must read for student organizations and grassroots community organizers. All too often we reinvent the wheel. This book is invaluable in terms of visualizing, conceiving and emulating an African standard.

He seemed to do a thorough job with SNCC and Ram. My critique mainly stems from the lack of discussion of the NOI in this time span; how he spoke about Malcolm X without mentioning the ideological development he acquired from his activity in the NOI; and with the organization of the BPP. Admittedly, I don't see the connection between DRUM and the BPP (unless Ahmed himself is the link via RAM).


Concerning the whole question of Marxism and Africa, at Mamadou Lumumba's (Ken Freeman) memorial Baba Lumumba (Ken's brother) mentioned how his brother struggled to reconcile Marxist Leninist thinking with African culture. I see this same tendency in Ahmed's writing. For me, dialectical historical materialism equates with Maat. Therefore, many of our black Marxists overemphasize Hegelian thinking in our struggle for total liberation. I think that understanding is a direct result of how the Hegelian paradigm in many ways perverted our movement; because the white academics make it look so advanced-- at least it did to Negroes in the early 20th century. Garvey was the main one to warn about getting too close to the Communists, that we should return to our African philosophy.

Consequently, this is where the question of the 'West coast contribution' enters the story . Yes, San Francisco 1968 was the epicenter of black studies, but what did it produce? For one thing it produced a new school of thought beyond the Marxist-Leninist paradigm. Even Nkrumah refined those ideas for the Afrikan situation. I'm merely pointing out that when an Afrikan refines European ideas (which came from self anyway), that Afrikan is making a contribution to Afrikan philosophy. Then the question becomes , who were some one of the first Afrikans to popularize and refine Marxist – Leninism for Afrikans? You gotta mention C.L.R. James down to Huey Newton.

--Ramal Lamar

Ramal Lamar is a graduate student in Logic and an associate of the Plato Negro Academy of Da Corner. He teachers Math at Berkeley Continuation High School.
http://www.blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two Poems for Marvin X Madpoet


Street Spirits

(For Marvin X)

under a red sky
you have roamed
the streets of San Francisco
rapping about homeless blues
in your poetry
in your life
in your spirit

under a red sky
i saw you
once selling the Poetry Flash
to rich tourists and wondered
whether you would become
the next Bob Kaufman

under a red sky
you have roamed the beaches
of the Golden State
praying here and there
remembering your sweet Sherley
confessing your sins and mistakes

under a red sky
you have remembered
that a poet is full
of great feelings
of love
for God
for self
for others
whether the poet
is homeless
or not

under a red sky
you have helped me
to embrace
the street spirits
and the rays
of a red sun
with your poetry
with your life
with your spirit.

--J. Vern Cromartie
© 2005

Another One for Marvin X

start out in Fowler
go to Fresno
and fall in love forever
with a deep chocolate woman
who loves you and your poetry

you know she loves you
forever like the waves
rolling in the dock of the bay

she loved you

this woman loved you
when she breathed
her last breath

sometimes you see her
in your sleep
and you wonder
about what could have been
about what should have been
about what was your flight
to love forever

the power of love
is holy

Jimi Hendix
knew this holiness
in his dreams
when he sang
deep into the night
about the
power of love

if you want to follow
on the mantle of Jeremiah
let the power of love
drench your soul
forever.

--J. Vern Cromartie
© 2006

Dr. J. Vern Cromartie is a poet and chair of the Sociology Department at
Contra Costa College. He is a former student of Marvin X when he taught
drama at Laney College. Dr. Cromartie recently delivered a research
paper on Marvin X's brief tenure at UC Berkeley. www.marvinxoneducation.blogspot.com
www.academyofdacorner.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Parable of the Fire
Parable of the Fire
There was a pile of weeds in the backyard. They were an eyesore to the neighborhood. People complained until the man in the white house decided to burn them down. He lighted the pile of weeds and they began to burn. Then a wind came and started blowing the embers into the field nearby. The man saw he could have a problem if he didn't do something quickly, so he grabbed the water hose and began sprinkling water on the pile of weeds.
He put water on the top of the pile and the flames seemed to subside. He continued pouring water on the top of the pile until he thought the fire was out, since he didn't see anymore flames. He went inside and went to sleep. While he was asleep the smoldering fire underneath began to burn again until the flames could be seen by neighbors who called the fire department. They rushed to the scene. When the man heard the fire trucks he got up and ran outside to see the pile of weeds flaming high with embers going up into the night sky.
The firemen put out the fire and told the man to get out of the way so they could finish the job he had half done. He did as told and the firemen extinguished the fire, including the smoldering weeds on the bottom.The firemen told him to never forget the fire underneath that can smolder for days and flame up periodically, depending on the wind. Just because you put water on the top, don't think the fire is out. Remember the smoldering flames underneath that must be suppressed.2/19/10

The condition of the American economic and financial crisis is analogous to the Parable of the Fire. The fire took place in the back yard of the White House. The President was the man trying to put the fire out. He applied the socalled conservative voodoo trickle down theory to the fire, starting at the top as the President did with his bailout of the banks, insurance companies and corporations. While the trickle down theory did assuage the meltdown, the crucial factor was not at the top but the fire smoldering underneath.
But being so smart he outsmarted himself, the President proclaimed a victory over the crisis, even though the fire underneath was yet burning with unemployment, mortgage debt, homelessness and growing anger among the people since many were also starving for they were without money for basic survival.

The President even continued sleeping without addressing the issue at hand, jobs, jobs, jobs, rather he focused on health insurance that even if passed would be unaffordable since people are unemployed. Like the man putting out the fire, his energy was misplaced though well meaning.
The neighbors who called the fire department are all those who were for him initially and even those who were against him.
The fire is causing a symbiotic unity among the people that will likely cause his removal from the White House. Yes, dissatisfaction brings about a change, real change. It appears the President will be evicted from the White House after his first term. The winds are gathering to sweep him from office. The winds of war are yet blowing in the East, costing him trillions of dollars.
There are even little fires in the fields nearby caused by the embers blowing in the wind. The global financial system is yet burning. Greece is on fire and other nations are no out of danger. There is the fire of the drug war on the President's border.
Seven thousand murders in the last few years. Even inside the border there is fire in the cities, with thousands murdered in the inner cities, yet we hear nothing from the sleeping President.
He promises to address the problem of education, housing and employment with the avowed enemies of his country before addressing the smoldering fire of discontent in his backyard. We wonder does he hear the cries of the people or is the siren of the fire truck so deafening that it drowns out the voices of those suffering on the bottom of the pile of weeds.
--Marvin X
2/20/10

Black Male Suicide

Black Male Suicide
Why are so many young men killing themselves?
By: Henrie Treadwell Posted: September 15, 2008

Not long ago, suicide and African Americans were almost never mentioned in the same breath. Despite confronting challenges from slavery to Jim Crow to structural racism, blacks rarely took their own lives. It was a positive health disparity. Until now.
There is alarming evidence that the suicide rate for young African-American men is escalating, and just as much evidence of how ill-equipped America's health-care system is to handle it.
From 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for black adolescents rose from 5.6 per 100,000 of the population to 13 per 100,000, according to recent research by Clare Xanthos, a health services research specialist. For young black men, these changes represent a doubling of the suicide rate, making it the third leading cause of death among that demographic.
If the trend continues, it could ripple through black communities, increasing the number of children who grow up fatherless, further burdening African-American women who will have fewer partners to help them raise families. Clearly, it is a complex problem that is directly related to the life experiences of young African-American men. While the suicide rate for young black men has risen, the suicide rate for black women remains among the lowest of any demographic.

So why are young black men killing themselves?
Young black males live in some of the most-difficult circumstances in our society; the data show that black men go to jail, drop out of school and are victims of crime at rates far higher than their white counterparts. Moreover, young black males are more likely to live in more challenging family environments. Sixty-eight percent of all black households are single-parent households—pointing to an absence of male role models for young boys.

The combination of family stress, violence in their communities and the discrimination they face is taking a toll. Some mental health specialists argue that the rates may even be higher. Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that "death-by-cop" incidents should be counted as suicides. He believes that some despondent young men intentionally break the law so someone else will kill them.
"How many young men who put themselves in situations where it's very likely that they're going to get shot to death are actually committing suicide?" Poussaint asked in a recent interview on National Public Radio. "There is such a thing as what we call victim-precipitated homicide, which is suicide. The most classic example would be suicide by cop."
This rising suicide tide can impact black middle-class teenagers in white suburbs, as well as those in inner-city neighborhoods. In fact, Xanthos argues that black youths living in white communities often face the trauma of not relating to their white neighbors and also feeling estranged from blacks from poorer, urban settings. Certainly, the suicide of James Dungy, the 18-year-old son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, underscored that suicide can strike the rich and poor.
What's clear is that black communities, health-care professionals and public-health officials must mobilize to meet the challenges presented by this problem.
The stigma on mental illness in the black communities is so great that obvious signs are frequently ignored, even by close family members and friends. The first step must come from parents and friends recognizing the behavior patterns that indicate a problem, and then working to get help. And public-health programs, such as Medicaid, must make it easier for young black men to get the counseling and treatment they need.
Even at that point, other problems develop including the lack of black therapists, counselors and psychiatrists to help these patients. Just 4 percent of the nation's psychiatrists, 3 percent of the psychologists and 7 percent of social workers, are black.
The problems weighing on many black youths are created by racism along with the other tensions that they face in everyday life. In these instances, an African-American counselor or physician may be more likely to reach a solution.

Xanthos also issues a call for "bicultural'' training for young black males, teaching survival skills to black men about how to live in a white society. Such training would better prepare black youths for integration into schools and workplaces that are predominantly white, while also preparing them to confront and overcome the discrimination they are likely to face in American society.

Henrie M. Treadwell, Ph.D. is associate director of development at the National Center for Primary Care of Morehouse School of Medicine. He is also director of Community Voices, a non-profit working to improve health services and health-care access, for all Americans.
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dr. Nation Replies on His Fictive Theory



Dr. Nathan Hare Replies to Dr. Rodney Coates:



Rodney,

I see, looking back on the Inbox that you addressed me (“Nate”) in what looks like your reply to Marvin X. Anyway, “Where Do Old Revolutionaries Go?” is a moving poem. Profound and eloquent. I like it, but I just want to say something on behalf of the old revolutionaries, many of whom cannot be heard, lest somebody might take a notion to play us cheap:

We’re still here, and ready for the revolution, still dangerous, pressed to the wall, crying, dying, but fighting back; lean and mean (unlike Michelle Obama and the late Elijah Muhammad said of our “fat, satisfied and greasy” youth).

We’re counting on the young revolutionaries to get up and try to catch up with us, because the struggle continues.Nathan,

P.S. On part 2

I think it’s sad that the memory of the young revolutionary is so short they can neither see ahead nor back to the old revolutionary’s sorry past. I have said repeatedly in recent years that part of our problem as a people, speaking of the young and the old, is we have been looking so far back for so long that now our memory is longer than our understanding. But there has always been a problem of the generations.

A black weekly newspaper here asked me and my wife a week or so ago to do something on the importance of Black History Month. We chose to put together “A Conversation with the Father of Black History.” Conversing with Carter G. Woodson.

I was surprised in a brief rereading of Woodson to discover or to rediscover how forward looking he had been, in more than one way, despite my enduring impatience with history and Woodson’s having been lambasted for conformity in a biography by his assistant.

Somebody just called here by chance and said for their own reasons they’ll fax us on Tuesday a scanning of the newspaper containing the conversation, which covered the whole of the front page (hence too big for my scanner) and most of page 2 as well. A highly unusual occurrence for that or any weekly.

Fanon might say it’s useless to compare the generations anyway, when as Camus suggested, every generation must discover or create its own destiny, remembered or not, Many are those who have been remembered posthumously, in death while ignored in life, and vice versa.

But in the long run the history that is made, if not written, will live even if it is forgotten. I remember something Huey Newton once said: “if you can move one grain of sand, the world will never be the same again.” Texting from the battleground of an unfinished revolution.

Nathan


Dr. Hare to Dr. Rodney Coates
Rodney, I don’t disagree with that, if I understand it. I’m afraid I missed those other “fronts,” coming into this conversation as I did at the “fictive” point. It would hardly behoove me to denigrate all persons in the university – if I read you correctly – anymore than I would all who remain on this larger plantation called America, in any modicum of peace and tranquility. I have often sought a hollow comfort in something I once heard Arthur Miller say on the radio, when asked why he wasn’t teaching at a university, and he replied that “a revolutionary cannot teach.” But the comfort not only was hollow, it was empty and somehow sad. I was just telling one of my former students, who wrote the other night that I had been her favorite professor at Howard -- as happily so many do – and I went on to tell her about the emotional devastation leaving Howard had been for me, that I had thought I would be at Howard forever, and how if I could have stayed there till now I would have taught just about everybody worthwhile and the world wouldn’t have been quite the same again. It was at the highest administrative levels, always with pressure from outside political, corporate and police instigation, that I confronted the balance of my academic oppression. Colleagues I could abide, even when we differed politically. Indeed in every instance when I was brought up for a hearing by administrators before committees they handpicked the committees (colleagues in some fashion), who might have been expected to support the administration, instead supported and voted for me; but the administrators fired me anyway. The same thing when I was trying to get back into universities all over this country, focusing on black studies from 1981 to 1988, whenever I would get past the politics of persons on the hiring committees (which admittedly could sometimes be a trip), always some high level administrator would step into block my hiring; and that was the case all over this land. In any event, whatever I have done outside the university setting could have been done so much better within it, for more than reason, if only I could have stayed for a while. Right now I must spend my days devoted to the task of self-employment in a dwindling and outrageous health insurance market (on which a black people’s psychologist’s clients invariably depend for all practical purposes), especially given my history at universities, which follows and weighs in on me in many subtle and complex ways, so that I hardly have time to do anything else, even if I had somebody to stand on the left and the right of me.

So the struggle continues, and ironically it looks like something may be brewing out there, and predictably, and I just hope I’m still around to see it when the morning comes. But I’ll tell everybody inside and outside the university, like Joe Louis’s old trainer, Jack Blackburn, said to Joe Louis in the corner when he was losing to Billy Conn and would go out the next round and knock him out: “You got to knock him out to win, and I can’t keep coming back up these steps if you don’t take the man out.” What are you waiting on, Rodney… Marvin…et.al… ad infinitum, ibid., op cit…passim…etc…? Nathan Hare, A.B., M.A., 3/5ths MSJ, Ph.D., Ph.D.

From: Coates, Rodney D.

TO: Dr. Nathan Hare

Nate: We be’s talking on several fronts..and it is on several fronts that we continually must make it…there is never only one solution, style, or method of approach..but we must continually use all means necessary to effect our liberation……and yes…I have worked from within and also from without the university….we can ill afford to not make use of all of our resources…in fact the problem…as I see it is that we have declared our bases…and have failed to link these bases to an effective strategy to maximize our resources…revolution dictates that there are always infiltrators that work within the system…..while there are those within the community..and there are even those outside of the community…being held within institutions directly aimed to destroy them…(Mumia, et al)…the problem has always been that we only view the reality within those limited spheres..and not adequately see how to link past the boundaries of those spaces…thus …few have done what Cox… Du Bois or Clark or even Derrick Bell …have done within the academe..to use these resources to train, entertain, and maintain scholars both within and outside of the academe..few have done what Malcolm X…Nate and Julia…Marvin X..Lil Joe..and Marva Collins have done outside of the academe..to link those trapped in the walls of the ghetto..in the belly of the beast…to help the family survive…and few have done what Mumia…Stanley Tookie Williams.. and other institutionalized brothers and sisters that have shined the light, directed the path, and have demonstrated that manhood…true manhood is not dictated by ones fate, or ones hate, or ones place but one’s reality that they define, and mandate… ..we be what we be…we work from where we work..to make this a better place to be…real…

From an institutionalized brother…
The song that lies silent in the heart of a mother sings upon the lips of her child.. Kahlil Gibran
Rodney D. Coates Professor

Marvin X Reply to Dr. Hare

Doc, you are right, ain't no university cared two cents for me, sure didn't pay me two cents. Well, your great Howard University did allow me to speak for several days on the MOP--well, they did treat me to lunch in the faculty lounge--but like you say, maybe they did this because the walls are indeed tumbling down. Yes, I do need to think about that university concept. I was moved the other day when there were three of us poets (Charles Blackwell, Q.R. Hand and myself) standing at 14th and Broadway and Charles said what if each of us poets took a corner. I said, yes, we could bring about a change in concsciousness. Think what would happen if other scholars took to the street corners like Donald Warden, Richard Thorne, Mamadou Lumumba, and others did in the early 60s in Oakland and San Francisco's Fillmore--what a revolution happened! Not to mention what happened in Harlem on the corner of 125th and Seventh Aveneue, with Dr. Ben, Dr. Clarke, Malcolm X and others.

What are these black scholars waiting for--again, you said it, maybe for the university walls to fall down. Hell, in a minute the Wallls of Jerico may fall, give another earthquake or two. I love that blackout the precious students put on at the gates of UC Berkeley. Peace and long life,

Marvin

From: Nathan Hare
To: Marvin X
Hey, Dr.M, Plato Negro, since I don’t know that much about poetry you could be cursing me out here, but move to the top of the class for giving me serious thought. Or is fictive thought not serious? I’m afraid “fictive” is truly going to carry more weight now than “factive,” because they’ve turned “factive” into a pharmaceutical drug, which takes it off the streets. Speaking of which, why do you call your street academy the “University of Poetry?” You know neither one of us never got along with no university. And that’s a fact, or is it a fict? When is a fact not a fict, Professor? Both of them are four letter words. Besides, I suspect that Plato never got along with any university either, but settled for an “academy.” ( Li’l Joe could probably run down some real good history on the oppressive rise of the “university”). Anyway, I can see your University of Poetry Academy, the Poetry School of Poetry Schools sprouting up all over the hood (something like the Academy of the Arts University, the Art School of Arts Schools downtown and around San Francisco already) bypassing a whole lot of white tape and tricknocracy that is certain to confront any claim to a “university,” let alone a University Negro. And nobody wants a Negro University anymore (now called “Black” or “historically black”, i.e.,“HBCU”). Got to have a Spanish or a romance language ring, like “Plato Negro,” or “Africana.” Or maybe it should be the University of Poetries Academy, the Poetry School of Poetries Schools, which could include negroes and poetries beyond the white man’s grasp, and blacks and people of color, high tech coloreds, and Africans, or at least Africanas and all the afrocentrics and egocentrics and eccentrics; so as to get ahead of the white man’s fictive arts and tricknocracy, including his poetocracy, and avoid the “university” wall the Day of Action says just might be tumbling down. Soon there will be black days of action coming ‘round the mountain. So run and tell that. Nathan Hare http://www.blackthinktank.com/ 415-929-0204


Brown’s records are “under lock and key” at the University of Southern California

A task force was created in 2007 to investigate the disappearance or destruction of documents related to Brown’s time as mayor of Oakland.

In Oakland, a computer hard drive was found at City Hall and some inconsequential documents were located in a dumpster, but nothing much of substance was ever recovered.





The Return of Gov. Moonbeam

California is already well known as La la land, Wild Wild West, last frontier, end of the white man's world, after all, once on the west coast Asia awaits us, the non-white world. So Cali is indeed the last frontier, and strange things do indeed happen here, e.g., actors become governors, prisons are the universities of the poor, and now the prospect of a straight nut as governor awaits us. Jerry Brown, now Attorney General of California, has shed any semblance of liberal and some time ago, after becoming mayor of Oakland, embraced the right wing agenda of the police state. And now with himself as the chief law enforcer, wants to advance to the governorship, or more properly return to the governorship, or shall we say mothership!

While mayor of Oakland, he perfected his right wing agenda. He tricked liberals and radicals and won the mayor's race, then swiftly discarded the left wing persona for the devil's mask. The police occupation of Oakland increased, along with drug selling and homicides, throw in gentrification or ethnic cleansing. He told whites if they bought property in the old black neighborhood of West Oakland, they would be closer to San Francisco than San Francisco, since the last BART stop is West Oakland and within less than ten minutes one is in San Francisco's financial district.

Brown created the atmosphere so Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post Newspaper, could be murdered downtown Oakland in broad daylight. As he departed the mayor's office for Sacramento, his email records were deleted, financial as well. One of his scams was the Fox Theatre and his school of the "white" arts.

To add insult to injury to the citizens of Oakland, Mayor Ron Dellums called upon Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the investigation of the assassination of Chauncey Bailey, when Jerry Brown himself should be investigated for his role in setting the atmosphere for the murder of Chauncey, just as Farrakhan admitted he fanned the flames for the murder of Malcolm X.
Jerry Brown allegedly said, "I'm going to get that nigger from snooping around City Hall and the police department." Chauncey was then a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, but was fired for a most trivial reason, but no doubt with the blessing of then Mayor Brown.

But in fact, the last story Chauncey worked on was corruption at City Hall and the Oakland Police Department's role in shaking down drug dealers, planting false evidence, money laundering and homicide under the color of law.

Actually, the entire political establishment is connected to the assassination of Chauncey, Brown, Don Perata, the now declared candidate for next mayor, and others. The OPD gave the alleged assassins a license to cause total mayhem in the community. Alas, an OPD officer was the chief advisor and mentor of the Black Muslim Bakery brothers, who are now fall guys for the OPD in the murder of Chauncey.
This same officer was put in charge of the crime scene and headed the raid on the Bakery in less the 24 hours after his murder. He claimed the case solved when he got a confession (since recanted) and the murder weapon. No other homicide in Oakland was "solved" so quickly. The officer was briefly taken off duty but returned just before the old chief of police retired so he wouldn't incriminate the chief. You know the drill, "I'll give you your job back if you don't rat on me."

Jerry Brown's hands are as bloody as the OPD in this matter. A woman at Burger King last night said Jerry Brown should be put under the jail for what he did as mayor of Oakland. And sadly, for Mayor Ron Dellums to ask JB to investigate the investigation of CB, when JB should himself be investigated, is the height of the ridiculous and approaches the theatre of the Absurd and theatre of the Deranged.

And now Governor Moonbeam wants to return to the governor's mansion, but this time as right wing Democrat. And the supreme tragedy is that he faces little opposition, even after pushing for the indictment of the San Francisco Eight for forty year old crimes, which most of them successfully defended themselves in spite of Moonbeam's indictment. By the way, we've heard nothing of the Attorney General's investigation of the CB assassination.

Since he faces no opposition from his party, we suspect his views are in harmony with the electorate, now brain dead from the economic meltdown.

Well, good-bye Terminator with your Crack-neck wife, and enter the Dragon, Dr. Moonbeam. Surely the Great Quake is soon to come. Watch the animals, when they head for the hills, let us join them and head for the hills before the tsunami consumes us and we drown.
--Marvin X

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Marvin X as Silent Warrior


marvin x a silent warrior

mavin x a silent warrior ?
you talkin bout mavrin x
a silent warrior!

he stands in front of rite aid drug store preaching and teaching youth
and all who will listen
almost everyday
everyone knows him coast to coast
he lectures all over
he's written several books
how then do you say he's a silent warrior
i saw his play one day in the life
my sister who goes to s.f state says he's always there
spreading and tellin it just like it is
the truth the whole truth and nothin but the truth
so help him god
what hasn't marvin done in pursuit of the truth
yea i said it
and i'll say it again
marvin x
is a silent warrior
we don't hear him we can't even see him
yet he's right there in our face
teaching and preaching to our whole race
the human race
you are human aren't you
like so many other silent warriors
malcolm x marcus garvy angela davis, harriett tubman, martin l king jr ,bobby seal, elijah muhammad, ida b wells, ella collins
huey newton, bobby seale, angela davis, queen mother moore, mae mallory, betty shabazz and the list go on
we didn't hear them either just like marvin x
they were invisible
we didn't change we didn't pick up the torch and continue
we kill each other at the drop of a hat when we pass each other on the street
we wont even speak
we seem to have so much contempt for one another
the hate is written all over our face

that's why they are silent warriors
we refuse to see and we refuse to hear
therefore marvin x is a silent warrior
when will we see when will we hear
and more importantly when will we do for self
for one another as our warriors taught us?

--alfajiri
2/2/10

Black Out at UC Berkeley



News Updates:
UC Berkeley Students Protest UCSD Racist Acts
By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 01, 2010

Contributed photo
Black students at UC Berkeley protest racist acts at UCSD Monday.

Contributed photo

UC Berkeley students during a silent protest Monday, after which they marched to the university's administrative offices at California Hall.UC Berkeley became the scene of yet another protest Monday when a group of students and supporters staged a “Blackout 2010” blockade of Sather Gate. The group—comprised mainly of black students on campus—wore black clothing, with black scarves around their mouth, to silently protest racist acts at UC San Diego, including an off-campus event mocking Black History Month.
The situation escalated when a noose was found hanging in UCSD’s Geisel Library two weeks later. An e-mail message from Blackout’s organizers said the Feb. 14 “Compton Cookout” themed party encouraged “female participants to be ‘ghetto chicks’ with gold teeth, cheap clothes and ‘short, nappy hair ...’ and ‘a limited vocabulary,’ while consuming ‘chicken and watermelon.’” It pointed out that state Bill AB 412 makes placing a noose on school property a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
“It is deplorable that while our students, faculty and staff work to heal the campus, a few misguided individuals tried to divide it,” UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said in a statement Feb. 26. “We are feeling real pain, and we will take real action. The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is my primary concern.”
Fox said that an individual had come forward and admitted responsibility for the latest incident due to pressure from the UCSD community. “This underscores the fact that our university is banding together,” her statement said. “We will not tolerate hate on our campus, and all criminal acts will be punished.”
UC President Mark Yudof met with students in Sacramento today and pledged to focus on system-wide strategies to prevent further acts of intolerance. The Berkeley campus protesters stood or sat silently back-to-back, arms linked, blocking a major part of Sather Gate, the main entrance to campus, from 11: 30 a.m. to 2 p.m., after which they marched to California Hall, where Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other administrators have their offices.
“We are brothers and sisters in a nonviolent, silent demonstration, standing in solidarity with the UCSD students who have been affected by blatant acts of ignorance and hatred,” a flyer from protest organizers said. UC Berkeley senior Lajuanda M. Asemota, who helped organize the “Blackout,” said the protest also wanted “to call attention to all the things happening on the Berkeley campus despite the administration’s promises about racial diversity.”
The protest, which remained non-violent, had about 200 students at its peak. Pedestrians were able to pass through the narrow side arches of Sather Gate, although a female protester was reportedly pushed by a student trying to squeeze through. In front of California Hall, the group read out a letter addressed to Birgeneau which expressed disappointment with a message he sent to the student body on Feb. 24.
In his letter, Birgeneau condemned the racist acts at UCSD and outlined the steps UC Berkeley has taken to promote equity and inclusion among faculty, staff and students “We are distressed by the recent event involving UC San Diego students that mocked the commemoration of Black History Month,” Birgeneau’s letter said. “We have zero tolerance for deliberate acts that discriminate or demean others based on race, gender, national original, sexual orientation, or any other personal characteristic, and know that all UC campuses share that view.”
Birgeneau said that a team comprising of students and staff was working with the Vice Chancellor to organize a Climate Forum later this semester. “They expressed their outrage regarding the UCSD event and are working to discourage and prevent such incidents at Berkeley,” his letter said. “An excellent step in this direction was the early response by the CalGreeks community deploring and distancing themselves from the actions at UCSD.”
The letter to Birgeneau from the Berkeley protesters said that his message “failed to explicitly address the ‘deliberate acts that discriminate[d] and demean[ed] others based on race...” at UCSD.” “We are disgusted that the administration is merely ‘distressed’” by the offenses,” the students’ letter said. The letter went on to outline what they said were racist incidents on the UCB campus, including:
• “A hate crime committed by the men’s crew team in which members encircled, assaulted, and poured beer on a black female student while calling her “n***er” repeatedly. UCPD was called, and did nothing.”
• “An incident in science class in which the professor turned out the lights for a classroom presentation and a student yelled, “Where did all the black people go?” The professor made no rebuke.”
• “An on-campus PETA demonstration comparing enslaved Africans, lynched Black Americans, and Tuskegee experiment subjects to chickens, pigs, and cows. Canines were brought to a peaceful protest to “calm” the situation.”
• “A hate crime in which the African-American Theme House Co-Op was vandalized with swastikas.”
• “An article in the [campus student newspaper] Daily Cal which stated that Blacks are seven times more likely to kill than whites” “Though these incidents seem isolated, they are in fact symptomatic of a deeper issue that plagues the University of California as a whole—a continued marginalization of the Black student body,” the letter said.
The letter criticized the low population of black students on campus—3.49 percent of 35,843 students—since the passage of Proposition 209 and the failure of the UC administration to recruit and retain Black students or appoint Black faculty members. Signed “3.49 percent,” the letter concluded by saying that the protesters hoped that the “few hours of discomfort” they had caused would “be indicative of the anguish experienced daily by Black UC students.”
“The UC Berkeley Black community stands here silent,” the letter said. “Silent because we fear for the future. Silent because the past is prologue. Silent because there is nothing left to say. Our silence, then, is your opportunity to act.” Asemota said UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor Harry Le Grande came out to talk with the group after they finished reading out the letter. “Breslauer said he was really sorry about the things outlined in the letter and that stuff like that continued to happen on campus,” she said. “He said that the campus administration would come forward with a resolution.” http://www.blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 1, 2010

Open Letter to Obama on Black Music

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA(THE-RE-MIX)

“What About We People Who Are Darker Than Blue?”

By Norman (Otis) Richmond

As this is being written President Barack Hussein Obama is yet toissue a proclamation for Black Music Month which is in its 30th yearof observance. Toronto’s Mayor David Miller however, issued aproclamation for Black Music Month on May 11th, 2009.
President Obama did issue of a statement in support of what he isreferring to as African American Appreciation Month on June 2nd.President Obama has taken in one felt swoop an international music andnationalized it. African American music is international music.Recall, it was The Black Music Association created be Kenny Gamble, EdWright and others that brought together Stevie Wonder & Bob Marley inthe Wailers in concert to demonstrate this fact.
Sir Duke Ellington pointed out nearly a century ago that we as apeople must call our music “Negro’ (Black) music so others could notclaim it.
Black music is one of the many gifts that Africa and Africans havegiven to the world.
President Obama gave a brilliant speech at El – Azhar University inCairo, The 44th president has proven that he is one of the mostintelligent if not the most intelligent head of state in the historyof the USA.
The president’s speech was like a vintage Earth, Wind & Fireperformance. However, it was just that -- a performance. MumiaAbu-Jamal pointed out “But in truth Obama had them at “Salaam-Alaikum”the universal Muslim greeting meaning “Peace beyond to you. Peace it’ssad to say is hardly a reality when ones own government is at war withits own people.”
While the president was touring the Middle East he failed to recognizethe 30th anniversary of Black Music Month. More than one person hasraised the issue that, “Maybe he didn’t know?” I find thisunbelievable. He recently hosted Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire andSweet Honey in the Rock at the White House. He even invited Odetta tosing at his Inauguration; however, she joined the ancestors before thehistorical event.
How can a man who spent most of his adult life in Chicago claim to be“deaf, dumb & blind” of Black Music Month? Chicago is the home ofMahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King’s musical lieutenant, CurtisMayfield, Jerry Butler Mavis and Pop Staples, Ernest Dawkins, R.Kelly,Common & Kanye West.
The June issue of Ebony Magazine, which I brought in the middle ofMay, is dedicated to Black Music Month. This issue has Jade PinkettSmith on the cover and features a photo of President Obama, and thefirst lady Michelle Obama with Queen Elizabeth II at BuckinghamPalace.
After being called out by The Caribbean World News Network, PresidentObama did rightly proclaimed June National Caribbean American HeritageMonth. President Obama issued this statement on June 2nd.
According to the June 6th issue of the New York Times he signed aproclamation establishing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. Thecommission is supposed to organize activities to mark the 100thanniversary, in 20011, of President Reagan’s birth. What about wepeople who are darker than blue – President Obama?
If a Ronald Regan Centennial Commission is in order what about a BlackMusic Month Commission with people like Randy Weston, Dee DeeBridgewater, Cassandra Smith, Amiri Baraka and Queen Latifah? RaynardJackson of Philadelphia has opined, “It’s a no brainer to do a townhall meeting with singers, producers, and songwriters during BlackMusic Month.
The music of African people has been an international force since theFisk Jubilee Singers, gospel group from Nashville, Tennessee conqueredEurope in 1873. Since that period jazz, calypso, reggae r'n'b, hip-hopand African beats have come to be the most popular and influential artforms in the world. Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong and Miriam Makeba areknown all over this the small planet we call earth.
The great saxophonist Archie Shepp once said, “What Malcolm X saidJohn Coltrane played”. This was the expression of Africans in NorthAmerican. The same thing occurred in the Caribbean and in Africa.
In the Caribbean Walter Rodney (Guyana) and Bob Marley (Jamaica) werethe concrete expressions of this phenomenon in the 1970s and early1980s. On the mother continent Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) and FelaAnikulapo Kuti (Nigeria) are examples of music and politicscomplimenting one another in the 1990s.
Despite its influence on the planet it was only 30 years ago that theBlack Music Association (BMA) persuaded the U.S. government torecognize Black Music Month. In June 1979, around the time theSugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" was being released; Kenny Gambleled a delegation to the White House to discuss with President JimmyCarter the state of Black music.
At the meeting, Carter asked trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and drummer MaxRoach if they would perform "Salt Peanuts", to which Gillespie repliedthat he'd only do so if the President (who made a fortune as a peanutfarmer) provided the vocals.
Since that great and dreadful day when Carter butchered the song, Junehas been designated Black Music Month.
It must be mentioned that in 1979 the world was witnessing arevolutionary breeze as Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movementseized state power in Grenada, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas sweptthe counter revolutionary forces out of power in Nicaragua like abroom and the Shah of Iran was dethroned after being installed inpower by the CIA in 1953.
The soundtrack to all of this was (Gene) McFadden and JohnWhitehead’s, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” which was released in 1979.Recall, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” was played at the 2008 DemocraticNational Convention on the night Illinois Senator Barack Obamaaccepted the Democratic Party nomination for President of the UnitedStates.
Since 1984, thanks to the efforts of the BMA/TC, Toronto Mayors JuneRowlands, Barbara Hall and Mel Lastman, respectively, has recognizedJune as Black Music Month. On the 25th anniversary of Black MusicMonth, Mayor David Miller presented the proclamation at City Hall. Thelate Milton Blake, Jay Douglas, Michie Mee, Norman (Otis) Richmond(Jalali) and others participated in this event.
When broadcaster and community activist the late Milton Blake andNorman (Otis) Richmond created the Black Music Association's TorontoChapter in 1984, it was our intention to plug African-Canadian musicmakers into the international music market.
At that moment the only African Canadian that was internationallyknown was Oscar Peterson. Since that time Eric Mercury, HarrisonKennedy (as a member of the Chairmen of the Board), Deborah Cox,Devine Brown, Glenn Lewis and Kardinal Offishall have conquered theworld--musically.
By not recognizing Black Music Month in 2009 you have taken a stepbackward Mr. President. As our Comrade /Leader Maurice Bishop told us30 years ago, "Forward Ever. Backwards Never”.
One of the greatest Africans to ever grace the planet Ghana’s KwameNkrumah said the same thing 20 years before Comrade Bishop.