Sunday, February 28, 2010

By What Right?

By what right do we sport and play while our guns and bombs destroy the world--since America is the number one arms merchant today? By what right do we consume 25% of the world's energy while most of the world has no electricity, clean drinking water and works all day for a dollar? By what right do we enjoy ourselves sipping cafe latte while the people of Africa, Asia and the Americas live lives of sadness and grief at our expense, since we are the reason they live sad lives after centuries of exploitation, slavery and neo-colonialism?

Yesterday a former Special Ops killer told me he was guilty of doing things in countries that have every right to bomb America into the stone age, countries we now call terrorist havens, while we are the real terrorists, the world's greatest!

By what right do we live in peace, drive gas guzzling Hummers and Escalades, attend Super Bowl, music concerts, while people we destroy have no money to eat or bury their dead loved ones we call collateral damage?

By what right do we charge our children with rape while we teach them how as we go about the earth raping, robbing,plundering and exploiting the labor and national wealth of the poor. In the US military, 33% of female soldiers suffer sexual assault by their comrades in arms. We may wonder how a female soldier with a weapon can get raped? But an old rapist told me, "I wish I would see a bitch with a gun jogging through the jungle." Apparently US soldiers feel the same.
We know the patriarchal religions teach domination of women and rape is ultimate result. It doesn't matter if it occurs in the military, college campus, on a date or in the marriage bed.

By what right do we imprison two million persons for drug related offenses, who suffer mental illness as well as drug addiction at the time of their arrest, 80% would be released if they had proper legal representation. Furthermore, the US government is the number one drug supplier as we saw with the Crack epidemic and the heroin traffic in Afghanistan today.

By what right do we deny nuclear weapons to non-white nations while the only nation to use the atom bomb was white America? Why are not Zionist Israel denied their nuclear arsenal--oh, because they're God chosen people! Not my God, maybe the God of devils. Either everyone should have nukes or nobody, including America.

By what right do we give insurgents, i.e., terrorists, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, schooling, housing and employment if they lay down their arms, while you have no solution to violence in the hood other than police occupation and prison, meanwhile families are utterly destroyed and communities destabilized.

The only right is the arrogance of white supremacy, from which the adrenalin rush is too high to stop and white privilege has become habitual and full blown. Like getting a nut, you want more, until finally, you must be taken away for detoxification and prevented from leaving the white supremacy recovery center because you are a danger to yourselves and others. Nelson Mandela said you are the main threat to world peace, America! Your privileges must be taken away, including visits to the outside world, until you fully recover, although you may be constitutionally unable, therefore you must remain long term.
--Marvin X

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Notes on the Elders Council

by Marvin X

These notes are based on the teachings of the Honorable John Douimbia (RIP), founder of the Black Men's Conference, Oakland, CA, 1980. I served as chief planner of the BMC. John gave me one-on-one manhood training. On the morning of the conference, over one thousand black men gathered at the Oakland Auditorium to hear from John, myself, Dr. Nathan Hare, Dr. Wade Nobles, Dr. Oba T-Shaka, Dr. Yusef Bey, et al. Women organized an event that evening for the men, organizers included Betty King (RIP) and Dezy Woods-Jones.

This draft has never been implemented, although Bay Area elders were seated at the Tupac Shakur Youth Conference at McClymonds high school, circa 2000. Those elders seated included Geronimo Pratt, Tarika Lewis, Willie Tate, Tureeda Mikell, Aishah Kokomon, Suzzette Celeste, Frank Kellum, David Johnson, Emory Douglas, myself, et al.

(1) What is the function of a Council of Elders?

The Council of Elders should be the final authority in the African community. It should be the final authority in moral, domestic, personal, criminal justice and economic matters. It should provide counseling and guidance to troubled men and women. For example, O.J. Simpson could have gone to the Elders Council for guidance on his domestic problems--Tiger Woods as well.

Brothers in the hood should be able to take their problems before the EC for conflict resolution, rather than resorting to violence and destroying entire families over a twenty-dollar dope debt.
The EC would pay the debt to prevent homicide. Incest and other child abuse cases would be matters for the EC. Political prisoners and inmates could be released to the custody of the EC.

(2) How should the EC be composed?

If no other way, it must be drafted by respectable elders in the community. They must be men and women of wisdom and honor. They need not be holy Joe's, but cannot be of outright, flagrant unholiness and negativity. They should be of revolutionary consciousness as opposed to conservative--they ought to have radical thoughts that can guide us through the millennium, not keep us in the past. The last thing we need is a group of tired, reactionary, boot-licking Negroes in authority, persons who want to deliver the EC to the black bourgeoisie running dogs for pharaoh. Elders should not be able to be bought, sell out or traded.

(3) How does the EC receive power?

The EC receives power from the people who agree to submit issues before the EC for resolution. There should be a community consensus that the EC is the point of authority to resolve issues that need not involve the so-called elected governmental agencies which have proven incapable of resolving human rights abuses, economic justice, political empowerment, disparities in health, education, mental health, drug abuse, homicide, suicide, domestic and partner violence, emotional and verbal violence, child abuse, spiritual decadence and myopia (especially with respect to men--the churches are mostly full of women).

(4) How would the EC administer its decisions?

Persons might receive a citation to appear before the EC. They might peacefully submit to arrest and detention in a community center before their case is adjudicated. The decisions of the EC would be enforced by Guardians of the Community, men and women trained to enforce the dictates of the EC.

(5) Should the EC be a religious or spiritual body?

No. Religion should not dominate the EC. The EC exists for the community as a whole, not for any religion or group of religions. Extremely religious persons should be barred from the EC.
Persons concerned with religious matters should remain in their churches, mosques, temples--yes, keep praying. Of course, the EC should have a spiritual dimension as part of its holistic approach to problem solving.

(6) What should be the relationship of the EC to the established government and its agencies?

It should be a cooperative but independent relationship. If there are problems the EC cannot handle, then we should turn matters over to the criminal justice system, or mental health agencies. What we want is the first option to control our community, rather than have outside forces intervene. We feel the EC can eradicate the sale of drugs in our community without involving the criminal justice system. We will do this by simply uniting the males and making their presence known. We will also do this by presenting alternative economic opportunities to youth, such as entrepreneurship and micro credit. We know that if youth can sell drugs, they can sell anything. Why not books, watches, shoes, clothing, arts, DVDs, CDs, food, etc. Rather than pay the criminal justice system fifty thousand dollars per man per year for incarceration, why not give the brothers and sisters a voucher for the same amount to purchase legal goods to sell?

The goods would be housed in a secured community warehouse and issued as per need. If youth persist in criminal activity such as selling drugs and pimping, they would be banished from the community, if necessary, for life.

(7) Should there be a Council of Women Affairs?

Women should be an equal part of the EC, but also have a department of Women's Affairs to handle issues only women should settle, the same for men and youth. As per women, we know cases of elderly abuse by daughters--sons as well. Why should elders live 70 and 80 years to be terrified by their children, especially when the elders are caring for the grandchildren due to the drug addiction of parents?

(8) Should there be a youth council?

Yes. It would deal with youth matters. We had the case of a youth who was prevented from entering a certain department at San Francisco State University--she couldn't get assistance from the Black Student Union, Black Studies Department or any other help. A Council of Youth would represent the student in a matter of this nature, which the student believe was racial discrimination. You might have simple adolescent or sexual identity problems that peer counseling or ultimately manhood training could resolve, or problems with parents who might be drug or sexual abusers--such issues might be immediately taken to the EC.

These are my views, all points open for discussion. I welcome all comments.
Marvin X

Friday, February 26, 2010

Give Africa back
to its traditional rulers!

Give Africa back to its traditional rulers.!The post colonial leaders in Africa have been a disgusting assortment of military coconut-heads, Swiss bank socialists, quack revolutionaries, crocodile liberators, briefcase bandits, kamikaze looters, vampire elites, and crackpot democrats. They only know how to do 3 things very well:

1. Loot the treasury.

2. Brutalize and squelch all dissent and opposition to their misrule,

3. Perpetuate themselves in office.

Ask them to develop their countries and they will develop their pockets. Ask them to seek "foreign investment" and they will invest their loot in a foreign country.Name me just 10 African leaders who do not fit this bill.Give Africa back to its traditional rulers. In traditional Africa, chiefs and kings are chosen; they do not choose and impose themselves or stupid alien ideologies on their people. Further, chiefs and kings are held accountable at all times for their actions and are removed if they do not govern according to will of the people.

Go back and re-read the history of the Oyo Empire, (Benin Empire), which was governed with an elaborate system of checks and balances in the 17th Century -- well before the U.S. became a nation. The modern leadership is a despicable disgrace to black Africa. They are a far cry from the traditional leadership Africa has known for centuries.And get this, Lil Joe. Africa has not just a traditional political culture and heritage based upon consensus but also an economic heritage of free village markets, free enterprise and free trade. Challenge this.

Marxism was never part of indigenous African economic heritage. Get that straight.I am fed up with quack revolutionaries and crackpot intellectuals who seek to impose alien ideologies and systems on the African people. There is nothing wrong with Africa's own indigenous institutions; nor does Africa have to reject them in order to develop.

The Japanese, Koreans and other Asians did not have to reject their culture in order to develop. Only educated zombies think Africa has to. The continent is littered with the putrid carcasses of failed imported systems. Now we are being told to go Chinese! Such stupidity.Africa's salvation lies in returning to and building upon its own indigenous institutions. Africa's salvation does NOT lie in the corridors of the World Bank, the inner sanctum of the Chinese politburo. Nor does Africa's salvation lie in the steamy sex antics of cockroaches on Jupiter!

George Ayittey,Washington, DC

The People of No

No, no, no! That is all you say. Everything about you is no. Your lips say no, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your arms, your legs, your feet. You are a no person. I run from you. You say no to God. I am afraid of your no touch. I cannot expand my mind around no people. You will kill my spiritual development. No no no no!

When you say yes to life you open the world of infinite possibilities. I understand no part of no, only infinite possibilities. No does not exist in my world, only yes. Yes to love. Yes to success, yes to hope, yes to truth, yes to prosperity, yet to divinity, yes to resurrection, yes to ascension, yes to eternity. I am the language of yes. If you cannot say yes, get away from me. I run from you, want nothing to do with you. There is no hope for you until you open your mouth to yes.

Cast away the yes fear. Let it go, let God. Yes. No matter what, yes. No matter how long, yes.

No matter how hard, yes. Let there be peace in the house, yes. Let there be love between you and me, yes. Let there be revolution in the land, over the world, yes. We will try harder, yes, we won't give up, yes. We shall triumph, yes. Yes is the language of God. Yes is the language of Divinity, Spirituality.

All the prophets ssaid yes. Adam said yes, Abraham said yes. Moses said yes. Solomon said yes.

Job said yes. Jeremiah, Isaiah said yes. The lover in Song of Solomon said yes. David said yes.

John and Jesus sasid yes. Muhammad said yes. Elijah and Malcolm, Martin and Garvey, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth said yes. Fannie Lou and Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott ssaid yes.

Mama and daddy said yes. Grandma and grandpa said yes. All the ancestors said yes. Forevermore, let go of no and say yes. Dance to yes. Shout to yes!

--Marvin X

from Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality, Black Bird Press, Berkeley, 2007

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality
Essays on Consciousness
By Marvin X

Review by Rudolph Lewis, editor, chickenbones, a journal

Marvin X has done extraordinary mind and soul work in bringing our attention to the importance of spirituality, as opposed to religion, in our daily living. Someone—maybe Kierkegaard or maybe it was George Fox who—said that there was no such thing as "Christianity." There can only be Christians. It is not institutions but rather individuals who make the meaningful differences in our world. It is not Islam but Muslims. Not Buddhism but Buddhists. Marvin X has made a courageous difference. In this book he shares the wondrous vision of his spiritual explorations. His eloquent language and rhetoric are varied—sophisticated but also earthy, sometimes both at once. His moods are both reverent and irreverent: at times he consoles, other times cajoles with biting mockery. At times amusing but always deadly serious.

Highly informed he speaks to many societal levels and to both genders—to the intellectual as well as to the man/woman on the street or the unfortunate in prison—to the mind as well as the heart. His topics range from global politics and economics to those between men and women in their household. Common sense dominates his thought. He shuns political correctness for the truth of life. He is a Master Teacher in many fields of thought—religion and psychology, sociology and anthropology, history and politics, literature and the humanities. He is a needed Counselor, for he knows himself, on the deepest of personal levels and he reveals that self to us, that we might be his beneficiaries.

All of which are represented in his Radical Spirituality—a balm for those who anguish in these troubling times of disinformation. As a shaman himself, he calls too for a Radical Mythology to override the traditional mythologies of racial supremacy that foster war and injustice. It's a dangerous book, for it reveals the inner workings of capitalist and imperialist governments around the world. It's a book that stands with and on behalf of the poor, the dispossessed, the despised, and downtrodden.

Marvin X has found a way out of our spiritual morass, our material quagmire. We are blessed to still have him among us. If you want to reshape (clean up, raise) your consciousness, this is a book to savor, to read again, and again—to pass onto a friend or lover.
—Rudolph Lewis, Editor, ChickenBones: A Journal
Preface, Joy and Happiness, Work
Reconciliation, Health, Elders
Women, Men, Youth
Children, Sex, Solitude
Blessings, Music, Writing
Africa, Love, Partner Violence
Prison, Street Violence, Pimpin
Rap, Jerusalem, Teacher, Myth
Militant, Language, Nature,
Global Violence, Sectarianism
Technology, Ancestors, Death
History, Future, Polygamy
Polyandry, Prostitution, Nukes
Religion, Sufi, Prayer, Radical God
Ritual, Drugs, Family, Marriage
Education, Gay/Lesbian, HIV/AIDS
Art, Traumatic Stress, Poverty
Black Bourgeoisie, Media, Panther
Peace, Politics, Immigration, Land
Holy Joes, Sovereignty, Democracy
Fascism, Amnesty, Capitalism, Americas
Berkeley, Condi, Chinaman's Chance
Paris Burning, Sudan, London Bridges
Welcome to Mexi-Cali, Pan Africa
Evil, Tookie Williams, Fathers and Daughters
Why I Talk With Cows, Jesus, Pharaoh's Egypt
Death Angel, When Jazz Ain't Jazz, BAM at Howard U.
Lucy Is Coming, One Mind, Afterword

Teaching Diaspora Literature:
Muslim American Literature as an Emerging Field
Marvin X is too extreme for many, but I like strong voices even if I don’t agree with everything they say.--Mohja Kahf

by Mohja Kahf
Mohja Kahf (Comparative Literature, University of Arkansas) is the author of Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque (1999), E-mails fromScheherazad (poetry, 2003), and The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (novel, 2006).

Is there such a thing as Muslim American literature (MAL)? I argue that there is: It begins with
the Muslims of the Black Arts Movement (1965–75). The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of
its iconic texts; it includes American Sufi writing, secular ethnic novels, writing by immigrant and
second-generation Muslims, and religious American Muslim literature.
Many of the works I would put into this category can and do also get read in other categories, such as African American, Arab American, and South Asian literature, “Third World” women’s writing, diasporicMuslim literature in English, and so forth.
While the place of these works in other categories cannot be denied, something is gained in reading them together as part of an American Muslim cultural landscape. Like Jewish American literature by the 1930s, Muslim American literature is in a formative stage. It will be interesting to see how it develops (and who will be its Philip Roth!)

I suggest the following typology of MAL only as a foothold, a means of bringing a tentative order
to the many texts, one that should be challenged, and maybe ultimately dropped altogether.
My first grouping, the “Prophets of Dissent,” suggests that Muslim works in the Black Arts
Movement (BAM) are the first set of writings in American literature to voice a cultural position
identifiable as Muslim. Contemporary Muslim writing that takes the achievements of the BAM as an important literary influence also belongs here, and is characterized similarly by its “outsider”status, moral critique of mainstream American values, and often prophetic, visionary tone.
In contrast, the writers of what I call “the Multi-Ethnic Multitudes” tend to enjoy “insider” status in American letters, often entering through MFA programs and the literary establishment, getting published through trade and university book industries, garnering reviews in the mainstream press. They do not share an overall aesthetic but are individual writers of various ethnicities and a wide range of secularisms and spiritualities, and indeed I question my placing them all in one group, and do so temporarily only for the sake of convenience.

On the other hand, my third group, the “New American Transcendentalists,” appears to cohere,
in aesthetic terms, as writers who share a broad Sufi cultural foundation undergirding their
literary work. Their writings often show familiarity with the Sufi poets of several classical Muslim literatures (e.g., in Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Urdu), as well as with American Transcendentalists of the nineteenth century, and that which tends toward the spiritual and the ecstatic in modern American poetry.
Finally, the “New Pilgrims” is my term for a loose grouping of writers for whom Islam is not merely a mode of dissent, cultural background, or spiritual foundation for their writing, but its aim and explicit topic. Of the four groups, the New Pilgrims are the ones who write in an overtly religious mode and motivation, like Ann Bradstreet, Cotton Mather, and the Puritans of early American history. This does not prevent them from being capable of producing great literature, any more than it prevented the great Puritan writers.

Here is an example of just a few writers in each category, by no means a comprehensive list:

Prophets of Dissent

From the Black Arts Movement:

• Marvin X, whose Fly to Allah (1969) is possibly the first book of poems published in English
by a Muslim American author.

• Sonia Sanchez, whose A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women (1974) is the work of
her Muslim period.

• Amiri Baraka, whose A Black Mass (2002) renders the Nation of Islam’s Yacoub genesis
theology into drama. As with Sanchez, the author was Muslim only briefly but the influence
of the Islamic period stretches over a significant part of his overall production.

Later Prophets of Dissent include:

• Calligraphy of Thought, the Bay area poetry venue for young “Generation M” Muslim
American spoken word artists who today continue in the visionary and dissenting mode of
the BAM.

• Suheir Hammad, Palestinian New Yorker, diva of Def Poetry Jam (on Broadway and HBO),
whose tribute to June Jordan in her first book of poetry, Born Palestinian, Born Black
(1996), establishes her line of descent from the BAM, at least as one (major) influence on
her work.

• El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) is an iconic figure for this mode of Muslim American
writing and, indeed, for many writers in all four categories.

Multi-Ethnic Multitudes

• Kashmiri American poet Agha Shahid Ali, an influential figure in the mainstream American
poetry scene, with a literary prize named after him at the University of Utah, brought the
ghazal into fashion in English so that it is now taught among other forms in MFA programs.

• Naomi Shihab Nye, Palestinian American, likewise a “crossover” poet whose work enjoys
prominence in American letters, takes on Muslim content in a significant amount of her

• Sam Hamod, an Arab midwesterner who was publishing poetry in journals at the same time
as Marvin X.

• Nahid Rachlin’s fiction has been published since well before the recent wave of literature by
others who, like her, are Iranian immigrants.

• Mustafa Mutabaruka, an African American Muslim, debut novel Seed (2002).

• Samina Ali, midwesterner of Indian parentage, debut novel Madras on Rainy Days (2004),
was featured on the June 2004 cover of Poets & Writers.

• Khaled Hosseini, debut novel The Kite Runner (2003).

• Michael Muhammad Knight, a Muslim of New York Irish Catholic background, whose punk
rock novel The Taqwacores (2004) delves deeply into Muslim identity issues.

• There are a number of journals where Muslim American literature of various ethnicities can
be found today, among them Chowrangi, a Pakistani American magazine out of New
Jersey, and Mizna, an Arab American poetry magazine out of Minneapolis.
New American Transcendentalists

• Daniel (Abd al-Hayy) Moore is an excellent example of this mode of Muslim American
writing. California-born, he published as a Beat poet in the early sixties, became a Sufi
Muslim, renounced poetry for a decade, then renounced his renouncement and began
publishing again, prolifically and with a rare talent. His Ramadan Sonnets (City Lights,
1986) is a marriage of content and form that exemplifies the “Muslim/American” simultaneity
of Muslim American art.

• The Rumi phenomenon: apparently the most read poet in America is a Muslim. He merits
mention for that, although technically I am not including literature in translation. Then again,
why not? As with so many other of my limits, this is arbitrary and only awaits someone to
make a case against it.
• Journals publishing poetry in this mode include The American Muslim, Sufi, Qalbi, and

New American Pilgrims

• Pamela Taylor writes Muslim American science fiction. Iman Yusuf writes “Islamic
romance.” This group of writers is not limited to genre writers, however. Dasham Brookins
writes and performs poetry and maintains a website,, where poets such as
Samantha Sanchez post. Umm Zakiyya (pseud.) has written a novel, If I Should Speak
(2001), about a young Muslim American and her roommates in college.
Writers in this group also come from many ethnicities but, unlike those in my second category, come together around a more or less coherent, more or less conservative Muslim identity.
Websites tend to ban erotica and blasphemy, for example. The Islamic Writers Alliance, a
group formed by Muslim American women, has just put out its first anthology. Major
published authors have yet to emerge in this grouping, but there is no reason to think they
will not eventually do so.

My criteria for Muslim American literature are a flexible combination of three factors:
Muslim authorship. Including this factor, however vague or tenuous, prevents widening the
scope to the point of meaninglessness, rather than simply including any work about Muslims by
an author with no biographical connection to the slightest sliver of Muslim identity (such as
Robert Ferrigno with his recent dystopian novel about a fanatical Muslim takeover of America).
It is a cultural, not religious, notion of Muslim that is relevant. A “lapsed Muslim” author, as one
poet on my roster called himself, is still a Muslim author for my purposes. I am not interested in
levels of commitment or practice, but in literary Muslimness.

Language and aesthetic of the writing.
In a few cases, there is a deliberate espousal of an aesthetic that has Islamic roots, such as the Afrocentric Islamic aesthetic of the Muslim authors in the Black Arts Movement.

Relevance of themes or content.
If the Muslim identity of the author is vague or not explicitly professed, which is often the case with authors in the “Multi-Ethnic Multitudes,” but the content itself is relevant to Muslim American experience, I take that as a signal that the text is choosing to enter the conversation of Muslim American literature and ought to be included.
In defining boundaries for research that could become impossibly diffuse, I choose to look
mainly at fiction and poetry, with autobiography and memoir writings selectively included. I have not included writings in languages other than English, although there are Muslims in America who write in Arabic, Urdu, and other languages. I have looked at the twentieth century onward, and there is archival digging to be done in earlier periods: the Spanish colonial era may yield Muslim writing, and we already know that some enslaved Muslims in the nineteenth century have left narratives. More research is needed. If one expands the field from “literature” to“Muslim American culture,” one can also include Motown, rap, and hip-hop lyrics by Muslim
artists, screenplays such as the Muslim American classic The Message by the late Syrian
American producer Mustapha Aqqad, books written for children, sermons, essays, and other

There are pleasures and patterns that emerge from reading this profusion of disparate texts
under the rubric of Muslim American cultural narrative. It is time! I hope, as this field emerges,
that others will do work in areas I have left aside in this brief initial exploration.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow Job In Oakland:

Mayor Ron Dellums State of the City Speech

Mayor Ron Dellums gave his State of the City speech tonight at City Hall. My two-year old grandson Jahmeel wanted to pee on the steps of City Hall but I redirected him to a corner where he could relieve himself. He was assisting me passing out my poster poem Black History is World History. A woman walked up with her daughter to ask what was going on at City Hall since she saw all the television vans outside. She asked was it a black history event? I said it's either a black history or white history event! After getting her poster, she went on her way. Jahmeer was photographed by journalist Reginal James.

After my grandson Jahmeel gave posters to Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb and Gay Cobb, Geoffrey Pete and Joyce Gordon, Supervisor Keith Carson, we lingered awhile then went inside to catch the Mayor on the giant screen in an anteroom.

We came in to hear the Mayor giving a glowing picture of progress in Oakland. Crime is down 10%, 38% since the new year. Ex-offenders have a voice in the Mayor's office, Isaac Taggert, who used to be a brother but is now too busy to speak with brothers he used to hang with. We saw him bringing in refreshments for the event. Another person my grandson gave a poster to was former city councilman Wilson Riles, Jr. When he saw my Haiti, Oh, Haiti poster, he gave me a quick history lesson on Dessalines, Toussaint and Henri Christophe, leaders of the revolution in Haiti. He said they flipped and flopped at various times and that we might hear some of the same tonight. It was snowing in Oakland, but it all seemed to get caught in the white natural of Mayor Dellums. When my grandson saw people clapping on the giant screen, he clapped, but nobody else was clapping in the anteroom.

We see the USA is providing schooling, housing and jobs for insurgents in Irag, Afghanistan and Yemen. We didn't hear a similar program in the Mayor's speech. Rather than police, why doesn't he pay former inmates to secure their neighborhoods, by paying them a living wage. Give gang bangers a living wage. Call for amnestry from all petty criminals in jails and prisons. True, he took off the box for city employment that asks have you ever been arrested. This is good. But how many other employers have done so? No doubt the City will be laying off workers, although Dellums said Oakland actually hired workers while other Bay Area governments and cities were laying off workers. The snow is falling in Oakland. Let's have a snow ball fight!

I hate to play the devil's advocate, but my job as a poet/critic is not to give any ground to pharaoh and his magicians. I'm for radical change and I see little of that in Oakland, from the past two black administrations down to Dellums. Dellums talks a good game but it sounds like the same old song. The truth is that Oakland is in dire straits and the modicum of change the Mayor has brought about is merely kibbles and bits, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. More police, police as mentors, police as saviors, police as all in all, as in police state. The new police chief Bates walked in with his entourage. Oakland received the biggest grant for police in the nation, according to the Mayor.

In truth, slavery has returned to Oakland, or the slave codes. Youth are told they cannot gather in groups on the corners or in front of businesses in downtown Oakland. There are "youth police" to urge them on in violation of their constutitional right of freedom of assembly. At the building on 14th and Broadway where a giant Walgreen's is about to open, there were seats where people could sit awaiting the bus. These seats were bulldozed but not before a security guard was stationed on post to stop people from sitting while waiting for the bus.

There are no places in businesses for people to use the rest room, including customers. It is Jim Crow second class citizenship in black face.

The snow job continued as my grandson begged for water, so I left the room looking at Dellums on the giant screen. I hear he'll run for a second term. His chief rival will be Don Pareta, a gangster politican retired from Sacramento. So the choice is twiddle dee or twiddle dum. Amiri Baraka of Newark, New Jersey, says go with the black, no matter his negrocities.
--Marvin X

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Eldridge Cleaver, my friend the devil,
a memoir by Marvin X

Introduction by Amiri Baraka

Marvin X‘s newest book, “Eldridge Cleaver: My friend, the Devil” is an important Expose!, not only of whom his good friend really was… (I confess I thought something like that, in less metaphysical terms, from the day we met, at San Francisco State University, 1967). But also of whom Marvin was/is. Now Marvin has confessed to being Yacub, whom Elijah Muhammad taught us was the“evil big head scientist” who created the devil. (Marvin’s head is very large for his age.) What is good about this book is Marvin’s telling us something about who Eldridge became as the Black Panther years receded in the rear view mirror. I remember during this period, when I learned that Marvin was hanging around Cleaver even after he’d made his televised switch from anti-capitalist revolutionary to Christian minister, denouncing the 3rd World revolutionaries and the little Marxism he thought he knew, while openly acknowledging beating his wife as a God given male prerogative, I said to Marvin, “I thought you was a Muslim”. His retort, “Jesus pay more money than Allah, Bro”, should be a classic statement of vituperative recidivism. But this is one of the charms of this memoir. It makes the bizarre fathomable. Especially the tales of fraternization with arguably the most racist & whitest of the Xtian born agains with Marvin as agent, road manager, co-conspirator-confessor, for the post-Panther – very shot- out Cleaver. It also partially explains some of Cleaver’s moves to get back in this country, he had one time denounced, and what he did after the big copout. Plus, some of the time these goings on seem straight out hilarious. Though frequently, that mirth is laced with a sting of regret. Likewise, I want everyone to know that I am writing this against my will, as a favor to Yacub. --Amiri Baraka

Review Eldridge Cleaver, Marvin X and Memoirs

By Rudolph Lewis, editor Chickenbones

Marvin has a "memoir." Promotionally, it is about Eldridge Cleaver, my least favorite Black Panther. I am down with Huey. For Bobby there is always gagged in Chicago . There was whiteness: everybody could see that fairly well by 1969 and we could see that it was a whiteness that did not tolerate and doesn't allow you to pretend that you have no understanding of whiteness and its operations. In this game of subjection, Eldridge's point indeed in his crazed cranium, mistakes nor ignorance aren't forgiven. All literary work is about "power"—that is mastery. For a month or so I daily saw this writer writing a book—piece by piece (part by part). Marvin X exudes power. He just turned 65 but he removes space like Archie Moore 44 in the ring. The book is Marvin. I know it is an odd thing to say a book is an author. If that is the case this “memoir” is indeed a memoir in the most perfect sense of one thing being another. Marvin pulls his memoir through the mode of “storytelling.” Marvin, his memoir, each identifies with the people: to paraphrase Langston, in all their beauty and ugliness too. Marvin can walk into a barroom and in seconds have everyone laughing or falling out on the floor. Marvin doesn’t feel uncomfortable like Cornel West speaking before a class of black middle-class folk, or uncomfortable like other self-corporate prophetic leaders. These are objects of his jest, ridicule, scorn. Their pretensions, their respectability. Other than a poet, playwright, director, publisher, and editor, Marvin X is a recovering addict who works daily in drug invested communities. He knows where his allegiance lies and in whom to invest. I want to be open in this discussion as much as necessary. I encouraged this book while Marvin was writing madly and emailing part after part, revision after revision. I found it all so riveting. Watching a writer write a book himself day after day, hour after hour, and the next thing I know we are on part 32, is quite an unusual and extraordinary experience. The writing process is indeed important. Each of us has his own way of going about it. Marvin’s last approach, similar to other Marvin escapades, intentionally and directly seeks an audience for his memoir. Actually, he was out on the road—a book tour. In Houston , Texas. On a book tour, Marvin sends what one might call a “barrage” of responses to event or current events, keeping in touch with friends, writers, publishers and more. In ways he is always a political organizer as well as self-promoter. He makes his way as speaker, writer, event organizer, performer. He keeps people tied to one another and valuing their lives. Marvin is uniquely developed into an informed black man who is religious, spiritual, and political. He is as representative of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), then and now, as anyone I can think. In ways Marvin is galactic to the point you think he’s standing still, still mired in the betraying clays of the 1960s and 1970s. Ones need to be half-crazed, extremely intelligent, and extraordinarily visionary for his words to reenact the BAM world, as is achieved in memoir, to see the hole we are clearly in and still remain faithful that “Blackness” will find a way. The memoir fell silent. Marvin moved onto South Carolina . Then he was in New York , Philly. And then New Jersey . Where he hooks up with his buddy, Amiri Baraka. From what I observed for the last decade is that Marvin loves Baraka, right or wrong, and would die for Baraka. This day. This moment view love I knew when I was a soldier out on the streets of Baltimore . Brothers I would die for. That kind of enthusiasm about changing whiteness in the land and thus the world, well, that kind of “militancy” was buried with Mr. Jim Crow. The resulting vision of the NAACP. Marvin X suspends the past present future like a diamond and makes us believe in “blackness” when it has grayed and entered a nursing home. Yet Marvin believes, he’s a soldier to the death. I did not want Marvin’s memoir to end. We were only at the beginning, though at chapter 39, chapters fairly short. In New York Marvin was talking about Amiri’s response and willingness to help secure Marvin a book deal for his memoir. From Marvin I received some piece of a rejection notice, all too stereotypical. I do not know where the cat was. But it seems he did not think the “memoir” was worthy of work or revision. What Marvin has as his “memoir” is indeed phenomenal. In its present form one can find nothing like it or better in representing the BAM world. The larger frame of the book could withstand double its size. The expose could be put to work toward understanding what caused BAM writers to decline, and why the BAM literary legacy is more critical, than before or since the Harlem Renaissance . Two extraordinary playwrights. August Wilson and Marvin X have maintained their reverence and significance of the BAM period. Maybe Wilson is more introspective. Maybe less or differently ideological than Marvin. But both believing there is indeed such a thing as a “black perspective,” whether you want to agree with it or not. It is this kind of daily believing that makes Marvin X our saving grace. Many of us are too willing to give up the significance and totality of what can be called Black Life in America , of the significance of identity in the personal, social, and economic progress or “success.” One cannot have a healthy psychic if one half of your people are free and the other half wallow in ignorance and superstition. How Moses satisfied such a state of being? I don’t want to hear about COINTELPRO or slave catchers. I want to hear more on how or why Huey died the way that he did. I want to hear more about why Cleaver’s madness was entertained by anyone sane in the black community—a rapist and murderer. I want real discussion why Baraka’s walk away from cultural nationalism of the 1970s no less an act of betrayal than Cleaver in Cuba , in Algeria , in France , and black in the United States . The expose does not work so well if there's no thorough attempt to make any sense out of BAM failing to seize the high ground. Maybe there was an inadequacy, a sweep in BAM, that was too large, too public, and in other aspects too personal, to be sustained as a social movement for a people spread out across a nation. I love Jimi Hendrix not one iota less to know that he died (by some reports murdered) in a drug house. My love for Huey is eternal. What I’ve heard and read so far brings nothing of import to account for Huey’s rise and fall. That’s from Marvin as well. How Huey came to the drug house? How for that matter Marvin X? Often we see it more in the light of spectacle, of shame, and guilt. Not only drug use but the entire cultural breakdown of race, sex, and gender, during that period, breaking down for new frontiers. At the time we were all under its spell. Woodstock !!! Too many of us cultural radicals have warped into cultural conservatives, sometimes a too willingness to serve the Beast, at other times a cold hard decision, like “Allah does not pay as much as Jesus.” We are all Januses. Some more fortunate than others. At the Crack House the doors of Hell are open, how low a man, a woman will stoop, what acts she will perform for crack’s grain of joy. The deconstruction of crack must continue. That the whole scene is made unlawful shows how far the respectable stoops to crush any kind of resistance, political, social cultural or otherwise. I’ve read two other memoirs by black male writers: one Jerry W. Ward, Jr., The Katrina Papers (2008, $18.95) and the other by E. Ethelbert Miller, The 5th Inning (2009). Miller’s memoir is more personal, though it too contains social commentary. Jerry Ward’s work is post-modern, the memoir imitates, sets itself up as the same powerful forces of post-Katrina—powerful with the fragments of people’s lives on motor boats and housetops; great sludge and dead bodies floating down the streets of your neighborhood. Marvin self published his memoir. Each of these memoirs is special. Read them. My feeling is that most publishers are not interested in black male memoirs. But many readers including females may find a great interest in these three black male writers and how differently they situate black life in America .

Saturday, February 20, 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.

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

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Psycho-linguistic Crisis of the North American African
Marvin X
I have long wanted to discuss language problems relating to the psychology of the oppressed. Let's begin with the notion that the oppressed is a disoriented person suffering symptoms of amnesia: he is not quite sure who he is, where he is, where he came from or where he is going.
We know to a great extent he was stripped of his cultural trappings and forced to don the apparel of the so-called negro, for American slavery would not allow him to retain critical and essential knowledge of his African self--this was a danger to the slave master's plan of eternal servitude. The proud African was beaten down from Kunta Kinte to Toby, perhaps the first level in his psycho-linguistic crisis: who am I, what is my name? He was no longer Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Congo, Ashante but Negro, and according to Grimm's law (the consonants C,K, and G being interchangeable) he was a dead, from the Greek Necro, something dead, lifeless, without motion and spirit.

Of course, he retained residue of his African consciousness in the deep structure of his mind, in the bowels of his soul and he expressed it in his dance, his love life, his work habits, his songs and shouts, but basically he was a traumatized victim of kidnapping, rape and mass murder--genocide, for after all, when it was all said and done, between 50 and 100 million of his brothers and sisters were lost in the Middle Passage, the voyage between Africa and the Americas, thrown to the sharks trailing slave ships, one ship was named Jesus, perhaps the same one whose captain, John Hawkins, had the miraculous conversion and wrote the song Amazing Grace!
But changing the African into Negro was a primary problem in terms of identity that persists until today, for even as we speak a new generation is now in crisis trying to decide whether they shall be called by Christian, Muslim or traditional African names, trying to decide whether they are Americans, Afro-Americans, African-Americans, Bilalians, Khemites, Sudanese, or North American Africans. With this term I've tried to emphasize our cultural roots by making Africa the noun rather than the adjective. Also, I wanted to identify us geo-politically: we are Africans on the continent of North America, as opposed to Africans in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia or the Motherland.
As such, we are unique and have created an original African Culture in North America, imitated throughout the world. The world wants to talk like us, dance like us, sing like us, dress like us:
Bay Area poet Paradise has a classic poem with the major line, "They like everything about us but us...."
We have the highest standard of living of any Africans in the world and are thus in the position of leadership even though we lack any degree of National sovereignty, are yet a de facto Nation, albeit captive and colonized, exploited 24/7 by any pimp fearless enough to enter the ghetto, and there are many from around the world, including Asians, Indian, Koreans, Arabs, Jews, Africans, West Indians, and Latinos.
I refuse to be sympathetic to anyone exploiting North American Africans--call me anti Pan African, anti Third World, whatever, but don't pimp my people and expect me to accept it because you're from Africa or Jamaica. I wouldn't go to Jamaica and exploit Jamaicans, then have the nerve to refer to them as "you people." I would be nice and diplomatic on their turf--then talk about them when I got home. We are often derided by our African and Caribbean brothers, sometimes called "black Americans" but often simply "Americans," said in the most derogatory manner, as if we're dirt or feces, meanwhile they are in America enjoying the benefits of our struggle with the white man. If everything is so cool in Jamaica, why did they leave their Island in the sun? If everything is so cool in Nigeria, why ain't they rushing back to Lagos? With the last statement, we enter the Pan African psycholinguistic crisis, transcending the borders of North America, and perhaps the crisis of the North American African cannot be understood except in terms of Pan African struggle for liberation from neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism.
The colonized man--wherever he is, wherever he's from--is a sick man, mentally ill. And as Franz Fanon pointed out, the only way the colonized man can regain his mental health is through the act and process of revolution. Dr. Nathan Hare tells us in his introduction to my autobiography SOMETHIN' PROPER, that neither sex, messianic religiosity nor chemical dependency will free us from our "social angst and shattered cultural strivings."

We must grab the bull by the horns or slay the dragon. I referred to an African as black brother recently. He responded, "Why do you call me that?" "What do you want me to call you," I asked. He said, "Call me gentleman." And the beat goes on. Here was a man blacker than night, ashamed of himself, preferring to be called a gentle man rather than Black man, once proud, but now whipped into gentleness, or servility, expressing clearly the mark of oppression, the mark of the beast. The recent discussion of Ebonics was most certainly an example of the psycholinguistic crisis of North American Africans. Of course we are bilingual, with one pattern of speech used in the "slave huts" and one for the "big house." Technically, if we were able to deconstruct the language of the "slave huts" we would be in a position to deconstruct the "big house" language as well.

And why shouldn't deconstruction of the Mother Tongue be the point of departure for acquiring language skills? Let's start with the child's primary language and build; teach the child that even his so-called slang, dialect or African speech patterns can be examined and explained according to the rules of grammar or the science of linguistics. Is there any sound, any speech pattern in any language that cannot be explained and thus respected on a scientific level? We know that no matter what language Africans speak, whether English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, we speak it from an African speech pattern, from an African grammatical structure. Is there a genetic basis for this phenomenon, I'm not sure, but its existence appears universal throughout Pan Africa.

The N Word

Nigger or Nigguh has caused the most severe psycholinguistic crisis among North American Africans. Earlier we traced its etymology to the Greek Necro, something dead, which is more befitting and functional than the Spanish Negro (black), or Niger, from the river. We became dead beings in the transformation from Africa to America, so quiet as its kept, Negro is very appropriate, nigger and nigguh a variation thereof. Of course the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we were so-called Negroes and therefore not truly Negroes, but temporarily under the spell of white magic--white power--which caused us to be deaf, dumb and blind to the knowledge of self and others, therefore dead. We became the living dead, despised and rejected around the world, even today, although the valiant struggle of the 60s put us in a more favorable light in the eyes of the world.

The dead socalled Negro awakened and shook off the chains on his brain and let the world know he was no longer dead, no longer a tool and fool of the white man. He rejected being called Negro and Nigger and became Black man, the Aboriginal Asiatic Black man, ruler of the planet earth, god of the universe.

For a moment, it appeared he truly believed this mythology, which was as valid as any other mythology, at least it was original and Afrocentric. But with the destruction of the black liberation movement, we can say the Negro returned, as per plan of the U.S.A.'s counter intelligence program, Cointelpro: kill the black man and bring back the Negro or shall we say the Nigger that the Master used to know, and to make sure he remains dead, introduce CRACK to make him a first class zombie, the corpse of a man. Imagine, for the first time in history, the black woman lost her ass behind crack, meanwhile the white woman was at Gold's gym working on acquiring an ass, which I must admit, she has obtained. Let's not exclude her diet of hormone fed beef and chicken. But this point takes us off course into psychosomatics. Let's stay with psycholinguistics.

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, the so-called Negro has been fighting to erase the N word from our vocabulary, particularly brothers in prison who have been the most "negroid" in their death dealing criminality, terrorizing, robbing, raping, murdering and subjecting our community with drugs to the total destabilization of the hood. Perhaps in their guilt, they have been trying to purify their behavior and speech to gain self respect and dignity--if caught using the N word, they will require the user to do any number of push ups.

This is very noble, but the reality is that the N word has now transcended the North American African community and is in global use by Asian, Latin and white youth who call each other nigguh as a badge of honor. We no longer have a monopoly on our language, and this is another reason for the present crisis: our culture is forever eluding our control, consequently making us the most insecure people on earth. We have lost everything on the good ship America--for three centuries we lost complete and total control over the fruits of our labor, the primary source of security. How else does one secure the family, the women and children? In short, the term Nigguh is a billion dollar term and ain't no way it's going the way of the dodo bird, not any time soon. If nigguhs don't want to be nigguhs, there's a lot of other people around the world who do, whether they understand all the nuances of the word or not.


Not long ago, I heard rappers discussing their tour of Italy. Upon arriving at the airport, the first thing they heard Italian youth discussing was how many "Bitches" they had, obviously influenced by hip hop culture or shall we say specifically gansta rap--yeah, ganstas who when caught are ignorant of a preliminary hearing.

But let us deconstruct the controversial term BITCH. Besides Nigger or Nigguh, no other term has caused more controversy of late, no other term has created a crisis situation among North American Africans, prompting the Million Man Marchers to vow never to use the term again. They claimed it demeaned the black woman, the mother of civilization. My personal view is that crack culture demeaned the black man and women to the extent that the term "bitch" has taken on new meaning and now refers to both male and female, and a discussion of the term cannot be limited to the feminine gender.

Youth in the dope culture will quickly address a tweeking, fumbing OG as "punk bitch." For example, to a male they will say, "Punk-bitch, you better take this dope and get the fuck up outta here wit da quickness." This sentence is most indicative of the psycholinguistic crisis because it reveals the utter destruction of filial piety (respect or duty of children to elders) in the North American African community. When adults began buying crack from children, children saw the utter weakness in the older generation and lost total respect which was expressed in verbal denunciations such as "punk bitch." In my recovery drama ONE DAY IN THE LIFE, a youth confronts the late Huey Newton and myself with the following words as we sat in a West Oakland crack house: "Yeah, you nigguhs is dope fiends, you ain't no revolutionaries, so don't say shit to me bout no program. How you gon buy dope from me and my podnas--I mean, I'm in recovery now but when I was a dealer, you couldn't come to me and tell me you some revolutionaries--you some punk-bitch nigguhs. When you get your shit together we'll have some respect fa ya, but until then, don't talk to us bout no revolution, O.G., cause if I saw ya comin on my turf, I'd make a movie out that ass, podna. Don't be no walkin contradiction ma nigguhs." My associate, J.B. Saunders, asked me to include a word-picture of male "bitch behavior" as expressed in the crack ritual. An example of this comes from the observation of monkeys when the female is ready to present herself to the male. She will go to a corner of a cage or by a tree and expose her rear end to the male, letting him know he can come and get her or know her as the Bible says.

In the crack house, the male bitch will expose his posterior in his ritual of crawling on all fours around the room, supposedly looking for crack, but mainly picking up lint and other particles, even chips of dry wall. The ultimately expression of male bitch behavior is the so-called straight guy who under desperation, i,e., when the tweeking ritual is exhausted, will present his posterior to the dope dealer--accompanied with the words "I'll do anything for another hit," and perform homosexual acts to obtain more crack, but in his psycho-linguistic crisis he adamantly denies he is gay, all the while swallowing the dope dealer's penis and cum.

The worse bitch in the world is the bitch in denial! And even that bitch will--in a moment of scandalous activity declare, "I know I'm a bitch." But why bitch? My views on the matter are prejudiced by the fact that I grew up in a house with six sisters who referred to themselves as bitches--and I must say, many times acted like bitches, if we mean behavior unbecoming a woman--such behavior being acceptable only during PMS or pregnancy! But is it demeaning to say, "That's a fine bitch!" We know words only have the power we give them, i.e., we define words. Bourgeoisie culture cannot define mass culture or the culture of the grass roots. A rich man cannot tell a poor man what to say. If a rich man comes to the poor man's community, he better talk like a poor man or he may be a dead man!

Those who want to criminalize black language are in many cases people who are in the business of criminalizing black people for the benefit of the real criminals, the Masters of the Realm. Not only do you not like the way I talk, but you don't like my dress, my eating habits, my choice of drugs, the way I pray and the loud manner of my worship, how I earn a living--my hair or non-hair--actually, you don't like anything about me, in fact, you wish I were dead, in fact, you do everything you can to kill me, in fact, you have now made a new industry of confining me for life without the possibility of parole. From a writer's perspective, a poet, much of endgame in the psycholinguistic crisis is censorship, pure and simple, a violation of First Amendment rights and human rights. I have a right to say what I want to say the way I want to say it. This is an old tired discussion we encountered thirty years ago in the Black Arts/Black Culture revolution of the 60s: shall we define ourselves or the shall the masters and their pitiful bourgeoisie imps impose their definitions, their hypocritical, perverted moral standards.

If a bitch is bitch call her a bitch. If yo mama is a bitch call her a bitch. If your wife is a bitch call it, your daughters call it. The worse bitch in the world is the bitch in denial. And as I've said, men are known to be bitches too!

There was a time when we were kings and queens, in Africa and during the 60s in America, but this was B.C., before crack. With the coming of crack, we reduced ourselves beyond slavery. We returned to the auction block of the crack house, and indeed, in fact, became bitches and hoes. With crack, the sexual etiquette of North American Africans has been forever altered and whether we will again reach the level of kings and queens depends more on the success of our total liberation than our correct grammatical structure, after all, we see Asians, Arabs, Latinos, come to America and get rich speaking no English, yet we are being deluded by our leaders into believing we must speak the Kings English in order to be successful. This is the bullshit of the culture police, the hypocritical black bourgeoisie, including many socalled radical intellectuals who are puritanical until they are upset, then we hear the depths of their psycholinguistic crisis as well.If nothing else, the rappers have shown us they can make millions for themselves and billions for the white man utilizing three words: bitch, hoe and motherfucker. The tragic reality is that the black bourgeoisie failed to teach inner city youth proper English or anything proper for that matter, so the upper class must reap the rewards of neglect, in the form of their children as well, enraptured by rap and thus incomprehensible to the middle-class parents-- and as my daughter has said, "You might not like rap, but if you want to understand me, you better try to understand rap." To paraphrase Eryka Badu, the psycholinguistic crisis goes on and on......on and on.....
--Marvin X
revised 2/19/10

Music Review: Beyond Words

Bobby Mcferrin's "Beyond Words"

Bluenote CD Vocals,
Bobby Mcferrin Piano,
Chick Corea Drums,
Omar Hakim Percussion,
Cyro Baptista Wooden flute,
Keith Rhodes Bass and Guitar,
Richard Bona

Reviewed by Marvin X
May 22, 2002 (c) 2002 by Marvin X

Bobby is indeed beyond words. Words cannot describe this bird from heaven singing outside my window as dawn approaches, singing sounds without words, beyond birds, beyond scatting, a world of his own, without peer, conjuring, configuring sounds that take us beyond the beyond, stopping by Brazil, getting off the boat in Africa, passing through America, stepping, prancing, dancing, chanting, floating on top of the piano and drums as they carry him along as he joins Sun Ra on some planet, maybe Jupiter, Mars, who knows where Bobby goes, but we go with him, enjoying a genius at work. What person on earth can be without the heavenly sounds of Bobby Mcferrin's Beyond Words? We are in childhood, playing in the mud, it tastes so good Mama has to whip us into the house, we don't care, whip me Mama, I gotta eat this mud. Take me, Bobby, into eternity, twist and turn at the corners of yesterday and tomorrow, never saying a word, just sounds from the Creator who blessed us with this wonder child, Bobby Mcferrin.
His persona changes from lover to friend to trickster: are we hearing the human voice or an instrument, a trumpet, flute, let it go, enjoy, stop trying to figure out the magician, we'll only get entangled up his sleeve, inside his hat, let the magic soothe, heal, stop trying to figure out what is and ain't real. Listen to the drummer tell Bobby, "I got ya [you] back, dance on, fly into the sun." And the piano says, "If you fall I will catch you, so swim, run, jump, do anything-I ain't goin [going] nowhere [anywhere]."
My overall favorite is "fertile field," beginning with a whistle; a fast paced, energetic, aggressive, up-tempo piece into Bobby Land, where few can go. Chick is with him neck and neck, along with drummer Omar--traveling the space ways (as Sun Ra would say) with equal energy. Bobby touches down in South Africa for a quick Miriam Makeba click, moves on to silence rappers, stop poets in mid sentence-vocalists, don't even come on stage; indeed, brother is beyond words, beyond this world.
Another favorite is "Pat and Joe," a brief enchanting piece featuring Richard Bona's guitar, with chorals and Bobby chanting as it glides into the sunset or over the horizon. "Mass" is also an enchanting choral piece with Bobby again chanting throughout? Percussionist Baptista completes the circle. I see the entire album as a choreographer's dream. It should make excellent music for a chorus of spiritual dancers. Maybe I'll choreograph it for my Recovery Theatre! Just thank Jesus, as Bobby does, and thank Chick Corea, piano, Richard Bona, bass and guitar, Omar Hakim, drums, Cyro Baptista, percussion, Keith Rhodes, wooden flutes. Go Bobby, go Bobby.
Now the Christians might say, "That boy [is] talking in tongues," and they would be right because essentially that is exactly what he does, transcending not only English but all other languages, for they have all failed us, yes, even the varieties of our Mother tongue-obviously they failed to keep us off the ships, which was their primary and ultimate failure-yes, a total, abysmal and horrendous breakdown of communication, reflecting a degeneration of a people's soul, heart and mind, but most importantly, a collapse of all their social institutions, instigated by the ruling classes who perverted language into a tool of deception for human exploitation, after all, language allowed humans to become chattel, persuaded African armies to capture neighbors and even their own citizens; allowed judges to falsely charge, convict and sentence millions to enslavement; language guided us to the door of no return, along with the gun and rum.
Bobby has accomplished what many poets attempt after we realize we are captives of English and seek to liberate ourselves with pure sound, grunts, wails, moans, anything but English, the oppressor's filthy tongue, so vile it is called a bastard language. Bobby has succeeded with sounds as pure as the driven snow, primal incantations, fresh as a child from the mother's womb, thus the healing power of his music: we are forced out of this world, the oppressive vowels and consonants that make up the words which are the source of our collective madness, the vehicle for transmission of myths and rituals which compose our daily lives, that allow us to behave like beasts with each other, a constant denial and misrepresentation of our Divine essence. Man in the Mirror, look at yourself lost in the Valley of the Shadow of death, in the matrix of conspicuous consumption, obsessive materiality, to the extent that you would employ wage slaves around the world so you can wear expensive shoes, that you would kill your brother in the hood and steal his shoes.
Only by returning to our aboriginal language can we liberate ourselves from this oppressive social order and begin anew, a new consciousness, a new mind, a new soul. This is precisely why the Christians talk in tongues; talk their holy language, the language of the Ghost, the unseen source from the primal essence of our soul. When the Christians heard me recite Arabic at my son's funeral, they said, "That boy [is] talking in tongues." Indeed, Arabic and tongues are the same sound, same vowels and consonants. And we ain't Arabic, but Arabic derives without doubt from the ancient Himyaritic of Ethiopia, source of the first man, we are told. Why would the first man come from there but not his language, and his religion, for that matter? Ethiopia is the source of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well: the Kushites or Blacks from Ethiopia were the aboriginal Arabians, who dwelled there before the Semites, inhabiting the land from the Persian Gulf to Yemen, to Jerusalem, where they were known as the Canaanites, brothers of the Egyptians/Ethiopians. Diop, Dr. Ben, Rogers, DuBois and other have written on this subject.

Bobby shows us how to transcend this world and all therein. As Jesus said, we can be in this world, but not of it. Alas, silence would be better than bitch, ho and motherfucker. But these words are not nearly as detrimental as the outright abject, obscene, profane defilement of truth used by political leaders such as Bush, Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld, and the hypocritical language of religious leaders who pimp, rob and exploit believers, promising them residue from slavery in the form of a fictionalized, juvenile, fabricated, imaginary heaven in the sky after they die. You religious swine, how dare you cry about the use of bitch, ho and motherfucker by me, rappers or anybody, while you have sex with your own children, murder in the name of God, sell drugs in the name of God, Christians and Muslims alike around the world, from Afghanistan to Colombia. If our tongues are vile, imagine what your souls look like! May God have mercy on you vipers. And let us not neglect to mention the deceptive language of the media-pharaoh's magicians, whose gross sins of commission and omission keep the people deaf, dumb and blind-as the media Mongols confessed after 911-yet they continue in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on, as the Qur'an says. The Qur'an also says, "Will you hide the truth while you know?"
So let us go then, beyond words, beyond the ship, beyond the shore, beyond the forest up the mountain path where the Divine awaits us to come be one and indivisible, to be pure, holy, righteous and free while we live. Bobby is calling us to go there: go Bobby, go Bobby.
See Marvin X's essay, The Psycholinguistic Crisis of the North American African, IN THE CRAZY HOUSE CALLED AMERICA, essays, Black Bird Press, 2002. Email him at Visit .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Broken Systems, Broken Minds

Broken Systems, Broken Minds

What we perceive as reality is most often a reflection of imagination, of mythology and ritual, or simply the mind of man is the macrocosm, reality the microcosm. Systems thus reflect the mind of man--did not someone say creations only reflect the mind of the creator. Broken systems, therefore, originate in broken minds. Yet we wonder why systems are broken, e.g., school system, political system, economic system, religious and moral systems.

But systems are not the problem, rather it is the minds of men that are broken irreparably, suffering a mental atrophy, an anorexia, a paralysis of imagination. The causation is simple greed, selfishness and lust for power. It is augmented by the quest for the acquisition of things, the wanton addiction to materialism or the world of make believe, the illusion that the microcosm can satisfy the macrocosm, when the real deal holyfield is the inner rather than the outer. Yet men fear to go there, deep down into the metaphysical realm where the darkest mysteries lie seeking edification and recognition. Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice, about to be consumed by the wonder of life.

Elijah told us, "The wisdom of this world is exhausted." And so it is--spent, obsolete, retarded, and yet we wonder why we are immobile, transfixed--stuck on stupid! Why no systems work.
How is it possible for the great Toyota to need recalling, a consummate machine suddenly dysfunctional. What caused this sudden breakdown-- some internal defect in the machine or in the mind of man?

Look at the educational system, confounded by the ideological foundation of white supremacy capitalism that continues to prepare students for a world of work when there is none, especially with living wages in an economic system that demands cheap labor and resources, a socalled free market system that will transcend the national needs for the wants and desires of global finance gangs, connected with, supported and defended by the military, i.e., the Christian Crusaders, soon to be supplanted by Communists from China, India and Russia.

The teachers were long ago taught to teach a new way--back in Egypt they were told to teach with compassion and love. Yet what we see today is the pedagogy of hate. It is a system that rewards ignorance and punishes wisdom and creativity, especially of the thinking variety. Any original thought is suppressed or deemed antisocial thought and behavior, often resulting in the student diagnosed to require psycho drugs that turn him into the zombie required by the society of the walking dead.

The religious system is the same. It is in full blown denial about the meaning of the cross and the lynching tree, about the mission of the prince of peace. For the most part, the religious community is Silent Night about the trillion dollar military budget that allows mass murder to take place across the planet. Along with Silent Night, it sings Onward Christian Soldiers as its sons and daughters crisscross the planet to secure labor and natural resources for the pleasure of the walking dead, and most especially the miserable few who enjoy the high life.

It is all about the glorification of Pharaoh and his magicians. God, in the minds of men, is a business, big business. There is no desire for spirituality, only prosperity, minus compassion for the poor, homeless, jobless and broken hearted, crushed to earth like the pot in the hands of Jeremiah at the gates of his city.

In the minds of politicians, there is no compromise, only preparation for the next election, or the assumption or resumption of power at any and all costs, no lie is exempt, "Vote for me, I'll set you free!" All bribes are acceptable--politicians are thus loyal to lobbyists, not the people who are expendable.

The lips of politicians do not say let us reason together for the sake of the people, for the love of the people, for the consent of the governed. These men and women of the political realm only know the language of no, no, no. As the people starve, become homeless, jobless, we yet hear the mantra of no, no, no, late into the night. No compromise, no reconciliation, only recalcitrance and niggardliness. They are fast to reward the robber barons, the blood suckers of the poor. Eventually, a few crumbs, kibble and bits reach the poor, if ever, unless there is revolt. And then Pharaoh sees the light, suddenly, but he will send his magicians to placate the poor with more crumbs, kibbles and bits.

Between good and evil, evil is the choice, with greed the foundation stone in the minds of men. Amazingly, the people see clearly. They feel change in the wind, not the change in the educational system or the political or religious, but in the wind. They smell the rotten hearts of men who lead into nothingness and dread, with their pitiful strut of the peacock, the one legged dance of the flamingo.

Pharaoh magicians gather in dens of iniquity to share blood money. Teachers, preachers, politicians, all there to party on the backs of the poor. The military stand post at the door of the den, ready to club the wretched into submission, even death, if they dare enter the den of thieves, robbers, murderers, and those who perpetuate the world of make believe.

Inside the den we hear a symphony of sick sounds, giggles, wails, grunts emanating from putrid minds exhausted from wickedness. The result is systematic gridlock--it is 5pm and the freeway is jammed with drivers full of road rage, ready to kill in an instant. It is thus a destruction of self by self, internal combustion.

Unlike the car, there is no forward motion or backward, or perhaps it goes both ways simultaneously, if such is possible in the world of physics, but after all, the minds of men defy all laws, except the law of the jungle and the devil.

But there shall be no forward motion with the present mind-set. Jack must jump out the box of his own making. He must take wings and fly away into a world beyond his imagination.
This is the only way out the morass of his mind. All the technology is to no avail, for he talks, but more often says nothing, he listens but hears nothing, deaf, dumb and blind.
--Marvin X

Monday, February 15, 2010

Madam Christian Crusader, Hillary Clinton

Madam Christian Crusader, Hillary Clinton, is making her rounds of Middle Eastern quisling nations to tighten the grip on Iran, the Shia Islamic nation that is expanding power from the Tigress and Euphrates to the Mediterranean. The Sunni Nations, along with the Zionist entity and the US Crusaders, have every intention to block Iranian military and ideological power, whether she has nukes or no nukes.As Madam Crusader Clinton, aka Secretary of State shuttles from Persian Gulf lackeys to the cave men Islamists in Saudi Arabia, and she will no doubt will visit Pharaoh Mubarak’s Egypt and the Kingdom of Reaction Jordan.
Her goal is to convince the neo-colonial Muslims that Iran must not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, even if she must be stopped with nuclear weapons. Iran, in the mode of martyrdom, has every intention to continue developing its nuclear weapons program, especially since she is an avowed enemy of Zionist Israel, Sunni Muslims states and the Christian Crusaders from America. At present America has Crusader armies on Iran's western border with Iraq and on her eastern border with Afghanistan. We think the Iranians would naturally feel a little hemmed in and would be wise to develop all options, martyrdom being the national mythology of Shia Muslims.
Her present internal struggle between socalled democracy and the Islamic state is evolving into an ugly situation between the theocratic rulers and the masses, edged on by the Christian Crusaders and Zionists, with the full collaboration of Sunni Muslim nations who will do all in their powers to (1) check Shia power in Iraq, including sabotage at every turn, political and military, and (2) to conspire with Zionists to check the Iranians from expanding, especially in Lebanon where Hezbollah holds political and military power that was able to fight the Zionists to a standstill, a feat the Combined Arab armies were unable to do. Madam Crusader and her running dogs will have their hands full checking Iran, especially if the Zionists make their threatened preemptive attack on the nuclear facilities.
A nation of martyrs will surely strike back will all their resources throughout the Middle East. The Shia government in Iraq may fall victim of the Crusader/Sunni/Zionist conspiracy against her brother Shias in Iran. Many in the Shia government have firm ties with their theological brothers and sisters in Iran, also political ties that are deeply upsetting to the Crusader/Sunni/Zionist conspirators.
If there is internal Sunni/Shia struggle for political power, look for the hand of the Sunnis from the neighborhood to get firmly involved, just as Iran will support her Shia brothers and sisters. These events may very well usher in the battle of Armageddon, the final war between God and the Devil prophesied in the Bible and Qur'an that will bring the return of the Christian savior and the Muslim Mahdi or Imam of the Shia's. Fundamental Christians cannot wait for the Middle East to erupt into chaos, especially the battle for Jerusalem, no matter if the Jews are sacrificed once again, since it will fulfill Christian prophecy that the Jews don't believe anyway--after all, they orcharstrated the crufixion of Jesus.
The Shias cannot led by their president is inching for martyrdom so the 12 Imam can return. So we have a gumbo of mythology, theology, geopolitics, and white supremacy about to reach the boiling point. Obama's Cairo speech set the new era of deception by the Christian Crusaders, claiming a desire for peace, yet immediately expanding the occupation of Muslim lands, from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Madam Crusader is merely consolidating the gains. Hold onto your hat and straighten your prayer rug.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Now Available from Black Bird Press
Eldridge Cleaver, My friend the devil,
a memoir by Marvin X
"The funniest book of 2009. The more you know about black history, the funnier it is!"
--Dr. James Garrett
A BSU founder, San Francisco State University
Send $19.95 to Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702

Third World Conference at UC Berkeley

The revisionist neocolonial elite students and faculty at UC Berkeley are celebrating the forty years since the Third World Strike to establish Black and Ethnic Studies. While the theme is decolonialism, it appears from the program outline that the black students and faculty who led the struggle for human rights at UCB have been marginalized and all other ethnic and gender groups are playing a major role. While we know blacks have indeed been marginalized at UCB in general, we would not expect an event to celebrate the struggle for human rights would exclude them so blatantly as to downplay the significant and critical role black students played in awakening ethnic and gender consciousness at UCB and nationwide in academia.

After blacks initiated the struggle for academic liberation by calling for the establishment of black studies, other ethnic and gender groups joined in and rode the bandwagon to gain a foothold in white academia. Yes, other ethnic groups were along side blacks as they spearheaded the fight, but the black role in igniting radical consciousness was critical and fundamental. To celebrate without them is like having a party without inviting the cook to join in, leaving her/him in the kitchen.

It has always been my view that blacks will find themselves on the bottom rung of the multicultural ladder when uniting with their socalled third world comrades, thus I maintain a nationalist position first, any other unity is secondary. Otherwise we shall end up diluted, polluted and excluded, as we see at this socalled Third World Celebration to supposedly continue the push for the decolonization of the university.

We know that reactionaries have had forty years to entrench themselves in ethnic studies, to gain tenure and exclude radicals from representation in departments they struggled to establish. This happened nationwide, so UC Berkeley is not an isolated case. But even the reactionary blacks have been outflanked by other minorities, whether Native American, Latino, Asian, Gay/Lesbian, Women, handicapped, etc. These other minorities have conspired with the administrations to eliminate or incapacitate black or African American studies. They have sided with the administration or led the charge that Afro-centrincism was a bogus concept without academic merit. San Francisco State University is an example.

Having worked at UC Berkeley as a researcher in the School of Criminology under Dean Lohman,1964, and lectured in Black Studies, 1972, we are fully aware of how the university purged radical scholars in black studies and brought in handpicked uncle toms to dilute any semblance of radicalism. Although academically qualified, Miller Lite scholars have been present ever since the Bill Banks running dog black studies department replaced the original radical scholars.

It is laughable to hear talk of decolonialism when reactionary professors have had forty years to truly implement an ideology of black national consciousness in academia. Instead they drifted into the otherworldism (Dr. Nathan Hare term) of Pan Africanism and Diaspora Studies, clearly a diversion from the original mission of focusing on the problems of North American Africans, though this is not to be unconcerned with our brothers and sisters throughout the diaspora. It is to make clear the original mission.

With the mission aborted, we see the consequence with the abysmal lack of black males in academia, yet the prison population is full to capacity with them. The cost of housing them annually in prison is more than it would cost for them to Attend UCB, Stanford, Harvard and Yale.

No doubt it was stress and the disconnection from community that caused the untimely death of three brilliant professors at UC Berkelely, namely Barbara Christian, June Jordan and VeVe Clark. UC San Diego lost professor Sherley A. Williams. When Sherley transitioned, Dr. William H. Grier, co-author of Black Rage, told his son, Geoffrey, to tell me Sherley died from the hostile environment at UC San Diego. Indeed, Sherley used to complain to me often about the stress she was under dealing with her racist pseudo-liberal white women colleagues in the English Department.

But we know the stress of collaborating with the colonialists can cause disease, especially when persons have cut off their connection with community. Of course, whenever the crisis reaches a critical point, the tenured negroes reach out to community for help and recite the original mission of black studies--to be integrally connected and directed from community.

The marginalized conference on decolonialism is remarkable in its exclusion of African Americans, but having been conscious of the progress of inclusion on campus since we were employed there in 1964, it is indeed sad to see blacks disappear yet other minorities replace them in great numbers. Of course we credit the supreme reactionary Ward Connolly for part of the dearth in the black presence. But again, Ward had his predecessors in reaction and they must be archived as such, led by Dr. William H. Banks, as much a sellout negro as Ward Connolly.

Perhaps the nature of the celebration is simply the chickens coming home to roost. And being an old farm boy from Fresno, it doesn't make me sad. We don't expect any substantial decolonialism under the present circumstances. Indeed, we have created a new colonial elite of ethnic students who obviously have a form of myopia that has not allowed them to include the founders of radical student struggle at UC Berkeley and elsewhere. We should blame their elders, not students who have a revised history of academic struggle, if not the black liberation struggle in general, either by the sin of omission or blatant disregard for the facts on the ground.

It is indeed an insult to those African American students who struggled at UCB. I'm thinking of BSU leaders such as Frank Jenkins, Umtu (Gerald Rice, RIP), Fahizah Alim, Nisa Ra, Sonny James, Betty Bromfield, Carl Mack, Lothario Lotho, et al.

Further, if it were not for the literature of the Black Arts Movement, there would probably be no ethnic literature in academia, for BAM awakened the consciousness of other ethnic and gender groups, yet where is BAM literature taught in a substantial manner? When Amiri Baraka read at the UCB Holloway Poetry Series, the Asian student who introduced him was totally ignorant the Black Arts Movement had a key West coast component with myself and Ed Bullins as founders of Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco.

The decolonization of the university cannot happen while the students themselves are yet colonized or shall we say neo-colonialized, for we were the first group of domestic colonials to enter major white universities. We made an attempt to dismantle the university/corporate complex, but as with the liberation movement in general, that effort was aborted. So the task awaits this generation to either execute the plan or collaborate with the reactionaries within their own ranks and within the university/corporate complex.

--Marvin X


See Teaching Black Studies at the University Of California, Berkeley: A Case Study Of Marvin X and the Afro-American Studies Program by Dr. J. Vern Cromartie, Contra Costa College Abstract.

See also What Happened to My Black Studies Department, Cecil Brown, retired UCB professor.

The archives of Marvin X are in the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. His many books include How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, A Pan African/12 Step Model, Black Bird Press,Berkeley, foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, afterword by Ptah Allah El.

Teaching Black Studies at the University Of California, Berkeley:

A Case Study Of Marvin X and the Afro-American Studies Program

by Dr. J. Vern Cromartie, Contra Costa College Abstract

This paper presents a case study of Marvin X and his experiences teaching Black studies at the University of California, Berkeley during the 1970s. Using in-depth interviews and archival research, this paper focuses on the status and role of Marvin X as a member of the faculty in the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. This paper also details some of the successes and problems encountered by Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, this paper addresses some implications of Marvin X’s lecturer status at the University of California, Berkeley.

During the 1960s, many programs and departments in Black Studies emerged within academia. Unlike the programs and departments in African Area Studies, the programs and departments , and White corporations. On the other hand, Black Studies entered the curricula primarily through the efforts of Black students, Black faculty, and concerned members of various Black communities (Cromartie, 1993).
The first Black Studies Program to emerge during the 1960s developed at Merritt College with Fritz Pointer as the first chairman. Among the students who led the struggle to establish the program at Merritt College were Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and their friend Marvin X. The first Black Studies Department to emerge during the 1960s at a four-year college or university took place at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) with Nathan Hare as the first chairman. Marvin X also played a role in the struggle for Black Studies at San Francisco State although he was out of the state ( underground in Harlem, Chicago, Toronto as a protest against the war in Vietnam) during the landmark 1968 strike (X, 1998; Brown, 2004; Cromartie, 1993).

Eventually, Marvin X taught at a number of institutions with fledging programs or departments in Black Studies. Between 1969 and 1982, which was a crucial period in the institutionalization of Black Studies, he taught Black Studies and other courses (English, drama, journalism, technical writing, creative writing, radio and television writing) at Fresno State College (now Fresno State University); University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State; Mills College; University of Nevada, Reno; Laney College; and Kings River Community College (X, 1998).

The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of Marvin X and his experiences with teaching Black studies at the University of California, Berkeley during the 1970s. Making use of in-depth interviews and archival research, this paper will focus on the status and role of Marvin X as a member of the faculty in the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. This paper will also detail some of the successes and problems encountered by Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, this paper will address some implications of Marvin X‘s lecturer status at the University of California, Berkeley.

Status and Role of Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley

During the early 1970s, Marvin X was contracted as a lecturer in the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. At the time, the Afro-American Studies Program was one of several programs in the Ethnic Studies Department. The other programs in the Ethnic Studies Department included Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, and Native American Studies (Wang, 1997).1

Marvin X was hired to teach a course titled Afro-American Studies 168 Black Theatre. The Supplementary Announcements to the Schedule and Directory and the General Catalogue Fall Quarter, 1971 (University of California, Berkeley, 1971) announced ―Afro-American Studies 168 Black Theatre‖ as a new course and described it as follows: Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week. Prerequisites–knowledge of black history, culture, and philosophy. Designed to give students practical and theoretical knowledge of black plays and rituals. Students will study and perform the works of black playwrights, and other black drama groups to do a comparative analysis. Black playwrights, actors, and directors will be invited to class for a discussion of their work. Students with original writings will be able to have their works read and discussed in class. (p. 1)

The Supplementary Announcements to the Schedule and Directory and the General Catalogue Fall Quarter, 1971 indicated that the course would be taught by ―Mr. Muhajir, which was a non de plume of Marvin X.

As a lecturer in the Afro-American Studies Department, the role of Marvin X was to teach students who enrolled in the course. In an interview conducted with him on March 8, 2009, Marvin X informed the present writer that he taught the course partially on the campus and partially in San Francisco at a place he founded called Black Educational Theatre. Marvin X also reported to the present writer that he could not recall when he taught his first course at the University of California, Berkeley. He expressed that his first course may have been offered in the fall 1971 quarter, winter 1972 quarter, or the spring 1972 quarter. However, on May 28, 2009, Nisa Ra, one of his former students in the course, told the present writer that she took Marvin X‘s class in the fall 1971 quarter. In addition, during the March 8, 2009 interview, Marvin X stated to the present writer that he was given a contract in the summer 1972 quarter to teach another course in the Afro-American Studies Program. According to Marvin X, he was hired to teach a course in place of Ken Moshesh. Marvin X stated that he received the contract that summer because Moshesh was not available and needed a substitute.

In his books In the Crazy House Called America and Wish I Could Tell You the Truth, Marvin X (2002, 2005) has listed 1972 as the year he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. David Hansen, a reference librarian at the Bancroft Library, informed the present writer on March 16, 2009 that the official records for the 1971 and 1972 schedules and directories for University of California, Berkeley in its Bancroft Library are incomplete. Close examination of the University of California, Berkeley‘s (1971b, 1971c) schedules and directories for the winter 1972 quarter and the spring 1972 quarter indicates that Marvin X and his typical non de plume were not listed in either. It very well may be that the University of California, Berkeley listed his name and course on a supplementary list that could not be located by the present writer or the reference librarian. As mentioned above, the non de plume of Marvin X is mentioned in the Supplementary Announcements to the Schedule and Directory and the General Catalogue Fall Quarter, 1971.
Nevertheless, if Marvin X is correct, the summer appointment proved to be his final one at the University of California, Berkeley. Marvin X has maintained that he was let go at the University of California, Berkeley in an effort by the administrators to purge radicals from the Afro-American Studies Program and replace them with academicians deemed safer.

Successes of Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley

As mentioned above, Marvin X (1998, 2002, & 2005) has written that he taught at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972. Although his stint at the University of California, Berkeley proved to be short-lived, Marvin X touched the lives of many students on that campus, including the aforementioned Nisa Ra. Eventually, Nisa Ra changed her name from Greta Pope and married Marvin X.
While teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X also produced and staged his play titled Resurrection of the Dead. The play was actually written when he was active with the New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem, New York. Marvin X has described the play as a myth/ritual dance drama.
In addition to Nisa Ra as a dancer, the play featured Victor Willis as lead singer. Willis later became the lead singer of the Village People. The cast members in the play also included Amina Grant and Jamila Hunter. Jamilah or Charlene Hunter later danced with Shirley McClaine and Alvin Ailey Dancers. At a ceremony during the production of the play, Nisa Ra and other cast members received Arabic names. Thus, this was a name-changing/life changing ritual in the Eastern sense rather than a drama in the Western dramatic tradition.

After leaving the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X continued to be productive in 1972. He traveled to Mexico, Trinidad, and Guyana. Marvin X also interviewed Guyana‘s Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham, and published the interview in the Black Scholar.2 In addition, Marvin X (1972) published a book of poems, proverbs, lyrics, and parables titled Woman—Man’s Best Friend.

Problems of Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley

In 1964, Malcolm X, on the lecture circuit, gave a presentation at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the 7,000 people in Sproul Plaza that day to hear Malcolm X, there stood Marvin X. Malcolm X deeply impressed Marvin X with his articulate analysis of social conditions in the USA. Marvin X was also impressed by Malcolm X‘s advocacy of Black nationalism. By the time he heard Malcolm X, Marvin X had already been introduced to Black nationalism as an ideology by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Ernie Allen, and others. Marvin X (2005) has related that it was at Merritt College where ―I had the fortune or misfortune of being educated on the steps of the college by Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Ernie Allen and others on the merits of Black Nationalism (p. 17).

With regard to Malcolm X, Marvin X (2002) has written that, ―When Malcolm X spoke before seven thousand students at U. C. Berkeley‘s Sproul Plaza (1964), I was in the audience. When he was assassinated, we wore black armbands to express our grief San Francisco State University, actor Danny Glover among us (pp. 93-94). Marvin X (2002) has also stated that, ―Malcolm‘s oratory influenced me to consider Elijah‘s Islamic Black Nationalism while I was a student at Oakland‘s Merritt College, along with Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Ernie Allen and others who became the new black intelligentsia, the direct product of Malcolm, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Elijah‖ (p. 93)

That same year, in 1964, Marvin X earned an AA degree in sociology at the Merritt College. Marvin X also enrolled as an undergraduate at San Francisco State. However, in 1966, he left the institution without earning a degree. Marvin X (2005) has informed us that, ―After dropping out of San Francisco State in 1966, I was drafted. I fled to Canada (p. 17). By that time, Marvin X had worked briefly as a research assistant at the University of California, Berkeley writing life histories of Black people under the supervision of sociologist Dean Lohman. Marvin X had also written and staged his first play, Flowers for the Trashman, produced by the drama department at San Francisco State.

In addition, Marvin X‘s essays and poems had begun to appear in such periodicals as Soulbook, Black Dialogue, and the Journal of Black Poetry. He would later publish in Black Theatre, Muhammad Speaks, Negro Digest (later Black World), and Black Scholar (X, 1998). Some eight years later, Marvin X would also be addressing students at the University of California, Berkeley. Whereas Malcolm X had addressed the students as a circuit lecturer, Marvin X addressed them as a classroom lecturer. However, at that time, Marvin X only possessed an AA degree in sociology from Merritt College. Marvin X (1998) has recalled, ―In 1972, before I obtained additional degrees, and after being kicked out of Fresno State, I lectured in Black Studies at U C Berkeley‖ (pp. 203-204). Doubtlessly, it was the publication record and playwright experience that landed Marvin X a post as a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. However, it can also be surmised that his lack of graduate degree created a problem for him.3 Please note there were many lecturers who possessed no degrees in the state college system.
Another problem for Marvin X was the political stances he took. Prior to becoming employed as a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X had worked as a lecturer at Fresno State. Although he was relatively popular with the students, the political activities of Marvin X alienated him from the Fresno State administrators and their superiors, including Gov. Ronald Reagan.

With regard to Ronald Reagan, Marvin X (2005) has said: ―Gov. Ronald Reagan banned me from teaching at Fresno State College, 1969, after he learned I had refused to fight in Vietnam‖ (p. 17). Marvin X added: ―Gov. Reagan had told the State College Board of Trustees to get Marvin X off campus by any means necessary‘‖ (p. 19).

Whereas Reagan launched a vigorous move to oust Eldridge Cleaver as a lecturer in 1968 at the University of California, Berkeley and Angela Davis as an acting assistant professor in 1969 at the University of California, Los Angeles, he also launched a similar move against Marvin X in 1969 at Fresno State.4 The October 31, 1969 issue of the Fresno Bee quoted Reagan as beginning a meeting of the California State University System Board of Trustees with the following statement about Marvin X: ―If there is any way to get him off campus—that‘s the question I‘m going to ask today. I‘d like to find out (Quoted in ―Reagan, 1969, p. 6-A).5
By the time he began to teach at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X had served five months in prison related to military draft resistance and subsequent flights to Canada, Mexico, and Belize (X, 1998, 2005).
Marvin X has explicitly stated that his radical ways caused a problem for him at the University of California, Berkeley and elsewhere. Looking back on his particular experience at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X (2005) has said that his ―lectureship was short-lived because the entire black studies faculty was purged by the administration for being too radical‖ (p. 19). He further stated: Acceptable negro scholars were hired and UC Berkeley joined the nationwide trend of removing black radicals from black studies programs. Black studies returned to the old mission of a handful of handkerchief head negroes containing the field negroes, making sure they don‘t revolt. This happened at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University and elsewhere across the country. Yes, I was angry that reactionary negro intellectuals were hired to teach black studies, negroes who cared nothing about black studies or black people—all they wanted was a job for life, tenured negroes we call them. (pp. 19-20)
He has argued that his experiences in academia reflect the plight of many Black people who sought to teach in higher education. Following Cecil Brown (2004), Marvin X has identified foreign-born Black professoriate as those who were selected to replace native-born Black professoriate. Cecil noted that after that initial radical thrust to establish black studies in the 1960s, they were immediately removed from the student body and the faculty of colleges and universities coast to coast. I taught at UC Berkeley during the first and last radical black studies regime that was soon replaced with ―tenured negroes.‖ The system realized who and what we were and knew we had to go, after all, the system could not contain us. This happened at UCB, San Francisco State University, Fresno State University and elsewhere, coast to coast. We were immediately replaced with acceptable Negroes, the more pliant variety of military types, intelligence agents, and yes, in many cases, immigrant negroes more acceptable to the colonial college administrators. Thus Africans and Caribbean Negroes were in many cases less radical, even though much of the African American radical tradition comes from immigrants, such as Marcus Garvey, CLR James, Dr. Walter Rodney, George Padmore, Kwame Toure, Malcolm X and Farakhan. (p. 83)
He continued: And we must ask ourselves would we rather have a radical immigrant African in black studies or a reactionary Negro only because he is a Negro. But Cecil‘s point is that the American academic system feels the immigrant Negroes/Africans are easier to control than the violent black American male. So the truth is immigrants have replaced Negroes coast to coast, but even black American males who remain are of the passive variety, and those with a Pan African ideology or Afrocentric approach to black studies are often at odds with the original mission of black studies to focus on the plight of the so-called negro in the ghettoes of America, how to uplift him out of his morass and degradation. The focus on Africa and Pan Africanism was secondary to this central focus, but such a focus by definition requires a radical intellectualism that the University industrial complex of necessity must avoid.
By the time he was hired as a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X had developed a stance on the direction he believed the Black Studies Movement should take. Reflecting back on the Black Studies Movement, Marvin X has written: The purpose of Black Studies as we envisioned it and went to war for at San Francisco State University and elsewhere was to relate to the community, to establish institutions in the community that would educate the coming generations in community service, including politics, economics, culture and art. But Black Studies reverted to Eurocentric patterns of ivory tower academic nonsense, with graduates hating the hood and happy they escaped to somewhere in the den of iniquity called Corporate America. (p. 41)
For Marvin X, the mission of the department or program in Black Studies was to serve the Black community with the provision of what Pierre Bourdieu has termed cultural capital.6 He has taken the position that the Black Studies Movement has been taken over by faculty with little loyalty to Black people. Instead of community service, Marvin X has charged that many contemporary Black professors ignore their obligations to help the Black community and instead choose to engage in relatively esoteric research which will collect dust on shelves and few people will ever read. Much of their writings is in a language the people cannot understand.
In the view of Marvin X (2005), White people have too much power in Black Studies ―because we know, in truth, black studies is more or less white studies, rather than turning out activist-scholars, it recycles negroes, giving birth to new generations of colonial servants (p. 88). He has complained: The activist scholars were long ago removed from academia as a threat to Western scholarship and community liberation. Safe, qualified negroes were brought in who would control the natives and have them chasing rocks in Egypt rather than stopping gunshots in the hood by providing alternative consciousness. . . . Rather than searching for bones in Egypt, the community would be better served giving consciousness to dry bones in the hood. (X, 2005, pp. 88-89)
Marvin X (2005) has further exclaimed that, ―The mission of black studies awaits redemption and African Americans must again crash the gates of academia or construct their own radical academic institutions (p. 85). He added: ―Black studies should institute a recruitment drive to get black males and females back on campus but only if the mission is self and community development, not esoteric journeys to the Motherland‖ (p. 85). Marvin X has argued that if contemporary professors of Black Studies want to be acceptable to the ancestors in Africa it will be important for them to ―make peace with the trees and swamps and bayous of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana (p. 85). Likewise, Marvin X has argued that contemporary professors of Black Studies need to connect with Black people in the ghetto. In his view, it is necessary for contemporary professors of Black Studies to ―make peace with them and ―teach them to make peace with themselves (p. 85).
During the early 1970s, Marvin X, nevertheless, saw the handwriting on the wall, as the saying goes. He realized that departments and programs in Black Studies were moving towards requiring lecturers to have graduate degrees. Within one year of his departure from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973, Marvin X returned to San Francisco State. Consequently, he completed a BA degree in English in 1974. The following year, in 1975, Marvin X proceeded to earn a MA in English from San Francisco State. In 1974, Marvin X began to teach at San Francisco State as a lecturer. His courses included Black literature, journalism, radio and television writing. In 1975 he was a visiting professor at the University of California, San Diego. Eventually, he left San Francisco State to become a lecturer at Mills College. He later worked at University of Nevada, Reno, Laney College, and Kings River Community College before retiring from teaching (X, 1998).7

Implications of the Lecturer Status for Marvin X in the University

Shamos (2002) has examined the use of titles within higher education institutions in the USA, including the University of California, Berkeley. He has made it clear that there are socially defined positions identified as academic rank in higher education institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley.
In terms of the professoriate at research institutions like the University of California, Berkeley, the highest to low positions include professor, associate professor, assistant professor, lecturer, and instructor. On the one hand, the tenured professor is generally the highest academic rank in the university among the professoriate. On the other hand, the instructor is generally the lowest academic rank in the university among the professoriate (Shamos, 2002). Typically, the lecturer position in a university is a non-tenured academic rank. Lecturers are often employed in a university on a year to year or semester to semester basis. In some cases, there is a written or non-written agreement to bring the lecturer back to teach year after year (Shamos, 2002).

In the case of Marvin X, he was hired on a semester to semester basis. Thus, he had to (1) face the significant consequence of not having a tenure-track position; and (2) face the significant consequence of being able to get terminated at the end of a given semester without having a tenure review board as a safety net.

Summary and Conclusion

This paper has presented a case study of Marvin X and his experiences teaching Black studies in 1972 at the University of California, Berkeley. Making use of in-depth interviews and archival research, this paper has focused on the status and role of Marvin X as a member of the faculty in the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. This paper has also detailed some of the successes and problems encountered by Marvin X at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, this paper has addressed some implications of Marvin X‘s lecturer status at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 2001, Cornel West, on the lecture circuit, gave a presentation at the University of California, Berkeley. During his talk, West acknowledged his mother, brother, nephew, and cousin. West also acknowledged Marvin X as a friend. As a result of writing, teaching, and political activism, Marvin X has proven to be a well known figure among Black academicians and Black political activists.
Over the years, the poems, essays, plays, and autobiography of Marvin X have painted pictures of a man committed to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In 1967, he was drafted into the military of the USA. Marvin X (2002) has written that he refused induction and fled to Canada ―to preserve my life and liberty, and to pursue happiness‖ (p. 93).8 During the years he taught in higher education, Marvin X inspired his students to commit themselves to the pursuit of life, liberty, and justice. Marvin X is a testament to the teaching and learning that have taken place within the Black Studies Movement at the University of California, Berkeley and elsewhere.

As Wang (1997) pointed out, Afro-American Studies made the transition from program status to department status in 1974.

2. For the interview with Forbes Burnham, see Marvin X (1973). It was conducted in September 1972.

3. Marvin X (1998) has expressed that the White administrators at Fresno State raised the issue of his lack of a graduate degree. According to Marvin X, ―In my case, the college said I had minimal qualifications because I only possessed an A.A. degree at the time, although no degree is necessary to lecture at a California college or university. There were numerous lecturers at Fresno State College and other schools who possessed no degree (p. 203).

4. Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, stated, ―If Eldridge Cleaver is allowed to teach our children, they may come home one night and slit our throats (Quoted in Author, 1998). For information on his experience at Fresno State, see Marvin X (1998, 2005, 2008) and Patterson (1969a, 1969b).

5. For a photo copy of that article, see Marvin X (1998, p. 209).

6. See Bourdieu (2007) for a discussion of cultural capital as a theorem ―to explain the unequal scholastic achievement of children originating from the different social classes and class factions (p. 84).

7. In the spring 1981 semester at Laney College, the present writer was a student of Marvin X. He took a class with Marvin X titled ―Theatre Arts. As partial credit for the class, the present writer wrote a play titled ―A Day in the Life of Hughes, Langston. The play was later staged at the College of Alameda in Alameda, CA and the Egypt Theater in Oakland, CA. The present writer also wrote a review of Marvin X‘s play titled ―In the Name of Love‖ for partial credit for the class. The play featured Zahieb Mwongozi (Craig Erving) in the lead role and was directed by Ayodele Nzinga. The review was published in the Grassroots, a community newspaper based in Berkeley, CA. See Cromartie (1982).
Prior to his teaching stint at the University of California, Berkeley, Marvin X was tried and convicted of draft resistance in 1971. For his summation (Black Scholar magazine) at his trial wherein he made his relatively famous statement concerning life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, see Marvin X (1971).

References Auther, Jennifer. (1998, May 1). ―He was a symbol: Eldridge Cleaver dies at 62. CNN. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from Bourdieu, Pierre. (2007).

The Forms of Capital. In Alan R. Sadovnik (Ed.), Sociology of Education: A Critical Reader (pp. 83-95). New York: Routledge.

Cromartie, J. Vern Cromartie. (1982, January 27-February 9). New Play by Marvin X. Grassroots: Berkeley’s Community Newspaper, 10, 10. Cromartie, J. Vern. (nee Jimmie Levern Cromartie). (1993).

Attitudes of University of California and California State University tenured Sociologists towards an Ethnic Studies General Education Requirement. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI. Patterson, William K. (1969a, October 29).

Ness: ―I Told Keyes Marvin X Not Hired.‖ Fresno Bee, 1-D, 9-D. Patterson, William K. (1969b, October 30).

Judge Ponders Marvin X Ruling. Fresno Bee, 1-A, 6-A.

Reagan Has His Say On Concern Over Marvin X. (1969, October 30). Fresno Bee, 6-A.

Shamos, Michael I. (2002). Handbook of Academic Titles. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from University of California, Berkeley. (1971). Supplementary Announcements to the Schedule and Directory and the General Catalogue Fall Quarter, 1971. Berkeley: Author. University of California, Berkeley. (1972a).

Schedule and Directory Winter Quarter, 1972. Berkeley: Author. University of California, Berkeley. (1972b).

Schedule and Directory Spring Quarter, 1972. Berkeley: Author.

Wang, Ling-chi. (1997, Spring). Chronology of Ethnic Studies at U. C. Berkeley.

Rap Sheet: A Newsletter of the Department of Ethnic Studies at U. C. Berkeley, 2, 1, 12-16. X, Marvin. (1971, April-May).

Black Justice Must Be Done. Black Scholar, 2, 8-11. X, Marvin. (1972).

Woman—Man’s Best Friend. San Francisco: Black Bird Press. X, Marvin. (1973, February).

A Conversation with Forbes Burnham: Interview by Marvin X. Black Scholar, 4, 24-31. X, Marvin. (1998).

Somethin’ Proper. Castro Valley, CA: Black Bird Press. X, Marvin. (2002).

In the Crazy House Called America. Castro Valley, CA: Black Bird Press. X, Marvin. (2005). Wish I Could Tell You the Truth. Cherokee, CA: Black Bird Press