Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living Black History: Marvin X Speaks in Fresno at the Hinton Center

Marvin X will also speak at Fresno City College, February 24, 10AM, sponsored by the Black Studies Department. He will dialogue with Kehindi Solwazi, Professor Emeritus at FCC.

He is co-producer with Kim McMillan of the Black Arts Movement Conference at University of California, Merced, Feb 28-March 2, 2014.

East coast people can catch him at New York University, Feb. 4, 6pm, at the tribute for poets Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka.

Marvin X, a founding figure of the 1960s flowering of the Black Arts Movement in the U.S., believes the struggle for justice worldwide is one. He joins his powerful voice to the International Solidarity Hunger Strike for Syria--and links it to his strong ongoing activism against genocide and fratricide in the 'hoods of America. Marvin's son of blessed memory was once held and interrogated by the Syrian dictatorship's state security agents, as he has written about eloquently on his blog, Black Bird Press News, named after one of Marvin's early plays that was produced in community theaters across the U.S. during the 1970s. Not one to be fooled by the police state's claims of "anti-imperialism" nor to give it a pass for oppression based on such claims, Marvin has been with us from the start. #GRATITUDE

Photo: Thanks to the organizers of Day of Solidarity with Syria - global demonstrations on Saturday, January 11. London, Dublin and Malmo, Sweden will also have groups doing a Solidarity Hunger Strike on that day. Check out their info and attend the demonstration in your area. There are demonstrations in Syria; Vienna, Austria; Milano, Como Genova, Bologna, Ancona, Roma, Napoli, Palermo, and Lecce in Italy; Munich Stuttgart, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Aachen, Cologne, Hamburg, Dortmund in Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Barcelona, Granada and Seville in Spain; Paris and Montpelier in France; Montreal in Canada; Mexico City in Mexico; Nairobi in Kenya; Warsaw in Poland; Cairo in Egypt; Antwerp in Belgium; Lausanne in Switzerland; Buenos Aires in Argentina; Los Angeles and Washington in the U.S.

Thanks to the organizers of Day of Solidarity with Syria - global demonstrations on Saturday, January 11. London, Dublin and Malmo, Sweden will also have groups doing a Solidarity Hunger Strike on that day. Check out their info and attend the demonstration in your area. There are demonstrations in Syria; Vienna, Austria; Milano, Como Genova, Bologna, Ancona, Roma, Napoli, Palermo, and Lecce in It...aly; Munich Stuttgart, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Aachen, Cologne, Hamburg, Dortmund in Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Barcelona, Granada and Seville in Spain; Paris and Montpelier in France; Montreal in Canada; Mexico City in Mexico; Nairobi in Kenya; Warsaw in Poland; Cairo in Egypt; Antwerp in Belgium; Lausanne in Switzerland; Buenos Aires in Argentina; Los Angeles and Washington in the U.S. More

Two Poems for the People of Syria by Marvin X and Mohja Kahf

Oh, Mohja
how much water can run from rivers to sea
how much blood can soak the earth
the guns of tyrants know no end
a people awakened are bigger than bullets
there is no sleep in their eyes
no more stunted backs and fear of broken limbs
even men, women and children are humble with sacrifice
the old the young play their roles
with smiles they endure torture chambers
with laughs they submit to rape and mutilations
there is no victory for oppressors
whose days are numbered
as the clock ticks as the sun rises
let the people continue til victory
surely they smell it on their hands
taste it on lips
believe it in their hearts
know it in their minds
no more backwardness no fear
let there be resistance til victory.
--Marvin X/El Muhajir

Syrian poet/professor Dr. Mohja Kahf

Oh Marvin, how much blood can soak the earth?

The angels asked, “will you create a species who will shed blood

and overrun the earth with evil?” 

And it turns out “rivers of blood” is no metaphor: 

see the stones of narrow alleys in Duma

shiny with blood hissing from humans? Dark

and dazzling, it keeps pouring and pumping

from the inexhaustible soft flesh of Syrians,

and neither regime cluster bombs from the air,

nor rebel car bombs on the ground,

ask them their names before they die. 

They are mowed down like wheat harvested by machine,

and every stalk has seven ears, and every ear a hundred grains.

They bleed like irrigation canals into the earth.

Even one little girl in Idlib with a carotid artery cut

becomes a river of blood. Who knew she could be a river 

running all the way over the ocean, to you,

draining me of my heart? And God said to the angels, 

“I know what you know not.” But right now,
the angels seem right. Cut the coyness, God;

learn the names of all the Syrians.

See what your species has done.

--Mohja Kahf                     

Marvin X Poem fa da Hood

Memorial Day, 2007
I am a veteran
Not of foreign battlefields
Like my father in world war one
My uncles in world war two
And Korea
Or my friends from Vietnam
And even the Congo “police action”
But veteran none the less
Exiled and jailed because I refused
To visit Vietnam as a running dog for imperialism
So I visited Canada, Mexico and Belize
Then Federal prison for a minute
But veteran I am of the war in the hood
The war of domestic colonialism and neo-colonialism
White supremacy in black face war
Fighting for black power that turned white
Or was always white as in the other white people
So war it was and is
Every day without end no RR no respite just war
For colors like kindergarten children war
For turf warriors don’t own and run when popo comes
War for drugs and guns and women
War for hatred jealousy
Dante got a scholarship but couldn’t get on the plane
The boyz in the hood met him on the block and jacked him
Relieved him of his gear shot him in the head because he could read
Play basketball had all the pretty girls a square
The boyz wanted him dead like themselves
Wanted him to have a shrine with liquor bottles and teddy bears
And candles
Wanted his mama and daddy to weep and mourn at the funeral
Like all the other moms and dads and uncle aunts cousins
Why should he make it out the war zone
The blood and broken bones of war in the hood
No veterans day no benefits no mental health sessions
No conversation who cares who wants to know about the dead
In the hood
the warriors gone down in the ghetto night
We heard the Uzi at 3am and saw the body on the steps until 3 pm
When the coroner finally arrived as children passed from school
I am the veteran of ghetto wars of liberation that were aborted
And morphed into wars of self destruction
With drugs supplied from police vans
Guns diverted from the army base and sold 24/7 behind the Arab store.
Junior is 14 but the main arms merchant in the hood
He sells guns from his backpack
His daddy wants to know how he get all them guns
But Junior don’t tell cause he warrior
He’s lost more friends than I the elder
What can I tell him about death and blood and bones
He says he will get rich or die trying
But life is for love not money
And if he lives he will learn.
If he makes it out the war zone to another world
Where they murder in suits and suites
And golf courses and yachts
if he makes it even beyond this world
He will learn that love is better than money
For he was once on the auction block and sold as a thing
For money, yes, for the love of money but not for love
And so his memory is short and absent of truth
The war in the hood has tricked him into the slave past
Like a programmed monkey he acts out the slave auction
The sale of himself on the corner with his homeys
Trying to pose cool in the war zone
I will tell him the truth and maybe one day it will hit him like a bullet
In the head
It will hit him multiple times in the brain until he awakens to the real battle
In the turf of his mind.
And he will stand tall and deliver himself to the altar of truth to be a witness
Along with his homeys
They will take charge of their posts
They will indeed claim their turf and it will be theirs forever
Not for a moment in the night
But in the day and in the tomorrows
And the war will be over
No more sorrow no more blood and bones
No more shrines on the corner with liquor bottles teddy bears and candles.

--Marvin X
25 May 2007
Brooklyn NY

Memorial Day appears in the anthology Stand Our Ground, for Trayvon Martin and Melissa Alexander.

Marvin X tour dates 2014

Marvin X  reads at New York University on February 4, 2014, at a tribute for poet Jayne Cortez.
February 22 he will read at the Hinton Center, Fresno CA.
February 24 he will read at Fresno City College
February 28, March 1-2, he will co-produce (with Kim McMillan) the Black Arts Movement Conference, University of California, Merced.

For more information or to invite Marvin X to your campus and/or conference, call 510-200-4164.
Send letter of invitation to

Three Reviews: the Wisdom of Plato Negro by Marvin X

Marvin centers himself in his “classroom/clinic,” his “Academy of da Corner” at 14th and Broadway, Oakland, California. There he sells his “empowering books” and offers insight, advice to mothers (e.g., “Parable of the Woman at the Well,” 58), wives (e.g. “Parable of the Preacher’s Wife,” 29), and lovers. “Other than the white man, black men have no other pressing problem—maybe with another brother, but 90% of the brothers come to Plato with male/female problems” (“Parable of a Day in the Life of Plato Negro,” 148).-- from review by Rudolph Lewis

Review by Rudolph Lewis
For Marvin X, a founder and veteran of the Black Arts Movement of the late 60s/early 70s, we who strive for a rebirth of humanity must choose to be a mentor rather than a predator. “No matter what, I am essentially a teacher,” he lectured at California College of the Arts, where he was invited by poet devorah major. Marvin has taught at Fresno State University; San Francisco State University; UC-Berkeley and San Diego; University of Nevada, Reno; Mills College, Laney and Merritt Colleges in Oakland. But, Marvin warns, “The teacher must know . . . no matter how many years he gives of his soul, his mental genius is not wanted” (“Parable of the Poor Righteous Teacher,” 12).

Gov. Ronald Reagan ran him out of Fresno State University, 1969, with the help of the FBI’s Cointelpro which employed a hit man who sought him out after an agent provocateur murdered his choir director Winfred Streets, who died from a shotgun blast to the back (“Parable of American Gangsta J. Edgar Hoover,” 171).

Pressured out of black studies academia, Marvin contends such programs now attract “sellout” Negroes, or if such African American elites are sincere and dedicated and allowed to remain, many die early from “high blood pressure, depression, schizophrenia, paranoia.” One or more such conditions, he believes, brought on the early and unexpected deaths of poet June Jordan, scholars Barbara Christian, and Veve Clark at UC Berkeley and Sherley Ann Williams at UC San Diego (“Parable of Neocolonialism at UC Berkeley,” 115). There remain nevertheless many educated colored elite all too willing to put “a hood over the hood” and lullaby the masses with “Silent Night,” while “colonialism [is] playing possum” (“Parable of the Colored People,” 42).

In “Wisdom of Plato Negro,” Marvin teaches by stories, ancient devices of instruction that appeal to a non-literate as well as a semi-literate people. (Fables differ from parables only by their use of animal characters.)  The oldest existing genre of storytelling used long before the parables of Jesus or the fables of Aesop, they are excellent tools, in the hands of a skilled artist like Marvin X, in that he modifies the genre for a rebellious hip hop generation who drops out or are pushed out of repressive state sponsored public schools at a 50% clip. Marvin X is a master of these short short stories. Bibliographies, extended footnotes, indexes, formal argumentation, he knows, are of no use to the audience he seeks, that 95 percent that lives from paycheck to paycheck.

These moral oral forms (parables and fables), developed before the invention of writing, taught by indirection how to think and behave respecting the integrity of others. Marvin explained to his College of Arts audience, “This form [the parable] seems perfect for people with short attention span, the video generation . . .  The parable fits my moral or ethical prerogative, allowing my didacticism to run full range” (“Parable of a Day in the Life of Plato Negro,” 147). But we live in a more “hostile environment” than ancient people. Our non-urban ancestors were more in harmony with Nature than our global racialized, exploitive, militarized northern elite societies.

The American Negro or the North American African, as Marvin calls his people, is a modern/post-modern phenomenon, now mostly urbanized, and living in domestic war-zones for more than three centuries. Black codes have governed their speech and behavior; they have been terrorized generation to generation since the early 1700s, by patty rollers, night riders, lynchers, police and military forces, usually without relief by either local or federal governments, or sympathy from their white neighbors or fellow citizens, though they have bled in the wars of the colonies and the nation to establish and defend the American Republic. Their lives have been that of Sisyphus, rising hopes then a fall into utter despair. Such are the times we still live.

To further aide the inattentive reader, most of the 83 sections of this 195-page text begins with a black and white photo image. Although most of these parables were composed between January and April 2010, some were written earlier. A few were written in 2008 (e.g., “Parable of the Basket,” 109) during the election campaign, and a few in 2009 (“Parable of Grand Denial,” 153) after the installation of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Three of these short short stories—“Parable of the Man with a Gun in His Hand,” “Parable of the Lion,” and “Parable of the Man Who Wanted to Die”—were first published in the June 1970 issue of Black World. His classic “Fable of the Black Bird” (86) was written in 1968. The “Fable of the Elephant” (7) and the “Fable of Rooster and Hen” (97) are quite similar in form and style to the black bird fable.

Marvin’s traditional or “classic” parables and fables, written during the BAM period, differ from the ancient fables and parables, which were told in an oral setting within a rural community with some wise men available by a campfire or candle light to explain the story told. In written form the writer in some manner must explain or make the meaning evident, preferably without the mechanical explanation tacked on. That would be a bore and not quite as pleasing to a hip urban audience, as what has been achieved by Marvin’s improvisation on the genre.

Thus Marvin uses humor, sarcasm, irony, exaggerated and sometimes profane language of one sort or another to capture the inattentive reader’s attention. In the first parable, “Parable of Love” (2), Marvin explains, “every writer is duty bound to speak the language of his people, especially if he and his people are going through the process of decolonization from the culture of the oppressor.”  His parables are “highly political” and intended also as a kind of “spiritual counseling.” As he points out in “Parable of Imagination,” artists in their work must “search the consciousness for new ways of representing what lies in the depth of the soul and give creative expression to their findings” (160).

“Under the power of the devil,” our lives tell us a story we hardly understand, Marvin discovered from his teachers Sun Ra, Elijah Muhammad, and others. The church, the mosque, the temple do not provide the needed spiritual consciousness for out time. Nor do 19th century radical political ideologies. As Stokely Carmichael told us in 1969, ideologies like communism and socialism do not speak to our needs. They do not speak to the issue of race. We are a colonized people, he argued, whose institutions have been decimated, our language mocked (e.g. Bill Cosby), our culture when not yet appropriated and stolen called “tasteless” by black bourgeois agents or stooges (e.g., Jason Whitlock in his criticism of Serena Williams at Wimbledon doing a joyful jig after her victory and winning a gold medal).

In “Wisdom of Plato Negro,” Marvin X is about the work of decolonization, though BAM has been commodified as a tourist icon at academic conferences and in university syllabi. The “sacred” work of the artist remains. Its object is to “shatter lies and falsehoods to usher in a new birth of imagination for humanity” . . . to “promote economic progress and political unity” . . . to undermine “pride, arrogance, and self-importance” (160). Although he is critical of the black bourgeoisie, Marvin knows that they have skills our people need, that we must find a way to bring them home. They must  learn to have as much respect for the Mother Tongue as they have for the King’s English (“Parable of the Black Bourgeoisie,” 35).

“Wisdom of Plato Negro” deals not only with the political but also with the personal. That means he cannot live his life in an academic (or ivory) tower, or up in a mountain, writing and publishing books. In “Parable of the Man Who Left the Mountain,” written in 2008, he explains, “in the fourth quarter of my life, I can only attempt to finish the work of being active in the cause of racial justice, of using my pen to speak truth, to put my body in the battlefield for the freedom we all deserve” (45). 

Though he sees the problem as economic and political, one that keeps us poor and powerless, our oppression is “equally” one that creates “a spiritual disease or mental health issue.” (45). Racial supremacy for him not only affects the body or the potential to obtain wealth, it also affects the soul. It is at the heart of the drug war crisis. Black people seek to “medicate” themselves with drugs or the ideology of racial supremacy to find relief from the pain of racial oppression and the suppression of the imagination. Drugs and racial supremacy both are addictive and create dependency. In numerous instances, Marvin calls for moderation of desires and discipline, to “detox” from an addiction to racial supremacy and other “delusional thinking” (“Parable of Sobriety,” 177).

Marvin centers himself in his “classroom/clinic,” his “Academy of da Corner” at 14th and Broadway, Oakland, California. There he sells his “empowering books” and offers insight, advice to mothers (e.g., “Parable of the Woman at the Well,” 58), wives (e.g. “Parable of the Preacher’s Wife,” 29), and lovers. “Other than the white man, black men have no other pressing problem—maybe with another brother, but 90% of the brothers come to Plato with male/female problems” (“Parable of a Day in the Life of Plato Negro,” 148). In contrast to his street work, the racial experts seem rather lost. Marvin reports on a 2008 conference held in Oakland by the Association of Black Psychologists, which has a membership of 1,500 Afrocentric psychologists. Even the experts with two and three Ph.D., “victims of white witchcraft,” he discovered do not know how to heal the community. When leaders don’t know, “why not turn to the people?”  (“Parable of the Witch Doctor,” 24).

There is much more that can be gained from a slow reading of “Wisdom of Plato Negro” than what I have tried to recall in this short report. Marvin X writes about such topics as sexuality and creativity and their relationship, on war, the weather and global warming, and numerous other topics that all tie together if we desire to bring about a rebirth of humanity. This highly informative, insightful, and creative volume can be of service to the non-reader as well as students and seasoned scholars, if they want to be entertained or to heal their bodies and souls so that they can become mentors rather than predators.

“Wisdom of Plato Negro” ends with the “Parable of Desirelessness” (193), which mirrors the “Parable of Letting Go” (61). In the materialist culture of contemporary capitalism we are beset on all sides by “greed, lust, and conspicuous consumption.” There are a “billion illusions of the monkey mind” that lead nowhere other than an early death, suicide, or cowardly homicide. We all must “hold onto nothing but the rope of righteousness.” That will guide us along the straight path to full and permanent revolution and liberation.

Rudolph Lewis is the Founding Editor ChickenBones: A Journal / 

Additional Notes by Rudolph Lewis on The Wisdom of Plato Negro

Thanks, Marvin, I am deep into the Parables. I am looking at the construction of the book. I see that you have shortened it. I found your parable of the lecture at the California College of Arts helpful in that it presented a brief response to what your parables are. I have taken about fives pages of notes, many come from Parable of Imagination. That was masterful in your insight into the role that the educational system play in the suppression and the oppression of those on the margins, particularly black youth.

I'll try to keep the review short (500 words or so) but we'll see. I am still making myself pregnant. I have been skipping about in the text, which may indeed be advantage for the reader you have in mind. But I wanted to see how you constructed the work. I see that most of the pieces were written between January and April of 2010. But you also have pieces from 2008 and 2009, and pieces published in 1970 and 1973. I do not know that you called them "parables" at the time.

I am still meditating on the whole notion of "parable" and "fable." I checked the dictionary definitions. I have yet to read the fables. I have read at least one of the dialogues. I will get to the one on "bitch" sometime tonight. I remember the parable of the man who talked to cows. That was indeed humorous.

In any case my present task is to finish reading the last four or five parables. I am now on the Hoover piece and your experience with the FBI. You are rare indeed: to have been steeped in all of that and lived to the tell tale, and to tell it as boldly as if you were still there. As Gore Vidal pointed out in writing his memoir, Memory is piled upon memory upon memory, and so we remember our memories for we tell them through filters of life, knowledge, and years and years of intellectual and other experiences.

But the thing is that so many who lived through the experiences of the 60s and 70s are living other lives, lives of the status quo, lives that they owe to the company store. You may in this incarnation of Marvin  be the only revolutionary of the 60s an 70s who is struggling as ever for a "revolution of conscious and society" in the present. I have looked at some of the material from the 50th anniversary of SNCC and other civil rights veteran. Their memories do not inform their present.

Of course, Julius Lester may be an exception. He was always a man of the Imagination. But I have not kept up with his novels. Some of them however seem quite to the point, though I do not know how he resolves the conflict that continues, or exactly who his audience is. As you may know he is now a Jew.

In any case, your Call for a Renaissance of the Imagination is exceedingly important. What seems most important is that you never cut yourself off from the lumpen (the dopefiends, the hustlers, the workers), those who have tragic relationships with their lovers and children, those who can’t afford a $100 an hour psychiatrist. It is indeed important that you point out the deficiency of health care in our communities and how everything is commodified in the interest of the few.

Your "classroom/clinic" has kept you grounded to the realities of racial oppression. Many racial activist have sold their souls and become wheeler/dealers of the powers that be. A few went into city and state government, like Marion Barry and courtland Cox, and Ivanhoe Donaldson, and Julian Bond and John Lewis. Many are union execs, and on the leash of their whites bosses. Union execs are part mafia/part political hacks of the Democratic Party. Obama can kill a million spy on hundreds of millions and they will die for Obama, rather than the common man, woman, and child. Of course, like any sane conscious person Obama is preferable to Romney and Tea Party. But to die for Obama is to lose the way of ethics in defense of humanity.

Well, what I am trying to say. I am deep into your Wisdom, in your thought, thinking and construction of a literary work that is quite post-modern, an interactive text that would not have been possible before the invention of the web, as indicated by your dialogues.

My only comparison to what you have done is Jerry Ward's "The Katrina Papers." Of course, his book is grounded by the destruction of an American city, New Orleans , and the tragic destruction of his own home and much of its contents, including papers, records, tapes and other personal items.

But of course, your work is grounded by your Academy of the Corner, and your daily contact with the ongoing tragedies of our people. Those stories are told in your parables. I thank God for a Marvin X, a Plato Negro.

Loving you madly, Rudy

Rudolph Lewis, Editor
ChickenBones: A Journal

Muhammad Speaks Newspaper Review

Marvin X has provided a reflective  work that explains the condition of Black people in America today. He not only explains how we have arrived at this wretched juncture in our history, but offers wisdom as to how we may regain the love of self and family that was decimated through the drug and cultural wars that were aimed at our people.

It is sad to note that a people who were coming of age and promise in the 1960’s and 1970’s were nearly destroyed by the ‘deliberate’ crack epidemic which robbed us of ourselves, and robbed our children of their parents.
Marvin X candidly admits that his addiction to crack robbed his children of their father and his wife of a husband. 

The reader is indeed lucky that he survived his addiction, and that his talent for writing and storytelling survived so that his work may live as a testament and instruction to future generations.

He rightly describes the current economic crisis Black America sees itself in as our being the ‘donkey’ of the world that every other people ride to economic prosperity.  Black people live with this reality daily, as we patronize others who come to this country sell us food, liquor, do our nails, sell us hair, and the list goes on.  We witness them take our money, and deliberately not live in our community.  We know that they would never think of patronizing us.  Yet, we are willing participants in our own exploitation.

Why do we continue this path to economic destruction? Are we like the parable of the elephant as described by Marvin X? The circus elephant   tied by a simple rope and did as his trainer instructed, until one day, he decided to break free, wreaking havoc on everything in his path?

Are we Samson, who brought the pillars down on the temple and destroyed himself along with his tormentors?

The Wisdom of the Plato Negro is a must read for it explains the contemporary condition of our people. What path we will take to correct this condition is in our hands.

Raushana Karriem
Editor-in-Chief Muhammad Speaks Newspaper, Atlanta GA

The Sayings of Plato Negro

Review by Ishmael Reed
Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Ishmael Reed
Photo: Michael Simon

If someone would write a book demythologizing the Black Power movement, how would they assess it? One of great nobility, or one of hypocrisy, one of courage or one of cowardice, one that fostered change in the status quo, or one
that was part of the problem. Or would one conclude that it was one having mixed results.
That it  modified the direction of The Civil Rights Movement, which was heading toward Anglo Saxon assimilation, the way that many Irish, Italian and other white ethnic groups lost their roots and thereby lost their souls, is indisputable. 

Marvin X, who is not only a terrific writer but a Black Power historian has served us well by listing all of the 60s poets who were influenced by Islam and other non-Western sources, (though, without Muslim scholars there’d be no Western civilization.) 

African writers, whom I interviewed for my book about Muhammad Ali find African American Muslim conversion puzzling since they view Islam as an invader’s religion and one that treats the indigenous population, harshly, but one cannot underestimate the influence of Islam upon the world.

However,if I had to pin down the influences upon Marvin X’s The Wisdom of Plato Negro,Parables/Fables,I would cite the style of Yoruba texts. I studied for some years under the tutoring of the poet and scholar Adebisi T.Aromolaran ( “ Wise Sayings For Boys and Girls”)and was guided through some texts in the Yoruba language which revealed that didacticism  is a key component of the Yoruba story telling style. Africans use proverbs to teach their children the lessons of life. Marvin X acknowledges the Yoruba influence on his book, The Wisdom of Plato Negro, Parables/Fables.

  He imparts wisdom by employing cautionary tales and uses his own life and mistakes to consul the young to avoid mistakes. George Bernard Shaw said that if you don’t write your own plays, others will write them for you and they will “degrade”and “vulgarize” you. As part of a grant, I attended local theater for three years and found the portraits of blacks to be offensive,mostly. The women were prostitutes and the men were like the black man in “Precious,” a bestial evil. 

Marvin X in “One Day In the Life”, his classic play about recovery, which I saw at the Black Rep., the only local theater that doesn’t depend upon a audience that desires guilt free productions, was one of the few plays that wasn’t escapist, or preached post racism or blamed the victim.

Moreover, unlike some of the books written by popular African American writers, his book does not look backward to the period of slavery, though some of that is here. He writes about the contemporary problems of a community under attack. He blames crack for causing “ a great chasm between adults and children, children who were abandoned,abused, and neglected, emotionally starved and traumatized.”
Pundits,scholars and reporters who have posed as experts on the inner city, but
don’t live here, have blamed the middle class for abandoning the urban centers.They’re wrong. The middle class is making all of the cash from profits from vice. They run the motels, where the prostitution trade takes place. 

When Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker slapped an injunction against two prostitution hotels which were scenes of child sex trafficking, beatings and rapes by pimps, the proprietors complained that she cost them $80,000.

The middle class are the absentee landlords, who plopped down a crack house in my neighborhood, they’re storeowners who make hundreds of thousands of dollars selling liquor. None of these proprietors is black! When I asked the Muslim who runs the Northside Supermarket, who was paid a fawning tribute by a clueless Chronicle reporter, who painted him as some kind of Santa Claus, when those attending our neighborhood crime meetings have complained about the criminal activity in from of his store for years,I was called out of order by an Oakland policeman, who turned out to be a friend of his, when I asked what a Muslim was doing selling liquor?

I wrote, “I am sure that I’m not the only North Oakland resident who is outraged by Chronicle writer, Justin Berton, portraying Yahya ‘Mike" Korin of Northside Supermarket as some kind of neighborhood Robin Hood who hands out turkeys to the poor at Xmas.

“I've attended meetings over the years, where our neighbors, black, white, and Hispanic, have complained about this store which attracts some of the most unsavory elements in our neighborhood and whose violent behavior has threatened the safety of our residents.” I had to mention whites because “Mike” was claiming
that only newcomers were protesting against his store, and that he was some
kind of benevolent uncle to the folks.

Marvin X exposes the situation of other ethnic groups invading black neighborhoods and making the lion’s share of profits from vice, while the media focus upon the mules of the operation, the pathetic and disgusting pimps, the drug dealers who are killing each other over profits that are piddling next to the great haul made by the suppliers of the guns and the drugs. Don’t expect the local newspapers to cover this end of the distribution.
Marvin X writes: “ The so-called Negro is the donkey of the world, everybody
rides him to success. If you need a free ride to success,jump on the Negro’s back and ride into the sunset. He will welcome you with open arms. No saddle needed, just jump on his back and ride him to the bank.”  

When you learn that the government ignored the dumping of drugs into our neighborhoods by their anti-communist allies, you can understand the meaning of Marvin X’s words. Not only are invading ethnic groups and white gun suppliers benefitting from using the black neighborhoods as a resource ,but the government as well.*

Marvin X also takes aim at the Dream Team academics who “parrot” the line
coming down from the One Percent that the problems of blacks are self-inflicted.
“The state academics and intellectuals joined loudly in parroting the king’s every wish. Thank God the masses do not hear them pontificate or read their books. After all, these intellectual and academic parrots are well paid, tenured and eat much parrot seed. Their magic song impresses the bourgeoisie who have a vested interested in keeping the song of the parrot alive.”
Marvin X’s answer to this intellectual Vichy regime has been to cultivate 
off campus intellectuals by conducting an open air classroom on 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland, which is how the peripatetic philosophers like
Plato used to impart their knowledge in open air academies.

The Black Arts movement expanded the audience for poetry. It inspired thousands of young people to write. They are the grandmothers and grandfathers of the Hip Hoppers. They produced children who are high achievers. The only thing that could mar the Black Arts legacy is its tolerance for a lunatic fringe. One, who used to edit a black magazine, but hasn’t written a lick since the 1960s, came out here recently and was greeted warmly, when if you put some white skin on him and covered him with tattoos, he’d be indistinguishable from your ordinary low level skin head,without the Budweiser six pack.

I would give the Black Arts a mixed review. I’m the one who said that in
the global village, nationalism is the village idiot. But I have supported it in concrete ways because the Black Nationalist movement is the only roadblock to black culture becoming extinct!
Moreover,some of those who were Yacubists of the 60s changed. Muhammad Ali,who met with the KKK during the 1970s, recently attended his grand son’s Bar Mitzvah.
* Parry, Robert “How John Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal,
Derided by the mainstream press and taking on Reagan at the height of his popularity, the freshman senator battled to reveal one of America's ugliest foreign policy secrets”, Oct.25,2004

Ishmael Reed,author of “Going Too Far, Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown”
Tel: 5104280116
Address : 870 53rd St. Oakland, Ca.94608

Black Bird Press
1222 Dwight Way
Berkeley CA 94702
195 pages

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