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 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
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
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.
25 May 2007
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.
For more information or to invite Marvin X to your campus and/or conference, call 510-200-4164.
Three Reviews: the Wisdom of Plato Negro by Marvin X
The Sayings of Plato Negro
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.
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.”
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.
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
“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.”
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!
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” Salon.com, Oct.25,2004
Ishmael Reed,author of “Going Too Far, Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown”
Address : 870 53rd St. Oakland, Ca.94608