A journal dedicated to truth, freedom of speech and radical spiritual consciousness. Our mission is the liberation of men and women from oppression, violence and abuse of any kind, interpersonal, political, religious, economic, psychosexual. We believe as Fidel Castro said, "The weapon of today is not guns but consciousness."
Saturday, February 8, 2014
The Education of Jah Amiel
The Education of Jah Amiel
The Education of Jah Amiel chronicles the life of a young North American African by his grandfather.
I'd rather Osama Bin Laden knock at my door than my grandson. --Marvin X
Grandpa, you can't save the world but I can! --Jah Amiel
a thousand years before you came from me
I knew you
you did not know me
but I knew you
a thousand years ago
in the infinity of the universe
I knew you were coming
to be a force in the world
and I see you know
at my doorstep
in my bed asleep beside me
pissing in my bed
lying about it in the morning
I see you a thousand years before you came
crawling walking dancing singing rapping
I saw you
yet you claim I am blind
a bad grandfather
mean to you
yet I saw you coming
it was no dream
you were the return of a madman
a son who self destructed
and now a grandson
the same potential
so we want to save you
for you are a god
we see that
you listen to my prayers for you
ask me to pray
and so we do
you love this prayer
I am amazed
but you ask me to say it again and again
Al Fatihah you want
Not Al Hamdulilah
it is not enough
Grandpa, I want you to say the prayer
that is what I want to hear
That is what I shall recite after you.
Jah Amiel at Three Years Old
His grandpa says, I would rather have Osama Bin Laden knock on my door than Jah Amiel, now three years old.
When he knocks on my door I know my house is about to be destroyed worse than the Twin Towers in 9/11.
I'm known as Messy Marv so I can't get down on my grandson too bad, especially since his birthday is two days after mine, his is May 31, mine May 29. So I am very conscious that I am looking at myself at three years old and now understand why my dad used to beat the dog shit out of me, especially when we went to that Methodist boring ass church that he used to take me down in the basement to whup my ass so I would come back upstairs and be quiet.
But I was simply bored to tears.
Anyway, Jah Amiel ain't gonna be bored when he comes to my house. He's going to find something to hold his interest. He's going to make something, anything into a toy so he can play. But most of all he wants to play with me. I tell him I'm busy on the computer but that means nothing to him.
Grandpa get off the computer and play with me.
If I don't stop he will suggest I allow him to watch Michael Jackson on Youtube, anything but the Thriller, he don't want to see the Thriller because it scares him. But Remember the Time, he loves that. That cat. Those baby lions. The fire eater getting his head chopped off. The queen telling Pharoah she's bored to tears. He's down with all that.
And he likes Smooth Criminal and Billy Jean. But I won't stop to put on Michael so he's bored. And he wants to play. Actually, I tell him I gotta lay down since I been up early writing.
He says no Grandpa, please don't go to bed. The sun is up, so you can't sleep now. He don't understand I sometimes write from midnight to six in the morning, so it's nine or ten now and I'm tired. I tell him I need to take a nap, but he will have none of it.
Grandpa don't go to bed, play with me.
But I'm really exhausted, I gotta lay down. He won't have it. He comes into the bed with me, says he wants me to read to him but my books don't have the pictures he likes. So I just recite a parable or fable to him, the Black Bird, the Sleeping Lion, anything so I can nod off for a moment. When I nod off, I feel him peeling back my eyelids. I awaken since he's totally impossible. I realize this little guy is actually torturing me, peeling my eyelids back, that's torture when you're trying to sleep. Then he wants something to eat, so he pulls me up, literally, because I don't want to get up so he pulls me out the bed. I get up to fix him something to eat, then try to go back to bed. No, no, Grandpa, don't go back to bed, play with me.
Jah Amiel, little boy, I love you but you gotta go home to yo mama and daddy. I get up and let him out the door. Bye!
Grandpa you ain't nice!
Bye! See you later alligator!
After while crocodile, he yells, heading for his mama's house up front.
Jah Amiel went out the backdoor of his house and knocked on his grandpa's door. Grandpa was lying down proofreading but got up when he heard his grandson at the door. He had to get up for the little savior of the world, as his grandson told him he was going to be.
He opened the door and Jah Amiel came in on a mission as he nears his third year on earth, May 31. "I want to see the American," he told his grandpa excitedly.
I want to see the American! His grandpa had no idea what he was talking about, until Jah Amiel pointed to the large poster of Langston Hughes on the wall.
Oh, Langston Hughes?
Yeah. On the computer.
Oh, you want to see Langston Hughes read I, Too, Am America?
Grandpa turned on Youtube and found the site with Langston Hughes reading his classic poem.
Meantime Jahmiel found a tape dispenser and pulled off a piece.
Gonna tape my mouth.
Not now, Jah Amiel, you gonna read with Langston.
Ok. He stopped for a moment to read along with Langston.
I, too, sing America
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh
And eat well.
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am American.
After reading the poem once, he told his grandpa to play it again and he again recited with Langston, then he put the tape over his mouth.
Lately, Jah Amiel doesn't accompany his grandpa downtown to his Academy of Da Corner. The people ask grandpa where's Jah Amiel? But his mother put him in Montessori school. She told her dad Jah Amiel could come to his school on the weekends.
After he went to school, his grandpa asked him what he learned?
How to play in the sand box.
Grandpa thought about it. He figured this might be an important lesson, since many people never learn how to play in the sand box without throwing sand in other people's face and eyes throughout their life.
What did you do today at school, Jah Amiel?
I been working at school and I'm tired.
What kind of work did you do?
I worked. I'm tired.
Well, you better go home to yo mama.
Ok. See you later alligator!
His grandpa replied, after while, crocodile!
As we walked to Lake Merritt, out of the blue, Jah Amiel said, "Grandpa, you can't save the world. I can save the world."
I was shocked at the absoluteness of his statement, said without a modicum of doubt. And yet I received it with great relief that the burden was finally off me, especially since I have complete confidence in his prophetic vision.
At the Lake Jah Amiel ran to where a Chinese lady and her grandson and granddaughter were feeling pigeons and sea gulls. He joined the children, especially the girl his age.
He made himself friends, saying, "Don't you want to play with me?"
Eventually he won her over and they began playing, with the older boy leading them on his scooter.
The grandmother, who spoke no English and relied on the boy for translation, seemed amused Jahmeel made himself part of their party.
I sat on a bench and nodded off and on. Jah Amiel was disappointed when they said goodbye.
Earlier at my outdoor classroom, he conversed with a young man and woman. After a few moments the young man came over to me and said, "Man, that little dude has been in our conversation like he's a teenager, commenting and nodding in agreement on everything we're saying."
The boy was sincerely stunned, just as the "youth police" had been earlier when Jah Amiel gave them a Haiti, Oh, Haiti poster poem.
One brother asked him what was he giving out, when Jah Amiel answered, "Black history!" the brother jumped back ten feet in shock.
I told the brother Jah Amiel had money, but since he wanted to doubt it, I told Jahmeel to show his money, so he pulled out a little wad of one dollar bills, and the brother jumped back another ten feet.
Since Jahmeel was making all the money, when the poor and mentally ill asked me for money I referred them to Jahmeel who gave them the change they requested.
When the Oakland police officers came by, I told them to take Jah Amiel with them. The officer heard me so he said, "We're here to help you," and proceeded across the street.
"How they gonna help me, Grandpa?" "They're gonna pop you upside the head and take you to jail."
"Well, they said they're gonna help you, so let's see. We want the world to know the OPD is going to help us. What a change!"
A group of girls came by, one took a poster from Jahmeel, saying, "Oh, he soooo cute."
"I know I'm a little cute," Jah Amiel told me the other day.
The girl gave him some change.
"Grandpa, I'm tired working. Can we get some ice cream?"
"You got money, get what you want."
Attorney Walter Riley, who is working on relief in Haiti, came by on the way to his office. I told him to listen to Jah Amiel. I told Jah Amiel to identify the three men on the Haiti, Oh, Haiti poster.
Jahmeel stumbled out their names, Dessalines, Toussaint and Henri. Walter seemedimpressed.
Jah Amiel and the Mayor of Oakland
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. Jah Amiel was photographed by journalist Reginal James.
After my grandson Jah Amiel 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 Perata, 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, but hopefully he is a progressive.
Jah Amiel and the Man in the Mirror
Grandpa told Jah Amiel to go look at the man in the mirror. Jahmeel went to look. At first he said there was no man in the mirror. Grandpa told him to go back into the living room and look again into the mirror.
He went back and returned to tell Grandpa Jahmeel was not in the mirror.
"It was a scared Jah Amiel in the mirror--not the real Jah Amiel."
He refused to go back and look again. Grandpa told him to either go back or go to bed.
He said he wanted to go to bed. He insisted there was no man in the mirror.
Grandpa told him he was the man.
He said, "I'm not the man!"
Go look again.
He said no and started to cry.
"I'm not the man," he shouted.
"You are the man!"
No I'm not.
Michael Jackson said you are the man in the mirror, so go look. Since he loved Micheal, he submitted.
The conversation had begun with him listing the MJ songs he liked: Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, Remember the Time. He is terrified of Thriller and refuses to watch it.
All right, I'll look, he said.
He went again into the living room, came back and said, "No man in there."
"Did you see Jahmeel in the mirror?
No! I don't wanna look.
You scared to see Jahmeel? You wanna be scared?
I'm going night night! (to sleep)
He crawled into bed and planted his head on his little pillow. He pulled the covers over his head and went to sleep.
The next morning when he got up Grandpa read him the story.
He said, "I'm not the man, I'm Jah Amiel. Jah Amiel is a boy."
Grandpa read him the revised story.
He said, "Grandpa, that's good. The man in the mirror
is somebody else, not me."
Jahmeel's Blackness, Demons, Monsters, Zombies and Wizards
Jahmeel told his mother he didn't want to stay with grandpa because he was black. His mother told her father what Jahmeel said but she didn't think her son was color conscious yet.
Grandpa knew Jahmeel said he liked white not black. He said this while working with grandpa downtown giving out the poster poem Black History is World History.
Grandpa also knew his grandson had been watching TV since birth. As a baby, he used to watch Jahmeel in his crib glued to the TV. Without a doubt, Jahmeel has seen thousands of white images since birth, many, many more white images than black images, so why wouldn't he say white was beautiful and black was not?
When Jahmeel took some rice and pees to his grandpa's, the old man asked him if he liked black? Jahmeel said no.
You are black, Jahmeel, black and beautiful.
No, white is beautiful.
Jahmeel, look in the mirror, you are black. He looked in the mirror.
Your mama is black, Jahmeel. Your daddy is black. And you are black and beautiful.
No, white is beautiful.
Who told you white is beautiful and black wasn't?
Your friend next door?
You tell Eland to shut up when he tells you this, you hear me!
Grandpa knew Eland was a little eight year old wizard who studied Harry Potter and other books. He said he was going to put a spell on grandpa. I'm going to rue you, he said.
Jahmeel, tell Eland to shut up if he tells you black ain't beautiful, all right!
Grandpa told his daughter to keep Jahmeel away from Eland and also from too much TV with all those white images teaching Jahmeel white supremacy notions. He told his daughter he was tired of Jahmeel talking about demons, monsters and zombies.
Grandpa had raised his children to be fearless, and he was upset to see Jahmeel with so much fear. Once grandpa took his daughter to the dentist and the dentist said he'd been in business thirty years but had never seen a child so fearless as his daughter.
Yes, daughter, we got to work on Jahmeel to get him out of this ignorance of his blackness, and all this fear of demons, monsters and zombies.
Oh, dad, his daughter said.
Oh, dad, nothing. You hear me!
Jahmeel and the Thinking Cap
Grandpa told Jahmeel to put on the thinking cap.
Jahmeel said no.
I don't want to put on the thinking cap.
Grandpa said Jahmeel you need to think in this world.
I don't want to think.
Cause I don't want to.
Grandpa said you can get in trouble if you don't think.
Jahmeel said why?
You can fall into a hole if you don't think.
A hole in the ground. You can walk right up to the hole and fall in if you don't think.