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."
"I used to think Marvin X was crazy, but after reading his little pamphlet on the need to transcend homophobia, I don't think so." --Mrs. Amina Baraka
"At his best, Marvin X is clarity of perception."--Gerald Ali
By definition a classic is a work that withstands
the test of time, fad, beyond the ephemeral. A classic theme deconstructs one
or more of the eternal concerns of humanity—love, hate, life and death, or the
problems of life that never seem to get solved even when the solution is quite
apparent. The simple solution to hate is love, so simple we must revisit the
question and solution from time to time.
Almost forty-five years ago, Amiri Baraka examined the themes of racism and
homophobia in his one-act play The Toilet. The set is a high school men’s
room, wherein he gathers a group of young men to decipher the meaning of love
and hate. Mostly black, the young men appear to be at an urban manhood training
rite. We see a myriad of personalities expressing themselves in the rhythm and
rhymes of the time—there are no pants sagging, no grills in teeth, but they are
there seeking to discover their manhood, racial and sexual identity.
The tragedy of that time and this time is that
their search for manhood and sexual identity is unorganized and haphazard, thus
then and now young men must grapple with self discovery in isolated groups
without mentor, elder or guide. No adult appears in the Toilet to give
words of wisdom; thus the young men are adrift in their ignorance, seeking to
find themselves in the midst of darkness. How ironic the setting is a high
school where we assume learning is taking place, and yet learning occurs not in
the classroom but the toilet. The toilet becomes the bush in African or
primitive tradition, for there is terror, violence to bring transformation from
hatred to love and interracial understanding.
A white boy writes a love letter to a black boy and
the drama involves the resolution of this event. The white boy has crossed the
racial line into the black brotherhood and suffers violence as a result—he his
beaten into a pulp, bloody as a beet, half-dead when brought into the Toilet.
Gang violence is a natural happening in urban
culture, senseless violence to express manhood; even sexual violence is a
natural part of this oppressed society. And so the black boy is finally
confronted by the white boy who loves him and the brother is physically
overcome by the white boy to the chagrin of the black brotherhood. The white
boy is again attacked by the toilet gang and all depart, including another
white boy who had come to the defense of his white brother.
The Toilet ends with the black boy
returning to embrace the white boy. Lights down.
What was Baraka trying to tell us forty-five years
ago and what relevance has his message now? Since then gays and lesbians have
come out of the closet, although the passage of California’s Proposition 8
denies them the right of marriage, and the gays are miffed at Blacks for
supporting the proposition, although the president of the state NAACP in her
role as a lobbyist opposed the bill, along with many black newspapers and
several ministers who were probably paid to do so. Apparently a majority of
blacks do not equate gay rights with civil rights. Are sexual rights human
The question Baraka raised had to do with
transcending hatred in favor of love. Proposition 8 denied gays and lesbians
the right to codify their love in marriage.
Blacks are known to be sexually conservative,
although they now have many children on the streets embracing the gay/lesbian
lifestyle. Blacks are thus hypocritical and drowning in denial, in similar
fashion to the black brothers in The Toilet who refused to consider that
one of their own might have crossed the line, not only racially but sexually as
On my recent visit to New York to see Woody King’s
production of my play (with Ed Bullins) Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam, Baraka’s The Toilet and Hugh Fletcher’s Amarie,
I was accompanied by two lesbian assistants. Of course, being a dirty old man,
I tried to get at them. (See my poem “Why I Love Lesbians.”) And they were
highly upset at my offensive language: something they should have known I am
known for by those who know me. Although I imagined them to be young women,
with whom I could talk adult talk, they were suffering arrested development, in
search of their sexual identity, much like the brothers in The Toilet.
Nevertheless, I wanted them to spend some time with
Amina Baraka who is still in grief over the lost of her daughter Shani and her lover Rayshan to homicide. I
thought conversing with the young ladies, 19 and 25, would help Amina heal from
the horror of losing her only daughter by Baraka. She did meet the young ladies
at the theatre and immediately saw the physical similarity between one girl and
her daughter, Shani. “I knew you would see that,” I told
Amina. The girl, Raushanah, like Shani, had been a point guard as well. We
agreed to come to Newark to spend time with Amina, but after my verbal insults,
the girls declined to make the trip, even though we reconciled our issues as
best we could.
I made the trip to Newark alone to hang out with
the Barakas, who had me bar hopping after a wonderful dinner at the Spanish
restaurant across from city hall. One of the bars we visited is owned by former
mayor Sharp James, now doing prison time for corruption.
I hadn’t planned to spend the night but Amina had
other plans, so she made room for me in the space they have preserved for
Shani. On my last visit, she had told me that I was the first person to spend
the night in Shani's room, filled with her artifacts,
several basketball size trophies, numerous awards and proclamations to her
athletic prowess and mentorship.
After the last bar, we headed home. Tired, I said
goodnight to the Barakas and went upstairs to my room or rather, Shani’s room.
I shut the door and looking around at Shani's archives, something told me to
say a prayer, so I did.
I got up the next morning early, way too early to
disturb the Barakas, so I surveyed the room, and seeing the trophies were
dusty, wiped them. I just happened to have a poem in my back pocket “When Thy
Lover Has Gone to Eternity.” I placed it between the trophies as an offering. I
said another prayer before departing. And then I heard Shani speaking, saying, “No, no, no, no to
hate, no, no, no, no.” She said, “Yes, yes to love, yes, yes, yes, yes.”
I shut the door and made my way downstairs, passing
the sleeping Barakas and out into the cold Newark morning. At South Tenth and
Clinton Streets I hailed a taxi, telling him to take me to John’s Place, my
favorite breakfast spot in Newark. I ordered Whiting, grits and eggs, with
biscuits that melted in my mouth. After breakfast, I walked to the bus stop for
the ride to Penn Station and the train back across the river to New York. As I
stood waiting for the bus, Shani spoke again in the winter wind, “No, no, no,
no to hate. Yes, yes, yes to love.”
Shall we not love our gay children, the many young
men and women who have chosen the gay lifestyle for whatever reason: we can say
they were born that way, or have an identity crisis from feminine or matrifocal
socialization (lack of manhood rites or womanhood rites), or there was sexual
assault by a gay or lesbian relative, or incest by father, uncle, brother,
cousin who turned the girl against all men. We can catalogue all the
possibilities yet not get to the end of the road on this matter: our gay
children need help!
They need love and support as they go through their
daily round. We cannot simply look at them and reduce them to social rejects,
pariahs we must shun at all costs as if they are not natural but some kind of
mutants from Mars.
In short, they need our help with their growing
pains. All children need love, recognition and acceptance. Do you think the gay
children are not suffering the normal white supremacy virus of parental
abandonment, abuse and neglect? Even more so, our gay young men are suffering
the highest rate of HIV infection. What shall we do—surely we can reach out and
touch these young men on a suicide path—at the very least, we can educate them
about the dangers of their unsafe sexual behavior.
Our lesbian children need our love and acceptance
as well. Maybe some of them will return to the straight life (as if that’s
anything to brag about until we evolve our spiritual consciousness from the
patriarchal mentality of domination.)
Again, no matter the cause of the explosion of the
gay and lesbian lifestyle, it is a reality we need to deal with. Those who want
to be straight should be guided, others who want to be accepted as gay or
lesbian should be shown unconditional love as well.
It is wrong for anyone to hate another human being,
and especially to hate a child. So let us put on the armor of God and exercise
Supreme Wisdom. Either we are working with Divine power or we are on the animal
plane, from which our actions are devoid of spiritual consciousness
The Toilet is a state of mind—toxic and
transfixed. It must be flushed clean with pure water. There is a moment in the
play when a brother goes down the row of urinals flushing each one and laughing
with joy as the water flows loudly like a river. Let us flush ourselves with
the royal flush of all the urine and defecation in our lives, in our minds that
have a strangle hold on the eternity of love, for love is all there is that is
precious and real, radical and revolutionary, love, the meaning of the morning,
the essence of the night, the why we rise to try again the daily round, to
suffer the pain and joy—only love makes the day possible and the night
In conclusion, moral propositions become just that
and nothing more, a momentary thing, until the destruction comes, then we see
some things are beyond mere propositions, thoughts, a consensus of the moral or
the immoral, for who is moral today, who is immoral? Who are the good guys, bad
guys? Who is without sin? You are against gays and lesbians, yet you are a
child molester! You are against gays and lesbians, yet you are a wife beater, a
murderer, a dope dealer, a wicked teacher, a corrupt banker. Who has the high
moral ground? Is it he who does the most good—in the hood? Shall he or she
determine the moral code, or is this a free for all, do yo thing, I do my
thing—in the Arabic: lakum dinu kum waliyadin (to you your way and to me
mine, Al Qur’an).
Unless there is a consensus, who is to say what is
right or wrong? We must come to a consensus on the new morality, no matter what
ancient mythologies have taught us. In Divine consciousness surely we can find
the Way of Love in all matters. Let us search the ancient holy books, texts,
inscriptions, for the sure path, since there is doubt persisting into the
night. What do the holy books say?
Shall we be swayed by illusions of any kind, spirituality
or physicality, mentality or sexuality? If we reinstituted manhood and
womanhood rites of passage, we might go a long way toward helping our children
cross the threshold of sexual identity and toward spiritual maturation as
divine beings in human form. Sexuality and other illusions become secondary to
the primary objective of reaching spiritual maturity, following our true bliss,
as Joseph Campbell taught us.
Marvin X November, 2008
Marvin X, poet, playwright, essayist,
philosopher, social activist, teacher, and now with his BAM poets choir and Arkestra, band leader, is one of the founders of the black arts
movement and the father of Muslim American literature. His most controversial piece of writing is a pamphlet entitled The Mythology of Pussy and Dick, a manhood/womanhood rites of passage to salvage male/female relations or human relations. He has embarked on a 27 city tour of Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement. The BAM performance at Oakland's Malcolm X Jazz Festival on May 17, 2014, was, in the words of Umar Bin Hasan of the Last Poets (The Last Poets are part of the BAM tour), powerful and everybody knows it was powerful! He is available for speaking and
performing engagements. Write to him at 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702.
Call 510-200-4164. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com.
Also see and www.aalbc.com.