But more than the political and economic situation is the cultural condition, the reactionary values in hip hop culture, especially unconscious rap poetry, and even the socalled conscious poetry is, in the words of my daughter, an expression of the pseudo conscious, for words are not followed by the right action. As we know, talk is cheap!
But most important is the overall lack of mental health wellness in our community nationwide, to say nothing of physical wellness. The high rate of homicide among young North American African men is symptomatic of a lack of manhood training or the infusion of traditional values that inspire and motivate people to be the best they can be, to give honor and respect to their elders and ancestors.
The 50% or more drop out rate of students in our schools is partly the result of our dire mental health condition. Alas, it is said not only is there a critical need for a positive curriculum and teachers with an undying love for our children, but the mental health condition of our children requires mental health counselors with radical values of wellness based on a holistic approach to solving our myriad psychosocial and economic issues. We are dumbfounded to learn the USA (Bush and Obama) promised the young men in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere (except in the USA) three items if they stop their violence and pledge allegiance to the constitution of their lands: education, jobs and housing. Why not offer education, jobs and housing for the boyz and girls , in the hood? The BAM tour will address some of these issues through the medium of art, i.e. poetry, drama, dance, music, graphics.
While art therapy has been used in traditional cultures, and was utilized in the Black Arts Movement, there must be a concerted effort to make use of art in the healing of our people. Throughout the years, we have seen the power of art in changing destructive personalities. We recall the production we did of Amiri Baraka’s play The Dutchman in Fresno CA. The local pimp loaned us a wig for the female character Lula. When he viewed the play and saw her stab the young North American African male, Clay, this rocked the pimp’s world and he threw in his pimping towel, joined the Nation of Islam and eventually became an imam and made his haj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Thus we see the power of art to heal broken, self destructive and economically damaged personalities.
Many times we heard Amiri Baraka speak about the need to reach our people in the 27 major cities we inhabit—to reach out and touch them with healing Black Art that can restore our mental and physical wellness. In honor of ancestor Amiri Baraka, we propose to conduct a 27 city tour with concerts and wellness workshops to aid in the recovery of ourselves. Our special focus shall be on young Black men, although we cannot and will not ignore young black women, nor will we avoid adult and parental responsibility.
We estimate the overall budget for this project will be 2.7 million dollars at $100,000 per city, including artist fees, promotion, advertisement, rental of venues, insurance, security, lodging, food and transportation. Since many of the Black Arts Movement workers are elders, the timeline would be at least three years to complete this project, including planning and production.
BAM workers in each community will be recruited to participate and we would like to establish a BAM center in each city, no matter if it is a 50 seat theatre as Amiri Baraka suggested. A staff of educators, and mental and physical health workers must be a part of this project so that we more effectively deal with our wellness in a holistic manner.
Marvin X, Project Director
The Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour