Podcast: The Wild Crazy Ride of the Marvin X Experience
Friday, July 22, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Marvin X /El Muhajir, M.A.
The Political Poems and Parables
Edited by Nefertiti Jackmon, M.A.
Marvin X at Laney College, Oakland, reading Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam, a scene from his play One Day in the Life. He opened for Donald Lacey's Color Struck. The Laney College Theatre, renamed The Odell Johnson Theatre, was Marvin X's classroom when he taught drama at Laney, 1981, and produced the student production of his play In the Name of Love, directed by his student, Ayodele Nzinga, now the City of Oakland's Poet Laureate. Her Lower Bottom Playaz are in residence at 1540 Broadway, downtown Oakland. photo Alicia Mayo
In Memoriam for Lil' Joe,
My Revolutionary Comrade and Critic
In honor of Lil' Joe, selections in this collection are on the theme of politics, although my favorite theme is love. Because of oppression, we must alter our focus from love to the Political realm, a dastardly place for a poet to expand his imagination, for politics is wretched, yet if we refuse to go there, love will be impossible. How can we love while the people suffer poverty, ignorance and disease? How can we love while the blood suckers of the poor drain life from our veins and arteries?
We must take a break from our romantic poems and decipher the reality of our oppression to our people. So I hope you enjoy these Political Poems as much as Lil 'Joe did, a revolutionary to his last breath.
I met him while fighting to teach Black Studies at Fresno State University, 1969. He was among the group of college students from Los Angeles who drove to Fresno to support my right to teach, although Governor Ronald Reagan called for my removal by any means necessary because I was a black Muslim who refused to fight in Vietnam. I also believed in separation, alas, as did the plethora of Mormon professors who taught at FSU. Was it my religion or my blackness that disturbed the Governor? You may recall Reagan also had Angela Davis removed from teaching at UCLA because she was a black Communist, yes the college and university system was full of white Communists!
Lil 'Joe and his fellow students called themselves The United Black Students of California and also attended my draft trial in San Francisco Federal Court.
On a speaking tour of Los Angeles colleges and universities, Lil' Joe and his comrades showed me the building that members of the Black Panther Party had a shoot out with the Los Angeles pigs. They should me the Black Students Union meeting room on the campus of UCLA where members of US assassinated Black Panther Party leaders Bunchy Alprintis Bunchy Carter and John Huggins. Blood was still on the walls!
In the name Black Liberation, I dedicate this collection of poems to Lil 'Joe and his comrades, those beautiful students who drove up to Fresno and San Francisco to support my struggle for a liberated future, to paraphrase Larry Neal. I also thank the students and faculty at Fresno State University who supported me and especially the United Professors of California Union that paid my salary when FSU refused although 70 students registered for my classes and received their final grade from me. Yet FSU said I was never hired, although I taught four classes and gave students their final grade. Who taught the 70 students, a ghost? In the midst of this chaos, FSU President Ness resigned, saying he was pressured from above, Reagan, and below, black and brown students and faculty, What about me? I was 25 years old fighting the State of California and the United States of America. Bodyguards took me to class and dropped me home.
When I wasn't teaching I helped my mother at her real estate office while she went on calls or showing houses. Once a lady called for my mother and she recognized my voice (I was on the TV news nightly and in the Fresno Bee, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle), she said, "Is this Marvin?" I replied yes and she said, "Boy, you still out there messing wit those white folks, you ain't dead yet?"
Black Fresno Police Sargent Jack Kelly told me, "Marvin, when you came to teach at Fresno State, you made things better for everybody. Before you came to FSU, Black police couldn't patrol on the white side of town!"
So Solomon told you there is a time for love, a time for war. Noah said, No more water, the fire next time!
Check the news, natural and political fires everywhere. One of my daughters recently quoted the title of one of my old poems, yes, political poems THE NEWS AIN'T NEWS, AIN'T NOTHING BUT THE BLUES. I had no idea my child remembered that old poem, but I suppose the times made her recall it.
So Joe, wherever you are, this collection of poems is for you, for your revolutionary friendship and love, for that acid criticism of my work, no matter political or love poems, you deciphered and deconstructed them with your inimitable analysis, grounded in your Marxist ideological persuasion. Thank you, Lil' Joe Johnson.
Release date, December 2022, Black Bird Press, Oakland CA.
Parable of Jack Johnson
General Egyptsia, Membership Manager of the Black Vendors Association
photo Jim Dennis
Today Marvin X was double parked at Lake Merritt, conversing with General Egyptsia, the Manager of the Black Street Vendors Association. She was bringing him up to date on the vendor situation at the Lake. Since the City of Oakland has not been able to remove Black Street Vendors from the lake at the request of lake residents and merchants, simply because the grass roots Vendors have stood their ground. You know that ole' church song from the Civil Rights movement, I Shall Not Be Moved! Grass Roots hustlers don't give a damn about the politics of vending at the Lake. It's a survival thang with the hustling Street Vendors. Also, a few of them have heard there's a State Law SB946 on Street Vending, the result of the 30,000 Latinos and Latinas on the streets of Los Angeles who Unified to make Governor Jerry Brown sign. But common sense makes the grass roots Vendors Stand Their Ground!
Marvin X, the sole Black Street Vendor on the streets of Oakland for years at 14th and Broadway, who defied police harassment under the color of law, was awarded a grant to organize Black Street Vendors.
As he double parked to get an update from General Egyptsia, the Oakland PD, aka, pigs, came up behind him and over the loudspeaker commanded him to move or get a citation. Being recalcitrant and incorrigible, Marvin X thought about replying to the pigs in the manner of our ancestor Jack Johnson.
If you know Black History, the story goes that the first Black heavyweight champion was stopped for speeding through town in his expensive car, with a white woman on board. When the pigs told him the fine, he paid double, informing them he would be speeding on the way back!
Marvin X thought about telling the Oakland pigs to give two citations since he will be back later and most likely will be double parked!
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Poets write to keep from killing, homicide or suicide, two sides of the coin of death. Most often, poets kill when they can't express themselves with words. If and when poets are political, when they refuse to write poems for the king and queen and defy court patronage, and persist in critiquing contradictions of the royal court, the king and queen has no use for them and they may be forced to flee their homeland or suffer prison or death even since no kingdoms based on lies can allow poets to speak the truth.
We have written about the symbiotic relationship between poets and politicians, although this symbiosis can become dysfunctional when the poet transcends the narrative of the royal regime, especially those king/queen for life regimes that forbid opposition. See Parable of the Parrot, Parable of Trinkets and Gadgets, Parable of Black Man and Block Man by Marvin X.
The poet who speaks only truth cannot be tolerated by any regime based on lies. Wicked regimes only love poets and artists who perform as pharaoh's magicians, sycophants willing to promote the royal narrative for kibbles and bits, crumbs from Pharaoh's table. The recalcitrant poets who are determined to be obstinate and incorrigible must be silenced or disposed permanently.
The wicked regimes become relentless in their effort to silence any narrative that contradicts the official one. Poet, writers, journalists, singers, actors, must not transcend the royal regime's propaganda machine. To do so is often called treason or sedition at the very least, which means saying anything not in agreement with the royal order.
Do not speak of the king in the negative, even if and when he is negative. When the poet cannot submit to the royal order, the symbiotic relationship is no longer tenable and must be severed for the good of the kingdom. The poet becomes a banned person. No one must speak with him, no one must read his books. He is a danger to society and to himself since he refuses to submit to the rules and regulations, policies and precepts of the royal order. He is labeled agitator, opposition, revolutionary, thus a danger to the security of the state, even his books are dangerous and fictional characters must be rounded up and incarcerated for crimes against the state. I am thinking of the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiongo. In Native Son, the lawyer said, "Every glance of the eye is a threat; his very presence is a crime against the state." He was not speaking of an artist but the oppressed man, Bigger Thomas. But in the manner of Ngugi, was not only his characters but Richard Wright himself was a danger to society and died in mysterious circumstances in Paris?
And them came James Baldwin deposing Richard Wright of the Black literary heavyweight championship. And Baldwin did great until The Fire Next Time when he got the bright idea to interview the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Pharaoh said enough! Shut the fuck up, we don't care if you gay or straight, shut the fuck up. Baldwin wouldn't shut up. I was blessed to interview him in his apartment across from Central Park, New York, a cold December, 1968: he had no heat in his apartment. Among other things, he said to me, "How dare they talk about the Prince of Peace while they bomb the hell out of Vietnam! Your condition proves they don't believe in Jesus, Prince of Peace. Just look at your condition. It's a miracle for a black father to raise a son in these conditions and I applaud the fathers who are able to do so. Nothing else happened here except us, nothing else happened. It's a wonder we all haven't gone stark raving mad!"