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 am a Harlem resident originally from Boston. I have received some disturbing news regarding my community, from a very reliable source that an identified billionaire housing developer has recently purchased three Harlem housing project developments from the City Of New York ,which will displace thousands of low-income families.
• The Polo Grounds Houses located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 155th Street,
• the Alexander Hamilton Houses on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and also...
• the Harlem River Houses also located at Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem.
These housing complexes which houses approximately 6,000 low-income tenants has been sold to a developer which will demolish the property and build 6,000 luxury condominium units ranging from 400,000-2.2 million dollars in early 2017 which 10% of the units being offered to middle income families with an average income of 58,000 a year through a special lottery. According to my sources, current tenants will be given a monthly voucher worth 1,000 dollars for rent and a small moving stipend to cover their moving expenses, but most tenants will not be guaranteed these vouchers according to a reliable source and many tenants will have to go on their own to find other housing.
I have contacted several housing agencies and the Mayors office regarding this situation and neither agency will issue a comment regarding this breaking news matter. Of course if I receive any additional news, I will update new information to my blog.
The U.S. Pentagon and military has more money than it needs.
It's hard to draw any other conclusion from the stark facts: the U.S. outspends every other nation on earth when it comes to our military. We spend more than the next seven countries combined.
Where does the money go?
Here's a hint: Pentagon spending is subject to the same rules of corporate greed that plague our entire economy. More than half of the Pentagon budget goes to for-profit contractors.
Let's get the word out there. The less we spend on Pentagon contractors that profit from fear and conflict, the more we can spend on priorities like education, climate change and infrastructure to move our country forward into the 21st first century. It's time we joined the rest of the world.
How much money do we need to spend to keep our country safe? Just yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial detailing how the Pentagon budget should be better - not bigger -and we couldn't agree more.
In 2015, the Pentagon spent nearly $600 billion. Where did that money go?
The $600 billion in 2015 Pentagon spending went towards the Department of Defense base budget, nuclear weapons, international security assistance, war, and related activities. It made up more than half the discretionary budget last year, meaning that all other discretionary programs - funding for clean drinking water, jobs training, infrastructure improvements, federal education programs, and more - were forced to divvy up the rest. Included in the Pentagon's total 2015 budget was a $64 billion off-the-books slush fund for the Pentagon to spend on whatever it wants. Created ostensibly to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the slush fund has been subject to criticism due to incredible mismanagement. A $43 million gas station, anyone?
To add insult to injury, we know that more than half of the Pentagon's base budget every year goes to bloated military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and others. And what do those military contracts pay for? One notable example is one of the Government Accountability Office's noted risky Pentagon programs - the troubled, behind schedule, and over budget F-35.
We've known for a while that the U.S. Pentagon and military has more money than it needs - as the U.S. routinely spends more on its militaries than the next several highest military spenders combined. And in 2015, it outspent the next 7 countries combined - including China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, India, France, and Japan. U.S. military spending dwarfs the budget of the second highest spender, China. For every dollar China spent on its military last year - the U.S. spent almost $3.
Our spending priorities are completely out of whack - our federal budget shows that we would rather sink billions of dollars into a jet that can't even fly than fully fund programs that have proven to lift families out of poverty or to ensure kids have a strong start. The Pentagon doesn't need more money - it needs to spend what it has better.
National Priorities Project (NPP) is an American non-governmental organization based in Northampton, MA that aims to help citizens shape the federal budget by arming them with information they can use and understand. In 2014, the organization was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their research on U.S. military spending.
The National Priorities Project was founded by Greg Speeter in 1983 to help community groups understand and respond to federal budget cuts in Massachusetts communities.
Curious why so many social programs were closing in Springfield, MA Speeter found that during a two-year period, the First Congressional District had lost over $54 million in federal funding for housing, education, health care and other areas.
Shocked by this report, the district's Congressperson, Silvio Conte, became a strong supporter of more federal spending for community-based programs and came out against a "balanced budget amendment" that slashed the federal safety net. (Wikipedia)
The first print edition of The Movement, Newsletter of the Black Arts Movement, is scheduled for publication on Black August, 2016, thanks to a partnership with the Post News Group.
Black August originated in the California penal system to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black Liberation Fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed liberation attempt. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 38 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. Three prison guards were also killed during that rebellion and prison officials charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the death of those guards. These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six. Upon his release from 43 years in solitary confinement, San Quentin Six member Hugo Yogi Panell was murdered on the yard of New Folsom prison.
RESISTANCE: THE ORIGIN OF
Black August originated in the California penal system to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black Liberation Fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed liberation attempt. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 38 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. Three prison guards were also killed during that rebellion and prison officials charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the death of those guards. These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six.
Khatari Gaulden was a prominent leader of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) after Comrade George was assassinated. Khatari was a leading force in the formation of Black August, particularly its historical and ideological foundations. Khatari, like many of the unnamed freedom fighters of the BGF and the revolutionary prison movement of the 1970's, was murdered at San Quentin Prison in 1978 to eliminate his leadership and destroy the resistance movement.
The brothers who participated in the collective founding of Black August wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson. The brothers did not listen to the radio or watch television in August. Additionally, they didn't eat or drink anything from sun-up to sundown; and loud and boastful behavior was not allowed. The brothers did not support the prison's canteen. The use of drugs and alcoholic beverages was prohibited and the brothers held daily exercises, because during Black August, emphasis is placed on sacrifice, fortitude and discipline. Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.
In the late 1970's the observance and practice of Black August left the prisons of California and began being practiced by Black/New Afrikan revolutionaries throughout the country. Members of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) began practicing and spreading Black August during this period. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) inherited knowledge and practice of Black August from its parent organization, the New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO). MXGM through the Black August Collective (now defunct) began introducing the Hip-Hop community to Black August in the late 1990's after being inspired by New Afrikan political exile Nehanda Abiodun.
Traditionally, Black August is a time to study history, particularly our history in the North American Empire. The first Afrikans were brought to Jamestown as slaves in August of 1619, so August is a month during which Blacks/New Afrikans can reflect on our current situation and our self-determining rights. Many have done that in their respective time periods. In 1843, Henry Highland Garnett called a general slave strike on August 22. The Underground Railroad was started on August 2, 1850. The March on Washington occurred in August of 1963, Gabriel Prosser's 1800 slave rebellion occurred on August 30 and Nat Turner planned and executed a slave rebellion that commenced on August 21, 1831. The Watts rebellions were in August of 1965. On August 18, 1971 the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was raided by Mississippi police and FBI agents. The MOVE family was bombed by Philadelphia police on August 8, 1978. Further, August is a time of birth. Dr. Mutulu Shakur (political prisoner & prisoner of war), Pan-Africanist Black Nationalist Leader Marcus Garvey, Maroon Russell Shoatz (political prisoner) and Chicago BPP Chairman Fred Hampton were born in August. August is also a time of rebirth, W.E.B. Dubois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963.
The tradition of fasting during Black August teaches self-discipline. A conscious fast is in effect from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Some other personal sacrifice can be made as well. The sundown meal is traditionally shared whenever possible among comrades. On August 31, a People's feast is held and the fast is broken. Black August fasting should serve as a constant reminder of the conditions our people have faced and still confront. Fasting is uncomfortable at times, but it is helpful to remember all those who have come and gone before us, Ni Nkan Mase, if we stand tall, it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.
MXGM would like to thank the following for their contribution to this article: Kali Akuno, Kiilu Nyasha, Ayanna Mashama, David Giappa Johnson, Sundiata Tate, Louis Bato Talamantez of the San Quentin 6 and The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM).
(August 2012) Since 2002, the United States has had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Although prison populations are increasing in some parts of the world, the natural rate of incarceration for countries comparable to the United States tends to stay around 100 prisoners per 100,000 population. The U.S. rate is 500 prisoners per 100,000 residents, or about 1.6 million prisoners in 2010, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).1 Men make up 90 percent of the prison and local jail population, and they have an imprisonment rate 14 times higher than the rate for women.2 And these men are overwhelmingly young: Incarceration rates are highest for those in their 20s and early 30s. Prisoners also tend to be less educated: The average state prisoner has a 10th grade education, and about 70 percent have not completed high school.3 Incarceration rates are significantly higher for blacks and Latinos than for whites. In 2010, black men were incarcerated at a rate of 3,074 per 100,000 residents; Latinos were incarcerated at 1,258 per 100,000, and white men were incarcerated at 459 per 100,000.4 Since 2007, however, the incarceration rate in the United States has tapered slightly and the 2010 prison population saw a decline—of 0.3 percent—for the first time since 1972, according to the BJS.
National Rates Mask Regional Variations
Although imprisonment rates in 2010 decreased in 34 states, they increased in 16 states, most notably Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and West Virginia. In the South, where incarceration rates have been historically high, the rate is almost double the rate in the Northeast (see Table 1). Recent "tough-on-crime" policies are largely responsible for sending growing numbers of people to prison in the South and keeping them there longer.5 Louisiana's incarceration rate is the highest in the nation (867 per 100,000 residents). Table 1 Male and Female Imprisonment Rates by Region, 2010
Clarification, Oct. 28, 2014: Imprisonment rate is the number of prisoners in state or federal custody sentenced to more than 1 year per 100,000 U.S. residents. Does not include inmates of city or county jails or other detention facilities. Based on census estimates for Jan. 1, 2010. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics Program and unpublished U.S. Census Bureau Jan. 1 population estimates.
Texas ranks second in the rate of incarceration (648). But the state, as well as others with reputations for tough sentencing, have begun to control crime and costs by creating more diverse correctional systems, which include an expansion of drug treatment and changes in parole practices. Because of measures like these, BJS reported that for the first time since they began collecting jurisdictional data, releases from prison exceeded admissions to prison in the United States.6
Large Number of Black Prisoners
Blacks, particularly young black males, make up a disproportionate share of the U.S. prison population. In 2008, young black men (ages 18-34) were at least six times more likely to be incarcerated than young white men (see Table 2), according to a recent analysis by Becky Pettit, a University of Washington sociologist.7 She finds that young black males without a high school diploma were more likely to be in prison or jail (37 percent) on any given day in 2008 than to be working (26 percent). Table 2 Percentage of Male Civilian Incarceration, by Race and Education, Ages 20-34
Less Than High School
High School Graduate
Less Than High School
High School Graduate
Source: Becky Pettit, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress (New York: Russell Sage Foundation: 2012).
Only in the last few decades has the passage into prison of young black men with little schooling emerged as routine. "For these young men, born since the mid-1970s, serving time in prison has become a normal life event," note Pettit and Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist.8 In her new book, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress, Pettit argues that official statistics—such as employment and high school graduation rates—are based on household surveys that do not include people in correctional institutions and therefore overstate African-American progress. "When data exclude the most disadvantaged segments of the population, they show a decline in the race gap in high school dropout rates, modest employment gains for blacks, wage increases among blacks with the lowest levels of education, and increases in voter turnout," she said. But when people living in jails and prisons are included in the data, a very different picture emerges. Specifically, the monthly Current Population Survey of Households (CPS) shows that about 42 percent of young black male dropouts were employed in 2008. But when Pettit included inmates, only 26 percent of young black men without a high school diploma were employed on a given day in 2008. Similarly, the 2008 CPS shows a 14 percent high school dropout rate for young black men, reflecting a decline in the black-white gap in high school completion since the 1990s. When Pettit added prison and jail inmates, the estimate of the nationwide high school dropout rate among young black men was actually 19 percent in 2008, 40 percent higher than commonly used estimates suggest. "Including inmates in assessments of high school completion indicates no improvement in the black-white gap in high school graduation rates among men since the early 1990s," she said. Her estimates indicate that the gap in high school completion has remained close to its current level of 11 percentage points for the bulk of the past 20 years. She argues for "better data about young, black, low-skill men as well as other socially marginalized groups, to most effectively understand patterns of and explanations for inequality in the United States." Tyjen Tsai is a writer/editor at the Population Reference Bureau. Paola Scommegna is a senior writer/editor at PRB.
Paul Guerino, Paige M. Harrison, and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2010 (Revised) (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011); and Sara Wakefield and Christopher Uggen, "Incarceration and Stratification,"Annual Review of Sociology 36 (2010): 387-206. Clarification, Oct. 28, 2014: There were 740,000 inmates in city and county jails and other facilities in the U.S. in 2010; about 5 percent of these were in state and federal custody. Counting the local jail population, the total incarcerated population in 2010 was about 2.3 million. See: Todd Minton, Jail Inmates at Mid-Year 2010—Statistical Tables (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011).
Guerino, Harrison and Sabol, Prisoners in 2010.
Bruce Western and Becky Pettit, "Incarceration and Social Inequality,"Daedalus 139, no. 3 (2010): 8-19.
A new opera from the Trilogy Opera Company: KENYATTA, composed by Trent Johnson, with a libretto by Richard Wesley. August 6, 2016, at the Science Theater, 260 Norfolk Street, Newark, New Jersey 07103 at 7 PM. ADMISSION IS FREE!! If you're in the neighborhood, COME ON BY!!!
Now that Hillary Clinton is Democratic presidential nominee, it should be a proud day for women except for the sad fact her political persona contains a plethora of flaws equal if not far surpassing those of her likely opponent, Donald Trump. The polls have indicated both these personalities are not liked by a great percentage of the electorate in both parties. Shall we say we have two white elephants and must choose one of them?
As per Hillary, her baggage from her past political life and personal life as the co-dependent and enabler of a sexual psychopath, dampens the joy of many who would otherwise love to honor her historic achievement of winning the Democratic presidential nomination. She has done what Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Farraro failed to do.
And yet her baggage includes possible indictments for email improprieties while Secretary of State, the Libyan fiasco that released ISIS upon the world; the abysmal failure of the Arab Spring; the fraudulent Clinton Foundation, including its receipt of millions in donations (while she was Secretary of State) from antiquated Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia who don't allow women to drive (yet she sings Silent Night about rights of women in these autocratic regimes who are also helping destabilize the Middle East by perpetuating sectarianism); her and her husband's (along with the Bush crime family) role in the rape of funds for Haitian earthquake relief; her support for the Honduran coup against a democratic elected president, etc., etc, etc. Personally, I would like to be proud of her gender victory, especially since I am the father of three high achieving women that I would like to see smash the glass ceiling of patriarchal culture as she has done, but something is rotten in Denmark! We know what the people said as the Savior Jesus hung on the cross between the two thieves: give us the thieves and away with Him! America, your choice is between two thieves (forget about Bernie, he's Jesus! lol). May God have mercy on your soul! --Marvin X 6/7/16 revised 7/27/16
Marvin X is the author of 30 books, including poetry, essays, autobiography, memoir. He has taught at Fresno State University, University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, San Francisco State University, Mills College, University of Nevada, Reno, Laney College, Merritt College. He received writing fellowships from Columbia University (via Harlem Cultural Council) and the National Endowment for the Arts; planning grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, via the Nevada Cultural Council. His archives were acquired by the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Most recently, Marvin helped the City of Oakland create the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor, downtown. Check out The Movement, newsletter of the BAMBD www.themovementnewsletter.blogspot.com
Mumia on the DNC, his hep C treatment, Trump, and more...
Marvin-- did you hear Mumia live on Democracy Now! this morning?
Today a courageous and dedicated Mumia joined Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Hamm, and Danny Glover to comment live on the Democratic National Convention. Mumia puts Trump and Clinton in context as a son of Philadelphia. Mumia shares an update on the fight for life-saving hepatitis C treatment for him and all prisoners. And he ends by asking folks to read Michelle Alexander's February article in The Nation titled "Why Hillary Clinton does not deserve the Black Vote".
The voices of political prisoners, LBGTQ prisoners, youth serving life sentences, and undocumented folks held in ICE detention are the center of what we do: we bring their journalism into the debate and organizing against mass incarceration.
You can join us. When we fight against prison censorship, we win- and we continue to hear the voices from inside!
Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.
Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.
Call for Papers
January 11, 2017 to January 13, 2017
American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, European History / Studies, Humanities, Race Studies
Call for Papers: Intersections of Whiteness, Ruhr-University Bochum and TU Dortmund, January 11-13, 2017
Deadline: July 31, 2016
The protests against racial profiling and racist police brutality in the U.S. and Britain, Donald Trump’s alarming comments about Muslims, the Confederate flag controversy in South Carolina, the all-white Academy Award nominations, the organization “Operation Black Vote” feeling compelled to urge people of color not to leave the political field to white people in the wake of the UK General Elections, the reactions of the European Union to the masses of refugees and many Europeans’ xenophobic reactions to those seeking refuge: the specters of whiteness are still urgently haunting the western world. According to France Winddance Twine and Charles Gallagher, Critical Whiteness Studies is currently in its third stage, riding its third wave so to say, questioning “the tendency towards essentializing accounts of whiteness by locating race as one of many social relations that shape individual and group identity” (2011: 3).
While the discipline has established itself as an anti-racist academic and activist practice or mode of intervention, it is still often object to scrutiny for spotlighting whiteness and thus possibly contributing to the continuing dominance of whiteness. In order to dismantle this dominance and to heed Steven Garner’s call for awareness of the “pitfalls” of whiteness studies (2007), we believe it is necessary to identify the intricacies of whiteness in western society and culture from a decidedly transnational/global perspective. The first waves of Critical Whiteness Studies established the discipline as an almost exclusively US-centered field of inquiry whose methodology and theory-building was consequently to a considerable degree focused on US-American particularities, yet whiteness has since the turn of the century become what Vron Ware calls an “interconnected global system”: “it may be produced in one place, but its effects are not containable by cultural or political borders” (2001: 184). This conference aims at making whiteness visible (following Richard Dyer and Valerie Babb). We will do so by discussing the current position of the field and concrete examples that negotiate whiteness with a regional, national and global focus.
We are especially interested in the interplay of whiteness and other “social relations that shape individual and group identity” and invite presentations from cultural studies, gender studies, history, literary studies, sociology, anthropology, etc. Whiteness, while it is considered a system of privilege, is informed and created by its intersections with other categories of the self and society. Questions we wish to explore, are: Is whiteness intersectional? How is this intersectionality played out in different disciplines, in different cultures, in different media? While the obvious intersections between whiteness and class, gender, sexuality are very productive, we wish to include questions of region, nation, ability, the body, and religion.
Topics for presentations might include, yet are not limited to:
Whiteness and … • critical theory • popular culture (including television shows such as Fargo, Sons of Anarchy, True Detective, Girls, Misfits, Being Human, but also film, music, reality television, etc.) • comedy (e.g. American standup comedian Louis CK’s deconstructions of white male identity, South African comedian Trevor Noah and others) • the nation (comparative perspectives: e.g. U.S. <=> U.K., England <=> Wales) • the region (e.g. the American South, Eastern Germany, the English countryside) • feminism (e.g. first- and second-wave, post-feminism, cyberfeminism) • fatness, dis/ability, healthism • Marxism • queer identities • social networks
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short biographical info to the organizers Evangelia Kindinger (Ruhr-University Bochum, American Studies) and Mark Schmitt (TU Dortmund, British Cultural Studies) at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for paper proposals is July 31, 2016. Speakers will be notified of their acceptance by September 1, 2016.
Confirmed keynote speakers: Amanda D. Lotz, University of Michigan Katharine Tyler, University of Exeter Vron Ware, Kingston University Matt Wray, Temple University
New “Reparations” Website Asks Whites to Pay Black People’s Rent to Relieve Their Guilt
A new “reparations” website asks white people to pay black people’s rent and give them money to relieve their white guilt.
The website, started by Seattle-based “conceptual artist” Natasha Marin, suggests a number of ways in which white people can atone for the fact that 1.4 per cent of white people owned black slaves in the United States over 150 years ago.
White Person 3: “I’ll get them for you. PM me and I’ll send an Amazon Fresh or Safeway delivery. You just pick out what you want. I have a $200 limit.”
POC 4: I’m too upset to make dinner. I live in Seattle.
White Person 4: “Come over to my house for dinner, bring a friend if you like. PM me and I’ll send you the address, or can I order delivery to you? What kind of food do you like?”
POC 6: I want to scream and cuss at someone.
White Person 6: “I volunteer as tribute. How do we set this up?”
POC 7: I want to escape this cruel world in a *Specific Videogame* but can’t afford it on Steam right now. This is not a crisis, I just don’t trust people easily and want to see if this works.
White Person 7: Thank you for giving me the chance to do something concrete and relatively easy. I was quietly hating myself for doing nothing.
Numerous white people beset with self-loathing have already offered a number of goods and services, including the free use of a car, house cleaning, massages, “catharsis,” and straight-up cold hard cash.
Black people have also posted messages on the site with requests for free laptops, a Kindle EBook Reader and recording studio access.
“I want my project fully funded or at least my phone paid for from here till December so I can stay in Boriken writing about Amerikkkan colonialism,” another man demands on the ‘Reparations’ Facebook page.
Someone else asks for recording studio time so they can record, “an album entitled “White Boys” to vent out my frustration on, well, white boys.”
Before you say it, no this is not a joke, despite the fact that it’s absolutely hilarious. Every offer or request on the website links to the individual’s personal Facebook profile.
Marin asserts that the fight for a widescale, government-sanctioned reparations program is “totally legitimate” and should continue outside the confines of her website.
There is no indication yet on whether the website will spawn a copycat catering for white people upset at the Barbary slave trade, a far longer and more brutal period of slavery under which both blacks and whites were brutally oppressed by Arabs.
The concept will no doubt be lauded by ‘Black Lives Matter’ organizer Ashleigh Shackelford (pictured above), who has written a series of articles demanding that white people give her money for being a “fat black bitch”
After explaining how she was triggered by white people attending BLM rallies, Shackelford said that that they would be better served writing checks and giving up their car keys.
As per language and the Black Arts Movement, we can go to the 19th century literary works of writers who wrote in the vernacular. This tradition continued through the Harlem Renaissance writers but exploded in the literary tradition of the Black Arts Movement who flipped socalled bad words into good words, i.e. bad means something good. Nigguh became a work of endearment and Black became something beautiful. BAM caused a linguistic revolution because the profane became the sacred. BAM writers broke through or transcended the European linguistic code to give new meanings to what words are proper and correct, although most of the time words were simply used in context, but most importantly, freedom of speech was a critical part of the freedom movement. When poets and playwrights spoke in the raw, ghetto language, it was a weapon to kill the European linguistic domination, not only in language but institutionally as per white supremacy or lunancy.
When Black people heard their poets and playwrights speaking in the language of the ghetto or the North American African's "Mother tongue," or shall we say the basic language of the masses that was certainly banned by the black bourgeoisie culture police who were dismissed and ignored for the most part, especially after the Civil Rights (Rites, Sun Ra) Movement morphed into the Black Power Movement and BAM became its sister (Larry Neal) or mother (Marvin X), the psycho-linguistic crisis subsided simply because Black freedom of speech was liberating to the Black psyche and thus to the Black body and BAM productions became the sacred space where we could deliver our narrations in our own language without fear of the oppressor and his overseers, again, the Black bourgeoisie culture police, led by Bill Cosby in the present era, who is now disgraced for his negrocities (Amiri Baraka term that he told me not to claim--we love you forever and eternally, AB, what a wonderful brother, mentor, comrade in revolution).
Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale, speaking on the history of the Black Panther Party, says when Marvin X brought his BAM classic one-act play Flowers for the Trashman to Merritt College (on Grove Street, aka, Martin Luther King, Jr. in North Oakland) the student movement grew immediately after the performance, and morphed into Black Student Unions and the Black Panther Party. It was the linguistics of Flowers for the Trashman that inspired students to join the BSUs (at Merritt College the BSU was called the Soul Students Advisory Council). The ghetto language of Flowers was inspirational and motivational as were other works of BAM poets and playwrights such as Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Toure, the Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, et al.
This is why Marvin X says, "In all due respect to BAM philosopher Larry Neal, my experience in BAM revealed we were not the sister but the mother of the political brothers and sisters who gained revolutionary consciousness in the BAM and then went on to join such political organizations as Black Panther Party and political/religious organizations as the Nation of Islam.
Here in the Bay Area, before establishing the Black Panther Party along with Huey Newton, Bobby performed the lead role in my second play Come Next Summer, ironically about a young brother trying to find his revolutionary consciousness.
After his release from Soledad Prison in late 1966, Eldridge Cleaver came to the Bay and I was the first person he hooked up with (see Post-Prison Writings by Eldridge Cleaver and Somethin' Proper, the Autobiography of Marvin X) and soon we founded The Black House, political/cultural center on Broderick Street in San Francisco, 1967. Black House was the hottest spot in the Bay for revolutionary cultural consciousness, especially when Amiri Baraka came to San Francisco State University to direct the Communications Project, with Black House as his off campus headquarters, although he and Eldridge never had a proper conversation because Eldridge was focused on establishing the organization Malcolm tried to establish, the OAAU or the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
FYI, it was my mentor, John Douimbia, mentioned in Malcolm's autobiography as The Count, indeed, the only man in the Bay Area who out dressed the Court was the Honorable Mayor Willie Brown! But the importance of John D is not his apparel but the secular ideology he stressed to Malcolm X. According to JD, he had hustled with Malcolm X in Harlem but lost contact with him until Malcolm got out of prison. After his release from prison and representing the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X came to Los Angeles where JD was organizing while working as a Merchant Seaman. He invited Malcolm to a meeting he'd organized and when Malcolm came he saw JD had organized whites and blacks, so Malcolm asked John if he would help him organize the Nation of Islam in San Francisco. John said, "Yes, Malcolm, when I return from overseas as a merchant seaman, I will return to SF and help the Mosque there, " which he did. But more importantly, at that meeting in Los Angeles, he told Malcolm about the need for a secular, non religious organization. Of course, we know Malcolm was not ready for such, only after he departed the NOI did he feel the need to heed JD's words about a secular organization that ultimately became the OAAU, the spiritual component being Muslim Mosque, Inc.
John D and Willie Brown reminded me of my father, a Race Man who published the Fresno Voice, a Black newspaper in the Central Valley town of Fresno during the 50s along with my parents real estate business that made it possible for Blacks to purchase their first homes in the Valley. But my roots in the valley go deeper. My great grandfather, Epherim Murrill was nearly 100 years old when he died in Madera, 1941. The Fresno Bee newspaper reported his transition and noted he was well liked by Blacks and Whites.
Yes, I am the product of conscious parents or let's say my Mom was a Race Woman and my Dad a Race Man, meaning they were Black Nationalists or simply conscious people dedicated to the advancement of our people. I recall my father speaking often of the Black Belt South and the Cotton Curtain! Dad was born in Kentucky, so all I know about is eating rice for breakfast and dinner. I had no knowledge of Grits until later in my life when I connected with those Louisiana women. I ate so much rice as a teenager, my friends called me Chinaman.
But more importantly, Eldridge wanted to establish a Marxist-Leninist organization and he brought in Black brother Rosco Proctor (Secretary of the CP of California) to guide us in Communist ideology, which we BAM artists rejected outright, but when Eldridge had us studying Negroes With Guns by Robert Williams, I got the bright idea to get rid of Eldridge out of the Black House (even though he was paying the rent from the advance he received for his bestseller Soul on Ice: fyi, EC was the most generous brother I ever met--he could have become a commercial success, but he devoted his life to Black liberation, no matter his gross negrocities (again, AB term). And for that matter, AB could have done the same. We all make a choice, revolution or surrender to the oppressor. Did not Dr. John Henrik Clarke say, "If they would offered me enough, I would have sold out too!
I remember the day when "they" sent a nigguh to me in the Haight/Ashburry of San Francisco. The nigguh sat in front of me at a table and asked me what I needed: guns, money, what? I said Nigguh, git out of my motherfucking face! And the Nigguh disappeared into the night of Hippyville.
If and when you resit the devil, he will flee from you! As per the Black Panther Party, the most important lesson they taught us was how to overcome fear. And I thank them, even though this lesson was in my DNA. My father in law, grandfather of two of my daughters, tells how his father taught his siblings to be fearless in Texas. Apparently, his DNA and mine infected my daughters by his daughter. When I took my oldest daughter, Nefertiti, to the dentist when she was a child, the dentist said to me, "Sir, I've been a dentist for thirty years and your child is the first child to sit in my chair without feat!"
So language can take us beyond the fear zone. Thus we are thankful for the Black Panther Party but most especially the Black Arts Movement for giving us the esthetics of fearlessness.
As the Black Arts Movement Business District moves forward in Oakland and The Bay Area, we call upon a United Front of progressive ethnic groups to confront racism, gentrification, techism and other forms of white supremacy.
We are inspired by the meeting of groups who meet to demand benefits and equity from all tech firms and related businesses causing displacement and removal in their unbridled push to establish white supremacy domination in our communities locally and nation wide.
I am inspired and motivated at our meeting today that included so many professionals from profit and non-profit organizations to confront the beasts in our midst.
Our dearly beloved brother, Paul Cobb, stated several times, how he as a lone person confronted the white supremacy forces and made them surrender, so imagine what we can do with the power of those in the room today. ----Marvin X, Black Arts Movement Business District, downtown Oakland www.themovementnewsletter.blogspot.com --Marvin X, co-founder of the Black Arts Movement and the Oakland Black Arts Movement Business Disrtict 7/28/16
Institute of the Black World Defends Black Lives Matter
Calls on Pres. Obama to Visit Baton Rouge and St. Paul, as Well as Dallas
New York, July 10, 2016...The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) is defending the Black Lives Matter Movement against false criticism from right-wing political pundits that the Movement was responsible for the tragic deaths of five Dallas police officers.
While condemning the murders, by callous policemen and by a disturbed former Afghanistan veteran, IBW is also calling on President Obama to be "fair and balanced" in his posture towards the horrific and terrorist-like murders in recent days by visiting Baton Rouge and St. Paul after he has visited Dallas on Tuesday and to demonstrate, in both words and deeds, his equal concern for the families and communities of those who died in all three cities.
In citing the official statement put out by Black Lives Matter (BLM) leaders on Friday, IBW said the unvarnished truth is that the Black Lives Matter Movement has never called for the murder of police officers and has said over and over again that it is time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible.
"We agree with the BLM that this is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them," said IBW's President Dr. Ron Daniels. "There needs to be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from those communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. We also call on civil rights and human rights organizations to stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement to ensure that they are not scapegoated, repressed and marginalized."
Daniels called for an urgent national conversation on race and structural racism saying such a conversation must involve all strata of society and should be more than "just talk and pious rhetoric" and, instead, must produce a public policy agenda of action items that include thorough-going criminal justice reform, comprehensive community-based economic development, and a reparations program that seeks social justice and a starts a process of repairing and healing the ongoing devastating social and psychological consequences from the historical crimes of chattel slavery and legal Jim Crow segregation.
"America needs to find the honesty and moral courage to confront the sins of its past and the living consequences of those sins today," said Daniels. "Now is the time for all people of good will to commit themselves to this imperative."
The IBW President also noted that the time is long overdue to end the War on Drugs which over the past 25 years has contributed to a spike in police brutality, accompanied by an explosion in the mass incarceration of young black and brown men in vastly disproportionate numbers across the country. "The War on Drugs has been a war on black and brown communities which has broken thousands of families and beat a path of social and economic devastation across the United States," said Daniels.
The events in the USA in recent days have sparked outrage and concern in black communities across the world, manifested in a huge demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement this weekend in London, another in Canada, and expressions of horror in radio and television call-in programs across the Caribbean and in the government of the Bahamas issuing a travel advisory urging its citizens visiting the USA to exercise "extreme caution around police."
Videos of police shootings of African Americans have sparked protests and calls for reform. But for many black people, these incidents also feel inescapably personal. Chronicle reporter Hamed Aleaziz and photographer Leah Millis spoke with several Bay Area residents – among them a comedian, a college student, a doctor and a police officer – about their experiences and perspectives on what’s become a national issue. Here are their stories in their own words.
Dr. Tiffany Chioma Anaebere
The Emeryville resident, 31, is an emergency physician at Highland Hospital in Oakland
“As a physician I watch these videos and I see health care infractions.”
As a physician I watch these videos and I see health care infractions. These citizens are harmed and then not offered medical care at the scene. But I also process it as an American and a person of color. I don’t feel like it’s happening to an “other.” This could easily happen to someone I know, regardless of education or economic status, and it feels very personal. My parents are from Nigeria. They don’t completely understand all of the racial interactions that one generationally raised in the U.S. may understand — but they have learned. I can vividly remember my dad telling me, “If you interact with police, do not say anything. Don’t move, do exactly what they tell you, do not argue with them even if they stop you for an unnecessary reason. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can get killed.” This is from someone who was not born into the race-conscious fabric of this country. This was a learned behavior and an assessment of the American condition. So now every time something like this happens, my phone is blowing up with my parents saying, “Never you ever talk back.” I was stopped by a police officer a few weeks ago while driving in Chicago and the interaction was very pleasant. I was in a fancy dress driving back from a wedding. He was a white male cop who stopped me because I forgot to turn on the headlights to my rental car. What I can tell you is that before he came up to me, I was shaking. I was scared that this could be that cop, the one interaction that could change everything. There’s a fear that if you aren’t perfectly polite, if you move too quickly, if your cell phone is mistaken as a weapon, something could go horribly wrong. I know not all police officers are bad police officers. I work with them every day at the hospital, and many of them do their jobs very well. But when this happens time and again, as a person of color, as an American, as a health care professional — there’s no way you can ignore it. It is a serious public health issue and has to be addressed as such.
W. Kamau Bell
The 43-year-old comedian and Berkeley resident hosts CNN’s “United Shades of America”
“I’m not ready to have the conversation with my daughters.”
A lot of people don’t like to watch the videos, but I watch them because I think it’s important to see how it happens. The girlfriend of the man killed in Minnesota, Philando Castile — she knew she had to be a living witness. She knew she had to broadcast. She wasn’t allowed to just be there for him. She had to be a witness for the black community of what is happening. Every member of the black community has two lives: First, we are human, and second, we are in some way a spokesperson for the black community. Not all of us accept that burden, but that’s just the way it is. You see moms and wives at press conferences who are all so composed. They’re not allowed to just mourn what happened. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s too much pressure on a community. Then once we get through the hot spot, we just want to go back to whatever “normal” is. But normal for white America is a much more comfortable place than “normal” for black America or people of color. We don’t have the same normal. Black America’s normal is that we can be having a wonderful day and still, through no fault of our own, end up dead at the hands of someone whose job it is to protect us. I’m not ready to have the conversation with my daughters, who are 5 years old and 20 months, about how someday you may find out your dad was killed by a cop. But it will happen. White families, they don’t feel the need to have that conversation. There’s also a conversation I’ll have to have where I’ll say, “You’re a child now, but someday you’re going to be walking through the world by yourself. And at that point you’ll become a target.”
The Oakland resident, 34, is one of the Bay Area’s most popular rappers
“We’re just a bullet away from being a hashtag.”
It’s definitely a harsh climate being a black man in this world today. I feel an obligation as a musician, activist and community leader to be on the front line and let others who struggle, who are oppressed, understand that we stand in solidarity. We become frustrated and enraged, and we realize we’re just a bullet away from being a hashtag. Being a black man in America, I can go out today and I could be next. In 2016, we’re still having the same talks we had in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s — we’re still dealing with that. The same problems that existed in the ’70s are still going on. The same things Martin Luther King Jr. talked about and Frederick Douglass wrote about are still going on in 2016. Where is the progression? Knowing your rights means nothing when we are dealing with people that don’t respect rights. The judicial system is not set up for us to win, the rules can be broken on sight, and then the officers who have broken the rules are protected. We have to understand that it’s not fair, but we don’t want to give them any other reason to murder us.
The UC Berkeley student, 20, is a campus senator, activist and double major in African American studies and sociology
“My Twitter timeline … was a complete listing of details about deaths.”
After the most recent shootings, I got home from class and checked my Twitter timeline. It was a complete listing of details about deaths. It was overwhelming. Even though the videos kept reappearing on my feed, I remained frozen in my seat for two hours. I scrolled through and refreshed my social media sites, thinking: “Why?” and “Not again.” After close to three hours of trying to make sense of all the deaths, I reminded myself that if I didn’t get up, I’d be on my laptop until 1 a.m. in the same state of shock. I decided to get up, go for a run, then write about how I was feeling in order to process my emotions. It has been very painful but rewarding coming to consciousness about these things. They’ve always been happening, but social media allows us to magnify what’s happening around us. Through educating myself about the climate in America and organizing to affirm the worth of black lives, I’ve learned how to love and appreciate myself, my culture and my identity more. It’s never just been political — it’s always been deeply personal as well.
The 22-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department works out of the Bayview Station
“Who likes to be thought of as a criminal right from step one?”
It's extremely sad, because I see a lost opportunity in a lot of these cases with young black men that for whatever reason no longer have an opportunity to enjoy their lives and raise their children. I can't help but tie in my own experience in law enforcement, so of course each time I look at the videos I think, "Could this have been resolved without gunplay? Could this have been just a physical struggle for control?" I've been in similar scenarios. It can be accomplished. I do believe a lot more interactions could be resolved without gunfire — not all, unfortunately — but we could have a better success rate than we do. When you're working in a neighborhood that's predominantly African American and you are African American, people are going to expect things from you. They're going to expect you to be professional and friendly — they're expecting more of you. My family has told me it's time for me to quit. My mother said, "For safety, you can do something else." My family friends and nieces said, "Why do you want to do that? This is what you're known for." But I have some Boy Scout in me — if everyone turned their back on something when it got a little tough, we would never accomplish anything. As a civilian, I've had officers pull me over and be blatantly rude, mistrust me when I tell them I'm really going someplace, expecting me to be up to no good or mistaking me for a criminal. It's not a pleasant experience. Who likes to be thought of as a criminal right from step one? Nobody. But it helps me in a way — I've had the experience. I do understand it. By no means do I try to tell people when they ask me about officers on the street, "No, this didn't happen" or "These officers didn't do this." I wish I could tell them that. You may have 80 to 90 percent of those in the profession doing the right thing, but the percentage that doesn't can make a huge negative impact. So that is one of my goals: to always speak to someone with basic respect.
The 48-year-old singer-songwriter, who lives in Oakland, addressed police shootings in his new album, “The Last Days of Oakland”
“Every single time I'm pulled over, I'm thinking: Wow, this could go either way.”
They’re public executions. We know it’s always gone on, but now people are recording it. We get to see the truth and it’s a sickening feeling. I was raised by a father who always talked to me about police, how they view us and what we should do when they stop us. I had that really ingrained into my consciousness as a young person. Now I tell my kids straight up: “Hey, if the policeman stops you, this is what you do. They can end your life. Never argue with any police officer. Tell them when you’re reaching for your license: Is that OK, officer? Call them sir. They want to have the power. Let them have it. They have a gun. You don’t have a gun.” Every single time I’m pulled over, I’m thinking: “Wow, this could go either way.” Every time. I think about how I look just like the people in the videos. We’re men and we have the same color of skin, and you just wonder: “Who the hell are we as a country?” I know the fear of being pulled over by the police. Fear — this is all fear. When they pull you over, the police are terrified. How can you do a job or police the people when you’re scared of them? You’re not part of that community at all. Maybe what we should do is just have people from the community police the area so they can understand the people they are policing. What can I do now? I have a platform — I have a stage, a guitar, a voice — I can speak on this. I can act on this. That’s what I can do.
John William Templeton
The 61-year-old historian on the African American experience in California co-founded National Black Business Month
“I’m 61 years old, and I have been stopped by police 53 times in my life.”
I’m 61 years old and I have been stopped by police 53 times in my life. I have never been arrested. My father was a deputy sheriff, I was a Boy Scout leader for 25 years, I graduated from college with honors, and I’ve won six national journalism awards. There’s nothing about me that a reasonable person would think is threatening, but it’s just a common experience to be stopped. It seems now there’s nothing you can do with your behavior that’s going to save you. I had an experience last year at San Francisco International Airport: The officer came up and asked me what I was doing there. I told him I was waiting for a tour, and that I’m an official tourism spokesman for the city of San Francisco. He’s like, “Please, give me a break.” So I pull out my iPad. But before I did that, I told him, “I am pulling out my iPad from my briefcase so I can show you.” Then I had to show a video of a story that Channel 5 had done about me giving a tour. So the two cops are there, and one says, “Son of a gun, he actually is who he says he is!” What I’m thinking about is all the guys that don’t have a video of themselves on their iPad explaining who they are.
Her 22-year-old son, Oscar Grant, was killed on New Year’s Day 2009 in Oakland by a BART police officer
“Hearing my son say to the officer, ‘You shot me,’ it pierced my heart.”
When I look at what’s happening now, it opens up the wound of my son being killed — but that’s not to say that the wound has ever closed. It brings back all those emotions that I felt. When I instructed Oscar to take BART to San Francisco that night, I thought that was the safest way there. Never did I expect for him to be killed, and particularly not by a police officer. When I found out, I was in disbelief. We are raised to respect law enforcement. So when you receive a call, or someone comes and tells you your child was shot by the police, you go through that disbelief period. Then you come to a realization that it really happened. Your emotions become like a roller coaster, up and down. You feel hurt, confused, angry. You feel different emotions all at the same time. You don’t know what to do. When it’s the police, who do you go to for help? Who do you turn to? I didn’t watch the videos of my son being shot at first. I almost had to be barred from television, because every time I turned on the TV, it was on. I watched it years later. I watched it because I wanted to see why and I needed to see it so I could say something and talk about it. Hearing my son say to the officer, “You shot me,” it pierced my heart. It has really pierced my heart. Forever I will never be the same.
Michelle Obama's family tree has roots in a Carolina slave plantation
Dahleen Glanton and Stacy St. ClairTribune Reporters
GEORGETOWN, S.C.—Tiny wooden cabins line the dirt road once known as Slave Street as it winds its way through Friendfield Plantation.
More than 200 slaves lived in the whitewashed shacks in the early 1800s, and some of their descendants remained here for more than a century after the Civil War. The last tenants abandoned the hovels about three decades ago, and even they would have struggled to imagine a distant daughter of the plantation one day calling the White House home.
But a historical line can be drawn from these Low Country cabins to Michelle Obama, charting an American family's improbable journey through slavery, segregation, the civil rights movement and a historic presidential election.
Their documented passage begins with Jim Robinson, Obama's great-great-grandfather, who was born around 1850 and lived as a slave, at least until the Civil War, on the sprawling rice plantation. Records show he remained on the estate after the war, working as a sharecropper and living in the old slave quarters with his wife, Louiser, and their children. He could neither read nor write, according to the 1880 census.
Robinson would be the last illiterate branch of Michelle Obama's family tree. Census records show each generation of Robinsons became more educated than the last, with Michelle Obama eventually earning degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Her older brother, Craig, also received an Ivy League education.
Barack Obama's campaign hired genealogists to research the family's roots at the onset of his presidential bid, but aides have largely kept the findings secret. Genealogists at Lowcountry Africana, a research center at the University of South Florida in Tampa, scoured documents to put together a 120-page report, according to project director Toni Carrier. She said the center signed a confidentiality agreement and is not allowed to disclose the findings publicly.
However, in his now-famous speech on race during the primary, Barack Obama stated he was "married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners." Obama aides declined to discuss the report or allow Michelle Obama to be interviewed about her ancestry. She has said she knew little about her family tree before the campaign, but census reports, property records and other historical documents show that her paternal ancestors bore witness to one of the most shameful chapters in American history.
When Michelle Obama moves into the White House—a mansion built partially by slaves—she will embark upon a life her great-great-grandfather never could have envisioned for her. At antebellum estates such as Friendfield Planation, past sins are being revisited amid the celebration.
Frances Cheston Train, whose family bought the property in the 1930s and transformed it into a hunting preserve for wealthy Northerners, fights back tears as she reflects on how far the country has come since Robinson labored in the mosquito-infested rice fields along the Sampit River. Though her family never owned slaves, the 82-year-old heiress to the Drexel family banking fortune recalls the segregation laws that divided the Georgetown community. "It's beyond healing," Train said of the Obamas' success. "What it has given everyone is a sense of pride that this amazing, intelligent and attractive couple could be connected to Friendfield." Little is known about Robinson's life at the plantation, beyond that he worked in the riverfront rice fields after the Civil War. Local historians don't know how or when he came to Friendfield, but census records indicate that both his parents were born in South Carolina. A map from the early 1870s, when Robinson was living on the plantation, shows three parallel rows of slave cabins, each with 10 to 13 buildings along Slave Street. But by 1911, only 14 were still standing.
Five single cabins remain today. With their massive fireplaces and wood plank walls, each tells a story about slave life on the plantation.
The small shacks, only 19 feet deep, housed several families at once, said Ed Carter, who now oversees the property. Large, stone fireplaces were used for cooking and heating. Attic space in the rafters beneath the gable roof offered a place for extra people to sleep. The plantation's former owner, Francis Withers, built a "meeting house" for the slaves on the estate before 1841, and the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church assigned a preacher there. A fire destroyed the church in 1940, but a massive live oak still stands near the old site.
By the time Withers died in 1847, the family had expanded Friendfield to include six plantations and more than 500 slaves. At the height of the rice trade, Friendfield was one of the most lucrative plantations in the area, producing what was called Carolina Gold on more than 500 acres of rice fields, Carter said.
In his will, Withers, who was educated at Harvard University, provided for the care of his slaves, including the upkeep of the church and a salary for the preacher. He also requested that his slaves be treated with "great kindness and be fed and clothed." He bequeathed $50 a year to Charlotte Nelson, described as a "mulatto woman" who had been freed by his brother, for the rest of her life. He left $10,000 to buy more slaves to work the plantation and provided financial incentives for his surviving relatives to retain his "Friendfield gang of slaves" as a group and not break up slave families.
The plantation's prosperity faded after the Civil War, and the family began selling off the property in 1879, according to land records. Robinson, like many former slaves, continued to live on the farm.
It's unclear when Robinson died, but local historians believe he is buried in an unmarked grave in a slave cemetery that overlooks the old rice fields on the edges of Whites Creek. Among Robinson's surviving children was Fraser Robinson Sr., Michelle Obama's great-grandfather. Born in 1884, Fraser Sr. went to work as a houseboy for a local family before his 16th birthday. Census records show he was illiterate as a teen but had learned to read and write by the time he had his own children. As an adult, Fraser Sr. worked as a lumber mill laborer, shoe repairman and newspaper salesman. He registered for the draft during World War I but was turned down because he had lost his left arm, military records show. Fraser Sr. married a local woman named Rose Ella Cohen and had at least six children. Described by a family friend as an intelligent man who wanted his children to be well-read, Fraser Sr. always brought home his extra copies of the Palmetto Leader and Grit, a black newspaper that was popular in rural communities across the country.
"He used to make his children read those newspapers," said Margretta Dunmore Knox, who still lives in Georgetown and attended the same church as the Robinsons. "Maybe that's how they became so smart." His eldest son, Fraser Jr., was born in 1912 and graduated from high school. Census records from 1930 show that 18-year-old Fraser Jr. was living at home and working at a sawmill after earning his degree.
At the time, Georgetown, a costal town about an hour's drive north of Charleston and the state's third-oldest city, was split along racial lines. The basic human rights that blacks had known after the Reconstruction era disappeared as the Deep South sank into the Depression and segregationist ways. Train recalls playing with black children at Friendfield but not being allowed to go with them to the movies or the beach. She knew her playmates lived in cabins once inhabited by slaves, but no one ever broached the topic. "It was a very painful memory," said Train, who still winters at the hunting preserve and has written a memoir about the estate titled "A Carolina Plantation Remembered: In Those Days.""It was not something we ever talked about."
As Georgetown's economy crumbled, Fraser Jr. headed north to Chicago in search of employment. Once there, he met and married LaVaughn Johnson.
Their son Fraser Robinson III—Michelle Obama's father—was born in 1935. Though they never attended college, Fraser III and his wife, Marian, made education a top priority for their two children. Both would later attend Princeton and earn postgraduate degrees from prestigious universities.
Fraser Jr. and LaVaughn Robinson lived on the South Side for part of Michelle's childhood, before retiring and moving down South. After returning to Georgetown, the couple joined the Bethel AME Church, which was founded by freed slaves in 1865 and is the oldest black church in the city. The couple sang in the choir and built a large circle of friends, Knox said. Michelle Obama returned to the same church in January while campaigning for her husband in the South Carolina primary.
Addressing a packed audience that included at least 30 descendants of Jim Robinson, Obama talked about the need for change in the confident voice of a distant daughter of slavery. "Things get better when regular folks take action to make change happen from the bottom up," she said. "Every major historical moment in our time, it has been made by folks who said, 'Enough,' and they banded together to move this country forward—and now is one of those times." email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gullah and Geechee culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia has retained ethnic traditions from West Africa since the mid-1700s. Although the islands along the southeastern U.S. coast harbor the same collective of West Africans, the name Gullah has come to be the accepted name of the islanders in South Carolina, while Geechee refers to the islanders of Georgia. Modern-day researchers designate the region stretching from Sandy Island, South Carolina, to Amelia Island, Florida, as the Gullah Coast—the locale of the culture that built some of the richest plantations in the South.
Many traditions of the Gullah and Geechee culture were passed from one generation to the next through language, agriculture, and spirituality. The culture has been linked to specific West African ethnic groups who were enslaved on island plantations to grow rice, indigo, and cotton starting in 1750, when antislavery laws ended in the Georgia colony.
Board of Trustees established Georgia in 1732 with the primary purposes of settling impoverished British citizens and creating a mercantile system that would supply England with needed agricultural products. The colony enacted a 1735 antislavery law, but the prohibition was lifted in 1750. West Africans, the argument went, were far more able to cope with the climatic conditions found in the South. And, as the growing wealth of South Carolina's rice economy demonstrated, slaves were far more profitable than any other form of labor available to the colonists.
Rice plantations fostered Georgia's successful economic competition with other slave-based rice economies along the eastern seaboard. Coastal plantations invested primarily in rice, and plantation owners sought out Africans from the Windward Coast of West Africa (Senegambia [later Senegal and the Gambia], Sierra Leone, and Liberia), where rice, indigo, and cotton were indigenous to the region. Over the ensuing centuries, the isolation of the rice-growing ethnic groups, who re-created their native cultures and traditions on the coastal Sea Islands, led to the formation of an identity recognized as Geechee/Gullah.
There is no single West African contribution to Geechee/Gullah culture, although dominant cultural patterns often correspond to various agricultural investments. For example, Africa's Windward Coast was later commonly referred to as the Rice Coast in recognition of the large numbers of Africans enslaved from that area who worked on rice plantations in America.
anthropologists and historians speculate but have not confirmed that the term Gullah—deemed the cultural name of the islanders—derived from any one of several African ethnicities or specific locations in Angola and on the Windward Coast. Other researchers speculate that Gullah and Geechee are borrowed words from any number of ethnic groups along the Windward Coast—such as Gola, Kissi, Mende, Temne, Twi, and Vai—that contributed to the creolization of the coastal culture in Georgia and South Carolina.
Gullah is thought to be a shortened form of Angola, the name of the group first imported to the Carolinas during the early colonial period. Geechee, historically considered a negative word identifying Sea Islanders, became an acceptable term in light of contemporary evidence linking it to West Africa. Although the origins of the two words are not definitive, some enslaved Africans along the coast had names that were linked to the Kissi group, leading to speculation that the terms may also derive from that particular culture.
Linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner researched and documented spoken words on the coast during the 1930s, traced similarities to ethnic groups in West Africa, then published the Gullah dialect lexicon, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (1949). His research confirms the evolution of a new language based on West African influences and English. Many words in the coastal culture could be matched to ethnic groups in West Africa, thereby linking the Geechee/Gullah people to their origins. Margaret Washington Creel in A Peculiar People: Slave Religion and Community-Culture among the Gullahs (1988) identifies cultural and spiritual habits that relate to similar ethnic groups of West Africans who are linked by language. Her research on the coastal culture complements Turner's findings that Africans on the Sea Islands created a new identity despite the tragic conditions of slavery.
Documentation of the developing culture on the Georgia islands dates to the nineteenth century. By the late twentieth century, researchers and scholars had confirmed a distinctive group and identified specific commonalities with locations in West Africa. The rice growers' cultural retention has been studied through language, cultural habits, and spirituality. The research of Mary A. Twining and Keith E. Baird in Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia (1991) investigates the common links of islanders to specific West African ethnicities.
enslaved rice growers from West Africa brought with them knowledge of how to make tools needed for rice harvesting, including fanner baskets for winnowing rice. The sweetgrass baskets found on the coastal islands were made in the same styles as baskets found in the rice culture of West Africa. Sweetgrass baskets also were used for carrying laundry and storing food or firewood. Few present-day members of the Geechee/Gullah culture remember how to select palmetto, sweetgrass, and pine straw to create baskets, and the remaining weavers now make baskets as decorative art, primarily for tourists.
Religious meetings in "praise houses" were the spiritual outlet for enslaved Africans on the plantation. Fast-paced rhythmic hand clapping accompanied ring shout (spiritual) songs while participants
moved counterclockwise in a circle, making certain never to cross their feet. Some aspects of the ring shout are thought to be related to the communal dances found in many West African traditions. The word shout is thought to be derived from saut, a West African word of Arabic origin that describes an Islamic religious movement performed to exhaustion. Since the Civil War (1861-65), ring shouts have been held after Sunday church services and on weeknights in community meeting houses. Few elders familiar with shout songs and the body movements associated with the spiritual practice are alive today, but the tradition is kept alive in Georgia through the McIntosh County Shouters.
In the early 1930s Lorenzo Dow Turner recorded a song that islander Amelia Dawley had been taught by her mother, Octavia "Tawba" Shaw, who was born into slavery. Dawley taught the song to her own daughter, Mary Moran, who became the last person in the United States to know the song, which would link her to a small village in Sierra Leone sixty years later. Anthropologist Joseph Opala,
ethnomusicologist Cynthia Schmidt, and linguist Tazieff Koroma came across Turner's tape recording in 1989 and began tracing its origin, not only to Moran, who was living in Harris Neck, Georgia, but also to Bendu Jabati of Senehun Ngola, Sierra Leone, who was the last person in her village with knowledge of the song.
In 1997 the two women met in the African village to share and reenact what was understood as a Mende funeral song, sung only by the women of Jabati's family lineage, who conducted the funerals of the village. Evidence suggests that a female member of Moran's family had been forced into captivity from the village nearly 200 years before. The return of the song and the visit from the Moran family led to a countrywide celebration that can be viewed in the documentary The Language You Cry In (1998). The discovery of the song and subsequent linguistic research confirmed yet another link between the cultures of West Africa and the Georgia coast.
Such corresponding practices as similar names, language structures, folktales, kinship patterns, and spiritual transference are but a few areas that suggest a particular link between the southeastern coastal culture of the United States and Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Thousands of slaves from Georgia and South Carolina who remained loyal to the British at the end of the American Revolution (1775-83) found safe haven in Nova Scotia in Canada and thus gained their freedom. Many returned to Sierra Leone in 1791 and the following year established Freetown, the capital city. Members of that group are identified today as Krio.
Runaway slaves from the Sea Islands were harbored under Spanish protection in Florida prior to the Second Seminole War (1835-42). Native American refugees from around the South formed an alliance with African runaways to create the Seminole Nation. The name Seminole is from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning runaway. The 1842 agreement between the United States and Spain, which ended the Seminole hold on Florida, caused a migration to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Some Seminoles followed Spanish protectors to Cuba and to Andros Island in the Bahamas.
Aspects of West African heritage have survived at each stage of the circle of migration, with rice, language, and spirituality persisting as cultural threads into the twentieth century. The Geechee/Gullah culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia has retained a heritage that spans two continents.
At the end of the Civil War, lands on the coastal islands were sold to the newly freed Africans during the Port Royal Experiment, part of the U.S. government's Reconstruction plan for the recovery of the South after the war.
During the 1900s, land on some of the islands—Cumberland, Jekyll, Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Simons—became resort locations and reserves for natural resources. The modern-day conflict over resort development on the islands presents yet another survival test for the Geechee/Gullah culture, the most intact West African culture in the United States. Efforts to educate the public by surviving members of the Geechee/Gullah community, including Cornelia Bailey of Sapelo Island and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, help to maintain and protect the culture's unique heritage in the face of such challenges.
Syrian poet, novelist, professor Mohja Kahf and poet Marvin X. She considers Marvin X the father of Muslim American literature.
Sectarianism has been known to spark religious violence throughout history. For many years we saw the ugly head of sectarianism in the struggle between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the constant bombings and killings.
In Africa violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria has approached genocide. Iraq is the latest hot spot of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims. For decades the Shia had been oppressed by the Sunni minority, especially during the regime of Saddam Hussein. When he was overthrown by the US and the Shia majority took political power, naturally the Sunnis were resentful, no one likes to lose power and privilege. Because many Sunnis look upon Shia as heretics, this justifies their sectarian cleansing, even though there has been Sunni/Shia harmony, including marriages throughout the years, but presently there is migration of Shias from Sunni neighborhoods and towns and visa versa. Very little of the refugee plight has made news.
Of course the US is the cause when she installed the Shia majority, even though majority should rule, we are taught in American Democracy 101. But the resulting violence was predictable and much of it could have been prevented if the Americans had not been the "peacemakers."
Now the violence is being instigated by the insurgents who are directing their wrath against the Shia as well as the Americans. And naturally the Shia are taking revenge since they have political and military power, including their own militias integrated into the army and police but loyal to their sect leaders and imams.
We must see the Sunni violence against the Shia in the broader picture of regional politics. The Sunni regimes in Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, the Gulf States and elsewhere have no desire to see a Shia government in Iraq, however loosely allied it may be with Shia Iran. The Sunni governments have stated their opposition to a Shia expansion from the Tigris/Euphrates to the Mediterranean, uniting with the populations of Shia in Syria and Lebanon where the Hezbollah fighters are a political and military force supported by Iran.
Have no doubt that the regional Sunni regimes support the insurgency in Iraq. These regimes would rather have their young men leaving their nations to commit suicide in Iraq rather than be part of the opposition within their authoritarian regimes. Better their sons fight the infidel Americans and heretic Shia.
Of course the historical dispute between the Sunni and Shia began in 632AD upon the death of prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Thus this Sunni/Shia conflict is much more outstanding than colonialism, including the neo-colonial Americans. There is no hatred like religious hatred. We can see that violence between Sunnis and Shia has surpassed that between Sunnis and the Christian Americans, supposedly the enemy of all Muslims. For sure, Americans were the catalyst, but the roots of the present sectarian violence began over succession to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The Sunnis said the successor should be selected from among the people, Abu Bakr. The Shia said it should be from the prophet's bloodline, Ali. The Sunnis won out and labeled the Shia heretics, especially when they elevated the status of Imam Ali and future Shia Imams to the level of the Caliphs or rulers after the prophet, including veneration of their tombs in various Shia holy cities such as Qum in Iran, Najaf and Karbala in Iraq. Several Shia imams were assassinated, including Ali and Hussein.
There are major Shia rituals that celebrate the martyrdom of their imams. The Shia feeling of lost is similar to the feeling of lost among Sunni Muslims in America about Malcolm X allegedly being assassinated by the Nation of Islam. This feeling of lost is shared by much of the African American community.
Malcolm's death caused a great division that has yet to heal and may never heal, despite the unifying efforts of Farakhan with his Million Man Marches and other efforts.
Perhaps we can understand the Sunni/Shia struggle from this perspective. There are some Blacks who hate other Blacks as a result of the Malcolm X affair more than they hate the white man for all his centuries of evil and wickedness against Blacks. For the US government's role in the Malcolm affair—and have no doubt about their involvement, they benefited by divide and conquer, that classic Willie Lynch slave master tricknology.
Sectarian violence in Iraq may continue unabated, for it is beyond civil war, beyond American occupation, but deeply rooted in religiosity, myth and ritual. Even Sunni fear of Shia regional expansion is rooted in Shia eschatology or end time. This is evident in pronouncements from the Shia regime in Iran, boldly determined to pursue a nuclear weapons future and calling for the destruction of Israel, motivated by their belief the time has arrived for Shia geo-political and spiritual domination, and certainly Iraq will play a role in this Shia myth-ritual drama.
This drama has implications far beyond any American notion of installing democracy in Iraq or anywhere else in the region, for people are motivated by mythology and prophecy, political aspirations being secondary. It is their spiritual aspirations that are primary. Shia Iran appears prepared to commit mass suicide challenging the Americans and Europeans over nuclear technology, even though the Iranians have every right to posses the Islamic bomb, just as we have the Jewish bomb and the Christian bomb. I say get rid of all the nuclear weapons or level the playing field as in the wild wild west: let everybody pack.
As per Iraq, it doesn't matter whether the Americans stay or go, they have opened Pandora's box and mean spirits are blowing in the desert winds. Only Allah knows how these issues will be resolved. Perhaps the Sunnis and Shias shall fight until they tire of killing, then reconcile in the manner of Isaiah, "Let us reason together."
Source: Toward Radical Spirituality, Black Bird Press, 2007 (c) 2006 by Marvin X (El Muhajir)
* * * * *
Marvin X has given permission to Harvard University to publish his poem "For El Haji Rasul Taifa" from Love and War: Poems by Marvin X (1995). The poem will appear in The Encyclopedia of Islam in America Volume II, Greenwood Press, edited by Dr. Jocelyne Cesari of Harvard's Islam in the West Program. Mr. X is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Muslim American Literature, University of Arkansas Press, edited by Dr. Mojah Khaf. He is also in the forthcoming Muslim American Drama, Temple University.
from Chickenbones, posted 19 June 2006
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Two Poems for Syria
by Marvin X and Mohja Kahf
Oh, Mohja how much water can run from rivers to sea how much blood can soak the earth the guns of tyrants know no end a people awakened are bigger than bullets there is no sleep in their eyes no more stunted backs and fear of broken limbs even men, women and children are humble with sacrifice the old the young play their roles with smiles they endure torture chambers with laughs they submit to rape and mutilations there is no victory for oppressors whose days are numbered as the clock ticks as the sun rises let the people continue til victory surely they smell it on their hands taste it on lips believe it in their hearts know it in their minds no more backwardness no fear let there be resistance til victory. --Marvin X/El Muhajir
Syrian poet/professor Dr. Mohja Kahf
Oh Marvin, how much blood can soak the earth?
The angels asked, “will you create a species who will shed blood
and overrun the earth with evil?”
And it turns out “rivers of blood” is no metaphor:
see the stones of narrow alleys in Duma
shiny with blood hissing from humans? Dark
and dazzling, it keeps pouring and pumping
from the inexhaustible soft flesh of Syrians,
and neither regime cluster bombs from the air,
nor rebel car bombs on the ground,
ask them their names before they die.
They are mowed down like wheat harvested by machine,
and every stalk has seven ears, and every ear a hundred grains.
They bleed like irrigation canals into the earth.
Even one little girl in Idlib with a carotid artery cut
becomes a river of blood. Who knew she could be a river
running all the way over the ocean, to you,
draining me of my heart? And God said to the angels,
White America, North American Africans and Communal Suicide
"It's a wonder we all haven't all gone stark raving mad!"--James Baldwin, 1968 interview with Marvin X
"Homicide and suicide are two sides of the same coin!"--Dr. Nathan Hare
Suicide among North American Africans is a communal affair, or shall we say societal affair since we live in a hostile environment that invites us to suicide by the very nature of our existence that is marginalized at best, but it is our psycho-social condition that leaves us no way out of suicide on so many levels. The very air we breathe is killing us, but what choice do we have? The food we eat is killing us but how many can afford to shop at Whole Foods? One piece of organic chicken for $5.00? Get real!
Education is toxic for it inculcates us with self-hatred that is destructive to our mental equilibrium. Ancestor Amiri Baraka once said, "We send our children to these colleges and universities and they come back hating us and everything we're about--and they don't even know what we're about!" Dr. Wade Nobles said, "Our men are in prison, but our women are in prison at these universities and colleges." One of my daughters who graduated from Yale and Stanford Law School, told me she and her girlfriends found it almost impossible to date a Black male student. What does this do to the Black sense of self? A beautiful young lady who graduated from Spelman informed me she thought she was black and ugly! So many times Black lives don't matter even to ourselves since we are addicted to white supremacy Type II (Dr. Nathan Hare, foreword to How to Recover from White Supremacy by Marvin X, aka Dr. M). Even our best and brightest live lives of rejection leading to depression and death. And when it is not outright suicide, many of us fall victim to diseases caused by the hostile environment, including and especially the workplace. When my dear friend, Poet/Professor/Critic Sherley A. Williams, died at 51 years old, Dr. William H. Grier, psychiatrist and co-author of the 60s classic Black Rage, told his son to tell me, "Tell Marvin Sherley didn't die from asthma but from the hostile environment at the University of California, San Diego." Indeed, Sherley often told me her job was toxic and that she hadn't spoken with her colleagues for years! Three brilliant Black women professors at UC Berkeley made their transition, we think, for the same reason as Sherley: Barbara Christian, June Jordan and VeVe Clark. Is not continuing to work in a hostile, toxic environment a form of suicide?
I talked with a friend today who was at work but said she wasn't feeling well but could not go to the hospital because she would be penalized as she had taken too many sick leaves. Yes, she works in a hostile environment as well. Imagine, you are sick but can't afford to leave the job for medical attention. Is this the glory of free market capitalism and wage slavery?
I have no doubt we suffer a plethora of psycho-somatic disorders from America's toxic society. I have read that due to fear of the medical profession and its known experimentation on Blacks (beginning with gynecologists who began this branch of medicine by practicing on African women in the American slave system without providing any anesthesia), many bourgeoisie Blacks do not seek medical attention even when they have excellent medical insurance. Is this not a suicidal attitude?
Because of white jealousy and envy (along with the crab in the barrel mentality of Black co-workers in competition with their Black fellow workers) most jobs for us are in a hostile work environment that ultimately kills.
Of course chronic unemployment leads to self destructive behavior such as drug abuse and domestic violence. Surely, partner violence leads us to harm our partner and ourselves. Often the violence is fatal, so we kill our partner and ourselves, but is not our partner part of ourselves, hence we kill ourselves. Black on Black homicide is thus a form of suicide because when we kill our brother/sister we kill ourselves! The notion of self is a communal idea or even better, a communal reality, not individual. The self is born of tribal and national mythology and ritual. Can we therefore imagine how pervasive homicide and suicide impacts not only the individual, but the family, village and national group? As a result of the last few days of police violence and the ongoing internal violence, North American Africans are suffering trauma and grief.
Imagine all the families whose members are killed by the police or another Black, but the family tragedy never hits the headlines, never enjoy marches and rallies, and often there is only a miller lite police investigation, for after all, Black lives don't matter, yes, even though we are children of the Creator, precious and holy, each and every one of us.
So we know many homicides are in reality suicides because the person put himself in a homicidal situation where the person was killed because they didn't have the strength to kill themselves. Sometimes we escalate a situation to the point we don't give a damn whether we die or live, so often we are killed but if there had been a strong desire to live we wouldn't have escalated the situation to the point of death.
For sure, many of us engage in unsafe sex that is suicidal for in the deep structure of our minds is the attitude of not caring whether we live or die, as in the case of many persons who contract HIV/AIDS from unsafe sex.
--Marvin X 7/14/16
Marvin X's son, Darrel, suffered manic depression and under the influence of psycho-drugs walked into a train at 39 years old. He graduated from UC Berkeley in Arabic and Middle Eastern literature, studied at the University of Damascus, Syria on a Fulbright; also studied at the American University, Cairo, Egypt, and did graduate work at Harvard University. "Dr. Nathan Hare comforted me with the fact that my son's death was one side of the same coin. Hare reminded me Malcolm and Martin died at the same age." Well, death is death by any name! Don't make me quote the infamous Hillary Clinton, "What difference does it make?" www.blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com