All Hands on Deck Katrina Communique 3

All Hands on Deck Katrina Communique 3


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



During a conversation with Asante yesterday we talked about an idea I had for an e-book

of writing and artwork from New Orleans artists to be sold as a fundraiser… by the time

we finished talking though, we both thought a website might be a better idea.



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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All Hands on DeckKatrina Communiqué#3


these communiqués serve two purposes: one–to organize neo-griot activities and specifically to gather together workshop members into a cohesive force even though we may be physically separate, and two–to demonstrate to and interface with our friends, supporters and allies worldwide. this dynamic dialectic is precisely the praxis we need. dynamic = everything is in flux. we are forced by circumstance to improvise and to react to specific conditions that differ from place to place. dialectic = what one does in one place directly affects what another does someplace else, we are intertwined and it is the resulting synthesis that is our essence, not one person in one place, or one group in one place, but rather we are defined by the cooperation between individuals and groups in getting our work done. we must very carefully and seriously maintain this dialectic. it is both our strength and our sustenance. operating in a coordinated fashion increases the effectiveness of our actions, indeed, enables us to do more than any of us could do as isolated individuals or small groups. but more than simply make our work stronger and more effective, dialectical work sustains us, particularly in times when it seems we are overwhelmed by external forces both natural and social/political/economic. of course I am aware that much of this sounds overly theoretical, but if we lack a theoretical understanding of what works and why, and what does not work and why, we will flounder along and generally fail to meet the enormous challenges we face. praxis = finally, we must put our theories into practice, because it is only in practice that we can test the truthfulness of our theories, and only through practice can we achieve our goals and be of ultimate service to our people and to the world. ok, enough of theory. here are some suggestions for forward motion—and please do not look upon these items as dictates or even directives, but rather these are put on the table for discussion. these, as well as all other suggestions, are open for discussion, critique, amendment, etc. every workshop member must feel they can and should participate in the decision making process. additionally, over the next month our organizational structure will increase exponentially. we are going to take on new members, expand into new arenas of operation that were completely unknown even a week ago.1. neo-griot workshop paulette, you are the neo-griot workshop director. you are in charge of gathering and organizing our writers. we all look forward to receiving your programmatic suggestions. please be a bit more efficient than fema in presenting your plans. ;->) additionally, paulette, as we discussed yesterday, since you are there with freddi, we need you to take the leadership in identifying all necessary steps to complete freddi’s manuscript. kalamu will make the contact with marie brown.2. e-drum kalamu will continue to handle e-drum on a daily basis. once we stabilize a bit and figure out where everyone is and plans to be, we can then begin looking at the possibility of someone else picking up this task if anyone is interested. it is tremendously time consuming but it is also a vital window on what is happening worldwide.3. breath of life mtume ya salaam and kalamu are handling that. no changes there in the foreseeable future.4. the new orleans project there is so much to be done here. first, kalamu will outline the project. asante salaam has agreed to come aboard as coordinator. yall all know kalamu is not the one to organize the business side, even though he understands and knows how to do it. kalamu is in discussion with a number of people who are interested in the project. within the next week we will have a full progress report.5. ya mama’nem lynn pitts (who is in new york city and is also a former associate director of the workshop) with the help of asante salaam is going to head up this project. they are still in the planning stages, but essentially it will be a website gathering memories of new Orleans. here is how lynn explains the genesis of the idea. ”During a conversation with Asante yesterday we talked about an idea I had for an e-book of writing and artwork from New Orleans artists to be sold as a fundraiser… by the time we finished talking though, we both thought a website might be a better idea. A place all the artists that we know could post fiction, poetry, memoir, photos, artwork, etc. that speaks to their memories of the city when it was whole. We think people would appreciate the opportunity to express themselves and I also think it’s important the rest of the country understand what was lost last week. Asante came up with the title: “How Ya’ Mama’nem?: Love Letters for New Orleans.” I think it’s a good idea, a really good idea.6. communications marian moore, we need you to step forward and take on the task of developing and maintaining our listserv. right now I’m sending material out on the fly, but we need to have a moderated listserv to make sure information is shared efficiently and effectively. also consider gathering and sharing material of interest from the internet, which you already do, but stepping up the process by being a clearing house for this, so that members who see stuff of interest know to send it to you and you in turn decide whether to share it with the neo-griot listserv. marian this is really a formalizing of a task you have already been doing, however, you may not have computer access. let me know if you have a laptop, if not, we’ll need to get one to you. two reasons I’m asking you: one, you were already maintaining our basic listserv and two, you are a computer programmer and can build the database that will be needed as we expand and develop our work. for certain, over the next year for sure and right on into the next two or three years we will be living all over the united states and abroad. the internet is going to be our major communications medium. marian, let me know 1. if you’re up for it, and 2. if you need a laptop.7. internet infrastructure we have two commercial servers, paid for and up and running. the domain name is active. we are prepared to build on what we have already started with breath of life and e-drum.8. ideological development we have got to find a way to continue and deepen our collective study. for example, many of you remember the works of primo levi that we studied, particularly some of his descriptions about life in the concentration camps in germany. some of the seemingly baffling behavior trumpeted by the media, is not so baffling once it is contextualized in the crucible of extreme, systematic oppression and social trauma. I’m open to suggestions for documents, books, articles we can share to advance our development.9. social/spiritual development remember that time we drove over to Atlanta for a national black arts festival event, and I joke that if we got stopped it was going to be difficult to explain what we were doing with a pagan, a muslim, a christian and a jew in one car ;->) I bring this up because it is critical that we not only respect, but more importantly, that we embrace diversity even when we are dealing with a group of  “black” people there is still a great deal of diversity. and indeed, that is the nature of the human condition at this time. I’ve outline this in some detail for two reasons:1. so that neo-griot folk can see the big picture and get in wherever they can fit in. and, to reiterate, we also expect folk to react critically to this outline and not just blindly accept it as some kind of military marching orders. we are a collective, everyone has both a voice and a vote, and the emphasis is on consensus rather than a simple majority takes all.2. so that others can see how we work and interface with us, as well as learn from us and share with us, thereby folk can learn from us and we can learn from them. I’m smiling at the moment because I remember the year we took to read/study the alphabet versus the goddess. as I look back over the list of assignments, it is clear that women are taking the lead. is it any accident that we are switching from text/the book as the primary method of storing and sharing information, to the internet. consider that the times picayune was forced to switch to the internet and in the process reached far more people than they ever could have when they were mainly a print medium. consider that the cnn was the prime source of information—what method of communication with the people did the government have? nothing! no emergency channel. not even a government radio station to give people updates and information. and in the aftermath as cell phones and land lines went down, people are finding each other through the internet, connecting much, much more efficiently than through any other means. this is the 21st century, an age that starts off using digital technology. but technology is no replacement for social interaction. we need to use the technology to facilitate our social development. hugs are important. not only all hands on deck, but also all hands around each other. enough for now. more to come. awaiting your replies a luta continua,kalamu  or

posted 6 September 2005

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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—


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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store







update 2 January 2012




Home  Kalamu ya Salaam Table  Kalamu ya Salaam Needs Work  New Orleans Neo-Griot Workshop  All Hands on Deck  evacuating new orleans 

Related files: Katrina New Orleans Flood Index    Aug 31- Sept 1    Sept 2    Sept 3    Sept  4   Sept  5   HBCUs & Black Educators  Governor says everyone must leave New Orleans  

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