The Bandana Republic

The Bandana Republic


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




 The book is divided into six sections, each focusing on specific aspects of lifestyle and social conditions

likely to engage urban youth. The initial sections . . . fully lay out the evolutionary process

borne by many, from initiation and gangbanging to prison terms and self-education.



Books by Louis Reyes Rivera

Who Pays The Cost (1978) / This One For You (1983) / Scattered Scripture

 Bum Rush the Page (co-editor) / The Bandana Republic (co-editor)

Sancocho: A Book of Nuyorican Poetry by Shaggy Flores (edited by Louis Reyes Rivera)

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The Bandana Republic

A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and Their Affiliates

Edited by Louis Reyes Rivera and Bruce George

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Bandana Republic Anthology

Debuts @ Hue-Man Book Store & Café

Monday, June 9, 2008, at 6pm 

2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (125th St.), Harlem

(between 125th & 124th)

 Hosted by Victor “Gotti” Cherry


New York, NY – 28 May 2008 – On Monday evening, June 9, at 6 p.m., the Harlem-based Hue-Man Book Store & Café will host the first of a series of book signings for The Bandana Republic: a Literary Anthology By Gang Members and Their Affiliates (Soft Skull Press, NY). With its release to bookstores throughout the U.S. barely underway, this 265-page collection is already a hot subject on Internet Radio and on-line venues.

Already hailed as the most provocative and powerful literary work yet to hit the stands this year, The Bandana Republic is the first full-length anthology that features writings from both former and current urban gang members. Intergenerational in scope, the work consists of over 125 entries, including letters, essays, poems, short stories and interviews by a solid array of social workers, activists, teachers, gang leaders, artists, writers, film and stage celebrities from New York to California and beyond. Co-edited by award-winning poets Louis Reyes Rivera (Scattered Scripture; Bum Rush the Page, et al) and Bruce George (a Peabody recipient for HBO’s Def Poetry Jam), the anthology also features a foreword by movie star and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown (founder of Amer-I-Can Program and Foundation, an organization exclusively devoted to urban youth).

The book is divided into six sections, each focusing on specific aspects of lifestyle and social conditions likely to engage urban youth. The initial sections (Battleground, Telling The Tale and On The Count) fully lay out the evolutionary process borne by many, from initiation and gangbanging to prison terms and self-education. The next two sections (The Politics We See and Hard Love) continue the process with more focus on both the political and personal aspects of social consciousness which actually pervades throughout the book and culminates in the final section (New Leaves Turning), in which communal and social responsibility are more fully engaged.

Hosted by Bandana contributor Victor ‘Gotti’ Cherry, the June 9th celebration at Hue-Man Books (2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd, at 125 Street) begins at 6 p.m., with several other contributors on hand. This is followed by tandem appearances scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Black Book Festival on June 14, and at the Nuyorican Poets Café on Tuesday, June 24 (7 p.m.). For further information, contact via internet websites:;

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More About the Book

Urban youth gangs and street associations are viewed more often than not as training grounds for thugs and felons. Left out are their members’ emotional sensitivities, their political consciousness, their individual and collective capacities to assess the social conditions that gave rise to the need for such associations. Not included in the popular dialogue on gangs is the creative impulse that has continued to manifest in popular culture–from the birth of the Blues to Rag Time and Swing, to BeBop, Doo Wop and Hip Hop. From the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to the Black Panther Party, Brown Berets, Young Lords and Brownstone Rangers to the height of the Civil Rights Movement to our current Hip Hop culture, urban gang rhetoric and its symbolisms have informed almost every major social movement of this century. They have also played a role in protecting neighborhoods, initiating food and clothing drives and in taking on housing-related issues such as gentrification. The Bandana Republic, A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and Their Affiliates, edited by Louis Reyes Rivera and Bruce George with a foreword by Jim Brown focuses on creative literature written by adolescents from such former and contemporary gangs as Chaplains, Bishops, Sportsmen, Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Black Spades, Neta, Black Gangster Disciples and others. Includes work by former gang members who have gone beyond gangbanging and into the social and cultural arenas. The anthology showcases writing by Alicia Benjamin-Samuels, Oscar Brown Jr., Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., Commander, Comrade X, Layding Kaliba, Dead Prez, Ruby Dee, Shaggy Flores, Erica Ford, The Last Poets, Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Akua Njeri, Willie Perdomo, T. Rodgers, Luis J. Rodriguez, Leila Steinberg, Kublai Toure, Ted Wilson, Malik Yoba, and others, many of whom have either come from urban gangs or were closely affiliated with street-based organizations

Like many adolescents, they initially attached themselves to the available rough-n-tumble street role models, becoming active gang members and adopting the ways of the street. Inside of this framework, and in spite of the stereotypical conventional wisdom concerning street gangs, they were also reared into the creative aspirations of their respective communities. Not just dancing and styling, but reading and studying, learning to develop the gall to give voice to the voice.

Source: Excerpts from the Introduction

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The Bandana Republic

 a Literary Anthology By Gang Members and Their Affiliates


Foreword Jim Brown xiii Introduction Louis Reyes Rivera         I—Battleground           We Are Born Into This Francine Rosas  9 Super Tramp Monte Smith 9 Set Tripping Bruce George 10 Initiation: Seven Immortals  J.Sheeler 12 Self-Made Man Oscar T. Lester  14 The Night Gotti Died Victor Gotti Cherry 15 King of Ghettoasphere Avery R. Young 16 Racial Conflicts Juan C. Valadez 17 Untitled Bmoredamu 20 Maria Nekesha Bell 21 Machine in Mo-Shuuun! Big Kiko 22 Riverside Outlaw O.G Pimp GKB G-Shyne 23 Catch You at the Crossroads Erica Ford 25 I didn’t know Eric S. 26 Shooting the Rabid Dog Marcelo 27 Ethnic cleaning Kevin Coval 29 These Hands Joseph Andolinio 30 Esoteric Rhetoric Abyss 33 Battle Willie Perdomo 36 Partners to the End Terrence Oats 37 Recess Time John D. Evans 37 Refugees Alicia Benjamin-Sammuels 38 Kasper Juan C.Valadez 39 I ran from, and to, home Chad Marshall 40 Homeboy K-Swift 42 Writing Inside Time Lecory Rhyanes 43 Dead Angels Juan C. Valadez 44 Where the Luv At Redstorm 45  The Pariah Sun Ra a.k.a Oow-Wee Shakur  46       II-Telling The Tale   47       Flexing for Turf Dwane Bell 49 Absence of Choice Layding L. Kaliba 50 Untitled Jaha Zainabu 54 From Gangs to the Ghetto to Gangstas of the inner City Ted Wilson 56 Ghetto Nostalgia T. Rodgers 64 Our Children are Screaming Gino Morrow 66 Todo Por Mi Familia Cherryl Aldave 70 Big Tookie Big Kiko 79 18th Street Showdown Johnny Berger 80 Inner City Disease Al & Nnamdi 86 What Blood Means OG 40 Dogg 88 D.T.K (Down to Kill) Ron King 88 Big Tommy, Little Tommy Johnny Berger 98 The Darkest of Knights John E. Marshall III 103 Eloquent Hypocrisy Jesus P. Melendez  105       III-On The Count   111       I am what it is to be Richard Gonzalez 113 As I lay in my lonely and cold bed King Blood 113 A Letter from the Inside Jay the Butcher 115  A Prayer from Hell Kakamia Jahad 116 Where’d He learn it from Kakamia Jahad 117 The Cage! Charles Bronson 118 Have you seen the sun Rolando Ortiz 119 Jailed Alicia Benjamin-Sammuels 119 The Game Don Badatunde 120 Excerpt: “Down for Revolution” Clyde Young 121 Mind Games PJ.S. 1 140 They gave me twelve years on the wake-up Shaka B. Shukur 141 I’m Just waiting Noel Rodriguez 142 Behind Prison Bars LaRonz Murray 144 Letter to My Son Luis J. Rodriguez 146 Leaving Death Row Reginald Lewis 149 I Am/ I Am Out Rolando Ortiz 150       IV-The Politics We See   153       Old Lines Leila Steinberg 155 Para Los Lation y Federico Garcia Lorca Kent Foreman 158 From the Gut George Morillo 160 Introduction to Life Malachi Daniels 160 Culture OG Burner Blood 161 Gangbanging the American Way Armen-Rah 163 Original Gravey (O.G) Stic.Man 165 Kun Frieya Kun Summer Hill Seven 166 The N Word! Kamal 168 Political Poetry Rikoshey Ratchet 170 Gangs R Us Word Engineer 171 Brooklyn! Downed Town! Joe PY. 172 Break Your Chains Redstrom 173 Fear of a Bandana Republic Malachi Daniels 175 Can You Trap Into The Mentality Shannon Gross 178 What do R.B.G. Mean? M1 of Dead Prez 181 Born Identiy Kalonji Jama Changa 182 Gangs Abiodun Oyewole 184 The Brothers Gunnin’ Commander 185 SinCity Jamie Flores 186 Tupac Rudy Dee 188 Uhuru M.Bonds 190       V-Hard Love   193       Without Pretense Jungle 195 What are we Having Anthony Graves 195 Dangerously in Love Phillip Muhammad 199 Dance’ at the Printz Grille Alicia Benjamin-Sammuels 198 She’s Just Modeling Phillip Muhammad 199 Eyes Open Wide Redstrom 199 Inside Out Monte Smith 200 Progress Lonna Kingsbury 202 The Dinner Lonna Kingsbury 203 Family Ties Carlos Palmer 204 Untitled Amir Sulaiman 204 Home Street Home Dasun Allah 205 English Only Spoken Here! Roxanne Hoffman 206 In the Name Of Love Cierra M. Robinson 209 Visiting Day at Elmwood Scorpiana 211 Ghetto Haikus Hamza Atoi 212 Degree of Separation Karla Armour 214 Tribute Chantay Leonard 217 Elegy: in hot pursuit Louis Reyes Rivera  220       VI-New Leaves Turing   223       What Is a Gang Shaka B. Shakur 225 Scareface Arman-Rah 228 It Seems Like Yesterday Michelles 231 Diverse and Wild Kathleen Morgan 233 The Process Kathleen Morgan 234 On Some Freedom Shit Bruce George 235 Michael Jackson’s Action Oscar Brown. Jr. 237 Patience of the Spider Adisa Banjoko 241 Truth and Honesty Adfiba Allison 247 An Open Letter Kublai Toure 247 Youth and Community Carlos Garcia 248 The thoughts of a man Maxwell Houser 249 To whom It May Concern Malik Yoba 251 On David Lord Cashus 251  50 Clip Reincarnation Victor Cherry 255 Simply Give Jauqo III-X 256 The Deal Is Done Monte Smith 256 Gangs George Tavarez 258 America Doesn’t Have a gang problem Kwame J. Teague 258 We Shine Daniel J. Class 260  The Ghetto Manifesto Fred Hampton. Jr.  261 Code of conduct Akua Njeri 262 The Directive Dasun Allah 263

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Initiation: Seven Immortals, 1972

                                                      By J. Sheeler Circle of girls on the night sand, boardwalk a glowing line behind us. Gloria wraps the belt around her fist as I pull my t-shirt up and off, naked to the waist, arms crossed, hands spread out to cover the sides of my breasts. Watching the dirty, undulate CI beach roll down to the dirty ocean water, I wait for seven strikes of leather on bare skin to close out my individual life. Gloria doesn’t hold back, swings like a batter at the plate, ninth inning, all eyes on her, whirls into a whipping that draws out of me nothing but blood. To call out, to cry, that is to fail. And to fail is to invite the watching circle to close in, deliver the real thing, give me something to cry about. That’s how my father would say it. He trained me well for this initiation. Years of unmeasured violence honed my weapons: blank face, bone-dry eyes. Seven strikes across the back, counted out, witnessed and paced. This is a sure thing. A bet I have no way to lose. The girls don’t know this. Gloria doesn’t like me, wants to stay the only white Immortal on Coney Island, uses all her crazy-white-girl muscle to whip some kind of sound out of me but she can’t, of course she  can’t, and the circle counts out loud, feeds into the frenzy four, five, six, a laughing scream at seven, and I swing around to face my initiator. Welcome, Seven Immortal Gloria says, calm and blank at me, dropping her belt to give me a complicated handshake. The circle breaks up, drifts off. I walk the dark beach down, alone, to the water, wet my shirt to wash the blood then wash the shirt and pull it over my brand-new back: the red, the shredded black, the rising blue. My first jacket. My primary colors.

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Louis Reyes Rivera is among the more respected underground poets, having assisted in the publication of over 200 books. Known as the Janitor of History and a living bridge between African and Latino Americans, he has taught courses on Pan-African, African-American, Caribbean, and Puerto Rican literature and history, as well as Creative Writing. In addition to solo recitals and lectures, he has worked with jazz bands.

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Bruce George is a visionary, executive producer, writer, poet, and activist born and raised in NYC. He has written testimonials for the likes of Essence, Emerge, and Class magazines, Harlem River Press, and others.

Source: SoftSkull

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#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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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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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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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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posted 22 May 2008




Home  Louis Reyes Rivera Table

Related files: The Bandana Republic (reviews; table of contents)    A Review of The Bandana Republic (Sharif)  From Gangs of the Ghetto to Gangstas of the Inner City ( Wilson)

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