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Baraka is committed to social justice like no other American author. . . . a revolutionary thinker whose political activities and creative growth has taken him from Black nationalism in the 1960s to Marxism-Leninism—without ever turning his literature into dogma



Books by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

Tales of the Out & the Gone  / The Essence of Reparations / Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems  / Blues People

 Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka / Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones / Black Music

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Two new books by Amiri Baraka

St. Martin (2003)—The Essence of Reparations  and Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems, by controversial America author Amiri Baraka have just been published here by House of Nehesi Publishers.

The Essence of Reparations  is Baraka’s first collection of four daring essays looking at reparations for African-Americans, for the crimes of slavery, linking reparations to greater political, economic and social development, and the writer’s ideas about democratic transformation in the USA.

The fact that reparations could be the watershed movement for Black peoples in the 21st century and that scholars from Harvard to the University of the West Indies (UWI) and from Haiti to Nigeria are exploring, among other features, the moral and legal issues like never before, will not endear Baraka any more to his detractors who are still up in arms about his explosive poem “Somebody Blew Up America.”

In fact, the jointly-published Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems headlines the 9-11 poem in which Baraka questions “who,” other than those identified as terrorists, knew beforehand about the New York City World Trade bombings on September 11, 2001.

The poetic inquiry detonated a fiery storm of its own, leading to a battle royal with the very governor of New Jersey, Baraka’s native state, which had not long before appointed him as its poet laureate. The government asked Baraka to resign over the poem that mattered.

The poet refused. And a few months ago the New Jersey state legislature practically outlawed the laureate post. Baraka has since taken the state government to court and Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems may very well end up as “witness” for the plaintiff and the defense.

Baraka, 69, has written over 40 books of poetry, plays and music history and criticism. His works have been translated all over Europe and he remains renown as the father of the Black Arts movement in the USA in the 1960s.

Author and Bob Marley scholar Kwame Dawes states in his rather comprehensive introduction to Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems that one thing is for sure: Baraka needs no introduction.

Yet House of Nehesi sees these two books also as an introduction of Amiri Baraka to the Caribbean, said its projects director Lasana M. Sekou. It could very well be the first time that a major US author has been published in the region.

Equally world renown author/poet/historian Kamau Brathwaite at NYU credits Baraka as one of the few American authors to feature the Caribbean critically in their works and is certain about the place and appearance of Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems as, “one more mark in the development in modern Black radical & revolutionary cultural reconstruction.”

Already available at, and other online bookstores, it can be argued that there is no way either of these new titles will only be read in the Caribbean given the US and international reach of Baraka’s work.

Take the complexity of his position in The Essence of Reparations “One does not have to agree with his ideological framework to appreciate the timeliness and urgency of his case for reparations,” states Dr. Rupert Lewis, professor of Political Thought at UWI. And in the book’s introduction, a virtual international reparations reportage, former Nigerian diplomatic officer Fabian Badejo pointed out that Baraka is basing the struggle for reparations “on facts, in a scientific manner.”

It has been said that Baraka is committed to social justice like no other American author. He is certainly a revolutionary thinker whose political activities and creative growth has taken him from Black nationalism in the 1960s to Marxism-Leninism—without ever turning his literature into dogma or being an apologist for any movement or ideology.

In The Essence of Reparations and Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems  the indomitable American who dares to challenge the times is once again fresh and fearless.

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The publication of Amiri Baraka’s Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems makes one more mark in the development in modern Black radical & revolutionary cultural reconstruction.—Kamau Brathwaite, CowPastor, Barbados; Comparative Lit., New York University


Baraka sees the struggle for reparations not as end in itself but as part of a wider struggle for full citizenship and equal rights in a program for genuine democratic transformation in the United States. In this context he poses issues that go way beyond the challenges of reparations. One does not have to agree with his ideological framework to appreciate the timeliness and urgency of his case for reparations.—–Rupert Lewis, Professor of Political Thought, University of the West Indies


Contact: Lasana M. Sekou / 011(599) 559-9262 / /

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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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Sex at the Margins

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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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update 28 December 2011




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