ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
an internet film zine and e-mail publication documenting the future of the Black New Wave
After the Diallo Trial and the verdict and all thatmy anger and resentment towards the American
system had reached its peak. I hated, absolutely hated Guiliani and began to evaluate things from that
part of my life, the overtly political side of myself. I was always against many things. But you
see in the summer of 1999 I was really trying to figure out what I was for.
An interview with
Dennis Leroy Moore
New York-based experimental guerilla filmmaker
By Sharon Gates
Dennis Leroy Moore is a native New Yorker and was born on February 19, 1976 in Flushing, Queens. He is an actor, writer, theatre director, and filmmaker. He has written in-depth essays on black filmNotes from the Underground, as well as Parable of a Man Crucified about Marvin Xs video-drama One Day in the Life. His theatre credits include works by Amiri Baraka, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht; James Baldwins classic Blues for Mister Charlie as well as early obscure one-act plays by Tennessee Williams.
His first feature film As an Act of Protest is a disturbing film about an actor who goes through a stations-of-the-cross journey in hopes of discovering an ultimate way to rid the world of colonization, racism, and police brutality. The film debates the power and relevancy of art in times of extreme oppression. It first premiered in February 2002 at Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival. It was produced by Melissa Dymock of John Brown X Productions.
Sharon Gates: What was the genesis behind As an Act of Protest and how did the project first come together?
Dennis Leroy Moore: It was a long process. In a certain way, I suppose the most honest statement I could make about the films inception is that it took twenty-four years to make it because thats how old I was when I wrote it. It was the totality of my experience as a black man, as a young artist, as a very sensitive kid. The idea itselfthe conscious dramatic storyline – was something I had toyed with in my head for years. I always liked the metaphor of the Actor and I always thought a story about a black actor would be an interesting movie. It was always very general, though. When I was nineteen and going through my first big bout with depression, I read James Baldwins Tell Me How Long the Trains Been Gone and while I was being treated in a hospital I made notes for a movie about an actor.
I had never studied filmmaking nor did I even have the desire at that time to make a film, but I knew it would be a logical extension of my theatre work. Film, theatre those are just the specific mediums. A visual artist could work on canvas, he could use oil, acrylics, watercolordoesnt matter. Hes a painter first and foremostit just gets more specific with each individual artwork. Sometimes you know something wont work for you in color so you use black and white. Or maybe youre not feeling clay, so you use something else, you know? As a director, if youre like meits just a matter of feeling the medium to direct the piece. Is it live or more cinematic? Those are always the impressions I begin with.
Sharon Gates: So you wrote the piece over a period of years?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Well not literally, no. The specifics of the filmthe themes of manhood, Christ, racism, Cairos entire arc of experiencethese specifics were cultivated after I had gotten over the first tidal wave of immediate inspiration. For example, I knew after the Diallo incident that I had to stage Blues for Mister Charlie at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. I simply had to address that incident and found the perfect metaphor with Richard in Blues. After the Diallo Trial and the verdict and all thatmy anger and resentment towards the American system had reached its peak. I hated, absolutely hated Guiliani and began to evaluate things from that part of my life, the overtly political side of myself. I was always against many things. But you see in the summer of 1999 I was really trying to figure out what I was for.
So the piece began to develop out of my anxieties about my life, my future, my art. Even my careerwhatever that means. And when those personal feelings and doubts crossed paths with my innate sense of right and wrong and my political convictions, I knew I had a script. I sat down and wrote for a week straight. I just vomited the whole thing up. My goal was to be direct, honest, and completely real about expressing what I was going through. I made a lot of enemies just after I wrote the script. Some of my white friends thought I was nuts and too militant and some of my black friends and artists of color just felt it was too weird and too personal. Not funny, enough. Not enough entertainment. That sort of stuff.
Sharon Gates: What did your producer, Melissa Dymock think of it? How did you get her involved?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Melissa had always been involved with me ever since the summer of 1998. She produced Blues for Mister Charlie without knowing a stitch about theatre, which is an incredible thing. I always considered her a maverick, because shes got instincts, guts and moves like a warrior. I find it funny that shes this Southern white woman, and Im a Northern black kid from the Caribbean and together we made something. Shes a simple working class woman who has always wrestled with the oddsin school she had a learning disability, her demeanor was different, etc,.
So she understood my artistic nature and was comfortable around artists since she was an architect. Shes an artist herself, but denies it. Shes worked in construction, you see. But that experience of creating buildings added to her impression of what her role as a producer was and could be. Shes a damn good producer. Shes loyal and were very passionate about what we do. However, the stress and the mania that I partially am responsible for during the shoot, I think, tapped her out. She still holds things against me. Its very complicated when two close people really work with each other. Its like a marriage that can slowly begin to crumble if you both have egos and if you both are insecure.
But, anyway, I told Melissa about a script I was writing loosely based on my life and then I added the whole Diallo and Hamlet-revenge association and she really liked it. She laughs cause she never actually read the script until the last minute. I ll never forget when she called me up one evening cryingtelling me that she liked what she read and that we had to do this piece or at least die trying. She felt it was very contemporary and probably had the closest idea of what I was trying to do. Also, the wardrobe artist and actress Angie Saidelshes an artist from Germanyshe had amazing insight into my concept. She played the French banker, Madame Dupree and was amazing. After Umar from the Last Poets, they were the closest artists or people in tune with script. So yeah, Melissa was very supportive. And even though we were at each others throats by the time we finished Blueswe still worked together.
Sharon Gates: So you were still close after Blues?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Melissa and I were extremely close after Blues, but after the experience of doing the play at the National Black Theatre I was very depressed because my dream of a permanent theatre company was ruined. I was very angry, very resentful and it strained all my relationships.
Sharon Gates: What exactly happened at the National Black Theatre? Why did you sever ties with them?
Dennis Leroy Moore: I hate talking about this because Im the one who always gets in trouble, but Ill tell you the little I know and what I think is closest to the truth. One, they (National Black Theatre) were in a huge financial hole and in dire straits, they were nervous the banks would take their building and Two, they hated my methods, my emotionality. I was really just like the character I play in Protest. Abners entire character was a very conscious projection and satire of who I actually was when I was at that time directing plays. I was crazy, you know? But I was alivefull of energy and ideas. Thats how all young people are supposed to be. The problem, however, is outside of Music or the Sports worldblack men are not allowed to be so positively self-absorbed and celebratory.
Were not allowed to be energetic unless were running for the white man on a basketball court. They are not allowed to strut their stuff, so to speak. Theyre not allowed to take their work and their lives as serious and complex like a singer is able to. Or the way Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant are entitled to. Not to knock sports, but give me a break. A writers sense of self, arrogance, determination, and talent when it comes to him expressing his ideas and feelings is ten times more important or useful to humanity that some jock throwing a ball and getting all emotional about it. Lets be honest here.
Sharon Gates: So you feel that art should receive the same attention that mainstream sports do?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Thats a trick question. But yes, I think if people could actually talk about and debate art the way they could sports, things would be a lot different. Not necessarily betterbut our culture wouldnt be as trashy and stupid as it is. When I was doing nothing but snorting loads of cocaine and debating how to kill myself these were the very thoughts running through my head. And it depressed me, because then you start believing that you have to compete with the machine. With the mainstream. As a relatively sane and smart person, I never could comprehend the whole capitalist side of art. I always felt that money and art cancelled each other out. Its like love and attorneys. The reason I reject the whole institution idea of marriage is that if it doesnt work out, some one has to pay money.
As if you could actually compare your life, your blood, your love or hate for another person with money! Thats insane to me. Likewise in art, the whole idea of having contracts for example is ridiculous to me. Do Shamans have contracts with their tribes? Do Punk Bands and Rap groups have contracts with each other? No, they get together cause they understand one another. They can vibe off of each other. Contracts are for business. I completely resent the fact that I have to even consider business when Im directing a play or writing a new film.
Sharon Gates: Well, we need to have money, dont we? I understand what you mean but dont you think the more money and power an artist has access tothe better?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Absolutely not. So, Michael Jackson is a trillionaire. Who cares? Has that really improved his music? No. Hes flown around the world, but that means nothing if he isnt feeling anything. I think hed be the same genius if he were poor. In fact, hed be healthier if he were less rich. He wouldnt be this freak that we come to know him as. But you never know, actually. Hes probably always felt that way. I can relate on that level, cause Ive always been the odd man out myself.
Sharon Gates: Youre not serious about that are you? Why would you consider yourself a freak?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Well, I say that because its true. I been the freak my whole life. Im 26 years old and Ive got nothing to show for it, which I find pathetic. I know this sounds crazy, but its not and Im trying to deal with it. I cant seem to sustain healthy relationships with women, I always scare them off. I dont know how to make money. Im constantly borrowing and begging. I know a lot of flaky people, so what does that say about me? I dont know how to make friends. My social skills suck. I want desperately to have my own theatre company, but could never find anyone to join or help me. I felt real lonely from the age of sixteen and on.
I could never be myself, and then when I was myself I was hated. I seemed weird to people because I was emotional and read a lot, and had a very mixed eclectic family. I was a loner. I lied to make friends and indulged in art in order to express truth. What do you think As an Act of Protest is really about? If you really look at itits about living on the fringes of society. And those who are sensitive, those who want truth at any cost will suffer and be persecuted. Thats where all that clunky Christ imagery came into play.
Sharon Gates: Yes, it was sort of convoluted. The second time I saw it in NY it made sense though.
Dennis Leroy Moore: Thats the thing about art. Or like a good bookwith every reading, you get something new from it. Sometimes things clickassociations, imagery, subtle jokes. Sometimes they just leap out and you realize what was there all that time. I love that. I think pure art contains that and doesnt have signposts telling you instantly WHAT TO FEEL. Thats my chief complaint with Hollywood films. They insult the audience and we accept it. Ill never understand that. Might as well be real about it and go to an S&M club. I suppose Id rather have a sexy matron insult me with a lions tail and have my own fantasies, rather than go to a movie and be teased by some fat Hollywood producer, who is only projecting the warped thoughts of the White Male. I dont mean to paint such a vulgar picture, but thats what it is.
Sharon Gates: Isnt film an extension of the voyeur? Arent all filmmakers indulging and revealing their fantasies?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yes, but it would be nice to experience different fantasies. You see, Hollywood pumps out drugseye candy, stuff that doesnt mean anything. Its sole purpose is to give a kind of Great Adventure experience and cool effects and stuff youd see tripping on Acid or whatever. Theres no humanity, nothing real about it. I read a poet like Langston Hughes or Kalamu ya Salamm or Sylvia Plath, and get all these different meanings and layers of life and experience. Some I relate to, some I dont. But I always get chills up my spine when I read thembecause they are revealing themselves to me. They are making themselves vulnerable. And thats real art. There must be an emotional risk involved, if not a literal one.
Sharon Gates: So who would you say is a Poet of the Cinema?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Please dont ask me this. Okay, lets see . . . First and foremost Charles Burnett, John Cassavetes, Julie Dash, Abbas Kirostami, Lars von Trier, Raoul Peck, Haile Gerima . . . Bill Gunn was certainly a master. Ingmar Bergamn, Satyajit Ray, Djibril Diop Mambety. Hed probably like that, though . . . Even big filmmakers like Oliver Stone, Scorsese, Coppola. Sidney Lumet was always one of my favorites, as well as Robert Bresson, Hitchcock, and Costa Gavras. Melissa turned me on to Fassbinder and he was great, also . . . I could go on and on.
Sharon Gates: What do you think of Harmony Korine?
Dennis Leroy Moore: I like his aesthetic, what hes doing with film is important. But unfortunately, hes just a bratty, screwed up white boy. His politics frighten me, so do his movies. Which is not a bad thing, because Id be lying if I said he wasnt perhaps the most innovative American filmmaker whose broken into the mainstream without forsaking his identity. Hes a real artist. His last picture Gummo, was a dogme 95 experiment and it was insane. Werner Herzog loves him though, so I guess he is truly validated.
Sharon Gates: Have you ever heard of Naeema Barnett?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yes, I saw her film Civil Brand in Miami at the American Black Film Festival, at Melissas request. I think she is a major talent in terms of latent ability. And Civil Brand was commercial enough to get picked up, so I hope it gets released. I think if she continues on and develops working with new and younger actors, shell be exactly what black actresses need to havean intelligent, fiery, female director! What I like about her is that even though her sensibilities are very commercial, shes still expressing her own feelings and emotions.
Sharon Gates: What about Spike Lee?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Spike is a damned good craftsman. And of course he was a major inspiration to me growing up. Hes our Steven Spielberg because everyone knows who he is and they know what to expect; his name is more famous than his actual work. But I dont know if hes a real artist, though. Although with Bamboozled, I thought he cracked the shell wide open, so I guess he is. Its just that all his stuff is so overtly self-conscious and never feels really personal to me. Im suspicious of his intentions politically, and I hate the fact that all his films seem so cartoony. But, look, hes developed and grown and I look to him to see how an artist can grow in mainstream filmmaking. What I find interesting is that he made a full circle already, which I think is impressive.
Sharon Gates: You mean going from Shes Gotta Have It to Bamboozled?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yeah. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Spike Lee, he has a singular vision and he is growing, unafraid to experiment. Before Bamboozled, the only thing I liked was Get on the Bus, which I thought was very radical.
Sharon Gates: Why?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Because the most progressive thing a black filmmaker can do is show black men of all ages and colors relating to each other. Talking to one another like human beings. Brecht said Art is not a mirror to hold up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it. Sometimes in art you have to project what you would like to see happen. Remember, most people still have a skewered view of black men. Were not real to many people, were not human and intelligent or as deep as white men are.
This is what Hollywood movies purport. So to be radical is to show our complexities, simple as that. Black people are not buffoons, not simpletons, not savages, and not holy noble-types like some of those silly Sidney Poitier movies. I am convinced that if we can represent one another like the human beings we really are, some of our problems would go away. Im not saying this is an answer to anything, but I do know that if some director made a real heart-aching black love story it would be the most phenomenal thing. We dont see ourselves loving each other and that has become detrimental to our mental health.
Sharon Gates: Okay. Now you have mentioned several things I want to address. First, lets rewind. I originally asked you about the convoluted Christ imagery. You were making a parallel to fringe thinkers, lone individuals against society-types with Jesus Christ. Tell me more about this.
Dennis Leroy Moore: I mentioned Christ because if you really think about it hes the ultimate revolutionary. He was the first Communist. I mean that in the truest sense. And he is a model of what the artist himself goes through. Im not saying Im God, Im saying that we are all part of Christ, though. Artists know what its like to risk their necks. Like revolutionaries or teachers or even a real athlete whose trying to stretch the bounds of their talent for humanity. We feel if we are right then we must be bold enough to take all the blows. So I mean Christ-like in the sense of believing in our cause, in what we preachnot being the son of God or anything. I dont want this to seem too loony. But it probably will come off sounding strange anyway, so I guess it is what it is, right?
Sharon Gates: How valuable are money and options to you?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Options are very important, but I dont think money creates options. It certainly helps and if I was rich, Id be dangerous because Id pour all my money into art and education. That is probably the most revolutionary thing anyone could do. People think revolution is about violence and theyre missing the whole point. Its about raising consciousness and taking people to the next level. I mean we only usewhat? Ten percent of our brain? Artists sweat to use at least eleven percent and then if they can hoist up everyone else it all falls into place. We get folks to climb up to where were at. But thats hard when you know you have to compete with Pop culture. So . . . as far as money is concerned, I only want money so I can make more films. I dont need eighteen cars, and fur coats, and seven houses. No true artist could even handle all that. You go insane because youre energy would go into paying bills and mortgages instead of writing and painting or trying to save the world, as corny as that sounds. I mean, I have enough trouble paying my phone bill.
Sharon Gates: Dont you believe that there could be a balance?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yes. But its hard. I hope to achieve it one day, though.
Sharon Gates: Lets go back to As an Act of Protest. I want to discuss the style and aesthetic of the movie in conjunction with its content. You definitely have your own unique style as an artist, and the film seems to contain several different styles within itself.
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yeah, form follows function. And I do employ different methods to express different scenes.
Sharon Gates: Yes, you seem to meander into different forms at times, but it all comes together. For instance, the scene at Professor Eastmans house are very extreme and expressionistic as opposed to that scene where Cairo comes home to find Karen and the white girl drunk. That whole sequence was so bizarre and real it almost had a documentary feel.
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yeah, its a real mixed bag. For that Eastman scene we used ultra long lenses and stretched it out when we were editing. That other scene was shot hand-held in the midst of the action with natural light. Incidentally, that scene where Cairo goes home and finds the girls drunk is one of my favorite scenes. I like it because emotionally-speaking its very real. People seem stumped by it, but I like it.
Sharon Gates: I have to admit I was stumped. But when I saw it again I realized that Ive been through similar situations, particularly in a mixed-race atmosphere. My boyfriend in College was white and I remember during the OJ trial, I went off on him several times about the racism in this country. I made him feel guilty and seemed to have blamed him for everything. I was immature, but it is a truism that exists. Sometimes we get so frustrated with the system we lash out on our loved ones, even more so if they are white.
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yes. It bothers people that scene. It is there to expose what really goes on in the mind of a frustrated, conflicted, beaten down black man. And I did it to rile up some people, and annoy the rest. Thats the part of the movie that most people begin to question what the point is. Which is stupid to me, the point is whatever it is that you are seeing. No one ever asks whats the point of a verse in a song or no one ever asks what the façade of a house is supposed to mean. We are obsessed with definitions and people cant accept sometimes that what you see is what you get. Cairo is angry and confused. Thats it, it doesnt get any deeper. Why is he that way? Well, look at the world hes living in.
Sharon Gates: What about excess? Is that something youre drawn to?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Yeah, in a way. I suppose thats right But to be honest I dont like to say excess because it relates to being decadent, so it has a more negative connotation I mean the way I look at it is that I was very conscious that it was my first film, so at times I felt I needed to prove how creative I could be. Thats the main thing a lot of filmmakers wrestle with on their first film. You feel you have to prove yourself all the time. It was overkill I admit, but I think the style that evolved was really magical and fit for the film
As an Act of Protest goes from one extreme to the next. Soft, then hard. Comedic, then tragic. Slow, then fast. I think that was one of the best things about the film. Also, the blending of the real and the surreal But I want to ask you if you find your style or at least this particular work oppressive in any way.
Dennis Leroy Moore: Oppressive meaning harsh? Yes. I think my work is always a little oppressive on the audience cause I want them to think. I tend to be excessive as Protest proves, but really I think the work is oppressive because of the emotional elements and truths involved. Yes, racism exists, yes black people can be profound, yes young people do have minds and are angry, yessometimes life does suck. And one thing does inform the other, its all connected. People hate that, though because it makes them have to absorb and think every second of the scene. If they hate that its because they are not used to it. But thats too bad, we have to learn how to be mature adults and watch adult movies. I mean the same folks who tell their eight-year old kids not to eat with their hands are out their watching Austin Powers. It makes no sense.
Sharon Gates: Do you consider yourself angry?
Dennis Leroy Moore: No. Im frustrated. I get angry sometimes, but I dont walk around being angry.
Sharon Gates: What you like to get married? Do you see yourself as a family man?
Dennis Leroy Moore: No. I cant even take care of myself, Id freak out if I had kids. Marriage is something that I cant really see either. I think its hard to stay with one woman and commit, but if I met the right Lady I suppose Id be singing a different tune. And its less about me, and more about the woman. Most women cant hang with me too long, I become too much for them and not as involved in their lives as theyd like.
Sharon Gates: Do you think all artists are like that?
Dennis Leroy Moore: I think you have to self-involved to an extent because you are the source of your work. However, it does happen that artists meet and fall in love. Were human beings, arent we? And everyone knows artists make the best lovers . . . when were not bitching and moaning that is!
Sharon Gates: Whats the current situation regarding As an Act of Protest?
Dennis Leroy Moore: Were still screening it at the Anthology Film Archives each month in lower Manhattan and its scheduled to close the Brecht Forum Film Festival on Monday, September 23rd. We have some screenings scheduled end of this year, early 2003 in New Orleans, North Carolina, and Baltimore.
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A Response to Hasan
I respect your point of view, and Kam Williams’ reviews, and TBWT’s online magbut the problem however is our perception in USA particularly of film being a “product” and not art. And I have nothing to say about Hollyweird or anything tied to that. Those people are not interested in art or meaningful expression anymore than the NY Times is interested in Theatre or Clive Davis is interested in real music or Russell Simmons is interested in poetry. These people are interested in money, period.
Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheepa classic film that is considered a National Treasure (yes!) is one of the greatest works of film art in the past forty years. I can count how many people I’ve met who have ever seen or heard of this film. Why won’t “The Distributors” distribute his film? Burnett is twenty times the filmmaker I amwhy not release this classic on video? Burnett has been trying to do this for years.
The problem includes many factors: the fact that Burnett is a black filmmaker is certainly one of them, the fact that the film is so deep and raw is another, but it really has to do with lack of interest in honest Black American Cinema, nothing more, nothing less. Though there are white guerilla filmmakers such as Robert Kramer (who’s been making movies for 30 years) and Rick Schmidt – who have had to battle for distribution and even a little press interest, they remain ghettoized by the MOVIE PEOPLE because they are artists. Film is still not regarded as an important art form in America and that I think is insulting and problematic.
The arts always suffer from lack of money, patrons, supporters, and serious critics. This is another problem – critics. True film critics like Ray Carney cannot compete with David Denby or Stanley Kaufman or Pauline Kael – when she was still alive. They served the appetites and catered to the masses and made careers for certain directors and movies and it is sick and funny now to expect any “mainstream” critic to review serious films. That would be like expecting them to review and try to publish poems by Baraka, Marvin X. These people could care less about them and likewise they could care less about new, younger emerging artists, black artists and/or those of the “avant-garde.”
What’s chilling is what we refuse to understand about the system we are in: because or if something is “good” doesn’t mean that people will like it or want to nurture it. Real talent scares the powers that be – that’s why all these Pop Stars are so mediocre. Van Gogh taught us this lesson once and it has been repeated through time.
John Cassavetes once said something like this: if you are concerned about how you are going to distribute your movie then you have missed the boat. My response has always been Malcolm’s famous maxim: “By any means necessary.” We need to stop dealing with or playing with Hollywood and create an alternative of our own. I am positive though that we’ll be able to self-distribute within the next year. I don’t need some businessman doing anything for my art or for my pocket. They couldn’t even if they wanted to. I always encourage other filmmakers to look to their hip-hop artists friends and brethren and watch from their examples – make your own record and take it to the street. The way folk are should really be. Peace, DLM
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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 Eroticanoir.com 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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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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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 incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 28 December 2011