Charm School

Charm School


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



CassieJo didn’t wear big ol’ too loose clothes or blouses that tried to cover her posterior, like I did when the white boys

at school laughed during earthquake drills because my behind stuck out from under the desk. CassieJo was not even

ashamed of her shape. And around all those inverted butts. CassieJo’s clothes flowed with her.



Charm School

By Jerhretta Dafina Suite


CassieJo Person was something else.

CassieJo musta been six feet three inches tall with lots of makeup on her face. My father said it was tastefully applied. It was too much for me, though.

CassieJo person was my Charm School teacher. Charm school. Why in the world I needed charm school, I didn’t know. My father thought they could teach me to be a lady. “Smooth those rough edges,” he’d say. Though I didn’t know why. It was hard enough just being a girl. And besides, I like my edges.

CassieJo Person, tall and black with “tastefully applied” makeup, glided into the classroom and introduced herself as she looked over the class. She looked my way and nodded. I almost smiled back.

Anyway, I didn’t learn a thing from CassieJo. Well, she did teach me how to do my nails, of which I had not one. Fingers all bit up.

CassieJo Person was tall, black and comely. Comely. That’s a word I learned from the bible. Bet that surprised you, didn’t it? I might be a little “rough around the edges,” but I read a lot. Anyway, CassieJo taught me how to paint my nubs. They did look a little better. CassieJo said it was a 1000% improvement. I guess painted nubs are better than just plain ones.

Oh, I almost forgot, CassieJo taught me how to sit in a chair without looking back to see where the chair was placed. You know, to back into a chair. Just place the back of your right leg flush with the seat of the chair, balance and gently sit. I used that move to impress relatives, when they flew out to “sunnycalifornia” to visit us, by backing into the back seat of the car. “Look how nice that child got in that car,” my godmother would say I was good.

CassieJo had big feet, too. And she wore the right size shoe. I mean her feet weren’t all curled up at the tip of the shoe like some long-feet ladies I knew. I was amazed because we lived around a lot of little fee people. And here’s this tall black lady all made up and wearing bigass high heels. Oh, excuse me. I should say long, high-heeled shoes. Very long. Six feet three and wearing heels. CassieJo person was something else.

CassieJo said I didn’t always have to say what was right on the tip of my tongue. I just liked to cuss every now and then to see adults’ eyes get wide or slit and watch their lips go slack. CassieJo said, “People who cuss lacked the necessary vocabulary to express themselves.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. I had a bigass vocabulary. Read more books than anyone in my class and used the words in the right places, too. Shoot!

CassieJo wasn’t skinny, like the white girls on TV. CassieJo had “land” behind her. That’s what my fresh-mouth brother said when he came to pick me up from class. “CassieJo has a nice landscape and lots of land behind her.”

But CassieJo didn’t wear big ol’ too loose clothes or blouses that tried to cover her posterior, like I did when the white boys at school laughed during earthquake drills because my behind stuck out from under the desk. CassieJo was not even ashamed of her shape. And around all those inverted butts. CassieJo’s clothes flowed with her.

CassieJo Person was something else.

But what surprised me the most, what really gave me pause, (I bet you liked that word “pause” didn’t you?), was that CassieJo wore her own nappyass hair. Boy! What nerve she had. I mean, I didn’t press my hair. My father would not allow that. But I greased, watered, and brushed it till my naps listened. And they never listened for long. CassieJo told me our hair was like that for a reason. It protected our precious brains. She said that God put a high value on our cerebral mass (I learned that phrase reading our medical dictionary).

She said that the Creator offered us the ultimate protection by making our hair like it was. A blessing she called it. I don’t know what kind of blessing that was when everyone else had blow hair. My hair only moved when I did. Umph!

But, since she was right about my nails looking a little better, I thought I’d try wearing my hair un-slicked for one day. Charm school day.

So, I washed, picked out and patted my hair to a perfect circle. I did like the way it framed my face and showed off my, as CassieJo would say, “Nubian nose.” CassieJo said I had a Nubian nose, like our ancestors in Africa. I told her we’d have to talk about that.

I was kinda excited about going to class that day. I just knew CassieJo would say something wild like, “you look just like a little queen, Melissa Ruth.” She always said crazy stuff like that. CassieJo person was something else.

But when I got to class, CassieJo wasn’t there. Some blow hair lady had taken her place. I don’t remember her name. I just remember her eyes skipping over me when she looked around the class and introduced herself. It was almost like she didn’t see me.

After class I overheard the school director saying that there had been some kind of administrative problem concerning Miss Person. And, that she wasn’t quite the match that they’d been looking for. I wondered with whom they were trying to make her match. I mean, though we were starting to match.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#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

*   *   *   *   *

Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign.  The Economy

*   *   *   *   *

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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

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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 16 June 2008 




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