ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Forman also distances his African politics from that of Du Bois,
whose politics rested its hopes on the commitment and sacrifice of an educated elite.
Books by Amiri Baraka
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CDs by James Brown
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James Brown, Amiri Baraka, & James Forman
Climbing Malcolms Ladder
Black Rhetoric in a Post-Modern Age
By Rudolph Lewis
James Brown Opens the Door
There was no vitally conscious time when James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, was not moving and suggestive of the potentialities of work, sexuality, and creativity. I heard him first on a jukebox in the backwoods of southern Virginia, Mr. Parhams Place down by Sansi Swamp, we slow dancing body sweating close sinking down in Bewildered and Try Me. Them was days of teenage anxiety, clumsy fingers, and mumbling lips.
When twelve, I experienced James Brown on stage, in the flesh, at Baltimores Royal Theater, he ending his show with Please, Please, Please. At the afternoon matinee, in the blue red darkness and on the white spotlighted stage, James Brown did the cape routine (my first time experience): James ruffled collapsing to his knees, moaning, pleading sweating screaming,all spontaneously, it seemed. James and his retainer performed the dynamic routine with exact precision and spontaneity at the 8 oclock show.
I was astonished. It was a non-literary (performance) critique on the black rhetorical methods found in Negro preaching and black religious ecstasy.
By 1968, being hip with Stokely and Black Power, folk music and Coltrane, the speeches of Malcolm and Martin, I saw James Brown a world below, yesterdays news, as some have said. But James was now, the Flames were still alive. The Number One Soul Brother proved, however, that he was more adaptable than Amiri Baraka, Eldridge Cleaver, and Kwame Toure combined, when he released his own version of Black & Proud.
In Washington, D.C. Brown held up his hand and the riot slithered into the darkness. Like he was a mighty man, like a Malcolm. Nixon and Humphrey embraced and boosted Brown as a new black leader, exemplary of hard work and black capitalism.
Politics cries out continually for sophistication, and deception. And there aint nothing sophisticated and unnatural about James Brown, the master of showmanship and musical innovator. He remains an extraordinary interpreter of Negro sentiment, rhythms, and moods. Forty years later, his music is as contemporary and moving as it was in 1960. His foibles and his run-ins with the law, for most of us, matter little. James Brown is Man at his creative best, and his musical creations an enduring cultural legacy, so that one may speak of a “James Brown Era.”
It is Browns driving relentless rhythm, his danceable funk, his verbal discordance, his dancing and screaming, sliding and pedaling across the stage, his long processed hair flyingall a responsive rhetorical commentary (giving back) on black life that makes him a cultural icon, second only, probably to Martin King, who also mastered the tenor and temperament of Negro timing. This appeal to the best embracing passions of the Negro is what sustains my interest in the social phenomena of James Brown and his music, whatever criticisms I may entertain of him as a businessman and political theorist. But the Godfather endures.
In a recent NYTimes book review ’I Feel Good’: The Godfather of Everything Ishmael Reed brings our attention to the Godfathers second autobiography I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul. His first, The Godfather of Soul, was published in 1986. I looked for an as told to as with some slave narratives or like Lady Day. James Brown might be a writer, like Louis Armstrong, whose writings are simple and perceptively sharp. JBs thought may indeed be as dazzling as his feet.
For those of us who grew up in the 60s in the lonely backwoods of the segregated South we need only the records and CDs of JB’s music to know the man and his significance. His rhythms and moods, film clips, and our memories only are vessels sufficient to capture the impact of his artistry in emotionally sustaining several generations. Ishmael has said writin is fightin. For James Brown, meshing/clashing rhythms, making the feet, the hips move, dazzling the imaginationa hardworking and sincere performance was/is fightin, the good fight. I can live with that, and so will those who love his work.
Browns influence on contemporary music entertainment is only one aspect of Ishmaels review. Ishmael raises the perennial question of what is success for the black artistwriter, musician, visual artistand concludes: Attracting white paying customers to your books, theater or music, of course, meant success. The other route was to be cited by a white musician or critic as having influenced a white musician. Investors making big returns on black work and resources ain’t news.
Nevertheless, it is phenomenal indeed that semi-literate Negro peasants terrorized under Jim Crow could develop an infectious music form and content that foster international good will toward the United States. This cultural influence, however, could occur only in conjunction with the sway of the global US economic and military penetration into every dark corner on the planet with the latest information technology. In this market-oriented world of efficiency, black talent gains privileges and benefits even if their cultural forms originated among the marginal. Like hip-hop.
Baraka, Malcolm, & Marx
Another curious writing appeared in Crisis, by Amiri Baraka, an insightful black cultural critic, titled From Parks to Marxism: A Political Evolution (December 1998). Barakas essay exudes that rally-the-troops style. He, passionate as James Brown, recalls past victories and sacrifices and encourages his readers poetically to draw on their great reservoir of energy and resentment. He is militantly convinced it is time for another political upsurge by the Afro-American people, and indeed by the great masses of all the people in the U.S. who are not home watching the stock market for their daily swig of our blood. His is a rhetoric that recalls the rhetorical excesses of the 60s and 70s.
In this deceptive essay of political struggle and cultural remembrance, nowhere is there any discussion of Marxism. Or even the history of Marxism among U.S. blacks. The only political evolution that can be described in Barakas creative prose is a movement from the non-violent resistance rhetoric of Rosa Parks to the caustic rhetoric of Malcolm X (with his emphasis on armed struggle). There is also the movement from the agrarian South to the urbanized North, from the backwoods tenant farmer to ghetto thug, criminal, and jazz aficianado.
In 1965 Harlem, with the fratricidal public assassination of Malcolm X, the rhetoric of violence seemingly came to its natural end and found its appropriate target. But it did not end in the ballroom of Malcolms death. Malcolms rhetoric was revived in that of Stokely, Cleaver, Baraka, and Karenga and a ton of small-fry imitators who wanted their militancy on evening news. These were the young black gods of revolutionary struggle.
Are we to think that Baraka is as ignorant as James Brown, in matters of black politics? Without a doubt Baraka uses much more militant rhetoric than James Brown (a man of and by and for the people), who would never speak of Wall Street Journal readers as investors taking their daily swig of blood. Barakas violent imagination registers nowhere in the corpus of James Browns music. Hip-hop like its attendant computerized war games of course has its gothic, medieval blood images.
In some sense, Baraka makes an old-school/new school argument in a North/South context. Malcolm the Harlemite is his God, a harbinger of End Time, in Islamic robes. Martin King a Georgia Baptist cut his revolutionary teeth in Montgomery and established his fame in Birmingham against Bull Connor. For Baraka, Kings rhetoric was infused with classical Afro-American Christian mythology, with its tactical use of Thoreaus Civil Disobedience and Gandhis Non Violent Resistance:
The church, the voice of southern Black religion and its professional class, would assert its leadership, and Christianity now would reassert its leadership, and Christianity now would be the clothes democracy would need. If we were Righteous, we would Overcome, as the Bible and Jesus promised.
That kind of religious mythology was fine for the illiterate Southern Negro. But the hip hard-edged black of the North needed a different kind of rhetoric. Baraka argues that Malcolms militant self-defense stance, his Pan-African and socialist sentiments elevated the struggle and probably would have advanced the struggle quicker if it had not been for a cultural (folk) tradition that advanced the messianic view that freedom came with the Coming of the Lord.
This cultural (religious) perspective of the southern Negro (the Negro folk) contrasts greatly with that of the urban, cosmopolitan Negro. Baraka explains:
We younger Blacks out of school or the service or in the factories and warehouse docks, knew being righteous or good had never worked, except if you could fight. (thats why we called ourselves Bad!) You couldnt be where we lived and let nobody insult you. So the Christian essence of the movement was lost to us.
We all can appreciate juvenile rebellion (punks and thugs) in the city. I too watched the Bowery Boys, they can have their cultural and political usefulness. But can a liberation philosophy or theory rise out of the mire of such ignorance and violence. They like their peasant forbears are natural molds for petty bourgeois sentiments and dreams.
Observe the last several decades of hip-hop’s sustainability.
But Frantz Fanon became a bible to U.S. black militants. Though within the United States, black communities were colonized and policed by racist police forces; these black ghettos were colonies like Algeria or Ghana or Nigeria. James Forman claimed proudly that his ideological thinking was honed on the writings of Frantz Fanon: As a people we must try to make him [Frantz Fanon] and his ideas a popular hero to black people in the United States and the world around. And the Panthers wave Chairman Maos Red Book. The urgent times were a pungent political stew, very heady indeed.
For Baraka, too, it is atheistic communism, that gets him singing, with its myth of the proletariat and the proletariat revolution, the myth of the people redefined in Marxist classes: the bourgeois, the petty bourgeois, and the proletariat (the masses). In this scheme, the poor will get to “heaven on earth,” led by an advance political party of poets (and other misfits), intellectuals, professionals, and other political operatives. This is how Bolsheviks seize state power and all wealth in the name of the proletariat, until the proletariat becomes conscious of itself and its destiny. That was the story in Russia. In China, this process of socialization may take centuries, if at all. Power reluctantly shifts.
I heard Stokely Fall 1967 in Murphy Auditorium at Morgan State College. His daring speech was spellbinding. I had never heard a black man speak about white people in public as Stokely mocked them. His arrogant rhetoric thrilled an audience that felt his revolutionary resentment. The inspiring session ended in shouts of Black Power! Black Power! Black Power! And the pumping of raised fists. I was an immediate convert, on the sidelines until I joined Baltimore SNCC and set up a SNCC office at 432 E. North Avenue. It evolved into Black Liberation Press (BLP), led by Walter Lively, a Trotskyite, with a black corps of volunteer students.
BLP printed James Forman and other writers.
The previous summer I read Ellison, Baldwin, and Wright, guided by a Pratt librarian, a Hampton graduate. It was from this Black woman I got my first coherent view of the black struggle and the growing black anti-war fervor. It was Stokely, however, that personified for me unashamedly militant black manhood. Walter Lively and his Jewish socialist friends at Johns Hopkins taught me about the socialist struggle in Europe and especially the Russian Revolution. They were anti-Stalinists and their hero was Leon Trotsky, romantically assassinated in Mexico by Soviet agents. And there was also the New Era Bookstore at the corner of Park and Mulberry, run by an old CPA member.
In short I was within the heartbeat and general flow of the ideological thinking of the time: a Baltimore cauldron of black nationalist ideas (The Soul School, the Nation of Islam, SNCC, Panthers, Moorish Science Temple, and more hybrid ideologies); and the socialists (Communists, SDSers, Du Bois and Pan-African Socialists, Nkrumah and Nyerere). And there was also Baraka’s Black Mass, which was about as rational as a Black Marxist. It was a great political, social, and cultural bazaar.
In its transitional stage from civil rights to a revolutionary organization, SNCC fell apart financially, with its expulsion of Jewish and white intellectuals and its support of the PLO. Worst, its chairman, Rap Brown, was on the run. Everyone knew that SNCC was dead. What was next? How could the struggle for liberation and black consciousness be moved forward?
James Forman, Fanon, & Revolution
Negroes in 1969 were integrating schools, employment, and public accommodations. Organizing unions among black women, as did Local 1199. To attract the TV cameras, militant fantasies grew larger and larger like a hot-air balloon. The revolutionary was the cultural hero, in some quarters. World Revolution, the musical theme. The black struggle, according to SNCC strategist James Forman, had to be internationalized.
In 1967, as International Affairs Director of SNCC, Forman traveled extensively throughout the African continent, representing SNCC at the UN International Seminar on Apartheid in Lusaka, Zambia. In winter of the same year he spoke before the Fourth committee at the UN. . . . Forman assumed the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Panthers in February, 1968.
There was an urge among a few to find the most militant, cutting edge of ideological thinking. James Forman was the Man, the black political theorist. I recommend highly The Political Thought of James Forman (1970), edited by the Staff of Black Star Publishing, and printed by Walter Lively’s group, Black Liberation Press. In brief form, Formans diary note titled Ten Year Plan summarizes the apex of Formans revolutionary views. Actually, Forman looks ten years back and ten years ahead. By 1969 he had developed a revolutionary black political theory, combining black racialism, Leninism, and the abolition of capitalism.
Forman was reluctant to call himself a Pan Africanist. Forman was as alert as Richard Wright in the 50s when he was on the continent:
For inside Africa today there are many bourgeois nationalists running African governments and exploiting the people in the name of Pan Africanism. We have the right to at least demand that people not regress from W.E.B. Du Bois who in his later years was pleading for Pan-African socialism. I am for Pan African socialism if it means taking all the wealth of Africa away from the imperialists and using it for the disposition of all oppressed people.
So Forman is a long way from Marcus Garvey’s imperial African view. But Forman also distances his African politics from that of Du Bois, whose politics rested its hopes on the commitment and sacrifice of an educated elite. (Read Du Bois Speaks to Africa.) Like the Oakland Panthers, and other Fanon influenced revolutionaries, Forman believed that urban thugs and gangsters (the core of the riots) of northern and western cities were unconscious revolutionaries (the black lumpen proletariat) and that with the proper political training and education they would understand that we have both a class and a racial fight and that it is not simply a question of race.
After King was gunned down in Memphis, a mood of conspiracy hovered (like LA smog) over all of black thinking, and ghetto politics. With King removed from the scene, black militants heightened the tone of their rhetoric. For some, Armageddon was here! The black working poor had a revolutionary responsibility being in the “Eye of the Beast.” As the black vanguard force it was their destiny to lead American workers in the seizure of state power . . . acquired and won by armed struggle. Forman boosts and applauds his own rhetoric while he knows prophetically that the seventies will be one of serious repression for us, black people in the United States.
The Romance of the Lumpen. Freedom Comes Out the Barrel of a Gun. And other theories and acts played militantly well in FBI surveillance conspiracies, as well in the homes and minds of the Silent Majority, heavily arming itself. As Askia Touré points out, white America came down on the new black revolutionaries like a ton of bricks: FBIs COINTELPRO on Black radical groups, coupled with the ‘recession’ and Drug Plagues in the Inner Cities, during the Reagan era . . . crushed the Movement.
Few have considered the insanity of Formans theory of the black vanguard leading the fight for world socialism in the United States. He was naively confident based upon certain experiences that there are and will be whites who will clearly understand that black people are a colony within the geographic boundaries of an imperial power and that the black revolutionary workers party should rule the US government as a natural right and as a guarantor of the rights of the black and poor. This bastardization of Marx, Lenin, Du Bois marks the highpoint of Pan-African revolutionary thinking in America.
The offices of black radicals and the streets of ghetto America were abandoned by young black middle-class militants, scattering like roaches under the searchlights of white repression. They escaped the criminal gun play among brothers–for union organizing or black studies in the academy or public service in poverty programs. Black empowerment was substituted for Black Power. Expanding the privileges and rights of black professionals and businessman elevated above that of social justice for the black poor. Defending Social Security and Medicare more responsible than idle theories of socialist revolution.
We mocked James Brown for his photo-op with Richard Nixon. But we find it rather presidential when Kweisi Mfume, like Booker T. with Teddy, photo-ops with George The Second Coming Bush, who spurned the NAACP during his first term. Not odd at all, Kweisi protested in the Baltimore Times. In short, we have not evolved as Baraka suggests, but rather we got more of the same, at least from the view of poor workers, as it was after the victories of the Civil War and Reconstruction, when the voices of Opportunism and Moderation dominated and terrorized, and crushed the calls for Revolution, and free land.
In a U.S. society with several African American billionaires (e.g. Oprah and Bill Cosby) and a slew of millionaires (sports and other entertainers), the myth of the revolutionary black poor collapsed. In such an arid clime, a political theory that emphasizes the liberation of the poor is impossible. Bill Cosby, stamped and approved by the respectable, lacks any confidence in the seriousness of the black poor.
I thank the Lord we still got James Brown, who keeps on going back to take us to the bridge, his rhythms driving us toward our deepest and blackest hopes and desires.
posted 26 February 2005
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Malcolm X artifacts unearthedPolice docs and more found among belongs of ‘Shorty’ Jarvis1 February 2012Documents outlining the crime that landed Malcolm X in prison in the 1940s are among some 1,000 recently unearthed items purchased jointly by the civil rights leader’s foundation and an independent collector of African-American artifacts. The documents and other artifacts belonged to late musician Malcolm “Shorty” Jarvis, who served in prison with Malcolm X and was one of his closest friends. Jarvis’ 1976 pardon paper also is part of the collection, which was recently discovered by accident. The items had been in a Connecticut storage unit that had gone into default, and were initially auctioned off to a buyer who had no idea what he was bidding on. The Omaha, Nebraska-based Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, which oversees the Malcolm X Center located at his birthplace, will house and display the just-arrived archives. It split the cost with Black History 101 Mobile Museum, based in Detroitthe birthplace of the Nation of Islam.Mobile Museum founder and curator Khalid el-Hakim declined to identify the original buyer or the price the two organizations paid for the trove. Still, even after splitting the cost, he said it’s the largest acquisition to date for his mobile museum, which includes Jim Crow-era artifacts, a Ku Klux Klan hood and signed documents by Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. . . . The collection also reveals an enduring connection between the two Malcolms after their incarceration, Malcolm X’s conversion to Islam and his rise to prominence. There’s a 72-page scrapbook of Malcolm X’s life that was maintained by Jarvis until after his friend’s 1965 assassination. One of the civil rights era’s most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a movement started in Detroit more than 80 years ago. He proclaimed the black Muslim organization’s message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization and urged blacks to claim civil rights “by any means necessary” and referred to whites as “devils.”TheGrio
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By Lorraine Hansberry
I can hear Rosalee See the eyes of Willie McGee My mother told me about Lynchings My mother told me about The dark nights And dirt roads And torch lights And lynch robes
The faces of men Laughing white Faces of men Dead in the night sorrow night and a sorrow night
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Writer Lorraine Hansberry’s sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines. Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the “Save Willie McGee” campaign andas Life reportedits “imported” lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951). Few felt McGee’s passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug.
Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women’s movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organizationthe novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . .
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The Shining Words: Chairman Mao Originally published in Scratch, March/April 2007.
In the early hours of Christmas Day 2006 James Brown, weak from pneumonia and suffering congestive heart failure, turned to his long-time friend and manager Charles Bobbit and said simply, Im going to leave here tonight. After making his peace with the Creator, the Godfather of Soul lay back in his Atlanta hospital bed one final time, passing on to a better place not of this earth.
Music fans of the world mourned the passing of a legend. James Brown, it had seemed to many of us, was bigger than life, someone that no hardship, obstacle, or setbackbe it growing up in the Jim Crow South, incarceration, band mutinies, or changing popular musical tastescould hold back. We of the hip-hop generation, of course, felt a great kinship with James for having helped him overcome the latter. During the better part of the late 70s and early 80s when Black radio turned its collective back on JB, essentially writing off Soul Brother #1 as Soul Brother # Done, South Bronx selectors kept his heaviest beats in rotationone break and two copies at a timeand commemorated his birthday with annual Zulu Nation throwdowns. By the mid-80s, when producer Marley Marl discovered the powers of digital sampling (and soon after the super-powers of sampling James Brown and his productions) the Godfather was once again back and, to quote a line from his own Coldblooded, hipper than hip. He was hip-hop.
Rap cats took great pride in taking credit for the restoration of his career (lest we forget Daddy-Os oft-quoted lyric from Stetsasonics Talkin All That JazzTell the truth James Brown was old/ Til Eric and Ra came out with I [Know You] Got Soul). But the truth of the matter was it was James whod blessed us by laying down the true blueprint of hip-hop (sorry, Kris; sorry, Hov) with the pioneering rhythm method of his funk recordings of the late 60s and early 70s. On ground-breaking groove-centric workouts and extended jams like Soul Power, Funky Drummer, Escape-Ism, Make It Funky, Mind Power, Papa Dont Take No Mess, the almighty Give It Up or Turnit a Loose, and countless others, traditional song structure was handed its walking papers, replaced by funk-drenched vamps repeated to the edge of panic before temporary relief arrived in the form of a bridge every now and then.
This was rhythm for rhythms sake, a celebration of beats so bad (meaning good) that the self-dubbed Minister of New New (two times!) Super Heavy Funk could even cease singing, drop entire songs of spoken jewels, or have his prodigious band-members shout out their hometowns and still keep the party live. This was the futurethe basis of not just hip-hop, but every other genre of modern club or dance music now in existence. James himself knew it; it just took the rest of us a while to catch up to him.
No such uncertainty existed on Thursday, December 28th, 2006 when blocks upon blocks of James Brown fans withstood several hours waiting on line in the winter chill to see our musical guiding light grace the stage of Harlem USAs Apollo Theater one last time, and say goodbye and thank you. We represented different generations; from old timers whod seen the Godfather perform frequently over the years; to young childrenthere at the behest of their parents for whom hearing Say It Loud, Im Black and Im Proud sung in unison by a crowd of strangers the same complexion as theirs induced an epiphany that was priceless to witness. Our common bond was undeniable: the soundtrack to our lives would be entirely unimaginable without James Brown.
The King is dead; long live the King. James Brown Forever. R.I.P.EgoTripLand
Godfather Lives Through: Hip-Hops Top 25 James Brown Sampled Records
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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 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 incarcerationPublishers Weekly
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By David Graeber
Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systemsto relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? Theres not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goodsthat is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like guilt, sin, and redemption) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong.
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Edited by Michael Oatman and Mary Weems
Preface by Lamont B. Steptoe
This anthology is a tribute in poems to James Brown and includes work by over 30 poets including Amiri Baraka, Emotion Brown, Katie Daley, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Kelly A. Harris, Tony Medina, Ayodele Nzinga, Michael Oatman, Michelle Rankins, Patricia Smith, Lamont B. Steptoe, George Wallace and Mary Weems. “On May 3, 1933, James Joseph Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina in the heart of Jim Crow America. On December 25, 2006, JB, the hardest working man in show business passed on. These poems celebrate, memorialize and speak to the legacy of the Godfather of Soul. They share their memories from childhood to adulthood of the man who was influenced by such musical giants as Little Richard, but who laid the physical and musical steps for artists such as Michael Jackson and many current Rap and Hip Hop musicians today.”Adah Ward-Randolph
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 4 May 2012