Conversations with Miriam

Conversations with Miriam


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




they who do these polls do not want black people to have a say in the rebuilding of New Orleans, and to question the economics of New Orleans and speak of its need for serious reform, we still have not talked about the local politics that created a 30 percent underclass. 

Rudy                                                                                                                                              Miriam



Conversations with Miriam

How we go about rebuilding New Orleans?

& the Trauma of Being Displaced & Government Neglect


Hold the United States Accountable  

Rudy, those are good (essential) questions.  Apparently, a survey was done of evacuees in the DC area recently and 43% of them said that they would remain in the area and not return to N. O.  I wonder what impact the decision not to return will have on the reconstructuring of the city.  It looks like a half of the people will not relocate.—Miriam

do the displaced want to go home?

Miriam, I’d like to have more information on this kind of information. I don’t know who’s doing the counting, who’s doing the polling. Who’s doing the asking? What game is being played with this kind of response. Like E I want to know what is rumor and what is real.

These networks are important. With speed and precision we can sift thru what is being said. And said by people in truama. I’m constantly changing my mind about things just depending on my moods. And they’re constantly here and there, all over the place. There was a time I didn’t want to go back to that VA country house I was raised in that didn’t have running water, and an indoor toilet, and no telephone. And no nothing for too much of a good time. 

But, my god, that house, that place means so much to me, now. When I’m laid to rest I want to be buried there with my folks.

Stick a microphone in the face of a traumatized person, what do you get? Talk to her next week after she has had a sedative, some food, some water, some conversation. Relaxed a bit. And she might have a different story to tell.

That someone wants to make political hay out of these kind of sentiments can’t be lost from sight.—Rudy

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240,000 want to go home

Rudy, I, too, took it with a grain of salt, but we have to realize that there are people who have been too traumatized to want to return.  And return to what?  After all, Kalama announced in his first report that he was not going to return, because, for him, New Orleans is the people and not the place.  I suspect, though, that he’ll probably change his mind.  I do, every day, about every thing–as I get more information, reflect some, and sit on it a while.  For one thing, some of the evacuees are being treated like heroes–being given food, apartments/houses, jobs, health care–no substitute for dislocation and all the trauma they’ve been through, but they’re things some of them have never had because for the first time many of the poor and Black are VISIBLE and have VOICES that others will listen to.  I try to put myself in their shoes and I know there will be all kinds of choices that they’ll make and have to make–some of which you and I wouldn’t agree with–but, hey, that’s their right.—Miriam

I’d lived in New Orleans

If it were different, I’d be there. I’m not at my country VA home, either, because there just ain’t no way for me to make money there. They ran me away from my home. The wise guys. I had to be away from my family. To do anything.

But we have two issues, here. One, Building New Orleans for a Black New Orleans, which means “living wages” or $10 minimums; and Two, supporting individual choices of people to make their homes where they will. I ain’t against that, Two. Let’s say that 40 percent is halved to 20 percent which might be a more reasonable number. Let’s say New Orleans had 300, 000 black residents. That leaves 240,000 Negroes who want to go home — who want to be out of shelters, out from under the military — free to return to their homes and a better life.

My suspicion is that they who do these polls do not want black people to have a say in the rebuilding of New Orleans, and to question the economics of New Orleans and speak of its need for serious reform, we still have not talked about the local politics that created a 30 percent underclass. 

This whole emphasis of resettling New Orleans folks has to do with disfranchising New Orleans residents, keeping them on the run, like Ellison’s Invisible Man.—Rudy

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Writing in Madness

I just clicked on to ChickenBones because you said you were posting various articles, and oh me, oh my, I saw my photo & words, in dialogue with you and Kalamu.  I am honored to be in yall’s company, two righteous brothers whose views I respect.  There are many other voices there that I plan to listen to.  I’ve been trying to get back to my work–the book that’s been on the back burner for so long–but I can’t focus;  someone calls or I get a long e-mail that deserves response or something else comes up.  How do you write in the midst of this madness?—Miriam

You don’t make bad coffee 

Miriam, leaving New Orleans in mid-July I had many plans. I planned to write a journal about my six-day trip. Then I got to reading Tom’s Southern Journey and there I came across you. I did write a review for that book. That was a wonderful experience. And I was gonna do an anthology THE BEST OF CHICKENBONES. And an anthology of the writings of blacks who have been to Africa. And I was learning how to write poetry.

And then Joyce King told me I had to read THE AFRICAN by Harold Courlander and I just happen to have a copy of it. And I read it. And my world has not been quite been the same, since. I was writing a review of that work when the saga of New Orleans took over all our hearts, souls, and minds. And so I been living Wes Hunu . . .

My friend Arthur Flowers of Rootsblog was writing a novel when this enormity came to be. I told him not to worry that this work he doing in connection with Katrina would enrich whatever task he undertook hereafter so he shouldn’t worry that anything will be lost. I do not know whether this will apply to you or not. For me I relish these times despite the misery and death brought negligently into existence. This for me is a wonderful time to do great things, for great men and greater women to come to the fore, the battlefield.

Yes, I have become quite fond of you. And they say there’s no love in cyberspace. Here’s a poem I just read by Lansana Sekou, one of those island writers, “mariposa”

the mornings are fewer / the nights longer / love is fine and full / and everybody else but you / makes bad coffee. 

So there’s how my sentiments run. It’s very important you be in/on ChickenBones. I am honored. Thank you—Rudy     

posted 16 September 2005


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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7


Basil Davidson obituary—By Victoria Brittain—9 July 2010—Davidson [(9 November 1914 – 9 July 2010) a British historian, writer and Africanist] was enthused early on by the end of British colonialism and the prospects of pan-Africanism in the 1960s, and he wrote copiously and with warmth about newly independent Ghana and its leader, Kwame Nkrumah. He went to work for a year at the University of Accra in 1964. Later he threw himself into the reporting of the African liberation wars in the Portuguese colonies, particularly in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. . . . In the 1980s, with most of the African liberation wars now won—except for South Africa’s— Davidson turned much of his attention to more theoretical questions about the future of the nation state in Africa. He remained a passionate advocate of pan-Africanism. In 1988 he made a long and dangerous journey into Eritrea, writing a persuasive defence of the nationalists’ right to independence from Ethiopia, and an equally eloquent attack on the revolutionary leader Colonel Mengistu and the regime that had overthrown Haile Selassie. Guardian

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Basil Davidson’s  “Africa Series”

 Different But Equal  /  Mastering A Continent  /  Caravans of Gold  / The King and the City / The Bible and The Gun

West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850

By Basil Davidson

African Slave Trade: Precolonial History, 1450-1850

By Basil Davidson

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

*   *   *   *   *’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

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The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

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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 /

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 20 April 2010




Home Katrina New Orleans Flood Index    Miriam DeCosta-Willis Table

Related files: Do New Orleans Folk Have a Choice?

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