ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson . . . fused academia, the social
commentary of conscious Hip Hop, and the fiery oratorical
tradition of the Baptist preacher . . . had the intergenerational
audience engrossed and enraptured on his every word
DHS Sponsors Forum On Fatherhood
By Junious Ricardo Stanton
Wednesday, June 4, 2003, Pennsylvania Convention Center
Wrestling with 7,500 children in foster care and believing the government should not be in the business of parenting children, Alba E. Martinez, the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS), and a myriad of City social service agencies, service providers, community organizers and activists came together for the fourth biennial resource forum with this year’s theme Fatherhood-Forever Building, Strengthening and Educating Families.
This year’s focus was on fatherhood, encouraging men to rethink their roles as fathers, finding ways to include fathers in the lives of their children, exploring ways to keep families together, looking at the forces that negatively impact families and exploring ways to transcend these forces and keep families together. The all day forum was held on Wednesday June 4 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The morning session included remarks by Commissioner Martinez and by Mayor John F. Street, who is passionate about the important role fathers play in the lives of their children and about how city government must find ways to support families. Judge Myrna Field, Administrative Judge of Family Court, spoke briefly about juvenile males under eighteen, already known to both the juvenile and domestic relations branches, who have fathered children.
She quoted statistics that indicate increasingly more and more youngsters in the juvenile system come from single-parent families. Bilal Qayyum, President of the Father’s Day Rally Committee, spoke about the need for men to get involved both with their immediate families and the community to cut back the violence, the self-destructive sociopathic behaviors that are tearing our communities apart.
The keynote speaker was author and University Professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson fused academia, the social commentary of conscious Hip Hop, and the fiery oratorical tradition of the Baptist preacher to deliver a rousing message. Dyson had the intergenerational audience engrossed and enraptured on his every word as he touched on the overt and subtle social dynamics that impact males particularly men of color in this society.
Following the opening session the attendees went to the workshops and focus groups designed to educate professionals, community folks and young men about the challenges of fatherhood particularly the impact of racial oppression on fatherlessness, the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, support and visitation initiatives, panel discussions and presentations centering around issues pertinent to being a male and an involved active father.
Charles Johnson of DHS was the Planning Coordinator for this year’s forum. He was pleased with the turn out and favorable responses from the attendees. “Our goal was to bring together people who service fathers, fathers themselves, and youth to talk about what the issues and the barriers to fatherhood were, what types of interventions could be successful in helping fathers address the needs of children, and to help fathers realize their own potentialities. We also want to make agencies aware there needs to be more outreach and support for fathers. Basically the social service system is female oriented, our cases are designed to be tracked by the mother and not by the father. Very often when Social Workers work with the families they never ask to see or see the father. There is a whole side of the family that is missing when you don’t see the father.”
Explained Johnson. “This forum signals a change in trends for DHS. We want to look at the whole family. We want to do more outreach and support the fathers and we will do more outreach and support the fathers. We don’t want to just reach out to fathers governmentally in a punitive fashion, we want to reach out to fathers proactively in a way that can make their lives better and the lives of their families better.”
The forum did in fact reach out to youth, there were numerous adolescent males in attendance at the focus groups and youth panel discussions. These venues within the forum allowed young men to participate, share their experiences, voice their concerns and interact with professionals and community based groups who are committed to strengthening families, empowering males and helping to restore communities.
Alexander Groomes attended the whole conference and was glad he came. During one of the workshops Groomes shared his experiences dealing with his father and the issues of drugs in his family. “I think it’s good because all the students here get to learn, the whole thing is about fathers but it’s good they touched on everything else such as violence and families staying together. This is a good learning experience for people like myself that have experienced a whole lot of stuff and to be together with other kids that might not understand how serious it is, the way I had to understand. That way they don’t have to learn the hard way. Specifically it opens up our eyes to what’s going on about fatherhood. Kids are out there with no fathers, families are out there with no fathers. I was fortunate to have one so it wasn’t really as rough until I heard the numbers. I’m glad I came I almost didn’t come I had finals today but I’m glad I came.”
* * * * *
#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
* * * * *
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake.
She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
* * * * *
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forwardin the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest “real progress toward freedom and justice.” Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race.
“This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the worldto millions, I suspectfor the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him.” John Pilger
* * * * *
Painter draws on early stories and official histories, biographical accounts and legends, well-known events and little known incidents. One person highlighted is Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest of the African slaves to write his account. As one might expect, Painter’s pieces on Sojourner Truth and others of her generation are particularly good. Painter also draws on the official history of the quest for civil rights. She looks at famous court cases, like the Dred Scott decision, Plessy v. Ferguson (which made ‘separate but equal’ a legal standard), Brown v. Board of Education (which knocked down the same ‘separate but equal’ as being unworkable), and other political and legal events in the quest for civil rights, even those sometimes viewed as separate from the Civil Rights Movement proper, which is also highlighted in good detail.
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
By Cleveland Sellers with Robert Terrell
Among histories of the civil rights movement of the 1960s there are few personal narratives better than this one. Besides being an insider’s account of the rise and fall of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, it is an eyewitness report of the strategies and the conflicts in the crucial battle zones as the fight for racial justice raged across the South. This memoir by Cleveland Sellers, a SNCC volunteer, traces his zealous commitment to activism from the time of the sit-ins, demonstrations, and freedom rides in the early ’60s. In a narrative encompassing the Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964), the historic march in Selma, the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, and the murders of civil rights activists in Mississippi, he recounts the turbulent history of SNCC and tells the powerful story of his own no-return dedication to the cause of civil rights and social change.
The River of No Return is acclaimed as a book that is destined to become a standard text for those wishing to perceive the civil rights struggle from within the ranks of one of its key organizations and to note the divisive history of the movement as groups striving for common goals were embroiled in conflict and controversy.
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
update 9 January 2012