ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Black culture in this country has become commercialized.
Black culture begins as an act of resistance on the part
of local people to affirm each other
Celebrates Ten Years of Activism
By Junious R. Stanton
In 1991 while Camden native Ewuare Osayande was a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, a fourteen-year-old African-American boy named Phillip Pennell Jr. was murdered in a neighbors back yard by a white Plainfield police officer, Gary Spatt. This event changed his life forever.
Outraged by the senseless, callous and wanton murder of the fourteen-year-old, Osayande organized protest demonstrations on the campus, participated in teach-ins, community awareness and organizing meetings during the two years the investigation and case against the police officer dragged on. Like so many cases of police brutality and abuse the white police officer was exonerated of all charges.
Ewuare, already a fledgling poet, became a correspondent and columnist for The City News the local black newspaper that covered Northern New Jersey during the two-year ordeal. At a writers conference in Newark, New Jersey, he met renowned poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks. Ewuare approached Ms Brooks to get her to sign and autograph one of her books and shared some of his poetry with her.
She read two poems approvingly and curtly asked him why wasnt he a published writer? Stunned he responded he didnt have an agent. She replied, Do you own a stapler? To further make her point Ms Brooks told him she would not read another word until he made the effort to publish and distribute his works. Gwendolyn Brooks admonition officiated at a marriage that for Osayande joined art and activism. As a result of Gwendolyn Brooks advice Ewuare founded Talking Drum Communications printing and publishing his own works.
Last Thursday at Temple Universitys Pan African Studies Community Education Program in Anderson Hall Ewuare Osayande held a ten-year celebration to commemorate his life mission as an artist/activist and to thank the members of the community who have supported nurtured and helped him during the past ten years. Educators, follow activists, PASCEP students, and mentors were on hand to help Osayande mark ten years as a writer/ activist, and listen as he read from his latest book, Black Anti-Ballistic Missives Resisting War Resisting Racism.
In ten years he has written and self published through his Talking Drum Communications publishing arm ten books on topics covering the biblical affirmation of Kwanzaa, critiques of Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap, the politics of black poetry, 9-11 and essays of social commentary. Osayande is still on the battlefield still working to raise consciousness still writing learning growing evolving as an artist and human being.
Several of the people in attendance spoke of the various facets of Osayandes work as a teacher, as an anti-racism facilitator and as a writer. The celebration was Osayandes way of saying thank you to those who have touched his life over the years. I wanted to have an opportunity to say thank you to the city and the people in the city who have been instrumental in my ability because its not without the help of so many folks that I am able to in fact write and publish what I want. Many of the people I invited probably wont be able to make it because they are activists like myself and they are out there working on something really important but I want to personally thank them. Osayande explained.
Sharing how he became involved as an activist and reading poems spanning the ten years he has been involved and writing, his growth, maturity and evolution as a writer, thinker, artist/healer were obvious. Following his readings Osayande entertained questions from the audience that ran the gamut from his views on religion, the war, the role of whites in the struggle, his views on white skin privilege and his philosophy and approach to the business of writing and publishing.
Im not in this to make a lot of money. Whats important for me is that people are challenged to think, that we create a culture that is in resistance to this domination that we all have experienced, these are the things that motivate me and keep me going. Black culture in this country has become commercialized. Black culture begins as an act of resistance on the part of local people to affirm each other but sooner or later someone comes along and says Hey we can make some money off of this.
Osayande who served briefly as the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Radical Congress is preparing to go on a speaking and teaching tour to promote the release of his latest book. Several of the guests have worked with Osayande over the years and spoke very highly of him and his dedication to the community. Andrea Muhammad an educator from New Jersey served as Mistress of Ceremonies and shared how Ewuare assisted her in her programs teaching poetry and sharing his talents with the young girls in her teen mothers program and her teacher workshops in New Jersey.
Shared Simons, an anti-racist activist and workshop facilitator, shared how Ewuare worked with her in the Healing the Wounds of Racism and Dismantling White Skin Privilege workshops. Ewuare has been my advisor my partner. I can only proceed with the anti-racism work with contact, sharing, and advice from Ewuare.
Pam Africa of MOVE came to support Ewuare because he has always been there for her. Brother Ewuare is one that you see in the community everywhere and whenever there is a problem and need of resistance hes always organizing in the community. This brother has love for his people, for black people. Hes a teacher of white people about the problem they have; he teaches black people about the problems we have; and he uplifts younger children.
The event was originally planned as a venue to say thank you to his supporters. However it turned out to be a mutual admiration love fest.
Photo: Junious R. Stanton
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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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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 20 December 2011