I Love You

I Love You


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



When I responded, “I love you, Gabe.” Gabe smiled. We have it on camera. And Ashley,

 who was there with a second camera, had immediately also chosen sides. ”I love you too, Gabe.



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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I Love You: Post-Katrina New Orleans

 By Kalamu ya Salaam


“I love you, Gabe,” a pagan emotionally embraces a Christian. Our differences are a classic case of otherness-we are not only old/young, male/female, radical/conservative, we are also non-religious/religious. One might rationally assume given all those differences that Gabe and I would end up, if not estranged, at the very least alienated. Gabe is a young, quiet ebony woman with inquisitive eyes and an enchanting laugh you have to get to know her to hear. She is as serious as the damage done to New Orleans, not just by hurricane Katrina, but also by the neglect and malfeasance of those who are charged with caring for our wounded city, i.e. our elected officials at all levels of governance-and that’s serious! I had asked Gabe whether people who didn’t know Christ could know true love. Her face registered her inner turmoil. As she usually does, Gabe took her time in responding to such a dangerous inquiry. I even specified “what about the millions and millions of people who lived before Jesus appeared? Could they know true love?” She uttered a soft but unyielding “no.” I was not surprised. A strange mixture of sadness and hope roiled inside me. This was sort of a Middle East moment; that instant when the other could easily become not just incomprehensible but also enemy. Between us, I am the elder who had also been her high school teacher. I am the male within a patriarchal society. I am the more worldly in personal experience. I did not feel threatened by Gabe’s response and I tried my best not to appear threatening in my rejoinder. Though we both only wanted the best for the other, nevertheless we were at war with each other; in this weird case the battlefield was the concept of love. When I responded, “I love you, Gabe.” Gabe smiled. We have it on camera. And Ashley, who was there with a second camera, had immediately also chosen sides. ”I love you too, Gabe.” We were making a movie about making a movie about post-Katrina New Orleans life. It is not easy. Life in these times is not easy. Making a serious movie about the convoluted truths of these uneasy times is also not easy. I was not being glib nor merely mouthing a platitude when I told Gabe I loved her. Nor, for that matter, was Ashley simply co-signing a politically correct social conversation. We were sharing with each other deep, deep feelings across a chasm of incompatible beliefs. I am writing these words on a Mac laptop, sitting on a non-descript, nearly-but-not-quite ugly sofa at Marian’s house. Last night I sat in this exact spot and quoted Amilcar Cabral to Marian: the people are not fighting for some ideas in our heads, they are fighting for a better life. The point being, we win the war by offering a better life and not because we offer superior ideas. I also talked about how Americans are junkies hooked on consumerism and that as long as there is a supply a dope you can not hope to organize junkies because for junkies only two things really matter. One is being high and the other is getting high. Marian, who converted to Judaism decades ago, laughed in agreement. And then a little later she admitted, “I thought you were going to beat up on me. Why can’t people understand?” What she meant was “why don’t” not “why can’t.” I am a born again pagan who does not proselytize my non-beliefs. I am used to bumping up against Christian bigotry from friends and associates, from people who don’t even realize they want to narrow and restrict the human condition, so I could not resist broadly smiling when Marian threw her head back in delight recalling her visit to Israel, a country where there “was no Sunday. You know it’s against the law there to knock on someone’s door and ask do they know Christ.” Earlier in the week I had also reached out to Abram who, in poker fashion, had called and raised my belief that Israel was a European problem that the powers that be foisted on the Arabs to solve. Abram proclaimed he was for Austria being Israel.

“You know Freud and . . .” Abram reeled off a list of reasons why Austria. We laughed and laughed. “I’m serious. Even though I hate it over there, I would move there.” Abram didn’t have to say he wouldn’t move to Israel in the Middle East.

“And, the Germans won. They really did. They got rid of most of their Jewish population and now the majority of the world hates Jews.” Abram is withering in his sit-down routine. So there we were, lounging on the steps of his raised traditional New Orleans shotgun double, commiserating with each other about the hopelessness of a settlement.

“History proves that occupations never win. People will always fight for their land.” I calmly remind Abram, “that’s not true. Look at this country. America is a settler state; they simply wiped out the indigenous people, proclaimed this a democracy, and now want to make everybody else adopt the American way.” I resist. I may have been born in America, but I refuse to act American. Yes, there are deep-seated problems in the world but we don’t have to subscribe to might-makes-right to solve those problems nor do we need to stake the salvation of others on them adopting our personal beliefs. Gabe inspires me. She manifests a serious commitment to grappling with our city’s considerable problems even as fractures and fissures shatter her personal life. She remains accepting of the other even as she is strict with herself. Gabe doesn’t avoid the difficult. She is not afraid to face her fears. Differences do not separate Gabe and I. She is as ecumenical as Jesus in her embracing of others. I know true love because I know Gabe.

posted 25 August 2006

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Men We Love, Men We HateSAC writings from Douglass, McDonogh 35, and McMain high schools in New Orleans.

An anthology on the topic of men and relationships with men

Ways of LaughingAn Anthology of Young Black VoicesPhotographed & Edited by Kalamu ya Salaam

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music website > writing website > daily blog > twitter > facebook >

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Guarding the Flame of Life

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New Orleans Jazz Funeral for tuba player Kerwin James / They danced atop his casket Jaran ‘Julio’ Green

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02_My_Story,_My_Song.mp3 (24503 KB)

(Kalamu reading “My Story, My Song”

Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

Track List 1.  Congo Square (9:01) 2.  My Story, My Song (20:50) 3.  Danny Banjo (4:32) 4.  Miles Davis (10:26) 5.  Hard News For Hip Harry (5:03) 6.  Unfinished Blues (4:13) 7.  Rainbows Come After The Rain (2:21)/Negroidal Noise (15:53) 8.  Intro (3:59) 9.  The Whole History (3:14) 10.  Negroidal Noise (5:39) 11.  Waving At Ra (1:40) 12.  Landing (1:21) 13.  Good Luck (:04)

*   *   *   *   *’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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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

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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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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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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If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

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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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updated  23 July 2010 




Home  Kalamu ya Salaam   Katrina Survivor Stories Table 

Related files:  It’s Hard   I’m Crazy  Cracking Up  Stephanie  Take Deep Breaths  Spirits in the Dark  I Am Ashamed of Myself 

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