INTRODUCTION  In The Crazy House Called America

INTRODUCTION  In The Crazy House Called America


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



The brother is courageous, bold and exercises his right to free speech. Marvin dedicates this book to his youngest son Darrel (Abdul Ibn El Muhajir). Darrel committed suicide on March 18th of this year.  Marvin is hurt and simultaneously clear and confused



Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America / Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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In the Crazy House Called America

Essays By Marvin X


By Suzzette Celeste Johnson

“He walked through the muck and mire of hell

and came out clean as white fish and black as coal”

The reader may feel anger, congruence and/or enlightenment as you read these essays.  You may feel personally attacked, insulted or even “feel sorry” for the brother based on his ranting and ravings on AIDS, sex, love, freedom, revolution, addiction, power, politics, imperialism, religion and God, poverty and education.  In his essay – “63% of Black 4th Graders Can’t Read,” Marvin illuminates “This is not news to me, especially as a former teacher and as a writer–I saw middle and high school students with third grade readers.   As an author, I am permanently depressed by the fact that a large majority of the people I want to read my books cannot.”  No matter your personal views, you will agree Marvin is the Master writer and story teller. He weaves us through his experiences and observations of life with delicacy, intelligence and complexity. Through his own spiritual, personal and political expansion we are allowed to visit the sanctuary of “Marvin’s World” as he so arrogantly defends and defines his divine and inalienable right to his views and perspectives.  As he will so fondly tell you, “You either love me or hate me-probably both.” I have chosen to love him.  My brother is articulate and utilizes his passion and God-given  skill of the “written” word as a “double-edged” sword. Despite his arrogant, crude, rude, impatient and sometimes primitive person–we have a brother that despite his failings, errors, “sins if you will”, mistakes, pain and suffering, knows that he is a perfect personification and manifestation of creation and our brother has come home.  I am an avid reader, a spiritual practitioner, revolutionary change agent, social worker, public administrator, speaker, former dancer, addiction specialist, adult child of an alcoholic, mother, daughter, sister, teen of the 60’s, lover, friend and African American female born in this country–.I know a good book, an excellent writer and awesome storyteller when I see and hear one!  In The Crazy House Called America is some good stuff! The stories are heartfelt, theoretical, and insightful, passionate and private, with psycho-social, political recommendations and commentary on what Black folks need to do to get reparations, our “40 Acres and A Mule”.  

The essay “Let There Be Peace in the ‘Hood” indicates the author’s willingness to unify: “It’s time to reach out and embrace all the true troopers and true believers in the righteousness of our struggle for freedom.   Do you think it matters to our enemies whether we are in the NOI (Nation of Islam) or Sunni or Shi’ite or Sufi or Christian, Communist, Pan African, New Afrikan, old African, progressive, conservative? Can any nigguh, rich or poor, get a taxi to Harlem from downtown late night?  It’s a new era, a new day. ”   “Hunger in America” reconciles the author with humility: “There was a point in my life when I looked down on the poor.  I had heard about skid row, but didn’t know what it was until I found myself on San Francisco’s Sixth Street, living in a room sometimes, sometimes sleeping in the alley–But it was a great lesson for me, making me forever humble, thankful and grateful God delivered me from the bottomless pit.  And yes, I want to be like Rev. Cecil Williams.    I want to walk in his shoes.  I want to show agape love to all that I meet.”  The brother is courageous, bold and exercises his right to free speech. Marvin dedicates this book to his youngest son Darrel (Abdul Ibn El Muhajir). Darrel committed suicide on March 18th of this year.  Marvin is hurt and simultaneously clear and confused, helpless and serene as he is profoundly affected by Darrel’s transition, in which this father had no power.  In the essay “Manic Oppression and the Suicide of My Son” the author elucidates: “My own mental state is in chaos and I am making every attempt to deny that it happened in order to resist rather than accept the painful reality so many of my friends have had to endure: the self destruction by suicide and/or homicide of our children–finally, I want the world to know that my son, in his days of sanity, was like my brother and friend.   There was nothing we did not discuss, nothing we did not do as men.  I pray that all fathers have the type of relationship I enjoyed with my son.  May his soul rest in peace.” Marvin, a former wife beater, crack-head, alcoholic, cigarette smoker, sex addict, university and college professor is ever humbled by his son’s death. He  cried, was angry, tender and gentle, organizing every aspect of his being to understand the pain his son felt and the guilt Marvin felt as an unavailable father–pre-occupied with “making” revolution, writing, crack and pussy.    I honor Marvin.  He perseveres, despite himself.  Marvin strives for order, understanding, emotion and love as he continues this complex journey called LIFE.  He is clear that it is not his life–¦however,  rather God’s life in which he breathes and has his being.  This time around, with wisdom, humility, tremendous breadth and more depth–he better comprehends his spiritual self in the necessary details of his surroundings.   The readers will also chuckle and howl at Marvin’s essays.  You may experience some tears and profound empathy from the emotions evoked.  You will appreciate the command of the language and the extensiveness of the subject matter, the areas in which Marvin was stuck, is stuck and where he has transcended.  You may concur or disagree with his use of nigguh, nigger, motherfucker, punk-bitch, ho, sissies and  “bitch behavior” when he educates in “The Psycholinguistic Crisis of the North American African” or “Wanted: One Hundred Black Murderers.” Marvin was in Newark, New Jersey on September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center became Ground Zero.  It was no coincidence that his daughter Muhammida (who was home) did not answer the phone in her Harlem apartment at 8:00 a.m. Her daddy was on his way to visit her and would have been under the World Trade Center at 8:47 a.m. that infamous morning.  However, synchronicity in the Universe would have it the brother instead was taking videos of the “Fall of America” vs. being a victim of it.  In his essay “Beyond Bin Laden” he writes “If Bin Laden’s dark deeds have brought any light to our vacant minds, we should rejoice and thank him for being such a wonderful teacher. It’s unfortunate his teachings cost so many lives, but America’s actions throughout the world cost even more lives each day as we see when our information is not limited to the nightly news.”  It is understood both in the ‘Hood and enlightened spiritual circles–ye will reap what you sow. His movie and CD reviews of Training Day, Ali, Baby Boy, Lumumba, The Green Mile and Bobby McFerrin’s Beyond Words and Angie Stone’s Love Song is commentary about artists on art by an artist.  In “Beyond Words” Marvin himself becomes the musician: “Words cannot describe this bird from heaven singing outside my window as dawn approaches, singing sounds without words, beyond words, beyond birds, beyond scatting, a world of his own, without peer, conjuring, configuring sounds that take us beyond the beyond, stopping by Brazil, getting off the boat in Africa, passing through America, stepping, prancing, dancing, chanting, floating on top of the piano and drums as they carry him along as he joins Sun Ra on some planet, maybe Jupiter, Mars, who knows where Bobby goes, but we go with him, enjoying a genius at work.”  I guarantee the reader will go find and watch the movies or buy the CDs. Finally, brother Marvin X is in a long and unconditional love affair with his people.  If you talk with him he will deny this with passion.  

However, if you have the time and/or the skill to pin him down, he will with some reluctance agree that his 40 year obsession has been about his people and for his people.  With all of his wisdom, experiences and intelligence–he still tends to operate (cause it is habit, he is stubborn, cause he has free will and maybe he really doesn’t know) from lack of trust, chauvinism, arrogance, impatience and insensitivity, emotional unavailability, and an acknowledged attention deficit disorder when he deals with his people. However, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally Marvin is passionately and unconditionally in love with black folks-and all people.  He knows too well the pain, suffering, oppression, poverty, disease, ignorance, fear of his African American brothers and sisters whom he knows is himself. In The Crazy House Called America is a general call for our people to wake up from the separation of recognizing their real selves, from doubt, fear and platitudes of complex defense mechanisms that cease to protect and defend us and which have distracted us for too long.  Become conscious and make your ancestors proud, the author would say.  It is our obligation to focus on the truth, the freedom, quality of life, love, health and prosperity in social and economic liberation.  Stand Up!  Take from Marvin’s essays an unleashed and expanded understanding of yourselves, ourselves.  Recognize and acknowledge our ignorance of the spiritual and universal laws, the denial of our understanding of the law of cause and effect that continues to keep us in bondage. As America moves completely to the political and religious right with escalating unemployment, homelessness, murder in the Black Community, severe chronic illness and disease, mental illness, addiction, domestic assault and trauma, poverty consciousness and limitation, it is past the time for African Americans to reclaim our integrity, our knowingness, our liberation and what is rightfully ours.  Choose Liberty over Death! Ache. Suzzette Celeste Johnson, MSW, MPA, RScP Richmond, CA July 5, 2002

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In the Crazy House Called America, Essays By Marvin X, 200 pp.   $19.95 plus $5.00 for handling and mailing: Black Bird Press, 3116 38th Ave., Suite 304, Oakland, CA, 94619.

For readings and/or performance, contact Marvin X call 510-798-9155 

Or email or go to

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Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America

 Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

Marvin X on YouTube     Marvin X Table  

*   *   *   *   *’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

*   *   *   *   *

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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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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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 10 April 2009




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