ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



 The juridical arena is now the nation’s third largest industry, and

building new prisons is the busiest area for the construction trades.

Former Detective Mark Fuhrman’s nationally aired on-tape remarks

 (Aug., 1995) at the O. J. Simpson trial corroborated the practice

of planting evidence against socalled “non-whites,” which is

as old as the first prisons in the Americas.



Books by Louis Reyes Rivera

Who Pays The Cost (1978) / This One For You (1983) / Scattered Scripture

 Bum Rush the Page (co-editor) / The Bandana Republic (co-editor)

Sancocho: A Book of Nuyorican Poetry by Shaggy Flores (edited by Louis Reyes Rivera)

*   *   *   *   *

Scattered Scripture

Reaching, Claiming, Lunging for the Universe of Things


Notes for (jorge’s journey)

By Louis Reyes Rivera


Jorge (pronounced HOR-heh, i.e. George) represents the dilemma of colonial transplants, in this case, Puerto Rican exiles who’ve been economically cajoled into New York, with no substantive place for them in the throb of urban capitalism.

Capitalism, of course, is an economic system. The word defines the reason we do business—to make money. Democracy, however, is a political term that defines how we legislate the conduct of business. It means to say a government that allows everyone equitable access. Consequently, democracy is in conflict with capitalism, as under the latter only capital (i.e., assets, credit, cash) matters.

Its basic dictate requires a segment of the population to be unskilled. The unemployed/unemployable become a cheaply exploited commodity—a non-laboring lumpen caste upon which inestimable numbers of jobs are created, particularly in social services and the judicial system. In order to stay in business, each sector must make more money each year. In social services and in public schools, more unprepared people are created through miseducation, even as the general economy moves into high-tech skills.

Similarly, in order for courts, prisons and police to justify expanding their tax-based budgets they must arrest more people. This form of economics has its historic parallels in chattel slavery. Where yesterday’s form for fast money involved breeding, buying, transporting and selling slaves, today’s form involves growing, buying, transporting and selling drugs; where yesterday’s form for steady money involved slave labor on plantations and inside mines, today’s form involves an underclass in prison cells and welfare dependency.

The juridical arena is now the nation’s third largest industry, and building new prisons is the busiest area for the construction trades. Former Detective Mark Fuhrman’s nationally aired on-tape remarks (Aug., 1995) at the O. J. Simpson trial corroborated the practice of planting evidence against socalled “non-whites,” which is as old as the first prisons in the Americas. Standard statistics hold that over 80% of the imprisoned are African Americans, Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, yet their composite proportion to the population has yet to exceed 28%. Thus an undercaste.

While it appears socially uprooted, an inner consciousness drives many of its members to search out their humanity (see F. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth and The Autobiography of Malcolm X). In the poem, Jorge the Younger begins his journey from a state prison.

(a) the bus at green haven refers to the Green Haven maximum security prison in Stormville, New York, one of two state prisons with death houses.

(b) old san juan, the first Spanish capital of Puerto Rico, is part of Greater San Juan (a series of small towns which grew to overlap one another, including Old San Juan, Santurce, Isla Verde, Rio Piedras, etc.).

(c) ha ti fue quien mandaron means So, you’re the one they sent!

(d) heh/heh, mira, que con el no se hace na’/ni pa’ la leche del nene se hace na! means, heh/heh, look, man, with that guy you won’t make a thing/not even enough to buy milk for the baby.

(e) esta bien, muchas gracias, pero. . .means it’s all right; thanks, but. . .

(f) botado en la calle pero ando, compai/ botado en la calle pero sigo, comai/ siempre estoy mirando buscando my pai/ siempre encontrando mas de lo que hai/ botado en la calle pero. . . . roughly translates as “ejected into the streets/ and yet, my man, I’m still walking/ ejected into the streets/ and yet, dear heart, I keep on/ I’m always looking/ searching for my father/ always finding more than what I sought/ ejected into the streets/ and yet. . .” The terms compai and comai are short for compadre and comadre (masculine/feminine for intimate friend), often chosen as godparents to one’s children (as parents-in-reserve). the term pai, like mai, is an impolite way to say padre/madre (i.e., father/mother versus pop or old lady).

(g) born from the seed of Caguas heads for that highland town alludes to Caguas, Puerto Rico, which mountain town was also the name of a village elder (a cacique, i.e., chief) at the time of the Spanish invasion. The cacique (pronounced KA-see-keh) Caguas is said to have capitulated to Spanish domination. Jorge is given here as a descendant of Caguas, earching for his roots (his father’s crime).

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#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

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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 incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

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’.”

*   *   *   *   *

The Shadows of Youth

The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation

By Andrew B. Lewis

With deep admiration and rigorous scholarship, historian Lewis (Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table) revisits the ragtag band of young men and women who formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Impatient with what they considered the overly cautious and accommodating pace of the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr., the black college students and their white allies, inspired by Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence and moral integrity, risked their lives to challenge a deeply entrenched system. Fanning out over the Jim Crow South, SNCC organized sit-ins, voter registration drives, Freedom Schools and protest marches. Despite early successes, the movement disintegrated in the late 1960s, succeeded by the militant Black Power movement. The highly readable history follows the later careers of the principal leaders. Some, like Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, became bitter and disillusioned.

Others, including Marion Barry, Julian Bond and John Lewis, tempered their idealism and moved from protest to politics, assuming positions of leadership within the very institutions they had challenged. According to the author, No organization contributed more to the civil rights movement than SNCC, and with his eloquent book, he offers a deserved tribute.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

The New New Deal

The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

By Michael Grunwald

Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obama’s policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDR’s and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obama’s long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. It’s carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deal’s unemployment insurance system. It’s revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.

Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the world’s largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the world’s highest-speed Internet network.  Its main legacy, like the New Deal’s, will be change.

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 22 July 2012




Home  Louis Reyes Rivera Table

Related files: Scattered Scripture   Inside the river of poetry  (compulsion strikes the witness)   jorge’s journey     Lest We Forget Killens   Mickey (poem) 

Louis Reyes Rivera Interview   Filiberto Ojeda Rios Puerto Rican  Sovereignty  Writers’ Workshop  On the Passing of Rich Bartee   TESTAMENT 

In Confidence  For Rich Bartee  Tribute to Bartee  A Light in the Tunnel