ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



we older cats are blind to the new, because we keep

looking for something we can relate to, we keep expecting

the new to be  a direct extension of the old. unfortunately,

that’s just not the way it is.



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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Kalamu ya Salaam Responds

“Liberated zones in cyberspace”


rudy, look forward to talking with you about i-t and cyberwork. as you know, i am a bit reluctant to jump into the ideological fray around technology because i would prefer to let our work speak and perfer to try to achieve some deep understanding of what’s going on globally through observation and participation rather than through arguing and polemic-ing.two notes:1. be cautious about saying black folk, and young black males in particular, are not into the cybercommunity. i seeing the driving force as “digital technology” and not computers per se, or even cyberspace, even though both are integral aspects of the changing paradigm. when we look at our situation in terms of digital technology we see that young black males have been a defining force in shaping the use of that technology in music production, and increasingly in video production. i believe it is obvious that many of us are into music, but do we realize how much of that music is self-produced using computers in homes/garages/lofts, etc.? moreover, black music producers have set the standard for how to produce music and what contemporary music should “sound” like. increasingly, i am seeing more and more young folk picking up cameras. there is a real revolution going on in terms of cultural production. does this digital revolution look like anything in the past? no, it does not, not even like blakploitation films, or stuff from oscar michauex’s era. i think many of we older cats are blind to the new, because we keep looking for something we can relate to, we keep expecting the new to be a direct extension of the old. unfortunately, that’s just not the way it is. the world is different, very, very different from when we were coming up and we either deal with what is or get ignored and left behind.2. breath of life is far more successful than i had hoped it would be. we have subscribers from all over the world. we have folks from argentina to europe linking us on their websites. we’re not even a month old yet. but it’s growing fast and furious. in fact when we put the beta up, we had to quickly go live because the response was so strong. yes, it takes a lot of time to do breath of life, at least it takes a lot of time to do it the way we want to do it, the way we will continue to do it. a lot of time and energy. mtume is in for the long haul. he understands. and yes, we are paying the cost to be the boss. it is not only commercial free in terms of ads, but we ain’t selling nothing either (other than providing a link for those who might want to purchase a given album). ideologically–and i’m probably going to write a short manifesto on this point–we ain’t pimping nor prostituting, i.e. we neither are using it to sell something we got nor or we letting others use bol to sell something they got. the cost is negligible compared to the freedom and self-respect we gain. but we can talk about all of that when i see you. my second point is that breath of life is only a taste of things to come. i am moving e-drum to and will be dropping “see the light–a neo-griot video website” some time this fall. we are taking our time and constructing solid foundations that will support an expanded superstructure, i.e. we are making it possible to grow and expand without having to change the basic underlying structure, without having to switch servers/host, without having to redesign websites. about seven years ago i purchased the domain name “” and just sat on it until i was at a point where i could use it effectively. now’s the time. we are in motion and we’re not the only ones. there is a lot going on, a hell of a lot. so, yeah, a community can be built, especially by those of us carving out liberated zones in cyberspace, in fact, thanks to dropping this note to you, i’ve just hit on the title for the neo-griot manifesto, part 2, i.e., “liberated zones in cyberspace”! stay strong/be boldkalamu

posted 11 July 2005

Breath of Life: A Conversation about Black Music (Music Blog)

*   *   *   *   *’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

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It’s The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfare—it is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our government—including the White House—has gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.

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Aké: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception


a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits


who alternately terrify and inspire him


all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.” In writing from a child’s perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school’s hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell’s fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard’s president and all of the school’s black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The Katrina Papers a Journal of Trauma and Recovery

By Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

The Katrina Papers is not your average memoir. It is a fusion of many kinds of writing, including intellectual autobiography, personal narrative, political/cultural analysis, spiritual journal, literary history, and poetry. Though it is the record of one man’s experience of Hurricane Katrina, it is a record that is fully a part of his life and work as a scholar, political activist, and professor.  The Katrina Papers provides space not only for the traumatic events but also for ruminations on authors such as Richard Wright and theorists like Deleuze and Guattarri. The result is a complex though thoroughly accessible book. The struggle with form—the search for a medium proper to the complex social, personal, and political ramifications of an event unprecedented in this scholar’s life and in American social history—lies at the very heart of The Katrina Papers. It depicts an enigmatic and multi-stranded world view which takes the local as its nexus for understanding the global.

It resists the temptation to simplify or clarify when simplification and clarification are not possible. Ward’s narrative is, at times, very direct, but he always refuses to simplify the complex emotional and spiritual volatility of the process and the historical moment that he is witnessing. The end result is an honesty that is both pedagogical and inspiring.—Hank Laze r

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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

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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update 15 July 2012




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