Monday, May 19, 2008

Professor WIlliam E. Cross, Jr.

Me and the guru of Black male identity studies, Bill Cross of the CUNY Graduate Center. He just recently retired and that's too bad, because he's an extremely valuable figure for nonpretentious scholars. Bill was my doctoral advisor in the social personality psychology program. And though I decided to define academic success on my terms, he still nurtured and celebrated my ambitions. I don't take away from anyone who makes the decision to chase the letters. If letters can be useful to The People then I'm all for it. But it's important to tell the truth about the phd gig. It's not just about the money and the egotrippin. It's also about making serious changes in your personal life and your sense of self. It's about readjusting yourself to fit a culture that goes against the very kind of emotionality it takes to sustain one's soul. It's about turning away from spirituality and learning to become a scientist. It's about believing the obvious and rejecting the unseen. It's about having to deal with cold, racist vibes and brothas who don't acknowledge one another in hallways and elevators. It's about disconnecting and fragmenting. It's about depression and denial.

I'm gonna miss Bill. I already miss him. And if you've had the opportunity to turn to him for support, wisdom and magnificent grace you'd most definitely miss him too!

Besides calling my admissions essay one of the best in the program's history (thanks, man), Bill appreciated my take on Black male identity concerns; that part of the problem is Black men aren't allowed to be themselves. Just what's expected of them. Another form of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. It would've been nice to continue working with such an important figure in the field of psychology, especially when the likes of him are so few to virtually non-existent. There was a time when the doctoral program was limited to students working with only one advisor for the entire rigourous process. I'm almost certain I would've gotten them letters, had Brother Cross been my sole source of nourishment since what he was feeding us was worth coming to the table for!

New Writing on Justice

John Jay College of Criminal Justice has finally begun distribution of their very first literary journal ( and I'm happy to announce that my work is included in this exciting new series! Tuesday is a poem I wrote years back when I taught writing at Rikers Island prison; a short piece introducing the male inmate to the quick, harsh reality of prison intake.

It's always a nice thing for any writer to be given a nod (Thanks again, Jason!)

You can find Tuesday, along with other pieces I've written, in my upcoming poetry book The Dredlocks Tree set for its own distribution this August.

Haitian Flag Day - May 18th

Some of us prefer
To call our native tongue creole
Some of us don't like being called food
So we say, patwa--
Not you
To give respect to the African

Some of us are learning
To say kreyol with a 'K'
Not because it looks better
But because it's essential that we love ourselves

Some of us keep our hair low
Some of us still wear fros
Some of us got alienated for having locks
And some of us still remember ti-tid

Some of us still tryina be White
Some of us settle for Spanish
Some of us glad to be Black
Some of us glad to be back

Some of us climb through cracks
Some of us still putting up defenses

Some of us come off way too stong
Some of us still in hiding

And some of us can catch bullets with our bare hands!

From my first book of poetry, The Dredlocks Tree coming at ya this summer!

Racial Profiling

Just a thought...If Timothy McVeigh, a White male, was responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, six years prior to 9/11, then why are they profiling only men of color?...hmmm...

I didn't create my blog for political reasons. But this is something no one's mentioned either at rallies or family tables, or even in classrooms or plain convo. Wassup wit dat?

So this is merely my way of reminding everyone to BRING UP MCVEIGH when po-po asks you to step out of the assembly line to show what's in your bag!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sean Bell and the on-going African Holocaust

Like I said, I didn't create this site for political points. I leave the shouting and picket signs to my community activism comrades. But as a socially conscious Black man in racist America, I can't deny nor escape the on-going African Holocaust that shapes the mindset of not only and especially young, marginalized Black men but the systematic, classist machine that churns out the ism, in the first place. It's a system that was cleverly set up upon the foundation of this nation to protect wealthy White males, their territories, laws, values, and social standing. So while we wait for OUR POWER/SHANGO POWER to bring justice to an outrageously unfair verdict for the assasination of yet another member of OUR FAMILY, I put up my own picket sign by offering a poem to the spirit of Sean Bell, of all the other NYPD victims before him, and of the families they leave saddened, frustrated, angry, and yet still standing, still looking on and moving forward, if only for the sake of the younger ones to come. Ashe!

You kill us with your guns
But we keep coming back and coming back

We die slowly and tormented in our blood
But we keep coming back and coming back
Our will to live ignores all logic
And we keep coming back and coming back

The Moores tried to show you
Martin tried to love you
And still you murder us
But we keep coming back and coming back

You would have known better
If you had looked passed your good book

Stay with me, now...

That we change faces like the moon
And we keep coming back and coming back

Sean Bell
But we keep coming back and coming back
For we are spirit

Stay with me...

And spirit never dies
So we keep coming back and coming back

Your son
His music
Your daughter
Her new man

And we keep coming back and coming back

1 day ur liez wil tel on dem slvs

The way vultures lead hyenas to dead carcasses
That's why we keep coming back and coming back
Coming back and coming back
Coming back and coming back
So that the day you meet Your Maker

Stay with me now...

Will be the day you aim and fire
Not at us
But at yourself

So we keep coming back and coming back,
Coming back and coming back
Coming back and coming back
We keep coming back and coming back!

Photo of congas players by Ocean Morisset