Sunday, January 30, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Mars is important to know because he was part of the 1920s pan-African Movment and the broader, more international scope of the Harlem Renaissance. In his book, Africans and their History J. Harris mentions Mars alongside Claude McKay, Langhston Hughes, Nicolas Guillen, and DuBois; to then Garveyism, Nkrumah, Makonnen, and the idea of Black people coming together. And then back around to Vodun and skin shade politics. In connecting the dots, you make education more meaningful and miseducation a thing of the past.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My MLK Moment or, Two Old Kats...

My MLK moment was at a Brooklyn deli. My best friend, Jason and I stopped in for sandwiches and beer. It was Jason's hood, so he was friendly with the store clerk. She didn't see us walk in together. When she noticed me at the other end of the glass looking at the different meats and cheese, she made a comment that went over my head. It's them times when I get so relaxed with just being that I forget to pay attention. By the time I looked up at her, Jason was already passed calling her out on her racist remark. "I'm surprised at you!" He told the woman who by now seemed paralyzed by her own embarassment. We were already good buddies and lit comrades, but from that point on Jason was fam! In some ways, he's more family than those I assumed were if only for their words. Solidarity with your kind is necessary for community progress. but sometimes water is thicker than blood.

Jason's also the only euro-american kat I know who can talk openly and honeslty about race-ism, besides Michael Moore.

Has America fulfilled Dr. King's dream? Depends on what you call progress and what I call decorations. Politics and friendships both get blurry at times. That's why I keep having to remind you-- if you really wanna see someone, close your eyes!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Male Youth Book Update: Illustrations

I'm adding illustrations this time around. We already know how more visual we males are, especially younger males. That was part of my concern when I began this new project. How to keep the attention of young male readers? I believe the combination of 'realness', a non-judgemental nor intimidating language and added visuals will be a decent enough effort to get their respect, along with their parents' and teachers' support. We'll soon find out, at least. In the meantime, here's a self-portrait of student/artist Ije Akpoke who came up with the sketches to match some of the chapters. Wait 'til y'all see this guy's work! His ability to capture their emotional realities is amazing! Thanks, Ije.

And again, Stay tuned...

Friday, January 14, 2011

How the Haitian Government System Works

Regarding the Haiti recovery stalling, and who's behind this and what da fk?! Here's how the Haitian government system works-- All that money you sent in, including wyclef's yele text 4 cash? First you gotta pay for the minister of trade's house and car, and maybe even his kids' education (90% of schools in Haiti are private). Then you gotta pay his deputy for making the call to open the floodgates to progress. You'll also have to bribe the guards who protect the office of the transportation, since it's a long walk from his cell phone to the police commissioner who's in the middle of a nap. Then there's a tax for waking up the commissioner. It helps if you're grimel (light-skinned) and know your je-je/vous-vous or else you'll be charged the higher dark-skinned tax. If you can make your nappy look less African, you might be able to get credit but know that they do check for processed hair. After that, paperwork must be drawn to make officers feel important. There's a 30-day wait for brain cells to work, so pretend you're amused cos if you show any sign of rationality, there'll be an extension added and you'll have to pay for fanfan's new teeth. Once the wait is done, you'll need to bribe the officer who will give you the phone # of the other commissioner of access to the list of funding with their proper destinations. That phone # will be disconencted, so you'll be reverted back to that same commissioner whoYll tell you there's a waiting list for anyone needing to speak to him, unless you can come up with some gasoline for his car. You have the right to contact the U.S. embassy to complain, but that will put your name on the watch list. Plus, people like Wyclef Jean, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Bill 'Jesus is Coming' Clinton can't legally interfere with Haitian customs and trade laws cos they're on independent soil. And even if the Red Cross played along before, the international community decided they've had enough, tho it's the Americans and their allies who initially created the problem. We don't like to admit it, much less talk about it, but the people of Haitian remember each invasion that ended with more exploitation. So it's a kind of a double-edged sword-- I'm showing you who's in charge, while spiting myself. So in the meantime, the compromise is to help out the sick and elderly. If you want the ganglords to stop terrorizing the camps and raping the innocent, that's gonna cost you too!

ps--Now, if you realy wanna make things even more confusing? As in the art of total incompetence, you allow Duvalier (baby doc) back on the island and stage a fake welcome back with the help of a handful of deseperate people who'll welcome back Hitler if it means a meal and a job!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Typical Times...

Your name is Big Brother
You say that you're watching me on the tele,
Seeing me go nowhere
Your name is Big Brother
You say that you're tired of me protesting,
Children dying every day
My name is nobody
But I can't wait to see your face inside my door

Your name is Big Brother
You say that you got me all in your notebook,
Writing it down every day
Your name is I'll see ya
I'll change if you vote me in as the president of your soul
I live in the ghetto
You just come to visit me round' election time

I live in the ghetto
Someday I wll move on my feet to the other side

My name is secluded
We live in a house the size of a matchbox
Roaches live with us wall to wall
You've killed all our leaders
I don't even have to do nothin' to you
You'll cause your own country to fall.

--Stevie Wonder (1972, and still applies).

Thursday, January 6, 2011


This is the lovely Tania who modeled for my last book cover. Photoman Ocean Morisset had us sitting by the water 'acting' like I was giving her advice. He had to take several shots cos i was so nervous (I'm real bad in front of the cam). But Tania was on point! Thanks again, love. Everyone still talks about that cover. Some skip the point and say, Who'that?!

And thanks, too O for doing such a great job. I finally found the right young bruh for my next book cover, so get your cam n skillz ready again.

Stay tuned readers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Male Youth Book Status...

Just a quick note to let you all know I only have five chapters left before completion of my book for young males. The current chapter I'm working on is on fathers and fatherhood. We already know about deadbeat dads and how they do nothing but piss on trees and on people's lives, causing mothers to fend for themselves and creating communities of boys who don't know what it means to have a stable and loving man in their home, if not their lives. But what I want to focus on are the choices men and women make when deciding to become parents and how our decisions can either create future leaders or future lost souls.

Stay tuned...

Dear Oprah,

Now that you have your own cable TV network and an all-star posse of lucky individuals who you've helped start their own show, how'bout giving a brotha' his own show? And not a Tyler Perry/victim-based/relates more to females type of bruh, but more of a Michael Baisden/Michael Eric Dyson/Stephen A. Smith type where once a week issues concerning us and only us are seriously addressed? Whether it's issues relating to fatherhood, self-employment and police harassment as a rite of passage or miseducation, health and money concerns, and what defines a man?--a well-centered Black man--we could bring up stuff we talk about at the barbershop that doesn't get heard on the national scene. Like a follow-up to the Million Man March, why African American boys drop out of school emotionally and mentally after 4th grade, the wars between Black people and niggaz, and why so many of us find it easier to open up to strangers than to our own sistas?

Think about it. A one-hour talk show where we're actually allowed to express our selves without being demonized, marginalized or plain ridiculed for it. Our host could do the shows you used to do before your name became a machine, like the one about the 'blue-eyes test' forcing White America to admit they benefit from race-ism. It may have been one of those turning points in your career as a TV talk show host where you realized safe n comfy bring more ratings/money than in your face/no apology, or when you detoured from your film 'Beloved' after realizing White people don't necessarily love you, they just want you to entertain them. And Black women don't want to look at their stupid choices in stupid men. They just want to be applauded for pointing the finger at them. Now, before you get all bothered. No woman deserves to get shot in the face for wanting out of an abusive relationship. But at the same time, no man deserves to be accused of deceiving if deception is more tolerated than truth. You feel me?
Look, you own the damn thing now! Plus, you can still make mad money making your base feel safe and comfy by showing safe and comftble talks. But for us guys who already cry in the dark, you can give the green light to bring up issues we'd like to see on TV with guests we'd consider our own Dr. Oz, our own Suze Orman, our own Dr. Phil, and even our own how to put together your furniture without your home looking like a museum guy. Our host could be free to invite Black activists, including Farrakhan, and so many phenominal pan-African educators and male-based pychologists (pan-african means putting the focus on Black people all over) who'd have a platform to explore our concerns. And no, John Travolta wouldn't be a guest. Nice guy but we want his private jet, not his dance moves!

A brothaman show could also start a major book reading incentive in america, especially with the focus being on encouraging boys and men to read more, along with upcoming, no fluff Black male writers who never get love from you. This would no doubt boost the African American publishing industry, and our youth would feel encouraged to write after seeing their voice celebrated. Such a show could be a combo punch of current events, global sports, education, sexuality, health, spirituality, budgeting and cooking tips. I mean, we can do this! We can make this an interesting, maybe even a provacative one hour on Black male empowerment, even if some believe female empowerment means disempowering males. We could talk about that too. Not to exploit the situation, but to help bring folk back together. If not, or if you think this might cause you to get some nasty mail that you're just not ready to deal with right now or ever again, then give it to Bev Smith. She loved showing us love. She knew what that meant to Black boys, in the end.