Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aqeela Sherrills

As a child, Aqeela Sherrills was a member of the notorious L.A. street gang, the Crips, long time rivals to the equally notorious Bloods. He grew up in Watts, a district in South Central Los Angeles infamous for its violent gang culture. He was the youngest of ten children, and from his earliest days all he knew was violence, both at home and on the streets. Abused as a child, Aqeela saw the gang as a surrogate family and before long was carrying a gun to school, getting into fights and robbing people. He could have become just another statistic, but after seeing his best friend shot and killed at school and so many others killed or jailed, he decided it was time for change. He swtiched gang life for student life, and was the only one of his friends to go to college instead of prison; started to read books, and soon the writings of Malcolm X and James Baldwin changed his view of the violence he had grown up with. He returned from college determined to stop the cycle of retribution that had led to many deaths.

In 1992, on the eve of the Los Angeles riots, Aqeela helped broker a truce between his old gang, the Crips and their rivals, the Bloods. But there were still sporadic acts of violence, and so Aqeela's beliefs and rejection of retribution were tested to the limit when his own young son Terrell was murdered in an apparent gang shooting in 2004. He came under pressure from his own community to seek revenge against the murderer, but Aqeela stood firm and continues to believe in the power of reconciliation. He has now spent the last 20 years campaigning across the U.S. and the world for peaceful resolution, and has even advised foreign governments from Northern Ireland to Serbia on the benefits of non-violence.*

This is all to say that this formidable good brother has agreed to review my upcoming book on marginalized young males of which I'm very thankful. I could get fancy titles to give my fourth book some popularity at the cocktail level, but if the youth don't respect those titles then what's what the point? Unlike most books on the youth, I'm speaking directly to them and not my colleagues, so to get a 'yes, I'll take a look at it' from a grassroots PhD is my version of having arrived!

*From BBC International Radio Station

Writers Group: First Meet

Putting it together, making it happen!

First reading

Group work

Fun work

Home work

Note: We meet once a month on a Sunday. If you're in the New York City area and would like to join a writers group, you are welcomed to join. No membership fee. No attitudes. We're a progressive, afri-centered group of writers who focus on the writing process, self-publishing know-how, marketing skills, literary workshops and support. We also have out of area and international members. To contact us, send your request or comment to Lifejak@aol.com


Meanwhile, back in the Egypt that's still sleeping, the run-off presidential election date has been set for March 20th. Current puppet prez, Preval says he needs to stick around or the country will be in chaos (uh, it was in chaos before you came along and most likely will continue to be as long as we keep letting ego and puppet shows get in the way of progress). In any event, it's down to two candidates. A conservative prior first lady, Mirlande Manigat and Sweet Mickey who may have to go by his govament name, Michel Martelly if he actually wins. Aristide, or ti-tid if you still got love for him, is looking to return to Haiti to support Mickey. By the way, Mickey said if he wins he'll welcome the presence of the U.S.. That's code to Hillary Clinton for, You ain't really gonna let me run these crazy mothaothers on my own, right? Cos singin n grindin I can do. But that other thing called leading, not too sure bout that. Manigat didn't comment, tho she's currently tyring on different puppet outfits, and Wyclef is still kicking himself for not reading the fine print!Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing a woman lead Haiti for a change. Conservative or not, having a woman in charge would/should give voice to Haitian women, since they're not about ego but makin sht happen; would/should put a break on female and male prostitution; would/should make poverty, education and infrastructure priority; and most certainly would/should finally allow monies to reach the people. I personally don't know what it means for any candidate in Ayiti to be conservative. French over Kreyol? Diplomatic fake smiles vs demanding France and Baby Doc for reparations? Send your kids to Paris and Montreal vs Miami and Brooklyn? Private school for the few who can afford it vs finally establishing a public school system? Still sleeping with the D.R. and still waking up dirty and empty-handed vs addressing modern slavery? or learning new and fancier ways of being docile vs getting out of fear-mindset?

When this egypt is merely a piece of clay waiting to be molded in whichever way the wind blows, there's really no conservative vs liberal. So the key wind, to me, is vision. if either one of these characters has vision for the country's forward and upward movement, then and only then will I feel some of the pride my mother has for her battered, broken down nation. Otherwise, let the sht burn!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NYC Writers Group

I tried starting a Haitian American writers group but the definition of what Haitian writing is and sounds like got in the way. So I decided to stick to Black instead, and for whatever reason I got results!

Introducing the NYC Writers' Group. We might change the name. But for now, feels good to be studying and perfecting the craft again!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

While the rest of us...

We make history every single day. Some of us prefer not to, while the rest of us rejoice in it and die by it! (photo by Jimbe)