Monday, December 31, 2012

Round This Time...

Round this time I start reflecting on the year, on the who n what I need to give more attention to and the who n what I need to let go. I think about all the things I said I'd do last year and see if I followed thru or if I'm still procrastinating, and why? Where does it come from? I consider all the lessons learned and whether or not my actions match my intentions. I ask myself hard questions, from does my kid respect me? to do I understand the depth of what it means to be somebody's answer to tired of the playas? I also think about my actions and re-actions, those who wanna see me grow forward and those who're still stuck on yesterday. I consider my bad habits and what I need to do to turn them into good choices. Then I look back on what I accomplished just in one year and give thanks to them, along with the blessings yet to come; and even my haters whose role is to be mere stepping stones towards my ultimate victory. After all is prayed over, I thank the one I call home and the one I call Home. Cos there are no accidents. And a coincidence is a reminder that this thing called life is just a big ol classroom. But not all students graduate, so study well so you won't have to get left back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shooting at Children 2

Don't teach me what I already know
or what your training assumes I need to know.
                          Empower me or get out the way!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shooting at Children

One of mine asked one of yours What up with Darfur? Why our Prez ain't cryin over them children steada' White kids? It's a fair enough question, but here the reality checks—1.  As the leader of the U.S., Obama's primary responsibility is to respond to American tragedies first n foremost;  2. when he gave his reaction, he mentioned all American kids, including our rugrats on the street corners who get off on the ra-ra (and parents who probably shouldn’t be parents);  3. he has no interest whatsoever in supporting egotrippin African leaders who abuse their own people and blame it on the White man;  4. Sudan’s own prez has been  indicted for genocide;  5. since its independence, Sudan has had civil unrest between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south, making religion the usual suspect;  6. Obama’s been pushing U.S. involvement in Sudan since 2007; 7. Arab and darker-skinned muslims need to talk about skin color politics within Islam. It’s not our President’s job to start that conversation. It’s the arabs’ and Black muslims’ duty to talk about their own avoid n deny;  and 8. some things are universal, like looking at the Christmas gifts you were getting ready to wrap while your kid isn’t looking and realizing that she or he won’t be around to unwrap them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interview with 'In the Black'

Peace, all. I just got the word that my interview with 'In the Black' is airing tonight, 11/26/12 @ 8:30p on ch34 (time warner cable) or RCN82, FIOS33, (Part 2 next week)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I'm Voting...

Some of my students won't be voting, period and we gotta respect that cos from their perspective things don't change until the System itself changes; and the System ain't changing. Plus, when you got nothing on your mind but figuring out where to find food, clean water, gas and a warm place to stay at, voting may very well be your last priority. But what if the change we've been debating about starts with holding our local politicians accountable? Do we even know who they are? What if looking at our bad choices in mates and general know-how, the excuses we make for not doing so, and the definitions of what Black is and ain't or could be if we let go of past wounds is the key to finding our forward movement?

This Wednesday morning may very well be just another Wednesday morning, added with the burden of having to still deal with a hurricane aftermath. But I'm voting tomorrow cos I take pride in doing so. May not be the new year's eve feel we had back in '08, but I still believe we have an opp to be part of that change if we understand it begins with us, while the guy at the top does his part.

I'm voting cos I take pride in casting my vote. I'm voting cos I owe it to the ones before me who got murdered for daring to do so. I'm voting for Michelle cos I trust she'll make sure to keep her husband from negating the Black who initially abandoned him, then wouldn't accept him as Fam until south carolina said it was ok to have him sit at the Family Table. I'm voting cos my parents were never allowed to have their say in Port-au-Prince. I'm voting cos I think any country where a woman's body legally belongs to men is a very dark place to live in. I'm voting cos I wanna see all couples get the protection they need from grimies from either side of their blood take their belongings, including their own children, out of pure ignorance and spite. And I'm voting so that my vet students get the respect they've earned and deserve.

I'm voting to take back the piece of flesh that dog bit off when I was just learning my abc's, so that I can look at a dog today and not cringe at the very sight of it, the way we used to.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Typical Times...

This image and its captions reflect the current debate over which is the best way to raise and educate our teens, especially our sons. Traditional formulas aren't working

while new incentives handcuffed by tradition aren't working either. And in the between, our youth grow increasingly frustrated with the grown-ups. Since more Black females graduate college than Black males as a result of lesson plans that don't consider male learning patterns, they're more likely to become their supervisors. And since mass unemployment continues to be the main instigator of Black male disempowerment, the supervisor is now both in the home and at the job. Matriarchy is once again the norm and the on-going plan to destroy the Black family system. And let's be clear here.

When progressive educators use words like feminized and emasculated, we're not talking sexuality but rather the deliberate attempt to turn our sons into passive, non-threateneing men who are marriageable but cannot stand for themselves. Men do want to help raise their kids, when they're allowed. And calling a father deabeat is merely a reflection of a mother's poor choices. The war between sista and brotha ends when we first acknowledge the systems that work against us, so we can then figure out how to come out of the functional dysfunction we call normal. So from family court back to deciding his name, let's stop letting others exploit our divides or push their sense of selves on ours and focus on what the kid needs-- stabiliy, communication, reliability, open-mindness, emotional presence, a clear sense of his I, and an education that empowers him mentally and culturally, so that he knows to see himself not as a support for his counterparts but as captain of his own ship and partner to his partner.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Art of Staying Informed...

There's a saying-- If you want to hide it from the Black man,
put it in a book. There's another saying-- The more you know, the more you owe!

Messengers of Lies - A Conversation with a Disillusioned Student

Since my earlier postings, I've interviewed students who I think are outstanding in both their outlook on life and ability to overcome their personal struggles. This time around, I'd like you to meet 22yrld  Mohammed Shakur who's studying criminal justice and coming of age after surviving parental abandonment, an abusive father, the foster care system, teen homelessness, racism, and marginalization from his own for his unwillingness to shed his locks and africentric beliefs and attire. In addition to making sense of all this, he has become disillusioned with our public education system from elementary school to college level studies because of the emphasis on standardized testing and euro-American philosohpy.

How'bout we start with what you're most passionate about, and that's school reform. What is it you'd like to see in our schools?
Black Studies as a regular part of the regiment from first grade to high school, so that other cultures learn our value; not just us. Even in college I gotta beef with my English teacher about his one-sided syllabus. 
What topics would you like to see covered?
Well, not the same usual safe stuff like frederick douglass and Dr. King, but a more pan African approach that looks at the world from the perspective of the invaded and not the invader.

Is Black Studies offered at your community college?
Yea, but it's taught either by wack professors or non-Black instructors, and I find that very insulting to us cos we know better. I mean, I don't understand why a course on the Black man is being taught by a White or Asian man, or a feminist.

What's a wack professor?
One who's afraid of teaching truth and waters down the info to avoid discussions on race relations and privilege.

You don't play!
No, I don't and I intimidate professors cos I know my past and current history.

What about your classmates? Do you vibe with them?
A lotta them don't mind the bullsht. They just wanna sit in their chairs, accept what's given to them and then graduate. They don't even challenge the indoctrination. They're dead and don't even know it!

Have you tried letting your professors know; maybe
offer some suggestions to better reach you?

They don't wanna hear it. Plus, their hands are tied. They have to follow the regiment or get fired. I know how it works, and that's why I get so agitated when I sit in these classes cos the messengers look like me and you, but they're nothing but messengers of lies.

How was high school for you?
Pretty much the same, except back then I wasn't yet aware of the mindgame being played on Black students.

Didn't you at least have one teacher or guidance counselor you connected with?
To be honest, no.

And what about now, at the college level?
Still wack, but there's a professor and a counselor I respect. And they keep it real with me.

Respect is important to you.
Mos def. I don't respect you just cos you got a title and a fancy degree. And that's why teachers get aggy with me cos I challenge them whenever I catch em in a lie or on an ism. Like this one teacher, first day of class, says to us we can't wear our head wraps.

What course was this?
English. And the professor was like, "I don't allow head wraps in my class." That said to me that he didn't want us expressing and feeling proud of our Caribbean African heritage.

What'you do?
I dropped that sucka' fast! Cos if I don't then I'm part of the problem.

So let's talk about your background, where and how you grew up.
I live in the Bronx, but grew up in Brownsville. My mom got on drugs and I had to raise my little sister and brother on my own. My dad wasn't around. We cool now, but back then he was M.I.A.. I forgive him. But it was crazy cos like, what'I know bout raising kids and I'm 9 and my lil brother and sister are like 6 and 5. But I had to learn how to be a parent fast.

You didn't have any relatives to take your mom's place?
My aunt stepped in later when I started high school, but before that we was homeless and at a shelter and then in foster care. My aunt's a foster parent, but she did it mainly for the money and makes me take care of her kids for her.

So you never really had a childhood.
Nope. I had no time for that. And I seen some grimy sht! But it is what it is. I'm here.

How's your relationship with your mother at this point?
I know I'm supposed to say I forgive her and all that, but I don't. I think messed up people shouldn't have kids. Some of my cousins tried getting me to be all nice and forget what she did; even told me to show respect. Black folk can be so stupid sometimes, for the sake of image. I have no respect for her or for them. I was on my own then and on my own now.

What about your aunt? She took you in.
And I'm thankful for that, but she also got money from the state and then made me take care of her foster kids while she went out. I don't thank her for that.

I know you were unemployed for a while. Are you working at all now?
I found an airport gig. Doesn't pay much, but it's something. When people see me, they see my locks and right away I get attitude; and a lotta times from my own. It's like we gotta conform to White standards if we wanna live.

I'd say corporate standards cos White kids gotta conform too.
But they got that White privilege working on their side. Me, I gotta pull back my locks and put down my Black some if I want an interview. But the White kid sitting next to me with no experience will get the job. And this is why I'm not getting caught up with the hype over Obama.

I'm guessing you're not voting for him.
I'm not voting for either clown cos it's all show to me. If it's not even safe for him to address mass unemployment for young Black males, then what good is he, really? All these Black folk treating him like he Jesus or something, but what has he really done for Black people? Please tell me.

I get your point. but it's an amazing story for him to become President when it was African American slaves who built the White House.
But that's all it is. Symbolism. Your generation might be excited about him, but a lotta people my age see him as just another puppet. And I think we like puppets. We used to like revolutionaries. Now we like people who can fit in and play the part. I don't wanna play the part.

But the Million Man March was about symbolism, wasn't it? I was there and it was beautiful. But in the end, it was about speeches with no follow-ups; no specific plans. You might have been a toddler then, but I'm sure you've heard about the March.
Yea, you'right. I mean, I wasn't there but I know y'all headed back home to the same bullsht. But you see what I mean, tho. We like symbolism. We like bullsht!

Do you think that's why the young vote isn't as high as it was when Obama first dropped?
Of course. Plus, the jobs factor. Jay-Z and Beyonce threw high price dinners for him, but ain't nobody in the hood talkin bout voting like before. We got bamboozled and we learned. Now, we're like, prove it mfkr! Come up with a Black agenda or don't come at all!

I'm with you on the symbolism. But his opponent will open the door to crazies who wanna go backwards. And a country that doesn't give women the right to make their own choices is a dangerous place to live in. But let's talk about criminal justice and why you're majoring in it?
I wanna teach criminology from our perspective. This whole Stop and Frisk debate is huge. I didn't think it would reach the Supreme Court. Plus I finally got a professor I respect. I'm taking Policing and Policy by a Black man who's not afraid to talk about White privilege. Schools and colleges don't usually hire strong Black males. Strong in the sense that they stand up for themselves, demand respect and get it. I mean, how many Koromantee's have you seen on your campus?

True that. So what are some things you'd like my readers to know? And who do you have as support? Because it seems you've been on your own since you were raising your sibblngs while being a child yourself.
I deal. My father's not a dad, but if I'm in trouble he'd look out. I don't miss family cos I never had it. Wouldn't mind having a lovely, but not too many females impress me. A lotta them are simple, to me; only interested in what they can get from a dude and don't wanna look at their sht. And since I'm not easily impressed with looks and clothes, they can't figure me out. It's not just girls. If you're not down with pop culture and nigga smack, dudes can't firgure you out either. But there're others like myself and we meet at poetry jams and community cyphers.

Whay's a cypher, for those who might not be in the know?
A cypher is when you make a human circle and take turns dropping wisdom. It can be a poem, Rap, an affirmation. But it's all about building; and for me personally, it helps me feel not so different and isolated.

And what are you doing to heal from all that isolation? Certainly, having to deal with adult problems as a young boy was traumatic enough. And having to define manhood on your own is problematic in itself. Cyphers, sports; religion, even are good distractions. But how do you address the wounds; the rage that we carry in our collective psyche, whether consciously or unconsciously? How does a Black man even begin talking about it when he's told to man up and suppress his feelings?
I've seen dudes self-destruct from suppressing their feelings. I think you just have to open yourself to letting someone help you work through it. But it's finding that right person who you know can relate. You can't come at it from a textbook. All I can tell you is that I make smart choices. I pick out who and what's good for me, and avoid the rest. I meditate. And I do poetry open mics to let my sht out. I think I'm as angry as the next Black man. And I don't think the rage goes away. You just get better at dealing with it. Like getting stopped and frisked almost every day in your own hood, and just dealing with it. But I feel like I'm gonna get the break I been waiting for. I'm finally getting my own place next month; found a room in a house that my counselor found for me. I'm good.

I know youre not gonna vote, and I'm gonna respect that for the reasons we talked about. But for that voter who just finished pressing yes for obama, what do you wanna tell them?
Wake up. Look around you. What exactly has changed? Are our sons working? Are they even smiling? Look at our daughters. Why do they wanna be baby mamas and not married women? And look at our local leaders? do we know our local leaders? What exactly are they're doing to make your hood better? Obama can say he wasn't the one who left us in a recession. But mass unemployment and incarceration for young Black males been going on when we had a surplus under Clinton. It's the same'o game, and we keep falling for it. Wake up!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The proFATHERS Project: A Proposal

As a youth motivational book writer and male-based counselor, I find the forFATHERS Project to be a welcomed alternative student development program. Considering the role of music, story-telling and other art forms in African, African American and Caribbean American culture, the forFATHERS Project addresses the many social ills that typically hinder both academic and personal development, namely low expectations, lack of opportunities and few to no exposure to positive male caregivers. In my twenty years working with overlooked populations, from incarcerated teens to secondary-level students having difficulty transitioning from high school to college, I find that the common denominator in at-risk youth is the absence of fathers who may have fathered them but neglected to help raise them or want to be involved in their daughters’ and sons’ lives, but are not allowed to by resentful mothers. For girls, it means carrying the burden of defining their pre-teen years and young womanhood without the input of a male figure in the home. For boys, it’s even more urgent as the burden of defining manhood on their own creates counter-productive behavior in the family system and overall community, as street life becomes the over-arching dad that teaches hyper-masculinity and urban warfare as prerequisites to ideal manhood. School and community incentives that specifically address Black and Hispanic youth are currently the trend, in an effort to improve scholastic performance and college retention. However, the standards or formulas that policy-makers tend to use rarely place the father front and center. He is instead treated—on paper, at least—as a cultural piece of the puzzle too complex and perhaps too controversial to fit at the decision-making table. The inconvenient truth here is that fathers—Black fathers, especially—are expected to be missing in action, while the actions caused by family court biases, ineffective welfare programs, and principals and college administrators who do not take the input of fathers seriously; much less, as a crucial piece of the family unit and overall child development all add to the problem at hand and not the solution.

To the single mother not prone to viewing her son’s or daughter’s father as the enemy, the forFATHERS Project is a solution to feeling alone and powerless. To the frustrated mom who is unaware of her options, it’s an opportunity to learn how to begin the healing process by being exposed to responsible and reliable male instructors and counselors who provide a refreshing contradiction to Black male stereotypes. And to the single father, still invisible yet quite prominent in our communities, the forFATHERS Project mirrors their plight as determined agents of positive change. The children themselves undoubtedly benefit from non-traditional approaches to addressing an on-going national crisis. That is, how do we engage our youth in the American educational experience? How do we make it worth their time to come in and stay? How do we effectively compete with crime lords and the realities of unemployment and entire communities suffering from depression and victimization? 

I believe that supporting the forFATHERS Project is supporting the next generation and those to follow. I can say the children smile more; participate more and learn more. Because their aspirations in the eyes of innovative instructors and program leaders are not limited to standardized testing, but rather reflect sensible and realistic approaches to effective education.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blessings Keep Coming!...

This is an interesting week. Earlier this morning, a John Jay College psychology student interviewed me on my youth counseling experience and natural know-how for his graduate studies, a group interview I did earlier this summer with local cable show 'In the Black' airing tonight, a one-on-one interview with the show later this month, an invitation to present at a Brooklyn community forum on the plotics of educating our youth this coming Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, and now I learned that my book Message to a Youngblood is sold out on My blessings keep coming which tells me I'm on my divine path. Cos when you're doing what you came here to do, good things come to you effortlessly. Thank you so much to those near and far who support my mission and follow my blogs. On-line purchases can still be made through Paypal or feel free to contact me directly at
Meanwhile, tonight on Time Warner Cable, Channel 34 or my interview with 'In the Black' will air @ 8:30pm. Also on Fios Ch. 33 and Rcn Ch. 82.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Next Stop: The Promise and Realities of America Community Forum Series

FYI: As part of The Promise and Realities of America
community forum series
@ The Irondale Center in Brooklyn, NY
October 3rd, 6-9pm--
 "An analysis of how the American political system is analyzed
and contexualized for many through mainstream media".
Featured presenter: Author/Youth Educator:
Kahlil Koromantee
Other presenters include Farai Chideya and Dr. Eddie Moore
(click on above pic for details).

The Parent Participation Part

Parents get a lil thrown off their guard when they learn that the book they bought for their kid to read has a chapter on parent participation, with pointed questions involving choice (If my father's no good, why were you attracted to him?), intention (Did you want to be a married woman/man or a baby mama/daddy?), responsibility (Did you attend parent-teacher meetings?), accountability (Was our home a loving, supportive home or a place of chaos, disorder and frustration?), and timing (Were the two of you financially ready to have me?)....We get what we create!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lehman College Soon...

My book interview with Lehman College/CUNY coming soon...

2012 Brooklyn Book Festival

Ready, set, go!
(The art of selling)

Young gym teacher and seasoned media arts instructor. 
Both see the benefits of putting student before ego... 
My poster of a letter from a 16yrld to her absentee father,
 and this dad was very moved by it...
   23yrld Edgar is from Honduras.
 He was on the ave n saw all the commotion;
saw my book n couldn't put it down,
so i gave him a seat... 

School officials make it a point to browse the Fest in search of interesting motivational youth book. And when they sign up for yours, it's a sign that the Dept. of Ed recognizes and supports the role of alternative in education...   
A teacher looking for a book to get her teens to reflect 
on their lives, 
while still learning...
                                       The art of selling...

 I like it when church members support my books. They know formula doesn't work and formalities don't pay the rent. Plus, young people are dealing with grown up sht, so they also know to find a keep it real book, then re-connect with what they threw away...

Thank you again to those who purchased my books, along with the interesting talks with browsers. I appreciate it all and hope you stay tuned for more of my book projects. See you at the next one! (Photos by Ocean Morisset....Who else?)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Biz Card

My new business card! Just in time for the Brooklyn Book Festival tomorrow (Sunday, September 23rd) at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza/209 Joralemon Street. Come and enjoy a fun day of meeting other serious readers looking for new, interesting books, along with up n coming authors of all subjects. I'll be setting up between the Harlem Writers Guild and South Carolina writer, Horace Mungin, representing classic, homegrown and progressive Black literature. I love this fest cos it's a great opportunity to chat with fans and new fans, young and wiser. For me, especially, it's a blessing meeting established and new educators looking for non-traditional reading material for their hard to reach students. And of course, the parents themselves are always a nice surprise because they add meaning to my purpose. Hope all of you can make it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Brooklyn Book Festival

Got my table at the upcoming Brooklyn Book Festival Sunday, September 23rd where serious writers link up with serious readers. I try to be at this popular book fest every year cos it's a great way to meet readers looking for books they can't find and, of course, make them sales. Plus, you get to see established writers who drop by for support. I'll be between fellow author Horace Mungin and the Hartlem Writers Guild. Hope to see you there!

Dear Grown-Ups...

As fired up as we are during these here Presidential campaigns, it's the youth who've had enough; enough of our contradictions, our poor choices in who we pick for their fathers or mothers, an education that's more about indoctrination, and our tendency to clap n cry for symbolism while unemployment for our sons, especially continues to rise past the point of state of emergency. You and I are voting to re-elect Obama cos we know about the game our Prez has to play in order to make things happen for us. But what they've been trying to tell us is that after all the marching, all them efforts to conform, all our millionairs n billionairs who have power but no vision, they still gotta go beggin for legal work from those who despise them. So where's Black power is their question. And don't bring up great dead people or more false promises. They really hate it when we stay stuck in the past and stuck on messiah.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Show Our Colors, Not Your Ass!!!

Every year round this time, Carib folk from and around Brooklyn, NY take over Eastern Parkway to celebrate the annual West Indian Day Parade. I used to go as a child when the Parade was a gigantic/awesome gathering with floats showcasing each Caribbean flag/music along the sidewalks filled with on-lookers and food n souvenir vendors who, in turn, showcased the matching flavors. I stopped attending when the event became more of a dangerous place to be caught in, what with gangsta wannabe's turning it into an excuse to shoot at one another. It became something both residents and visitors tolerated, until NYPD decided to curb the ra-ra. Now the floats pass through Crown Heights and down to the plaza circle with a more controlled threat of violence in the air. Efforts by po-po to be friendlier to the natives also helped. But it backfired last year when Blue was caught on video sexually fraternizing with some of the floaters and then bragging about it, even using racial tags to add to the insult. But no one talked about the insult that the men and women had already put on themselves.

Maybe I'm just getting older. But I want more from us. Too much compromising of what Black pride looks like. I know. What's wrong with just having a good time? Nothing, if you consider a good time bending your back forward to let another dry fuk you for all to see, or cheering a 5yrld girl for gyrating her privates in front of grandma. Or better yet, a group of males bumrushing a female to show what they do when the lights are out, while the female drunkenly grins at the mere spectacle of it all. If we're okay with teaching our daughters and sons that showing your ass is showing our pride, then let's not act surprised when non-Family members don't take us seriously. Older boys, especialy, who use our flags as gangsta face masks are not expressing Caribbean pride but emulating gang mentality which have nothing whatsoever to do with forward movement, but everything to do with misguidance and identity crisis.

I'm bringing this up cos I'm wondering if we're at a crossroads in defining our collective pride. Those who see a parade as an opportunity to display their flags and colors, and those who see it as a chance to wile'out. Reminds me of the debate over 'gays' who see pride as exhibitionism and those who'd rather push with their clothes on. I'm just sayin...

Look, I'm not trying to force my words on you. And from a photographer's standpoint, the more outrageous the fun, the more interesting the shot. But I'm celebrating my West Indian pride by remembering our Maroon, Yoruba and Taino heritages, the meaning of the conk shell, and the fact that Ayiti gave the rest of Carib and Latin America the blueprint for independence. Our West African traditions still show in our ways, food, and parade costumes like the one here representing the Devil. Devil Man is called upon by painting the body either blue, red or black; sometimes mud, but the one color is smeared from head to toe and the horns add to the drama. This is all part of the Jab Jab, an offshoot of the Parade that actually occurs before sunrise. The idea is that the Devil walks through town warning people about not paying for their wickedness. It's all mythology, of course. But the myth got hyjacked by marchers who sexualized the character (FYI-- The island of Grenade is considering banning the sexually provocative 'devil man' from their carnival, while supporters are siding with freedom of expression).

The full coloring of bodies or tarring began as a form of collective protesting when male slaves smeared themselves with tar, mud, paint or molasses so their masters wouldn't recognize them. As in, I'm stealing the very molasses I'm forced to cultivate for my keeper. Colonized French called it Jab Molassie while Black Brits named it the Jab-Jab. All of that got lost with the rest of the old folk tales, with some grown men who do recall and make sure we don't completely forget. Even the ones who paint themselves green or purple, who are just doing it cos they saw someone else do it, somewhere in their psyche they know it's a form of beautiful protest.
Sometimes on-lookers gotta wait between floats cos the gaps can be a block long. That's when some of us show their ass the most! All that jump off space and liquor to join you, until the next float comes or police regulates. The beauty queens try to get some of the attention by waving at the crowd, the way Queen Elizabeth waves at her subjects or how Marie Antoinette looked like she had a following but in reality didn't. Most times on-lookers remember the crowns. These times we wanna hear the noise and skip the symbols. I like to watch the White politicians try to look like they belong while hurrying to get the fuk outta there! Makes me laugh to see what someone will do to get a vote that's already taken for granted, but expected.

Ayiyi (Haiti) usually comes last. We're the final reminder of West Indian marching. A militaristic forward two-step that can be very intimidating to newbies and euros, but as familiar as DNA to those who honor their West African ancestry. Not everyone can get in on the whip cos you gotta do like the doubledutch girls be doing when they're ready to jump them ropes. You gotta prep yourself, keep your legs sturdy and feet ready as you wait for the right second to add yourself into the mix. Come in at the wrong time and you get pushed back by overwhelmed arms or aggravated elbows, unlike in doubledutch where everybody gotta start over on account of you. (And everyone in the neighborhood will know it!) Here, there's no stopping for you. You either know what you're doing or don't, but the Ra-Ra gonna keep moving with or without you. Our way of calling on the first Shango to push the French out from us. Our determination to withstand the tides of imperialism and global economic punishment for having the audacity to stand for something; for believing, still, in a free, self-reliant Black nation, even if crime lords and egotrippin government officals in Port-au-Prince are blocking progress.

So I'm gonna sit this one out. But I do find it interesting that the word RaRa made it from Gonaive all the way to Crooklyn; that it started as a march through Haitian villages and now a jump off. Stop that ra-ra means stop acting out. Keep the RaRa moving means cultural pride. We're at a crosssroads in defining pride. And I want more from us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Daily News and NBC Want an Interview!!!

I don't know how these things work, exactly. You take a chance, give it your best and Wow! Pow! Bang! You're in the Daily News, NBC anchorman, David Ushery wants to interview you and local talk shows wanna know more bout your books and your mission to save young lives. The only explanation I can fit on my head right now is that i happen to be on my divine path and therefore all my blessings are coming to me effortlessly. Or maybe it's just timing and all things are properly aligned. It can't be chance cos I don't believe in chance, accidents or coincidence. And since my latest project also brought attention to the artists who deserve it, I can only guess that the universe is smiling on each and all of us for bringing something meaningful to the community; or maybe it's just Harlem Week and folk are in a mood to notice what they usually only see...!/on-air/as-seen-on/Local-Artists-Bring-Exhibit-to-Harlem/164027856

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you to all who attended Celebrating Our Sons Through Words and Images . This Harlem exhibit will be on view through August 8th at the Adam Clayton Powell State Building Art Gallery. Our ARTIST TALK segment will be on Sunday, August 5th 3-6pm...

Front and center, 18yrld Christopher Evans who did most of the illustrations in my book, Message to a Youngblood. Beside him is his mother, photographer Pavan Carter who also was one of the participating artists...

The Program wouldn't have been complete without the youth themselves having their say...

Like I've said before, most youth books tend to follow the formula of 'experts' speaking to 'experts' or making the material so academic, so cerebral that it by-passes the audience it's intended to reach. I speak directly to my target population and by-pass the formalities...

One of the artwork on display. Come sit with us for ARTIST TALK Sunday, August 5th 3-6pm at the Harlem State Building 2nd floor art gallery. Wine and snacks will be served.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Harlem Exhibit: Celebrating Our Sons Through Words and Images

Peace n blessings, and thank you for visiting my site. In a few weeks I'll be hosting an art exhibit honoring our sons. The show will be up til mid-August, but the reception is Saturday, July 21st when both young and seasoned artists will showcase their individual artwork while using my book, Message to a Youngblood as a platform. Please save the date. We'd very much appreciate your attendance. Admission is free.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Note to self: Write not to be popular, but to fulfill a void. If you save a life, you fulfilled your role in the greater scheme of things. If you piss some people off, those will most likely be the ones who were already pissed off at you for pointing out the void. WRITE!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Father's Day Gift

I didn't just write it for him. This book's for you also, the parent. Because we can't expect him to answer to poor choices and not look into our own...

"Considering how most couples fuss over wedding plans but not on the marriage itself and how their children will be raised, they forget or avoid serious discussions on choices, intentions, sense of responsibility, accountability and timing...What was it about my father/my mother you found so attractive that's got nothing to do with his/her looks?...What was more important? The wedding dress or getting along? The bachelor party or sharing the same definition of what a marriage feels like and looks like?...Did the two of you go over health issues on both sides of the family tree?...How long did you date each other before I was born?...Were the two of you financially ready to even have a child?...
Some of us have dads who want to make up for their absence. If you have an opportunity to reconnect with your father, you're allowed to ask him the following questions:

1) Do you have any proof that you appealed to a judge to be allowed to see me?

2) Did you keep any receipts showing you paid child support, but was still not allowed to help raise me?

3) Are there any letters you wrote to me or my mom that were either never sent or returned to sender?

4) Do you have any photos of me or of us together?

5) Can you name any relatives who can back up your efforts to father me?

Might be wise to give him a chance if he answers one yes and let him be there for you in a way he couldn't before. Not just monetarily, but to help you understand your ways and this crazy ride called life...When Shaq made the decision that a missing father wanting to do the right thing after so many years passed--years his mother spent nurturing and protecting him without a word or penny from the man--deserved a respectful but firm 'no thanks, she already filled your shoes', it sent a loud message to all fathers who make babies but don't raise them..."

Friday, June 1, 2012

684 Pages of African History

Later this month, I'll be at the CEMOTAP CENTER with some other serious heads to help answer the question: "Is Black Unity Even Possible?". This comes at a time when I just finished reading 684 pages of African history and how we had tribal wars, egotrippin and yes, slavery way before the first European arrived. Wasn't as atrocious as American slavery, but we had slavery; and it's not a rumour. Some of us helped the slave catchers in exchange for goods. It's important to remind ourselves not to romanticize African history like everything was butter til 'the White man' came cos it wasn't. That's how foreigners, including Muhammad and the Pope, were able to divide and conquer. Same way they took over while Native Americans were busy at each other's throats. Same way they take over our hoods when we do nothing but trash em, and then complain. So to me, asking if there's even such a thing as Black unity means also asking what and who we mean by unity and family. And how much more dividing are we gonna tolerate before realizing everyone admires us but us? I'm just sayin...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Griot

Earlier this month I went to check out a film called The Griot. Wasn't the first time I learned about the original Rappers, but first time seeing Senegal pay homage to Ayiti. The beautiful West African images were a nice break from mainstream. Sitting there in the dark with all the other indes, I felt a strong sense of pan-African pride. And I was dazzled by the gigantic/majestic trees reaching high above ground/across landscape, like scenes from Avatar. Where Haiti waters back to Benin is when you see carabans turn into tap-taps. To understand griots, you have to understand spiritual matters; to understand Rap music, especially gangsta rap music, you have to understand past and current social ills. And it's not this man who's playing the kora, but many men playing; just like it's not me writing my books, but many speaking for you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day is Every Day

Not every mother acts like a mom; and you, dear one knows this best. And sometimes fathers have to make up for the void. But this doesn't mean you can't still celebrate WOMAN. Cos she comes in so many different tender ways, from grandma to auntie to kind neighbor to Mama Angelou. So you too have a sweet, wonderful Mother's Day. Today and every day...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Message to a Young Lady

Males are not calculus. We treat you the way you allow us to treat you

How long does your weave need to be before you realize you're already lovely just the way you are?

If you think he's a dog, then stop feeding him puppy show

Misery loves company, and your shady friends want your company

If you want advice about males, you ask another male. Not a bitter, angry female who'll only help you stay single

Pretty outside and ugly inside is ugly outside

Your tone of voice is the one accessory you don't pay enough attention to

Pop-poppin your gum in a crowded closed in space doesn't show how cool you are, but just how annoying you can be

Who you associate with doesn't necessarily define you. Hanging around those who help you fall says a lot about you

A diva has her own apartment, pays her own bills and buys her struggling parent a ticket to Tahiti

Going natural is a socio-political statement, not a fashion trend

Love is not OMG he's fine! Love is OMG he came thru for me!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Terminator

Sometimes I feel like Stanley Crouch. The terminator of Black folk mess and author of The All-American Skin Game, Notes of a Hanging Judge, Reconsidering the Souls of Black Folk and In Defense of Taboos. Cos we both like to 'go there', even when it's not popular to do so. We both see the need for healing which begins with us and the need to step out of formula thinking and move inward and onward which still begins with us.

I asked Crouch why we haven't heard from him lately, especially since so much been happening in and out of the hood. Our expectation to have our Prez raise our children and make good choices for us seems worthy of the literary beatdown we usually get from the hanging judge. But I forgot about his first love which is jazz and writing about jazz. And so I just let the good fortune of running into him at a tribute to a sistas function lead the rest of the convo with a smile...