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that’s one of the worse things about this survivor syndrome, even though there are

 bunches of people  in the same boat, you end up feeling utterly alone. alone even as you

are in the midst of a throng suffering just like you’re suffering

 

 

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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I Want to But I Don't

Katrina Communiqué #4

from Kalamu ya Salaam

 

 

when there are 1000 emails in the inbox, aol stops receiving any more incomings. over the last five days, there have been hours and hours when my inbox was shut down. I was shut down. momentarily.

sometimes sitting right in front of the computer. the television droning in the background. my hands at my side. my eyes closed. and then I snap out of it and push forward.

there is a syndrome—the survivor syndrome. those who survive a disaster, survive mass oppression—and let us be clear, we were looking at oppression just as much as we were looking at disaster--those of us who survive are traumatized.

and the circumstances make it almost impossible for us to speak out, to complain, to even moan about our condition without sounding ungrateful. we are the ones who got out when mayor nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation.

we sat wherever we sat and watched the horror unfold, except we watched with knowing eyes, we watched with churning stomachs, we watched with consciousnesses twisted by contradictory feelings: bitterness battled with gratefulness, relief wrestled with despair, memory overwhelmed vision. who could imagine a future when we were watching the destruction of our past.

and yet, what right did we have to even moan one complaint when the ultimate reality tv show was the death of new orleans. bodies floating in the water. people literally dying before our eyes.

but not the way Hollywood always presented it. not in a ball of fire. not heroically at the barricades. not as valiant Americans overcome on some island overrun by enemies, by aliens. not like that. no.

but slowly. painfully. we woke up wednesday and they were there dying. we watched all day wednesday. dying. we stayed up all night wednesday. dying. and thursday. still dying. no water. no food. no sanitation. no nothing. reporters reporting. we saw it. but we saw more than most saw. we all looked and pointed, that’s—and we would name a place, a building, an intersection, a friend’’s house, a sub-division, a neighborhood, a community—drowned. dead. dying. and ignored.

we couldn’t ignore. the reporters didn’t ignore. but where was the government? thursday night we closed our eyes but we were not sleeping. not resting. not rejuvenating our bodies, wherever it was we were.

wherever was not convention center boulevard, was not the superdome ramp, and yes we were much better off, but we felt terrible. obviously not as terrible as our people baking in the sun and terrorized at night, but better, and at that critical moment, being better off made us feel worse.

and come friday morning and we were still watching. that’s when it was just too much. bush walking around, I just wanted one of the survivors to spit on him. but that was me. I had been getting enough fluids--water, juice, or whatever else--I had had enough fluid to be able to spare the spit to hark up and hurl into bush’s face. those there on the ground could not even spare the spit.

people all over the world want to help us. friends and people we have never before met. most of America--I can’t say all of America because they are some folk in a position to help who have not, in my opinion, done what they are supposed to do.

I’m tired of writing about it. I’m tired of complaining. of opining. of talking. and I feel depressed about feeling tired. what right do I have to be tired when people are dying. people have nothing. I have something.

just yesterday I sat surrounded by envelopes, friends and supporters were sending funds. what right do I have?

people are looking to me for leadership.

what right do I have?

my guts are twisted up. I am a survivor but sometimes, sometimes a pernicious thought sneaks up and mugs me: I wish I was dead. my bloated body floating in the ninth ward waters.

it’s a hard deal going down. It’s hard for people to understand. when you send me an email. when you try to call my cell—oh yeah, the phone died on labor day (September 5th), just flat out gave up the ghost and fortunately, the next day, I was able to get another phone at radio shack. my old phone was also my pda, and the back up data is on the computer in new Orleans, and—

it’s a hard deal going down. please understand, I, and I’m sure many others like me, we! (that’s one of the worse things about this survivor syndrome, even though there are bunches of people in the same boat, you end up feeling utterly alone. alone even as you are in the midst of a throng suffering just like you’re suffering.)

we really, really appreciate all the help, but if, or should I say, when--when we don’t respond, when we don’t answer your calls, don’t respond to your emails, fail to deliver after we say we’ll get back to you, we’ll call tonight, we definitely will email you in the morning, when we don’t, please understand, we want to but—

a luta continua,

kalamu

posted 7 September 2005

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

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#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
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#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

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#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

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#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

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#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls

By Dorothy Sterling

Dorothy Sterling’s biography of Robert Smalls is Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1958). In most history books, the contributions of Negroes during the Civil War and Reconstructions are ignored. Robert Smalls was one of the heroes who is rarely mentioned. He was a Negro slave who stole a ship from the Confederates, served on it with the Union Army with distinction, and finally served several terms in Congress.

All this was accomplished against the handicaps first of slavery, then of the prejudice of the Union Army, and finally of the Jim Crow laws, which eventually conquered him. Besides its value in contradicting the history book insinuation that the Negro was incapable of political enterprise and that the South was right in imposing Jim Crow laws, Captain of the Planter is an exciting adventure story. Captain Smalls’ escape from slavery and his battle exploits make interesting reading, and the style is fast moving.—Barbara Dodds

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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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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice." Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him." —John Pilger

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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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

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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 16 January 2012

 

 

 

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