Books by Arthur Flowers
De Mojo Blues
/ Another Good Loving Blues
* * * *
The Confessions of a 21st-Century Conjureman
By Arthur Flowers
memoir that chronicles not just a life, but also an entire
belief system, Mojo Rising follows the enlightened path
of an African-American philosophical and spiritual firebrand. A
modern-day hoodooman working his "mojo" -- the
empowerment of black souls -- through the cultivation of hoodoo
practice, Arthur Flowers continues a tradition birthed by Zora
Neale Hurston and Ishmael Reed. With academic and emotional
vigor, Mojo Rising fosters the transformation of hoodoo
into a twenty-first century afrospiritual ideology and literary
framework. Unflinchingly honest, passionate and ever conscious
of his role in the complex evolution of black society, Flowers
fuses scholarship and soul-searching into this progressive
honest, informed, energetic meditation and memoir from the heart
of a 21st century conjureman. From Delta modernism to
post-modern condemnations of all fundamentalisms and all
retro-intellectual methodologies wherever they exist, 'Rickydoc'
shows us the way to black empowerment -- the longgame for our
souls' survival. No study of black intellectual strategy and
striving in our new global order of existence can afford to
ignore this passionate hoodoo ceremonial. A triumph and
A. Baker, Jr
was suppressed, often brutally, in the United States, more so
than anywhere in the African Diaspora. Despite the ridicule it
received from Hollywood and an ignorant media, which still uses
terms like "voodoo economics," the Hoodoo people of
the South were able to sustain the faith. Today, African
Religion has reemerged in the United States stronger than ever,
with followers, students and writers, who are influenced by this
powerful force, no longer finding it necessary to camouflage the
"Saints," from the Santeria people in Miami, to the
Ghedecelebrants in Brooklyn, to the upscale women in Berkeley
who dance to Yemanja. Arthur Flowers, in Mojo Rising,
fuses Philosophy, Religion, Literary History, and Autobiography,
to show how this religion of the people has influenced
contemporary writers. He has put his mind, heart, and soul into
this work, which challenges all of the popular presumptions
about African-American writers."—Ishmael
Mojo Rising is a retrospective self-examination,
a combination of popular history, literary criticism,
afrocentric psychology/theology, and political treatise. A
writer telling it all. If we have ever wondered about the
motives and inspiration behind Flowers' earlier works, De
Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues, we now
know. This book is a work in motion, not only a rumination on
the past and present condition, but also a meditation on future
possibilities, both personal and collective. A book about the 'Longgame.'"
* * * *
||MOJO RISING: 1st Movement
I am Flowers of the Delta Clan Flowers and
the line of O. Killens.. A babagriot of the hoodoo way. A Lord
of the Delta. I am a Hoodooman. Mojo Rising is the Text.
Attend me Lord Legba.
Been most interesting trying to be true hoodoo in these
contemporary times. Most folks arent certain hoodoo really
exist. If they are conscious of the hoodoo tradition, they
generally thinking slaverytime hoodoo - spells, hells and black
cat bones. But as African Americans have evolved as a people so
too has their indigenous spiritual tradition. Comparing
contemporary hoodoo to slaverytime hoodoo is kinda like
comparing the space shuttle to an oxdrawn cart.
My understanding is that the word Hoodoo is a
linguistic riff on Voodoo, itself a riff on Vodou, a Fon word
meaning spirit or deity. Hoodoo is often confused with Voodoo.
They are, though, two different systems. Voodoo, like most
afrospiritual systems in the Americas, is a conventional
religious system (based in Haiti) whose primary concern, in
spite of Western sensationalizement is interface with the
Divine, whereas Hoodoo has traditionally been a magical system
based in the African American communities of the South
When African captives were brought to the
Americas they were strategically dispersed as part of the
acculturation/pacification process and not allowed to practice
their religions or adhere to their respective cultures. Where
the African way was heavily repressed, as it was in the US, it
became magical. Where allowed, it planted syncretic roots. In
Haiti, Fon blended with Catholicism and became Vodou. In Cuba,
Yoruba blended with Catholicism and became Santeria. Down in
Brazil, Congo and Yoruba bred Macumba and Condomble. When the
Coramantee took root in Jamaica, Anansi the spider become Ms.
Nancy and down Trinidad way the Ashanti words obayifo (magic)
and obi o komfo (priest) became Obeah. The African way took
rocky but solid root
in the Americas.
My understanding is that the word
Hoodoo came into being when the Vodou of Haiti was
imported into French Louisiana by planters and slaves
fleeing the Haitian revolution. When Voodoo was
proscribed in New Orleans as
"insurrectionary," it went underground and
mythopoetic figures such as Dr. John and Marie Laveau
shaped its American manifestation. It became Hoodoo when
it dispersed out of New Orleans into the southern black
experience and became the term for a variety of African
magical/religious practices that had survived among
assimilated slaves.Around the turn of the 20th Century, African
American writer/intellectuals began to explore and use it in
their works. The earliest fragmentary references to hoodooism
are in the slave narratives. The Life and Times of Fred
Douglass recounts a root given to him by another slave to
ward off whippings. Then Charles Chesnutt wrote The Conjure
Woman and during the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale began
anthropological study which she used in her HighJohn de Conquer
mythwork and in various works such as Mules and Men, Tell
My Horse and Moses, Man of the Mountain.
In doing so she facilitated hoodoo's
evolution from a oral, folkloric tradition into a literary
Mystically inclined black
writers and intellectuals, searching during the 60s as
part of The Struggle for an authentic African American Way,
happened upon hoodoo and began to study it systematically.
Many were introduced to Hoodoo as an
ideological system through the works of Ishmael Reed, in
particular Mumbo Jumbo and Conjure. It was Ishmael
"Just cause you cant see d stones don't mean I aint
building." Reed transformed hoodoo from a magical
system to a functioning 20th Century afrospiritual ideology.
hoodoo also grew out of the newly systematic study of African
religions in the Black Studies Programs of the 70s and even more
significant, the influx of Hispanics into New York City and the
consequent exposure of African Americans to Santeria.
Hoodoo today is an eclectic system, incorporating a wide
range of practices and philosophies, from the classic
rural magicworker to urban hoodoo boutiques (botanicas)
to eclectic occultists and artists to the sophisticated
ideological orchestrators of literary
Though the African Way of God is
often ignored in comparative religious study and
thought, the African way is one of the most vibrant in
the Americas. Throughout the African American cultures
in the West, afrospiritual practice organically
generating new rituals of empowerment such as Kwanzaa or
the allday ceremony the Ancestors Committee of Medgar
Evers College holds at Coney Island every Juneteenth for
those who didnt make the Middle Passage. Ends with a
drumdriven flowerstrewn procession to the waters and I
seen de Mambo Cheryl Byron dance she in a bed of flowers
on the ocean's floor. From Brazil to Cuba to Brooklyn,
afrospiritual practice is one of the most dynamic forces
in the Western Hemisphere.
The Hoodoo Way is itself deeply rooted in the
African American community of the US from the traditional to the
sophisticated. From elders like Douthet's grandmother (who would
put an axe upright in her Arkansas yard to split oncoming delta
storms) and the hoodoo empire of Walsh Harris' Voodoo Village,
(a fenced compound of brightly colored houses and signs in deep
South Memphis) to a variety of artistic and intellectual
practitioners. Most everybody I know has a personal altar.
Afrospiritual practice is in fact much more prevalent in Afroam
art than most folk realize. From the literary works of Reed and
Morrison to the films of Julie Dash, from the selfhelp works of
Vanzant and Tisch to the music of Cassandra Wilson and Randy
Weston to the artwork of George Hunt, Harriet Buckley and Enoche
Placide, the African way in the Americas as manifested through
art is alive and thriving.
Folk still speak of what some fondly call
"the witchdoctor's convention" when Marta Vega of the
Caribbean Cultural Center of NYC brought together various
practitioners - Iyawos, Hougans, Santeros, Babalawos, Mambos and
from the different afrospiritual traditions of the Americas and
took them to Ile Ife. Sacred city of the Yoruba. A crosscultural
consultation shall we say. Bet they didnt include no hoodoos.
Hoodoo has a conflicted relationship with the
rest of the African spiritual family in the Americas. Because it
lost more of its African nature and regressed into a purely
magical system (only just now putting God back in the hoodoo)
the other African traditions tend to look down on it. Dont
really accept it as part of the family. Consider it an Outlaw
Way. The Lost Children of Legba.
(It was de Olarisha Ashira down at Black
Images Book Bazaar in Dallas convince me I man Legba Child cause
I like to play w/folks heads and gon try to play w/yours.)
Because contemporary hoodoo is more a
mystical tradition than a religious one, it is looked on
with even more suspicion. The hoodoo way has always been
an eclectic way shaped to the personality of the
practitioner. What Ishmael in Mumbo Jumbo calls
'awarding yourself the asson'. But though we lost more
we have a flexibility the other traditions dont have.
Hoodoo today, as is the Afroamerican community for which
it speaks, in a state of flux and transition. A blank
slate to be shaped as we see fit.
The cutting edge of Contemporary
Hoodoo aspires to be a respected contribution to the
Worldspirit - the global spiritual Work composed of the best of
the national traditions. Where the essence of religions meet.
The Holyground. Concerning itself then not only with its classic
tribal roles of afrospiritual guide and guard but with the
wellbeing of all peoples and all Jah creatures great and small.
Guide and Guardian still.
Consequently the human condition, evolutionary illumination,
community empowerment, divine and destinic guidance have become
prime hoodoo concerns. At least according to Rickydoc. Thats me.
I have tried in Mojo Rising to explore
my evolution as a contemporary hoodooman and get further
understanding of questions I have struggled with to get to where
I am now —
the Crossroad Decisions I have had to make.
I hope with this work to contribute to the
ongoing evolution of the hoodoo way and make it pertinent to the
21st Century mind and condition.
I hope with this work to establish a claim
for hoodoo as one of the world's respected spiritual traditions
and to make of it an effective instrument of spiritual and
Gon speculate then in Mojo Rising
on two primary hoodoo skills —Conjuration
Consultation as the classic hoodoo
role of Individual Guidance —
helping folk to address the challenges
of life and be greater than they are.
Conjuration as Destinic Guidance —
destinic orchestrations conjuring
reality into being and shaping the future of humanity.
Making real that which was not. Turning the key in the
In my youth I was a sorcerer.
I have struggled for some 25 years now to
manifest as a contemporary hoodooman. I have for the last 10 or
so struggled to understand just what it means to be a 21st
Century conjureman. A true 21st Century afrospiritual force. A holyman
if I may be so bold.
In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I
like to think I got my mojo working and I plan to take the trick
off black souls. This spell is then designed to define the
hoodoo way as the prophetic tradition of the blackworld and
shape the hoodoos of the future as spiritual and strategic
masters of the longgame.
I have tried to approach this quest with the
humility it demands and can only hope that in the journey I have
found something worthwhile. My record is spotty and most of my
understanding has come from failure. I hope in this work to find
my own redemption.
I further hope with this work to influence the destinic dynamics
of my times. To give my people a vision
greater than their adversity. I hope with this Work to conjure.
Come then o traveler. I claim for hoodoo the
Cast your vision young
hoodoo as far as you can see.
Determine the challenges the tribe will face.
Prepare the tribal soul to meet them.
* * *
Flowers, a Memphis native, is the author of two novels,
De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues (Ballantine Books), and a children's story,
Cleveland Lee's Beale Street Band. He is a
Vietnam veteran, blues singer, co-founder of the New Renaissance
Writer's Guild. In addition, he is the webmaster of Rootsblog:
A Cyberhoodoo Webspace and a performance artist whose presentation, Delta Oracle: A Griot
Speaks in Tongues, keeps him busy and Professor of MFA Fiction at Syracuse University.
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* * * * *
Eyeminded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art
A daughter of the poets
Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew
up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and
writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in
black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and
social justice across the river in Newark. The
activist vision of art and culture that she learned
in those two communities, and especially from her
family, has shaped her life and work as an art
critic and curator. Featuring selections of her
writings from the past twenty years,
EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing
attention to the work of African American, African,
Latin American, and women artists who have
challenged established art practices. Interviews
that she conducted with the painter
Howardena Pindell, the installation and
David Hammons, and the
sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the
Lorna Simpson, and
Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor
Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist
Betye Saar; and the painters
Norman Lewis, and
Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial
sensibility, this collection is structured as a
dialogue between her writings and works by her
parents, her sister
Lisa Jones, and her husband
Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr.
EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family
conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones,
insight into the development of her critical and
curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most
important figures in contemporary art.
* * * *
Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow
Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
mass incarceration of people of color through the War on
Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child
born today is less likely to be raised by both parents
than a black child born during slavery. The absence of
black fathers from families across America is not simply
a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time
watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black
men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away
for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed
by whites. Most people seem to
imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of
poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at
rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama” . . . The
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
“Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”
Recalling some of the criticisms of
America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who “never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 28 July 2008