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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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The economy of the hood is a drug economy, let's be real. . . . masses of black people shopping

 downtown during working hours, how is it possible except for an alternative economy. . . .

the dope man is the number one employer of our youth coast to coast.




The Pain of Violence and Death In the Hood

By Marvin X

"When you kill your brother, you kill yourself, so two people are dead."--Abdul (Leroy) James


Not long ago some Washington, DC school children were asked what they envisioned for their future. They responded with how they planned their funerals. As I watched the Discovery Channel's documentary on Saddam Hussein's regime, the pain of mothers and fathers who lost children and other loved ones in the nightmare called Iraq, supported for many years by America, I also thought about life and death in America, especially in the black community as a result of drugs and the related violence.

Many years ago I tried to work with mothers who had lost children in Oakland's drug wars until I was overwhelmed with the testimonies and tragedies I was forced to hear, not much different from seeing the mothers and fathers weeping and wailing at discovering missing relatives at the mass graves in Iraq. Yes, if taken collectively, the national deaths of African Americans due to drugs and related homicides, constitute mass murder, orchestrated by the American government, a government similar in many ways to the fallen regime it supported for many years in Iraq. Almost everyone in Iraq has been a victim of Saddam's death squads, just as in America, almost everyone I know coast to coast has family members murdered, jailed or addicted as a result of the so-called war against drugs.

While the Oakland mothers tried to organize, the fathers I know that have lost sons go about their daily round in silence, albeit suffering as the mothers suffer. So we have a nation of people in virtual mourning, doing their best to maintain sanity in an atmosphere of madness.

The more we organize, the more the drugs and killing proliferate. It seems to be a losing battle with the "drug lords" who we know is Uncle Sam. Anytime the police want to stop the flow of drugs, say when a pig is killed, they stop it immediately, the hood is dry overnight, but once the suspect is apprehended, the drugs flow again like water.

So all the talk about more police, more judges, more prisons is poppycock. The economy of the hood is a drug economy, let's be real. This became clear to me seeing masses of black people shopping downtown during working hours, how is it possible except for an alternative economy. I've said before the dope man is the number one employer of our youth coast to coast.

Well, is there a program to end the pain, the murder and social destabilization? We could say, as in Iraq, we need a regime change. We need to throw out the corrupt police, mayors, preachers (many churches would cease to exist without donations from mothers of drug dealing children), school teachers and others who benefit from the drug trade.

Few are ready for radical change, most will accept Miller Lite solutions that don't go to the root of the problem, until one of their children is a victim, then they wail like an Iraqi mother. Yes, we will march to city hall when the police abuse a ghetto youth, but the nightly black on black homicides cause no real protest, especially in the hood where residents are terrified into silence.

Of course, my solution is the formation of elder councils. But these seem to miss the mark. The elders seem too old and feeble to really do anything but pontificate and demand youth bow down to them because of age and reactionary wisdom. Yet I know no other solution: the elder council should  serve as an alternative government, empowered by the people to handle matters the traditional political and social/economic structure is unable to solve. It would be composed of intelligent, progressive, radical conscious people respected by the community for their integrity and problem solving ability. The elder council would be especially useful in emergencies, say, when white power falls or is under attack. 

The council would be the point of authority to resolve matters between community residents before the criminal justice system is involved, such as conflict resolution, including domestic and street violence prevention. It would also provide alternative economic solutions to drug dealing. It would establish grief counseling and/or mental health groups such as the Black Reconstruction mental health group Dr. Nathan Hare is facilitating in San Francisco. With the many deaths from violence and natural causes, grief counseling is especially needed in our community, too many are forced to suffer the pain of loss alone.

If you have a better solution, tell me about it because death in the hood is killing us coast to coast, and we have too many intelligent people not to find real and lasting solutions to our myriad problems, short of bringing in the US military that is too busy bringing in drugs

Marvin X is a poet, playwright, essayist, teacher, actor, organizer, director and founder of Recovery Theatre, Inc., a therapeutic theatre project for the chemically addicted and those suffering mental disabilities. His latest book of essays is IN THE CRAZY HOUSE CALLED AMERICA, Black Bird Press, 2002. 

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Eating the Rich: Resolving the Dilemma of Black Criminality

By Rudolph Lewis 

The proper response to the rise in the black prison population  and "violence and death in the hood" is an important and significant question and needs immediate attention. But it is not a matter to which we should become overwrought. I have faith that we have the power within us to resolve this dilemma.

If the black man can be the progenitor of the human race, build the great pyramids of Egypt, be the backbone for the creation of wealth in the Western hemisphere and create more black millionaires than any place on the earth (except possibly among African heads of state), be a dominate force in the major sports of today, be the greatest international influence in the cultural arena (music and dance), surely the matter of staying out of the white man's prisons and decreasing poverty and hunger should be a much easier problem for black genius to overcome.

This will require certainly a concerted effort from all sectors within the black community, especially from people like Russell Simmons and other hip-hop millionaires and powerbrokers who have been one of the primary exploiters of the rebelliousness and recklessness of young black men and women, and from black politicians too who absorb all of the political will and energy of the black middle-classes, and yes, the heads of black megachurches (many capable of pulling in a half a million dollars with one event), also slick sloganeering millionaire black lawyers who have sold their souls to corporations and big-time drug dealers, and from high profile black educators who own chairs bought by American free enterprise and Bill Gates, and, well, from sanctimonious civil rights leaders like those in the NAACP who are linked like sausages to the corporate world, and contributions, indeed, from any other blacks who have sold their birthright and are fortunate to pull down $100,000 a year by sincerely and honestly kowtowing to their masters.

If the endangered black youth of America could feast on these black elites and notables, their blood lust might be satiated and they would not have to become involved in intergenerational murder and other disreputable criminal behavior and we could thus save them from being used as second-class modern slaves for the amusement of our corporate masters. This feast should make them fat, comfortable, and too lazy to commit any worthwhile crimes.

My swiftian jest might indeed be a real moral-social-and-economic-solution. Individuals might give a second thought to accumulating too much of the bling-bling because greed could be digestively terminal. This solution would, of course, eliminate the social distance between the classes -- for the poor would get to know the rich in the truest sense, namely, by ingestion and digestion. Though this recommendation may not be respectable by the measures of civilized society, it will indeed be afrocentric. And we should of course respect our elders and not allow the youth to have all the goodies to themselves: we should cut off some choice morsels for the elderly and have them begin this ritual feast for a more egalitarian society.

posted 31 July 2008 

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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#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

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#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

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

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

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

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#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

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#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
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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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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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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

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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 28 March 2012




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