ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


When I got into the prison, the warden sent for me. He said he just wanted to meet me,

see if I had anything I needed. I said I needed to go home. He laughed.

He said I need to stop telling the truth. It scares people.



Prison and Spirituality

By Marvin X

Your mind is in prison.Malcolm X


America is a prison house. We exist in the big yard where we are allowed a few liberties, otherwise known as zoozoos and whamwhams. We can walk and talk with friends, be with loved ones, go to the movies, attend a concert, but we are closely watched, our mail is read, phones tapped, and it has been like this for decades, ever since college when we were followed home each night. When we speak in public, agents are there. We see them, smell them, feel them, black devils with the vibe of hatred for Black. They take note of our comments, crowd reaction. 

We are not terrorists, we only speak the truth. We have no weapons, no guns, no bombs, except the truth. When they want, we are taken from the big yard and put into the dungeon, handcuffed, feet chained. It was for some minor infraction, a traffic ticket or failing the tone test with an officer. One thing leads to another, a little thing becomes a big thing. There was a fight with an officer, a beat down. Thrown into a cell bleeding. There is court. There is no justice. The court is rigged. The judge said my crime was telling too much truth. I was taken away to prison. On the way into the prison I had smelled dead fish, but I would soon discover it was not dead fish I was smelling but dead nigguhs who were faking and playing games like they used to do in the big yard. They were dangerous. I had observed them in jail. They would snitch for a meal, extra food, the privilege of watching TV, especially dangerous were the dope fiends. They didn't want to hear any truth. They had me moved off the main line and put in a special section for truth tellers.

When I got into the prison, the warden sent for me. He said he just wanted to meet me, see if I had anything I needed. I said I needed to go home. He laughed. He said I need to stop telling the truth. It scares people. He had my report that people were afraid of me out in the big yard. They were afraid of losing their jobs if caught talking with me or reading my writings. He told me to let him know if I had any problem. I told him I would. I returned to my cell.

Some brothers asked me to meet with them on the prison yard. They held an election and said I was the minister of truth. Another brother was the secretary of truth and the third the captain of truth. We did not argue with the election results. We held our first meeting that Sunday in the chapel. A crowd of brothers came to hear what I had to say. They said it was the best truth they ever heard. But they knew I would not be there long. As soon as the truth meetings are organized, they transfer the minister of truth to another prison, so the brothers begged me to give up all the truth I had in the time I had. I did as they requested as I could see they were sincere and did not debate with me about what I knew.

My days were spent teaching truth. I studied also. Each dorm had a library near the entrance. Soon I had the best books in prison in my locker. The brothers said that any books on any subject could be found in my locker. I searched the prison main library also. All the books with good truth were marked contraband, but I did not care, I took them to my locker. But if found, I could get into trouble. I didn't care about trouble, I wanted truth.

When the truth meetings got too crowded, the warden called me in to tell me I was being transferred to another prison. He was sorry to see me go, but I had to go. I went back to my dorm and told the brothers goodbye. They were sad but they knew the game. Early that morning they came for me, chained my hands and feet and put me on the prison bus. The bus ride was just the beginning of a merry-go-round through the prison system so I could understand the price of truth and learn to shut up. Of course I would not shut up until death.

Source: Toward Radical Spirituality, Black Bird Press, 2007  (c) 2006 by Marvin X (El Muhajir)

Marvin X has given permission to Harvard University to publish his poem "For El Haji Rasul Taifa" from Love and War: Poems by Marvin X (1995). The poem will appear in The Encyclopedia of Islam in America Volume II, Greenwood Press, edited by Dr. Jocelyne Cesari of Harvard's Islam in the West Program. Mr. X is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Muslim American

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#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

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#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

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *


The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)






posted 28 March 2008  




Home  Marvin X Table  Criminalizing a Race