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 Peace without justice is no peace at all, rather it is merely prolonging the inevitable day

when a generation shall rise up and say no more sham peace, sham justice, sham economic parity,

but we want the real deal and death is better than persecution.

 

 

Dirty South

Dr. M (Marvin X)

 

A haunting place, but home of my ancestors, a place of blood and terror, hate and love. My child lives there, my grandson. They were in Jenna today to be a part of history. My daughter wanted her son to see history in the making, so they traveled from Houston to Jenna by bus. There were so many people my daughter and grandson were not able to hear the speakers, but just being there was an experience, especially for my ten year old grandson. My daughter has been part of history since she was born. She was conceived while I was in exile with her mother during the Vietnam War era, so she is a political baby. She learned to walk at the Black Educational Theatre I founded in San Francisco while teaching at the University of California, Berkeley,1972.

As a toddler, she heard the sounds of Sun Ra’s Arkestra backing my play Take Care of Business, so she is a child of the Black Arts Movement. She grew up, married and settled in Houston. She loves it there because she lives in a world of black people, sometimes never seeing white people for days. It is like this in the South, this land where my fathers and mothers died, this land so haunted and vexed with pain, guilt and shame, compounded with denial and manners, etiquette, decorum, innuendo and circumlocution.

When I copied my manuscript in South Carolina, the sister at the copy center saw the title How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy and said, “You ain’t from here.” I asked why do you say that? “Because we don’t say that down here (White Supremacy),” she replied. I didn’t ask why. I knew it was because the South has manners—one can’t be in your face as I am, a North American African from California.

The South has another way of doing things, not so crude and rude, but polite and civil, even in their savagery, it is a civil savagery, after all every one knows how to act, the oppressed and the oppressor, so they do a dance, a masquerade, a ballet of pure denial until things explode or those outside agitators appear to rock the boat. And so they came today to Jenna, rocking the boat of injustice, hoping to change the traditional way of doing things, attempting to bring the white supremacy customs to an end after years, decades, centuries of corruption and miscarriage of justice.

Will the people of Jenna get it? Will America get it? We think not, not without a second civil war. In spite of the blood and terror, slavery and failed reconstruction, segregation, integration and subtle and not so subtle racism of today, there is the persistent and lingering desire on the part of whites to continue white supremacy. It is in the air, in the trees, in the swamps and bayous, in the lakes and rivers, even the ocean beaches, a feeling that all is not right and will not get right without a final battle, the battle to end white supremacy once and for all times.

And this is true in spite of all the progress, all the interracial harmony, for in spite of all the good, the bad, the evil persists like a sore on the psyche, a disease of the heart that no amount of political realignment can rectify, no amount of religiosity, no amount of economic justice can heal. Peace without justice is no peace at all, rather it is merely prolonging the inevitable day when a generation shall rise up and say no more sham peace, shame justice, shame economic parity, but we want the real deal and death is better than persecution.

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Dr. M grew up in Oakland. He released two books in 2007, Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality  and How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy: A Pan-Africanist 12 Step Model, Black Bird Press, POB 1317, Paradise CA 95967, $19.95 each. He is available for speaking and reading engagements. Call 510.355.6339. Visit his blog: www.marvinxwrites.blogspot.com. On Friday, October 12, 7pm, he will read and sign books at the Eastside Arts Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd., Oakland. Seating is limited.

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Some Thoughts On Jena

By Nefertiti El Muhajir

 

My Dad's email "Dirty South" prompted me to jot down some thoughts while the experience was still fresh on my brain. Sometimes I feel numb. Often numb because my brain is being flooded with a million thoughts all at once.  This is literally how I felt today while in Jena, Louisiana. 

It was overwhelming to see the gathering of so many black people, to do something good.  The few times that I have experienced large crowds like that have been in the presence of party revelers for Carnival celebrations in Miami, Trinidad and New York.  But it was a beautiful thing to see so many blacks gathered, not in nudity, to stand up for not merely the rights of the Jenna 6, but for our individual rights.  To know that the rights of these six individuals can be trampled on, alerts one to the reality that one’s own rights could be violated at any given moment.  To be too busy to care for another is to not care for your own future.

I was preoccupied with the Muslim brothers and sisters who were responsible for organizing the caravan that I had joined at Texas Southern University. I wondered what set them apart from Christian brothers and sisters that I knew. What made them so eager to be disciplined and organized to get people together for an event like this and why didn’t I see people from the churches that I knew.  Why when I called the large congregations in the area, no one knew anything about any groups that were going? 

I was amazed to see groups of at least 500 motorcycle riders from Atlanta make their presence known.  As they were weaving in and out of traffic and I started admiring the group wondering what it would be like to have one of those cool bikes myself, the people I was on the bus were cussing and complaining about the cyclists saying things like, “Who do they think they are?” and on and on.

Once we got to Alexandria, Louisiana, the traffic virtually came to a stand still. Students on one bus got tired of sitting in traffic and decided to get off of the bus and walk the rest of the way.  Foolish young students, I thought to myself, they have so much to learn. My thoughts were confirmed when we passed them up moments later only to continue driving another 25 miles into Jena.  Experience will be their only  teacher unless they gain wisdom soon.

While trying to internalize the historical significance of this event, many distractions bided for my attention.  My major preoccupation, however, was with my son.  Initially he was so eager to attend the event, but once there he wondered if this was why he had missed school. I became preoccupied with thoughts of what I am doing wrong as a parent to make my son so discontent.  He complained of the heat (oh it was hot), and of not having food. 

I tried to feed him before we left but he didn’t want what I had.  I packed peanut butter and honey sandwiches, oranges, nectarines, plums, apples, granola mix, juice and water.  But it wasn’t what he wanted.  As I looked around seeing other kids eating apples, grapes, and other snacks that their mothers had prepared, my son kept whining for the BBQ that one enterprising black vendor had set up.  But around me I saw people sitting down not absorbed in the events of the day, but devouring their twinkies, hohos, candy and other junk food.

I wanted to hear the speakers, but all we could hear were their faint voices, and the loud applause and chants from the crowd.  We did catch a glimpse of Dexter King and Tyler Perry as they were escorted pass us.  As I was pointing them out to my son, some college students laughed and said they didn’t know who that other man was, they only knew Tyler Perry.  At one point my son and I tried to maneuver our way to the front, but as we got separated I thought that it was best that we just sit on the side and listen as best we could with a group of mothers and children who had also come on our bus.

It didn’t matter that we missed the speeches of the “usual suspects,” we were able to hear the speeches of everyday men and women who were fed up.  Like church testimonies, there were individuals who, at different points throughout the day, randomly started discussing their own frustration with the system.  For those of us who knew better, it was evident that this day wasn’t merely about these 6 young boys.  It was about me and you.  Many people are sick and tired of going through this same type of insane, systematic oppression and injustice.

It was evident on the way home that we were still hung up on our own petty preoccupations.  For some strange reason, two of the four buses in our caravan had been redirected by the sheriff to park in a different location than where they had dropped their passengers off. While two of our buses were ready to depart Jenna at 1 p.m., we did not finally leave the town until 3 p.m. as we had to locate the other buses so that the 100 passengers or so who were stranded were reconnected with their bus. 

While we waited, everyone complained.  They were ready to leave, why, they wondered, did we have to wait for the other group.  I reflected on the signs that we had seen during the rally, one which read, “I AM MY BROTHERS KEEPER.”  I guess the answer for some is, “No.”  Though I, like the others, was eager to return to Houston, I don’t know how could they imagined leaving anyone stranded in that small city, without the assurance that they had reliable transportation to make it home.

That small incident left me wondering what did we go there for in the first place? It is just a reminder that there will be another Jenna.  But the transformation starts within, and not by going to some physical place. Our everyday experiences and responses will determine if we can avert another Jenna from occurring on our watch.

What we have to remember is that what occurred in Jenna today, has to continue everyday of our lives. Today was a demonstration in vigilance.  It was a demonstration to let them know that we will respond.  But we must keep pressure on this system and be proactive in creating a system for our children and ourselves that will allow us to THINK and DO for ourselves. 

We must express values that provide hope and encouragement to others.  We must  conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations, carrying them above the conflicts that tear humanity apart, and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts to transform this decaying world.

Nefertiti is the oldest daughter of poet Marvin X. She has a BA in English from Fresno State University and MA in Africana Studies from New York State University, Albany.  YouTube - The Jena Six

   posted 22 September 2007

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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 most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

By Eugene Robinson

In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormous influence, a mainstream middle-class majority, a newly emergent group of recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and an abandoned minority "with less hope of escaping poverty than at any time since Reconstruction's end." Drawing on census records, polling data, sociological studies, and his own experiences growing up in a segregated South Carolina college town during the 1950s, Robinson explores 140 years of black history in America, focusing on how the civil rights movement, desegregation, and affirmative action contributed to the fragmentation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the "best-educated group coming to live in the United States," are changing what being black means.

Robinson notes that despite the enormous strides African-Americans have made in the past 40 years, the problems of poor blacks remain more intractable than ever, though his solution--"a domestic Marshall Plan aimed at black America"--seems implausible in this era of cash-strapped state and local governments.—Publishers Weekly

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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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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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Related files:  Thoughts On Jena   Strange Fruit in Jena  Nooses and a legal lynching in Jena, Louisiana     Jena and the New Movement  Jena and the Judgment of History  Minstrelsy and White Expectations