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In the late 1700’s before the Americans arrived as a governing force in 1804, a nominally-enslaved

black man could be seen walking to his home, which he owned, carrying a rifle, which

he owned, with money of his own in his pockets—yes, I know it seems impossible

but the impossible is one of the roots of New Orleans culture.

 

 

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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What To Do With The Negroes?

By Kalamu ya Salaam

 

There is a secret hidden in the heart of New Orleans, a secret hidden in plain sight but ignored by all but the secret citizens themselves. Before Bienville arrived in this area in 1718, Native American scouts informed the adventurous Frenchman that there were groups of Africans—they probably said “blacks”—living over there in their own communities and that these self-ruled women and men would not talk to whites.

Although how the Native Americans knew that the blacks would not talk to whites remains unexplained, the report seems accurate on the face of it. After all, close to three centuries later in post-Katrina New Orleans there remains a number of us who are reluctant to talk truthfully to outsiders—not out of fear of repercussions or because of an inability to speak English but rather we remain reticent on the general principle that there’s no future in such conversations.

Indeed, I am probably breaking ranks simply by writing this although what I have to say should be obvious. Whether considering our 18th century ancestors who inhabited the swamps of the North American southeast from Florida to Louisiana, or unsuccessfully trying to question a handful of staunch holdouts among the Mardi Gras Indians, there have always been blacks who were both proud of being black and determined to be self-determining—not just constitutionally free as any other 21st century U.S. citizen but independent of any higher authority whether that authority be legal, religious, or cultural; whether that authority be other blacks, wealthy whites, politicians of any race or economic status, or whatever, none of that mattered. We recognized no higher earthly authority than ourselves.

Sometimes when it looks like we are doing nothing but waiting on the corners, sitting quietly on a well-worn kitchen chair sipping a beer in the early afternoon shade, sometimes those of us people pass by as we hold court on one of the many neutral grounds, i.e., medians, separating the lanes of major streets and avenues in Central City, sometimes those blank stares you see at a bus stop, sometimes what you are witnessing is not what you think it is.

We are not waiting for the arrival of a messiah or for a government handout. We expect nothing from our immediate future but more of the past.

Our talk will seem either fatalistic or farcical, and certainly will not make sense to you. The weary blues etched into our cheeks and coal-coloring the sagging flesh beneath our eyes; the mottled black, browns, greys, and streaks of blond or red on our woolly heads and the aroma of anger clinging to our clothes has nothing to do with our failures or with failed expectations. We never anticipated that we would be understood or loved in this land ruled by men with guns, money, and god complexes.

No, what you see when you look at us looking back at you is a resolve to keep on living until we die or until someone kills us.

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The history of New Orleans is replete with the inexplicable in terms of how black people lived here. In the late 1700’s before the Americans arrived as a governing force in 1804, a nominally-enslaved black man could be seen walking to his home, which he owned, carrying a rifle, which he owned, with money of his own in his pockets—yes, I know it seems impossible but the impossible is one of the roots of New Orleans culture.

Under the Spanish there were different laws and customs. We had been offered freedom in exchange for joining the Spanish in fighting the English. Join the army and get emancipated—all you had to do was shoot white men . . . and avoid getting shot.

The Black Codes guaranteed Sundays were ours. All the food, handicrafts, services or whatever we could sell, we could keep all the proceeds. If you study the colonial administrative records you will notice that our economy was so rich that the city merchants petitioned the governor to be able to sell on Sundays (like the slaves did).

Prior to the Civil War the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that one man had to pay back money he borrowed from a slave. Not to mention, a shocked Mrs. Latrobe, the wife of the architect who designed and built New Orleans waterworks—imagine “. . . how shocked I was to see three Mulatto children and their mother call upon me and say they were the children of Henry.” Henry was the dearly departed son of Mrs. Latrobe. He died of yellow fever and was buried in New Orleans in 1817, three years before his father who also died of yellow fever and was buried next to his son in St. Louis Cemetery. Much like many, many people today, Mrs. Latrobe had no idea about what was really going on in New Orleans.

You can read the papers all day and sit in front the TV all night and never get the news about a significant and shocking subculture in New Orleans. A subculture that not only is unknown to you but a subculture that really does not care to be known by most of you.

Our independently produced subculture is responsible for the roux that flavors New Orleans music, New Orleans cuisine, New Orleans speech idioms, New Orleans architecture, the way we walk down here and especially how we celebrate life even in the face of death. From the African retentions of VooDoo spiritual observances to the musical extensions from Congo Square, this subculture has made New Orleans world renown.

I don’t remember the black sufferers ever receiving a thank you or a blessing. Instead of recognizing our contributions, the black poor and those who identify with them have been demonized. When the waters came, those who were largely affected and eventually washed away were overwhelmingly black. Our saviors gave us one way tickets out of town. Four years later there have been no provisions to bring blacks “back here”—I say back here instead of back home because “back here” is no longer “back home.” Post Katrina New Orleans is not even a ghost of what our beloved city was.

What is gone is not just houses or pictures on the wall, not just the little neighborhood store we used to frequent, or the tavern where we hung out on warm nights; not just the small church in the middle of the block or even the flower bed alongside the house; not just the old landmarks or some of the schools we used to attend, not just the jumble of overcrowded habitations or the storied stacks of bricks we called the ‘jects (aka projects), housing schemes we knew by name and reputation. No, it is not just brick and wood that is missing from the landscape. What is gone, what we miss most of all is us.

We the people are not here. What is left is an amputated city ignoring its stumps. Moreover, even if it were possible, our city does not desire to re-grow or replace what was “disappeared.” Good riddance is what many of the new majority says.

“Good riddance” is sometimes proclaimed using the coded language of “a smaller footprint” (reductively, smaller footprint means fewer black butts). At other times, “good riddance” is spewed forth as the uncut racist cant of “lock all those savages up.”

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Although poor blacks controlled none of the city’s major resources, we were blamed for everything that was wrong—from a failing school system to rising crime; from ineffective and corrupt political leadership to an “immoral” street culture of drugs, sagging pants and loud music; from a rise in sexually transmitted diseases to deteriorating neighborhoods. When responsible citizens wrote to the Times Picayune daily newspaper suggesting what ought be done do address these concerns, high on the list of panaceas was our incarceration, as if so many—indeed, far, far too many of us—were not already in prison.

How convenient to ignore the glaring statistic: the largest concentration of black women in New Orleans is located at Xavier University and the largest concentration of their age-compatible, male counterparts exists across the expressway in the city jail—dorms for the women, cells for the men. The truth is disorienting to most: what has been tried thus far, whether education or jail, has not worked.

The people who complain the most about crime in the city, or should I say the voices that we most often hear in the media complaining about crime are from the people who are the least affected.

However, worse than the name-calling is the fact that New Orleans is now a city that forgot to care. In the aftermath of the greatest flood trauma ever suffered by a major American city, New Orleans is devoid of public health in general and mental health care in particular.

In the entire Gulf South area that was directly affected by Katrina, only in New Orleans were 7,000 educators fired. The Federal Government guaranteed the salaries of teachers in all other areas and guaranteed the same for New Orleans teachers but the state of Louisiana made a decision to decimate the largest block of college educated blacks, the largest block of regular voters, the largest block of black home owners.

The denouement was that the entire middle class black strata was disenfranchised. Black professionals, the majority of whom lived in flooded areas in New Orleans East, whether government employees or independent professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and the like), black professionals no longer had a client base. Most professionals could not re-establish themselves in New Orleans. What was left of the black New Orleans social infrastructure was nothing nice.

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How does anyone explain why in post-racial America economic inequality gaps are widening, not closing? 

In a city that prior to Katrina had one of the highest rates of native residents, why are so many young adults leaving rather than staying?

Why is spending nearly twice as much per pupil to service half the pre-storm population called a success in education innovation, especially when the current status quo is economically unsustainable, not to mention that comparable pre-storm health care and retirement benefits are no longer offered to teachers?

I don’t even know how to identify what is happening to us without sounding like a cliché of class warfare, without sounding bitter about racial reconciliation or ungrateful for all the charitable assistance New Orleans has received.

I know that my voice is a minority voice. I know I don’t represent all blacks, nor most blacks, nor educated blacks, nor your black friend, nor Malia and Sasha, nor . . . I know it’s just plain “stupid” to talk like I’m talking . . .

I know. I know we blacks are not blameless. Indeed, we are often a co-conspirator in our own debasement. Too often we act out in ways for which there is no sensible justification. Yes, I know about corrupt politicians and a seeming endless line of street level drug dealers, about rampant gun violence and an always for pleasure, 24/7 party attitude.

But amidst all our acknowledged shortcomings, I ask one simple question: who else in this city has contributed so much for so long to this unique gumbo we call New Orleans culture?

Like the state of Texas finally admitting that “abstinence only” sex education has led to higher, not lower, rates of teen pregnancy, unless we materially address the realities of our social situation, we may find that the short-sighted solutions we have put in place will, in the long run, worsen rather than solve our problems.

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Most days I am resolved to soldier on, to suck it up and keep on keeping on, but sometimes, sometimes I feel like Che Guevara facing a summary execution squad of counter-insurgency soldiers.

Sometimes after working all day in the public schools or after hearing Recovery School District administrators refusing to allow us to teach an Advanced Placement English Class because “we don’t have any students capable of that kind of work”; or sometimes after finding out that a teacher we worked with last year is no longer employed not because she was not a great teacher but rather because (as they told her without a note of shame or chagrin in their voices): you are being surplused (i.e., terminated) because we can get two, young, straight-out-of-college, Teach-For-America instructors for the same price we paid your old, experienced ass; sometimes when the city accidentally on purpose bulldozes a house that the same city issued a building permit to the couple that is struggling to rehabilitate that property and this happens while this insane city administration that, four years after the flood, has yet to come up with a coherent plan to address the 40,000 or so blighted properties that dominate the Ninth Ward (Upper Nine, Lower Nine and New Orleans East) landscape; sometimes, I just want to calmly recite Che’s command: go ahead, shoot!

Just kill us and get it over with.

Source: WordUp

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Buddy Bolden was a lover of music / The Great Buddy BoldenBuddy Bolden Blues

Part of a recording of an interview of Jelly Roll Morton by Alan Lomax in 1938. Jazz history archive material. Jelly sings and plays Buddy Bolden Blues, and tells of his experiences watching Buddy in New Orleans, and talks about the great Buddy Bolden. "Buddy was the blowinest man since Gabriel!".

Buddy Bolden Story with Wynton Marsalis / Jelly Roll Morton—Buddy Bolden's Blues

Jelly Roll Morton playing and singing his composition of "Buddy Bolden's Blues"

Buddy Bolden’s Blues

                      Lyrics by Jelly Roll Morton.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
You nasty, you dirtytake it away
You terrible, you awfultake it away
I thought I heard him say

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout
Open up that window and let that bad air out
Open up that window, and let the foul air out
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say

I thought I heard Judge Fogarty say

Thirty days in the markettake him away

Get him a good broom to sweep withtake him away

I thought I heard him say

 

I thought I heard Frankie Dusen shout

Gal, give me that moneyI’m gonna beat it out

I mean give me that money, like I explain you, or I’m gonna beat it out

I thought I heard Frankie Dusen say

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Let That Bad Air Out: Buddy Bolden's Last Parade

A Novel in Linocut by Stefan Rerg

In Search Of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz

By Donald M. Marquis

Guarding the Flame of Life

New Orleans Jazz Funeral for tuba player Kerwin James / They danced atop his casket Jaran 'Julio' Green

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Men We Love, Men We Hate
SAC writings from Douglass, McDonogh 35, and McMain high schools in New Orleans.

An anthology on the topic of men and relationships with men

Ways of Laughing
An Anthology of Young Black Voices
Photographed & Edited by
Kalamu ya Salaam

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Track List
1.  Congo Square (9:01)
2.  My Story, My Song (20:50)
3.  Danny Banjo (4:32)
4.  Miles Davis (10:26)
5.  Hard News For Hip Harry (5:03)
6.  Unfinished Blues (4:13)
7.  Rainbows Come After The Rain (2:21)/Negroidal Noise (15:53)
8.  Intro (3:59)
9.  The Whole History (3:14)
10.  Negroidal Noise (5:39)
11.  Waving At Ra (1:40)
12.  Landing (1:21)
13.  Good Luck (:04)

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music website > http://www.kalamu.com/bol/
writing website > http://wordup.posterous.com/
daily blog > http://kalamu.posterous.com
twitter > http://twitter.com/neogriot
facebook > http://www.facebook.com/kalamu.salaam

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#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 Eroticanoir.com 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

Non-fiction

#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

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly

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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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The Eyes of Willie McGee

 A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South

By Alex Heard

An iconic criminal case—a black man sentenced to death for raping a white woman in Mississippi in 1945—exposes the roiling tensions of the early civil rights era in this provocative study. McGee's prosecution garnered international protests—he was championed by the Communist Party and defended by a young lawyer named Bella Abzug (later a New York City congresswoman and cofounder of the National Women's Political Caucus), while luminaries from William Faulkner to Albert Einstein spoke out for him—but journalist Heard (Apocalypse Pretty Soon) finds the saga rife with enigmas. The case against McGee, hinging on a possibly coerced confession, was weak and the legal proceedings marred by racial bias and intimidation. (During one of his trials, his lawyers fled for their lives without delivering summations.)

But Heard contends that McGee's story—that he and the victim, Willette Hawkins, were having an affair—is equally shaky. The author's extensive research delves into the documentation of the case, the public debate surrounding it, and the recollections of McGee and Hawkins's family members. Heard finds no easy answers, but his nuanced, evocative portrait of the passions enveloping McGee's case is plenty revealing.—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 / 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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posted 1 July 2010

 

 

 

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Related Files:    Didn't He Ramble   Buddy Bolden in New Orleans   Buddy Bolden Short Story  Ode to a Magic City    buddy bolden's blues legacy 

Satchmo Ain't Going Back No More   What To Do With The Negroes?   Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans  Evtushenko in Satchmo's New Orleans   

Babii Yar  Lit a la Russe  Armstrong's Trumpet