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 tell us who dressed these plantations / in skirts of steel and asphalt
where we must pry pearls from life with a crowbar / trying to balance light between shoulders
in the midst of dung stacked in rectangles / where the head can become
a cesspool of wrecked slave ships

 

 

The Language of Saxophones: Selected Poems

By Kamau DaŠood

City Lights Books (San Francisco, 2005)

 

Zillion Tambourines

a zillion tambourines
splashing against
the green wall of silence
we nurse our wounds
in the pure waters of dolphins
cleanse our back
of the sores of the city
 
creditors with hi-tech daggers
tell us who dressed these plantations
in skirts of steel and asphalt
where we must pry pearls from life with a crowbar
trying to balance light between shoulders
in the midst of dung stacked in rectangles
where the head can become
a cesspool of wrecked slave ships

we have come to sit in the blue chair
fish in pure stream of consciousness
watch the hummingbirds
folding the day with their wings
watch pastel sunsets whisper
as leaping swordfish bull's-eye the open sky
 
fifty drummers in a circle of flowers
weaving in and out of brown rhythm
helping to remake us
a mind in trance
nodding in revelations of fireflies
fire in the pillow bosom
of Fannie Lou Hamer
we rest our head in a cloud
trying to retain
the iron spear
of Robeson's
baritone

Source: Kamau DaŠood. The Language of Saxophones: Selected Poems . San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2005. (pp. 1-4)

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Kamau Daoud performs Live with The Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra

Kamau Daoud recites his poem written for Horace Tapscott

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

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Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. óJamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

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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 Mammyís behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folksí domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familyís 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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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 24 September 2005 

 

 

 

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Related files:  Dancing in a Book's Arms Zillion Tambourines  The Language of Saxophones  Los Angeles