Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

So Much for a Tranquil Summer

July 30, 2015

“You either build or you destroy, so what you waitin’ on?”  Jay Electronica from the Victory Mixtape

It is way too late to say this sort of thing is getting out of hand.  We are headed into a new phase now.  I’m labeling it as a purposeful revealing of intentions, of sorts.  The United States of America is finally willing to let the world see her for what she really is: an overtly racist nation. Thanks to the real racist powers that be in America that have managed to display an even more graphic disregard for non-white life we are seeing yet another eventful summer of institutional racist oppression involving an array of international media.

It is getting hard to keep up, but here are some of the recent headlines in the good old United (police) States of America.  (I have been meaning to tell you how it looks from way over here in a distant land but I already know that it looks the same wherever you are.)

  • On the night of June 17th a twenty-one-year-old apartheid sympathizer shot and killed state senator Clementa Pickney, Cythia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson while attending a bible study with them at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  [Individual]
  • Two days later on June 19th Samuel Dubose was executed by a University of Cincinnati police officer after being unnecessarily detained for not displaying his front license plate in Ohio. [Group: police]
  • Sandra Bland, a member of the Movement for Black Lives, was pulled-over for her failure to signal a lane change on July 10th by a Texas state trooper in Waller County that quickly escalated into her arrest and she was found dead in her jail cell on July 13th.  [System: justice]
  • On July 14th Rexdale Henry, a Choctaw Native American activist, was also found dead in a jail cell under mysterious circumstances after being arrested for an unpaid fine and held over the weekend from July 9th in Neshoba County, Mississippi.  [System: justice]

With stuff like this happening all the time it is hard to tell if it is making writing careers or breaking them.  This writing business is beyond excruciatingly painful.  I was recently engaged in an intellectual, social media conversation about an article by Jonathan McWhorter that compared the strong antiracist sentiments of the Movement for Black Lives to a religion.  McWhorter basically extols that the good white people that are likely to be drawn into the very specific cause of Black Lives Matter in the United States of America will be ultimately shackled by guilt and result in some failed policy.  I argued amongst some of my white friends that McWhorter unwisely called out Ta-Nehisi Coates as a pied piper of sorts for white liberalism along with other points in the article that I found problematic.

The notion that people standing against racism are somehow infectiously following the most recent beautiful music of morality is serene but if that were the case Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King could have succeeded long ago.   Individuals, groups, and systems claim the lives of minorities in the United States with increasing clarity and at an alarming rate therefore the struggle against that phenomenon has refined itself.  The correct diagnosis of the sickness in America and the preponderance of evidence has led two separate white minorities to the realization that they might not have started the fire or put the kettle on the stove, but they would either like to completely avert or accelerate the seemingly inevitable boiling over.  Black lives indeed matter and the urgency implies that time is running out on anybody still mulling it over.  Most smart people can see this choice has to be made now, for deliberation is also making a clear statement.

The Movement for Black Lives that has propelled organizations like We Charge Genocide and writers like Coates appears to have just a little more self-determination rather than just relying solely on some white people, however.  This movement wasn’t quelled by the removal of some flag or defined by the people that have already lost their lives during the long and winding course but there have always been drum majors serving as prominent beacons keeping up with the times.  (I thank God every day for those willing to get out there and do the heavy lifting because I have a strong feeling that I know where all this is going.)  Black Lives Matter can exist totally beyond white validation and beyond the grasp of those attempting to stop it while still somehow, reaching those groups whether eloquently or crudely.  The real shining stars are the throngs of real patriots marching in step for the most basic of human rights in America: the right to live.  Ta-Nehisi Coates is deserving of his accolades, too –even if he is moving to France with his family in the pursuit of happiness.  Coates has a new book out dedicated to his son and he was compared to another expatriate, James Baldwin, who issued wise words about oppression to his nephew by literary great Toni Morrison, but you already know I’m going to let them tell it.


Read: The New Jim Crow, & Get Back To Me

October 22, 2014

Have we all been totally honest about the historical, global, insidious oppression of African peoples?

What of this notion that the worst of said insidious oppression of African peoples happened many years ago and can’t be accounted for to determine the true legacy or value of its effects? 

Recently there has been a lot of talk in the news about justice for African-Americans in the United States of America, due to events like the police killing of an unarmed teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th of this year.  While racism appears to be a worldwide problem, the United States of America seems to be leading the world in denying that racism is applicable in the normal operation and function of modern power brokerages, today. 

This recent news video about the coverage of the shooting of Mike Brown shows that America has a problem confronting problems of race.  There were many articles written on the subject of Ferguson but this piece was emblematic of regular people scratching their heads as to how the U.S. government always seems complicit in the systematic destruction of the black race.

Say it with me kids: institutional racism.  Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim CrowLawyer and author Michelle Alexander went to extremely great lengths in her book, The New Jim Crow, published in 2010 to explain how prisons in the United States are creating a caste system that is disproportionately hurting black people there. 

Over at The Atlantic writer Tanehisi Coates has created an online book club of sorts that is discussing intricate details about this important book, chapter by chapter.  I don’t think that I have the patience to do that, but I do intend to discuss the book further on this website.

Hopefully, I sent you off on a good start.

Chunky or Die

September 1, 2011

Breakwater is Chunky

I have been in a quiet exile of my own choosing for quite some time now and I’m writing to you today from that secluded space in order to relate my thoughts to you. It is not my intention to give anything else away because I, quite frankly, can’t afford to anymore. It came to my attention a little over two years ago that what I was writing would probably be able to be used against me for a significant amount of time. I thought of trying to sensor myself and take it back, but truthfully there is no such thing in cyberspace.

I had a good run of solid posts and very little readership to console myself. I spent the last year or so reading other people’s confessionary blogs and I was even jealous of their popularity. It got me to ponder the double-edged sword of writing enough titillating blog features to increase the page hit counts and yet still be able to maintain an employable persona and the salary that comes with it.

Eventually the old blog petered out when I came back from Mexico. I was flush with new catch phrases that would never catch on and I had probably just ‘jumped the shark’ by showing my ass in Tulum. Really there was nothing left for me to do at that point. My usual topics all seemed boring: relationships, surfing, travel, flowers, culture, and the DeMatha Stags.

I had plenty of inspiration and I never stopped following my interests but I didn’t get the feeling that anybody cared to read about it anymore. Not much has changed since I got that feeling except for the fact that I realize now that the blog was more for me than it could ever be for a potential reader. The Chronicles of Six is my public record and without it, I have no tangible means of ridiculing myself.

So, I’m re-launching. Oh I’ll still write for the magazines that some of you have found me in and, travel permitting, I will still try and hold down my Stags. Although I must admit, I’m going to have to be a lot more cryptic this time around because I’m old and the good Lord knows that I shouldn’t be doing this sort of stuff.  The picture that Damien Baskette took is a reminder of such endeavors because the wave being surfed is Breakwater in Venice and if it is that chunky then you really don’t have much hope of surviving the close-out that will rapidly ensue.

I’m going to ride this blog for as many moments as it gives me and then I’m going to plow through the face and pray.

Check for me.

What Are You Studying? : Where Do I Sign? Edition

September 27, 2009

Nope, they don’t really make them like this anymore.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.  Peace. 

Great Day To Read A Book

September 27, 2009

Happy Sunday, everybody!  My nieces are getting bigger by the moment, and I’m really missing them right now.  Shout outs to Lily & Violet!  Uncle Daniel is going to come out to Los Angeles and see you soon.  We’re going to go to the park and run around with Sugar Ray.  And we’re also going to read.  Yay!

Profiles in Black Genius: Cornell West

November 20, 2008

Dr. Cornell West will hold a speaking engagement on the famed U Street in Washington D.C., at the restaurant Busboys & Poets.  Dr. West is scheduled to give a talk about his new book Hope on a Tightrope, tomorrow (Friday, November 21) at 6:30.

You should know by now to bring a dictionary, a thesaurus, and at least one or two books for Cornell to sign.  The bottom line is that this brother is deep, and that half the time you can’t even understand him.

Click the link above and witness the intellectual fitness.  Dr. West says there is no such thing as "post-racial" and that you racists need to stop saying that bullshit.  It’s not fooling anyone.  Dr. West says that just because he’s a champion of Barack Obama, it doesn’t mean that he won’t hold him to a high standard for recycling Clinton era appointees.  Seriously, this is the best interview I’ve seen in a while.

Book Review: The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee

March 11, 2004

This book is a powerful account of a black man pushed over the edge by a dominating white society. The main character utilizes the skills that he learned while working for the government as a token CIA officer to organize a terrorist group consisting of Chicago’s gang youth.

The story takes place in the late 60’s and is full of the references of the turbulent times. Despite the difference in eras, I have many qualities that are similar to the character Dan Freeman in The Spook Who Sat By The Door, but blind militancy is not one of them. My experience in the military may have gone drastically awry had I not been given this book to read at an early age -by yet another black military official- well before I ever took the oath and received a letter from the president.

In this fictional masterpiece the character Dan Freeman struggles with the idea of black people being subservient in society he and largely blames the stereotypical depictions offered by mass media. Freeman lashes out at his social positioning and goes undercover into a DuBois-like “double consciousness” in order to lure whites into a false sense of security before his violent rampage.

As if this isn’t enough, Freeman uses his influence as a director of a social welfare program to incite gang members that look up to him as a role model. (I also recommend this book for anyone that wants to know how the mind of a killer like John Allen Mohammad must work.) The other reason that I can recommend this book whole-heartedly is because the United States government obviously doesn’t want you to read it.  When Greenlee, himself, did an adaptation of the book for film it was met with immediate success, and almost immediate censorship by the government.

The F.B.I. created a file on Greenlee, a former State Department agent, and banned the movie from theatres due to its graphic depiction of the start of a race war. This book could easily be misused as a blueprint to mischief like many of the timeworn, white-people crazy books. (A blacker version of The Turner Diaries?)  Two thumbs up, so long as you’re responsible enough, as I was, to understand that as much as you might want it to go down like that, it’s still wrong to kill random people in some weird, private rebellion.

Sam Greenlee reminds me of how nice it is to dream though…    His writing is easy enough for a child to understand: to the point, and short.  The Spook Who Sat By The Door remains the only work of Greenlee that I have read to date.  It is a great find (if you can get it in a regular bookstore without ordering first), I hope that you enjoy this under-appreciated story.