Tag Archives: black authors

The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


Quotes From Legendary Black Women Writers

th (37)Very soon we will commemorate another 28 days of Black History. What this means we’ll celebrate the ghost of the greats and the positive achievement accomplished in their lives. Oftentimes, most only talk about a few, as if black people only made limited contributions to America, the world, or the process of human live. When in fact, nearly everything there is came from the original people of the earth, and if it were not for the black woman none of this would be possible. We hardly ever hear about or are taught anything anything black women said or did during the course of human history.

Today’s Thought Provoking Perspective will feature powerful quotes by and spoken by black women taken from an collection by Jessica Ann Mitchell the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com.

Here are some quotes from legendary Black women writers that can be used as continual tools for learning, growth, confidence and fearlessness.

  1. “It’s no use of talking unless people understand what you say.” -Zora Neale Hurston
  2. “No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much.” Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’…No woman has ever written enough.” – bell hooks
  3. “I’m a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people’s lives.” -Ntozake Shange
  4. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
  5. “We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans – because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings.” – Maya Angelou
  6. “I think writing really helps you heal yourself. I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person. That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame.” -Alice Walker
  7. “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison
  8.  “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” -Toni Morrison
  9. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10.  “Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it.” – Toni Morrison
  11.  “Challenging power structures from the inside, working the cracks within the system, however, requires learning to speak multiple languages of power convincingly.” – Patricia Hill Collins
  12. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. “Writing can be a lifeline, especially when your existence has been denied, especially when you have been left on the margins, especially when your life and process of growth have been subjected to attempts at strangulation.” ― Micere Githae Mugo
  14. “Sure you can do anything when talking or writing, it’s not like living when you can only do what you doing.” ― Sapphire
  15. “A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  16. “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” ― Octavia E. Butler
  17. “I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive. I can only change how they live, not how they think.” -Ntozake Shange
  18. “Let woman’s claim be as broad in the concrete as the abstract. We take our stand on the solidarity of humanity, the oneness of life, and the unnaturalness and injustice of all special favoritism, whether of sex, race, country, or condition. If one link of the chain is broken, the chain is broken.” – Anna Julia Cooper
  19. “I don’t want to be limited or ghettoized in any way.” -Sista Soulja
  20. “Discomfort is always a necessary part of enlightenment.” ― Pearl Cleage
  21. “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” -Maya Angelou
  22. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
  23. “Many times, what people call ‘writer’s block’ is the confusion that happens when a writer has a great idea, but their writing skill is not up to the task of putting that idea down on paper. I think that learning the craft of writing is critical.” -Pearl Cleage
  24. “Shakespeare wrote about love. I write about love. Shakespeare wrote about gang warfare, family feuds and revenge. I write about all the same things.” -Sister Souljah
  25. “Putting words on paper regularly is part of the necessary discipline of writing.” -Pearl Cleage
  26. “Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” -Alice Walker
  27. “You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts because if you write with someone looking over you shoulder, you’ll never write.” ― Nikki Giovanni
  28. “Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.” ― Nikki Giovanni
  29. “There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.” -Lorraine Hansberry
  30. “People who want to write either do it or they don’t. At last I began to say that my most important talent – or habit – was persistence. Without it, I would have given up writing long before I finished my first novel. It’s amazing what we can do if we simply refuse to give up.” ― Octavia E. Butler
  31. “People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that’s a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.” –Lucille Clifton
  32. “Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth.” ― June Jordan
  33. “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” -Angela Davis

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The Unheralded Donald Goines: AKA “Al C. Clark”

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In the long history of black people in America, there have been many who were successful at certain crafts. Most often, many have been robbed of their achievements, unheralded, or die before their time. One such person that fits this description was Donald Goines. He grew up in what was considered, at the time, an affluent family in Detroit and found himself crippled with addiction, shot and killed mysteriously to end his short life.

Donald Goines became a prolific African American writer who wrote sixteen novels under his own name and his pseudonym “Al C. Clark” in his brief literary career. During his three years of service in US Air Force, he became a heroin addict while stationed in Korea and Japan, a monkey on his back that clung to him when he rejoined civilian life in 1955. Eventually, the monkey was demanding a c-note’s (one-hundred dollars) worth of junk a day.

Unable to get straight, it was hard to fly right with such a burden, even for an ex-air man. Like many addicts, Goines turned to crime to support his “jones”. In addition to theft and armed robbery, he also engaged in bootlegging, numbers running and pimping. In and out of jail, he was incarcerated for a total of six and one-half of the first 15 years after leaving the service. He wrote his first two novels during that time.

While wearing prison stripes, he tried his hand at writing Westerns, but he was uninspired by the genre. However, he found his muse when he discovered the writings of the ultra-cool Iceberg Slim, the legendary pimp, and raconteur. Iceberg Slim’s works such as his seminal “Pimp” inspired Goines to write the semi-autobiographical “Whoreson,” a novel about a Mack born to his trade as the son of a street-walker. “Whoreson” was released in 1972 by Slim’s publisher, Holloway House, which specialized in African American works. It was his second published novel, after 1971s “Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie.”

Goines was released from the jail in 1970. At which time, he began writing at a frantic pace for the next four years allotted to him in this vale of tears; publishing 16 paperback originals with Holloway House. Still addicted to junk, Goines was disciplined enough to keep to a strict schedule, writing in the morning before giving over the rest of his day to letting his habits quick-silvery hands control his being.

Writing at a furious pace, he could turn out a novel in as little as a month. His style is unpolished, his syntax rough, and his words literally depended on the language of the streets shot through with black dialect (Ebonics). His novels are about people he knew; pimps, ho’s, thieves, hitters and dope fiends, struggling to survive in a ghetto jungle beset with merciless predators. The books were written for an audience to whom violence was or had been a part of life; not something wholly fictional.

The novels he published under his own name are about the “lumpenproletariat,” the criminal underclass. Under the name “Al C. Clark,” Goines wrote five novels about a revolutionary black cat called Kenyatta. Unlike Goines’ gangstas, Kenyatta, named after the great African freedom fighter Jomo Kenyatta, takes an active stance against exploitation and the depredations of inner-city life. He opposes the Establishment and was a sworn enemy of white cops. The head of a black militant organization dedicated to the Herculean task of douching out the ghettos of drugs and prostitution, Kenyatta is killed in a shootout in the last book of the series, “Kenyatta’s Last Hit” (1975).

Between five and ten million of Goines books have been sold, though his work did not receive much critical attention until the hip hop generation, which he influenced, became a cultural phenomenon. Goines’ books have inspired gangsta rappers from Tupac Shakur to Noreaga as a new generation of rap-influenced African Americans adopted the long-gone writer as part of their cultural heritage. Goines’ works reflect the anger and frustration of African Americans as a people. The hip-hop generation was sympathetic and accepted of Goines’ rejection of the values of white society.

While hip-hop as an art form cannot be considered a direct descendant of writers like Goines or Iceberg Slim, they did have a major influence on gangsta rappers. Nas and Royce Da 5′ 9″ both have songs called, “Black Girl Lost,” which is the title of a Goines book.

The ultimate tragedy of Goines life was when he and his wife were shot to death on October 21, 1974, under circumstances that remain a mystery. Some people believe they were killed in a drug deal that went wrong. Their grandson, Donald Goines III, who himself was murdered in 1992, blames part of the destruction of young African American lives that had not abated. Since long before the founding of the Republic, a country whose Constitution deemed African Americans as 3/5ths of a person for the purpose of establishing the apportionment of Congressional representation but did not give them any legal or social rights.

Thirty years after his death, Donald Goines’s novels are as relevant as they were in the early 70s, offering a picture of a lifestyle immersed in violence, sex, and drugs. It’s a life – often sacrificed to the exigencies of the street – that has since become glamorized and more appealing for a new generation of African Americans and white “wiggah” wannabes due to the mainstream commercialization of gangsta rap by urban media moguls more concerned with “Big Buck$” than social justice. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

12-Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie, 1971
-Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp, 1972
-Black Gangster, 1972
-Black Girl Lost, 1973
-Street Player, 1973
-White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief, 1973
-Daddy Cool, 1974
-Crime Partners, 1974
-Eldorado Red, 1974
-Never Die Alone, 1974
-Swamp Man, 1974
-Cry Revenge!, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Death List, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Kenyatta’s Escape, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Kenyatta’s Last Hit, 1975 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Inner City Hoodlum, 1975


Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

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The phenomenon of the late Gil Scott-Heron was truly a powerful voice that spoke to the world with profound essence. I’ve often heard that genius is a rare gift and those who have been given “IT” walk a fine line between that which we appreciate and that which they know themselves to be. To me, that was Gil. I will call him that because he was one of us and from the first time I heard him; it felt like he was within me. His astute stature demands respect because he spoke truth and enlightenment when others dared not do. Therefore, Mr. Heron will live forever, and his prose will be eternal.

I will say with certainty that he was real, and although troubled nearing the end of his life, I felt his pain and I admired him for living life on life’s terms. His political commentary was raw and on point, which is what really impressed me. He had the ability to rebuke bygone bogeymen such as Nixon, Reagan, and Agnew. Darts were also flung at contemporary targets, notably Barack Obama. “My president’s black / But the plan remains the same,’’ rapped Enoch 7th Prophet and who can forget the classics “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’’, “Winter in America’’, “Beginnings (First Minute of a Brand New Day)”, and “Whitey on the Moon.’’

This man was the precursor to rap with some saying he was the “Godfather of Rap” although he often bristled at the suggestion. “I don’t know if I can take the blame for it,” he said in an interview with the music Web site The Daily Swarm. He preferred to call himself a “Bluesologist,” drawing on the traditions of blues, jazz, and Harlem Renaissance poetics. For sure, he was a poet and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style, and mordant critiques of politics, racism, and mass media made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s.

He did establish much of the attitude and the stylistic vocabulary that would characterize the socially conscious work of early rap groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. He also remained part of the DNA of hip-hop by being sampled by many hip hop stars. Chuck D, the leader of Public Enemy, told The New Yorker in 2010 that Gil Scott-Heron is the manifestation of the modern word… He and the Last Poets set the stage for everyone else.”

He was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949, and reared in Tennessee and later moved to New York. His mother was a librarian and an English teacher; his estranged father was a Jamaican soccer player. In his early teens, Gil wrote detective stories, and his work as a writer won him a scholarship to the Fieldston School in the Bronx. There he was only one of 5 black students in a class of 100. Following in the footsteps of Langston Hughes, he went to the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and he wrote his first novel at 19, a murder mystery called “The Vulture.” A book of verse, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and a second novel, “The Nigger Factory,” soon followed.

He lived most of his adult life in New York, yet also spent some years in Washington, including a stint in the 1970s. He taught English at Federal City College (a predecessor of the University of the District of Columbia). Gil once described “Washington, DC as both capital and hometown: “Symbols of democracy, pinned up against the coast / Outhouse of bureaucracy, surrounded by a moat / Citizens of poverty are barely out of sight / Overlords escape in the evening with people of the night.”

After meeting and working with a college friend Brian Jackson. Gil turned to music in search of a wider audience. His first album, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” was released in 1970 on Flying Dutchman, a small label, and included a live recitation of “Revolution” accompanied by conga and bongo drums. Another version of that piece, recorded with a full band including the jazz bassist Ron Carter, was released on Mr. Scott-Heron’s second album, “Pieces of a Man,” in 1971.

“Revolution” established Mr. Scott-Heron as a rising star of the black cultural left, and it’s cool, biting ridicule of a nation anesthetized by mass media has resonated with the socially disaffected of various stripes — campus activists, media theorists, coffeehouse poets — for four decades.

During the 1970s, Gil was seen as a prodigy with significant potential, although he never achieved more than cult popularity. He recorded 13 albums from 1970 to 1982 and was one of the first acts that music executive Clive Davis signed after starting Arista Records in 1974. In 1979, he performed at Musicians United for Safe Energy’s “No Nukes” benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden, and in 1985, he appeared on the all-star anti-apartheid album “Sun City.” But by the mid-1980s, Mr. Scott-Heron had begun to fade, and his recording output slowed to a trickle. In later years, he struggled publicly with addiction.

Some of the content for this article appeared in print on May 29, 2011, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Gil Scott-Heron, a Voice of Protest And a Music Pioneer, Dies at 62. This spoken word genius created a genre for himself and all his own. He empowered and for that brother Gil – thank you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

THE BOTTLE

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED


An Excerpt From The Novel “Just a Season”

1Just A Season is a stand-alone story rich in the history and will take you on an awe-inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora. A reviewer compared this novel to a contemporary “Roots” in the oral African tradition of a time when America was changing forever. Another reviewer said, this novel has the emotion of “The Color Purple”. I want to share this particular excerpt from “Just a Season” that I hope it will enlighten, empower, motivate, and touch your heart.

Today we live in a world where there is no Granddaddy to share that precious wisdom necessary to guide our young men and women into adulthood. I was fortunate, maybe blessed, to have had a loving grandfather who shared many valuable lessons with me.

These lessons learned became the foundation of my very being…

         “Granddaddy’s Lessons” from “Just a Season”

“Granddaddy would say if you really hear me, not just listen to me, you will inherit life’s goodness. I would hear him talk about things like “God bless the child that’s got his own.” He constantly reminded me that everything that ever existed came from a just single thought, and if you can think it, you can figure out how to do it just put your mind to it.

I would also constantly hear that a man must be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of the circumstances. “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you will have to do, but when the time comes, do it.” Granddaddy drove home the point, the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he’s learned.

Granddaddy would also say you will always have an enemy. Your enemy is anyone who attempts to sabotage the assignment God has for your life. Your enemy is anybody who may resent you doing positive things and will be unhappy because of your success. These people will attempt to kill the faith that God has breathed within you.

They would rather discuss your past than your future because they don’t want you to have one. Your enemy should not be feared. He would say it is important to understand that this person usually will be close to you. He would tell me to use them as bridges, not barricades. Therefore, it is wise to make peace with your enemy.

“Just remember these things I say to you.” I certainly could not count all of these things, as it seemed like a million or more that I was supposed to remember. However, he asked me to remember above all else that there is no such thing as luck. The harder you work at something the luckier you get. I would tell him that I was lucky, maybe because I had won a ballgame or something. He would smile and tell me luck is only preparation meeting opportunity. Life is all about survival and if you are to survive – never bring a knife to a gunfight. This would be just as foolish as using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Then he asked me to remember that it is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

Granddaddy’s words had so much power, although it would often require some thinking on my part to figure out what he was talking about, or what the moral of the story was supposed to be. It may have taken awhile, but I usually figured it out. For example, always take the road less traveled, make your own path, but be sure to leave a trail for others to follow. Life’s road is often hard; just make sure you travel it wisely. If you have a thousand miles to go, you must start the journey with the first step. During many of these lessons, he would remind me not to let your worries get the best of you.

Sometimes he would use humor. For example, he would say something like “Moses started out as a basket case.” Although most often he assured me that hard times will come and when they come, do not drown in your tears; always swim in your blessings. He would tell me he had seen so much and heard even more, in particular, those stories from his early life when dreadful atrocities were done to Negroes. Some of the stories included acts of violence such as lynchings, burnings, and beatings. He would make a point to explain that the people who did these things believed they were acting in the best interest of society.

He would tell me about things he witnessed over time, that many of these atrocities were erased from the memory of society regardless how horrible the event was. Society’s reasoning would make you think their action was right, fair, and justified. Granddaddy would add, if history could erase that which he had witnessed and known to be true, how can you trust anything history told as truth? He would emphasize that I should never, never believe it because nothing is as it seems.

I would marvel at his wisdom. He would tell me to always set my aim higher than the ground. Shoot for the stars because if you miss you will only land on the ground and that will be where everybody else will be. When he would tell me this, he would always add, please remember you are not finished because you are defeated. You are only finished if you give up. He would usually include a reminder. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Never think you are too big because you can be on top of the world today, and the world can be on top of you tomorrow.

I think Granddaddy had the foresight to see that I could do common things in life in an uncommon way, that I could command the attention of the world around me. Granddaddy impressed upon me that change is a strange thing. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever tries to affect it. It will take courage and perseverance to reach your place of success. Just remember that life -is not a rehearsal. It is real, and it is you who will create your destiny don’t wait for it to come to you. He would say, can’t is not a word. Never use it because it implies failure. It is also smart to stay away from those who do use it.

He would tell me that I was an important creation, that God gave a special gift to me for the purpose of changing the world around me. It may be hard sometimes, you may not understand, you may have self-doubt or hesitation, but never quit. God gave it to you so use it wisely. He would add often times something biblical during his teaching, or so I thought, like to whom much is given, much is expected. It is because we needed you that God sent you. That statement profoundly gave me a sense of responsibility that I was duty-bound to carry throughout my life.

Granddaddy’s inspiration, courage, and motivation still humble me, and I’m filled with gratitude that his example profoundly enriched my soul. So much so that in those times of trouble, when the bridges are hard to cross and the road gets rough, I hear Granddaddy’s gentle voice reciting words once spoken by the Prophet Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with you.”

And that is a Thought Provoking Perspective from a loving Grandfather…

Praise for Just a Season

This Must Read Novel can be purchased @ AMAZON


America’s Shocking and Ugly Truth

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Enough said, and that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Roots: A Witness To Our History

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Throughout the history of this newly created species labelled “Negro” the history of our past has been altered and denied. In fact, it was stolen and then erased! His-Story tells us that black people were a people who had no history. We lived naked in the jungles as savages.

The despicable part about the lies they told is the we came from Kings and Queens, established colleges and exceled in advance medicine while they were living in caves or before they wore a shoe. As evidence of our greatness, just go to Egypt and look at the pyramids – WE BUILT!

We never knew or ever saw out history until we watched Alex Haley’s groundbreaking television mini-series, “Roots”. This powerful story was the first time African Americans, or dare I say, the world got to see and feel the slave experience. Sure we have seen pictures and read books but the visual presentation of the mini-series was an eye opening experience for most who witnessed the epic story. It remains one of the highest rated television shows of all time.

The story chronicles the life of an African boy living in Gambia, West Africa in 1750. The main character, Kunta Kinte, was trying to carry out a simple task to catch a bird when he sees white men for the first time; carrying firearms, along with their black collaborators. He is captured by these black collaborators under the direction of white men, sold to a slave trader and placed aboard a ship to endure the Middle Passage for the long journey to America.

The ship eventually arrives in Annapolis, Maryland, where the captured Africans are sold as slaves at auction. Kunta was sold to a Virginia plantation who gave him the name Toby. The owner of the plantation assigns an older slave, Fiddler, to teach him to speak English, and to train him in the ways of living and working as a chattel slave. Kunta in a persistent struggle to become free makes several unsuccessful attempts to escape to preserve his Mandinka heritage and maintain his Mandinka roots.

The most chilling aspect of the story, for me, was when an overseer gathers the slaves and directs one of them to whip Kunta after his latest attempt to escape and continues whipping him until he finally acknowledges his new name. Then to settle a debt to his brother, the owner transfers several of his slaves, including Toby and Fiddler, to another plantation where Kunta tries to escape again. A pair of slave catchers seizes him, bind him, and chop off half his right foot to limit his ability to run away again.

As we watched the mini-series, it took us on a journey through generations of suffering until its climax where Chicken George, Haley’s grandfather, accumulated enough money to move his family to Tennessee to what was as close to freedom as they could hope for at the time. Chicken George purchased land based on the concept “God Bless the child that has his own”.

I don’t want to tell the whole story because I am sure you know it. If not the movie is well worth viewing again and again. There were those then and some now, who say the epic journey of Kunta Kinte was a myth and that it was mere fiction. Those are the people who refuse to understand or see the wretchedness of the state sectioned institution of slavery. To these people, unfortunately this is the foundation of America and for African Americans this is our sorted legacy that I will argue remain scares untreated to this very day.

I’ll end by sharing these words by Maya Angelou: “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” We need to see this story and it was shown at the right time for us to understand! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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