Friday, July 15, 2011

What Did Sun Ra Teach?

What did Sun Ra teach?

He taught the need for discipline in the artistic life, not freedom. He told me to stop teaching my actors freedom when discipline was needed. He demonstrated discipline by keeping his band together for over twenty years. When I got him to take a young actor of mine on European tour, he sent the very talented singer/musician home because he lacked discipline. He taught me not to be so moral, especially when I took a scene out of my musical with a sex scene. He was horrified that I had done so. He said, "Marvin you so right you wrong. That scene was the best one in the play. That's what people want, a little dirt. They don't want to truth, they want the low down dirty truth."

Most importantly, he taught the importance of mythology and ritual theatre, breaking down that fourth wall and merging with the audience, becoming one and indivisible, thus reaching the level of African communal theatre wherein there is no audience, only the community. His Arkestra, including poets, singers, dancers, and mixed media, expanded the potential of black theatre. It was a great experience performing with an Arkestra as opposed to simply reading solo or even with a small band. This is no doubt why I can only conceive of theatre as extravaganza in terms of performance, space and time.

Imagine being able to work with some of the greatest musicians in the world, aside from Sun Ra himself, there was John Gilmore, Danny Thompson, June Tyson, and Marshall Allen. See my DVD Live in Philly at Warmdaddy's, which I call 39 minutes of Jazz history. The set included Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, along with bagpipe legend Rufus Harley and myself reading poetry. Also Elliott Bey, Ancestor Goldsky and Alexander El.

We can say that Sun Ra had a profound influence on the Black Arts Movement coast to coast. He was a founding member of Amiri Baraka's Black Arts Theatre in Harlem as well as a worker at my Black Educational Theatre in the Fillmore.
--Marvin X

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marvin X and his Chief Mentor, Sun Ra, 1972

Those who have a problem understanding the complexity of Marvin X, need only understand he was a student and colleague of Sun Ra, the bandleader of the Arkestra that Marvin X performed with on the east coast and west coast. Sun Ra worked with Marvin X at his Black Educational Thearte in the Fillmore, 1972. Sun Ra did the musical version of his play Flowers for the Trashaman, retitled Take Care of Business.

Sun Ra and Marvin X did a five hour production of Take Care of Business at the Harding Theatre on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, 1972. Sun Ra also told Marvin X he would be hired to lecture in the Black Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Marvin X doubted Sun Ra since Gov. Ronald Reagan had banned him from teaching at Fresno State College in 1969, the same year he banned Angela Davis from teaching at UCLA. Marvin X did indeed teach at UCB and his off campus class was at his Black Educational Theatre in the Fillmore. Sun Rn worked with him and the Harding Theatre concert was a five hour show without intermission, that consisted of a fifty member cast, including the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Ellendar Barnes dancers, along with the Raymond Saywer dancers and the Marvin X actors.

All Muslim Unity and Reunion Celebration (1950-2011)

As salaamu alaikum,

Prepare for a day of Fun &
Enjoying the presence of each other.

Please save the date of July 16, 2011. As this is a day that has been set aside for members of our Community to gather in Unity.

This is a POTLUCK event, so bring food to feed at least 5 people. Some food & drinks will be provided by the planning committee of this event.

We have a line of entertainment that will be provided at this event:
Spoken Word
Live Music

A day organized from 11am to 5pm
Location: Defremery Park
Street: 18th & Adeline Street
City/Town: Oakland, California
Phone: Khalid 510-927-8055; Qualaam 510-776-9199
Event Type: social, historical
Organized By: Unity "N" The Community Brotherhood

A day where we can revitalize, socialize, and revitalize our relationships through eating together, praying together and enjoying the presence of everyone.

A day starting at 11:00am. A Day called: MUSLIM UNITY;MEETING & REUNION

Inviting those contributing, living, and working From 1950-2011;But of course all are invited

Again Save the Date to join us as we:

* Recognize from our Ranks Pioneers
* Embrace The Diversity of our Communities
* Empower One Another through Social Bonding

Welcoming All:

1. Muslims from Different Communities
2. Pioneers from The Nation of Islam
3. Current Members of The Nation of Islam
4. All Faith Based People

Please come with your Families,your Friends your Blankets and chairs for your personal comfort or the comfort of others and be sure to bring your Table Spread (Food)

Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality


I was talking with my barber, a young man in search of his Lord, Jesus Christ. I know he is a baby spiritually, so I am gentle with him. Unless he asks, I don’t tell him anything, specially about religion--people can get real crazy about religion--fanatic is the word.

Once he asked my advice on women since he was having problems with his girlfriend.
I told him not to worry, stay on the straight path and eventually his woman would do the right thing. I laid in out for him in stages or as we say in theatre, in acts: act one, two and three. I even broke it down to him in scenes, telling him what would happen in Act Three, Scene One. Of course he didn’t believe anything I said, but weeks later when I saw him, he smiled and told me things happened exactly as I had told him, from Act One through Act Three. His woman stopped messing with the other dude and reconciled with Johnny, and eventually they had a baby daughter and she joined church with him. Johnny often recalls the dramatic structure I laid out for him. I’ve said all this to say Johnny has confidence in me as a teacher.

So when he asked me about religion, I told him how I see it.
Johnny, religion is one thing, God is another. Never confuse the two. There are many religious, but one Supreme Being, One Universal Force or Higher Power that is in all things: man, animals, nature, the universe. Johnny, religion is a way to God, laws, rules, a path to God, a roadmap up the mountain where God awaits at the mountaintop. Now you may have budding God consciousness as you make your way up the mountain to have intercourse with God, but it is only when you reach the top that intercourse happens, let’s say that is when you climax, before that is the chase, the ordeal by fire, then the joy of completion--it is a lifelong journey. Now people in these various religions attempt to go through the degrees to reach ultimate God consciousness, but few make it up the mountain. They are like Sisyphus, the man in the Greek myth who was doomed to fall back down the mountain holding a rock for eternity. Most people start the climb but fall back down and must begin again until they get it right, but only a chosen few are able to make it to the top to receive the Divine blessing of light, truth and love.

Many of these religious people can be seen going up the mountain fighting, hating, even killing along the path, thus they fall down and must begin anew. They wonder why they never make it to the top. Sometimes their fists are balled up so when they reach a station on their path, they cannot reach into their pocket to pay the toll and cannot continue. They are stuck and cannot go farther. They may wail, shout, get the holy ghost, but they will not reach their destination. Some lack direction, discipline, understanding, so again like Sisyphus, they slip and fall to the bottom. At this point they may become disillusioned and give up, falling into the ditch of illusions, addictions worse than their spiritual blindness caused by dogmatism, sectarianism and narrow-mindedness. They were overly concerned about what the others were doing on their paths, so they lost their focus, concentration. And one cannot reach the mountaintop with ignorance, no matter what religion, whether monotheism, polytheism; whether Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or traditional African religions.

Of course by their very nature, religions breed ignorance and dogmatism. Every religion claims absolute truth based on holy words or books, thus if one is not the member of a certain faith or sect, one is doomed to hell, and of course only devils live in hell, so the non-believers can be stoned, burned, lynched, or killed, then sent to hell properly.

All the while, these religions teach and preach love, but it is a strange love, especially when one does not have a membership card in the Club of Heavenly Faith or the Holy Ghost Muslim Word.

There are interfaith and ecumenical movements attempting to spread toleration and understanding, but they are a small voice in movement toward spiritual enlightenment. Such enlightenment seems reserved for those with mystical inclination, such as the Sufi and others seeking spiritual consciousness that transcends sectarianism.

We say with a surety that ultimate spirituality can only be achieved when the believer is totally without prejudice in matters of Divine, when it is immaterial whether a person is of this or that religion, sect, cult or denomination, no matter what is said in various scriptures. The Sufi says, “The only religion is the religion of the heart.”

It is of no matter what is in books or in the heads of believers when there is no sincere love in their hearts. The heart is the acid test of spirituality. When God is alive in the hearts of men and women, it matters not what is in books or in their heads, for if we followed the books, this discussion would be unnecessary, and if we followed our natural intelligence it would be unnecessary. Thus, we must close the books, jump out of our heads and dwell in the region of the heart in order to arrive at radical spirituality.

Traditional religions are of no value in the global village of today. We need only look at the nightly news to see the strife and killing being done in the name of various religions.
We need the wisdom of Solomon to see our way to the mountaintop: religion is vanity and vexation of spirit. Let not our fate be the same as Sisyphus: to eternally approach the Divine, yet slip and fall as we near intercourse with the Eternal Light.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Sun Ra

Happy Birthday Sun Ra
"America, the Devil don't even want you--you not even suitable for hell!"--Sun Ra

Happy Birthday Sun Ra

Herman Poole Blount was born on May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, Planet Earth. Sun Ra was interested in music from an early age and by the time he was eleven he was able to sight read and compose music on piano. Growing up in Birmingham allowed him to catch famous Jazz musicians traveling through including Flecther Henderson, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. In his teens Sun Ra was able to listen to a big band perform and go home and write full transcriptions of the performance by ear and also began playing professionally as a teen. At the age of ten Sun Ra joined the Knights of Pythias and would remain with the group through high school. This Masonic Lodge provided him to unlimited access to books and their books on Freemasonry and other subjects of the like influenced him heavily. In high school Ra studied with music teacher John T "Fess" Whatley who had a reputation for producing many great musicians. In 1934 Sun Ra began playing professionally full time with a former teacher named Ethel Harper and after she left the group Sun took over and called it the Sonny Blount Orchestra. In 1936 Ra was awarded a scholarship to attend Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University and studied music for one year before having an experience that would change the course of his life.

In 1937 during deep meditation Sun Ra briefly left this planet and traveled to Saturn and received important information about his path. In his own words, "… my whole body changed into something else. I could see through myself. And I went up … I wasn't in human form … I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn … they teleported me and I was down on [a] stage with them. They wanted to talk with me. They had one little antenna on each ear. A little antenna over each eye. They talked to me. They told me to stop [attending college] because there was going to be great trouble in schools … the world was going into complete chaos … I would speak [through music], and the world would listen. That's what they told me." Following this experience Sun Ra returned to Birmingham and worked frantically within music and reformed the Sonny Blount Orchestra which was well received in the area. In the early 1940s Sun Ra was drafted in U.S. Military but was very much against war and killing which led to him being placed in jail for his beliefs. After being released in 1943 Ra returned home before moving north to Chicago.

In Chicago Ra began working with singer Wynonie Harris and made his recording debut in 1946 on the singles 'Dig This Boogie/Lightning Struck the Poorhouse' and 'My Baby's Barrelhouse/Drinking By Myself'. In 1946 Ra was hired by Fletcher Henderson to play piano and arrange music for the band and in 1948 performed in a trio with Coleman Hawkins and Stuff Smith. Living in Chicago also influenced Ra and he was very interested in the city's many Egyptian style buildings and continued educating himself with books like "Stolen Legacy" written by George G.M. James. In 1952 Sun Ra formed the Space Trio with Tommy Hunter and Pat Patrick and also legally changed him name to Le Sony'r Ra. Soon John Gilmore and Marshall Allen would join the band and some other members during this period in Chicago would include James Spaulding, Von Freeman and Julian Priester. Also in the 1950s Ra met Alton Abraham who would become his good friend, business manager and shared similar interests and beliefs as Ra. Sun Ra and Abraham also printed pamphlets and would hand them on the street about their beliefs and many of these can be read in the book "The Wisdom of Sun Ra: Sun Ra's Polemical Broadsheets and Streetcorner Leaflets" published in 2006. Some of the Arkestra's recordings from the 1950s include 'Sound Sun Pleasure', 'Sun Song', 'Sound of Joy', 'Angels and Demons at Play' and 'We Travel the Spaceways'.

In 1961 the Arkestra moved to New York City and was able to find a regular gig at Slug's Saloon. This helped spread Sun Ra's popularity and for the most part he was well received. Though Ra would still experience hecklers from time but did receive support and encouragement from some very notable Jazz musicians including Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. The building the band lived in New York was sold in 1968 and a result they relocated to the Germantown section of Philadelphia and that would be their home base till the end and were known as very good neighbors due to their friendliness and drug free living. Also in '68 Sun Ra toured the West Coast for the first time and even followers of the Greatful Dead would have altering experiences listening to Sun Ra. This tour led to Ra being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in 1969. The Arkestra began touring Europe in 1970 and was very well received and in 1971 Ra fulfilled one of his dreams by performing with his band at the pyramids in Egypt. Also in 1971 Sun Ra was hired became the artist-in-residence at University of California, Berkeley and taught a course called "The Black Man In the Cosmos." Some of the required reading for this course included the Book of the Dead, Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons and The Book of Oahspe and the works of Madame Blavatsky and Henry Dumas. In the mid and late '70s the Arkestra would perform locally in Philadelphia giving free concerts in a local park on the weekends and also had a stint as the house band at the Squat Theater in New York City in 1979.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra continued playing and recording in the 1980s and 1990s and Ra was well known as a part of Philadelphia by this time. He would often be a guest on local radio and give lectures locally as well. In 1990 Ra suffered a stroke but still continued to compose and perform until leaving this planet in 1993. Sun Ra leaves a legacy on this planet as a visionary artist dedicated beyond all else to convince mankind to face the fact they need to change their destructive and greedy ways as well as repair the self worth of African-Americans after the unimaginable abuse they have been through. Musically, Ra pushed any boundaries into oblivion as his musical imagination could not fit into any type of category or box. Sun Ra was one of the first in Jazz to use electronics and introduce the idea of collective free form improvisation. Ra's music and mythology has inspired so many people to not only develop themselves mentally and physically, but to explore the unknown and evolve spiritually.

Click Here to watch Sun Ra's full length film "Space Is The Place" made in 1974.

"It's better to deal with the people who have intuition now. You see, they don't know what they're doing. The ones who do know what they're doing, haven't proven anything."

"Because everything that's unknown is part of the myth. And I'm sure that the myth can do more for humanity than anything they ever dreamed possible." - Sun Ra

The Differences
Sometimes in the amazing ignorance
I hear things and see things
I never knew I saw and heard before
Sometimes in the ignorance
I feel the meaning
Invincible invisible wisdom,
And I commune with intuitive instinct
With the force that made life be
And since it made life be
It is greater than life
And since it let extinction be
It is greater than extinction.
I commune with feelings more than
For there is nothing else to ask for
That companionship is
And it is superior to any other is.
Sometimes in my amazing ignorance
Others see me only as they care to see
I am to them as they think
According the standard I should not be
And that is the difference between I and them
Because I see them as they are to is
And not the seeming isness of the was.
Sun Ra

Marvin X on Sun Ra

Happy earth day, Sun Ra, no matter where you are in the spirit world of the universe.
You are the Supreme Prophet of our First Poet's Church. RA! RA! RA! We forever love you and praise you for teaching us how to submit to leadership or what is also known as discipline. This is the most crucial lesson for North American Africans, learning to submit and thus respect leadership. But of course the leader must be highly disciplined himself, above his carnal nature and focused on his/her spiritual mission, in service of the Creator God.

All artists, poets, writers, musicians, theatre persons, must learn the Sun Ra method of creative discipline, a holistic approach to life in the arts, how to bring all the genres together into a whole mythological order through creative ritual. And this includes a melting of art and audience, what we called Ritual Theatre. Sun Ra taught us all how to ritualize theatre by breaking down that wall and destroying the comfort of the audience, yet making them one with the myth/ritual moment in time and space.

Sun Ra demonstrated the eternity of time, beyond the finite into the everlastingness of it all. And so we are indeed the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists, updating our ancestors for the present time and eternity.
--Marvin X
Prime Minister
First Poet's Church of the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Poem Every African Must Know

For My People

For my people everywhere singing their slave songs
     repeatedly: their dirges and their ditties and their blues
     and jubilees, praying their prayers nightly to an
     unknown god, bending their knees humbly to an
     unseen power;

For my people lending their strength to the years, to the
    gone years and the now years and the maybe years,
    washing ironing cooking scrubbing sewing mending
    hoeing plowing digging planting pruning patching
    dragging along never gaining never reaping never
    knowing and never understanding;

For my playmates in the clay and dust and sand of Alabama
    backyards playing baptizing and preaching and doctor
    and jail and soldier and school and mama and cooking
    and playhouse and concert and store and hair and
    Miss Choomby and company;

For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn
    to know the reasons why and the answers to and the
    people who and the places where and the days when, in
    memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we
    were black and poor and small and different and nobody
    cared and nobody wondered and nobody understood;

For the boys and girls who grew in spite of these things to
    be man and woman, to laugh and dance and sing and
    play and drink their wine and religion and success, to
    marry their playmates and bear children and then die
    of consumption and anemia and lynching;

For my people thronging 47th Street in Chicago and Lenox
    Avenue in New York and Rampart Street in New
    Orleans, lost disinherited dispossessed and happy
    people filling the cabarets and taverns and other
    people’s pockets and needing bread and shoes and milk and
    land and money and something—something all our own;

For my people walking blindly spreading joy, losing time
     being lazy, sleeping when hungry, shouting when
     burdened, drinking when hopeless, tied, and shackled
     and tangled among ourselves by the unseen creatures
     who tower over us omnisciently and laugh;

For my people blundering and groping and floundering in
     the dark of churches and schools and clubs
     and societies, associations and councils and committees and
     conventions, distressed and disturbed and deceived and
     devoured by money-hungry glory-craving leeches,
     preyed on by facile force of state and fad and novelty, by
     false prophet and holy believer;

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way
    from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding,
    trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people,
    all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
    bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
    generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
    loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of
    healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing
    in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs
    be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now
    rise and take control.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ancestor Poet Reginald Lockett

Poet Reginald Lockett is one of our Saints. Reggie

participated in the West Coast Black Arts Movement at Black House, San Francisco, 1967. One of his last performances is with Marvin X at Anna's Jazz Island, Berkeley, backed by Brother Ghasem's band. See Youtube What If. We love you and miss you Reggie.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sun Ra - Space is the place (1974)

Minister of Poetry Ayodele Nzinga

In the Bosom

in the bosom
smelling like milk
knowing this is as close
to the honey
as they gonna let you get
it’s bitter to the taste
the house
walking on the bones
somebody write this story
tell what it cost
brown eyed dreamers
crossing continents
with spoons
instead of knives
everything that was
nothing means
what it meant
nobility turned savagery
by ethnographer’s pen strokes
untounged and stripped of gods
worldview & geography
history became a piece of fire
weighing more than it meant
in the land of locust
writ in running ink
the testament
tested on the backs
on which it rested
unrepented sins
confessed by invested priest
rewritten by academics
exploited by bankers
& other stripes of thieves
best go with it down the river
milk & honey on the other side
someone must play cartographer
like clever clarinet
sit near the door
know the language
leave the signs
to sit in the bosom
of these united snakes
holding the door ajar
for nappy heretics
to dismantle master’s house
from the inside of the machine
where they grind the bones
of scholars
feeding them lies
to feed to others
yeah though they have seen the inside of the valley
they help to manufacture shadow
trying get an inside track
to the inside
jocking for position
praying tenure
dreaming of being
lead sheep
to eat well until the slaughter
where they too are delicious morsels
cuz wolves don’t care to know the difference
between the new white and real dark meat
even a café au lait with a Harvard degree
a card that lets him caddy skull n bones stylee
is on the buffet
selling off
his brothers
that truth in theology preacher
& African nations
to answer
the call
never mind whose on the phone
this is the room
your forefathers died to get in
can they see us now
Porsches Jaguars and triple malts
our metaphoric
tattoo tears proclaiming
we are Abel to be Cain
& the sets we used to bless
now mean less than
corner offices & glass covered degrees of separation
from grandma’s hands, Ebonics & collard greens
sometimes it gets hard to remember to remember
playing the insider to outsider game
sitting in the bosom
far from where the hunger lives
walks the street
got a nickname
you forget how easy it is to forget
easier than carrying a banner for a army that got lost
it’s warm inside
ain’t this where we sent ‘em?
integrated them to?
deeper into the beast
ain’t this where we wanted to be?
deep in the bosom
ain’t this where they aimed us?
grans & parents w/survival on their breath
bidding us go further
sent us looking for milk & honey
prismatic dreams of integration
rising from the nation
within the nation
why we surprised they forgot to remember
what got wrote down crooked
we were confused
but persistent
in sending them to schools that
taught them to be ashamed of
tales of tongues of fire
invisible stars
country grammar
& the worldview contained there in
along with our most blatant sin
the color of our skin
we done marched & died
trying to find a way into
living like conscripted slaves
intent on arriving
at suspect destinations
hooked on the hooks
from the inside out
trading the smell of pragmatic optimism
for a lobster sandwich
a time share on the shore
& college education
for children who don’t look like us
success is my tribal scar of separation
from the funk piss and grime
the nation
in the nation
the cost is the death of my negritude
like a ceremonial garment
which I have risen above
it cost too much too carry
as jackals circle
dreams are drained of liquidity
post race
seems a good room to stand in
as ghettos are reclaimed by urban explorers
greening occupied territories
without regard for the natives
someday this may weigh more
but if you ain’t got an army
it don’t matter
teaspoons or pounds its all the same
they write the code
& sheep they do follow
cause it’s warm inside
best go with it down the river
milk & honey on the other side
someone must
sit near the door
know the language
leave the signs
someone must sacrifice
themselves to sit in the bosom
of these united snakes
holding the door ajar
for nappy heretics
to dismantle master’s house
from the inside of the machine
where they make their bones
grinding bones
its hard to remember what you came for
when everything is for sale
& nothing means what you thought it meant
when you began
the distance back to grandma’s porch is greater than
& in real reality
you remember
it’s not home you’re ashamed of
its you
the runaway
still a slave
resting in the bosom
smelling like milk
mama & daddy dreams
of brown babies rising
everybody wanna be someone
only God can judge me
run your broken tongue
across the scars
become him before
this story
could you carry it
all the dreams
backed up in your bowels
no stage to shine
the joy running out
reality rushing in
the crooked deck
being born with a dead man’s hand
a ticket to the merry go round in your pocket
even Mama’s hand can’t
soothe the pain
that pushes out your pores
the road is uphill
covered in broken glass
will someone write
how much it cost
to escape
hide from the whirlwind
to rest in the bosom
smelling of milk
up nights
burning oil and turning scripture
while ghosts march
ask Collin Powell
about the price of sleep
once you cross over
even if you wake up
& come back home to the nightmare
you wrote
ask how much it cost to
pretend you Mike
hard as you can
till you think you are
if you can remember
to remember
Mama didn’t raise no fool
& this weighs more than it used to
could you carry it
if it was invisible
but it still bent your forehead to the ground
hurt in your back like old age
from the moment you were born
if it weighed more than you
would you carry it
or fall apart into ragged pieces that smell of
ill conceived dreams
water colors in a storm
& the wrong conversations
mama said rise
daddy died
sorrow drowning in his eyes
a working man
wearing pride like a suit
so you could be you
stand up straight honey
look ‘em in the eyes
do what you need
get inside
the bosom
of the machine
get us some of that milk
honey bring that honey home
we waiting for you to
who knew that
the destination itself
would be the cruelest cut
most suspect for a boy
whose mother dreamed
a mighty man from the womb
he still the usual suspect
even when he do what they want him to do
what else can a thinking man do
not to wash away
he is not invisible
can you see him now
with his pockets bulging with
needs and promise
do you see him
reading Dred Scott & Ralph Ellison
seeing himself
how he would make it be
if he could
he has a map
of the road he took
the one that was open
toll free
can you translate
what that cost
do you see him
past looking for an exit
can you see him
bleeding in the margins
it used to weigh less
it couldn’t have cost more
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Under a Red Sky

Street Spirit

(For Marvin X)

under a red sky

you have roamed the streets of San Francisco

rapping about homeless blues

in your poetry

in your life

in your spirit

under a red sky

i saw you once selling the Poetry Flash

to rich tourists and wondered whether you would become the next Bob Kaufman

under a red sky

you have roamed the beaches

of the Golden State

praying here and there

remembering your sweet Sherley

confessing your sins and mistakes

under a red sky

you have remembered that a poet is full of great feelings

of love for God

for self

for others

whether the poet is homeless

or not

under a red sky

you have helped me to embrace the street spirits

and the rays of a red sun with your poetry

with your life

with your spirit.

--J. Vern Cromartie © 2005

Another One for Marvin X

start out in Fowler

go to Fresno

fall in love forever with a deep chocolate woman

who loves you and your poetry

you know she loves you

forever like the waves rolling in the dock of the bay

she loved you

this woman loved you when she breathed her last breath

sometimes you see her in your sleep

and you wonder about what could have been

about what should have been

about what was your flight to love forever

the power of love is holy

Jimi Hendix knew this holiness in his dreams

when he sang deep into the night

about the power of love

if you want to follow on the mantle of Jeremiah

let the power of love drench your soul forever.

--J. Vern Cromartie © 2006

Dr. J. Vern Cromartie is a poet and chair of the Sociology Department atContra Costa College. He is a former student of Marvin X when he taught drama at Laney College. Dr. Cromartie recently delivered a researchpaper on Marvin X's brief tenure at UC Berkeley.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

If We Must Die

If We Must Die
Claude McKay

In this classic poem from the Harlem Renaissance, we see the power of poetry. This poem has been used for generations of people to stand tall in the face of oppression. Not only did North American African use this poem in the 20s to signal resistence to American oppression, but European Sir Winston Churchill used it to rally his people to oppose Hitler's Nazism during WWII. In the 1960s, Black revolutionaries made it our National anthem in the Black Arts/Black Liberation movement. And surely the people of North Africa and the Middle East express the spirit of this poem.


If We Must Die

by Claude McKay
If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Claude McKay is regarded as one of the first significant writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Jamaica, he arrived in the United States in 1912 at the age of 21 and had already gained recognition as a poet with his book Songs of Jamaica, published in 1911. He attended Tuskegee Institute and Kansas State University, then traveled to New York and participated in the literary movements there, both in Harlem and in Greenwich Village. His sonnet, "If We Must Die," is his most popular poem. He earned his living as a porter on the railroad and was a resident of Harlem.

His book of poems, Harlem Shadows, published in 1922, was a precursor to the Harlem Renaissance. He also became associate editor of The Liberator, a socialist magazine of art and literature. Working closely with Max Eastman, he traveled to Moscow in 1923 in sympathy with the Bolshevik Revolution and became a sort of national hero there. Other books by Claude McKay include Banjo, Harlem: Negro Metropolis, and his autobiography, A Long Way From Home. Home to Harlem, published in the spring of 1928, became the first novel by a Harlem writer to reach the bestseller list.

Noble Drew Ali, one of our Saints of the First Poet's Church

Saturday's meeting of the First Poet's Chruch morphed into a dialogue on the Moorish Science Temple of Noble Drew Ali. The dialogue by a group of young Mo's lasted til 2:40 am.

Marvin X was interviewed on his relationship with the Mo's for a documentary. He stated that during his Canadian exile he lived in Toronoto with Salome Bey, sister of singer Andy Bey. And of course he learned about the Mo's in Newark, NJ from Amiri Baraka. His longtime friend and associate is Elliot Bey of Philadelphia. See the Movie Get Yo Mind Right (Pam Pam production) on Youtube.

Yes, Renaldo, it was good to see a group of young men in serious dialogue. We may need to establish the Noble Drew Ali group as part of the First Poet's Church, a time and space for young people to gather to debate critical issues.

--Dr. M, Prime Minister, First Poet's Church

Noble Drew Ali

Noble Drew Ali told the Moorish Americans, “To you, I am an Angel of Allah sent to bring you the everlasting Gospel of Allah.” Indeed, the Angel was born amongst the very nation He was sent to redeem. Noble Drew Ali was full ordained by The Great God to be their Prophet. The status of 'Prophet' is the highest station most religious scholars can understand. Especially when their recorded history shows divinity has appeared into human form which men may comprehend.

But Noble Drew Ali was five times greater than the last Prophets before him; he is the last Avatar sent to warn the nations of the earth. It is only natural, yet a weakness found among human failings for the very nation Drew Ali was born unto would be the last to recognize the saving powers this Angel had brought to fallen humanity through them.

Some may say, “He doesn’t look like any angel I have seen.” Most western psychics would not know an Angel if they were to kiss them in the mouth. However, if someone make this statement it is probably because they speak more from what they do not know than what they know e.g. all Biblical Angels were Messengers of God, Sun-kissed People in human forms and rich in melanin. They were not little pale skin European infants with bird-wings on their backs. Truth is, Europe has never produced Prophets or Angels. Drew Ali is an Angel.

Pictured above (upper right) is The Illustrious Noble Drew Ali, Holding the Flags of Morocco and United States while Registering The Moorish Americans, as a New Nation and Sovereign power, at the 1928 Pan American Conference For Indigenous Nations.

Also make careful notice of the above picture at the upper left: Is a reflection of Moorish Secretary Juanita Richardson Bey at the Home Office with her Prophet, Noble Drew Ali. Equally important is the national 'hand writtings on the wall.' Study the flags on the wall of Drew Ali office. The above black and white photos are a few of many displaying Noble Drew Ali's vexillology of the flags of Morocco and Corporate UNITED STATES.

Whenever he displayed either of these flags they were always 'Upside Downward' and / or 'backward.' Pictured at the right; notice Drew Ali's upright posture is that of an Ancient Kemetian Adept Master. Although he has the flags of two governments in his hands, He has his legs crossed left over right. This denotes both Governments are now recognized as being in dire adversity by those who know law.

The importance of this science was Drew Ali's warning to the Moorish Americans showing neither government had the will nor strength to free them or save themselves. Still, to this day, many half-awake Moorish hoist the flags of Morocco and Corporate USA declaring these flags represent the free national name "Moorish American." Meanwhile the flag of Morocco is not Moorish but Moroccan. And the flag of the United States is not American but of America.

This is to say, the free national name "Moorish American" have never been represented or supported by the Governments of Africa which sold them into slavery or the European Governments that enslaved them. It appears someone did not follow Prophet Noble Drew Ali ...oh well, back to Cuba...

The international affair was hosted by Cuba in its City of Havana. Bro. Charles Kirkman-Bey, Master Polyglot (speaking 92 languages), was the Chief Interpreter for The Holy Prophet and His national cabinet. Also in attendance was several Tribal Chiefs of Continental Nations and the United States were represented by Secretary of State Hughes who was in awe of the well-established Constitution of the Moorish American Delegates. There were Free National Delegates from Central and South Americas and other Islands. During the Conference Noble Drew Ali was given The Mandate for the Land, which the United States had been occupying on an expired Mandate since 1871.

After this Pan American Conference of Human Nations the United States refusal to yield hallowed soil would result in a severe warning by The Holy Prophet: "Until my Moors are free in their own home the worst is yet to come. The United States owe the Moors a great debt, they must pay in compound interest. The United States have one more war to win". The next year Drew Ali left the body saying, "I can better fight the rest of this battle on the soul plane".

Within twelve years of this warning the Stock Market had Crashed, Illuminati's Federal Reserve Bank had taken over the sovereign powers of the now 'Corporate United States of America' and an economical drought called "The Great Depression" was felt by every Citizen except the elite few. As if it was not enough to soften her harden heart, the US Corporation would be functioning under perpetual Maritime Law that went into effect in 1933 and has not won another War since World War II.

The Prophet showed the Mandate to many Officials of the Adept Chamber of The MST of A that He founded in 1920. Still, by the year 2007, the Moors had not freed themselves from the wrath of feigned Citizenry held in the iron-hand of the oppressive USA's 14th and 15th Amendment. While the United States has never been without her staple of African Slaves, the Manumission of the Moorish is infinitely inevitable; at the end of time and the fulfilling of the prophecies.

The above picture was taken during the first National Conference Representation of the Ex-Slaves, not as Members of his Moorish Science Temple Organization but by their one free National Name of "Moorish Americans." This marks the first time the ex-slaves' proper status has been truely represented since the abolishment of U. S. Slavery.

This event is a reflection of one of the many miracles illustrated by Prophet Noble Drew Ali during his brief 16-year Ministry. This reflection was taken in Havana Cuba, with the gift of a "Panama" on the head of Drew Ali which was presented to him by the Cuban Government. This great national representation occurred about one year before He left His body.

This is how "He began to uplift the Moorish Americans by teaching them to be themselves." This event marked the first and last time the so-called Negro was duly recognized as being a new nation, according to their one true free national name, of Moorish Americans. Noble Drew Ali declared, "This is a new era of time now and all men now must proclaim their free national name to be recognized by the government and the nations of the earth." With this international proclamation of Independence, Drew Ali paved the way which would demonstrate the inevitability of freedom for the Moorish Americans, etc. But they must finish freeing themselves in order to assure the immutableness which rest in true freedom.

For any man to perform the divine miracle of breaking the Old Masonic Roman Seal, that has declared all Negroes, Colored Folks and Blacks into perpetual mental slavery, now, into one clean and pure nation of people, thus reattaching them to the human family of nations, has proved beyond all reasonable doubts, Ali is a Holy Prophet ordained by the great God.

Still, there are those who denounce the Prophethood of Noble Drew Ali. Even though His duties and saving Powers of salvation are clearly in the line genealogy of all Major and Minor Prophets sent before him.

Needfultosay, this unholy onslaught is lead by those who call themselves 'Sunni' or 'Shiite' Muslims under the Post-Mohammed Arab-version of Islam. Pleese. Aren't these the same pagans who's GNP has been The African Slave Trade for centuries before the advent of Prophet Mohammed? Albeit the truth, Allah did raise a Holy Prophet from amongst those infidels of Havilah, but it did little good to deter the Arabian lust for African Slaves (see: Who Are The Siddis Of India?).

To this day they will not admit that man’s enslavement of man is merely the will of man and not The Will Of The Great Universal God, Allah! What does anyone really expect a Muslim to say when it comes to the same God, according to His Word, ordaining another Holy Prophet to the Negro heathens they sold to the west? Didn’t the Arabs know the true origin of the West African nationals before they stole and sold them into European slavery? Why ask a Muslim for the worthiness of those they enslaved, "In the name of Allah"? Isn’t that like asking the criminal to describe the crime? Mohammed's being the 'Seal of the prophets' does not conflict with "Noble Drew Ali is the last Prophet in these days." The Great God, Allah, has kept his covenant to always raise one from amongst those who have gone astray.

As for those who think like Arabia ... surely Allah knows what man knows not. Just because a former slave learns to speak Arabic, the language of his Slave Traders, does not interpret into their freedom. No, not any more than one can make a 1st Class Citizen from Negroes, Blacks or Colored Folks. Drew Ali has done the same for these Sinners as Confucious for the Chinese, Yehoshua for the Israelites and Mohammed for the Arabians (PBUT). In all the world, of all the 'People of the Book', who other from among them has brought the truth to free the Moorish??? Who has fulfilled the divine duties of a Prophet except the Great Prophet of Ali in America???

Broken Systems, broken minds

Broken Systems, Broken Minds
What we perceive as reality is most often a reflection of imagination, of mythology and ritual, or simply the mind of man is the macrocosm, reality the microcosm. Systems thus reflect the mind of man--did not someone say creations only reflect the mind of the creator. Broken systems, therefore, originate in broken minds. Yet we wonder why systems are broken, e.g., school system, political system, economic system, religious and moral systems.
But systems are not the problem, rather it is the minds of men that are broken irreparably, suffering a mental atrophy, an anorexia, a paralysis of imagination. The causation is simple greed, selfishness and lust for power. It is augmented by the quest for the acquisition of things, the wanton addiction to materialism or the world of make believe, the illusion that the microcosm can satisfy the macrocosm, when the real deal holyfield is the inner rather than the outer. Yet men fear to go there, deep down into the metaphysical realm where the darkest mysteries lie seeking edification and recognition. Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice, about to be consumed by the wonder of life.
Elijah told us, "The wisdom of this world is exhausted." And so it is--spent, obsolete, retarded, and yet we wonder why we are immobile, transfixed--stuck on stupid! Why no systems work.How is it possible for the great Toyota to need recalling, a consummate machine suddenly dysfunctional. What caused this sudden breakdown-- some internal defect in the machine or in the mind of man?
Look at the educational system, confounded by the ideological foundation of white supremacy capitalism that continues to prepare students for a world of work when there is none, especially with living wages in an economic system that demands cheap labor and resources, a socalled free market system that will transcend the national needs for the wants and desires of global finance gangs, connected with, supported and defended by the military, i.e., the Christian Crusaders, soon to be supplanted by Communists from China, India and Russia.
The teachers were long ago taught to teach a new way--back in Egypt they were told to teach with compassion and love. Yet what we see today is the pedagogy of hate. It is a system that rewards ignorance and punishes wisdom and creativity, especially of the thinking variety. Any original thought is suppressed or deemed antisocial thought and behavior, often resulting in the student diagnosed to require psycho drugs that turn him into the zombie required by the society of the walking dead.
The religious system is the same. It is in full blown denial about the meaning of the cross and the lynching tree, about the mission of the prince of peace. For the most part, the religious community is Silent Night about the trillion dollar military budget that allows mass murder to take place across the planet. Along with Silent Night, it sings Onward Christian Soldiers as its sons and daughters crisscross the planet to secure labor and natural resources for the pleasure of the walking dead, and most especially the miserable few who enjoy the high life.
It is all about the glorification of Pharaoh and his magicians. God, in the minds of men, is a business, big business. There is no desire for spirituality, only prosperity, minus compassion for the poor, homeless, jobless and broken hearted, crushed to earth like the pot in the hands of Jeremiah ' expendable.
The lips of politicians do not say let us reason together for the sake of the people, for the love of the people, for the consent of the governed. These men and women of the political realm only know the language of no, no, no. As the people starve, become homeless, jobless, we yet hear the mantra of no, no, no, late into the night. No compromise, no reconciliation, only recalcitrance and niggardliness. They are fast to reward the robber barons, the blood suckers of the poor. Eventually, a few crumbs, kibble and bits reach the poor, if ever, unless there is revolt. And then Pharaoh sees the light, suddenly, but he will send his magicians to placate the poor with more crumbs, kibbles and bits.
Between good and evil, evil is the choice, with greed the foundation stone in the minds of men. Amazingly, the people see clearly. They feel change in the wind, not the change in the educational system or the political or religious, but in the wind. They smell the rotten hearts of men who lead into nothingness and dread, with their pitiful strut of the peacock, the one legged dance of the flamingo.
Pharaoh magicians gather in dens of iniquity to share blood money. Teachers, preachers, politicians, all there to party on the backs of the poor. The military stand post at the door of the den, ready to club the wretched into submission, even death, if they dare enter the den of thieves, robbers, murderers, and those who perpetuate the world of make believe.
Inside the den we hear a symphony of sick sounds, giggles, wails, grunts emanating from putrid minds exhausted from wickedness. The result is systematic gridlock--it is 5pm and the freeway is jammed with drivers full of road rage, ready to kill in an instant. It is thus a destruction of self by self, internal combustion.
Unlike the car, there is no forward motion or backward, or perhaps it goes both ways simultaneously, if such is possible in the world of physics, but after all, the minds of men defy all laws, except the law of the jungle and the devil.
But there shall be no forward motion with the present mind-set. Jack must jump out the box of his own making. He must take wings and fly away into a world beyond his imagination.This is the only way out the morass of his mind. All the technology is to no avail, for he talks, but more often says nothing, he listens but hears nothing, deaf, dumb and blind.--Marvin X2/17/10

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Come Sunday Morning, Dr. Rodney D. Coates

Come Sunday Morning
Rodney D. Coates

Sun beats its rays against the window
Smell of coffee, waffles, eggs, bacon fill the air
Sounds of gospel sets the mood
Brother long in the shower trying to sing
Momma dressed in her Sunday best
Dad suited up and ready to go
It’s Sunday morning.

Church packed with friends and kin
Visitors sitting on any pew
Dancers stream with flags and pennants
Music sets the atmosphere
Drums and base, guitar and sax
Electric organ and synthesizer
Soul, jazz, blues, -merge in that gospel beat.

Granny fixes little Kia’s hair
Jackie, from the corner, walks up the stair
Starts to sing of Amazin Grace
The choir fills in the spaces.
Deacon James, used to run the numbers, now prays
As Bettye, the junkie, murmurs along.
Martha holds Kimmie discarded at birth
Raymond, on parole, tickles the keyboard.
Juwana, formerly John, strums the guitar.

Pastor Marsha starts to pray
Mother Sarah hums a hymn
Brother Benji strums along
Shouts of deliverance
the Holy ghost comes
foreign tongues heard
somebody got a dance going on.

Stained glass and strained lives
Preacher man stands to deliver the word
Nehemiah wanted to rebuild a wall
What walls do you have need rebuilding
Family –broken and abandoned children
Neighborhoods –wracked with crime and drugs
Schools –unable to teach, failure the norm
Fathers –abandoning their children
Sons –growing up hating fathers not there
Mothers –raising babies not their own
Daughters –pregnant before their time
Hope-lost on the highway to nowhere
Despair-on every door
Blood –where brothers killing brothers
Hate-dropping by the score
Churches –doing business as usual
While hell’s gate is open once more.

Preacher man sings his sermon
Gotta rebuild that wall
Stop hating that brother cause he different
Stay outta your neighbor’s bed
Clean up around your own back door
Leave others to clean up theirs
Quit spending your seeds in strange gardens
Stop complaining’ bout what you should’ve had
Teach somebody about their future
Reclaim those dreams you once had
Forgiveness is granted regardless of sin
Stop looking ‘neath another’s problems
Take responsibilities for your actions
Be the change you want the world to be
Listen as the songbird praises the Sun
Watch as the rainbow paints the sky
Hearken to the wisdom of children
Love regardless of circumstances.

Preacher woman takes up the tune
Searches the room for an amen
Sings of forgiveness and redemption
Extends the love everywhere
Come you who are now broken hearted
No shame in whatever you’ve done
We do not condemn for we have all sinned
Only God will be your judge
We will walk with you if you want us
We will not shun or forsake
Come let us break bread together
As family, kin and one.

Come Sunday morning

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oakland's Easter Crucifixion: 2 Dead, four Wounded at Nightclub

Oakland's Easter Crucifixion: 2 Dead, four Wounded at Nightclub

Two killed, four wounded in Oakland nightclub shooting
By Dan Whitcomb
Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:48pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two people were killed and four others wounded early on Monday when a gunman opened fire at an Oakland nightclub, then sped away in a car with three suspected accomplices, police said.

The four wounded victims, who were not identified by authorities, were taken to a local hospital where two of them, both men, were listed in critical condition and said to have life-threatening injuries.

The remaining two victims, both women, were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Police were searching for four young men, described as African American and in their teens or early twenties, who fled the shooting at Sweet Jimmie's nightclub in a white Dodge Avenger.

An Oakland Police spokeswoman said they had not yet determined a motive for the shooting, despite reports in the local media that the gunman had been denied entry to the club.
"Whether he was trying to get in or not, we don't know," Oakland Police spokeswoman Cynthia Perkins said, adding that it was also unclear if the shooter had targeted one of the victims.

"Last night's shootings, which are a rare occurrence in downtown Oakland, are tragic and troubling," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a written statement, adding that solving the case was a "high priority" for the city. "The Police Department will schedule increased patrols in the area as they continue to investigate the circumstances," Quan said.

The mayor and police officials asked that anyone with information about the shooting or suspects contact Oakland homicide detectives.

Commentary by Marvin X

Apparently the nightclub shooters got the Easter weekend ritual confused. Sunday was Resurrection Day, but the killers must have thought it was Crucifixion Day. In light of events around the world where people are standing up and dying for freedom, the Oakland dead and wounded are as Mao said, lighter than a feather, meaningless incidents signifying nothing but madness. And yet we cannot separate this incident and other from international events, for all things in the universe are connected.

The USA cannot have a trillion dollar budget to kill and maim from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet expect peace at home. What goes around comes around, or shall we say the chickens must come home to roost.

One day America will get over its fetish with guns and wars across the planet, only then will the children of the world be safe, for as James Baldwin said, "The murder of my child will not make your child safe."

Guns, violence and sex are projected 24/7 in the Monkey Mind Media, in films and television shows, even Rap glorifies violence, but again, the USA is the number one purveyor of violence in the world. Nelson Mandela said America is the main reason there is no peace in the world. American greed for oil to grease the wheels of a white supremacy culture that consumes 25% of the world's energy although she is only 5% of the global population, is the main reason the culture of violence exists at home and abroad. America is the number one arms merchant of the world. So yes, the violence in the streets of America is simple blow back and one must expect more to come until this nation realizes guns are not the panacea for problems, whether personal, political, economic, religious or otherwise.

How is it possible for two persons to be dead and four wounded because a man was refused entry to a nightclub? If it was that important that he entered the club, surely someone could have talked with him as a former nightclub owner said he used to do with unruly clientele. He would pull them aside and rap with them in a civilized manner. He said no one was ever shot at his club, nor was he attacked.

He speculated that perhaps this is a sign of class war in the hood, and those persons who feel excluded want to strike out at those in authority, although most incidents of violence usually only occur at African American night clubs. Several such clubs in Oakland have been shut down as a result of violence. Others shut down because they refused to submit to police shakedowns, Geoffrey's Club is the most recent example, although he lost his case against the OPD.

The tragedy is that we refuse to consider there is a war in the hood on much the same level as wars in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the doctors train for battles abroad in the emergency rooms of hospitals that serve ghetto battlefield wounded, most suffering multiple wounds from weapons similar if not the same as those used in America's global wars to maintain white supremacy.

We think parents should adequately warn their children they must be aware of their surroundings at all times and do not pretend they are in La La Land, but recognize they live in a battle zone. America is a hostile environment for North American Africans and others, to think and act otherwise is to be in denial and we are then subject to be victims of the mine fields in our path as we make our daily round. Put on the amour of God for we are in the valley of the shadow of death, but with the amour of God we shall fear no evil for the Lord is my rod and staff.
--Marvin X

Meeting of First Poet's Church this Sat, April 30, 6pm

Attention All Ministers of Poetry

Meeting of First Poet's Church this Sat,

April 30, 6pm

The First Poet's Church will meet this Sat, April 30, 6pm, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley (between San Pablo and Sacramento Streets). You are invited to attend, please bring a dish or refreshments. The main agenda items are bylaws and articles of incorporation.

If time permits, we will have a mental health peer group session to recover from the addiction to white supremacy. If you have a copy of How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, please study Step 1 and be prepared to discuss it. Thanks.

Please confirm your attendace.

Peace and Love,

Dr. M,
Prime Minister of Poetry

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foreword: How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy/Lunacy by Dr. Nathan Hare


Call him Dr. M, as I do, though I’ve known him by other names in other places and, like Diogenes, who went around holding up a lantern to the faces of the people he would meet in the streets of ancient Athens looking for an honest man, I have come to the realization that we as a people have been waiting and looking for somebody like Dr. M to come along for more than half a century, ever since America was stunned by The Mark of Oppression (the Jim Crow era book by two white liberal psychiatrists whose findings had brought them to the heartfelt conclusion that the race of people called “Negroes” was “crushed.”

In only four years after their epitaph was written, Negroes (now called “blacks,” “Blacks,” “Afro-Americans,” “African-Americans,” or as Dr. M sometimes calls them “American Africans”) had exploded in Montgomery with passive resistance. In four more years the “sit-in movement” broke out among the youth, followed like a one-two punch by the so-called “freedom riders” (roving bands of individuals who boarded and defied the segregation of interstate vehicles and included a future student of mine on spring break from Howard University by the name of Stokely Carmichael). Then came “Black Power,” in the context of which I first heard of a man who had metamorphosed from the slave-name Marvin Jackmon into a prominent “North American African poet” who went by the name of Marvin X (the X connoting “the unknown”).

While, despite the fact that I have known him through the intervening years, I cannot unravel every single quality of the brother, I can testify that Dr. M is a brand new Marvin, a Dr. Marvin, a social doctor, if you will, with a gift and a mission for a new black movement. I know this to be true because, aside from my Ph.D. and years of experience in the practice of clinical psychology, I specialized in the study of social movements for a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago . But more than that, I have watched a dedicated Dr. M, up close and clinically, going about his fearless work in the mean streets of San Francisco . Over a period of many months, on many a dark and dreary sometimes rainy Wednesday night, I served as a consultant in clinical psychology to Dr. M’s “Black Reconstruction Group” (the pilot to his twelve-step model now unveiled in this important book on “How to Recover from Addiction to White Supremacy.” In the Recovery Theatre’s pilot groups, I sat with diverse and ad hoc coteries of men and women gathered impromptu in the austere basement of a Catholic church, St. Boniface, located in the heart of The Tenderloin, the highest crime district in San Francisco , just down a few blocks from the famous Glide Memorial Methodist Church . Many a night I marveled at the ease with which Dr. M and his talented co-facilitator, Suzette Celeste brought out trickles of lost and unleashed hope and inspiration in the minds of destitute and degraded street people as well as in the confused and empty psyches of invited members of the black bourgeoisie who, still trying to be unbroken, had come where not many “bourgies” would dare to tread.

On many an appointed night I stood by silently looking on while Dr. M and his collaborators sauntered out into the shadowy mysteries of dilapidated streets to solicit and harness hapless homeless men and a woman or two and bring them in to meet as equals with the anxious representatives of the black bourgeoisie who had dared to cross momentarily back over their tentative territorial and social boundaries. This of course is not recommended for the feeble or the fainthearted; because, until the revolution comes, or the proletariat triumphs, there will be difficulties and perils in chance encounters of the social classes. So I must hasten to explain that a security conscious Dr. M was operating within a safety net of collaborators competent in the martial arts; like Geoffrey Grier, who has been an international martial arts competitor and is a son of a black psychiatrist, Dr. William Grier, coauthor with Dr. Price Cobb of the late 1960s blockbuster, Black Rage.

At the moment when the oppressed have had enough, their rage will explode -- Fanon had warned us in The Wretched of the Earth -- and it is at that moment, at the very point of mental and spiritual coagulation and defeat, when they will come together and rise. Frantz Fanon went on to tell of a category of reconstruction groups called “’djemaas’ (village assemblies) of northern Africa or in the meetings of western Africa , tradition demands that the quarrels which occur in a village should be settled in public. It is communal self-criticism, of course, and with a note of humor, because everybody is relaxed, and because in the last resort we all want the same things. But the more the intellectual imbibes the atmosphere of the people, the more completely he abandons the habits of calculation, of unwonted silence, of mental reservations, and shakes the spirit of concealment. And it is true that already at that level we can say that it spreads its own light and its own reason.”

However, psychiatric authority for a self-help peer group focus on individual feelings (or addiction) in relation to white supremacy became available anew in the late 1960s, when Jeffrey Grier’s father, Dr. William H. Grier, and his collaborator, Dr. Price M. Cobbs, published Black Rage. Dr. Grier has also consulted with Dr. M and his Recovery Theatre around the time of the pilot trial run of the first “Black Reconstruction Groups.” According to Grier and Cobbs, in the “Introduction to the Paperback Edition” of Black Rage, “The most important aspect of therapy with blacks, we are convinced, is that racist mistreatment must be echoed and underlined as a fact, an unfortunate fact, but a most important fact – a part of reality. Dissatisfaction with such mistreatment is to be expected, and one’s resentment should be of appropriate dimensions” among black warriors who would exact retribution. “Psychiatry for such warriors,” Grier and Cobbs went on to explain, should aim to “keep them fit for the duty at hand and healthy enough to enjoy the victories” that are likely to emerge.

Fitness for duty is a pleasant but likely side effect of Dr. M’s “Black Reconstruction Groups” working to free the minds of persons addicted to white supremacy. This no doubt is no doubt why they do not limit themselves in their group sessions to expressions of resentment of racist mistreatment and dissatisfaction but also calmly allow its hidden effects, which often remain unconscious in the way in which the relentless karate chops of white supremacy have killed our dreams on a daily basis and shattered our ability to love, to feel loved, to love ourselves and therefore one another. I listened with much satisfaction as Dr. M and his assemblies delved into the depths of fractured feelings and emotions of the brokenhearted in order to help them come to terms with betrayal, jealousy and rage, in their moving endeavors to learn to love again.

And so it is that you will find many a reference to love in How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy. This includes, for instance, “Women Who Love” and the motivations of the men who love them.

Dr. M’s own fitness for duty is complex, unique and variegated. According to James W. Sweeney, "Marvin walked through the muck and mire of hell and came out clean as white fish and black as coal." Marvin can boast of “a Ph.D. in Negrology,” as he puts it,” the study of nigguhs” issued by the University of Hardknocks’s College of Hell), based on twelve years of research , independent study , and practicum in San Francisco's Tenderloin and other unlettered social laboratories throughout the United States. There may still be hope, if it pleases you, for Dr. M to join the white man’s system of miseducation and mental health care, when we consider that psychologists, including one of my mentors, the late Dr. Carlton Goodlett, at first were “grandfathered” in when the licensure of psychologists was started in the state of California . Later came the oral exam (conversational, not dental), followed in time by an essay exam, before the boom in “standardized “ multiple choice tests for which workshops were offered to prepare you for a fee, causing excellent practitioners, especially black ones, to be blocked from licensure until they found out and forked over whopping workshop fees .

There is also a burgeoning market opening up in “clinical sociology” and “sociological practice” still cutting out its slice of the marketplace and finding its way in matters of licensure and credentialing in the field of sociology. But here it may be important to say that the self-help peer group does not require a sociological or a mental health professional, any more than the primordial AA groups from which the mental health profession has profited and learned. Dr. M is a social “doctor” (which etymologically means “teacher”) grappling with a social problem, white supremacy and its punishing residue in the minds of oppressed black individuals and white oppressors who have chosen to reject and come to places where their fathers lied. Oppressors pure and simple, who accept white supremacy, must be dealt with in a later context, as you will not very well be able to keep them in a Black Reconstruction or White Supremacy Destruction Group (or White Supremacy Deconstruction, if you will).

Much in the manner of Hegel in his essay on “Master and Slave,” Marvin senses that the oppressor distorts his own mind as well as the mind of the oppressed. Hence Type I and Type II White Supremacy Addiction. White sociologists and the late black psychologist, Bobby Wright, converged in their findings of pathological personality traits (“the authoritarian personality” and “the racial psychopathic personality,” as Bobby put it). But if Hegel was correct in his notion that the oppressor cannot free the slave, that the slave must force the oppressor’s hand, then it is Type II White Supremacy Addiction which if not more resistant to cure, must occupy our primary focus. Type II White Supremacy may be seen as a kind of “niggeritis” or “Negrofication” growing out of an over-identification with the master, who is white. As in any disorder severity of symptoms may vary from mild to moderate or severe. As Frantz Fanon put it when he spoke for the brother with jungle fever in Black Skin, White Mask: “I wish to be regarded as white. If I can be loved by the white woman who is loved by the white man, then I am white like the white man; I am a full human being.” In the twisted mental convolution of a brother in black skin behind a white mask, Fanon observed a “Negro dependency complex” independently chronicled in my own Black Anglo Saxons (black individuals with white minds in black bodies). They struggle to look, think, talk and walk white by day, then go to sleep at night and dream that they will wake up white. They refuse to realize that no matter what they may ever do they will never get out of the black race alive.

On the other hand, you are going to be seeing “nouveau blacks” and lesser Afrocentrics -- who faithfully and unquestionably follow twelve-month years and endeavor even to blackenize the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ -- jumping up to question Dr. M’s re-africanization of the “Twelve Steps” model for “using the Eurocentric twelve steps,” but they forget that the very effort to be practical and collective is the original African way. In any event, we must build on whites as whites have built on us, taking the best of the West and leaving the rest alone. But Dr. M has expressly and creatively added a thirteenth step; for his goal is not just recovery but discovery, his goal is not just to change the individual but to change the individual to get ready to change the world.

Meanwhile there is one thing on which we can all agree: in any serious attempt to solve the bitter mental ravages of white supremacy, we must face the unadulterated fact that we are limited when we look to the institutionalized “profession” and their professional “providers.” This of course is not to say that the institutionalized professionals cannot be helpful. Dr. M is quick to point out that a self-help peer group cannot cure all the diverse neuroses and psychoses that afflict us. Indeed he goes so far as to suggest that some of us “may need to be committed.”

The late Queen Mother Moore (who loved to boast that she had “gone as far as the fourth grade, and stayed in school too long to learn anything”) delighted in going around deconstructing our “slave mentalities” and saying somebody needs to “do some surgery on these Negro minds” – in which Queen Mother had diagnosed a chronic condition she called “oppression psychoneurosis.” Queen Mother Moore was basically joking, that is, laughing to keep from crying, but it is no joke that mental health professionals, operating under the medical model, think nothing of seeing a person suffering from a psychosocial problem and not only treating the victim instead of the problem but – much in the manner of any addict or drug pusher– use or apply chemicals and sometimes chemical abuse to deal with the inability of the “patient” to feel good in a bad place and thrive, to try to “have heart” in a heartless world. Many people are unaware to this very day that the practice once was rampant for psychiatrists to treat a person with chronic mental maladies by subjecting them to lobotomies cutting off a portion of their brains. Shock treatment was another method – you’re shocked by life, let’s shock your brain, Senator Eagleton (who later ran for the vice-presidency in the 1970s on the ticket with George McGovern).

It should never have been any surprise that the mental health profession would be of only partial help in reconstructing the psychic consequences of centuries of prolonged brainwashing and subjugation (this is not to mention “Sicko” and what we know of the crippling new effects of “managed care” on the medical profession). Many mental health experts, the overwhelming majority of them white, have long suggested that the “medical model” may be inappropriate in the treatment of the psychological, not to mention, sociological components of mental illness.

But you don’t have to be a mental health professional or a sociologist to know that we can no longer restrict our search for healing to professional shrinks, raring back in executive chairs and carpeted suites stocked with “psychometric instruments” standardized on the white middle class, far removed from the realities of the concrete social milieu of afflicted and homeless black “subjects” living lives of hardship and subjugation, with no assurance of available treatment.

Even when they are “insured they are limited to the care and treatment some insurance clerk is willing to “authorize.” In matters of mental health, this typically will include a few sessions of “fifty minute hours” of “talk therapy” before leaving with a prescription or chemical palliative to dull agony and the pain but not the punishment of life on the skids in a sick society.

The hour is up and time is running out, black people, but white supremacy is not. We are living now in the final and highest stage of racism and white supremacy. We’ve let our struggle slip back while sitting in classrooms and conferences crooning about “afrocentricity” and ancient African glories that have gone forever.

We have come now to a crossroads. We have lost control of our children’s minds, our future. We have lost their respect, and appear to be on a collision course to a war of words between the black generations, in which hip-hop youth disparage and mock our language, our music and our humanity with a creativity and a rime and a rhythm we can’t fathom, let alone equal in our pitifully fruitless endeavors to eliminate the “n-word” and box with the black-on-black random violence of dissocialized youth who have concluded that adults and their leaders cannot or will not fight the power. Who knows but it may be that Dr. M’s movement of recovery from addiction to and from white supremacy is offering us a final and effective chance to begin to “sit down together,” to get together and get our heads together.

--- Dr. Nathan Hare

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Revolutionary Vision of Jesus

The Revolutionary Vision of JesusRodney D. Coates* ~

I never saw a contradiction between the ideas that sustain me and the ideas of that symbol, of that extraordinary figure, Jesus Christ.
--Fidel Castro

There are many who will condemn me as a heretic –both within the church and among so called progressives – for declaring that Jesus was a revolutionary and had a revolutionary vision for the world. Yes, Jesus –that Jesus that we celebrate, that we proclaim, and that we have been labeled as his followers – the Christ (or Promised one). And even though I will be condemned, well so also was Jesus, and even though they will try to crucify me, well so was Jesus, but I will not stay down, as well as Jesus –for his teachings continue to ferment change, rebellion, and revolution –some 2,000 years after they were spoken. I will begin with the beginning of his ministry, where he identified his vision. It is this vision which clearly articulates his revolutionary stance. In Luke 4:14 we note:

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."(Luke 4:14-21, ESV)

His mission

1) Proclaim good news to the poor

2) Proclaim liberty to the captives

3) recover sight ot the blind

4) set at liberty those who are oppressed

Not only did he identify with the poor, the helpless, but he also identified with those imprissioned and were oppressed. Jesus, a member of an oppressed group was from the least of those groups –Nazareth. What do we know of Nazareth –as Jonathan said “Can anything good come from Nazareth”,. Nazareth was a ghetto, one of the least among the opressed. And Jesus never lost sight of an outcast among the outcast. Jesus who proclaimed that “ “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:25)” set himself against a religious ideology that had increasingly become obsessed with materialism and the objectification of religion. Hence, he was appalled at how the temple had become prostituted to the materialist interests of the Sanhedrin. Consequently, he marked himself for death when he in concert with the religious leaders had defiled and corrupted the Holy temple with their greed. (John 2: 13 - 22. Matthew 21: 12 - 13. Mark 11: 15 - 17. Luke 19: 45 - 46.)

If we examine his mission statement, perhaps we will learn more about this Jesus.

1) Proclaim good news to the poor

What was this good news to the poor. Perhaps we need to go back to Isaih, fore it is here that we can understand not only the context but also the intent of Jesus’ revolutionary vision. From Isaih condemned the religious and political hyprocrasy of the Theocracy when he charged that:

They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans. Isaiah 10:2

"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. Isaiah 41: 17

Share your food with the hungry, take the poor and homeless into your house, and cover them with clothes when you see [them] naked. Don't refuse to help your relatives. Isaiah 58: 7

So clearly, this Jesus was committed to a vision that challenged a materialist obsession that had pervaded the Temple, his people. He was also challenging a perversion of religion whereby the poor, homeless, and downtrodden were blamed for their situation. He ostensibly blamed the social structure, and those in leadership for the destitution so pervasive in these lives. And what of his second mission statement, how might this be understood.

2) Proclaim liberty to the captives

Political, economic, social, cultural, and racial captives throughout the ages have found comfort in these words. Liberation theology, slave rebellions, social transformations have all been launched with these words. Even past this if we consider the thousands of prison ministries, teen shelters, homes for sexually abused, and the like that have taken this as their mission statement –the power of this vision becomes clearer when take a look at the entire phrase.

to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

Captives made explicit reference to slaves and prisoners to those detain. In a society –both then and now where people could be bound as slaves, where a whole system was predicated on a military, industrial,prison complex where slavery and prison labor accounted for not only a tremendous amount of human misery but also imperialist exploitation –this was truly a revolutionary call to action. The Jewish and Roman state could not have doubted the insurectional appeal of such a proclamation.

Jesus’ third mission statement demonstrates his consistent concern with those who were not only ill but suffered from were disabled.

3) recover sight ot the blind

We see in the ministry of Jesus a not only compassion but action with respects to the disabled. Disability was not something that merely deserved our charity, but our active involvement with. While others would shun these, Jesus would embrace them.

And lastly, what more revolutionary could you hope for when one considers his final mission statement.

4) set at liberty those who are oppressed

The oppressive system imposed by both Roman Imperialism and the Jewish Temple were not only apparent but invassive. All aspects of Jewish life were dominated by this oppression. Jesus in this mission statement not only alligned himself with the downtrodden, but also proceeded to began a ministry to the oppressed. Many have argued that we may draw a pedagogy of social justice by reading, understanding and implementing not only his teachings but his parables.

Ultimately, Jesus understood that actions speak louder than words. When asked by his friend, cousin John the Baptist (who had been marked for marterdom) are you the Christ -0 Jesus reponds:

Luke 7: 22 So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

The clarity of Jesus’s vision and ministry has been obscured not only by ideologues but also much of the organized church that has in many ways bastardized the message. But clearly, as we look throuhgout acts we note that the early followers of Christ were commited to selling all that they had and distributing it to the poor, tending the sick and shut ins, serving the widows and orphans, and attempting to bring the Kingdom of God (i.e. the Good news) to the lives of the all.

Note: Rodney D. Coates is a professor of sociolgy and he can be reached at

The song that lies silent in the heart of a mother sings upon the lips of her child....
--Kahlil Gibran

Marvin X at Yoshi's San Francisco Part II

Friday, April 22, 2011

Parable of Man with Gun

Parable of the Man With the Gun in Hand

Once there was a man with a gun in his hand; he came to a land and made the native people slaves. The natives had lived on the land since the world began, but now they were slaves. "And," said the man who came to the land, "they shall be slaves 'til they are in their graves."The land was ripe with everything: diamonds and gold, wealth untold--the land was fit for Kings and Queens.

But the man with the gun in his hand wanted everything.The natives did not know he had no soul, they even called him "brother." Even though the man with the gun in his hand had lynched their fathers and raped their mothers, they still called him "brother.""Do you call a snake your brother?" one native asked another.

"But I have a dream!" said the other, "even this snake is my brother.""You are a fool," said the first, "you see this snake crawling all over the earth!"

So the man with the gun in his hand not only had the natives working for nothing, but he also had them fighting instead of uniting, while he stood in the corner laughing.Time passed. The man who came to the land grew fat.

"Look, he is a pig!" one native said. The next day this native was dead."Look, he is a pig," said another, and the next day they found him dead. No, the man with the gun in his hand didn't like being called a pig. Yes, he knew he was wrong for taking their land and working them down to the bone, but he was a pig doing his gig, so he went right on.

Now out in the bush a native said, "My brothers, the time has come! The time has come to seize our land from the man with the gun in his hand. The time has come. I know you are blind, deaf and dumb, but I have been raised from among you to show you the way. I have studied the nature of the man with the gun in his hand; he has the nature of a devil; his history is full of evil--surely he is a devil!But do not fear, he is not so powerful.

It is we, the people, who are really powerful. We know God helps those who help themselves, so let us rise up and do for self!Unite! Stop fighting each other, stop fighting your friends for your enemy. Brothers, we are all victims of this beast. What can you lose, you are already on the bottom? Wake up! Stand on your feet. The time has come to stop being food for the pig to eat!"

--Marvin X

Parable of the Man with the Gun in His Hand was first published in Black World Magazine, June, 1970. It later appeared in Woman, Man's Best Friend by El Muhajir/Marvin X, Al Kitab Sudan Press, 1973.