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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hulk/Demon, The American State of Mind -- Part Two

An interesting article, written by Alex Zimmerman, appeared in City Paper (12/03 - 12/10/2014) this week. In the article, Zimmerman exposes important information about the trial Jordan Miles vs The City of Pittsburgh; social media privacy rights, and The City of Pittsburgh's hiring of Corporate Security and Investigations, (CSI).

Study the following images:

Image One, Jordan Miles
Image Two

Image Three
Image Four

  • The first image shows Jordan Miles as a productive student attending Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School. 
  • The second image shows Jordan after his encounter with Pittsburgh police. 
  • The third image shows Jordan and his father having fun, flexing their muscles. 
  • The fourth image shows a young man named Jordan Miles posing for a picture.

The sinister element of Images Three and Four, is that the images were downloaded from Jordan's facebook page by CSI. The images were then used in Jordan Miles vs The City of Pittsburgh as Exhibit 34C and Exhibit 34A, to show Jordan's strength and vigor, his hulk-like power, to maintain that like Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Pittsburgh police officers, Ewing, Saldutte and Sisak, felt like five-year-olds "holding onto Hulk Hogan." 

Additionally, Image Four shows nothing wrong, just a young man posing for a picture. But, the interpretation is that this is the image come to be known as one thing for black boys, and something else for white boys. This is the distortion; the trick, the American state of mind pulled from the warped imaginations of Puppeteers and Old Pirates.

Here's my question. Should we teach ourselves and our children to think like rogue police officers and to anticipate the antics of the American justice system? Should we create preemptive strikes, review the images on our facebook pages and the images on the facebook pages of our children, make sure that none of the images can be misconstrued as "thuggish," or Hulk-like?

There's so much talk on the internet, so many opinions. I'm writing this. These are my opinions. But I wonder, are we concerning ourselves with diversion, distractions, objects that make us turn away from our purpose of protecting our children? 

On the other hand, it is important to know the identities of the detractors, like Charles Barkley who said: 
"We have to be really careful with the cops, man, because if it wasn't for the cops we'd be living in the Wild Wild West. . . ."

Iggy Azalea

Or this little girl, Iggy Azalea, who tweeted:
"Im the new queen of rap. Get OVER yourselfs niggers. im killin rappers like Ferguson."

People like Barkley and Azalea are also products of Puppeteers and Old Pirates, who have granted permission to deny the abuse of power, who have granted permission to appropriate, distort and control.

The Puppeteers and Old Pirates created the word nigger and made it a household word. Azalea, so confident in her fantasy, does not mince words, does not pretty nigger up with pronunciations like nigga. Azalea, armed with her permission to appropriate, distort and control, calls who she thinks are niggers, nigger because of the power of her appropriation, the power of her systematic pedestal, and because nigger froths from the mouths of the people the word was created to disavowal, repudiate, and deny.

Our responsibility is to protect children. All children, because white children unchecked become the future, in the form of Officer Wilson, Ewing, Saldutte, Sisak, et. al.

Should we begin today?
  • Sit with the children, review every social media site photo? 
  • Show the children how photographs can be misconstrued by police and juries as demonic and hulk-like?
  • Show the children images of The Puppeteer and The Old Pirate; teach the children how warped imaginations frame our future? 
  • Instruct the children on how the personas, lyrics, and visual art of some modern poets and artists distort and disrespect our heritage and lineage?

This might be Sankofa -- the moment we return to our past and retrieve that which we have lost.

My Mammy Bertha, born a slave in the early 1800's, said, "Too much importance put on the slave owner. Put the importance on the people who suffer."

My Great Grandma, Margaret, born a slave in 1854, said, "Anything you can imagine happened in that slave time."

Kara Walker, sugar sculpture,
Domino Refinery
Imagine Mammy's life on some sugar plantation, her having to disrobe in secret and in public.

Is it time to look back, retrieve that which was lost, to never leave Mammy vulnerable, exposed and rejected, so that our children do not experience the same vulnerability?

Is this a movement?

Let us take our own intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical cloths -- cover, respect, defend, love, pet, revere, guard, shield, adore, care for, support, and represent Mammy, so that our children experience the same. 

This is not a movement that will be led by political leaders. This is a movement that will be led by the people. So, let us begin again.
--Ziggy Marley, 2011

Hulk Demon, The American State of Mind, Part One

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hulk/Demon, The American State of Mind -- Part One

This post documents American history in image and in verse.

Pre-Civil War
"Finally the poor little child was torn
from the mother while she was
 sacrificed to the highest bidder."
Henry Bibb (1815-1854), Autobiography

An undocumented poet/songwriter describes her family’s dynamics, its blueprint for abnormality. [The Black Poets]

Go away from that window, my honey, my love
Go away from that window I say
The baby’s in the bed and his mammy’s lying by
But you can’t get your lodging here.

Go away from that window, my honey, my love
Go away from that window I say
For old masser’s got his gun, and to Mississippi you’s been sold
So you can’t get your lodging here.

Go away from that window, my honey, my love
Go away from that window I say
The baby keeps a crying but you better understand
That you can’t get your lodging here.

Wilson Chinn
Photographs published by Harper’s Weekly included Wilson Chinn, approximately 60 years old, owned consecutively by Isaac Howard and Volsey Marmillion, “a sugar planter [who branded] his negroes on the forehead…V.B.M.”

Rudyard Kipling writes The White Man's Burden:
Rudyard Kipling

Take up the White Man's burden,
Send forth the best ye breed,
Go, bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captives' need
To wait, in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild
Your new-caught sullen peoples
Half devil and half child

Charles Carroll in The Negro A Beast, writes that blacks are more like apes than humans, that blacks were the "tempters of Eve."

1939 -- Agatha Christie publishes Ten Little Niggers in the UK, and later in American under the title And There Were None. To date Christie's best-selling novel.

1899 -- late 1950’s
Written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, The Story of Little Black Sambo was first released in the United Kingdom. The story was set in India.

In 1942, Saalfield Publishing Company in Akron, Ohio, published the American version that replaces the India setting to somewhere in America with African American characters. It is the tale of Sambo, his father, Jumbo, and mother, Mumbo. Sambo encounters tigers and in the chase, the tigers run so fast they are changed to butter, from which Mumbo makes pancakes. People my age will remember reading The Story of Little Black Sambo in grade school. The poet, Langston Hughes, considered these images and verse hurtful to black children.

Interpretation: two wrongs don't make a right.

1976 – Republished in 1981
Rebels of Sabrehill 

This is the story of Miss Lucy Sabre, the prim and proper mistress of Sabrehill. By herself she tried to manage the once magnificent Sabrehill Plantation. It wasn't easy. Not when her sadistic neighbor, Vachel Skeet, had just abducted and raped a virgin slave girl. Now more slaves would flee to the woods to join Black Buck's renegade band. Every night as she tried to sleep she wondered if Sabrehill would survive. But nothing could keep her from thinking about the man who had awakened the wild sensual passions that lay hidden within her. "How I long for Justin," she hungered."

Description from Goodreads which gives Rebels of Sabrehill a
3-star rating.

Negative thoughts and images can cement themselves in our mind. These negative thoughts and images become part of our psychological and emotional DNA, memories we suppress so deep and low that we are not aware of their burden. We may even consider that our work is progressive, that our work represents a departure from Jim Crow negativity.

Silhouette, by Kara Walker
Visual artist, Kara Walker

Walker was included in the 1997 Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Later that year, at the age of 27, she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's genius grant. 

Kara Walker, sugar sculpture,
Domino Sugar Refinery

Kara Walker, sugar sculpture,
Domino Refinery

However, when our work is placed beside Jim Crow, we see that the images we produce are not progressive or even respectful. We see that psychological and emotional burdens remain. The following postcard, and others like it, were published by C T Pickaninny Comics, circa 1950's-60.

These damaging images and verse are caricatures of someone’s distorted imagination, whose reach continues to, as Langston says, hurt black children. The distorted imagination becomes the puppeteer, and in full hearing of everyone, projects and ascribes what is to be said and how and to whom. The hurt the puppeteer inflicts is inclusive and spreads quickly and far. In a twinkling, hurtful images and verse become hefty substitutes for truth. The puppeteer wins.

The Puppeteer
The Old Pirate

Jay Z. Album: Hard Knock Life

Excerpt: Nigga What, Nigga Who

. . .One shot could make a nigga do a full flip
See the nigga layin' shocked when the bullet hit
Oh hey ma, how you, know niggaz wanna buy you
But see me I wanna fuck for free like Akinyele
Now I gotta let her take this ride, make you feel it
Inside your belly, if it's tight get the K-Y Jelly
All night get you wide up inside the telly
Side to side, till you say Jay-Z you're too much for me. . .

In the death of Michael Brown, the grand jury decides not to indict police officer, Darren Wilson. The following is an excerpt from officer Wilson’s testimony
"…and he was just staring at me, almost like to intimidate me or to overpower me. The intense face he had was just not what I expected…"
At this point Officer Wilson says that Michael Brown begins to beat him with one hand while holding cigarillos in the other. According to Officer Wilson, Brown then stops beating Officer Wilson, and says to his friend, “hey man, hold these,” meaning the cigarillos.

Officer Wilson continues:
"And when I grabbed [Brown] the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.…that’s how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm.…I mean it was, he’s obviously bigger than I was and stronger and. . .he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon…bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him. And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.…At this point I’m backing up pretty good because I know if he reaches me, he’ll kill me."

The Aftermath 

"We heard this and it was just like,
like I had been shot.
Like you shoot me now --
just no respect, no sympathy, nothing,"
Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother.

After hearing the decision, Louis Head, Michael Brown's stepfather, held Lesley McSpadden in his arms. After many months of protesting, grieving and trying to understand, both are visibly shaken and appalled at the justice system. Mr. Head embraces Lesley McSpadden, and in a moment of great hurt, says to the crowd, "Burn this bitch down."

Most of us watched Ferguson on television and on our social media sites. Our bodies were not laying on the ground in protest, bothered by filth and nasty streets. Our lives, and the lives of our young people, were not in danger as young Ferguson people picked up tear gas canisters and flung them back at police in riot gear. We did not have to grieve for our children and fight at the same time. Our faith in, and hope for, truth was not publicly shattered. I understand Mr. Head's slip in judgement in the face of such profound hurt.

November 30, 2014
St. Louis Rams players Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt enter the Edward Jones Dome with their hands raised in the "don't shoot" posture as a sign of solidarity and silent protest.

The image is reminiscent of the 1968 silent protest of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The two athletes, gold and bronze mental recipients in the 200-meter final, entered the medals ceremony in Mexico City without shoes and with fists raised to protest American injustice.


Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships…
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.…
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs…  

Redemption Song, Bob Marley

Hulk/Demon, The American State of Mind -- Part Two

Further Resources:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dear Mr. President: Ferguson. . .

This post is about non-white Americans of African descent, and the police who terrorize them.

There are many examples of police misconduct with other Americans.

This post is about non-white Americans of African descent. That history. That urgent now.

America is at war with itself again, and no other nation will send troops to rescue nonwhite citizens of African descent from tyranny (absolute power, esp. when exercised unjustly or cruelly) perpetuated by local police forces and security guards.

Neither will foreign governments petition The United Nations demanding that the United States government discontinue this unfair and abominable behavior. Abominable meaning: unequivocally detestable; loathsome, as in the killing and crazed exploitation of power that is happening on any street, in any black community in America.

Community Oriented Policing
Writing this, I wondered about police departments and mission statements. What does policing rest upon?

In Pittsburgh, the Bureau of Police invites its citizens to attend The Pittsburgh Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA), a community oriented program that:

. . .brings the police and the community close together…[so that participants] experience…and are exposed to…the basics of criminal law, search and seizure, patrol tactics, firearms…the processing of a crime scene [and] how police canines are used….

It is entirely possible. Many people may not know how canines are used.

Personal opinions are rampant on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and in comment sections at the ends of articles. One comment stands out because of the high incidence of its use, and that is, why are black people not up in arms about black-on-black crime? That question may seem relevant to some, or stupid to others. But it deserves discussion. In my opinion, the answer is the same reason white people are not up in arms about white-on-white crime. Edward Wyckof Williams writes that black-on-black crime is a "false media narrative," and that among other things, according to Department of Justice statistics, whites are "just as likely to be killed by other whites [and that] all races share similar ratios."

Further, not every community or group has experienced consistent (over time and centuries) murder. For example, the people who attend Pittsburgh's Citizen's Police Academy probably have never been chased by slobbering, snapping canines, or have their community invaded by police in riot gear, patrol tactics, neighbors unlawfully shot, maimed and killed, relentlessly.

What is American history as relates to non-white Americans of African descent? I looked for answers in governmental responses to mayhem in cases that most Americans might be familiar with. I wanted to know. Did our leaders exhibit negligence? mercy? reticence? integrity?

According to the Eisenhower Presidential Library, on September 2, 1955, The Chicago Defender forwarded a telegram to President Eisenhower stating in part:

Chicago boy. Emmet Louis Till 14 was kidnapped and lynched in Mississippi this week, would you let us know if your office has plans to take any action with reference to this shocking act of lawlessness.

On September 29, 1955, W. Beverly Carter, publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier, wrote a letter to E. Frederick Morrow of the White House. Carter writes, Dear Fred:

…My concern is that from what I have been able to ascertain, not one denunciatory statement has been issued by anyone high in the Federal Government.…but it would be of untold political advantage, insofar as the Negro vote is concerned, if someone at the level of Mr. Brownell or Sherman Adams, or even the Vice President, made clear that the Federal Government looked with dismay on this incident. I need not point out to you that this has made us look like a veritable “jackass” in the eyes of the rest of the world, and we must use such public relations tools as are available to make sure that the pendulum of world opinion and of the opinion of many liberal and fair-thinking people in America does not swing back against the Federal Government in Washington because it remains silent on this score.…

President Eisenhower and E. Frederick Morrow

In 1963, BirminghamAlabama was known as “Bombingham.”

Center Street, located in the Smithfield neighborhood, was called “Dynamite Hill.” 

On Sunday, September 15, members of the Klu Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair, were killed.

According to the Kennedy Presidential Library, Reverend J. L. Ware of Trinity Baptist Church forwarded a telegram to President Kennedy, “God only knows what shameful holocaust may result,” if the President does not “act soon.”

President Kennedy expressed “deep outrage,” and later personally met with Dr. King and others, and on another occasion with Birmingham’s white leaders.

Fast forward 2014. The following is an excerpt from President Obama's statement concerning Michael Brown, Jr.:

I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in FergusonMissouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.

Vice President Biden, Dr. Gates, Officer Crowley, and President Obama

If I were granted an audience with President Obama, I would remind him of his swift response (the officer acted stupidly) and hands-on reconciliation moment with beer in the Rose Garden when his friend and Harvard professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, was arrested outside the home he lives in, owned by Harvard University. The Huffington Post reported: 
At the time of the incident, Gates had demanded an apology from [officer] Crowley and called him a "rogue policeman." After Obama's "acted stupidly" comment [in a press conference], Crowley said that, while he supported the president, Obama was "way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts."
If granted an audience with the President, I would remind him of his passion and love for the murdered children of Sandy Hook and their families. At the Newtown prayer vigil, President Obama said:
. . .I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we've pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown — you are not alone.
Martin Luther King, in a speech addressing the debacle of Vietnam said:
[The Vietnamese people] question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?
It is from this speech that President Obama quotes Dr. King who said, "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now."

If I were given an audience with President Obama, I would say, prayer, yes, but reflection on what and understanding of who? Are we to muddle through current events like Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon credited with being the first to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head, who suggests an understanding of police because police have feelings too?

I would remind the President that our tomorrow is today, and I would ask, where is your fierce urgency in this abominable now?

Lastly, modern technology allows for a remarkable flooding of information and public listings of names and video of victims. The technology is an Ògún generated forging ahead energy demanding, through the hype of entertainment, that we must hold each murdered victim in the palms of our hands.


The following is President Obama's partial response during questions:
Michael Brown

REPORTER: Mr. President, will you go to Ferguson when things settle down there?

OBAMA: Well, let’s take a look and see how things are going. Eric Holder’s been there. We’ve had a whole team from the Justice Department there. And I think that they have done some very good work. As I said, the vast majority of the community has been working very hard to try to make sure that this becomes an opportunity for us to seize the moment and turn this into -- into a positive situation. But I think that we have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities that are taking place, as we do on a handful of folks who end up using this as an excuse to misbehave or to break the law or to engage in violence.

I think that it’s going to be very important and I think the media’s going to have a responsibility as well to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown’s parents and the clergy and the community leaders and the civil rights leaders and the activists and law enforcement officials who have been working very hard to try to find better solutions, long-term solutions to this issue.

President Obama's response to the reporter is a far cry from his prayerful response at Sandy Hook, when he said:
. . .know that you're not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we've pulled our children tight. . .

The message is clear. We are alone.

Other Sources

(This site includes profiles of the girls; e.g. Addie liked to play hopscotch, sing in the church choir, draw portraits, and …loved to pitch while playing ball, too. "I remember that underhand," said older sister Janie, now Janie Gaines.

(Includes information on J. Edgar Hoover’s involvement in blocking evidence.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Posts From Blogging Tarot

[click titles for access to blog posts]

The Steady Gaze of Ancestors
If present day magicians are comfortable expressing spells, charms, and other enchantments through an archaic, oppressive tongue, what is the result? Who or what will be honored? What messages are defended, endorsed, maintained? And what of choice and penalty? An Interview with Darelle Dogans.

Fear and the Crone Fortune Teller
Divination is sometimes seen as fortune telling, the stereotypical old woman (always the ancient, shadowy woman) sitting in a forest with lanterns and cards. It’s almost as if the telling of fortunes precludes thinking, goal setting and action. . .

The Milliner Fortune Teller
Harry Herman Roseland, circa 1867-1950

Witch Poetry, Liza's Tree 
One of my fondest memories is the long walk at night to Liza's Tree. Once there, we sat around a blazing campfire while one of the best storytellers in the world told us about Liza, how she had been misunderstood, chained to a tree and left to die. If we listened closely, the storyteller told us, we could hear Liza's voice in the wind, sighing, "I am Liza. . ."
Ancient Olive Tree in Pelion, Greece

Death and the Fool
Death rides in. It smirks, look to the right as if posing for your camera. Its armor is sturdy and impenetrable. The jaunty red scarf flowing from the back of Its helmet has movement. Death’s white horse trots. Death is neither stagnant nor slow, even if a ravaged image of slow, painful dying comes to mind. . .
Rider-Waite Deck

Visit me at:  Blogging Tarot

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Real or Blasphemy

…no one in the New World whose one God is advertised as dead can believe in innumerable gods of another life. Those gods would have to be an anthropomorphic variety of his will. 
I am an insecure creative, which means to me that vulnerability is a necessary tool for good writing. My insecurity comes from abandonment, even as I lived among people who failed to see me. I am grateful though, because without my flaws and past feelings of powerlessness, I would not be able to self truth-tell, today. 

In the process of writing, doubt enters gladly in a questioning, re-questioning, digging, self-discovery garb, a literary flagellation of sorts. The good news is, it is our own insecurity that finally locates certainty, that marches in wielding the machete that quells doubt.

Insecurity also comes from believing deep inside that any artist can create anything. Back to doubt, this questioning and re-questioning, even though Spirit talks in many languages: poetry, prose, fiction, memoir, theater.

I'm interested in rules, and the possibilities hidden within the slips and slides of language, in spite of rules. I want to know the best writers and why, as well as the not so good writers and why.

Our poets and actors would have not only to describe possession, but to enact it, otherwise we would have not art but blasphemy, and blasphemy which has no fear is decoration.
One thing I continue to notice is that the language of African religions is still regarded as other, a kind of exotic rendering, African continental bits dusted on literature, worthy of clamor, but not penetration, value or esteem.

The most disturbing element is when intellectuals perpetuating this fraud are themselves African-American, Americans.

What does exotic mean, and should blasphemy enter the discussion?

Most black children from my day were raised with adages like, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, as in good God, or oh my Lord, and the quick phrased Jesus, if you pricked your finger or stumbled in the jump rope game. 

So now we are entering the “African” phase with our pathetic African carvings, poems and costumes, and our art objects are not sacred vessels placed on altars but goods placed on shelves for the tourist. The romantic darkness which they celebrate is thus another treachery, this time perpetuated by the intellectual.

Perhaps it’s different today. Perhaps sprinkling scripts and poems with catchy  Òṣun and Ẹlégbá phrases, for example, is 
Dancing for Òṣun
groovy because to the offending writer, Òṣun and Ẹlégbá are not quite holy. Maybe imitation holiness has inspired the rise in this kind of irreverence, excused and accepted because of a perceived ancestral privilege infused with schizophrenic-like voice-over schisms. What must writers do then, when the roots of inherited cultural languages are/were enemies? What of creative privilege as relates to sacrilege? What is the root cause, the intention behind a writer's appropriation, sprinkled with the verbose of overdosed cinnamon on French toast?

Ogun Dance with Sakara Drums

Ileke for Ogun
CR Bailey, 2013

…for us Afro-Christians, the naming of [Ògún] estranged him. Ògún was an exotic for us, not a force. We could pretend to enter his power but he would never possess us, for our invocations were not prayer but devices. The actor’s approach could not be catatonic but rational; expository, not receptive. However, Ògún is not a contemplative, [He is] a vengeful force, a power to be purely obeyed. 
Cloth for Ògún
Cathleen Bailey, 2009
Photo by Karen Gregory

Inspiration: What the Twilight Says, Derek Walcott