Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#HandsUpWalkOut

On Monday, August 25, students, faculty and staff from KU took part in a #HandsUpWalkOut Demonstration in honor of Michael Brown.  Megan Kaminski, assistant professor in the English department, organized the event.  Kaminski read an excerpt from Audre Lorde's poem "For Each of You," published in Lorde's collection From a Land Where Other People Live (1973).


For Each of You

Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish
that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
nor your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be used
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous
examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemned
to relive them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember our sun
is not the most noteworthy star
only the nearest.

Respect whatever pain you bring back
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply
as if it were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are the offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness.

The University Daily Kansan covered the #HandsUpWalkOut demonstration in the Tuesday, August 26's paper. That article can be found here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri

From the notebook of a visitor to Earth

Dreams of harmony and peace or absurd visions of the end of time are legitimate constructions of human imagination. If you are dealing with pure cinema, they are effective. Such spectacles appear to confirm the implacable universality of violence, the murky origins of terrorism, and the marriage of reason with insanity. They are primary features of life on planet Earth. Women and men may satisfy their fantasies by imposing gender and by speaking of amoral Nature in their own images. They are free to tamper with Nature in efforts to make a more living-friendly "world," and they may succeed for brief periods of time. Ultimately, they fail. They manufacture abstract and material "worlds" that are mercurial, that speak back to them of their cosmic insignificance in visual and audible languages which negate interpretations.

All that is happening in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 is merely a rerun of tribally-motivated antiquities. A frantic male of one tribe, believing himself to be authorized by the Holy Bible, the United States Constitution, and the codified laws of Charles Darwin, murders a male of a different tribe. People who identify themselves with the dead male react naturally. They are shocked. They grieve. They enact counter-violence, the only procedure that is paradoxically understood and misunderstood in a nanosecond by the American body politic. Violence is very obedient to folkloric injunctions to increase and multiply. And American  as well foreign mass media take special delight in the production of misinformation about how violence procreates. In the historical tragedy entitled the United States of America, the George Zimmermans and Darren Wilsons are proclaimed to be  the stars of the show, the militants who keep democracy safe for those who are wealthy enough to buy it.  The Michael Browns and Trayvon Martins and the thousands of unarmed dead who were the targets of tragedy are treated as  footnotes in the smallest print on the playbill. In the sacred narratives of universal violence, this is proclaimed to be natural. According to such logic, the American Nightmare that has decentered the American Dream; the death-bound mission of Europe; the family squabbles between Palestinians and Israelis and the diabolic plots in the Arab/Isamic winter of the Middle East; the progress of environmental destruction in Asia; rampant neocolonialism and unique ethnic hatreds on the continent of Africa; outbreaks of such health threats as Ebola and yearly variations of influenza; the refusal to acknowledge the humanity of indigenous peoples in Australia and yhe actuality of global climate change-----according to such logic, all is quite normal on Earth.

Unfortunately, this superb logic is not a part of the education of Americans. The majority of them dwell in the darkness of believing that a meek savior will serve peace and harmony at the  Finality Feast of Thanksgiving. Our transparent wisdom obligates us to tolerate their eternal ignorance but to act otherwise.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

August 16, 2014

Re-printed here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And again Dr. Margaret Walker’s Birthday….July 7 2014




i sing  Birthday praises to
Dr. Mama Diva-Poet Margaret Walker

who spoke so they might hear in
the miasmic air of Mississippi who
wrote so we could get clear on
who we are from Alabama to New Haven.
i want to sing of her like she did of
Kissie Lee, and claim her as my literary
auntie - grandmomma and i don't think she
would mind  but ain't got the quality time right
now except to say

Dr. Margaret Walker sung me from
wannabe to done; took us all into
visions of splendor and love she 
" kissed the sky" and
formed our Universe.  Ashay.


- doris davenport 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Afro-Nordic Update by Anthony Grooms

[By Anthony Grooms]

As I continue to explore Black American writers in Scandinavia, some delightful and interesting surprises have been revealed.  Here is a short report.  Recently, with funding from Kennesaw State University, I travelled in Sweden for two weeks in May 2014.  My research focused on the American deserter community of the 1970s as I continued to study materials to support my novel, “Burn the House,” about an African American deserter and his struggle with identity and adjustment to Swedish life.  Most of my time was spent reading in the archives of the Labor Movements Library,  which has two collections of deserter materials, but there was also time to meet with Afro-Swedes and talk about literary matters.