Friday, May 25, 2007

Shani Baraka and the Politics of Life and Death

Don't worry if the sun burns you black like the earth
Fly to Allah and be safe in the caves of your mind....

Remembering Shani Baraka

By Marvin X

When will the murdering end
in the land of murder
when will it end?
when will the talk and marching make sense to fools even?
Poets are not safe in this land
even their children are not safefrom the death angel
who walks through fire untouched
until the white house turns black
murder will reign in the world
no families are secure
Baldwin said, "The murder of my child will not make your child safe!"
Connect the dots, America
arms merchant of the world
whose guns pollute the hood
shrines to death and eternity stand on every corner
candles, teddy bears and tearsnotes of pain and love, RIP
and the shrines return to the same corners every full moon
when death does her dance in the moonlight of our madness
is it too much to ask for sanity in this blood soaked land
is it too much to ask for a moment of clarity and peace?
Woe to America, she has become the habitation of devils
the haven for every filthy, unclean bird.
Fly to Allah. seek refuge from the blood of the beast
who devours the souls of men, women and children
from Palestine to Newark, from Liberia to Congo
from Soweto to Hunters Point in Frisco
Fly to the mountains of peace, t
ake refuge in the trees
feed the cows and horses
see how they run to you,
happy to see you with the hay?
plant the corn with your fingers
don't worry if dirt is in your pretty nails.
Don't worry if the sun burns you black like the earth
Fly to Allah and be safe in the caves of your mind
away from the evil one who walks through fire.
who seeks to devour the children we do not protect
so the big bad wolf blows the house down
we stand wondering how and why and who.

I told Shani to take me to the ocean and she said OK
but we never went
she was busy and so was I
I told her to come to Cali
she said OK but never did
She told her Mama, "Marvin X is the only man I like!"
And I liked her bow legs. point guard. room full of trophies
I didn't think about challenging her in a game of one on one.
I wasn't going to embarrass myself since I wasn't in shape
I fixed her breakfast
She said she never saw a man cook before.
No, not her father nor her brothers
Maybe that's why she liked me.
I was drunk one night and invaded Amiri's study
I told him I wanted to marry Shani
He told me the next day,"Marvin, you get drunk and say the damnest things!"
Her mother said, "Take her!"but I never did.
so Shani lived her life with her girls.
Her brothers said, "Shani just mannish! She be all ite."
Last time I heard, she had joined church and coached basketball.
The little point guard with the bow legs.
The feminine spirit of Baraka.
We love you, Shani.
You and your girl, Rayshon.

When Parents Bury Children

By Marvin X

a pain nothing can kill
no words suffice
no tears complete
we are numb
but dead inside
walk with pride
that hides open wounds
only you can see
others try
some are true
but do they really know
the painof loss
a child so young
so bright
now the emptiness
except the memory
of all the yesterdays
from birth to now
thoughts of joy confound
yet make us smile
if only for a moment
like eternity
and is gone
into the night of foreverness
and so we walk crippled yet brave
each daywondering
the price of life and love
the cost of moments lost yet found again
as we walkand talk to the spirit world
where death does not enter
only living water flows
as we flow
between life and spirit
which are one.

The Politics of Life and DeathBy Marvin X

Speaking at the funeral of his beloved sister Shani, Ras Baraka cried out, "Why couldn't we save her in all of our blackness, our prayers, our revolution talk, our [healing] conferences?" This is a most profound question that should rattle the hearts and souls of all activists, radicals, and revolutionaries. Indeed, how can we save the world yet neglect our families? Although my oldest son is forty years old, he still feels abandoned and neglected because I was fighting for freedom during the 60s. He told me I should have been home taking care of him and his mother, even though my struggle to teach at Fresno State University reportedly made things better for the whole town. After my fight, even black policemen admitted they were able to police white sections of town they were previously not allowed to enter.Nevertheless, the cries of my child cannot be dismissed as the wail of an "ungrateful bastard." The cry of Ras Baraka must be considered so that in our struggle, our fights, our poems, our conferences, we do not neglect our families, no matter how ungrateful we might think they are. One problem is that they often become alienated from us when they see contradictory behavior, so we must first of all resolve contradictions.Harlem radical Elombe Brathe commented on my play ONE DAY IN THE LIFE, "The reason Marvin's daughter Nefertiti became a Christian was because she saw the contradictory behavior of her father and wanted no part of his revolution or his Islam." This is the sad truth. And after some time for healing, the Barakas must ask themselves why did Shani become a Christian after growing up with Communist parents?Of course her Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with her tragic death and that of her partner, but I am responding to Ras's comments that have to do with revolutionary struggle and our families. Often we miss the point of struggle: to first unite our families.It is our families that slavery destroyed. It is our families that have been ravaged by street violence, domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, ignorance, and immorality. Save the family, save the nation.I was recently told that I could not save the world. This was shocking news to me. My whole life has been dedicated to saving the world. I was told to come off the battle field sometime and just be me, drop the X and just be Marvin, carrying that X is a burden that can be overwhelming. I was told I had already made a great contribution to my people, me and my generation, had indeed, made things better, so relax and enjoy life, enjoy your family.Only a few days ago, one of my daughters told me to stop thinking of myself all the time and think about her and her needs, even though she is an adult, she was crying out for my love, not my poetic love, revolutionary love, simply fatherly love!I let her know I would come out of my ego trip and revolutionary pursuits to engage her, to spend time with her in an attempt to heal the trauma of her childhood, even though she has entered full womanhood. Will this not be a revolutionary act on my part? Will this not help strengthen the community, advance the world struggle against racism, sexism, and economic exploitation?

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