Sunday, March 15, 2009

Regarding Black Studies Forty Years Later

Rudy, I recently spoke to Davey D's class on hip hop at San Francisco State University. D wanted me to make the historical connection between BAM and Hip Hop. Of course for me, I began my journey into black consciousness, black art, black liberation at Oakland's Merritt College after graduating from high school. The first "rappers" (as in H.Rap Brown, now Jamil Alamin) I heard were on the steps of Merritt. They were, among others, Bobby Seale, Richard Thorne, Huey Newton, Ken Freeman, Ernie Allen, Ann Williams, Carol Freeman and others--led by attorney Donald Warden (Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al Mansur) and his Afro-American Association. The "rappers" rapped on black consciousness, discussing issues in E. Franklin Frazier's Black Bourgeoisie, the writings of Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta's ethnography Facing Mt. Kenya, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro's speech History Will Absolve Me, and others topics. Bobby Seale calls us the neo-black intellectuals. A sister who recalls us said she labeled us the petty bourgeoisie intellectuals, nevertheless we were striving for consciousness and doing so outside of the classroom, at cafes and each others rooms. I was formally introduced to Huey Newton at Richard Throne's room. After Richard showed Huey some of my aphorisms, Huey asked me, "Man, what is your program?" I asked the students the same question in Davey D's class. The topic the students were pondering was is hip hop a social movement. And if so, what is hip hop's program? Is it about spreading consciousness as we were about at Merritt and later at San Francisco State College. I displayed my early writings and the publications I was associated with while a student at SF State, such as Journal of Black Poetry, Black Dialogue, Soulbook, Black Scholar and Negro Digest/Black World. Journal of Black Poetry and Black Dialogue was produced by us while poor, starving students at SFSU.
At the same time we produced plays (my Flowers for the Trashman, Jimmy Garrett's We Own the Night) and held poetry readings on campus. Danny Glover was one of our actors.

My point is that we were young people on the move to save ourselves and the world. I don't know if I see hip hop saving people and the world even though it is now world youth culture.
BAM has had a direct impact of what is now called "Rap," but most rap is a long way from what we were rapping about at Merritt and SFSU. Conscious rap has been drowned out by the bitch, ho, motherfucker genre. When I wrote in a poem "motherfuck the police," I was coming from a revolutionary perspective not from some hip hop gang banger's individualistic point of view. And it was from this revolutionary perspective that BAM evolved and the liberation movement, particularly the Black Panther Party who took on the police. The Panthers began as defenders of the community. What I want to stress is that we were youth on the move. And of course it was the same in the South with the brothers and sisters in SNNC.

Students at SFSU evolved from the Negro Students Association to the Black Students Union, then toward the establishment of the first black studies program in America, at least on a major college campus. Huey and Bobby had continued to fight for black studies at Oakland's Merritt College.

So is there a connection between the black liberation movement, BAM, Black Studies (all youth inspired and directed) and Hip Hop? Yes and no. We had ideology and program. Does Hip Hop have ideology and program? BAM, Black Studies and Black Liberation inspired world youth culture as does Hip Hop, but much if not most of Hip Hop culture cannot be called revolutionary. Much of Hip Hop is fad and fashion, styling and profiling. Yes, the Panthers styled and profiled, but with a revolutionary agenda, not for bling bling. The Muslims styled and profiled but with a revolutionary agenda: the establishment of a nation.

--Marvin X

From: rudolph lewis
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:00:05 AM
Subject: RE: Black Studies Conf at Temple

Marvin, a very interesting dialogue between you and Askia. But part of the conversation seems to be missing, namely, your writing about what happened at San Francisco State University.

In any case these dialogues are important. So are reports from these conferences. If the dialogues go no farther than the conference walls, are the organizers and participants fully doing all that must be done. I will not be attending the conference at Temple, but I am interested in the proceedings.

Here are some words once uttered that still find their resonance:

We need facts figures precision and skill. It is work and study that will change the world. The rest is clearly bullshit. Immau Amiri Baraka (1973)

We need conference reports. History of the 60s and 70s is important. But history of yesterday has its importance as well.

Peace and love, Rudy

Rudolph Lewis, Editor

ChickenBones: A Journal

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2009 23:04:43 -0700

Bro Askia, even though most of you generals are almost ten years older than I am, I too sometimes suffer from amnesia. This is not intentional because I am conscious of revisionist history these days, so I certainly don't want to be guilty of this, so I thank you for making me aware of ignoring your contribution to our liberation. You taught and fought at San Francisco
State University as well as made a major contribution to BAM in Harlem, no one can deny this.
It is good to hear from you since our last meeting in Boston. I look forward to seeing and participating with you at Temple and also at the Smithsonian, even if I am not on the program.
It was suggested to me today that a group of us need to do a national tour to educate our people on the correct history of BAM, Black Studies and Black Liberation.
Peace and Love,
Marvin X

From: Toure Askia
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2009 8:26:20 PM
Subject: Re: Black Studies Conf at Temple

Dear MarvinX,

What it is, Bro? How you gon' write about San Francisco State Univ. and leave my name
out of it? Gee, as I remember it, both Sis. Sonia and I taught Danny Glover & Benny,
and other young militants. As I remember, that while writing w/Dingane on the Journal,
and making a controversial criticism of Amiri--being, as I remembet it, the only principled
writer to criticize him about some the theories that he forwarded in his plays--which almost
caused a rebellion among Black Dialogue editors--while most people were busily kissing
his feet as a kind of Cult of Personality Messiah--I was almost hounded out of town;
but held firmly without waivering. And Gee, didn't you and I co-found the Huey P. Newton
Defense Committee, when Huey successfully heroically fought his way out of a police
ambush? Let me see, Gee, wasn't that original founding meeting attended by attorney
William Patterson, his comrade, Mr. Crawford, Sis. Nebbie Crawford (his beautiful
daughter); and didn't Baba Patterson lecture two Muslim bros, Marvin & Askia, about
being "narrow Nationalists," and while we disagreed, we never confronted the Elder,
out of respect.. And later, we collectively convinced Jim Lacey to head the Defense
Committee, which he did, after arriving back from NKrumah's Ghana. With all due
respect, Marvin, what goes with the Historical Amnesia? I had to add those missing
portions of that History--or become a missing person--like what happened to me
recently in Harlem, when we collectively honored Amiri--and I thanked him for helping
me develop my voice, and we hugged each other--and when the nigga wrote the
article for the Amsterdam News, he "erased" my name from history--like I wasn't
there, even though Amiri & Askia embraced to warm applause from the audience.
Excuse my "sensitivity" about being erased from history--especially by comrades.

As for as the culture of the Temple Univ. Black Studies Conf., I've been asked to chair
the Cultural Panel by Comrade Dr. Muhammad Ahmad, and I've chosen a beautiful
sista, Bolade Akintolayo from Brooklyn to co-chair of this panel with me. As Always,
you know you're welcome to participate on this panel--and bring the flavor of the W.
Coast Black Arts experience, and also raise the Generation Dialogue w/the Hip-Hop
generation, sistas & bruthas. I accept your timely criticism that much of the Black
Arts experience has been too East-Midwest oriented, omitting key experiences of
both the West Coast and the beautiful, Blues-rooted, as opposed to "dirty," South.
I know and respect you, Marvin X, as much as I did when I welcomed you to Harlem.
Whenever you come to any city I'm in, I'll always uphold your leadership, talent
and experience. Let's go forward together and heal these many wounds among us.
Peace and Power, In Struggle,
Askia Toure

--- On Sat, 3/14/09, wrote:

Subject: Black Studies Conf at Temple
Date: Saturday, March 14, 2009, 12:47 AM

Brother Askia:

I hope you are well and dong nicely otherwise, Good Brother. I'm sure you have already gotten at least one or two of these emails re: The BAM/Black Studies. But I'm forwarding this sequence to you just in case you haven't gotten all of them.

Do you plan to go to the conference in Philly?
How are things going for your fellow Poets Against The Killing Fields and the new anthology??

As Ever,

Reply to Marvin X's Up From Ignut

This one is hard...but just an 1966...i had never met anyone from the continent of Africa in person...i never ate African cuisine,...wore African clothing, heard any African language spoken and knew nothing of the history of Africa...we began to hear the music of Mama Africa, BabaTunde Olatunji and Hugh Masekela...they were the first...and in just the last 40 years in the bay area we have been blessed with the presence of Ghanaians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Morocco, South Africa, Liberia, Sudan, Mali, the Gambia...Now we eat the food, dance with the drummers, sing the songs in African language, form friendships, families dialog,defend and travel back and forth to Africa...discovered many things our ancestors passed on were African tradition and culture anway...And Ethiopia...I see my Father Mother, Aunties, Uncles...I see their faces, manerisms....Marvin, yeah we do some ignut
things...but we survived the MAAFA...we have deeply embedded scar tissue.. it took a long time to get this way...Reparations...where is my 40 acres and a mule...this would help all of us get counseling! ya...

--Tarika Lewis
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2009 1:01:02 PM
Subject: Up from Ignut or Pull Yo Pants Up fada black president

Up from Ignut or Pull Yo Pants Up fada black president
by Marvin X
Black Bird Press, 2009

Ingut Defined

A state of mind wherein common sense is lacking, a degree below simple ignorance or lack of knowledge, for the ignut person may possess great knowledge but unable to put it into practice, therefore his condition is far worse than lack of knowledge.

Examples of Ignut

Marvin X is known to possess great wisdom but sometimes he acts ignut. He recently lost his classic Mercedes because he refused to obtain a driver's license--according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, he has not had a driver's license since 1964. The DMV informed him his privilege to apply for a license was suspended due to outstanding tickets. When he was stopped recently, he was taken to jail and his car went to car jail and later sold at police auction. This was an ignut action on his part: no license, no insurance and a phony license tag from the "black DMV," Ignut. He has since retired from driving.

Micheal Vick went to prison for dog fighting, losing his multimillion dollar pro football contract. Ignut.

Another athlete at a New York restaurant or nightclub shot himself in the foot and will possibly go to jail for gun possession. Ignut.

Chris Brown and his woman involved in domestic or partner violence. After O.J. Simpson, men still don't get it: partner violence for any reason is a no no, even if the woman is at fault--this only means she is ignut too. The Bible says when the blind lead the blind they both fall into the ditch together. Ignut.

Many Negroes are losing their jobs in the global economic crisis because they refused to heed the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's prophesy that the day would come when there would be no jobs, not even for the white man, thus he told so-called Negroes to do for self, make yourself a job and act independent since we came to America to work for free. Once free, we continued until this day to be satisfied with wage slavery, believing we were going to have a job for life, refusing to accept the fact that at best a job is an indirect welfare handout, that most workers retire to a life of poverty and die broke. Ignut.

A baby mama said about her baby daddy: He eats, don't he think his kids need food? He need shoes, don't he think his kids need shoes? He need toilet paper, don't he think his kids need toilet paper? Ignut.

Up from Ignut or Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black President, essays by Marvin X, Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702, $1995, scheduled publication date, late May, 2009. Pre-publication price: $l0.00. Book will be sent by priority mail. Not available in book stores. Marvin X hates book stores because they take 40% for doing nothing. Ignut.

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