Monday, July 20, 2009

Marvin X Literary Revolution

The real mission of the Marvin X Literary Revolution is to spread literacy. After all, with half high school students dropping out of school in the urban cities, how many of them can read his or any books? Educators must first get Johnny's attention somehow, then take Johnny up the road to literacy by holding his attention with relevant information in a language he can at least partly identify with. For sure, once Johnny gets into Mythology of Pussy, he will quickly discover my language is beyond the vernacular and reflects my education, even though I flunked English grammar, but I know enough to teach it on the university level. So the reader will find himself/herself with the need to grab the dictionary because I do know more words than motherfucker and bitch.

But let's be real, how many men in the hood have asked a woman for some vagina? White people or white black people may say, "Give me some vagina," but where I come from it's, "Baby, give me some pussy, please," although I advocate not asking for the pussy. Let the woman give it to you, since it's hers to give. Furthermore, I advocate silence and ESP in black communication since "the devil" is in the language. Look how stupid and silly some of us are reacting to the term pussy.

So the objective is literacy and I found out long ago when I taught English in secondary schools that the first order of business is to get the student's attention. Once you have their attention, learning can begin. In my case, students got so inspired they asked me to read my poetry during lunch and after school. Yes, students surrounded me during lunch and demanded I read my poetry because it was in a language they could understand and identify with. They came into my class after school and demanded I again read to them.
When I told them to read my poetry, they said, "No, Teach, you read it. We like the way you read."

When this happened to me, it made we reflect on post-slavery education when it is said they had to beat the students out of the classroom because they didn't want to go home, the thirst for learning was so great, in contrast to today when we must beat them into the classroom, unless we can get their attention and inspire them to learn with the thirst of their ancestors.

My colleague (Brother Ptah) and I have been working on the Hug A Thug Book Club to inspire literacy. "Hug A Thug Before the Thug Hugs You!" Paul Cobb added, "Crack a book before you're booked for crack!" Brothers write me from prison and jail to send them my books, but I am honored when these so-called thugs buy my books before they go to jail as Paul Cobb suggests. Although I understand jail and prison is the first time some black men get "time" to read, so I don't mind sending them books.

In these tight economic times, many brothers and sisters don't have money for books. When a young father told me the other day he didn't have money for Mythology of Pussy because he had to get his two sons haircuts, I started to give him the pamphlet. But I did not, instead I reflected to myself that the father better get them information to save their lives rather than a haircut. And when a mother said she was going to read the pamphlet herself rather than give it to her 15 year old son, I told her, "OK, but when Dante goes to juvenile hall for assaulting his girlfriend, don't call me." Another mother was simply embarrassed to have her son read it, especially in her presence. She said, "I don't want him to read this with me. He can read this by himself." Many parents have so much sex guilt and shame they cannot discuss sex with their children. This is why I call for manhood and womanhood training rites.

At the Berkeley Flea Market, an African man came by with a group of young African American males I suspected were in a group home or foster home. The African let me know he had received his manhood training in Africa, so I told him to give it to the boys with him. He said, "Yes, yes, yes."

As Brother Lumukanda, noted, if he and I had received Mythology of Pussy when we were 17, it would have guided us on the right path regarding gender roles or sexual identity confirmation. We would have had better manners and morals. So many of our youth are suffering a sexual identity crisis, they can't decide whether they are straight or gay. But this was/is the purpose of manhood and womanhood training, to help them decide. See Jomo Kenyatta's classic Facing Mount Kenya, his ethnography of the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya--their life and death, work and play, sex and family. President Obama, himself a product of Kenya, said notable things in his speech to the NAACP but perhaps because he lacked manhood training did not suggest it as a solution to African American youth. He said they must stop trying to get into the NBA and instead get MBAs and science degrees, and aspire to be scientists rather than rappers. I agree totally, unless they are going to rap freedom songs/poems.
Sonia Sanchez asks, "Will your book free us?"

I was so happy shortly after Obama was elected when I heard a young man on the bus in Oakland say, "Man, I'm so happy he is president. Now I got somebody else to look up to beside rappers." Yes, I was proud to hear this young man say this, even with a grill in his mouth--the grill made his remarks more profound!

No comments: