ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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an old  black woman sits with her children / at her knee and sings soft and low—

tomorrow master gonna sell one of you— / he done said that much—

the fire in the cabin flickers dim and small / against the darkness 

she calls out the name of her child / and sings soft and low—master says

that he gonna sell you, baby. / if they drove nails into my flesh / they could not hurt me more—

 

 

 

A Poetic Post-Katrina Response

 

The Day the Devil Has Won

 A Poem for Black Revolutionary Women!

By Amin Sharif

Somewhere in Africa

                                 Somewhere in Africa

 Somewhere in Africa

 

Fourhundredyearsago—

 

An old black woman stood before her children

and spoke of the day when the sun

was hidden behind the eclipse of a slave ship,

the earth moaned and the skies wept

the fires in each hut flickered small and dim

against the darkness—

someone called out the name of a lover—

someone called out the name of a child—

each name sounded like the beating of a drum

the drum like a beating heart

the heart like the waves of the sea

upon a distant shore—

 

we were not watchful—the old woman said—

and the devil came and stole away our treasure

had the devil asked us for our gold we would have

given it gladly—but it was flesh and blood that the

devil wanted children—flesh and blood

 

remember, the old woman said, this is the day

that the devil has won

 

Somewhere in the Southland

                                             Somewhere in the Southland

Somewhere in the Southland

 

Twohundredyearsago—

 

an old  black woman sits with her children

at her knee and sings soft and low—

tomorrow master gonna sell one of you—

he done said that much—

the fire in the cabin flickers dim and small

against the darkness 

she calls out the name of her child

and sings soft and low—master says

that he gonna sell you, baby.

if they drove nails into my flesh

they could not hurt me more—

 

but the devil don’t want just

just our flesh and blood baby—

he wants our very soul.

 

in the morning, master comes and ties

the child’s hands and leads him away.

remember, the old black woman says—

this is the day that the devil has won

 

Somewhere in Harlem

                                  Somewhere in Harlem

Somewhere in Harlem

 

Onehundredyearsago—

 

an old black woman holds her daughter’s

hands and tells her to hush—

white men are like that she says

they not only wants us to make their beds

but to sleep in them, too, baby.

they wants everything we got.

the old woman looks into the eyes

of her child and wonders why

misfortune must always wear blackness

what a curse it is for a pretty

brown skinned girl to be born into

this world—

the evening sky turns red

and then indigo

stars are scattered above their heads

inside she lights a candle

it flickers and grows dim in the darkness

on her knees she ask God

why must the devil always win?

 

Somewhere . . . fiftyyearsago—

 

ola stands with the rifle

cradled like a child in her arms

around her there is a rustling in

the banana trees—

parrots the color of rainbows

perorate in a sky filled with light.

 

they say that the white man

comes this way—

if he does today

ola will have him

 

she pulls back the bolt

on the rifle and pushes it forward

the bullet is delivered into the chamber

as smoothly as an act of love—

 

ola looks at the high mountains

and thinks of her children there

sweet manuel and zerita

they are the love of her body

and soul

if I do not return, ola tells her

sister—

bathe and sing to them the

lullabies of our fathers and mothers.

 

beware the snares of the devil, ola’s

sister says as she lifts zerita into her

arms. then crosses herself and kisses

ola’s lips

 

she hears the car

and shoulders the weapon—

a small jerk of her body

and it is over.

the body lays slumped

and motionless in its seat.

 

this is the day, ola whispers to

the sky as she disappears

into the jungle, the devil has won.               

 

             *   *   *

 

A black child stares at a tv screen-

and she hears and sees—

and she hears and sees—

and she hears the cries of

a thousand niggers drowning down in New Orleans

and sees the America flag as just another rag

stuffed into the bleeding vagina of oppression

 

in her small mind there arises the question:

should any slave die a natural death?

 

The Statue of Liberty is

just another Gringo bitch waiting

to have her toilet cleaned

posted 17 December 2005

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 July 2008 

 

 

 

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The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast    Big Easy Blues  New Orleans: The American Nightmare   Black Middle Class and a Party for the Poor  The Day the Devil Has Won  Election Day Returns