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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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New Year’s in the Big Easy / is a a bearded cowboy

in an empty beer cup / holding a second-line umbrella





No Mardi Gras Without Spo-dee-o                               

                              For Tonya Maria                               

By Rudolph Lewis

I am a rag doll in the jaws

of a mad dog on New Year’s Eve.

Mayor Nagin wants to remember

the dead when he betrays the living.

He better not walk the streets


of Houston when the sun goes down,

says a homeless refugee. At Palm Court

in the French Quarter jazzmen open their horn

cases for 90-dollar diners—haute cuisine,

all-night bars, steamboats & courtyards


the lowering of a giant gumbo pot.

Down the road on the corner

at Claiborne Avenue a Red Cross

truck hands out 200 meals a day

New Year’s in the Big Easy


is a a bearded cowboy

in an empty beer cup

holding a second-line umbrella

marching with The Pussyfooters

in colorful pink wigs


kicking high in frilly boots

scores of onlookers

in shades of glee and inebriation.

Oil and gas companies

& merchant marines stroll hand in


hand down Bourbon Street, as if

Hurricane Katrina never came by

looking at their faces . . .

Is this a holiday

for non-residential squatters


of no-bids to make it all better,

culture in front seat, politics in back?

Can we have a Mardi Gras with

white men in black face

Latinos dressed as Mardi Gras Indians?


Tourists cannot tell culture

without internet cakes

& Chinese beads.

It’s dangerous building

condominiums overlooking


weeping willows

a well-crafted illusion of turning

sorrow into joy, death into life.

In your madness: Show me

Fly Boylet them come.


Let them be on the battlefield

on Mardi Gras morn, you

got to sew to capture the holiday.
There's no Mardi Gras

without old black men tacking


quilt pieces on floats, without

black seamstresses

without young women, making

hotel beds, washing restaurant

trash cans, caramel players


of jazz coronets, without invisible

sanitation workers cleaning

up the drunken mess.

No Mardi Gras without Big Chief

Monk Boudreaux & his Queen,


The Uptown Rulers

The Wild Magnolias & The Dirty Dozen.

Sign the petitionNo! We will not

celebrate homelessness & misery.

There’s no Mardi Gras without Spo-dee-o.

6 January 2006

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Rev Addo: A wonderful and insightful piece, My Friend... 

Kam: Great! I think you've got something going here with these poems.

Herbert: Rudy, I like the poem. 

Miriam: Another wonderful poem.  A segment on the news this morning depicted the students returning to Loyola & Dillard.  The Dillard students are being housed in one of the hotels, where classes will also be held.  The Loyola students, as a part of their orientation, were taken on a tour of the devastation in the 9th Ward, etc.

Mary Louise: The New York City transit workers showed them, to their dismay, that they can't run this giant metropolis without us . . . but too many of them still don't want to get the message. . .

So if they rebuild New Orleans and think they can leave us out, well to paraphrase the old saying, "they'll have a real hard 'nother thought coming!" Did you every read "The Confederacy of Dunces" ?

Van: I have been reading “No Mardi Gras Without Soul”I really like it.

posted 6 January 2006

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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

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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 11 April 2012




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Related File:  Heartbreak Hotel   No Mardi Gras Without Soul   Postcard from Hell  Ode to Bowling Balls   Naked in the Outer Darkness    Music That Heals   That Which Hurts  In a Time of Chaos    Down by the Riverside     

I Aint No Alarmist  Wintertime in America  The Propaganda of History     No Mardi Gras Without Soul    We'll Never Be Back the Same Again    Which Way Freedom  Mosquitoes Fly Out My Head