ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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War is an awful reality that diminishes humanity and, especially given modern day weapons,

 war damages the environment. War maims and kills people, pollutes and despoils the earth.




Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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By Kalamu ya Salaam


How do we stop the madness? What is the role of the artist in the worldwide struggle for peace? Can we really make change by demonstrating? There are so many questions. The Bush forces look invincible. Can we really make a difference?

Win or lose, the truth is we have no choice. There really is no where to hide from the war. Moreover, whether we are ready to accept the truth, the fact is our tax dollars are paying for the bombs, the bullets, the military might that Bush & Co. are slinging around the world. Whether we believe it or not, unless we actively oppose them, we are tacitly supporting Bush’s new world order.

Writers and other artists have a choice to make. Will we actively work for peace or will we excuse ourselves from participating in demonstrations because we are busy creating our art. I do not believe it is enough to write anti-war poems. We need to be on the front lines. We need to be organizing. We need to set the example.

It is inspirational to see poets on picket lines, to see dancers participating in marches, to see visual artists carrying signs. Our participation as artists actively encourages the people. When artists march, the people know something important is happening.

Yes, we need committed artwork, but what we really need is committed artists. Whether we create anti-war art, we need artists demonstrating active support for the anti-war effort. Our presence is important. Our presence is more than a personal statement. Our presence adds weight to the movement and volume to the voices raised in opposition to war.

Most of us in the United States have never actually seen war or the effects of war. But war is not simply an abstraction that will take place in some other part of the world. War is an awful reality that diminishes humanity and, especially given modern day weapons, war damages the environment. War maims and kills people, pollutes and despoils the earth.

On the other hand, fighting this war will not be easy. In New Orleans we set a goal of mobilizing 200 people to participate in the March 15th demonstration. We accounted for approximately 75 people. There is a deep apathy in our community.

We were organized on a cell system. Each cell consisting of a captain and five people who came out to demonstrate. We had 17 people sign up to be captains. One captain said she didn’t expect it to be so hard to convince five people to participate. When I asked one person to march for peace, they said, “a piece of what?” That’s when I realized how hard it would be.

In addition to the general apathy, we in New Orleans had another strike against our organizing effort. The annual Black Heritage Festival took place at the same time in Armstrong Park and N’Cobra was holding a regional Reparations conference at nearby public school. The folk involved in those priorly-planned activities were the main folk we would normally expect to see in support of anti-war efforts.

A major festival and the Reparations conference not withstanding, on Saturday, March 15th over 1500 people turned out for a march from Congo Square to Jackson Square. This was the largest peace demonstration in New Orleans in decades, and at least 10% of the march consisted of Black folk. If the demonstration had been for the 22nd we would undoubtedly have had more Black people, but struggle is not based on convenience.

There is no ideal time to struggle. The call came to demonstrate on the 15th and we had to respond regardless of the obstacles we faced.  I remember the early days of the Civil Rights movement and how difficult it was to convince people that we could make a difference, that we could change the laws, that we could influence the local, state and federal government to change their segregationist policies and practices. At that time the majority of Black people did not believe systemic change was possible. But we persisted and, as they say, the rest is history.

Well, history is made everyday. We are at another major turning point in history and have an opportunity to significantly change the direction in which America is headed. We have an opportunity to participate in a worldwide movement for peace. The peace movement is not going to disappear once Bush begins bombing Baghdad.

Some of our people argue that we should not spend time and resources participating in a white liberal-led movement. I understand the distrust of liberalism, especially on liberalism of “middle class, white Americans.” But the peace movement is really a world movement and not a white movement.

Surely, we need to stand in support of the people of Angola, Cameroon and Guinea who withstood incredible pressure from the U.S. government. Those nations refused to cave-in to Bush threats or to Bush attempts at buy-outs and cooption. Those governments could easily have taken the money and said yes! But they stood firm on their beliefs. Look at Chile, which experienced a U.S.-backed coup against their elected President Allende. Chile had first hand experience with the callous interference of the U.S. government, but they still refused to be bought or cowed by threats. And then there is Mexico, which is so dependent on America for its economic survival. Regardless of the consequences, they refused to be bullied into co-signing war. Pakistan, who is America’s chief ally in the worldwide anti-terror campaign, also was steadfast in refusing to support war on Iraq.

None of those six nations are “white” countries. Nor is Turkey, whose politicians turned down six billion dollars cash and promises of at least nine billion more in loans and guarantees! The truth is that the frontline of opposition to the war consists of Third World countries who were forced into the unenviable position of having to actively refuse to go along with the Bush administration. The fact that the majority of anti-war participants in the United States are white is no rationale for declining to join this worldwide struggle.

The question is not are most of the participants white, the question is simply this: is the peace position the right position? Dr. King opposed the war in Vietnam, and I am sure he would have opposed a war on Iraq. Malcolm X was a Muslim, there is no question where he would have stood on the Iraq war question.

Finally, the fact is that every penny spent on the war reduces the dollars available for education, health care and other vital social services that our people so desperately need. The cost of bullets alone is larger than the total amount of money spent on education.

Fighting the war and struggling for peace is our issue. Our task is to bring clarity to the issues. Our task is to be actively involved in opposing war and in working for peace. Our task is to make a better and more beautiful world. Don’t co-sign the Bush push for war with your silence and your refusal to take a stand. Join the worldwide call for peace.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Race, Incarceration, and American Values

By Glenn C. Loury

In this pithy discussion, renowned scholars debate the American penal system through the lens—and as a legacy—of an ugly and violent racial past. Economist Loury argues that incarceration rises even as crime rates fall because we have become increasingly punitive. According to Loury, the disproportionately black and brown prison populations are the victims of civil rights opponents who successfully moved the country's race dialogue to a seemingly race-neutral concern over crime. Loury's claims are well-supported with genuinely shocking statistics, and his argument is compelling that even if the racial argument about causes is inconclusive, the racial consequences are clear.

Three shorter essays respond: Stanford law professor Karlan examines prisoners as an inert ballast in redistricting and voting practices; French sociologist Wacquant argues that the focus on race has ignored the fact that inmates are first and foremost poor people; and Harvard philosophy professor

Shelby urges citizens to break with Washington's political outlook on race. The group's respectful sparring results in an insightful look at the conflicting theories of race and incarceration, and the slim volume keeps up the pace of the argument without being overwhelming.—Publishers Weekly

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

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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. Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

By John Lewis

The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.

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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 1 June 2012




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 Related files: ACTION: all out to stop the war--