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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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This poem is for the church women and the street wimmin

(Sometimes they both) / -Oops! My ba-a-a-a-a-ad

This poem is for yo’momma



Poem for Our Mothers

                     (to the young ladies of Xavier University Preparatory School)

   By Professor ARTURO




This poem is for our mothers

This poem is for New Orleans mothers

This poem is for New Orleans women

     -true believers and achievers (keepers of the faith)

      who nurtured, cradled, counseled and comforted…


This poem is for the satin dolls, the yardbird suite tastes of honey,

   walkin’ (all by themselves) on Green Dolphin Street…

   or working in steamy, hot kitchens and air-conditioned boardrooms

     -on planes and trains, in banks and tanks

     -at computer terminals and behind the bar

      (ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that – she just raisin’ her chirrens)


This poem is for the students of Xavier Prep

(future educators, legislators, liberators and leaders)

This poem is for Ruby Bridges, Oretha Castle Haley and Leah Chase


This poem is for the church women and the street wimmin

(Sometimes they both)

-Oops! My ba-a-a-a-a-ad


This poem is for yo’momma

(Yeah, I’m talkin’ ‘bout yo’ momma – and yo’ gran’ma, too)

    -yo’ momma who told you ‘bout sitting properly (like a young lady)

    -yo’ momma who told you ‘bout how hard she work

                                 to send you to a quality school (no thugs allowed)

   -yo’ momma who told you how hard it was

                                 when she laid down there and had you

   -mommas who git you up off yo’ offensive end

                                 so you can be on time for school

   -mommas who say “I done brought yo’ behind here – and I’ll take you away!”

   -mommas who say “I’ma put so mucha you on the flo’ –

                                       they gon’ think it’s the Blood Bank up in here!”

                                  (them kinda mommas)


This poem is for the mothers who see their children slaughtered

       in the city’s mean streets

   -women who cry “My baby! My baby!”

    (when it’s too-oo-oo late ba-a-aby…)


   -women who say “They needs to stop all this killin’ –

                      I thought we had done got way mo’ betta den nat!”


-women who deny themselves

                                so their children can get a good education


   -women who make beds to send their chirrens to school

   -women who “talk-too-much-and-worry-you-to-death”

   -women who sing “ba-a-aby, ba-a-a-by, ba-a-a-by…)”

   -women who choose their men on what they got

                                                          what they wear

                                                          what they drive and

                                                          what they say

                                                          insteada what they are…


women who run for office

women who run the office

women who run from the office…

women who fry chicken for a livin’

(ain’t nuthin wrong with that)

-women who have you wear your clothes properly

   (as befits a young lady)

-women who know ‘bout “who shot the La-La”…


-women who tell jokes

 women who tell jokes

 women who tell jokes like: “Why did the cow get a new house?

                                                 -because it had to moo-oo-oove…”


                       or jokes like: “Name three parts of speech –

                                                 -‘My mouf, my lips, and my teefs’”


                      or jokes like: “What kinda rice is brown on the outside and white

                                              on the inside?

                                              -- ‘Condoleezza Rice’”

                                                        (You wro-o-o-ong for that)                                                    


Women who represent

women who represent

women who truly represent…                                                            
women like Mary McCleod Bethune and Sojourner Truth

-women like the African mothers who cast their children overboard

         rather than have them raised in bondage

-women who were sold at the market

-women who shopped at the market

-women who shopped at Schwegmann’s and D.H. Holmes

-women who shopped at McKenzie’s and Maison Blanche

-women who shopped at K-B and Krauss (but couldn’t try hats on)

-women who shopped at the corner sto’ (mostly on creddick)

-women who shop wherever they wan’ shop

       and work wherever they wan’ work (after “integration”)

-women named “Elsie” (HOW NOW, BROWN COW?)

-women who sing “That bo-o-o-o-o-oy went home to Jee-zuss!”

      (even though he was in that dope thang)

-women who get into that graveyard love (insteada college)

-women with sweet potato plants in their kitchen windows

-women who call you everything but “a child o’ Gawd”…


-women who say things

 women who say things

 women who say things like: “Don’t be callin’ that man no ‘Dawg’

                                                 That man name ain’t ‘Dawg’

                                                 That man name’ Mr. Dawg’”



                      or things like:  “Hungry?!? – Ain’t no maids in here!

                                           You best git you summa that KARO Syrup

                                                              and a piece o’ bread –

                                                              and make like it’s a hamburger!”


                     or things like: “That boy feet done growed so fast –

                                                              he tired all the time.”


                     or things like: “Boy so dumb, if he was in a hurricane he’d say

                                                              ‘Why is it so windy?’”


                     or things like: “Boy so slow, he cain’t even read his own name

                                                in BIG GIANT BOXCAR LETTERS!”


                    or things like: “Boy so dumb, he couldn’t find a drink on Bourbon Street…”


Insteada “Arab” they say “A-rabb”

Insteada “spanking” they say “whippin”

Insteada “You’re a bit inebriated” they say “You tippin’”

Insteada “You’re acting quite odd” they say “You trippin’”

Insteada “You’re making quite a mistake” they say “You slippin’”


This poem is for the people

This poem is for the seamstresses and the waitresses

This poem is for the teachers and the preachers

                      for the maids and college presidents

                      for the wintertime women with the summertime blues…


This is a hurricane poem…

This poem is for Flora, Cora, Hilda, Isabelle and Betsy

This poem is for Marilyn and Carolyn, Yolanda and Saronda

                      for Zelda and Emelda, for Nina and Tina

                      for the lovers of life and sages of their ages

                      for women named “Aunt Sweet”

                      for Big Momma, Gran’ma, Maw-Maw and Ma Dear

                      for Short Fat Fanny, Wacky Jackie and BIG GREASY NEICY

                      for their love hugs and Daniel Green slippers

                                                          ( the original weapon of mass destruction)

                      for Doreen’s Sweet Shop and Bertha’s Bon Ton

                      for Big Shirley’s and Willie Mae’s Scotch House

                      for Fannie Mae, Annie Mae, Ida Mae, Cora Mae, Dora Mae, Ora Mae,  

                           Jessie Mae, Bessie Mae (Bessie Mae Mucho-o-o-o…)

                           Bay-Bay, May-May, Nee-Nay, Noo-Nay, Shantay and Ray-Ray

                      for Beaulah and Eulah, Nelly and Kelley

                      for Linda, Lydia, Leona and Lorraine

                      for the cedar robes and the chiffarobes

                      for Caldonia, Caldonia (What-makes-yo’-big-haid-so-hard?)


This poem is for Gizelle, Chanel, Creshell, Shantelle, Rochelle, Maybelle,

                           Annabelle and Florabelle (DING-DONG)


This poem is for Imani, Hope and Charity (where most o’ y’all was born-ded)

                      for Khadijah and Jemima (much more than a picayune cartoon)

                      for Hannah, Anna, and Old Suzannah

                                              (Don’t you cry for me –

                                              ‘cause I’m comin’ from the Ninth Ward

                                              with a six-pack on my knee)


                      for Betty, Bessy and Two-Ton Tessie

                      for Sharine and Jeanine (Last Time, Las Time I Saw Jeanine…)


                      for our mothers, friends, aunts, sisters, and others

                             -their pleasures and treasures

                             -their madness and badness

                             -their blessings and bereavement

                             -their challenge and achievement

                             -their silences and song

                             -their faith, everstrong

                             -their love like no otherso others


This poem is for our mothers…

*   *   *   *   *

posted 6 September 2007

Professor ARTURO (Arthur Pfister), a poet and fiction writer from New Orleans, is a Spoken Word artist, educator, performer, editor and speechwriter who received a Master of Arts degree in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. degree in English/Journalism from the State University of New York-College at New Paltz.   Pfister, one of the original Broadside poets of the 1960s, has collaborated on a medley of projects with a mélange of artists including painters, musicians, photographers, dancers, singers, fire eaters, waiters, cab drivers, and other members of the Great Miscellaneous.

He has performed his poetry, fiction, toasts and “jazz poems” on a solo basis or with musical accompaniment at Ebony Square, Vincent’s City Club, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Louisiana Folklife Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Urban League’s Annual Golden Gala, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Tulane University’s Amistad Research Center’s Achievement Award Banquet, True Brew Coffeehouse, the Maple Leaf Bar and an array of public/parochial schools, colleges, and churches nationwide.  His work has been accompanied by musical legends such as Eluard Burte, Henry Butler, Willie Cole, Davelle Crawford, Vinny Golia, Kidd Jordan, Kid Millenberg, Earl Turbinton and Gozo Yoshimasu. He has also served as Featured Performance Poet at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club and co-founded the performance series “ARTURO and Joe’s Old Skool Jazz & Poetry Open Mic Night” at the legendary Edgelake Bar (featured in Elvis Presley’s “King Creole”).

His work has appeared in such diverse publications as FAHARI, the American Poetry Review, the Shooting Star Review, the Minnesota Review, the Gallery Mirror, EBONY, From a Bend in the River, Mesechabe, Word Up, the Chicory Review, the New Laurel Review, the New Orleans Tribune, We Speak As Liberators, Black Spirits, A Broadside Treasury, and Swapping Stories: Folktales From Louisiana.

He has taught at educational institutions ranging from Northeastern University (Visiting Poet for the Africana Studies Center) to Texas Southern University (Writer In Residence).   He has served as Academic Instructor for the New Orleans Urban League’s Computer Operations Training Center and as Poet In Residence at the Neighborhood Gallery.   Prior to Katrina he was employed by the New Orleans Job Corps as Academic/Pre-GED Instructor.

Inquiries about the author’s availability for workshops, readings, collaborative projects, seminars, residencies, and publications should be directed to: Professor ARTURO / (504) 975-6676 / /

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My Name Is New Orleans: 40 Years of Poetry & Other Jazz

After surviving the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, Professor ARTURO, a New Orleans spoken word artist/musipoetryst, will have his book, My Name Is New Orleans: 40 Years of Poetry & Other Jazz, a 320- page collection of poetry, songs, psalms, paeans, toasts and hieroglyphs (1968 – 2008) published in late Spring 2009 by Margaret Media, Inc

Schedule your organization's venue for a performance/book signing:

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers Weekly

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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        


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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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Related files: Malcolm  SHINE and THE TITANIC   Poem for Our Fathers  Poem for Our Mothers