ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Remember me as a mother of lions. / I want to be remembered as a warrior.

Remember me as a guerilla in your midst. / I want to be remembered as a fierce enemy.

Remember I am Nzinga, born again, / Nat Turner & Harriet, used to be me.



Poetic Sermons for Sundays

By Ayodele Nzinga


I Want Things

                    By Ayodele Nzinga

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

They said brass known to glitter like gold.

I want peace in my soul.

I want hope for the lions in the fold.

I want abundance for all under I God’s sky.

I want love and if not I wanna know the reason why.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

They say there’s always been trouble in the world.

Most is caused by those who want things.

Fast cars, slow girls, and diamond rings.

Some say money make the world go round.

Others say it turned it upside down.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

We all living under the same moon and stars.

How did we get so very far apart?

Some live for gold others for singing hearts.

In the end we all must testify.

Can you measure the worth of the smile in a child’s eye?

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

I want justice and not for just us.

For all us; in justness, I trust.

Since we gathered here, its only fair;

we all taste what’s in the air.

Re-read if it ain’t perfectly clear.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

Birds squabble over figs in the tree.

Hawk makes easy circles in the sky.

There are enough figs for all.

They just ain’t divided evenly.

Hawk decides which squabbling bird will die.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

I want all the soldiers to find paths home.

I want all the weapons broken.

I want science to be knowledge to live by.

I want strong babies with clear eyes.

I want to live a life as tall as mountains are high.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

I want blessings that flow unimpeded.

I want the deaf to hear the drum and heed it.

I want to have enough to give to those who need it.

I want to always know right and promise I to seed it.

I want to be the me I God sent I to be.

I woke this morning, alive.
Sun streaming in my window.
Window wide to let in the birdsong.
I woke up alive, and I want things.

26 September 2010

Source: Anzinga

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Remember Me

                 By Ayodele Nzinga

I want to be remembered.

I want my name said.

Remember I was the daughter of Ernestine,

who was the daughter of Nettie,

who was the daughter of Connie,

whose mother I do not know,

but still remember to remember.

I want to be remembered for remembering.

I want to be remembered as a bridge.

Remember I tried to help us get there.

I want to be remembered for being a shelter.

Remember me for building and sharing.

I want to be remembered for being a loyal friend.

Remember I loved you

even when you were an imperfect vessel.

I want to be remembered for my loving black heart.

Remember how I loved unconditionally

until it was impossible.

I want to be remembered for saying the words whispered in my ear.

Remember me swinging nouns and verbs like swords.

I want to be remembered for my courage.

Remember me standing in the valley of the shadow

with truth in one hand

a desert eagle in the other.

I want to be remembered as being a part of the paradigm shift.

Remember me as a mother of lions.

I want to be remembered as a warrior.

Remember me as a guerilla in your midst.

I want to be remembered as a fierce enemy.

Remember I am Nzinga, born again,

Nat Turner & Harriet, used to be me.

I want to be remembered for acting up.

Remember me setting fires on stages.

I want to be remembered for the words.

Remember me crying over the news.

I want to be remembered like Garvey.

Remember to forgive my sins

look for me in the whirlwind.

I want to be remembered for my love of nation.

Remember us from doors of no return

spread like ocean seed from shore to shore.

I want to be remembered for my determination.

Remember that if I can

I’ll come again

a warrior still

rising again and again

my love won’t sleep.

Remember me.

3 October 2010

Source: Anzinga

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The art of seeing the blessings

                            By Ayodele Nzinga


I am blessed.

I got good times and bad times just like you; but I stay blest.

I am a blessing, seeing blessings all around, expecting blessing and constantly receiving them.

If you woke up you are blessed,

perhaps with nothing more than the chance to struggle another day, but you are blessed none the less.

They say where there is life; there is hope. Where there is hope, faith can live. Faith can move mountains or give you the strength to go around them.

It rains on every man’s house; but the sun also shines in the places rain falls.

They got a t-shirt that says, “Shit happens.” It’s on a t-shirt, therefore it must be true. But if you pay attention it just says “shit” happens.  If you have the right perspective you can see that it means good shit can happen too. Matter a fact your trouble might be someone else’s lucky break. It’s always a matter of perspective. If you have the perspective that it’s all blessings, then even in your troubled times you move forward, thankful for the lessons and a little taller inside.

There must be pain for joy to exist. Without tears what do smiles mean? If it never gets dark, light loses its meaning. Sugar and salt are a part of the journey; both meaningful and necessary. Seeds sprout in the dark and grow towards the sun. Everything dies in the winter and is reborn in the Spring.

Things just “are,” “is,” is. Trouble will happen if you are alive. But if obstacles can be seen as opportunities for inspiration, then what can stop you? What can you become if everything feeds you, even your bad times?

There is an art in seeing the blessing; an art in finding the lesson. To become proficient in this art is a blessing within it self.  Here is the land, in which there is always a way to move forward, you pay for the lessons and you grow.


yeah though I dwell in the valley of sorrow

I say ashé

I Godz remember I

don’t let I be fuel for the fire

& I remember to say yes

test I mettle to make it stronger

send I mountains I’m gon climb ‘em

with I head high & heart full of song

close every path

I’ll still find them

remember I

the lioness

standing after the battle

separated from the sheep

like chafe from wheat

thankful for all

prayer is better than sleep

I Godz dress I to stand on I own two feet

I Godz remember me

people I sleep with elders

path finders direction reminders

clear away all I own

and bless I with the new

may I always come anew

strip away all I don’t need

and teach I to fly unafraid

give I enough

tears to clear I vision

heart to stand I ground

love to understand

courage to sing the loudest

when its darkest

to be the warmest

when the worlds too cold

never will I be broken

ain’t no weapons that can prevail

right is I banner

truth is I sword

moving ever forward

that’s I reward

if you see I in the valley

remember there’s iron in I soul

when I’m crying

I’m giving tears their way

the fire is never far away

when I’m shining

I’m never satisfied

gonna go forward as long as there is life

nothing is earned without sacrifice

so bless me to grind

for the rest of I life

and a few years after I die

raise I like sun

teach I and watch I learn

I don’t know how to be afraid

I want I God to be proud of

what life gifted made

so I recognize

I got I Godz attention

the gifts, the test, the miles before I rest,

I don’t forget that I blest


11 October 2010

Source: Anzinga

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations

By Ira Berlin

Berlin (Many Thousands Gone) offers a fresh reading of American history through the prism of the great migrations that made and remade African and African American life. The first was the forcible deportation of Africans to North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by their forced transfer into the American interior during the 19th century. Then came the migration of the mid-20th century as African-Americans fled the South for the urban North, and the arrival of continental Africans and people of African descent from the Caribbean during the latter part of the 20th century.

Berlin sees migration and the reshaping of communities to their new environments as central to the African-American experience.

Movement is a matter of numbers, and Berlin provides them in detail kept fully readable by his attention to the cultural products of the shifts. In particular, he follows the church as it moves, the music as it takes on new themes, and kinship as it broadens. Berlin's careful scholarship is evidenced in his rich notes; the ordinary reader will be pleased by the fluidity and clarity of his prose.—Publishers Weekly

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Slavery, migration, and, more recently, immigration all constitute the making of African Americans, a history older and far more complex than that of most other Americans. Historian Berlin explores the four great migrations that have produced the distinct culture of African Americans: the transatlantic slave trade; the migration of African slaves from the Atlantic coast inland to southern plantations; the great migration from the rural South to the urban North, particularly during World War II; and the latest movement in the Diaspora, the immigration to the U.S. of people of African descent from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Berlin analyzes the movements, the dynamics of changes in customs and mores, as well as the sense of place developed by African Americans as they adjusted to each migration, voluntary and involuntary. He explores the changes in culture, music, politics, social institutions, and economics that defined each movement and redefined African Americans. Berlin also explores the latest migration, tensions, and feelings of kinship between native-born African Americans and newcomers, and the ultimate impact on perceptions of what it means to be black in America.—Vanessa Bush Booklist

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Lizz Wright—Stop


               By Lizz Wright

Don´t tell me to stop
Tell the rain not to drop
Tell the wind not to blow
Because you said so

Tell me love is not true
It´s just something we do
Tell me everything I´m not
But don´t tell me to stop

Tell the sun not to shine
Not to get up this time
Let it fall by the way
Leave me here, where I lay

Tell the leaves not to turn
But don´t tell me I´ll learn
Take the black off a crow
But don´t tell me to go

Tell the bed not to lay
Like the mouth of a grave
Not to stare up at me
Like a calf on its knees

Keep on telling me love isn't true
It's just something we do
Tell me everything that I'm not
But don't tell me to stop

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter. He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison. Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division—the very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther. In raw, powerful prose, Jamal Joseph helps us understand what it meant to be a soldier inside the militant Black Panther movement.

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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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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

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Related files:  Ayodele Nzinga Directs Gem of the Ocean   Duet for The Godfather   Blessings Are Due  Leonard Peltier: Letter to a Relative   Beyond Religion toward Spirituality  C L Franklin Review  

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