ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more) 


 Leave the killers' spokesmen, the predators' spokesmen, leave the destroyers' spokesmen

 to cast contemptuous despair abroad. That is not our vocation. That will not be our utterance



On Rumors against Black Life & History



Responsibility of Blacks in Cyberspace

An Open Letter to E. Ethelbert Miller

By Rudolph Lewis


The Great New Orleans Land Grab: The 17th Street Canal levy was breeched on purpose?

Rumors, Dogs, and Govt. Responsibility -- E-Notes from Ethelbert

I've been critical the last few days about what our public intellectuals and writers are doing. Check my E-Notes. If I read a poem about how Katrina was started by Israel I'll lose my mind. Silly stuff- but some of us were born funny. Rumors really run around the black communities like dogs looking for fresh meat. Because of the power of the internet we need to really be careful. Katrina is another example of why Black people should pay more attention to the environment, etc. I would hope that we are a chapter beyond the storm pages in Their Eyes Were Watching God . . . but maybe we just can't move beyond it. I'm Teacake and folks can't get my medicine on time. Please don't shoot me (again).  Stay well - help others - build the Beloved Community. If things get really bad I suggest we organize "poor people" to march on DC (again) and build Resurrection City. Jesse Jackson can be mayor (again). This is what King would do - so if you hear about folks wondering - why do we go from here? - just return to the unfinished business and agenda. What NO really shows is the failure of the Civil Rights Movement to address the economical issues affecting black people.  Now we have a new diaspora and we still haven't helped Haitians. Go figure . . . there is so much to do.Love ya.Ethelbert   

                  Read Newsweek's The Other America (9/28)


Try and obtain a copy of David Carr's essay in the New York Times today (9/19/05). It's in the Business Day section of the newspaper. "More Horrible Than Truth: News Reports" This article confirms what I was talking about. One will notice Fox News being at the center of things. Hmmmm.Ethelbert,

"things that sound too horrible to be true did happen."David Carr, "More Horrible Than Truth"

E, peace and blessings,

I have discovered as a student of literature that numerous persons can read a document and that each reader has a different interpretation on what is the truth contained therein. If your point is that there is such a thing as rumor and that rumors can be "worse than what actually happened," we sing the same tune and there is no gap in our understanding of how the world works. I suspect where we diverge is the larger interpretation of Carr's sentiments and perspective. 

From my view, our folks—black people—suffered the most from the rumors propagated by corporate media and sustained by numerous persons of their ilk. That we suffered the most by this insidious activity can be sustained by this quote from Carr's editorial:

"I think that citizens of New Orleans have been stigmatized in a way that is going to make it difficult to be accepted wherever they go," said Jonathan Simon, who teaches criminal law at the University of California, Berkeley.

These "citizens of New Orleans" are black folk. So our folks (all over America) are the primary victims of rumor—as looters, rapists, murderers. These "urban myths" are the stuff of 6 o'clock news and black weeklies. The criminal image is usually that of young black males. So much so that everyone now fears "black boys." And these our brothers, uncles, fathers, sons have been the victim object of "political spin," ritualistic murder, and "responsible governance." This situation has been propagated not only by corporate media, but also by persons in the highest seats of government and society.

Wasn't it our 3rd President TJ who wrote "scientifically" of our kinship to the orangutan: matter of fact, there was an entire "science" that rose in the 19th century from the best minds of America that sustained Negro inferiority in every sphere of human existence. And at this hour we still have a difficulty instituting "black history" courses in our public schools to counter the damage of these "urban myths" and "rumors."

On another point we might also agree, "accurate information [is still at a] premium." We see it in the indecisiveness and ineptness of Mayor Nagin in trying to repopulate the city. In a small matter like whether there was a fire on Dillard's campus, we are unable to sustain what is indeed the case, whether the Arts & Science building burned. A friend as close as Baton Rouge does not know the truth of the rumor. We black folks all still suffer from the lack of information and a distrust of those in high places.

And there is good cause for this lack of trust, especially after the horror of the Superdome and the Convention Center and the numerous survivor stories  that are being collected by corporate media, web sites, and blogs. All of this has been seared into our consciousness and that it will be sometime before we get over this trauma, this wakeup call.

Government failed us. The wise guys caused us great distress, insecurity, and terror.

So with this "brave new world" we face I do not see it as my primary task to dispel rumor as rumor. That is not the problem we face. From the time we left the shores of Africa to the present hour, our problem is one of power, more precisely, the lack of it. The quote from Carr's which probably caught your eye and to which you really want me to direct my attention is: "Web and talk radio fueled these rumors."

But these outlets ("web" and "talk radio") are dominated, not by us (you and me), but rather by persons from white middle-class America, that is, not from Black America. We are anthills up against great mountains of power and power that does not have our interest first and foremost.

That is, I'm not against rumor as rumor. My force will be directed against rumor that does harm to humanity, especially and particularly black humanity, which is under severe humiliating attacks. The question before us, then, is how do we counter these rumors that undermine and debilitate us and how do we counter those individuals who now sustain them, who do not have your humanistic sensibilities.

For me, those of us who have education, training, skills, and instruments of power, we must speak the truth as we know it and as forcefully as we can and consider every rumor that is a potential threat against us and that might have some truth of how we have been undermined and dispersed. If we have the power to discover the truth or falsity of such rumors, we should indeed dispel them. But if you suggest rather that we who are in cyberspace should act as censors of information, then you ask us to wage war with windmills. What good is such a romantic adventure?

Well, I suppose wearing the mask of a "non-partisan" is one way to go. But that's not for me. I have no faith in "media objectivity." For media serves power—its impetus is commercial. And he who pays the piper calls the tune.

If you wish, however, to place on the table—confer—on what is the proper role of blacks in cyberspace, I am open for that discussion. I encourage you to organize such a talk and conference or make it part of some larger conference. Academics love this sort of thing and there are probably businesses and foundations willing to finance such an academic undertaking. I have no problem with that and would probably be willing to attend it.—Rudy

*   *   *   *   *

My hero, Rudy, rides again. Why do we expect them to do other than their interests direct them to do? Why do we ever expect them to tell the truth (and shame the Devil, as the folks used to say")?  Go see President Chavez's interview on Democracy Now and what Jesse Jackson said after that. The transcript is online.  Hugo Chavez wailed—like a brother singing the blues—he rightly condemned the rank "individualism" of U.S. society that disregards the needs of humanity. 

"We" Africans can't be human or they are inhumane in their treatment of us and those they deem to be too near like us, which has always included some of their own—from their slave born children—whom they sold to the poor whites they have hated all along before they all left Europe. Sociologically speaking rumors convey important information to those who have ears. It's up to us to hear our own ancestral voices through the noise.

I recommend that everybody read the Prologue to Armah's Two Thousand Seasons.

How have we come to be mere mirrors to annihilation? For whom do we aspire to reflect our people's death? For whose entertainment shall we sing our agony? In what hopes? That the destroyers, aspiring to extinguish us, will suffer conciliatory remorse at the sight of their own fantastic success? The last imbecile to dream such dreams is dead, killed by the saviours of his dreams. Such idiot hopes come from a territory far beyond rebirth. 

Those utterly dead, never again to wake, such is their muttering. Leave them in their graves. Whatever waking form they wear, the stench of death pours ceaseless from their mouths. . .The ears of the hearers should listen far towards origins. . .A people losing sight of origins are dead. A people deaf to purposes are lost. . .The destroyed who retain the desire to remake themselves and act upon that desire will remake themselves. 

The remade are pointers to the way, the way of remembrance, the way knowing purpose. . .Remember this: against all that destruction some yet remained among us unforgetful of origins, dreaming secret dreams, seeing yet to appear, hear, to utter and to make . . . Leave the killers' spokesmen, the predators' spokesmen, leave the destroyers' spokesmen to cast contemptuous despair abroad. That is not our vocation. That will not be our utterance. 

From the Preface


*   *   *   *   *

Rudy, your letter is incisive and your points are very well taken.  I didn't read Carr's editorial, which I'll have to do, or (apparently) Ethelbert's rebuttal.  I was somewhat concerned, I think it was with respect to the allegation that the levees were sabotaged, when he responded with something like "the Black community chases rumors like a dog after fresh meat."  You have challenged his thinking with tact, kindness, and sensitivityunlike me with the tactless big mouth (smile).  

I, too, am disgusted with Nagin, especially after I heard about the meeting in Dallas with White businessmen to the exclusion, for the most part, of representatives from the Black community.  On the other hand, you know what I'm afraid ofthat we in the community will begin attacking each other and picking each other apart.  I had to catch myself when I reacted with "Yeah, that's right" when I read the article attacking Black leadership cause that's the way I felt.  Then I found out that some of the people & organizations that I was disappointed in were actually in the trenches and on the battlefield.  

I realized that we could easily be caught in a "divide and conquer" game where, once more, we are the losers.  In retrospect, I regret what I said about that noted Black woman singer, because she was there and in-spirited on behalf of the evacuees.  Sometimes we say things and criticize others without thinking just because they have a different point of view.  Like I did with a dear friend when I told him:  "It's time to stop intellectualizing and theorizing;  we have to DO something."  Well, that mind work is important too and I should have given him space to contribute his ideas to the dialogue.  I guess hindsight is better than nothing.Miriam

posted 20 September 2005

*   *   *   *   *


              By Lorraine Hansberry

I can hear Rosalee
See the eyes of Willie McGee
My mother told me about
My mother told me about
The dark nights
And dirt roads
And torch lights
And lynch robes

faces of men
Laughing white
Faces of men
Dead in the night
sorrow night
and a
sorrow night


Source: AmericanLynching / Source: https://Litigation-Essentials.LexisNexis

*   *   *   *   *

E. Ethelbert Miller: The 5th Inning / Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

The Katrina Papers, by Jerry W. Ward, Jr. $18.95  The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008)

*   *   *   *   *


Writer Lorraine Hansberry's sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines. Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the "Save Willie McGee" campaign and—as Life reported—its "imported" lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951). Few felt McGee's passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug.

Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women's movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)—a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organization—the novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . .https://Litigation-Essentials.LexisNexis

*   *   *   *   *'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

*   *   *   *   *

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'."

*   *   *   *   *

The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)



update 5 March 2012




Home  E Ethelbert Miller Table  Rudy's Place

Related files: The Responsibility of a PanAfrican Socialist   The Responsibility of the Artist  Black Intellectuals Have Abandon Ideals  Responsibility of Blacks in Cyberspace

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain  Black Girl in Her Search for God  Race Prejudice and the Negro Artist   Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era