ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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


Southern American lives and lands are forever disrupted.  Many people are still dying

from the stress of it all.  Was not America synonymous with the right to life, liberty,

and the pursuit of happiness, the American Dream, aka modern paradise?



Book by Mona Lisa Saloy


Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Poems


*   *   *   *   *

Trouble in Paradise

By Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy


To southerners, the south is paradise, a region of wider spaces, mint juleps to cool the hot wet air, verandas that wrap around homes like loving arms.  Even in these modern times, it is the place to which natives can return, for families linger on the land for generations.  Prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the south enjoyed a steady increase in population, at least among the larger cities, where sons and daughters long gone north for opportunities rejoined their roots, and land is affordable still.  Affordable land, and better bang for a buck in modern amenities made the south the new promised land until the devastating punches of hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf south.

These two years later, the words of Thomas Paine echo: “these are the times that try people’s souls.”  Many thousands remain displaced.  Many more courageous folk are rebuilding.  They are the citizens of America, the populous of neighborhoods and churches, tearing out molding beam after boards, and remaking their lives one brick at a time. 

Few words can convert the vastness of the damage; one must see it to conceive it.  It is unimaginable.  What is trying are the delays in recovery, the endless nightmare of paperwork that baffles even the educated, and reduces the sane to question reality.  There is an indomitable spirit here, the consolation and service of volunteers, the congeniality of friends and families working together.  It is not enough. 

What makes matters worse is that the people hit the hardest are suffering the most. In the front-page story of The Times Picayune, Sunday, the 30th of September, entitled “Left High & Dry,” one resident, Steve Donahue elevated eight feet his home soon after gutting it.  Mr. Donahue functions without his two legs lost in 1984.  He is a lesson in courage and tenacity, yet he is ineligible for elevation reimbursement.  Yet, others who have yet to elevate, may be eligible for elevation grants, which are still mired in indecision and red tape. 

Another thing, rebuilding is a logistical nightmare when reliable contractors are scarce, and stories of con artists swindling the elderly with promises of aid and assistance are too common.  On top of that, rents tripled in New Orleans, along with energy.  The average three-to-four bedroom home is costing around $600-$800 for gas and electric; yet, across the river in Algiers, or in Metairie, it is a quarter of that.  The same goes for insurance; even for auto insurance, the cost is three times higher.  For example, in Seattle, where I was employed right after the storm, hit-and-run accidents were common, as well as fender benders.  My coverage for my car, a 4-Runner, is three times higher in New Orleans than it was in Seattle with the same insurance company. Who can afford these prices?  Any student of capitalism and economics can explain that there is a perceived greater liability in New Orleans in particular, where crime is high, so they say.  The result is that corporations continue to reel in profits, and the very individuals trying to rebuild are hit hardest in their pockets.

Contrary to popular belief, violence seems to be a national past time, and abject poverty exists in every major city in America today, along with homelessness, and the high cost of health care.   The ugly head of racism is not just symbolized by the three hangman’s nooses to scare the Jena 6, but the beating of a young black girl in Los Angles charged with battery for spilling birthday cake.  Racism is still a national problem.  Billions of dollars are being allocated to the war in Iraq, yet the American Gulf Coast is stagnating in its attempts of normalcy for lack of assistance.

Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, recent New Orleans residents, put the American Government to shame by pitching in millions to help rebuild homes and therefore lives.  The Clinton/Bush fund gave funds to libraries and other areas.  It is not enough.

Southern American lives and lands are forever disrupted.  Many people are still dying from the stress of it all.  Was not America synonymous with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the American Dream, aka modern paradise?

Make no mistake.  What happened in the south can happen anywhere in the country.  The rebuilding of the South is an ethical, moral, and social imperative of the entire United States. Instead of justice and equity in rebuilding the Southern region, it’s just us.  The South is not a foreign country; perhaps if it were, more timely and substantial recovery would be accomplished.

© 2007 New Orleans  

Mona Lisa Saloy--author of 2005 T.S. Eliot prize-winning book, Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Poems, which also won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award in Poetry 2006, Folklorist--is associate professor of English and Director of creative writing at Dillard University (before Katrina). She won the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for this collection. She has also won fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the United Negro College Fund/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, magazines, journals, and film. She received her PhD in English and MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University and her MA in creative writing and English from San Francisco State University. Displaced by hurricane Katrina, Saloy is a visiting associate professor of English and creative writing at the University of Washington for the 2005/2006 academic year.  Mona Lisa Saloy Bio

*   *   *   *   *'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

*   *   *   *   *

Red Beans and Ricely Yours

By Mona Lisa Saloy

Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy has achieved a similar liberation and transformation with this new book of poems. Such personal victories always deserve great applause, especially when they are achieved so wonderfully. No writer or group of writing comes to mind of Black New Orleans that captures the New Orleans life in so wondrous a painting, musical composition—not Kalamu ya Salaam, not Brenda Marie Osbey, not even Marcus Bruce Christian. None expresses such love and devotion, none so realistically and approachable, none so fully and delightfully as we find in Red Beans and Ricely Yours(2005). These fifty poems or so of a life murdered by human neglect and disregard are insights won with blood and tears. I remind you the book should have been the first three sections (36 poems), except for a few other poems in the other two sections (16 poems). Whatever flaw the book may have, one delights even in them. All the poems are well done and will be enjoyed. Folks, we have a classic here that will make an excellent gift for any occasion. I have the hardback edition. One on your shelf, everybody’ll know you have good taste, New Orleans style. A final note: I’m told that Louis Armstrong used to sign all his letters Red Beans and Ricely Yours.

*   *   *   *   *


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'."

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

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)





update 17 February 2012




 Home  Mona Lisa Saloy