ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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who know what the real deal is with Obama, who are poets and welders, and painters, and players,

and ballers and brave men when it counts and even when she doesn't see it, who once fell

 in love so deeply that our hands/heads/and hearts all ached in unison



What do you say to fathers . . .

By Joseph Jordan 

who lead cultural/artistic revolutions, who love women no matter what, hold little black/brown/white/red Babies (and all mixtures thereof) when they cry and have no problems doing the same when they become adults, who teach and advise, write, paint, and sculpt and mold, who wish for peace while fighting for justice,

who cry when one of us moves on and stays on point when another falls ill, who protect our daughters and anguish when sons falter, who cherish the women in our lives whether they stay or leave, and even when they come back, who speak, spanish, creole, ebonics, a sort-of english, french, krioulu, gujarati, patois, portuguese, hindi, geechee-gullah, and that yadda, yadda shit,

who know how to tune-up a '66 chevy, and put up drywall, who remember working in the auto factory or the gypsum plant or the navy yard or who pulled tobacco to help out the family or pay tuition, who know the difference between gratin, jagacida, pelau, channa, sofrito and big mac sauce and which one is fit to eat,

who barbecue, churrasco, grill, and pull pig and pick crabs, who keep rosewater and curry in the cabinet just in case SHE shows up, who made mothers cry one minute and laugh the next and who loved, joked, fought and loved and loved, and fought, and truly loved our own fathers and said f... you to those who couldn't understand how that worked, who spent their last nickel to help a partner (like me),

who know why we men love Malcolm and Dr. J, and Albizu Campos, and Mandela, y el Negro Primero and Reddy, CLR, and Cabral and Gandhi, Muhammad Ali and Tito Puente and Marvin Gaye, the Tempts, and JB, Run DMC, Kool Moe Dee, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Miles and Coltrane, and Fela and Sekou, Saint, and Matoaca, and Larry Neal, and Skunder and Willie and them on the east side,

who know what the real deal is with Obama, who are poets and welders, and painters, and players, and ballers and brave men when it counts and even when she doesn't see it, who once fell in love so deeply that our hands/heads/and hearts all ached in unison,

who know the difference between beaujolais and merlot and grogue and dirty hearts and spades, who walk away when we want to strike out in anger and hug 2nd cousin Petey and give him some dap even after he's eaten the last slice of sweet potato pie,

who fell in love with the sister with the big legs and long braids even when we didn't know why she looked so good to us, and with the one who taught us how to kiss behind the trees when no one was looking, who understand that you can judge the character of a man by watching how he plays dominoes,

who fought our raging hormones until the hormones won, and who fight now to hold on to them in these years as they slowly ebb away, who fight death-dealing diseases to a stand-still or at least to a truce,

who truly know in their hearts that if they had been an inch taller, a pound heavier, or a second faster the NBA/NFL/Olympics/World Cup/Pam Grier would have been no problem for us, etc., etc., and so forth. 
What do you say??? You say Happy Father's Day—even when others say it, but could never know what it really means to us. 
My best and highest regards to all of you who know the reality—this is an original in appreciation for your friendship and for the example you provide for me. 
A Luta Continua 

Joseph Jordan / Assoc. Prof., Director / Sonja Haynes Stone Center / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / (919) 962-9001

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Barack Obama's Father's Day Speech (video): Note the prepared speech is not the same as the spoken speechRudy

Obama Urges Fathers to Step Up—Barack Obama celebrated Father's Day by calling on black fathers, who he said are "missing from too many lives and too many homes," to become active in raising their children. "They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it," the Democratic presidential candidate said Sunday at a largely black church in his hometown. Reminding the congregation of his firsthand experience growing up without a father, Obama said he was lucky to have loving grandparents who helped his mother. He got support, second chances and scholarships that helped him get an education. Obama's father left when he was 2. "A lot of children don't get those chances. There is no margin for error in their lives," said Obama, an Illinois senator. "I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cyclethat if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls," added Obama, whose daughters, Sasha and Malia, and his wife, Michelle, watched from the audience. . . . The issue adds to his family values credentials and lets voters see him delivering a stern message to black voters. "We can't simply write these problems off to past injustices," Obama said to applause Sunday. "Those injustices are real. There's a reason our families are in disrepair, and some of it has to do with a tragic history, but we can't keep using that as an excuse." AOL News

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What a wonderful alternative to Obama's Father's Day address. Thank you, Joseph.—William

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Mi estimado hermano Joseph,

You have the unique ability to say those things we all feel and know but always seem so incapable of saying.

I just got back to Atlanta.  However, I spent Father's day on Isla Grande with my cousin Yuri, her husband Nelson, kids and parents Berta and Cliff. It was a fabulous Caribbean day full of sun blue skies, puffy white clouds and conversations on politics, music, love, great seafood and family.  We spoke Spanish and English and lots of stuff in between.  It feels good to be celebrated along with very good and not so good men on our day - Father's Day.  Thank you for reminding me that we need to say Felíz Dia to fathers everywhere.  Abrazotes papa, Arturo

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Brother Joseph, What a wonderfully moving, reinvigorating message to receive upon arriving home Monday night from The Gambia where I had little access to my mail. Thank you for your courage and insight, your clear and poetic voice, your friendship and comradeship, and your example of disciplined socially progressive work for our people the world over. In peace, progress, justice, James

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Obama Insults Half a Race Glen Ford

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Obama No—He's a vacuous opportunist. I’ve never been an Obama supporter. I’ve known him since the very beginning of his political career, which was his campaign for the seat in my state senate district in Chicago. He struck me then as a vacuous opportunist, a good performer with an ear for how to make white liberals like him. I argued at the time that his fundamental political center of gravity, beneath an empty rhetoric of hope and change and new directions, is neoliberal. His political repertoire has always included the repugnant stratagem of using connection with black audiences in exactly the same way Bill Clinton did—i.e., getting props both for emoting with the black crowd and talking through them to affirm a victim-blaming “tough love” message that focuses on alleged behavioral pathologies in poor black communities. Because he’s able to claim racial insider standing, he actually goes beyond Clinton and rehearses the scurrilous and ridiculous sort of narrative Bill Cosby has made infamous.Adolph Reed Jr. , author of W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought

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Obama and the Criminal Justice System

Barack Obama delivered another masterful speech Sunday. The news report I saw made it seem like he merely did an impersonation of Bill Cosby, but he was more subtle and sophisticated than that. Nonetheless, it was a speech that Cosby would be proud of since it did endorse Cosby’s arguments.

Obama said that yes black communities needed more jobs and better schools and that past injustices did play a role in the absence of fathers in black homes, but that black people could not use those things as excuses. He said that black men should not be languishing in prison when they should be out looking for a job.

There are too many issues here that should be unpacked and discussed for me to deal with all of them at this point, but I’ll tackle a few.

The injustices are not only in the past. Our current criminal justice system is biased by race and class as I illustrated last week in “Whites, Blacks and Illicit Drugs”. If we had different criminal justice policies there would be fewer black men in prison. We need to work to eliminate the race and class biases in the criminal justice system. We need to expand opportunities for drug treatment. We need to use alternative, community-based sentencing for certain non-violent offenders. If we had elected officials who were committed to reforms of this sort, there would be more black men available to be the fathers that Obama and Cosby would like to see.

This is a very real issue for black women in the poorest black communities. Even the conservative (by my standards) scholar Isabel Sawhill admits that “for certain subgroups of African-American women” she “did find a shortage of eligible men” for them to marry.1 We simply can’t improve the rate of two-parent families in the poorest black communities without dealing with the present racial injustices in our criminal justice system.

Obama argues that blacks should not use issues like the lack of jobs, the high rate of poverty, the high degree of economic inequality as excuses for the absence of men in black families. But there is a growing body of research that identifies the lack of jobs, poverty and economic inequality as important causes of the higher rates of crime in black communities.2 If we want to keep black men out of prison, we will also need economic policies to address these issues.

The economic development of poor black communities is also important because black men who are unemployed are probably less likely to marry. Poor black women are probably not interested in marrying unemployed black men. Unemployed black men are probably reluctant to marry if they cannot contribute financially to the household.

The more education one has the more likely one is to marry.3 The issue of the separate and unequal education that black students receive is, again, not simply an excuse. If we improve the educational attainment of blacks, we will likely increase marriage rates.

If Obama wishes to increase the marriage rates in black communities, he needs to (1) recognize the racial disparities in our criminal justice system as one of the current injustices facing black America, (2) institute policies that lead to good jobs for blacks, and (3) improve the quality of black schools. Is Obama able to recognize the importance of these policies? Will Obama be willing and able to deliver them, if he does?
Thora Institute

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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

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

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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

By Edwidge Danticat

Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy. In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world.

Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe..CaribbeanLiterarySalon  / Review and Interview by Kam Williams

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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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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posted 17 June 2008 




Home  Mau Mau Aesthetics   Obama 2008 Table  Glen Ford Table

Related files: Obama Insults Half a Race    Straying from official orthodoxy   What do you say to fathers    Barack Obama's DLC strategy   Of Obama and Oakland  Obama and the Israeli Lobby  Slow Death in Gaza 

Why South Sudan Want Obama to Lose White House Bid    Obama Victory Creates African Excitement