ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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There was no tv then, / just us. It was he that made Xmas, and Mama, their five daughters

and their children; a little red wagon, new clothes, and Aunt Sal, / friends and cousins—waiting for Xmas dinner, begun by Daddy,

his unending prayer blessing this feast  & homecoming. It was / cool, sunny and bright, a nice Sunday clothes day. The birds sang,

as that January day not long after his last birthday when he went / away.




Xmas Fifty Years Ago                      

                            For Tinka (b. 1905)

                                       By Rudolph Lewis



To his table came—his brother Uncle Richard and his wife in

their sky-blue Olds 88 & his cigar smoke and paper money for


me, Lucinda and Grover from Baltimore, Virginia and Bustuh

from Gray—all came from near & far from city & countryside


to be family, at least once a year, in his house near Jerusalem. This

was the land that possessed me before I knew what it was to be


unpossessed. Was I seven or ten, then, believing in all the wonders

of the mystery of holidays? There is no cheer—unwrapped presents


candied yams, collard greens, ham topped with pineapple slices,

oranges, no nuts—like the gift of innocence. There was no tv then,


just us. It was he that made Xmas, and Mama, their five daughters

and their children; a little red wagon, new clothes, and Aunt Sal,


friends and cousins—waiting for Xmas dinner, begun by Daddy,

his unending prayer blessing this feast  & homecoming. It was


cool, sunny and bright, a nice Sunday clothes day. The birds sang,

as that January day not long after his last birthday when he went


away. Never so many been together, since. It’s only a family meal

now—a phone call. “You know, he would have been a hundred


today if he had lived,” I said to Mama who was then 94, her voice

still strong within her. She said an old neighbor died & was buried


at Hassidiah last week. I says to Miss Lula Bell her girlfriend, “I

hope to see you all in the spring,” She says. “Yes, God willing.”

28 December 2005 / 12 December 2011

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Rudy, Enjoyed the poem. Season's Greetings!Kam

Rudy, I love this poem, especially the lines, "There is no cheer—unwrapped presents, candied yams, collard greens, ham topped with pineapple slices, oranges nor nuts— like the gift of innocence."  ThanksJeannette

Greetings Rudy, My Dear Brother, this is history, memories and beautiful... Poetics at its most passionate, life in its zenith... Rudy, If we all had a portion of what you can, have, will, must do... for now, yesterday, yesteryear, tomorrow and all future tomorrow-filled moments of living... Then Rudy ,we will all be full and satisfied... May you always have safe passages in all of your journeys...May you always have poetry in your passions.Frances

Rudy, this is wonderful—one of the best things I've seen come through in the last few months.  Thanks to you, and, peace.Gary

Your poem is wonderful and I think everyone thinks of their childhood when Christmas was exciting (for some) and things were much simple. Everyone can relate to your words. We miss our Dads and their worldly words, don't we? warnings and sayings so we could make it through life easier than they did.Anita

Rudy, This is a really good poem.  Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!Rose 

Thanks for your Xmas poem. For posting my work, too. All the best in 2006 to yours, and to you!Ralph

That's a lovely poem, Rudy, full of love and longing.  We don't realize when we're seven that we're making the memories—of family and food and feelings—that will sustain us for a lifetimeMiriam

posted December 28 2005

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#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
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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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update 12 December 2011




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