Black.Girl.Grad.School

Get Your Life

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Well, I think it brought to American literature a long missing part of itself. I think it made a gateway for younger non-white people to come into American poetry, into American literature. And I think that’s important. When I was young, I didn’t see a gate through which I could come, so it didn’t occur to me that I could be a part of American literature, or part of what is read, etc. But I think the Black Arts Movement … to tell the truth, when I was a young woman I didn’t even know what that was. I didn’t know what was meant. One day, I got a letter from Hoyt Fuller who was editing Negro Digest (you know it latter became Black World). He told me that he was grateful that when I mention when I was first published, I always said it was in Negro Digest. He said some people forget. [Laughter] I didn’t forget. I think that allowed there to be a gate through which I could come, certainly, though I was a little older than some. But people have a tendency, I think, to believe that if you don’t say “black” in every other line, you must be somehow not wishing to be part of Black. But as Gwendolyn Brooks has said, “Every time I walk out of my house, it is a political decision.” And I think that’s true.

What was the effect of the Black Arts Movement on our literature? Given the above, how can we know? What I do understand is that it is better to speak our stories than to keep silence. It is better to try and define ourselves than to remain defined by others. A better question might be this: What was the effect of the movement on our lives? There is a tendency in our literature, in the American tongue, to write with an eye on how the critics and intellectuals receive us. Are we writing for them? Poetry is a human art. It is about being human, whatever gender or color or class. My cousins have never heard of any movements much. Do we not write for them also?

Lucille Clifton, “Interview with Lucille Clifton, Charles H. Rowell”

(Source: muse.jhu.edu)

Filed under lucille clifton running out of time

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Most people know I have a lot of feelings about Bell Hooks … recently … because, well,  she was comin’ for Beyonce to secure her own soundbite that one time we wont mention. 

But most people who know me know that her work has shaped so much of my own life.  And that’s really saying a lot because the only writers I publicly claim as having shaped my life are Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, Audre Lorde, and Amiri  Almighty  Baraka.

Anyways. Times change. Moving on … I reread “Simple Living” in Black Genius: African American Solutions to African American Problems (edited by Walter Mosley, Manthia Diawara, Clyde Taylor, and Regina Austin … for those of you who might someday need this for a dissertation) and thought I might share the most amazing portions (at least to me) from it with you.


On Negro God Types and the rest of Du Bois’ expected talented tenth:

Hooks reminds us that Du Bois himself retracted that original theory of “leadership of the Negro race in America by a trained few” saying, “I assumed that with knowledge, sacrifice would automatically follow … I realized that it was quite possible that my plan of training a talented tenth might put in control and power, a group of selfish, self-indulgent, well-to-do men [and women], whose basic interest in solving the Negro personal problem was personal; personal freedom, and unhampered enjoyment and use of the world …”
On Why  Me and Other  Educated Black People Sell Out:

“Even though individuals whose talents have been nurtured in [white educational institutions] … can actively choose as an insurgent act of resistance to direct their work toward masses of black people, this is rarely the case, largely because the mechanisms of reward — whether recognition, status, or monetary gain — remain highest for those of us who turn their backs on the masses.”
On reformist notions and why radical change might be the best bet OR why black folks can’t agree on Ferguson … or anything else:

“More than ever in our political history, black people in the United States confuse reformist efforts aimed at securing civil rights and equity with agendas for black self-determination, decolonization, and liberation. … while reforms are important, they do not constitute radical interventions aimed at transforming society in ways that ensure the collective well-being of masses of black people … black capitalism is not black self-determination.”
On prosperity and black pain:

“‘It’s American to be constantly craving and to feel that you’re no good without things. …’  … many people have already made the connection that a culture of domination needs people to be in these constant states of yearning.  The pain is actually caused by those systems that make you feel that you are disempowered in your life, you are not anybody, and whether or not you can read and write, you are somebody if you own the right kind of tennis shoes.”

“It is important for this country to make its people so obsessed with its own liberal individualism that they do not have time to think about a world larger than the self.  Everything in our culture is telling us that anything that we can do for money is okay.  What is happening to black people is no different from what is happening to the culture as a whole, but I think it is more personified in our lives at timesbecause of where we sit in the class/economic pole.”
There’s actually a few other quotes from this article that are just perfect for validating my everyday life … but you know … this blog is really about my dissertation work … so … well … revolution and blackness it is.

Most people know I have a lot of feelings about Bell Hooks … recently … because, well, she was comin’ for Beyonce to secure her own soundbite that one time we wont mention.

But most people who know me know that her work has shaped so much of my own life. And that’s really saying a lot because the only writers I publicly claim as having shaped my life are Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, Audre Lorde, and Amiri Almighty Baraka.

Anyways. Times change. Moving on … I reread “Simple Living” in Black Genius: African American Solutions to African American Problems (edited by Walter Mosley, Manthia Diawara, Clyde Taylor, and Regina Austin … for those of you who might someday need this for a dissertation) and thought I might share the most amazing portions (at least to me) from it with you.

On Negro God Types and the rest of Du Bois’ expected talented tenth:
Hooks reminds us that Du Bois himself retracted that original theory of “leadership of the Negro race in America by a trained few” saying, “I assumed that with knowledge, sacrifice would automatically follow … I realized that it was quite possible that my plan of training a talented tenth might put in control and power, a group of selfish, self-indulgent, well-to-do men [and women], whose basic interest in solving the Negro personal problem was personal; personal freedom, and unhampered enjoyment and use of the world …”

On Why Me and Other Educated Black People Sell Out:
“Even though individuals whose talents have been nurtured in [white educational institutions] … can actively choose as an insurgent act of resistance to direct their work toward masses of black people, this is rarely the case, largely because the mechanisms of reward — whether recognition, status, or monetary gain — remain highest for those of us who turn their backs on the masses.”

On reformist notions and why radical change might be the best bet OR why black folks can’t agree on Ferguson … or anything else:
“More than ever in our political history, black people in the United States confuse reformist efforts aimed at securing civil rights and equity with agendas for black self-determination, decolonization, and liberation. … while reforms are important, they do not constitute radical interventions aimed at transforming society in ways that ensure the collective well-being of masses of black people … black capitalism is not black self-determination.”

On prosperity and black pain:
“‘It’s American to be constantly craving and to feel that you’re no good without things. …’ … many people have already made the connection that a culture of domination needs people to be in these constant states of yearning. The pain is actually caused by those systems that make you feel that you are disempowered in your life, you are not anybody, and whether or not you can read and write, you are somebody if you own the right kind of tennis shoes.”

“It is important for this country to make its people so obsessed with its own liberal individualism that they do not have time to think about a world larger than the self. Everything in our culture is telling us that anything that we can do for money is okay. What is happening to black people is no different from what is happening to the culture as a whole, but I think it is more personified in our lives at timesbecause of where we sit in the class/economic pole.”

There’s actually a few other quotes from this article that are just perfect for validating my everyday life … but you know … this blog is really about my dissertation work … so … well … revolution and blackness it is.

(Source: blackgirlgradschool.com)

Filed under bell hooks simple living black genius

6,858 notes

When you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and the goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them. On the other hand, because of the way this society’s organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions.

unhistorical:

Interviewer: But the question is more, how do you get there? Do you get there by confrontation, violence?

Davis: Oh, is that the question you were asking? Yeah see, that’s another thing. When you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and the goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them. On the other hand, because of the way this society’s organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions. You have to expect things like that as reactions. If you are a black person and live in the black community all your life and walk out on the street everyday seeing white policemen surrounding you… when I was living in Los Angeles, for instance, long before the situation in L.A ever occurred, I was constantly stopped. No, the police didn’t know who I was. But I was a black women and I had a natural and they, I suppose thought I might be “militant.”

And when you live under a situation like that constantly, and then you ask me, you know, whether I approve of violence. I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense at all. Whether I approve of guns.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs, bombs that were planted by racists. I remember, from the time I was very small, I remember the sounds of bombs exploding across the street. Our house shaking. I remember my father having to have guns at his disposal at all times, because of the fact that, at any moment, we might expect to be attacked. The man who was, at that time, in complete control of the city government, his name was Bull Connor, would often get on the radio and make statements like, “Niggers have moved into a white neighborhood. We better expect some bloodshed tonight.” And sure enough, there would be bloodshed. After the four young girls who lived, one of them lived next door to me…I was very good friends with the sister of another one. My sister was very good friends with all three of them. My mother taught one of them in her class. My mother—in fact, when the bombing occurred, one of the mothers of one of the young girls called my mother and said, “Can you take me down to the church to pick up Carol? We heard about the bombing and I don’t have my car.” And they went down and what did they find? They found limbs and heads strewn all over the place. And then, after that, in my neighborhood, all the men organized themselves into an armed patrol. They had to take their guns and patrol our community every night because they did not want that to happen again.

Angela Davis on violence and revolution (1972)

(via merakitea)

Filed under angela davis violence new rules newrules

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Here’s How It Goes:

You walk into a store.
You do not steal
but they say you have stolen.
You are afraid
but can never appear fearful.
Your heart races
even though you can’t be human.

And so they kill you.
Shoot you 10x - though
you were dead on the 1st –
so that they might be sure.

kholioli:

"Sometimes. If you’re not white. Even if you don’t live in St. Louis. Even if your name’s not #KajiemePowell."

meditationsforsurvival #morningmusings #writing #andsoitis

Here’s How It Goes:

You walk into a store. You do not steal but they say you have stolen. You are afraid but can never appear fearful. Your heart races even though you can’t be human.

And so they kill you. Shoot you 10x - though you were dead on the 1st – so that they might be sure.

kholioli:

"Sometimes. If you’re not white. Even if you don’t live in St. Louis. Even if your name’s not #KajiemePowell."

meditationsforsurvival #morningmusings #writing #andsoitis

Filed under mike brown kajieme powell