Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crossing the Cemetery Gates

At first I wasn’t going to go. When I watched the news of the actual unearthing and disrespect of the grave sites at Burr Oak Cemetery my immediate thought was “Stay away. That place is not safe.” But something inside of me over rode the obvious internal good advice. Call it my inquisitiveness or my attraction to the uniqueness of the it stupidity. It just might be me not wanting my people to be taken advantage of and endangering their beings.

I quickly sent out the call on Facebook to an old comrade who has family buried out in Burr Oak, after wards I contacted other friends with loved ones interned there. I made up a list and started thinking of ways to organize the people. As of right now, Operation P.U.S.H. has set up meetings at their headquarters for anyone who needs to weigh their legal options as it pertains to class action lawsuits. Good, while I really wanted to help, the people will get what they need quickly.

Friday was the day I decided to drive to Burr Oak and see about my grandfather. His name is Basil Duke Walker, my mother’s father. My aunt says he passed in 1972. I don’t have a memory of my grandfather that I can call up. My mother told me I met him when I was a sickly baby of two. I’m sure if I go into trance or meditate deeply enough I can find his face. The thought that the next time I see my grandfather will be his disturbed bones...shakes me.

As it turns out, the cemetery manager and 3 yard workers targeted a lot of graves that had no headstone, been there for a long time and no one came to visit. I believe that my grandfather may very well be one of the bodies disinterned and discarded because my family didn’t know where he was buried. I admit when I first thought of the idea of my family’s grave being disrespected in that manner I devised a plan to get to those responsible and crack their skulls open. A thought that took about 0.1 second. For me that was a lifetime. Even though I came to my senses I was still angry. Despite the heavy FBI presence, despite the rain, despite the extramundane harm that could befall me, I decided to go down to the cemetery.

I wasn’t going without attempting to set things right or at least to protect myself. I made a call for consultation to a friend and got the instruction I needed. I felt better about going to the scene.

Driving there was an experience, it seemed like the closer I got to the cemetery the more nervous I got. I had a list of names my friends gave me so that I could look for their loved ones for them. I soon hit heavy traffic that slowly turned into a parking lot. Something told me to park the car in the mall lot and walk the rest of the way. I asked a store worker where Burr Oak Cemetery was and in a gesture of familiarity she told me it was one block away. My intuition was right on, I parked my hog in the lot and prayed that I wouldn’t get towed after viewing a sign warning me of such. No worries, I feel protected.

It’s hot as hell, I forgot the suburbs get the more extreme temperatures than the city. Half way there I could see people walking from the cemetery. Soon I could see a gathering of people at the intersection. The cars in the street are at a stop. I walk in the street because for some reason there’s no sidewalk, That’s one of two things Chicago suburbs seem to not have a lot of, sidewalks and lights. I get to the cemetery gates and my nervousness climbs but something in me keeps me cool.

The scene is a calm chaos. Emotions overloading the area, choking me just as the intersection is choked with police, people and lots and lots of cars. Every face I see is one of confusion, disgust and sadness. The vibe is heavy but not the heaviest I’ve ever felt.

The cemetery is crawling with detectives, sheriff officers, cemetery workers and tons of Black people. People are on cell phones calling family members to get information or to report on what they find out. Most of the conversations are a mixture of cursing, crying, arguing and consoling. One of the officers is on a bull horn informing the people to fill out some forms or to direct them to the two lines forming at makeshift offices. The lines are out the gate and down the street. An officer asks me if I needed help. I let him know what he’s heard all day, “I’m looking for my grandfather.”. The officer hands me a form to fill out and tells me where to take it. I ask him if I can walk the grounds, “Most definitely.”

It was important for me to walk the grounds, to get the full extent of the energy emanating from the people...and from the ground itself. The cemetery is breathing, heaving a subtle motion underneath my feet. I walk on the concrete road at first, talking with people, trying to put some at ease while informing others. As I feel my way through the grounds I feel a sudden familiarity. I approach the spot where a comrade least I hope his body is there. Heru, a very popular brother shocked us all with his rather peaceful passing in late 2007. I miss his smiling face and his sense of humor. A few feet from him the mother of a dear old friend of mine hopefully is in her spot. Standing still near their spots I am still, I perform my actions and move through the mounds where the graves are. No longer am I on the road.

“Damn” I think to myself, I should have brought my camera and documented all of this. But then again, that might not be a good idea. There’s already huge amounts of disrespect of the hallowed ground beyond
the criminal acts. Maybe it’s best I don’t bring a camera in here. The last time I used an electronic device in a cemetery, my cell phone, I got in big trouble. For now, screw the camera.

Red flags are marked throughout the grounds. I am later informed that the flags are there to indicate the grave violations. There are flags everywhere. There are open unearthed graves, headstones are over turned, grass is dead, the land is lumpy and uneven, huge mounds of dirt are collected at certain spots and next to them huge holes in the ground. In the holes are the large concrete containers for the coffins....but no coffins. In the back, I can see in the distance. The large green gate the feds put up to fence off the area where the corpses were unceremoniously dumped.

That’s where I need to be.

Walking through the ground, voicing my respect and pardons on the way. I get to the green gate and I can see forensics detectives wading through the area next to mounds of dirt, discarded headstones and cement containers. In the background behind me I can still hear the voices of the people.

“Oh my lord.”

“Who would do such a thing?!”

“His headstone is gone! It was right here!!”

“I found her!”

Frozen in the space for what seems to be an hour I direct my attention to a tree near the gate. There, it’s perfect, almost. The people gradually move away from the tree as if something is driving them away so that I can be alone.

I do what I came to do. Calmly. Gently. Respectfully. Fearful. Hoping no one interrupts. Hopefully this will be enough. Finished, I start walking looking back.

Not today grandfather, I will not look for you nor my friends family. Time needs to pass. There are a lot of very angry people....there are a lot of very sad people...and then there are the ones looking for them.

It’s dangerous out here, I’ll come back when it’s better.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Afrikan Fatherhood (a discussion on Fathers Day)

The Masculine Divine is an aspect of the Creative Force of the Universe and interacts with the Feminine Divine of the Creative Force of the Universe. On this day Fathers Day there needs to be a dialogue on what is Fatherhood.

To tell the truth, I, FX don't least first hand what makes a Father, a healthy GOOD Father. A sista friend of mine asked the same question: "What exactly is a good father?". It took me a while to think of the answer and concluded that since I'm not a Father and my own experiences with my father I had to admit....I don't know. But I thought about it and did a little bit of analysis and realized that what makes a Father is much of the same aspects that make a Man. So I took a shot at it and threw something together real quick while I was at work. Initially I was going to post this in my homegirls' comment section on her Facebook page but as you can see, it's too dang long. I usually define things precisely within a sentence or two but this subject requires elaboration mainly due to the condition of Afrikan people in regards to familyhood.

Understand I speak a different language than you all, so semantics may come into play in some disagreements.

Essentialy Fatherhood is the fulfillment of a few roles.

King Father (as a compliment to the Queen Mother) - A Father engages not just his biological children but all children in his universe and claims them under his loving protecting reach. He does not discriminate as he is father to his DAUGHTERS as well as his sons. There is no favoritism and treats, respects and serves Women, Men, Elders and others equally within the soverignty of his universe.

Teacher - A Father teaches his children all aspects of the world they live in and how to navigate away from the traps. He teaches his daughters and sons the elements they need so they will be devoid of the value system of the world ie: bigotry, sexism, white supemacy, Black inferiority and self hate, selfishness, greed, materialism etc. A father teaches his children about who and what they are, their history, heritage, culture etc.. Within that, he instills in his children morality, integrity and inelligence....basically the spirituality of Knowledge of Self. A Father also corrects negative behaviour with a fair yet stern correction. This is done out of love and the desire for the child to do and be better not to humiliate the child nor fuck up the development of their self esteem.

Warrior - A Father builds the universe for his children (Family) and protects his family and everything within the family's universe. His children will not be a victim to any of the world's evils as the father stands guard at the forefront of their childrens virtue and innocence. Also throw in there that a father keeps himself healthy and serves as a role model through action how to keep the body healthy.

Husband, Lover - A Father shows unconditional love to the enitre family. He teaches his daughter and son how a man should treat a woman with respect, reverence and healthy eroticism by example. That way a girl will have an idea what to expect in terms of relationship as she engages men and separates them from mere males. The boy learns the value of his mother, sister etc by understanding womanhood in general and how to engage womanhood without the vulgarity, sexism, mysogyny, abuse and ego projection. In fact, both the girl and boy are taught to be emotionally mature and devoid of the negative mindsets mentioned.

Essentially a Father's role is to provide, produce, protect for his immediate and extended family. He raises his daughters as well as his sons and loves them and teaches them equally. Most of all a father is a man of integrity, honesty, courage, patience, intelligence and love and he manifests these qualities through ACTION not just words. Overall Fathers are another form of nurturing.

Fathers do the following:

They live by positive example. ie. don't yell at the child not to smoke then turn around and light up...right in front of the child.

Fathers walk their children to school and talk with the teachers, principals, janitors about their child (and other childrens) education and care. That is if the Father hasn't opened up an indepenent school himself.

Fathers sacrifice for their children.

Fathers make time for their children. Fuck the game.

Fathers do not humiliate their children nor step on their self esteem.

It's ok for a Father to help their daughters with whatever their daughters need, even if it means fixing their little girls hair if Mama is bogged down with something. Trust me it's not "gay" to do your daughters hair.

Fathers reward their children for the things they do that are exemplary or when they exhibit good behaviour (without compromising the childs sincerity).

A Father helps with the childs education, homework, science fair projects, etc. Fathers embody and stress mental acumen, intelligence and helps to sharpen developing skills/talent.

A Father teaches his children how to be a husband or what a husband is by the healthy, positive way he engages the Mother (or his wife).

A Father teaches his children all spects of spirituality, how the children relate to the Creator, how to meditate, proper diet, exercise and their people's culture and history (whether that particular family be Black, caucasian, Indian, Arab, Asian, Southern Indigenous etc.) but this is especially for Afrikan Men.

A Father thinks outside the box of society and teaches his children how to think.

Fathers don't babysit their own damn children! If the child is from the Father it's not babysitting, it's simply being with family.

Fathers burn down and destroy anything and anybody that threatens the lives of their children. PERIOD.

I may have forgotten some things but that's what I can pull together. A lot of details are entailed in these roles. I may have missed some or repeated others but whatever.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Inauguration of Black America

My first day of work since my trip to Barack Obamas' Inauguration in Washington D.C. and I'm already expecting the exitable questions.

One in particular was from my friend of over 10 years. As I sat at a computer he immediately turned to me and started talking,

"Didn't it feel wonderful to be in the midst of Washington D.C. as history was being made with...." I cut him off fast. "It wasn't good, nor bad, it just was. I went to the Inauguration not to celebrate for I knew Barack would be elected and I knew there could be a Black president of the U.S. decades ago. None of this had an effect on me. I went to Washington D.C to do the people's business, I went there to conduct MY business."

I thought maybe that was rude espcially when I said it without even looking at my brother. When I finally did glance at him the look on his face was something I had better get used to, it was a look of being stunned. Mouth open, eyes vacant, hands frozen in the upright praise position. Just frozen in place in reaction to the fact that there was a Black person who did not have the same overly emotional celebratory reaction to Barack Obama's presidency as he and everyone else did.

I am NOT an Obamamaniac.

My more favorable thoughts on Barack Obama not-with-standing, my desire for the advancement of Afrikan people is first and foremost in my mind. This is the politics that I stand on when witnessing the historic election and inauguration of Barack Obama, through asking the question: "What does this mean for Afrika and Afrikans in the Diaspora?". This is definately not to say that I do not love Barack, I do, I love him and his entire family. And this is not to say that I do not have the greatest desire for sucess for Barack, for his health and well being because I do. But I am clear on the political situation that we as Afrikan people in the diaspora are now facing, the reality of imperialism, exploitation and repression. This is reality that Black people and other people of color face. My question is, what does Barack Obama's presidency mean to the Afrikan diaspora? I have my ideas.

The bus I rode into D.C. on was late so I got to the hotel just as Barack Obama took the stage for his swearing in. I broke out the video camera and started recording right when the crowd of African Americans in the City View Hotel erupted in cheers as Supreme Court Judge John Roberts told Barack "Congratulations". People hugged, clapped and raised their arms as if Barack kicked a winning field goal. I have to admit, the sight caught me mesmerized for a few seconds as the energy released into the atmosphere went through me. Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. Then I caught myself and returned to my senses. I put my bookbag and other bag down in plain sight in a chair in the viewing room. Packed my gloves, hat and my new video camera. I also packed a special item, an American flag done up in Red Black Green colors instead of the usual red white and blue. The American RBG flag, for me is a symbol of the Afrikan presence in America.... So to carry this flag of MINE into the heart of Washington D.C. was definetely audacity in and of itself.

The last time I was in Washington D.C. was 13 years ago during the Million Man March. I kept the significance of that in mind as I walked the streets waving the flag while figuring out the streets to the historic mall.

The looks that turned my way were ones of confusion, blank stares, the occasional secretive admirable smirk and those of anger. The most surprising response was from a tall, older caucasian gentleman in glasses. I was helping an elder sister who became disoriented while walking and as he passed by he stated "I like that flag, it's more honest than the other one." The "other one" meaning the red, white and blue Ameican flag we are used to seeing. As he stated that he walked away, the back of his jacket revealing his membership in a union. A conclusion I made was that this dude is one of very few honest caucasians with the type of political and social consciousness that looks upon this day with both hope and suspicion. I can respect that.

After being reassured that the Elder sister will be ok by her family I ventured onward to the mass of people in the distance. Once I immersed myself into the mix of the moving crowd I started my video interviews. This footage shot will be made available for viewing on Youtube and Chicago television.

As I finished up my video work I witnessed the procession of armed forces dressed in uniforms from America's colonial times. The rich history of this country is showcased in almost every word, every exposition every feeling. The overall meaning that undergirds the entire ceremony is one of violence and conquest.

Everything from the parade of colonial forces bearing arms to Barack's oath are inundated with history of violence and war. It is here that the core of the mesmerizing Obamamania is evident and rather disturbing. The adulation, the frozen smiles, the crying, the hugs, the celebratory atmosphere sobers me. It shakes me to my core to see the emotion that people and Black people in particular are throwing to Barack almost seemingly absent any rational thinking, as if we have collectively forgotten the deeper context of the moment.

Maybe they never truly understood the moment. This is especially evident during Barack's speech where he states to people in foreign lands, "....we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.", a comment that for some reason I found troubling. One sister stated that the comment was "humane" and "very 'Black' of him" to say that. However I can't help but wonder if this is merely a "Black" version of stating what the foreign policy of the U.S. has always been. Whether it is the first Bush administration telling the Taliban "we will give you a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs..." or Barack's unclinched fist statement the sentiment is the same. Arrogant hubris is the same whether it's expressed by an Afrikan or a Texan.

Maybe it's the people's belief that Barack will actually give his hand to foreign political leaders. I for one wonder if those leaders will include embattled leaders like Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We only have to wait and see. Such is the case with every aspect of a Barack Obama presidency. But something tells me that Barack will get a pass on many negatives in his future administration.

Appointing a non-educator like Arne Duncan as education secretary, signing off on the bombing of Pakistan and killing civilians just a few days after his inauguration are rather disturbing actions already a week into his presidency. My question to the masses of people and mostly to African Americans is how will we hold Barack Obama accountable to the needs of the people? We cannot merely assume Barack Obama will automatically keep the people's will at heart in an office such as the presidency, especially the particular situations that face Black people. If we constantly give Barack a smile, glowing admiration and no criticism then not only would we waste our opportunity to improve our communities but we would have a hand in burying Barack Obama's legacy in the mire of mediocrity. Granted, based on George W. Bush, Obama only has to be mediocre to seem great, but that's not enough, and as Afrikan people we cannot do that to ourselves nor Barack.

It is imcumbant upon us African Americans to snap out of the cult of personality that is Barack Obama and connect with Barack Obama as our brother as one who is in a very sensitive position. The position to actually help the people or to be continually co-opted by those individuals and organizations that have marched the world into the throes of the new world order.

This is the challenge African Americans face, a challenge that must be faced with rational thought, critical analysis and diligent work minus the teary eyed assimilationist fantasies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jena Louisiana, Part II

Jena Louisiana.

At first it wasn’t what I expected. As we rode across the border I saw mansion-like houses, very nicely kept. No confederate flags as of yet, just a few American flags which to me is just as bad. I stand in my seat to see the front of the bus as we are halted by a La. Cop. He tells the driver that the road is closed. If he told our driver to pull over to the side road, I don’t know, but that is what the driver did. As the bus stopped I quickly equip myself with what I need:

Medicine - check.

Camera - check.

Id - check.

Extra camera battery - check.

Extra video tapes - check.

Cell phone - check even though on the ride up here my cell phone reception had decreased more the further south we went. I sent out several text messages to people but they are stuck in the outbox unable to go out. I hope to get a signal soon, I need to call my homegirl lawyer Angela Lockett and I wanted to make sure my homegirl Queenie Jones was able to call just in case. Also we needed to keep in touch with Rev. Al for running instructions. But no reception yet. Well it’ll pop back in soon I hope.

I found my extra knife - leave it behind. I struggled over that one but I didn’t want to compromise the non-violent integrity of the group I was with.

I’m lightly equipped and ready for whatever...somewhat.

I arm my hand with the portable camera and jump ahead of people on the bus to get some shots. As I walk out and start shooting I can feel the excitement in the air, I can hear the noise of the crowd. However I don’t know where to go. The two sisters who are my assistants catch up with me. One of them reminds me not to leave them. "My bad.....I’m a lil’ excited.". While everyone is confused about where to go I point in the direction of a crowd marching with ol’ RBG in front of them. "I’m following that." I think to myself.

Before we stepped off the bus, captains were assigned. I didn’t want to be one due to my emotional state so I never accepted the "job". But something told me I was going to be more than a camera operator today.

I felt a pain in my abdomen, the same pain that has been creeping inside me on the bus ride. Hmmmm, fuck it. No time for pain now.

My assistant (I forgot her name) wants to cut an intro as we march. We do that, finishing up just as we get to the court house where the protest leaders were to speak. The crowd is thick and as a good cameraman I force my way gently through the crowd to get a decent shot. My shots manage to get close ups of the speakers but too many times I am jostled and bumped to prevent a clear steady shot. That’s understandable. The video is good, the audio is good, the battery time is plentiful and the tape availability is good. I just wish I had a steady shot.

Rev. Al Samson spoke first, then Rev. Al Sharpton, then Michael Baisden. The families of the Jena 6 along with two of the boys were brought up on stage. The crowd yells in support
"We love you!!!"

One sista right in front of me is yelling for Michael Baisden, I mean straight up groupie style. I wanted to tell the sista "hey look, this ain’t about celebrity, keep focused on the job at hand." But since I wasn’t entirely sure what that job was, I just kept on shooting.

The crowd screams their love to the brothers and the family. We are getting hype and I can feel it. Now the energy is starting to invigorate me. I should be here no matter what.

Rev Al Sharpton gives an energized speech, as in the back ground I see Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I think I just saw Cynthia McKinney but I could be wrong. I get a shot of Michael Baisden, and a rather odd sight of the Fruit of Islam.....standing WITH the police in the doorway of the court house.

Rev. Al Sharpton orders the crowd to march to their where? I didn’t catch that. My initial thoughts were, "What’s going on at the court house? Will there be anything for Mychal Bell here since they over turned his adult conviction? Shouldn’t we be staying here, this is where the police seem to be centered.".

I remember on the bus one of the last messages on my cell phone came in from Tanya (Fox). She relates to me instructions from our mutual military minded friend Tone to look out for suspicious people, drones, helicopters, spies, etc. I do that all while shooting what I think will be great footage. My assistants are walking with me and we talk about what’s next. We shoot another march update. Afterwards I take in the vast crowd. Elders, middle aged, children, teenagers, young adults....we’re all here.

Some shouting "NO JUSTICE!! NO PEACE!!".


Some singing that dreaded song "We shall over cooooooome..." Ugghh I hate that fuckin’ song.
I get caught up in the emotion of it all, shooting, walking but never shouting. I’ve been in tons of protests and marches and one thing I remember is to keep my cool. Don’t let the wave of emotion come over me.....that’s when you do stupid shit. So I do what I always do in a protest. Stay alert and watch out for the marchers as well as keeping an eye on the enemy.
Still no signal on my cell phone. Ok.

Our mass of humanity engulfs the street. I can see people as far as the eye can see in front of me and behind me. I see nothing but Red Black Green flags....not one American flag. All being held by brothers and sisters clad in all-black.

We're marching thousands strong, determined to show these Jena 6 brothers and their families that we care and that we have their back. It was awesome, the camaraderie and kinship was seen in every Afrikan face there. We all treated each other like family because that’s what we are!

We march past the school. "There's a rally at the school." someone states. When I arrive there the only thing I see are F.O.I. marching in a straight line and people taking pictures of them. The site where the "white tree" stood is now a vacant lot as school administrators had the tree uprooted. All that stands there now is a lump of dirt where the tree used to me. People take pictures of it.

We continue marching.

We cross the bridge towards a field house and I can see the buses parked there. My assistants want to get a few interviews and we do. We interview a brother. Then we get a good segment with Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Excellent. I try to call my sister comrade, still no reception. Now I'm starting to wonder what's up.

After we get our interviews Rev. Al Samson wants me to shoot him with a few of the organizers. Martin Luther King III, Dick Gregory and Maxine Waters again. By this time my mind is wondering, "What the fuck is supposed to go on here we've been marching for an hour?!". I am not the only one noticing this run around of nothing.

Rev. Al Samson pulls me close and informs me that "...the LEADERSHIP HAS LEFT already for Alexandria Louisiana. There's an amphitheater there where we will continue the rally. We must get the people on the bus and get up to Alexandria. When you see people from our bus tell them to wait here or get on immediately.".

"Ok Rev." I reply. The two sisters and I scan the crowd for our travel mates and we manage to spot a couple of them. I'm feeling a slight pain in my abdomen.

After an hour of standing in the same spot waiting for our people we board the bus.
"Where is everybody?" I ask.

"Out there somewhere, we need to get them on here." an elder replies.

I go out to ask the bus driver, "You want the people on board right?"

"Yeah." he responds.

"We're going to Alexandria right?" I ask.

"I guess so." he questionably replies.

By now Rev Al Samson had already left for Alexandria Louisiana. Now our lead is gone.
"So what are we going to do just wait here?" I ask.

A travel mate states, "I guess so.".

Now it all dawns on me. I didn't want the bus captain job because I didn't want the responsibility but I knew something would happen where I'd have to take charge. "Shit." I think to myself, "l'll go get them."

I give the camera to the sister and equip myself with more stuff. No telling how long I'll be.
"Keep the bus here, I'll be back with the people. KEEP THE BUS HERE! DON'T LEAVE!". After that I venture out into the blazing hot Louisiana sun, looking for over 30 lost Black folks among thousands in a potentially hostile environment. With no sleep, no cell phone and a gnawing pain coursing through my body.

Pssssh, is that all I gotta' do?

For the next TWO HOURS I am walking the streets of Jena searching. I ask our security the F.O.I., if they knew what was supposed to happen next. "We don't know brotha.".

What? How our security don't know what's going on?!?!

"Well I think ya'll need to gather the people and direct them to their buses, we're supposed to go to Alexandria.". After several instances like that, it dawns on me that the people don't know what to do. They were all just walking around, taking pictures, laughing, and sitting around.
This is not good, as by now I'm trying another cell phone call and I'm getting a "no service".
"Excuse me brothas and sistas, are ya'lls cell phones working?" I ask a crowd.

They all respond almost as if choreographed, "no, we can't do anything with them.".
SHIT! this is not good. Thousands of black folks with no organization and a dizzy security with no idea what to do and no communication. I immediately start informing people that they need to get to their buses for the next part of the rally in Alexandria. "People! Ya'll need to get to your buses now, they're waiting!".

I see a group of brothers and sisters arguing with white residents on the side of the road. We were all given specific instructions not to engage the white Jena residents particularly with arguments. But here's a crowd of super deep Black folks exercising their chance to argue down and prove a white person is wrong and inferior in front of their cameras.

"Brothers and sisters ya'll got to keep it moving, we're not to engage the residents...your buses are waiting for you, we all have to get to Alexandria right now!!" I yell.
"Oh ok brother, come on ya'll." was the groups reaction. The group walked away from the white Jena resident, stood around, then walked back to continue arguing.

I'm getting frustrated now because we're vulnerable, numbers be damned. I spend another hour walking up to groups of Black folks:

"Where are ya'll going to?"

"Where are ya'll coming from?"

"Yes ya'll need to get on your buses now, they're ready to leave now for Alexandria!"

"Does anyone have a working cell phone?!"

Finally my stupidity or heroism whichever you want to call it runs out. "Fuck this! I can't do all this by myself. I’m going back to my bus.".

More time passes as I walk to where my bus is. Thinking about why would the "generals" leave the troops in the battlefield without orders or information. What's this pain in my abdomen? Why is my cell phone not working?! What's my ex doing?

I get back to the bus waiting area and I freeze.

My bus is gone.
"No these negroes didn't!!"

I ask around for the where abouts of a giant Gatling bus and I'm told they all took off.
"No these negroes didn't just LEAVE ME IN JENA FUCKIN LOUISI-FUCKIN-ANA!!!"

Ok, contingency plans run through my head. Look for the bus, maybe they're out looking for me. If they’re gone, latch on to any bus going back to Chicago or anywhere near Illinois. That's what’s happening, even if I gotta sit on the floor of a bus, "I isn't stayin' hurrr!!"


Another 2 HOURS PASS and I'm looking for my bus, all along doing the same thing, telling people where to go and what to do....someone has to.

Well, this is what I wanted, get out of Chicago....see different places....reactivate my so-called activism......see different people, experience new things. ONE OF THEM WASN'T GETTING LOST IN LYNCH-A NIGGA-VILLE U.S.A.!!!!

After hours of searching, I turn around and off in the distance.....there it is. My fuckin' bus. I board it and tell people what happened to me in the 3 hours I was gone as I sit down to rest. The bus is still damn near empty. "We still have to get our people." an elder states. Doris Lewis the bus captain and organizer is complaining about how there was no organization and no proper information distribution. I sit down and catch my breath and listen to the elders talk about where everyone is and what's next.

Again, someone states "How will we get our people to the bus? We gotta go!"

Another elder states that we should go out to look for them. "FX, you didn't find any?".

"No", I reply.

A couple of people volunteer to go out and look for our bus mates. I stand up half rested and state "Ok, but we all don't need to get lost. A couple of us will stay on the corner to act as a guide to whomever we come across that belongs on the bus. The rest will go out in two directions searching for people. When you find them, direct them to this corner to which we will then direct them to the bus."

We spend the next two hours waiting and directing the few stragglers who were lost in the city. During this time I find out that Jesse Jackson is giving a speech at the courthouse down the road. I thought this was a unified effort, but then it hit me......THAT'S THE REASON FOR THE DISORGANIZATION! There's a schism between Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, they both planned separate marches in Jena! It all made sense now! The disorganization, the lack of information, the confusion among the people. The "generals" of the "army" WERE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE!

Al Sharpton the National Action Network, Michael Baisden and other radio personalities and entities planned a march while Jesse Jackson, the SCLC, the NAACP the New Black Panther Party (the New Black Panther Party? With Jesse Jackson?!?!) planned another protest.

To make matters worse, the cell phone mystery was solved somewhat during the two hour wait. Everyone I asked said that their cell phones wasn't working. People immediately thought conspiracy! I even heard of a person on the stage at the court house with Jesse Jackson stating that "they" are scrambling our cell phones. However before I assert conspiracy I had to find out some information first. Since most of us are not from Jena Louisiana that meant we were roaming and thus our cell phone services may be cut or become limited. In the case of my cell phone, I have T-Mobile but during the travel into Jena, my service switched to "US Cent" and "AT&T" and my service was cut. So to solve this mystery, simply ask a native to the state of Louisiana if they have service. If the natives have service, no conspiracy, we’re just roaming. If they don’t have service,....the caucasian is jamming us all. So that’s what I did. The brothers I asked were from Alexandria Louisiana and they told me that they do have service and that only U.S. Centennial and Cingular work in Jena Louisiana, nothing else. Mystery solved. no conspiracy, just shitty service in a low tech city.

After some time I found my homie Africa Hot and another brother, now our bus was complete. We all pile in. Doris Lewis our bus captain voiced the general consensus...."Fuck Alexandria, go straight home to Chicago!".

The ride home was shorter than the ride to Jena Louisiana, the ride back home always is shorter. I’m staring out the window trying to ignore a Wesley Snipes movie the bus driver playing. Outside is something I have only read about as a youth from the big city......I see a cotton field in Mississippi. The sight of the field conjures up images of my fore parents stooping over in the hot sun picking the branches clean of this economic staple. The same economic staple that would prompt caucasians to hang our brothers and sisters with nooses, the same ones that hung from that tree in the yard of the Jena High School. What did we accomplish? What will happen? So we went down to Jena, shouted, took pictures and got some steam off, which was good in a way. But in the entire scheme of things, what was accomplished? And the question remains.......will what we did on September 20th cease any and all acts of aggression against us from our open and bitter enemy?

No. In fact acts of aggression against us will increase. Why? Simply because caucasians CAN do it.

Funny thing about the cell phones, we talked about how they didn’t work. I told people on the bus about how only Cingular and U.S. Centennial service providers worked in Jena.
“But FX,” a young brother responded. “My phone didn’t work and I have Cingular.”.

Those mother fuckers.

Jena Louisiana, Part I

“I feel like shit.”

I say to myself as I wake up 8am, Thursday morning, September 20th. The first thing on my mind is how in the hell can I keep my mind on Jena Louisiana when I just went through a painful break up with my girlfriend hours earlier? What should I expect when I go to Jena? I heard of reports that the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi’s were going to meet the protesters in Jena. Why am I even going? What is the plan? How will it be executed? Am I going to jail? Am I going to die in those southern streets or hung in a jail cell?

Am I going to have to kill someone?

I wash up and don my black, which is redundant to me. Telling FX to wear black on a certain day is like telling Darth Vader to wear black on a certain day.
I pack my jigsaw epidermis severer and my retractable cranial loosener along with my books:
“Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway”,
“The Art of War”,
“The Art of Peace”
and George Jacksons’ “Blood In My Eye”.

I say a prayer and walk out towards history.

I’m traveling under the lead of Rev. Al Samson. Yes I, FX worked with a reverend. Reverend Al Samson is one of 4 pastors/priests/reverends, etc that I allow to talk to me. And I must take this moment for clarity sake for you the reader. In Chicago we have a preacher named Rev. Al Samson who worked with Dr. King. Obviously do not get his name confused with Rev Al Sharpton. As soon as I arrive at Fernwood United Methodist Church, Rev. Al greets me and as usual whenever we meet or talk the good rev is giving me a job to do. I’m the official camera operator for the entire expedition. But hey it’s not such a bad job, I had two cute assistants.

In the church Rev. Al gives a run down of what to expect on the trip. “This is a non-violent protest but I don’t have to tell ya’ll veterans about non-violence.”
“Uhhhh....Rev Al”, I raise my hand. “ might wanna’, you know....give me a quick introductory crash course cuz’ uhhh.....I don’t do non.....uhhhh I brought weapons.....”.
Damn. I had to leave them in the car.

Everyone introduces themselves until it’s my turn, but Rev Al stops me. “This is FX, responsible for many of the shows you see on access t.v., he also has a deep passion for Africa, particularly the Lost Boys of Sudan....he will be out media operator.”

A elder brother states: “I wanna know what his mama named him.”
“Well FX are initials for an Afrikan name.” I responded.
“What’s the name?” Rev. Al says.
“Fambilikile Xhen Nozakhere.”
“His name is John Smith and he’s from Alabama!” Rev Al snaps back.
The church roars with laughter and we all clap loudly.
“My slave name is [name witheld]”

The bus comes, a luxury liner provided by Gatling, the same people who do dead folks. Before we take off we are made to sign a waiver, waiving any and all responsibility of Al Sharptons’ National Action Network in the event I die or get maimed or something. Al Samson and former alderwoman Dorothy Tillman board their LIMO and we finally take off......for a 16 fuckin’ hour ride to Jena Louisiana.

The bus demographic is what I expected. Mostly elders, but the gender count may be equal. Most of these elders marched with Dr. King, conversed with Malcolm, they’ve been jailed and attacked by police and their dogs as well as the KKK. They’re all activists. They’ve played the background in many of the Black history events we read about in books. I’m one of the few fortunate youngsters on the bus. There’s a younger brother from Chicago State University as well as a couple of late 20's or early 30's folks. There’s the fine vet sista who is in her late 40's but she looks and dresses as if she’s in her late 20's. There’s one of the bus drivers....a brother who has an 80's style jheri curl. Wet and all. Nuff’ said on that. Then I see my homey Africa Hot but at first I didn’t recognize him. It wasn’t until FoxbrownFox text messaged me and told me that he was on my bus. “Yo’ what up Marcus?!?!”, “Ay FX!”.

There are 4 caucasians and for some reason 3 of them sat all around me. The person sitting next to me is an older caucasian gentleman somewhere in his 60's maybe. He’s a reverend, from the south side of Chicago, he’s wearing a Black Panther t-shirt........and an ankh. Usually if I was near a creature like that I would spark immediate conversation, but I just wasn’t in a talkative mood. Maybe next time I see him we shall converse on spirituality, religion and politics. But right now I am consumed with someone else.

As soon as we get to Interstate 57, I stare out the window and think about her. The pain. The anger. Thoughts of the past two highly emotional days playing in my head.

Hey, snap out of it, you may be going to a riot.

And so we ride.

and ride....

and ride....

and ride.........

Finally after whatever many hours we stop at a Methodist church in Mississippi to eat 3am!
I’m thinking about how is this going to effect my body’s energy economy. I need sleep but I’m eating eggs, hash browns, chicken strips, fruit and other shit at the time my body isn’t used to processing new food. I’ll just have to deal with it.

I meet up with several comrades at the church as more buses from Chicago arrive. Jokari (Panther), Yoel from the Underground Bookstore, Fred Riley and others. I talk with all of them about the protest until eating time is over....time to get back on the bus and hit the road again.

We finally arrive in Louisiana and it’s beautiful. There is an eerie mist hovering just above the’s almost supernatural. Has this natural phenomenon always been? How many of my enslaved Ancestors used this mist as cover in their escape in the Underground Railroad? How many Klansmen’s white robes were blended into the pale white mist as they snuck up on my Ancestors? Incredible how such a beautiful sight of nature only conjures up it’s use in one of the most evil events in history.

For the past 15 and a half hours I didn’t sleep at all. I stayed awake the entire time occasionally talking, reading, watching the movies they played on the bus, gazing out the window at lands I’ve never seen and more thoughts of her. I have to hold back the tears now and gather myself. We just crossed into our locale objective......


Part 2 next.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Somalia vs the World

Somalia vs the World
by FX

It's 1991 and Somalia is no longer a nation. The collapse of the government throws the east Afrikan nation into a marathon of chaos, hunger and uncertainty. Where many analysts hide their racial notion that the collapse of the nation is because of Afrikans inability to govern themselves, the fact remains, Somalia has had little structure for decades. Whenever a nation has no functional government the people of that land become the victims of every other nation on the planet. In the case of Somalia, the lives of poor Black people do not appear on the radar of the consideration of the rest of the world. It is this situation along with Somalias’ history of embattled colonialism that makes Somalians a particularly fierce and enduring people.

In 1991, Muhammad Said Barre was ousted as president of Somalia after which Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, was the center point for a violent power grab by feuding "warlords". The notable ones being Muhammad Aideed and the other faction lead by Ali Mahdi Mohamed. During the years of Somalia's instability the people suffered....but not just from the domestic warlords.

According to the people on the ground in Somalia, peculiar events started happening right after the ouster of Muhammad Said Barre in 1991. Miles off the coast of Somalia into the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (depending on where an individual was looking) there appeared large boats. These boats off in the distance were not only transgressing into Somali territory but they were dumping toxic waste into the water while other boats were stealing large amounts of fish and other seafood.

Johann Hari in an article from the San Francisco Bay View newspaper writes:

"’As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.’"

No sooner than the Tsunami washed up the evidence, European companies dumping toxic waste into the water, that another unfortunate realization occurred to the Somali fishermen. Many of these European boats were looting the Somali waters of seafood. This only enhanced the food crisis in Somalia and impoverished the fishermen even more.

Hari goes on to write:

"More than $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas."

The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: 'If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.' "

Despite the division and despite the lack of structure in the country, the trespassing ships looting seafood and other ships dumping toxic waste were soon confronted by a loosely organized group of Somali men. The goal was to defend Somalia in the face of victimization and disrespect from European, Asian and Middle Eastern corporations. The initial program was one of an acting "coast guard". The more the Somali men defended the Somalian waters, the more the missions evolved over the years.

"They are organized in a multitude of small cells dotting the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden coastline. The two main land bases are the towns of Eyl, in the breakaway state of Puntland, and Harardhere, further south in Somalia."

There are hundreds of small cells, linked to each other," Hasan Shukri, a pirate based in Haradhere, told AFP in a phone interview." as reported in an article from Agence France Presse featured in The Daily Star.

The Somali's devised a structured code of conduct and by-laws among the Somali cells thus making them highly effective in accomplishing their missions.The codes included details from not killing hostages to how to dispense the ransom money which at the time was considered taxes. Eventually in the absence of governmental regulation the missions of some of the fishermen and other Somalis became more criminal in nature. Over the years while some Somali's kept up the agenda of defending Somalia's waters, others turned the efforts into a more profit making venture. However, they kept the code of conduct which separated many of the Somali pirate cells from the inland Islamic militias and warlords.

Quoting the Daily Star article: "While today's pirates have morphed into a sophisticated criminal ring with international ramifications, they have been careful to retain as much popular prestige as possible and refrain from the violent methods of the warlords who made Somalia a by-word for lawlessness in the 1990s."

’I have never seen gangs that have rules like these. They avoid many of the things that are all too common with other militias,’ said Mohammad Sheikh Issa, an elder in the Eyl region."

‘They don't rape, and they don't rob the hostages and they don't kill them. They just wait for the ransom and always try to do it peacefully,’ he said."

"Somalia's complex system of clan justice is often rendered obsolete by the armed chaos that has prevailed in the country for two decades, but the pirates have adapted it effectively."

These were defenders of Somali sovereignty, they captured European boats, Arab freighters and Asian industrial boats and demanded ransoms. The parent company or country would pay the ransom more often than not as to avoid what they thought would be the death of their crews and destruction of their cargo. A ransom of a few million was nothing compared to losing an entire ships worth of cargo, or the ship itself. The Somalians even captured an Israeli ship that was carrying a multitude of ammunition and guns headed for of all places, Sudan. The mainstream media took little notice that the Darfur and Southern Sudanese Rebels were being armed by Israel in their fight against the Islamic government in Khartoum.

The Ukrainian ship owned by Israel "...was carrying a cargo of 33 Soviet-type battle tanks, rocket launchers and ammunition, allegedly expected to reach rebels in the Sudanese violent Darfur region.".

On Tuesday, a plane from South Africa carrying $ 3.2 million dropped the demanded ransom onto the Faina upon an agreement between the pirates and the ship's owner, Press TV correspondent reported.". This account is according to an online article from

Initially the attitude towards the Somali men hijacking boats was looked upon favorably by many of the Muslim warring factions inland. It wasn't until the hijackings became a matter of criminal money making ventures rather than the honorable duty of protecting Somalia's waters that many Muslim warlords showed their disdain for the so called "pirates". In fact the hijackings were ended by force at times as reported on May 25th 2008 by AFP Google news article entitled "Six killed in clashes between Somali pirates and Islamists".

The Islamists mentioned in the article were an organized group of Somali Muslims who deemed themselves the Union of Islamic Courts that eventually gained some control over Somalia and in fact was able to garner a much more peaceful time in the country during their rule. During their presence in Mogadishu, they fought against and many times arrested the pirates for their actions.

The peace did not last as the United States through the CIA declared that the UIC as well as other Islamic groups in Somalia were linked to Al Qadea and the anti-western government in Eritrea. This lead the U.S. to assist in the formulation of the Transitional Federal Government with Ethiopia against the Union of Islamic Courts whom were backed by Eritrea. Upon their dealings with the populace on the ground in Somalia the C.I.A. began a campaign of funding warlords to strike against the UIC. Initially the UIC had little backing from the populace. Yet support for the UIC spread throughout Somalia from many in the populace who began to figure out that outside western forces were subverting their country. Eventually the U.S. lead military strikes with Ethiopia on Somalia to drive out the Islamists in December of 2006. It was during the years leading up to the 2006 U.S.-Ethiopian invasion and bombing of Somalia (where civilians were killed) that the Islamists managed a fragile peace and fought against and prosecuted the so called "pirates". This invasion resulted in one of the worst catastrophes in Somalian history as thousands of Somalians were displaced from their homes or killed by direct U.S. air strikes and brutal Ethiopian occupation.

The eventual effect of this alliance between Ethiopia and the U.S. may be a blowback of sorts as the pirates may unite with their former nemesis in the Muslim militias. One Muslim group in particular, Al Shabab have sided with the pirates in light of recent events with the U.S.

The Christian Science Monitor reports "...more radical Islamist groups, among them Al Shabab, which reportedly has ties with Al Qadea, have recently praised pirates. In Baidoa, Al Shabab spokesman Muktar Robow ‘Abu Mansur’ told reporters that pirates were 'protecting the Somali coast.'

’Foreign powers want to divide the country,’ he said, 'and the pirates are protecting the coast against the enemies of Allah.' "

Al Shabab as well as a few other Muslim groups in Somalia have looked to the pirates for the dual role of funding their military efforts against the U.S. through money gained from hijacking ships and fighting against U.S. aggression. Other Muslim groups however have turned against the pirates, this is due in part to the unwanted imperialist attention and aggression that such acts will attract from the U.S..

The Maersk Alabama situation has forced President Obama to step in.

Piracy wasn't much on the radar of the United States until the Somalians hijacked the Maersk Alabama, not only a U.S. ship but a sub contractor to the Pentagon ( President Barack Obama, in order to not look weak on terrorists and foreign policy reportedly gave the "ok" for the use of force against the young Somalians who held the Maersk crew along with Capt. Richard Phillips.

This situation has prompted President Obama’s administration to utilize the U.S. Navy along with other countries to escort ships through the commercially strategic portal of the Gulf of Aden. Also, these military ships will protect corporations as they lay high speed internet cable along the floor of the gulf. Compounded with naval escorts, the Obama administration is readying for military strikes on Eritrea for their support of the Somalian Muslim militias.

Talks of military action is reported in a article.

"President Barack Obama, who gave permission for the military operation to free [Captain Richard] Phillips yesterday, is coordinating the U.S. response to piracy with other countries and the shipping industry to reduce vessels’ vulnerability to attack, boost operations to foil attacks and prosecute any captured suspects, said a senior administration official."

Along with military land incursions, aid will be sent to the Somalian people in order to win their support for the U.S. military action.


Let’s not overlook the irony of an African American president of the United States Barack Obama, a direct descendent of East Afrika now planning a conflict with....East Afrika. Somalia must be seen as a case study of how self determination among a people is essential to the survival and independence of that people. Without a functioning government any people of a nation will succumb to one of two eventual outcomes:

1. Lawless elements within the people, usually a minority will begin the cancerous internal disintegration from within. A fratricidal inevitability that can plague any group of people be they Asian, European, South American or North American.

2. The people within the "nation" will become victims of any outside forces that can decide at any time to take advantage of a defenseless people. This is exactly what has happened with Somalia in relation to Arab, European and Asian countries dumping toxic waste and stealing seafood from Somalias’ territorial waters.

What we have in Somalia is a long history to avoid this genocidal and fratricidal situation. Contrary to media reports, the militias of Somalia are not all connected to Al Qadea, nor are they all Muslim fundamentalists. What many people fail to understand is that Afrikans are deeply aware of their situations and are fully cognizant of what must be done. This is where those who have organized nation building efforts in Somalia have taken the responsibility to bring structure to their land. Before the U.S. - Ethiopian invasion in December 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts were able to bring about the most stability Somalians have seen in over a decade. An economy was developing, commerce among the people, criminal courts, efforts to establish medical, educational and even sporting events occurred in Somalia. None of these efforts were in their ideal state, the Somalian basketball teams were restricted especially during Islamic rule much like other sporting events. Justice in Somalia at times was brutal and the infrastructure was war torn, yet the people carried on despite the short comings. A testament to Afrikan spirit. But most notably during the authority of the Union of Islamic Courts, "Piracy" was slowed to a halt.

On the question of piracy it is evident that the Obama administration’s solution is guns and bombs. Yet it doesn’t take a social scientist to figure that in order to stop piracy, poverty must be alleviated in Somalia. Using Navy Seal snipers to kill teenagers, some of whom are merely trying to get money for their village and families, is not the answer. Yet the Obama Administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Pentagon are bent on the usual answer, imperialist violence and co-option of Somalian sovereignty (what’s left of it). A collective revenge against Somalia for the 1993 U.S. invasion debacle which resulted in 19 dead U.S. soldiers, an event documented in the book and subsequent movie of the same name "Black Hawk Down".

Afrikans in America figure into this Somalian situation by way of learning the facts and aiding Somalian citizens and refugees in America. Pressuring the Obama Administration for a more humane policy towards Somalia is an option worth exploring. However a fact that must enter the discussion is that the military is not a democratic entity. Ever since President Eisenhower and President Kennedy warned American citizens of the military industrial complex, the intelligence community and military have done the will of corporate elites. Since World War 2 Afrika has been an imperialistic playground for the U.S. and Europe and now China and India in what is being called the "Second Scramble for Afrika". Resource wars on the Motherland are igniting as newly realized oil rich countries like Angola, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and now Sudan and parts of East Afrika (Eritrea, Somalia etc.) have prompted the United States to conceive and plan for a permanent military base in Afrika notably called AFRICOM or Africa Command.

With this new scramble for Afrika it is almost guaranteed that the sovereignty of every Afrikan nation will be virtually extinguished. This exploitation will have the same effect on the Motherland as it has always had: wars, famine, disease and poverty. As long as the Ethiopia and Eritrea continue their divisive conflicts in favor of foreign interests – Ethiopia with the West and Eritrea with Arab world – then Somalia, being caught in the crossfire, will destabilize the entire eastern part of the Motherland. The destabilization will intensify the situation in Sudan, threaten the stability of Kenya and may even reignite Rwanda. Unless Afrikan people whether they be Somalians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Djiboutians, Kenyans, Afrikans in America or anywhere in the continent or the diaspora start to get serious about unity, then Afrika will be colonized for another thousand years.

Other sources:

"U.S. Military Considers Attacks on Somali Pirates’ Land Bases",, April 12 2009

"Will pirates join forces with Islamist militias in Somalia?", Christian Science Monitor, Scott Baldauf, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor from the April 13, 2009 edition

"Pirates receive $3.2M for Israeli ship",, Feb, 3rd 2009

"You are being lied to about pirates" by Johann Hari, San Francisco Bay View February 4, 2009

"Six killed in clashes between Somali pirates and Islamists", AFP, Hiiraan Online Somalian news, May 24, 2008

"Pirates' strict code of conduct could taper off in the face of more robust navy action", AFP article featured in The Daily Star

"Six killed in clashes between Somali pirates and Islamists", May 25th 2008 by AFP Google news

copyright 2009 FX Nozakhere (Marc J. Hart)