May 1, 2011


I use the term "jazz" here not so much as a term for a musical art form, as for a mode of being in the world, an improvisational mode of protean, fluid, and flexible dispositions toward reality suspicious of "either/or" viewpoints, dogmatic pronouncements, or supremacist ideologies. To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any poliicing of borders and boundarites of "blackness," maleness," "femaleness," or "whiteness." Black people's rage out to target white supremacy, but also ought to re realize that blackness per se can encompass feminists like Frederick Douglass or W.E.B. Du Bois. Black people's rage should not overlook homophobia, yet also should acknowledge that heterosexuality per se can be associated with so-called "straight" anti-homophobes--just as the struggle against black poverty can be supported by progressive elements of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

--Cornel West, Race Matters, 1994, Vintage Books, pp. 150-151

How Slavery Dehumanizes the Master

My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door,--a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings. She had never had a slave under her control previously to myself, and prior to her marriage she had been dependent upon her own industry for a living. She was by trade a weaver; and by constant application to her business, she had been in a good degree preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery. I was utterly astonished at her goodness. I scarcely knew how to behave towards her. She was entirely unlike any other white woman I had ever seen. I could not approach her as I was accustomed to approach other white ladies. My early instruction was all out of place. The crouching servility, usually so acceptable a quality in a slave, did not answer when manifested toward her. Her favor was not gained by it; she seemed to be disturbed by it. She did not deem it impudent or unmannerly for a slave to look her in the face. The meanest slave was put fully at ease in her presence, and none left without feeling better for having seen her. Her face was made of heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music. 

But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of ha rsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon. 

--Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Ch. 6. Retrieved November 26, 2008 from:

Du Bois on Double-Consciousness

The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, --a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.

--Du Bois, quoted in Cornel West, Race Matters, 1994, Vintage Books, p. 138.

De Tocqueville on Race in America

I do not imagine that the white and black races will ever live in any country upon an equal footing. But I believe the difficulty to be still greater in the United States than elsewhere. An isolated individual may surmount the prejudices of religion, of his country, or of his race, and if this individual is a king he may effect surprising changes in society; but a whole people cannot rise, as it were, above itself. A despot who should subject the Americans and their former slaves to the same yoke, might perhaps succeed in commingling their races; but as long as the American democracy remains at the head of affairs, no one will undertake so difficult a task; and it may be foreseen that the freer the white population of the United States becomes, the more isolated it will remain.

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835, quoted in Cornel West, Race Matters, 1994, Vintage Books, p. 135.

Relating Across our Human Differences

Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.

--Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, 1984 quoted in Cornel West, Race Matters, 1994, Vintage Books, p. 93.

February 5, 2011

bell hooks on white terrorism

    "Returning to memories of growing up in the social circumstances created by racial apartheid, to all black spaces on the edges of town, I reinhabit a location where black folks associated whiteness with the terrible, the terrifying, the terrorizing. White people were regarded as terrorists, especially those who dared to enter that segregated space of blackness. As a child, I did not know any white people. They were strangers, rarely seen in our neighborhoods. The "official" white men who came across the tracks were there to sell products, Bibles and insurance. They terrorized by economic exploitation. What did I see in the gazes of those white men who crossed our thresholds that made me afraid, that made black children unable to speak? Did they understand at all how strange their whiteness appeared in our living rooms, how threatening? Did they journey across the tracks with the same "adventurous" spirit that other white men carried to Africa, Asia, to those mysterious places they would one day call the "third world"? Did they come to our houses to meet the Other face-to-face and reenact the colonizer role, dominating us on our own turf?
      Their presence terrified me. Whatever their mission, they looked too much like the unofficial white men who came to enact rituals of terror and torture. .. . .
      In the absence of the reality of whiteness, I learned as a child that to be "safe," it was important to recognize the power of whiteness, even to fear it, and to avoid encounter. There was nothing terrifying about the sharing of this knowledge as survival strategy. . .
     Even though I live and move in spaces where I am surrounded by whiteness, there is no comfort that makes the terrorism disappear. All black people in the United States, irrespective of their class status or politics, live with the possibility that they will be terrorized by whiteness."

--bell hooks, "Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination" in White Privilege: essential readings on the other side of racism. 2nd ed. Ed. by Paula S. Rothenberg, 2005, Worth, New York, pp 22-23.

February 4, 2011

Facebook Status Updates from a South Bronx 10th grader

 Was on the 17 bus smell like mad weed lmao. Times is ruff now nigga gotta be smoking on the buses.
My favorite animal is steak.
white version: 911 what your emergency?
black version: 911 wat the fuck is wrong wit yu?
A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have
Be faithful to that which exists within yourself
It all started when my dog began getting free roll over minutes:)
White people:OMG ''I LOVE THIS SONG.'' Black people: OH YEAH NIGGA THAT MY SHIT.
Ima name my child La'Taniana'Bo'Vanashrianiqualiquanicejeeahann
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,But by the moments that take our breath away.
I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
Can a hoe survive without her pimp?
Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
If your voice had a heart what would it be? mine would be steve harvey da nigga is funny.
#333 has some problems wit small childern so hide ur kids and there brother and sister cuz #333 well take ur handbag and start grabbing lmao jp #333 funny pretty ODDDD fun to bee with. HANNNNNN
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Health food makes me sick.
I don't have a bank account because I don't know my mother's maiden name.
A single rose can be my garden... a single friend, my world.
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words
I got some new underwear the other day. Well, new to me.
Watchin pranks on youtube. Tell me how Dis guy prank walmart saying that he lost his 2 month daughter,and the police had put the walmart on lockdown Lmao.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. ~M. Kathleen Casey
No more Glee or any other shows cuz fox 5 wants more money for there Network there mad Greedy.
WHERE MY METRO CARD! fuck outta here where is it!(clap)Im not wit It!sOmeone getting Fuck up(Clap)Where my Metro card!(clap)lmao so funny in class.
The Mayor is wild Crazy,he says oh they should make a law. saying if ur on food stamps you can't buy soda. 
            Black pll love soda!
            Wdf??.! first weed is illegal now we cant buy soda wit foodstamps!? wat is wit this economy
           Black ppl r not the only ones on the white ppl gonna miss out on the soda too 
           Yea that true I wonder what's next candy, cereal.
            shit i onli have foodstamps for soda...DAMN!!!!
Where the Wild Things Are is a great movie makes want to be a kid forever
When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I'm leaving.
 doing math homework SOOOconfused!
Not Only for science but I Failed math what's the point in summer skewl might as well drop out
Going to Summer Skewl for science regents feel so crappy at least im not goin alone
my mom is annoying!!!!
GoOd night World Hope it ForEver
Most of them say Bored and Don't wanna go to skewl tomrw

February 1, 2011

Mother Teresa quote

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you; Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight; Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten; Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give your best anyway. You see, in the final analysis, It is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway." - Mother Teresa

January 31, 2011


So this is the crisis in the 'hood.

Lampposts, laundromats, fences have signs to come to the community meeting. What's the issue? What's corroding our neighborhoods? What do we have to join together to address and stop?


"Pull up your pants, because you look like an idiot."

Another teacher heard my principal tell a student on the way out of his office to pull up his pants. "Do you know where that comes from? Do you know what that means? That comes from prison. If you wore your pants like that, it meant you were someone's bitch. Yeah, easy access." The kid walked out of the office holding up his pants to the point where he had a wedgie.

On another sign, I got a different version of the history. Sagging does come from prison life. It was that the prison guards took away the belts from the inmates because they would get so depressed and hang themselves. They would get depressed from things like being made someone's bitch.

At the end of our scavenger hunt in Central Park, the tie breaker was to find out how much a boat ride cost. The kids took off running. Chris Garrett bound down the stairs, and was ahead, holding his sagging jeans the whole time.

Just like President Obama, I don't want to be seeing anyone's underwear. And I get indecently exposed all the time. Even Chessily (who just happens to be very proud of being a lesbian, and then talks loudly about her sexual escapades which include bagging teachers).

In March, a campaign started in Brooklyn, and then in May, in Queens. And I'm seeing the signs up in Harlem.

Top 5 Bible Verses

2 Corinthians 4: 8-9  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 11: 28-29 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.