Better Blackness

June 7, 2016

Sekou Sundiata’s “Urban Music”

Filed under: Literature,Music — betterblackness @ 2:58 am
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“Let everything we say be real. Let everything we do be funky.” — Sekou Sundiata


December 30, 2015

Gladys Knight’s “End of the Road” Medley

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:56 am
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The perfect concoction of soul, nostalgia, crisp harmonies, a sharp arrangement and a singer at the top of her game. Forget the corny announcer at the end and just replay the performance again and again from the beginning.

December 4, 2015

From”The Book of Night Women”

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 8:41 pm
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“…In this place two thing matter more than most, how dark a nigger you be and where the white man choose to put you. One have all to do with the other. From highest to lowest, this be how things go. The number one prime nigger who would never get sell is the head of the house slaves. That position so hoity-toity that in some house is a white woman who be that nigger…After that be the house slaves who work the rooms and the grounds and the gardens. Sometimes is the pretty niggers or the mulatto, quadroon or mustee that work there. Then you have the cooks who the backra trust the most, because the cook know that if the mistress get sick after a meal there goin’ be a whipping or a hanging before the cock even crow. Other house slaves be cleaning and dusting and shining and manservanting and womanservanting and taking care of backra pickneys.
“After the house slaves come the artisan niggermens, like the black smith, the bricklayers, the tanner, the silversmith, niggers who skilled with they hands, followed by the stable boys, coachmen and carters. Next is the field niggers, headed by the Johnny-jumpers who be the right hand and left hand of the slave-drivers. They do most of the whipping and kicking but when the estate running right they have nothing to do, so they whip and kick harder. After Johnny-jumper come the Great Slave Gang, the most expensive slaves, the one who they buy for the long years of hard work. The mens and the womens strapping and handsome like a prime horse…After that is the Petit Gang, the makeup of plain common nigger…Other nigger look down upon them mens as worthless and them womens as good for rutting, not breeding. On some estate even the pickneys work, mostly in the trash gang to pick up rubbish on the estate or to carry water for the field slaves to drink, or to get firewood. That be the negroes.”
-Marlon James, The Book of Night Women

July 17, 2015

from the African Origins of the “Major Western Religions” by Dr. Josef ben-Jochannan

The whole concept of a “God” or “Gods” came out of the Nile valley African civilizations thousands upon thousands of years before Sumner (The Kingdom of Hamurabi) was established along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. That was more than thousands of years before Abraham – the first Hebrew (Jew) – was born in the city of Ur, Chaldea. This concept, which had gone through very extensive changes and revisions for thousands of years before the arrival of the Asian Jews, all seventy-seven (77) of them, in Africa, was in its zenith when Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph entered the land at the end of the Nile River – Sais, which they later called “Egypt.”

The indigenous Africans of Egypt had already become proficient in the sciences that allowed them to: (a) embalm their dead; (b) name the bodies in the celestial universe; (c) name their God and minor Gods; (d) develop agriculture; (e) establish a Solar Calendar in 4,100 B.C.E.; (f) develop a fertility control tampon recipe; (g) build temples to the Gods – including the world wonder, the Sphinx of Gezeh (Giza); (h) develop engineering; (i) develop medicine – including internal surgery; (j) develop pharmacology and many other disciplines too numerous to try and outline or define at this time. They even wrote poetry and short stories during said period along with their historical achievements in the sciences. All of this the small group of half-starving Asian Jews met, and were exposed to, from the very first day they entered Africa out of the Asian desert, where they were nomads. At no time in their history is there any record of them being exposed to such knowledge before their encounter with the indigenous Africans of the Nile Valley, who had settled Sais, Egypt, for thousands of years before the Jews came. This, then appears to be the beginning of what is today called “Judaism, Judaeo-Christianity, Christianity,” and “Islam.” It is also the juncture that all of the concepts, be they material or spiritual, which are in any manner connected to either of these generally labelled “WESTERN RELIGIONS” originated.

September 14, 2014

Colored Frames: A film about black visual art

Filed under: Visual — betterblackness @ 3:58 pm
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A rich and varied look at what we call black art and the people who make it.



August 31, 2014

Cassandra Wilson and Gregory Porter Hanging Out

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:46 pm
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Two of the greatest vocalists of all time hanging out together talking, eating, singing and sipping. It’s magical and awkward and wistful by turns but absolutely engrossing and revealing throughout.


May 22, 2014

Amina Claudine Myers, “African Blues”

Filed under: Music — betterblackness @ 5:56 am
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Black genius is prolific, nuanced and so prevalent that we sometimes take it for granted. Sometimes, however, somebody does something that captures our negritude so succinctly, all you can do is revel in it and thank the gods you are able to dig it. Here is one such thing, Amina Claudine Myers’ sublime “African Blues”. Words are superfluous…


January 20, 2014

Amiri Baraka’s Greatest Love Poem

Filed under: Icons,Literature — betterblackness @ 10:06 pm
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For a lady I know


talk the talk I need
you, as you resurrect
your consciousness above
the streets,as you walk
with me, and lay
with me, and wonder
what is on
my mind. Oh talk, talk,
lady, and remind yrself
that your are dealing
with a spirit, deal, madam
in your bigassed smiling eyes
in the world of real things-
as I have pronounced the life
in our fingers, real, so you must be
and grow to love me, as I must, of
course, finally. fall on my knees
with love for you

Amiri Baraka

Source link for the poem:

January 19, 2014

Amiri Baraka Memorial Mix by DJ Jalylah

Filed under: Icons,Literature,Music — betterblackness @ 6:25 pm


In The Tradition: Amiri Baraka 1934 – 2014
mixed by jalylah


“When I’m Called Home” Rodney Kendrick/“In the Tradition” (excerpted) Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“I’ll Get Along Somehow” Larry Darnell / “Baraka Reminisces” Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“The Honeydripper” Joe Liggins
“I Love Music” The O’Jays / “I Love Music” Amiri Baraka
“Ogunde” John Coltrane
“Hey, Buddy Bolden” Nina Simone
“So What” (Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival)/ “The Dance” Amiri Baraka
“Black Dada Nihilismus” Amiri Baraka + New York Art Quartet
“I’m A Happy Cowboy” Herb Jeffries
“ Way Out West” Sonny Rollins / “Bronze Buckaroo” Amiri Baraka
“Long As You’re Living” Abbey Lincoln
“Black Art” Amiri Baraka + Sonny Murray
“Wailers” Amiri Baraka + David Murray
“Something In The Way Of Things (In Town)” Amiri Baraka + The Roots
“I’m So Proud / Ya He Yey Ya” Amiri Baraka + William Parker
“I Plan To Stay A Believer” Curtis Mayfield / “Thank You” E. Ethelbert Miller

“In The Tradition,” Baraka’s comments on Larry Darnell, and poet/scholar E. Ethelbert Miller’s appreciation of Baraka were excerpted from Miller’s interview of Amiri Baraka on the 1998 edition of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life, which can be viewed on YouTube:

Photo Credit: Chester Higgins Jr.


January 1, 2014

“The Second Sermon on the Warpland” by Gwendolyn Brooks

A perfect poem for any New Year’s Day and for all who count themselves among “the last of the loud.”



This is the urgency:  Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


Salve salvage in the spin.

Endorse the splendor splashes;

stylize the flawed utility;

prop a malign or failing light–

but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.

Not the easy man, who rides above them all,

not the jumbo brigand,

not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,

shall straddle the whirlwind.

Nevertheless, live.


All about are the cold places,

all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–

all about are the stormers and scramblers, but

what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?

Live and go out.

Define and

medicate the whirlwind.


The time

cracks into furious flower.  Lifts its face

all unashamed.  And sways in wicked grace.

Whose half-black hands assemble oranges

is tom-tom hearted

(goes in bearing oranges and boom).

And there are bells for orphans–

and red and shriek and sheen.

A garbageman is dignified

as any diplomat.

Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,

but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the wild weed.

In the wild weed

she is a citizen,

and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes.  For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

–Gwendolyn Brooks, from *In the Mecca*, 1968

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