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 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

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

May 16, 2013

Natasha Alford: Educated Negro

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 7:28 pm
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A spoken word piece that’s neither unbearably jejune nor risibly vapid. It’s nuanced, too. Up, you mighty race!


April 13, 2013


Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 5:54 pm
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By Brenda Marie Osbey

from “Qu’on Arrive Enfin (a tale in-progress)”


and so we arrive at last in our native land —
the earth itself marked by slavery.
up there, in the open air, the stink, the hot funk of hot blood
the rowdy rebel-niggers of the past.
funny, no?
how we always return to this —
the city, the life
that slavery built,
tales altogether invented
as told by historians, founding fathers, the church.
but we are sick and tired of lies, dirty tricks and fraud,
we are sick of tales and of historians
sick of indigo, tobacco, rice and rum
we are sick of king-cotton and sugar cane
sick of it all
and can only wish hard-hard-hard
that the lakes, the bayous, swamps large and small
will have swallowed it all
erased it all.

January 27, 2013

“I Come from the Nigger Yard” — an excerpt

Filed under: Icons,Literature — betterblackness @ 4:32 pm
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There has been so much public discourse recently about the N-word, I couldn’t help but recall the great Guyanese poet Martin Carter’s classic opus from 1954. Here’s the last stanza:

I come from the nigger yard of yesterday
leaping from the oppressors’ hate
and the scorn of myself
I come to the world with scars upon my soul
wounds on my body, fury in my hands
I turn to the histories of men and the lives of peoples.
I examine the shower of sparks the wealth of the dreams.
I am pleased with the glories and sad with the sorrows
rich with the riches, poor with the loss.
From the nigger yard of yesterday I come with my burden.
To the world of to-morrow I turn with my strength.

Martin Carter

December 7, 2012

“Primer for Blacks” excerpt – Gwendolyn Brooks

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 2:33 am

Primer For Blacks

By Gwendolyn Brooks

is a title,
is a preoccupation,
is a commitment Blacks
are to comprehend—
and in which you are
to perceive your Glory.

stretches over the land.
the Black of it,
the rust-red of it,
the milk and cream of it,
the tan and yellow-tan of it,
the deep-brown middle-brown high-brown of it,
the “olive” and ochre of it—
marches on.

Self-shriveled Blacks.
Begin with gaunt and marvelous concession:
YOU are our costume and our fundamental bone.
      All of you—
      you COLORED ones,
      you NEGRO ones,
those of you who proudly cry
      “I’m half INDian”—
      those of you who proudly screech
      “I’VE got the blood of George WASHington in MY veins”
      ALL of you—
            you proper Blacks,
      you half-Blacks,
      you wish-I-weren’t Blacks,
      Niggeroes and Niggerenes.

Reprinted By Consent of Brooks Permissions.

Source: Primer For Blacks (Self-published, 1980)

November 18, 2012

From Erasure

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 5:01 pm

…I start countin the babies I’m gone make and I start thinkin up names for them babies. Their names gone be Avaricia, Baniqua, Clitoria, Dashone, Equisha, Fantasy, Galinique, Hobitcha, I’youme, Jamika, Klauss, Latishanique, Mystery, Niggerina, Oprah, Pastischa, Quiquisha, R’nee’nee, Suckina, Titfunny, Uniqua, Vaselino, Wuzziness, Yolandinique and Zookie.

— Percival Everett, Erasure: A Novel, Hyperion, 2001

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