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Everything posted by Gibran

  1. And that is why we appreciate your help so much. That book was our dream. Man, it was so important to have a dream to hang onto and we really believed in our mission and though we failed miserably, it didn't destroy us completely. Again, thanks. Greg asked about you just last night. He has been inside for about 30 years now and he is still writing. Those were desperate times but it was fun being caught up in a dream that was too big for us, but we shot our best shot. Xlibris has us thinking that our book was going to be everywhere, but we were ignorant. You be surprised at the dreams guys have inside just to keep them going. I guess no one wants to die inside
  2. When Love Is Not Strong Enough Throughout the history of mankind, love has withstood the test of time like no other concept known to humans. it has conquered where the sword has failed. It has come through as an agent of change like nothing else before it. Love has been an one-of-an-kind experience, a magnificent miracle, a pleasure that is so exquisite that there are no words in the language of men that can adequately define just what it is or how it is able to do what only it can do…. make us feel so decidedly alive. But given all that love is, oftentimes even it is not strong enough to withstand the strain that being in prison places upon it. Nothing else in the world burdens love like prison because what else is there in existence that possesses the audacity to transform a beautiful butterfly into a braying mule? Prison is a heartache that scars even love. How can love exist where there is no air for it to breathe? How can love survive when there is nothing on which it can nurture itself? Do you have any idea what happens when memories fade or when there is no future? Death is what happens. The death of love. And while there may be a 1001 things that may wound love, nothing kills it as quickly as prison. I know. I speak from experience. I stood mute, helpless as time worked its evil spell, coming in between me and the woman I loved. She was a bigger victim than I was. She believed she was strong enough, but little did she know. How could she when she had been led to believe that there was no mountain high enough, no valley low enough….. She had no idea. But I did. Still, I was not prepared to meet the end of love. Who is.? And what is there that can prepare you for such a terrible end? Even now, though I still bleed from countless unseen wounds, I applaud the merits of love, I commend its warmth and I highly recommend it, but I do offer this caution; YOU CAN STRESS LOVE BUT DON’T TEST LOVE I
  3. Tomorrow, my novel, THE TALENTED Xth will be free on Amazon, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check the work out. Out of my twenty books, this is the one I like most, Well, actually, it is the one I enjoyed writing the most. The novel is about the first gay heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Right now, I think that I should give you a heads-up about the book. As a writer, I enjoy taking risks. In fact, I detest literary limitations and I have no patience for writing how others feel I should write. I have developed my own style of writing which I called "The Gibraltar Method' and this is how I do it. Now, for a bit of background on the book. None of the characters in the book have names, and it was written this way as a homage to the LGBT community who for years had been treated as a nameless, faceless horde of outsiders. When I first went back into the system in 98 , I felt lost and I really needed to write something. I needed to "get my feet under me" because the first days in a new prison can be a harrowing experience, and no matter how many times, I have gone through it, it is always the same. There is a foreboding sense of dread because you don't know what awaits. The worst possible scenario is to end up in a joint where you have an enemy. He already has a knife----you don't. I remember standing at the desk in the unit where I had been assigned. As soon as you walk into the block, all eyes are on you and you can feel yourself being examined and sized up, but from out of the blue, I hear someone calling my name and I look up to see a friend. Wow...my name had never sounded so good. I was really glad to see an ally. Anyway, I wanted to write badly because I had got the false notion that I was going to write my way out of prison. It may sound silly, but you have to have something to hold on to when you come inside. Otherwise, you die emotionally, and it is a slow, painful demise. What was new this time was that I was going in as an older guy. I was still in prime shape, but prisons were turning into these youth-related gladiator schools and if I could avoid having to knife someone, that is what I wanted to do. I just wanted to write, and I really thought that I was going to write a novel that was going to get me out of the mess I had gotten myself in. The very next day, I found a magazine and I rolled it up and went to the yard with it. I don't know if it was Time or Newsweek, but the feature article was about Mathew Shepard, a young gay student who had been brutally murdered because he was gay. It was big news, and what struck me is how they saw him as weak and powerless. I decided to write a book to show how someone deemed weak can rise up to became the toughest man on the planet. THE TALEN.TED Xth is that book. Oh yeah, I must relate this because it is how I came to know Brotha Troy. Okay, by ow, I had written a copy of novels and had sent them out to agents. I got so many rejections letters that I could wall paper my cell. Every time, I would get a rejection, I would throw the manuscript into the back of my locker and I would write something else. I would be angry and I would write to show the major houses who I was. And they kept right on rejecting me, but I would not stop. This anger pushed me to get better. By now, my locker was filled with manuscripts. Then came my birthday, and I was depressed. My birthday always depressed me. I was no closer to writing that great African-American novel so I was sick with despair because I really really thought that I was going to write a great book. I didn't feel like eating so I went to the yard to run my customary 5 miles a day, but my feet felt like I had on concrete shoes. Going back to the unit, I see a guy I knew who I Knew was working on some deep legal shit about us not being true citizens of the US. As I mentioned earlier, it is vital to a convict's emotional stability to have a dream he can sleep with or else crazy is what happens to you because you never ever ever want to confront a prisoner who has lost hope. Anyway, that was my friend's thing. He was attempting to use this citizenship issue to win his freedom. (It's a long story) Anyway, I told him to give me all his research and let me turn it into a novel. He loved the idea. We finished the book and both were thinking Pulitzer. We were mad with optimism. We contacted Xlibris to publish the book, but found that we had to have our 250 page typed manuscript put on a disc. Xlibris charged us a tidy sum of one thousand dollars for this service. So, already, we're at a crossroads. My job only paid me 80 cents a day so I sure as hell couldn't afford it on my salary. My friend had a higher-paying job. He made about 200 dollars a month. Guess what we did? We made chain-gang wine and sold it! We invested our money into buying sugar, and orange juice and we stole the rest of the stuff we needed from the kitchen. I worked as a janitor. I was the "shower man" and I hid the wine in the shower where I removed the vent at the back of the shower so the five gallons of wine would hang down there to get right. I would keep the smell of fermenting wine down by spraying the showers down with bleach as needed. Since there was no money in the system, stamps were the currency. One book of stamps equaled 5 dollars so it took a lot of stamps to get a thousand dollars but once we did, we sold the stamps to the bookies and gamblers who needed a lot of stamps. We would give them the stamps and they, in turn, would have money sent to our designated person. Now, we were off and running. Sent the book to AALBC, and immediately Brotha Troy schooled us about the cover. Yes, the cover was jacked up. Now, check this out. Brotha Troy was very patience with me as he explained a lot of things to me. During the review of the book, I got info from the reviewer that the book was on a "par with John Grisham" but that it was in serious need of editing. It was pointed out that the main characters were introduced too late in the book. At first, quite naturally, I didn't want to accept it. After all, this book had Pulitzer written all over it. Now, our dreams were dashed. The other brotha, Greg, took it just as hard, but Brotha Troy was right. Years later, I went back through the book and fixed all the flaws and I'm here to tell you, yeah, it is now ready. And to prove it, I will give it away next week to members of this site only. Oh yeah, this. By now, I was desperate for a hit because I did not want to go home with no money. I was afraid of what would happen to my hometown if they released me and I was broke. I started to look around for something to write about and one day when I walking the yard with Mutulu Shakur, Tupac's stepfather, it dawned on me what to do. Out of that conversation, we decided to do a book about "what if Tupac was not really dead". Even before we were finished, we had a book deal with Random House, if I remember correctly. Anyway, our editor was Sis. Anita Diggs who loved the book, saying that it reminded of of the book "The Spook Who Sat By The Door". The book never happened. And to top it all off, when I got ready to go home, I was told that I couldn't go. The feds said that I still owed them ten more years. I'm a month from being free and I couldn't believe this shit. I just gave them ten years and they wanting ten more. I wanted to die. I wanted to kill. I didn't know what to do. And guess what, they didn't let my black ass go. Took them 21 damned months to find out what happened. Turns out, I was in prison during those so-called missing ten .years, but what happened is that when I changed my name to Gibran Tariq Suleiman Ali someone evidently didn't do their job. Therefore, I almost didn't get the credit for that ten years. My prison number never changed though my name did. Tried to sue them for keeping me in prison for almost two years longer than I should have, but they........well, they did me like they always do me-----.
  4. Brotha Troy, that has long been a knock against us as a collective. Strangely, it has survived for much too long. I do admit that it so convenient as I have used it on countless occasions to force home a point. Honestly, as much as I hate to admit it, but I barely read. Sure, I read snippets here and there. In this fast-paced, I have become a browser whereas I was once a fierce reader. Yet, there is a blanket exception to this rule because brrothas in the joint READ! Inside reading is fundamental. Inside, if you wants news, you have to read about it because, of all places, televised news is blase. News rarely affects prisoners so more time is spent watching sports and videos. When I was in the pen in Atlanta the first time, there were guys there that had well-stocked libraries in their cells. My crime partner and I were among the youngest there, and I was forever reading as I was hardly without a book or a magazine. The old heads noticed this and they would bring me books to the dining room where I worked. I had my own table where I read. Guys that were old enough at the time to be my father, supplied me with a mind-boggling array of books----all serious literature. I recall sitting at my table reading Freud. The next day, an old white convict gave me a book about Carl Jung. Reading the ART of War got me editions of books by Clausewitz and Otto Von Bismarck and Machiavelli. It was truly like guys would walk past my table to see what I was reading,and then they would bring me something even more in depth. And now, I barely pick up a book. That's sad. Now, we want info on the go, so we fall for fake news or second hand news or worse yet no news. Trying to keep up is so time=consuming that if you don't hear through the grapevine, it didn't happen. I conclude with an admission. Of all the things I get down on myself about is the fact that I never stopped to teach a close friend how to read. Damn, we were in prison for ten years together and I never taught him to read. I wrote all his letters for him, but I could have taught him to read. I was once chastised by another friend who told me that I was wrong for not teaching this guy this read, but I was too busy writing my books. I was so convinced that I was writing the next best novel that I was so caught up that I never taught my friend to read. It wasn't that I never thought about it. I did. I even planned to write stories about him to use to teach him to read. The sad thing, Brotha Troy, is that I knew what to do becaause on an earlier stretch in the joint, I was at a prison where they wanted to teach inmates to read, but they knew they just couldn't put anyone in charge so it was decided to use the Muslim community to spearhead the program. They knew how well respected Muslims were in the joint so they taught us so we could teach the rest of the population who didn't read. They knew the guys would trust us. We were taught what was called The Laubach Method and this is the text we taught from. I had no excuse. Just think, I blew the chance to give someone the gift of reading. Wow......I don't think I will ever live that down, but I have made up my mind. I am going to find him one day and apologize. The man was my cellmate for 10 long years and I never taught him to read, and I pray to God that I am never so selfish again in my life.
  5. “FREEZE!” We rushed inside the bank so quickly that the bank employees looked like it was the end of the world as they knew it. We had caught them with their underwear down! They were bullshitting, laughing and talking and we never gave them time to regain their composure. I vaulted over the counter like an Olympic high hurdler and when I came down on the other side, I swept the teller out of my way as if she were a five foot five Barbie Doll. “This ain’t your money, bitch, so don’t get yourself fucked up. Just lay your ass on the floor and let me go on about my motherfucking biz’ness.” I snatched open the teller drawer and for a brief moment in time thought I was in the Federal Reserve. Money was stacked up like that. Shit, with all that damn paper, nigga just might destabilize the local economy. I wasted no time in going to work as I yanked open the red plastic shoe bag and started stuffing the money in like I thought it was going to evaporate. I, quite possibly, broke a world bank-robbing record for the fastest time in emptying a teller drawer, but you damn better believe that my partner was equally as swift because out of the corner of my eye, I could witness him at work. We met at the center of the long counter after vacuum-cleaning two drawers each. We both smiled, figuring that we were working our way up the millionaire list. “Let’s go!” Lowe hollered, indicating that we had just about worn our welcome out as far as time was concerned, so with a pained expression on my happy face, I dismissed the notion of grabbing the long trays of coins under the counter. Plus, the serious expression on Lowe’s face was suggestive enough. It was time to roll out. Given the fact that the heist was practically over and so far all had gone according to plan, I could live with the fact that everything from the moment we had charged into the bank had seemed to be in slow motion, but the trek back out of the joint seemed to take forever. It was as if some invisible architect, probably on the government’s payroll, had magically re-constructed the entire front lobby, extending the length of the bank by about thirty or forty feet. The black and white tile floor appeared to have hemorrhaged so that in some spots it felt as slippery as an oil slick while in other places felt like a nigga was running in sand. I knew it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but getting to that damn door was an epic struggle. When I got close enough to the door to be thankful, Lowe held up his hand like it was a stop sign. I was getting ready to curse the nigga out when he stuck his head out of the front door to make sure the coast was clear. Personally, I didn’t give a fuck if it did become public knowledge about the crime I had just committed since I was dead-set against letting a motherfucka stop me from spending this paper now that it was in my possession. We made a mad dash to the getaway ride. “We did it! We did it!” Butch shouted. “We did it!” “We ain’t did shit,” Lowe cracked, “until our ass safe back in Piedmont Courts.” I didn’t want to add my two cents in and burst Butch’s bubble, but I wasn’t about to start counting my chickens until I was back at my Mama’s house. Yet, I did sense that we had won, that we were on the verge of victory although a lot could go wrong in ten minutes which was about the time it would take us to reach 10th Street and Seigle Avenue, our safety zone. Driving through uptown, I flinched as Boo steered the car onto Davidson Street. “Nigga,” I yelled, “this ain’t the way we s’posed to go.” “I’m taking a shortcut. Now, chill out and let me drive. Y’all niggas done done y’all job, so let me do mine.” I was about to get mad when I suddenly recognize the genius of the nigga’s unexpected and unexplained departure from the script. He was taking us through Earle Village, the project just above the projects where we lived. By driving through Earle Village, we were practically invisible to all outside traffic and the police wouldn’t be in the projects at this time of morning because niggas didn’t start selling heroin on Seventh Street, down by Paso’s, until noon. At the bottom of McDowell Street where Earle Village ended and Piedmont Courts began, I was ready to celebrate because I had just put my days as a broke nigga behind me. Piedmont Courts had never looked any sweeter to me. Bitch sparkled like The Vatican. Parking the stolen car at the top of the projects, we all jumped out, except Boo whose next job was to dump the car in North Charlotte and let them niggas over there take the heat. “Take the ride up on Belmont Avenue and leave it,” I ordered. “I’ll make sure your cut is straight.” From out of nowhere, three nappy-headed hood rats popped up as we departed the ride. They saw us running away from the white Ford, but had no idea why. And it wasn’t none of their business. Bitches knew how it worked in the hood—don’t noBody see shit! Crossing over the big street in the middle of the projects, I involuntarily grew happier than a motherfucka. Butch, Boo and Lowe felt it as well. Sometimes a nigga wins. When we crashed into the back door of my Mom’s crib, the celebration was on even before we made it upstairs to my bedroom. The feeling was indescribable, surreal, and when we dumped the money on the bed, the illusion was amplified a thousand times. It was as though money was all the proof a nigga needed to feel like he was worthy of being alive. Already, I could hear the police helicopter, Snoopy, flying close by, and a cold chill ran up my spine. “Close the door,” I barked as if the police in the helicopter could see through the walls of the crib and that the door would be the only thing that could spare us. “Don’t nobody look out the window. Snoopy just flying in motherfucking circles.” I tried to sound cheerful, but Snoopy had spooked me out so much that I ignored my own decree and peeled back the curtain to peek out the window. I almost pissed on myself. To the immediate right of the crib, Snoopy zoomed into view, looming over the projects like a menacing attack bird. When Lowe asked if I saw the helicopter, I nodded without speaking, but just as quickly as Snoopy had appeared, it vanished. For a minute, I thought the police were closing in, but I didn’t say it aloud. Instead, we divided the money up and we each went our separate ways. What none of us knew was that we had just made history, but it was the kind of history that can rob a nigga of a future.
  6. Chapter One My First Bank Job Five minutes after my eyes opened, I made a phone call to my partner and sighed in relief to discover that our heist was still on for this morning. I inwardly applauded our plan to get some paper and I crossed my fingers, hoping that the bank would be loaded with cash because at nineteen, I was sick and tired of being broke. I had grown weary of praying to God to let a sack of cash fall off the back of a Wells Fargo truck so I had resolved to end my career as a broke nigga and today was the first day for the rest of my life. And as my own financial strategist, all roads led to the North Carolina National Bank. Having made the decision to get paid in full, I dissolved any opposing interests such as getting busted. Shit wasn’t happening and I pitied the fool who tried, by whatever means, to prevent me from cleaning that bank out. The police didn’t mean shit too me. The way I saw it, today would be a good day for the entire force to call in sick because there wasn’t a damn thing more dangerous to the police than a nigga who didn’t believe shit stank. And I was the poster-child for that sentiment. Rolling over in bed and eyeing the clock, I saw that it was still early, only a little after seven. Hell, the NCNB didn’t open until nine so that gave me some time to work the jitters out of my stomach. As a rookie bank robber, I had to deal with all the unknown X-factors—actual or imagined—that could get a nigga busted, the main one being to stay inside the bank too damn long. You had to get in and to get the hell out which meant, more than anything else, you had to know how to deal with greed because the tendency to get greedy was the worst mistake any crook could or would make in his career. My Moms was always the first one up in the crib and this morning was no exception. She was downstairs cooking breakfast. My baby sister and grandmother were still asleep. I made my way to the bathroom after hollering downstairs to my mother to let her know that I was alive and kicking. She greeted me warmly and invited me down for breakfast, but my stomach was in no shape for food. I still had a few butterflies. Taking comfort in the fact that everyone upstairs was still asleep, I crept into my mother’s bedroom and borrowed one of her wigs. The choice was not easy and I then realized why it took women so long to get ready for a date. Hair was serious business. After taking more time than I should have, I chose a jet black wig with bangs that fell down to my shoulders like a cascade of silk. Then I borrowed a pair of my sister’s oversized sunglasses. Going back to the bathroom with my borrowed female products, I gave myself a sneak preview of what I would look like for the cameras inside the bank. I was impressed. To add to the mystique, I donned a white baseball cap. I was good to go. At the breakfast table, I employed every tactic I could think of to get out of the meal, but my Moms insisted that I break bread with the family since this was the one time we were always available to eat at the same time. Even though I played with my food, pushing the grits and eggs around on the plate like they were silly putty, my nervousness was pretty much ignored. Following the meal, I almost scoffed at the idea of having to wash dishes that morning, but it was indeed my time to perform the task. I laughed. Here I was only an hour and a half away from my first bank robbery and I’m doing dishes. Wasn’t that some bullshit? Anyway, I made it a point to remind myself that this would be the last time I stuck my hands in some soapy water to clean some bowls and plates. I was leaving home today. I was either going to jail, hell, or a luxury apartment. I didn’t give it much thought because when you got right down to it, the choice wasn’t mine. It was the police’s, so I just prayed the motherfuckas stayed out of my way. When my partner called, I was ready to move out but for a brief second I didn’t know what to do. In all actuality, this could be the last time I saw my family so it did cross my mind to give everyone a big hug and a kiss, but decided not to. That could jinx me. What I needed was a positive attitude, so I left the crib without saying shit and stepped out into the early morning sunshine like I owned the motherfucking world. Strolling through Piedmont Courts, I made it to my partner’s girlfriend’s house in record time and was glad to see that the rest of the crew was assembled. Secretly, I studied each man’s face, searching for any signs of fear. I saw none. These niggas were amped. And so was I. Like a group of businessmen at a board meeting, we discussed, dissected, and studied our plans to see if there would be a need to make any last minute adjustments. There were none. After all, what could be any simpler than charging into a bank with guns drawn and taking all the money. As far as planning went, it didn’t get any more elementary than that. At around 8:30, Boo, the pretty boy of the crew, excused himself and returned about five minutes later with the stolen car we would use in the heist. The motherfucka looked fast. And then a strange notion hit me right out of the blue. Could Boo drive fast? Sure, it was one thing for a nigga to cruise through the projects in a raggedy-assed Cadillac, but could the nigga elude the police in a high-speed chase? Too late for that shit now. I tossed the idea out of my head and put on my gloves and jumped into the backseat of the ride. Driving to the bank, the car was filled with aimless chatter. However about two blocks from our destination, Boo cut the radio off and everyone got silent as each of us, in his own unique way, went into the zone, that mysterious space where “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” meets up with “Nigga-this-is it!”
  7. Over time, I have enjoyed shifting positions on this very question and it still is most complexing. Personally, I now subscribe to a view that is more fluid. I fully intend to be a player in whatever comes next in the evolution of us as a people, but I have reached a point where I can't stomach being a part of a group. Yet, as an individual,I realize just how my reach is limited. As a remedy, a compromise of sorts, is that I will remain individually committed to the collective, eagerly willing to align myself to whomever is going in the same direction that I am. In an earlier phase of my existence, i was indeed taught that "individualism" was blasphemy since the goal was unity. Even though locked up, I have never been removed from the struggle so I was as big a militant inside as anyone outside so I felt it was my duty to organize and to unify. Yet, unity has proven to be as equally elusive for us as equality has been. I soured on groups for many collapse into a cult of personality, so when i started to rob banks, it signaled a shift in my political viewpoint. I still believed in the revolution but now, I was attacking the white man from a different angle. I was taking his money, I reasoned, so I was hitting him where it hurt. Excuse me, back to your point. I am flexible. I will act as an individual when required, and participate with an unified group when necessary. However, at all times I will remain steadfast to the cause.
  8. Please stayed tuned. In the days ahead, I will treat you to a personal glimpse into the life of a man who has been the victim of his own tragic decisions. You will believe. Thx for showing interest.
  9. For most of my life, I was the guy most wannabee thugs wished they could be. Officially declared a "menace to society", I was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for my role as mastermind of a series of daring bank robberies in the 70s. Two involved shootouts. One with the police. The other with a citizen in a bank parking lot where I narrowly missed being killed. While confined, I took part in an even more daring prison escape. Despite this seeming penchant for violence, I consoled myself with the notion that I was merely a poet trapped in a gangsta's body and oddly enough, this wasn't far from the truth as I had evolved from a family of teachers, four of whom taught English. As such, I learned, early on, to respect and to appreciate language since my grandmother was very strict and would not tolerate improper grammar under her roof. From the start, there appeared to be a household conspiracy to convert me into a writer. By the time I was ten, I possessed a private library fit for a scholar, had a new typewriter, a big desk, and plenty of blank paper. By 11, I had mastered the dictionary, was a whiz at Scrabble, and was a honor roll student in school. At twelve, I had completed my first novel. By my 13th birthday, I had discovered hustling and I immediately dropped out of school and adopted "the streets" as my home. By 14, I was in reform school for assaulting a police officer. While there, I was a star journalist, the first black deemed smart enough to work in the print shop and on the in-house newsletter. I served one year and a day. Upon my release, with hardly any delays, I embarked on a personal crime spree, and at the age of 15 years-old, I was sent to prison where I was the youngest convict there. While in the Youth Center, I acquired my high school diploma at 16 years-old, wrote my first play, turned militant, and when released at 19, went to New York to join the Black Panthers. In New York, I discovered heroin. Writing and the revolution would both have to wait as a drug habit left little room for anything else. When I tired of being a junkie, I kicked my fascination with getting high, but years later would emerge as the "alleged" kingpin of a notorious heroin distribution ring. Finally brought down by the FBI and DEA in 1997, I again was sent to federal prison. This time I would be gone for a decade, but once more I turned back to what I had turned my back on: writing. I studied journalism, started a writer's colony, mentored other aspiring prison writers, four of whom are now published, one a bestselling street-lit author. I edited and founded various newsletters, performed freelance editorial services for outside writers while quietly perfecting my craft. Hailed by some as one of the greatest prison writers ever, I was interviewed by numerous tv and print outlets. My writings have even been studied in an English class at an university where I was invited to lecture. While in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, I published two novels, but soured on traditional publishing after a deal gone bad with a well-known publisher. I also developed two programs. One, PROJECT UPLIFT, which deals with drug-dealer addiction. The second, GIRLSMART, a community service program concerned with at-risk, teenaged, black girls. This program is a counter to the BET-inspired video vixen syndrome where sisters opt to employ their booty rather than their brains. At last, I have finally gone from wrong to "write"
  10. IN CASE ANYONE WANTS 2 KNOW! I am a writer, and from a very young age, I clearly understood that this obsession would either purify or crucify me. To date, it has done both but neither the purification nor the crucifixion has made my literary journey any less troubling. What else truly puzzles me sometimes is that I don’t honestly know if writing has ruined my life or if my life has ruined my writing. Either way, it—this obsession– struck early. As a boy, I toyed with the alphabets like most kids my age played with marbles, and before long I had discovered how to make them perform their magic for me. I became so intimate with their immense power and glory that I was able to entice, arouse and to finally seduce them until they gave birth to all the fantasies that lived inside my head even though I was well aware that I would have to pay a terrible price for this intimacy. Lord knows, I have paid my dues. However, I am still enslaved and I imagine I will forever be so enslaved until I tell the tale of who I am and how I fashioned myself into the writer I now am. I was born on a Monday that rained. It was September 1, 1952—Labor Day—and for the next twelve years, lived in exactly the same place where I had been born; a brown, three-roomed, shotgun shack sandwiched between poverty and pain in a run-down Charlotte slum. Even as a child, everyone proudly believed that I was destined for greatness. I was celebrated, the most beloved nigga on Sixth Street, the peewee Messiah who was going to make shit happen once I got big enough to make it do what it do. How little did they know. I had been a brilliant kid, equipped with all the mental tools required to claw my way to the top. By the time I was ten, I had won numerous awards for my writings, had read more books at the public library than any other child in the city, and was probably the only nigga in town with a desk and a typewriter. I was a whiz at Scrabble while most of the other children on my block struggled with spelling their own names, and I had completed my first novel by the time I was twelve. Yeah, I could have been something special, but when I was thirteen, the lure of the streets become so alluring that I adopted it as my new home. A year later, I was in reform school for assaulting a police officer. While at Stonewall Jackson Training School, I was the first black deemed smart enough to work in the Print Shop where I became a prized reporter for the institutional newspaper. I fell in love with the intoxicating scent of fresh ink on paper, but after serving a year and a day writing all the chain-gang news that was fit to print , I hit the block with a vengeance that was beyond my years. With hardly any delays, I embarked on a personal crime spree where I enjoyed nothing more than starting my day off by breaking the law. At fifteen, I was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison although I was still a juvenile. At Polk Youth Center, I was the youngest convict there, but I rapidly evolved into Public Enemy Number One. I held the record for going to the “Hole” for rule violations such as fighting, extortion, and my all-time favorite, starting a riot. It was at the Youth Center that I met a teacher, Maurice Baker, who became my mentor. He encouraged me while the other teachers despised me. He taught me words that I never knew existed. He taught me to approach the dictionary with a reverence that today remains unmatched except by my awe for the Holy Quran. It was Mr. Baker who talked the education department into letting me take the GED at sixteen rather than to wait until I was eighteen which was the legal age. As expected, I passed. Shortly, after my graduation, I took over the Sunday morning church services with the Superintendent and his wife in attendance and announced that “the white man was the devil. I burned down the cornfields, went to solitary confinement, wrote my first play, turned militant, and when released from prison at nineteen, went to New York to join the Black Panthers where I was to be the editor of their newspaper. What I ultimately discovered in Harlem, though, was heroin and I immediately turned my back on both writing and the revolution. I was a junkie so what else was I to do? Yet, I never stopped writing. I returned home in desperate need of a fix for my life, so I enrolled in a government-sponsored program called CEP which was designed to teach inner-city kids a trade. To be quite honest, I wasn’t very good at dry-walling, and when my counselor wanted to know why I was squandering such a golden opportunity, I told him that I wanted to write. He then challenged me. He requested that I let him look at some of my work and that if it was good enough, he would introduce me to a friend of his who might be able to assist me. This is what happened. “And you think I’m that big a fool to sit here and tell you that I honestly believe that it was you that wrote this?” S.W., a tall, blond, counselor at CEP, shook the sheath of notebook paper like it was a poisonous viper he wanted to strangle. ”Do I actually look that stupid to you?” I didn’t flinch at the counselor’s temper tantrum although I didn’t appreciate the fact that the white motherfucka talked to me like I was a mentally-retarded stepchild. “After all,” the counselor ranted, “what sense does it make to try to take credit for something that you know good and damn well you didn’t do?” “But I did do it,” I said calmly. “It was me that wrote that shit.” Upon hearing that, the counselor’s face turned beet red. He pointed his finger angrily. “They got a word for what you’ve just done. It-it’s called plagiarism.” He gazed at me in utter contempt. “So my instincts didn’t fail me. I’ve always suspected that you were a crook of one sort or another.” He glared across the desk. “Stealing ideas is no better that stealing a ham from the deli. Neither belongs to you.” “I wrote that shit,” I argued. “How many times I gotta keep telling you the same thang over and over again. I wrote that shit.” “I see that you are going to remain faithful to that lie. Okay, I understand.” The counselor blew air through his nostrils heatedly. “Get out of my office and don’t come back. I’m terminating you from the program.” He shrugged casually. “Go play your silly games with someone else because I, for one, simply don’t have time for that sort of nonsense. It only serves to destroy my faith in mankind. Now, please…. just go.” My face turned serious. “Why sugarcoat it? Yeah, I know what your problem is. You refuse to believe that a nigga can write that damn good.” I sneered. “You ain’t no different from the rest of your cracker friends. A’int none of y’all willing to give a nigga his due, think that all a black man is good for is stealing your shit and fucking your women.” I stood. “Well, for the motherfucking record, I ain’t got to steal shit and I can’t stand no white bitches. Truth be told, I wish y”all white motherfuckas didn’t even exist” Without warning, SW jumped to his feet. “Leave!” “Give me my shit and I’ll be glad to get the hell away from your racist ass.” The white counselor glared at the paper liked it suggested that his life was about to come to an abrupt end. “Here, take it……and go.” Snatching the papers, I shook them angrily in the counselor’s face. “One day,” I sneered, “the whole world gonna know I wrote this shit. They gonna know and then they gonna bow down.” I beat myself in the chest with my clenched fist. “One day everybody in this big, ol’ world we live in gonna know who the fuck I am.” Stomping out of the cluttered office, I tore down the narrow hallway, slipped through the exit by the bathroom and made my way out in the fresh sunshine. I felt the need to vomit, to throw up all my pent-up frustrations, and to spit them out right there on the cracked pavement where the flower-bed was aglow with roses in brilliant bloom. Walking up Stonewall Street towards North Tryon, I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be a direct link between people like SW and the universal belief that niggas weren’t capable of producing great works of art. Suddenly, I didn’t give a damn about what people thought. I could write my ass off. “So be it,” I muttered to myself as I pitched my writings into the green dumpster in front of the Goodyear Tire Company. “So be it.” Walking solemnly down North Tryon Street, I felt naked as if I had just shredded my soul, ripping my guts out in the process, leaving an ugly, open sore where my wounded heart should have been. Writing, for me, had been the only thing I could put my hands on that could help me understand the complexities of life. I felt that since I had just given up writing, nothing else in the world would matter because what else could there be that life could offer me that would possess the power to heal me? I was utterly convinced that there was nothing the universe, in all its awe-inspiring vastness, could dig up that would be better for me than writing. The next day, I robbed a bank! It was 1972 and although I robbed bank after bank, I felt that these robberies I committed were nothing compared to the robbery that had been committed against me. I had been robbed of my dreams. How could I live if I couldn’t write? Why would I choose to? Even though I sometimes now pretend that all is right and beautiful with the world, I still bleed from a thousand unseen literary wounds. How could I ever be free if I was not free to do what sets my soul on fire?! Instead, I have spent my life trapped inside a literary maze. After serving ten years in the feds(1973-1983) for multiple bank robberies, two of which involved shoot-outs and high speed chases in broad daylight, I served another ten years(1983-1993) for a robbery I didn’t commit. Then I served another ten years in the feds (1997-2007) for being the alleged “king-pin” of a notorious heroin distribution ring. In prison, I turned back to what I had turned my back on: writing. I studied journalism, started a writer’s colony, mentored other aspiring prison writers, four of whom are now published. I edited and founded various newsletters, performed freelance editorial services for outside writers while quietly perfecting my craft. Hailed by some as one of the greatest prison writers ever, I was interviewed by numerous TV and print outlets. My writings have even been studied in an English class at an university where I was invited to lecture. During my last bid. I wrote every day for 10 years and I was even placed in “the hole” for publishing my first book. The administration in the Atlanta pen said that what I did by publishing a book was tantamount to “running a business while confined”. I fought the case and after thirty days was let out of segregation, but this is what earned federal prisoners the right to publish a book without fear of reprisal. Now, federal prisoners would get a chance to have their say because of me. Maybe, that is as good as it will get for me. Maybe my gift to the world of lit will be that I opened the door for prison writers.
  11. That is a good question, and yes, I did experience a lot of spiritual transformation while inside. The thing about prison is that it exposes just how vulnerable and frail we can sometimes be, and in that lowly condition, one is ripe for spiritual conversion. When you are in prison, and you are entirely cut off from civilization, and you are hemmed in on all sides by violence and stupidity , you need something to believe in. Every prisoner needs a savior and when none of the manufactured ones work, they make up saviors of their own. For me, it was my belief in myself. I was a loner. Not many people in prison can fly solo and survive and it was this unwavering belief in myself that allowed me to face each and every day with the knowledge that somehow, someway, I was going to survive. Man, there were so many times that I just wanted to lie down and die, but felt that that would tarnish my image of myself---so I kept on pushing. The worst time in prison was when I served 10 years and 42 days for a crime I did not commit. That was torture. I was completely innocent, but I was faced with the obstacle of finding a way to remain sane day after day after day. I didn't really expect God to help me because He didn't stop it from happening to me, so what did I do: I wrote Oprah! Yeah, I have been haunted, but not by any of my victims. I'm haunted by regret. With one or two exceptions, I have no regrets for what damage I have had to inflict on another human because I always acted in self-defense or in retaliation for a wrong done to me or someone I loved. I regret that I so terribly abused my life. I had this wonderful gift of life given to me and I fashioned it into a monstrosity that I'm ashamed of. Man, what could have been, but it is what it is. I got some of my war stories that I will post and it will give you some insight into what it is like to watch your life unravel right before your eyes, and despite knowing beeter, I didn't do enough to stop it. I almost single-handedly erased myself out of existence. Peace.
  12. Yes, I am a fan of Khalil Gibran. When I was in the joint in the early 70s, he was extremely popular, and all the so-called enlightened "jailhouse" scholars were into his books. When I legally changed my name, I adopted Kahlil, but there were so many guys running around the joint calling themselves by that name, that I opted for Gibran. I dug his poetry, but his love letters to his lady friend. I think her name was Mary. I remember in one letter he told her that her letters "had opened up a new era in his life." Wow...I was too through when I peeped that. Women have no earthly idea what they can inspire man to say and/or do!
  13. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Black men have been placed in the unenviable position of trying to produce bricks without straw because that probably what it is like trying to build a sturdy house without a strong foundation. Black men are broken vessels. Yet, the problem with black men is that though we may be as a four year old kid, and can do nothing at the time, we are not supposed to forget. Just a while ago, I mentioned the fact that I was not there to protect my sisters when they were young, but that same sister when she told me how she had been disrespected, I tracked the guy down and beat the hell out of him decades later. As a collective, black men see things happen and accept it. They suppress the incident and act as if it never happened instead of preparing for the day when they can right the wrong. we don't have to remain as helpless as a four year old. Remember those movies where invaders come in and kill all the adults. What happens is that all the youth who escape the slaughter will live only for one thing and one thing alone-----vengeance. It may takes years, but one day, they are coming. But this is not the movies. This is Amerikkka! Peace
  14. Thx, Brotha Troy, for asking because I'm proud to announce that my oldest daughter is a professor at a university in Florida. In fact, she just got the position last September. She is also a psychologist and hosts the Black Mental Health Symposium every fall. (I will be the keynote speaker this year). My youngest daughter is a teacher as well. Both write. The oldest daughter is published. I never told either of my girls, but I used to pray that they would not be boys because I was so fearful that if I had sons, they would end up in and out of prison. I felt my family would have a better chance with raising girls in my absence rather than boys. No, that was not from my book. It was from my "unpublished" autobiography. From time to time, I will share because if nothing else, it is a great reminder of "what not to do"
  15. Added to this insight is the process of habit since any time a people perceives their environment via memory, there is no degree of separation between conscious action and habit. And for our evolutionary purposes, this must be recognized as extraordinarily regressive. Why” Because whenever close families and extended neighborhoods reside in close proximity to any crippling memory, that people will shape their survival around that memory, and then will suit their habits to satisfy that memory. Case in point. Unarguably, black folks continually shape their passive behavior towards white folks because we remember slavery, lynch mobs, Jim Crow, and the KKK. Via memory, we have gained the habit of being submissive, and since evolution is a slow process, we still haven’t discovered how to defuse our memories, or how to de-energize our fears. For brothas and sistas, this is most unfortunate since all social interactions are cued from memory. What else is important to remember is that since memory sketches the visceral pictures that has kept us in our place, it also compels us to live habit-shaped lives. Fundamentally, habits are neither hard-working nor heroic, yet they instruct us on how we should view ourselves, And how we should relate to the world at large. The purpose of a habit is to be as precise as clockwork, and since we have no historical memory of ever being treated fairly by white America, our collective habits urge us to use the same universal method that all vulnerable species have forever employed when in contact with a superior species------passive submissiveness. In essence, we ‘bitch up’. And that has been our image. Image rules! We now recognize that white America, if it was to enslave an entire race for all of eternity, had to develop image-producing skills unmatched in the universe. How else would their power be revealed, or our hopelessness invented? <<<<<<<< It is possible that the science of image-assassination began some time before the Willie Lynch era, but the study was considerably expanded during this time when it became anchored to scientific methodology. It wasn’t that Europeans, prior to Willie Lynch, had guessed wrong about screwing together a program to manufacture slaves out of men, but if slavery was going to last, forward-thinking white men understood the techniques must be refined. In earlier times, slavemasters possibly thought of slavery as a condition of circumstances that could be measured by war, remedied by ransom, and understood by all, but entering the 17th century, the science of slavery gathered momentum, but did not become painstakingly exact until “image” qualified the process. Prior to this model, slave-breakers had experienced with a variety of “taming” techniques: beatings, and torture among them, along with the fathomless craft of stripping away one’s culture. Yet, against these gloomy odds, some of the Africans miraculously resisted transformation. No matter how vicious or cruel the technique, these Africans, though dehumanized, could resurrect themselves. An African warrior, as long as he maintained the “image” of himself as a warrior, would resist and fight. Even stripped of his culture, deprived of his religion, and placed on foreign soil, it would still not matter because even without these things, the warrior would still remain a warrior. He could still focus. He still possessed an image of himself. By inventing an image of the African that was beyond the range of his experience, the slave-makers forced the Africans to accept unqualified and unsubstantiated assumptions about themselves, and thus it began. Almost.
  16. I started off my career as a father by going to jail on the very same night that my first child was born. It was on a hot, steamy August night in 1972. I was minding my own business , sitting on the sidelines of a neighborhood football game where I was supposed to be playing; a star wide receiver, who was so high on heroin, I was banned from playing. Well, I actually didn’t care because I would rather nod than catch passes. Plus, I never truly believed that the team I played for from Piedmont Courts could beat the North Charlotte Bears, the team my oldest sister's brother, Buddy, played for. In fact, my "brother" played on the same high school team with Dwight Clark, who later became famous for catching the winning pass from Joe Montana in a SuperBowl. Nonetheless, at some point during the game, but shortly before half-time, My girlfriend’s youngest brother, came flying out of the darkness on his bike, yelling that I should get to the hospital right away. Without even giving that ominous announcement any real thought, I knew precisely what it meant, and what it signified more than anything else was that my life had just changed dramatically! In addition to all the things I already was at nineteen years old, I was about to earn another label to my pedigree: DADDY! At nineteen, I was black, poor, a high-school dropout, unemployed, and an ex-convict. Unfazed by my unfortunate credentials, I was not exactly certain if fatherhood would be a cure or a curse. Either way, the moment was now upon me. Within a matter of seconds, I had a ride, and a carload of us departed Alexander Street Park, headed to Charlotte Memorial Hospital to help me usher my brand new child into America. I went to jail because while on the way to the hospital to greet the birth of my daughter, I decided to have my friend to pull over at a corner grocery store in the hood to buy some cigars. After all, in all the movies I had ever seen, that’s what men did. They bought and passed out cigars to their friends to celebrate the birth of their newborn child. Maybe, I shouldn’t have stopped. However, I did. As luck would have it, even though I was only in the store a very short time, it was more than enough time for the police to harass my friends. Seeing the predicament as a case of police brutality, I rushed out of store on Parkwood Avenue, and over to the car where I proceeded to tell the police that “I knew the law” and that it would be best for them if they just left us alone. In a world of justice and equality, that very well should have marked the end of the whole affair, but it didn’t. In fact, the police seemed angered by my boldness and proceeded to club the shit out of me. After a brief but violent confrontation, I was carted off to jail, pitched into the drunk tank with all the other inebriated folks, and charged with disorderly conduct. In the drunk tank, there were no beds so everyone had to sleep on the cold, concrete floor. They didn’t give you any food. They didn’t give you any sheets or blankets. In fact, they didn’t give you shit, but it was peaceful and serene in a haunted house sort of way; a cell filled with drunken strangers snoring and passing gas without shame or regret. Now, decades later, upon reflection, I guess this was a classic example of how drugs warp your mind because what in the hell was comforting about being locked up in a cage that reeked of vomit and bad breath. Anyway ,the next morning I was taken before the Judge who released me once I explained my situation and recounted the birth of my first-born child, but somehow I knew that I had missed a very important moment in the life of my little girl .Embarrassed that I had not been there to see my daughter the night before, I postponed going to visit her until a few days later. That turned out to be a tragic blunder. By some cruel twist of fate, It was around this time in 1972 that I embarked on a bank-robbing spree, and before my baby could celebrate her first birthday, I was locked away in federal prison with 30 years. I would be gone for 10. Once released, I remember how nervous I was when I went to visit my daughter. I searched my mind for something that would allow me to make a good first impression on a little girl who knew more about the visiting hours in jail than she knew about what time Sesame Street came on. This child of mine had probably seen the insides of more prisons than she had classrooms, and it had always pained me to think how my daughter must have hated me on those ever-occurring days in school when the students had to stand before the class and announce just what it was that their fathers did for a living. Even though some of the other students may have had a dad that was a garbage-man or one who worked in a fish market, my daughter was probably the only child who on “Career Day” had a dad who was locked up. Wow, that must have been traumatizing. Anyway, on the night of my tenth year of being missing in action from my daughter’s life, I stood in the darkness outside the house when she lived with her mother, afraid. If this would have been the home of one of my partners, I would have strolled into the house and would have been given a hero’s welcome. After all, here I was, a young nigga, who had just spent a whole decade in the joint, taking everything the white man had thrown at me, and I had survived. Even if it had been the home of a potential girlfriend, I would have known precisely what to have done, but that was not the case. I was about to meet my daughter, and quite frankly, I had no idea of what to say or do. In prison, I had been tutored by some of the most brilliant minds in the criminal world about how to commit any crime I chose. I had been schooled in how to seduce women, and how to defeat my enemies, but there was not a mumbling word said by any of the jail-house scholars about how to be a great daddy. Basically, I was on my own, and to my regret, I found nothing in my background that would provide me with the instructions needed to be a daddy. I was a man who had conducted countless shady deals in numerous back alleys in the darkest hours of the night. I had been in a couple of shootouts with the police. I had robbed banks and had come up a winner more than once when death was on my tail, but I knew that being a daddy would be my biggest challenge. What was even more scary was the fact that none of the qualities that had made me a well-respected gangsta in the streets or that had allowed me to survive in some of the toughest prisons in the country would make me a good daddy. And guess what….I wasn’t
  17. Brotha Troy, I envy the fact that you got a chance to do for the women in your life. Man, by spending 35 years in prison, I barely had time to do anything for anyone. I probably traumatized my daughters because they knew more about jail and prison visiting hours than they knew about what time Sesame Street came on. I never will forget when I was about twelve years old and had done something illegal. The next morning when my Moms was going to work with her friends on the bus, they were talking about me and the crime I had committed. (I had broken into the white man's grocery store) She told me how embarrassed she was and that she never mentioned to her friends that it was me they were talking about. Even now, it bothers me how a judge in juvenile court blamed my Mama for me getting in trouble. Can you imagine how sad it is that I never made my Moms proud of me. I am the oldest and only son with 8 sisters and one of my sisters told me that she was mad at me because I was never there to beat up guys who bothered them in school. I guess that is why I'm such a big fan of black women. Man, feel proud that you stood up for the women in your life. I salute you! Another thing. When I was locked up, I really hated to see black women working in prisons and I told them why I detested it. Any time, I saw a black woman working in a prison, of all places, I felt like we had failed our women, but since we couldn't provide for them or at least, produce jobs more suitable for our precious women, they had to work in what is a hell on earth, where their lives are in constant danger. I felt like we had subjected our women to a fate where they could not emerge with a good view of us because hell, they told us what to do. They ordered us around, and they would go upside our heads if they wanted to with a night stick. Like Tupac said. we gotta save our women. Man, I have robbed, I have stolen, I have been in shootouts, but of all the horrible things I may have done, I am proud to say that I have never physically harmed a black woman.
  18. Brotha, this is a digression but it helps to make a point. I just realized the "quote" button and how to use it. It was right there in front of my face, but my ignorance or lack of knowing prevented me from employing an option that was geared to make my cyber-life easier. I didn't know, and due to my fear to experiment, I ignored the button. And in life, so many opportunities are missed because we fear trying something new or not understanding how to utilize the options at out disposal. My responding would have been a lot easier had I chosen a moment to step outside the comfort zone to explore the possibilities of what could be if I abandoned my fear of "messing something up". And that is how it goes. Sometimes, we remained trapped in a situation where a so-called 'safety zone' is actually a prison. Not knowing is really not much of an excuse because all I had to do was TRY! I know how simplistic that may appear. but yeah, sometimes all that has to be done is to OPEN YOUR EYES!
  19. It is kinda sad, but the sista probably had a thousand and one reasons why they don't feel protected by brothas. Man, our helplessness has been evident since day one, but what was to be expected when the system was geared to "keep us in check". How easily it works and how good. It's like when I was locked up. I often wondered how 50 guards could keep 1000 prisoners in check. We could easily overpower them, and we very well could have, but there is the intense fear that helplessness breeds that has the power to freeze you in place. The fear is so great, that despite the level of oppression, you choose to leave things be and to pray that one day the situation will change on its own. I remember reading an article some twenty-five years ago about an incident in Washington DC at an earlier date about how the black men finally stood up in defense of the black woman. And man, the elation of the sistas showed through in the article as the sistas exclaimed: "THEY'RE FIGHTING BACK!" Though, some brothas died as a result, this was a shining moment for black manhood, if you can somehow equate getting killed with an act of valor. But I will never forget how proud the sistas were of their men. Also, I recall another incident. When Joe Louis was fighting the great white hope, despite all the excitement among us that he could win, there was also the concern about what would happen if he did win. Brothas in the know, knew that if Joe Louis won that the white population might riot so a lot of people wanted Joe to lose. Others said that "it would be best that Joe Louis win and that some of us die in the aftermath than for him to lose and the whole future of the race die." Given this, black men have had to confront progress and success with the notion that he could have some, but not too much. But, there is more. It what I call "Success after success". I hate to keep using "street" analogy, but it is what I understand best. Anyway, when I robbed banks, I consider getting the money a success and it was. However, getting away with the money and keeping it was the success after the success. And that was why most bank robbers got busted. We never prepared ourselves to succeed after the initial success. Likewise, a man can spend half his life courting the woman of his dreams. He gets her and is successful, but he loses her because he wasn't prepared for success after success. He had no game plan successful enough to allow him to keep her although he had one to get her. Jackie Robinson, despite his success in breaking the color barrier in baseball, found out that the success after the initial success is what would prove challenging. And that is why image is so paramount in our future growth and development. Our image was hijacked and lacking both an image and an identity has proven catastrophic. I will address that with the next Excerpt from THE UNMAKING OF THE BLACK MAN.
  20. 9 Hood Rats As far as it goes, image is the most powerful behavioral mechanism in the ‘hood. There is nothing ambiguous about it. A tough one is indispensable, and when it comes to understanding the human condition in the ‘hood, nothing is more serious. After image, everything else is secondary. In every sense, the deeds of hood rats emerges from their image which is, strictly speaking, a social commentary drawn out of the mYth of their family legend because in ghetto culture, the nature of how you get a headstart on the block is usually derived from the known or reputed oral accounts of your big brothers, uncles, or father’s reputations. A well-armed image is a cultural heirloom that can be passed along among family and close kin, but no matter how ‘bigged’ up the image is, you are expected, at some point, to stop riding on the rep of your ancestors and to forge your own image. In many ghetto families, the only thing passed down are the name and the image, and what will matter most in the end, despite their scars, battles, marriages, and failures, will be how close the sons have remained to the true image of their fathers. This is the essential element of success in the ‘hood, and though it may appear incomprehensible to outsiders, the quality of life in the ‘hood can be assessed by how much suffering gets done to preserve, live up to, or to enhance your image. Image, then, is the premier social device whereby hood rats are measured, conceptualized, and given meaning, but since the reflexive character of image lacks the social reverence of identity, it is easy for a brotha to transform his identity, but harder to relinquish his image. That is why some brothas who identify themelves as Muslims, Christians, etc still portray the image of a thug. Identity is like a hall of mirrors. Image is. Identity can distort, and oftentimes it is not always a true reflection of the person as individuals can wittingly and unwittingly misidentify themselves as so many brothas have found out when they have unsuccessfully attempted to identify themselves as bonafide members of white, corporate America. In the hood, the role of image helps to diminish anxieties about place because everyone contributes to the peace by walking their own tightrope. A ho is always a ho. A stick-up boy is always a stick-up boy. A playa is always a playa. Therefore, everyone know how to occupy their space. The danger comes in when hood rats try to experiment. Whether coincidentally or not, ‘hood rats will indelibly associate with conditions on the block they recognize as socially validating to them, and once they claim their set of conditions, they will automatically begin to ascertain who is either stronger or weaker than they are. This is the proverbial, urbanized hunter-gatherer instinct. In the ‘hood, social conditioning begins immediately after birth. From an early age, ‘hood rats are much more to be ‘doers’, who, once they learn to walk, spend quite a bit of their waking hours in active participation of one pursuit or another in direct contrast to non ‘hood rats whose traditional formative years are engaged with greater verbal instructions and cues. Baby ‘hood rats are more externally expressive and alert due to the fact that they make contact with their environment sooner, and as an unforeseen bonus, they are less apt to become traumatized by the ever-changing (worsening) of society because they tend not to suspect their biological disadvantages as much as they do the shortcomings of the physical environment. (That’s why when things go wrong, white people blame themselves. Black folks blame society.) Quite naturally, in an environment where the universally agreed upon response is to ‘re-act’, the technical ability ‘to do’ is as valued as computer literacy, and that, unarguably goes to demonstrate why bigger, faster, and stronger are the ultimate ‘hood qualities. Isolated and cut off from mainstream America, the ‘hood established a subculture unique to the whole world, placing great emphasis on Eubonics as the required language, Motown as its cultural soul, and the church as its center. At the same time, however, white America had just experienced the most prosperous 30 years in its entire history. 1945-1975 had turned out to be a golden era for the American mainstream, and there was plenty of spending money in the hands of white folks. With money to burn, Uncle Sam spent untold billions on the construction of new suburban malls and new highways to get to them. Unsurprisingly, not a red cent of this post-war wealth was distributed to the ‘hood. In response, our Eubonics grew more pronounced. Our music more personal, and our religion more private. (In what is perhaps the greatest paradox of our lifetimes is this: how in the hell is it possible that a powerless people could be enveloped by such a powerfully negative image!) Nonetheless the ‘hood, unremittingly grim, was nothing more (or less) than the evolutionary ass-end of The Great White Society with both the harsh environment, and even harsher white men as antagonists. In the ‘hood, there was never any ‘all things being equal’ to be considered, and the government could identify no viable reason to regulate affirmative action for black America since it could never be determined exactly what pillar of mainstream society would be upheld by their upliftment. “Hood rats proved, once and for all, that democracy was not equipped with the social or political muscle to compete with its own shortcomings. In nearly every quarter of white America, nothing provoked Uncle Sam to acknowledge that class differences, second only to ‘cracker chauvinism’ would strap black America to a constitution with a closet full of rattling skeletons.
  21. BY SOULFIRE LOOK! THE SELF-REINFORCING THEORY When you take a look at your personal history, the one thing you will be forced to contend with is the fact that what you are doing right now is establishing a reputation that is sure to outlive you. Be advised that right now, at this very moment, you are building your legacy. In essence, you are cementing the posterity you will leave behind to be viewed by your loved ones. Long after you are dead and gone, your deeds will continue to testify either for or against you. Oftentimes, the preacher will embellish his eulogy to make you seem more saintly than you actually were, but what will always remain is the ghosts of your actions and behavior. They cannot be sugar-coated. They are what they are, and will forever exist as an indictment against you, meaning that what you choose to do right now will either bless or curse you in the future. Please remember that until you develop a healthy respect for your deeds and the consequences thereof, you will never be in a position to master your destiny. In all honesty, destiny is so much more than a purely spiritual or intellectual concept. It is a personal belief that the universe owes you and that you are bold enough to claim your rightful due. For centuries, black women have been existing in a state of perpetual emotional chaos where, by far, low self-esteem has been her greatest demon. Let me say this. It is, perhaps, very complicated being a black woman in today’s society. Black women are faced with the daunting task of trying to make sense of a world where, on a daily basis, they witness, watch, and observe the physical destruction of black men. What has become obvious to black women is that this trend of killing their men is not going to blow over as this country’s appetite to destroy their men has escalated, and understanding that this trend will continue into the future, black women have to contend with the probability that once the black man has been destroyed, that America will come after them next! Is this fear reasonable? Of course it is. And the number one reason why this fear is so palpable is simply this: How can you hate the product and not hate the producer? If the black man is the most feared and despised creature in America, then how can it be possible for the black woman to be loved and admired by a society when she is the producer of the thing most loathed by that same society? No matter how pretty and brilliant the black woman is, she cannot disguise her capacity to create what this country deems a monster: the black man! With the hindsight of history as a backdrop, what has been consistent about humans is that they feel they will lose the battle unless they destroy the source of the problem. That’s why when you call the exterminator to your home, he does not focus on individual pests, he will go directly to the source ,and seek out the colony in an effort to destroy all of the pests. Well, in America, the black woman is the source. Here’s the truth. Hidden beneath all the horror of the evening news where black men are the usual suspects in a bewildering array of crimes is the unspoken whisper to black women: “LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE” To some in this country, the black woman’s womb is toxic, and she has been given countless warnings to shut down her baby-making facility which she has blindly ignored. In the 50s, the word went out to black women to have only two children and no more. When this didn’t work, other measures were enacted. One was the sterilization of black men. Did you know that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a most vocal advocate of sterilizing black men in the south? She was the one who proposed that black preachers in the south be used to spread the gospel of black male sterilization. She felt that since the black preachers were so charismatic that it would be easy for them to persuade the males in their congregation to get sterilized. Black women better wake up. There’s a war going on.
  22. Wow, brotha Troy, I 'm absolutely convinced that if anyone understands the problem of Amazon's dominance, it is you. I imagine that Amazon's business model was conceived from the same type of greed and selfishness that propelled the "robber barons" from decades ago who put the squeeze on the oil and steel industries. Man, I wished there would have been more like you trying to wake up those like me who had no idea what was coming.
  23. I'm late to this discussion, but would like to add the following. As for the complexion of Jesus, I submit that if you will have a look at the people in Egypt during the time of Jesus, you will note that they were black. There was even an article in National Geographic some years ago proving how the people of Egypt looked, The cover had a pic of a black Pharaoh on the cover to show how the people looked. Consider that. Okay, if God, in His Infinite Wisdom, sent Jesus into Egypt to hide him, then it stands to reason that Jesus had to be black. How else could Jesus be safe? You can't hide a giraffe among zebras. Additionally, Josephus, a historian of the times saw Jesus, and reported that he was a brotha. While we at it, what about Moses? Again, the Egyptians of the time of the captivity were black, so if Moses was adopted by Pharaoh, who was black and raised up in his household, Moses looked like them. Remember when Moses watered the flock for those women at the well he was mistook for an Egyptian. Why was this? Because Moses was black. What about Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery. Well, they actually threw him into well where he was discovered and sold into Egypt as a slave. Years later when there was a famine in the land, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy food. By now Joseph was second-in-command in Egypt, but his brothers did not recognize him f he had been white, he would have stood out like a sore thumb. The reason Joseph was not recognized by hi blood brothers was cause after living in Egypt, he had adopted their way of dress and lifestyle to the point that he looked like an Egyptian I could go on and on, but in a nutshell, the people of the Bible were black.
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