Saturday, March 18, 2006


"I'm not a scientist or a biochemist....but I do know that when a little boy or girl gets killed by a bomb, that's wrong." Congresswoman Julia Carson at the Anti-War rally today.

Georgia is a Stupid State

The state legislature of Georgia has recently refused to recognize Jane Fonda for her tireless humanitarian work that she has done in the state of Georgia over the past twenty-five years, the largest part of which is the GCAPP(Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention--which I have linked on this page). The reason for their refusal was because she was involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement. My thoughts are....I hope some Vietnamese people kick the Georgia legislature in their asses. I will most glady honor Jane as she is highly commendable for her wonderful work throughout the world! God Bless Jane Fonda!

Pro-Immigrant March in Chicago

While I was in Chicago, I learned that there was a pro-immigrant rally in Chicago on March 10th. I wonder how well it was covered in the mainstream media?
The rally today in Indy was great! I think it was the best one they've had. Great stuff. My new favorite store is Trader Joes!

Friday, March 17, 2006

In Profile: My Aunt Bertie

My Aunt Bertie was very special to me. She was my favorite aunt and she was the most beautiful spirit that the world ever provided me with. She was my shelter and the tree from which I grew at an early age. Aunt Johnnie was my first school teacher, but Aunt Bertie was my first teacher. My earliest memories are of being at Aunt Bertie's house(which I called Aunt Johnnie's house---they lived together and it SEEMED that it was Aunt Johnnie's house, but Bertie Lee DeRamus McDavid owned it) and being engaged with her in ten million different activities, whether it was singing, or baking cakes and gingerbread houses and gingerbread men, or reading books, or just sitting and watching her, Aunt Bertie was my spirit and my soul....and she loved me dearly. I was always at her side in everything--or more likely crawled up into her arms. When she got sick, I would often stay at home with her--I often found it odd, later in years, that we would get to Aunt Johnnie's in the morning and my mother would ask me if I wanted to stay at home that day or go to school. That was truly something else, but I think I see something of why now. Our house was right across the street from Aunt Bertie's house, so I literally grew up in her presence.

Aunt Bertie retired from teaching in 1984, suffering from Ovarian cancer. I remember her retirement tea as a beautiful event. She died in 1985 when I was four yars old. The very special thing concerning my bond with my aunt is that she told me that she was going to die. When my mother and Freda came to tell me that Aunt Bertie was dead, I didn't cry because I already knew it. That instilled something in me, I am not sure what it is, but that is my gift from my aunt.

Bertie Lee DeRamus McDavid grew up the second oldest(not counting the two who died in infancy, who came before her) of eight children. She was a straight-A student all through high school and college, the first student of Sadie Mae and John Archie to be educated under the tutelage of Fess McDavid. She recieved her bachelor's degree from Alabama State University and proceeded to do graduate work at Columbia University, eventually recieving her master's degree from Governor's State in Chicago.

This sounds quite unusual, but I guess it happened quite a lot back then and oh well, c'est la vie. My aunt was hand-picked by Mrs. Mary Foster McDavid to be her successor as Mrs. McDavid--I don't know how that worked and how much or how little Fess himself played into it, but oh well. She and Fess married and they were blissfully wedded until he died in the early sixties. What I do know is that Mrs. M.F. McDavid was quite a bit older than Fess--several...I believe she was as old to him as he was to Aunt Bertie. Fess, from what I'm told, was the same age as John Archie. Mrs. M.F. McDavid and Fess were both quite accomplished people. Mrs. M.F. McDavid had a school named after her in Montgomery. She was also, I so love to hear my grandmother imitating her introduction of herself, the first Black woman president of the National PTA.

Aunt Bertie was an exceptional woman. She also loved poetry and books and shared the passion with my grandmother of memorizing and reciting poetry. Her favorite poem was read at her funeral and I have never forgotten it, "House by the Side of the Road." My Aunt Bertie was a key influence on my life.

In Profile: My Aunt Earnestine

I think what is going to happen is that I am going to profile all of the children of John Archie Bradson (J.A.B.)and Sadie Mae Goodson DeRamus, my grandmother and her siblings. Alas, I just profiled my grandmother because I had just gotten a recorded interview with her and hope to do another, better one. There is a lot of history there to be had. Alas, I think now I will profile my Aunt Earnestine. The oldest child of this couple, my aunt was also the darkest, something that she never was able to deal with and which she never learned to take pride in. Born in 1915, she is the only child of Sadie Mae and John Archie who did not recieve her education under the tutelage of Fess McDavid. She went to grade school and high school in Clanton, where she stayed and was mostly reared by her paternal grandmother, Grandma Fanny. It is because of this, that there was sort of a juncture between her and the rest of the siblings.

Married three times, Aunt Earnestine never had any children. Aunt Earnestine was a bit gawkish, somewhat innocent(I do think of myself in this description), and somewhat naive. One of the most hilarious and once in a lifetime moments was when my grandmother explained to Aunt Earnestine how two men are supposed to have sex. My mother had this case which involved an anal sex case and my aunt was totally befuddled by the idea. I could have died. As simple as she was, she was also educated. A principal for twenty years, a school teacher for forty, Aunt Earnestine had two master's degrees. This is why degrees don't really impress me all that much..Aunt Earnestine, for all of the education she had, didn't have the sense god gave a bird. It was something else when everyone found out that she was renting off the family property to cousins of ours for an unexcusably low amount because she felt it was her "Christian duty," even though they were living extremely well off of the deal. Another reason why I have no claim to Christianity. Aunt Earnestine was not very good with money, yet....and this I find absolutely befuddling...and yet ALL of her brothers and sisters allowed her to handle the DeRamus estate up until she wasn't able to simply in deference to age and seniority. Its by the grace of god that nothing bad actually happened. Anyway, such is the spice of life.

Alas,Aunt Earnestine, as I said, was married three times, divorced twice and widowed once in a d-w-d order. She lived most of her life in the home of her parents, with the brief exception of her moving to Cleveland during one of her marriages. She was a very well-loved teacher and person. In 1997, the people in the community threw an "Earnie Day" celebration in which her students--from over the span of her forty year career paid tribute to her. It was a wonderful ocassion.

Aunt Earnestine was always good to me. I remember very few words of reproach coming to me from her. Everyone's favorite thing to do was to sleep in Aunt Earnestine's tall, high-backed old fashioned bed under her mountain of quilts. She always had candy or cookies or something for us children, and for me, she gave me her collection of bible books when I was a little boy. Aunt Earnestine taught sunday school as well and was very good at it. I used to ride with her to church on sundays in her old blue volkswagen and help her set up for church and sunday school. She was a teacher, a sunday school teacher, a church Stewardess, and many other things. Up until she wasn't able to she also kept a garden in which the best things would grow. I remember one year she made the paper for growing the largest pumpkin in the county. When I was a little boy, she kept chickens and tons of cats constantly around her house.

Aunt Earnestine was an incredible human being. Filled with much love, but also a complicated person with her share of faults and problems. Her death definitely left a void in many lives.
I had an absolutely great time in Chicago. I am glad I made myself go. I am determined to do more things on the moment,to move about and be really free. So, I went to Columbia College and sat in on one of the panels in their StoryWeek festival. It was abolutely great ad I got to meet Dorothy Allison after the panel discussion and talk with her a few moments. God how blissful! All in all, I enjoyed the city, I enjoyed walking around, I enjoyed the different atmosphere. I am greatful to myself that I did it. Alas, one irony is that I ran into this girl Irini from Lafayette whom I had just a few days ago been discussing coming to chicago ---and she was coming too for a different purpose--and we ran into each other on Michigan Avenue. How odd. God, I miss the city. I miss civilization. I miss life and living.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Introducing the Radical Progressive Carnival

I would like to propose the formation of a radical,progressive carnival. A place for those who are dedicated to upholding a sincere and fundamental respect for humanity in all its forms. A place for writers,intellectuals,feminists,philosophers, people of color, the queer, the strange,artists, and others.
We have got to eradicate this constant surveillance of white supremacy. Get rid of it, make it die once and for all.

Key Words

From bell hooks' Rock My Soul:Black People and Self-Esteem.

"Having lived in the midst of white supremacy all her life, Mama recognized that it would be dangerous for us to live our lives trying to please racist white people, letting them set the standards for our identity and well-being.

Her words of caution proved to be necessary wisdom. While she wanted her children to have equal access to libraries and typewriters, small classrooms, and the newest textbooks, she did not want us to be taught by unenlightened white people to hate ourselves. She did not want her academically gifted children to let white people teach them they were the grand exceptions, better than other black folks, maybe even not really black. The self-esteem that had been fostered in a social and political atmosphere of racial uplift was assaulted in the world of racial integration. Black folks living in segrgated worlds who had spent only a measure of their lives thinking about white folks were more and more becoming obssessed with race. Naturally, the more contact we had with white folks the more intensely we experienced racist assaults. Even the well-meaning and kind white teachers often believed racist stereotypes. We were never away from the surveillance of white supremacy in the world of racial integration. And it was this constant reality that began to undermine the foundation of self-esteem in the lives of Black folks."
bell hooks is my salvation.
Kieth Boykin has messed me up.

Philosopher's Carnival

Interesting things going on at the 27th Philosopher's carnival.
I had a conversation today in the coffeeshop with this girl who was telling me, "you know, I can't stand those people who bash American-- I mean we are the greatest country in the world-- I mean, I don't think I could live without 24 hour stores and walmart! Nobody else has that!"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Everybody Is A Star

Everybody is a star
Who can rain, chase the dust away
Everybody wants to shine
Ooh, come out on a cloudy day
'Til the sun that loves you proud
When the system tries to bring you down
Every hand to shine tonight
You don't need darkness to do what you think is right

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Everybody is a star
I can feel it when you shine on me
I love you for who you are
Not the one you feel you need to be
Ever catch a falling star
Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
Everybody is a star
One big circle going round and round

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, shine, shine, shine, shine

Don't Make Me Close One More Door

Whitney Houston

Share my life, take me for what I am
Cause I'll never change all my colours for you
Take my love, I'll never ask for too much
Just all that you are and everything that you do

I don't really need to look very much further
I don't want to have to go where you don't follow
I won't hold it back again, this passion inside
Can't run from myself
There's nowhere to hide

Don't make me close one more door I don't wanna hurt anymore

Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me...
I have nothing, nothing, nothing
If I don't have you, you, you, you, you, you...

You see through, right to the heart of me
You break down my walls with the strength of your love
I never knew love like I've known it with you
Will a memory survive, one I can hold on to

I don't really need to look very much further
I don't want to have to go where you don't follow
I won't hold it back again, this passion inside
I Can't run from myself
There's nowhere to hide
Your love I'll remember, forever

Don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me...
I have nothing, nothing, nothing...

...Don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me no...
Don't walk away from me
Don't you dare walk away from me
I have nothing, nothing, nothing
If I don't have you
If I don't have you
oh you
I just got through watching House of the Flying Daggersagain. It is a very enjoyable movie, but I do have to wonder how many of these films they are going to make. This is the new asian-sterotype movie--as "The Flower Drum Song" used to be. In some ways its a bit ludicrous. Im staring at the screen and thinking this and thinking of what the average movie goer takes in from this and other films like it: "Ohh, can all Asian people throw knives like that? Ohh look at what they are doing in those trees! Is that how they won the Vietnam war?"
I heard this fascinating and great definition of power: the ability to do....

Monday, March 13, 2006

I would so love to get with Mos Def.

In Profile: My Grandmother

My grandmother is an intriguing spirit. She is an evolving soul who never ceases to amaze, who moves forward in the most subtle and wonderful ways. Her personality and her makeup all encompass who she is and her strength of will and her uncompromising dignity all come to bear upon the person that she is and the woman that she is known to be. My grandmother has an amazing strength. At 85-years of age my grandmother can lift and move a hundred pounds easier than a man a third of her age and has a force behind her that can knock a grown man to the ground. As my grandmother says, she "doesn't know how to hit light." She is possessive of great physical strength and mental capability, and has the most poetic and congenial soul that will ever come to bear. That said, my grandmother is rough around the edges, plays it very practical in all things, and carries a strong Calvinistic disdain that serves as a clamp on her creativity and her imaginative soul.

My grandmother once hit a woman, a fellow school teacher who one day decided that she would taunt my grandmother with a plum tree branch filled with worms, which she knew my grandmother was quite afraid of. As the woman repeatedly pushed the branch near my grandmother's person, in a reflex my grandmother picked up a log and swiped the woman sidewise across her face, leaving a scar and pulling the earring out of the woman's ear. With that the woman decided to continue, telling my grandmother "Oh Thelma, you know I wasn't gonna put that on you! Just for that, I'm really gonna do it!" My grandmother's reply was, "Woman, I'll kill you today if you put those worms on me." The woman decided then it was time to leave that alone.

My grandmother bears a poetic soul. English, as she says, was her pet subject. Her passion and hobby was and is memorizing and reciting poetry. Today, she recites several poems from memory that she learned in her youth, among them "She's Somebody's Mother," "House by the Side of the Road," and "Sir Patrick Spens." My grandmother writes plays--starting when she was in grade school and continuing on to her involvement with the aging center where they staged several plays every year, and even today as she will write Christmas and Easter programs for the church. She also loves to sing. She has always considered writing and poetry her "hobbies," not to take the place of "real work." When she was a teacher, she taught and now, she must busy herself with taking care of her house--mopping floors, making beds, gardening,etc.

My grandmother, the third oldest (fifth counting the children who died in their infancy)of eight, recieved her education in central Alabama, a pupil of Fess MacDavid(I have just thought recently --Fess was her teacher and principal when she was in school, her principal when she taught under him, and her brother-in-law), from whom she recieved the best education around, and then attended what is now Alabama State University, where she recieved her bachelor's degree in the early forties. She started teaching in 1941, taught in Alabama and helped to integrate the north side of Chicago. She retired in 1981. She is definitely an interesting woman.
I have been contemplating writing this for a long time, and especially since reading Anne Braden's book, The Wall Between, which left me with a lump in my throat and palpitations. It is absolutely something else to live in a hostile world and environment.To go about each day knowing that there are people who would wish to persecute you for your identity, for who and what you are. It is absolutely something to live knowing that there are people who would try and negate your existence. I believe Audre Lorde taught us well how to deal with these things....and especially when it comes into the question of power and authority and the efforts of those hostile forces to make use of these things.

Something that Anne Braden spoke out to me and sat with me a long time, and it still causes a ruffle in my soul. She was speaking of her parents, her upbringing, and her and her husband's trial and persecution during the communist withhunts of the 1950s. She said that it was startling to her to think of her parents unconditional love for her in posting her bail to be released from jail, even when the cause that she advocated went against everything that they believed and everything that their society stood for. She said that she thought about the sad irony in not only that the very foundation out of which her parents came was the very thing that was not only placing her on trial and condemning her as a witch, but also that if she had not been their child that they perhaps would be apart of this mob. That statement started me to thinking about how societies are formed, what they are built on, and the extent to which we are tied into it, why that is, and how it might happen that some of us are not inextricably tied into the system. She spoke of the people their in the South who sort of existed in the middle(however, as Howard Zinn told us, you can't be neutral on a moving train) and who whispered and nodded their disdain of segregation and the ill-treatment of Blacks in the South but who declined to speak up in public and who found it best to "let things be" and exist in harmony and in silence with segregationist rule. I can't wrap my mind around that. I would hope that people would HAVE SOME INTEGRITY and not follow along with crowds. I don't know, I don't know how to wrap my mind around it at all. I will always, as long as I have a tongue and can make use of my body, speak.

Oh No!

Maureen Stapleton, the famed actress, has died. She played Barbra Streisand's mother in Nuts and also won the Academy Award for playing Emma Goldman in REDS with Warren Beatty(Shirley MacLaine's little brother).
Zacarias Moussaoui may be exonerated or saved from the death penalty because of misdoings by the goverment. Oh what tangled webs.
I didn't know my grandmother had been a principal. There are new revelations all of the time.
Why is Trent Lott back?
The news out of Iraq is just too depressing. Read it for yourself.

Kudos to Rus Feingold!

Call your senators and urge them--indeed demand that they support Senator Rus Feingold in his effort to pass a censure of President Bush through the Senate in response to the illegal wiretapping carried out by his adminstration! God Bless Reingold!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Interesting and new revelations all around. How I love new revelations!

Beautiful Words from Barbra

Art in the Pursuit of Truth ...Barbra Streisand

President Kennedy once said that "In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation."
I am proud to be a part of a community of artists and filmmakers who have shown their activism and social consciousness through their work; a group that is committed to examining our world and revealing the truth. Sure, the entertainment industry is not perfect. With every groundbreaking, courageous film that is produced, there are also films made that contribute little to the betterment of society.

But, more often than not, we are a group that is ahead of the national conversation. Throughout history the Hollywood community has been very much involved and in touch with what is happening in the country. During World War II, in addition to leading blood drives, members of the entertainment industry raised billions of dollars through war bond sales and its embrace of the Treasury Department's 10% payroll deduction plan. During the pinnacle of the Civil Rights Movement, members of the Hollywood community marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in support of non-violent action to end segregation and oppression and to fight for equal rights for all. During the McCarthy Era, when actors and filmmakers were being blacklisted, the brave "Hollywood Ten," calling on their 1st Amendment rights, refused to testify in front of the House on Un-American Activities Committee. The courts disagreed and they all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and each was sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison. During the Vietnam War, artists and entertainers marched and loudly voiced their opposition, and most recently, the community protested and spoke out against the war in Iraq.

I have said in the past that I believe art does not exist only to entertain but also to challenge one to think, to provoke, even to disturb, to engage in a constant search for the truth. In spite of the many films that get released every year that aim to just entertain or break box office records, the industry has also produced films that tackle controversial social and political issues. This year alone, Best Picture nominees such as "Munich" and "Good Night and Good Luck" had strong political messages. And in the past, Hollywood films have inspired a discourse and a healthy exchange of ideas that is normally not a part of the American conversation. "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "In the Heat of the Night," "The Color Purple," and "Crash" all dealt candidly with issues of race. "The Pianist" and "Schindler's List" tackled anti-Semitism and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. "Coming Home" and "Born on the Fourth of July" showed America the harsh realities of war. We reflected on issues of poverty with "The Grapes of Wrath" and provided the world with an honest depiction of a gay man's reality when diagnosed with the AIDS virus in "Philadelphia." Considering the incredible breadth of Hollywood's movie making history, the list can go on and on.

Members of the Hollywood community should not be apologetic, but proud, proud to have provoked conversations, proud to have challenged ignorance and proud to have helped shape our history for the better.
I love hitting on straight men.

Hooray for Chile!

I am estatic to see Bachelet become president in Chile--I see it as a great progressive step in the world! I am so encouraged by the developing humanitarian regimes in Latin America!May she have a wonderful and long presidency!

I'm Pissed and the rest of the World Should Be Too

Saturday, Alexander Haig, former henchman for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, delivered statements to the press to the effect that in relation to the quagmire in Iraq that "every asset of the Nation must be applied to bring about a quick and successful outcome." Does that mean apply the Bomb? This man is wicked and should be castrated for his involvement in Vietnam and all of the atrocities committed during the Reagan administration. This most militaristic and inhumane mindset espoused by Haig that refuses to acknowledge the right of self-determination, self-respect, and dignity for the people of Iraq is absolutely abhorrent and must be uprooted from this country's interior.
Haig, his compadres, and all of the right-wing hawks who have their hands dipped into the mud which is Iraq and which is also U.S. militarism and foreign policy have completely lost their humanity, refuse to acknowledge and respect the humanity of others and are driven by the blind, capitalist, American imperialism that has been the soul-death of this country since its founding. People with integrity must speak out and refuse.
To speak further of this event that was reported in the news, one of the other henchmen, Henry Kissinger, was present, seated at Haig's side. I was encouraged that there were protestors their to greet him with chants of "Kissinger should go to jail, no bail."