Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog






photo by Alex Lear

photo by Alex Lear



HIWAY BLUES (for Dessie Woods)


Ain’t it enough

he think he own

these hot blacktop hiways,

them east eighty acres,

that red Chevy pick up

with the dumb bumper stickers

and big wide heavy rubber tires,

two sho nuff ugly brown bloodhounds

and a big tan&white german shepherd

who evil and got yellow teeth?


Ain’t it enough

he got a couple a kids to beat on,

a wife who was a high school cheerleader,

a brother who’s a doctor,

a cousin with a hardware store,

a divorced sister with dyed hair,

a collection of Hustler magazines

dating back to the beginning,

partial sight in his left eye,

gray hairs growing out his ear,

a sun scorched leathery neck that’s cracking,

a rolling limp in his bow legged walk,

and a couple of cases of beer in the closet?


Ain’t it enough

he got all that

without having to mess

with me?


Yeah, I shot the



—kalamu ya salaam




Africa loses a courageous warrior!

Long live the defiant resistance of Dessie Woods!
—From The Burning Spear issue Dec 2006 – Feb 2007
Dessie Woods PamphletBW_tif_pct_jpg-CONVERT-resize=400

The APSP built the National Committee to Free Dessie Woods and fought to free the courageous African woman who was an example of resistance to the African community

On November 4, 2006 the Uhuru Movement and the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) lost a dear friend and a powerful fighter for the liberation of African people everywhere. Dessie Woods, also known as Rashida Mustafa, died of lung cancer in Oakland, California at the age of 61.

Dessie Woods’ name was known around the world after she was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing a white man in Georgia with his own gun when he tried to rape her. The story of the resistance of Dessie Woods and of the powerful movement led by our Party that freed her is part of the legacy of the ongoing struggle of African people for independence and liberation. 

The APSP joins the work to free Dessie Woods

In the early 1970s, the entire Black Liberation Movement was under heavy attack by the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program, one of the counterinsurgency programs responsible for assassinating our leaders, destroying our revolutionary organizations and locking up African people who took a stand of resistance. During this time, the African People’s Socialist Party was a leading force in defending countless African people who found themselves in prison for fighting back against the conditions imposed on us. 

Our Party freed Pitts and Lee, framed up and facing the death penalty in Florida, and Connie Tucker, a Party member who had been imprisoned for her stand. Because of the success of these campaigns the Party was asked to join the existing work to defend Dessie Woods.

The Party was asked to join this campaign by one of the two factions around which the work had developed. This factional struggle represented the ongoing contest between those struggling for African self-determination and the ideological imperialists posing as revolutionaries.

Joining the work to free Dessie Woods was a strategic decision made by our Party. In the Basic Party Line, Chairman Omali Yeshitela makes it clear that “All our work is guided by our understanding that our struggle for national liberation within U.S. borders is an integral part of the whole African Liberation Movement…”

When we joined the work, the existing committee to defend Dessie woods was disorganized and dominated by white left forces. The white women’s movement and their sympathizers who wanted to build a defense for Dessie Woods based on a struggle against rape and sexual abuse of all women. Our Party struggled that the attack on Dessie Woods was part of the colonial violence imposed on all African people for the past 500 years. The white left position was defeated. 

The Party formed and led The National Committee to Free Dessie woods with the slogan, “Free Dessie Woods! Smash Colonial Violence!” This was a powerful statement that brought to center stage once again the liberation struggle of African workers inside the U.S. 

1975: a defiant example

On June 17, 1975, Dessie Woods and her friend Cheryl Todd were hitch-hiking home to Atlanta, Georgia from an unsuccessful attempt to visit Todd’s brother in Georgia’s infamous Reidsville Prison. The two African women were picked up by an insurance salesman named Ronnie Horne.

As an ordinary southern white man, Horne understood his “right” to assault the two African women if he chose to do so, and he did. Horne began to intimidate the women and when they resisted he pretended to be a cop and threatened to arrest them.

After stopping in a deserted area, Cheryl Todd escaped from Horne’s car and ran. Horne drew his pistol in an attempt to stop her, but Dessie Woods who had been sitting in the back seat, grabbed the gun and struggled.

Dessie was successful in removing this colonial attacker from the land of the living and ensuring that he would never again attack another African woman. She then took Ronnie Horne’s money and made sure that she and Cheryl Todd got safe transportation home to Atlanta.

1976: the trial and demonstrations

For this courageous act of self-defense and African resistance, the women were jailed and convicted. Todd’s family was able to secure an attorney, but Dessie Woods had to rely on a public defender. The attorneys made some small trial victories and had the trial moved to Hawkinsville, Georgia. On January 19, 1976 a contentious trial began in this small plantation town of cotton and peanut farms and a population of 3,000. Woods, Todd and their militant supporters were seen as such a threat to the colonial relations, that scores of law enforcement officials descended on Hawkinsville — armed bailiffs, armed state troopers, sheriffs deputies and local cops.

Beginning with her successful confrontation of Ronnie Horne, Dessie Woods continued to act with calm resolve. Through her carriage during the trial, she personally smashed any preconceived notion of the passivity of African women and the general servility of African people.

Hers was a defiant example too dangerous to go unpunished. The State therefore chose her as their main target, allowing the liberal and white left supporters to separate Cheryl Todd’s case from Woods. Todd was given a light sentence, primarily probation.

The trial was understood to be a sham, and the mass support for Dessie Woods and for justice to African people continued to build. Because of this, the State was unable to convict her for murder, but on February 12, 1976, Dessie Woods was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery. She was sentenced to 10 years and 12 years to be served concurrently.

The Party forms the African People’s Solidarity Committee

In September of 1976, the Party, guided by our strategy, convened the first meeting to organize the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), laying out the theoretical framework for North American people to do anti-colonial organizing — such as the defense of Dessie Woods — under our leadership. A second meeting was held in December of 1976 and the practical work of organizing Dessie Woods Support Committees under the APSP-led National Committee to Defend Dessie Woods was laid out.

On November 1, 1976, the supreme court of Georgia denied Dessie Woods’ appeal and upheld her conviction regardless of the more than 20 errors committed by the trial court. The struggle to free Dessie became our primary mass work and we intensified this work throughout the United States and in Europe.

1977: the resistance intensifies

Despite the legal setbacks, the Party knew that the defense of Dessie Woods was the defense of all African people colonized in the U.S. and understood the strategic necessity to put her case within the context of the African Liberation Movement. This is illustrated in a quote from Ironiff Ifoma’s November 1978 Burning Spear article entitled– “Dessie Woods Is All Of Us” that reads, “rape attacks against black women by white men are not sexual acts but tactics of colonial terror to keep a whole people terrorized.”

The struggle continued to build, and on September 4, 1977 some 500 people from virtually all areas of the country came together in Atlanta, Georgia to militantly demand the freedom of Dessie Woods. The Atlanta rally of predominantly African forces rejuvenated the African Liberation Movement at that time and further consolidated the APSP’s leadership.

This action, along with a subsequent one on September 14 in the San Francisco, California bay area, also demonstrated the growing support for Dessie Woods.

On the inside, Dessie continued to be defiant and organize other prisoners. She paid a heavy price for this, being continually drugged, brutalized and put into solitary confinement.

APSP “on fire” in 1978 with non-stop mobilizing around the case of Dessie Woods

On July 4, 1978 the National Committee to Defend Dessie Woods led two national demonstrations. Collectively known as the July 4th Movement to Free Dessie Woods, the demonstrations held in San Francisco, California and Plains, Georgia raised the slogan “Free Dessie Woods! Smash Colonial Violence!”

These two mobilizations were extremely significant. They continued the momentum from the September 1977 demonstration in Atlanta and further consolidated the Party’s leadership of the pro-independence movement. This was made clear by targeting Plains, Georgia the hometown of peanut farmer turned president James Earl Carter.

As head of the U.S. Government, Carter represented the colonial relationship Africans had to the United States. The treatment of Dessie Woods and all Africans in the U.S. dispelled the myth that he and the Democratic Party were anything but anti-African white ruling class representatives.

“At that moment in 1975 when she took on Ronnie Horne to protect herself and Cheryl Todd, she also took on U.S. imperialism and defended us all.”

The struggle against opportunism and for real solidarity

The significance of the mobilization for July 4 in the San Francisco bay area is found in the profound ideological struggle made by our Party. We declared and determined that we would lead our own liberation struggle; that ours was a struggle against domestic colonialism; and that the white left’s act of “adopting” the cases of individual African women or prisoners was opportunism and unacceptable.

In 1978, San Francisco was a hotbed of so-called progressive causes, including the Women’s Movement, the Gay Movement, and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC) — which was articulating clear support for the anti-colonial struggle of African People. There was a strong prisoner support movement with many individuals and organizations such as PFOC having significant relationships with prisoners, particularly African prisoners.

Remnants of the Black Panther Party still existed and memories of the Black Power Movement were strong in people’s minds. There was extensive solidarity work being done with the revolutionary movements in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Cuba.

In this atmosphere, the Chairman’s first large public speech was received enthusiastically and the turnout for the July 4th Movement to Free Dessie Woods was large, boisterous and fantastic. This would all change soon, and by 1979 the Party was publicly calling for the disbanding of PFOC as an organization and struggling with the opportunism of APSC and the North American “left”.

Our primary struggle was that we would lead our own liberation movement, and that the correct response from the North American community was to follow our leadership and provide our movement with political and material support. This put us at odds with PFOC and other ideological imperialists.

The Party struggled that the attempted rape of Dessie Woods was an act of colonial violence targeting all colonized African people, and that the prevention of such atrocities against African women in the future can only be found through the freedom of all African people. This put us at odds with the white women’s and gay movements.

Those ideological struggles made with the white left were earth shaking and ground breaking. The APSC of today is clear proof of our having needed to make the struggle at that time and further proves the correctness of our strategy.

We end 1978 challenging the legitimacy of the U.S. government

The November 1978 issue of the Burning Spear Newspaper has several articles describing our nonstop mobilizing. In early September, members of the National Committee to Free Dessie Woods held a demonstration in Midgeville, Georgia, home of Hardwick Prison, and then went out to the prison itself demanding to see Dessie Woods.

An APSP-led demonstration to free Dessie Woods

dessie woods demo

The demonstrators were bold, refusing to be intimidated by the guards and prison officials. While they were not able to see Dessie, they did set a militant example for all the visitors and challenged the authority of the State.

In the Point of the Spear of the same issue, the Chairman summed up the situation:

“Months of hard work by the African People’s Socialist Party bore fruit on the night of Friday, October 6 [1978] in San Francisco. It was on this night that the California Dessie Woods Support Coalition (DWSC) sponsored a historic political program entitled, ‘Night of Solidarity With African National Freedom Fighters.’

“This program saw almost 100, mostly North Americans, turn out for a program organized by the mostly North American Dessie Woods Support Coalition to express militant solidarity with African national freedom fighters — freedom fighters whose collective existence up to this period has not been acknowledged by the North American Left movement.

“This was an important program for our Party, for it was the concretization of our strategy for winning support from the progressive sector of the North American people for our struggle for political independence through self-liberation.”

At the end of a dynamic 1978, on October 18, the Dessie Woods Support Coalition sponsored a picket and rally in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco. Fifty people, mostly North Americans, militantly marched chanting “Free Dessie Woods, Put the State On Trial!”

1979: Not One More Year!

The March 1979 issue of the Burning Spear was a special edition with the headline reading “Black Women in the Fight for Freedom.” The Spear issue told of a demonstration held on February 17, 1979, when the Dessie Woods Support Coalition marched across the Golden Gate Bridge, a historic San Francisco landmark, thirty strong demanding “Not One More Year — Dessie Must Be Free!” With voices and signs they demanded loudly and publicly that the U.S. State release Dessie Woods from its death grip in 1979 and end the colonial violence against black people in the U.S.

As this activity was occurring on the outside, Dessie Woods maintained her resistance on the inside of Hardwick Prison. She began her fourth year of incarceration challenging the otherwise routine conditions inside this highly controlled southern concentration camp.

Her militancy and pride in her Africanness quickly began to influence other prisoners who sought out her help. In retaliation, the prison authorities made numerous attempts on her life and continued to drug her.

International solidarity with Dessie Woods

Throughout this period of protracted struggle, our Party was guided by a strategy for liberation of all African people. An important component of that strategy, international recognition and support, had the Party touring Europe in 1979 successfully stopping in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris and culminating with a demonstration at the U.S. Embassy in London on September 26. The Party established fraternal relations with several organized African forces in Paris and London and also received a solidarity statement from the Vietnamese government at their London embassy.

This is further illustrated in the article “Dessie Woods Must Be Free This Year” from the November 1979 issue of the Burning Spear:

“On December 8, hundreds of people in over 12 cities in Europe and the U.S. will be in the streets demanding the immediate release of Dessie Woods and an end to colonial violence against African people. In Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, London, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Eugene, San Francisco and elsewhere, [U.S. president James Earl] Carter will be confronted with the massive denial of human rights of Dessie Woods and all African people colonized in the U.S. The internationally supported actions led by the APSP will be demanding African independence and the destruction of U.S. colonialism.”

On November 1 in Eugene, Oregon, an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 people enjoyed a variety of culture by African artists and the North American “Amazon Kung-Fu School.” It was a successful fundraiser for the Dessie Woods support work, but still at the end of 1980 after more than four years in prison, Dessie was “in the hole” and brutally beaten. Her parole had been denied and our work to free her continued on the outside.

1981-2006: Dessie Woods is free from prison

In 1981, after serving five years of the original 12, Dessie was released from Hardwick Prison in Georgia, and she relocated to Oakland, California.

In subsequent years, Dessie Woods, known to us as Sister Rashida, was not always active in the Uhuru Movement, but she was a tireless community activist defending her neighborhood and the human rights of Oakland’s African community. She regularly attended events at the Uhuru House in Oakland, California. Her photo as part of a panel on Building the African People’s Childcare Collective was featured on the cover of the October 1983 issue of the Burning Spear Newspaper. 

The headline for the article describing the panel’s work was “The Struggle of Black Women is the Struggle of Us All.” This sums up the contribution that Dessie Woods, Sister Rashida, made to Africa and African people. At that moment in 1975 when she took on Ronnie Horne to protect herself and Cheryl Todd, she also took on U.S. imperialism and defended us all.


















October 29, 2014










Singer-songwriter, keyboardist, bandleader, producer, and sound designer Amp Fiddler has spent a 30 year career working with some of the biggest names in music. Starting as a member of Parliament / Funkadelic, and then as a collaborator with Jamiroquai, the Brand New Heavies, Maxwell, and a mentor to the late J Dilla, Amp Fiddler kicked off his solo career with the acclaimed album Waltz of a Ghetto Fly in 2006. After a break from music following the 2009 death of his son, Amp Fiddler returned with his Basementality EP series. This week, he kicks off a new tour in support of the forthcoming Basementality 3.

Interview by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor 

Tell me a little about this tour and the new EP.

I have a new EP, Basementality 3 and basically I’m kind of reinventing myself around the new songs from Basementality 2 and Basementality 3. I suppose in a week or two Ill release Basementality 3 while we’re touring and support that with the tour. It’s just five of us, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards. I wish I had background vocals and horns, but I don’t. But it’s gonna be a funky good time. 

So does the new record have a lot of full horn sections and stuff? 

It’s some stuff that’s live, and some stuff that’s more electronic. Not more dance, but soul and funk. Some of it’s kind of alternative. This is all in preparation for me to just continuously release records. This is the first of the series. I’m gonna be putting in on vinyl as well. And then next year I have a funk album, and that’s gonna be the party for me. I feel like a funk record would represent something that’s missing in music right now. 

For sure. There was that electrofunk thing a few years back, but that didn’t stick around long. It seems like real funk’s been off the map for a while.

It’s up to us, the generation that came after the funk was big with George Clinton, cause I was the new generation that was involved with that band. Some of us have the ability to carry that torch. I know George Clinton has a book coming out next year. And I’m doing a funk expansion for Native Instruments machine. So it’s a good time to bring some fun to this shit again. 

I feel like for a lot of people, funk, especially that wah guitar, is so iconically of a time and place, it’s almost a shorthand for saying “70′s.” What do you think funk’s relevance is in 2014? 

I think that’s interesting because when you think about it does make you think about those iconic outfits from the 70s and the guitar. And all that shit was very strong and powerful in the way that it looked and sounded. And it had a world of its own, you think about James Brown, or Bootsy Collins, or Sly and the Family Stone, or Earth Wind and Fire, any of those bands from that era. It was amazing. But now, I’m so glad that music has evolved to where it is now. I’m glad it’s electronic, and you can do shit on a computer, that we can create on our own without needing a band. So I think it’s a beautiful thing that we can mesh the two things. It’s like fashion, I love the fashion from the 70′s. But I love all the new shit. I love going to some funky shop and buying some next shit and mixing it with the old stuff. I feel the same way about the music. I’m always learning about new ways to approach things. I’m always open to where young cats are taking the music, whether it’s dubstep or whatever. You know what I’m saying? There’s always someone doing something innovative. We love to put names on shit and call it something, but it’s always been that the music has been influenced by something else. And then taking to a new level, with electronics. And I think funk has to do the same thing. 

You’ve obviously been around the scene for a while, what do you do to keep yourself current? 

I like to go out to clubs and hear DJs. I’m on Soundcloud and Bandcamp listening to new young talent, to hear what new cats are doing. And working for Native Instruments, they’re constantly sending me stuff. But actually the music from Basementality 2 and Basementality 3 is just music that I’ve had for years and not released. It’s just been sitting, and some stuff I added some things to. I just needed to start putting music out. I had been going through changes for years since my son passed away in 2009. I’ve still been kind of losing my mind. I’ve been hanging out with young cats. And I still feel like I’ve got a lot of growing to do. I still feel like I’m kind of old school sometimes and here I am trying to teach young cats on the tour with me to try new sounds and stop playing with the same sounds that you play with in the clubs, cause we about to go on tour. Like find some new sounds and bring that shit. I learned that from George. You can play your ass off, but if the sound isn’t that good it’s not necessarily going to be the best. But if you have some amazing sound, then whatever you play is gonna be great, because sound is everything. 

Is this a band you’ve just assembled for this tour, or are these guys you’ve been playing with for a while? 

These are guys I’ve been playing with for the past 2 or 3 years. 4 of us are older and 2 of them are younger, so everybody’s learning. If I ask someone “can you play me a drum n bass beat?” He probably wouldn’t be able to do that for me cause they don’t listen to drum n bass. So I have to educate them about what’s possible and how we can do arrangements and make it sound new. 

Well there’s always that challenge when it comes to taking something you’ve created in the studio and fleshing it out with a full band. 

Right now I just want to get this music out of the way and do this tour so we can move on, and then next year I can really experiment with some new shit. And you’re right because if I create some new shit that involves those elements, then they have to play it and they have to research what it’s based on. The stuff that’s most innovative that I’m doing right now is a project called The Digitarians, and that’s an electronic project, very experimental. It’s based on our relationship with the universe and extra-terrestrialism, and what’s going on with politics. Anything that’s fucked up or interesting about how we need to grow is what we’re talking about. You know, our relationship to the Dogon tribe in Africa that was connected to extra-terrestrials way back. So we’re researching and writing music more in that vein. But it’s more creative. That’s a project that me and some of my friends are working on now, but we won’t be able to release until next year. But now I’m just having fun playing this older music. The only thing is I never want people to think I’m regressing. I never want people to think “damn, he’s just playing that same old shit.” So I’m adding the new stuff to the set so that I can try to stay current in some ways. I don’t want people to categorize me. I’ve heard people say I’m neo-soul or RnB. I think I fit in a lot of different categories because I love to do different things. Having done a record with Sly and Robbie, having played with George Clinton, having done so many different things with Seal and other people, I guess it’s one person’s viewpoint, and I have to accept that for what it is. But I’m always looking for that next shit. 

It’s gotta be tough when you’ve played with people like Clinton and Dilla and Raphael Saadiq, and all these people who are successful on their own terms, to get people to view you as an artist in your own right. 

Well that’s OK. Because in a sense, I am all those things, and a whole lot of other shit. Because I’m performing those things that I’ve created with those other people, with Dilla, with Raphael Saadiq, George Clinton, and that’s OK. But I just want to keep being creative and learn more. I’m thankful to have all the technology available that allows me to stay current and collaborate with guys that are current. That was Dilla when I first met him. He kept that shit. And I’d always wonder “damn, I wonder how long he’ll be able to keep this shit up” when I first met him. Cause he was young and he’d just started learning the MPC, and it was like “so far he’s making some progress and this shit is sweet, let’s see if it’s natural or if he’s just getting lucky.” And that kid was just making shit dope constantly, he just got it. And he just had his own style. We all have our own rhythm, the way that we walk. It’s like I sang in “Waltz of the Ghetto Fly,” “deep in the black of the mind / lies a funk of another kind / it’s the rhythm that God give ‘em.” It’s that God-given rhythm that we all have, and some people just have it in a way that’s amazing. 

Amp Fiddler will be on tour in Europe through November 20th. His new EP Basementality 3 comes out in November, and will be followed by The Digitarians and Ampidelic World in February 2015. 

Oct 30 Rich Mix – London (UK)
Oct 31 Jazznojazz – Zurich (CH)
Nov 01 Hare and Hound – Birmingham (UK)
Nov 02 Band On The Wall – Manchester (UK)
Nov 05 Bimhuis – Amsterdam (NL)
Nov 07 Het Depot – Leuven (BE)
Nov 08 De Warande – Turnhout (BE)
Nov 11 Wabadus – Tallinn (EE)
Nov 12 Fasching – Stockholm (SE)
Nov 14 New Morning – Paris (FR)
Nov 15 L’Ouvre Boite – Beauvais (FR)














October 28, 2014









Bibi Bellatrixx 02

You may remember Bibi Bellatrixx as the guitarist from UK rock band Queens Of Sheba. She’s now releasing solo material for your listening pleasure. Her B-Side Part I EP is DIY/self-produced, we were expecting it to rock hard but it’s more on the acoustic/melodic side of things. 
Check it out below!



















Open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled
to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000.
(Entries must not have appeared in any print publication.)

Most entries run from 1,500 – 6,000 words, but
any lengths up to 12,000 words are welcome.

Held quarterly. Open to submissions in FEBRUARY, MAY, AUGUST, and NOVEMBER.

  Next deadline: November 30. *

Winners are announced in the May 1, August 1, November 1, and February 1 bulletins, respectively, and contacted directly one week earlier.

Reading fee: $15 per story. Please, no more than three submissions per contest.


  • 1st place wins $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies.
  • 2nd place wins $500 (or $700 and 10 copies, if accepted for publication).
  • 3rd place wins $300 (or $700 and 10 copies, if accepted for publication).


Please make your submissions at Glimmer Train’s online submission site. We look forward to reading your work!


Wikipedia describes the “slush pile” as the set of unsolicited manuscripts sent to publishers, and normally sifted through by young assistants. Susan and I started Glimmer Train because we wanted to read the great short fiction being written by emerging voices, and to publish the very best in a handsome print publication that would endure. 


When we dive into reading stories, we are prepared to be moved, surprised, and changed; we are never disappointed. We look forward to reading your work.

* There is always a one-week grace period.














boiler 02

The Boiler Flash Contest

The Boiler Flash Essay Contest Judged by Daniel NesterThe Boiler challenges you to submit flash essays under 600 words. We’re open to hybrid formsof poetry, essay, and memoir. The only things that matters are whether you can sustain our attention and craft a well-written, sleek, beautiful little thing.Two winners will receive $600 and publication in our spring issue. Finalists will be considered for publication in our spring issue and other prizes.


Submissions open October 31st and close January 15th. We will announce the winner in the spring of 2015.To get an idea of what we like, read magazines like Brevity, Sweet,or other flash journals.About our judge:Daniel Nester is the author of Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Grief, Making Out in Church, and Other Unlearnable Subjects, which is due from 99: The Press in 2015.  Other books include How to Be InappropriateGod Save My Queen I and II, and The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which he edited. His writing has appeared in N+1 The New York TimesThe Morning NewsThe Daily BeastBest American Poetry, Best Creative Nonfiction,  Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction.  He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Visit his website hereflashcontest flierBOILER












Sexualities and Social Justice in the Caribbean – CFP

Special Collection by the Caribbean IRN & Sargasso

Title: Love | Hope | Community: Sexualities and Social Justice in the Caribbean

MuralShot AVN

CFP deadline: A variety of text and multimedia submissions are sought for this special collection. Please send text submissions via email to by 15 January 2015. Please send multi-media submissions via email to by 15 January 2015. Full submission details below.

Call for Submissions

Movements for sexual citizenship and equal rights for sexual minorities across the region (particularly in the Anglophone and Hispanophone Caribbean) are growing and have garnered local and international media attention. With recent court cases challenging discriminatory laws and the backlash and frenzy over a so-called “gay lobby” in the region, we are at a crucial juncture of visibility, misrepresentation, anti-sexual minority violence, increased activism, lawsuits, and ongoing survival. It is a vital time to respond to recent events critically and from myriad perspectives, as well as to reflect on these movements, make interventions, fight against misrepresentation and violence, and share strategies for community building and solidarity. What is the landscape of sexual minority activism across the region? Who are the regional activists and what are the most recent developments? How are these issues being represented in the media, popular culture, and cultural productions in the English-, Spanish-, French-, Creole- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean? How do we build community, forge resistance to violence and discrimination, and at the same time, demand equal rights and treatment under the law? Where is our hope and love in building community?


We propose a diverse collection of critical essays, activist reports, interviews and profiles, creative writing, poetry, book reviews, visual and performance art, music, film, and other works that will reflect on the struggle/movements for sexual justice in the Caribbean (including all islands, Central and South American coastal areas, and their diasporas). As with the Caribbean IRN’s first collection, we seek to disrupt the divide between academia and community, while locating theories and knowledge in multiple sites and discourses. And we value and privilege local voices in these conversations. This collection will be edited collaboratively by representatives of the Caribbean IRN (Rosamond S. King & Angelique V. Nixon) and two Sargasso issue editors (Katherine Miranda and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes).


Background: Caribbean IRN &

Sargasso Collaboration



is a peer-reviewed journal of literature, language, and culture edited at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, which features critical essays, interviews, reviews, as well as poems and short stories from across the Caribbean. Published from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras for thirty years, Sargasso is affiliated with the PhD program in the Department of English of the College of Humanities.Sargasso is a print journal that also features open online access through Digital Library of the Caribbean. Visit:


The Caribbean Region of the International Resource Network (Caribbean IRN) connects academic and community-based researchers, artists, and activists around the Caribbean and its diasporic communities in areas related to diverse sexualities and genders. The IRN is housed at CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the City University of New York, originally funded through the Ford Foundation and located on the web at The Caribbean IRN’s projects and archive can be found at Its monthly updates can be found at


The Caribbean IRN published its first collection Theorizing Homophobias in the Caribbean: Complexities of Place, Desire and Belonging – – in June 2012. This online multimedia collection of activist reports, creative writing, critical essays, film, interviews, music, and visual and performance art offered ways to define and reflect on the complexities of homophobias in the Caribbean, while also expanding awareness about Caribbean sexual minority lives, experiences, and activism in the region and its diaspora. The collection received strong attention and positive feedback, and it remains a great resource for artists, activists, teachers, scholars, and community-based researchers.


For our second collection, titled “Love | Hope | Community: Sexualities and Social Justice in the Caribbean,”

the Caribbean IRN and Sargasso are partnering in order to have both a printed and online regional journal space as well as a multimedia online space to continue and expand the conversations about sexual minorities in the region (including English-, Spanish-, French- and Dutch- speaking countries and territories).


Topics that may be addressed include:

  • Strategies for community building from regional activists
  • Challenges and successes of sexual minority organising in the region
  • Caribbean transgender activism — visibility, violence, and sex work
  • Activist reports and/or essays on recent developments – i.e., status updates or critical perspectives on court cases within the region (e.g., Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago); or comparisons among these cases and recent decisions in Argentina, India, Uganda, Nigeria, or elsewhere in the Global South regarding discriminatory laws and/or buggery laws
  • Comparisons between different countries in the region, or between those that are independent and those that are part of the EU or the USA — regarding sexuality, buggery laws, cultural norms, religion, post/neocolonial issues, race, gender & class politics, etc. as it relates to sexual minorities and rights
  • At the margins: race, class, and gender politics in the movements for sexual justice, women’s rights, and/or policy reform
  • Strategies for organizing against religious conservatism and powerful religious discourse – from outside or within the Caribbean
  • Responding to the “Speaking Truth is not Homophobia” campaign in Jamaica
  • Reviews of relevant books, films, albums, or blogs
  • Interviews with (or profiles of) Caribbean sexual minority activists, artists, elected officials, and other newsmakers
  • Pedagogy of Caribbean sexualities; the state of sexuality studies at regional universities; the state of sex education in national school systems
  • Caribbean sexual minorities, citizenship, and the State (Island-Nation)
  • Politics of visibility and sexual minorities in public spaces
  • Caribbean sexual minority anti-violence work: community organizing and human rights or other discourses
  • Migration and diaspora: the politics of asylum inside and outside the Caribbean
  • LGBTQ Caribbean diaspora(s) and their relationship to home and movements for sexual citizenship and social justice
  • Caribbean sexualities as represented in media, the arts, education, policies, etc.

Submission Details:


Text submissions (essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, profiles, activist reports, reviews) should follow the Sargasso Contributor Guidelines: Essays and critical studies should conform to the style of the MLA Handbook. Short stories should be kept to no more than 2,500 words in length, and poems should be kept to 30 lines or less. For further details see guidelines on the journal’s website. Submissions can be written in Spanish, English, French, or Creole languages of the region. Please contact the journal’s editors with any questions about languages used for publication. Include a short author bio of 55 words or less. Please send text submissions via email to by 15 January 2015.


Multimedia works (audio, video, visual) can be accepted in digital audio (mp3 or avi format), digital image format or digital video via email attachments. If the file(s) are too large for email attachment, please use sendbigfiles, dropbox, or wetransfer (free services) to send your submission. Submissions can be accepted in Spanish, English, French, Dutch, or Creole languages of the region. Include a short description of the work or artist statement (150-200 words) and a short bio of 55 words or less with the complete submission. Please send multi-media submissions via email to by 15 January 2015.


Accepted text works will be published in print and online through Sargasso. And all multimedia works will be featured online through the Caribbean IRN. We would like to represent as much of the Caribbean region as possible. We seek to be inclusive and hope to include work in various languages of the region. In addition, we hope to offer translation for selected works. Multimedia works will be shared in the language(s) in which they are submitted.

Above adapted from email announcement.











October 17, 2013






Fat Freddy’s Drop Call On Black Grace

In ‘Mother Mother’






Can I tell you all a secret? I’m a huge So You Think You Can Dance fan. Yes, secretly I’ve always wished I had rhythm and coordination, and so I will happily spend an hour watching others pirouette, chassé and leap to their — or my — hearts content. Surprisingly, it turns out New Zealand’s Fat Freddy’s Drop and I share a mutual respect and love for dance, especially contemporary dance. They’ve employed the elegant and beautiful dance crew Black Grace to add their unique fusion of pacific and contemporary style dance to the music video for “Mother Mother.” The result is a visually stunning music video where the flowing dance composition is perfectly in sync with the modern, upbeat electronic rhythms of “Mother Mother.” The effect is mind blowing and adds new dimensions to this stand out track from Fat Freddy’s Drop’s latest release, Blackbird. Watch Black Grace add their freshness to “Mother Mother” right here.













A Documentary About Nigerians Turned Into Refugees

Inside Their Country By Boko Haram

This documentary tells the horror stories of Nigerians displaced from their homes in the northeastern parts of the country as Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, attacks villages, towns and cities.

The victims of the impunity of the deadly sect and the apparent inability of the Nigerian state to protect its citizens are these hapless and helps citizens.

Produced by Aminu Ahmed and Nori Mathias, the documentary has only attempted to tell the story of internally displaced persons in one state (Adamawa State) of Nigeria.





washington post 02

October 29, 2014





Recent college graduates

are pushing lower-income

African Americans out of cities


By Eric Tang

Austin. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy

Austin. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy

How do we make sense of the fact that America’s most progressive cities, the ones that cherish diversity, are losing African Americans? And that the most conservative places are doing the opposite?

Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.

During that same decade, the only three major cities (populations over 500,000) that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election— Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Oklahoma City—all saw significant increases in African American numbers; their African-American populations grew by 36.1 percent, 28 percent and 11.4 percent respectively

Rebecca Diamond, an economist at Stanford University, offers one salient explanation.

Her research points to how cities such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have over the past three decades attracted ever-larger numbers of college graduates. Using Census data, Diamond shows that as college graduates occupied larger shares of these cities’ work forces (while avoiding other cities they deem less attractive) income inequality in these cities grew.

Urban industries and amenities catered to the higher-waged worker, making these cities more expensive to live in. Lower-wage workers (those with only a high school diploma) also desired the enhanced quality of life offered by these cities—better food and air quality, lower crime rates—but they couldn’t afford to live in them. Simply put, as college grads arrived, lower-waged workers were driven out.

Although Diamond’s study does not analyze how specific racial groups are impacted by what she terms a “national gentrification effect,” it appears that African Americans have bore the disproportionate brunt of it.

This is certainly the case in in Austin, Tex.

A recent study we conducted at the University of Texas at Austin reveals that Austin in the only major growth city (a city with over half a million people that saw at least 10 percent growth between 2000 and 2010) that experienced an absolute loss in its African-American population.


According to the census data, Austin grew by 20.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, granting it third place among fastest growing major cities in the United States. But during that same decade, its African-American population declined by 5.4 percent or 3,769 people. This statistical singularity is illustrated in the following graph. 

What happened in Austin seems to be consistent with the Stanford research. Austin has the highest percentage of college graduates as well as the highest median incomes in Texas. Census data also suggests that the African Americans who left Austin between 2000 and 2010 were by and large lower-waged workers (African American losses occurred in tracts that were on average poorer than those that did not see losses).

The loss of Austin’s African American population amid tremendous growth in its general population certainly doesn’t square with the city’s reputation as a “tolerant” place, one celebrated for its progressivism, cultural dynamism, and emphasis on sustainability.

Of course, some might argue that the notion of a liberal city—especially those as moneyed as Austin, Chicago, New York and San Francisco—is now irrelevant. But this line of argument too easily dispenses with the reality that high-earning college graduates identify strongly as liberals, and moreover, that the municipal governments they elect are taking the lead on the some of the most progressive environmental and cultural policies in the nation.

It’s not that these cities are no longer liberal, per se, but that the brand of (neo)liberalism they now celebrate is unaccountable to the concerns championed by lower-waged workers: universal prekindergarten, affordable housing, and the de-privatization of public space (crystallized by last month’s San Francisco’s playground fiasco that garnered national headlines). It’s a liberalism that has, quite literally, left not room for the low-waged worker, particularly African Americans.


Eric Tang

Eric Tang is an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a public voices fellow with The OpEd Project. He also is a fellow with the Institute of Urban Policy and Research Analysis.





October 28, 2014







Growing up is always tough. But there’s something unique about the black girl nerd experience. There’s no prototype for the black girl nerd; no famous fictional adolescents whose path we could mirror and cling to. I think many of us had to go our own way, figuring everything out as we went along because it felt like we were the only ones. For me, it felt like isolation heaped atop a pile of loneliness. Who can forget those feelings of euphoria upon actually meeting a fellow black girl nerd in high school? 

Here are a few things I wish I’d known as a teenager navigating a world rife with racialized sexism and feeling like the odd woman out in all the worlds in which I wanted to belong.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt, via Black Girl Nerds *

It doesn’t matter if people doubt you. You have nothing to prove.

I think we’ve all had that moment. Maybe you’re in a group conversation with acquaintances or classmates and you reference something geeky without thinking. Someone looks at you in surprise: “You like ____?” 

Why is it surprising for me to like something but not the white boy next to me? What other incorrect assumptions are people making about me? That kind of thing used to gnaw away at me. From there, I would always subconsciously look for a chance to further prove people’s assumptions about me wrong. Now that I’m older, I’ve reached the point in my life where I’ve decided that it’s better not to wonder about just how secretly racist the people around me might be. That only came from growing secure in who I am which admittedly, took years. So here’s my first piece of advice to a young me and arguably, the most important: Take the time to really get to know yourself and discover who you want to be. Build a little cocoon of self-love and exploration. Lock everything else out until you feel strong in who you are, irrespective of outside influences and opinions. It’s worth the effort. 

There’s more to science-fiction and fantasy than white male creators. 

This may seem obvious to some, but the whiteness of fantasy can seem unchangeable and immovable when you’re new to that world. When you’re used to seeing seas of white characters, people of color in lead roles may seem unfathomable, women of color even more so. Unfortunately, you have to actively search for your idols. Luckily, they exist and show that you are not alone. Writers like Octavia Bulter, N.K. Jemisin, and Nalo Hopkinson changed the game, and they’re black women. Give Tolkien a break and take some time to seek out stories that have all the elements you love without erasing your identity. It will change your life. 

It’s not your job to educate or argue with anyone.

There are always going to be asshats, especially on the internet ready to say something racist and sexist. You will encounter people that will make you wonder if their one goal in life is to try and invalidate as many lived black experiences as they can. I will say it right now: don’t always engage. It can be tempting to rise up and meet any on-coming battle when you’re young and passionate, but be careful not to wear yourself out. Consider every possible fight with unapologetic selfishness: What will you get out of this exchange? If responding will make you feel better, then don’t hold back, but if the thought of ‘getting into it’ again makes you feel tired, walk away and save your energy for what matters. 

For me, that meant writing and creating. I learned to channel the frustration I felt into something that made me feel productive and inspired. Blogging about life as a black girl geek helped me to feel comfortable in my voice and opinions. When people would comment saying they’d dealt with the same things I wrote about and felt comforted by reading my posts, I felt like I was taking something negative and turning it into a positive. Find what works for you. 

It’s never just a movie; media representation matters. Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. 

When you talk about what it’s like to consume media as a black woman and having to deal with random instances of flagrant racism and sexism when all you want to do is relax and read a book, people will come out of the woodwork to tell you that it doesn’t matter. They will say that you’re looking for something to be offended about, that you’re thinking too much about it, blah blah blah. Ignore it and trust your voice. If it matters to you, then chances are, it matters to someone else. 

How often did you watch something growing up and get a sinking feeling when you heard yet another tired black woman joke? Maybe it was a visual gag – the sexually promiscuous big black woman whose valid desires are played for cheap laughs. Maybe it’s a run-of-the-mill ‘ghetto black woman’ character whose over-the-top sassiness is supposed to make us laugh because look how loud and ghetto she is and how visibly uncomfortable it makes the white protagonist. Hahaha? 

Now imagine how much better you would have felt if there was just anyone, anywhere, saying that it wasn’t okay, that characters who look like you didn’t always have to be the easy punchline. That people like you could be characters in their own right, rather than offensive cardboard cutouts filtered through the white male gaze. Don’t be silenced by people who don’t get it, because the words you swallowed down could have helped someone else find their own. 

You can like something and still criticize it. 

If discussing and analyzing the messed up racist scenes you saw on your favorite TV shows makes you feel better about what the heck you just watched, then do it. Liking something does not mean you can’t criticize it. In fact, sometimes that may be the only way to manage to continue liking some things at all. It’s not a crime. You can still consider yourself a fan.

Find your online home(s). 

Sometimes all you’re looking for is for someone else to say, ‘Yeah, woah, that was crazy racist, it’s not just you.’ But that doesn’t always happen. Reading comments sections or online discussions can make you feel absolutely hopeless, especially if you’re looking for kindred spirits. This is why it’s important to find spaces where the conversations you care about having are taking place and, if need be, remove yourself from certain fandoms rather than argue with virtual brick walls. Find blogs you like with voices you can relate to. If you can’t find anything that suits you or you just feel inspired to make something new, then create your own space. WordPress is free and ridiculously easy to use. It makes you a part of the solution. 

Above all else, remember this: your voice is valid and worthy of being shared. 

Was growing up a black girl nerd hard for you? If you could share any words of wisdom with your younger self, what would they be?

* Sharon Lynn Pruitt is a writer who divides her time between Middle Earth and the Midwest. She blogs about black feminism and geek culture at and struggles to complain in 140 characters or less on Twitter at @SLPruitt. 
- Originally published on Black Girl Nerds, reposted with permission 
Twitter: @BlackGirlNerds
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