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Africa In Your

Earbuds #74

Cover artwork by DJ Underdog. Photo by àsìkò

Cover artwork by DJ Underdog. Photo by àsìkò

For the latest installment of Africa In Your Earbuds, we asked writer Minna Salami, founder of the MsAfropolitan blog, to pick out some all-female song selections for a ‘feminist’ episode of our mixtape series.

Check out Minna’s mixtape, which was expertly put together by DJ Cortega, below and read about the Yoruba inspiration behind her feminist mixtape. 

Here you are heard

There is an ancient Yoruba legend about Aje, a mysterious cult of women who were bestowed with supernatural gifts which they passed from mother to daughter or sold to women who wished to be initiated. The legend tells that they used their powers to both heal pain and destroy evil.

Fela Kuti once said that all women are Aje in the spirit world. “My mother is Aje, and so are all our sisters and wives,” he mused. With the introduction of the English language, Aje was translated into “witches” emphasising our fear of women who are not bound by conventions of obedience.

It was therefore the essence of Aje that I conjured when curating the Feminist Africa in Your Earbuds playlist. Aje are a representation of protofeminist Africa and I wanted to imagine what the song of Aje might sound like in the twenty-first century? What contemporary music reflects the triad—woman, spiritual power and Africa?

So the playlist is feminist in its mood rather than in its content. Which is not to say that its content is not ideologically aligned or that the artists included aren’t feminist. It’s just not the focus. Rather the focus is to sonically explore emotions that are superglued into the female consciousness.

In my head, feminist Africa sounds like this: sultry, transformative, ethereal, revolutionary, unshackled, wild, spiritual, healing and wise. But like feminism itself, it is a contradictory sound. It is vulnerable and loving, but also frustrated and rebellious.

There is jazz to evoke sultry sensuality, there are synthetic beats whose loopy drums evoke rituals of fertility, there’s the explosive expression of desert blues as well as nurturing soulful tones, there’s the community spirit of hiphop. There’s beats too, as in afrobeats, and alternative R&B so go ahead an play it in the midnight hours. I imagine the modern-day Aje dancing by the flames to this melange of harmonious sounds.

Throughout, there is a call to connect with your feminine energy. Even if you are male. Create space for sublime beauty in your life. Be aware of all your senses – taste, touch, sound, smell and sight. Don’t forget the sixth sense too. Connect with nature. Dance. Wail. Ground yourself. Let go of yourself. Be free…


Track List
Simphiwe Dana – Zandisile – South Africa
Kelela – All The Way Down – Ethiopia/US
Tanya Stephens – It’s A Pity (eTas remix) – Jamaica
Jojo Abot – Lom Vava – Ghana
Thandiswa Mazwai – Ingoma – South Africa
Ayo Awosika – City By The Sea – Nigeria/US
Ibeyi – Oya – Cuba
Shishani – Clean Country (Produced by G-Do) Namibia
Somi – Ginger Me Slowly – US/Uganda/Rwanda
Nneka – Still I Rise – Nigeria
Jhene Aiko – The Worst – US
Angelique Kidjo – Bahia – Benin
Fatoumata Diawara – Musso – Mali
Chiwoniso – Rebel Woman – Zimbabwe
Falana – Start Again – Nigeria
Yemi Alade – Na Gode – Nigeria
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo Remix) – Gambia/Sweden
Mayra Andrade – Storia, Storia – Cape Verde
Jah9 – Avocado – Jamaica
Miriam Makeba Homeboyz Muzik edit – Zulu Song – South Africa
FKA Twigs – Mothercreep – UK
Bumi Thomas – Walk with me – Nigeria/UK
Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni – Mauritania
Speech Debelle – The Work featuring Miss Baby Sol – UK/Jamaica/Zaire









photo by Alex Lear

photo by Alex Lear




“Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” was first presented at an international Human Rights Conference that was held during November 1978 at Xavier University in New Orleans; later, it was published in BLACK SCHOLAR (Vol.10, Nos. 6,7).

This essay is contained in the book: Our Women Keep Our Skies From Falling


Cover Drawing by Douglass Redd   copyright July 1980 By Kalamu ya Salaam

Cover Drawing by Douglass Redd
copyright July 1980 By Kalamu ya Salaam

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

My position, succinctly stated, is simply this: any discussion of the issue of human rights should include a discussion of women’s rights.

The reason for my statement, while complex in its subtleties, is simple in its substance. Simply said, women are human beings.

Our struggle for human rights must be grounded in a rejection of the oppression of any identifiable segment or stratum of human societies, regardless of the criterion of differentiation or discrimination, e.g. race, class or sex.

Based on my study and analysis of my own experiences and environment, as well as study and analysis of the experiences and environments of other peoples, in other places and other periods of time, I draw the conclusion that the issue of women’s rights has and continues to be a central concern of millions of women who daily suffer the degradations and deprivations of sexual chauvinism in its institutionalized and individual forms. The suffering of women in general, third world women in particular, and especially the suffering of the Afrikan-american woman, hurts me in ways too numerous to delineate. Yet beyond the personal pain, there is a social reality which must be recognized, namely, that sexism is a means, used by our enemies, to help maintain our subjugation as a people.

Perhaps some are wondering why should an Afrikan-american man be concerned with an issue like women’s rights, an issue which is often erroneously identified with “bored, middle class white women” who are tired of staying home. My response to that question is a query of my own: is there any reason why I shouldn’t be concerned with women’s rights, after all am I not born of woman, aren’t we all born of woman?

I am concerned about the issue of women’s rights because I understand that women’s rights is a political issue and I am a political person. I understand that the oppression and exploitation of women is an integral aspect of every reactionary social system which ever existed and I am struggling to be a progressive. I understand that women, like land, are primary to life, and I am a living being.

I am concerned about the issue of women’s rights because I am striving to be a revolutionary, and without the eradication of sexism there will be no true and thorough going revolution.

At this moment in history, asserting a position which I feel is my revolutionary responsibility to put forward, I hear the echoes of our heritage urging me to be firm. I hear Frederick Douglas, who also spoke out strongly in support of women’s rights. Douglas was vilified and shunned by former friends who could not understand his concern for the rights of women. I hear Douglas being called an “hermaphrodite” and other terms which questioned his sexuality because of his stand on sexism. But in the spirit of Frederick Douglas, I do declare that I too should rather be called “hermaphrodite” and other names because of my support for women’s rights, than have women continually referred to as “bitch,” and “broad” in everyday ameican speech.

There are those who argue that raising the issue of women’s liberation is divisive of Black unity. They argue that, in reality, the women’s movement drives a “wedge” between Black women and Black men in our social relationships. They argue that the promotion of women in the work force cuts down on the employment opportunities for men and effectively throws Black men out of work. They argue that Black women don’t want to be lesbians and live with other women but rather that they want to be united with Black men in peace and harmony. Some even argue that women should not work outside of the home is one of the most important tasks of nation-building or socialization. These are some of the arguments sincerely and seriously raised against our full and active involvement in the struggle for women’s rights.

But the profound truth of the matter is that all of these arguments deny women the option to exercise their rights, to control their lives in whatever manner they see fit. Full rights for women does not ipso facto mean that women will all have to conform to some mythical “liberated norm.” It means, instead, that women will decide for themselves their social lifestyles and social relationships.

Women’s liberation has not driven a wedge between women and men. Firstly, women do not control this society. This society is controlled by a ruthless, racist, sexist, and capitalist patriarchy. if we would look past the propaganda pushed in the establishment press, we should clearly recognize whose hand is on the hammer attempting to beat us into submission, we would see who actually wields the wedge of division . To divide and conquer has always been a tactic of a minority who are oppressing and exploiting a majority.

Secondly, issues such as “women’s lib is denying or stopping Black men from getting jobs” is not true. We must understand that women do not do most of the hiring and firing in America. Women do not run the major or minor corporations. With very few exceptions, it is a man or some group of men, and usually white, who make those kinds of decisions.

We are all for the unity of our women with our men, but not if that unity is to be male superior / female inferior. The emotional crux of most of the arguments against women’s liberation is, when mouthed by men, actually a fear of independent women, a hatred of independent women, an ideological opposition to any women being independent of  man’s control. When espoused by women, most of these arguments simply amount to the attempts by an insecure woman, whose sense of self is that of an inferior entity, to maintain the certainties of a slavery she “thinks’ she understands and to one degree or another has learned to cope with, rather than face a challenging liberation which she finds difficult to envision.

Cabral has noted that within the context of liberation struggle, the emancipation of women is a difficult issue. “.  . . during the fight the important thing is the political role of women . . . It is all a part of the process of transformation, of change in the material conditions of the existence of our people, but also in the minds of the women, because sometimes the greatest difficulty is not only in the men but in the women too.” (1)

In all of the contemporary national liberation movements in the Third World, whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania or the Caribbean, great attention is always paid to the eradication of sexism and the development of women. Why is this the case?

Is sexism a universal constant? Is it true, as we have been taught, that beginning with Adam and Eve there has been a battle of the sexes going on, that one sex has , is and, in a all probability, will continue to try to dominate the other sex? Do we really believe these fairy tales, these rationalizations? Do we really believe that men and women are “naturally” antagonistic to each other?

Sexism is not a biological necessity, it is rather the reflection of reactionary ideas, particularly “bourgeois individualism.” In a bourgeois society, private ownership is the basic goal of most endeavors, whether it is to own land and material wealth, hence private property; or to own labor and industry, hence private enterprise in the form of capitalism; or to ultimately own other human beings, hence slavery and sexism. Couple this type of thinking with the belief that the individual is supreme, and what will result will be a society peopled by selfish and self-centered human beings who have no true concern for those around them or those who will follow them.

The roots of modern day sexism are to be found in “prehistoric” Europe and the trunk of sexism is a patriarchy watered by capitalism and imperialism. Understand that sexism is the systematic oppression and / or exploitation of a group of people based on the criterion of sex. In america today, and everywhere else where capitalism and imperialism have gone unchecked, unchallenged and unchanged, sexism is deeply entrenched into the social fabric. Indeed, in self-proclaimed socialist societies, also, remnants of sexism remain to be rooted out.

We do not have the time to analyze in detail my assertion that the roots of modern day sexism are found in prehistoric Europe. However, the statement, I am sure, is too provocative to most of us to be accepted simply at face value. So for purposes of brevity I cite a reference. The reference is The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, by Cheikh Anta Diop, published in America by Third World Press. (2)

Diop’s book traces and analyzes the development of patriarchy and matriarchy, the class characteristics and clashes of the two social systems, the merging of the two, and the domination of patriarchy over matriarchy. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic, we summarize Diop’s findings to include the positing of a two cradle concept. These two cradles are Aryan and African, northern and southern, patriarchal and matriarchal. According to Diop’s analysis, which contests that of other social scientists, including Marx and Engles, matriarchy is not universal.. The history of human development in its progressive movement did not go from matriarchy to patriarchy, for in fact, there never was a matriarchy in Europe. “As far as we can go back into the Indo-European past, even so far back as the Eurasian steppes, there is only to be found the patrilineal genos with the system of consanguinity which at the present day still characterized their descendants.”

What is matriarchy? Is matriarchy the domination of women over men? Is matriarchy amazonism? Is matriarchy lesbianism? Is matriarchy strong women and weak men? No. Matriarchy is a social system within which blood relationships are traced through the maternal line and within which women enjoy equal political and economic rights.

Why should a wife and child assume the husband/father’s name? Traditionally this was done for the purposes of the protection of property rights, namely, the identification of property and the succession of property.

Today, we continue using this patriarchal form of naming allegedly in order to identify the parents of children and vice versa. How unscientific to trace parentage via the father, when there is no known conclusive proof of male parentage. How much more scientific and simple it is to trace parentage via the mother, because regardless of whether the actual father of the child is known or unknown, the mother of the child is identified conclusively by the fact of giving birth to that child.

In a patriarchal society, the concern is not with identifying parents but rather with identifying property, hence children born so-called “out of wedlock.”  This is just one small example of the pervasiveness and perverseness of the patriarchal social system. However, let us return to our central concern. Regardless of the roots of sexism, it should be clear that sexism is a real and reactionary way of life that must be eradicated.

Today, women continue to get less pay for equal work, and lack equal access to both educational and employment opportunities. Today, women continue to be regarded as the sexual toys of powerful men, men whose social relationships with women are controlled more by the heads of their penises than the heads on their shoulders, men whose main modes of reasoning conditions them to think that they can either buy or take a woman’s body. Today, rape continues to be one of the most common and unreported crimes in America. Today, childcare continues to be virtually nonexistent and/or exorbitantly priced.

One sure sign of sexism is the objectification of women’s bodies, the turning of women into commodities to be bought, sold, bartered for or stolen. The gains in women’s rights, just as the gains in civil rights for African-Americans, are seemingly becoming little more than paper formalities and highly touted token adjustments.

African-American women are still the most exploited stratum of american society. In fact, throughout the world, the lower class woman of color is on the bottom of nearly every society within which she is found.

Virtually every indicator of social inequality proves this to be the case,, whether we are discusiing employment or illness, educational development or access to leadership and decison-making positions.

In conclusion, I urge that we open our eyes to the reality of sexism and fight it. I urge everyone, particularly men, to speak out against sexism and support the struggles of women to defend and develop themselves. I urge greater attention to be paid to the social and material conditions which lead to an reinforce sexism, a deeper and more accurate analysis needs to be done, and resolute and uncompromising action needs to be taken.

The denial of any human right is always based in the political repression of one group by another group. Sexism does not exist because women are “unclean during their monthly periods,” nor because women are weaker than men, nor because “god’ was unhappy with the behavior of women. Sexism exists because men have organized themselves to oppress and exploit women.

Sexism will be eradicated only through organized resistance and struggle. Women’s rights will be won only when we consciously overturn all vestiges of patriarchy and “bourgeois” right. No person has the right to either own, oppress, enslave, or exploit another person. Sexism is not a right–it is a wrong.

We must stand for what is right and fight against what is wrong.

My attempt has not been to analyze in detail the denial of human rights for women, rather I had a more modest goal in mid. I seek to place on the agenda of human rights the question of women’s rights as a top priority item.

I hope that this topic has shown “Pandora’s box” to be a myth created by men who want to keep “women, coloreds, and other inferiors” hidden in the dank caves of injustice and reaction as a top priority item.

I hope that I have broadened the view on what human rights is, and indeed, on who human beings are. It is so easy in america to forget that women are human beings, to forget that women have rights. Hopefully, this presentation will stir up opposition to sexism, will bring women and men out of their shells of self-denial and isolation, and into the light of truth and justice.

It will not be easy to win rights for women, just as it will not be easy to defeat South Africa, just as it will not be easy to stop nuclear power, to clean up the environment, to end economic exploitation, to plan and control the economy, or to win national liberation for  African-Americans. But it can be done. Sexism can be smashed.

My hope is that from this day forward we will not hesitate to stand for women’s rights, to place it on any and every agenda of progressive social development. Know that when you stand for women’s rights you stand beside the most courageous and progressive people who have ever lived. You stand next to men and women who are not afraid of the future because they are willing to struggle in the present to correct historical wrongs.

A great woman by the name of Sojourner Truth once gave a brilliant speech which included the famous phrase “ain’t I a woman!” This is continuance of that woman’s work. In the spirit of Sojourner Truth, I urge you to join in the struggle for women’s rights, whether you are woman or man. If Sojourner were here today she would challenge you in the same way. Sojourner is not here, but her spirit is. Although I ain’t a woman, I say without hesitation that women’s rights are human rights. I am committed to and call for the smashing of sexism and the securing of women’s rights. I am committed to and call for the smashing of sexism and the securing women’s rights. I believe that we will win women’s rights.

1—Cabral, Amilcar. “Return to the Source.” Monthly Review, 1973, p. 85.

2—Diop, Cheikh A. The Cultural Unity of Africa. (Chicago: Third World Press, 1959), p. 45


—Kalamu ya Salaam







October 13, 2016

October 13, 2016





Novelist Walter Mosley

Talks Luke Cage,

Colorism, and Why


Was the ‘First

Black Superhero’





Walter Mosley, comics geek. Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Walter Mosley, comics geek. Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Whatever you think of Marvel’s Luke Cage, you can’t say it’s not literate. A bevy of books are either seen or name-checked throughout the latest Netflix superhero series, and one that gets a particularly bright place in the spotlight is Little Green, a novel by one of the most prolific and acclaimed living crime-fiction writers, Walter Mosley. In the second episode, two of the leads debate the comparative merits of Mosley and fellow African-American crime novelist Donald Goines — and the one going to bat for Mosley is none other than the title character. As it turns out, the feeling of respect is mutual: Mosley is a longtime superhero-comics geek and grew up reading Luke’s initial comic-book adventures in the early 1970s. We caught up with the author to talk respectability politics, the thorny issue of colorism, and why he thinks Spider-Man was the first black superhero.

You were a big Marvel Comics fan growing up, right?
Listen, I bought Luke Cage No. 1 in the store. So, yes. I also bought X-MenNo. 1 and Conan No. 1. I didn’t quite get Avengers No. 1 — but close. 

X-Men No. 1 came out in 1963, so we’re talking the mid-’60s, here?
Way back. ’63, maybe ’62. I had been reading DC [Comics] before, but I gave up.

Why’d you give up on DC?
In DC, everybody looked alike. Everybody looked white. Marvel, way back in the beginning, had a black character, in Sgt. FuryGabe Jones. Everybody’s powers were so funnily designed that it didn’t feel real. Marvel had things I hadn’t even thought of, like hero-villains. You had somebody like the Sub-Mariner, who is a hero to his people, but an enemy to ours. Or the Hulk, who’s a pure being, but his emotions make him a villain or a threat. And you kinda go, Damn, that’s real.

The first black superhero is Spider-Man. He lives in a one-parent house — it’s not even a parent, it’s an aunt. He has all of this power, but every time he uses it, it turns against him. People are afraid of him; the police are after him. The only way he can get a job is by taking pictures of himself that are used against him in public. [Newspaper chief] J. Jonah Jameson says [to Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker], “Go out and take a picture that shows him with his hand in the cookie jar, that shows him stealing and being a villain.” That’s a black hero right there. Of course, he’s actually a white guy. But black people reading Spider-Man are like, Yeah, I get that. I identify with this character here. 

More generally, what was it about superhero comics that spoke to you in a way other literature didn’t? 
The complexity of human nature is expressed in the violence of adolescents’ hearts. You know what I mean? You could read Shakespeare, which actually does that, too, but it becomes very complex and intellectualized. In comic books, characters are like, The surface dwellers have destroyed my people and I’m gonna make war against them!

When you picked up the first Luke Cage comic in 1972, what’d you make of it?
It was wonderful. He’s a black man who’s been to prison — which is not unusual — who has come back to his home, who wants to do the right thing, and he has a conflicted heart. And he’s living in a black world.

Somewhat infamously, the series featured hokey and borderline-offensive replications of urban black patois. Did that stuff turn you off?
Let me put it this way. You’re 19 years old and you’re gonna go out on a date with somebody. And that person, regardless of gender, regardless of your gender, they’re fun, they’re beautiful. They might have buck teeth or bad breath, they might say things that you can’t quite understand because they’re mumbling. They might have all kinds of problems, but what you do is you surmount those problems. Because you’re with this incredibly beautiful person. Right? I thought Marvel had taken a big step in doing Luke Cage. They were trying to open a door, and they did open a door. Over the years after that, a lot of black people went through that door. To write comics, to draw comics, to manage the comics. It was great. It was wonderful. So, no, I didn’t have problems.

If you were into it, I’m assuming you were into the blaxploitation movies it was drawing from. Was that the case?
I’m gonna go a roundabout way of answering that question. When I was a kid, I used to watch Sgt. Bilko on TV. Every week. There are other things I could’ve watched. But I watched Sgt. Bilko because, in his barracks, there was one black soldier. That black soldier never spoke or did anything, certainly didn’t have any writing around him. But whenever they all got together, he was there. I watched Sgt. Bilko just so I could see him. ‘Cause here you are, a black person — almost everybody you ever see is black — but when you turn on the television, there are no black people. So just the idea of seeing that guy, you go, “Look! Look, look, Dad! It’s a black man!” So, blaxploitation, I was a fan of it because I had no other choice. It wasn’t like that kind of entertainment was gonna come from some other place. I could watch To Sir With Love or In the Heat of the Night, or whatever. But I’m a young man — I needed action. Blaxploitation was doing that. I think if I had a better choice, I might have liked something else more. But it wasn’t there.

What did you think of the way Luke evolved? After a while, he became something of a joke; after that, he was revived in comics, but was much more of a calm, respectable guy.
Luke really disappeared for a while. And then they started bringing him back, and it was really hard for them to figure out, Well, how do we do this? The way comic books were drawn and written changed a lot: The story isn’t as simple or basic, and there have to be these underlying psychological or identity revelations. I didn’t hold it against anybody that it happened. I’m less interested in Luke Cage as a character [now]. Which is why I think [Luke Cage showrunner] Cheo [Hodari] Coker, in doing [his show], goes back to the original one. He’s living in the ‘hood. He’s come out of prison. He has all this power.

Here’s a guy who has not benefited from the American dream.
And the reason he has power was because they did illegal experimentation on him in prison. 

Which is not that far off from things that have actually happened.
No, not at all. With those, you don’t get superpowers. You get cancer. But it’s the same thing: Here I am, you’re killing me, and when I fight back, you condemn me. I think that’s true in the show. That sense is true. The inner turmoil and confusion is true. Later on [in the comics], it’s less inner turmoil, especially when he gets to be in the Avengers. It’s more, Well, I’m a superhero with conflicts, and I have this white girlfriend, and I’m going to fight the bad guys. That’s like, You could live like we live. But the thing is, people are still living in the ‘hood today. Know what I mean? There are millions of black bodies in prison. And so with that as a fact, the old Luke Cage speaks more to today than the new Luke Cage, I think.

How well do you know Coker?
Oh yeah, I know Cheo, I’ve talked to him before. I mean, I’m a Hollywood guy. I do things out there. I had no idea he was doing this for a series. It wasn’t until it happened that I knew about it, but it’s kind of wonderful for my book to be in the show.

When you heard about the show, did you call him up to talk about it?
No. There’s so many shows, so many of the Marvel shows coming out on Netflix, I knew he was doing it, and I probably ran into him once and asked him how it was going. But the thing is, it’s television — you wait to see it. You don’t want to jinx it with anybody. So you say, “What are you working on?” “Oh, I’m working on the new Luke Cage.” “Well, that’s great.” And then you just hope that it appears. I think Cheo did a wonderful job. He’s a good choice. From the first moments, you think, Okay, here we are, we’re in Harlem. It’s black people and Hispanic people and a couple of white people, and some are criminals and some are lawyers and some are doctors and some are just nice guys. It went where I expected it to go, so I wasn’t surprised, but I was happy.

When did you find out that you were going to get mentioned in Luke Cage?
Somebody told me before it was on the air, but not that long before it was on the air. [Laughs.] Somebody I knew in Hollywood had seen a premiere or a preview or something and they said, “Man, your book is in there.” I went, “Oh. That’s good. That’s great.” That made me happy. [Laughs.] And really, I can see where it would be there. I mean, I write about black male heroes. This show is about a black male hero. I can understand why Cheo made that choice.

But do you think the show fits into the genre of crime fiction, as the book they’re discussing does?
Not really. This is a superhero comic, based and oriented in an African-American world. Because he has superpowers, there’s a thing about him being a hero that goes all the way back to Gilgamesh and Hercules. That kind of hero who has a lot of power but who needs incredible courage to use that power to succeed.

Something that’s been criticized is the show’s take on respectability politics. Morally compromised characters use the N-word, but Luke himself derides it as something to be ashamed of. What did you make of that?
The fact that they used it meant that they weren’t being too prejudiced. [One of the villains, Cottonmouth] is like, “Listen, man, I’m a nigga, people underestimate a nigga.” That’s real. This political-correctness thing, it’s so interesting. Inside the black community, you have the fellas who’ve appropriated the word, but then you have people from another generation who think the word is terrible and it’s awful and you should never use it. Cheo decided, “Well, I’m gonna be the one to use it.” I think it’s great.

The show also takes on colorism within the black community: Alfre Woodard’s character, Mariah, gets furious with Cottonmouth when he insults her for having dark skin. Colorism is something that’s getting talked about in mainstream discourse as of late — for example, there was a lot of criticism lobbed at the casting of the relatively light-skinned Zoe Saldana as the dark-skinned Nina Simone. Do you see colorism as a major issue?
Huh. To begin, you have to understand that I don’t really believe in the existence of white people. If you went to Europe before trips to the “New World,” they didn’t call themselves white people. They were the Vikings, they were Greeks, they were Spaniards, they were Basques. If you compared one to the other, they would kill you. If you told a Viking that he was just like the Greeks, he’d cut off your head. It wasn’t until they came to America and they were killing the so-called red man and enslaving the so-called black man that they needed their own identity. So they called themselves white people.

With the idea of white, it’s like black — it doesn’t mean anything. It just doesn’t. You look at somebody and they’re dark brown or light brown or light-skinned like me. Somebody’ll say, “You’re black.” Okay, I’m black, but I’m not literally black. It’s just a word that you are fixing to me. Do I believe in colorism? Probably. But on a much larger palette than the context that you’re asking in. My mother, that whole family is Jewish. When somebody’s Jewish and they come to me and say they’re white, I say, “Man, are you crazy? Do you know your history? You’re going to call yourself white and they’ve been killing you for a thousand years in Europe?” Everybody, not just Hitler, called the Jews another race. But they’ll say, “I’m white.” I look at them and I go, Is that like when I say I’m black? You can look at me and you see I’m not black, right? I understand racism and I deal with it. I speak in those terms, but in an ideal world, we’re all just people, right?

Have you been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s run on the Black Panther comic?
I haven’t even seen Black Panther yet. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Ta-Nehisi’s father and I are, like, best friends. Paul Coates. Paul Coates was the head of the Black Panthers in Baltimore, back in the day, in the ’60s. When people say, “Have you seen Black Panther?” I’m like, “No, but I know the original Black Panther, Ta-Nehisi’s father.”

If you’ve known Ta-Nehisi that long, did you ever talk comics with him? Did he talk to you for advice about writing fiction when he got this assignment?
Never. No, we never talked about comic books. Now and then we run across each other. I look forward to seeing [Black Panther]. It’s kind of like television shows: Some television shows I like, I wait until the first season is over, then I watch the whole thing all at once. It’ll be great. I know he really loves doing it.

Any closing thoughts about the show?
I think there are some really important things about Luke Cage. Some guy got out of prison and he’s going to work in this barbershop and people are after him. You couldn’t make that story without making it a comic-book story first. It’s really brilliant of Cheo to figure that out.









MOVE Statement by his wife, Wadiyah,
and Noelle Hanrahan…

Make the Call For Mumia’s Life!

MOVE and ICFFMAJ Statement on the Prison’s Attempt to Murder Mumia

This government is actively killing Mumia right now at SCI Mahanoy. When Mumia was transferred to general population in December of 2012, Maureen Faulkner and the Fraternal Order of Police made it clear that they intended for him to die there. Maureen Faulkner stated that now the time “doesn’t seem so far off” before Mumia “stands before his ultimate judge.” She hinted that she hoped he’d be killed by another inmate. They are currently carrying out that exact plan with prison doctors! Mumia was held in isolation for thirty years. When they saw that he had emerged from that strong, healthy, and determined, they decided to come at him another way. Despite being shot and beaten on December 9th, 1981, Mumia survived. They failed at executing him despite two execution dates, and after thirty years of isolation they couldn’t break his spirit. Mumia’s medical condition goes far beyond medical neglect or incompetence– this is deliberate murder.

Mumia’s wife, Wadiya Jamal, visited him twice this week and witnessed that his condition is way worse than the previous week. Mumia came into the visiting room walking baby steps, in severe pain, and talking slowly and quietly. His face was sunken in, his skin is blackened like a burn victim with open wounds, and his arms, torso, legs and testicles are severely swollen with skin that is tightened and hard from swelling. Sitting down and standing up are both painful.

Prison doctors say they don’t know exactly what’s wrong with Mumia and yet they won’t allow outside doctors in to see him. It isn’t that they don’t know, it’s that they know exactly what’s happening and it is exactly what they intend to happen! One of the drugs Mumia is being given, Cyclosporine, is known to lower the immune system and to cause many of the symptoms Mumia is being tortured by: chills, aches, problems with speech or walking, muscle weakness, tremors or muscle spasms. Mumia is suffering horribly and he is stuck choosing between having no medical care or being treated by the people employed by an institution which is set on his murder. The only solution is for Mumia to be home with his family!

It’s no accident that this attack on Mumia comes as people are rising up across the country to protest the police murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and many more. Mumia’s voice has been key in educating the world about these killings and in uniting people in struggle. As masses of people are rising up in rebellion they need Mumia silenced more now than ever. We must unite like never before to fight against this police terrorism and bring Mumia home! Mumia has given his life for this movement, he has sacrificed everything for true justice, now is the time to pay it back!



Flood The Phone lines of John Kerestes superintendent of SCI Mahonoy and demand that Mumia be allowed to see an outside doctor and get the complete adequate medical care he needs immediately


Demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal see an outside doctor ASAP.


John Kerestes,
Superintendent SCI Mahanoy:
570-773-2158 x8102  
570-783-2008 Fax  
301 Morea Road 
Frackville PA 17932


Tom Wolf,
PA Gvrnr:
508 Main Capitol Building,
Harrisburg PA 17120


John Wetzel,
717-728-4178 Fax  
1920 Technology Pkwy
Mechanicsburg PA 17050


Susan McNaughton,
DOC Press secretary















CfP: CAAR Malaga
13-16 June 2017,
deadline 1 November 2016

i-was-latinoDiasporic Encounters,
Subjectivities in Transit:
Race, Gender, Religion and
Sexualities in the African Diasporas



From June 13-16, 2017, the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) meets for its biannual conference in Malaga, Spain, the closest European geographical area to Northern Africa and the historical site for encounters between diverse peoples from what we now call Europe and Africa. Juan Latino, the first Black man to earn a permanent position at the University of Granada in 1565, offers a useful perspective on the negotiation of racial subjectivities in the emerging global empires of Europe. Latino addressed King Philip II with the following remark: “If our black face, your majesty, is disagreeable to your ministers, Ethiopians dislike white faces in men.” Latino’s mention of Ethiopia, one of the world’s oldest sites of Christendom, is an epistemological critique of concepts developing in Europe and later in the Americas about the intersection of race, religion and social status. Further, it should not be lost to us that Latino’s insertion of Africa into the origin of Christendom is in the context of a repudiation of Islam, a religion that had been present in Spain for the past 800 years and whose racially diverse leadership class included sub-Saharan Africans. The historical figure of Juan Latino and his complex message open up a wide terrain for an analysis of the role of Spain and other European countries in their engagement with the international slave trade; Spain played a leading role in the establishment of the slave trade along with other European countries, such as Portugal, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, among others. Opposing the barbarism of this international enslavement, Juan Latino and others like him contributed their knowledge to the Enlightenment of European societies. Mastering Latin, the language of the quest for science and modernity in Spain at that time, he introduced subtle, yet powerful ways of interpreting Black identity and the very concept of race in both the Old and the New Worlds.

For CAAR 2017, we call for papers that would carry this exploration into the second and third decades of the twenty-first century. We seek proposals for individual papers, complete panels and workshops that focus on transatlantic connections and the contributions of Africans to Europe and the Americas and of Europe to the African diasporas worldwide. We would especially like to explore these diasporic encounters through a wider concept of diaspora literacy in order to comprehend and critically interpret the cultural backgrounds of Africa, Afro-America and the Caribbean from informed, indigenous perspectives, as well as with historical, cultural studies, literary, and any other relevant scholarly perspectives. We invite proposals that engage thinking beyond the linear Hegelian dualities, in order to embrace the complexities, axes of difference, borders, fragmentation, and multiplicities inherent in the realities and shared experience of the African diasporas. We welcome presentations that aim at questioning blackness in transnational and transitional terms, so that we can access the intricate dynamics of wholeness, complexity, along with double-consciousness and ancestral spiritualism that have developed following Juan Latino’s 16th-century remark on the reductive binaries of race.


  • Explorations of the trope of migration as a major component in African American history, literature, and culture: from the earliest forms of African American cultural production—oral folk tales and spirituals, to the narratives of enslaved Africans and their descendants, to 20th and 21-st century migration narratives, including migratory circulations that include the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.
  • The history of Black people and their diasporas, of diverse peoples in constant state of motion and transition, including the recently more available stories of individual transitions, including across the borders of gender and sexuality, as well as those of intersex.
  • The term “African diaspora” used metaphorically and against over-rigid, ideologized exclusionary concepts that work to the detriment of rigorous and imaginative research; Diaspora as a metaphor of change and interdependence between African, European and American cultures.
  •  The investigation of the locales to which the dispersed peoples went or were taken to, and in which their descendants are currently living; the study of the interaction between these centers and their peripheries at all possible levels; and the unceasing attempt to integrate these studies into the overall history of humanity; slavery and colonization, racial segregation and ghettoization as events of history, metaphors, or philosophical and political interpretive stances.
  •  The literature of the African diasporas created by the Atlantic slave trade in North and South America and parts of Europe; colonization and repatriation; recent migration and its impact on narratives of national identity and nationalism; dispersions of African immigrants within and without the African American communities of the United States, other Black communities in the Americas and Europe; the globalization of literature from the African diaspora.

Proposals for panels, workshops and papers should be submitted online, at the following by 1st November 2016. The organization encourages workshops proposals around groundbreaking topics such as the future of black studies or critics of intersectionality.

Find more information on the website.










The Gateway Review
~ A Journal of Magical Realism


Fabulist and Fantastic Flash Fiction Contest

The Fabulist and Fantastic Flash Fiction Contest is open to any writer, and is the only time during the year that we accept flash fiction submissions.

Each entry is $5, and can contain one or two pieces of flash fiction, each no longer than 1000 words.  Writers may submit however many entries they wish, so long as they pay the $5 entry fee for each entry.  Simultaneous submissions are welcome and encouraged, but submitters must withdraw their work–the fee is nonrefundable in these cases–should it be accepted elsewhere.  Partial withdrawals are fine and can be made via email to; simply include your name and identify which piece in your entry is being withdrawn.

Entries must be submitted double-spaced and with no identifying information included; any entry that does not follow these guidelines will be immediately disqualified.  Any piece that is over 1,000 words will also face automatic disqualification.

All work should fit within the traditions of fabulism, surrealism, or magic realism.  We are not interested in science fiction or high fantasy, and these are unlikely to be selected as winners by the contest judge.

Prizes and Judging Process:

Unlike our Writing Competition, the Fabulist and Fantastic Flash Fiction Contest does not have a set prize.  Instead, the prize is determined based on the number of entries as follows:

First Place Winner receives 40% of net entry fees.

Runner-Up receives 20% of net entry fees.

The contest screeners will select approximately ten to twelve pieces as semi-finalists, which will be forwarded to the guest judge (this year’s judge is KRISTEN FIGGINS; you can see her thoughts on what she will be looking for, as well as more details about her, here).  The guest judge will select the winner and runner-up, and will also determine any finalists whose work ought to be published and included in the issue (additionally, the screeners and editor-in-chief may also choose any entries for publication at their discretion).

The entry period for this contest runs from August 15 through November 15, and all entries should be made through our Submittable page.  Good luck!