TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Homemaker from Edina

"When I am asked why a woman doesn’t leave abuser I say: Women stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. They will leave when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving. (At least this was true for me)."
--Rebecca J. Burns

"To be a survivor–first you must bleed. You bleed all that was inside of you: the pain, the memories, the fear, the wounds fusing together, the ties to what was in, all its forms. You bleed not once but several times... And when you are empty, you either fade into a shadow or find the strength, and courage to live...you fill yourself up with the new, you recreate yourself–you reform. You don’t have the same heart or mind. The way you see the world is forever changed."
--Lynn Mari (The Last Straw).

Listen up. The Daddy worked in the anti-violence field for some time: As a violence prevention coordinator and, later, president of a violence prevention firm, he wrote grants for anti-violence programs for non-profit agencies in Minneapolis. He then helped them to set up the program, train staff and evaluate the programs. He also took on special cases.

One such special case was Jennell, the wife of a well-known professional football player. Her friend, another woman with whom I had worked, asked me to talk with her. As it turned out, she was fully aware of spousal abuse issues but stayed with him primarily due to the lifestyle she was able to live through him. She knew that he was seeing other women. She could smell their perfume on him but decided to stay with him anyway. After three sessions, I recommended a woman therapist and wrote this poem about her. Let me know what you think.

Happy Homemaker from Edina*

1

i never felt so far away
pouring fresh-brewed coffee to
a dead sports page and the scent of
last night’s “business” you could not delay.

2

i never felt more like stone
pinched nipples like hard plums as
you bet Wolves by the bedside telephone.

3

i never felt such numb despair
imaging your untimely death
while gluing down my nails
blonding up my hair.
--------------------
*from the book The Sixties? Yes, I Remember
by Mac Walton, aka MacDaddy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Sassy Lucille: A Poem for Lucille Clifton

"Things don't fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept."
--Lucille Clifton

"People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that's a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated."
--Lucille Clifton


Poet Lucille Clifton is the winner of the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. In the year 2000, she won the National Book Award for her poetry book, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Two of her poetry collections (Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980, and Next: New Poems), were chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She was elected Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1999. She served as poet laureate of Maryland from 1974 to 1985. She continues to write great poetry today.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My Sassy Lucille*
by Mac Walton, aka, MacDaddy
--for poet Lucille Clifton

Lucille,
They say you won’t do your sister will.
I say you just sassy, a might brassy and
I likes my black coffee just the way it is.

I likes yo thick, moist lips,
that wide butt, them fine swinging hips.

2

Lucille,
They say you won’t do your sister’s will.
I say I likes yo ear fine-tuned, yo eyes deep-set,
Them eyes that see past me, me and my white shirt
Pillin, me and my top button Missing, me and my
Ring-around-the-collar getting darker and darker, me and
My dreams of you, me and my sweet dreams of you and me,
Brothers and sisters united again, listening and hearing again,
The way it once was, the way it always outta be—free.

3

Lucille,
They say you won’t do your sister’s will.
I say keep juicing them thick, red lips and
Rocking that big butt, swinging them wide hips.

Keep hearing my loud laughter over BB's "Rock me, baby," over
Barbecue steaming from mama’s crowded kitchen.
Keep feeling my hunger cry out from busy subways, lonely
Park benches and half-frozen, dirty ditches cuz

4

Lucille,
They say you won’t do your sister’s will.
I say you just sassy, a might brassy, and
I likes my black coffee just the way it is.
------------------------------------------

* from book soon to be published
The Sixties: Yes, I Remember
by Mac Walton

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Waiting to Exhale Made Him a Little Misty, but The Daddy Didn't Cry

Listen up. Yesterday, The Daddy received a stinging criticism via email. A friend told a brotha why he doesn't like to come to his blog: It's too serious. He said "Daddy, you're serious all the time...even your poetry is too serious. You need to lighten up."

Well, The Daddy told him he made a valid point. He said that, in the future, he will continue to write serious and, hopefully, meaningful posts but promised to write more humorous pieces as well.

And just to show him The Daddy doesn't "always" write serious stuff, the daddy is posting this piece for him today, a review of Waiting to Exhale. He promised to check it out. If you haven't read it before, check it out too:

Waiting to Exhale Made Him Misty,But the Daddy Didn't Cry
by Mac Walton, aka MacDaddy

Listen up.The daddy wants to ask you something.Have you ever been awaken late a night to the sound of a woman screaming? The daddy was; and he said to himself:“Okay, daddy, a woman may be getting assaulted just outside your bedroom window. front door! You always talk about being a man. Well, be one! "Be a good citizen! Help a woman in distress!"

"Quick!Get dressed!
Quick! Get out there...and take your piece with you!"

"Hold up! Hold up, citizen." It hit the daddy. The phony scream and the damn cable tv brought him back to reality, helped him to figure it out. The daddy went to bed with the tv on, rolled over onto the remote and woke up to a sorry porno flick.

The daddy watched a woman having sex with two men for a minute (Okay, maybe two or three minutes) and came immediately to one inescapable conclusion: These were the worse actors he had ever seen, dressed or naked. Even old Ronald B-grade-movie Reagan or a drugged up Brittany Spears could do better than this. Maybe this is why they were in porno movies.

Porno or no porno, the daddy hates bad acting. The only possible exception of course are bad actors who firebomb buildings, chase bad guys through dark, dangerous streets at breakneck speed, mow them down in the middle of the street with a trusty AK 47, then trap the thug leader in an alley and face off against him one on one, rearranging his nose and sexual organ via the route of some serious ass-kicking, karate style.

Ha!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Ha!

My boy Wesley!

So the daddy punched the remote just once and there he was, Wesley Snipes, one of the baaadest ass-kickers of all times. But what’s this? Instead of chasing a bad guy down an alley, he’s sitting in a hotel, talking to a woman, his voice barely carrying over elevator music worse than that phony jazz of Kenny G. What’s this? Instead of standing up to a bad guy on a dark street in the hood (probably called Martin Luther King Drive or Avenue. When thugs want to dance, they don’t let no preacher stop them, even if he got the Nobel Prize!), Wesley is sitting close to a lady at this hotel bar. And no karate kicks or nothing. He’s not even talking; he’s listening!

(Note: Listen to a woman without undressing her with your eyes. Hmmn. Could be a lesson for the daddy).

But a brotha just knew that Wesley would soon spring into action, that some eye-roving, woman-leering, drug dealing thug was going to come up and touch Angela (She so fine-Lawd, have mercy!) Bassett and Wesley would mop the floor with him and his two sidekicks, sweep a fainting Angela (She so fine-a little mercy, if you please!) off her feet, take her to his hotel room, do The NASTY and some serious screaming for real!

What's this? Instead of rearranging the nose of a drug dealer, Wesley is talking, ratting on hisself, confessing that he’s married to a white woman, that he loves her, that she’s dying but that he intends to see the situation through. And she never threw a drink in his face, curse him out, call him a traitor to his race or anything!

(Note: Be open and honest with a woman. Hmmn. Could be a lesson for the daddy).

A little misty

But this is the scene that kind of got to the daddy. See, It’s about a year later. Angela (She so fine-Lawd, I’m on bended knees!) is divorced from her husband, and she’s back home spending some quality time with her beautiful daughter. Then, while her daughter is checking out mommy's makeup in the bathroom,Angela (She so fine-Lawd, I’m getting dizzy!) reads the letter from Wesley. He says he's still watching his wife die day by day, that he still loves his wife, that he’s still going to see it through, but that he'll never forget that night when they met in the bar, forgot about ass-kicking and spent time just lying close to each other.And You can see from the water welling up in her eyes that she agreed with him...a brotha gotta say that this scene brought a little water to the daddy's eyes...made him... a little misty...A brotha had to step back and remember that he was an ass-kicker himself back in the day, that he held his own between the ropes boxing at the neighborhood vet club, that he dunked a few times in a high school basketball game, that he was a young terror catching balls and scoring touchdowns on the football field...long sigh...A brotha had to check hisself. The daddy is a man.

(Note: A woman loves it when a man is loyal to a relationship. Hmmn. Could be a lesson for the daddy).

Okay, the movie was alright. The writing was good, with no phony ending or predictable solutions but more like life itself: incomplete. You learn from mistakes and try to do better in the next relationship. Yes,the acting was good by all, even by those who weren’t the big stars. Yes, the directing by Forrest Whittaker was good. But that was expected because, when it comes to movies or the theater, that brotha can do anything. And, okay, the daddy learned that ole Wesley can do more than kick ass. He can do some serious acting and maybe dispense a lesson or two.

But don’t go badmouthing the daddy, saying he had to use a bunch of Kleenex, because he got weak-kneed and started boo-hooing over some chick flick. A brotha got a little misty is all.The daddy is a man.

Friday, June 26, 2009

No More Troubles, No More Pain


"Michael exemplified the paradox of many famous performers, being essentially shy, an introvert who would come to my house and spend most of the evening sitting by himself in a corner with his small children. I never saw less than a loving father when they were together (and wonder now, as anyone close to him would, what will happen to them in the aftermath). "
--Deepok Chopra

Michael, we understood. You were abused by your father. You had no childhood and tried to create one as an adult, however eccentric it made you look. But the corporate media, ever focused on celebrities than the art they produce, did its best to knock you down. When they did, you moved out of the country.

Now that you're gone, even the media has joined in the world-wide mourning-- for higher ratings of course. But fear not, Michael. You're in a better place now; and neither the media or your father can hurt you anymore.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can you see in Sotomayor your own family story?

Listen up. Today, The Daddy is feeling Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a woman and Hispanic who lifted herself up from a New York project to become a top student at Princeton, one of the US top universities, indeed, to become one of the most respected judges in the country. In one sense, it is a story about the continuing difficulties that sexism and racism adds to the already-difficult tasks of becoming a success in the United States. It is the same old song of well-to-do white males who feel so superior, so arrogant, and so entitled, that they dare not cede any positions of influence, esteem and money to women or people of color. "Those positions," they pompously say to themselves, "belong to us!" So they get down in the mud and play dirty: play right-wing conservatives against moderates, centrist against progressives, race against race, gender against gender, religion against religion and gays against straights. They use statements out of context, deploy half-truths and outright lies to keep Americans divided and to maintain their entrenchment in the various corridors of power.

On the other hand, the Sotomayor story is an atestment to the resilience, sheer will-power, and straight-up stubborn determination to beat poverty and despair and make one's name in this grand experiment we like to call the United States of America. Let's face it: Sotomayor's story is not hers alone. It's truly an American story. She rose out of poverty and projects through hard work. She worked so hard and disciplined her god-given intellect so well that she became a top student at one of the best and most prestigious universities in this country. She worked herself up from low legal positions to become a highly-respected judge of an appellate court of New York. And now, she has been nominated to be a judge on the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

Okay, not all of us rose to be the top student in our class or were fortunate enough to have our hard work noticed and rewarded with promotion and an increase in salary until we were considered for CFO of a company. But many of us did. And some of us used our intellect and creativity to start our own company and succeeded that way.

Not to be outdone by the business sector, some of us became successful on our own terms. We decided to be successful not by accumulating fancy titles and highly morgagedt homes but rather by making a difference in our families and the communities in which we lived. Yes, we accumulated things, but we also helped folks along the way. But the formula was always the same as that of Sotomayor: Work hard. Continue to improve. Never give up. Isn't that the American way? Isn't that the America Sotomayor represents?

Family and culture

Judge Sotomayor says she believes that her family (especially her mother) and culture played a role in her development as a person and as a judge. In looking at cases, she checks her assumptions which arose from her family rearing and cultural experiences. Weren't we similarly influenced by our families and culture? And because we now live in a diverse society, don't we also check our assumptions which arose from the the culture in which we lived when dealing with people of other culture's as well? And aren't we a better people because we do?

Sotomayor and the Republican Party

Today, the Republican party is in shambles. Its core group, its base, is sexist, racist, anti-semitic and homophobic. Republican politicians believe that, to maintain their status in the party, or to extend their influence in the party, they must cater to this base. That means they must appeal, either in code or in straight talk, to these racist, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic sensibilities. Unfortunately, that also means they must fight against the civil rights of gay people, rail against laws to protect minorities or classes it deems not a part of them, and do everything they can to keep women and people of color from attaining top positions in the American political system, including positions on the Supreme Court. That brings us back to Judge Sotomayor and the present argument against her: that she should not become a Supreme Court because she is against white males.

They speak of one poorly-worded speech in 2001 where she speaks of the value of her culture in shaping who she is, including her assumptions. Of course, they exclude her point made later on in the speech that we all must continually monitor assumptions that spring from our experiences in our work.

They speak of a case (Rici vs. Destefano) where white firefighters filed a lawsuit alleging that the court of New Haven, in throwing out a test that not many minorities passed, discriminated against the many whites who passed it. Judge Stoomayor, sided with the lower courts saying that New Haven was within its right to find a fairer test and thereby protect itself from lawsuits from minorities.

And of course they conveniently forget, 0r fail to let us know, about the Judy and George King case. In this case, the Kings claimed they were bumped from a flight to the Bahamas so that white passengers without confirmed reservations could board. They also said their own boarding passes were confiscated. The Federal Court ruled that such disputes were the legal domain of the International Warsaw Convention whose rules did not ban racial discrimination. Who wrote the decision? Judge Sotomayor.

The real deal

Instead of applauding a woman who transcended racist, sexist, and classist barriers to become one of the most respected and esteemed judges in the land, Republican politicians like Sen. Orrin Hatch are teaming up with right-wing pundits like Patrick Buchannan and talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh to criticize her as being unfair to white males. But by taking one speech out of context, by cherry-picking one case out of thousands to misrepresent her as racist toward white males (Can you believe that?), they are doing something much more sinister:

(1) helping to keep our country divided along racial lines at a time when Americans need to be united to deal with issues critical to our survival like universal healthcare and bringing back manufacturing to this country so we can be a prosperous economy again;

(2) keeping our younger generation from being inspired by the Sotomayors of this country, people who, like our parents, and our parent's parents, became successful through hard work, education, and a stubborn will power that would not allow them to fail.


Can you see in Sotomayor your own family story?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Toast to Anita O'Day, a Great Voice, a Strong Lady

Listen up. Today, The Daddy is feeling fed up with a lot of contemporary, commercial music. Frankly, today's contemporary music, with a few exception, is sub-par. It doesn't measure up to the quality American music in the past, especially the music of the 40's or the 60's.

Thinking of the quality music in the past caused The Daddy to search his musical vault and pull out a CD calle
d "Let Me Off Uptown" by the fabulous Gene Krupa band, featuring the smooth-singing Anita O'Day on vocals and the exciting Roy Eldridge on Trumpet. The Daddy will be posting on Roy and Krupa later. In the meantime, here's a post on the great vocalist Anita O'Day. Check it out:

A Toast to Anita O'Day
The Daddy

Anita O'Day died some time ago. She was let off uptown and now is no doubt swinging with the stars under the direction of that great bandleader in the sky.

Born Anita Belle Colton in Chicago,Illinois on October 18, 1919, Anita got her start as a teen by hanging out in a jazz club called Off-Beat. It was there that she met the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

She joined Krupa's band in 1941, teaming up with the great jazz trumpeter, Roy Eldridge. They made a hit with a duet called "Let Me Off Uptown." She then did a stint with St
an Kenton's orchestra. Though with Kenton for only a short period of time, she did make a hit called "And the Tears Flowed Like Wine." But her stint with Krupa got her addicted to hard-driving beats and high-flying swing music that made you want to dance the night away. So Anita moved back to Krupa, where she could croon sweet ballads that made couples real close or sing swinging tunes that kept em on the dance floor all night long.


In the late 40's, she met up with John Poole and stayed with him for 32 years. In the 50's, she began touring, doing festivals and concerts. Indeed, it was in 1958 that she performed at the Newport Festival. Called "Jazz on a Summer's Day," this performance was filmed and made her an international star.

O'Day continued to be popular. Between 1957 and 1963, she recorded 16 albums and continued to tour and perform, despite an addiction to heroin, from which she nearly died in 1969. In 1981, she wrote an autobiography detailing her bout with addiction and the highs and lows of her musical career.

While O'Day may have been at her musical best when she was with the Kenton orchestra, she was happiest with Krupa's driving beat and Eldridge's high-flying solos.

The Krupa band never lacked excitement. Krupa was a great jazz drummer who was also credited with integrating a number of hotels. Krupa, a white guy, loved Eldridge's show-stopping solos, performances that matched his swinging, thumping drumming. Eldridge was Black. When hotels told Krupa that Eldridge couldn't stay in their hotel with the rest of his band, Krupa would get angry and sometimes a fight would ensue. After many such well-publicized scraps, hotels relented and let Krupa's entire band stay together. Soon, other hotels followed suit. Thus, Krupa integrated many hotels in the North.

When Krupa played, his head shook like a man having a seizure while sitting. His hands and drumsticks flew all over the bandstand as wild and crazy African beats boogied up and down aisles and danced on walls around the room.

By the time O'Day came on stage, everyone was ready for a little musical sanity. That's when a stunningly beautiful and smiling O'Day would wow them with her rich, smooth voice, elegant dress, and disarming charm. And her seductive and inviting voice served as the perfect contrast to Krupa’s wild drumming and complemented Eldridge's ever-soaring solos. Ever the showman, Eldridge would build on his solos, laying notes like a bricklayer laying bricks; and at a certain, anticipated point, would scream at the top of the trumpet's register, then lower those bricks down again to get everyone and O'Day back into the groove.

Tell you what: Tonight, The Daddy is going to pull out one of Anita's CDs, lift his glass of New Zealand white wine to the sky and say:

"In our short time on earth, everyone of us needs to do at least one thing that's special, that's unique, and uplifting. So here's a toast to you, Anita O'Day, a unique, talented voice, and a splendid person. Lady, you done good."

Ever heard of Anita O'Day?

Monday, June 22, 2009

God Help Us, We're All in Jerusalem Now

“No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate?”
- Bertrand Russell, 1970

"I believe that in the long run, separation between Israel and the Palestinians is the best solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
--Yitzhak Rabin


Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan Jun 4, 2003. White House photo by Paul Morse

Listen up. The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is perhaps the most intractable problem in the world. And it is tied to other conflicts as well, such as Islamic terrorism as manifested by organizations like Al Queda.

A few years ago, it appeared that Ariel Sharon, Israel's former general and prime minister from 2001-2006, was making overtures toward Palestinian leadership to move a peace process forward (although the Israeli right wing and old-guard Palestinians swore he had other motives). However, on January 4, 2006, he suffered a stroke and lay in an Israeli hospital in a vegetative state. Nonetheless, it seemed everyone was hoping he would recover and improve Israeli-Palestinian relations.

It was during this time that The Daddy wrote this poem about Sharon and two people engaged in a confrontation with seemingly no end:


We're All in Jerusalem Now
by Mac Walton

I’m in Jerusalem.
Here,golden grains of sand once dripped from the hour-glass of time
But now splatter blood against a wailing wall.
Here, religions, like wild horses, mount each other
And commit assault against humanity.

Here, Jews with bloodshot eyes and contorted faces, scream
“This land is ours! Our bible says so. And if not before,
It will be so by right of possession.”
Here, Palestinians with bloodshot eyes strap bombs around their waist
Shout, “Long live Palestine and implode much too soon
For an amorphous Palestinian state and seven virgins in heaven.

(2)

I’m in Jerusalem.
Here, Sharon, the Prime Minister, the ultimate godfather, lies on
Lies his back
in a hospital several deep breaths from death.
Here, Jews and non-Jews the world over (and even a few Palestinians)
Pin their hopes on an old general who once murdered Palestinians like a Tiger stalks and kills gazelles.

Here, all pray the Palestinian blood spiller lying prone and in pain

With blood seeping from his brain, recover,change spots and
Perform the ultimate miracle:
Rise above day-to-day political opportunism, body-count
Score-keeping
written in blood and bring peace between
Two people who only know war.

(3)

I’m in Jerusalem
Where Palestinians and Israels meet history, where
The hour-glass drips blood, where everyone
Kneels to pray, where even the godless dare not say:

"God help us.
We're all in Jerusalem now."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bob Herbert: Hate Groups a Threat We Can't Ignore

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano warned us. And now Bob Herbert, the amazingly analytical columnist for the New York Times, is warning us too: that right-wing white supremacists are the real terrorists in America; that they constitute a serious danger to our country; that this danger is tied to the beginning of the Obama administration; and that we should focus on this terrorism before it's too late. Here is the latest on this subject from Herbert:

Hate Groups a Threat We Can't Ignore
by Bob Herbert

Even with the murders that have already occurred, Americans are not paying enough attention to the frightening connection between the right-wing hate-mongers who continue to slither among us and the gun crazies who believe a well-aimed bullet is the ticket to all their dreams.

Bob Herbert

I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t help feeling as if the murder at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the assassination of the abortion doctor in Wichita, Kan., and the slaying of three police officers in Pittsburgh — all of them right-wing, hate-driven attacks — were just the beginning and that worse is to come.

As if the wackos weren’t dangerous enough to begin with, the fuel to further inflame them is available in the over-the-top rhetoric of the National Rifle Association, which has relentlessly pounded the bogus theme that Barack Obama is planning to take away people’s guns. The group’s anti-Obama Web site is called gunbanobama.com.

While the N.R.A. is not advocating violence, it shouldn’t take more than a glance at the newspapers to understand why this is a message that the country could do without. James von Brunn, the man accused of using a rifle to shoot a guard to death at the Holocaust museum last week, was described by relatives, associates and the police as a virulent racist and anti-Semite.

Investigators said they found a note that had been signed by von Brunn in the car that he double-parked outside the museum. The note said, “You want my weapons — this is how you’ll get them.”

Richard Poplawski, who, according to authorities, used a high-powered rifle to kill three Pittsburgh police officers in April, reportedly believed that Zionists were running the world and that, yes, Obama was planning to crack down on gun ownership. A friend said of Poplawski, he “feared the Obama gun ban that’s on the way.”

There is no Obama gun ban on the way. Gun control advocates are, frankly, disappointed in the president’s unwillingness to move ahead on even the mildest of gun control measures.

What’s important to grasp here is that this madness has nothing to do with hunting, which the politicians always claim to be defending, and everything to do with the use of firearms to resist policies and lawful government actions that some gun owners don’t like.

In a speech in February to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the executive vice president of the N.R.A., Wayne LaPierre, said: “Our founding fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”

For the full story, click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If your father was absent, were you able to forgive?

Listen up. The Prez wrote a heartening Father's Day message speaking to the critical need of fathers in families: how he missed his absent father when he was growing up, and why he is determined to be their for his two girls and wife Michelle.

Well, what about girls in the family? Do they miss their absent fathers as well? If so, are they able to forgive them later on for not being there?

The Daddy was reading an on-line magazine called The Black Voice; and he came across an article about Ledisi, an artist who, like Barack, also missed her absent father when she was growing up. Fortunately, she was able to forgive him and became a better person for it. This is a wonderful Father Day story. Check it out:

Ledisi: Free After Finding Father & Forgiving Him

Father's Day is here and I am more than grateful about reconnecting and having my father in my life, especially considering all the things I went through to find him. You see, I didn't grow up with my father around, like so many others. Mom and Dad parted ways when I was a baby and years later I was playing to a sold out crowd in Amsterdam when I asked if the local DJ had heard of someone named Larry Saunders, also known as "The Prophet Of Soul." That's who I knew my biological father to be – only by name. After the show, a copy of an old album was handed to me. I didn't get the chance to listen to it until I made it back to the States. So there I was on mom's living room floor listening to his voice and seeing his photo for the first time. I'll never forget listening to Daddy's music and what she told me about how they met and why Daddy wrote the songs he did. I tell you, I finally saw and heard the other side of me. I then called the guy that owns Daddy's music and he gave me his lawyer's information. That was the hardest phone call ever. I contacted the lawyer and he told me to send whatever I wanted to him. It was the coldest conversation ever. I sent Daddy all of my music and a letter telling him that I forgive him and I didn't want anything from him. I just wanted him to know that I am keeping with family tradition and moving forward with where he left off.

He didn't call for months and by this time, I had moved to New York City.
I was giving up on the music business and took a chance on Broadway. I was cast to star in a phenomenal show about change, 'Caroline, Or Change.' Little did I know that it was about to happen to me.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Was your father absent a lot when you were growing up? If so, were you able to forgive him?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Barack Obama's Father's Day Message

"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich."
--Dan Wilcox and Thad
Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H

"Sometimes our hearts get tangled.
And our souls a little off-kilter.
Friends and family can set us right.
And help guide us back to the light."
--Sera Christann


Listen up. Today, The Daddy is feeling The Prez and the fact that he took time out from his busy schedule to acknowledge the critical role of fathers in families. And The Daddy especially likes it when he admits that he missed the absence of his own father when he was growing up and is trying his hardest to be there for his two darling girls. Check it out:


President Barack Obama's Father's Day Message


As the father of two young girls who have shown such poise, humor, and patience in the unconventional life into which they have been thrust, I mark this Father's Day—our first in the White House—with a deep sense of gratitude.
I observe this Father's Day not just as a father grateful to be present in my daughters' lives but also as a son who grew up without a father in my own life. My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I knew him mainly from the letters he wrote and the stories my family told. And while I was lucky to have two wonderful grandparents who poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me, I still felt the weight of his absence throughout my childhood.


In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference. We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. We need to step out of our own heads and tune in. We need to turn off the television and start talking with our kids, and listening to them, and understanding what's going on in their lives. I know I have been an imperfect father. I know I have made mistakes. I have lost count of all the times, over the years, when the demands of work have taken me from the duties of fatherhood. There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away, and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters’ lives that I 'd never get back. It is a loss I will never fully accept. On this Father's Day, I think back to the day I drove Michelle and a newborn Malia home from the hospital nearly 11 years ago—crawling along, miles under the speed limit, feeling the weight of my daughter's future resting in my hands. I think about the pledge I made to her that day: that I would give her what I never had—that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Losses: Another poem from The Daddy

"There is love of course. And then there's life, its enemy."
--Jean Anouilh
"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
--Kahlil Gibran

Losses
By Mac Walton

Losses-
I’ve had a few.

Losses-
Like the loss of a mother who had already
Lost her eyesight, watching
Too much Oprah, reading
Too many National Enquirers, and
Too much Revelations, praying
Too many nights to a white Jesus
Who never came because prejudiced people were
trying to kill him too.

Losses-
Like the loss of a sister who
cried herself to death barely a week after
Her festive wedding day, after
She found out her husband already
Had a family back in Greece and another
Child on the way.

Losses-
Like the loss of a lover, the“woman of your dreams”
Who, after years of affection
Informs you she is gay and is leaving you today...for
The woman of her dreams.

Losses-
Like promises not kept, love not
sustained, and
hope, like a stoked fire, slowly
burning away once enticement meets character
with
Little conscience anyway.


Losses-
I’ve had a few.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sing with Me: Another Poem from The Daddy

Sing with me
by Mac Walton

1

I am one with earth
wind and sky

I am a towering, thunderous waterfall hurling through mist.

2

From mountains I roar, an emboldened
life-force raging into darkness then
plunging to depths to complete myself.

3

I lift from the darkness, glide through the mist,
smiling and weaving in and out of liquid
semi-circles again naturally.
Free.

4

I am free.
Sing with me!
-------------------
copyright 2008, Cultural Dynamics Inc.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mind the Heart, a Poem from The Daddy


Listen up. A couple of years ago, The Daddy was in Palm Springs, California. He was sitting on a stool at the end of a dim-lit bar called The Hogs Breath Inn, which is owned by movie actor and director Clint Eastwood.

The Daddy had said some things that could have been hurtful to a friend. He felt bad about it. So, while sitting at the bar, he wrote this poem. It was advice more for myself than anyone else.

Mind the Heart
by Mac Walton

Mind it
In the morning, at noon, and
Late at night.
On weekdays and weekends when stars
warm and heal til dawn’s early light.

2

Mind it
On anniversaries and special events
When the heart’s love rises high
Its guard slumbers low.

Mind it
When the marriage, like oxygen, becomes
Staid and routine, the mind weary and slow.

3

Mind it
Before divorce, before anger
Seethes above the crying just below, before
Winds take love to a place you once
Dared not go.

copyright 2008 by Mac Walton, Cultural Dynamics Inc.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

When Hate Talk Turns To Horrific Action

Listen up. The attack on the holocaust museum by James W von Brunn Wednesday continues to reverberate in the minds and hearts of many Americans? People are asking:

"How could this be
happening in America in the 21st century?"

"Yes, we know anti-semitism and racism still lingers, but haven't we become tolerant of each other now?
"

*Why can't we stop the violence and just deal with each other with respect? We're all Americans, aren't we?"

As Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and columnist Eugene Robinson notes, we are living at a time when much of this type of violence and hatred is rare. But it still happens. And when Janet Na
politano warned us that "lone wolf extremists" were the most dangerous domestic terrorists, Republicans cried foul, ignoring facts and analysis, accusing the Obama administration of picking on conservatives. But Robinson not only provides the politics behind this nonsense; he poses and ponders the questions:

What happens when a right-wing crazies hear speech from the likes of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh or Fox tv talk show host Sean Hannit
y?

What happens if the crazies hearing this Anti-Sotomayor, anti-Obama, anti-government speech don't get it that the hate speech filled with half-truths and distortions are little more
than fiery rhetoric to rev up the right-wing political base but take the hate speech to be true, swallowing it whole? Check him out:


The Lone Wolves Among Us
By
Eugene Robinson

We are blessed to live at a time when violent acts of hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion have become rare, at least in this country. As the act of terrorism committed Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum should remind us, though, rare doesn’t mean nonexistent.

James W. von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who allegedly took a rifle into the museum and killed security guard Stephen Johns, is more than a bitter, demented old man. He is a known figure in the domestic hate industry, a venom-spewing polemicist whose Web site offered readers the chance to download the opening chapters of his racist, anti-Semitic tome for free—and to buy the rest of the book for the bargain price of 10 bucks.

Apparently, there weren’t enough takers. The Washington Post reported Thursday that acquaintances say von Brunn had become virtually destitute and was complaining that “someone in Washington” had cut his Social Security benefits as punishment for his political views. His recent e-mail blasts were apocalyptic. “It’s time to kill all the Jews,” said one.

It’s easy to surmise that von Brunn, a rabid Holocaust denier, could have chosen the Holocaust museum as a target because he thought it would offer the opportunity to kill Jews. His writings show that he also hates black people with great passion, however, so perhaps he took some measure of sick satisfaction in allegedly gunning down the 39-year-old Johns, an African-American.

In April, a prescient Department of Homeland Security memo predicted that the election of the first African-American president and the advent of economic hard times could worsen the threat from “right-wing extremist groups.” In particular, the memo warned of an increase in anti-Semitic activity by extremists who buy into the whole Jewish-banker-secret-cabal paranoid fantasy—and would blame “the Jews” for engineering the global financial crisis, just as they blame “the Jews” for everything.

For days, some conservative commentators tried mightily to paint the memo as an underhanded attempt by the Obama administration to smear its honorable critics by equating “right wing” with “terrorism.” It made no difference to these loudmouths that the number of hate groups around the country has increased by more than 50 percent since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It didn’t matter that the memo was backed up by solid intelligence and analysis. For these infotainers, the point isn’t to illuminate a subject by putting it in the light but to blast it with heat.

And it wasn’t just the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world who pretended to be outraged. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele accused the administration of trying “to segment out Americans who dissent from this administration, to segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration, and labeling them as terrorists.” Steele seems to have decided that telling the truth isn’t nearly as important as the high-temperature exercise known as “firing up the base.”

The thing is, though, that words have consequences.

For the full story, see http://www.truthdig.com


Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shooter James Von Brunn Did Not Act Alone. He Had Hate and a Sense of Destiny with Him.

* DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.
*DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.
*Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone wolves carrying out acts of violence.
-- DHS Reprt

"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and he ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true."

--Martin Luther King Jr.


Yesterday, The Daddy read a number of articles that suggested the constant hate speech on talk radio and tv (especially Fox News) may be setting up an environment that makes it easier for a deranged person to kill, such as, the guy who shot Dr. Tiller to death.
Then the Daddy turned on CNN briefly to hear the latest on the shooting at the holocaust museum and heard something that didn't sit well with him. They said that, as far as they could tell, the alleged shooter, James Von Brunn, "acted alone." A brotha thought "okay." But then he woke up this morning with a slightly better memory.

Let's see, he remembers:


1. Reading a report by Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security chief, about the "potential" rise of racist, anti-semitic groups in America;


2. Reading a study by the Southern Law Poverty Center, the Alabama-based civil rights law firm organization, that tracks hate groups? It identified more that 900 hate groups;

3. As if that wasn't bad enough, it then said that the numbers of such groups, and the growth in the membership in them, has been steadily growing since 2000, the main reason or motivation, as I recall, being white reaction to what the xenophobic Lou Dobbs calls "illegal aliens," in other words, our brown brothas and sistahs coming here to find work and a better life for their families just like many of our parents and parent's parents did;

4. Reading where the study said that the main hate groups are the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan organizations;

5. And a brotha distinctly remembering how white hate had become high tech! The law center estimates that about 100,000 neo-Nazis participate on a white supremacist forum called Stormfront.org; and

6. Reading that, when these people perform hate crimes, they become heroes of their racist, anti-semitic movement. They applauded a real American terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, and remember him on the anniversary of the bombing of a building killing hundreds, many of them children.

So, Daddy, what is your point?

No point. Just a question: If a person commits a hate crime against a another person or people, if that person belongs, or has belonged, to one or more hate groups that spew hate speech, if he has developed a vast on-line communication network with which to communicate human speech on a regular basis, if, when he commits a hate crime, he is lauded by hate crime groups, indeed, elevated to hero or martyr status, is that person really acting alone?

The Daddy believes Von Brunn did not act alone, and this is why.

1.Radio, tv talk show hosts and pundits whip up racial hatred, anti-semitism and and wild homophobia in the environment. In between so-called news updates and advertising, the likes of radio talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage spew hot-fire, white racist, sexist, homophobic venom all over their subjects, name-calling, vilifying and raking them over the coals into a position of enemy against the "real American," whoever that is. Fox News tv talk show host Bill O'Reily does the same at night. This hate talk can easy lay a solid, if illogical, philosophical foundation for committed action based on half-truths, irrational thinking, or straight-up lies.

2. The downturn in our economy and the selection of the first black president of the United States has allowed some white Americans to state verbally what they had been thinking for years: that the United States, whom they see as belonging to white Americans, is being over-run by Jews and people of color (blacks and hispanis). Though most of Americans may not hold this belief, a sufficient number of them do to swell the ranks of white power organizations and spur on crazies in their group, or a crazy on the margins within their group, to commit violence in their name.

Indeed, Napolitano's report said this same thing. However, right-wing Republicans became so angry with the report that she apologized for parts of it. She needn't have bothered. This week's attempted attack on a holocaust museum by Von Bruun proved she was right on the money.

3. He didn't act alone, because he knows his act will be remembered. While Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma bomber and a real American terrorist, was viewed negatively by us, he was hailed as a hero by hate groups. And each time the date of the bombing comes around each year, they remember him. Von Bunn was already something of a hero in the white movement. In 1990, he wrote a book called “Kill the Best Gentiles,” a racist and anti-Semitic rant about the destruction of the white by "hordes" of non-whites and "mongrels." He was also viewed as a hero for the 1981 attempt to take over the Federal Reserve Building, to, as he put it on his website, “put the whole Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve under citizens arrest."

No, Von Brunn did not act alone. He had the words of loud-mouths like Limbaugh, Savage and O'Reily inside him. He had the racist, sexist, and homophobic talking points of right-wing politicians and pundits like Pat Buchannan with him.

Von Brunn did not act alone because he had the experience of the Ku Klux Klan and a steadily-growing neo-Nazi movement behind him. And he had the same motivations that they have to spur him into action: the rise in the number of Hispanics, the fastest growing population in the United States, a deep recession where many jobs are moving out of his country to non-white countries like Mexico, and China, and the U.S. selection of a black man as its first president. All he needed was to pick out a site to commit a dramatic, suicidal act, to kill some people (preferably Jews), to be killed himelf, to be martyred. Then the all the previous aspects of his life as a failed husband and family man would be forgotten. He would go from a sometimes destitute hero to a permanent martyr for the white power movement. He would become another Timothy McVeigh.

No, Von Brunn did not act alone. He had resources of white hate and a sense of dark destiny with him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eugene Robinson says, "Being Obama Matters"

Listen up. A few day ago, The Daddy spotlighted Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker, who wrote with clarity and elegance in calling for a new hearing for Troy Davis, a black who could be executed for a crime he probably didn't commit. Today, The Daddy is feeling an article by Eugene Robinson, another Pulitzer prize-winning columnist, who is still talking about the speech The Prez made in Cairo and its impact on the Muslim world. Remember: we're not talking about a normal speech where a representative of an empire comes to the Muslim or Mideast nation and proceeds to tell them what they must do to gain its favor or continue to gain its favor. No, this speech was a call to the Muslim world to work with the U.S. within a new framework: to work as partners to improve the social and economic relations of both worlds.

Robinson lays it down, talking about how The Prez used his personal history and excellence in communication to speak to another people in their own language their and with own references and make at least one Muslim cry "I love you!" Check him out"

Being Obama Matters Jun 8, 2009 By Eugene Robinson

I used to fear that President Obama was overestimating the power of his personal history as an instrument of foreign policy. Now I wonder if he might have been underestimating.

In several interviews during the long presidential campaign, Obama mentioned the potential impact in other countries of seeing an American president with an appearance and a life story like none of his predecessors. He spoke especially of how the Muslim world, addressed by a president who had a Muslim father and who spent years of his childhood in a Muslim country, might be more inclined to believe that the United States is not an enemy of Islam.

But nations tend to act on the basis of perceived national interest, not personality. I thought that in the final analysis, if Obama became president—which seemed a very long shot when I first heard Obama mention this theme, in a March 2007 interview—he would be seen as friend or foe depending on how he conducted U.S. foreign policy.

Now, after Obama’s trip to the Middle East, I think we both were right.

Taking a cold-eyed view of international affairs is never wrong. But it’s also wrong to ignore the spectacle of an audience member, at Obama’s Cairo University speech, interrupting an American president to shout, “We love you!” You will recall that the last memorable presidential appearance in the Arab world was the news conference in Iraq at which two shoes were hurled at the head of George W. Bush.

Not being Bush was a big factor. But at least as important was being Obama—and being able to say, as the president did in Cairo, that “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.”

Obama was referring to the “generations of Muslims” in his father’s Kenyan family, his early years in Indonesia and his experience working in Chicago communities where “many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.” The most important word in that sentence, however, came at the end: By saying revealed rather than born, Obama was acknowledging Islam as a divinely given faith.

Obama quoted liberally from the Quran, drawing applause. Perhaps more important was that he opened the speech by putting Islam in the historical context that many Muslims believe the West willfully ignores. He spoke of how the Islamic world kept the light of civilization burning during Europe’s Dark Ages—and mentioned the Quran that Thomas Jefferson kept in his library.

Obama was speaking the language of Islam in a tone of respect. What a concept.

For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Remembering the recession: Remembering "Manchild in the Promised Land"

photo
Cover from "Manchild in the Promised Land."

If Reno was in a bad mood - if he didn't have any money and he wasn't high - he'd say, "Man, Sonny, they ain't go no kids in Harlem. I ain't never seen any. I've seen some real small people actin' like kids, but they don't have any kids in Harlem, because nobody has time for a childhood. Man, do you ever remember bein' a kid? Not me. Shit, kids are happy, kids laugh, kids are secure. They ain't scared- a nothin'. You ever been a kid, Sonny? Damn, you lucky. I ain't never been a kid, man. I don't ever remember bein' happy and not scared. I don't know what happened, man, but I think I missed out on that childhood thing, because I don't ever recall bein' a kid."[1]
- Claude Brown


Listen up. Today, The Daddy is re-reading Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land," a memoir of a black kids street life in Harlem in the 1960's. The Daddy wrote about the book and its author before. It's the post behind this one.

But what motivated a brotha to re-read the book was an excellent article he came across in Truthout, a progressive American blog. It connects the tough times of youth today with the tough times that manchilds had on mean streets during the sixties, especially Claude Brown." Support Truthout and check out this article:


Children of the Recession: Remembering "Manchild in the Promised Land."
June 8, 2009.
by Henri A. Giroux

When Claude Brown published "Manchild in the Promised Land" in 1965, he wrote about the doomed lives of his friends, family and neighborhood acquaintances. The book is mostly remembered as a brilliantly devastating portrait of Harlem under siege, ravaged and broken from drugs, poverty, unemployment, crime and police brutality. But what Brown really made visible was that the raw violence and dead-end existence that plagued so many young people in Harlem, stole not only their future but their childhood as well. In the midst of the social collapse and psychological trauma wrought by the systemic fusion of racism and class exploitation, children in Harlem were held hostage to forces that not only robbed them of the innocence that comes with childhood, but also forced them to take on the risks and burdens of daily survival that older generations were unable to shield them from. At the heart of Brown's narrative, written in the midst of the civil rights struggle in the 1960s, is a "manchild," a metaphor that indicts a society that is waging war on those children who are black and poor and have been forced to grow up too quickly. The hybridized concept of "manchild" marked a space in which innocence was lost and childhood stolen. Harlem was a well contained, internal colony, and its street life provided the condition and the very necessity for insurrection. But the many forms of rebellion young people expressed - from the public and progressive to the interiorized and self-destructive - came with a price, which Brown reveals near the end of the book: "It seemed as though most of the cats that we'd come up with just hadn't made it. Almost everybody was dead or in jail."[2]

Childhood stolen became less a plea for self-help - that short-sighted and mendacious appeal that would define the reactionary reform efforts of the 80s and 90s - than a clarion call for condemning a social order that denied children a future. While Brown approached everyday life in Harlem more as a poet than as a political revolutionary, politics was embedded in every sentence in the book. Not a politics marked by demagoguery, hatred and orthodoxy, but one that made visible the damage done by a social system characterized by massive inequalities and a rigid racial divide. Manchild created the image of a society without children in order to raise questions about the future of a country that turned its back on its most vulnerable population. Like the great critical theorist, C. Wright Mills, Claude Brown's lasting contribution was to reconfigure the boundaries between public issues and private sufferings. For Brown, racism was about power and oppression and could not be separated from broader social, economic and political considerations. Rather than denying systemic, structural conditions, as in the discourse of individual pathology or self-help, Brown insisted that social forces had to be factored into any understanding of group suffering and individual despair. Brown explored the suffering of the young in Harlem, but he did so by refusing to utterly privatize it, to dramatize and spectacularize private life over public dysfunction, or to separate individual hopes, desires and agency from the realm of politics and public life.

Nearly 50 years later, Brown's metaphor of the "manchild" is more relevant today than when he wrote the book, and "the Promised Land" more mythic than ever as his revelation about the sorry plight of poor and minority children takes on a more expansive meaning in light of the current economic meltdown. The suffering and hardships many children face in the United States have been greatly amplified by the economic crisis, and in some cases the effects and consequences of that suffering has been captured in images, interviews and television programs that have born witness to what has become the shame of the nation. For example, "CBS Nightly News" with Katie Couric has been running a probing and poignant series called "Children of the Recession," which foregrounds the suffering and despair faced by so many millions of young kids today. Many of these images portray kids who, through no fault of their own (or their parents for that matter), are homeless, lack food, health care, adequate shelter, clothing, even spaces to play. They are forced to inhabit a rough world where childhood is nonexistent, crushed under the heavy material and existential burdens they are forced to bear.

For the full story, click here.

Know Claude Brown, a manchild in the promised land

File:ManchildInThePromisedLand.jpg
"[This autobiography] is written with brutal and unvarnished honesty in the plain talk of the people, in language that is fierce, uproarious, obscene and tender, but always sensible and direct. And to its enormous credit, this youthful autobiography gives us its devastating portrait of life without one cry of self-pity, outrage or malice, with no caustic sermons or searing rhetoric. Claude Brown speaks for himself--and the Harlem people to whom his life is bound--with open dignity, and the effect is both shattering and deeply satisfying...[This work] is a mature autobiography of the coming of age of one hidden human being, whose experience and generation are absolutely crucial to any future history of the American people."-- New York Times Book Review

"For where does one run to when he's already in the promised land?"
--Claude Brown


Listen up. February 23rd, is the birthday of Claude Brown, one of America's most gifted writers. No, he didn't come from the Iowa writer's workshop or from some fancy school like Princeton in the East. In fact, often he was absent from school. Sometimes he had neither a school or a home to go to and spent many nights riding trains to stay warm.

Claude was born in poverty, in Harlem, New York, in 1937. He was a writer and child advocate. He was also a black male kid who had been a criminal since the age of 8. His success showed that a black kid who was well-known at juvenile detention schools could rescue himself (with the help of a few friends like the great writer Toni Morrison) out of crime and poverty and demonstrate that, like Malcolm X, almost any of us could be redeemed-- could be lifted from the cold concrete of urban, inner-city black America and be somebody: be transformed thug to a worthwhile American citizen, to even a man of letters, if given a little hope and half a chance.

Here's what the African American Registry (Please give them support) said of Brown today:

Claude Brown

From Harlem, Brown's early days frequented breaking the law. His crime run began at the tender age of 8. His father, a dockworker, would frequently beat him and his siblings when they got into trouble, and his mother struggled with the juvenile court to get him into the best state delinquency programs. But nothing seemed to prevent Brown from breaking the law. In spite of his unstable, alcoholic father, and the poverty of his youth, his siblings all grew up to lead normal lives. Brown spent years in and out of juvenile detention centers and juvenile homes as a result of stealing, and selling drugs.

His life of crime took a turn when a local drug addict shot him in the abdomen. This incident and the encouragement of a friend helped Brown leave his life of crime behind him. In 1959, he entered Howard University in Washington, and shortly afterward he began writing. Toni Morrison, one of his teachers, often critiqued Claude's work. Claude wrote about what he knew best his own life experiences. Browns Manchild in the Promised Land, is a best selling autobiography on his youth in Harlem, New York. In 1976, he published The Children of Ham, a story about struggling young blacks in Harlem.

Almost 35 years, and 4 million copies later, Manchild in the Promised Land has become the second best selling book MacMillan Books ever published (the first was Gone with the Wind), and has been published in 14 languages. It launched his career as a writer, giving him a platform to publish in Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look and The New York Times Magazine. Brown, was a freelance writer and frequent lecturer, and started a family. He had two children by two marriages, and a grandson. Though living in Newark, New Jersey, he was still involved in Harlem and helping kids out of the street life.

He works to maintain a program that mentors kids from Harlem, and helps them go to college. Brown also supports a Newark-based program that diverts kids caught up in the court system into an intensive eight-week residential treatment program that tries to turn young people's lives around. Writer Claude Brown died of a lung condition on February 6, 2002; he was age 64.

Know your history. Know Claude Brown, another manchild in the promised land.