Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka

“You are an artist. You are a writer. The strongest political work you can do is in the arts.”

Amiri Baraka
Photo: C.B. Claiborne, 2004

At the time of the 1994 conference, Newark, New Jersey native Amiri Baraka—poet, activist and playwright—was one of the most prolific and exciting authors in America. Born LeRoi Jones, Baraka was educated at Rutgers University and Howard University, and taught poetry and drama at the New School for Social Research, Columbia University, Yale University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and elsewhere. Considered an architect of the Black Arts Movement, Baraka has published countless books of poetry, plays, essays and more, including Preface To A Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961), The Dead Lecturer (1964), Dutchman + The Slave (1971), The Autobiography of Leroi Jones (1983), Transbluesency (1995), Somebody Blew Up America (2004), Tales of the Out and the Gone (2006) and the posthumous collection S O S: Poems 1961-2013 (2016). Baraka was also a central artistic force in the Black Arts Repertory Theater School in Harlem and Spirit House in Newark. Throughout the course of his career, he founded the beat poetry magazine Yugen, edited the African American music magazine, Cricket, the literary magazine The Black Nation, and directed Jihad Press. For his extensive contributions to the American arts at large, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a PEN/Faulkner Award, an American Book Award, the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York, and other distinctions. Amiri Baraka died in 2014.

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1  They Ugly 
         on purpose!

2  They get high 
        off Air Raids!

3  They are the oldest 
    continuously functioning 
        Serial Killers!

4  They murder 
       to Explain 

5  They think 
        are food. 
6  They imitate 
       by lying.

7  They are always naked 
    and always dirty 
     the shower & tuxedo 
       don't help.

8  They go to the bathroom 
     to have a religious 

9  They believe everything is better 
     Dead. And that everything alive 
      is their enemy.

10 Plus Heathens is armed 
     and dangerous. 

I Am

Blues March

We are being told of the greatness
of Western Civilization
Yet Europe
is not the West

Leave England headed West
          you arrive
	      in Newark,

The West is
The New World
			       not Europe

The West is
The New World
			       not Europe

The West is
		     El Mundo Nuevo
		     The Pan American
		     As diverse as the routes
		     & history
		     of our collection

The West is The Americas
       not Europe

It is the America that the home
     boy tells, the sister we can
     see, yr wife, husband & children
Yr mama
Yr friends
Yr family
Yr close enemies

	    Are West, the quest
                The Search
                for Humanity
                still goes on

But of the Euro White Supremacists
         The Slave Masters
         Destroyers of Pharonic Egypt

Invaders, Destroyers of Moorish Spain
          Of African and Asian Worlds
          Creators of the Inquisition
          Christ Killers
          Murderers of thousands of Christians
                in the Coliseum
          Murderers of Spartacus
                Germ Mens

Destroyers of Mohodarenjo
	         Killed Montezuma & Emiliano Zapata
	         Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, even
	         the Kennedies, Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton
	         Medgar Evers,

		  The Aztecs
		  The Incas
		  The Mayans
		  The Taino
		  The Arawak



	      Bush men living on human
		          flesh as public
		          ideology of predators
		          & blood covered claws

Murderers of Iraq, wd be destroyers of
the ancient Mesopotamian culture
	Assassins of Sandino
	Toussaint Louverture, Patrice Lumumba

         Enslavers of Women
         Overthrew Mother Right
         Killed Socrates, Copernicus, Lincoln
         John Brown & Nat Turner
        Amilcar Cabral & David Sibeko

        Who claim Civilization & Christianity & Philosophy as
        Crucifiers who worshipped statues
	      till 300 AD

       Who destroyed the libraries of Alexandria
	     the University at Timbuctoo
       Who thought the wind made babies
Who say now they are the creators of Great Civilizations
         plagiarists, ignorant imitators 
         claiming Geometry & the Lever

Which existed 1000 years before
         they was even here
   whose great minds are thieves like
        Aristotle, Con men like
	Democritus & Anaximander
        whose Gods are the Vanilla Ice
	      of Ethiopian Originals
               half dressed cave dwellers
	      painted blue

Anglos (knife wielding) Saxons
     Sackers (Robbers) of Ancient Civilizations
    Vikings whose Gods were drunk and rowdy
      robbers like Conan & Wodan
      Punks like Napoleon who
     got run out of Haiti
         by Toussaint & Dessalines

         who got bum rushed out
	of Russia
         wacked out
        racist monsters
    shot the nose & mouth
       off the Sphinx
       so sick &

    anti-life & history were they
       who put Mali and Songhay &
       all Africa
       in Slave Ships

       for money, whose profits
  were numbers not visionaries

   Life as a low thing
   worshippers of mines not Minds
   War Lovers not Peace Makers

    Aint instead of Art
    (Death instead of Life)
            Dog they best friend
	   Ice & Snow
	     Not We & Know
	     Blood Suckers &
			       Mother Fuckers
     Love War
     so much 
     call the history
     of their civilization

     The Cannon!

	       in honor of Marco Polo’s
	         trip to China

Should we praise them
    for Dachau, for the poisoning
       of David Walker
       the Genocide of Native
    or concentration camps
	for Japanese

Perhaps 700 years of Irish Colonialism
       or Ghandi’s
       The Conquest of India
       The Opium Wars
       TB sheets for
  or the trail of Tears

So how should we praise them?
And what should we call them?
	        Who style themselves God
	        Whose New World Order
	        Seems old & Miltonian in that they rule
	        & do not serve

But somehow the term Satan seems too narrow
     The word Devil is too limiting

But there must be some description, some appropriate
      we can coin–

       Something that says liar, murderer, maniac, animal
       something that indicates their importance.