Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois (part 1 of 2)

“No one seems to think it significant that upon the policemen’s arrival Kajieme Powell possibly had reason to fear for his life and reacted in a manner consistent with his disability.” ––Article excerpt (Aberjhani)

“Democracy is not a gift of power, but a reservoir of knowledge.” –– from The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois

The month of August happens to be one in which a number of notable events in African-American history, relatively recent in historical terms, have occurred. There are the birthdays of such celebrated individuals as author James Baldwin (Aug. 2), President Barack Obama (Aug. 4), and philanthropist and performing artist Michael Jackson (Aug. 29).

From this point forward, people shall also certainly recall August 9, 2014, as the day when 18-year-old’s Michael Brown’s death served to ignite a series of violent night-time protests eerily reminiscent of similar scenes from the 1960s. The chaos also functioned as yet one more reminder of how readily the lives of African-American men are deleted from this world by violence.

With the 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., the 2011 execution of Savannah’s 42-year-old Troy Anthony Davis, the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the currently-pending case of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school in Lowndes County, Georgia, so fresh in recent memory, such a reminder was hardly necessary.

But there it painfully is. As Jaeah Lee reported in Mother Jones and others have written elsewhere, similar occurrences are far more frequent than many might imagine. This reality is nothing like advantageous diversity that many multiculturalists prefer to believe is possible for the United States. It also says much more about the cost of romanticizing faith in guns and violence than lawmakers and lobbyists seem willing to acknowledge.

To read the full special report article by Aberjhani please click here:
Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois part 1 of 2 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

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Syrian Poet Adonis: Snapshot of a Distinguished Nobel Contender

 Poet Adonis. (photo courtesy of Mideast Post)

Considering that Sweden has hosted the Nobel Prize Awards for more than a century and until Thursday had not presented one of its own authors with the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1974 (to Eyvind Johnson), the world can hardly blame the awards committee for presenting this year’s prize to poet Tomas Transtromer.

Along with the Syrian poet Adonis, Transtromer was among the top ten authors favored by Britain’s Ladbrokes betting agency as a likely win. Transtromer, according to the agency, was an 8-1 favorite while Adonis was favored 4-1. The poets are also close in age, with the Swede born 1931 and the Syrian in 1930. However, Transtromer became the 104th recipient of the award by virtue of what the prize committee recognized as the following: through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

Transtromer has published volumes of acclaimed works in both his native tongue and in translations, among them: The Sorrow Gondola (Green Integer, 2010); New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011); and The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems (New Directions, 2003). As an author who has already received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the Swedish Award from the International Poetry Forum, few would argue that he deserves the Nobel prize as well. Yet even as the crowd of onlookers cheered and applauded the announcement of his win, many others were stunned (as people tend to be when their cultural heroes do not triumph) that the name called out was not that of Adonis.

To continue reading this article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Syrian Poet Adonis: Snapshot of a distinguished Nobel contender.

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 16: Davis Executed | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

Rev. Raphael Warnock talks with hostess Amy Goodman of Democracy Now during livestream broadcast. 

Rev. Raphael Warnock talks with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now during livestream broadcast.

 

After many people had made their peace with the idea of Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis’ life ending at 7 p.m. on September 21, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Courts just after 7 p.m. issued a call for a “temporary delay” of his death, but then again at 10:20 said it would not block the execution.  Officials then announced that Davis was executed at 11:08 p.m. 

The planned execution of Davis for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail  topped news broadcasts on every major American television station Wednesday. Protests against the execution were staged globally in cities from Oslo and Paris to New York and Atlanta. The online television and radio program Democracy Now had scheduled a live stream broadcast from outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison at Jackson, where Davis was executed, to last from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The broadcast instead, with host Amy Goodman, lasted for four hours beyond that scheduled time.

For more please click this link:
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 16: Davis Executed | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Georgia Board Denies Clemency | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

Troy Anthony Davis (AP photo by Savannah News Press)

 

 

 Neither petitions bearing the names of almost one million people nor requests from such high-profile figures as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI convinced the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to cancel the execution of Troy Anthony Davis scheduled to take place September 21.

With the Board presenting its announcement just one day before the planned execution, it appears that the two-decade-long struggle to free Troy Anthony Davis, following his conviction for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, may soon come to an end.

The Board listened to hours of testimony from Davis’ supporters and prosecutors before choosing to reject his appeal for clemency. The inmate’s case over the past twenty years has created a forum for debates over the constitutionality of the death penalty and raised many questions about effectiveness and fair practices where the American judicial systems is concerned. It has also forced the families of the slain Officer MacPhail and the imprisoned Davis to live with the ongoing pain generated by of a lack of closure.

For more on the call for clemency from Angela Davis and others please click this link:
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Board Denies Clemency

by Aberjhani
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Georgia Board Denies Clemency | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.

Looking at the World through Michael Jackson’s Left Eye (Part 1 of 4)

The late great Michael Jackson is the subject of the highly-anticipated forthcoming book, "Man in the Music," by Joseph Vogel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some philosophies claim that the eyes symbolize such qualities as the gift of prophecy, intelligence, and conscious awareness. In her Chakra Bible, Patricia Mercier describes the eye “chakras,” or centers of spiritual energy, as those which “feed the brain but can develop to detect extra-sensory information or send healing to others.”

That’s a pretty heavy thought. But as heavy as it is, it’s not all that difficult to entertain such luminous possibilities when considering the life and legacy of Michael Joseph Jackson.  Why? Because the life he challenged himself to live turned so many dreamed theories––both his own and that of others–– into material reality. It happened while he lived until his death on June 25, 2009 and it is happening now in the year of what would have been his fifty-third birthday.

To read the full article by Abejhani please click this link:
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?id=63535&AuthorID=25279

 

 

 

Barack Obama and the Message Beyond the Photograph

Barack Obama and members of national security team in situation room. (photo by Pete Souza)

Barack Obama and members of national security team in situation room. (photo by Pete Souza)

Just before I logged on to check my email and found a request from Red Room asking authors to blog about leadership, something interesting happened. I came across a scrap of paper I did not recognize and on which the following quote was typed:

“The leaders I met, whatever walk of life they were from, whatever institutions they were presiding over, always referred back to the same failure, something that happened to them that was personally difficult, even traumatic, something that made them feel that desperate sense of hitting bottom – as something they thought was almost a necessity. It’s as if at that moment the iron entered their soul; that moment created the resilience that leaders need.”

How could such an extraordinary instance of serendipity mean anything other than that I needed to spend some time delving a bit deeper into the issue of leadership? There was no name attached to the quote so I had to conduct a bit of research before learning it came from famed organizational consultant Warren Bennis.  Even prior to mysteriously encountering Bennis’ quote, like much of the country I had been thinking–indeed, like much of the world– about the subject of leadership and all the known and unknown roles it plays in our lives.

We are, after all, living in an era that saw the people of Egypt, one of the oldest and universally treasured nations on the planet topple one of the longest-reigning rulers. And we are, in these United States, preparing to observe our once-every-four-years mass ritual of marching off to the polls to decide who shall win the honor of regulating the varieties of joy and pain that define our daily lives.


The Message Beyond the Photograph

When I read the above quote, it made me consider Pete Souza’s now iconic photograph of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brigadier General Marshall B. Webb, and other members of the national security team gathered in the White House Situation Room as Navy Seals carried out “Operation Geronimo” on May 1, 2011, and ended the life of Osama bin Laden. I thought of some of the highly-publicized “failures” (they will not be recounted here) in their individual lives and marveled at how they nevertheless had arrived at such a profoundly definitive moment in humanity’s collective history.

The captured moment itself was one filled with dread, uncertainty, hope, promise, courage, and agony. Yet the “iron” that Bennis speaks of evidently is already in their souls or they likely would have never taken the calculated risk they did. Moreover, while they all may have lived through other events that “created the resilience that leaders need,” this one perhaps confirmed the depth of the power of such resilience.

But does any of this really matter in the greater scheme of things? Should it matter? Why?

Maybe Because…

Ours is an age in which entire biographies are frequently reduced to thumb-sized apps or 140-character Twitter tweets. The good news about this 21st century development is that it has fostered communication and a sense of human interconnectedness on unprecedented personal, community, national, and international levels. The not-so-good downside is that it trains our attention spans to shrink to ridiculous capacities. Fascination and humored captivation hold for all of 60 seconds and then disappear with the click of a key. In the meantime, life in realtime keeps adding to the flesh and blood picture with greater complexity and urgency.  Bombs continue to rain down on families with no interest in war; nature continues to intensify the meaning of the word “disaster”; human beings continue to enslave and rape other human beings; and disease and hunger to destroy lives like huge silent earthquakes.

But again: so what? The potential danger is that we too readily assess information before allowing time to understand it; and, too quickly dismiss it before determining the long-term impact of our newly-acquired knowledge. Another way to put it is like this: the frenzied rush of accessing and dispersing information takes the place of cultivating knowledge, and in the absence of knowledge we fall prey to its opposite– ignorance.  One thing the year 2011 has made very clear is that knowledge informs choices, and the choices we make in one part of the world often determine how people live, or die, in other parts of the world.

Leaders  get to call themselves leaders because ordinary people empower them to do so. But are we ordinary people empowering ourselves to choose the best leaders for the world? Or, are we failing to grasp the significance of some of the most important events of our time and thereby setting ourselves up to make choice as cataclysmic as one planet crashing into another. It may not be the most fun topic to tweet about but it is worth considering.

by Aberjhani
© May 2011

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

The Passion-Driven Writer and the Digital-Age Literary Marketplace

Michael Jackson “Immortal World Tour”

Following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, I wrote a series of blogs and articles to which thousands of websites–and more like two million where one article was concerned– linked or simply “picked up” to add quality content to themed pages studded with ads. Most of the time, I was happy to see this because I knew how personally many of Jackson’s fans experienced his loss. I felt (and still feel) honored that they drafted me into such groups as Counterbalance: Honorable Journalists, Writers, Articles  and translated my writings into different languages to give voice to their grief, bewilderment, and love. In short, my work came to function as a form of global community service and I was comfortable with that.

What I could not appreciate were those sites that used my titles and/or text to draw traffic toward them without links to the original piece or any reference at all to me as author of the work presented. And yet there their digital counters were flashing the number of visitors the site had entertained and giving some indication of the revenue that I and other unacknowledged writers had helped generate for them– without so much as a nod or mumbled “thank you” in our direction.  Why was that?

Passion and Payment

Pens, pencils, keyboards, notebooks, and the eternally classic legal pad have long reigned over numerous writers’ passions whether or not said writers received payment for their finely-phrased ponderings.  For those of my particular literary species, writers are words’ uncompromisingly dominated lovers and there is rarely much we can do except cater to their various whims and desires. This passion lends itself well to the modern need to provide such “free writing” as the ongoing blogs and occasional reviews that help both to advertise one’s published works and to cultivate relationships with readers who might choose to invest in the same. Yet inside the public arena known as the digital-age literary marketplace, personal passion joyfully shared is only one major point of consideration.

How many volumes of journals have been discovered following the deaths of individuals who never promoted themselves as writers but who nevertheless proved, after the conclusion of their muted lives, to have been extremely prolific and mesmerizingly eloquent? How many manuscripts authored by “minor” talents have been “discovered” after the lives that produced them no longer inhaled or exhaled with barely-controlled creative ecstasy and later became bona fide bestselling traditionally published books? Or even more impressively: were adapted into celebrated films?

The physical, mental, and spiritual labors of those marginalized writers may have been under-appreciated while they lived but afterwards somehow magically blessed publishers with stronger catalogues and profits, provided teachers with the tools of their teachable moments, and created jobs not only for the actors performing in movie adaptations but for numerous others in the industry as well. Why should everyone have gone off skipping and singing to the bank except the author who laid the groundwork for their gleeful song and dance? The current success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is only one example of the syndrome in question. So is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and many others.

Something That We Oddly Are

To write for free or not to write for free is largely a question those whose only motivation for writing at all is money. Those who find their thoughts, conversations, and most intimate moments of interactive pleasure suddenly taken over by the need to transcribe a sudden revelation, a re-surfaced memory, or a glimpse of bright possibility into structured meaning have no choice. At the risk of sounding pretentiously grandiose, we write because writing is more something that we oddly are than something which we painstakingly do. So far as professions go, the impulse to constantly write too often feels like an unforgiving curse of divine enchantment and many struggle to transform that curse into a blessing of mundane pragmatism.

With the ability to refrain from writing apparently snipped from our DNA, the more essential question becomes this: whether or not one should allow various media outlets to publish one’s writings for free? The question is as legitimate, relevant, and ethical as such questions get for many reasons. So is the answer, which includes considerations of standards, experience, informed perspective, time, intellectual quality, and readership. Who can afford either the financial or the psychological cost of presenting him- or herself as someone utterly lacking in value?

The payment doesn’t always have to be money but certainly there should be payment of one appropriate kind or another.  How such payment is secured now depends largely on how well authors inform themselves about the changing dynamics of the digital and traditional literary marketplace. Those passion-driven authors determined to carry on their hot or cool love affairs with the written word will do exactly that regardless of the cost. Who knows: the love gifted to an unknown literary work today just might provide the sanity that helps save the world tomorrow.

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com