Long Live Amiri Baraka!

Why is only a penny brown and got Lincoln on it?
Is that why they leave it on the ground.

-Amiri Baraka

The update about Baraka, the poet of the oppressed, is that he is not much talked about anymore. The sudden silence around him is a tragedy of our times. But it should come as no surprise. Going by a trend of how the system engulfs the same talents who once adorn its progressive horizons as cultural icons (albeit, countercultural icons, but icons nevertheless) it should come as no surprise that Baraka, the once emulated and idolized hero of the revolutionary times is not even reduced to a legend any longer.

LeRoi Jones, as he was known during the Beat period of early 1960’s, Baraka was companion to Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, and Gilbert Sorrentino. After the death of Malcolm X, Baraka became the Black cultural nationalist founding the Black Arts Repertory Theater School in Harlem. Till 1975, Baraka was well adored as the forerunner of black nationalism and culture.


Lets get back to Paul Robeson. Or farther down the times to WEB Du Bois. As these brilliant minds served the interest of the groups that believed in the binaries of race stratification, they were hero-worshipped. Du Bois was looked at as the epitome of black intellect. Robeson was perceived as the epitome of black vigor. Towards the end of their lives, both of them had famously joined the world revolutionary struggles to condemn any form of global imperialistic designs. They reported that peoples of the world, if worked in unison, would change the face of the world, given the shared oppressed history of the colonized and the enslaved. That peoples of the world wanted peace at any cost and that was to come only by combating the world capitalism. As the world was becoming more visibly devoid of territorially encroached and was emerging as economically subjugated by interest groups, no narrow agenda of nationalistic fervor was going to do the trick. On the contrary, narrow racial agendas were going to be played up well by the ruling class to fight one against another by showering favoritism and encouraging suspicions among the oppressed groups.
Amiri Baraka

As Du Bois, the greatest of all Black scholars ever, formally joined the Communist Party and Robeson, the greatest of all Black athletes ever, supported the cause of international communism, all hell broke loose. The avowed religious Blacks, the comfortable leaders of the civil rights movement who wanted to work with the system (and not against it) and the politically correct ones belonging to the minorities whose families started reaping benefits (however silly that might be the case) started distancing themselves from these erstwhile heroes, even as they were still alive. Du Bois died tragically in Ghana, his revolutionary writings hardly honored and remained a literary icon in library corners of diversity loving campuses. Robeson died unwept, unknown and unsung.

Amiri Baraka after 1975 shunned the nationalistic struggles, called it fascist in nature, called for world unity of oppressed people in identifying and combating the class enemies. He became a pronounced Third World exponent, cried freedom for the majority of the world who suffered under tyrannical rules disguising as democracies. Once the focus shifted, like it happened with both Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X during their last few years of life, there was concern from three different quarters: the black nationalists who were not willing to budge from their agenda, the white racists who oh-so-hated Communism and the politically correct mix of different races who felt offended by such shifts that did not further their interests in their stronghold of media, military and state machinery. Baraka said, “I see art as a weapon of revolution. I define revolution in Marxist terms. Once I defined revolution in Nationalist terms. But I came to my Marxist view as a result of having struggled as a Nationalist and found certain dead ends theoretically and ideologically, as far as Nationalism was concerned and had to reach out for the communist ideology.”

As the poet laureate of New Jersey, when Baraka recited his poetry “Somebody Blew Up America” (reproduced here), he was accused of anti-Semitism. Of course he was asked to relinquish his position. Not just the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), but even many black so-called leaders came forward to ridicule him. Such is the irony of the times that the beat poet, the radical free voice who lent his creative voice to all peoples of color of the world had to come down with an explanation to prove his authenticity. http://www.amiribaraka.com/speech100202.html After that period of gloom, I saw him on an interview at a Sundance documentary called “The First Amendment Project” and noticed that his works are being sold on his own site for $5 onwards!

The entire poem written by the revolutionary poet Amiri Baraka is reproduced below. If allowed to add, I would only suggest an additional line: “Who are these ungrateful peoples of a contented era? Who forgot their own poet, the fearless poet who called a spade a spade, a violence a violence, a revolution a revolution?”


(All thinking people
oppose terrorism
both domestic
& international…
But one should not
be used
To cover the other)

They say its some terrorist, some
Arab, in
It wasn’t our American terrorists
It wasn’t the Klan or the Skin heads
Or the them that blows up nigger
Churches, or reincarnates us on Death Row
It wasn’t Trent Lott
Or David Duke or Giuliani
Or Schundler, Helms retiring

It wasn’t
the gonorrhea in costume
the white sheet diseases
That have murdered black people
Terrorized reason and sanity
Most of humanity, as they pleases

They say (who say? Who do the saying
Who is them paying
Who tell the lies
Who in disguise
Who had the slaves
Who got the bux out the Bucks

Who got fat from plantations
Who genocided Indians
Tried to waste the Black nation

Who live on Wall Street
The first plantation
Who cut your nuts off
Who rape your ma
Who lynched your pa

Who got the tar, who got the feathers
Who had the match, who set the fires
Who killed and hired
Who say they God & still be the Devil

Who the biggest only
Who the most goodest
Who do Jesus resemble

Who created everything
Who the smartest
Who the greatest
Who the richest
Who say you ugly and they the goodlookingest

Who define art
Who define science

Who made the bombs
Who made the guns

Who bought the slaves, who sold them

Who called you them names
Who say Dahmer wasn’t insane

Who/ Who / Who/

Who stole Puerto Rico
Who stole the Indies, the Philipines, Manhattan
Australia & The Hebrides
Who forced opium on the Chinese

Who own them buildings
Who got the money
Who think you funny
Who locked you up
Who own the papers

Who owned the slave ship
Who run the army

Who the fake president
Who the ruler
Who the banker

Who/ Who/ Who/

Who own the mine
Who twist your mind
Who got bread
Who need peace
Who you think need war

Who own the oil
Who do no toil
Who own the soil
Who is not a nigger
Who is so great ain’t nobody bigger

Who own this city

Who own the air
Who own the water

Who own your crib
Who rob and steal and cheat and murder
and make lies the truth
Who call you uncouth

Who live in the biggest house
Who do the biggest crime
Who go on vacation anytime

Who killed the most niggers
Who killed the most Jews
Who killed the most Italians
Who killed the most Irish
Who killed the most Africans
Who killed the most Japanese
Who killed the most Latinos


Who own the ocean

Who own the airplanes
Who own the malls
Who own television
Who own radio

Who own what ain’t even known to be owned
Who own the owners that ain’t the real owners

Who own the suburbs
Who suck the cities
Who make the laws

Who made Bush president
Who believe the confederate flag need to be flying
Who talk about democracy and be lying

Who the Beast in Revelations
Who 666
Who decide
Jesus get crucified

Who the Devil on the real side
Who got rich from Armenian genocide

Who the biggest terrorist
Who change the bible
Who killed the most people
Who do the most evil
Who don’t worry about survival

Who have the colonies
Who stole the most land
Who rule the world
Who say they good but only do evil
Who the biggest executioner

Who/Who/Who ^^^

Who own the oil
Who want more oil
Who told you what you think that later you find out a lie
Who/ Who/ ???

Who fount Bin Laden, maybe they Satan
Who pay the CIA,
Who knew the bomb was gonna blow
Who know why the terrorists
Learned to fly in Florida, San Diego

Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion
And cracking they sides at the notion

Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain’t goin’ nowhere

Who make the credit cards
Who get the biggest tax cut
Who walked out of the Conference
Against Racism
Who killed Malcolm, Kennedy & his Brother
Who killed Dr King, Who would want such a thing?
Are they linked to the murder of Lincoln?

Who invaded Grenada
Who made money from apartheid
Who keep the Irish a colony
Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later

Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani,
the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral,
Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,

Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba, Mondlane , Betty Shabazz, Princess Margaret, Ralph Featherstone, Little Bobby

Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo,
Assata, Mumia,Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton

Who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton,
MedgarEvers, Mikey Smith, Walter Rodney,
Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel
Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed

Who put a price on Lenin’s head

Who put the Jews in ovens,
and who helped them do it
Who said “America First”
and ok’d the yellow stars

Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt
Who murdered the Rosenbergs
And all the good people iced,
tortured , assassinated, vanished

Who got rich from Algeria, Libya, Haiti,
Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine,

Who cut off peoples hands in the Congo
Who invented Aids Who put the germs
In the Indians’ blankets
Who thought up “The Trail of Tears”

Who blew up the Maine
& started the Spanish American War
Who got Sharon back in Power
Who backed Batista, Hitler, Bilbo,
Chiang kai Chek who WHO W H O/

Who decided Affirmative Action had to go
Reconstruction, The New Deal, The New
Frontier, The Great Society,

Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for
Who doo doo come out the Colon’s mouth
Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza
Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro
Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus

Who overthrew Nkrumah, Bishop,
Who poison Robeson,
who try to put DuBois in Jail
Who frame Rap Jamil al Amin, Who frame the Rosenbergs, Garvey,
The Scottsboro Boys, The Hollywood Ten

Who set the Reichstag Fire

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away ?
Who,Who, Who/
explosion of Owl the newspaper say
the devil face cd be seen Who WHO Who WHO

Who make money from war
Who make dough from fear and lies
Who want the world like it is
Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and national oppression and terror
violence, and hunger and poverty.

Who is the ruler of Hell?
Who is the most powerful

Who you know ever
Seen God?

But everybody seen
The Devil

Like an Owl exploding
In your life in your brain in your self
Like an Owl who know the devil
All night, all day if you listen, Like an Owl
Exploding in fire. We hear the questions rise
In terrible flame like the whistle of a crazy dog

Like the acid vomit of the fire of Hell
Who and Who and WHO (+) who who ^
Whoooo and Whooooooooooooooooooooo!

AMIRI B 10/01


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