Surviving Survival

In early 1979, when Eugene Smith returned “back to the world” from the Guyanese jungle, my father had made his return “back to the world” more than a decade before, following his completion of a tour in the Vietnamese jungle. When he first returned, my dad was a 22-year-old husband and father of one – like Smith upon his return. Smith’s wife and one child, however, were not waiting for him, nor were they with him; along with Smith’s mother, they had died in the jungle with over 900 other members of Peoples Temple.

Poetry Reading for Marrow (poems about Jonestown)

I'll be reading poems from Marrow, my manuscript about the Peoples Temple, a congregation of Americans who emigrated to Jonestown Guyana and were coerced into suicide by their spiritual leader.

Comply or Die

He explains that he understands compliance intimately by sharing this story: as younger men he and friends were stopped and robbed by police. Their choice, he suggests, to face the wall, hands up as told and accept the stick up, saved their lives.

Black Lives Matter: Death By Assimilation

There are few, if any, choices a black body can make that do not speak its history, including the requisite traumas and proud triumphs over them. Under the gaze of the status quo, this body, with its history written all over it, is an indictment of the status quo. Erasing that physical body becomes critical to sustaining not just the aesthetic of the status quo but more importantly its structure.

Erasure is not necessarily the literal murder of it, though that is one way to erase it, but more typically, the suppression of it. Suppression often comes in the form of assimilating the black body into the status quo.

Paradox: Remembering the Million Man March/Day of Absence On Its Twentieth Anniversary

I was 21 years old, 20 years ago, on October 16th 1995. That was the day of the Million Man March/Day of Absence. In what I named "solidarity," I refrained from attending class.  I was a solid student.  Mostly.  So I doubt any of my professors batted an eye.  Besides, almost half of the campus [...]