Wednesday, December 31, 2008

THE WRITER'S CENTER is presenting a reading by PHILLIP LOPATE

Saturday, January 31, 7:30 PM.

LOPATE is the author of The Art of the Personal Essay, The Rug Merchant, and Two Marriages.

Seating is Limited.
RSVP to Sonya Boyd by January 27th
301 654-8664

The program is in celebration of The Writer's Center's 32nd Birthday.

Located at:
4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815


Nat Hentoff let go by the Village Voice.

The news just keeps getting sadder.

So many feeling down and beat.
Economic Help:

2009 is going to be Sonny Liston mean.
Good to see a judge ruling that the Philadelphia mayor cannot close 11 public libraries. Mayor Michael Nutter thought he could save some money. Hey- keep the branches open. Keep your Book groove Phillie.

Another fake memoir out there. Oh, Oprah - I'm so sorry to hear about this again. Last night I'm reading the galleys of The 5th Inning. Did I write this? It's my blood but is it my story? Fact checker needed in aisle 2.


Nicole Lee

Executive Director, TransAfrica Forum


The only New Year's Eve I really remember is the one of 1975. That was the year of my separation from Mikki, my first wife. The poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton and I had helped her move into a friend's apartment in Southeast Washington late in the year. Zu drove his van across town with Mikki sitting in the back with her stuff. I can still see him shaking his head and refusing to believe we were breaking up. Mikki and I just laughed at him. We were lovers and the best of friends - it was our marriage that was having the problems. We decided it was best if we both let it go. So it disappeared one night and I was left alone days later waiting for the new year to begin. I remember 1975 because I started reading E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime on New Year's Eve and couldn't stop. I spent the entire evening by myself reading. A good book in my lap. A novel pulling me into its arms. No party, no wine, no celebration. Just the simple act of reading. The turning of pages as the year turned and time punctuated itself again.

It's 2008 and I find myself on New Year's Eve by myself. I'm certain members of my family will call and wish me well. Back in 1975 the telephone rang once that night. It was CJ - the only woman I could see myself dating after a first wife. CJ who ironically I would see in 2008 after too many years to count. It was CJ's voice that in 1975 played ragtime with my heart. Funny how I remember that too. Did the music ever stop?

Tonight I'll spend the evening reading Paul Beatty's novel Slumberland. Beatty is one of the few writers that can make me laugh out loud with his satire and genius. One page into the book and you'll come across a line like this:

So if you're still upset with history, get a lawyer on the phone and try to collect workmen's comp for slavery.

Yep - it's going to be a wonderful New Year's Eve. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU OUT THERE AND EVERYWHERE.

2009 looks Liston Mean. We all might need Ali footwork to survive. January is Round 1.
This baby might go 12.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is dead at 70.

Dear Friends,

This has been an amazing year for Chimpanzee Productions! With support from the Ford Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, and the National Black Programming Consortium, we began production on Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers & the Emergence of a People. (

Through A Lens Darkly is the first feature-length film and multimedia project about the ways in which African American communities have used the camera as a tool for social change. I am honored to be producing this project with noted scholar, curator, and author - Dr. Deborah Willis.

Please consider supporting this project with a tax deductable donation.

Checks may be made out to:
Third World Newsreel/TALD
And sent to:
Through A Lens Darkly
68 East 131st street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10037
Wishing you peace and blessings in 2009
Thomas Allen Harris
Documentary & Multimedia Outreach Project
68 East 131st Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10037

50th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution

The D.C. Metro - Free the Cuban Five Committee invites you to join with us in celebrating this historic achievement.

Cuba's revolutionary success and survival these 50 years comes from a grassroots democratic process of inclusion, equality and human development.

Today, Cuba continues to inspire and contribute to the solidarity of the peoples of the world; providing medical services and education to over 70 countries worldwide as part of the emerging Latin American movements toward Socialism and people's democracy.

Join us also in calling on President-elect Barack Obama to normalize US relations with Cuba and to free the Five Cuban Heroes, wrongfully deprived of their freedom and abused in U.S. federal prisons for acting against Miami-based terrorists.

A Cuban FIESTA on WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31st, 8:00 pm
At the St, Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church
1525 Newton Street, N.W. (at 16th St.) DC.

· There will be tropical drinks,
· Dancing and free refreshments.
· People are encouraged to bring art and mementos of Cuba and its revolution.
· Support the rebuilding effort, Cuba was hit by three(3) major hurricanes this year: Gustav (Aug 31), Ike (Sep. 7), and Paloma (Nov. 9)
· Donations accepted.
Information: (202) 534 6119 -
New Letters 2009 Awards for Writers:
Quote of the Day:

This perfect storm has already weakened the fabric of our nation's arts ecology. Over the past several months, the Baltimore Opera Company, Santa Clarita Symphony, Opera Pacific, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and others have closed or come close to closing. There probably will be a torrent of additional closures, cancellations and crises in the coming months.

- Michael Kaiser, The Washington Post, December 29, 2008

PEOPLE TO WATCH: Senator James Webb of Virginia.

This spring Webb plans to introduce legislation on reforming the U.S. prison system.

This is long overdue. There are 2.3 million people behind bars in our country. 25 percent of the world's prison population. Blacks make up half of all prison inmates. It was one-third twenty years ago.

Bookmarks for my second memoir, The 5th Inning are ready. I should have them in a few days. Let me know if you want to give some to friends. Just drop me a note with your address. I can be reached at:

ORDER: THE 5TH INNING by E. Ethelbert Miller
Today's News. Early morning and I don't even want to read the newspapers. I'm sadden (once again) by the war cycle in the Middle East that never seems to end. We are living in a war culture.

Even here is the States we are becoming desperadoes. Unemployment pushing people into the crazy crimes of destruction and ruin. Good people running low on love. We should begin using the word depression to define our state of mind and not just our economy.

The only good news I've heard in weeks is about the birth of a new baby by my friend and fellow writer Edwidge Danticat. I wish her and her family well. The birth of a child - a reason to celebrate and give thanks. A small bundle of joy in this huge world that just seems so cold at the edge (and end) of December. And somehow we survive.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.
- Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, December 29, 2008

Poor Obama. January 20th not even here and the world is coming apart. Do we really need a war between India and Pakistan? I'm so tired of these old conflicts that will never go away. Why waste prayers? I'm so hungry for peace. Where is the menu?
Book News:

David Streitfeld's article in The New York Times yesterday punched me in the chest. Check his second paragraph:

Bookstore, both new and secondhand, are faltering as well. Olsson's the leading independent chain in Washington, went bankrupt and shut down in September. Robin's which says it is the oldest bookstore in Philadelphia, will close next month. The once-mighty Borders chain is on the rocks. Powell's the huge store in Portland, Ore., said sales were so weak it was encouraging its staff to take unpaid sabbaticals.

Where is the stimulus plan for bookstores? I can't believe Robin's is closing - but then I say my prayers every night for Vertigo Bookstore in College Park. Bridget and Todd there are not just bookstore owners - they are family. But it's obvious that a way of life is coming to an end. Electronic books - the possibility of holding your entire collection in one hand. Imagine how convenient this might be during a natural disaster. One could pack and run and not even dial FEMA. Still, I'll miss going into a bookstore, hanging out - the same way record stores in Greenwich Village will always remind me of being with my brother on a Saturday afternoon. Even if I didn't have any money - I could look at albums and maybe even meet a beautiful woman holding a new record from Motown or something by Simon or Dylan. Or maybe we would walk around the corner to a nearby cafe and after long conversations she would kiss me like Jazz.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

MORE MIDDLE EAST MADNESS - December running out of days and too many women becoming widows.

Another Cease-Fire gone in the Middle East. More death. The New Year covers her face with a veil. More tears. A "generational cleansing" perhaps needed to break this cycle of hate. When will love fall like bombs?

To Zimbabwe we send prayers to peace activist Jestina Mukoko. In these times of cholera the struggle continues...
Book News:

According to the Association of American Publishers electronic-book sales increased 73 percent in October compared with the same month last year.

Sales of Adult paperbacks decreased 23 percent
Children's paperbacks declined 14.8 percent.
Sales of higher-education books, including textbooks fell big time.

Samuel Huntington (1927-2008).

Huntington gave us the theory of the Clash of Civilizations. He argued that in a post-cold war world, violent conflict would come not from ideological friction between nations, but from cultural and religious differences among the world's major civilizations.

He put forth his theory first in a 1993 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quote of the Day:

Ironically enough Kwanzaa gets canonized in mainstream black circles - for instance, it arrives on postage stamps that commemorate its existence, a thin slice of memory licked by black tongues that otherwise may not taste its fruits in ceremonial practices.

- Michael Eric Dyson
When 4 + 4 is not 8.

So it's January 20th. Oath Day in DC. The weather is like today - almost 60. One big house party on the Mall. How many black people decided not to open Christmas and Kwanzaa gifts until this day? Where are the posters with Jesus, Santa and Obama? Everybody living the dream of that ONE - The Country Preacher. But oh- what about this other preacher - Rick Warren? Will Gays protest on the 20th because of Proposition 8? You betcha. You know someone is going to have a protest sign. No Warren - why count to 10 when you've already counted to 8? So what can we look for in a few weeks? Look for a few confrontations between white Gays and African Americans. One day into a new era and things will fall apart in the streets. Look for black nationalists to promote some red/black/green homophobia. What is the color of our sins? How free do we want to be? Private lives now public and the public throwing up their hands in despair. All our differences on display and many of us falling backwards into the future.

Is the world turning upside down or do we still have our heads stuck in the sand on the beach of the past. All Along The Watchtower?

There must be some kind of way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There is too much confusion
I can't get no relief...

Right now I'm listening to Natty King singing "No Guns To Town."

Should we bring our "Posters To Town" on the 20th?


Bring Love To Town on January 20th! Remember to Spread the Joy around.
Think Tolerance and Practice what you Think.
THE DEATH OF A KING: Robert Lee King, Sr.

Mr. King (Father-in-law) died on Friday, December 26th in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mr. King served as Chairman of the Central Advisory Board from 1973 to 1995, he also chaired the Neighborhood Revitalization Board from 1996 to 2004. Mr. King volunteered his services on numerous boards for the betterment of the Iowa community for 41 years.

Robert L. King, Sr. was an honorable man, a loving husband, father and friend. He was a constant supporter of citizen involvement in the decision making process to ensure that all residents in Des Moines, especially the poor, had equal opportunities to experience clean and safe neighborhoods, and decent, affordable housing.

In recognition of Mr. King's outstanding service to the community, T. M. Frankline Cownie, the Mayor of the City of Des Moines, proclaimed the week of September 8, 2008, as Bob King, Sr. Week. Bob will be missed, but his memory shall be cherished by the many lives he touched.

If you wish to contact Dr. Denise King-Miller send emails to my address at:

ORDER: THE 5TH INNING by E. Ethelbert Miller

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sports: Don't dribble just duck and hide.

The game I will be watching this weekend is Oklahoma City (3-26) against the Wizards (4-23). Here it is. If the Wizards can't defeat this team they should start looking for high school players the rest of the season. With upcoming games against Houston, New Orleans, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando the Wizards might want to consider a bailout.



You betcha!

Fey's contribution to Obama being elected president of the US - Priceless.
Better Economic News?

The rush to declare the future bleak has obscured the fact that no one knows the outcome of an unprecedented event. No one. The worst course in the face of uncertainty is blind faith in conventional wisdom and past patterns. The best is to stay humble in the face of the unknown, creative and unideological about solutions, and open to the possibility that as quickly as things turned sour they can reverse.
- Zachary Karabell, The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2008
In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby. He plays up being a good ol' boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don't make it through either unless you are a reader.

There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic.
Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them and is intellectually engaged by them.

- Karl Rove
Economic News:

Across the U.S., many state lotteries are reporting hefty declines, with ticket sales down nearly 10% in California and more than 4% in Texas over the past few months.
New Year/Old War?

Do we really need another conflict between Hamas and Israel? 2009 looking out the window and we find ourselves tripping over the Gaza Strip. Why? The problem with cease-fires is that they never cease. We keep calling for them. We keep recycling conflicts and people collapse into coffins because of their failure to love.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt is dead at 81.

Her voice made men lose their virginity. The way her body moved made many purr with delight.

Eartha to earth with many blessings and thanks.


My daughter and I went to the movies this afternoon and saw Cadillac Records. This has to be one of the better films to come out this year. If you want to see black actors acting and presenting strong characters on the screen - here it is. Whew. Jeffrey Wright proves he is the best actor out there right now. He plays Muddy Waters and it's all Oscar. Beyonce is good too as Etta James. Oh and Mos Def must have written his lines. He plays Chuck Berry. This movie however belongs - yes -belongs to Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf. Give this guy several awards as the best supporting actor in a movie in 2008. His presence is huge - dynamic and so powerful- that yes - you will howl with admiration and pride. What a strong black male image on the screen. Bigger than a Cadillac with fins. Why no one has been talking about Walker's role in this movie is enough to give me the blues.

Agni Magazine (#68) is out. Be sure to read the opening essay "The Advertent Eye" by Sven Birkerts. This is an excellent article on the work of the American photographer Robert Frank.
Birkerts can examine a photograph so well that you're forced to adjust your glasses to his words.
I would highly recommend this essay for workshop leaders using pictures to give birth to poems. Birkerts shows us how to see; something we need to do before we write.
Listening is essential too. I'm a touch guy. Come here and let me touch you. Ah...there is the poem waiting to snuggle.
Writing is a beautiful act. It is making something that will give pleasure to others later.
- Susan Sontag


Sometimes we went around the corner to attend midnight mass at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. Father Kruger lead the service. My brother was an altar boy - no one knew he was thinking about the monastery then. Our minds were mostly on the gifts back on Longwood Avenue. When we left the church it was Christmas Day. My brother and sister never begged like me. I pestered my mother all the way home about opening the Christmas gifts now and not in the morning. The great compromise was that we could do it when my father came home from work. Maybe around 1:30 or 2 AM his key turned in the lock. Another day of work for my father. No star over his head. No rest for the weary. He came into the house the way he always did, night after night. While he ate the food my mother placed on the kitchen table, I opened my presents along with my brother and sister. My father chewed his food and said nothing when we ran back into the kitchen to show him what Santa Claus had left us. Yes, we all believed in Santa - more than the quiet black man who looked at us with sadness and a hidden tear of amazement.

How did all these toys appear from such a small paycheck? What magic did he know and not tell himself?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Going Dark: I've Seen Things.

Almost the end of the year. It's time to unplug. Discard. Reboot in a few days? Time to find time -alone. Find the center of one's heart. How much love is left? I was downtown on Wednesday afternoon -Chinatown where the black dancing dervish is in the middle of the street, spinning in front of people and cars. This is maybe the third time I've watched him from the upstairs room at the Starbucks at 7th and H. How many people are spinning out of control? Jobs disappearing, homes vanishing and we continue to listen to the -spin. I look at the people walking around Chinatown and many of them seem a few degrees away from being wretched. I'm having another Fanon moment and this one seems to be straight out of the opening scenes of Blade Runner. Sometimes I walk around looking for subtitles. Look into my eyes and tell me if I'm real like tears or rain.

Economic News:

Barbie turns 50 next year. Mattel is doing a sweeping makeover. Barbie sales have been either flat or down for five of the last seven years. Mattel the largest toy maker in the world is suffering from weakening consumer demand. Toy sales are down by 5%.
We are all alone and we do not need poetry to tell us how alone we are.

- Jack Spicer

PERSON TO WATCH: Newt Gingrich

If the Republican Party is going to make a comeback look for the "ideas" of Newt Gingrich to be responsible for the rebuilding. New ideas from Newt? Can you see Palin debating Gingrich during the Republican primaries? Is there a "wink" in our future? I hope not.
"...our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors - as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.

That's why we don't just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover.."

-Thomas L. Friedman

So many Jewish organizations taking a hit because of Bernard Madoff's criminal act:

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation lost $145 million.
Yeshiva University - $110 million.
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America -$ 90 million.
Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity - lost $15 million.
Wunderkinder Foundation - an undisclosed amount.

*Facts come from The Washington Post, December 24, 2008.

Quotes of the Day:

"Beyond the financial fallout, I think the potential erosion of trust is really quite severe. .. Madoff's whole recruitment technique was a function of community. It's not just being assaulted, but assaulted by a member of the family."

- Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network

"He wiped out a generation of Jewish wealth."

- Brad Friedman, lawyer representing some of Madoff's victims.


The bling without the bling. Madoff takes $50 billion and gets to stay home with a bracelet. How many young African American men are behind bars without jewelry?
HOW TO EAT. How to Live.
More Media News:

Editors from The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun will begin sharing news content starting January 1st. Both papers are struggling to retain readers and cut costs as the economics of the business shift. How much longer will we be able to get print on our fingers?


Is Katie Couric making a comeback? Looks like she is holding steady in the ratings. Nothing like a good "Palin" wind to help. You betcha.
Economic News:

Natwar M. Gandhi, the chief financial officer for DC Government predicted that the city's unemployment rate could reach nearly 10 percent by 2010.
* 8,500 E-Notes posted since 2004.
Things Falling Apart

One can monitor the change in our society by the types of crimes being committed. In DC car theft is down. Strange?It seems as if home invasion is up. Folks want quick cash - a junkie fix. Reckless becomes the person with too many bills. Miss one bill and the next month you're bailing and wailing. When do people start talking to themselves? After missing the third payment?

Listening to Alice Coltrane: Huntington Ashram Monastery.

One of her compositions is IHS. This is what she wrote in the liner notes:

IHS means "I have suffered." It exemplifies the sufferings and tribulations of mankind in general. According to Eastern thought, suffering is a gift from God. Certain individuals suffer to a greater extent, more than others, depending upon Karma (action in general). The highest of these individuals are those who sacrifice themselves for humanity and love of God. Among the countless numbers of those who have suffered through generations past, three are outstanding to me: Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. IHS are the crucified in a human body - literally, a living sacrifice, an execution or assassination.


4-22. Yep. That's where the Wizards are right now. In an old E-Note I said this club would not win 20 games this year. If you look at their January schedule you can add another 17 games to the loss column. Just look at this club on paper. Who can the Wizards beat on paper? Oklahoma? What should be done? My son should be drafted to play point guard for these guys.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

JASMYNE CANNICK: A White Gay's Guide for Dealing with the Black Community

*The following article is Chapter Four in Jasmyne Cannick’s ongoing series “A White Gay’s Guide to Dealing with the Black Community for Dummies.”

At a time when gay leaders should be apologizing to and trying to build bridges with African-Americans after exposing their closeted racism towards Blacks over the passage of California’s Proposition 8, the gays are at it again. President-elect Barack Obama isn’t even in office yet and they are all up in arms over the inaugural invitation of evangelical pastor Rick Warren simply because Warren opposes gay marriage.

Now me personally, I’d have much rather seen Dr. Jeremiah Wright tapped to give the invocation over Warren, but then I guess they’d have a problem with that too. Because while Wright is one of the few Black pastors on record supporting equal rights for lesbians and gays, most whites consider him a racist.

Instead of denouncing Obama’s choice to invite Warren, gays should be hailing it, as it shows a continued effort on Obama’s behalf to reach across the aisle in an effort to bring everyone to the table, the very thing that the gay leadership hasn’t even made an effort to learn how do post Prop. 8.

You would think that after running a horrible campaign that was predicated on assumptions about how Blacks would vote that the gay leadership would have learned that preaching to the choir will get you about a far as West Hollywood.

Newsflash. Contrary to their belief, the world doesn’t revolve around gay marriage. If it did, let’s face it, Obama wouldn’t be the President-elect, now would he?

It’s no secret that Obama isn’t exactly the poster child for gay marriage, and for the record, neither was Hillary Clinton. However, that didn’t stop them from voting for her in the primary or me as a Black lesbian from voting for Obama. Add to that, we’ve had 8 years under an extremely anti-gay Administration and I don’t recall all of this anger being directed towards our current President.

The inequalities that exist between people like me, a Black lesbian, and white gays, who believe that marriage will give them parity with their heterosexual counterparts, are crystal clear when you consider that last week three Black gay men were murdered in New Orleans.

While gays are protesting Warren, last week New Orleans police identified three Black men who were gunned down in a 7th Ward home. The men were apparently gay, one possibly transgender, and police "believe the three victims knew their killers."

The victims were all from Mississippi and living together in a home. They were identified as Felix Pearson, 19; Kenneth Monroe, 27; and Darriel Wilson, 20. News reports said that the men were found after the building manager "said he saw the lower half of a man's body through a window and called 911."

I know that Pearson, Monroe, and Wilson, aren’t Matthew Shepard or Brandon Teena. however I’d think that in a post Prop. 8 world and in the spirit of reconciliation and being at the edge of each other’s battles, the loss of life of three gay men, one of whom was possibly transgender, would be more important than some mega church pastor who doesn’t want gays to be married attending President-elect Obama’s inauguration.

I wonder if they had been three white boys would I even have to say this.

Then there’s the small issue of workers being laid off, families losing their homes in foreclosure, not to mention California’s never ending budget crisis where cuts in public education and social services are imminent all services that are also utilized by minority gays who are as much affected by the current economy as their heterosexual counterparts.

Criticizing the first Black president before he even takes the oath of office for doing something that white gays themselves haven’t been able to do, bring everyone to the table, isn’t going to win them any fans in the Black community. Neither is reminding us that they voted for Obama as if they did us a favor when in fact, they did themselves one. And I’m sorry, there’s no reward for that nor does Obama owe white gays for their support.

As politically incorrect as this is going sound, I feel it needs to be said. The white gay community needs to go somewhere and just STFU already and let Obama get into office.

This article is Chapter Four in Jasmyne Cannick’s ongoing series “A White Gay’s Guide to Dealing With the Black Community for Dummies.”

Jasmyne Cannick is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Ebony Magazine. A regular contributor to NPR’s ‘News and Notes,’ she was chosen as one Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World. She can be reached at

This is what you should obtain to ride the Metro on January 20th.
The plastic SmarTrip cards with no fare value cost $10 in advance, or $20 with $10 worth of fare.
The limited-edition cares are rechargeable. The one-day pass is $10 and is good for unlimited travel on day between Jan. 17 and 20.

Coming Attractions:

Jabari Asim speaking at the Enoch Pratt free Library in Baltimore on February 9th at 6:30 PM.

Poe Room. His topic: "What Obama Means."
The Pratt library is located at: 400 Cathedral Street in Baltimore, Maryland.


This is what we should all attempt to answer, and very soon.


Tania Khadder, an unemployed online journalist (in SF) was recently photographed holding a sign:

"Will Blog 4 Food."
More Sports:
Mark Teixeira is not worth $184 million. He isn't the auto industry. Do the Washington Nationals really need this guy? This smells like another bad deal being made by a Washington team. Can Mark dribble?
Let's see if the Washington Wizards can defeat the Charlotte Bobcats tonight. If they can't, then you know this team is awful - not just bad.
TIME TO WADE INTO THE PUBLISHING WATERS: Look at what Busboys and Poets is doing now.

Two Bookstores Test the Publishing Waters. Read the full article at:


Black lawmakers irked by Obama’s diverse Cabinet
By Jared Allen

Posted: 12/22/08 03:29 PM [ET]

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are disappointed President-elect Obama did not appoint more African-Americans to his Cabinet.Obama tapped four blacks for Cabinet posts, including Eric Holder. If confirmed, Holder will be the first African-American attorney general.

But Obama passed over black candidates in selecting Cabinet nominees for positions central to setting policy for urban America, such as the departments of Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development.

Hispanic Americans, by contrast, have been nominated for three Cabinet positions, and politicians from that constituency have hailed Obama’s nominations.

“Did the African-American community probably expect more appointees at that level? Probably so,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), an early Obama supporter who has expressed an interest in filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat.Davis said he was pleased with Obama's Cabinet, but confirmed that there is some angst within the CBC.“On balance, I’d say a great deal of thought went into the shaping of this Cabinet,” Davis told The Hill. “And he ended up with a real rainbow. But some people, sure, thought there should be a bit more color in it.”

Another senior member of the CBC who requested anonymity said more pointedly that Obama “isn’t doing enough for the black folks.”The Obama transition team did not return e-mails seeking comment for this article.

The above article excerpt could have been written the day Obama decided to run for president. Unless everyone in his cabinet was going to be black, you just knew someone would complain. It's the Negro in the Marrow Syndrome. No way some folks want to hear about a post-racial society -if it came into existence they would immediately become obsolete. If race no longer matters, what do I do with my black self? This is a Camus size question and can leave one spitting from a balcony into nothingness.

How many African Americans live in a Black America? No matter how much integration on the menu they will look for the side order of race. We have been a hungry people since slavery. Giving up race is like giving up pork. Even the Nation of Islam knows how difficult that can be for soul folks. Still, we need to eat better don't we? Don't we want to live longer? Race is good for us but too much race kills. It "blacks" the arteries. Lord knows how if affects our soul pressure.

Across America I knew "my people" would be sitting around looking at every "white step" Obama took. Counting heads in the cabinet is the game we continue to play. So much work to be done. So much rebuilding of America to do. No rest for the weary - no time for the silly stuff.

James L. Bevel (1936-2008)

Civil Rights Activist and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.

- W.S. Merwin
If there is a silver lining in the current recession, perhaps it will cause people of faith to look anew at their traditions of sharing and sacrifice, to re-examine long-ingrained habits of over consumption, to begin to offer time and resources to those who are needy. The economy may be in recession, but our faith need not be in recession!

- Maureen Fiedler, host of Interfaith Voices

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh, Baltimore:


Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, Maryland

Randall Kennedy - Wednesday, January 14, 2009
7 PM. Lecture, Wheeler Auditorium

Kennedy is the author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal

Annette Gordon-Reed- Sunday, February 22, 2009
2 PM, Wheeler Auditorium

Let this Voice Be Heard : Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism

Dr. Maurice Jackson, Assistant Professor at the Department of History at Georgetown University, will lecture on his newest book Let this Voice Be Heard : Anthony Benezet, Fahter of Atlantic Abolitionism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Comments by Dr. Jeffrey Kerr-Ritchie (History Department, Howard University) and a discussion will follow.

When : January 29th (Thursday) 2009 at 1:30 pm
Where : Blackburn Center Auditorium, Howard University
Admission: free
Contact: Dr. Ana Lucia Araujo (History Department) -
Annual Events
TRACI L. WILLIAMS "Halima" 1963-2008
How we hear about death when what we read is already sad.

Yesterday my eyes tripped over the picture and death notice for Traci L. Williams in the Washington Post. Sister Halima to many of us. An accomplished theater artist and educator. She died on Sunday, December 14th. Cancer. She was only 45. A memorial service for Halima will be held on Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 11 a.m. in Howard University's Andrew Memorial Rankin Chapel, located at 2400 6th Street, NW.

Loss precipitates grief, anguish, even despair, emotions appropriate to their cause. Depression is brain chemistry gone awry and results in an inability to feel anything at all as often as it does sadness. Too, it does arrive seemingly "out of nowhere." The guilt that accompanies depression proceeds from its lack of apparent cause. The depressed person asks himself how he can feel so wretched when nothing is wrong. His family and friends love him; he has a great job that pays well, a beautiful home. So why is he unable to summon interest in anything? Why does he feel worthless, not deserving the trouble it would take to save him? Why does he wish he were dead?

Comments by Kathryn Harrison in her review of Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris, The New York Times Book Review, December 21, 2008.




Sunday, December 21, 2008


The HRC letter or many of the protests I've read against Warren's appearance neglects to mention that Rev. Joseph Lowery will give the benediction or the last word of the inauguration. Lowery is FOR marriage rights and equal rights for LGBTQ.

Why is this not acknowledged?

What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong is that "gay marriage" needed to be advocated under the banner of "marriage rights." That African Americans are not going to be the scapegoats for a failed outreach and education campaign to defeat Prop 8. And finally, people need to get busy on the legal side vs. casting decisions re the inauguration ceremony because the Prop 8 people are taking this to the next level to declare the previous marriages null and void.

Pictures taken by the writer Dan Moldea:

Dan took the picture of my family that is being used for the cover of The 5th Inning (my second memoir). Pub date is March 2009.


Dock Ellis dead at 63.
President-elect Obama has put poetry front and center, only the fourth time that this has happened at an inauguration. It says culture matters, that it's transforming and not merely stirring, that it's fundamental to ways in which we can think about moving forward. I think that is a very important signal. From the emails I've been getting from all kinds of writers and artists, some African American, some not, it's the choice of poetry- something that is sometimes seen as obscure, without market value - that is so meaningful to them.

- Elizabeth Alexander, WSJ, December 20-21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008


HRC Speaks Out Against Rev. Rick Warren's role in President-elect Obama’s inauguration

On Dec. 17, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese sent a letter to President-elect Obama and his transition team decrying the choice of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration.
Read the letter here

The letter stated that — due to Rev. Warren’s vocal support for California’s Proposition 8, as well as his public statements equating homosexuality with pedophilia and an array of other anti-LGBT sentiments — his selection for such a visible and prominent role in the inauguration is insulting and hurtful to LGBT people.

The choice of Rev. Warren also belies Obama’s calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV/AIDS in this country, as well as public calls for religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.

At a news conference on Thursday, President Obama defended his choice of Rev. Warren, saying that “a wide range of viewpoints” will be presented during the inaugural ceremonies. Watch his response here.

The Human Rights Campaign spoke out forcefully against Rev. Warren’s selection. Our spokespeople appeared in more than 835 media outlets, including an op-ed by HRC President Joe Solmonese in the Washington Post.

In response to my E-Note, Michon wrote back:

With the exception of Michelle, why are all the Black women in Obama's circle unmarried (divorced)? Could there be a connection or disconnection with Black Boys?

My friend and scholar Jerry Ward responded to my recent E-Note with the following comment:

Why would we want to raise anyone in a post-racial society? Perhaps I am blinded by the amazing grace of history and can not find the coordinates for such a society.

This was my response back to Jerry:

We need to explore the relationship between the Beloved Community and the post-racial one.
When should "lovers" of race -divorce race? Are we Catholics in our thinking or Buddhists? Are we afraid of the world changing or ourselves?


and I count
the days until
your return.

A another week
ends without

How sad
and lonely
is December.

Too many
months waiting
for love


- E. Ethelbert Miller

Black Boys

I wonder how America would be responding to Barack and Michelle if they were raising two black boys instead of girls. Would the media find the boys adorable? Would they be viewed as a "crisis" growing up inside the White House? Would the Secret Service be hired to protect us from them? When Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago I know he must have met Bigger Thomas on a number of occasions. Bigger is still with us even as the poolrooms of America are turned into cafes. Bigger has no laptop and he is trapped inside yesterdays blues.

How do we raise black boys in a post-racial society? Trick question? OK - let's try a few others.

How do we raise black boys in a racist society? Is their a stimulus package for black fathers?

Here is one of my "Race Koans" that might shed some insight into the matter.

Race Koan

why do black boys
with pants
hanging down

hang themselves
with their belts?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Economic News:

The sale of televisions in 2009 is predicted to drop by 4 percent. Flat screen folks are cutting back production. In the future we might be watching all our entertainment on our phones. Don't try to sell me a little black box when I have a little black phone.


Mutanabi Street is open again. This is where Baghdad's book market is located. It was destroyed by a bombing during the war. The street was named after the poet Abul Tayyeb al -Mutanabi.
IT MUST BE FRIDAY: Some of us need to take a break.

The mind is a wonderful thing to use. I find it amazing how folks are upset with Obama already because of some of the decisions he has made. It's juvenile to think you're going to agree with everything a person does. Are we playing a game of Simple Simon? So if I disliked Elizabeth Alexander's poetry or Aretha Franklin's singing would I decide to not support Obama? It's the same with the war and the economy. Being president means you have to make decisions. It's a judgement call. Obama won't be right or wrong 100% of the time. As citizens we have to avoid being single issue thinkers. Is everything about abortion? No. Race? No. Gender issues? No.
Everyday I meet people who have problems with some group, organization or race. Many of these people are good friends. For many years I edited a magazine with a "pal"who was very much against abortion. He had signs in the trunk of his car. Did this stop us from sitting around the table in my house selecting poems? No. At times our values would shape our discussions but I think we became better friends because of the dialogue. When should one not compromise one's beliefs? This is a judgement call too. At times a person has to throw a shoe - but it still comes back to walking in that other person's shoes too. Without compassion, understanding and especially forgiveness - the darkness will never end.

We have to...focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. What we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere...where we can disagree without being disagreeable

- Barack Obama



There is a mention in WSJ today about Obama planning to play some basketball before delivering his Inaugural Address on January 20th.


Anacostia. Uniontown (as it was first called) was established in 1854 as a whites-only working-class residential neighborhood across the Anacostia River (then called Eastern Branch) from the Navy Yard. Howard Gillette in Washington at Home calls Uniontown Washington's first consciously designed suburb, accessible by bridge to jobs in the Navy Yard and close to St. Elizabeths Hospital as well. After the Civil War, when many other cities were named Uniontown, the community was renamed Anacostia in 1886.

Excerpt from On This Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C. by Douglas E. Evelyn and Paul Dickson.

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be...This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.

- Isaac Asimov

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The book that was published in 1972 has been updated. See the revision.
Discover the joy.

The new book also aims to reflect the latest research about the biology of sex. Here are some of the things, according to Ms.Quilliam , that we know more about now than we did in the 1970s: "The arousal cycle, hormones, pheromones, the clitoris, the relevance of the nipples, how erections work, aphrodisiacs." We know, too, (or at least she knows) that in addition to the elusive G spot, women can also enjoy two other sexual pleasure points, should they be lucky enough to locate them: the A spot, deeper inside the vagina than the G spot; and the U spot, between the clitoris and the vagina.
- The New York Times, December 18, 2008

So many letters to learn. So much magic to know.
SAY WHAT? Drive but watch where you're going.

With all the auto /auto talk it's strange to see General Motors opening a new passenger-vehicle plant in China. GM operations continue to grow overseas. What about American workers? GM plans to produce up to 150,000 Chevrolet Cruzes a year at a new joint-venture plant in Shenyang, China.

Heading to the Super Bowl?

One of these teams will win the big game:


New England

Quote of the Day:

One of the biggest strains for people who've been laid off in recent months is explaining -with Christmas music playing in the background- what happened to the old job. Bad layoff jokes, uneven gift exchanges and tense small talk with the in-laws are just a few of the social challenges facing the jobless.

Ellen Gamerman writing in The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2008
Today I met Douglas Evelyn at the Historical Society of Washington( HSW). He gave me a copy of his new book ON THIS SPOT: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C. This is a nice book for folks to purchase when they visit DC around January 20th. Cheer for Obama but also get to know the neighborhoods of the city. Evelyn wrote this book with Paul Dickson. Get this book and learn some street lore.

Countdown to Shyree's Birthday...
Maybe someone will give her a new red scooter.
Photo by E. Ethelbert Miller