Saturday, February 28, 2009


Congratulations to my son Nyere-Gibran Miller.

3-PEAT! Widener University wins the Commonwealth Conference Title for the third year in a row.

Widener 67 Elizabethtown 65.

Next week Nyere will be playing in his fourth straight NCAA Tournament. He needs 4 steals to hold the school career record.

"Prison Sex" by Jan Beatty is a powerful poem. It can be found in the latest issue of 5 AM which is edited by Ed Ochester and Judith Vollmer. I don't think anyone is writing about sex better than Jan right now. Her poems are not kinky- they just remind us that sex is part of life. We need to have it without the guilt. Funny how I keep having a taste for red sugar.

This Sunday, I begin hosting my new literary series - When The Word Is Written.

It's sponsored by the Historical Society of Washington. My first guest will be the author Marita Golden. Marita will read for about 20 minutes and then I will conduct an interview with her. There will also be time for a Q&A with the audience.

The program begins at 2PM. The Historical Society of Washington is located at 801 K Street, NW.

This event is free and open to the public.

Other writers in my series include:

Patricia Elam - March 14
Naomi Ayala- April 25
Juan Williams- May 2

The More Perfect Union?

The Obama Revolution? One just has to love what going to happen next. How do we introduce the word revolution to a new generation? It wasn't that long ago that the word was used to sell everything from soft drinks to sneakers. Now the word might just have to be breastfed again.

Watch the media have problems with this one. Fox news will find a conspiracy somewhere. Muslim terrorists might fade away and folks will be seeing Red again. Remember when the worst thing for a person to be was black and red? Poor Obama. Everyone is going to try and define the Obama Revolution. Because of our sorry economic condition we've been having this romance with the 1930s and the Great Depression. I was walking on U Street the other day and saw a "hobo" bag on sale. How long will it be before you start seeing men in dirty suits trying to sneak a ride on Amtrak?

Since we keep comparing Obama to Lincoln and FDR, we keep overlooking the historical period we should be paying more attention to. Let's discover our DuBois again. Pull the big book off the shelf and read Black Reconstruction. Yep. America is completing the work of Lincoln. We need to examine that era after the Civil War. What would happen to our nation if two years from now some folks believed Obama was taking the nation too far Left?

What if some popular Republican candidate emerged in two years wanting to begin impeachment hearings because the public trust was manipulated? What if class warfare does begin in the US? How do we survive this "new" reconstruction of our nation? Just something to think about.

Now here is something to watch - monitor student protests around the country. Many colleges are going to have to raise tuition. There are many young Americans who won't be able to attend college in the fall of 2009. A bitter pill to accept. Sad times around the dinner tables where a mother and father have been looking for work the last few months. People having to decide about keeping their house or sending a child to college.

We might reach a point where all the charisma of Obama won't feed anyone. Yes, Racism will look for a partner on the dance floor. Too many images of the First Lady looking elegant and black folks dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire in the White House - and some poor white folks might just get angry and look for hoods. You've heard these stories before.

This is how they begin because they never end. So I wouldn't be surprise to see more protests and young people in the streets come warm weather. Any confrontation that results in injury or property damage is going to alter the image of our nation. It could leave us with a bad case of the Reconstruction Blues. Right now we are taking pills for high blood pressure. I'm afraid of what might happen when we start taking the medication for depression.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Remember those old campaign days when critics wanted to call Obama a Muslim? Watch how during the next few weeks the label Socialist will be attached to his name.

Oh, this all so predictable. Should I call a pal?
Quote of the Day:

But the Obama budget opens more than a political test. It's really the opening wedge into a long-simmering social debate over distribution of wealth.

- Gerald F. Seib
Vocabulary Building:

WELL, WELL, the word is finally being used with Obama's name. I was waiting for it. Checkout The Wall Street Journal editorial in today's paper. There it is:


Now let the fun begin. This is much bigger than post-

racial nonsense. This is the real deal. The Obama

Revolution. How much of the Reagan world will be

overthrown? Is this the beginning of class warfare in


Let's see if our daily news pundits start talking about

the Obama revolution. Throw your fists in the air. Is

the First Lady hiding an afro?
Quote of the Day:

We must usher in a new era of responsibility...and begin the hard work of bringing new levels of honesty and fairness to your government.

- President Obama


“Traditionally, it's viewed as a female occupation, to strip away the layers and examine the experience of relationships with a partner, with children, within one's own interior emotional life. Here comes a strong, real male voice, exploring the terrifying territory of growing older--in a marriage, in a family, in one's body. Ethelbert Miller writes with naked honesty and courage about what it is to be a man no longer young. Youth may have left him. Passion has not.”

--Joyce Maynard, author of At Home in the World.


The first book party is Monday, March 16th at 7 PM.

Busboys and Poets located at 14th and V Streets, NW.

Phyllis Bennis - Fellow, New Internationalism Project
Emira Woods - Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus
Joy Zarembka - Director, Break the Chains Campaign

MARCH 4, 2009

3:30 - 5 pm.

African American Resource Center
Founders Library
Howard University

The discussion will focus on the role of women working at think tanks today.

Television Tonight:

I don't watch that much television. In fact the only show I watch on a regular basis is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It's on this evening.

Obama is on tonight too. Jim Lehrer is interviewing him during the NewsHour.

Colorado's oldest newspaper the Rocky Mountain News is shutting down today.
The paper was 150.

Soon we won't be able to wrap fish on a Friday.

The NBA recently took out a $200 million loan to help 12 teams pay for operating costs.

The NFL announced it would be cutting 15% of its 1,100 work force. They will do it with buyouts and layoffs.
Here are a few things in the Obama budget that caught my eye:

- Money for a robust program of unmanned space exploration and a global climate change research and monitoring system. Money will help maintain the Bush goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. Can penal colonies be right behind? What about Starbucks?

-11% percent increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additional funding for programs that help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Obama requested $1 billion more than even veterans advocacy groups wanted.

- $6 billion for the Bureau of Prisons and $109 million to create programs to help inmates transition out of prison and into jobs and drug-free lifestyles.

- War budget is $130 billion, lower than the $144 billion requested for 2009.


As the President said, the budget isn't just numbers on a page. It establishes our plans and priorities as we confront some of the longest-standing challenges this country has ever faced.Watch a short video of President Obama introducing his budget and share it with your friends:


On the 70 bus heading to Howard this morning I ran into Q.T. Jackson. I always loved this brother's smile, demeanor and intellect. When I was a freshman back in 1968. QT was a legend.

He was the student government leader protesting against the mandatory ROTC at Howard. Remember that classic photo of him interrupting General Hershey in Cramton Auditorium? Some of us were more into Q.T. than Stokely Carmichael. Fast forward and Q.T. and I are laughing like two old militants not caring a post-racial. I tell him can you imagine if Sun Ra was driving this 70 bus - next stop Jupiter?


So how many racist cartoons about Obama will appear somewhere during the next four years? Are we going to react to every image we find offensive? Where does satire end and hatred begin? One man's laugh is another man's frown. When do we look in the mirror and find that we've been played? We've become a race on a hook. We will always bite when the news is negative. Fire the person who compares Obama to a monkey, yet be silent when another black woman is called a bitch in a public place. How much time do you spend thinking about race each day? If you didn't think about race what would you think about? Crossword puzzles?
Economic Blues:

Print advertising in the Washington Post declined 21% in the fourth quarter.

Ritz Camera Centers Inc, the nation's largest photo specialty chain retailer filed for bankruptcy court protection.

Look for Malls around the country to decline. Shops going out of business. It might be time to reinvent this space. Turn them into urban parks. Open the area to joggers and artists. No reason why many malls can't have a vibrant music and poetry series. Playwrights could present experimental work...

A chance to win a third straight basketball conference championship for Widener University on Saturday. 3 out of 4 years isn't bad.
Profile of Rahm Emanuel in the latest issue of The New Yorker ( March 2, 2009).
Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.
- Cicero
Martin Moran will read and perform his best selling novel, THE TRICKY PART: ONE BOY'S FALL FROM TRESPASS. March 2, 2009, 7:30 P.M.

The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, Maryland

$10 members
$ 15 nonmembers


301 654-8664
Narrative Magazine.Com

The Third-Person Story Contest
Entry Deadline: March 31, 2009

Yesterday evening I participated in the SEED Public Charter School's African American Read-In at Busboys and Poets ( 5th and K Streets, NW). I was invited by Topher Kandik. What a wonderful sight to see kids excited about reading. I was the guest speaker and reminded everyone of the following:

Read for information and knowledge but also read for pleasure.

Take time to read and reflect. Read critically. Read aloud so that you can taste the words.

Don't assume everyone knows how to read. Literacy is still a major issue in our society.

Read the newspaper every morning.

Make the public library a place of destination on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An excerpt of my introduction of Elizabeth Alexander at Howard University yesterday:

This afternoon I will not introduce Elizabeth Alexander, instead I will praise her. Over the years I've been personally inspired by this woman. I thank her for encouraging me to enjoy life and to search for color everywhere.

I would not say anything about this woman without first acknowledging her lovely parents - Adele and Clifford Alexander. I love that line in one of her poems where she says - My father is away saving the world for Negroes. If we are to talk about first families in Washington D.C. let's begin with the letter A first. Alexander, maybe even before we say Anacostia.

Remarkable parents giving breath and life to a remarkable woman...and so we praise

Elizabeth Alexander. I could probably dream a Langston dream and discover 100 Cave Canem poets willing to be called Alexander's Army. Elizabeth Alexander has been mentor, mother, friend and sisterlove to a new generation of African American voices.

What has been Alexander's gift to us? This woman reminds us that we are fabulous.
Her poetry and essays explore black history. She remembers what we shouldn't forget - The Venus Hottentot as well as Frank Willis.

Praise for this woman...

Economic Blues:

Domino's Pizza reported a 32% decline in fourth-quarter net income. The pizza business has been hurt as people cook more at home or pick-up meals at fast-food chains.

RadioShack reported a 39% decline. They have begun to slash prices on numerous items; especially toys.

Hearst Company might have to close the San Francisco Chronicle. They are the 12th largest newspaper in the US and Northern California's largest daily. Advertising revenues are dropping very quickly.

It's a good thing Tiger Woods is back.

When do we begin to compare President Obama to Martin Mayhew? Mayhew is the new African American general manager of the Detroit Lions football team. The Lions were 0-16 last year. The Miami Dolphins were 1-15 in 2007 and 11-5 in 2008. Can we expect a similar change with the Lions and maybe the American economy? The quick turnaround, that's what everyone is hoping for. The media pundits keep looking at the clock. How long will they give Obama? How do we assess success or failure? Let's face it no one knows. Well maybe Barry Sanders knew.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A note from Brother President
Last night, I addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.To confront the serious economic challenges our nation faces, I called for a new era of responsibility and cooperation. We need to look beyond short term political calculations and make vital investments in health care, energy, and education that will make America stronger and more prosperous well into the future.Watch a few highlights from my address and share it with your friends now:

Men's and Women's Basketball Both Set to Face Messiah in Commonwealth Conference Semifinals
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(men's notes) / (women's notes)Widener’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are headed back to the Commonwealth Conference Tournament and each on Wednesday face Messiah in the semifinals.

The men (20-5, 10-2 CC) are the top seed and host the fourth-seeded Falcons at Schwartz Center, beginning at 7:00 pm. The women (16-9, 7-5) are the No. 4 seed and visit the No. 13 ranked team in the country, starting at 7:00 pm in Grantham, PA.

Tickets for each game are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and free for those under age six. At the men’s game, Widener students will be admitted free with a valid ID.

Widener’s men’s team once again gets great scoring production from senior guard Charles Jones (Philadelphia, PA). A first team all-conference and second team All-Middle Atlantic District pick last year, Jones this season leads the league with 17.4 points per game, is third with 2.16 steals per contest, 10th with a 1.04 assist-to-turnover ratio and 11th with 1.32 three-pointers per game.

Senior center Matt Sosna (Stratford, NJ) also has been a force, sitting sixth in the league with 14.0 points per game, first with a .608 shooting percentage, fifth with 7.0 rebounds per contest, fifth with a .797 free throw percentage and second with a .441 three-point percentage. Sosna has been picked CoSIDA first team Academic All-District the last two years, sporting a 3.938 GPA in Civil Engineering.

Senior guard NYERE MILLER (Washington, DC) consistently has been getting the job done with his leadership and determination. Last year’s MVP of the conference tournament, Miller leads the league with 3.41 steals per game, is tied for 17th with 9.7 points per contest, eighth with a .403 three-point percentage, fifth with 2.18 three-pointers per game and fifth with 30.45 minutes played per contest.

Junior forward Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) has played solidly of late, scoring in double figures the last four contests. He is 10th in the league with 5.2 rebounds per game, second with a .572 field goal percentage and fourth with 21 blocks.

Junior guard Bobby Edmunds (Linwood, NJ), picked second team all-conference last year, is fifth in the league with 3.29 assists per game, eighth with 1.62 steals per contest, fifth with a 1.41 assist-to-turnover ratio and 10th at 28.95 minutes played per game.

Widener, which enters Wednesday on a six-game winning streak, is the two-time defending conference champion and has appeared in the NCAA Tournament three straight years. It has not won three straight conference titles since 1976-78 and has not played in four successive NCAA Tournaments since 1975-78.

The Pride’s 14th 20-win season also comes during a year which they claimed their first regular-season league title since 2006. They are third in the latest NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Region Rankings.

Widener, which has 14 Middle Atlantic/Commonwealth Conference titles and 16 NCAA Tournament trips to its name, looks to play in the conference final for the fourth straight year and fifth time in six seasons.

Will Dave Bing be the next Mayor of Detroit?
We should know on May 5th.

A new book of poetry out:

TROUBLED TONGUES by Crystal Williams
Winner of the 2009 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award

Upcoming Birthday:

April 13, 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Eudora Alice Welty.

This morning I read a very good profile of Amiri Baraka written by Herb Boyd. It was in the Neworld Review (Vol.2, No.5, 2009) which is edited by Fred Beauford. Here is a website link to what Beauford is doing:


It wasn’t a fair fight. Watching Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s painful, sing-song response to President Barack Obama’s powerful and plain-spoken speech felt like watching an over-eager child trying to box Muhammad Ali. The kid was flailing wildly, while Ali just held the kid’s head at arm’s length, all the while smiling benignly. The kid’s arms whirled like windmills, but he never got close to connecting with the champ.

President Obama was confident and compelling; Gov. Jindal had all the saccharine sincerity of a Disney tour guide. Jindal reached his reductio ad absurdum when he suggested progressive and proactive Obama-led government could not be trusted to fix our economic problems because corrupt and incompetent Bush-led government had screwed up Katrina.

- Paul Begala, The Daily Beast

Treve de blues
- Leon Damas

Compassion is my art
- Grace A. Ali

God makes stars. It's up to producers to find them
- Samuel Goldwyn

Welcome to the E MAG, an invitation into the words of others. Today my guest is Jeanne Lemkau.


At Ethelbert’s suggestion, I would like to invite readers to consider joining an initiative I am coordinating to help pass legislation to assure the legal right of all U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. With Obama in the White House, the chances of success in this endeavor are better than they have been in years. But energy and passion are needed to get us there.

In February, Senators Lugar (R-IN), Dorgan (D-ND), Enzi (R-WY), and Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation in the Senate (S428) to allow all United States citizens to travel to Cuba. A parallel “Travel for All” bill has been introduced in the House by Representatives Delahunt (D-MA) and Flake (R-AZ).Under President Obama, the freedom to travel legally to Cuba could become a reality. Experts estimate that over a million Americans would visit the island nation within the first year after the travel ban is lifted and that the embargo would crumble under the weight of massive cultural interchange, but such changes are unlikely to happen without a major push. Getting the Senate and House bills and passed is the crucial next step.

To help Travel for All become a reality, we need to find people who will write and/or sign a newspaper op-ed and/or letter to the editor in support of the new bills and to send copies of what is submitted to newspapers to their representatives in Congress as well. We need a variety of voices and perspectives from across the country. The “we” is a committee I am coordinating, comprised of staff of the Latin America Working Group and the Washington Office on Latin America (two progressive organizations in D.C. that have been working for more enlightened U.S.-Cuba policy for years) and several volunteers. We have produced a “template” for writing op-eds that we are ready to share with those willing to join us in this effort. The information we can provide includes draft language and specific suggestions to help craft an op-ed column that has the greatest chance possible of being accepted for publication. The members of our group can also provide support for anyone wanting assistance with writing a piece or getting it placed in an appropriate media outlet.

In the coming days, President Obama is expected to lift restrictions on the rights of Cuban-Americans to visit their families in Cuba and provide them financial support, as he promised in his campaign. When he takes this decision, it will be laudable first-step in the effort to reform comprehensively our outdated and futile policy toward Cuba. But we can’t let him stop there. We believe that the constitutional right to travel belongs to everybody and that our policy toward Cuba should favor engagement – diplomatic, economic, cultural, academic, social, and religious – so that Americans and Cubans can properly enjoy the richness of both societies without being forced to ask their government’s permission to be good neighbors and friends.

If you are interested in working with us on (and hopefully celebrating with us over mojitos in Havana), please contact me by email at or contact Angelica Salazar at the Washington Office on Latin America ( 202 797-2171).

Bio Note:

Jeanne Lemkau is a clinical psychologist, writer and Cubaphile who lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


150th Anniversary of abolitionist John Brown's October 1859 raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry.


I thought Sarah Palin was funny until I saw Bobby Jindal. The Republicans have a very serious problem. They have no attractive candidates that can run against Obama in the next election. Who wrote Jindal's speech? If this was baseball the guy would be a utility player hitting .225.


Michelle Obama was posing
for pictures during the sound
check before dinner when the president
walked onto the stage and met the musicians.

Later that night, there were no boring
speeches, just music. The Marine Corps Band
combo played a short set, then Earth Wind & Fire
took the stage and broke into "Boogie Wonderland"

- The Washington Post, 2/24/09

Jai Ho


You are warmly invited to a drinks reception to welcome Welsh writers to Washington, on:

Wednesday 18 March, 7.00-8.00pm
at Hotel Tabard Inn, 1739 N Street, NW
Welcome reception and readings in the company of Tom Anderson, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers and Eurig Salisbury
RSVP by 9 March 2009 to

Washington Meets Wales - a festival of Welsh writing, 18-24 March 2009.
Some of the best young Welsh writers will be performing their work in Washington DC in March 2009 as part of a week-long celebration of contemporary Welsh literature in the US capital. Washington Meets Wales is part of the wider Wales Smithsonian Cymru 2009 program of activities and events, which includes Wales as a guest nation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June 2009. As a taster to the festival, Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Authors, with support from the Welsh Assembly Government, has organised a series of literary activities around the city. The writers taking part are Tom Anderson, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers and Eurig Salisbury.

For full details go to:
AcademiPeter Finch: Chief ExecutiveMount Stuart House, Mount Stuart Sq., Cardiff CF10 5FQ00 44 29 2047 www.academi.orgThe Academi is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government. The Academi works in partnership with Tŷ Newydd.


Theme: Genderizing Political Activism.
Keynote Speaker: Carole Boyce Davies

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lyke House, Atlanta University Center
809 Beckwith Street, SW
Atlanta, GA.

For additional information:


11 Burundian soldiers killed in Mogadishu. The death of Peacekeepers is always a bad sign.
Somalia is falling off the edge of the earth. What our nations will follow?
So Crown Publishers gives Condoleezza Rice a couple of book contracts. Millions of dollars that could be going to other writers. What's the difference between Crown and General Motors? How many people should be driving better cars?
Another book to add to the reading list:

The Bald Truth by David Falk.


I will spend most of the day working on my Elizabeth Alexander introduction. She will be speaking on Howard University's campus tomorrow afternoon in the Browsing Room, Founders Library.
Two new books came in the mail yesterday:

Letters from Black America edited by Pamela Newkirk.

Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism by Maurice Jackson.

I took a peek at some of the letters in the Newkirk book. Good stuff. This is one of the books I'll take with me when I go to Abu Dhabi next month. I corresponded with Newkirk when she was working on her book. She's a friend of my Ginger G. I love reading literary letters. The letters I received from June Jordan and Charles Johnson are at the University of Minnesota (Givens Collection). I hope they will be helpful to future scholars doing research on these individuals.

Glad I have Maurice Jackson's book on Benezet. I missed two of his recent talks. One at Howard and the other at Busboys. Jackson is one of those old warriors; his office at Georgetown should be moved to the Smithsonian. This guy must read everything...


Monday, February 23, 2009

So this is how we will have to live now. No more Book World in the Washington Post. Yesterday the book reviews were in the Outlook section of the paper. 3 pages and only 9 reviews. This is a high school diet. No book of poetry reviewed. No literary calendar - unless you go online. So the old world ends - no longer a need to take a Sunday stroll down the street to purchase a newspaper. No bagel - just the computer screen. Scroll, baby, scroll?
My friend Michon recently gave me a copy of The Art of the Turnaround : Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations by Michael M. Kaiser. So now I'm hooked too. This book is filled with so much good advice and wisdom.
Library of Congress Reading: E. ETHELBERT MILLER

12 NOON.
Mumford Room, 6th Floor
James Madison Building
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

E. Ethelbert Miller on NPR:


Men's Basketball Explodes in First Half for 77-58 Victory at Messiah
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(boxscore)Four players scored in double figures, leading Widener to a 77-58 Commonwealth Conference triumph at Messiah in Grantham, PA for its sixth straight victory and 14th 20-win season in school history.

Senior NYERE MILLER (Washington, DC) netted eight points during a stretch when Widener scored 20 consecutive points for a 36-11 lead with 1:17 left. The defense also shined in that span, holding the Falcons without a basket for nine minutes.

MILLER scored 13 points in the first half and junior Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) netted 12 for the Pride (20-5, 10-2), who shot 52 percent (16-of-31) from the floor for a 40-15 lead. MILLER'S effort included a thrilling steal of an inbounds pass and quick jumper at the buzzer.

The Falcons (9-16, 6-6) hit only 14 percent (3-of-21) from the field and were 0-of-9 from 3-point range.

Johnson poured in 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting, senior Charles Jones (Philadelphia, PA) netted 14, MILLER added 13 and senior Matt Sosna (Stratford, NJ) had 12 and seven rebounds for the Pride. The visitors shot 48 percent (28-of-59) from the floor

Jason Miller and Mike Shaker scored 10 points apiece for Messiah, which shot only 37 percent (20-of-54) from the field.

These teams battle again in Chester in the conference semifinals with Widener being the top seed and Messiah fourth. Tip-off Wednesday at Schwartz Center is 7:00 pm.

BOOK PARTY REMINDER: The 5th Inning by E. Ethelbert Miller

Mark the date: Monday, March 16th at 7PM, at Busboys and Poets ( 14th and V St, NW).


So when is a black woman going to play a black man on the screen?

Too much comedy, so little time...

I closed my eyes after reading the full page ad for NEWBOS: THE RISE OF AMERICA'S NEW BLACK OVERCLASS in the last Wall Street Journal. Do we need a new dumb term to add to our vocabulary? I'm going to miss this CNBC show that's airs on Thursday, February 26th at 9P ET. But here's the scoop:

A generation of self-made young, black multimillionaires is emerging from sports, media and entertainment to live the America Dream. Join Lee Hawkins as he goes one on one with the most prominent members of today's black overclass. It's a world of opportunity, opulence, and overwhelming pressure to give back to the community.

The problem we are having within the African American community is that we are permitting the market (and economic success) to select our leaders. Do we need some regulation here? I think we do? Look at the people who presently are defined as today's black leaders; now pull those black and white photographs and look at James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, Alain Locke, Ida B. Wells, Jessie Fauset, et al. Overclass? I don't think so. Just talented and more than 10. But the main point here is that we seem to value money over ideas.

I'm all for pushing overalls again in the tradition of SNCC, a reminder that poverty in the midst of opulence - is Jesus in the Temple. Are we talking New Testament or Newbos?

Quote of the Day:

You have to wonder if {Mark} McGwire is the one guy in this whole absurd steroid mess...who has come out of this thing with his dignity reasonably intact. McGwire refused to lie to make himself look better. He refused to turn over any of his friends. He also refused to make any admissions, which is looking like the wisest move of all.

- Joe Posanski (

President Bush and Barry Bonds.

The idea of investigating the Bush Administration for war crimes is like punishing baseball players for using steroids. After 9/11 our entire nation was juiced. Everyone was injecting themselves with patriotism. The flag was not a banned substance- it was waved by almost everyone. The Bush Administration had to make decisions on how to deal with terrorism and protect American shores from future attacks. So maybe new rules and ballparks were built to favor Americans. Didn't we invent the game? I still think one of the more important speeches given by a U.S. President was the one Bush delivered to Congress after 9/11. Everything Bush said he was going to do, he did. So years later we find his Administration were using something - torture? Do we really need a Congressional Truth Commission?

How many more Mark McGwires do we want to create? Do we keep President Bush out of the Hall of Fame of great presidents? Didn't this guy prevent another serious attack against the mainland? Didn't Barry Bonds hit all those home runs?

Maybe we just place an asterisk over the last eight years. It didn't really happen.
There were no weapons of mass destruction. Hank Aaron is still king - right?

It seems I'm always talking about robots. Check old E-Notes:

Last night I was a reading copy of In These Times (March 2009). Check Chris Barsanti's article on "War Without Warriors." It's written around a book I need to purchase - Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Penguin) by P. W. Singer. Barsanti says a few things we all need to take note of. Here is one quote:

In 2003, the U.S. military was using zero ground robots and just a bare handful of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Iraq. By 2008, more than 5,000 UAVs blanketed the skies, looking for and occasionally killing insurgents, while some 12,000 robots roamed below, doing everything from improvised explosive device (IED) disposal to carrying antipersonnel mines down insurgent-haunted alleyways. There is even a robot "hospital" in Baghdad to repair those wounded in combat.
The Air Force, which estimates that 45 percent of its future large bomber fleet could operate "without humans aboard," is now training more UAV operators than fighter pilots.

Look for the war in Afghanistan to be the first real robotic war. It's another way in which the Obama Administration has fused with the technological revolution. What will it mean? Probably an increase in military intervention without considerable opposition. We might increase troop levels in Afghanistan but the real war will be fought by drones and other new devices. UAV operators sitting behind computer terminals in Nevada will make key decisions. This change in military operations was first advanced by the Bush Administration. Look for Obama's team to continue to change the language of warfare. A new word will have to be introduced to explain the high toll of civilian deaths that often seem to happen when a drone hits. Of course these civilian deaths might in some way be related to the military target. Looking at cultures that place importance on martyrdom, might it be a policy to erasure a genetic line? So the drones without ethics kill entire families that have been "matched" by DNA? What would Philip K. Dick think of this?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tinker Mountain Writers' Workshop
June 14-19, 2009
Hollins University

The shrinking swimsuit? Playboy Enterprises is having problems. They recently posted a steep fourth-quarter loss of $146 million, compared with a loss of $1.1 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 19% to $70 million.

Joe Cuba died last Sunday. He was 78. If I had to capture the "sound" of my youth in New York, it would all be in Cuba's "Bang Bang" which came out in 1967. This more than any other music was the sound I "saw" in the streets of the South Bronx. Joe Cuba's Sextet makes me want to jump up and Boogaloo. Sock It To Me Baby. Beep. Beep.
Joe Cuba - Bang Bang

Click Here: Check out "President Please"

Men's Basketball Runs Winning Streak to Five With 69-49 Win Over Lebanon Valley
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(boxscore)Widener saw five of its players score in double figures en route to its fifth straight win, 69-49 over Commonwealth Conference foe Lebanon Valley at Schwartz Center.

Widener (19-5, 9-2 CC) scored eight straight points to put the game out of reach, opening a 47-31 lead with 15:24 left. Senior NYERE MILLER (Washington, DC) and junior Bobby Edmunds (Linwood, NJ) each hit a 3-pointer in that span and junior Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) made a layup.

The lead ballooned to as much as 22, helping the Pride win for the ninth time in 10 outings. Widener nailed a season-best 11 three-pointers overall and shot 52 percent (13-of-25) from the field in the second half.

Johnson played solidly on both ends of the floor, ending with 12 points, nine rebounds and a career-best five blocks. Matt Sosna (Stratford, NJ) notched 12 points and eight rebounds, fellow senior Charles Jones (Philadelphia, PA) scored 12 points, Edmunds had 11 and nine assists and sophomore Chris McDevitt (Doylestown, PA) netted 10 points.

Widener, which already clinched the top seed for the conference tournament, shot 47 percent (27-of-58) from the floor.

Dan Dunkelberger ended with 13 points and six rebounds for the Dutchmen (11-13, 4-8), who shot 36 percent (19-of-53) overall and were only 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Widener ends the regular season Saturday at Messiah in Grantham, PA. The women’s game begins at 2:00 pm, followed by the men’s contest at 4:00 pm.


The man in the wheelchair is waving at me. I wave back. I'm sitting in a studio at XM radio. Jo Reed is getting ready to record my comments on Tim O'Brian's novel -The Things They Carried. They will be used for an NEA Big Read tape. The last NEA tape I contributed to was about the novel The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. There are some books you drink from instead of read. They fill you in a different way. The words flow down the dryness of your throat. Maybe a drop from a page stays on your lips and you share it with someone. All my life I tried to read signs like a pitcher on the mound. What is God, my catcher trying to tell me? What's the sign? Yesterday was one of those moments, when something happens and you "read" into it. All of a sudden your life makes sense. You've been blessed and maybe you know it or maybe you don't. I'm waving back at the man in the wheelchair as if I know him. He is surrounded by guys who all look like musicians. I turn to Jo before we get to work recording and suddenly I know who I've been waving to. It comes so quick that it's almost a moment of enlightenment.

I tell Jo - do you know who that was? Who? she says. That was B.B.King! No way - she says and jumps from the studio chair and goes out into the hall to check. In a few seconds she's back and smiling. Yes - it's B.B. King. Wow! I look at Jo and tell her - yep- and I've just had my Blues Blessing. I'm good to go.

Now let me tell you about all the pain and joy that's been in my heart all these years. Let me tell you about my memoir The 5th Inning - a blues book for beginners. The book party is Monday, March 16th at 7PM at Busboys and Poets ( 14th and V St). Maybe I'll see you or maybe I won't. Either way I'll sing the blues.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The World:
Netanyahu being elected to head Israel is going to keep that nation on the Right and not necessarily in the right. Look for hardliners to celebrate in the Middle East. What does this mean for the average Israeli and Palestinian? Probably not an end to the conflict. It will be interesting to see the approach Obama takes to the new government. Will Clinton be the face Netanyahu will have to deal with? But before we even discuss political solutions look at what we are confronted with as Americans. We know Netanyahu is going to be the next leader of Israel. Can you name any leading member of Hamas? In the old days everyone knew Arafat, so you could pressure him and bring him to a peace table. Hamas? Is that a table for five or ten? Until we place faces behind these names I don't see any peace settlement taking place. Who is Israel going to sit down to talk with? Is Hamas a mob? Peace without peacemakers is impossible. Let's give Peace not only a chance but a name.

I spent the early morning hours reading the first chapter of Left of Karl Marx by Carole Boyce Davis. This is the biography of the Black Communist Claudia Jones. I came across the following statement that just made me stop and think:

Media, markets, and communications of various sorts produce a multiplicity of possibilities. At the same time, they continue to exact a toll on those left out or exploited by these same processes.


So many cartoons, so little time. Are we going to get upset with every negative image of Obama? In many ways this reminds me of fundamentalist Muslims and Christians upset with the depiction of Prophet Mohammad or Jesus Christ. Are we going to burn magazines next? What faith are we protecting? Why do we get upset with images and not words? Maybe we are playing with the internet too much. How quickly can one circulate something and organize? Everybody's Protest LapTop? What would Baldwin do? The Blog next time?

I recall Obama reminding our nation ( a few weeks ago)to put away childish things and challenge us to grow up. Are African Americans going to only organize around cartoons because they believe they are "pictorial" lynchings? With the NAACP being 100 years old, I will honor and respect people like Walter White. I think I might "pass" and sneak past this recent outrage. Where is the stimulus package that will put us back to the real Race work? Maybe it's time to stop reading cartoons. No one knows how to laugh anymore. Race is such a serious topic. Grin and bear it.
DC LIVE! The new magazine of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. hit the streets yesterday. Be sure to get yourself a copy. So much going on...
We have so much more history to make. Are you ready? Are you a Sojourner for Truth?
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is located at 801 K Street, NW.

After Thursday comes Friday.

Yesterday went by so quickly. I chaired an executive committee at IPS and then hosted an afternoon conversation with the writer David Mura. I always enjoy listening to Mura. I learn so much about the Japanese American experience;the world of the No-No Boys and the internment camps. Mura's new novel (out from Coffee House Press) is Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire.

I ended yesterday evening having dinner with Zainab Salbi. I find this woman so exciting. She seems to be always laughing with a head full of stories. She is the author of Between Two Worlds, a memoir that takes the reader from Iraq to America. I listened to Zainab talk about the next book she wants to write. It's times like these that I enjoy my life and how it has been blessed by friends who remind me that the world is ours. We are the bearers of change and the keepers of love.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Join us if you can!

Conversation with David Mura, hosted by E. Ethelbert Miller
Thursday, February 19, 1pm- 2:30 pm at Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600,
Washington DC 20036 (Near Farragut North Metro Stop).

David Mura, writer, memoirist, poet and performance artist. A third-generation Japanese-American, he has written intimately about his life as a man of color and the connections between race, sexuality and history. In public appearances interweaving poetry, performance and personal testament, he provides powerful insights into the racial issues facing America today. Mura's memoirs, poems essays, plays and performances have won wide critical praise and numerous awards.

Their topics range from contemporary Japan to the legacy of the internment camps and the history of Japanese Americans to critical explorations of an increasingly diverse America. He gives presentations at educational institutions, businesses and other organizations throughout the country.

His most recent book is Famous Suicides Of The Japanese Empire.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and award-winning poet. He is chair of Institute for Policy Studies and Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University.

Sponsored by Split This Rock Poetry Festival and Institute for Policy Studies.
This event is free and open to the public.

Obama must be doing something right. The Republicans are complaining.

Karl Rove is looking for lint. See his essay in today's Wall Street Journal. If you miss it you're not missing much. Rove believes the Obama Administration is winging it. Sounds like an old grounded crow jealous of the other birds in the sky. How much is this guy getting paid?
THE DAILY BLACK QUIZ: No Cheating. Be honest with your black self.

So you pick-up a newspaper or magazine and discover a cartoon that's critical of Obama. Do you:

A. Organize a boycott of the publication.

B. Send Emails to everyone you know and urge them to stop all the post-racial chatter.

C. Shake your head and worry about whether you will have a job next week.

D. Moon the first white person you see.

E. Demand racial maturity from the black middle class who is usually the only folks who get upset with these things.


There is one word that has not been linked to Obama yet. That word is revolution. Remember the Reagan Revolution? What will begin to trouble the Republican Party is when they find their party being reduced in numbers. If Obama fixes the economy what will they be able to moan about? If Obama begins to change the Supreme Court, relationships with Cuba, Iran, North Korea, the next four years might be the beginning of the O Revolution. This is more serious than a fist bump and Michelle Obama wearing an afro. A real revolution in terms of new ideas changing the thinking and the mood of the nation. With all the talk about Lincoln and the Civil War and saving the Union - let's move beyond it and start talking about Reconstruction. Remember that period in our history? Geez - even the idea then of public education was revolutionary.
There will be 4 years of this stuff; maybe 8:

One day it will all be part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Deuce McAllister, running back has been released by the New Orleans Saints.
Labor Talks:
I had a morning conversation with Ms. A. Aguilar who is trying to get the word out about worker conditions at the Hilton Crystal City.

James Bennet, Editor, The Atlantic and Ta-Nehisi Coates Contributing Editor, The Atlantic
discussing The Atlantic’s Special State of The Union issue (Jan/Feb’09)

“The End of White America?”

Moderated by Walter Isaacson
President and CEO, The Aspen Institute

Monday, February 23, 2009
12:00 pm
The Aspen InstituteOne Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC

Copies of Mr. Coates’ recent book, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood (Spiegel & Grau), will be available for sale and for signing on-site.

A buffet lunch will be served.
Please reply via email to or by phone to (202) 736-2299

About the Participants:
James Bennet is the Editor of The Atlantic. Before joining the Atlantic staff, Bennet was the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. During his three years in Israel, his coverage of the Middle East conflict was widely acclaimed for its balance and sensitivity. Bennet is a graduate of Yale University who began his journalism career at The Washington Monthly. Prior to his work in Jerusalem, he served as the Times’ White House correspondent and was preparing to join its Beijing bureau when he was offered the Atlantic editorship.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a blogger for He is a former staff writer at The Village Voice and TIME, and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and numerous other publications. He lives in New York City.

One either prays for rain or extra innings.

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Face in the News:

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The new guy we should wish well. Can peace come to Mogadishu?


Here we go again. 17,000 troops to Afghanistan without a real debate or discussion. 17,000 troops being sent overseas while we seem to be losing a war against a recession. Can we fight the domestic and international war at the same time? What is at stake here? The major issue would have to be National Security. But listen to what Senator John McCain recently said. He urged the Obama Administration to "spell out for the American people what he believes victory in Afghanistan will look like and articulate a coherent strategy for achieving it." What's silly and wrong about this statement is the word victory. Are we the Arizona Cardinals? How do you define victory against ideas? It would be nice if victory could be defined as an end zone dance and no time left on the clock. Unfortunately that's not how things work in the real world. Has there been a victory against the war on drugs? Of course not. We should hope fewer people use drugs, but everyone knows drugs will always be a problem in our society. Why? Because they make people feel good - if just for a moment. It's also why a war against sex is dumb too. Should I quote the little Palin here?

The battle we are having today is against a way of life, a value system. It has to do with the spread not of extremist ideas but of how we interpret or define Islamic law. Do you want to live under it? Do you want to see it spread? Remember when we fought against what we defined as "Godless" Communism? What we tried to do was first contain Communism to one nation. Containment was the word. The idea of defeating Communism was soon found in our way of life. It was easy to define victory simply by the quality of life people led in the free world. No wonder so many people wanted to wear our jerseys and have access to our citizenship. We were winners of the Cold War. A war in which things were so easily defined and one could also look at a border on a map and point to where the bad guys lived. That's difficult these days because of the "enemy" we now face. They don't hide behind borders.
Can you stop the internet? Containment you say?

Let's remove the words extremism and radical Islamic fundamentalism for a moment. What should the focus and debate be around? It has to be around Islamic Law which seems so divine centered. I prefer the government of the people and by the people. I don't want to compromise that. Men and women should make our laws and guide our society; we can have belief in God and pray for guidance and understanding, but at the end of the day, I look for my fellow human being to help me. I ask God to bless us for doing the right thing, knowing that because we are only human we have a tendency to fail now and then. It's at that time that our founding fathers believe that revolution was desirable.

I don't want to live in a world where we have to debate about women being equal. I don't want to live in a world where someone is confined to the back of a room or denied an education because of some obscure reference in a "sacred" text. I think the laws of science
should be respected and understood. So I have problems when it comes to Islamic Law, as much as I have problems at times when people talk about race. I do feel strongly however that people should worship as they please.Isn't that how our nation got started? People should have a choice when it comes to the type of life they want to live. Some people want to live under Islamic laws and I respect that. It's why I don't think or wish that we define "victory" in Afghanistan or anywhere as a defeat against a way of thinking. You can't defeat an idea with a gun. You can't crush someones faith and convince them to believe in your God. Bombs and drones don't work. They just help to increase the size of our military budget.

So what do we do with the Taliban revival? Can we win the war of ideas? The crack in our defense might be found in our culture and moral authority. We seem to be losing this battle. One only has to measure developments within the African American community the last few decades. Black culture has reached its nadir. Is there a connection between the rise of crime and negative social behavior and the spread of the Islamic faith within the black community? Look at our prisons and one can find inmates who strongly believe in Islamic law. Future Talibans? Before Obama undertakes a trip to a Muslim nation he should visit a US prison. We need a conversation with ourselves. If we want to pursue a more perfect union, we need to check on our U.S. cracks. When do we send in the troops?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thanking Sally Brucker...
After my talk at Montgomery College today, the artist Sally Brucker gave me a copy of a book she worked on. INSPIRED RESULTS is a beautiful book bringing together poets and artists living in Takoma Park, Maryland. So many talented people live in this community. Among them are my friends, Brian Gilmore, Anne Becker, Merrill Leffler and Carol Beane.
The Return of Superheroes?


Genius Without Borders: A Symposium in Honor of the Genius of Ray Charles

March 7-8, 2009

Register online at
Columbia College in Chicago/ Center for Black Music Research

Our economy is in the midst of a fundamental long-term transformation - similar to that of the late 19th century, when people streamed off farms and into new and rising industrial cities.

- Richard Florida
School isn't out yet, so be sure to read "How The Crash Will Reshape America" by Richard Florida in The Atlantic (March 2009).

Florida asks some difficult questions:

How might various cities and regions fare as the crash of 2008 reverberates into 2009, 2010, and beyond? Which places will be spared the worst pain, and which left permanently scarred?
Quote of the Day ( or maybe week):

Racism isn't a burden for us; it's a burden for racists. In any case, trying to bring a racist to civilization is like trying to teach a dog to sing Verdi.

- Jeffrey Goldberg

Look for people to start getting back into maps again. Almost everyone is beginning to be guided by a cute little gizmo in their cars. Phones will soon be used for their access to maps as much as for making calls. Check the recent issue of The Atlantic (March 2009) for a very interesting map. It's on page 70 and shows the toll of incarceration on a New Orleans neighborhood. One can "map" the folks who commit crime, block by block. Is something in the water? We need to test ASAP. What the map of the NO neighborhood shows is where we need to place resources. Invest in neighborhoods before they breed crime and anti-social behavior. Map the baby.
Information about my new book being published in Abu Dhabi next month:


April 2009 on PBS:

Quote of the Day:

Today the vast majority of cellphone users in the United States still use the services primarily for just one function: talking. About 10 percent of cellphone users take advantage of map features according to the market research firm M:Metrics. But the number is growing the company said.'

The New York Times, Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

Ichiro Watch:

I've been thinking about it since the season ended last year. This tournament is exactly what baseball needs. It was long overdue. In my mind, the W.B.C. is absolutely not something you approach with the mind-set that it's just an exhilarating way to prepare for the regular season. This is a bona fide competition to decide who is the best among the world's professionals. I feel a great responsibility to help nurture this tournament into an important piece of baseball's fabric for future generations.

- Ichiro Suzuki talking about the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

The games begin on March 7th,