Somewhere between Bell's Palsy and death
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Black Power (or, I just saw Nikki Giovanni, and you didn’t)

I know I brag, brag bragyammer on like a big starstruck goon about all the cool people I get to see in my travels, but if I could just get y’all to indulge me once again as I tell you about seeing author, poet and activist and living legend Nikki Giovanni speak at my alma mater ...

Man.

I mean, how do people attain such clarity!?? You couldn’t even believe it as she was talking. And what really sucks is that events like that are so hard to cover, because there’s no way to capture the brilliance of it in any way even close to how it actually went down. She was talking about her children’s book Rosa, which was obviously about Rosa Parks and how the bus incident really went down as opposed to how it’s taught in the history books. One of the best parts was when she was talking about how the day she came into Atlanta to accept the Coretta Scott King Award for the book, James Tate, the infamous bus driver that started it all, died. Well, journalists, as is our wont, were pestering her to give them a sound bite about how she felt about it, and after she got fed up with the pestering, she said, “Welp, another one bites the dust,” just to be an ass. Naturally, the journos went to the Tate widow with her pithiness, to which the Tate widow replied:

Well, what Ms. Giovanni doesn’t understand is that James was a man of his time.


And Ms. Giovanni said:

I can be corrected, but not by the likes of Mrs. Tate. For you see, to be a man of your time in the 1700’s, you sold men into slavery. To be a man of your time in the 1800’s, you fought a war that you said was about rights, but it was only about your right to keep slaves. To be a man of your time in the 1930’s, you donned a brown shirt and knocked on the doors of Jewish people, sending them to their death. To be a man of your time in the 1950’s you passed ‘black laws,’ laws of segregation. And to be a man of your time in the beginning of time, you stood in the square asking to ‘Free Barabas.’ No one should be a man of their time, and thank God Rosa wasn’t a woman of her time; she was a woman of the future.


See? How can you capture that kind of brilliance into a 10-inch story!??


Posted by Broad7:39 PM
It is the job of a good person to be honest. To be self-aware. To deliberately explore the fault lines of your character and try desperately to not inflict suffering in this strange, ghost-ridden world of worked and fabricated objects. Sometimes the jobs of writer and good person coincide. But more often they don’t. There are way more writers in the world than there are good people.

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Pssst ... My birthday's Feb. 3, and I want this, and this, and this ...


The Make-Believe Oral Cancer Foundation (M-BOCF) is now accepting donations on my behalf. Won't you please help those of us who jump to hideous conclusions regarding our oral health and help me get a root canal or two!??:



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