Real History of the Americas

Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, October 14th, 2013: Real History 2013

Approximately 25 people – students, community members, artists, and Ft. Lewis college staff – sat down this morning to share breakfast and speak about the meaning of The Real History of the Americas, now in its sixth year in Durango Colorado.  This tradition began with a vision by Teahonna Colleen James and Amy Joy Iwasaki in 2008.  The words in this poem are statements I weaved together from this morning’s council.   This is an open letter to America.  

History After Columbus – An Open Letter to America

Issues confront, Buffalo Council
identity, more to America
than spoon-fed books.
Everybody needs to see
our nations, we come from
Good mornings, and history
books written to lie.
Mini steps 
we take, not only indigenous-
poor, working class
and domestic violence.
Terror becomes America.

Mini steps, working on my own
hope for losing battles,
jews and catholics throwing stones at each other,
at war with muslims, and those undefined and uncapitalized.
Addicted to conquest
we resist, through coordination
scheduling ritual
to replace cultural voids.

I stand for what I believe
and build tomorrow
with what I do not know, challenging grandparents
so often void of wisdom now
we seek balance.
Where are the voices of women?
Where are the voices, period?   
We want to come home.
We keep knowledge
having grown
without tribes, often
without celebration.
We make time
and observe meaning.

This is not about teaching to hate whites.
This is to heal black, all shades brown, white.
To see history for what it is-
to learn and unlearn.
for lessons to seeds.
Grandmothers sending pilgrims in the mail, fall

in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
making red land more red
with blood.

The real history is powerful-
part of us.
Hero worship for murderers,
a ceremony for power.
We speak our stories to the wind
to chisel mountains.
A new reality, which is an old reality,
(re)defining real people’s stories
valid, to exist
and function

Our history really happened
so we carry our names,
educated to agendas
we are global

This day means to be here.
to be alive.


Who Killed Jigaboo Jones?

I recently made the mistake of calling Jeff Campbell “Apostle” when he walked into my Social Solutions (Social Problems) class at Lincoln High.  This was after he told me to introduce him as Jeff…  What can I say?   The past is slow to die.   As guest speaker, Jeff did not spit rhymes or talk about hip-hop.  He didn’t even talk about his play.  He spoke about Identity, Purpose and Vision, and he had every student identify theirs, loud and proud.

This past Friday, I went to Jeff Campbell’s one man mockumentary of the hip-hop industrial complex: Who Killed Jigaboo Jones?  If you have ever been affected in any way by hip-hop, and let’s face it, at this point, who hasn’t… you need to see this play.  There are three dates left in Denver this fall: October 17th, 18th and 19th at Shop Works in Five Points.  If you’re outside of Denver, I have no doubt national dates on the horizon.

DJ Icewater told me in an Oakland recording studio in 2008 that hip-hop is about taking something old and making it new.   Simple.

True to form, artist Jeff Campbell has done so with the following themes:
* Mass media is mind control.
* Hip Hop is Dead.  And if you want to know who killed it, you should probably look in the mirror.
* Corporate rap entertainment is modern-day blackface / minstrelsy – practiced by all races.
* You can only know a man by knowing the various faces of a man.  Dualities.
* Identity is bought and paid for in the digital age.

With Who Killed Jigaboo Jones, Jeff Campbell proves that every activist is truly a comedian.  Laughing your ass off at the smoke and mirrors may be the only way to stay sane.  True comedy is tragedy.  We like to sing and dance too.

Jeff reinforced recent reflections that there are two types of artists:
* Those who master and perfect a form, so they are known to embody it.
* Those who break it, because they are beyond it.

Hip-Hop artistry is not necessarily about rapping, even for the emcee.  Not necessarily about spinning records, even for the DJ… And well, you know the rest…

Following the play, Jeff invites his audiences to talk back and ask questions.  I would have left them in the dark…



They Call It Inspiration

Ideas die slowly, like stars
I can feel them washing
away like bridges.
New dreams populate hemispheres

This breath, wild smoke
circling our minds like fire,
evaporating sweat
from conscious thoughts
that stick
like wooden proofs.

Is truth ever defined?

like laughter
tumbling Eifel towers,
we watch the waves and intertwine
madness with happiness,
running from normality
like disease, roaming the hills
until time
falls out the clock.

I am awake
and inspired.