My reflection blog

I don’t really know were to start, because I have learned so much during this poetry class. I never thought I could like a class this much. You know you really like a class when you look forward to go to it everyday and when you want to do the homework, for the reason that it’s fun.
I remember the first week and we were talking about children’s poetry and in the end of the class our teacher made us all sit underneath the tables, so that we could see the world from a child’s perspective. This was just one of the things that made me open my mind about poetry.

We have read everything from Whitman, E E. Cumming and Langston Hughes. They all are really different poets and that is maybe why it’s so fun to analyze their poems and read about theirs private life. Their private lives are very important for us to analyze their poetry but it can also make us understand why they wrote the poetry they did. I think E E. Cumming was one of the poets that were very influential for me, because he showed me that there are no rules in poetry. The only limit in poetry is your mind and you can use punctuations and other stuff to make the poetry more interesting or just to get your point through, this is called Unusual Typograph. Personification and free verse are also things that I have been very influenced by, because they are things that I like to use.

I think Parker with her Satiric Poetry has inspired a lot of people in our class, because in this time we are living in right now humor is very important and we almost use it as a cover of ourselves, so that we can hide behind it.

I think my poetry has changed a lot during just this class, not just because I have gotten to know myself better but also because I have found my own writing style. Its very hard to find your own style in a normal English class, because there is so much you have to think about but in poetry the only thing you have to think about is your only limit, which is your mind. We started with the normal poetry that we are used reading but then we started to read more modern poets and I think that was a big turning point for me.

Poetry is now a part of my life and every time I read, I use the same analyze technique that we used for poetry. I never thought I was going to learn so much in this class, but I really did. I did not only learn to enjoy poetry but I also got to know a lot of different people and myself better. This is by far the best class I have ever taken.

My Reflections

During the course of this project, I learned more about a time period that I thought I was pretty well-versed in. It turns out that I hadn't known as much as I thought I did. I had never researched the Black Arts Movement, never heard of Amiri Baraka, nor had any idea of the real correlation of Hip Hop to the BAM. I've definitely come away from this with a new respect for Tupac and Baraka, and some more tidbits for my future sophisticated cocktail party conversation.
About the work I did... Well, let's just say I could have been more diligent. I have never been one to do work ahead of time, and here was a project with no stone solid deadline. (You'll notice that I'm posting this on the last day possible to do so. I don't know why, but I just work better closer to a deadline.) However, I do think I did some very good research; believe me, finding sources took me a while, but I learned a lot doing so.
I would suggest some more structure for the next time this project is done; I know I wasn't the only one who had trouble with the non-deadlines, and with finding inspiration. But I think that the project was innovative and fun, overall.
I really am going to miss this class.
Goodbye seventh bell poetry!

The Bow.

So here it is, my post on the connections between Hip-Hop and the Black Arts Movement, the neatly tied bow of my research.
For my previous posts, I researched two prominent figures from each movement, Amiri Baraka and Tupac Shakur. In both, I highlighted some of the work of each respective individual, and pointed out some of the trends that I saw, most notably a mistrust of authority, police brutality, and a plea for a change in the system. While the works themselves were entirely different, the sentiments expressed were very much the same.
I'm going to refer back to my previous posts here. In Baraka's poem, "A New Reality is Better than a New Movie!" he talks about the system that has kept poor Black people down. Similarly, in Tupac's song "Changes," Tupac accuses white authority figures of keeping Black youths poor and drug addicted. Also in "Changes" Tupac calls out for a change in the system, because the current one isn't working. This theme is inherent in Baraka's works as well, though it is more of a desperate lament than an active call.
These, of course, are just the works of two people, but I think they make a great representation of both movements. Both artists' works are influenced and entwined with the Black Power Movement. The Black Arts Movement was the "aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept," according to Larry Neal, and Hip-Hop music is just simply a continuation of the ideals and opinions expressed in the Black Power Movement, almost like the daughter of the Black Arts Movement.

Reflection Post

We've reached the end. It's relieving but sad...

As a final post, Mrs Lewis has asked us to respond to the following questions:

How has your personal poetry changed over time (use examples from your page on the Ning from your poems)?

I think that my personal poetry has changed immensely.
While my initial outlook on poetry was fun and like, and ever humorous, I think that my personal poetry has changed a lot. Early poems like "Young Again" expressed a more fun feeling and were very light. However, newer poems like my group poem "My First Time" is a complete turn- around from my early poems. Receiving awesome remarks from the Poetry Slam judges I think that it got the point across, but also did SO much more. It dug deep and hit home for many people. I now enjoy writing and reading my poems so much more. I think that I have found myself as a poet and hope to keep writing!

How has your perspective of poetry changed?
My perspective has been altered forever. To me, before this class, poetry was "roses are red, violets are blue". I didn't know poetry could tell a deep story, let alone include devices such as fulcrums, anaphora, unusual typography, or parallelismus membrorum. I mean what the hell are those things right? Wrong. These devices incorporated into poetry when used by great authors like cummings, Whitman, Tennyson, and Parker can make all the difference. They alter the meaning of the poem. They alter the story the poem is telling. I feel enlightened and so grateful to have been able to learn this much about the overlooked authors who shaped poetry forever.

I'd just like to thank Mrs. Lewis. She took the short winter term that we had and pushed so much knowledge of poetry into our heads. But unlike other classes, I learned, I absorbed, I appreciated, and I enjoyed every second of it. I HIGHLY suggest Contemporary American Poetry to EVERYONE who can fit it into their schedule.

I'll miss having you in class so much Mrs. Lewis... but I'll definitely be in the library to say hi everyday! Thanks for an amazing term.

Reflection blog

When Mrs. Lewis approached us with the idea of having group blogs, I knew it was going to be a success and a great way of teaching ourselves about what both the Black Arts Movement and Hip-Hop movements really meant. I knew that I was going to really teach myself about these topics and essentially become almost an expert on politics in both the Black Arts Movement and Hip-hop of the 80s. When I wrote my first blog it was very academic and very structured, but I soon learned that that was probably too structured and that I should write in a more "blog-like" style. Overall, it was a great experience and I have now learned so much because I was challenged to find the information myself, instead of sitting in a classroom and being lectured.

My Outlook for the Women of the Future

My past four blog posts have been all about women opening door for themselves. In a world that has been and still is, in some aspects, dominated by men, the women that I have spoke about have broke down barriers to fulfill their dreams and send the message that women can be just as creative and intelligent as any man can be.

In the beginning of our blogging journey, Mrs. Lewis asked us how the creativity in the Black Arts Movement and Hip Hop Movement related to each other. I believe that what I have discovered fully conveys that the sisterhood of women, whether they be fighting for rights, respect or equality ties these two movement together. I also believe that women all over the world can be found within any major movement, doing their part and fighting for what they believe.

These women should be seen as role models for the messages they have worked to convey. Equality for women is still an issue all over the world today, and I hope that I, through my blog posts, have inspired others to stand up for what they believe like Parks, Giovanni, Sanchez, Latifah and the women of Salt-N-Pepa.

Every person, every WOMAN can make a difference. When will you make yours?

The Black Arts Movement and Hip-Hop

When I sat down and compared my two blogs which were the politics of the black arts movement and the politics in Hip-hop, I found some very poignant similarities that really connect these two movements. It was interesting to see that both of these poetic movements represented the black community and really gave a voice to the people struggling for equality and peace wether it was the 60s or 80s. Of course, the Hip-hop movement of the 80s and early 90s were demonized because of their foul subject matter and "gangster" attitudes. However this is what Hip-hop represented and what the black communities, especially in urban areas, had to deal with. The reason why most black neighborhoods in cities were so horrific and violent is because the only way for black individuals to progress and have a steady source of income was to sell drugs and make money illegally. On the other hand the Black arts movement took on a more peaceful form of protest because when this movement existed, Martin Luther King, Jr. was preaching non-violence. However, the Black Arts Movement also represented the nationalistic ideas of Malcolm X and so the poets of the Black Arts Movement were caught in a weird limbo between violence and non-violence, so the Movements was able to escape the negative images later associated with the Hip-hop movement.

Both movements also stood up for black rights and believed strongly in a strong, independent black community that many strong black men and women believed in both during the Black Arts Movement and the Hip-hop era. Poets in both of these eras really stood up and said "this is what we want and this is what we need". Also, the poets of these two eras raised awareness of what their people were going through like police brutality and poverty and showed American, as a whole, what was going on in the Black community and how essentially most Black individuals were on their own. This also brings up a good point about how the American government pretty much abandoned the black community in times when they were needed the most.

When looking at these two movements and seeing the similarities, it is eery to see how closely related they are and how without the Black Arts Movement, the Hip-hop movement would not have been as powerful and organized.

Salt-n-Pepa: Wait... They're a trio?

I'm at it again and I think everyone will really enjoy this one... While it's the end of the term AND a snow day I find myself sitting here writing my blog post because A. it's due Saturday morning and B. I actually think I'm going to enjoy this one. I mean, all I've done so far is Google Salt-n-Pepa and I've already learned the group was a trio!!!

So here's a little more about them you might find interesting:

The group made up of Cheryl James Wray (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa), and Deidra "Dee Dee" Roper (Spinderella) came together in 1985. Cheryl James was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 28, 1964 to a mother who was a bank manager and a father who worked in transit. Sandra Denton was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1969 and later relocated to Brooklyn. Her father died in 1983, leaving her mother to raise Sandra, as well as her eight siblings, alone.

James Wray and Denton met later in Queens Borough College where one was studying nursing and the other was in the field of liberal arts. By chance, they both took jobs as telephone customer-service representatives for Sears Roebuck, where they got to know each other, as well as another co-worker Hurby Azor, better. Azor, a student at New York City's Center for the Media Arts (and later one of Salt's love interests) was assigned a mid- term project that involved him making a record to fulfill the credit. Willing to help out a friend, James Wray and Denton agreed, and the three had planned for the recording to be made as a response to the hit song "The Show" by Doug E. Fresh. Azor named the duo "Supernature" and had them record "The Showstopper" in 1986. Little did they know, this would be the start of something much greater than a mid-term project.

After 250,000 copies of their recording sold, the rappers attracted the attention of Next Plateau Records, Inc.. They all decided to quit their jobs at Sears and launch a new career under the name Salt-N-Pepa, (a line taken from the lyrics of "The Showstopper") managed by Hurby "Love Bug" Azor. They were joined by mixmaster DJ Latoya Hanson (Spinderella), but when thing didn't work out their new and improved spinster, Deidra "Dee Dee" Roper (also Spinderella), joined in to resolve the issue. What had been created would prove to be the first and most powerful ALL women hip hop group in a domain dominated purely by men.

The group hit the ground running and by the time they had become a mainstream group they were ready for almost anything that would face them. While things weren't always perfect (I mean come on, they're a bunch girls, there's always gonna be drama!) they were able to pull through and came out on top with multiple hit records including: Hot Cool & Vicious, A Salt with a Deadly Pepa, Blacks' Magic, Very Necessary, and Brand New. Somehow over the course of the five records they created they made it past Pepa's pregnancy marriage and divorce, Azor's lack of commitment (and later break up from the group), and receiving first multi-platinum album from women everywhere. However, as they say, "nothing lasts forever" and "all good things come to an end" and so did the hip hop empire they created.

In 2002, the group disbanded, APPARENTLY because Salt had decided she had enough with the music industry. HOWEVER, this idea was completely discredited when she made a press release saying that she would be releasing a new record entitled "Salt of the Earth" which later changed to "Salt Unrapped" which later was never released due to complications. On the Pepa front an autobiography was being created that would later be released entitled "Let's Talk About Pep" in 2008. But the end of Salt-n-Pepa was yet to come.

In 2007, the two reunited for the hit VH1 show, "The Salt-n-Pepa Show". The show summarizes the events in the lives of Salt and Pepa as they work out past issues and return to the recording studio. Spinderella has also made appearances in many episodes and the three continue to perform together, never letting their passion die.

For further listening:
I suggest you check out "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing"and read the lyrics. It's a great song about women empowerment and strength.

One more about men needing to step up to the plate is "Whatta Man" also with moving lyrics about the one good one out there!

Also, another more popular but equally expressive song is "Let's Talk About Sex". And make sure to check out the lyrics, about how men just want sex and women don't feel the love.

Sources :

"hip-hop." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 26 Feb. 2010 .

"Salt N Pepa Biography." Sing 365 06 May 2007: n. pag. Web. 26 Feb 2010. .

"Salt-N-Pepa." Internet Movie DataBase 01 Jan 2010: n. pag. Web. 26 Feb 2010. .

"Salt-N-Pepa." 09 Jan 2010: n. pag. Web. 26 Feb 2010. .

The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument

The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument, is the first book from KRS ONE, it is said to be a philosophical masterwork. The book is written as the Christian Bible though it is a life-guide manual for members of the Hip Hop culture. Another fascinating is that this 800 page long book is known as “The Techa”. This life-guide combines classic philosophy with faith and practical knowledge for an exploration of Hip Hop as a life path.
This book has drawn both criticism and worship from the Hip Hop culture

In an interview for allhiphop KRS says; "’I’m suggesting that in 100 years, this book will be a new religion on the earth... I think I have the authority to approach God directly, I don’t have to go through any religion [or] train of thought. I can approach God directly myself and so I wrote a book called The Gospel of Hip Hop to free from all this nonsense garbage right now. I respect the Christianity, the Islam, the Judaism but their time is up. ...In a hundred years, everything that I’m saying to you will be common knowledge and people will be like, 'Why did he have to explain this? Wasn’t it obvious?'"

So from going from being inspired by religion KRS says that hip hop has become its own religion and culture. Maybe it is true that hip hop is its own religion, but then the hip hop culture must have the basics of Islam in it and Christianity, because they were the bases for hip hop. This can maybe mean that hip hop has the true meanings of religion, the message of love. But then it makes me think of the hip hop culture we have today where the rappers are “singing” about women and the money they have. Is that the real hip hop? Is that a part of the hip hop culture and why does the rappers have crosses hanging around their necks? I think some parts of hip hop still have the true meanings of hip hop, like the hip hop that Public Enemy did.

Queen Latifah: "Bona Fide Star"

I've been working in this blog post for over a week now... Whether it be writers block, distractions, or even just procrastination, I've been having to hardest time sitting down and getting it done. I think I've finally finished though and I'm ready to post it, so here it goes:

As The Evolution of the Revolution
blogging process has continued, so did my quest to find a few female hip hop artists who dominated the hip hop world as they topped the charts. The first women who I found very interested who made an impact was Queen Latifah. This easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl has also played the roles of a television and film actress; a label president; an author and entrepreneur; and most importantly a musician. Through her lyrics she has reached out to many groups, especially women, in motivational and inspiring ways. But who really is Queen Latifah?

Born Dana Elaine Owens, Queen Latifah was born March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother who worked as a school teacher and her father who was a police officer divorced when she was only 10 years old. He stage name "Latifah" was given to her by her cousin when she was eight. In Arabic it means, "delicate" and "gentle", but she was far from either of these things as a substantially sized woman reaching a height of 5'10'' in high school. But how did her music career begin?

Latifah started as a beat boxer for a rap group named "Ladies Fresh." She also involved herself as one of the members of original version of the Flavor Unit, which, at that time, was a crew of MC's grouped around producer and mix master, DJ Mark the 45 King. DJ Mark discovered Latifah through her single "Princess of the Posse" and handed it off to Fab Five Freddy, the host of Yo! MTV Raps. Freddy opened many doors for Queen Latifah and even helped her sign her first record deal with Tommy Boy Records, with which she released her first record All Hail the Queen in 1989 when she was only 19 years old.

From there she only grew more and more popular, being featured on many other tracks and continuing with her own composing and recording. For a brief period( about 2004- 2007), Queen Latifah decided to switch it up and record some soul and jazz music, but not for long. She soon returned to the world of hip- hop where she remains as a composer and recording artist. Latifah's latest album Persona was released on September 12, 2008. It included "Cue the Rain" as a lead single, and also included a song with popular artist Missy Elliot.

Queen Latifah has been honored with many awards including the Black Film Award for Best Actress, the BET Award for Favorite Actress, a BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Box Office Movie, a Black Reel Awards for Best Actress and Theatrical - Best Supporting Actress, a Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television, a Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Lead - Drama Series or Special, Hollywood Film Awards for Ensemble of the Year and Ensemble Acting of the Year, Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, a Blimp Award for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie, the Palm Springs International Film Festival Ensemble Cast Award for Hairspray, Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries and Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, and a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress - Comedy. NOT TO MENTION: the other 34 awards she was nominated for!

Not only is she accomplished in her award achieving but she has also completed the task of sending a message to her audience. She has conveyed messages that include (but not limited to) sexism and violence against women, especially through her music. She has made herself a symbol for women everywhere not only by getting these messages across, but also by rising above and becoming the star she always wanted to be. In an industry where women were thought of primarily as accessories, she broke the mold and created poetic music that will be remember and analyzed and seen as true and beautiful forever.

If you have some extra time, I HIGHLY suggest listening to the following:
One of Latifah's singles, "U.N.I.T.Y.," and reading through the lyrics. Its a personal favorite and has a very moving message about sexism and violence against women.
Another you may like is "Ladies First," (suggested by the Sassy Librarian herself, Mrs. Lewis) and reading the lyrics. Queen Latifah and Monie Love send a message of empowerment to women while incorporating a fresh beat.

Hope you enjoyed this post... Another should be coming soon on the ever fabulous Salt-n-Pepa!!!

Sources :

"Queen Latifah Bio." Queen Latifah. Web. 24 Feb 2010. .

"Queen Latifah Biography." Star Pulse 7 Jan 2010: n. pag. Web. 24 Feb 2010. .

"Queen Latifah." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2010 .

"Queen Latifah." Internet Movie DataBase. 2010. Web.

Masculinity in Hip Hop

After my last post, I decided I would stick with the topic of women stepping forward as leaders. This time, however, I would write about the women who were prominent in the domain of hip hop music. Our Contemporary American Poetry class, taught by the sassy librarian Mrs. Lewis, decided that we would examine these two topics because they tie in with each other on multiple levels. I thought that looking at them both through the eyes of women in history would be interesting. Once I researched the many women who played major roles in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Arts Movement, I decided the next step in thoroughly researching these topics would be to find a few women who were leaders in the hip hop world.

Music itself has always been influential on society as a whole. I mean look at the Elvis-hip-thrust... That movement caused more drama then anyone could have ever imagined! Anyway, music can influence the way people dress, talk, act, and even sets the tone for many cultures concerning socioeconomic status, race, gender, religious beliefs, and even sexuality. So of course hip hop, one of the most popular genres of music would have a major impact on many people.

However, as the hip hop world took on this power to change how people think and behave they also took on a great responsibility. The topics, thoughts, and images that hip hop artists would convey to the public, whether they liked it or not, would serve as a message for various diverse groups of people.

Now... For a little bit of background on hip hop! Hip hop music began as an urban underground movement in the 1970s. Popular in the South Bronx area of New York City, "encompassing graffiti art, break dancing, rap music, and fashion, hip-hop became the dominant cultural movement of the African American and Hispanic communities in the 1980s. Tagging, rapping, and break dancing were all artistic variations on the male competition and one-upmanship of street gangs," according to American Decades by Vincent Tompkins.

Although hip hop has often received a bad rap for harboring criminals and gang members, at first it had done the exact opposite. Often times, gang members would diverge from their respective gangs into the underground hip hop movement as members of street-dance crews, graffiti artists, and rap musicians.

Hip hop quickly became more mainstream as it was more commonly featured in movies, music videos, radio play, and media coverage. Soon after, the movement flourished through its many investors who made hip hop an "avenue to success for black and Hispanic ghetto youth."

However, I was deeply saddened that when researching the hip hop movement, I found very few prominent females! It has been a widely discussed topic that hip hop was dominated by men. In fact, hip hop music has had major influence on gender roles within many communities especially the African- American and Latino communities. My question is, why do women have to do everything 100 times better than men to get some recognition! I mean come on! You google hip hop and you'll get millions of articles, and about two of them talk about women [I mean women doing something other than being treated or talked about like a piece of meat, or being depicted half naked with money being throw at them (like so)].

So, I personally think that there had to be some insanely influential females that I'm just missing out on. Keep reading for my next post.. I'll definitely be able to find some female flavor for this topic so that my research doesn't come to a stand-still!

Sources :

"Hip-Hop Culture." American Decades. Ed. Vincent Tompkins. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 10 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Wyoming Seminary. 21 Feb. 2010 .

"hip-hop." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2010 .

Phillips, Brittinee. "Gender Roles in Hip Hop Music." Daily 49er 20 Apr 2009: n. pag. Web. 21 Feb 2010. .

Sood, Suemedha. "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Masculinity in Hip Hop." WireTap Magazine 01 Mar 2005: n. pag. Web. 21 Feb 2010. .

Watrous, Lucinda. "Music and Its Impact on American Society." Associated Content 19 Apr 2007: n. pag. Web. 21 Feb 2010. .

Tupac Shakur

I'm willing to bet that most of us have at least heard the name "Tupac" sometime in our lives, and heard at least some of his music. While I'm not a rap music fan, I do know about Shakur, and some bits of information about his life and music.
Shakur was born in New York in 1971 to a former Black Panther activist.[1] In looking at his work, it's easy to see the influence that this had on Shakur. In many of his songs, he raps about poverty, police brutality, crime, and a gang lifestyle.
I'm going to highlight one of his songs, "Changes" here.
In the first verse of the song, he accuses police and other authority figures of perpetuating poverty, drug addiction, and gang activity among Black youths in America. He also references the murder of Huey P. Newton for wanting a change in the system.
In the next verse, he goes more into drug dealing and addiction. I also noticed that he says "We ain't ready to see a black president," because, of course, we do at this moment.
The chorus of the song calls out to America to make changes, to start a new system where people are equal and can get along, because "You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive."
His third verse continues his previous sentiments, showing a need for a change from the gangs and drugs and ignorance.
I think that this song encapsulates the general feeling of Tupac's works. It's a cry for a change, for equality, and for peace. As much as I disapprove of violence in general, I can see his point of view, that in the situation he and other like him were in, it's inevitable.
Shakur was shot on September 7, 1996, at the age of 25.[2] And you know, I really wish he had lived to see the nation's first black president.

[1] "Tupac Shakur Biography."

Amiri Baraka

When researching the Black Arts Movement, it is virtually impossible to find a source that does not include the name Amiri Baraka. Baraka changed his name from LeRoi Jones after publishing Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing with Larry Neal in 1968.[1] He was a prosperous author, publishing a number of poems and plays along with other works. I'll be looking at some of his poetry and outlining it for you. Click here and here for links to his poetry and a biography.
Baraka's poetry was often conversational in style; when reading it, you feel like he's talking to you, asking questions, and making jokes. One of the poems I like best is "Monday in B-Flat."

"I can pray
all day
& God
wont come.

But if I call
The Devil
Be here

in a minute!"

I like the structure of the poem, and how it still feels joking while portraying a very serious sentiment. Baraka, and others of the time period, was highly suspicious of the intentions of the police, and wary of the police brutality that was very common. I think that he's also questioning faith here too. Baraka converted to Islam and then later became less religious, [2] which I think is reflected here, in his praying all day and not getting any response.

In another poem that I like, "A New Reality is Better than a New Movie!" Baraka indicts the system that keeps poor black men down and builds up rich white men. He questions how one can "survive with no money in a money world, of making the boss/100,000 for every 200/dollars/you get" and having to pay rent to his brother. This poem is more fierce than the one I mentioned above, though still humorous. Baraka suggests that the money you spend to buy a car goes to buying the salesman's wife a "foam rubber rhinestone set of boobies." Through the humor, though, his message of desperation is clear. Though the system is wrong, people are oppressed and treated horribly, he says "You don't like it? Whatcha/gonna do, about it??" Baraka's anger at the system and his hopelessness is apparent in this poem.

One of the most chilling poems that I read, "Incident," Baraka describes a killing. I'm not sure if he is referring to a specific murder, but I think that it would be a more powerful poem without a specific inspiration. Murders of black men and women, for no reason, and by an unnamed killer-or one who was let off by a jury- were all too common during Baraka's time, and this poem could be applied to a number of murders, I'm sure. This almost reminded me of Dylan's song about Medgar Evers, "Only a Pawn in Their Game," for it's similarity in social commentary, and for the murder (Evers was shot in front of his home by a shooter hidden in the bushes nearby).

Overall, the theme I noticed most in Baraka's poetry was a distrust of authorities. I think his poems do a beautiful job of conveying the dissatisfaction that black people, and other minorities, felt about the inequality of the time.

[1]"Amiri Baraka."
[2] Ibid.
In class last Friday we watched a documentary about hip hop music’s development. One of the major bands that were presented in the documentary was Public Enemy. They are an American rap group with political messages in their lyrics but their songs also has a dense layered sound and that is probably why they are so famous and influential. The original members were Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour), Flavor Flav (William Drayton), Terminator X (Norman Lee Rogers), and Professor Griff (Richard Giffin. The band was formed 1982 by a group of African Americans. Public Enemy brought radical black political ideology to pop music in an unprecedented fashion on albums. “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” is known as Public Enemy’s masterpiece. The album has messages of the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X.

“Clear all the madness, I'm not a racist
Preach to teach to all”
This line is from the song “Don’t Believe the Hype” by public enemy

I personally think this line is about Malcolm X and how he preached to the people in Harlem. Malcolm X was a very influential person and Public Enemy actually uses some of his quotes in their songs. In "Night of the Living Baseheads" Malcolm X's quote, "Too black, too strong," is used and it plays twice, They embraces the quote as it’s their own statement. The Public enemy’s open admiration for the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan shows was very important for their music but it also brought some problem with the Jewish organizations. While Public Enemy's activism inspired other artists to take up topical themes, the group's influence waned in the early 1990s as younger, more “ghettocentric” performers such as N.W.A. and Snoop Doggy Dogg came to the fore. So Public Enemy was an important group for the hip hop culture and they were inspired by many different things like Malcolm X.


"Public Enemy." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2010 .


N.W.A, or N***** With Attitude, was a group of a young rappers that are most famous for the songs, “Fuck the Police”, “Gangsta Gangsta”, and “Straight outta Compton”. As Part of the 80s rap movement, N.W.A infused their music with loud beats and shrill sounds and made it clear that their political beliefs were against the white oppression that plagued their lives since they were born. Tired of police brutality and poverty all around them, N.W.A took it upon themselves to raise awareness for these issues and to strongly criticize certain organizations that were responsible for these issues[1].

Formed in 1986, N.W.A’s members include Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E. All of which came into rap for their love of hip-hop and free verse. Ice-Cube, however, came from a middle class family in South Central and Easy-E achieved his success by creating funds through his occupation as a drug dealer. Dr. Dre came into the mix meeting Ice-Cube and establishing a common love for rap. All three of these rappers worked together to create something bigger than themselves and something that still is iconic today[2].

[1] Simon and Schuster. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. 20. Feb. 2010.

[2] ibid

Hip-Hop and Politics

In the 1980s, the African American community was still experiencing social and economic problems, even though twenty years earlier, the Civil Rights Act was passed and the Jim Crowe Laws were abolished. Especially in the urban center of America, African Americans experienced plagues of poverty, police brutality, crime, and even experienced poor living conditions. This was a result of a lack of attention and commitment by the government to black communities, even though the Kerner Report stated that compassionate, massive, and sustained commitment to racial equality and social justice was needed to quench the fires that burned in the cities and to appease those responsible for the uprisings of the 1960’s[1]. The government throughout the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies ignored these suggestions and created a lots of anti-government and anti-White ideas amongst African Americans. With White oppression weighing down on many young Black African Americans and police brutality common in urban centers, a new group of young black men and women rose up with music as their medium of communication[2].

This new genre of music, called hip-hop, incorporated beats from the late-seventies funk era with a spoken word movement that reflected old African folk ideas. In this new music, political and social ideas were the subjects of the songs and were used and also provided a strong base for what the hip hop movement was and became as the eighties went on. Like the Black arts movement before it, hip-hop took the political issues of the time and openly protested through the use of poetry set to music. Issues such as police brutality, poverty, and crime were topics rapped about most frequently. However as hip-hop evolved and progressed more artists talked about the fame and materialism that accompanied hip hop and the lifestyle of being famous. Two of the most famous group for political rap are N.W.A and Public Enemy. Both of these groups took the ideas of Malcolm X and the Black nationalism movement and infused these ideas into their music. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” is very cliché, but great example of political rap of this time. In the intro part of the song, Malcom X’s voice can be heard giving a speech on black nationalism and unity. Then Chuck D begins to preach the ideas of standing up for black rights and stopping the progress of white oppression.

One of the main reasons why this new movement came about also is that this generation of rappers and musicians were the first generation of the post-Jim Crowe Law period. This, of course, meant that this generation never felt the limited freedom of Jim Crowe and so when they all realize that something wasn’t right and the government was not protecting them, they rose up and spoke out[3].

[1] New Frontiers: Politics and Social Change in the 1960s.” W.W Norton Document Overview. W.W. Norton. 14 Feb. 2010

[2] Luisa, Tucker Maria. “Where Politics and Hip Hope Collide.” Alternet. 20 Feb. 2010.

[3] ibidVersion:1.0 StartHTML:0000000183 EndHTML:0000009665 StartFragment:0000002915 EndFragment:0000009629 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/calebbowers1/Documents/hip%20hop%20blog.doc

The Women of the Black Arts and Civil Rights Movements

With the Civil Rights Movement being set into motion in 1955, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being adopted African- Americans were well on their way to a whole new world. Many leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., led the Black community in breaking down barriers and reaching the unattainable goal: Equality. These men did the unthinkable as racial activists through the arts of poetry, writing, speech, and outreach. The movement, once started, could not be hindered and would change how African- Americans would be viewed forever.

However, not only men made great contributions to this cause. Many women made their presence known as activists within this time period,
especially Rosa Parks. By not conforming to the demand that she move to the back of the bus, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and her action served as a prominent symbol of resistance to racial segregation for the movement. As the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, she was not ignorant to the disrespect and lack of rights that African- Americans received everywhere. Born on February 4, 1913 Rosa Parks was raised in a society where racism was the norm, and she was one who would do anything to change that. For her act she took on the penalty of losing her seamstress job, but accepted the action as a private citizen who was just "tired of giving in." Later nicknamed the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement" by the US Congress, Parks unquestionably did her part for Black Rights. When the Black Arts Movement began, Rosa Parks served as an example for more women to arise as leaders. Two pioneering women who were, and still are, pivotal in the Civil Rights arena are Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez.

Yolanda Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 7, 1943 and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. A survivor of lung cancer, Virginia Tech professor, and mother of one, Giovanni has lived a colorful life. Receiving her bachelor of arts degree in 1967 from Fisk University, her life was (and still is) consumed by her love of poetry. Many of Nikki Giovanni's earliest and most renowned works were inspired by the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. She was fully committed to the movement as well as the idea of black power.
Black Feeling, Black Talk (1967), Black Judgment (1968), and Re: Creation (1970) are some of her most famous works that truly expressed the emotions, thoughts, and desires of African- American society in the late 60's and early 70's. It is said that, "her content was urgently revolutionary and suffused with deliberate interpretation of experience through a black consciousness." Nikki Giovanni's poetry has made her one of the most distinguished poets of the Black Arts Movement and her work can still be found today. Always preventing the truth as she sees it, her website claims that she, "remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality."

Wilsonia Benita Driveronia aka Sonia Sanchez is an American poet, playwright, and professor who is noted for her black activism. A zealous woman, Sanchez was born September 6, 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama. When her mother died during her childhood, her father had moved the family to Harlem, setting her up to be involved in the Harlem Renaissance and bigger picture of the Black Arts Movement. She received her B.A. in political science from Hunter College in 1955 and later briefly studied writing at New York University. Her works pushed the limits, especially Homecoming (1969) which "contains considerable invective against “white Americaand “white violence." She also frequently wrote about what she called "neo-slavery" and average blacks as socially and psychologically unfree beings. Her other controversial works include topics of sexism, child abuse, and generational and class conflicts. Now working at Temple University, Sachez's contentious work and outreach can still be found today.

These women, as well as many others, took the lead in activism for a cause they had passion: civil rights. Whether involved directly in the Civil Rights Movement, like Parks, or more indirectly involved through their deep and controversial works within the Harlem Renaisance and Black Arts Movement, like Giovanni and Sanchez, these women showed their true colors. Giovanni and Sanchez showed their true colors, no matter how unpopular or controversial and set forward on a path to the one thing they always desired: Equality.


Bodenner, Chris. "Civil Rights Act of 1964." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, 12 June 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2010. .

Bodenner, Chris. "Harlem Renaissance." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, 19 July 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2010. .

"Giovanni, Nikki." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 18 Feb. 2010 .

Giovanni, Nikki. "Yolanda Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni- Poet, Virginia Tech University Professor." (2010): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb 2010. .

Luker, Ralph. "Civil Rights Movement." Americans at War. Ed. John Resch. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 4 pp. 4 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Wyoming Seminary. 18 Feb. 2010.

"Sanchez, Sonia." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 18 Feb. 2010 .

Malcolm X's Effect

Poets and musicians of the Black Arts movement were compared to preachers. The poets were as important to the people as the preacher in the church and that was because they gave a language to what was happening with black folks at that time. But the poets and musicians were influenced by the preachers and the religion, especially the Islam.

Amiri Baraka was a famous Black Arts movement writer and as I said in the last post, was Amiri very influenced by Malcolm X. For the reason that he was very influenced by Malcolm X, he moved to Harlem after Malcolm X’s assassination. But he also changed his name from Leroi Jones to Amiri Baraka so that he could support Black Nationalism. After he moved to Harlem he started to become more active in the civil rights and could therefore found the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem in 1965. He also published a lot of work during this period, such as the Black Art (1966) and the Black Magic (1969). One thing Amiri Baraka did very well was to present the experiences and anger of black Americans with an affirmation of black life. Amiri Baraka is therefore a perfect example on how religion affected people in the Blacks Arts movement, because his belief made him move to Harlem, where he could write and get active.

“When the revolution comes Jesus Christ is gonna be standing on the
corner of Lenox Ave and 125th St trying to catch the first gypsy cab
out of Harlem when the revolution comes
When the revolution comes
Jew merchants will give away matza balls and gifilta fish to anyone
they see with afros
Frank Shieffin will give away the Apollo to the first person he sees
wearing a blue dashiki when the revolution comes” When The Revolution Comes
Written By Abiodun Oyewole

The Black Arts movement was not entirely separate from organized religion. Abiodun Oyewole was one of The Last Poets and he wrote poetry inspired by his practice in the African religion, Yoruba. Abiodun Oyewole was born as Charles Davis Jr. on February 1948. He is a poet, a teacher and one of the founding members of the legendary American music and spoken-word group; The Last Poets. The group developed into what can be said to be the first ever hip hop group. The group was born on May 19, 1968, Malcolm X's birthday, when Abiodun and the two others members, David Nelson, Gylan Kain, read poetry in tribute to Malcolm X. The group was based on Black Nationalism. The group quickly became recognized in the African-American communities. You can say that they were a big influence to the hip hop we have today.

Malcolm X, the Influential Preacher

Religion has an amazing impact upon people; it is maybe because every human being on this planet believes in something. During the Black Arts movement religious wisdom and stories people heard from their grandmothers were mixed into influential messages about the black’s rights. Black artists produced poetry, music, and literature that were written by, for and about black people. It was the things that affected the black people during that time that was expressed in the poetry, music and arts. And even if the people didn’t believe in religion, it would still make an impact on them.

Malcolm X was a very important person for the Black Arts movement. He was an African American leader and a famous person in the Nation of Islam. He spoke about the concepts of race pride and Black Nationalism in the early 1960s, which was why he became a very influential person during the Black Arts movement. Religion was very important not just because it made them believe that goodness existed but also because it was a way of gathering people, so that opinions could be spread. The black people living during the Black arts movement did not have many rights at all, but at least they had as much right as any other person on the planet to pray and believe in God. Malcolm was born in a family with six children and he was only six years old when his father died after being hit by a streetcar, quite possibly the victim of murder by whites. His father was the Rev. Earl Little, a Baptist minister and former supporter of the early Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

Malcolm went to a school in Lansing, but he dropped out in the eighth grade because his teacher told him that he should become a carpenter instead of a lawyer. After that Malcolm moved to Harlem, a part in New York City and got involved in criminal things. But it was when he went to prison he started becoming the Malcolm X that he is famous for. In prison he underwent a conversion that eventually led him to join the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam with Black Nationalism. When Malcolm joined he had to quit smoking and gambling and refused to eat pork in keeping with the Nation's dietary restrictions. And he started to educate himself by reading books and even memorizing a dictionary. And by following Nation tradition, he replaced his last name which was “Little,” with an “X,” which was a common name among followers of Nation of Islam.

After the conversion Malcolm X started to become the amazing influential person, who was one of the most important leaders of the Black Arts movement. He helped to lead the Nation of Islam during the period of its greatest growth and influence. He met Elijah Muhammad and began organizing temples for the Nation in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, but also in cities in southern cities. He also talked about the Nation's racial policies about the inherent evil of whites and the natural superiority of blacks. This made it possible for him to become the minister of Boston Temple No. 11, which he founded; he was later rewarded with the post of minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem, which was the largest and most important temple in the Nation after the Chicago headquarters.

Malcolm X preached about the unexpressed anger, frustration, and bitterness of African Americans during the major phase of the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1965. He spoke on the streets of Harlem and at major universities such as Harvard University. Malcolm with his intellect, nice humor and enthusiastic intolerance made him a very good leader of American society. Malcolm also had the guts to criticize Luther King, Jr.'s when it came to central notions of integration and nonviolence. Malcolm wanted to point out that the most important issues were black identity, integrity, and independence. Through the influence of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X helped to change the terms used to refer to African Americans from “Negro” and “coloured” to “black” and “Afro-American.”

On Feb. 21, 1965, Malcolm was assassinated while delivering a lecture at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem; three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder. His leadership, ideas, and speeches contributed to the development of Black Nationalist Ideology and the Black Power movement. One month after Malcolm X's assassination, the highly respected writer LeRoi Jones, who is also known as Amiri Baraka, moved from Manhattan's Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre-School. At that moment, the Black Arts Movement was born.


"Malcolm X." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2010 <>.

The Faith Project. "The Black Arts Movement; 1946-1966: from civil rights to
black power." This Far by Fair-PBS. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS),
2003. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. p_8.html>.