Poet, activist and essayist and former SFSU Lecturer Amiri Baraka (or the Amiri Baraka) is coming to the San Francisco Public Library at the Main Branch this Sunday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m - Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street. He’ll be discussing the first year of the presidency of Barack Obama.
Interestingly, Wiki has a whole section devoted to Amiri Baraka called “controversy” – you might find it worthy of note. See below.
“The following is from a 1965 essay:
Most American white men are trained to be fags. For this reason it is no wonder their faces are weak and blank. … The average ofay [white person] thinks of the black man as potentially raping every white lady in sight. Which is true, in the sense that the black man should want to rob the white man of everything he has. But for most whites the guilt of the robbery is the guilt of rape. That is, they know in their deepest hearts that they should be robbed, and the white woman understands that only in the rape sequence is she likely to get cleanly, viciously popped.”
“More recently he has replied to questions about this quote with:
Those quotes are from the essays in Home, a book written almost fifty years ago. The anger was part of the mindset created by, first, the assassination of John Kennedy, followed by the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba, followed by the assassination of Malcolm X amidst the lynching, and national oppression. A few years later, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. What changed my mind was that I became a Marxist, after recognizing classes within the Black community and the class struggle even after we had worked and struggled to elect the first Black Mayor of Newark, Kenneth Gibson”
So much for ancient history. Here’s a bit from this decade:
“Amiri Baraka was Poet Laureate of New Jersey at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He wrote a poem titled “Somebody Blew Up America” about the event. The poem was controversial and highly critical of racism in America, and includes angry depictions of public figures such as Trent Lott, Clarence Thomas, and Condoleezza Rice. The poem also contains lines claiming Israel’s involvement in the World Trade Center attacks:
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?
Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion
And cracking they sides at the notion
O.K. fine. Here are the deets from the SPL:
“In a rare West Coast appearance, poet, playwright, essayist and political activist Amiri Baraka will deliver a historic speech on the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, at the San Francisco Public Library. Appearing this Sunday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m. in the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, Baraka’s presentation is titled, “We Are Already in the Future! Barack Obama: Year One.”
In 2008, during the primary and general election cycles, Baraka surprised, delighted and provoked his friends and enemies with a series of rigorous, inventive and powerfully deciphering essays on then-candidate Obama. With this unique event, Baraka will revisit those essays, and bring his keen, and always original, interpretation of the Obama Presidency in its first year.
A transitional figure from the Beat Generation and Civil Rights Era, Baraka is known as the father of the Black Arts Movement. Baraka is also one of the true giants of international poetry and a towering presence in the U.S. The talk will be immediately followed by a discussion with literary producer Justin Desmangles, and conclude with a question and answer session with the audience.