DrumLanguage: Dessalines, Malcolm X and Seeds of Sovereignty from the Grassroots

Originally published on The Haitian Times, November 29, 2013
this is Seeds #nogeeMO
I pray you will be both
moved and fed
…our seeds will grow, have faith.

You’ve just heard Flavio Barbosa, member of Movimento Sem Terra out of Brazil and also a member of Dessalines Brigade, Rosnel Jean-Baptiste from Tet Kole and Rose Edith Raymonvil Germain, national coordinator of the Peasants Movemenent of Papaye (Mouvman Peyizan Papay) — both accepting awards on behalf of the other members of Four Focused Eyes…

210 Novembers past, Papa Desalin, Kapwa Lamo and Klèvo led our armed forces to victory in Batay Vètyè

50 Novembers past, Malcolm X delivered his Message to the Grassroots in the great black city of Detroit.

In 2013, Haiti is still fighting for sovereignty, and our grassroots have messages for us.

In this consumptive world system, free peoples must have the power to feed themselves. The examples our ancestors left and their commitments to solidarity, return to us through international coalitions among trade-unionists and peasants who have not forgotten Haiti.

DrumLanguage is a theory of change.

When the state humbles itself to our own grassroots, and works together with true allies of the Haitian people, like the Dessalines Brigade of La Via Campesina, that will be change we can believe in.


#31st for Marissa


Ashamed to say this is the first letter I've written to cross the wall in many years. Unsettled too, because I realize I can’t even write all that needs writing, all I’ve seen. I’m still bound up in some of the same silences that put you in harm’s way. I haven't read the other letters, so that my fear of redundancy or irrelevance might not prevent me from telling you what’s true to me.

So about 18 years ago... is that a generation? I know the sociological definition is not precisely about when the state officially recruits citizens into its business of death, as jurors soldiers or voters, but I’ll call it that.

A generation ago, I went to Washington D.C. with a million or so of my closest mans and them -- not to be flip, but to suggest the feeling we had. A brother minister had called us together to atone. It was supposed to be a tipping point. We would put our, & our people’s victimhood in perspective and assume our share of responsibility for the future. But still, here you are Marissa.

And we have a President who looks like us, whose imaginary son looks like Trayvon, who takes every occasion to lecture us, rebuke us in front of whitefolks, about personal responsibility. He is tasked, I believe most importantly, with protecting the psyches, bodies and spirits of two black girls growing into young women under the eyes of the world, and partnership with their mother. But for all of his shining about responsibility, he will not speak for Mama Assata, for Sybrina Fulton, for Rekia Boyd, for Islan Nettles, for Miriam Carey, or for you. And I wonder if that’s only his fault, or whether all the brothers have to raise our hands.

Somebody tweeted the other day that black women are the only ones who have ever had our backs. I thought 3 thoughts then:
even, and often when we don’t have our own;
 even, and often, when we don’t have theirs;
even, and often, at their own expense.

DrumLanguage Presents Chico Boyer, a Pioneer of Haitian Roots Music

Originally published on The Haitian Times, Oct 31, 2013

heartbeats to breakbeats
skins, traps & steel
[pans] & wheels
emerging voices from the global south
on peoples’ sovereignty,
ethics & human rights
speak with Drum Language
news, views & music
dispatches from the corner
hoods barrios & favelas

We are proud to introduce DrumLanguage, a radio trance-mission through the Global South, as an inter-generational conservation in many tongues — across continents. This premier episode is anchored by the first significant interview ever granted by Chico Boyer, a pioneer of mizik rasin.

There is a subversive discourse now moving through the Aid-Industrial complex, that information itself is aid. That is, supporting people telling their own stories, and being able to communicate among themselves, may do more to emerge from catastrophe, than the invasion of the international crisis market.

We have long understood this in the diaspora, but what if we extend it to the block, and to people of conscience everywhere — to tell our own stories, share our own solutions, save our own lives.

Like the drum once did, radio gives us access to news in realtime. Further, it allows us to tap into energy flowing through the air to connect to the voices of our ancestors: memory, identity, and song – every antenna, a poto mitan.

This is not quite that, but time moves, and as this podcast launches, we lean on a claim made recently by Manbo Dowoti Desir: that cyberspace has unique potential as a liberatory space — a consecrated and sacred space.

Perhaps, the antenna in your smartphone, or wireless adapter in your laptop/tablet can serve for now.

DrumLanguage, because the beat will always save us.


Ep. 2: Attack of the _____

Drones went there homie

word to @joshbegley

We did, we did just kill a kid Sam I am!
Skies rain death, not acid rain of our 80s babies future, not exactly a bulletstorm, call it hail-fire
This is about respect for life, or it should be, 'American' or otherwise
Star Wars fits, your boy Bigblackamerica is closer to the real reagan than the dreamtime
nostalgia reagan of racist conservationists

These U.S. slouch ever further rightward, toward Babylon
I would say there is a blessing, the world is clearer now, but ask the families of these two-legged targets, if you can find survivors

Drone pilots clutch joysticks
Watch screens on easels
Tense and bored at the same time
Humanity escaping from their lungs, leaking from their pores
Soaking the backs of 50's-era command chairs

Kill list on ticker tape
Print out kill lists on receipt rolls
Gratuity included

You want spare change
You better ask Obama


We haven't finished

Black Star bound, black sun shining
sweet weather and that beat
inside our own breasts, which will always save us
Source code to boom bap, boom chk
and that thump
What we want is what we believe made manifest
Let it breathe

Horn section come in
hollowed conch & quadruped
we blow the reveille
breathe uhuru 
deep diaphragm work
(pronounce that 'wuk')

Strings together
weaving joys and pains
triumphs defeats
and hope
and will
and love 
and lineage
Strum the wavelengths of all our colors
red notes, yellow notes, brown and black notes
Blue notes true still
Maroons indigo
vibrate deeper

Keys unlock 5 tones we carried
re-call mbira and balafon
gourds hang
full of our wisdom

And we sing a song full
with truths & hopes
shaped by our passage
over and through
we sing limbo
we sing redemption
we sing rivers
for all these we have known
we sing from heart, and soul, and root
All 3 make us hue-people
We sing pride, power , and #takenoshit

We haven't finished singing


throwback---september 13th 2003

It started in damp darknesswomblike tangle of sheets wet with sweat in my cousin's room in Times Square.1409 @ the Marriot. Her voice blended with the dark sounds of predawn morning reminding me to wake up before check-out time. reminding me cuz I sleep like the dead [my mother once theorized that my mind is so active in waking hours that sleep takes me into almost complete shutdown, shutdown till recharge, no matter the time] So then I rolled over, she was ten minutes gone, got out of my bed and crept into hers, warm and dry, but sleep didn't come back to me. I stared at the clock till 7 from 5-something, sleep never nearer. Finally, I peeled back the covers, these not sticky but still close like a second skin, and made it to the shower. I set it for hot, you know, cuz the damp was still in my bones.Finding the water too cool I baked my clothes in steam from the hotel iron trying to store up heat for the gray day outside. Hefting my bag I stepped into glass and dropped to Broadway then to McDonald's across the square. I had a deluxe breakfast platter w/o sausage, and orange juice to fight the catch in my throat. I sat in the front window, surveying the street, watching the passers-by passing by, in the morning there in Times Square. Hefted my bag again, buckled the buckles and strapped the straps, and stepped back out.Into the rain.I waded through 10 or 11 blocks of mist and rain to the jump-off. It had started in rain. I arrived there at around 9 gave pounds to the crew and helped set up, breaking for the rain, electric rain, no lightning but static from folks who ain't have shit to do but fuck with us. They got off easy cuz the fam is oldskool, we know that black power is a clenched fist. they came, not in droves, or in waves, but in trickles, and the burps that are chartered buses disgorging the road weary, and the rain paused for us as we got into what we came there to do. Cities got their shout outs, you know that shit builds morale but its funny how it always reminds me of ACT-SO, the parade into the award ceremony. So we got to rapping in voices high and hard, and smooth and deep. I linked with my young comrades, in a lineup unseen in 18 years, while this little Asian cat stalked us for photos. I think he was... well, you know. And we were there vibing on the 13th, it might have seemed odd, us there laughing and joking, there in the middle of the crowd, but we've known rallies, our souls have grown deeper than rallies, and we've known more, and our souls have grown deep like that more. We are already teachers, writers, artists, activists, and poets. Our reconnection energized us, gave us reason to have come there that day.Sallome from Y4R sent me to this cat who was talking to youth for a magazine, I am the youngest of us, at 20 I can still go undercover like that. As we rapped my father pulled me for the stage, to speak for the young, to speak to the young so I composed, and laid down the Word. There was so much that I forgot to say, but my people felt me, and we shared life that day, as Africans can do, and we sang out "we are an African people" We built and networked and resolved to disperse through this nation and be about the Work. And over a strong backbeat my Aunty Vi shouted let the rains come, as we thrust umbrellas and fists into the air, and they did.and it ended with rain, as my bus rolled out into the dim wetness of dusk, Chi-bound.


Kawo X2

--let me baptize you

~sko omo SXShCh-anGo
--spit that like BBU
Loray Sole
Iemanja gangster
husband to the whirlwind
transhumance not meta4
spanning similes balancing
forces that hold you out
but close onetime
no contradiction but paradox
pair of rams
pair of lions
sweet chariot of fire
swingin lo to bring you to higher vibration
on Lwa frequencies
I drink deep from rivers red white and golden, ancient as the world, old as blood, love, sap and honey,  colors of gold, colors of sun, run down my chin, my beard drips and shines
I know who know my destiny
we got only 1 or 2 degrees I
rock the white
adorn it w/colors
undercoat suffused in
magical melanin

sun man sounds
like you do
when Malindy sings
freedom rings or
hope springs
spiralistic in the rhythm of tides
conch my Akoben
calling champions home

Eternal but not from Eternia
3rd coast raised me like 3rd earth
but Thundera, Planet brooklyn
twice there my mother gave birth
yes I
Thundercat thunder twin in fact,
activated in cool water
our powers intact

when ions align, I descend
when earth moves, I descend
justice, like lightning
ground yourself

I often ask the same question about freestyle
What's alter-native freestyle, is it paystyle or slavestyle?
mayhap neither nor, but still something won
hard earned


(The D is) Silen[ced]: Django vs Dessalines, self-Defense & DuSable City

This joint has been marinating for a while, it was initially scheduled for the day my nephew was born, and now feels way past due, not because it risks irrelevance, but because it's urgent like a...
A-yo bust it:

out of time
no drinking and no smiling


sans fwa
sans sou, seen?

you know I’m Haitian

straight from Ogou-nation
all my heroes
paid the iron price
negus / nigist black and dirty
like a pot of djondjon rice

So I must put the question to you
Django ou Janjak?

one is an ersatz hero, a simulacrum
less than a man
less even than a myth
he will not become true b/c we tell ourselves stories about him

the other vanquished the Napoleonic Army at Batay Vetye
how's your math?

all my heroes had real hearts and spirits, bled, breathed and lived, some are immortal, and do still
invoke their presence and these men and women will live:

makandal. moise. romaine. san souci. capois death. tubman. prosser. turner. zumbi. yanga. queen nanny. deslondes. nzingha. shaka. cinque. solitude. anacaona. caonabo. tupac amaru I&II. osceola. geronimo. antonio maceo. peralte.


3Wednes(Witness)days in January

On Wednesday
I watched the broadcast State of the Union
As Barack Obama spoke
I watched the cold, unchanging
restless eyes of killers: Joint Chiefs of Staff
and thought, “these too are the eyes of
Barack’s vaunted ’10,000 Americans’
now in Ayiti”
This nation responds first
as always
with armed men
He didn’t mention
that those 10,000
are Marines
with 10,000
warm guns
or that Marines
are not made
to rebuild but
to destroy
Yet we are expected
to be gracious
and grateful
as they commandeer our airport
turning back any aid they don’t control
turning back our Carib sisters and brothers
who ask only that we be allowed to speak for ourselves
as they extract their own citizens, foreign nationals, and then
the elite
[as they plan new loans and “forgive”(acknowledge?) no debt]
as they label us looters like our cousins in New Orleans
as they close off Site Soley and Site de Dye
and ignore Jakmel, Leyogan, Jeremi
We are cast once more as beggars before the World
But look again, faith is there
look again, hope is there
look again, love is there
among strangers and friends and Ayisyen yo
coming home
making way from no way
Look around, love is here
among strangers and friends and Ayisyen yo
making home
way from no way
chanjman nou kap kwe
chanjman nou bezwen

Last Wednesday I listened as Gina Ulysse sang
“We’re a storm/ we’re a storm/
We are thunder/ we are lightning/
…We are the ones who’ve been called/
the world needs changing”
These things I feel as true
And so we need stillness
For how can one know a storm
without understanding calm
before and during?
Or even……
an earthquake?
How can many survive?
How strong can we be if we cannot hold each other?
How much courage can we have if we cannot allow ourselves
to be held?
into Earth
into each other
Feel the essence
of spiritual innamence
Love each other
See each other
Act as family
in self-defense

The Wednesday before
I wept
The Wednesday before
we wept
The Wednesday before
perhaps you also wept
at the emergent sight, sound, and thought
of Ayiti demanbre
a dismembered nation
geopsychic echo of Atlantic cataclysm
past and present
But I remembered
I re-membered
that it is for us
se pou nou
to nurture the seed
born from catastrophe
so that after mourning
there can be morning
so that after mourning
there can be morning

My mother tells me
“Touch the Sun”
Good Morning



3 Kings day comin
cool water comin

This one is short, jotted last Wednesday on my way out to get my life
it's still Wednesday somewhere
let's get it 

Umoja came today, 
crackling and full like forever
Ifa + Candomble calendars read the same
I'm almost an ideal type of every augury I ever got
I've lived all my prophecies already
Now I can read some signs for myself
And I'm who's writing
Jean Revelateur
7 seals or Akashic record
 Get at me
 Even  Especially in darkness