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The Home of Hakm's B-Side e-alter ego...his auxiliary brain or external hard drive...

*Audio of me reading the poem here.


Gorgeous George (for Muhammad Ali)


Dear Champ,

you were our Gorgeous George,

Black Vegas,

a warrior

who would wear our Black

and die for our skins



you were not humble

you were everything we were not allowed

to be

like pretty, so pretty

 

you were rich, loud

and on TV

 

a hero in the flesh

even when you turned your front lawn

into a drive-in

for the neighborhood children,

from TV-less homes

your personality towered

over the big screen

 

you could illuminate an arena

light it up

before you knocked their lights out

 

our gold medal flower

a bronzed Adonis

live and direct from Olympic Rome

full blooming as soon as you got home

to a country that would not recognize

your rose

 

when Burdines Department Store

didn’t allow your kind

to try on their clothes

you should have given them the shirt off your back

and showed them your belt

 

Champ,

you were never one for being whipped

that is why I am left speechless

watching you tremble

for the beatings you took in our ‘stead

the racism you couldn’t out run

the slavery you couldn’t duck

the hate you couldn’t punch

 

…

 

but then,

I remember how you could never shut up

a poet in a sea of fists

you are the same reason so many colored boys

choose life in the ring

because it was the one place

you could control your environment

and our imagination

 

more than fast hands

you were unbelievable feats

the only A-lister in Miami

without a drip of drug or drink

more pugilist than pimp, married to the game

never an adulterer of the sport

so abstinent they thought you were gay

so obstinate they thought you were crazy

 

like my teenage students do,

when I tell them you were clean

 

because it’s hard to believe that you were that disciplined

before Allah made you

Muhammad Ali

before Holmes, Frazier and Spinks

before Foreman and Foster

Sonny Liston and Sonny Banks

Your mouth made you transparent

cause Lord knows

Having a glass jaw was never quite your thing

 

you told the world you were a minister

and you went to the mat for what you believed

loved your country enough, to raise your hands for money

but not enough to raise a gun

for anybody

 

you painted canvasses

with your own blood, sweat and fears

for our pleasure

and because you knew the real enemy

they didn’t let you fight for three years

 

you said you lost nothing

gained everything

like “peace of mind”

and that’s when you became our hero

 

the greatest that ever lived

and it had nothing to do with who you hit

but who you didn’t…

 

you shook up the world

and it’s still shaking

all those hits you took for us

now you’re still shaking

 

and I pray

the best prayer I know how to pray

that you are teaching us your dance

 

teaching us how to love

with our hands

 

how to not fight

when we have to

 

you taught us the butterflies

and the bees

you told the American government

 

No,

I’m not.

 

not who you think I am

not who you want me to be

 

you told them

you have a new name

and when they wouldn’t say it

you made them read it

 

we like to pretend fighters ain’t smart

but you’re a genius

so all that

to say this…

 

Dear Champ,

your black fist

taught me the difference

between fight and forfeit  

 

that Black is MORE than beautiful

Black is gorgeous.


© 2014 Hakim Bellamy

Written for and delivered at the The Trials of Muhammad Ali Albuquerque Premier Screening at Guild Cinema on January 21st, 2014

Photo Credit: Ali Underwater, Miami, 1961. © Flip Schulke Archives

*Audio of me reading the poem here.

Gorgeous George (for Muhammad Ali)

Dear Champ,

you were our Gorgeous George,

Black Vegas,

a warrior

who would wear our Black

and die for our skins

you were not humble

you were everything we were not allowed

to be

like pretty, so pretty

 

you were rich, loud

and on TV

 

a hero in the flesh

even when you turned your front lawn

into a drive-in

for the neighborhood children,

from TV-less homes

your personality towered

over the big screen

 

you could illuminate an arena

light it up

before you knocked their lights out

 

our gold medal flower

a bronzed Adonis

live and direct from Olympic Rome

full blooming as soon as you got home

to a country that would not recognize

your rose

 

when Burdines Department Store

didn’t allow your kind

to try on their clothes

you should have given them the shirt off your back

and showed them your belt

 

Champ,

you were never one for being whipped

that is why I am left speechless

watching you tremble

for the beatings you took in our ‘stead

the racism you couldn’t out run

the slavery you couldn’t duck

the hate you couldn’t punch

 

 

but then,

I remember how you could never shut up

a poet in a sea of fists

you are the same reason so many colored boys

choose life in the ring

because it was the one place

you could control your environment

and our imagination

 

more than fast hands

you were unbelievable feats

the only A-lister in Miami

without a drip of drug or drink

more pugilist than pimp, married to the game

never an adulterer of the sport

so abstinent they thought you were gay

so obstinate they thought you were crazy

 

like my teenage students do,

when I tell them you were clean

 

because it’s hard to believe that you were that disciplined

before Allah made you

Muhammad Ali

before Holmes, Frazier and Spinks

before Foreman and Foster

Sonny Liston and Sonny Banks

Your mouth made you transparent

cause Lord knows

Having a glass jaw was never quite your thing

 

you told the world you were a minister

and you went to the mat for what you believed

loved your country enough, to raise your hands for money

but not enough to raise a gun

for anybody

 

you painted canvasses

with your own blood, sweat and fears

for our pleasure

and because you knew the real enemy

they didn’t let you fight for three years

 

you said you lost nothing

gained everything

like “peace of mind”

and that’s when you became our hero

 

the greatest that ever lived

and it had nothing to do with who you hit

but who you didn’t…

 

you shook up the world

and it’s still shaking

all those hits you took for us

now you’re still shaking

 

and I pray

the best prayer I know how to pray

that you are teaching us your dance

 

teaching us how to love

with our hands

 

how to not fight

when we have to

 

you taught us the butterflies

and the bees

you told the American government

 

No,

I’m not.

 

not who you think I am

not who you want me to be

 

you told them

you have a new name

and when they wouldn’t say it

you made them read it

 

we like to pretend fighters ain’t smart

but you’re a genius

so all that

to say this…

 

Dear Champ,

your black fist

taught me the difference

between fight and forfeit 

 

that Black is MORE than beautiful

Black is gorgeous.

© 2014 Hakim Bellamy

Written for and delivered at the The Trials of Muhammad Ali Albuquerque Premier Screening at Guild Cinema on January 21st, 2014

Photo Credit: Ali Underwater, Miami, 1961. © Flip Schulke Archives

Work - by hakim bellamy

(Edited via performance at TEDxABQWomen in Albuquerque, NM on December 1st. The full text is below. This poem will be published in my forthcoming book “Swear" by West End Press in March 2013)

WORK

I

There are few things more difficult

than getting lipstick

out of a blue collar

for a few things

we work

work like

lipstick on a blue collar

like three jobs

and the sex

we still can’t afford

to have

like a sex worker

fancy feet fantasies

of strawberry toes

dipped in fondue faces

while we rest

in the heel of society

I will never

let him have my feet

of running

kicking

and standing

instead of lying down

II

That pill

drug skid marks

down my esophagus

after kicking

and screaming

‘cross my tongue

awoke

took my longest finger

out of me

at 6 o’clock

erected it

to twelve

and shoved it past

his sleeping nose

there is nothing sexy

about eye sockets.

when the perpetrator

sleeps over

it’s date rape

whether the patron

paid

or not

III

my arms

are longer than his sentence

rivet strong and smooth

sometimes

for fastening

the maturation of

baby boys

to Maybe Men

other times

for the quickening

of the removal

of his sternum

from my bosom

maybe baby

maybe not

these arms

do not belong to him

they are open

to me

IV

My ankles

were pregnant

with desperate housework

when I collared him

lipstick I did not recognize

perfume I did

but did not blame her for being a victim

did not blame my hands

for refusing to wash

anymore of his fucking shirts

did not blame god

for leaving my daughter’s father

and his patriarchal paycheck

for putting my baby girl

on my back

putting food and shelter

on my shoulders

making my living

off my ass

my brain

cannot be judged by its cover,

my complexion, nor my circumstance

not where I clock in

or clock out

I have a degree

in sociology

and survival

and only one

is coming in handy

V

My daughter

is my body of labor

a woman now

born from my rib

pushed from my pelvis

apple of my Eve

I named her “Eden”

she has nested with serpents

seen me

serve leg, thigh and breast

to a tapeworm society

that cannibalizes its women

she’s seen

my serviceable body parts

removed

used to fill their holes

she’s seen my heart overlooked

cast plate-side

like a gizzard

she’s seen them

eat me

from the inside

out

VI

she barely remembers

my housewife days

of not lifting a finger

to her father

and him

putting himself

where ever he wanted

his fists

as hard as he wanted

and I chose

bait instead of bitch

I chose pussy

instead of prison

because I rather teach her

teach her

that there is dirt

underneath every French manicure

that working girls

get their ass kicked for a living

that’s a choice for some

less of a choice for others

but so is getting your ass kicked

for love

for life

teach her

the difference between sale and sacrifice

is the cost and the price

like the difference between

pay equity and fair wage

teach her the difference between

high risk career

and poor life choices

that either way we have rights

even when they put their palms

over our voices

I taught her that

I’d rather give the street

what her father repeatedly took

even pride

what she learned from me

is the value of her body

for better or for worse

she learned not to stay for bullshit

like “relationships take work”

work takes work

and work consists

of whatever a body

is obliged to do.

From Mohandis K. Gandhi to Michael Luther King, Jr

image

Michael, I’m sorry

It’s not fair
At least I got to meet my grandchildren
Before my people turned on me

I should have told you
That satyagraha will get you killed

That your hugs and hope
Will end in an embrace of gunpowder

That one million people
Can beat one million bullets
But all it will take is one bullet
To beat you, Michael

We have more in common
Than our four children
And our changed names

More than Nobel Peace Prize gossip
Cold jail cell floors
And an oppressed underclass

More than Henry David Thoreau
And cowards who are too afraid to die for anything
Calling us soft

I’m so sorry
I should have told you
That Civil Disobedience
Requires civility

Civility that is very hard to find
In a human race that
Swaddles its offspring in flag and pistol
One in the cradle
And launches them off to war

I should have told you
That all of our Walden’s
Would be warzones

That we won’t die of old age
Or Tuberculosis like Henry

That non-violent resistance
Ends differently for people with our color skin
There should have been another chapter
For us

We both got our start in public transportation
Not the Montgomery Bus Boycott that put you on American television
But the day YOU
Were made to give up your seat on a bus
Hours after you won a speaking contest at the Negro Elks Society
And you didn’t sit in the back
You stood in the aisle
The entire 90-mile trip home

Where all the white passengers around you
Including the one in your seat
Were made to stare at your pride and your pain

You were fourteen

I was twenty-four

When I was thrown off a train
For refusing to leave the first class cabin
In South Africa
Beaten by a stagecoach driver
For refusing to “make room”
For a European passenger

That same genetic defect in humans
That made them spit on and spear
Your precious Jesus, King

I called it
“A negation of civilization”
You called me John 10:16
Which reads.
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold

You called me “great soul”

You said,
“Christ showed us the way,
And Gandhi in India showed it could work.”
And I’m sorry
That they are not all like you

Sorry
That they will forget
That I am Hindu and Muslim Peace
When they are looking for someone to bomb

That they will forget
That you are a militant lover
The pacifist-aggressive pastor
Monday through Sunday Christian
When they are looking for someone to be

I preached satya and ahimsa
Harvested riverbeds of salt
From the faces of my brothers and sisters
While giving the middle finger to British law

You preached
Said if one thousand are locked up
There should be a thousand more waiting to fill their jail cells too
Said peace is not merely the absence of tension,
it is the presence of justice.

And I’m sorry
Sorry, I didn’t tell you the rest
Sorry I didn’t tell you how tired I was
How tired you looked
At the end

How the press would ridicule you
When your peaceful protest exploded into to violence
How it would frustrate you
In a way that fasting and praying could not cure
How you could give a damn about how it would hurt your image
Because what was really taxing
Was how it broke your heart

Martin,
It’s the same heaven for lawyers and martyrs
There is no caste there
To separate those who live good lives
From those who live good legends

You could have just been a good father,
Husband, Pastor
Instead of King

I could have practiced law
Not dying for the cause

I should have told you the dirty little secret
That death
Is the only way out of making a hypocrisy of ourselves

That I was on the brink
Ready to duck tape the mouths of my fellow countrymen
Bickering over India and Pakistan
As the British smirked on their way out

And you
You were running out of other cheeks to turn

Sometimes,
Murder is the only way we leave in peace, Martin

He Ram

And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner
But I think you knew

For someone dead at half my age
You were always a quick study

And when you got back from India
You let me and the whole of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church know

On Palm Sunday

You said,
“God grant that we shall choose the high way.
Even if it will mean assassination, even if it will mean crucifixion,
For by going this way we will discover that death will be only the beginning of our influence.”

© Hakim Bellamy January 17, 2013


Written for the 5th Annual Amy Biehl High School Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service & delivered at the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

UNM Afro-American Studies Program Celebrates 40 years in DocumentaryPremier escreening at UNM Student Union Building Theater with founders as panelistAlbuquerque, Nm – 40 years agothis academic year, the University of New Mexico (UNM) was dealing with thesame turmoil the rest of the country was regarding race in America. Thedocumentary that the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs willpremiere at UNM on Wednesday, November 9th artfully presentsAlbuquerque’s place in the Civil Rights Movement.Not solely thepurview of the southeastern United States, the struggle for full inclusion andfull representation was alive and well on the campus of the University of NewMexico in 1968. The documentary tells the history of the founding of Afro-AmericanStudies (Now two separate entities presently called Africana Studies and AfricanAmerican Student Services) at UNM from the perspective of the two studentswho initiated it (Barbara Brown-Simmons, J.D. and Sam W.D. Johnson, J.D.), UNM’sfirst African American Homecoming Queen (Ms. Mary Sue Gaines), UNM’s firstAfrican American Dean of Students, and the first two directors of theAfro-Studies Program (Dr. Charles Becknell Sr. and Dr. Harold Bailey.)Dr. Harold Baileyis now the Executive Director of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairswhich acts Executive Producer on this documentary. “During the 1970’s there wasa student movement at the University of New Mexico that influenced change, andpromoted diversity and inclusion,” says Bailey. ”The documentary providesinformation about the Black Experience at UNM during that time and reflects thededication and commitment of those students responsible for the foundation oftoday’s program.”Thefeature length documentary premiere will begin at noon in the Student UnionBuilding Theater. Admission is free and the event is co-sponsored by UNM BlackStudent Union and UNM African American Student Services. There will be a paneldiscussion after the screening with the student founders, first director andfirst associate dean of students. For more information visit www.oaaa.state.nm.us or call505.222.9405.40th Anniversary of Afro-American StudiesRun time: 60minutesExecutive Producer: Dr. Harold Bailey, New Mexico Office of AfricanAmerican AffairsDirector: HakimBellamyCinematographer:Darryl DeLoachPremiere Screening: Wed. Nov. 9th @ 12pm UNM Student Union Building Theater

UNM Afro-American Studies Program Celebrates 40 years in Documentary

Premier escreening at UNM Student Union Building Theater with founders as panelist

Albuquerque, Nm – 40 years agothis academic year, the University of New Mexico (UNM) was dealing with thesame turmoil the rest of the country was regarding race in America. Thedocumentary that the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs willpremiere at UNM on Wednesday, November 9th artfully presentsAlbuquerque’s place in the Civil Rights Movement.

Not solely thepurview of the southeastern United States, the struggle for full inclusion andfull representation was alive and well on the campus of the University of NewMexico in 1968. The documentary tells the history of the founding of Afro-AmericanStudies (Now two separate entities presently called Africana Studies and AfricanAmerican Student Services) at UNM from the perspective of the two studentswho initiated it (Barbara Brown-Simmons, J.D. and Sam W.D. Johnson, J.D.), UNM’sfirst African American Homecoming Queen (Ms. Mary Sue Gaines), UNM’s firstAfrican American Dean of Students, and the first two directors of theAfro-Studies Program (Dr. Charles Becknell Sr. and Dr. Harold Bailey.)

Dr. Harold Baileyis now the Executive Director of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairswhich acts Executive Producer on this documentary. “During the 1970’s there wasa student movement at the University of New Mexico that influenced change, andpromoted diversity and inclusion,” says Bailey. ”The documentary providesinformation about the Black Experience at UNM during that time and reflects thededication and commitment of those students responsible for the foundation oftoday’s program.”

Thefeature length documentary premiere will begin at noon in the Student UnionBuilding Theater. Admission is free and the event is co-sponsored by UNM BlackStudent Union and UNM African American Student Services. There will be a paneldiscussion after the screening with the student founders, first director andfirst associate dean of students. For more information visit www.oaaa.state.nm.us or call505.222.9405.



40th Anniversary of Afro-American Studies

Run time: 60minutes

Executive Producer: Dr. Harold Bailey, New Mexico Office of AfricanAmerican Affairs

Director: HakimBellamy

Cinematographer:Darryl DeLoach

Premiere Screening: Wed. Nov. 9th @ 12pm UNM Student Union Building Theater