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Archive for March 15th, 2006

Sez

If you are going to write an article for national consumption and feel the need to misspell "says" on purpose, you embarrass yourself more than I can express. What a sad commentary on the death of substance in our society.

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A 7 year old "poet" has caused a stir locally with her reading of a poem with racially-charged references. The little girl is not a skinhead, white supremacist, or neo Nazi, but black.
Some call Autum Ashante a prodigy, a 7-year-old girl who has traveled the world and received accolades for her socially conscious poetry. Others, particularly some parents and students in Peekskill who said a racially charged poem the girl recited sparked a mini-furor, wondered if she was being misguided.

Autum, who lives in Mount Vernon with her father, Batin Ashante, is in the center of a firestorm after performing a controversial recitation at a Black History Month event at Peekskill’s middle and high schools. She read an original poem, entitled "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage," that describes Christopher Columbus and Charles Darwin as "pirates" and "vampires" for robbing black people of their culture, identity and wealth.

In the piece, Autum, writes: "Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse. They took the gold, the wisdom and all of the storytellers. They took the black women, with the black man weak. Made to watch as they changed the paradigm of our village."

Before her Feb. 28 performances at the schools, which lasted about 20 minutes, students say Autum asked white students to remain seated while black students stood and recited the The Black Children’s Pledge, an oath of responsibility and black pride made popular by the Black Panther Party during the 1960s. She then went on to recite the white nationalism poem.

In reading the story, it is clear that the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

"When you throw a brick in a pack of dogs, the only one that yells out is the one that got hit," Ashante, 40, a member of the Nation of Islam, said quoting the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X. "When you hit them with truth, brother, you’re naturally going to get this reaction."

Calling district officials "racist crackers," he said his daughter is not prejudiced and was only trying to promote unity among black youths by teaching them about their history.

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The older Ashante, who is also a poet, said his daughter’s strong language is her own and denies that he wrote the poems for her or is teaching her hatred. He said he introduced her to black history and poetry, but that much of her writing is influenced by current events, including what some see as the poor treatment of blacks and poor after Hurricane Katrina.

"My daughter is not racist," he said. "She’s too little to be one. She knows her history. She knows the truth."

The little girl, who is home schooled, has appeared on TV, on Showtime At The Apollo and Def Poetry Jam on HBO. She is producing a poetry album as well, not coincidentally produced by the Peekskill music teacher who invited her to the event.

The idea that she’d ask the white kids to remain seated while the black ones recited an oath is understandably unsettling. While the father denies it, it is clear to me that she is, at the very least, parroting what she hears from him at home. He’s probably doing more than influencing her-dictating is more like it-but why be alarmed? Are we surprised that there are racists and bigots among us? When did racism and bigotry become synonymous with white people?

White Nationalism Put U In Bondage

White nationalism is what put you in bondage

Pirate and vampires like Columbus, Morgan, and Darwin

Drank the blood of the sheep, trampled all over them with

Steel, tricks and deceit.

Nothing has changed take a look in our streets

The mis-education of she and Hegro – leaves you on your knee2grow

Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse

They took the gold, the wisdom and all of the storytellers

They took the black women, with the black man weak

Made to watch as they changed the paradigm

Of our village

They killed the blind, they killed the lazy, they went

So far as to kill the unborn baby

Yeah White nationalism is what put you in bondage

Pirates and vampires like Columbus, Morgan, and Darwin

They drank the blood of the sheep, trampled all over them with

Steel laden feet, throw in the tricks alcohol and deceit.

Nothing has changed take a look at our streets

— Autum Ashante

The school district has since apologized, but isn’t this still a set up? When this child gets out into the world and has a tough time adopting to the inconsistency between reality and her father’s view of things, do they not already have the built in excuse of racism to fall back on?

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