Woman (from That New Millennium Dime)

Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD:

Women’s History Month. Salute

Originally posted on A.Nzinga's Blog:

beautiful outside the box african

it dont mean nothing

w/o a woman…

…dont mean nothing…

God wrapped velvet/over tempered steel

&made a woman/in the image of the creator

/creators of life/

godly metaphors/virgin mothers

mothers of godz/or/monster makers


/deep water majick/

we need new mirrors/to see ourselves as we are/to reflect us as we were meant to be

bring me the moon/I want to see myself

full/w/o the basket of burdens

weighing me to the ground/where is the moon

if i could weave the tears/i would cover the scars/i would turn the sound of women crying                         into laughter/& the smell of sunshine/i would make weapons                              of the anguish in our eyes/when we think of men & children/i would give jeweled armor to the yearning/for home/where things grow/children/relationships/flowers/dreams of tomorrows/tomorrows

we are curved…

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Race ( from That New Millennium Dime)

Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD:

Post race considerations of the construct of race.

Originally posted on A.Nzinga's Blog:


Granny said/

“you will lie in the pit/you dig

for ‘an-other’ ” /how you sleep/?/

here in the pit/where

we lie/side by side/ in the same open grave/pitted against

one another/ cain & able forever/?/how you sleep/has

your god been watching/?/do you pray

with the same mouth/ that sucked at

my great great great gramma’s bloody tears/hollered

sold american/

nigger/kike/spic/wop/chink/spook/slant/beaner/dego/sand nigger/camel jockey/

jungle bunny/jig a boo/?/

how you sleep/?/


do you dream of brown hands/

wake sweating/vowing

to kill them all/so

you can breathe/

w/0 fear of

retribution/do you dream of severed breast/broken bodies/are you

greedy/in your sleep/?/how do you sleep/

w/yr bi-racial grandchildren waiting for your death/the

brown-eyed ones that are ashamed of you/how will you answer god/?/

when he ask you about his children/

do you dream in burning crosses/bodies flopping behind trucks/dogs at throats/shooting first and yelling stop over dead bodies/corpses swaying from trees/the smell of burning…

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That Millennium Dime: Blue Ball, DRAFT 3

Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD:

“We are all on a great composting mission.” Dedan Gills, Growing a Global Heart

Originally posted on A.Nzinga's Blog:

oludumare creator of glaxies

Blue Ball

one ocean/one tree/one/u

lookin for water/on the


mars/yet u the one

that poisoned the earths rivers/ fish

in the lake/the

ocean/full of antidepressants/

fantastic/ya dumb ass invented plastic

spray more/harvest more

clone it/they dont need to know

make it from corn/its all corn & sugar anyway/thats how you feed slaves

better than/ chickens/ cows/

just barely/





can kill you

wax them apples/make ‘em shine

dig here/build there/dont care where the

mountain lions/deers/bears live

shoot ‘em if they show themselves

we r here/ 3200 sq feet & a view

w a jacuzzi/lovin nature

put them animals in a zoo/noah had a good idea

/tunnel there/dam that/level that/cut it up/dig it up/build a fence around it/

/when in doubt

kill it/

build parquet floors with those trees/make tennis racquets with the others

clear the forest for low income housing

drill off shore /forget



acid rain/tsunami/cyclone/hurricane/



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The Builder

Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD:

Build something.

Originally posted on A.Nzinga's Blog:

If we all become planters we will all have gardens.

There was once a builder who had a great desire to create. The builder longed for a space that could be called his own so that he could create things of great beauty. He thought to surround himself with beauty and in his beautiful surroundings he imagined he would create great works that would serve all of mankind. The builder had the seeds to greatness planted deep within him.And there they lie.

Those precious seeds of imagining that the world is so hungry for lie there deep inside the builder. Waiting.

The builders dreams were grand. He thought often of the perfect abode for his gift and the gifts he would create from the talent he had been given. He thought much about how he should present himself when the time for the sharing of his creativity finally arrived. He…

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Two Trains Running: Lower Bottom Playaz Next Stop

Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD:

Two Trains Running Stops in Oakland in August. All Aboard!

Originally posted on A.Nzinga's Blog:

so pacific logo 16 st train station west oakland Season 14 for the Lower Bottom Playaz starts with Two Trains Running by August Wilson. Wilson is one of America’s finest playwrights, his work The American Century Cycle is his signature writ large on the American theaterscape. His unduplicated accomplishment is being paid homage by The Lower Bottom Playaz Inc., the premiere North American Theater Troupe, in Oakland CA . The Playaz are dedicated to the fully staged production of the entire Cycle in chronological order. No troupe on the planet has ever presented the entire Cycle in order of the decades represented. The Playaz are striving to be the first.

They crossed the half way mark in their 13th season with the production of FENCES. The Playaz production of FENCES played to capacity crowds at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland CA. It closed Thanksgiving weekend to a standing room only crowd.

Next up is the seventh…

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BAM: The Movement That Moved the World


The sixties, a time of social upheaval punctuated by the struggle of North American Africans to create Black political and social institutions, that advanced Black values, and promoted Black collective interest birthed, an affirmation, “Black is Beautiful”. It was a declaration of racial pride and a new lens for viewing, embracing, and voicing the Black experience in America.

The Black Arts Movement, (BAM), confined on paper to the late sixties and early seventies, is the mantel for a collective body of works both political and artistic that grew out of the efforts of North American Africans to define a black aesthetic that enabled and supported action on issues that compromise(d) the quality of life for marginalized people. It is not possible or even practical to divide the strands of the fabric of BAM as is often attempted, its social, political, and artistic strands, like the elements of Hip Hop, are interrelated and inseparable.

BAM changed the world. Its significance was far reaching; it offered another way to look at art as a whole, challenging notions of art for art sake, it moved “art for the people” beyond definitions of “fine” and  “folk” art as it encouraged us to re-imagine collective activism while offering successful models for implementing change by the enactment of community service. A cursory look allows one to trace the effect of BAM on global social movements, mobilizing other marginalized populations; its fruits inform(ed) activism on a global scale. The period and its artifacts served as a catalyst for many who continue to create work that draws from and speaks to the continuum of the North American African experience.

BAM was celebrated at an International Conference on the Black Arts Movement, held on March 1-2 at the University of California, at Merced. Graduate student,

Kim McMillon organized the conference with the guidance of Marvin X, West Coast BAM progenitor. McMillon said, “The work of the Black Arts movement served as inspiration for many later artists, especially those from marginalized communities, and thus has shaped the flowering of artistic work over the last 40 years.” The conference opened with a gala hosted by Belva Davis at The Merced Art Center. A revolutionary art installation curated by Greg Morozumi honoring Amiri Baraka and his contribution to Black Arts was an integral part of the evening.

BAM pioneers and a chorus of activist influenced by BAM presented and preformed before a diverse and appreciative audience over the two-day array of panels, lectures, and cultural offerings.

Askia Toure defined BAM as, “a cultural revolution” that inspired an international dialog. Toure spoke on the global focus and dissemination of the twelve major North American African journals that sustained the dynamic discourse of the movement for over a decade.

Emory Douglas and Billy X Jennings offered historical overviews of The Black Panther Party, (BPP), tracing the beginnings of many current social programs to the work of BBP. Free clinics, free breakfast, and lunch programs are a legacy of the BPP. Charlotte O’Neal shared how the ethic of service to the people inspired by the BPP lives on in her work in Tanzania.

Marvin X Baraka orchestrated an ensemble of poets that included Umar Bin Hassan, Eugene Redmond, Genny Lim, Avotcja, WordSlanger, and musicians, Tarika Lewis, Tacuma King, Earl Davis, and Zana Allen in an exhibition of Sound, Word, and Power. Supported by BAM artists, Greg Morozumi, and others inspired by Merced’s grand tribute to the movement that moved the world; Marvin X is contemplating a BAM tour of the 27 cities that the ever present Amiri Baraka considered the cornerstone of the liminal space the Nation in the Nation.

Contact Ayodele Nzinga @ wordslanger@gmail.com

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Sedi Bo: A West Oakland Tale of Art and Transformation


Sedi Bo’s image is memorialized in a mural on the corner of 14th and Campbell. Sedi’s name was Cedric, people also called him Country. He was a musical artist. He grew up in West Oakland. His sister’s runs a hair shop in the neighborhood.  Sedi or Country and his family are a part of this community’s history.  Sedi had some experience running the streets in West Oakland . Mural artist Refa Senay says, “Country let go of the streets but the streets didn’t let go of him.”

Sedi matured; he  inventoried his life and  chose to make some positive changes. He wanted to be a good father, he looked forward to raising his daughter,  his music reflected his newly elevated  consciousness. Those that loved him when he was in the streets loved him even more as a striver. His change was sincere and beautiful to see. Then he was cut down. Sedi’s life was interrupted one night in the Acorn Projects. He was gunned down in a presumed robbery. He was shot as he ran from his assailants who got nothing for their efforts.

It hurt. It inspired anger. Retaliation was discussed. People felt his loss deeply and the community grief could have been articulated in any number of sad ways. The streets would no doubt have understood. After all that’s the way it goes all too many times. Everybody losing: blood on both sides assures no winners will be found. The memory and collective love of Sedi Bo painted a different picture. His transformed life offered a lasting gift. The spirit of Sedi Bo cleansed and sanctified the corner of 14th and Campbell.

His is a story of redemption and tragedy transformed into something much bigger. The mural that memorializes him is his testament, his legacy, and a summation of what became his greatest accomplishment. His most remarkable feat was not accomplished in his life but manifest itself in a tribute to his decision to live a life that mattered . The respect for his effort transformed the energy of a corner that had been a open air drug spot into a sacred space. The mural is a marker of a shining moment when a community inspired by his life and heartbroken over his murder transformed their grief into collective action.

Refa Senay, a remarkable artist, a founder of the AreoSoul Collective, also grew up in West Oakland. He says that as a child he never had to travel out of his neighborhood to see the work of master artists. He recalls a childhood filled with culture and contact with cultural workers. He told me about a mural that used to be near Greyhound bus station in downtown Oakland. That mural is now gone, but the day his father stopped his car and let a young Senay out to watch, artist Juan Carlos work on the mural, lives in his memory. Senay says he never formally studied art.  His apprenticeship in the art of visual writing was self directed and no doubt greatly enhanced by the accessibility of extraordinary artist in the neighborhood in which he grew up. Refa Senay is the artist who created the original Malcolm X mural at SF State. He also stewards several community art sites in Oakland. His dedication to the creation of quality art in neighborhoods is commendable. His work is iconic; his deft use of ribald color and his skillful blend of African symbolism loving interwoven with North American African imagery makes his work a celebration.  Senay has followed most successfully in the footsteps of the master artists he admired as a child. He paints few memorial murals. Sedi was special.

The building on the corner of 14th and Campbell where the mural lives is catercorner  to Sedi’s family’s front door. The building that once stood vacant and in disrepair  was a meeting place for white tee’s and knocks looking for dope. It was loud and dangerous, the kind of spot, you don’t want in front of your Mama’s house, or your kids to walk through on their way to and from school. The police and the community understood the business of the corner and watched as commerce on the corner rolled on unabated for years.

Sedi’s desire for something better transformed the abused space into a monument to self-determination. After getting the permission of Sedi’s family and the neighborhood Refa offered up a mural that wrapped around the building and marked the space as sacred.  The young men that did business on that corner contributed funds to commission the mural. When the word spread fives and tens poured in from the community at large. Refa’s work opened a door for the youth and the elders in the community to have a conversation that ended with the youth agreeing to close shop on that corner. They kept their word, all drug sales on that corner were stopped.

The corner remains drug free. The mural stood as a sign of the agreement to give the corner to a higher purpose.  The mural, “changed the energy on that corner”, comments  Senay . The effort of artist and community offered Sedi’s family a memorial visible from their front door. The mural was a reminder of Sefi’s life much more comforting than a trip to the graveyard.

The agreement made in community stands as did the mural for a number of years. The vacant property was purchased a couple of years ago. When the new owner started renovations  Senay was notified that the new owner had hired a casual labor crew  that was in the process of  painting over the mural with paint rollers. By the time he was able to intervene the cause had been taken up by community members who insisted the mural remain. An agreement was reached between the community and the new owner and the portion of the mural shown here was allowed to remain.

Sedi still guarded the corner; a beacon of hope for those who wish better for this community and as a reminder of the day they stood together and and chose creation over retaliation as a way of honoring Sedi’s life. The mural was a reminder of how precious life is and that change is possible. The work was spray tagged a couple of months ago. An odd occurrence; it has stood unmolested, revered, and respected since the community commissioned it. Senay restored the work as you can see in the image above.

After the last restoration someone attempted to totally obliterate the work using a paint roller to cover Sedi’s face. Senay was able to minimize the damage done in this second pass at destroying the work. The image below is the way the mural looks today after several hours of work on Senay’s part. Plans are being made to restore the work.

14th and Campbell

I hope sharing Sedi’s story inspires people’s curiosity about the history represented in street art and helps to develop a  respectful regard for  the work of cultural workers dedicated to enlivening where we live. I want people to consider and appreciate the elbow grease, sweat, and expense expended in the making of art for the people. I want people who live in the neighborhood to know that the history of that space is important to those who make their home here. I want to say out loud that it feels disrespectful and wrong for the work to be continually attacked. I want to make it clear that we value our stories and we will not easily be overwritten.

Those of us who choose to create in marginalized spaces understand fully that we must make an effort to forge the peace and prosperity we deserve ourselves; we understand stewardship. We will continue to create. We will continue to strive. We got this Country.

If you would like to donate to the restoration of this mural contact:

Dr. Nzinga at wordslanger@gmail.com

or go to:

Posted in Black Arts, I'm Just Saying!, non fiction essay, North American African Perspective | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments