Tell Mama No

Mama wore red to deny my blues

My Mama wore red to deny my blues

Blues born of whiteness that defines the rules


We had the talk, my Mama and I

Said we had the talk, my Mama and I

Son, you need to learn the game, if you don’t wanna die


Kneel before Jesus, then you kneel upon me

Lawd! you kneel before Jesus, how can you kneel upon me?

Crushing weight of centuries, prone limb of the hanging tree


But times have changed, things can never stay the same

Yes, things done changed, they can never stay the same—NO!

Though the oceans flow with blood, ancient drums call out my name



Old rugged cross, a void, an inflated tear,

raised fist, a defiant stare


WBGO – Books on Racial Injustice

This is worth sharing. The words of James Baldwin have echoed across the decades as of late. The WBGO selection includes the following jazz inspired works:

Notes and Tones by Arthur R. Taylor (Da Capo Press)

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Davis (Vintage Books)

Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever by Salim Washington and Farah Griffin (Thomas Dunne Books)

To Be, or Not…to Bop: Memoirs of Dizzy Gillespie by Dizzy Gillespie (Univ. of Minnesota Press)

Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams by Tammy Kernodle (Northeastern Univ. Press)

Black Music by Amiri Baraka (Akashic Books)

If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday by Farah Griffin (One World)

The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin (Vintage International)



Here’s the link to the WBGO article:

WBGO Suggested Reading

From the publisher’s site, notes on Baldwin’s collection:


Since my son Cliff has been better able to express his thoughts and feelings on the movement, I’m sharing his latest poem with the hope it sparks change, and provides inspiration to jump start my own writing.

We are each but one voice
Screams into shielded faces
Cascading chants
Words calculated and calmly spoken into a lens
Each but one voice
Gaining power as it transforms into a chorus
Attempts to silence
I can’t breathe
My eyes cannot forget
A man’s death over loosie cigarettes
I can’t breathe
The glassy eyed stare at the onlookers
A badge meant to protect and serve
As he choked the life of a man
Another father
Another son
I can’t breathe
The words become louder
The crowds rise like an ocean tide
And somehow this feels different
It has to be different
A time for change
Hands up, don’t shoot
Bullets fly and pierce through flesh
A crime to be in one’s own home
When black
Black voices that can fill your soundtracks
Black hands that can catch your ball
Black bodies in your uniforms
Defending your freedoms
But you won’t extend the same liberties
Because of the color of their skin
So one voice
Becomes two
Which makes way for more
Until the voices of the unseen
Drown out all others
The noise
All lives
Respect the flag
Simply veiled racism
And now the cover has been lifted
Exposing the wounds
Hundreds of years of injustice
For all to bear witness
Voices in unison
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
And Repeated
Until the words sink in and are truly heard

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