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tv   2015 American Book Awards  CSPAN  January 18, 2016 11:45am-2:27pm EST

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the people who live in states where married families are still predominate, wisconsin, they are moving-- utah, are moving in the other direction, so we are having this terrible polarization because we weren't able to deal intelligently and honestly. let me bring up a word that has not been mentioned so far. i see my wife over there and the word is feminism. feminism has certain virtues. she kept her name and that means when people ask for mrs. siegel and they are selling something on the phone i say there is no mr. siegel and hang out. but, feminism is another basis for not being able to talk honestly i'm an not being able to talk about empirical outcomes. in wisconsin i don't know if people realize this, in wisconsin and legacy of progressivism progressivism
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could be brought together to investigate election fraud. in the name of that commission they had midnight raids, knocking down the doors and they have come up with nothing. but, the only one who has covered this is the "wall street journal". if it's been in the "new york times" i admit i read the times less and less as i have shifted to an online subscription because i couldn't bear to pay them so much. if these things come to the fore , we have a chance of achieving some progress. i worry if hillary clinton is selected, the problem that steve and i talked about will be baked into the body politics for a long time to come. i worry about it for myself, but i worry about it for my grandchildren. >> think you and i want to leave everyone with one last buckley quote.
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he wrote a letter to henry kissinger what must've been fairly despairing moment in the cold war that our task is to bring hammer blows against the belgian dark that protects the dreamers from reality. the idealist scenario is that my pounding from without we can affect residences which will one date cracked through to the latent impulses of those who dream within, bringing to life a circuit that will save the republic. fifty years on our task is still to bring those hammer blows and please thank steve and fred for joining us. [applause]. >> think you. thank you. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> next on the tv we bring you this year's american book awards. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> does everyone have a program? we still got a few appear on the stage. beautiful, okay. well, my name is justin, on the chairman of the board of directors of the columbus foundation.
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we would like to start the afternoons program by introducing the president of the foundation. playwright, journalist, commack. [applause]. [applause]. >> president sounds so powerful, doesn't? a title of the real work of american book awards is justin does a-- does huge heavy lifting. to give him a round of applause. [applause]. >> thank you for joining us. today i did not know i was speaking until three minutes ago. so, i prepared these remarks for you and spent a lot of time thinking about these powerful eloquent remarks i'm about to give. quickly, thank you for joining us for the american book awards.
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this is the 36th annual american book awards, almost a 40th. it is sponsored by the before: this foundation and your the 40th anniversary of the before columbus foundation, so we have been alive and kicking for a long time. [applause]. >> quickly, just to give like what is the spirit of today's awards ceremony. as you can see is the california vibe, very deliberately relax, there are family members, grandparents. i see a kid. there is a kid here. it's the spirit, if you will, of the american book awards is a lot of people assume before clovis foundation is doing it, so it might be a binary think. it's a mosaic thing. methods of america, evolving rough draft of the american breakfast-- narrative. as we get to a minority majority country. [inaudible] >> thank you.
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i appreciate it. i will take all pity applause and laughter. the american book awards celebrates talents. it celebrates good authors, good scholarship, good writers and it celebrates good writers. it's not a token award. it's not like we had a checklist and we need a latino writer and an african-american writer. no, it represents good work. i went to give you a heads up, the board is comprised of writers. and the board throughout the year it reads these works and we submit-- each one submits if you will one choice and sometimes we cheat and get to. but, it's basically writers selecting other writers. nominating them based on the quality of their work, the cynically those people who are celebrating the messiness of america. the way america is stretching and constantly expanding and push against the boundaries and
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all of the fault lines that exist within america. specifically to give you a heads up about some of the people on the board, we aren't just a jokers and clowns-- i am-- but we have alerts or nominees here, macarthur genius is here, the biggest most prestigious award for poetry that was awarded to one of our board members this year, dzhokhar joe. the laureate of california; correct? and now the united states, he is a board member, you can get those two guys a round of applause. [applause]. >> i wear makeup for a living on television, that counts for something. we have teachers, men and women who are very celebrated and established on this board. who, if you will, have been following your work and have decided that you guys warrant a place on this stage and there is no-- no number one, known a
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virtue, no number bronze gold, silver. whoever hears a winner and we like to celebrate the spirit of america by inviting the community. so, thank you. give them a round of applause. they do fantastic work. [applause]. >> i want to say i was talking to marlon, marlon james by the way a winner. [applause]. >> i said marley, who is taking credit for your success and he said everyone. [laughter] >> in the spirit of taking credit for his success, american book awards gave him the award before the broker. just saying we had great taste, but we have also today a winner as a pulitzer nominated finalist, layla. layla is here. a fantastic book. carlos santana is also a winner. he isn't here today.
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doesn't matter. when you come to the american book awards, europe writers establish writers and self published. that is the spirit of the award, so i hope i was able in my small eloquent way to describe the spirit of the awards and i thank you all for being here. please stick around. meet the writers. meet the poets. by their work, support their work and specifically what you say is personal for me because back in the day before i wore makeup for a living on television i was born and raised in fremont, california, and my parents are here. they thought it would be hilarious to teach their american born son no english and so when i went to child hideaway preschool in fremont, california, i knew only three words of english, which was shut up because my mother used it to say shut up. idiot because my mother used to say shut up, idiot and anyone who was born in the 80-- 80's.
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so, five years old, dropped in preschool without any english and ended up graduating with an english major from the university of california california. the american dream. then, when i was a 20-year old college student at uc berkeley in the year 2001, my english professor was sitting right there in the front row and he said and this was october, a month after 911, and he said i see the news and i don't see the voices of muslims and i don't see the muslims of-- voices of pakistani and i think things will be tough for your tribe for the next 10 years, but you know how we fought back, african-americans, with bob doctor storytelling and the arts, so in order to pass my short story class you're going to have to write 20 pages of a play and i'm like i'm not a
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playwright and he said you have two months, write me a play. the reason why mention is because the play i started to pass this class became my first play of the crusaders and before clovis foundation is specifically carl blank was the right hand at the director of the play. give her a round of applause also. she is a silent warrior for the american book awards. she became the director of the play and before columbus foundation was a first organization that took a shot on a 21-year old young pakistani and american punk kid from fremont, health 40, when everyone else laughed at me in the play was published and premiered in new york, so thank you before clovis foundation and i ended up being the president somehow. i am also a proud member. and recipient of the generosity. i hope the final thing i see is for the winners here today and
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specifically for the community members that have come in the spirit of the american book awards, if there is someone in your community, someone in your family, someone in your schools we think has talent, sometimes all it takes is you using whatever capacity you had to say how you have talent, let me support and sometimes that takes the form of a complement. thank you for joining us today and don't give it back to justin to start the awards. thank you all. the. [applause]. ,. [applause]. >> i should mention that his play was published as a book by mcsweeney several years ago and is well worth your time. so, as we careen haphazardly into what is beginning to be the 17th year of the longest war
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in the history of our young country, a war that according to the congressional budget office costs $174 million a day, with no end in sight. recently the united nations issued a report about seven weeks ago that the wars instigated by us or at least the behest of our leaders have displaced 60 million people globally and about 60 million over half our children under 12 years old. so, the question of what it means to be un-american or to even begin to articulate on
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american identity that has any fidelity whatsoever with our past is becoming increasingly the province of a kind of all art-- ideological merchandise that is being politicized and commercialized by those who hold the keys to that capital. that capital that is financing the wars themselves. very few people seem interested in addressing that. certainly, those who are here today and those who are being honored by the american book award have done an extraordinary and illuminating work in bringing us into a clear understanding of what our place
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in the america, and the world is. we will be talking that more as the awards progress. but, how is this all affected the development of curriculum and how literature is talk-- taught rex .. i know that many of you are part
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of the academic community, but this proliferation of programs and writings, i'm afraid is often choking the creativity and truthfulness of much of what is being published. art, i believe, is much like an element within nature, water, fire, air, earth, art. and like love and beauty, people are often drowned in it or upped by it, buried in it, but it takes an alchemist to conjure the elements together and
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produce something fertile, something necessary, something urgent. thousands and thousands of artists create, many less are discussed by their peers and even fewer have any place in posterity, so i'd like to begin with our lifetime achievement award which is presented to ann waldman. who really has done more to transform and maintain a fertility of that very curriculum that i was speaking about a few moments ago, one over the founders, obviously, as many of you know, and a woman who has weaved a vision of american poetics that is inclusive of man of the principles of the before
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columbus foundation. she was unable to join us and we have the honor of her son joining us to accept the award for ann waldman for lifetime achievement. [applause] >> so, i co lacollaborate with -- collaborate with my mom a lot. usually i'm over there on the piano. i don't really work the mic very well, but i'll try to read her little thing she row. i'm sorry if i'm looking down a lot. i don't have it memorized. all right. so she also wanted me to just make an extra thank you to this kind of a bay area writers community, keeping it going out
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here. she keeps a watchful eye from wherever she is but she has a really good place, important place in her heart, all of the work done here. so wanted me to put out there. salutations can when i received news of to this award nope for panoramic aware nose of the range of literary diocesety, experimental, of van guard, community minded i was extremely moved. actually i was with her and we were at our niece's birthday at this restaurant in colorado, and she was really excited. that's not a lie. she said, i wanted to dance around the block. i wanted to sing from the mountaintop. i actually bowed to the continental divide. i was in the middle of the third week of the summer writing program, a creative writing program i cofounded -- not me -- will allen beginsburg in 1974, and shepherded for over 40
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years. usual intense tide of any conglomeration of people in player, never fully institutional, all progressive in it writing practices and perform appearance, and holds a backdrop with a buddhist view of noncompetetive education. the award confirms i was on the right path to help nourish this poetry school. thank you on behalf of infrastructure poetics, an important ingredient to sustain artistic communities. i also had the good for to be involved in projects involving poetry and education in morocco, india, and china, and recent performances at montreal pop, building up towards the climate change talk, and we dade couple of events there to -- yeah, new york, montreal, and then paris
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in december. so, i was just with her at the henry miller library in big sur, doing a performance, and she's on her way to belgium right here. and she's also doing keynotes in belgium and france. when i got the news of the award i also thought of off the boom now passed on involved in my long path of poetry. alan ginsburg, franco harris. william burrows, leslie, mary, adrian, judith, and many other friends and colleagues, collaborators in the mix. i think of all those now who acted -- continue the work in poetic and artistic communities in the world. so many younger people -- talking about the energy in china. she was there last week. young people motivate. also working for racial, gender
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justice, and the freedom of imagination. part of the poet's job is to look into the darkness of the time and rather than be -- we have poet and artists to change view. the activism flows with projects rerated to the climate change and social justice, wogging performance with my family and many others. the writing continues with recent publications from penguin's poets and coffeehouse press. a new book is coming out in the spring, which i know she has been tirelessly working on. i hear about it every time i talk to her. which is a meditation on blake's book of self. a new manuscript, future feminism, in 2017, and recently cross-worlds of transcultural poetic -- this award give mets
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renewed energy and enthusiasm. i'm extremely grateful to me editors as well. paul, chris, and erica, and simone, and i thank my son -- okay -- i thank my son by a frequent co -- collaborator in my stead. i want to thank justin the staff and a deep, deep, deep, bow to ishmael, a great writer, thinker, artistic activist, this means the world coming from you. thank you all very, very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> now i'd like to welcome one of our board members, playwright andpot, jenny lynn. >> thank you all for coming. this is a wonderful gathering we have once a year, and this is the 40th anniversary, and i just want you all to know that all this is done with a real tight shoestring budget, and we don't get huge endowments from the one percent. so, it's all a community effort and we welcome any contributions or any leads to potential donors to keep before columbus foundation alive. we have a tiny little office
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crammed with books and justin goes through the piles and piles of books and actually reads quite a good number of them in addition to the board members that do their part, and letting us all know what is out there in the field. so, you're all now part of the before columbus foundation, and i want you all to feel free to communicate with the board and any contacts you have on the board about your ideas and visions or suggesting authors we're not aware of for potential recognition. this next writer is a poet, i consider her like my sister poet. kindrid spirit, and we have read many times in poetry benefits and in the community here in the san francisco bay area, and she has been a real strong political and social force in the community, and she comes from a
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very musical family and often collaborates with her brothers or brother will be playing later on at the san francisco music day as i will be performing later at 8:00, and it's an all-day free event so after you get finished with the reception, you're more than welcome to come over to the theater. there will be wonderful music and jimmy will by playing, along with a lot of musicians, and i'll be performing with anthony brown's asia-american orchestra, 1945, day of infamiliary, to commemorate the dropping of the bombs in hiroshima and nagasaki. so it's a wonderful day in san francisco and we got good weather. i want to share something that juan herrera sent us about our means work. -- are liens work. her beckoning hands is a collection of poems as prayer
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flags, offerings across the ocean, earth and sky, memorializing family members, an sees stories stories and spiritl weeks. arlene, champs and dances at the center of inner, outer, sacred lakes. he texts move incredible heights of pele. this is possible. awaken to the fires of suffering, the light, birth, and death. to -- you must go in, rise, and wade above it all. then you create rhythms, entwine languages, paint, carry and release, the drum sounds, that is our full lives in this oscillating world of numbing tests and knowing. a magnificent breakthrough, a timeless collection, juan filipe
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herrera. i present to you arlene, who is to me almost like the spirit -- her work is elemental and captures the essence of water, wind, fire, and ether, and earth. arlene. [applause] >> nny, thank you. >> thank you, everybody. very happy to be here and would love to extend my warm thanks to justin and ishmael and the entire before columbus foundation. it is a group i think, having
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discovered -- in my undergrad years probably my freshman year, that anthology, and realizing that the literature world and the world is so much more expansive than i was learning about in the undergrad year. specifically one english professor i remember had said to our class -- english 1a or 1b if you're not writing like milton by the time you're 19, you might at as well forget about it. the only reason that stuck in my head is because i'm glad i didn't forget about it. so i was blessed and fortunate to grow up in the bay area, and come from a musical family. brother performing later on this inning occupy the road. another brother probably gigging somewhere in monterrey or san jose. three children in our family. my mother and father from the philippines, and when they came here, they really thought, oh,
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one of our kids is going to be a business major. they're going to be famous and do this and that. and they got a poet, and two musicians. so they're still proud, i think. i want to acknowledge my family, who is here. thank you for coming up. my kids, my husband, who keeps he grounded when the world gets too crazy, which is a lot. i will just -- i'm going share two poems from the book. her beckoning hands. before i do that, i would like to recognize my sister, jenny, who in her kind introduction i want to recognize her within this group and let you know that when i started writing, and going through both my -- finishing my undergrad degree,
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genny is the soul of that thing of do not mistake my kindness for weakness. she has always been that soul and showed me really how to be effective through love and fierceness of love in the community, and to be inclusive, and i think with so much of the ridiculousness that is being played around, whether you look an your phone for a second and you're immediately bombarded, or you look out the window and you're immediately bombarded with things that take away from your core. genny is one of this writes lime walk filipe and jim jordan and folk is have been able to study with, who i really feel bring us back to the core so thank you. this first poem i'm going to do -- anyone a manny pacquiao fan in this room? i'm not really but he is really
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interesting to me, and i'm filipino, so -- what i wrote this poem about was the thing that happens when the war machine is going on, and everything is happening in terms of the killings and different things in the philippines and here and pacquiao is about to fight, and everybody shuts down. it's like a time-out, right? like somebody yelled, squirrel, to a dog, and they stop for a minute and take in this wonder, and then they go back about their business. so, this is about that sort of phenomenon and wondering how that happens, it's called deficit. who can comprehend the sacrifice of 100,000 soldiers or the confidence in our chosen leaders' voice that it is this and a trillion dollars that will make is safe. that word, trillion, how a
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four-year-old describes the stars or the number of ants he believes are in his ant farm. the ones he watches intently from outside the invisible walls. amused to watch the bumper to bumper march, allegiance to the call of duty, or just doing what they do to stay alive. who can understand the logic of a brother, a bad-ass boxer who can stop an entire country, soldiers, terrorists, guerrillas, politicians/actors and roundtable religious rebels, dead in mid-strike, like a time-out during the bout, all pinoy pride, forget what they were fighting for, forth getting all about killing each other, as they turn their heads to the
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nearest screen and cheer on manny pack, you're manny, the pack man. whose reign thrilled them with the wonder of a trillion stars. [applause] >> the next poem is a love letter, and it's for christina taylor green, who everybody recalls, she was the young child who was unfortunately gunned down when gabrielle giffords was gunned down as well on that horrible day. for christina at nine. i'm trying to write you a love letter but i don't knoll how -- i don't know how to beginning. look both ways before you go, you hear your mother say, as it's blurted from my own lips. her words meant only to guide
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you safely through the parking lot, not to deliver you into the arms of yemiya. where are you now, angel eyes? i need to write you this love letter to say how sorry i am that we have failed you. i didn't know the colors of your voice, the scent of your sun-kissed hear, like cherries, or the spark of your smile. i didn't know until after he killed you, that you were born on a day slammed with a gruesome dust. that someone had reason to tremble in joy, to raise your purple body to her lips and whisper your name like rain. can you hear me, little one? you see all these people crowding the room, dressed in both finest, trying to behave,
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at last they sit together, trying to behave in your honor. your mother is here. are you holding her hand? our president voices his sorrow. he vows to redeem you. her slaughtered lamb. but she will not be moved. angel eyes, only the ache of missing you is clear. all she wants is you. all she wants is you. for christina tara green. [applause] >> before i forget to remind you, after the ceremony, before we all disperse and head over
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for the reception, please, all of the awardees stay behind so we can take some photos, all right? manual luis martinez is a native texan, currently living in columbus, ohio, with his wife and daughter. he serves as an associate professor of 20th century american literature, american studies, chicano, latino studies, and creative writing at the ohio state university. his novels include, crossing drift, and day of the dead. had this to say: it follows in the tradition of rivera's -- and the works of other chicano writers to have exposed the adverse living and working conditions of migrant
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farmworkers, including grinding poverty, lack of comment and self-determination opportunities, lang of healthcare, degraded living conditions, very little help from churches and other social institutions. it's a small, neglected desert community in southern california. by contrast, it is surrounded by the opulent homes and golf courses of rancho mirage, the novel explodes with reality. the characters are real. as is the trap in which they live. i urge young people to read this novel. politicians who think they know the reality of migrant workers should read this novel. if this country addresses the plight of migrant farmers, then maybe every migrant community can be revitalized. the chicano movement demand better conditions for these workers, cesar chavez worked tirelessly on behalf of the worker, but the work is not yet
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done. novels remind us there is still much to do, the country needs to be more exclusive and see these workers as citizens. the country needs to include migrant farmworkers and other workers in the field, and a broader view of american culture and society. [applause] >> this is real honor to be here. especially the two -- to have an introduction written by one of my heroes, rudy, who is a pioneer and a real giant in the field of writing, but in
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particular to us younger latino writers w.h.o. grew up not egg known there was such a thing at latino literature until people like rudy and i and and ernestod other wroters showed us we can write stories, too. what an honor just to have that happen to me today. when i first went to the coachella valley seven years ago i went at the behest of a friend of mine whoa was a young scholar at indiana university. he said i'm running a program where we will spined three or four weeks working with young migrant kids, and you should come and help out. i've been a writer, was a writer at that point. he said why don't you come down here and run a little workshop with them. i said, sounds like a greating there to do for a couple of
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weeks. he said, it's going to change the wail you see the world, and i hung up with him and told my wife, molly, i don't know if it's going to change the way i see the world. my grandparents were migrant workers, my father was a migrant worker, i know the stories, i've lived much of that history, and it's a living presence in my life. i grew up poor on the west side barrios of san antonio, so i thought i'll see some things that are difficult to see, but nothing i haven't experienced or at least second hand. so i went down there and i was blown air. was astounded at the level of poverty that people exist in in that region and it was made all the more real to me because it was juxtaposed to some of the most grotesque wealth there is in the united states. high concentration of multimillionaires in which vast
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majority of people living in the places have net values of over $10 million, and of course, all the migrant workers are the ones picking the vegetables, the fruits, building the construction, the mcmansions going up there, taking care of the children, keeping the over 50 golf courses green in the middle of the desert. if you want to imagine the kind of waste of water, especially now that you guys are going through this here in california. so i went there and i was astounded. i went with -- one the first places i went to visit was los duros, and it's an annual place. i remember thinking -- an actual place. i remember think can, those can't be possible. these are people living in tent, living on asphalt in 110-degree weather, laying on top of cardboard mats, people who have no health care, have no police protection, who have no electricity, who have no running water, who have no place to take
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a shower, after 12, 14 hours of hard labor. these are people would work in the field and have pesticide sprayed on them as they work. thought this is the stuff i've studied and history and these are the thing that happenner in 50s and 60s and cesar solved all these things. what's going on here? and the problem is that we have entered a new cold, cold, brutal, nasty moment in american history in which we have dehumanized people, and we have dehumanized children, and we have, as a society, remained too quiet, but the fact that our children, our future, is being wasted, in which dreams are crushed, and which people's lives are left in the dust. without any consideration,
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without a second thought, other than perhaps a political issue that makes for more television programming, for fox news or for people like donald trump, and so this book is dedicated to those young children, children whom who live in tents, live out in the open but who come to school every day, dressed, clean, fresh faces, still believing that something can come of their lives, despite the fact their parents are overburdened, despite the fact they may be pulled out of school at any time. despite the fact they're desspiesed, despised in these communities. so i dedicate this book to. the. i plead with people in this moment, think about this principle that seems to be so prevalent in the united states that we have to love our children and take care of our
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children and expand our notion of who-under children are. not just our biological children. and if we live in a society in which we rates our biological children to be completely indifferent to the fates of other children, we are poisoning this society, this country. and so i want to thank those children for teaching me humility and teaching me the value of optimism, and for teaching me how strong these young people are in the face of such overwhelming tragedy. and i want to thank my wife, molly, who when i came back feeling verdes respondent, who told me, why don't you write about it? i thought, oh, right, i'm a brighter. i could write about that, couldn't i? and it helped me. it was one of the first time is thought, could do something.
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and so i thank the buff columbus foundation for recognizing this book, recognizing so many wonderful writers who do this kind of social criticism, who still see a real communal val knew art and what it can do in terms of social criticism and real change, and just thank you. it's a pleasure to be here and an honor. [applause] >> every day before columbus day, every day.
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recent years have seen extraordinary celebration of racist violence in the united states, largely perpetrated by those who have the jury, robes, jumps, law, police, and their auxiliary in the private prison industry and the extraordinary levels of profit that are increasing this juggernaut of war internationally. of course, we remember that this is largely what led to the assassination -- the government-planned assassination of martin luther king, who it was his will to let it be known that the connection between police violence and n the united states and incarceration in the united states was in fact inseparable from the war effort taking place internationally, largely at the behest of the united states. this continues to this day, and
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is celebrated, as i mentioned at the very beginning of the program. with no end in sight. now, one thing i would suggest is this idea that the colonial expansion of the european american western empires into the so-called new world at some point slowed down or stopped. it's not true. the development of the new world was based on the rights of free men to murder natives and slaves with impunity. so what we see happening in the united states today is actually a return to its origins. history is just a theory.
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the idea that the natives of the south are encroaching? on the united states? so, with that thought in mind, i would like to welcome to the stage, roxanne dunbar ortiz who is being recognized for an extraordinarily rigorous, powerful, and deciphering analysis of this very phenomenon, her book, "an inning ding news people: history of the united states." please welcome roxanne dunbar ortiz. [applause]
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>> wow. what beautiful people. i told my dear friend, chuck, who is here with me, that this is not your ordinary literary function. very special. so i'm very pleased to be here, and i'm grateful for receiving the american book award for this book, "an indigenous peoples' history of the united states pomp" my preferred title was" a true history of the united states," but my publisher thought better of that. but i think all of those -- beyond columbus foundation. i remember when it was getting born, and ishmael and bob and simon ortiz and rudy and these
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wonderful people who are the creators, original creators, and then everyone, justin in particular, involved in creating the ceremony today, and it's such an honor to be here with these fellow and sister fine writers and poets. i'd like to read a brief excerpt from the book. this is a subsection in the conclusion of the book called "ghosts and demons to hide from." a living symbol of the genocidal history of the united states as well as a kind of general subconsciousness of it is a winchester mystery house. how many have been there? okay. for those who haven't, it's a tourist site in the santa clara,
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silicon valley, of northern california. 50 miles south of san francisco, it is billed as a ghost house on billboards that start appearing in oregon to the north and san diego to the south. sarah l. winchester, the wealthy widow of william winchester, built the victorian mansion, the original part of it, to avoid and elude ghosts. although there is no record of any ghosts ever having found their way into her home. it could be said, perhaps -- this is when winchester's project -- from 1884 to her dearth in 1922, was a success. she likely was well aware of the widely publicized going to deaths in 1890, which led to the killing of sitting bull and the wounded knee massacre.
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the dancers believed that the dance would bring back their people who were murdered by gunfire. it makes sense that mrs. winchester felt the need guard herself against the ghosts of those killed by the winchester repeating rifle, which her late husband's father had invented and produced in 1866, with later models being even more lethal. mrs. winchester inherited the fortune accumulated by her husband's financially through the sales of the rifles. there was one major purchaser, the united states department of war, chit was called until world war ii. should still be called that. the chief reasons for the war department's purchase of the
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rifles is in great quantities, to kill indians, for no other reason. the rifle was a technological innovation designed especially for the u.s. army's campaigns against the plains indians, following the civil war. the winchester house amazes, baffles, all who tour it. it's presented as a crazy lady's project. there are five floors more or less since they are staggered. each room in itself appears normal. decorated in the late 19th 19th century victorian mode. but there's more than meets the eye, getting from parlors to bedrooms to kitchens to closets and from floor to floor. numerous stairways dead-end and secret trap doors hide the actual stairways. closet doors open to walls and pieces of furniture are really doors to closets. huge book cases serve as
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entrances to adjoining rooms. part of the house was unfinished when the widow died, but every day, seven days a week, during daylight hours, she had construction workers building, building on, adding rooms, and traps, until her death. visitors trekking through the widow's home are astounded and perhaps saddened by the evidence all around them of a fierce and -- fearsome anguish of an obviously mentally disturbed person. yet there's another possibility, sense of the scaffolding that supports u.s. society, a kind of hologram in the mind of each and every person of the continent. thank you. [applause]
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>> is a mentioned at the beginning of the program, art indeed is an element within nature and language can be so mercurial and beguiling that to bend it to one's own supple will can be a task that even great masters of language find themselves unable to do with real consistency, real
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illumination. the great masters of the novel have frequently engaged its history from oblique and sometimes disparate patterns in order to reveal the inner qualifications of the hidden, the unseen, the unexpressed but -- unintentionally expressed, often creating characters and lives that didn't exist but are more real in their illuminations of our lives than the well-known, shop-worn heroes of history. one of the most beautiful novels to be published in this tradition is the moore's account, which we honor today with the american book award by
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layla alami. i'd like to welcome her to the stage. please join me in honoring this beautiful work of art. [applause] >> in listening to what has been said so far, i'm reminded that history is taught to us as a set of ridge ed facts that are known and unchallengeable, but in fact history is and always will be an argument between counterclaimants. six years ago, in a book about moore's -- i came about the story of a more -- moore rock
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can slave said to be the first explorer of america. he was part of an expedition that landed in -- these con skis toker toes found a nugget of gold, lying among indigenous fish nets and decided to journey inland to look for more gold. instead, they met with disaster after disaster, resistance from indigenous tribes, of course, and also disease, hunger, starvation, and mutiny. within a year there were only four survivors, the famed vaca, who served as treasurer of the expedition, maldonado, a young explorer, another nobleman and his moroccoan slaves. together these men traveled across the south and southwest in what is now the united states, and lived among indigenous people for the better part of a decade.
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they were found near what is now el paso in texas, and brought to mexico city where they were asked to provide official testimony about their adventures, but because he was a slave his testimony was never recorded and his perspective was considered unworthy, this historical erasure intrigued me. he was such a fascinating character. the only bonded man among aristocrats, the only one who learned indigos happenings and made it possible for the two parties to communicate. he was an outsider. the account grew -- my novel grew out of that silence. i want to look how it happened but i know sell such an erasure is by mistake, it's by design. and that it is notate at all historical that always current.
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i only need to open up the newspaper or turn on the televisions to see it repeated and voices are recorded, others are erased. some valued, others den nateed -- denigrated. so while i was working on this book, set between 1528 and 1838, i felt like i was writing about the present moment. i want to thank a number of people who helped me bring my book into the world. my agent, a steadfast support over my work. my editor who believed in this book from the very beginning. my publishist, josey, who worked miracles. my family work always believed in me, especially my grandmother, who did know know how to read or write but was a story teller and i feel in some sense i became a story teller by learning at her feet. my husband, who is my fiercest
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supporter and fairest critic, my first and my last reader, and of course, thank you to the before columbus foundation for this great honor. thank you. [applause] >> i can't believe i've known this next young gentleman for over 40 years, but he is an operating main my in the film industry and so this afternoon he just flew in, i believe from boston, and changed in the airport, and arrived actually early, and this is the style of this man. he has always been, as far as i have known him, the consummate working artist, dedicated, committing his entire life to themes of social justice.
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i remember his first film, sewing. who arthur and i share a similar brown. our parents were chinese immigrants, working class immigrants, and we both have sewing women as our mothers, as the life of seem stress -- samestresses. and he has gone into very profound and developmental of his work, and looking forward his next wonderful film. he told me there's going to be a screening in a couple of weeks at new people cinema in japan town on post street so look out for that. that one is a feature documentary, the killing fields of -- i think you'll remember him. it's about the cambodian
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genocide. don also produced many antigay prejudiced films including license to kill. his film excellence awards including three sundance film festival awards. i believe he has already received a sundance award. he has been an ox oscar nominee, won a pea body award, and is currently a distinguished professor in film at loyola mary mount university in los angeles. his film, forbidden city us a, was a film documentary, wonderful documentary, of the chinatown nightclub scene and in san francisco from 1936 to 1970, and there were singers hoofers of that era. and i remember my own sister's
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sister-in-law had a -- her sister-in-law was of course a girl in one of these night clubs called andy sky room, and she became the black sheep of her family. so being an entertainer back in that era was not like the way it has become celebrity now, and we're proud of asian americans that go into show business. in those day us it was considered a stigma. so it chronicles the lives of these courageous talented people. the joins american ginger rogers and the chinese-american fred astaire, and the chinese-american frank sinatra, the whole gamut. but arthur didn't stop there he has spent 30 years from making that film into the book for business city u.s.a. he is being awarded for today. so this is arthur dong's first
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venture into the literary world. he says this is all new to me. i said in the -- before columbus we welcome all arts, interdisciplinary arts, carlos santana is also a recipient. we don't have that stigma that you're a writer's writer and you can be a filmmaker as author, and i'm so proud he is like our -- one of our community giant in the arts world. thank you for coming, arthur dong. [applause] >> i want to commend the technical crew here because the sound here is excellent. i hope you appreciate it. i don't know -- because this is a jazz center.
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i don't know what it would sound like with music but the voice quality is excellent and i've been through a lot of pretty crappyp.a. systems. we worked together many years ago on paper angels, and at that time she had just published her book, angel, cowritten, and i remember how beautiful it was and it was piece of art. a book that was a piece of art, and little did i know that some years later i'd be getting an award for -- i'm just totally humbled being here. as genny mentioned, i'm a filmmaker, and for the past 35 years, i've made films about genocide, antigay murders, discriminatory military policies and racism in hollywood, and --
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but i did forbidden city u.s.a., and i've never let got because it has kept me alive. well, not alive, but kept me mentally stable. and inspired, because the stories of these performers who were before my time, fought against such odds to do what they wanted to do, to follow their dreams, and they were so unlike the chinese elders i was brought up with. with all due respect to my parents, who were hard-working, working-class folks who scrounged for a living so we could have a better day. i didn't see them as sexy or didn't see them as dancers or singers, and it was such a revelation when i saw the meeting of these performers. i started this in 1985, producing the film, and then --
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but i kept -- even after produce the film i cooperate let them go away from me -- i couldn't let them go away prom me because i needed them to keep me with a sense of humor. all the while their stories were estopped in the social issues of their time, fighting discrimination, fighting cultural barriers within their own communities, and finding their way on to stage to follow the dreams as performers. so i thank them for doing that, and this -- the seed of this project -- when i first began researching it, i had to fly to new york to meet one of the performers, and i stayed with my old friend, kevin, who had moved there to be part of the entertainment industry, and this is -- i'm not sure what to call it, bait or fate or luck.
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he says what are you doing here? town? i said i'm interviewing this dancer. and she used to work at this club called forbid 'city. he says, well, you mow, my father -- my stepfather, charlie lowe, was the owner of forbidden city. i'm not sure if i knew that or not but that was my entree into this entire world that i knew so little about. but of course, kevin had a mom, too, who married charlie lowe and i always remember her -- she was kevin's mom so we could -- she used to be he hostess at -- and i we goo to her house and -- go to her house and hang out. she was always this elegant woman, but i never really thought -- much about it other than it was kevin's mom.
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she was a dancer as well, and managed the club, and i'm so pleased she is here today with us, and she has a whole chapter in the book. so i just want to recognize ivy. would you stand up. [applause] >> and as a kid growing up in chinatown, i was brought up in the sewing factory so that was my world. but there was this miss chinatown pageant every year. it still goes on but back then it was -- i don't know what it is. i've changed. but back then it was really something special. the whole community was behind it, and everyone would get excited about it and my mom would bring home the poster with all the candidates, and we would pick the ones we liked best, and i got to meet one of the winners
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because she herself was a performer as well in the chinatown newtclub, because she start at an age when she shouldn't have been dancing in nightclubs, i'm really fortunate that she is still here with us, telling stories still, and i just want you to introduce -- want to introduce you to her. if you get the book and look up the index, this is just some marvelous photos of cynthia and ivy. and as a child, and even today, i was a big fan of the film musicals, and i think that's what partly inspired me to continue with this trek of writing this book. and pal was one of my all-time favorite musicals shot here in san francisco and little did i know i would one day meet a
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chorus member that was shot in one of the chinatown nightclubs, and was one of those chorus girls. unfortunately the scene was cut from the film, but being the tenacious researcher i am, i'm still looking for that theme somewhere in the box somewhere and i'll'll blast my archives friends to find it. chev is in the book as well, pat chin. [applause] >> but mostly i think i needed someone to really push me to do this book, because i don't come from the literary world, and the idea of writing a book is a foreign idea to me, but there
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was somebody who never gave up on the idea that this should become a book, and always said, keep on going, i'll help you, do whatever you need, i'll rep -- help you, and she herself wrote -- cowrote a book called coming man, and was a beautifully illustrated book about the racist caricatures in political cartoons from the turn of the century. she cowrote the book with two other authors, and she also cowrote the else says in my book, but mostly she just was always there and always said don't give up, keep on doing this and this encouragement was going on for 25 years now. so that a long period of encouragement. so i want to recognize her as well ask thank her very much. she is actually my sister. my older sister. lorraine dong. [applause]
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>> so, this is for craig perez. i'm arthur dong. should i take this -- well, i didn't mean to close my talk -- she got the wrong one, too. do you have mine? oh. ...
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[inaudible conversations] >> i'd better keep these on when i grab those plaques. [laughter] i thought you looked familiar. i'm getting real déjà vu. christine, i remember you. that was about 40 years ago or 45 years ago you came into my high school class at galileo high school. i graduated the same year as o.j.. [laughter] and you were recruiting for forbidden city, a touring company. and i really, really wanted too it, because i really -- to do it because i really more than anything wanted to travel and, you know, i couldn't afford to travel. i said, oh, you know, my parents are going to kill me, so i chickened out of it. i missed my shot at forbidden city. [laughter] but i kept thinking about it and dreaming about it at night, but i'm somehow still related to the entertainment industry, so it's
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okay, it's all good. okay. now we get to craig -- [laughter] craig santos perez is a native from the pacific island of guam. he is co-founder of allah press, costar of the poetry album undercurrent. there's a publishing, published at 2010 and a finalist for the l.a. times' 2010 book prize for poetry and the winner of the 2011 penn center usa literary award for poetry. he's an assistant professor in the english department at the university of hawaii manoa where he teaches pacific literature and creative writing, and he lives in honolulu. i don't think there is a book around that has, chronicles the
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unique experience of an indigenous -- [inaudible] caught in the crossfire of world war ii and escaping death by japanese soldiers. and i read and loved the arresting spareness and poignancy of his narrative poems such as organic acts. he talks about the, being stuck in guam during world war ii. and joy, actually, wasn't able to come and give this wonderful quote which she texted to me -- [laughter] just a little while ago and which i will read to you. we honor craig santos perez for his collection of poems, unincorporated territory guam. this book is a brilliant, lyrical testimony of a state of being, a kind of environmental study to assess the ability to
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thrive despite militarization, a sparring between coconut and spam and a manual to consult because colonization means that we are in a state of emergency. this collection honors the chi mother row, the person who is the island called guam, and the spirit of poetry. this book is an island many your hands, your heart -- in your hands, your heart. mah ark lo to -- mahalo, congratulations. craig santos perez. [applause] maybe i did this as an icebreaker so everyone would meet each other at the end and exchange awards. [laughter]
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>> aloha, greetings. i want to, first, acknowledge the indigenous peoples of this place upon which we gather, the indigenous peoples of this continent as well. there's so many similarities between native pacific eye handers and native americans, and i feel so honored whenever i get to be in this place and kind of learn more about the issues going on here. i also want to thank the before columbus foundation for this prestigious award. the publicity that it's generated has helped amplify and echo the themes i write about. as jenny mentioned, these include the ongoing colonization and militarization of my home island of guam as well as the strength and resill yen city of my native -- resill resiliency y native people and culture, so thank you for that. i want to dedicate the award to a few friends who came out
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today, javier, steve and tonya, thank you for all your support. i want to dedicate the award also to my publishers which is an independent press located here in california. rusty morrison and ken key michigan. i want to dedicate this to my family who is in the back. my mom, helen, my dad, tom, my sister, my brother, thank you so much for all your love and support over years. and most importantly, i want to dedicate this award to our wife and our now-18-month-old daughter who's nice and quiet so far. [laughter] during my speech today, i would like to share a poem with you. and besides writing issues about guam to kind of spread that message to other places in the world, i also write about other global issues and try to bring those into the pacific so that pacific islanders kind of can see the connections between our different peoples. this poem is called "care."
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my 16-month-old daughter wakes from her nap and cries. i pick her up, press her against my chest and rub her back until my palm warms like an old family quilt. daddy's here, daddy's here, i whisper. here is the island of oahu, 8,500 miles from syria. but what if the tradewinds suddenly became helicopters? flames, nails and shrapnel indiscriminately barreling towards us? what if shadows cast against our windows aren't blew her ya tree -- plumeria tree branches but terrorists and soldiers marching in heat? would we reach the boats of the desperate mediterranean in time? if we did, could i straighten my legs into a mast balanced against the pull and drift of the current? daddy's here, daddy's here, i
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whisper. but am i strong enough to carry my daughter across the razor wires of sovereign borders and ethnic hatred? could i plead, please, help us, please, just let us pass? please, we aren't suicide bombs. could i keep walking? even after my feet cracked like peppers after five years of drought, after this drought of humanity. trains and buses rock back and forth to detention centers. yet what if we didn't make landfall? what if here capsizes? could you inflate your body into abu by to hold your child -- a buoy to hold your child above rising waters? daddy's here, daddy's here, i whisper. drowning is is the last lull buy of the sea. -- lullaby of the
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sea. i lay my daughter onto bed, her breath finally as calm as the low tide. to all the parents who brave the crossing, you and your children matter. i hope your love will teach the nations that emit the most carbon and violence that they should instead remit the most compassion. i hope soon the only difference between a legal refugee and an illegal migrant will be how willing we are to open our homes, offer refuge and carry each other towards the horizon of care. thank you so much. [applause] [laughter]
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[inaudible conversations] >> hey, craig. [laughter] >> that's mine. [laughter] >> see, we share. [laughter] accepting the american book award for martin killson, honoring his book "transformation of the
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african-american intelligentsia, 188062012," is one of the founders of the before columbus foundation and one of the giants of international arts and letters, ishmael reed. [applause] >> so we have a few glitches, but at least nobody got up be made a watermelon joke. laugh. [laughter] that's sort of like a inside -- [laughter] oh. "esquire magazine", latest issue, quentin tarantino is very upset about remarks that spike lee and i made about his movie, so-called movie.
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[laughter] which i call, like, a tarantino home movie. [laughter] django unchained. you ain't seen nothing yet. we got this book called black hollywood unchained, just published by third world press, and there are intellectuals and professors and artists and writers including justin -- [inaudible] addressing, you know, the sad state of ethnic depictions in hollywood. it's like a horror movie itself. [laughter] and we also added frank chen who talks about the depiction of chinese-americans in film, lawrence astasi, he talks about italian-americans and their portrayal in film. italian-americans protested the godfather and the sopranos. and alejandro talks about the depiction of hispanics in movies, and gary hobson, who is
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a cherokee-american scholar, talks about the native americans, how they are shown in film. as gundar still here? we have to give him a shout out because he's kept the organization going on more a few decades. [applause] and justin deman works every day for our organization with very little pay, so -- [applause] justin and jack foley, who's another board member, they have the best cultural shows on radio. jack foley has a book show, and justin has a show where he covers literature and jazz and other forms of art. t.e. english, irish-american detective novelist, is also on the board. and rhee anderson and rudy, incidentally, is the winner of the presidential medal for
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literature. now, i want to start my rant. martin killson is, has a lot of academic honors. but given the state of what's going on in the united states right now, he's a guerrilla fighter. so is, so is houston baker jr. whose book is called "the betrayal." t and we gave houston an award a few years ago. so when visiting new york in june, i had lunch with an influential newspaper editor. the subject somehow got around to science, and i mentioned the name of claudia alexander, a black woman who was the project manager of nasa's 14-year, $1.5 billion galileo mission to jupiter. he hadn't heard of her. i could have mentioned captain
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g. johnson, another black woman who calculated the trajectory for the space flight of alan shepard, the first american in space. the reason that this editor and millions of blacks and whites haven't heard of men and women of such distinction is because the media and curriculum depiction of black life is one-sided. hundreds of millions are made by the media billionaires from shaming blacks, right now it's odom, lamar odom all about the $75,000 he spent having a good time in nevada. at the same time, exxon executives admitted that they lied about climate change at a time when something could have been done about it. bought and paid for pundits, some of whom are black and latino, and politicians cast blacks and latinos as aliens, as dependent when there's more money being taken out from black communities by predators;
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corrupt police, payback banks which charge up to 300% interest, traffic fines which single out blacks. this is an article in "the new york times" today. than coming in from social programs. it would take 100 years for blacks to gain the kind of affirmative action others have received since what native americans call the invasion of north america. they ought to know. 100 million acres were stolen from them, and i got that, roxanne, from your book. 100 million acres. the one-sided coverage of blacks hasn't changed since the early 1900s when ota benga from africa was put in a cage with an orangutan by the bronx zoo. and i read a contemporary letter this morning. letter writer said, he seems to be enjoying himself in there. [laughter] he eventually committed suicide. he wanted to go back to congo. this has been the line of the media and the curriculum about
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blacks since that day to this day. even the president of the united states was depicted as a dead chimp on the sidewalk by the new york post which is even to the right of adolf hitler who said that blacks are only half ape. so he's, like, a moderate. [laughter] the post tried to say that this was not the cartoonist's intention, but the hispanic staff member disputed this. she was fired, and later the cartoonist resigned. and so in television, movies, the newspapers and the social media and even the university curriculum show blacks as not quite human. even people in high office ascribe to this idea. paul ryan, the most dangerous politician in the united states, watch him. we watched nixon. watch this guy, okay? he is third in line for the
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presidency. and ayn rand -- an ayn rand fan, he has expressed admiration for charles murray's "the bell curve," where he says the same thing about blacks that they used to say about his people, scotch-irish. benjamin franklin said the scotch-irish were white savages. the bell curve was a race science book that was financed by pioneer fund which is founded by a nazi sympathizer. so paul ryan expresses admiration for this book. and some of the friends be of the founder of the pioneer fund were hanged at nuremberg. the head of the pioneer fund, harry wayher, tried to deny the charges in the pages of the new york review of books but was confronted with the facts by charles lane in an exchange of letters february 2, 1995. in case you want to look at it.
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reed, you being wild, you making up stuff. so there's the footnote there. so where do we go to find what academics call a counternarrative? [laughter] where does a student go to find that blacks have an intellectual heritage in a country where the term "black intellectual" is an oxymoron? and how has the one-sided depiction of black american life left millions unprepared for a black president, so much so that some are still walking around in a daze, politically shellshocked, joining secessionist movements, showing up to greet the president and his entourage armed and waving confederate flags? martin killson has spent 25 years writing a book that would correct the record. professor martin killson is a real intellectual, not one involved in a current battle royale occurring on the pages of
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msnbc -- in the pages of the atlantic monthly, harper's, the nation, the new republic and other magazines and think tanks over who will succeed the former head negro in charge now that he has been dethroned as his own lackey morals by the outfit that brought him into prominence in the first place? neocolonial black experience, hispanic experience, asian-american experience is under neocolonial occupation. outsiders choose those who speak for us. painstakingly in his book, "transformation: the african-american intel generals ya," killson examines the postslavery period until now. and in this book he discusses the scope of his assignment. he talks about the development of the black intelligentsia, and
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he discusses class and status attributes of the formative phase of black intelligentsia, the dynamics of a black elite t consolidation during the 1880s to 1940s, the social democratization of black elite during the 1930s and '50s. he examines how skin color and color cast patterns, which is to say colored elitism, initially shaped a conservative social class within the evolving african-american intelligentsia of the early 20th century. then he discusses how color cast patterns were eventually challenged by the orientations of black ethnic identity, black consciousness attitudes, the important development was fostered by the so-called new negro movement among black professionals from the 1920s into the 1940s. by the post-world war ii period, the prewar new negro movements
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had associated patterns among the african-american class that amounted to what might be called the social democratization of the black intelligentsia. by 1950s, a major by-product of this social democratization was a precipitous decline in the color elitist dynamism that was prominent in the ranks of african-american intelligentsia from the 1880s to the 1940s. this, in turn, facile candidated the development of a militant phase of the movement from the 1950s through the 1960s. so in reaction to the 1960s cultural revolution, armed with millions of dollars from places like the fossil fuel and chemical industries, the right began a counterrevolution. in 1971. >> us dislouis f. powell issued -- justice louis f. powell issued a manifesto. then william simon, former
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secretary of treasury, called for a counterintelligentsia from the wealthy partners to challenge what he called, quote: the dominant socialist status collectivist orthodoxy. his protege was dinesh d'souza. his book, "the end of ray same," was so far right that even two black conservatives resigned from the american enterprise institute that supported him. hearing that millions of dollars were available to those who would become members of this counterintelligentsia, some members of the black academic elite said sign me up. killson quotes a pew survey that the quest for 20th century -- 21st century, that the quest for 21st century of the black communetarian leadership pattern may face a variety of obstacles in the years ahead. for example, the survey clearly
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indicates that aspects of the american conservative ideologies have influenced the attitudes of the black middle class sectors much more than they did several generations ago. so the black elite professionals, some of them, are moving to the right. he calls this black conservativism i'm all right, jack, conservativism. a vintage american conservative mantra that celebrates the american self-serving ethos. killson says the leadership may face a variety of obstacles, he's not kidding. he knows this. he points to, quote, a small cadre of conservative black intellectuals who are co-opted by an array of influential, well-endowed, white conservative institutions and networks. simon's counterintelligence armed with support from some of america's largest banks including chase manhattan bank, fossil fuel billionaires
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including exxonmobil which supports a number of these right-wing foundations was able to, they were able to take an obscure linguistic professor and place anymore the front lines of black opinion -- and place him in the front lines of black opinion makers leaving hundreds of black scholars with more talent. they can finance michelle bernard in a fight against planned parenthood. they can put her on television where she can say on msnbc that personal responsibility is especially a problem in the black community and boast about her west indian heritage. she's backed with oil and chemical money, epitomizes -- which epitomizes the blame the victim discourse, as killson puts it. she is promoted by msnbc as a moderate. the before columbus foundation has begun to support those beluck chuls -- intellectuals
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who defy the odds and speak against the bullies who scapegoat those who don't have the power to fight back. previously, we honored houston baker jr. for his book, "the deapril," which condemns the neoconservative backlash on black aspirations. now we honor martin killson for his book, "transformation of the african-american intelligentsia, 1880-2012." and, martinnen, if you and marion are are watching this event, congratulations. and now i want to introduce a little lighter moment. [laughter] tennessee reed's going to the read a poem, and she's going to be accompanied by the great musician, roger glenn. we're very lucky to have him here. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] ♪ ♪ >> okay. ♪ ♪ >> the big apple, february 1, 2009. the streets are empty, but the subway is crowded. manhattan on a sunday evening. mom and i are heading back to the hotel on third avenue and east 50th street after spending
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a day at the whitney and the guggenheim. we exit on fifth avenue. the sun is setting over central park. it looks like a jungle as twilight approaches and the timed lanterns slowly come on. the bare trees dominate the scene. we turn the corner onto east 88th street. mom and i are the only two on the street. it is quite dark. lights are shining through the windows of upper east side homes as we head towards the 86th street subway station. as the number six train approaches, i am listening to alicia keyes' song, "you don't know my name," from her album," the diary of alicia keyes," on my ipod nano. the train is louder than bart and twice as windy. as we board the train, i hear a female automated voice saying
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this is the brooklyn bridge-bound six train. next stop, 77th street. a male voice says, stand clear of the closing doors, please. the subway is packed, but mom and i find a seat t where our backs are to the window. we get off at 51st street to walk to the hotel before catching the cab further downtown to watch the super bowl at the poets' café where we eat chinese food and watch santonio holmes make the winning touchdown for the pittsburgh steelers. ♪ ♪ [laughter] [applause]
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>> brief history of seven killings is one of greatest novels i've ever read. great novels don't always receive great attention or awards because they often tell the truth that people are unable to speak or truth that people are unable to hear, to digest. penetrating through the subterfuge and illusion of counterintelligence activities and political intrigues, assassination plots, as the last poet said smooth and slick with
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the latest trick to get rich quick from nonsense at your mind's expense. the characters that populate this beautiful work of art all find a complexity and a nuance that is rarely revealed even in the finest literature. i'm very, very proud personally to be able to bring the honor of the american book award to one of the most gifted writers in the world today, marlon james. [applause] all right, someone made off with marlon's award. all right. [laughter]
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all right, who's -- [laughter] >> now we really know what's happening. if anything illustrates the need for the before columbus foundation, why it's essential, it's this. the very first thing when i was in basic school is what we call kindergarten, the very first thing we were taught to learn, it was drilled in us, we would recite it every afternoon at school was christopher columbus discovered jamaica in 1494. and we had to learn it and say it backways and everything. and if it was anything that typifieses the type of messed-upness of my life and why organizations like before columbus is necessary, is that
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the idea that columbus was sort of the alpha of everything including this story of the americas is something that was drummed into me. ez me rell da's santiago's last book has this fantastic intro where she talks about tyno which even they believe is their name. and the -- [inaudible] when they met columbus said tyno which means peace. and columbus thought they were introducing themselves. and it's sort of, it's a weird and sad irony that even the tyno don't -- now think they're tyno. again, this is why this is so important. so i am really, really grateful. i am so humbled and grateful to the before columbus foundation for recognizing me. my novel also givens in 1976.
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when -- begins in 1976. when i was 6 years old and the biggest crisis in my life was starkey or hutch. [laughter] which charlie's angel is my angel? it had not to occurred to me the type of life that people were going through in 1976 in jamaica. in 1976 in jamaica in a very big way jamaica sort of landed smack in the middle of the cold war for all sorts of reasons, one being our support of cuba and the fact, and the idea that jamaica was becoming communist. so in 1975 my parents -- 1976, rather, my participants went -- my participants went through was not the 1976 i went through. and that became one of the main reasons why i wanted to write this book. i think novelists, to an extent, try to solve mysteries. we never solve them, we just render it, but we're attracted to the mysteries and unspoken
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things that we don't talk about. and in jamaica there are several things we choose not to talk about. whether it's the message of colonialism, the secret truth that we kind of liked it and want it back. prince harry had a wonderful time in jamaica, let's just lee it at that -- leave it at that. [laughter] the ways in which we're somehow appreciative of our own culture in very sort of coded ways. and i was raised with a literature where i never saw myself. and maybe that's not necessarily the fault of the literature itself. i'm a big fan of jane austen, i'm a big fan of george elliot, but i grew up thinking dickens was normal, and i grew up with this idea -- and it's still something that is debated in jamaica. one of the biggest debates in jamaica is using patois, using
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dialect. i remember somebody saying to me aren't you an english teacher? it's english, we're speaking. but, you know, and i never saw myself in the literature i read. and i never, there's several things in jamaica that sort of went unspoken including 1976 and including the attack on bob marley. even the most recent documently only focuses on -- documentary are, only focuses on the assassination for a minute. and i wanted to know what happened, and i wanted to know -- i thought it was a very singular event. and in talking about these killers, i started to talk about those guns. and in talking about those guns, i started talking about, well, where did they come from? i'm talking about where guns come from in a country that can't afford it. you end up in politics. if you go into politics, you're going to end up talking about the cia and the cold war. if you talk about the cold war, you're going to end up sooner or
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later at nixon and ford's desk. we're not just talking about 56 gunshots fired on hope road. and i think one of the great things about literature is you can do this, and you can explore, and you can also bring people to reckoning. i never thought i was an activist writer, and i realized almost by accident that all my novels have been driven by wanting to know something and say something. and my first novel was in response to religious mania which is still a big thing in jamaica. recently had a march of 20,000 people, an anti-gay march to keep the law which they say is christian but is really victorian. my second novel i wrote because i realized i got very frustrated with what i call the atrocity timetable when people are the descendants of people who did not go through atrocity still
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feel they can tell them when to stop talking about it. and the third one i realized i wrote because i have had to educate myself on it as well. and i see it every day including today on facebook. the difference between being non and being anti. so the different between nonracist and anti-racist. and a friend of mine had a really terrible encounter, and i said, you know, if you change the c to a p, it still applies. a nonracist just has to -- because we look at racism as moral failure that to just be nonracist is enough. i'm not racist. i didn't vote republican. i didn't do this. and we've built an entire moral position on a series of nonactions that you can achieve by rolling over in your bed.
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the anti-racist or the anti-rapist or the anti-sexist has to do something, has to go beyond just sitting down, being in a moral position. and that really shook me up. and since then, i've decided to shake people up with it as well, you know? and i realized what i do without necessarily bringing it, attention to it is write, and that's how i, that's how i try to be, anti. and it's not enough, but i think it's a good start, and i hope to do more of it. so thank you for this award. [applause]
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>> astrid taylor is really among the leading lights of a new, emerging activism that directly engages issues of technology and its uses that brings it into sustenance, into the tradition of the most salvageable and necessary and strident aspects of the struggle for human rights, for universal suffrage of all peoples and is able to do it in a way that creates a lucid understanding about one of the most beguiling aspects of contemporary culture which leaves almost all of us from time to time utterly flummoxed
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which is the question of the uses and misuses of the kind of archiving devices that we've gotten so used to carrying around with us everywhere we go. i'm talking about your phone. and the use of so-called internet and so forth and so on. but to emphasize and really understand that point, again, i want to point out that the brilliance of her work, again, is to bring it into sonance with the development of the human rights struggles internationally and domestically that are part of the finest traditions of what this country has been able to accomplish in those terms. what is the most salvageable, what can really be excavated from that tradition. it's remarkable, and part of the gift of this book is that i think it helps, again, a lucid understanding of this but also refutes the kind of sordid
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individualism, de facto consumerist kind of individualism that a lot of people are using to pass for freedom these days. so, please, welcome astrid taylor, receiving the american book award for the people's platform: taking back power and culture in the digital age. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> hello, everyone. thank you so much for that incredibly kind bro duction. introduction. i'm kind of still amazed the book is finished and done and it's out there and people are reading it. at a certain point, it was just like boxes of filings and papers and me being totally overwhelmed that i had chosen this insanely broad topic, the internet. [laughter] just so exciting to be here and to hear everybody else speak.
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all of you, thank you for, thank to the before columbus foundation for giving me this award, but also bringing me into this group. it's a real honor. i do want to say the first thing i ever published when i was just a baby writer and a baby activist was actually a review of the book "outlaw woman." and it was a little review in the monthly review, a journal people might know. it was the first thing that i ever saw in print that i ever got out there. and so i would have been very excited to know we'd be here together. i have such admiration for what you do. yeah. it's amazing to be here because this book was born of this sort of compulsion to understand what was happening, what are these new systems of media that we're all forced to engage with that are kind of subsuming our work whether we're writers -- i'm an independent filmmaker, that's my background. you know, the internet's eating everything, right? whether we're communicating with
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our friends, advocating for social change, whether we're trying to, you know, find a date, right? the internet is everywhere, what is it? and i felt that i had to understand it if i was going to sort of participate in it. and, of course, you have to participate in it. that's sort of one of the rules of being a citizen today. so i set myself a challenge of sort of asking, well, what -- you know, i was sort of a student of these progressive types of critique, media critique. so the frankfurt school or noam chomsky, manufacturing consent. and sort of thought what would that tradition of media criticism look like applied to the digital age. and that was sort of my initial, the initial thing i wanted to ask. and i knew instinctively that i wanted to challenge these kind, these voices that were dominating the debate at the moment that were saying the internet's democratizing everything, it's so great, meanwhile there was this me generation of silicon valley billionaires who are getting incredibly rich, new systems of
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corporate and government surveillance, all sorts of things that should be really troubling us as citizens. they were simply promising the kind of citizen utopia. so i had that in mind, but, you know, i think it was like what do i really want to think? what really helped this book? and i think the thing that made the book much better and i'm most grateful to was occupy wall street. i started working on this week in 2010, and i know occupy had its prop problems, the drum circle was annoying -- [laughter] but it completely changed my world. i think for me and a generation of young writers in new york at least, it really gave us a voice. it really made us feel like we were writing for a community of people who cared about these things, who had critiques of capitalism. and it just lent this fire, it really made me sort of trust my instinct is the and sort of go all the way. i think it made it much, you know, more forceful critique knowing that these were things that other people were wrestling
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with. and in its own way, occupy modeled a kind of vision that was not sort of anti-technological. actually, to not be anti for a second. occupy was live streamed, it was tweeted, but at the heart t of every occupation to was also a library with printed books, with, you know, home grown newspapers. so those two things coexisting, i think, was also kind of an inspiration. it also challenged me to really frame the evolution of the sort of digital revolution to rather recognize that it's part and parcel of the financial revolution that's been unfoggedding for the -- unfolding for the last four decades that has seen the internet as inseparable for that. and i think it's quite poignant to give the award here in san francisco which has really been the place that's recognized the negative social impact of many of silicon valley's inventions. very quickly, i want to say, you know, i had a lot of trepidation, probably the nervousness of putting out my
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first book and also thinking, well, i'm writing about the internet, and what people do is argue with each other. and i've been very pleasant tally surprise what a warm welcome it's gotten and how it's brought me into conversation with a global people, artists, activists who really want to make good on the promise, the democratic potential of the internet, to actually build the people's platform that could exist if we would just disrupt the underlying economic operating system. because that's what we need to do. and also in terms of that sense of finding the community, i just want to say one of my favorite interviews was with justin on his radio show, and it was one of those -- my partner can testify that he came upstairs and thought what a great conversation that was. feeling that one person read the book and really got it and was engaging me in a dialogue was such a treat and the fact that then you e-mail me to say i get this award is -- i owe you one. it's really great, thank you.
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[laughter] and finally, thanks to my partner, jeff mangum, who's in the back there. he never batted an eyelash, he never once furrowed his brow and said, what are you talking about? you're writing a book on this insanely huge topic. it was just assumed that i could do it and that i would get it done and that i should take all the time i needed to figure it out. so thanks, jeffrey. and thanks, everybody. [applause] >> it is never a good idea to bet against the creativity of the black youth of america, ever. the revival and resuscitation of the human spirit globally has occurred again and again venn can ration after -- generation after generation from the creative art that comes from the young people of black america.
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the story of the last two centuries bears witness to what i'm talking about. it's a very strange condition that exists in the poetry world in america today in respect to this particular issue. because euro-centric cultists inside and outside the academy prattle on almost endlessly about avant-garde and experimental poetry without ever mentioning hip-hop. that's bizarre. that's unconscionable. now, hip-hop as a poetic expression not only has revived and resuscitated the human spirit globally, it has become a binding force amongst people's movements all over the world. through its articulation of the necessity for freedom. and its poetic beauty.
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it's a shame that people who are so deeply ensconced in the academy and just can't stop talking about seven types of ambiguity in poststructural analysis modes of decontraction, haven't taken -- deconstruction, haven't taken those tools and applied them to hip-hop. weird typography and funny line breaks does not an avant-gardist make. i keep seeing these annologies, and 99% of them are professors and their students. well, a lot of the greatest hip-hop artists aren't surrounded by obsequious students who want a good grade. no. so when some of these organizations that sponsor poetry, avant-garde and experimental poetry, tank in the bay area while across the side of the bay groups like living legends and down in southern california, project blow and ac
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alone just keep doing what they're doing because it must be done. not because they need a grade or because they want to invite their friends and family to a reading. so in terms of that revolutionary force, very few scholars have even come close to summoning the kind of courage to each begin to digest the extraordinary propulsive force and forward-leaning momentum of hip-hop poetics. it is such a joy to discover hi is sham and his book which we honor today, rebel music: race, empire and the new muslim youth culture. [applause]
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>> good afternoon, everyone. finish i am thrilled to be here. i think i'm one of the few social scientists in the audience. i teach political scientist, very dry language. i never expected to win an award for literary achievement, certainly not for hip-hop, a book on hip-hop. [laughter] so i actually, so it's an honor to be here, it's an honor to be surrounded by so many artists. i thank justin, i thank professor reed. it's a great honor to be in your company. so i actually took time, and this morning i typed up an acceptance speech, so please indull me in the -- indulge me for the next 7:18. [laughter] so the origins of this book, the origin toes of this book lie in a conversation i had with a gentleman in sao paulo, brazil, in 2005. ten years ago i was in sao
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paulo. we were researching affirmative action in brazil, the debate around affirmative action. i was talking to a number of leaders from brazilian groups, and i came across a gentleman who runs a group called posse house which is an ngo, mostly muslim. and what they do is hip-hop ped bodily injuriy, right? they're trying to mobilize apro-brazilian youth to push the then-government to recognize black history month in brazil, to reform the curricula in order to teach about the uprising of 1835. this was a slave revolt that failed, launched largely by slaves. so i remember talking to them, hanging out, and he tells me, you know, here in brazil hip-hok has a moral advantage over all other musical genres. is it that way in america? hmm, what a question, right? so it got me thinking about the globalization of hip-hop, the globalization of black
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radicalism. and i set out to write a book on music, black internationalism and u.s. foreign policy, especially policy towards the islamic world, right? the war on terror and so on. i had a wonderful time doing the research. i think my favorite part was getting to meet and interview the jazz elders, randy west and yousef latif and others, and it's an honor to be in this building. for instance, in 2008 i went out to milwaukee to meet with rashid ahmed, the patriarch of the community. he passed away earlier this year, he was 86 years old back then, a jazz officionado, a jazz elder, and his knowledge of the international scope of jazz was extraordinary. he grew up with miles davis. but he had moved to pakistan in 1950s, so talking to this gentleman in his nehru jacket, he speaks fluent err due, right? sitting with him around a table
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and other jazz elders as they spoke about moving to pakistan in 1950s and the musical connections between black america and pakistan, black america and india, the taj mahal foxtrot. i never heard of that, right? so, i mean, hearing them talking was wonderful. so in the book i talk about the spread of jazz around the world, particularly the islamic world. i look at the american government efforts to use jazz for diplomacy and the musical impact of the state department jazz tours whether it's dave brew beck mentoring generations of musicians in turkey or randy west in taking an interest in music in morocco and eventually helping to up end the -- upend the cultural hire ary in north africa, duke elington in iran. i'm particularly interested in the jazz scenes that emerged in ghana, morocco and egypt often inspired by malcolm's trips to the countries to counter what the state department was sis seminating. -- disseminating.
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so there were some amazing collaborations trying to get released. the core of the book, however, is about how many of the social movements now emerging among minority youth in europe and latin america are inspired by black history. i have a quote in the introduction from -- [inaudible] the french caribbean poet who in 1950 published a book called "discourse on colonialism." and in it he said after world war ii europe was politically ruined and culturally bereft. in order to renew itself, europe drew on the culture of black america, it drew on jazz and literature and art that had emerged in america's ghettos. i contend in the book that it is europe piece minority youth today who are using black history to remake themselves. thus you have black panthers of greece, of sweden, the black powerites of belgium, nation of islam england. further out, 5%ers in pakistan,
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activists in algeria all of whom are inspired by african-american movements, and black music is critical in spreading black history. i'm hardly the first to say this, james baldwin, albert murray went about the role of disseminating black history globally. in the u.s. i look at the turn towards race among muslim-americans over the last decade in response to state surveillance, hostile media coverage and right-wing movements. the true immigrants seem to have realized finally that it is through the civil rights movement and people of color coalitions that they will achieve political empowerment. by embracing race, they can go from immigrant to indigenous. so i talk about various campaigns now underway, the campaign by middle eastern and north african americans to get the census bureau to consider them as a minority, legal minority, no longer white. the campaign against obligatory legal whiteness. the campaigns in detroit and chicago to get south asian and
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middle eastern liquor store owners to go green and so on. alliances with black lives matter as well. finally, the u.s. is keenly aware, the american government is keenly aware of the appeal of black culture and black music around the world to youth around the world. so it's not surprising that black history and the civil rights movement have become central to american soft power. whether it's usaid or the embassy in tunis in tunisia trying to get local youth to speak like martin or malcolm, black cultural protest is central to america's diplomatic arsenal being deployed in hot spots around the world. last but not least, the book talks about all kinds of policy debates, immigration policy, de-radicalization and so on, but the book is also a memoir of sorts. these are the memories of an immigrant kid coming up in neighborhoods in the northeast. i landed in philadelphia in 19980 at a very exciting moment.
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the philadelphia -- [inaudible] was giving way to hip-hop, the nation of islam was still ascendant, but the salafis were making inroads with rolled-up pants and scraggly beards. kenny gamble, then the father of the philadelphia sound, had launched an impressive urban renewal project now being imitated around the country and in europe as well. i remember as an 18-year-old when i fell in with some jazz elders, and i'd go and listen to them. and to hear them reminisce about jazz in philadelphia in the '50s was quite exhilarating. after that i moved to harlem where i've lived for over 20 years. afro-centrism, latin sounds and, of course, hypergentry by case. a shoutout to my late mentor, manny parable. his next book was going to be about harlem, so a comprehensive history of harlem. he would encourage us to go out and try to identify places mentioned in text, right?
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so mumbo jumbo -- [inaudible] [speaking in native tongue] launches his business boycott. where did marcus garvey speak, where did malcolm speak and so on. is and -- and so at any rate, this book is what you get when you drop a north african kid in an afro-latin environment. thank you. [applause] ..
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what i come away with lots of times is that buddhism is about being detached from social realities and finding your own bless. it's so refreshing to see this book come out on this. caring for the things and spirit of his previous memoir, the adventures of buddhist boy and his book of poems in thailand, it is night. brings humor inside and lyricism to his new collection of personal essays. southside buddhist, chicago streets, southern illinois
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forests, wrestles with his ever-expanding body and contemplates the complexities of the thai immigrant life. he finds solace with his imagination, his imaginary friend buddha causes mischief with the boys in his working-class neighborhood, battles depression and suicide, and marries the whitest woman in the world who teaches him to appreciate a world blessed by the absence of concrete, skyscrapers, and noise. the book searches for the truth of his memoirs, the truth of himself, every buddhist notion while navigating the tricky terrain suburban and rural life with increasing awareness of what it means to be an immigrant son. of the book, the author of american knees says, say that you're from the south side of chicago and your tight and you speak to buddha on occasion and you tell us how good is that you belong here in america and that
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your voice is rooted here and we should all listen than, this book is for you. "southside buddhist" is a mesmerizing look at the landscape of america from the south side of most everything and everywhere. ira sukrungruang. [applause] >> someone forgot his bag. it's up here. congratulations. >> thank you very much. i can't tell you how honored and humbled i am to be among all of you here today, to be included in this incredible group of riders in the city where my fiancé and i have toured the hell of out of the last couple of days, so thank you. my gratitude to the before
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columbus foundation for what they stand for, for the advocacy of diverse voices in american letters. to mike heid family a thousand miles away, living currently in a country without a government, living in a country of daily violence -- my tie family. the beheading of monks, the bombing of markets, living and working and raising families and texting me to little him og's everyday with little messages like this one from my 80 year old mother when i told her about this award. i so proud of you. don't eat too much. smiley face. [laughter] and to my family in the states are my lovely girls and their lovely mother deidre to give me a never a dull moment, give me more fodder to write about. to all my teachers for their belief in this southside chicago
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tied boy who didn't think it would amount to much thought for a long time he would always been the rest of his life working at a local mall movie theater which wouldn't have been so bad because of the three movies, he would feel a tug in his gut, a stabbing thought that something was not right there can finally to my students, if i wasn't teaching i wouldn't be writing. they are the reasons why i exist as a writer. they are the reasons i get all dramatic in my classes, like this. we live in a new america, a diverse america, and multicultural america. and our stories matter more now than any part of our history. i tell my students we are no longer under the thumb but rather we are the thumb. and we had to make an imprint on this country. i am melodramatic when i say all this. i talk with wild hanscom sermonizing in the classroom from using mediums like an
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idiot. still, my speech is purpose. what i want to ingrained in my students whether they will become writers or not, whether they going to write a memoir or not is that they and their stories matter, that the telling of their stories matter, and how they tell their stories matters most. the truth is, our stories matter before, before the '60s and '70s, that before of women's and civil rights, but before religious persecution in slavery here at no time in america's short history have the stories of the people not mattered. this is the reason for the founding of the country, a collected story of freedom and peace, a search, a journey to find happiness in place and mind. our stories mattered even when we told them only to each other, even when we whispered them, even when we feared what would happen if we put our thoughts on the page.
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i was like them, my students. still and at times. a 19 year old creative writing major at southern illinois university carbondale studying fiction and nonfiction with the late kenneth harris, author of plain saw, turning in terribly young stories the green looking aliens that resembled asians, or stories about god when i was buddhist. my youth made me dream, and a trip to my career as a writer to be similar to that of the only asian american writer i knew back then. it's the reason for my 90 -- and after amy, pierce because my stories would pierce your soul. might imagine writing career is a story marked by monumental moments. what it lacks is the what and the why and how. what it lacks are the guts as
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kent once told me. what it lacks is why the decision of being a writer is not a career choice at all but a devotion to engage in the life of the mind. in the creation of art that seeks to delve deep beneath the surface, like the immigrant story, which is not linear. it is not shaped by cause and effect. the immigrant story is not all the same. once an immigrant makes it to america, the story doesn't end. in fact, it begins again. it keeps beginning. there are other challenges, other heartbreaks, other sadnesses that work in the shadows. the son of immigrants will inherit the immigrant story, and at first he may not know what to do with it. it is heavy and unwieldy. it does not fit comfortably into
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the pockets of his stone washed jeans. for a while he simply finds a place for it to gather dust while he cruises the mall with his friends. years later he will return to it because eventually the immigrant story will call to him. people look at it and see himself. so he will begin to unfold the narrative slowly, like he did with paper airplanes to understand the mechanics of their glide. he will not know what to do with what he finds. there are too many questions, too many avenues of exploration that he is glad he has found it, all these layers. he has learned that not all questions need answers, just asking is good enough. i will end with this. the very first story i completed was entitled murder from the heart. i was 13. it was a mystery set in a high school chemistry class.
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i don't remember much of the plot except for the creative use of a petri dish as a murder weapon and the love story between a tight main character and a beautiful redhead who are modeled after my current love interest at the time. my english teacher would something like i really love your writing, you remind me of me at your age, so lost in the idea of love. my teachers praise has stuck with me. his praise was far better than any publication or award, maybe not this one -- [laughter] it is a comment that connects me to my english teacher, and i admire very much during a time in my life i thought i would never get through. it was a shared moment, the connection, a communication. the life of a writer is not as much about what you've accrued from your writing, but what conversations you have entered in with it.
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it's about being part of this tribe, a friend once said. this is become my mantra. this is what i want to pass down to my students. no matter how solitary it feels at times, we are entering a world in constant conservation -- conversation. a world of words, big, beautiful words. you, dear, are a part of this os drive and there is no better honor for me again to be among you. thank you. [applause]
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>> before welcoming jack foley to the stage, i want to remind everyone that we have a wonderful reception in store for you, beginning at 5:00. it's right around the corner on hayes street comes less than a two minute walk away, the french restaurant on the corporate if you're not quite sure how to get there, have some small amounts will be happy to hand out to there, have some small amounts will be happy to hand out to you. [inaudible] >> secret door. yes, we have her own private entrance. how about that. thank you for that. i would like to introduce a poet, essayist, critic, publisher, a man who wears many hats. they all fit. jack foley who is a member, distinguished member of the board of directors here before
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the, citation to introduce peter harris. [applause] we're supposed to -- milton. milton who? i couldn't resist that. we all know from thousands of television programs, billboards, films, newspaper articles, et cetera, what an angry, which is to say, an unhappy black man is. but what is a happy black man? how mikey pursue his unalienable rights? a black man of happiness is a jazzy, brilliant, equal and
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opposite response and counterspell to the american blues song about black pain, like a gong opening john coltrane's a love so supreme. it recognizes the still ambiguous and dangerous place of black men in contemporary american society. and seeks to create and document another mode of consciousness. the ecosphere has healthier, more expansive definitions of masculinity, deepening medications on our manhood quote, your joy is safe with me. this book attempts to change people, not by other anchor, but i'm working on something even deeper than anger. on their inner joy. the love of life.
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i still get asked, harris writes in one of his poems, how can you be an american man? i can think of no one of any net ethnic group, of any gender, that any sexual persuasion who would not profit by reading this beautiful, funny, moving book. peter, you ain't black. your vegetarian. please welcome peter harris. [applause]
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>> i've been thinking about joy a lot, and that drive the question is what is a black man who is happy? what is a happy black man? what a happy black man mean to the african-american community? how could happy black man enriched american society? what does a happy black man sound like and think about? how does a happy like man navigate life's inevitable traumas and traumas? how could the medications and musings of one happy black man, inspire happiness and other brothers? -- meditations. who can teach black man to be healthy and happy? when have we ever heard a black
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man speaking candidly, creatively, spontaneously and publicly about his pursuit of happiness and the importance of joy in his life? i never heard it. i'm conjuring the black man of happiness to help us replace our crisis, fatigue with the new ecology, aspiration and potential. i have replaced my own crisis the deed with a new ecology of aspiration and potential. yes, to confronting, to atone for our wrongs, but yes, yes, yes to transcending wrongs. a black man of happiness chooses to walk boyd. he is committed to disentangling the sociology is that our
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brother was talking about earlier. a black man of happiness exudes fluid joy and a vocabulary that amounts to my own declaration of independence. you know, when i was in my 20s, about two, three weeks ago -- [laughter] the great, great genius maurice white and his group earth, wind and fire did a song called all about love. and i was a youngster. i couldn't sing but i loved the piano so that's what i hit it before he came up year. but of the things he said in this song is, if there ain't no beauty, you got to make some beauty. i think that that is what this is all about for me. is looking in the core of this moment, this brutal moment that
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somebody talked about earlier. this moment of danger and still seeing them standing for beauty as a transformational tool, particularly for black men. and i want to tell you though that one of my teachers in this work is my daughter who happens to be right there, wearing all the beautiful bright clothes, she's really beautiful, to? my daughter, we go into some of things i in the book but it was important for me to say about her right now is that she is standing for something very, very amazing right now. and that is not leading any kind of trauma and any kind of drama stop her. and as a result of our
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collaboration, i'm not leading no, and drama stop me. and so of course i'm saying, you know, i know it's a dangerous time. people are saying what a using? a happy black man? as well as turn back to thomas jefferson. he says of course that the creator endowed us with certainly unalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness, 1776. 1769 he also said run away from the subscriber, a mulatto slave called sandy. the dude he owned. he took with him a white horse. he also carried his shoemaker tools and will probably endeavor to get employment that way. who ever conveys a slave to me
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shall have come and he runs down how much money he will get paid. so i figured this, on the real side, if the dude who, through his life could quote-unquote own about 600 people, if a dude who inherited those people could say he's about some sort of unalienable pursuit of joy and happiness as a tool for nationbuilding, then certainly, it's like any we talk about benjamin banneker, just basically calling out. oh, gee oh, gee. in those days he picked up the thing and he read it and he wrote him back. he engaged with them too much but just like good benjamin banneker stood and said look man, when it was you in english it was all good, but when it's
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me and my folks, and the joy that i need and require for a sense of safety and humanity, you are holding a wolf by the head. i'm talking, people, about happiness, not being happy-go-lucky, clicking heels and all of that. i'm talking about joy as the tool, as a lens, as something to make you want to get up in the morning and do the right thing. every day. thanks so much. it's a beautiful thing. [applause]
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>> arlene, your award is up here. good, okay. that concludes the 36 annual american book awards presentation. and again i want to thank everyone for coming out this afternoon. [applause] and most especially our authors who traveled such extraordinary distances at their own expenses, genny lim mentioned earlier we do operate on shoestring budgets are encouraged those of you who are interested or capable to donate to the before columbus foundation. great to see you again. haven't seen you in your longtime. so thank you, everyone, for coming out. again a reminder. we have a wonderful reception with some really good food.
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so thank you again. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> a quick reminder to those who received an award come if you could come up for a group picture. if you received the american book award this afternoon, come up for a group picture, please. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
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>> here's a look at some authors recently featured on both tvs afterwards, our weekly interview program.
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>> there wasn't any input and their from economist or sociologist. they may want to shed some issues about human behavior could shape such a grand plan. it isn't rocket science to think that a nation that so in love with a restricted to one child, therefore society will come up at some point maybe even have more men than women. it's not rocket science. >> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern. you can watch all previous "after words" programs on our website, >> here's a quick thing about airbnb. started out as a good idea, you do, let people rent out their spare homes, spare rooms and make some extra money in a down economy. great idea in certain


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