Rest in Peace, Amiri Baraka

Photo: Gary Settle/The New York Times

Photo: Gary Settle/The New York Times

Yesterday Amiri Baraka, a longtime activist and one of the great American poets, passed away at age 79. The cause of his death, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, was not immediately released, but he was hospitalized in the facility’s intensive care unit since Dec. 21 and had a long struggle with diabetes.

Reflecting the exploratory and always-evolving nature of his mind, Amiri’s career path connected him to the Greenwich Village Beat community, the Black Nationalists, the Black Arts Movement (which he founded in 1964), and Marxist-Leninists. Though his beliefs during different stages of life may have different labels, he was consistently committed to justice, unity, social change and the struggle against oppression. As a revolutionary organizer, cultural critic, poet, novelist, essayist, historian, playwright, publisher and orator, Amiri Baraka’s words and ideas have influenced and inspired untold numbers of people around the world. His works have also been the source of much controversy, outrage and condemnation, at least during the initial time of their release.

One of Baraka’s last great acts as a rabble-rouser was his recitation of his poem “Somebody Blew Up America” before 2,000 people at the September 2002 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival held in Stanhope, New Jersey. This was incredibly courageous because throughout the country (especially on the East Coast) just one year after the attacks, questioning the official 9/11 story was enough to make one viewed as a conspiracy theorist, an apologist for terrorists, possibly traitorous, and/or insensitive to victims and their families. To do so and implicate the Israeli government, as Amiri Baraka did in his poem, led to accusations of antisemitism from the Anti-Defamation League. Many at the time believed the accusations even though under closer scrutiny it was obviously untrue because in the poem he clearly condemns the murder of Jews in the Holocaust and the lines in question could more accurately be described as anti-Zionist.

Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion And cracking they sides at the notion?

This is in reference to the well-documented case of the five dancing Israelis arrested on 9/11.

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers To stay home that day Why did Sharon stay away?

The most well-known incidence of Israeli foreknowledge are probably the reports from employees of instant messaging service Odigo. Other cases are listed here: http://911review.org/Wget/www.cooperativeresearch.org/wot/sept11/911mossad.html

Amiri Baraka was appointed Poet Laureate of New Jersey just one month before delivering “Somebody Blew Up America” to the public. Despite pressure from the powers that be to resign immediately, he steadfastly refused. In his own words, from an October 2, 2002 post on his website: “I WILL NOT ‘APOLOGIZE’, I WILL NOT ‘RESIGN!’” Governor Jim McGreevey and state legislators discovered there was no legal way to remove Poet Laureate appointees so in an act revealing their fear, hatred and desperation, they abolished the post in July 2003. This is just one chapter of many from Baraka’s often history-making career, but it’s emblematic of his courage, integrity, dedication to truth, and stubborn stance against injustice. This isn’t to say he was a saint or superhero. None of us are without fault, but what we can learn from Amiri is that development of political thought and civic engagement can and should be lifelong processes, and one can remain true to oneself yet open to new ideas and experiences. Above all, his life is a reminder that simple words (especially when composed and unleashed with skill at the right place and time) contain immense power; sometimes enough to change the world.

Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Somebody Blew Up America

They say its some terrorist, some barbaric A Rab, in Afghanistan It wasn’t our American terrorists It wasn’t the Klan or the Skin heads Or the them that blows up nigger Churches, or reincarnates us on Death Row It wasn’t Trent Lott Or David Duke or Giuliani Or Schundler, Helms retiring

It wasn’t The gonorrhea in costume The white sheet diseases That have murdered black people Terrorized reason and sanity Most of humanity, as they pleases

They say (who say?) Who do the saying Who is them paying Who tell the lies Who in disguise Who had the slaves Who got the bux out the Bucks

Who got fat from plantations Who genocided Indians Tried to waste the Black nation

Who live on Wall Street The first plantation Who cut your nuts off Who rape your ma Who lynched your pa

Who got the tar, who got the feathers Who had the match, who set the fires Who killed and hired Who say they God & still be the Devil

Who the biggest only Who the most goodest Who do Jesus resemble

Who created everything Who the smartest Who the greatest Who the richest Who say you ugly and they the goodlookingest

Who define art Who define science

Who made the bombs Who made the guns

Who bought the slaves, who sold them

Who called you them names Who say Dahmer wasn’t insane

Who? Who? Who?

Who stole Puerto Rico Who stole the Indies, the Philipines, Manhattan Australia & The Hebrides Who forced opium on the Chinese

Who own them buildings Who got the money Who think you funny Who locked you up Who own the papers

Who owned the slave ship Who run the army

Who the fake president Who the ruler Who the banker

Who? Who? Who?

Who own the mine Who twist your mind Who got bread Who need peace Who you think need war

Who own the oil Who do no toil Who own the soil Who is not a nigger Who is so great ain’t nobody bigger

Who own this city

Who own the air Who own the water

Who own your crib Who rob and steal and cheat and murder and make lies the truth Who call you uncouth

Who live in the biggest house Who do the biggest crime Who go on vacation anytime

Who killed the most niggers Who killed the most Jews Who killed the most Italians Who killed the most Irish Who killed the most Africans Who killed the most Japanese Who killed the most Latinos

Who? Who? Who?

Who own the ocean

Who own the airplanes Who own the malls Who own television Who own radio

Who own what ain’t even known to be owned Who own the owners that ain’t the real owners

Who own the suburbs Who suck the cities Who make the laws

Who made Bush president Who believe the confederate flag need to be flying Who talk about democracy and be lying

Who the Beast in Revelations Who 666 Who know who decide Jesus get crucified

Who the Devil on the real side Who got rich from Armenian genocide

Who the biggest terrorist Who change the bible Who killed the most people Who do the most evil Who don’t worry about survival

Who have the colonies Who stole the most land Who rule the world Who say they good but only do evil Who the biggest executioner

Who? Who? Who?

Who own the oil Who want more oil Who told you what you think that later you find out a lie

Who? Who? Who?

Who found Bin Laden, maybe they Satan Who pay the CIA, Who knew the bomb was gonna blow Who know why the terrorists Learned to fly in Florida, San Diego

Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion And cracking they sides at the notion

Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain’t goin’ nowhere

Who make the credit cards Who get the biggest tax cut Who walked out of the Conference Against Racism Who killed Malcolm, Kennedy & his Brother Who killed Dr King, Who would want such a thing? Are they linked to the murder of Lincoln?

Who invaded Grenada Who made money from apartheid Who keep the Irish a colony Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later

Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani, the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral, Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,

Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba, Mondlane, Betty Shabazz, Die, Princess Di, Ralph Featherstone, Little Bobby

Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo, Assata, Mumia, Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton

Who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers, Mikey Smith, Walter Rodney, Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed

Who put a price on Lenin’s head

Who put the Jews in ovens, and who helped them do it Who said “America First” and ok’d the yellow stars

Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt Who murdered the Rosenbergs And all the good people iced, tortured, assassinated, vanished

Who got rich from Algeria, Libya, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine,

Who cut off peoples hands in the Congo Who invented Aids Who put the germs In the Indians’ blankets Who thought up “The Trail of Tears”

Who blew up the Maine & started the Spanish American War Who got Sharon back in Power Who backed Batista, Hitler, Bilbo, Chiang kai Chek

Who decided Affirmative Action had to go Reconstruction, The New Deal, The New Frontier, The Great Society,

Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for Who doo doo come out the Colon’s mouth Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus Subsidere

Who overthrew Nkrumah, Bishop, Who poison Robeson, who try to put DuBois in Jail Who frame Rap Jamil al Amin, Who frame the Rosenbergs, Garvey, The Scottsboro Boys, The Hollywood Ten

Who set the Reichstag Fire

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers To stay home that day Why did Sharon stay away?

Who? Who? Who?

Explosion of Owl the newspaper say The devil face cd be seen

Who make money from war Who make dough from fear and lies Who want the world like it is Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and national oppression and terror violence, and hunger and poverty.

Who is the ruler of Hell? Who is the most powerful

Who you know ever Seen God?

But everybody seen The Devil

Like an Owl exploding In your life in your brain in your self Like an Owl who know the devil All night, all day if you listen, Like an Owl Exploding in fire. We hear the questions rise In terrible flame like the whistle of a crazy dog

Like the acid vomit of the fire of Hell Who and Who and WHO who who Whoooo and Whooooooooooooooooooooo!

Copyright 2002. AMIRI BARAKA.

About Luther Blissett

"Luther Blissett" is a multi-use name, an "open reputation" informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and social activists all over Europe since Summer 1994. For reasons that remain unknown, the name was borrowed from a notable association football player who played for A.C. Milan, Watford F.C. and England in the 1980s.
This entry was posted in Activism, Art, civil disobedience, civil liberties, consciousness, culture, Empire, False Flag, freedom of speech, History, Racism, Social Control, society, Uncategorized, Video, war, war on terror and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rest in Peace, Amiri Baraka

  1. Who made this excellent poem, who, who, who.

    Absolutely love this! Haven’t watched the video, I’m at the office, (don’t tell anyone) but I will.

    But, what sort of coincidence is it that the timing on the video is 9:11

    • I’m sure you’ll love the spoken word version even more. He’s like an acappella jazz musician. If you look it up on YouTube there’s another live version he does accompanied by saxophone that’s equally great.

      • Fantastic. I watched it twice, and sure to watch it again in the future, and will check out the YouTubes. What a great poet and inspiration Amiri Baraka was and will continue to be.

        Thanks Luther

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