Leap-frogging the Matrix: A Collage Inspired by Black Thought 2.0

Note: This past weekend (April 6-7, 2012), I participated in Black Thought 2.0: New Media and the Future of Black Studies. The event was the brainchild of Duke University African American Studies professor Mark Anthony Neal and was held at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University.

The program consisted of a Friday evening keynote address in which sociologist S. Craig Watkins shared his research on young people’s engagement with media technologies and the effort to deploy those technologies to create more effective, culturally responsive learning environments inside and outside of school. ┬áHe called upon Black Studies departments to do more to make the physical and intellectual resources of the Academy available to those stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. This was followed by four Saturday panels that contemplated, the history of African American engagement with the Internet, teaching and research in the digital age, internet activism, and the role of the black public intellectual in social media. The event was a dynamic interplay between face-to-face and virtual participants since it was live-streamed and live-tweeted.

Videos of the conference are being edited and will be archived for public viewing at the Franklin Center’s YouTube channel.

This is the first of what I suspect will be several personal ruminations on this event.


Leap-frogging the Matrix

Sojourner Truth sold the “shadow to support the substance.”

Sojourner Truth sold these "cartes de visite" at public appearances, bearing the caption, "I see the shadow to support the substance."We store her shadow in clouds for sampling remixing reusing

What is the essence that we download?


I am not being plain. Let me tell you what I mean.

Long ago I learned to seek truth like Diogenes

Holding the tales of my griots aloft

I headed for the agora that had not imagined me.

Straining ears and eyes for places to connect

And Terry said , “Try to remember, my dear, we’re only pilgrims here…”





The Guardian

Child soldiers march at night.
Homeless veterans haunt the Boulevard
You know longer patrol the Wall for this city’s Miserables.
Even Guardians get old.
Even Guardians get old.

Once you tended to Valjean and Javert
Protecting one from a crackhead son
Making sure the nursing home gave the other his HIV meds
That was then.
Now, even the memory is, “just too much, too much.”

Instead we find each other
through fragments of song
“Drifting on a memory/
Ain’t no place I’d rather be…”

Life plan for a poem

In youth I was beguiled
By master gardeners who, sowing words, raised
bountiful harvests
that fed and healed.

I thought it would be grand
To grow thought out thought things
Soul food for children of the new day comin’

In those days it was thought
That authority rested in
Knowledge that required
Careful cultivation.
The only debate
was over what was worth knowing
and who was worth cultivating.

And so, I studied.
Apprenticed myself to those
who had never seen the likes of me
do more than pull a plow.
Brought the seeds from my grandmother’s garden
and said,

“See? This too, is beautiful.
And its fruit makes all of us strong
And one day this will be
A poem.”