Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Your Grandpa Never Had A Fight

(To My Grandsons – Kamal, Musa, Naim Barack, Khalil, Ameer & Bilal)

I have never had a fight where anyone got beat up; I never really had to.  I have had scuffles in which somebody got slammed, then, that was it.  Why exceed bounds when the person  has already been vanquished?  And, why attack, unjustly?

I learned that from watching my Daddy.  I studied him from my crib, and I knew I wanted to be just like him, a hero.  Everybody knew my Daddy was tough and dependable.  He commanded the respect of about 10 Black men on his job as Supervisor of the Press Room and Stereotyper at the Kansas City Call Newspaper.  He played football in college and he would never brag, but his buddies alluded to his scrapping his way up on Vine Street.

Once, I had quieted the colored manager at Melody Lanes after having been harassed for one of my many faux pas's and nearly brought to tears, when I threatened to “bring my Daddy around here!", our house being only about a block away from the newly built bowling alley.  There was a hush... and the subject changed quickly.

I went everywhere with my Daddy: the pool hall, the bar, family events (cabaret parties, picnics, etc.), his job (the Pressroom) and the Newsroom at The Call, NAIA and Harlem Globetrotter basketball games at the Municipal Auditorium. 

From the time I was about 6 he took me amongst the raucous rowdy crowds at the  Negro League Baseball games at the Kansas City Blues Municipal Stadium up on Brooklyn Ave.  to cheer Satchel Paige and the Monarchs and  boo Goose Tatum (whom we, later,  cheered when he played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters) and the Indianapolis Clowns.

I’m an English Teacher

           What’s Your Superpower?

          I graded 500 papers a week for  almost 30 years.  I corrected punctuation, capitalization, grammar, spelling, syntax, and organization for  book reports, compositions, essays, quizzes, tests, poems, and short stories from 150 to 200 kids a day for the best part of 30 years at some of the most dangerous schools in America and loved it, couldn’t wait to get to work for 28 of those action packed years until I, admittedly,  burnt out in the last year and 9 months,  almost 12 years ago, now. 

          My philosophy of teaching was based on my communication skills, but I knew I could not speak to every individual student everyday. So, I assigned so much work that I was going to get at least 2 or 3 papers a week from everybody, even the gangbangers.  And, the grades combined with the notes and red corrections guaranteed an, ongoing, unique communication between me and my students.  That included my 20-25% hardcore miscreants who refused to turn in assignments in their other classes.

Teaching kids whose lives are so traumatized that they should be labeled PTSD is a shouting screaming match, initially, a test of wills.  Of course, there is always the option of simply putting them out, pushing them down to the next rung on their downward staircase.   At my best,   I was blessed with a voice that could cow down assemblies of over 1000 screaming, out of control youngsters because screaming was my forte. I could shout louder and farther, and that’s how I kept order. I was even notorious for quieting crowds in the thousands as the Public Address announcer at inner city  basketball and football games.

My reputation preceded me, so I rarely had to get physical, but when I did, I made sure it was quick and awesome to the pubescent onlookers, who would invariably “put extras on it” which spared me displaying my Vietnam sharpened skills very much. The prickly kids who were hiding their virtual illiteracy and functional illiteracy with anti-literacy are the challenge to inner city schools.  Who can quiet homeboy and homegirl down long enough to teach the rest of the students.  The kids who can’t read fear humiliation and they are sophisticated enough to keep classes disrupted.  Even 5 minutes of silence makes these kids anxious.  They blurt out for fear they will be called upon to read or answer a question. 

At first, I would bellow out admonitions in my overkill voice which tended to cower them and any would-be ne’r-do-wells down for the rest of the hour. 

But, after a decade or so, I began to develop polyps on my vocal cords, and I realized that I had to retire my overkill voice and develop finesse. The disruptions were masked protests of disinterest, calls for a specific attention that Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men could not satisfy. So, I wrote my own book, CRIPS, and the gang kids loved it.  They would even steal it, which was a backhanded compliment because they were known to deface all books but never steal one.        

After CRIPS was published in 1986, I was able to get most of my students to finish reading a complete book, which was a remarkable achievement because even most of the students who graduate from inner city schools have not done it, as proven by their SAT scores and scores on community college entrance exams relegating them to English no credit classes in the Fall following graduation despite their high schools being “accredited”.

Of course, my English department peers derided my rights of passage tome because they hated gang members and considered any effort to reach out to them by acknowledging the validity of portions of their culture treasonous.  The head of the English department refused to buy even a classroom set, although first year teachers flummoxed with force feeding the curriculum had reported almost miraculous success with the same students when I donated classroom sets to them.

I went on sabbatical to make the film, but upon my return my English department persisted in their intransigence even after Warner Bros. made the movie, SOUTH CENTRAL from my novel and I debuted it at my school.   The film (which is laden with profanity although the book has none) went on to become a classic and remains a favorite on TV until today. I chose not to pursue filmmaking because I preferred being an English teacher.

And, since I knew most of my students would drop out in 10th grade and the ones who survived would be 2 to 4 years behind their peers in English, I decided to base my instruction on poetry.  I could get a profound haiku from students that I could never get a decent paragraph from. They learned to write sonnets in iambic pentameter, then, begged for freedom to write free verse. I whetted their appetites with Langston Hughes, and the Harlem Renaissance bards, James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and that lot.  Maya Angelou, Gwen Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, and utilitarian samples from my own poetry provoked them to study, appreciate, memorize, and even create their own approximations of the masters.  Weekly poetry slams usually got 100% participation, whereas, almost nobody enjoyed reading Shakespeare, Emerson, or Thoreau.  As much as I appreciated Tennyson, Poe, and Frost, they turned most of my 10th and 11th graders off.
I, purposely,  sabotaged the system that causes most students in the inner city to hate reading and English class by using poetry as a doorway that led them to the freedom that comes with reading, writing, and loving words

Monday, May 2, 2016

I Fear the Egregious Sin of Arrogance

There is a thin but very important

Line between confident and arrogant

That I pray I never transgress.

Yet, there is faux in every hero

Pretense precedes all  shows of confidence.

It seems essential to the process.

Confidence sows its own destiny

But, beware of Hell’s temptress – Arrogance.


You brought love to Los Angeles.

Limping – leg broken – but unbowed,

81, and barely balancing on your cane,

You are handicapped but not disabled,

Dignified and delicate,

Always scurrying, self deprecating Queen.

Will like Rock shaped into exquisite art,

Battle scarred but Beautiful and unbowed,

Unbroken. You’re undefeated;

You’ve reached the highest human state of ihsan

(constantly giving Love).

Scootin’ up and down stairs to do it.

With hurt heavy boot painin’ you say,

“Satan, don’t hold me down!

Don’t stop me from goin’ to church, Lord.

I may be 81; I may have just got this cast put on, Lord.

My foot may be sprung,

But I’m gonna hop this hurt heavy boot, Lord,

To see my great grandbaby, Ishmael, graduate.

I’m gonna push back the pain, Satan.

‘Cause God got me on a mission to bring LOVE
Back to my family, again.”                                                                By Bakeer (2015)

FORNICATION: When Social Becomes Venereal


This life can, gladly,  go into extra innings if you’re winning. 

But, if you drink hard liquor and/or use hard drugs; it’s hard.

So, if you don’t want to live hard; stop sinning.

Stop!   So, your babies can be free

From disease and poverty.

This life can be bright, happily full of struggling but not, necessarily, suffering.

Great expectations and  victories!  

Families can have many generations without the degradation

Of D.U.I.’s and drug addictions, violent marriages maligned w/suspicion

And devoid of vision; damned to divorce, utterly, cursed by weak traditions

That leave everybody victims.

Illicit sex precedes abortion, then, the deadly decision

That makes  murderers instead of mothers,

Maybe makes you love/consider kids a little less,

Leaves you jaundiced, partially blinded and could care less,

Callused, future clients for foster care.

Stop taking for granted that everybody on the planet

Is weak, morally, secretly dirty and  not what they appear to be.

No, everybody’s not doin’ it ;

And, every generation does not have to fall

For fornication

Then, learn to lie in denial when social becomes venereal,

And the jinn reveals himself as your sex appeal.

Eschew evil, and cultivate your taqwa, your Spiritual Will!

Clean will be  fashionable forever .

Find your niyyah, your purpose, and refocus.

Lust will be one of your first tests and one of the worst.

Lust, is the Wass Wass , The Whisperer, who speaks to the hearts

Of all Women/Men; The jinn who brings worry and distraction.

When you are confronted with or surrounded by his songs,

You must Pray. Keep Allah close.  Use Him as a weapon, a haven, a shelter.

Prayer is a  vehicle that helps you refocus and combats demons.

Never let too much time get between you and your last prayer.

Food for Thought

We hide, comfortably, from our greatness in Poverty.  It is a justifiable excuse for not inventing the internet or cell phone or any great technology since the stoplight.

I fear our Bill Gateses and Paul Allens are being concussed into mediocrity on football fields and basketball courts  before they can create their great apps  or design and pilot  the latest spacecraft.

We shoot for the stars in games and forget the stars in the universe. When will some of our parents commit themselves to raising Great Women Leaders like the Williams parents committed to raising great tennis players?

Are these unborn the angels that can lead us out of the sordid traditions of Comfortable Poverty, ie., the inability to love till death, the inability to save, to own, to be self-sufficient,  to be charitable, and to embrace literacy and the sciences rather than being distracted by bouncing balls?

Maybe our culture’s  salvation is being put second to possible careers in professional tennis, and basketball, golf, and volleyball.

Furthermore, where are our Kings, Malcolms, or Mahatma Ghandis? Could they be those most committed to the religions of Song and Dance?  Did we trade for Michael Jackson  instead of  another  Adam Clayton Powell?  Could we have had another Malcolm instead of Miles?

Why not make songs that program us to do more than  smile, dance, and romance? Allah’s sound vibrations have so much more power.  Where is the music that ends hunger and  abortion, renews universal love, and unites all faiths? Are we trying to convince our precocious geniuses that they should, only,  try to be Snoop Lion or Prince?

Must  we continue to aim so low leaving those who fail littered in neighborhood trash heaps, almost made its and has beens?  Victims of tender knees, and backs, and broken brains,  corrupt lawyers, managers, and wicked accountants who see them, only, as sustenance for their own capital gain,  every generation,  over and over again  -  willing victims of  the same sucker game.


Flirts? No, I Don’t Think So

Women have often flirted with me, some boldly, some subtly.

But more than half, well over 50% of these  coquettes were saying “voulez vous couche avec moi”.  Many had ulterior motives, and could care less that I was happily married with several kids. They did not seek marriage, only discreet but lusty interludes between cancerous relationships.

These witches, these jinni, who practice  secret arts, the adulteresses who reside in thinly masked denial of their sins.  These skeezers, these T.H.O.T.S., these hizzoes, these femme fatales  who never reflect on the dozens of men they go in and out of in their  scandalously sinful lives, the  HPV, the herpes, the HIV, the gonorrhea, and et cetera that they don’t even count, hide behind innocuous flirts, but caveat emptor (buyer beware)

When I look back upon my life, I am more proud  of  the women I turned down or we found some mutual reason not to have illicit sex than I am of the coquettes,  my so-called conquests. In fact, they are sins for which I want to repent – not the women but the sex that stained our relationships. 

This subject is so radioactive  that I am circumspect.  Any discussion of  past  sexual sins can become precedent for continuing morally weak traditions and possibly curtailing crucial growth. 

But, I became a man in the midst of  the Sexual Revolution; and, when I graduated from Cal State L.A. in 1973 “the next person who came through the door” was the sexual preference in a campus survey.  Orgies and experimentation were S.O.P. for entertainers, and White girls had discovered Black men and made fashionable the quickie. 

I was a wannabe actor under the tutelage of  the Grand Dame, Beah Richards and others of that ilk  at the renown Inner City Cultural Center with some of the most beautiful sorceresses in America, but I was, also, a 100 + Muhammad Speaks newspaper selling happily married F.O.I., so their siren songs never quite hypnotized me. 

I have had a voluptuous  actress strip nude to try to entice me (and anyone else in range of her sultry spell), they’ve offered menage a trois’s but, fortunately, I had a woman equal to 3 of them, so I was able to play it off.

Islam has been my protective aura for nearly 50 years. It taught me how to choose a mate, and that has been key to my successes.  Without  a tireless connection with The Spirit  entertainers are  bombarded by flirtatious sexual invitations. The young ones don’t  realize they are scarring their Souls.  They will never have  a lifelong mate because it’s the clean for the clean and the dirty for the dirty.

Au contraire, I have reverence for the women who are virtuous, who hold themselves above  Shaitan’s   lewd invitations. These are women with whom a man can only be successful. The true, “ride or die”, “Fo’ life” mothers  and  wives, like Camille Cosby and Michelle Obama;  I’m widowed to  2,   Sharon and Anjail Bakeer, and married to another, the indefatigable, imperturbable Sharyn Muhammad Bakeer.

These women  outgrew the curse of good looks and passed the moral tests to become sui generis, women whose words you can trust.

 Flirts?  No, I don’t  think so.  
How Much Farther Away Could The Jannah Be?

How could I possibly be surprised,
If I died … this time?
Even a cat only has 9 lives.

In retrospect
I’ve dodged Death so often
I should pre-purchase my coffin.

I should prepare where I plan to leave my remains,
Minimize my losses and maximize my gains.

I should write my own obituary so I don’t have to worry
About which cemetery will bury me,
Or, how to include  my sister Joanne and my Brother Berry…
But, realistically,
Since I am about to be Blessed to turn 70, Inshallah,
How much farther away could The Jannah  be?  
© Bakeer 2014

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Panacea
For a Myriad of Black People's Problems

     Having recently celebrated 50 years of being proud and aware of my Blackness, I have been reassessing.  'Does militantly asserting my right to be defined as Black benefit me?'
     I do believe I was less assertive in integrated company before I was Black.  I  was often intimidated and had an inferiority complex around Whites. Indeed, my Blackness cured that, Fa sho'. But, is there any negative price for forcing the world to call me Black? Isn't there some baggage, also.
     What if I could tell you how to get everybody who is not Black to drop every negative connotation bein' Black has? What if I could tell you how to get any job you are qualified for and want, badly.  What if I could make everyone you encountered but did not know have high expectations of you?
     Naw, but you would not do it.  Even though you know what I say is true, you won't even attempt it, even though it's not illegal, immoral, or physically taxing.
     Think deeply about what I am suggesting.  The next time you fill out an application or questionnaire that asks your race, put "Negro". If the boxes are "African American" or "Black", cross them out and write "Negro".
      If questioned, say you are proud to be a "Negro" because everyone knows Negroes are dependable, agreeable, and will work twice as hard as everybody on the job or team for that matter.
     Jackie Robinson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Duke Ellington, and a plethora of renown others were Negroes and proud of it.  If you proudly represent yourself as a Negro, the positive traditions - the struggles, the achievements connoted in that no longer despised name, qualify you for special treatment that you don't even have to demand.
      To be delineated from N*gg*s is worth it in itself.  There are no Negro Crips, Bloods, terrorists, drug dealers, pimps, or prostitutes, and it's unusual for a Negro to go to jail or abandon his/her family. Almost all Negroes are devoted to The Almighty and love to read.  They are industrious and assets to any organization.
      Yes, in fact, I'm going to insist on being addressed as a Muslim Negro rather than African American or Black which, generally, imply (whether we like it or not) racist tendencies and an angry history.  And, most definitely, the terms do not concoct positive imagery to Whites or Blacks, or even other Muslims.  Bilal ibn Rabah (S.A.W.) was a Muslim Negro and a spiritual icon in Islamic history, nevertheless, we, still, disdain the term "Negro". 
      Whereas, African American, Black, and certainly, N*gg*  are no longer positive descriptive appellations for us, it is time for a change. And, I believe "Negro" would be a most effective and easily adapted to alternative.

My Dream

My Dream

I want to die riba  free -
Free of interest bearing debt, completely.

And, I want to free my children
So, they can pass on
Mortgage free real estate
And a riba free tradition.

I believe years from now
We will view our new tradition
Much like we do freedom
From chattel slavery
After The Jubilee.

This is my primary economic goal.
I want to free my Soul, 

Close Encounter

              Close Encounter

           "Whew! They almost caught my ass that time."
           "I told you about visiting pagan planets.  You know they are still killing and eating each other."
           "No, Father. They no longer are cannibals.  Although, I admit they are still killers.  Have you read their Internet reports? They are continually at war with each other.
           "That one called the U.S.A. is especially pugnacious with all their bombs and such. 
           I love to bait their jet planes, but I will never let them catch me, again.  Some of them would have killed me, and, no doubt, eaten me in those days. Fortunately, they have passed the cannibal stage. Their flying machines are so primitive, however, we have nothing to fear.  If they would only direct the development of the best of their technology toward something other than murder, their vehicles would be so much more efficient.
            Their society would be so efficient there would be no need for war.  Allah would Bless them with His Peace.

2000 A.D.

2000 A.D.

            The millennium was anticipated with bated breath.  I remember my wife, Anjail, my 7 year old daughter, Anjail Ahneda, and my daughter, Ihsan, and her fiance', Rasheed counting down the minutes to the epic event.  Once in a thousand years.  What could it possibly signify?

            A thousand years ago was a great age for Africans; a thousand years later, not so much.  I was apprehensive about the possibilities that the infamous Y2K foretold.  Dick Gregory, Shaherazade Ali, and numerous others were predicting doom and gloom - the computers (a recent phenomena) were going to stop because their digital mechanisms had not been set to go past 1999.  The ATM's (also, relatively new), and indeed, the whole worldwide banking system had been similarly shortsightedly constructed, and there would be an international collapse of monetary systems.

            Survival kits were selling fast and, I was smiling on the outside, but overwrought with second thoughts. 'Had I considered my disaster plans? Escape routes? Orders to congregate with my huge family, assiduously?' Although I had little respect for the conspiracy theorists, openly confronting them  every chance I got.  But, what if the nuts, for once, were actually right?

            5 minutes, 4 minutes... This was just like any other New Years Eve.  Times Square's big ball had dropped 3 hours before.  Would the end of the world start with the first arrival of the new year on any part of the planet, or would it wait until the last arrival on the planet? Had the utter destruction already begun?  Could we expect the Big Apple to crumble and the rest of the country to fall like dominoes?

            Then, I came to my senses and realized the enormity of what was happening.  Allah was blessing me to experience a monumental event.  What I said and did  were very likely to be around  a thousand years from now in some form.  My thoughts and deeds, seen from the proper perspective, could influence the thoughts and deeds of countless numbers of people, ad infinitum.  What an awesome responsibility!

            Two minutes to 2000 A.D. It didn't matter who the President was, the police chief, whoever, or what they did. Nothing could stop me, now.

            When I was born in 1944, my life expectancy was 55 years, meaning I was programmed to be dead in a couple of minutes, which did not seem likely, so I was celebrating, softly, my survival.  I grabbed hold of Anjail and hugged her hard, then, I hugged  her and little Anjail.  We raised our glasses and toasted the New Millennium with the traditional Martinelli's Apple Juice.  One minute... to realizing a million dreams of millions of Baker/Bakeers - ancestors who could not have even fantasized about the blessings, the good things I had been honored to have. 

            My Daddy and Momma got a glimpse, but they could barely dream of me making hajj.  Fortunately, they had seen and loved all of my kids, put their indelible marks on their morals and much else. They had shared the books, the movie, my houses, my careers, Al hamdullillah. Still I reflected upon my successes - more than any of our ancestors could possibly imagine.

            Anjail, Sharon, my kids and I had eaten better, dressed better,  been housed better, been educated more, travelled more, driven better  cars, spent more money, probably studied more Quran and Bible than any of our ancestors.  What more could possibly be waiting for us in the 3rd Millennium?  It could only be better.  No matter how grave the problems of the past.  It always got better.  So, let us greet 2000, the future, the next millennium with the triumphant chant that it was due.  Something fitting to be remembered for at least another 1000 years:

            "Allahu Akbar!  Allahu Akbar!  Allahu Akbar! Happy New Millennium!

            My wife, Anjail, and I kiss a truly historic kiss.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Charity Does Not Diminish Wealth

Charity Does Not Diminish Wealth;
It Purifies It

I make it rain for the waitress who smiles at me;
Then, I say something that makes her feel pretty.

I make it rain for my favorite sistuh behind the desk at the bowling alley;
Let her keep the change from the twenty.

I bowl, but I do not gamble, and I laugh at the people who play lotto.
I drive a new car, but it's not expensive; I save so that I can give.

I prefer not to spend my money in vain;
I love to help people; I love to make it rain!

I prefer to live simply, so I can give, amply;
I prefer to live my life, plain, so I can continue to make it rain.

I make it rain for the Brothers beating on congas in the park,
Especially when it gets close to dark.

I make it rain for the Brothers on the corner plotting crime
(Tired of doin' without all the time).

Before one of them can even think about bringing me game,
I make it rain!

I make it rain for the broken women
In front of the grocery store -

Hands outstretched, faces filled w/pain, begging and ashamed.
I love to see them light up when I make it rain!

Yes, I am addicted to putting hope back into hopeless eyes.
I stop my car for people pushing shopping carts overflowing w/pain,

Then, I  get out, and, "Surprise",
I make it rain!

When I go to the mosque, I make prayer, then, I make it rain.
And, it seems I can barely get out of the block

Before Allah (S.W.A.) has given the money back to me, again.

The Original Griot

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Quiet as It's Kept

         (2016 zeitgeist)

Homosexual sex is  no longer considered illicit;
It's literally celebrated, no matter whether
The sexual partners are "legally mated".*

But, what's most cruel to me
Is that we (society) have blindly
Assuaged the way to homosexuality
For our youth
And created yet another slippery slope
For those who have, traditionally, chosen chastity.

*Jason Collins, professional basketball player who was celebrated by the White House for admitting he was having gay sex.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Don't Be Surprised by My Death"

After my last breath,
Praise Allah, and
Pray for me.
For I was a Free Man
In a great land
Shrouded with the utmost dignity.

"There aren't very many of those ol' dudes left,"
Would be a triumphant funereal refrain
For my decomposing brain, now, bereft of trivia,
Zealously tallying up my Charity.

I'm Blessed to still be here because
I caught pneumonia not long after my birth.
It went into prolonged bronchitis at around 2 or 3
And, eventually, breath sapping asthma attacks
And, emergency room quick fix insulin shots at 6.

Asthma, my foul friend; I've become accustomed to
Your endless weight on my chest -
Whether after 10 mile runs or even at rest,
You are always handicapping my best.

I've never had a serious scuffle,
Yet, I've disarmed crowds of angry people
With no lethal force.
Some of the worst killers
Put their pistols away, so they could hear what I had to say.

'Cause on the flip side I was teaching them to Pray,
So, Allah (S.W.A.), as promised,
Keeps sending angels my way
Like when I was nose to nose with an East Coas' Crip
About something trivial. Gave him a  precautionary put down
Shamed him in front of his own convict crowd
In the same week when he committed a robbery and mass murder of 4.

Then, 2 days later killed 2 more in another robbery
But, between the 2 mass murders, that Sunday morning, my hot water tank
Caught some laundry afire, and Spud risks his life to put out the fire.
Close call for me and all of my family.

The crazy 90 mph car wreck at 19 was the closest I have been to death.
But, Allah saved me, against all odds. At least a month of coma,
Fleeting consciousness, and drugged sleep.
Then, oral surgeries, facial and body scars
Before going back to drunken driving and near death wrecks.

Then, being drafted -Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training,
and Officer's Candidate School before Vietnam.
What sustained me was Allah (S.W.A.) - I was calling Him Christ back then.
And, I was reading The Gospel which strengthened my resolve
To avoid killing or being killed; do not drop my guard.
Avoid all opportunities to die in the air assaults, ambushes, driving jeep on recon,
Any good chances to be a common statistic.