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commentary, Voices and Soul by Justice Putnam Black Kos, Poetry Editor

When I attended Catholic School in Oregon; before, during and after Vatican II, the science classrooms displayed a poster that depicted, The Hierarchy of Life. Man of course, was at the pinnacle, then came the apes and other mammals in a descending order, I think dogs were ranked higher than horses; then birds, then fish; all the way down to nematodes. You'd think that bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa would have made it somewhere, considering that spermatozoa was considered life by the Holy See as a reason for condemning the use of prophylactics; and even nocturnal emissions. Regardless, the poster was another affirmation of Man's dominion over life. It was an affirmation of Man's Exceptionalism. It was an affirmation of biblical proportions to level the land if necessary; to obliterate some wild life if that wild life interfered with Man's quest of his own power and dominion of the Earth; or if he was just driving to get some milk.


I didn't quite see it that way. Even as a child, I thought all life was precious; and I didn't see myself as having any particular power over life. Sure, I could stomp some insects I suppose, in an almost god-like stomp, but I didn't. I would wonder for hours at an ant trail of ant-workers carrying a multitude of debris into their mound; I would observe the green-turning-to gray-pupa in the eaves of the house for weeks on end, wondering if what emerged would be a butterfly or a moth. Spiders were always gently moved outside when their webs grew unwieldy inside.

I like to think I grew into a more conscious human because of that wonder. I like to think that, almost St Francis-like, I see all Sentient Beings as being Divine. So I completely understand Nikki Giovanni's insistence on a road sign warning of a...

Possum Crossing

Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home . . . being
naturally . . . slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling neighbors:
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it's not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look . . .
relieved and exasperated ...
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling . . . to lift itself into the wind
and live

-- Nikki Giovanni

                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor


Nevada State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson in his own words. Slate: "I Have a Daughter. I'm Black. I'm Gay."
In 2002, the very early days of the gay marriage backlash -- after Hawaii, before Massachusetts -- Nevada voters solidly approved an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. On Monday the Democrat-run state Senate voted to undo the definition, with one Republican joining the majority. The Republican wasn't the story, though. State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson was.

Atkinson's announcement brings the number of gay Democrats in the Nevada state Senate to three -- in a caucus of eleven. (The number of black, gay Democrats? Two.) Democrats took control of the body in 2006, and haven't given it up since; Atkinson rose in the period when gay marriage was fading as a controversy. "If this somehow interrupts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place."


Across the nation, the number of Black-owned, new car dealerships peaked at 532 in 2002, but has fallen by 50 percent since.  Black Enterprise: Black Owned Dealerships Disappearing Across the US.
After spending most of his life in the automotive business, 60-year-old Harry Lee Harris is shifting gears. Owner of Universal Ford since 1986, Harris will on May 1 complete the sale of his successful black-run business to Richmond Ford.

“There is a time to buy and a time to sell,” said Harris, referring to his dealership at 10751 W. Broad St. in Henrico County near Richmond, Va. “My wife and I are looking forward to traveling all over the big globe and being super grandparents. We’ll play lots of golf, too.”

Ron Kody, who is White, owns Richmond Ford. The ownership change means there will not be a single Black-owned, new car dealership in the Richmond area. Virginia, at best, has just a handful of Black-owned dealerships. In Northern Virginia, there are three, Infiniti of Chantilly, owned by Reginald L. Brown Jr., formerly of Richmond, and BMW of Sterling and MINI of Sterling, both owned by Thomas A. Moorehead.

                     Courtesy of Black Enterprise Magazine


An interesting twist on a classic story. TheGrio: Brooklyn Academy of Music stages all-black ‘Julius Caesar’
As you find your seat at BAM’s recent production and U.S. premiere of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar, a group of black actors cavort on stage, laughing and joking, casually passing the day in what appears to be a West African market place, immediately distinguishing this production of Julius Caesar from the Shakespeare you might remember (and loathe) from your 8th grade reading list.

Certainly less romantic, and probably for that reason less popular than say Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar has nonetheless surfaced in the past year in a modern day prison in the Triviani brothers’ film Caesar Must Die, in an all-female production staged at the Donmar Warehouse, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, and now in an all-black production by Gregory Doran, using the political upheaval that has plagued modern day Africa as its backdrop.

Doran’s interpretation takes this classic drama’s transcendent themes – the corrupting influence of personal ambition, the fickle nature of public favor, and the unreliable symbols we pursue in making meaning of the world around us, just to name a few – out of the cool, limestone halls and monuments of ancient Rome, making them work and sweat under the hot, unflinching glare of the African sun.

Photo: ..BAM, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Ohio State University present..Julius Caesar..Royal Shakespeare Company.By William Shakespeare.Directed by Gregory Doran.Act I photographed; Wednesday, April 10, 2013; 2:00 PM at the BAM Harvey Theater; Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYC; .Photograph: © 2013 Richard Termine .PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine
BAM, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Ohio State University present Julius Caesar
(PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine)


18-Year-Old Is Youngest Black Female Pro-Golfer. NewsOne: Ginger Howard!!!!!
Could we be seeing the second coming of Tiger Woods?

In Ginger Howard‘s (pictured) young career, she’s won 78 trophies, ranking first in 41 out of 66 events, and the golf world has taken notice. Now, 18-year-old Howard has made history as the youngest member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), according to

After enrolling at the IMG Golf Academy in Florida, Howard quickly advanced, petitioning the LPGA to allow her to play in its qualifying tournament last year, even though she wasn’t the mandatory 18 years old then.

What has separated her from other golfers her age? According to her swing coach at IMG, it is her toughness and love for the game.

“She loves and she thrives on the pressure and the tournament golf,” said Nathan Bertsch. “That’s the maturity in the game that is really special to me.”

                Ginger Howard, Radio One


In Mali, copying Arabic manuscripts was once a prestigious occupation. Today, with texts threatened by Islamists, it is a spiritual enterprise that speaks to one man's heart. LA Times: Timbuktu calligrapher keeps ancient learning alive.
Homemade twig pens stand like off-duty soldiers in a jar on Boubacar Sadeck's worktable. The morning sun steals into a room stuffed with a jumble of papers, ink bottles and stretched animal hides. He sits thoughtfully before a blank sheet of paper, with several old manuscripts — the color of dark tea and covered with Arabic script — open at his side.

Occasionally a breeze wafts in and playfully flicks one of the old brown pages to the floor.

Copying the words of ancient scholars in elegant Arabic calligraphy makes Sadeck feel close to heaven.

"My weakness, my love, is calligraphy," said the scribe, who fled Timbuktu, famed for its collection of centuries-old manuscripts, when Islamist militias invaded last year. "If I go a day without writing, I feel as if something is missing or strange. When I sit down with my paper and my pen, I feel wonderful. I feel at ease."

Copying and recopying old manuscripts is an ancient Timbuktu calling. In the 15th century, there were hundreds of scribes; the job was one of the most highly paid and prestigious occupations in the city, then an intellectual center and trade hub.

Adventurer Leo Africanus described a magnificently furnished court, decorated with opulent objects of gold.

"In the city are many judges, doctors and clerics, all well-financed by the king, who greatly honors lettered men," he wrote. "Hither are brought diverse manuscripts or written books out of Barbary [northern Africa], which are sold for more money than any other merchandise."

(FILES) Handout picture dated 1997 and released on July 1, 2012 by the UN shows ancient manuscripts displayed at the library in the city of Timbuktu. Ansar Dine, one of the hardline Islamist groups controlling northern Mali, started on June 30, 2012 to destroy all shrines of Muslim saints in the fabled city of Timbuktu. Mali on July 1, 2012  appealed to the United Nations to take action after Mali extremists ravaged shrines in Timbuktu which the UN's cultural body UNESCO had listed as endangered days earlier. AFP PHOTO / HO / UN PHOTO / Evan Schneider       RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT
A photo from 1997 shows ancient manuscripts at the library in Timbuktu, Mali. A scholar said the value of the city's collection lies in the knowledge it contains and the window it provides onto a golden age in the onetime trade hub, when people shared information by transcribing books. (Evan Schneider / AFP/Getty Images)


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