Friday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Nikki Giovanni


Today we will discuss Nikki Giovanni.

Nikki Giovanni On June 7, 1943, Yolanda Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1960, she entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked with the school’s Writer’s Workshop and edited the literary magazine. After receiving her bachelor of arts degree in 1967, she organized the Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati before entering graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

In her first two collections, Black Feeling, Black Talk (Harper Perennial, 1968) and Black Judgement (Broadside Press, 1969), Giovanni reflects on the African-American identity. Recently, she has published Bicycles: Love Poems (William Morrow, 2009); Acolytes (HarperCollins, 2007); The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 (2003); Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not-Quite Poems (2002); Blues For All the Changes: New Poems (1999); Love Poems (1997); and Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (University Press of Mississippi, 1996). A lung cancer survivor, Giovanni has also contributed an introduction to the anthology Breaking the Silence: Inspirational Stories of Black Cancer Survivors (Hilton Publishing, 2005).

Her honors include the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Dedication and Commitment to Service in 2009, three NAACP Image Awards for Literature in 1998, the Langston Hughes award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters in 1996, as well as more than twenty honorary degrees from national colleges and universities. She has been given keys to more than a dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and New Orleans. Several magazines have named Giovanni Woman of the Year, including Essence, Mademoiselle, Ebony, and Ladies Home Journal. She was the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award. She has served as poetry judge for the National Book Awards and was a finalist for a Grammy Award in the category of Spoken Word. She is currently Professor of English and Gloria D. Smith Professor of Black Studies at Virginia Tech, where she has taught since 1987.

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51 Responses to Friday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Nikki Giovanni

  1. rikyrah says:

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    And here @sullydish goes with his “don’t call a racist a racist” crap. STOP IT. STOP SUBSCRIBING TO RACIST BULLSHIT. BE A BETTER PERSON.
    4:35 PM – 14 Mar 2014

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    .@sullydish Nobody is calling Paul Ryan a racist beause we disagree with him. We’re calling him a racist because HE’S A RACIST.
    4:36 PM – 14 Mar 2014

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    Poor Charles Murray has been so misunderstood. THE FUCK HE HAS. His book has been debunked time and again, but @sullydish still hangs on.
    4:44 PM – 14 Mar 2014

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    .@sullydish And if you continue to subscribe to Charles Murray’s “blacks are genetically inferior” crap, you’re a racist too. Deal with it.
    4:37 PM – 14 Mar 2014

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    Just goes to show, you can have black friends or people you respect and still be racist as fuck.
    4:47 PM – 14 Mar 2014

  2. rikyrah says:

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    Of COURSE, you defend Paul Ryan since you yourself subscribe to Charles Murray’s debunked racist Bell Curve bs. Sit down, sir. @sullydish
    4:34 PM – 14 Mar 2014

  3. rikyrah says:

    Imani ABL @AngryBlackLady

    All these new media ventures run by white men who have no interest in diversity: Glenn Greenwald, Ezra Klein, Nate Silver. We see you.
    9:28 AM – 14 Mar 2014

  4. Ametia says:

    From Think Progress:

    “This manual allegedly showed its employees how to fudge paperwork to fill the hole in the bank’s case.”

    Throughout the years-long foreclosure crisis that followed the housing market collapse, homeowner advocates and bank watchdogs have warned that banks were taking families’ homes using flawed, incomplete, and nonexistent documents. Falsified documents were at the core of the so-called “robosigning” scandal that lead to an ineffective and often exaggerated settlement with five large mortgage servicers, including Wells Fargo. More than $1.4 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities are based on forged and otherwise invalid documents, leaving the associated home loans in a legal grey area.

    Millions of other foreclosures are believed to have been based on incomplete documentation, thanks in large part to the craze for packaging loans up and selling them off to other firms during the pre-crisis housing finance bubble. Those rapid sales and re-sales of mortgages from one company to another to a third lead to millions of mortgage transfers that lack the proper paperwork and are therefore legally unenforceable. Brokers and traders made money based on the volume of transactions they completed rather than on the quality of their work, and as a result millions of foreclosures have been conducted illegally.

    Considering the vast evidence that mortgage servicers routinely break the rules and lie to homeowners, it’s not hard to imagine that Wells Fargo could have actually written down a guide to foreclosing unlawfully.
    What is startling is that the banks are finding new ways to profit even further from the foreclosure crisis. Wall Street is buying up the houses they’ve kicked people out of and turning them into rental properties and plans to apply the same sorts of wheeler-dealer money-making strategies to their new rental housing empire that they used with home loans prior to the financial crisis.

  5. Ametia says:

    Wells Fargo caught with “how to defraud homeowners” manual.

    Wells Fargo, the nation’s biggest mortgage servicer, appears to have set up detailed internal procedures to fabricate foreclosure papers on demand, according to allegations in papers filed Tuesday in a New York federal court.

    In a filing in New York’s Southern District in White Plains for a local homeowner in bankruptcy, attorney Linda Tirelli described a 150-page Wells Fargo Foreclosure Attorney Procedures Manual created November 9, 2011 and updated February 24, 2012. According to court papers, the Manual details “a procedure for processing notes without endorsements and obtaining endorsements and allonges.”

    Attorneys, forensic accountants and consumer advocates have long suspected that banks were systematically creating improper documents to prove ownership of loans. Foreclosure defense lawyers use the term ‘ta-da’ endorsement to describe situations in which they say a document appears, as if by magic, in the bank’s possession as needed in a foreclosure case—even though the proper endorsement was not included in the original foreclosure filing. It might sound like a technicality, but correct proof of ownership lies at the heart of the foreclosure crisis for securitized loans, which were sold by the lender that originally issued the mortgage. To legally transfer a securitized loan, the endorsements and allonges have to be created in a very specific way and within a specific time frame, usually 90 days after a residential mortgage trust closes. For many loans in foreclosure now, which were originated years ago and then sold, it’s way too late to correct incomplete documents, experts said.

    Foreclosure Attorney Procedure Manual, Version 1

  6. rikyrah says:

    Mom adds sandbox to late child’s grave so older son can ‘play’ with brother
    Mar 14th 2014 3:19PM

    A mother’s tribute to her late infant son has been going viral. Ashlee Hammac, 24, added a sandbox to her son’s grave so that his older brother could play with him.

    The infant, Ryan Jolley, died five days after his birth in October due to HIE, a brain dysfunction that occurs when there is a lack of blood to the brain. Though he was mostly confined to his NICU bed, Ryan’s mother was able to introduce him to his three-year old brother Tucker.

    Ashlee originally planned to decorate Ryan’s gravesite with glass pebbles but then she thought that Tucker may need his own space to mourn. She told PEOPLE, “The more I thought about it, the more I wanted something my other son Tucker could be incorporated in. He always goes out there with me, and sits out there, and sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there. So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks.”

    Since the story was posted on the Facebook page Sawyers Heart, the picture of Tucker playing in Ryan’s sandbox has gained nearly 175,000 likes and has been shared almost 50,000 times. But other people feel that this may not be the healthiest form of healing for the family.

    Ryan’s healthy heart was donated to save another baby, and Ashlee hopes to meet the infant’s mother one day|main5|dl20|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D454054

  7. Ametia says:


  8. rikyrah says:

    latest Scandal Episode in cartoon form

  9. rikyrah says:



    No Sun On the Horizon: Scandal Episode 313 Recap

    [ 14 ] March 14, 2014 | Luvvie

    Last week, we were warned that the last 30 seconds of this episode of Scandal would change everything so we all assumed someone would get shot and die. We started guessing who. The names we threw in the hat: David, James and Quinn. Well, Quinn stays on the “gotta die” list so that ain’t new or nothing. Let’s get into it, doe.

    • Ametia says:

      Thanks for this. Who do you think took the bullet from Jake last night?

    • rikyrah says:

      best part of the recap:

      Sanctified Shade – Leo goes to talk to Olivia and summons her to Sally’s residence to see if she can talk some sense into the Holy Roller. When she appears at the door, Langston looks at her and goes “Olivia Pope. The devil at my doorstep.” Ain’t no shade like sanctified shade cuz sanctified shade don’t stop. She’s so effortless with it. She starts speaking about evil and damnation against herself and everyone else. I gotta open my YouVersion Bible app anytime VP Sally’s speaking. I be like “Is that in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John?” Either way, she still got the sads because God is giving her the hand.

  10. Ametia says:

    Awkward: Samuel L. Jackson Confronts Anchor Who Called Him Laurence Fishburne

  11. Ametia says:

    SMGDH Shoot out like they’re in the Wild, Wild FUCKING WEST!

  12. Ametia says:


  13. Ametia says:

    Why (this time) Obama must lead
    By Fareed Zakaria,

    The crisis in Ukraine was produced by two sets of blunders, neither emanating from Washington. The European Union’s vacillations and — most significantly, of course — Russia’s aggression created the problem. But it will be up to President Obama to show the strength and skill to resolve it.

    For years, the European Union has been ambivalent toward Ukraine, causing instability in that country and opposition from Russia. The union’s greatest source of power is the prospect of it offering membership. This magnet has transformed societies in southern and eastern Europe, creating stability, economic modernization and democracy. For that reason, it is a weapon that should be wielded strategically and seriously. In the case of Ukraine, it was not.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none

    “Why destroy public education so that a handful can boast they have a charter school in addition to their yacht?”

    Once a George H.W. Bush education official and an advocate for greater testing-based accountability, Diane Ravitch has in recent years become the nation’s highest-profile opponent of Michelle Rhee’s style of charter-based education reform (one also espoused by Barack Obama).

    In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

    The conference of your Network for Public Education closed with a call for congressional hearings on high-stakes standardized testing. What would those hearings look like and what do you think they’d uncover?

    I think they would ask, for example, about costs. There are many states that are cutting the budget for public schools at the same time that they’re paying a lot out for testing… Texas, for example, a couple of years ago… cut $5.3 billion out of the public schools, and at the same time gave Pearson a contract for almost $500 million… They said that there would be 15 end-of-course exams in order to graduate high school and caused a parent rebellion: There were so many angry moms, they organized a group called TAMSA – Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment — better known as Moms Against Drunk Testing…

    There are school districts where a very significant part of the school year is spent preparing to take the tests… Testing companies are selling what they call “interim assessments”… So kids are getting test prep for test prep. And the more time that is devoted to testing and preparing for tests, the less time is devoted to actual instruction

    I was in Pittsburgh last fall, where the budget cuts were so severe that [a] high school marching band has no instruments, but they have testing…

    Los Angeles just made a deal a few months ago to spend $1 billion to equip every student and staff member with an iPad. The money was taken from a 25-year bond for school construction, to buy disposable equipment. The iPads will be obsolete in three or four years… Meanwhile, the schools have unmet repair dates… And at the same time, art teachers have been laid off. They’re talking about integrating the arts into other subjects, which means no art teachers… They’ve also closed half the libraries in the elementary and middle school. So what are the opportunity costs of spending all this money for testing?

    And I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand the bill that’s going to come in. Because as part of the move to Common Core, all testing is supposed to go online, across the nation. Well, this is a bonanza for all the vendors — and nobody has even investigated the question: How many billions are going to be spent to put every school and every child in front of a computer? … Kindergarten kids don’t know how to keyboard a computer.

    We’re also interested… [in] abuses of standardized testing… This story that was all over that national media a few weeks ago, about this child who was dying in hospice — and the state of Florida insisted that he had to take his test… Then there was the child born without a brain stem — they wanted him tested too.

    The iPads that you mentioned — were the iPads for the purpose of taking tests?

    They were taken solely for the purpose of preparing for Common Core testing…

  15. rikyrah says:

    Hold up!

    Ezra couldn’t find any Black people to hire…

    But, he could find a 23 YEAR OLD to hire?


    A 23 year old graduate of LIBERTY UNIVERSITY?

    But couldn’t find anyone Black who was ‘qualified’?


  16. rikyrah says:

    Ezra Klein’s Queer New Hire
    Gabriel Arana
    March 13, 2014

    Vox Media’s decision to bring Brandon Ambrosino on board is click-bait contrarianism at its worst.

    On Tuesday, former Washington Post pundit (and Prospect alum) Ezra Klein sent a shock wave through the gay community by announcing he had hired gay anti-gay apologist Brandon Ambrosino to join him at Vox Media, the much-hyped digital venture that’s aiming to remake journalism for the Internet age. Liberal watchdog group Media Matters was the first to sound the alarm, but within a day, gay-rights supporters—from Mark Stern at Slate to John Aravosis at AmericaBlog—had joined the chorus of voices asking Klein: What were you thinking?

    The problem with hiring Ambrosino is not that Klein isn’t entitled to bring someone on board whose views the gay community finds distasteful. It’s that Ambrosino’s quick rise to notoriety—and now, his ticket aboard the profession’s hottest new upstart—is an object lesson in the way new media equates click-bait contrarianism with serious thought and gives hacks a platform in the name of ideological balance.

    A 23-year-old graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Ambrosino has earned his name as a journalist—and his coveted spot at Vox Media—by being the gay writer who comes to the defense of gay-rights antagonists. He most recently stirred up a storm by proclaiming, at The New Republic, that homosexuality is a choice and that he has chosen to be gay. Time magazine gave him space to call gays the real bigots for piling on Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who had equated homosexuality with bestiality and said gays weren’t going to heaven (still, Ambrosino says he wouldn’t mind going fishing with the guy). At The Atlantic, Ambrosino threw his hat in the ring for the founder of his alma mater, who blamed September 11 on gays and accused them of trying to “recruit” children; Ambrosino says liberals like Bill Maher have slandered the Moral Majority founder and says, in Falwell’s defense, that the guy with the “big fat smile” probably wouldn’t have had him stoned to death if he’d known about Ambrosino’s sexuality. Ambrosino also defends the views of ex-gay therapists and same-sex marriage opponents, whom he says aren’t motivated by bigotry. In The Baltimore Sun, Ambrosino went after the guys in “butt-less chaps and high-heels” at gay-pride marches who earn society’s prejudice with their “hypersexual antics”: “I think there is a subversive power in living out my gay life in a way that seeks to emphasize the common ground I share with straight communities,” he wrote. “I don’t want to participate in an event that seeks to highlight how countercultural I am.” Unsurprisingly, the religious right has been thrilled to find an acolyte among the fallen.

  17. rikyrah says:

    The Obama administration is proposing to tighten oversight of for-profit colleges through new rules that seek to limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs. The proposal, to be announced Friday, is the administration’s second try at regulations setting standards for what colleges must do to ensure graduates of career programs obtain “gainful employment.”
    The first gainful employment initiative, debated from 2009 to 2011, spawned a huge campaign by for-profit colleges to block new regulation. The colleges, supported by many congressional Republicans and some Democrats, said at the time that they had been unfairly targeted and that the initiative would hurt low-income students.

    Obama administration officials said that they were trying to protect those students from low-quality programs that would saddle them with too much debt.

    The Education Department issued a rule in 2011 that set standards for loan repayment rates and the ratio of graduates’ debt to income. Programs that failed the tests were in jeopardy of being disqualified from participation in the federal student aid, which would essentially shut them down.

    But a federal judge in 2012 blocked major provisions of that rule, forcing the department to start over.

    The new proposal jettisons the repayment-rate metric. Instead, it would require that the estimated annual loan payment of typical graduates not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total income. Also, it would require colleges to ensure that the loan default rate for former students does not exceed 30 percent. Like the earlier regulation, the proposal threatens to shut low-performing colleges out of federal student aid programs. The proposal, which now enters a period of public review, would cover thousands of programs at for-profit colleges as well as non-degree programs at public and private nonprofit colleges.

    “To be clear, we think the majority of gainful employment programs out there would pass these metrics,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters. But many, he said, particularly at for-profit colleges, would not. He said the proposal in some ways is “possibly a little tougher, and more thoughtful and more accurate,” than the first attempt.

    “This rule is designed both to identify those programs that are doing a good job and target those that are failing both students and taxpayers,” Duncan said.

    The industry assailed the proposal.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Arizona Candidate Apologizes For Comparing Entitlements To Slavery

    Catherine Thompson – March 14, 2014, 7:49 AM EDT373

    An candidate for U.S. congress in Arizona apologized Thursday for saying entitlement programs are a means of enslaving people.

    Jim Brown, who is competing for the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), wrote a Facebook post Wednesday that urged his followers to “think seriously about how slavery works.”

    “Back in the day of slavery, slaves were kept in slavery by denying them education and opportunity while providing them with their basic needs …” Brown wrote, according to Think Progress’ screen grab of the now-deleted post.

    “It is my sincere belief that over entitlements are a means of em- slaving [sic] the people by robbing opportunity while taking care of basic needs,” he added.

    Brown wrote another post Thursday apologizing for the comparison.

    “Some people read this to mean that I didn’t think slavery was that bad,” he wrote. “I believe slavery is worse than death – yesterday, today and tomorrow. I apologize to anyone I offended.”

  19. rikyrah says:

    More on Ryan and Murray
    Josh Marshall – March 13, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT4905

    At Slate Dave Weigel picks up and gently critiques my post below on Paul Ryan, being misunderstood on race and relying on the work of Charles Murray. The gist of my argument was that it is easy to be ‘misunderstood’ when you use racially loaded language to describe the ingrained, intergenerational laziness of men from the “inner city”, especially when you cite the work of Charles Murray, a man best known for his 1994 book The Bell Curve, which argued that a key reason for persistent disparities between blacks and whites in America (test scores, incomes, et al.) is the genetically-based mental inferiority of black people.

    Weigel notes that it’s not necessarily clear that Ryan was referencing The Bell Curve. He might just as well have been talking about Losing Ground, the critique of liberal social policies, particularly welfare, which put Murray on the map in the 1980s or his more recent work on the ‘white underclass’.

    To which I would say, maybe? Who knows? And really, who cares? At
    the risk of sounding wrenchingly corny, The Bell Curve is a bell you
    simply cannot un-ring

  20. rikyrah says:

    About Tyler Perry and those who criticize him:

    I have admitted here that The Haves and Have Nots is a guilty pleasure of mine, yet I can’t take any of his comedies. My sister loved House of Payne, but didn’t have cable for the first two years it was on, so I recorded it for her and sent it to her.

    I respect Tyler because he came from nothing. He followed his dream. He made his own way in Hollywood. He hustled from city to city on the ‘ chitlin circuit’ – make fun of it if you want, but Tyler was a multi-multi millionaire before he even stepped foot in Hollywood because of the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ and making his own DVD’s.

    He built a friggin’ MOVIE STUDIO that has soundstages named after Black legends, paying homage to them.

    He’s now at the point where he’s bringing in other folks to make movies at his studio.

    He introduced an entire new generation to the likes of Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou.

    Simple as they might be, time and time again, the Black Woman in his movies finds LOVE with a ‘good man’.

    And Madea, as grating as she might be, doesn’t say anything in those movies that you haven’t heard from Big Mama, and every elder in the church all your life.

  21. rikyrah says:

    From Tyler Perry:

    I was doing an interview recently and the interviewer asked me why was I glorifying single moms. I explained to him that single moms needed to be celebrated, not ostracized. Most single moms are not that way by choice. Circumstance caused them to be in that situation and just like my Aunt Jerry, who raised four boys by herself, she never complained and never asked for handouts. She did what she had to do. Why hate on single moms? Are you kidding me? I know so many people who were raised by single moms and I know a lot of single moms. It’s the hardest job in the world when you do it right.

    So this movie is dedicated to the single moms that are doing it right and a wake up call to the ones who aren’t. You never know who you’re raising.

    Let’s be clear: this is not a male-bashing, woe-is-me, I’m-a-single-mother movie. This is a movie about the strength of the single mom. I did this movie to show the world what a lot of you go through. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s full of hope, but most of all it’s about how coming together can change your life. I want you to go see it, single mom or not.

    This movie is important for so many reasons. It celebrates one of the most overlooked people in our country. I just want to say that I see you single moms, I hear you, and to everybody out there that knows one or was raised by one, bring them to the movies tomorrow. Lets show them that we are thankful.

    This one’s for you, single moms, HAPPY SINGLE MOTHERS DAY!

    Enjoy The Single Moms Club, in theaters tomorrow.

    • Ametia says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing Single Moms Club. If folks want to hate on someone, it should be the baby daddy men who hightail it once the babies arrive.

  22. rikyrah says:

    KSK(africa) @lawalazu
    REPEAT after me: #Obamacare is the best thing to happen to Americans since Medicare&Social Security. Dems, here is your 2014 Msg. Now, go!

    7:17 PM – 13 Mar 2014

  23. Ametia says:

    Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: Washington is ‘a threat’ to the Internet

    Silicon Valley companies like Facebook have been openly critical of the Obama administration for its surveillance practices. But that’s apparently not enough for Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who lashed out Thursday at Washington.
    “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post, “not our own government.”
    Zuckerberg went on: “The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”
    Zuckerberg has vented about the issue in phone calls to President Obama, the social network co-founder said. The full blog post is available below.

    • rikyrah says:

      Facebook…the company that gets information on you…..and sells it to anyone and everyone?

      • Ametia says:

        Me-YOU- EYE-EYE. He’s just jumping on the BLAME OBAMA Bandwagon, to divert attention away from himself, while his companies continues to profit off the data mining that FACEBOOK does.

  24. Ametia says:

    Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview
    The richest man in the world explains how to save the planet

    By Jeff Goodell
    March 13, 2014 9:00 AM ET

    At 58, Bill Gates is not only the richest man in the world, with a fortune that now exceeds $76 billion, but he may also be the most optimistic. In his view, the world is a giant operating system that just needs to be debugged. Gates’ driving idea – the idea that animates his life, that guides his philanthropy, that keeps him late in his sleek book-lined office overlooking Lake Washington, outside Seattle – is the hacker’s notion that the code for these problems can be rewritten, that errors can be fixed, that huge systems – whether it’s Windows 8, global poverty or climate change – can be improved if you have the right tools and the right skills. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization with a $36 billion endowment that he runs with his wife, is like a giant startup whose target market is human civilization.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

  25. Ametia says:

    Ms. Nikki G! I have thoroughly enjoyed Black Poets Week. Thank you so much Rik.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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