PISB Publications

Information and inspiration for the Black working-class.

“Playing the Game?” by Asafo Shaka Sekou

“Play the game! Do what you have to, to get the position.
Refrain! And never arouse white folk’s suspicion.”
But how can a Blackman maintain his dignity
Without sparking white folks’ enmity?
What status could Black people ever attain
To protect them while they protest white hegemony’s gain?
How could we ever evoke the oppressor’s disdain
Without incurring financial strain?
They tell us “fake it to get a higher level”
But how is this not another dance with the devil?
The higher up we go,
The more damage to our soul.
400 years for this evil system to exist,
How does playing the game help us resist?
No! Playing the game is not sound strategy,
It only entrenches our tragedy!
Remember Mama Esmerelda Simmons’
Parable of the Foreign Oasis?
We’ve become less of ourselves
To achieve financial stasis.
Black men in this society will never be financially perfect,
As long as sacrificing our values are not worth it.
What profits us to gain the promotion and lose our soul?
Even if speaking truth to power binds us in a financial hole?
This is not a game! It’s a struggle against Black death!
We must continue to fight to our last breath…

“Finding Judah” (A Short Story from a Past Life) by Asafo Shaka Sekou

It’s a little over 200 miles from the plantation in Savannah, Georgia to the Hearn Plantation in Horry County, South Carolina. I left the Butler place on May 12, 1847 under the darkness of night and I been on the run for three days. I haven’t seen my wife, Janus, and our son since I was sold to the Butlers by Master Hearn nearly six years ago. I got myself sold because I refused to allow Master Hearn’s boys to have their way with Janus while they was drinking one night. I was whipped fifty lashes and sold my nearly dead body to slave as a field hand over on the Butler place. My wife was pregnant with our child when I was sold and I ain’t never seen him. They calls me a troublemaker at the Butlers. This be the third time I ran off. I ran in the Fall of 1843 trying to get to the Hearn place, gather up my kin and keep running North. I was caught a day later by Jim the overseer and brought back. Fifty lashes and the stockade for two days. The second time I ran was summertime in 1846. I aint get as far though because I fell out of a tree and hurt my ankle something terrible. I hobbled until the overseer’s dogs sniffed me out and caught me. I was whipped by Master Butler 60 lashes and  three fingers cut off my hand…

See, Butler and old Hearn is friends and they goes back and forth to each others place to eat and drink. The carriage driver for Hearn, Ramses, had been telling me the goings on at the Hearn place. I had been told that Janus gave birth to our child and it was a boy. He also told me that she ended up marrying a boy they call David, the nigger preacher for the Hearn place. I wasn’t mad about Janus when I found this out but, I was desperate to see my boy. He needed to know his daddy and I needed to let him know why daddy wasn’t with him. One night I got Ramses to fix me up a map to get to the Hearn place…

I took a serious risk running again. Shortly before I ran off, Master Butler called all the slaves together in his yard and told us that, from now on, he had hired the Chapin boys to catch runaways. These Chapin boys: James, Thomas, and Will, was known throughout the county for being brutal in the ways they dealt with runaways once they caught them. They was known to gang rape runaways (men and women) for fun while taking the slaves back to they master. I couldn’t think about the possibility of being caught by the Chapins, because if I did, it would discourage me from moving forward. I am sure I had been discovered by now and those crackers had been sent off to track me down.  I put it out of my mind and kept going. My feet bled, my body was in pain, and I was starved. When I got too tired to run or walk, I buried myself under dirt in the brush to rest for a little while…

…I was woken by the barking of dogs in the distance. Had the Chapins found my trail? I didnt know whose dogs they was but I got up and ran. I ran until I got to a river. I knew that I would come to the river because Ramses put it on his map. He also assured me that if I made it to the river and crossed over the dogs would lose my scent and lose track of me. He said Master Butler ain’t going to know if I was running to see my family for if I was running to get to the North so he won’t know where to head me off.  Crossing that river made me feel better and I made pretty good time for the next two days…

When I finally arrived at the Hearn place, the first person I came across was Hera, one of the field hands who I remembered from before I was sold. We hugged each other and she took me to the tobacco barn where she told me that Master and Misses Hearn went to town for a dance and that Mr. Cliff, the Hearns overseer, was left in charge of the plantation. She also let me know that I couldn’t stay here long because she overheard Mr. Cliff talking to three other crackers about a runaway.  I don’t know how they caught up with me, but I had to find Janus and my son.

“Where is Janus?” I asked Hera.

“She at the big house. And Judah in the yard tending to Mrs. Hearn flowers”, replied Hera.


“Yes, your son name be Judah.”

Learning my son’s name did something to me. Without thinking, I ran out of the barn to make my way to the big house. I ran pass people I hadnt seen for years and I wanted to go back and embrace them, but I had to see my son first. I ran pass Preacher David, who looked like he was seeing a ghost. When I got to the big house I looked around to see if I could recognize Judah. Right then, I little boy ran out of the big house back into the yard. He didn’t notice I was watching him because he was playing with his toys. As I walked closer, I saw more of his features: He had sandy brown hair, skin was a little bit darker than mine and he was thin. As I got closer, he noticed I was there as stopped playing with his toys. As I approached him, he stood up and looked at me with a inquisitive look on his face. With tears in my eyes, I asked the boy his name.

“Judah, my name be Judah sir.”

“Hello Judah. My name is Walter, and I be your daddy.”

Judah has a look on his face like he just saw me yesterday.

“I know who you is daddy. My momma told me about you.”

I hugged him so tightly and I never wanted to let him go.  He was beautiful. I wanted to tell him how much I missed him and how much I love him. I wanted to tell him why his daddy was taken away from him. I wanted to reassure him that his daddy will be with him even if we are far away from each other. I wanted to tell him these things, but all I could do was hold my baby close to me and not turn him loose. Janus came out of the big house and recognized me immediately she ran towards me with tears welling in her eyes, but stopped short a few feet away. I guessed she wanted me to have a moment with my son…

After a few minutes, Hera and Thor the blacksmith ran to me and told me that Preacher David had ran off to tell Mr. Cliff that I was here and that I had to leave now if I didn’t want to get caught. I stopped hugging my son and wiped the tears from his eyes while I mustered up the strength to tell him that his daddy will always love him and I will find him, no matter how far away he is. I got up to hug Janus briefly and began to run. As I was about to leave the front yard, I heard Judah yell “I love you too daddy!” As Janus, Hera, and Thor was begging me to leave, I could not resist the urge to go back to my son and hug him again, so I did. By that time, Preacher David, Mr. Cliff, and the Chapins had us surrounded. The Chapins had their guns drawn on me while Mr. Cliff ran up to me, pushed Judah away and kicked me in my face. I slumped to the ground, bleeding from my mouth. The Chapins joined in, kicking and beating me while laughing…

My wrists and ankles were chained to the back of one of the Chapins’ horses. I could barely stand. Will Chapin dismounted his horse, called the slaves together and announced that I would be whipped within an inch of my life once I was returned to Butler and that I might even be sold further south to work to death.

“Let that be a lesson to the rest of you so you won’t wind up like this sorry son of a bitch!”

As Will Chapin got back on his horse, and began the 200 miles back to the Butler place, I turned around to see my son for what may very well be the last time. I whispered “daddy loves you”. With tears in his eyes, he waved goodbye.

“Why Mentoring and Tutoring is NOT Enough for Black Children”(PDF) by Asafo Shaka Sekou

Why Mentoring and Tutoring Is Not Enough for Black Children

“Interregnum” by Asafo Shaka Sekou

They have worked so hard burning the midnight oil,

Thinking that success is inevitable with a degree and toil.

For way too many this system isn’t working!

Abandoned by so many who are hurting.

The myth of individualism and bootstraps,

Two devastating ideological traps.

Their pursuit has left millions in the dust,

Regardless of macroeconomic boom or bust.

A runaway train,

Rolling over the bodies of the slain,

Causing intense psychological strain,

Punishing those who move against the grain.

But eyes and minds are opening now,

Light bulbs shining above my furrowed brows.

As the kikundi awaken and rise,

We see through the propaganda and lies.

The prevailing ideology breaks down,

And that lost sense of solidarity is finally found.

The battle is in the mind and in the streets,

We can no longer negotiate reforms in the suites.

Revolution is our only solution:

Violent or nonviolent is an issue of choice,

Based on if they will take heed to our voice…

“On Code?” by Asafo Shaka Sekou

Black “code” calls for Black worker sacrifice,

And remaining powerless to capitalism’s roll of the dice.

They lay down on the economic floor,

And let the Black “mack” walk all over them,

as they remain poor.

To be “on code” I to surrender our own self interest

to build up people who would never do the same for us.

Pimps who profit from Black economic oblivion and

constantly demand our obedience and trust.

They demand that we sacrifice our children’s health,

to invest our pennies into their wealth.

Where is the “code’s” guarantee for a living wage?

Where is ADOS protection for those in old age?

Where is the NBM clinic my son’s sickle cell treatment?

Where is the FBA insurance for those in bereavement?

They claim to want Black uplift,

But really want us to follow them over the cliff.

They will have parachutes while the rest of us

will be in freefall.

They will fly while the

rest of us crawl.

Just so they can sell us a DVD?

No code should benefit the few while the rest of us suffer,

They will leave us stranded with no economic buffer.

The Black poor must have minimal concessions,

To build enough strength to revolt against oppression.

FBA/NBM are white reactionaries in disguise,

subverting any anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist plan we devise.

“Code” is Black social control,

to allow the free market to take its toll.

Radical organizing: we have so much to learn,

Rather than draping ourselves in the same flag

causing the planet to burn.

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