Black History

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Wikipedia’s definition of our own story is, “…the portion of American history that specifically discusses the African American or Black American ethnic group in the United States.”. Although there’s a baseline definition of Black History in the mainstream, many factions are left out. Take a look around you. Black history isn’t solely what you may have been taught from the text and it doesn’t necessarily consist of civil rights activists either. In every breath taking day we are constantly evolving and creating black history. It’s funny how the history of urban America is mostly told in thirty second sound bites and five minute nightly news clips, as if our stories are not as moving or complex. Mainstream knows very little about the black history that occurs in Baisley, South Jamaica, Polo Grounds, Pink House, Fort Greene, Cabrini-Green, Magnolia, Melpomene. In each, there’s a history so deep, so rich and so telling. And, it ain’t always all good…when its coming from the hood. Nevertheless, it all has historical value. Perhaps this demographic needs just the right scholars to deliver those unsung truths… Elect Manumit.
Team Player: Truths of a South Side Ambassador… COMING SOON!

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Promises. Promises.

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Greetings to the New Year,

I’m guessing that you may be wondering —— How long does it take to produce a masterpiece? Manumit Publishing asks ourselves this everyday. The question is as pressing as the answer. Certainly, it has been a long time coming. The main course has you salivating, us too. However, we wouldn’t feel comfortable serving up a half assed experience, that is lukewarm. It has to be a dish served hot and well cheffed. Although, the ingredients are exclusive, pure and uncut. Right now, it is baking and simmering, until it is cooked to order and just the right temperature for the palate. We’re not dragging our feet with this, we are making sure we have all the components of a five star meal. The goal is to leave you fully satisfied, licking your fingertips and rubbing your bellies, with no room left for dessert.

So, the question of how long it takes to produce a masterpiece…until it is done.

Team Player, will be worth every bit of the wait…and that’s a promise.

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Project Hallways

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Project hallways are all knowing, they could dispel everything you thought you knew, about what went down between them, yet they never tell.

If these halls could talk, there would be no assumptions about who did what, when, where or how. They would put to rest all the he said, she said and gossip that may have helped or harmed the non-deserving. These walls would speak truth.

These halls know who pissed a puddle in the stairwell and left behind rancid detail for everyone else to inhale. They know who stopped the elevator from running, which forced an unexpected cardio-workout for residents living beyond the first floor. They know the person who complains about shitty pampers being tossed on the floors, is also the same one, who neglects stuffing overfilled hefty bags down the incinerator chute.

These halls have witnessed the births, the birthdays, the first day of school, the Easters and the Christmases. They too, have witnessed the downtrodden condition and the poverty. They know who got beat down on the seventh floor, who got slapped up on the third floor, who got knocked, who got shot and unfortunately, who got mercked. These halls know pain.

These halls know who creeps, who sleeps, who whispers, who yells, who buys, who sells, who succeeds and who fails. They know all secrets and tell no lies and are most loyal to the ‘hood it holds up…

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photo credit: Muhammed Malik

Landmark Indeed…

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There is no way possible that Carmichael’s Diner could be excluded from Ronald Tucker’s memoir, Team Player: Truths of a South Side Ambassador. The Jamaica, Queens staple was the neighborhood kitchen and had been the dining room to many gangsters, hustlers, kingpins and jazz musicians alike. On Sundays, after church service, the diner packed a full house, serving up soul food entrées, vanilla-laced Sprites, jukebox classics and the nostalgic ringing of an old school cash register.

It is safe to say— Carmichael’s served the community on so many levels.

Just think about the irony of a hustler ordering a cheese burger deluxe at lunchtime and then quite possibly being served that same burger at dinner time, while sitting in a holding cell at 113 Police Precinct…

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On the Lam.

20121003-073141.jpgA loud knocking jolted me from my sleep. I made my way to the front door, slowly raising the cover of the peephole.

“Open Up!” an officer commanded.
Oh shit, Oh shit, Oh shit! I could have pissed in my drawers.

I hurried to the bedroom and quietly awoke my brother, Rahiem.

“Yo, wake up,” I was pulling at his leg and shaking him violently.
“The warrant squad’s at the door, go tell ‘em I’m not here.”
“What?” my brother was barely awake and wiping slob from the corner of his mouth.
“Shhh, listen, the warrant squad is at the door, you gotta go to the door and just tell them I’m not here,” I needed him to act with the same urgency I felt.
“A’ight,” my brother said climbing from the bed.
“Wait a minute—”

Scrambling to put on my pants, I ran to the kitchen. Since we were on the first floor, I contemplated jumping out of the window. That idea was short-lived once I peeped through the curtains and saw two officers with bullet proof vests standing guard on the sidewalk.

Fuck, shit, shit, shit!
My brother stood near the front door ready to open it; the knocking grew louder.

“Wait a minute,” I gestured to him with two fingers, then whispered
“Give me thirty seconds, then open the door,”

My mother’s apartment was not big at all and there weren’t too many places to hide. My thoughts were racing as quickly as the adrenaline rush I was experiencing. I ran into the living room, looked in the closet, behind the couch.
All no good places they were sure to check.
The knocking grew louder.

“Police, Open Up.”
“Hold on a minute,” My brother yelled.
“Let me put some clothes on,” by doing so he was biding me more time.

I opened the linen closet opposite the bathroom, where neatly folded towels, washcloths, tubes of toothpaste and bars of Yardley soap rested on the shelves. There was nowhere to hide in there. I dipped into my mother’s room, looked in her closet, there were way too many clothes in there. I looked at the top of the closet, too much stuff stacked up there.
There was nowhere to hide in the apartment. I looked at the bed. This was my last chance. I got on my knees, lifting the comforter to get under the bed. I couldn’t get under the bed if I wanted to; no one could. I had no idea my mother slept on a platform bed.

I could hear my brother beginning to take the chain link off the door.
Damn, Fuck, Shit! I cursed the apartment for not offering adequate hiding space.
You should just give up, a voice in my head spoke.
Fuck that, don’t give up shit. 

I hopped to the other side of the bed, which was parallel to a wall and crawled onto the black carpet closest to the bed. I pulled the comforter until it barely touched the floor, being careful to cover myself completely as I lay on my left side with my back up against the bed. I sucked in my stomach, pointed my toes so they were not sticking out and caught my breath. My head was positioned at the foot of the bed, as I tried my best to become one with the bed.
My brother opened the door.

“We have an arrest warrant for Ronald Tucker,”
“He’s not here,”

My 17 year old brother lied for me; putting himself at risk of being charged with harboring a fugitive. They charged into the apartment, waking
my younger brother. He got a first-hand account of men with firearms and bulletproof vests searching around the room, looking underneath the bed where he slept. From way down the hallway, in the place where I took refuge, I could hear the voices of officers and the sound of their feet walking on the hardwood floor. My heart was beating rapidly at a two thousand beat per minute pace, banging against my chest, causing shortness in my breath and threatening to reveal my hiding place. The footsteps were coming closer to my mother’s room. The bathroom door opened. The door to the linen closet was opened and closed.

Psalm 4:4 … “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

I took a deep breath, inhaling a lung full of Carpet Fresh and contracted my stomach even more. I stopped breathing. I knew an officer was in the same room where I hid, because I could no longer hear his footsteps against the floor. My mother’s bedroom was covered with plush black carpet. The officer went to the closet first, using a flashlight to guide his eye. I saw the reflection of the light on the carpet, and wondered why he used a flashlight in the daytime. I felt the vibration when he kicked the bottom of the bed. He undoubtedly lifted the comforter to search under the bed. Realizing it was a platform bed, he walked around to the side of the bed where I hid. My heart pounded knocking inside my chest cavity like a SwizzBeats’ track and when I peeped the letter “N” on his worn gray and white New Balance sneakers, I knew I was on my way back to Riker’s Island.
But, just as soon as his sneaker appeared, it disappeared. He did a sudden, about face and left the room. When I heard his footsteps again on the hardwood floor, I exhaled.
“What’s your name?” the officers ask my brother.
“Rahiem,”
“Ronald is your brother?”
“Yeah.”
“You sure you’re not Ronald? You kinda look like him,” another voice quipped . “You got some I.D.?”
Once my brother showed them his school identification card, the unwarranted harassment ended with one of the officers handing him a business card with his name and number on it.
“Tell your brother to give us a call, we can help him out,” I heard the officer clearly as if he were in the same room as me.
But then, I heard the door shut and like Toni Braxton, I breathed again. I waited a second after they left before I came out of my hiding space. My brother was walking back toward my mother’s room and we met each other near the hallway. We were both wearing the biggest Kool-Aid smiles in the world.
“Yo, where was you at?” my brother asked, hardly able to contain his joy.
I laughed, smiled and laughed some more. I felt like I had just won the lotto.
“I was in mommy’s room,”

I told my brother to hold on a minute as I ran to the kitchen window again and peeped through the curtains in time to see the warrant squad congregating on the sidewalk before getting in their cars and leaving.
Yes!!!! I was hyped.
“Where was you at, in the closet?”
“Nah, let me show you,” I said leading him into our mother’s room.
“I was right here yo,” I lifted up the comforter hanging off the side of the bed and pointed to my hiding space.
“Say word.”
“Word to mother kid, I was right there.”
“Yo, you lucky, kid,”
“I know, I know, I know,” I repeated over and over again while pacing the floor and rubbing my head.
“Here,” Rahiem handed me the officer’s card.
“One a dem cops told me to give this to you. He said to call him. He said he can help you out.”
“Yeah, I know, I heard everything,” I took the card and looked at it for a second before ripping it up and throwing it in the garbage.
I would have to be more careful in the future, but for now, I was heading back to Queens. Dudes were dying on a daily basis in Jamaica, but it was the safer place for me.

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