Tribute to Baba Herman & Mama Iyaluua By Herman Bell

January, 2014

Yesterday, as descendants of former slaves who were judged as less than fully human, we were spat upon, lynched, subjected to mob violence and all manner of indignities. Today, it's mass incarceration, stop & frisk, a dream still deferred.

Thank you for the long service that you've rendered to our people and for the fight you've waged to free our political prisoners. You've fought and served us well, and we commend you for it. Your service often required that you set aside personal concerns in deference to this fight. Even your children and grandchildren may have received fewer hugs, bounces on the knee or numerous postponements of walks to the park, the museum and the like, in deference to this fight.

We all have a life that coincides in this fight, and it ought to be thought of as such. It's all one and the same. Whether suffering behind prison bars, slogging to a meeting, a demo, a boycott line, or to something worse that has to be done, none of this is easy. We'd rather turn our swords into plowshares, but there's so much to do.

Because of what goes on out there - our community assailed by a weakened family structure, chronic unemployment, failing public schools, mass incarceration, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin-type victimizations - the frustration you may feel is the same that is felt in here (in prison). We know you'd be among the first to remind us, Baba Herman and Mama Iyaluua, that our resolve is too formidable for us to wallow in this state of despair, for our legacy is not one of "cryers" and "naysayers," but of "doers" and "achievers." Besides, one might ask, when did we not have troubles?

So, let us fix what we can in these matters, and in that fixing find the energy and confidence necessary to fix the rest as we build for ourselves, and future generations, a free, safe and happy life. And for that to happen, everyone must do his part; the alternative, of course, is to just sit and wait, do nothing and see what comes next.

Baba Herman and Mama Iyaluua, hugs to you and all our attentive listeners out there. Trust me, I'm not crazy, it's just the way they dress me. Mad Love - The Other Herman

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