AMIRI BARAKA’S “Black Dada Nihilismus” came to me through the afro-futuristic work of DJ Spooky. You can listen to this poem on track seven of Offbeat: A Red Hot Sound Trip—and, of course, you can read the poem in Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones (1961-1995). Oh yeah: you can also read the poem here, in the kinté space. Our shallow research efforts suggest that, as of this writing, we are the first to present this poem on the Internet. We can only find an interesting essay by Daniel Won-gu Kim entitled “In the tradition: Amiri Baraka, black liberation, and avant-garde praxis in the U.S—Critical Essay” that references the poem.

“Black Dada Nihilismus” is a brilliant concept—especially for 1964, when the poem was collected. Since I was not yet born in 1964, my black-power stereotypes about that era was that every warm body capable of growing an afro was irretrievably idealistic and blind to the basic problem of being counter-cultural without an alterative culture to incarnate. Amiri Baraka blows my little ship lollypop out of the bath water. But I am still unable to discover that Amiri Baraka—or Leroi Jones—had or has an alternative, vital solution to this basic problem. I toddle in this direction because Amiri Baraka is a socialist atheist—and it’s the atheism that would distance him from the Martin Luther King Jr. camp—and this surely would fuel his ability to criticize Black Power mal-fused with White Jesus. And, no, Cuba may have socialist atheists running the government, but I find it hard to conclude that every African-descended woman in the country knows nothing of worshipping ancestors.

I would not be surprised to discover an account of Amiri Baraka witnessing some Black Radical friends of his dabbling with “white girls” and self-pleasuring narcotics, partying for “power to the people.” How does one contain all of this incoherence and confused meaninglessness? What is our savior from this African-charged Roman decadence? It’s “Black Dada Nihilismus.” Excellent. Read for more information about Dada.


Written by . . . . . . . Amiri Baraka
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