99 Problems but a Beach Ain’t One


99 Problems but a Beach Ain’t One

It is almost unimaginable that a strong ray of hope can shine through in such dark times. After over 100 years and counting, reparations were made to the Bruce family by returning the prime Southern California beachfront to its rightful owners.

 In the 1900s, blacks were excluded from most local beaches; thus, Charles & Willa Bruce decided to create a 3-acre beach resort for black residents in what is now known as Manhattan Beach. It became highly successful, thus rearing the ugly head of envy and jealousy from the white residents. Then according to that hateful playbook of racism, there were threats, the KKK, burning of property, and intimidation of beachgoers. It didn’t work. So, what could not be accomplished illegally was accomplished legally by executing eminent domain, which allows the seizure of property without the owners’ permission if the government states it is needed for public use.

Paying an obligatory pittance, the property was confiscated, in 1924, under the guise of building a park for public use; the land, however, remained vacant for several decades. Thirty-six years later, fearing that sleeping dogs might awaken, the city decided to build a park named Bayview Terrace Park. However, it was the first and only black elected official (Manhattan Beach Mayor Mitch Ward 2007) that insisted on the park being renamed Bruce Beach

Born out of a 2020 Juneteenth commemoration picnic held in the park, the advocacy coalition Justice for Bruce’s Beach was founded and spearheaded by Kavon War, an African American resident of Manhattan Beach. This grassroots movement pressured the city council into creating Bruce’s Beach Task Force.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell took up the reigns with the new law being authored by Senator Steve Bradford, who sits on the state’s newly formed reparations task force.

“This is what reparations look like,” said Bradford, insisting that the county is not giving anything to the Bruce family yet simply returning their stolen property.

There are still 99 problems, but the beach “ain’t one for the Bruce family.”

- by Malaika Kusumi


August, 2022

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If You Are Seeing Red Poem


If You Are Seeing Red 

You should be seeing red

Not voting it

Your children are dying too

Guns don’t kill people

People do

Potatoe potahtoe


You should be seeing red

Not voting it

Color, creed and race divide

Yet death unites all mothers

Grieving the loss of children

Shot down before learning their ABCs


You should be seeing red

Not voting it

Abolishing abortion does not save a life

It may kill two

Ignoring gun control

Kills hundreds 


If you are seeing red

Vote blue


by Malaika Kusumi

May 26, 2022

Copyrights @ All rights reserved


Back on the Black Block

Elaine Thomas, Germany.png
Back on the Black Block

On the streets where i grew up

There were no high buildings

Lots of store front churches and liquor stores

Little brown girls in catholic school uniforms

Climbing in overfilled dusty loud buses

Boys playing basketball behind barbwire courts

Babies crying in the scorching summer sun

Oh yeah, we had a bunch of barbecues

Soul music in all variations blasting from open windows

Baseball games, basketball, jump rope, card games

street dancing, singing, cussin’ and praisin’ the lord

The smell of roast and frying chicken on Sundays

Guys hanging out in front of sagging dilapidated doors

You might find an old used needle or two or three

Stuck sadly under a pair of worn rusty swings

And the playgrounds usually had more than just kids

On certain street blocks in my community

You weren’t allowed to walk through

Not if you didn’t belong there

Unless you had family living on it

Violence, oh we had that on many corners

Sometimes the dim lamplights shone the blood

Of the last misunderstanding between two men

Or men and cops or even between men and women

Almost everybody I knew had a gun or a rifle

Some had baseball bats at every door entrance

We had sanctified preachers in almost every family

Cops, doctors, teachers, junkies, army folk, drunks

Girls dressed like women and boys posing as men


Some houses had well-kept lawns watched by german shephards

While others had basically nothing but a sagging roof and the smell of piss

Lots of nosy police cars prolling the streets looking for eyesores

Some didn’t even need an excuse to pull out a club, handcuffs, or a gun

The parks were often full of the sound of percussion beats 

Revolutionists arguing about how to overthrow the missing system

Or the strong smell of ganja enveloping a group of teenagers

Shell shocked ex. soldiers sleeping on empty benches

Evicted homeless looking for warm dry shelter 

Families living in cars unable to pay the exorbitant rent

Ghurch ladies spent a lot of time getting home most evenings

And the noise from the clubs never seemed to stop

Life wasn’t easy on the block, but it wasn’t boring either


Camille Elaine Thomas

March 02, 2022

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Mind Made Up?

Elaine Thomas 2021 Poet Laureate

Mind Made Up?


My grandmama taught me that prayin’ is good for the soul

Prayin’ ain’t nothin’ but sayin’ what’s in your heart

Some folks say faith can move mountains

I guess so if they know so

Other folks say that you can heal bones

But not a truly broken heart

What I believe is people need hope

They need to believe that love conquers all

And that if rain don’t wash away the dirt

A good glass of whiskey and Keb Mo might

People been chattin’ about meditation

Substitute for keeping your mouth closed

Paying attention to where you’re standin’

‘Cause If you ridin’ a wild buckin’ horse

You can’t be thinkin’ about Christmas

Sweet potato pie- and black-eyed peas

You gotta hold on to the reigns

You gotta focus on where you’re headed

My granddaddy could fix almost anything

Except the broken wings of his children

When his wife passed from having too many

Leavin’ their farmyard full of dandelion weeds

You know pruning is easy once you pick up a rake

I can’t put too much credit in people’s talk

Sometimes it sounds like coyotes howlin’

Hungry bellies can’t think too straight

While some animals will eat almost anything

If it’s lookin’ pretty and smellin’ sweet

My sister used to beg me to love her

Like she needed my feelings to have a name

She got fat with self-pity and faded dusty

My brother wanted to be a local marvel hero

Got himself a badge and a legal 45

Got his butt horse whipped with it by a junkie

But he survived chasin’ loose bad gals

My aunt who grew up in that barren yard

Got a bad case of religion in her mature years

Now she’s fanning her lonesome self away

With other sanctified found themselves again

On a hard wooden baptist church bench

A lot of people claim to know who God is

Seen him sitting at them famous crossroads

Picking her teeth with a tree branch

Others say they felt them on the last full moon

Some claim to know him her it personally

Because they read a good book

Lot of folks think they know it all

All I know is that if faith is our number one game

Then hope is our main pawn in it

If we lose that

Then we lose everything


Camille Elaine Thomas

January 02, 2022

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The Trust Mantra

The Trust Mantra


I believe that rainbows appear after the storm

That in times of test loved ones are still the best

That being natural is staying close to nature

That standing up is not a solution for the cowardly

That trust is better than distrust

That love can conquer all

That living with joy is more appealing than the blues

That willpower checkmates all hindrances

That faith can move mountains

That compassion performs miracles

That justice will dismantle inequalities

That patience during trials is recommendable

That believing in yourself is paramount to survival

That black people will one day be truly free

That children should be lovingly cherished

That women should be held up not held back

That men should be honored as admirable equals

That knowledge is better than ignorance

That dancing is good for the spirit

That you are what you constantly think

That kindred souls are preferable to adversaries

That the company you keep defines you

That laws should be constructed to protect citizens

That being kind is kind of great

That loving yourself first is paramount

That giving to the needy protects from selfishness

That being resilient keeps you going strong

That staying grounded helps sustain humility

That laughter is good for the soul

That destiny is what you make it

And you?


Camille Elaine Thomas

October 21, 2021

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A Half a Tale

A Half a Tale


She knew she had a story to tell

The words seemed to evade her

Like a song about a harvest for the world

Lyrics and melody in commotion


The pandemic had left her tapped out

All she had was in her large pocketbook

Last week she had sold her old Ford

The living quarters for the three of them


Mary jane is not my name

Double dutch a childhood game

For a quarter and a nickel

You can get a sour pickle


There had been a time long past

When laughter was a daily remedy

Chasing away the daily grievances

Rent money, school fees, insurance


She felt the defenseless pressure

Leaving her senses desolate

Home is where the heart is

But the roof has to be kept


Step on the line

Your mama gets a fine

Take your money back

Fry the spinach black


She waited nervously in line

With her information filled-in form

All she wanted was another chance

A narration to nourish her yearning


There was a highly inebriated man

Yelling in the adjacent line

About what he would do

If he could do what he wanted


Jump up and down

Then do the turn-around

If you ain’t got it

Then it’s time to quit


A baby in a carriage bawling

Children jostling each other

Vying for attention

Which is all anyone wants


Sit in grandma’s rocking chair

Step on a crack if you dare

If you don’t like my baby

Then don’t you say maybe


It was finally her turn

She raised her wrinkled application

Which was greeted by a sullen frown

The testy refusal just a second away


But this time it was different

She was told to go and stand

In an even longer line


She took her request form

Pulled on her heavy handbag strap

And walked quickly to the adjoining line

Her doleful story just had to wait

For another day.


Two for the money

Three for the show

If your mama don’t like it

Then it’s time for your butt to go!


Camille Elaine Thomas

October 20, 2021

[email protected] All rights reserved

Ain’t it a Crime Story?

Ain’t it a Crime Story?

No, i will not stop telling my story until i’m done.
And i won’t quit searching into the fastened closets
Nor will i leave the old dusty dank library shelves
Until i learn all of my people’s heritage hidden within

i walked past a bus stop yesterday and heard a white man
Muttering racist profanity under his alcohol-ridden breath
His shoes were worn dirty cracked and falling to pieces
i guess what disturbed him the most was that mine weren’t

When slavery wasn’t a crime no one cared about spewing discord
It was certainly normal to burn crosses in front of people’s houses
Or spit on the black kids when they tried to go to school with white kids
And we all know that the lynching’s were sanctified by those in power

When white people get provoked, they say it’s justified indignity
When black people get riled, they call it deplorably primitive
There’s still a black man dying every 21 odd hours from police aggression
But if you mention the words defund the police, you’re a traitorous communist

And now that social media has become the new drug
We get to see all of the paranoid racist Karens in panic
Abusing black folks for walking, talking, eating,
running, golfing, swimming, breathing while black

The we heard of the term micro-aggressions and realized
That is our daily experience and our white friends who show it know it-now
White supremacy leers at us from almost every street corner poster
While white fragility leaves us depleted discouraged dissatisfied depressed

We are then accused by our well-meaning liberal European friends
Of playing the race card, crying wolf, bluffing victim, singing the blues
If the Jewish can forget the atrocious genocide done against them
Then surely, we can grow up and finally forget our decimations? Truly?

Post-traumatic slave disorder is dismissed as a nasty myth
And aren’t all the black men languishing in jail guilty?
Yes, there is black on black crime, but don’t white folk hurt each other?
While European missionaries still frequent Africa bringing bibles and not food

i remember once listening from my bedroom window
As a young white german kid told my black child that he should wash
So that he could be as clean and as white as he was
i have never been so proud of my son as i was on that day

Our stories need the telling and we need to be the ones telling them
Not glorifying, ignoring, denying, not leaving out the good or the bad parts
Rather accepting acknowledging and working through the pain
Perhaps then we would have no need for anger, as we do now.

Camille Elaine Thomas
September 15, 2021
[email protected] All rights reserved

Unrequited Love


Unrequited Love

She figured she really should get over it
Let downs, disappointments, broken promises
This was worse than an unrewarding love affair
She had given all of her faith, her inmost dreams
For this one single obstinate purpose
She had cried copious tears of hope, tears of despair
Listened to reason, tried common sense
Endured a roller coaster of ups and simultaneous downs
But when all was honestly said and done
Her ethics ruled the roost and wouldn’t be placated
With soothing words and unproductive excuses
There was an aching pain of resignation lingering
Troubling her neck and her nightly slumbers
She had gone regularly to the local herbalist,
The psychologist, social worker, community advisor
But the results had left her feeling empty, unassuaged
Petitions hadn’t helped the situation much either
She had even written her congressman twenty times
Only to receive polite noncommittal platitudes
But the lives of over a thousand black men
Wasting their existence on death row
Just wouldn’t concede her genuine peace
Wearily, she wondered if she should just call it a day.

Camille Elaine Thomas
September 09,2021
[email protected] All rights reserved

Our Voices Count Too

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Our Voices Count Too
(for Angela Fobbs)

There are many who discredit
Those who follow the call
The fist raised in protest
The lament in the darkness

But even in the light of day
There should be a semblance
Of compassion for the needy
A deterrent to the greedy

Our blackness has a voice
Which was silenced too long
Threatened by the spineless
Desecrated by the narcissists

Our voices intone melodies
That can uplift nations
Inspire to transpose
Leave defamers dumbstruck

Our voices have built bridges
While soothing the fatigued
Our prescience gives America a grace
A reason to need feel honored

Should we now sit mutely by
When we realize that our voices joined
Hold an unfeigned promise
Which underscores much more
Than the rantings of the tyrannical?


Camille Elaine Thomas
August 30, 2021
[email protected] All rights reserved


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Lost Talent



As he sat down, with a look of hunger in his
Eyes. As I searched, nothing not evens the lowest.
Sensing, a strange and different personality from
The others.

He glanced up with a gleam in his eyes. Within
Minutes, my face was on the dirty white paper.
Just as quickly as he came. He disappeared for
A long, long time.

Thinking, over the years. A talent, this homeless
And hungry person. Drifting, in a world too busy
To care. As my emotions rose to meet the thoughts.

As quickly as he disappeared, he returned. Looking
Deeply hurt in the eyes. My soul ripped with sorrow
And anger. For I, too was with little.

As I watch him sipping coffee. Knowing the
Thoughts of his mind as thought my own. The
World not known to his talents.

As I gave him my last. Thinking, his need more
Important than mine. As I walked away. Poured
Down the drain, into the sewer, into the sea.
Lost forever.

As the tears, began to seep into my eyes.
I must, I must.


Copyright © 1993 Paul S Hickman All Rights Reserved


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