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Root Work Journal - Convening in the Ark - Volume 1, Issue 1

A Negro Substratum:

W. Yusef Doucet

Joko Collective 





A term from physical (and cultural) anthropology re-purposed



A phrase scholars use

To say that black people

Once peopled a place

When it was a new place 

To people, the first to arrive

And leave their footprints 

Across the land their names

On the hills and rivers

Traces of themselves 

In the curve of the hips

The full lips or curl in the hair 

of the current population.

The older, the curlier, the swarthier

The more submerged 



Those neighborhoods 

Tourists and visitors 

Are warned to avoid

Except in search 

Of exotic delights 

Readily available at home 

But without the heady taint 

Of danger or the purge

Of authentic adventure.



That aspect of the black bourgeois

Personality that must be repressed

At all costs in public least

One betray oneself

Should an unconjugated 

Verb to be tumble

Inelegantly from one’s

Tied tongue, like cement blocks

Dragging one back to the muck



That part of the black bourgeois

Personality compelled to feel

Embarrassed by unconjugated 

Verbs to be



The human 

Social floor  



The foundation 

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