If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
John F. Kennedy
Maximum Impact Poetry is the aptly named brainchild of 37 year, internationally renowned veteran of spoken word and modern day Abolitionist, Max Parthas. It should have been clear from the beginning that he was going to be a problem for the status quo when at age 13, the first spoken word poem he did was a recital of “The Signifying Monkey”, a profanity laden account of the dangers of messing with the wrong one, made infamous by a scene in Dolemite.
Not just another poet, Max considers himself blessed to participate as an architect of two art forms- Spoken Word and Hip Hop. For those still not sure of the conviction of this man to his principles, among the trademark sentiments of Max and his wife (also a spoken word artist), Tribal Raine, is “F* em if they can’t hang”.
Max currently seems to be on an east coast Spoken Word tour, frequently posting FB statuses of his and Tribal’s travels through Rhode Island, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, etc.
Max has long been among the leaders in Marches, Anti-Slavery workshops, etc to advocate against modern day slavery. He’s a real boots on the ground guy. Not just a talker but a walker for justice. Catch the New Abolitionist Radio show on Black Talk Radio, Wednesday’s at 8 to get a glimpse into Max’s world along with co-hosts Scotty and Yohannan.
I contacted Max recently to learn more about his poetry and advocacy.
Liza Nicole: I hear your poetic works are part of course study at several schools. Which schools and how cool is that?!
Max Parthas: We’re not at the Tupac university course stage yet. It’s mostly grammar schools and high schools where teachers who either know our work or know us personally have used our literature as learning tools and examples of using social awareness/activism and contemporary poetry to enact change. But there are more than a few such schools doing so. A number of educators we’ve met over the years have literally grown up on Maximum Impact Poetry.
LN: What are some of the things you’re most proud of professionally and in our society?
MP: I’m very proud of the youth of today. I’m proud of them as freethinkers and activists with the courage to speak up and act even when everyone around them is silent. As to personal pride, I really don’t have much of that in an egotistical way. I try to stay grounded and not let anything swell my head with false importance. If I have any pride in my accomplishments it would be in knowing with certainty that I’ve touched millions of lives across the globe in a positive way and have tried to live my own life by example.
LN: What are some things you see that still need work?
MP: Our education system needs a lot of work on multiple fronts. They teach false history and use education as a means to oppress and indoctrinate. I look forward to the day when public education is easily available online and through home schooling. Giving the parent the option of choosing who teaches their children, what they teach and how.
LN: I know you are passionate about the New Abolitionist movement. I always knew the Prison Industrial Complex was a problem and was familiar with the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery except as punishment for crime, thus encouraging the imprisonment/enslavement of disenfranchised people. But you helped me see the situation through new eyes. The Prison Industrial Complex facilitates actual slavery not a figurative comparison. How is the movement coming along and how can we help support it?
It’s growing by leaps and bounds. Just in the past month I’ve personally brought the message of abolition to countless people through live appearances and multimedia. Our group “Move To Abolish 21st century Slavery” is nearing 1000 members after its first year. I could say with some personal assertion that there are thousands of abolitionists in America now, possibly even tens of thousands. Our goal is 15 million. Based on what it took to change the country in 1863. At that time only 5% of the nation were professed Abolitionists and only 50% were anti slavery. In today’s population count that 5% comes out to 15 million. We call it critical mass and that’s our numerical goal.
LN: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Let me leave you with an article as my close. You can find out more about the New Abolitionists Movement by visiting BlackTalkRadioNetwork.com for archived episodes and you can keep up to date on what Tribal Raine and I are doing by visiting MaximumImpactPoetry.com Join the mailing list and the group. The most important thing anyone today can do is to educate themselves in order to have a firmer grip on reality. I also want to say thank you for giving me an opportunity to say a few words to your audience. Have a blessed day. -Max
Blame the Presidents
How does legalized slavery exist in America? What’s the quick answer? Blame the presidents. Lincoln’s 13th amendment and it’s infamous exception clause is the legal key. After winning the election of 1864, Lincoln made the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment his top legislative priority. It allowed for legalized slavery to continue through the criminal justice system. In 1864 the question was not “should America end slavery?” but “how do you abolish slavery but not abolish slavery?” Like today’s “reform movement” they had no intention of ending the practice. But like now, they were pushed into a corner and the institution of flesh peddling was under threat for the 1st time since the revolution. So the answer our white government and industry leaders came up with was simple. Call them criminals instead and put them with criminals. Criminalize the things they do. That makes them indistinguishable from criminals. Guilt by association. A perfect fallacy. I remember reading a random quote on prison leasing which said: “with the vast number of prisoners, the difference between the convict leasing system and slavery was simply that the convicts were seen as …disposable” Prison leasing and black codes weren’t afterthoughts. Nor was the first federal prison opening in SC during 1866 a mere coincidence. This was a pre-planned adaptation to modernize slavery in the 20th century and went on until Mississippi State Prison was the last prison in the United States to abolish it in 1944. During the 1960’s the act of using prisons and the justice system was exploited as a weapon by Lyndon Johnson to incarcerate black dissidents and criminalize black youth. You would be surprised at how many black political prisoners we still have today. The war on drugs started by Nixon in 71 made people of color target #1 for eugenics and population control. In his own words to his chief of staff he stated his intentions to “blame the blacks without appearing to do so”. His support for Roe Vs Wade also had its roots in eugenics. Another quote you can hear on the Nixon tapes is him saying “people will generally vote for abortion because they believe it will be the negro bastards being aborted.” In the 80’s Reagan’s introduction of private prisons made it all so profitable to private industry and gave the government a competitor for the 50 billion taxpayer purse. They expanded the product line by taking control of immigration facilities. The tens of thousands of children at our borders right now are being exploited by privately owned prisons. Over the years company after publicly traded company has sprouted up. CCA, GEO, GS4, CEC et frickin cetera. A few of those became global giants in legalized slavery with facilities in Israel, Australia, Haiti and more. Their unadulterated greed and genocidal race for profits has seen the prison population in America go from a mere 230,000 to 2.4 million in 4 decades. From Nixon till now we have established the largest maintained prison population in the history of the world. In 1993, the state of Washington passed the nation’s first “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law by voter initiative. Clinton got himself a standing ovation at his state of the union address when he showed how clever he could be with the catchy baseball name. The private prisons loved him for it. So did a lot of people of color who started getting cheap houses as homes were lost and good jobs in prisons and prison related industries came to town. All they had to do was see criminals and not people to ease their conscience. More than a few states can say prison is their top industry today. Here in SC the state directly employs 7,000 people working for the SCDC. So now here we are in the 21st century. During 2013 under the Obama administration we saw 37 states pass legislation to allow private industry to use cheap prison labor and receive up to 40% of the costs back as incentives. Not only are they storing your bodies in cells for profit, they are also exploiting your free labor. How can any market compete with slave labor? All of this because the 13th amendment of the constitution says one word it shouldn’t. “Except” and every president knows it. The latest figurehead we have today could bring this to congress as they have the power and a constitutional meeting coming up. But I bet it won’t be on the agenda. So blame the presidents. -Max Parthas “But… prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings and the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant and racially marginalised communities literally has become big business.” — Abolitionist Angela Davis “In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky — her grand old woods — her fertile fields — her beautiful rivers — her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal actions of slaveholding, robbery and wrong, — when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing.” ― Abolitionist Frederick Douglass