Revolution Books:

Evening in Solidarity with People from “Shithole Countries” Gives Voice to Hopes and Possibilities for a Whole Different World

January 18, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From the Staff of Revolution Books, NYC:

On January 11, Donald Trump called Haiti, El Salvador and the entire continent of Africa “shithole countries.” We knew that Revolution Books, as the bookstore where the whole world comes first … as the place that opens the door to a radically different world … had to host a beautiful, stirring and challenging response. And it needed to be NOW, before the world moved on to the next bloody outrage sure to come from a fascist regime igniting and legitimizing genocidal measures. 

So, with two days’ notice, we invited artists, people of conscience, the Revolution Books community and beyond:

An evening of readings, performance, and solidarity with people from countries Trump calls “shitholes”

No to White Supremacy
No to Empire
No to the Shithole-in-Chief Trump

And on Monday night, January 15, Revolution Books filled up and it was on. Battle cries, lived history, love poems, and song from around the world poured from the stage and captured the room. 

Forty people came from Harlem, the Bronx and beyond—professionals, students, educators; RefuseFascism activists and national leaders in New York for their current national organizing tour. The evening’s hosts were Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Vietnam War refuser, and co-initiator of, and At-ta, member of the Revolution Club. Kia Corthron, award-winning playwright and novelist, author of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, and members of the Revolution Books volunteer staff and the Revolution Club introduced and read powerful works of artists from Haiti, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Nigeria, Argentina, Palestine, and more. 

Early on, the audience saw a film of Bob Avakian delivering his biting piece, “Why Do People Come Here from All Over the World?“ Why? BA says, “Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country” … and then draws the thread of centuries of empire driving people from far corners of the globe to live next door to each other in the cities and towns here, not even knowing each other’s common history. It was powerful to hear this at Revolution Books, with people and voices bringing vibrant culture and experience of the hell of American empire from around the world. And in this moment, feeling together the possibilities for a world that will appreciate and foster, and not denigrate and destroy, the amazing diversity and human potential that could be.

Film was also played of Yaa Gyasi reading at Rev Books from her novel Homegoing and of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, the extraordinary Kenyan scholar, novelist and former political prisoner, reading at Revolution Books’ one-year anniversary in Harlem in 2016. Members of the Revolution Club performed a beautiful cover of the Outernational song “Que Tenemos Nada, Que Queremos Todo El Mundo (We Have Nothing, We Want the Whole World).”

Other artists whose work was read included Ghanian poet Atukwei Okai and John Pepper (JP) Clark from Nigeria. Carl Dix read from Edwidge Danticat’s novel The Dew Breaker about torture in Haiti and its reverberations through the Haitian diaspora in the U.S., and he read from Edwidge’s comments about the current moment, describing the courageous history of the Haitian people and how, “If we are a poor country, then our poverty comes in part from pillage and plunder.” We felt just a small part of the beautiful and vast contributions to human knowledge in many spheres from these so-called “shithole” countries this evening.

Novelist Kia Corthron read from Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia in 2015 for apostasy (the so-called “sin” of rejecting religious faith). After an international outcry, the death sentence was reduced to an eight-year prison term with 800 lashes. Kia read Fayadh’s first poem written in prison, “Tense Times,” penned after his father had died, believed by the family to have suffered fatal grief over Ashraf’s death sentence and imprisonment.

The celebrated poet Martín Espada, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award recipient, sent us his greetings for the evening and his deep verse of outrage and imagination, “Not for Him the Fiery Lake of the False Prophet,” which narrates the brutal 2016 Trump-inspired attack in Boston on homeless immigrant Guillermo Rodriguez and then “leaps,” as the Revolution Club reader later commented, to the beautiful and urgent envisioning of beating down walls and borders built on the blood and bones of the people of the Global South. 

Another Revolution Club member read “No Te Salves (Do Not Save Yourself)” by the beloved Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti in Spanish and told the audience in English how this love poem and challenge, “If you want to save yourself, then do not stay with me,” resonates today.

By the end of the evening, the lyrics from “Que Tenemos Nada, Que Queremos Todo El Mundo” were alive; “the ones you don’t see” and hopes and possibility for a whole different world given voice and urgency:


Cook, clean, make, slave, who feeds whom? 

Dirty pretty things who are you? 

The ones you don’t see, the fact to your truth 

The ones you don’t see, the ones you don’t see 

Que tenemos nada, que queremos todo el mundo 

Que tenemos nada, que queremos todo el mundo 





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