To the Black Male Children
  • To the Black Male Children
  • Bill Gunn
  • Beautiful Voices Project

To the black male children. Philosophy is a prison. It disregards the uncustomary things about you. The result of individual is applicable only to itself. There is a dreadful need in man to teach. It destroys the pure instinct to learn. The navigator leans from the stars. The stars teach nothing. The sun opens the mind and sheds light on the flowers. The eyes shame the pages of any book. Gesture destroys concept. Involvement mortifies vanity. You, are the despised of the earth. That is as if you are water in the desert. To be adored on this planet is to be a symbol of success. And you must not succeed on any terms. Because life is endless. You are as nameless as a flower. You are the child of Venus. And her natural affection is lust. She will touch your belly with her tongue, but you must not suffer in it, because love is all there is. And you are cannon fodder in its defense.


“I have to tell you, music liberated African youth from the taboo of being with a woman. They were able to get close to each other, which is why I was always invited to these parties. I had to go in order to record these moments, when a young man could dance with a young woman close up. We were not used to it. They liked seeing themselves dancing with a woman, even if she wasn’t their girlfriend. They could tell their friends that they had got her, that she was theirs now… It was a very powerful moment for young Malian men to see themselves dancing with a girl. That didn’t exist before.” 

– Malik Sidibe on why music was so important to Malian youth   

Photographs by Malik Sidibe