Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Waiting on the Movement

Posted: June 28, 2015 in General

The Uppity Negro

black lives matter woman

Last August, as the steam gathered behind the national sentiments of anger following the death of Michael Brown, I kept waiting for the moment that something or someone was going to grab the reins and take it to the next level.  As the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter emerged and assumed a life of its own, I kept waiting for the moment that I would see some coalition building across the geographical areas and honestly, maybe seeing some sit-ins and some demonstrations and a list of demands, real demands emerge.  It never did.

I went home for the holidays and went over a family friend’s house for Kwanzaa, a tradition that seems to have been birthed in my early childhood and has truly grown and expanded beyond what I could even imagine, and I brought this up with close family and friends asking “Where is the movement?”  I kept hearing a lot of…

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United States Hypocrisy

political cartoon from Politico.com political cartoon from Politico.com

You may or may not be aware that Texas’s former Governor of 14 years, Rick Perry, is once again throwing in his lot for a chance to become the 2016 Republican nominee for President of the United States. For a quick reminder of what a complete train-wreck of a candidate he turned out to be four years ago, despite the media early on touting him as someone who was quite formidable, well… there’s video footage of that:

His latest presidential campaign launched June 4 in Dallas, Texas with a speech that did not shy away from the usual right-wing saber-rattling, xenophobia and war-mongering. When it comes to the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Perry denounced Iran as being untrustworthy and referred to the proud nation as “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism”. (In this he is wrong. That dubious distinction…

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United States Hypocrisy

In 2013, after spending years behind bars in the notorious New York torture chamber known as Rikers Island without ever having been convicted of a crime, then 19 year-old Kalief Browder finally was allowed to return to his family and loved ones. However, those who had known the 16 year-old young man before he was tragically apprehended by an NYPD officer in 2010 (all because he erroneously thought Browder took someone’s backpack) quickly found that he had been profoundly damaged by his traumatic experiences on the island. As was reported on this blog in 2013,

While he was at Rikers, Browder was regularly “physically assaulted and beaten” by the corrections staff as well as other inmates, and as punishment for maintaining his innocence he was “placed in solitary confinement for more than 400 days” where those in charge attempted to starve him by refusing him up to 4 meals…

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United States Hypocrisy

Pictured is Apache Chief James Garfield Velarde wearing the Presidential Peace Medal in 1897. Pictured is Apache Chief James Garfield Velarde wearing the Presidential Peace Medal in 1897.

The latest Congressional Budget approved by the House and Senate for fiscal year 2015 being touted by the White House as a “compromise” contains essentially nothing within it which enables the American people to have confidence in their so-called “representative” government. It continues the mindless expansion of U.S. global military expansion with at least half-a-trillion dollars going to the massively bloated military budget, contains language that stops just short of declaring the start of a new Cold War with Russia, provides potentially lethal assistance to the pro-Western neo-Nazi affiliated government in Ukraine to serve as proxy in this new Cold War, continues to stifle the will of the congressionally unrepresented voters of Washington D.C., cuts much-needed assistance to the growing amount of impoverished citizens of America, erodes what little campaign finance laws remained intact, and all the while…

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United States Hypocrisy

If there was a theme that Republicans ran on during the recent election cycle , it was this: “Scary dark Muslims are sneaking across the U.S.-Mexican border and if you don’t vote for us they are going to chop your head off!” The most famous member of ISIS, the masked man who rose to fame after videotapes emerged showing him beheading Western journalists, made several cameo appearances in various GOP campaign ads. This is hardly surprising, considering a very similar theme was sounded four years ago, only then the furor was over a proposal to construct what politicians inaccurately referred to as a “Ground Zero mosque”. Muslims and nonwhite immigrants have unfortunately found themselves mercilessly scapegoated just about every campaign season since 9/11/01. On top of being singled out as a target for hate crimes and persecution by an ill-informed public, they’ve also come under severe repression and extraordinary rendition from an extremely hostile government…

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Hip-Hop-2014

The Story

Recently Nicki Minaj sought to return to her alma mater, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Art and Performing Arts, to give an inspirational talk to the students. The Principal denied her request. Nicki tweeted about her disappointment over not being allowed to speak at the school. She stated that the school had changed her life and she wanted to inspire he current students there.2014 MTV Movie Awards - Arrivals

Naturally a social media backlash began as people spoke out about whether or not qualified as an “appropriate role model” that she speak to students. This same so this cussing came up when P. Diddy was scheduled to speak at Howard University’s commencement ceremony (add to that he was given an honorary degree that day as well).

The Problem

In true definition a role model is someone whose behavior, example, or success mirrors that to which others aspire. This means that a role model is not publicly elected not do they volunteer. They are those individuals who influence and inspire others through their own natural presence.

The problem is that we, as a society, have become so obnoxiously grandiose that we presume to be the authorities on everything. The power of social media has given a broader voice to those everyday citizens who twenty years ago may have never been heard. However, this access has deluded us into believing that just because we have an opinion it always matters concretely. I say this to say that while the public opinion (supposedly represented by the media) may have it’s opinions and thoughts on who should or should not be a role model, it really doesn’t make any difference. Individuals, people, and/or groups choose their role models and nothing anyone else has to say will change that.1035x684-seancombs-1800-1399907449

To deny a celebrity the opportunity to speak directly to the population for whom they are a role model is controlling and counterproductive. I think this is especially true when it comes to Hip Hop artists because they often occupy a controversial and contradictory space in society (not that they can help it as reality is controversial and contradictory). Giving them an opportunity outside of their art to speak to their fans and supporters would allow them to add dimension and clarification to their messages that may be confusing to younger audiences. And if nothing else it will allow them to see their role models outside of the cameras and lights and assess them with greater understanding.

The Point

The point is that I get so sick of popular opinion seeking to control and dictate people’s behavior and thoughts. The strength of that choke hold is growing everyday through opinion, ideology, and legislation. Little battles such as this one is where we are losing the war. We are so tunnel visioned and opinionated that we miss the big picture. The more we allow institutions and systems to appraise our individual value, regulate our behavior and dictate the spaces in which we allowed to move, the more we become commodities and not citizens; prisoners and not people.

 

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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This series celebrates the accomplishments and explores the wisdom of our foreparents.
The Story

In a recent article regarding the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri one writer wrote that people that came down that as people came down to join and chronicle the protests a question that continued to come up was who was the leader of these rallies. The journalist stated that the question was often met with ambiguity or indifference.

It appeared that these young had come and assembled without leadership. For the previous generation this may seem like an odd occurrence or an indication of a lack of organization. In the extreme this may even seem like anarchy but the truth is that the world has changed since the struggles of old and so have the people.

Messianic Model

It has often been discussed about the state of Black leadership. The civil rights champions have begun to wonder who will take their place and continue the fight. This strange new generation with their social media, texting, and education seem to be ill equipped for the fight ahead of them. But I submit to you that every generation is given what the need to meet the world in which they live. The only reason that anyone cannot see this is if they have spent the majority of their lives in a world that no longer exists.

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“And I know that oftentimes older people are very distressed by the fact that young people just don’t know what it meant to struggle to get this far. And in a sense its good they don’t know because it’s good that they can take for granted what we had to fight for. Because that way their vision can be much more far reaching.
– Angela Davis

In the Black communities of the past there has often been one individual who has risen from the masses to lead the movement. For America this has given the perception of the messianic model of Black leadership where one person such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rev. Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton. These singular activists became voices for entire movements despite whatever affiliation they had to a larger group or organization. However, one of the most wholistic movements of the Black community, The Black Power movement, was built on a model of group leadership. Granted their was a hierarchy of leadership and certain individuals and voices stood out from the larger group for instance Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, and Kathleen Cleaver will always be remembered as voices of The Black Power Movement. But the overall mission of the Black Panthers was to empower communities to lead and struggle for themselves (hence why they were chapters of Black Panthers nationwide).

The Problem

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I for one could not tell you who the national leaders are of Jewish America, or Latino America or Chinese America. And maybe that’s ok. Enough with all the celebrity and pomp and circumstance around finding the nation’s next household-name for the black community. Time for black leaders to realize we need many names to help lead many communities.

-Kevin Powell

Searching for the face and/or voice of Black leadership is dead. The wait is over. The leaders are here and they will appear in the dust of the battle because leaders don’t make movements; movements make leaders.

We have gotten so accustomed to one person as the leader of the struggle tha we are waiting for the rise of this messiah. We have forgotten that a movement is made of many bodies, many voices, many leaders. We cannot wait for that one person to arrive; we must all be that one person.

The Point

We, the people of the community must be willing to assemble in ambiguity of leadership and write the programs that will guide our struggle. This model will be the standard for groups across the nation to struggle for justice and equality under the leadership of the principles and ideology that we have crafted instead of under the will of one person.

What we have learned is that there is no one God ordained sinless Moses who is going to lead us through the Red Sea. We will walk together and part that sea collectively when we reach it. Who’s the leader is so much less important of a question than what is the struggle and how do we plan to win it. Out focus has to be about getting our communities what they need and not judging the voices and faces that speak for us. Whoever the leading voices of the struggle are they will be as imperfect and flawed as we are – as they should be – we will never find a messiah in a man.

The question is then: Who can lead the way in this effort? Here comes a new idea for a Talented Tenth: The concept of a group-leadership, not simply educated and self-sacrificing, but with clear vision of present world conditions and dangers, and conducting American Negroes to alliance with culture groups in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, and looking toward a new world culture. We can do it. We have the ability. The only ques tion is, have we the will?

– W.E.B DuBois

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man