Posts Tagged ‘Black Women’

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

20130913-234009.jpg

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.

20140907-110514-39914870.jpg

 

“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

20140907-110710-40030525.jpg

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

20130702-120307.jpg

A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.
The Story

The Root published an article written by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele in response to the murder of Michael Brown. Eromosele boldly stated:

Yep, you read that right—I’m touting my privileges as a black female, not my woes, which are typically what are written about and expressed.

I recently encountered (not the first or last) a situation similar to the one in which Eromosele speaks of in her article when I was sitting at the bar with a Black female friend of mine and a White woman came from her table to approach the bartender for a drink. The woman was pretty, blonde, and she had a banging body. I visually acknowledged the woman’s attractiveness and my friend say “She has a great body. I’m going to tell her I like her body.” I asked her not to do it and told her I was going to step outside if she did. She sucked her teeth leaned past me and called out to the woman…I got up and stepped outside for a few minutes and came back. We didn’t discuss the situation however, it was clear that she didn’t understand that as a Black man I didn’t feel comfortable speaking to a strange White woman from a table of all White people specifically about her body. That is something that is generally misconstrued when men do it to women and could turn ugly simply because a Black man says it to a White woman. Maybe it would have turned out okay…I wasn’t in the mood to risk it.

The truth illustrated in the article set Black Feminists on fire and many took twitter chastising and critizing Eromosele for writing the article and The Root for publishing it. However, Eromosele stood her ground and wrote a response to her opposition:

Taking into consideration all of the responses—and recognizing the many harms suffered by black women in this country because of racism, sexism and, while we’re at it, sexual orientation—I still maintain that I enjoy certain benefits as a woman that evade black men.

20140907-140740-50860069.jpg

Black Female Privilege

Many of Eromosele’s protestors missed the most significant point that she made about the nuances of the way Black men survive America through an unspoken code of actions that does not always relate to the way any other person, including Black women, lives by. Eromosele simply acknowledged that even though she is Black, some of the ways of acting and thinking that Black men seemed foreign to her but through a conversation with a friend she realized why they do it and why it has never occurred to her to use those same practices. In short, as a woman she did not have the same dangers and fears that a Black man does.

I cannot imagine that other Black women have not been in situations that Eromosele describes. Instead of discussing and analyzing those situations the focus has been on the term “Black Female Privilege” and the ways in which it did not negate the oppression and disenfranchisement of Black women (no one said it did), which is not the conversation Eromosele is having.

The Problem

The Black community has a disgusting hubris that is killing our relations with one another, specifically between Black men and Black women. That hubris is that as we struggle for justice and equality we are so afraid of being ignored (although we often are) that we refuse to share the platform of justice with voices that do not first and foremost affirm our victimization. We are always trying to out disenfranchise one another: my struggle is greater than your struggle. I don’t know where we got the idea that only one struggle can exist and that only the greatest struggle will be acknowledged. It is true that at any given time America at large is only acknowledging one struggle at a time and often during that time ignores all others but that is the behavior of the oppressors and not one that we should mirror. What all disenfranchised groups know is that America is powerful enough to oppress us all at once and we have to strand in solidarity with one another despite the nuances that differentiate our struggles.

20140907-140925-50965672.jpg

The Point

Terms like privilege have existed as part of the articulation of oppression; however, they are ineffective for describing what we now know and experience. The term privilege on it’s true definition is not a bad word to describe certain entitlements given to some people; however, in the context of liberation and equality struggles it has been given a negative connotation that people from disenfranchised groups cannot relate to. So when combining the term privilege with anything other than White, people from disenfranchised groups get offended. If we get out of our feelings long enough to intellectually consider the point being made, we might find some truth in it. The term “Black Female Privilege” may be provocative but the sentiment being expressed is a fact. And that fact doesn’t make Black women not oppressed or disenfranchised. It just means they aren’t the only ones.

Overall I believe that we should stop trying to describe and define discrimination in coinphrases that negate the complexity of the situation. Furthermore, we should avoid language that describes our struggles in a contrast to another disenfranchised group. Such behavior turns the discussion into a match between the two groups and polarizes the struggle when, in fact, the two are similar and yet distinctly different…and that’s okay. Aren’t we fighting for the equality of ALL people?? Anything less supports and reinforces the system of oppression which thrives our division and assaults upon each other. The presence of one group’s struggle in the conversation does not mean the absence of another’s. So while the system of oppression and survival for Black men may have nuances that do not affect Black women, no one group is more victimized than the other. In the end we are all in the same struggle against discrimination which happens across genders, races, social classes.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

This series explores the ways in which the predominating forces in this country are trying to force the country into a “post-race” era despite the country’s lack of achievements in racial equality. The end result will be a disarming of the disenfranchised and an increase in loopholes for which prejudice and racism will begin to prevail.

The Story

In a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, the host of a conservative radio show, Alabama Representative, Mo Brooks stated that:

This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party, and the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.
– Rep. Mo Brooks

I’ll wait for the laughter to cease. What the fuck is this idiot talking about?! First let me say that this statement was in response to a question about immigration reform. Brooks stated that Democrats are waging a war on White people by making certain issues about race and perpetuating that White people hate everybody. Okay so yo avoid any emotional traps that lead to logic less rebuttals let me say that immigration IS a race issue. We can play the politics and say it’s about the American economy and the fact that immigrants come into the country and do not pay taxes etc. Or we can make it be a national security issue and say that if these refugees can get into the country then perhaps we aren’t as well secured as we should be. But at the end of the conversation, it is about race.

The Problem

The issue is that – in typical conservative fashion – this clown is trying to take several real issues for which Democrats often advocate and reverse and pervert them in a way to suggest that White people could be suffering the same thing. It’s like the topic of reverse racism. At the end of the day any socially conscious person can deduce that this is not an issue that White people face. Not every White person is living the American dream and growing up, living, and raising families in the safety of middle and upper class social statuses; however, that’s not the issue. This issue is the overwhelming number of people of color who are not and can not do this despite having access to some of the same resources as the White people that do.

Furthermore, Rep. Brooks’ statement has an oddly familiar tone to it. It is a common ideology and phrase used by the Klu Klux Klan and other White Supremacist groups. Their passionate advocacy for White people stems from the belief that every other race his it out for them. The more enraged the GOP becomes the more blatantly they are exposing themselves as racist extremists with a plot for U.S. domination (not all, of course, but the ones who doing all the talking).

brooks-war-on-whites

The Point

Someone would have to be unfamiliar with America and/or an imbecile to think that it is even plausible for their to be a “war on White people.” What their is: a war on White Supremacy (to which not every White person ascribes). So when Brooks makes his statement it is clear that he is making a fool’s attempt at devaluing the true nature of the issue.

What usually happens is that these phrases become part of a rhetoric that keeps showing up in the conservative controlled media until public opinion actually validates its relevance. Look at what happened with the term “reverse racism.” The entire logic of the phrase is ridiculous. Wouldn’t the reverse of racism be equality? And why is it that this term is only used by White people in response to some racial situation with Black people (as if only white people can be racist and only Black people can be the victims of it). But I digress. What I wish to demonstrate is the way that even the most foolish of phrases can become weapons to neutralize the opposition to injustice. That is clearly what this guy is seeking to do with this “war on Whites” comment.

What must happen is active defense against the legitimacy of this claim. For those Republicans who claim to not be of the ilk as their older, prominent spokes people, I would love to some of them stand up and speak against this garbage right now and not wait until this clown buries his career or when election time rolls around and they want minority votes. At any rate each and every time that the GOP makes this statement it must be refuted. In truth, it’s not a “war on whites” that’s happening; it’s a war on White Supremacy and progress in that war is long overdue.

 

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

 

An Angry Black Man

 

20130702-120307.jpg

A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

As I began reading about and researching the death of Michael Brown the 18 year old from Ferguson, Missouri who was unarmed and gunned down by a police officer, I also began to follow the community’s response. A number of protests, riots, and lootings have taken place in the wake of the teenagers death.

But what has been the most disturbing is the police response to the protesters. Granted the looting and destruction of local businesses is uncalled for and definitely warrants police intervention; however, the police have increased their presence and attention even to those nonviolent protesters. Most recently the police have begun showing up to these rallies and protests in military gear and with military weapons. What-the-fuck?!

ap287279624779

Law Enforcement Militarization

The American Civil Liberties Union published a report that detailed how local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged and supported in gaining military equipment. According to them it was the Department of Defense who transferred $4.3 billion dollars in military equipment to police agencies through a 1033 program that was first enacted in 1996 during the “War on Drugs.” And then the Department of Homeland Security offered federal funds for “terrorism prevention” so that police agencies could procure things like armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor.

The Problem

The problem is that the psychosocial dynamic between law enforcement and citizens is being changed right before our eyes (not that it was all that great to begin with). For what reason would a police officer need an armored vehicle. Are we expecting an invasion?? Civilians cannot possibly obtain any weapon that would require a tank to stop them. So what is the purpose?? Time will tell I suppose but one thing is for sure, if this is going to become a standard practice for law enforcement, then there are going to be major problems.

AX177_680D_9The only thing that is coming out of this militarizing of the local police is a civil war. History has already shown – during the “War on Drugs” – that increased police aggression combined with agency and judicial support allows police to mutate from law enforcers to packs of savage beasts with a lust for authority and domination. That occurs when you have too many of them together with their department issued firearms and tasers. So what do we think is going to happen when we start suiting these assholes – who are not known for intelligence or peaceful natures – up to play soldier in the streets??

They are going to find an enemy to try out their new toys. Protesters become terrorists that need to be monitored from armored tanks. Citizens become enemies who have to be approached in army gear with huge guns. But remember this is a dynamic. Conversely, what position does that place these citizens in when they are being monitored daily by gun toting police in tanks? What position are they being placed in when they are give curfew? What position are they in when journalists and unarmed citizens are detained without cause or explanation? It puts them in the position of the prey for whom the predatory police are far better equipped to win the hunt. In this dynamic there is justice, peace, or fairness…there is only war.police-shooting-missouri-1

The Point

We had better pay close attention to what’s happening in Ferguson. Not just because it’s fascinating. Not just because we are keeping track of the Brown case. We need to pay attention because what we are watching is an example of how the revolution will begin.

It will start with a single incident of injustice that the community cannot accept. The police will respond with aggression. The community will respond in defense. And the war will come. Blood will be shed. Lives will be lost. The country will stand aghast as the anger and riots spread throughout the country and the dynamic plays itself out again and again in different cities.

We have to pay attention and know now that it won’t take much before the law enforcement ups the ante with their military toys. They won’t wait for us to get violent. They won’t give us an opportunity to utilize our civil liberties (all they have to do is throw around the word “terrorism”). How things play out in Ferguson will be very telling for the future of the struggle. This is only a glimpse of what is to come.

I’m not sayin: I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

20130702-120307.jpg

A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

18 year old Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday August 9th. A rally and vigil were planned to honor the memory of Brown; however, tensions rose between tbs police and the public and a riot ensued.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

About Power

Power is a strange thing. Power is never about the individual except in respect to larger group. In order for any one person to have power everyone else has to agree to yielding to the power of that individual. When a large portion of the group does not agree to the individual asserting power or the ways in which that power is asserted, there is unrest. That is why mankind has become the most volatile species on the planet: a lust for power.

Conversely, powerlessness is just as complex. To be forced to exist in the midst of a group no better qualified or worthy than you and be forced to submit to their power offers the individual no other choice than indignant rage.

Rioting and looting have been ways that the Black community has often lashed out in times of extreme duress. This is clearly evident through a review of history and taking a look at the riots that occurred during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 60s or the inner city riots that took place during the early 90s.

What we know logically is that rioting and looting do not produce results. It gets media coverage and the attention of local law enforcement and, if extreme, the higher levels of state legislators. But it never produces a revolution or any counter action to whatever ignited the riot to begin with. This is usually where the conversation remains; however, we should go deeper.

British criminologist John Pitts stated:

[Rioting and looting makes] powerless people suddenly feel powerful [and that] is very intoxicating

– John Pitts, criminologist

So in truth the riot is usually about the incident that occurred but the looting is about power. Once the rioters escalate to a certain level of anger where the entire group is incensed and determined to do whatever they want, anything becomes possible including the destruction and theft of stores around them. It is a very dangerous thing to suddenly give power to individuals who have been denied it and do not understand it.

The Problem

The problem is that we are so angry. Half of us don’t even know why we’re angry and 25% of the ones that know don’t know what to do about it. So when moments like this occur we know that it is directly related to the anger that already exists inside us and we collect together and that anger is amplified and before you know it anything can and has happened. But in the current climate of the justice and equality struggle that we are in, we don’t have room for wanton destruction and blind rage. We cannot get so swept up in the pain of tragedies like what happened to Brown or get overwhelmed by our rage at the injustice of it until that’s all we got. A bunch of nothing.

Image: Ferguson shooting

This should have remained a constructive protest that have voice to the pain of injustice suffered. This moment was supposed to be for the memory of a little Black boy who lost his life for what – I’m sure will be discovered – nothing. That was a vigil in his honor that we allowed our pain and anger to turn into fiasco for which the whole damn country is shaking its head and thinking that we are indeed the savages that they make us out to be. Not to mention that it invited law enforcement to come and aggressively engage the Black community in Ferguson and further exacerbate the problem of harassment, imprisonment, and violence.

The Point

We have to learn about power and violence in a whole new perspective. I’m down for the revolution. I’ve been told it cannot happen without bloodshed, so I’m bracing myself for that inevitability. BUT I am really spending my time in preparation by learning and understanding the system that oppresses us: finding its weaknesses and how it maintains control. I am spending my time making time to do the things that I don’t always want to do but know is necessary. I am learning to channel my rage into a violent offense that will actually produce change.

The fact is that we have got to learn to channel our rage and pain into some useful energy. Often we have sat so idle for so long that our pain and anger has festered into disease that is sure to be toxic to any and everyone. Instead we should prepare for war in the time of peace. We should let our anger push us to participate in our local governments which direct the local law enforcement. We should use our anger to make us treat voting day like a national holiday and plan months ahead to take the day off and/or make arrangements to cast our votes. We should use our pain to make us take the extra walk or bus to get to a well run Black owned establishment instead cheapest, closest, most convenient option (which more often than not is not Black owned nor do those people live in the community).

So what has happened is two tragedies. The first being the loss of yet another Black child that didn’t make it to adulthood and the other was the disgusting behavior of a bunch of mindless emotional assholes who had their hearts was in the right place but their asses were not. These looting niggas shoulda kept their asses at home. If we are gonna do the better that hasn’t been done, we’re going to be the better that hasn’t existed.

 

R.I.P. Michael Brown and peace and light to your family in their time of grief.

 

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

20130920-132745.jpg

The Story

20140808-091959-33599840.jpg

You would have to be living under a rock to not hear about Lil Kim’s recent release of identity theft, which featured Nicki Minaj’s face on an ID with Kim’s name on it. Of course the Hip Hop illiterate media are screaming that Kim is renewing her beef with Nicki but what is actually happening is something deeper, bigger, and better.

Enter the Queens

Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind
– Queen Elizabeth I

Nicki has been holding down the public face for the women of Hip Hop for past few years. It’s a throne to which she ascended without much challenge except for Lil Kim. Recently there were attempts of the media to push Iggy Azalea into the ring with Nicki, which have failed miserably as Iggy can’t even earn her credibility as an authentic member of the Hip Hop culture. So the only person who has come at and can come at Nicki is Kim…and Kim’s back.

Kim’s first attempts to protect her legacy were fairly weak and uncreative. After a lil while Kim faded back into shadows and Quenn Nicki kept the spotlight. To Kim’s credit she was not prepared for Nicki and worse she gravely underestimated Nicki. In truth, Kim has nothing to fear really. She’s put in her work, paid her dues. And her place in Hip Hop history is fixed: she is and always will be a Hip Hop Queen.

Philly Fourth Of July Jam

Lauryn Hill has been performing quite a bit recently and although she hasn’t dropped anything new and fans aren’t really impressed with her Soca mixed speed spitting renditions of the tracks from The Miseducation of Laurn Hill, she’s making her presence known and it won’t be surprising to her start dropping singles and or getting features to lead up to – we hope – another album. So there’s that.

Remy_DJ_Khaled

But Hip Hop heads in the know are also waiting to see what will come from the Bronx bred Remy Ma who has been released from her seven year prison stint. On August 1st Remy posted an “I’m back!!!” text gram on Instagram. The post was followed by photos of Remy sitting in the studio beside DJ Khaled. A few days later Khaled and Remy dropped “They Don’t Love You No More.” Remy’s hungry.

The Point

This is a mad exciting time for Hip Hop as the queens ante up to take own their respective place in the culture. So while the media is playing readership games flinging terms like beef and talking about which female is running Hip Hop, what we actually know is that even as they tussle for the reigning throne, they’re all queens and Hip Hop is better for them all representing Hip Hop women and dropping shit for the streets to bang to.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man