Tavis Smiley and Al Sharpton: The Street Fight Edition who will wear the Hood Crown

Some of you are wondering what this word “prognosticator” means. Well, I’m glad you asked young grass hopper. Webster defines it as someone who predicts the future or as someone who speaks powerful insights. Perhaps, at one point Tavis Smiley and Al Sharpton spoke powerful insights on behalf of Black communities. Of course, this was before corporate sponsorship took over State of the Black Union and before Al launched his media blitzed hunger campaigns. However, they like so many other self-appointed black male leaders are more invested in waving their third arm when their ego is being challenged by another third arm waving black brother. Just in case you’re unsure what the third arm is it’s something that is strengthened by the use of Viagra. Get in? If you don’t get it please email me and I will share with you the correct anatomy name.

Well, I am sure many of you have heard by now that Tavis Smiley and Al Sharpton are fueling an old school bring your boys to the playground West side story brawl where Tavis is banking on Michael Eric Dyson’s academic hip hop lyrical flow to mesmerize Al’s crew while Tom Joyner and Tavis launch a sneak attack on Charles Olgetree and Bill Cosby by throwing a piece of pound cake.  I know this may sound outlandish, but the level of argument between Tavis and Al makes you wonder what a fight would look like between all the black male intellectuals and all the black male political leaders that profess to speak on behalf of Black communities while padding their pockets with various corporate interests.

NNEKA'S "CONCRETE JUNGLE": Addictive, powerful, life-affirming, and incredibly necessary…

Nneka is kind of like the perfect cross between Lauryn Hill and M.I.A.; she sings and raps with ease, and writes wonderfully empowering songs, while also speaking for a people largely ignored and invisible in mainstream Western culture (you know: that massive, ridiculously diverse group of people we Westerners refer to as, simply, “Africans”) . As her brilliant album cover suggests, Nneka fashions herself as the voice of the African Diasporic experience, recalling everyone from Ms. Hill and Erykah Badu to Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. Born and raised in Warri, Nigeria before leaving at the age of 18 to live with her German mother in Hamburg, it could be said that her very existence embodies a clashing of African and Western cultures, and so she’ll surely fascinate Afrocentrics and NPR listeners in the coming months. But I can guarantee you that no amount of intellectual masturbation and hype can outshine Nneka’s brilliant, and downright moving  American debut album, Concrete Jungle. Basically a collection of songs taken from Nneka’s two previous albums (both unavailable in the US), the album is an eclectic and freewheeling, yet somehow 100% cohesive mixture of hip hop, soul, rock, pop, reggae, afrobeat, funk, and trip hop.

Concrete Jungle stuns, inspires and enthralls from beginning to end, and confirms without question that Nneka has the potential to be among the most vital and fascinating voices of pop music in the years to come. Believe the hype.

Is Black Abortion Genocide?

Despite all the recent news stories of well-intentioned whites bombarding American borders with black babies–colored children are not in high demand. They are not, as celebrity child-collectors would have you believe, the next big thing. Instead, they are in America and abroad, getting their asses kicked by hunger, by poverty, by disease, by parent-less homes, by poor education, by mass incarceration, and by violence. And they are angry. Look at this website! Hell, look at the photo I put up there. Do you see that girl’s face?

Recently in Atlanta, aka America’s next Detroit, a series of billboards proclaiming “Black Children Are an Endangered Species” made their debut across the city. Since then, public opinion has vacillated between abortion of blacks as a form of genocide to it’s a woman’s right to choose. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dxJsmWEKls Ryan Bomberger, the black guy at the beginning of this video believes the former. And judging by the testosterone heavy anti-abortion rallies, the hecklers, and the Scott Roeder’s of the world, most men believe they have a dog in this fight. They don’t. Hence, it would make more sense for Mr. Bomberger to send his wife, who heads the Radiance Foundation to make the argument against black abortion. But news flash–she ain’t a sista!

Long before arguments for building up the black population as a political strategy, white supremacists (nationalists) from Hitler to David Duke (Grand Wizard) sought to keep the white race pure by only breeding with their own. Beyond their sexual ideologies, they took it a step further and actively sought to intimidate and exterminate people of color and minorities via the Holocaust and the KKK. Margaret Sanger, a birth control activist also touted contraception as a way to control populations but how much progress would she have made without W.E.B. DuBois? The “Endangered Species” ad plays off this history and then haphazardly points to the ethnicity of its producers to assuage people’s negative reactions. Relax, a black person produced this.

But DuBois wasn’t all that black and neither is Bomberger. And yes, I’m going to make the same color argument I’ve been making–skin color matters. It is the primary reason Bomberger is at liberty to make suggestions about black behaviors while he continues to live as far away from the margins as possible. His own multicultural upbringing may have made him appreciative of diversity, but it has done little to make him sensitive to the differences that confront the racial minorities of melting pot families. Thus while I can look at Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitts’ brood and think what a wonderful experience it must be to create your own little home of equality, at the end of the day, I know better. Bomberger doesn’t.

Love is not all we need. At least not all of us. For every Haitian child pulled from the rubble by a concerned citizen another black child awaits adoption in America. Judging by the trends, this child will continue to wait as the number of black adoptions continue to decline. Black children are not only aborted because their parents don’t want them–no one does. If they do happen to get here, they are more likely to live on the streets, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to go to jail, and more likely to end up on death row. Seems to me, abortion or not, extinction is imminent.

In a Word: Passion

I’m getting old. No, my hearing isn’t fading, my sight isn’t any worse than normal and my bones don’t creak but I’m aging. I know this because my sports heroes are all in their twilight years. It hurts me to watch Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson as they slip out of their respective primes and into the realm of “remember when”.

Remember when Kevin Garnett was good for 20 and 10 every night? Remember when Allen Iverson was the quickest dude in the NBA?

I do.

The Ramifications of Slam Poetry Part 3: A Commercialized Art

Anytime an underground art becomes commercialized it is simultaneously at risk of becoming compromised. We saw this happen in the ballroom scene, rap music and hip hop culture. The same issue surfaced in the poetry scene when Russell Sims began to take spoken word and turn it into a commercialized art. Nothing is wrong with commercialization, but it becomes a matter of how the art is presented to the world and if it keeps the honesty that it exhibited in its purest form. In 2008 Russell Sims tried to do the same thing with Brave New Voices, only this time the youth didn’t like it.

There are always positives and negatives when underground things move into the mainstream. The positives to the HBO Brave New Voices documentary was  that more people would know about the movement, more young people would be able to have their voices heard and the world would now hear the phrase that BNV has been shouting for more than a decade, “because the next generation can speak for itself.” James Kass the director of Youth Speaks—the organization that puts together BNV every year–had good intentions for HBO Documentary, but many of the youth who were suppose to be “speaking for themselves” didn’t agree with HBO’s message and overall vibe that they brought to the inter-national competition back in 2008.

Can Haute Couture Help the Poor?

This month both New York and London Fashion Week featured a special Fashion for Relief show organized by Naomi Campbell to raise money in support of the disaster in Haiti. Basically, I don’t know whether to support the industry providing relief to victims in Haiti or to be offended by the irony of the whole concept.

The entire high-end fashion industry is centered around extravagant clothing and stick thin models. Not only are many women (some of whom are just girls portrayed as much older women) objectified in tight dresses, short skirts, and overly sexy photo shoots. But they are also expected to stay the fragile size they were at 14, walking in dangerously high-heeled shoes.