The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence

The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence
Natalie Hopkinson, The Root, June 16, 2010

This year’s Black History Month was a particularly bloody one in Shelby County, S.C. Sergio Leary, Ja’cole Wilson, Karon Barrow and Leon Thurman Jr., all young people in their 20s, were all shot dead, according to local news reports.

The Shelby Star’s analysis of the burst of violence, hit on all the usual crime reporting clichés: ”black,” ”at-risk youth,” ”subcultures that don’t value” life. And then, there’s the clincher. ”Despite overall crime numbers falling in recent years, black-on-black [emphasis added] violence remains a prevalent issue,” the newspaper reported. (Read the full article)

June 14, 2010 – June 20, 2010

Youth center awarded grant
Cynthia Roby, South Florida Times, June 21, 2010

Youth conference aims to help teens
Seth Stratton, The Dispatch, June 18, 2010

Explaining The Fall of Hip Hop
Professor Plum, Seattle Pi, June 18, 2010

Youth Day: Through eyes of young journalist
Liz Clarke, Washington Post, June 16, 2010

How the Rebellious Youth and the Job World Work Together
Bridget Nielsen, Huffington post, June 16, 2010

The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence
Natalie Hopkinson, The Root, June 16, 2010

Teen couldn’t just stand by for mugging
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times, June 15, 2010

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship
Ben Chapman, New York Daily News,  June 15, 2010

Why Do Black Kids Drown More Often Than Whites?
Kate Tuttle, Momlogic, June 14, 2010

Ex-gang member turns youth advoate, fights discrimination
Mary Stegmeir, WCF Courier, June 14, 2010

Poet’s mission is fueled by passion
Mark Schultz, Newsobserver, June 14, 2010

Morehouse, Howard medical school graduates most likely to work in underserved areas
Darryl Fears, Washington Post, June 14, 2010

On Jumping the Broom and Adventures South

My sister got married Saturday.  (Take that, Steve Harvey, et. al.!) Since I’ve just arrived back in town mere hours ago, and feel like 8 pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag, I have no faith in my ability to compose a complete sentence let alone an entire blog about the news and culture of the day.  As a result, I’ve decided to post thoughts and observations inspired by my trip to North Carolina and my sister’s wedding.  I’ll have something more substantive next week.  In the meantime:

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship
Ben Chapman, New York Daily News, June 15, 2010

In less than two weeks, some 50,000 city high school seniors will graduate.

Few of them will have overcome as many obstacles as Orayne Williams.

Abandoned by his family and living alone in a homeless shelter, the 18-year-old immigrant has not just endured, but excelled.

With a 91 average and three Advanced Placement classes under his belt, he’s headed for college with a fat scholarship and big plans.

“I’ve been through hell,” said Williams, a senior at Bedford Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “School is my way out.”

Born into poverty outside Kingston, Jamaica, Williams grew up with no water or electricity, scrounging food from the street and avoiding gangs.

He was 12 when his mother sent him to Florida with only the clothes on his back. He was taken in by relatives who he says abused him and dealt drugs. (Read the full article)

Call for Suspension Reform After Student's Death

The Grio (via News One) | June 18, 2010

Last week, 15-year-old, Jawaan Daniels, was shot and killed during school hours. He was leaving Lafayette High School and going home for a suspension. But, parents say he should have been in school.

Buffalo parents argue that simply sending students home for suspension is not addressing the larger issue of their safety. The Buffalo Schools Parent Coordinating Council believes that the school district hands out too many suspensions to students–leaving them in danger.

Buffalo School Superintendent, James A. Williams, sat down and spoke to parents about reorganizing the suspension protocol.

A Father’s Day Reflection: Do Black Fathers Matter?


For the past 15 years of my life, Father’s Day was a day to be tolerated if not ignored. Unlike Mother’s Day where I actually thirst for the presence of my mother or someone else’s mother, I feel completely indifferent about Father’s Day. And, perhaps, my indifference has much to do with the fact that every day when I look in the mirror I see the face of my father, a man who spent most of my childhood beating my mother senseless and every other poor unfortunate female soul who fell for his southern charm and hetero-masculine insecurities.

As the adage goes, “I am my father’s daughter” if not by biology, definitely by resemblance. So, there is not a day that goes by that I do not see my father’s face and remember the screams, the blackened eyes, the police beating at the door, scraped knees from trying to protect momma, the empty Seagram’s gin bottles, and the many sleepless nights of endless cries for sanctuary of some kind. So, the presence of my father is always near because I see his reflection in the mirror prompting me from time to time to think about what it would mean for me to forgive my dad and also what would it mean for my father to have my forgiveness.

It would mean I would have to stop labeling him as the sole culprit for my mother’s bad choices and life struggles. It would mean I would have to stop hating him for not being there to growl at my prom date or not being there to make a big fuss about the shortness of my mini skirt. It would mean I would have to see him as a man who made many mistakes because he too was blindly running from childhood trauma and violence. And I would have to believe that just because you have a child, does not mean you know how to parent the child and that biology is a cruel prankster fooling people into believing that they instinctively know how to raise children. Let me just say this, it is not instinctual for mothers and it is definitely not instinctual for fathers.

Eminem's "Recovery": The Review

It’s not easy being an icon.

Eminem’s first three albums are essential, autobiographical, to-the-minute accounts of the thoughts, dreams (or nightmares) and experiences of an antagonistic, complicated and unlikely superstar, and they’ve sold millions of copies. Eminem captured the zeitgeist of the early 2000s, and remains as integral a component to the cultural landscape of that era as Jim Morrison is to that of the late 1960s. By the release of 8 Mile, Eminem seemed like an indestructible force in pop music, immune to the fickle, constantly shifting nature of pop culture; but then he developed a nasty drug habit. And then Eminem released Encore in 2005, and suddenly the magic was gone.

And then he was gone as well, disappearing to his mansion outside of Detroit and privately battling an addiction to prescription drugs, which was only exacerbated by the violent death of his longtime friend and mentor, Proof in 2006. After an OD in 2008 scared him straight, Eminem got the monkey off of his back and recorded last year’s Relapse during that process. Although Relapse is unquestionably rife with evidence that Eminem is a top notch emcee, it was the first time that his graphic, horrorcore-inspired content drove listeners away rather than reeling them in, and overall it paled in comparison to his previous work.

Surprisingly, this is a sentiment stated multiple times by Marshall Mathers himself on his latest release, Recovery, an album clearly fashioned to be the true return to form for the best-selling artist of the 2000s. And most of the time, it is.

The Black Recession will last forever…

There is this almost monolithic idea that black people are on a journey, a fight of sorts, to move from Point A to Point B. That is, as a people we are trying to get from here to there. However, there isn’t really a known destination–it is quite simply just anywhere but where we are at the moment.

In 2000, “The Chris Rock Show” did a segment about black behaviors, chronicling our triumphs and our failures. After displaying black advances such as the airing of Roots, Jesse Jackson’s run for President, Venus and Serena Williams, Tiger Woods (“one quarter” of him anyway), and Colin Powell, he quickly followed with our loses (i.e. “steps back”). Our trip-ups included ghetto names, Marion Barry, Mike Tyson, The Source Awards, and Lil’ Kim. By the time Chris Rock was done, even black folks on their best behavior couldn’t save the race from falling completely off path. Journey over.

But what was most surprising about his skit was the idea that black people could benefit from the fuck-ups of others. A sort of advance-by-proxy where some other group/occurrence either disproves our status as criminal, lazy, victim-loving (see NAACP) folks or actually buys us some pity. But if Rock’s hypothesis holds, no matter what we do to move forward, whether on our own merit or as a gift from others, we will always find a way to fuck it up.

Happy Birthday, Tupac

I have a hard time placing Tupac Shakur into a box. Like many intelligent young men, he seems to have struggled a lot with marrying the reality of his world with the ideas that he may have learned from the adults in his life. Was it hypocrisy or human nature? Who knows? Unfortunately, he was taken from us before his true legacy had time to manifest and all we’re left with are pieces of the multiple personas he constructed: poet, thug, rapper, actor, and dare I say intellectual.

Nah, I'm Good Brutha

Where I come from, the homeless are a dime a dozen, and beggars are as common as the neglected pennies of college students. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. While growing up, it was not uncommon for me to run into a crackhead who literally asked for a quarter everyday. It was no secret, everyone knew it, these beggars (and im pretty sure that term is very un-politically correct) were buying drugs with the money people gave them for whatever object or lie they could conjure up to get someone to give them spare change.

I remember being in a barbershop as a high school student in East Cleveland and a homeless man—I only assume his homelessness due to the cardboard sign he was carrying—came into the shop asking if anyone wanted to buy a 3 piece Popeye’s meal. This was obviously a meal that someone had bought him in hopes to help, but also not wanting to supply him with drug money. And here he was, attempting to sell a plate of food, for cash. Due to situations and experiences like this, growing up in the hood desensitized me to the homeless and the reaction to anyone asking for money on the street has been transformed into an automated message system: Nah, I’m good Brutha. This is my response, not really saying no, adding a positive word in the middle of the sentence, and concluded the statement of rejection with a term of endearment. It’s been my response to the homeless asking for money since I was in 9th grade.

I would like to take this time to look a bit more in depth about how I interact with homeless people (or people who I ignorantly assume to be homeless) and how society as a whole generally looks down on these people. Why do we look down on them?