M.I.A.'s ///Y/ (MAYA)

Facebook and Google are tools by which the government can keep tabs on us. The internet, mainstream news media, and technology in general have been hijacked by the powers that be, and have weaved their way into every facet of our lives, purporting to bring us together while actually moving us further and further away from one another, as well as our true selves.

That, in a nutshell, is the gist of M.I.A.’s fantastic new album ///Y/ (or MAYA). And while the specifics may be a bit of a stretch, her message is still fascinating, thought-provoking, and undoubtedly vital. MAYA is essential.

The Sky Ain’t Falling: Black Youth, Gen-Yers, “Ain’t Leaving the Black Church”

Some of my closest friends are gay, but the pastor is telling me that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34, but the pastor tells me that using condoms is a sin because it’s a form of birth control. I live in a world where women are the CEOs of successful businesses and hold high positions in the government, but within the walls of the church, female leadership is often absent. Only 10 percent of churches in the United States employ women as senior pastors. These sexist, homophobic and conservative attitudes of the church are what is causing young people to question their faith, causing Gen-Yers to abandon the church in increasing numbers. Taken from Brandee Sanders’ article on the Root

So, like a “doubting Thomas,” I read Brandee Sanders’ Are Millennial Losing Faith with a somewhat skeptical eye staunchly believing that Black youth do attend church and that they do believe unerringly in the Bible. The saying goes, “You can talk about my Mama . . . you can even talk about my Tyler Perry, but nooooo-body better talk badly about my Jesus.” Of course, in all fairness to Sanders, she does not specifically say she is talking about black youth, but about all Gen-Yers irrespective of race. However, because the article is featured on the Root which is dedicated to telling the stories of African Americans, I think many of my friends and I assumed she was writing about Black youth which prompted me to check her sources—The Pew Study.

Saggy pants are butt-ugly but legal: judge

Saggy pants are butt-ugly but legal: judge
Dareh Gregorian, New York Post, July 29, 2010

You have the right to look ridiculous.

A Bronx judge has thrown out a summons issued against a Bronx man for wearing saggy pants, finding that “the Constitution still leaves some opportunity for people to be foolish if they so desire.”

Judge Ruben Franco said that although Julio Martinez may have offended the fashion police with his low-hanging and underwear-exposing pants, his manner of dress didn’t deserve a ticket from a cop.

“While most of us may consider it distasteful, and indeed foolish, to wear one’s pants so low as to expose the underwear . . . people can dress as they please, wear anything, so long as they do not offend public order and decency,” the judge wrote.

Martinez was given his summons for disorderly conduct on April 20 of last year.

The summons by the unidentified police officer charged that Martinez had acted in a disorderly manner because he had “his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear [and] potentially showing private parts.”

There was no other reason listed for the ticket besides Martinez’s pants, and Franco noted: “The issuance of this summons appears to be an attempt by one police officer to show his displeasure with a particular style of dress.”

The officer has plenty of company — the sloppy look has been the subject of derision from people ranging from Bill Cosby to President Obama, and the super-low rider has been banned in numerous towns across the country.(Read the full article)

Unlikely Duet: Condoleezza Rice and Aretha Franklin 'Jam' for Underprivileged Youth

Today Show | July 28, 2010

(Associated Press)  Condoleeza Rice and Aretha Franklin, two notable and powerful African-American women, joined forces last night for a great cause.

In hopes of raising money for arts education for underprivileged youth, Franklin showcased her world-renowned vocals while Rice tickled the keys with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

While their political views are on opposite sides of the fence, the Queen of Soul, who performed at Barack Obama’s inauguration, and Bush’s former Secretary of State put politics aside for the cause.

Undergrads On the Brink of Homelessness

Undergrads On the Brink of Homelessness
Julianne Hing, Colorlines, July 27, 2010

It’s a story of our times: college enrollment is the highest it’s been in the last 40 years, but the economic recession is the worst we’ve seen in as many decades.

For college students, this means fighting to stay in school, even if students have to choose between paying for tuition and books over rent and food. NPR reported this week on the story of Diego Sepulveda, a 22-year-old poli sci major at UCLA who’s getting by in college by sleeping in the library and on friends’ couches and showering in the campus gym. UCLA has created a crisis response team to help students stay in school and get help with basics like canned soup and toiletries. (Read the full article)

Wanna Raise a Child? No Application Necessary.

We make people fill out applications for everything under the sun. School. Jobs. Apartments. Cars. Credit cards. Society places such high value on this imaginary money that we pass around that you can actually be denied credit cards or bank accounts if you have been proven to be irresponsible with it. If you are not qualified, you cannot attend college, get certain jobs, drive certain cars, or live in certain apartments. How completely ass backwards is it that we allow anyone to have a child without first checking that they are qualified mentally and emotionally?

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that we turn control of our reproductive bodies over to the government or our neighbors. I’m just saying that perhaps there ought to be some kind of system in place to make sure that people understand exactly what they are getting into when they have a child.

Ms.Privilege

The more one walks around as a black male, the more one gets acclimatized to people’s negative assumptions about his life.

I’m use to it. I’m use to the stereotypes, the pre-judgments, and the general ignorance. But yesterday, for the first time in my life I felt as though someone talked to me like I was in some “inner-upper-class-circle.” I didn’t like it.

The woman was black and appeared to be middle aged. (we’ll call her Ms.Privilege for narrow intents and purposes) The conversation started off nicely. She noticed a folder that had the word “summerlinks” written on it (The program at University of Chicago that gave me the grant to work at an internship this summer).  She realized I was a student as U of C, and I can only assume that she took this information and attached a connotation to it that didn’t exist. (You know, black male student at Ivy+ School, he must be from money, right?).

Are Millennials Losing Faith?

Are Millennials Losing Faith?
Brandee Sanders, The Root, July 26, 2010

Sunday morning rolls around again, and I get the early wakeup call from my father. “Get up, Brandee. Get ready for church.” My first thought is to go right back to sleep, because I don’t want to go. It’s not a case of Sunday-morning laziness; I’d just rather not be there, and according to a study conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 agree with me.

Church isn’t appealing to me, and it never has been. I have vivid memories of sitting in the last pew as a child with crayons and a coloring book for some sort of entertainment. Since I’ve retired the Crayolas and coloring books and started paying closer attention to the sermons, I discovered that some of the messages in church are irrelevant to people of my generation.

Some of my closest friends are gay, but the pastor is telling me that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34, but the pastor tells me that using condoms is a sin because it’s a form of birth control. I live in a world where women are the CEOs of successful businesses and hold high positions in the government, but within the walls of the church, female leadership is often absent. Only 10 percent of churches in the United States employ women as senior pastors. These sexist, homophobic and conservative attitudes of the church are what is causing young people to question their faith, causing Gen-Yers to abandon the church in increasing numbers. (Read the full article)