CNN | October 30, 2010
Jarrett Mathis is on a mission to combat use of the N-word among youths. CNN’s Tony Harris reports.
These days I’m feeling more and more like a bastard when I hear “hip hop,” because the Hip Hop that raised me was intellectually gangsta. Guess that explains the initial hunger that goes through me when I hear a song by Somali emcee, K’naan. His debut single, “TIA: This Is Africa,” directly disses the American “hip hop” scene, calling rappers “p*ssy.” K’naan’s 3:53 of critical bars left me wondering of the whereabouts of the classic and genuine corner store heroes, American youth found at their local intersections. K’naan is the realist, when he teaches the so-called “illest” in the West that:
It’s no secret we know how to squeeze lead, But the pre-set is not to squeeze it/ Used to be at peace but now using t-shirts, And it reads RIP cause the peace dead… The rap game just got itself a new day, This is Africa, hooray/
There’s something intangible that makes this year’s election different than most. For many, Barack Obama’s candidacy brought to the forefront a new, more accessible form of democracy. There was a massive communications network that engaged voters online, on the phone, and on their blocks. And there was Obama himself: a man of color who seemed to code switch his way from Chicago’s South Side to Harvard, who talked openly about racial profiling and boasted having Jay-Z on his iPod. He was a well-packaged newcomer who looked, talked, and presumably saw the world through the same eyes as many young people of color. And those eyes weren’t accustomed to the view from the White House.
Though Obama himself warned that his brand of change would be a gradual one, his election inspired many young voters—particularly African Americans—to engage in a political process from which they had long felt alienated. African-American young people voted in unprecedented numbers; their generation was believed to have come of political age in 2008. They had grown up alongside civil rights lore, had been told from birth that they were benefiting from decades of racial, economic and gender struggles that all seemed to culminate on election night in Chicago’s Grant Park. It’s unclear whether young voters themselves were ever willing participants in that narrative. But what’s certain is that two years later, the story arc has become decidedly less triumphant. In cities like Milwaukee, one pervasive question stands above the rest: What has happened to hope?
But youth voter advocates warn that’s the wrong question altogether. If you want to get young people of all colors involved, they say, it’s crucial to understand what drives them into politics. And more often than not, it’s got little to do with partisan campaigns or any particular candidate and much more to do with feeling that they’re heard and can control their own destinies. (Read the full article)
I did not expect to enjoy Wacka Flocka Flame’s debut studio album, Flockaveli.
I expected to laugh a lot; cringe even more, and at best have total indifference towards the album overall. As an emcee, Flocka lacks nuance, wordplay, inventiveness and flow in equal measure.
But then I realized that such grievances are totally irrelevant to understanding the appeal of his music. Flockaveli is brash, hard-edged, and unremittingly bleak. It strips hardcore Hip Hop down to an unapologetically dark, fatalistic core that frightens and fascinates in equal measure.
Hate on him all you want, but Flockaveli is a great album.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to educators, elevating the importance of reducing bullying in schools. In the 10-page letter, Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali wrote, “some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy may also trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Department’s Office of Civil Rights.”
The letter covers broad ground with respect to the need for schools to intervene on behalf of students whose rights may have been violated by hostile actions, words, or environments that encourage harassment of students as a result of their race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
The document also provides several hypothetical examples of abusive and/or harassing behaviors that would be a violation of students’ civil rights, and for which the school would be “responsible for addressing.”
However, less guidance is provided when it comes to how these schools should address the issue, opening the door for a potential reliance on ineffective zero-tolerance policies. While many schools have adopted anti-bullying policies that seek to address the problem holistically, many more have dealt with bullying through zero-tolerance policies that exacerbate racial disparity and increase the criminalization of youth without addressing the culture and/or root causes of the abuse and violence that they seek to remedy. (Read the full article)
I have attached a clip from the documentary “Bring Your A Game” filmed by Mario Van Peebles to start a much needed discussion about the impact of hip hop and sports on black education. I was unable to embed the entire documentary so please be sure to check out the entire documentary (approx. 20 minutes) at snagfilms.com
Tuesday night was a big night for me. NBA Season has officially started and the league did the thing right, didn’t they? Boston-Miami to kick it off, to finally put an end to all of the hoop-la. The stage was set perfectly. In the weeks leading up to this shining moment in NBA history, NBA.com did a series of short videos on each of the teams, documenting the meteoric rise of Boston’s Big Three, focusing on the sacrifice they all made, culminating in words of warning from Jesus Shuttlesworth: “Don’t come into (the season) expecting to be the same player you were before”. And NBA.com documented the path of Miami’s new Big Three. In the videos Miami’s threesome spoke of their excitement, their willingness to sacrifice, their understanding of the unique situation they were in and the delicate chemistry they would have to balance.
This game was to be a passing of the torch, so to speak. Miami would go in and make a statement early in the season. At least that was the thought. That’s the angle. Boston’s triumph was an amazing one. It started the NBA’s current climb back to grace and Miami is supposed to finish it. Game 1 of a long NBA season was supposed to be the first step on that journey.
This was an artistic week for me. Last Friday I performed poetry, sang, and played guitar at our yearly coming out monologues event. On Thursday I performed a neo-futurist piece about HIV/Aids and the downfalls of the black community to accept the disease as being “associated” with black people. On Monday I performed a short skit that was influenced by one of the most well known directors in the country Anne Bogart, and her ideas on viewpoints.
I obviously love the arts. I think that art gives us hope for the future and commentary about the past. I think art makes people laugh, cry, think, and question. I think our emotions are connected with artistic expression as much as a fetus is connected to its mother in the womb. It saddens me that the arts seem to be dwindling in black communities and disadvantaged areas around the country. In the past couple weeks I have found a new art that has sparked my time and interest.
Kids took the stage and celebrities sat in the audience Wednesday as first lady Michelle Obama honored community arts programs that help young people around the country develop their talents and succeed in life.
Mrs. Obama presented 15 after-school and out-of-school programs, many of them serving at-risk youth, with the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. She said the programs teach young people that “each of them has something of value to contribute.”
The East Room erupted in whoops and hollers after a handful of solemn-looking youngsters from an arts program in Hartford, Conn., carefully took the stage and then burst forth as a jazz combo performing with tap dancers.
“You never know the hidden passion that’s in a kid,” Mrs. Obama declared after their performance. (Read more)
I did not intend to write a political blog this week. After watching Kanye West’s Runaway short film I was fully intent on blogging about the creative genius of the Louie Vuitton Don. I watched the 34-minute film three times, and meticulously took notes on the subliminal messages evoked by the ballerinas in the all black leotards against the backdrop of the Black dinner guests adorned in all white. However, I’ll have to save my color commentary on the colorism in Ye’s video. I also was going to write about the preteen sensation that has everybody breaking their necks right about now- Willow Smith. How many 9 year olds do you know that can shut down Twitter? Yet, even Jada and Will’s pride and joy will need to take a back seat this week. We are exactly two weeks away from Election Day, and it is crucial that we stay focused on the important issues that will affect our lives.
Last night I had the opportunity to talk policy with U.S. Senate candidate and Illinois Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias. About 100 University of Chicago students and I were afforded an opportunity to press Gianoullias about everything from the Dream Act to expanding broadband infrastructure in marginalized communities. I came into the forum not knowing much about Mr. Giannoulias other than the fact that he was the former Illinois State Treasurer. But after an intimate 40 minute discussion with the candidate I was impressed enough to provide him with an endorsement. Allow me to make the case for Alexi Giannoulias.
The Democrats and Young Black Voters
Staff Writer, New York Times, October 24, 2010
Kendall Jenner: Power of Youth Perfection
Staff Writer, Gonzo Media, October 24, 2010
Rocking the youth vote: Why young people must vote in this election
Erick Mchome, The Citizen, October 24, 2010
Survey shows fewer teens use alcohol than some think
Allison Tompkins, Courier Press, October 23, 2010
No letup in sight for high U.S. jobless rate
CINDY JAQUITH, The Militant, October 23, 2010
Speaker: Empower young black men
DAVE MUNDAY, Post and Courier, October 22, 2010
Study skewers black youth stereotypes
Staff Writer, U.S. News, October 20, 2010
Study shows black youth are politically involved, disputes other stereotypes Purchase Xbox 360
Staff Writer, New Brief Online
Black Student Union to celebrate cultural diversity
Rob Gauler, Royal Purple News Paper, October 20, 2010
Fewer black males are dropping out of school in Baltimore
Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun, October 20, 2010
Obama targeting youth, minorities in campaign makeover
JULIE MASON, Examiner, October 20, 2010
More help promised for black students in N.S.
Staff Writer, CBC News, October 19, 2010
Illinois: Event Spotlights HIV/AIDS and Black Gay, Bisexual Youth
Mason Harrison, Windy City Times, October 19, 2010
Does Constant Violence Desensitize or Bore Teens
Staff Writer, LiveScience Fox News, October 19, 2010
Black Youth Are Politically Involved, Critical of Rap Music
Staff Writer, News Wire, October 19, 2010
African-American Homecoming emphasizes inclusivity in events
Candice Norwood, Daily Illinios, October 18, 2010
Oxford University under fire for poor black student admission
CMC, Jamaica Observer, October 18, 2010
N.S. promises to improve education for black students
Staff Writer, THE CANADIAN PRESS, October 18, 2010
Obama ‘Relying On Black And Youth Vote’
Adam Arnold, Sky News Online, October 18, 2010
Black Student Union reaches out through dance
Corey Mensing, The Scribe, October 18, 2010
Many years ago, when I was younger, less pessimistic, and even more obnoxious, the local black newspaper decided that I, along with some other black students in the area, was respectable and scholarly enough to feature in its annual round-up of ostensibly intelligent high school seniors. Someone called a friend and me to the guidance counselor’s office and gave a us a form to complete; it featured the typical set a questions one might ask a seventeen-year-old: favorite subject(s), college choice, future aspirations, etc. Outside of one genuinely nice thing about a mentor, Mrs. Patterson, the answers to my questionnaire could have been surmised for what it was: a load of uninspired teenage crap, including the “Oprah Winfrey is my hero,” stock answer.
Like any child of parents who worked full-time, I was often babysat by old people and television. As such, Oprah was part of my weekday afternoon ritual. (Yes, I’m continuing with the ritual theme–again). I’d come home from school, plop myself in front of Nannie and Papa’s television, and catch the last half-hour of The Young and the Restless while I did my homework. Then, we’d catch Oprah at four.
Once I moved to Chicago I started watching Oprah every morning. As a hater, it’s important that I begin each day with a certain degree of disdain for the world, and I find an hour of The Oprah Winfrey Show does the job. Yet lately, the disdain I feel while watching has been replaced by great sadness, because each morning I remember that this is the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
How I will spend the nine o’clock hour next television season is beyond me. I’ll face that day when the tears stop. In the meantime, I’d like to present a list: twenty-five reflections inspired by way too many years of watching The Oprah Winfrey Show.
(Colorlines) President Barack Obama has a message for LGBT kids: He doesn’t know “what it’s like to be picked on for being gay,” but he does know “what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.”
Obama and Secretary of State HIllary Clinton are the latest politicians to join the ‘It Gets Better” campaign, posting video messages that reassures LGBT youth being bullied in school that it gets better. “We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids” Obama said in his message.
Meanwhile, LGBT youth activists and their allies have a message for the president: He can make it better. In a statement praising Obama’s video message, Gay-Straight Alliance Network Executive DIrector Carolyn Laub said, “We call on the President and all elected officials to do everything in their power to make schools safer for LGBT youth. Our nation’s leaders can make it better for LGBT youth by ending discrimination against LGBT people in our country.”
St. Paul, Minn. — New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Minnesota has the eighth-lowest teen birth rate in the nation, but the rates are much higher among teens of color.
Nationally, the CDC found that the worst disparities between black teens and the general population occurred in the South and the Upper Midwest. Minnesota was among the 10 states with the highest teen birth rate among black teens.
Jennifer O’Brien, the adolescent health coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health, said the state looks like it’s doing well at first glance.
“But when you break it down by race and ethnicity, that’s the real story in Minnesota. We have incredible disparities,” she said.
The rate overall is 27 births per 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds. For white teens the rate is about 18 births per 1,000 teens, but among blacks the rate is 80. (Read full article)
Hip Hop impresario Jay-Z can now add “author” to his long list of accomplishments.
Co-written by friend and journalist Dream Hampton, “Decoded” will tell the story of the music mogul’s life, as well as the evolution of Hip Hop in general, by paying particularly close attention to the intricacies of Jay’s many brilliant lyrical offerings.
While being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about this latest project, Jay was asked about the experience of reviewing his own lyrics written down on the page (since, as you must already know, Jay-Z is famous for composing his lyrics in his head, rather than writing them down).
Hov’s response is priceless.
The Black Youth Project examines the attitudes, resources and culture of the young black millennials.