That Plan to Close Half of Detroit's Schools? It's Really Happening

That Plan to Close Half of Detroit’s Schools? It’s Really Happening
Liz Dwyer, Good Magazine | February 23, 2011

Eminem’s acclaimed Super Bowl advertisement for Chrysler told the world that despite what you’ve heard, Detroit is making a comeback. Tell that to the city’s children, because the State of Michigan has sounded the death knell for Detroit Public Schools. DPS’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), Robert Bobb, has received approval for his plan to shut down half of the city’s public schools over the next two years, raising remaining school class sizes to 60 students. The decision could be the tipping point that pushes Michigan into Wisconsin-style protesting.

Bobb’s solution addresses a $327 million budget deficit and will reduce the current 142 schools in the district down to 72 by the 2012-13 school year. The plan will likely drive more families out of the Detroit, setting up a domino effect of even more financial problems for the schools.

Steve Conn, a 25-year-veteran teacher at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, is heavily involved in plans to march through the state capital, Lansing, today at noon with teachers, parents, students, and other public education allies. The planned protest targets education budget cuts, the school closings, and a bill that will expand the number of EFM positions in the state.

If the bill passes, it “will allow the state to appoint an EFM over any school district, city or town that is in a financial deficit,” says Conn. EFM’s have the power to fire entire school boards, change pay and benefits and eliminate union contracts, all without any public debate. When financial times are tough, as they are now in many low-income communities, EFM’s can decide to sell off or close libraries, schools and other public buildings, and they’re only answerable to the governor. Conn says such a system position “replaces democracy with tyranny.”   (Read more)

Black Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Black Folks.

This past weekend was the NBA’s 60th annual All-Star weekend. In a CNN article, NBA reporter David Aldridge referred to the weekend as Black Thanksgiving. Forget all the profound reasons to dispute the claim and be honest. For the basketball crazed among us, NBA All-Star weekend is something like a holiday.

The Dark Continent: The Criminalization of the Poor

Abahlali baseMjondolo or the Shack Dwellers movement began almost six years ago in Durban, South Africa. Abahlali has become (according to their website) the “largest organization of the poor” in post-apartheid South Africa. The organization was solidified through their first protest. This protest was a “road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road settlement” to speak out against the sale of an area that was promised by local government to the shack dwellers for housing. Through Abahlali, which is the largest representation of the poor in South Africa, we can explore in more depth how the poor are treated in society. I will use S’bu Zikode’s article on The Third Force to detail the conditions and struggle that poor people experience in on a regular basis. With this article we can examine and determine exactly how the poor are criminalized.

‘Sex Crimes Against Black Girls’ Exhibit Uses Art to Confront Incest

‘Sex Crimes Against Black Girls’ Exhibit Uses Art to Confront Incest
Akiba Solomon, Colorlines | February 21, 2011

Last week, I checked out “Sex Crimes Against Black Girls,” a multimedia art exhibit that tackles many forms of sexual abuse black girls endure in the African Diaspora. The work, which will be at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plazauntil April 2, was rich, provocative, and in some cases, quite pretty. But, because I’m a nosy writer, I was most intrigued by its curator, Shantrelle P. Lewis. For her day (and all-night) job, the New Orleans native directs programs and exhibitions at another organization, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. But the 32-year-old chose to use her free time and psychic energy to find works by black and Latina artists that address the knotty subject of intra-racial sexual violence. Lewis, an incest survivor, was kind enough to sit on the phone and explain why:

Tell me how “Sex Crimes Against Black Girls” came about.

It came about in several ways. In grad school, I read “The Permanent Obliquity of an In(pha)llibly Straight: In the Time of Daughters and the Fathers, an essay by [literary critic] Hortense Spillers that deals with the treatment of incest among African Americans in literature. I was struck by how she put it within a larger context of racism and socioeconomic oppression, not just as [individual] pathology of black men or because black men have so-called issues. That spoke to me as a black woman who uses art to educate people, and as someone who was molested.

Can you talk about what happened?

I was abused by three family members, between the ages of 7 and 9. It happened at relatives’ houses, when no one else was around. They took advantage of me, but I didn’t tell anyone until after Hurricane Katrina.

What made post-Katrina the right time to speak up?

Well, the flood brought so many community issues to the surface—poverty, police brutality, violence and high levels of intra-racial prejudice because of the color caste system. And for me, personally, Katrina brought my sexual abuse to the surface. I finally told my mother.  (Read more)

Young Conservatives Remix Hip-Hop

Last week it was brought to my attention that liberals and radical progressives aren’t the only ones using hip-hop to promote a political agenda. Before you start having convulsions, let me assure you that Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin haven’t come out with a mixtape; even though I’m sure Mrs. Palin read my blog post comparing her to Soulja Boy. The young lyricists who are giving hip-hop a push to the right are actually students at Dartmouth.  Their Youtube videos show that they are dedicated to spreading a conservative message through music and new media. David “Serious C” Rufful and Joshua “Stiltz” Andrew Riddle are the duo known as the Young Cons (no, not cons like Jack Abermoff, cons like conservatives).

How Do College Students View ‘Blackness’ at PWIs?

How Do College Students View ‘Blackness’ at PWIs?
Liane Membis, Clutch Magazine, February 21, 2011

Students at Yale University are currently pondering over this question through an online project titled Yale Blackness, which was launched this February by the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY), an organization birthed in 1969 with the goals of enhancing Black student life through political and community action. According to Albert McWilliams, current President of BSAY, the goal of the blog is not to focus on negative outlooks in their collective social space, but rather to inspire thoughtful discussion on the state of the black community on their campus and beyond.

“The purpose of the ‘Yale Blackness’ project is to give Yale students a medium to offer their thoughts on race and culture at Yale University and to motivate students to actively improve race relations,” McWilliams said. “Like many organizations on campus, the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) recognizes the potential for ‘new media’ to begin a dialogue on racial dynamics on college campuses. Anonymity is a powerful tool, and when used appropriately and respectfully, it can provoke students to offer powerful insight.”

Yale students have been asked to submit anonymous descriptions in 50 words of less with their perceptions and personal reflections of the black community on campus. More than 150 responses have been submitted to the blog, with 5 to 7 posts being updated on the site daily.  (Read more)

February 14, 2011 – February 20, 2011

Black leaders discuss lack of minority teachers
Tiffany Lankes, The Democrat and Chronicle, February 19, 2011

African American Museum of the East End Emphasizes Overlooked History
Bonnie Cannon, East Hampton Patch, February 19, 2011

Education summit pushes African American pursuit of college degrees
Dan Klepal, Courier- Journal, February 19, 2011

Youth organizers launch IL trans-friendly bathrooms initiative
Staff Writer, Windy City Media, February 18, 2011

Gainful Employment” Endangers African American Students’ Educations
Ruben Hopkins, The American Spectator, February 18, 2011

Black Student Says Professor Told Her “Slaves Were Always Late”
Casey Gane-McCalla, News One, February 17, 2011

Are Ohio’s Black and Latino Students Buoyed by a System of Preferences? Not Hardly
Staff Writer, Alter-Net News, February 17, 2011

Too Young To Die: Documentary Photographer Looks At Chicago Violence (PHOTOS)
Will Guzzardi, The Huffington Post, February 16, 2011

Why the youth should no longer be ignored
Staff Writer, The Daily Independent, February 16, 2011

Black college presidents face tremendous challenges yet continue to press on
Charles Moseley, Westside Gazett, February 16, 2011

Wash. U.’s black men should equip themselves with murses
Laura Mcginnis, Student Life News, February 16, 2011

Black colleges & universities play a special role in America today and for generations to come
Charles Moseley, The Westside Gazette, February 16, 2011

Ex-gang members to help fight violence
Rick Couch, Selma-Times Journal, February 15, 2011

We should encourage our kids, not discourage them
Kristin Broner, The Famuan, February 15, 2011

Post-Egypt, will America’s youth vote turn on Obama in 2012?
Gaius Publius, The America, February 14, 2011

How Fate Brought a Hip-Hop Pioneer and a Activist MC to Madison, Wisconsin


It has seemed since me and Paradise the Architech began this journey of exposing “right wing” liars using the most powerful weapon on the planet, Hip-Hop, the stars have been aligning for us. From being in Oakland, CA the day of the Oscar Grant rebellion, to covering the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, to the almost perfect timing of our Tea Party video, we’ve always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. And once again, by sheer “coincidence”, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of 70,000 protesters last Friday and Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.

About 4 months ago, I was contact by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to be the keynote speaker for their Black History Month celebration called ” Ebony Weekend “. (Of course, we had no idea what was on the horizon that same weekend in Wisconsin, but that’s not all…) A few weeks ago, we had an opportunity to sit down with some very cool people we had met at the PA Progressive Summit. Paradise and I had traveled to DC to do an interview on ” Russia Today ” and afterward we met with Beth Becker, Neal Rauhauser, Alan Rosenblatt and a few others to talk politics.

An Open Letter To Lil' Kim….

Dear Lil’ Kim,

I actually like you. Hard Core was dope. I even kinda liked La Bella Mafia, and I agree with The Source; The Naked Truth is classic material. I thought it was sad that you went to jail in order to protect so-called friends that wound up testifying against you in court to save their own asses. Hell, I wouldn’t even vilify you for being Biggie’s side jawn; I believe you when you say that what you and Biggie had was special. You probably didn’t deserve to be marginalized or portrayed unfairly in a certain biopic chronicling the Notorious one’s life either. You are undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential female rappers of all time. You are a Hip Hop legend.

But enough is enough.

Your beef with Nicki Minaj is illegitimate on multiple levels, Kim. But you know what? So was LL Cool J’s tiff with Canibus. So was KRS-One’s legendary war with MC Shan. Hip Hop is littered with rap battles founded on shoddy evidence. The difference here is that your behavior over the past 6-8 months has come across as jealous, immature, and incredibly desperate. And you’ve taken it to another level of absurdity this week. Releasing a low-budget, entirely unnecessary Nicki Minaj diss fest of a mixtape called Black Friday, charging ten dollars for it, and then falsely claiming it sold 100,000 copies in 28 hours? Not a good look, Kim. In the words of Karen Civil, “If I wanted to buy a whole mixtape about Nicki Minaj I would just buy the Pink Friday LP again.” Such behavior is entirely unbecoming of a Hip Hop legend. And for the sake of your legacy, it really needs to stop.