Young, Black, and Restless!

As political pundits, political action committees, and politicians gear up for what is bound to be another bare knuckle brawl in 2012, young activists around the country are setting agendas to intending to move their issues from the margins to the center of American life. As scholar/activist, Dr. Cathy Cohen, points out in her book Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Democracy) and in the national survey 2008 and Beyond,  many young Black Americans don’t believe that equality exists due to their lived experiences.

Yes, we have more Black faces in high places (corporate America, politics, academia etc.) than ever before, but only 13% of Black youth believe that Blacks in the U.S. have achieved racial equality. Black President or not, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Andrew Breitbart’s high-profile character assassination of Black folks is a glowing example of the uphill battle that people of color face in this country. If that isn’t enough: how about the fact that black youth still suffer from lower rates of high school graduation and higher rates of incarceration, AIDS and unemployment compared to white youth?

THINGS FALL APART: What Happened To Hip Hop's Conscience?

Has anyone else been wondering what happened to the socially conscious voice in Hip Hop music?

Yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of emcees out there in the underground with tons of relevant shit to say. But what about the mainstream? There used to be some semblance of balance in Hip Hop. There was a time when a Neo Soul/alternative Hip Hop movement was a visual, popular alternative to the violence, misogyny, and materialism of mainstream Hip Hop. It was a time when that gorgeous and supernaturally gifted actress from Sister Act 2 became the de facto leader of that movement, and the spokeswoman for a generation.

This article is a love letter to that glorious movement, and an explanation as to why it faded away.

Protests in Wisconsin: Where are the Black People? or Is it another White’s People Movement?

Thousands of people have convened at the Wisconsin’s state capital to protest Republican Governor Scott Walker’s unjust actions of sponsoring and roguishly pushing a bill that will destroy collective bargaining in the state of Wisconsin. Mind you, for days on in, I have watched both the online and offline media coverage of the protest. I watched as people held signs and shouted in unison, “Shame . . . Shame . . . Shame.” I sat for hours on in spellbound as people danced and chanted out in the cold when they were barred entrance into the general assembly chamber. I watched as people pushed their way into the state building only to be dragged out by the police. I tell you, I watched. However, as I watched enthralled by people standing against injustice a small voice within me at first murmured then shouted, “Where are the black and brown people at the rally? Seriously, where are they?”

Ahem! The Obamanation

Aaron McGruder called it. His controversial comic/tv show, Boondocks, clowned the Obama-mania, that seems to be so resilient, back in 2009. Blocked by the historical moment that Obama represents, intellectuals and celebrities have to hush their discontent concerning President Obama—it’s an Obamanation! Excuse me I meant abomination! I’m still recovering. Damn the fool that drew up this contract that waives the duty to criticize. One of Chicago’s native sons dropped a new album this past Tuesday, and if nothing else makes it a classic let it be his honesty.  “Limbaugh is a racists, Glen Beck is a racist/Gaza Strip was getting burned, Obama didn’t say sh#t/That’s why I aint vote for him, next one either/” (Words I Never Said, by Lupe Fiasco). The imperative for Blacks to keep quiet brings serious consequences for the sensible soul; even the Redeye  predicts the alienation of Lupe by “hip-hop colleagues.”


There’s nothing wrong with “[sparring] verbally,” such as the situation between Lupe and Rhymefest after Lupe’s first “public dig” at Obama, when it produces valid accusations (read the original post and then word search “Rhymefest” within the message board). Both artists hashed out an elevated verbal spar, which is more preferable than blind allegiance. Distaste for Obama’s policies should be welcomed because it keeps Obama’s conscience renewed.

LeBron and Miami feeling the Heat

I waited for Lebron James to enter the pros. I watched his first game in the league and I followed him faithfully for the next seven years. I’d found my own little superstar. I know, I shared him with millions, but I was still faithful. Typically, I’m a bit fickle, especially as a sports fan. I pick teams because of city, black presence, good characters, exciting cast, and a host of other factors. I went against the Steelers in this past Superbowl because of my belief their quarterback is a rapist in the making. It is forever changing. It is probably easier for me to tell you which teams I’ve historically disliked (Broncos, Trailblazers) than to commit to one. So what LeBron got from me was special. I was a witness.

When LeBron left for Miami, I was thoroughly disappointed. I still defended his choice. After all, most people have some say in where they work and he was just exercising this right. It isn’t something afforded to many players in the league; only the best of the bunch get to push for their ideal locations. Now, months into the basketball season and the Heat and struggling mightily against the best teams in the league. Who’s fault is it? Sorry to say, but the mighty triumvirate did this to themselves.

Reformers Can't Dodge Race Issues

Reformers Can’t Dodge Race Issues
Richard Whitmire, Huffington Post | March 8, 2011

School reformers like to talk, so they conference a lot. They like writing even more, so they dash off torrents of commentaries on improving schools.

But in all that talking and writing there is one topic that rarely gets raised, especially among white school reformers: race. Just too uncomfortable.

That aversion to raising race issues is unfortunate, because in the year I spent researching the school reforms carried out by Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., race issues were players nearly everywhere I looked.

For starters, race played a big role in explaining how the school’s central office Rhee inherited was both bloated and poorly run. That dates back to former Mayor Marion Barry, who over the years padded the city payrolls with ever-more appointees, partly as a civil rights gesture for those who in the days of white-run Washington were frozen out of city jobs but also for political reasons. “It was the political machine’s way of hiring folks and securing votes,” one veteran school administrator told me.

Not only was the central office crowded, but many appeared to have little guidance on how to do their jobs. When Rhee arrived and began trying to fire the worst of the central office staff, her initial legal advice was: here at DCPS, we don’t fire people for incompetence.

“What do you do with them?” Rhee asked. The answer: “We send them to the schools.” And we wonder how D.C. schools got so bad?

Race also explains the sensitivities felt among black D.C. residents about firing anyone. In D.C., as in many urban areas, the black middle class was built on the stability of school jobs. Parents in affluent, white neighborhoods of Washington generally approved when central office workers were fired because they cost the city millions with bungled paperwork or a teacher was fired for harming students with bad teaching. The other side of the city heard a very different message: Not only was Rhee firing people they knew and liked, but she was disrespecting them by calling them incompetent.  (Read more)

Jalen Rose on Duke's Black Players

It seems every day there’s a topic that has my timeline jumping. Tuesday morning there were still smatterings of conversation about CryGate 2011 but the big topic of conversation was Jalen Rose and his controversial remarks regarding Duke basketball’s recruiting habits. Rose, in his soon to be released documentary, remarks that he has a personal hatred for Duke, that he hated everything he felt Duke stood for. He continues by saying that he felt that schools like Duke “only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”


The comment, started an intense debate about the perceived racism at the root of the fact that Duke only recruits black players from polished families. Those who have always questioned Coach K’s tactics rode the comment to the moon and back. And my fellow Duke alumni and supporters offered their retorts and expressed their dismay at the reactions of their followers.  Rose’s comment, and the conversation that followed was interesting, and in some ways sad.

How hazing hurts reputation of black Greek life

How hazing hurts reputation of black Greek life
Lawrence C. Ross, The Grio | March 8, 2011

So seven members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority were charged with hazing a University of Maryland pledge. The Zetas allegedly followed the usual modus operandi, beating the pledge with an oak paddle, pushing her against a wall, and causing what the police say were “severe bruising on the arms and chest”. And now that this has become a police matter, all of the accused Zetas are shocked, shocked I say! that this pledge has been hazed. How did this happen? In the words of one of the accused lawyer, his client “abhors” hazing. Yeah, right.

Now we go through the usual dance of the people saying that these accused Zetas are innocent until proven guilty, and that the pledge shouldn’t have “allowed” herself to be hazed in the first place. The Zetas involved will probably get off with a slap on the wrist, some sort of community service, and the national organization will get a lawsuit that will cost at the minimum, thousands of dollars, and at the maximum, millions. But do you know what I wish would happen? I wish Zeta Phi Beta’s national headquarters wouldn’t wait until the accused are declared guilt to make a decision on their fate. I wish Zeta expelled the accused immediately and without a hearing. Maybe then we could get the attention of black fraternity and sorority members.

You see, hazing isn’t something that you just happen to run into or just happen to do. No, hazing is a very deliberate and specific process. It’s a conspiracy of individuals who all pledge to themselves a code of silence in order to protect themselves. If you’re going to haze pledges, you have to set up an illegal underground pledge program, identify the members of your chapter or organization who aren’t trustworthy, exclude them from knowledge of the illegal pledging, and then figure out when and where to haze your pledges. The idea that you’re in the room where hazing is going on, but you didn’t participate, is as absurd as saying that you were in the pool, but you didn’t expect to get wet. You’re there, you’re guilty, whether you throw a stroke of wood or not.

And that’s why I wished Zeta dropped the hammer on the accused. Forget that the accused ranged in age from 20 years old to 26 years old, or in the words of my mother, are grown a** women who should know better. The very existence of an illegal pledge process, and that the accused participated in it, injuries or not, would be enough for an immediate expulsion.  (Read more)