On Black Beauty

The nature of blogging necessitates that each Monday I dedicate my time to commenting on the most recent news of the day that I care about to varying degrees.  That said, I thought I’d take this first June entry to say something about an issue that I didn’t have an opportunity to discuss because I was busy hating on Common and famous gay people.

Last month, a few completely different, yet not altogether unrelated issues made a blip on my pop culture radar.  Briefly:

  1. Rap group, Dead Prez released the video for “The Beauty Within,” a track off their latest mixtape.  The song is both a celebration of “natural” black women and a response to the Bruno Mars track it samples.  The Mars’ video celebrates those women who live in Omniracial City or its near suburbs.  Dead Prez give the brown sisters a shoutout, and crunchy women everywhere ashéd for forty days.

Rihanna's "Man Down" Video, and the Irrelevance of the Parents Television Council

A couple days ago, Rihanna released the music video for her latest single, “Man Down,” a pop-reggae song that tells the story of a young woman’s guilt and regret after murdering a man that deeply wronged her. Check out the video below.

The cinematic clip fleshes out the song’s storyline, conveying that the root of her actions is a harrowing sexual assault in an alley after a house party. The video is expertly directed and paced for maximum impact; Rihanna is effervescent and gorgeous, interacting with friends and neighbors in her small, island town. She is innocently enjoying her life until tragedy literally emerges from out of the darkness and forces itself upon her, utterly breaking her spirit.

“Man Down” is a heartbreaking, complicated and brilliant music video.

And so of course the Parents Television Council and other useless, opportunistic, media-watchdog groups are “pissed.” Go figure.

The Battle Over School Integration

CNN (via Huffington Post) | June 1, 2011

The debate over segregation continues at one of the nation’s top schools after the principal received the following message: integrate or lose funding.

According to CNN , Connecticut’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School, which boasts a 100 percent graduation rate, was at risk of being closed if they failed to increase the number of white students in their school.

Founder and principal Dr. Steve Perry, a regular contributor to CNN on the topic of education and a strong voice in the field of education innovation, initially reacted with disbelief.  (Read more)



Teachers in Tough Places

Teachers in Tough Places

David Chura, Huffington Post | June 3, 2011

It was a busman’s holiday. Thirty people in a room, all teachers in high school and GED programs in various prisons from across New York State, listening to me talk about teaching locked up kids. The conference was in Saratoga Springs with lots of other things to do. Yet there they were, nodding their heads in recognition of the stories I told, laughing in all the right places with that dark sense of humor we jailhouse teachers develop from years of working with society’s throwaways in some of the toughest schools.

In interviews or talks I’m frequently asked why I wrote I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup. I often explain that I want people to see the kind of living conditions to which young offenders are consigned in adult facilities and to show that each incarcerated kid is a real person, one who most likely grew up in a home crippled by poverty, by poor health, by addiction as well as physical and sexual abuse. It’s a picture not conveyed by the crime numbers we read in the newspapers.

But looking out over that audience of incarcerated education teachers, I knew there was another reason why I wrote these stories: to describe what it’s like to be a teacher working under some of the harshest conditions. In this time of “education reform” and its concomitant teacher bashing, I wanted to praise the people who are committed to teaching every day, no matter what’s going on around them, around their classroom and their students.  (Read more)


Brand New Episode of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl


“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” follows the title character and friends as she navigates through life, love and awkward situations. I love this show. It reminds me of myself. I think I am going to have to find a way to interview her for the Black Youth Project. Let me know what you think.


Jew Hip Black Hop

Bonded by our survival of near extinctions, Jews and Blacks always leveled with agendas for ending racism. For decades this linkage of two Diasporas endured the normal strains of any relationship; specifically, numerous occasions influenced separation of the two groups with an unbreakable extension of the nasty racial myths behind both groups. However, during times when Hip Hop—a creation of Black culture—offers its home to the international community, the historical Black-Jewish relationship becomes more prevalent. Images of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr. marching together reincarnate in the center of Hip Hop life, the cipher circle. Cipher circles from Israel/Palestine to South Africa to the States are all about intimacy, but closeness is always a neighbor to vulnerability. The same symbol of acceptance and alliance, at the same time reminds the community of the hatred Blacks and Jews once had for each other.

"How can you ignore, we're dying at the door?" – SOUTH SIDE TRAUMA CENTER NOW!

FLY | May 24, 2011


Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) “Trauma Center Track” about our campaign to get a level 1 trauma center at the U of C Medical Center because the south side currently has NONE and the U of C receives THE MOST tax breaks of any south side hospital while providing among the lowest rates of charity care.

Track written by FLY members Jasamine “Tweak Harris,” Jamell Rush and Kennard Amarie Johnson and produced by Marshawn Rush.

Thanks to Cryptonite for the beat and ABC7, Chicago Tribune, We the People Media/Mary Johns, Jamell Rush, Brett Jelnek, Sarah Jane Rhee, Darren Leow, Maureen Murphy, April Wilson, Dan Scotti, CBS/WBBM for footage, photos, news clips

There is no such thing as innocent in America.

Before we move entirely away from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn story and on to the next sensational news event, let us take a few things with us. First, let me say the alleged crime committed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a New York hotel has pitted American culture against French culture in more than a few ways. America has stressed itself as more righteous and supportive in terms of women’s rights issues and around sexual harassment and France has proclaimed itself a nation with respectful media as well as a nation sensitive to the rights of the accused. I know very little about French media and even less about their justice system but I do know a thing or two about the rights of the accused in America; they have none. When European countries began questioning the fairness of the perp-walk used on suspects in the U.S. a number of state-side papers acknowledged the perp-walk as part of American culture.

Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution, and Sinking Cynicism


“You will not be able to stay home brother! You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop-out, because the revolution will not be televised.”

When Gilbert Scott-Heron’s poem featured on Volume 1 of “The Soul of the Black Panther Era” I can only imagine the excitement that filled the room in that first live performance. Hearing the drums as a backdrop to words that shake the complacent lives of all who listen. The feeling you get when you are a spectator to a paradigm-shifting event. I can only speculate what it is like to bear witness to history walking towards progress, right before your own eyes.

Romantic Love…These are Questions

Anyone that knows me will attest my reluctance to enter a relationship (including the current Boo Biscuit). In the past, my response to any questions about my relationship status has been to deny, deny, deny. I’m not the best liar in the world so it’s never worked but not for lack of trying. It’s not that I’m interested in being single for the rest of my life, because that doesn’t appeal to me at all. My approach to dating has always been to go with the flow. And it’s never felt “right” with a person until now and even now it doesn’t always feel right.