Black Youth Dissuaded from Asking Questions?

This past weekend I spent time with my niece in celebration of her ninth birthday! It was great to be in the midst of young children in my family with all their wonder and innocence. On another hand, it was also tiresome answering all of their questions all day! While I am mostly joking, this day full of kids reminded me of an article I once read. The main thesis of the article was that African-American youth are less likely to ask questions in schools than Caucasian youth. Reason being, the former group is discouraged from asking questions in the home life whereas the latter group encourages inquisitive nature. Keeping this in mind, I wonder if and where this similar sentiment is seen in other arenas dealing with youth. My first thoughts surprisingly led me to church and home, the main social institutions present in a black youth’s life. 

Seeing Michael Jackson Coming

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always taken Michael Jackson’s optimism and musical happiness for granted. Black folks especially, at least those in my circle, praise his artful force for party R&B songs like “Shake Your Body” and “Remember the Time”. Not much has been said, however, about Mike’s collection of sorrow songs that increase with every album release. He was familiar with the Blues tradition—whereas sorrow usually came in the form of relationship problems—yet post Off the Wall, we see the King of Pop really examine his own unhappiness. The music, growing into its raspy tone and its realistic perspective about the world, stems from Michael Jackson’s silence in his youth. 

Ava Duvernay is First Black Female to Win Best Director at Sundance

Great news out of Utah!

Ava Duvernay is now the first black women to win best director at the Sundance Film Festival.

Her film Middle Of Nowhere won the prize, beating out some very stiff competition. It is Duvernay’s second film; her first, entitled I Will Follow, was released last year to rave reviews.

From the Huffington Post:

In her acceptance speech, Duvernay said that it was important that Nowhere be seen beyond the film festival and for ‘filmmakers of color to see one another’s films and have them seen.’

Chicago Homicides Up FIFTY PERCENT!

During a telephone interview with the Chicago Tribune on Monday, police superintendent Garry McCarthy divulged that homicides in the city of Chicago were up by more than 50 percent in January.

Homicide is the only category of crime to see an increase thus far in 2012. Half of these homicides occurred in the city’s Englewood and Harrison neighborhoods.

As we told you last week, over 500 young people have been murdered in the city of Chicago since 2008. Although these new homicide numbers cover a short period time, they only further cement the need for something to be done about the pervasive violence in our communities.

Young, Black, and Locked Up: Florida Edition


As a Black male, my life prospects don’t look too bright- statistically speaking. My life span is 7.1 years shorter than any other cohort group; I’m 5 times more likely to die of HIV/AIDS. That’s just health related. When it comes to education there is a 40% chance that I will drop out of high school. If I’m lucky enough to make it out of high school, the chance of me going to jail is much higher than me going to college. Can my future get any bleaker? Well in the state of Florida it can.

An article published in my hometown newspaper, Sarasota Herald Tribune, exposed the stark disparities in sentencing for Black youth. 84% of juveniles sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses in Florida were African-American. When I read this startling statistic my eyes almost jumped out of my head. It’s not that I didn’t believe it. The criminal justice system has historically been as fair to Blacks as Fox News is to reporting. What bothered me the most was that when I sat back and thought about it, I had not heard any policymakers in my home state address this issue directly.

Weekly News Round-Up: Jan. 24-30

Issues not all black and white for some minority voters
Katie McFarland, PNJ News, 1/24/12

Blacks Aren’t Marching on Washington Because Obama’s Black?
Cord Jefferson, Bet News, 1/26/12

Out of the Cold program sees increase in youth needs
M. Carolyn Black, Midland Free Press, 1/27/12

Georgiapolice killing of Black youth, cover up spark protest 
Sam Manuel, The Militant, 1/28/12

Joblessness in the Black Community
Ralph Hollmon, Milwaukee Courier, 1/28/12

Black History is Great! But what about Black Future?
Neals J. Chitan,Spice Islander News, 1/29/12

King’s niece speaks at MLK event
Staff Writer, Daily Press, 1/30/12


When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong, Hip-Hop Edition

Up and coming rapper Cory Gunz was arrested in New York yesterday with a loaded gun in his backpack (a crime with carries a mandatory sentence of three and a half years). This is the same law that lead to the arrest and incarceration of Lil Wayne, Ja Rule, and Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Interestingly enough, Mr. Gunz recently starred in “Son of a Gun”, a reality series on MTV that chronicled his rise in the music industry. This latest incident could qualify for a episode of Dave Chappelle’s “When Keeping it Real goes Wrong“.

It makes you wonder why a rising Hip-Hop star with no criminal record would be walking around with a loaded gun in NYC? Didn’t he just watch his boss and the CEO of Young Money have to waste 8 months of his career just for touching a gun? His father Peter Gunz said the arrest was the result of an “illegal search”. Really? The NYPD did something illegal? Good luck getting that to stick. Don’t they know about the NYPD’s infamous Hip-Hop police that conduct surveillance on rappers? The real question is, was in necessary? Did he feel a threat so real that he felt he had to protect his life at all times, or was he just living the rap fantasy and felt he had to keep it real?

Hip Hop Is ‘Mixtape of the Revolution’ in Africa and the Middle East

Sujatha Fernandes has written a fascinating op-ed for the New York Times on Hip Hop’s influence on the waves of revolutions and protests across the Middle East and Africa.

According to Fernandes, Rappers have become highly influential spokespeople for a generation of youth disillusioned with an establishment deaf and blind to their concerns. Emcees are resonating with young people by concerning themselves with the experiences of those on the street, and give a voice to the voiceless.

What we are witnessing is the continued power of Hip Hop music and culture. It may have been co-opted by the establishment in America; but in Africa and the Middle East Hip Hop is setting off one revolution after another.

The Real Housewives of The Help Go to Africa

Hollywood is so full of liberal do-gooders always on the cutting edge. As such, in advance of Black History Month, they have bestowed many acting awards upon members of the cast of The Help, namely Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who both won SAG Awards last night.

Perhaps it was because the embarrassingly entertaining Real Housewives of Atlanta happened to be arguing about how to properly acknowledge one another at the mall at the same time the SAG Awards aired, but Twitter responses to Marlo’s desire to eat some African (it’s a country, you know) food like fish (what she order?/fish filet?) were briefly interrupted by folks going on and on about the greatness of Viola Davis’ acceptance speech. My allegiances are to RHOA, so I googled the speech. Davis looked really nice (those Bassett-esque arms!). Her professional community gave her a standing ovation. She talked about dreams. Shouted out Cicely Tyson and Meryl Streep.


BYP Memo: “The Racial Impact of Voter Identification Laws in the 2012 Election”

The Black Youth Project presents a memo that examines the impact of recent legislation in five states that will require voters to display government-issued photo identification before voting in the 2012 election.

Our analysis suggests that voter turnout among African Americans may be significantly reduced, and that photo-ID laws may dilute the influence of black votes on election outcomes.

The Racial Impact of Voter Identification Laws in the 2012 Election” is the first memo in a series entitled Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics released by the Black Youth Project.

Click Here for the full memo