Why I Hesitate to Use the “P-word”… “Progress” & Black American Life

“Nobody is free until everybody is free.” -Fannie Lou Hamer

Why am I so hesitant to speak of progress? I think it’s because my heart is heavy and my conscience is unclear given what I know about our present. I can’t state enough that the middle and upper class, college educated, and successfully professional Black people are the exceptions, statistically insignificant sub-populations of a larger community embroiled in a struggle much like the past. The word “past” has proven dangerous in these conversations because it overplays the difference of the life of our poor from previous conditions associated with pre-civil rights and slavery.

I can’t tell a formerly incarcerated black woman from watts with a daughter in prison that the conditions and policies that currently shut her out from employment, welfare services, tax benefits, voting, and shelter, aren’t  considerably similar to that of post-slavery reconstruction. I can’t.  I can’t tell a sizable population of afrikan, south asian, and latino undocumented people to give back the social security, the passports, the lattes, the laptops, the privilege, and the respect  that they don’t have. I can’t tell the families of those murdered by police, Oscar Grant, Deandre Brunston, Amadou Diallo, 73 year old cancer survivor Bernard Monroe and 7 year old Aiyana Jones that we have somehow progressed beyond the lynch mob mentality and violence of our past.

New TV One Series Aims To Help Find Black Missing Persons

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU8DMsaa7eA

Early last month, we told you about Kalisha Madden, a 26 year-old Black women from Detroit who’d been missing since November 28th. To our knowledge, Kalisha has yet to be found.

The conversation regarding Kalisha expanded into a larger discussion on the lack of mainstream media attention for missing persons of color. We wondered why there continues to be such finite media attention paid to missing Black people? Are our lives somehow less valuable?

Well, TV One hopes to counteract this with their brand new show, “Find Our Missing,” set to premiere tonight at 10pm ET. Check out a preview above.

The Daily Beast’s Allison Samuels has written a wonderful piece on the concept, significance, and unique strategies to be employed by this groundbreaking new show.

Love and Hip Hop and Black Women in the Entertainment Industry

Watching Love & Hip Hop the past couple weeks has brought several questions to mind. As a Black woman in the entertainment industry, I have looked up to Yandy Smith and Mona Scott-Young as positive examples of what it means to be a driven career woman. The lack of women of color in power positions in the entertainment industry is no secret. And while success stories are few and far between, both Smith and Scott-Young have found tremendous success as the driving forces behind the careers of some of your favorite musicians.

And then Yandy threw it all to the wayside with her petty, and somewhat concerning bickering with Jim Jones’s fiancée Chrissy Lampkin. Yandy, who worked as Jones’s manager crossed a serious professional line, allowing her personal feelings about her client’s relationship shade her interactions with Jim Jones and his fiancée. This inability to separate the personal and professional (according to a friend who is also a Black woman in the entertainment industry) is why Black women all have to work so hard to be taken seriously, especially on the business side of the entertainment industry.

Why We Oppose SOPA

You’ve probably been hearing the word “SOPA” a lot today, but perhaps no one has explained to you what all the fuss is about. To be sure, SOPA is a huge deal, with major sites like Wikipedia and Reddit even going black today in protest of this terrible bill.

SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act.” It is a bill that would essentially give the government the power to shut down a website that is believed to be directly or indirectly supporting copyrighted content.

Anyone who creates or consumes content on the internet should be outraged by the possibility of SOPA being passed, as it would completely undermine the freedom with which we share information online. What will stop the powers that be from using SOPA as a means of censoring voices they don’t like?

SOPA must be stopped.

For more information, below is a great write-up on SOPA, courtesy of Colorlines.com.

Click here to sign a petition in opposition to this outrageous bill.

REPORT: Black Unemployment MUCH HIGHER Than National Average

A new report by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that throughout 2011 unemployment amongst African Americans hovered between 15 and 16 percent, while falling below 9 percent for the rest of the population

The Black unemployment rate is currently higher than it was in December of 2007, when the recession began, as well as June of 2009, when the recession officially ended.

Home Ownership and Community Ties

Growing up in East Cleveland, everyone on my block lived in a house that was owned by the family. It was comforting to have a home to grow up in and to have stable neighbors who acted as extended family. I realize now that home ownership contributed to personal investment in the community, which allowed for some quality in my neighborhood that has since become a nostalgic memory. As I’ve grown twenty-one short years I see less and less home ownership in my community and urban communities at large, which parallels with less community and more distrust.

White Principal Tells Black Students They Tested Worse Than Whites!

The principal of Germantown High School in Memphis, Tennessee is in hot water today after announcing to his students the results of standardized state test scores, breaking them down by race and socioeconomic status.

The results made Black students appear “less smart” than their white counterparts, and many feel that the principal’s intention was to publicly blame Black students for pulling down the school’s average. After the results were shared, Black students reported being taunted by their classmates.

Kendrick Lamar: The Young Prince of Hip-Hop

In an age of nihilism, superficiality, hypersexuality, and faux masculinity; Kendrick Lamar bucks the trends more than Dennis Rodman’s hairstyles. The 24 yeard old Compton emcee builds on the tradition of Tupac before Death Row Records, and tells stories of Generation Y drug addiction, overthrowing unjust government systems, and trying to stay neutral in a gang-infested neighborhood. Kendrick is one of the least ostentatious rappers I’ve seen in a while. No gold chains, no women gyrating in front of cameras; just pure unadulterated socially conscious rhymes is all he adorns.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MBz2tpAcEk

The Kind of N_gg_ I Like; thinking about the unparalleled linguistics of Hip-Hop

No matter how many times Black leaders condemn the term n#gg$r, and its derivatives, rappers continue to tote it in their songs. Much to their boldness, saying it once is not enough. This is the era postdating countless attempts to curb use of the n-word, yet a listener will hear it at least 20 times in particular rap songs. That’s why I believe that Pharrell’s—a Virginian emcee/producer—verse in “That Shit Real N#gg@” cannot end every line with such an epithet and not be making a political statement. Whether his perspective on the word is positive or negative I cannot say with confidence; perhaps, those options simplify the situation. Regardless of the specifics, something in the DNA of Hip-Hop is conducive to discourse concerning identity and the use of the n-word.

Weekly News Round-Up: Jan. 9-16

Youth Center Helps Empower Teens
Kristi Pihl, The News Tribune, 1/9/12

White teens with noose threaten black student
Jeremy Detter, HDR News, 1/10/12

Fair punishment? Racial disparities in school suspensions
Maggie Gordon, Stamford Advocate, 1/10/12

LGBT National Black Justice Coalition calls for hate-crime investigation in FAMU hazing death
Steve Rothaus, GS Florida, 1/11/12

Are students getting kicked out of school because they are Black?
Jimmie Davis, Jr., Westside Gazette, 1/12/12

Racial bias alleged in Jefferson Parish public schools arrests
Barri Bronston, Times Picayune, 1/14/12

Blacks should stand with gays on marriage equality
Wade Henderson, Baltimore Sun, 1/14/11

Youth rally calls for clamp on street violence
Staff Writer, TNN News, 1/13/11