New Music Monday, The “XXX” Edition

Jasiri X and Chuck D of Public Enemy at the Occupy the Justice Department Rally for Mumia in DC (Photo by Paradise Gray)

It’s been a whirlwind week for me on the Hip-Hop side of things. I performed in Stamford, CT at a Student Diversity Conference which was keynoted by the great Tim Wise, who the inspiration behind my viral video, “What if the Tea Party was Black“. From there I made my triumphant return to the University of Connecticut, whose student government tried to censor me a few months back. The guy who sent me the email that said I couldn’t perform “Occupy (We the 99)” even came to apologize.


Chicago is sad, depressed, in a funk. Our hopes of returning to NBA greatness shattered as Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL last Saturday, late in the 4th quarter of game 1 of their first round playoff machup.

I want to write about something else, but I can’t. Man down. Our man, last year’s league MVP, down.

REPORT: Black Youth Receive HARSHER Treatment In Juvenile Court Systems

According to a scathing report released yesterday by the Justice Department, the Memphis and Shelby County juvenile justice system routinely treats black youth more harshly than their white counterparts.

The report states that black youth are “treated disparately in almost all phases of the juvenile court process;” they are twice as likely to be detained, less likely to receive warnings or leniency, and are more likely to be sent to criminal court and tried as adults. The report also found that black youth received harsher treatment even if their grades or criminal histories were better than their white peers.

My Educational Trajectory: When Teacher Expectations Turn into Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Reports cards came out this week for students that I work with. I can remember being in elementary school scared to see what I knew were grades that my parents would not approve of.  Report card pick up days were even scarier. These particular days were marked as the time of year when parents had to come meet the teachers and pick-up our reports. When trying to understand why some students do well and why others do not, It is important to explore the power that teachers have not only with their teaching, but with their perceptions, regardless if they know it or not.

On Tipping

I recently moved into a historically Black neighborhood. The area has suffered the same fate of many inner city neighborhoods across the country and is just starting to rebuild decades of urban decay. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I ran into a young White man who mentioned that he too was new to the neighborhood and lamented the lack of sit-down restaurants in the area. Maybe it was the Duke hoodie I was wearing or maybe he just had a momentary lapse, because then he chuckled, “Probably can’t keep a nice restaurant open around here since Black people don’t tip.”

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of our interaction but the sentiment he so honestly expressed is a prevalent one.

Gendered Toys and the Effect They Can Have on Kids


As I babysat for a three-year old boy last night, I admired the way he played so carefree. I reflected on how playing is a child’s only real duty – with the exception of eating and sleeping. When I asked him what he did at school that day, he answered “played”, with the sort of tone that said “duh, what else?” I watched him run from one end of the house to the other sliding across the wooden floors and laughing. I watched him throw his plush football around, careless of where it landed, eager to pick it back up and toss it again. I watched him put together his train tracks and watch with slight boredom as his Thomas train slowly went around the tracks.

All of this amazed me as he bounced from toy to toy, excited to show me all the cool things that filled his playroom. But what I loved most about his large, toy-filled playroom was that some traditionally “girl” toys were present as well. He had a play kitchen set up complete with a play stove and oven; a large plastic doll house that featured miniature furniture and small dolls and a Barbie jeep truck, similar to the one I used to play with. All of these “girly” toys to the critical eye would seem out of place next to his Tonka trucks and plastic tool sets. Yet, I appreciated this mixture of “girl” and “boy” toys his mother provided for him.

Chicago Students Protest School Disciplinary Policies That Perpetuate School-To-Prison Pipeline

A coalition of Chicago Public School students protested outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on Tuesday, demanding that the city implement disciplinary policies that don’t send black and Latino students down a path to prison.

As we reported to you a few months ago, CPS’s dependence on the Chicago Police Department to control students is pushing a disturbingly high number of juveniles into the criminal justice system. An organization called Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) points to recent data showing that 2,500 people have been arrested on CPS property this school year alone; the vast majority of them have been black youth.

Philadelphia School District Proposal Will Close 64 Schools; Place 40% of Students in Charter Schools

Earlier this week, the City of Philadelphia announced “A Blueprint for Transforming Philadelphia’s Public Schools,” a sweeping overhaul of Philly’s predominantly black public school system.

Changes include the closing of a whopping 64 schools and a half a million dollars in budget cuts over the next five years, and the reorganizing of the remaining schools into “achievement networks” led by teams of educators or nonprofit institutions.

The idea is allegedly to make the school system more efficient. Specifically, the city hopes to close 40 schools by next year, and then five more each year until 2017. They estimate that 40 percent of students in Philly’s public school system will be moving to charter schools.