THE WEEKLY ROUND-UP: Black Youth in the News, April 1-8

The Plot to Demonize Black Youth — And Their Mothers, Too
Kristin Rawls, Alter Net, 4/7/12

“A disturbing trend is increasingly making national news in the United States: poor black mothers jailed for sending their children to schools outside their zoned school districts. The arrests of these mothers may seem novel, but given what we know about the criminal justice system’s propensity for arresting black adults and children at disproportionate rates, we shouldn’t be surprised. Not unlike truancy sweeps that target large numbers of black and poor children with legal sanctions for missing school, arrest for so-called “fraudulent enrollment” has become yet another avenue through which to target people of color.”


Other Stories:

Is the Future of Activism Online?

Paradise Gray and Jasiri X with students from One Hood’s New Media Academy

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30pm WQED premieres a special 30 minute documentary  called “Game Changers“:

Jasiri X and Paradise Gray of One Hood Media are Game Changers who are teaching young black men how to play the media game and control their own images. In this day of the Internet they don’t need anyone’s permission to blog or shoot their own videos, they control the vertical and the horizontal, and thus they realize the power that they have to change the way they are perceived in popular culture. It is a transformative moment when these students finally get in the game, they become Game Changers.”

This weekend at had the pleasure of participating in a revolutionary conference called “Black Thought 2.0: New Media and the Future of Black Studies” at Duke University. Convened and hosted by Dr. Mark Anthony Neal,  Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University and host of the weekly webcast, “Left of Black”, Black Thought 2.0 brought together some the best minds in academia with initiative entrepreneurs and activist finding success online.

My panel was titled “From Jena to Tahrir: Online Activism in the Age of Social Media and Public Intellectuals” and it featured Dr. Kimberley Ellis BKA Dr. Goddess, Moyaz B from Crunk Feminists Collective, Dr Alexis Pauline, Dr Salamishah Tillett, Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at the Univ. of Pennsylvania and was moderated by Univ. of Missouri Assistant Professor, Treva Lindsey. We talked about how the internet has changed the landscape of not only media, but activism as well. From the Jena 6, to the Arab Spring, to Occupy, and now Trayvon social media has enabled a level of organizing and engagement that we’ve never seen before. However in all those cases, there was still a need for activists to put in work on the ground.

It’s extremely important for our communities to be equipped with the technology and access we need to not only excel in new media, but create content and a infrastructure that we own. But it’s equally important for us to come offline and engage our people face to face where they live.


Rampage in Tulsa: Two White Men Launch Killing Spree Against Blacks; 3 Dead, 2 Injured

Last Friday, two white Tulsa, Oklahoma residents went on a murderous rampage in a black section of the city, shooting five people, killing three of them.

The men – Alvin Watts, 33, and Jake England, 19 – were arrested early Sunday morning and are currently being held on $9 million bail each.

Their killing spree sent shock waves across the city’s Black population, and although Facebook messages posted just prior to the shootings suggest that their actions were racially motivated, Police and FBI officials say it is too early to call this incident a hate crime.

CNN Report: Black Kids Are Racially Biased Against White Kids

According to a recent study by CNN, most Black children harbor negative, subconscious biases against White children by the time they are 13 years-old.

The report explains that younger Black children have an exceptionally optimistic outlook on race, but that overtime these feelings sour.

From NewsOne:

“Most 6-year-olds, according to the study, had an optimistic view on race, but that perception changed as they got older.

Davionne, 6, told a researcher that, ‘They’re not the same color and they can’t play together if they’re not the same color.’

Burger Queen of Hip-Hop Soul

Wow, Mary J. Blige! Way to attempt to throw Burger King under the proverbial bus. The only thing more laughable than your people’s move to distance you from the role you played in Burger King’s celebrity-laden rebranding effort was the actual commercial.

And yes, I laughed. Hard. Hysterically. More than once.

Let’s take another look:


God, that’s funny. 

The Cleveland Show and the Problem of Black Identity

I recently watched an episode of The Cleveland Show, the satirical spin-off of Fox’s hit comedy Family Guy, which centers on the African-American character Cleveland, and his return to his home state of Virginia to be with his new wife and stepchildren. It’s a funny show, just as crude as Family Guy, and inherently problematic in that once again you have non-Black producers attempting to portray some notion of “Blackness”. Nevertheless, as with most satire, it sometimes hits on very salient issues within society. I want to highlight a recent episode, entitled The Men In Me,  wherein Cleveland develops a newfound obsession with Justin Bieber, and after dressing up as a preteen in order to win tickets for a concert, he inadvertently gets voted as the “…whitest Black man…” in America. This launches him into an interesting quest for identity, forcing him to try to overcompensate for his Blackness through a caricaturized 90s get-up, to then discovering that he was actually raised by a wealthy white woman for a time period. With the help of his white surrogate mother he of course realizes that he should find value in his individual identity, though she humorously reminds him “…oh, and you’re Black.”

For me, this episode touches on a tension that admittedly might not be of concern for most Black people in the country, but an interesting one that I am still encountering on a daily basis. Namely, this question of “Black” identity, and how we are to delineate our identities as Black people.

LGBTQ Community Joins in Solidarity with Trayvon Martin

In a time when cross community solidarity is far too rare, I am encouraged that LGBTQ groups across the country chose to take a stand with Trayvon Martin.  In the letter signed by more than 20 of the most active LGBTQ organizations, they declared that the killing of Trayvon Martin not only requires a call to action, but also is a moment for society to demand justice and answers. I believe this is the exact type of mobilization that needs to take place more between communities who are mutually disenfranchised by larger society. Unfortunately, more often than not, there is more distrust than trust, between the black community, queer community of color, and LGBTQ community as a whole.

Hooked on Ebonics: the controversy that swirls around this “language”

I was shocked to recently learn about the Oakland, California school board’s 1996 decision to classify Ebonics as the official language of its African American students. At the mere age of four, I was ignorant to the political and social controversy this decision stirred up nationwide. Now, at 19, I can understand the problematic implications such a decision leads to.