Legally Confused

I’ve always been an outspoken critic of political homogeneity based on identity. Like many young males, the word marriage sends chills down my spine. But the thought of party or ideological marriages irks me even more. However, I cannot begin express my outrage of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decision to dissent in the case to nullify Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

And the Anti-Autotune Movement Begins…

Is it really that serious?  Well, I didn’t think so until two weeks ago when Jay-Z released his street single “Death of Autotune (D.O.A.)” as a precursor to his 11th studio album, Blueprint 3, which is scheduled for release in September.   There is no question that the track goes hard, I mean it’s been proven that that’s what happens when you put Jay and Kanye in the studio together.  (No I.D. is also a producer.)  But after listening to it a few times, I started to get a little confused about what the contender for “best rapper ever” was really trying to say.  In the song, he bashes autotune users.  It’s border-line hating, which makes me wonder why Kanye, an avid autotune user, would even agree to produce Jay on this track.  But I guess Hov suspected that listeners would raise these concerns and so he wisely called Hot 97 following the song’s debut to preemptively clarify any misunderstandings. (listen to interview here)  The emcee basically declared that autotune is wack, unless of course it is used by Kanye, T-Pain, or Lil Wayne.  Kanye West later told MTV that all songs with autotune that were previously set to appear on the Blueprint 3 would be taken off to underline his protest.

Can Fear Be Justified??? by Jonathan Lykes

This is in response to my good friend “Supernerdjlh” who chooses to remain nameless due to his “fear” that in the future his career could be jeopardized by the events written in this very blog. (I think I’m getting good at “opening up a can of worms”)

Can Fear Be Justified???

During College Orientation week in my first year at University of Chicago, the students had “forums” that were geared towards opening discussions about the various views on race, gender, and political background. In one of these sessions, this question was posed, “If you see a black man walking towards you at night, would you cross the street?” I of course was the only black student in the room and struggled not to be offended when I heard the shocking wave of answers. “Of course I would cross the street, I could get raped” One student answered. Another Student said, “I would be afraid of what might happen so I would cross the street to protect myself.” Being the person that I am, I spoke out and said it is ridiculous that someone would automatically stereotype a person by their skin color and justify their stereotypes because of some unjustified fear that the media and our culture has deceived them into believing. 

When walking across the mid-way on my campus throughout the school year at night, I would notice many individuals literally attempt to avoid me. I would see people walk towards me, look at me, stop and awkwardly walk in another direction. Is this right? Is this fear justified? 

The idea of “Unjustified Fear” extends beyond just the black race. In 9th grade I wrote a poem called perception. Here is a short excerpt from that poem. 

You see an Arab man sitting next to you on a plane. 
Your heart is pounding; your mind is going insane. 
You automatically you think he is there to bring pain, 
out to terrorize all for Allah’s gain. 
But what will put you to shame is that he never hurt a soul in
his life 
has three kids and a wife, 
and on forth of July with everyone else he sings “Im proud to
be American” 
Wrong perceptions. 
(If you would like to read the entire poem or see it performed
go to this link: http://www.facinghistory.org/node/175)

Many of what I like to call “Sheltered Groups”—or groups that have not interacted with different environments and people—will fear the set of individuals that are unfamiliar to them. Some students on my campus fear me walking close to them at night, an American on a plane might fear someone of Islamic association—or someone Mexican for those who are extra-ignorant—and “Supernerd” fears crack users on the Roosevelt bus. This fear is dangerous. This fear is the very same thing that waters the roots of Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, and Not-So-Patriot Acts. This fear is what starts wars and ends peace. When one group starts to fear another without trying to understand that every individual is different, it becomes a dangerous bomb waiting to explode.  

I am not sure if I can judge other peoples fear, if I did I suppose I too would be guilty of the same offense that the fearers have committed against those who they fear. However I do offer this, always ask questions. Why do I fear this person? When did I start to fear this group? How would I feel in their situation? It is so amazing how things we learned in elementary school—like the golden rule—apply to our lives even more once we reach adulthood. Unfortunately, by that time, many of us have forgotten the lessons that would actually change the world beyond having an African-American president.

Justify My Thug

Listen, I care more about the state of Jon & Kate’s marriage than I do Perez Hilton, but I gave the guy five minutes of my time yesterday—and I hope I don’t recall that little factoid on my death bed.  (By the way, I think it’s the hair that did it.  Jon’s plugs + Kate’s coiffure by Edward Scissorhands = domestic dystopia.)  Anyway, a Facebook friend of mine (because who has real life friends anymore?) posted Perez’ video response to Black Eyed Peas (BEP) front man, will.i.am on her page, and I watched it.  If you haven’t heard, will.i.am and/or his manager and/or his bodyguards allegedly gave the gossip blogger a people’s elbow or two, because Perez said mean things to Fergie—oh, how I wish he had done so in the name of Kim Hill!—and then called will.i.am a faggot, when the BEP in charge confronted him about it.  I know, right?  Why can’t we all just get along?  Or were you wondering where the other two members of the BEP were in all of this?  Either way, I’m with you.

Cocaine User on the Roosevelt Bus

On my bus ride home, three African American males, ranging from early 40s to late 50s, entered the bus.  For whatever reason lately, I have taken to sitting at the back of buses. Much to my chagrin, the three guys came to the back and sat right near me.  As I began to read, I noticed that the youngest of the men pulled out these mini-tiny plastic Ziploc like red bags. The youngest of the three looked at me as I pulled out my cell-phone to call someone to avoid over-hearing them.

At this point, the youngest of the three talked about his job issues and poured the content of the mini-tiny Ziploc red bags on this card. The content turned out to be this white powder substance. At this point, I was completely floored and scared shitless because, if the powder substance was cocaine these men could have been carrying weapons.

The youngest guy rolled up a dollar bill and started snorting lines of the white-powder on the bus.

Girls Have To Do What They Can

The pressure is on for Afghani women to predict the gender of the children they give birth to and the pressure is on for those children to be boys.  An Afghani custom that seems to have gone on for years is to dress one young girl in the family as a boy, cut her hair short and have her act like a boy in public. The name for this is bacha posh which means literally ‘dressed up as a boy.’