Nikky Finney, the 61st National Book of Poetry Award Winner "Honoree," Taught me how to "Honor" when she "Honored" Toni

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty6z9QMFKNw

I want to join the chorus of the many in honoring Nikky Finney for being awarded the National Book Award for Poetry. Her written words and the recounting of her words in her own voice are amazing. And, I use the term amazing not in the typical ways in which we use it to objectify some thing or someone, but amazing in the flesh and blood sense of the word. I must say I had the privilege to know of her as a student at Spelman College. I use the phrasing “to know of her” because it allows me to say I know her without transgressing the intimate boundaries of knowing her as sister-friend on the couch knowing or as cousin twice-removed knowing. Yes, I know of her.

Many years ago at Spelman College I was privy to be within earshot of her words. Privy, not privileged not blessed, but privy denoting the sharing of some secret knowledge to describe my somewhat commanded and providential attendance at Spelman’s Annual Toni Cade Bambara Writers Activist Collective Conference where Nikky Finny with the care of a well-seasoned mid wife delivered words in honor of Toni. Toni? Toni? At the time I did not know who Toni was beyond the 1990s R&B songstress. I knew only that the future old woman of my heart commanded (as she so often does to this day) my attendance and so I sat next to her (i.e. old woman of my heart) completely impervious to what was about to unfold. Yes, unfold like removing sheets from the dryer only to find tucked within the fitted sheet the sock you thought was lost.

On the Job While You Chill: The Profit of Oppresion

Let’s talk about empathy. Why? Because intersectionality–this concept that all isms have the same perpetrator and depend upon each other to oppress various groups/identities–never struck me hard until i thought critically about this erroneous course in sexuality I’m taking. Granted, I disagree with most of my professor’s outdated perspectives, i still give partial credence to my professor for making me play the opposition (perceive my position as a member of an oppressive group, men). Having to defend the intentions of masculinity, and thereby seriously embodying an emblem of manhood, brought me to a more intimate proximity with the grievances of a womyn’s experience. The final acknowledgement of subversive interactions with womyn, that rarely is the object of contemplation, strengthened my advocacy for an intersected approach to deconstructing an exploitative system.

What do we Owe our Leaders?

Earlier this week, New Black Panther Party leader Quanell X found himself in the media once again. Quanell X has had a very interesting relationship with the media and law enforcement. He is also a very polarizing figure with actions spanning the spectrum from getting a killer to admit his crimes, to blaming an eleven year old girl for her rape. The media has criticized him, the police have praised him but this time, it was the community allegedly speaking out against the controversial figure.

Several are complaining that Quanell X took money from them for services that were either never rendered or unsatisfactory. While this raises questions about his authenticity as a viable community leader, we must also question what we require from our leaders and what we owe them in return.

Black Youth, Behavior & the Hyper-Diagnosis of ADHD

I work at the Chicago House and Social Service Agency as an intern for my masters. At this placement I teach students that have been impacted by poverty, HIV/AIDS, an educational crisis and other systemic issues. I have been notified that in this environment many of the students have been diagnosed with learning, behavioral, and emotional disorders. And the majority of them have particularly been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder). Many questions surface when working in this agency. Questions like: Are there any other solutions to the symptoms of ADHD that can be enacted without the use of medication?  What is the balance between biology and environment when locating the cause attention deficient and hyperactivity? And finally, are attention deficient and hyperactivity ever confused for what is natural in cognitive and psychological development? These questions will be examined throughout this paper and an evidenced based practice will be offered as a possible method to decrease the high rates in ADHD diagnosis among young black impoverished males.

Why is Everybody Hating on the Feminists?

At my high school, the newly formed “Young Feminists Society” has become the latest joke in the hallways. The level of social acceptance for sexism, girl hate, and anti feminism blows my mind. A freshman boy labeled it “Young Dyke’s Club.” A freshman had the nerve to cross a senior girl with a self-declared superiority and sense of male entitlement.

The Black Students’ Association doesn’t hear slurs about being niggers, nor are the kids in our LGBT group called faggots. I know that these words are used in high schools around the country. But, what I also know is that when they are heard, there are problems. Big problems. Principles are called and people recognize this as hateful language.

What Makes Difference? The 99% and 1%

In the past few weeks I have observed the occupy movement show up in more headlines, gain substantial attention, and impact crips and bloods alike who identify as the 99%. In light of this movement I am led to wonder why this moment has been chosen as the breaking point for so many who feel disenfranchised. Furthermore, I question what the basis of such a movement must be in order to create and sustain the momentum we are witnessing with the occupy movement. The foundation of the occupy political stance as I understand it is about exploitation of the everyday person and lack of accountability of the elite.

While I am not able to assert that the occupy movement is a political stance colored by race, it does remind me of a film I watched about racism in all its ugly forms. Below is a link to an excerpt of The Color of Fear where Victor passionatelyexplains his belief that in this present day every man is not enabled to stand on their own ground.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vAbpJW_xEc

Where Is Condi?

When I was little I got a kick out flipping through the “Where’s Waldo” books. The intellectual stimulation I received from tirelessly searching for the bookish looking White guy in the not-so conspicuous red –striped shirt kept me engaged for hours on end. Yesterday, it seemed as if 18 years later I was forced to play one of my favorite childhood games again. Yesterday, I wasn’t asking “Where’s Waldo?”, I was asking, “Where’s Condi?”

The University of Chicago announced Monday that an appearance by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. originally planned to take place later that same day will be postponed.The university released a statement early Monday stating the event, scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at the university’s International House, had been postponed “due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict.” The university plans to reschedule the event for a later, yet-to-be-determined date.

Occupy Chicago

When the Occupy Wall Street Movement kicked off September 17th, 2011, many thought it would be short lived and a waste of time. For awhile, the objectives, goals and demands of the protesters were unclear and many thought this this demonstration would pass over just like the other dozens of rallies happening across the United States.

No one could have predicted that occupying Wall Street would lead and inspire a mass Movement in almost every major city around the country and inspire revolts overseas.

I have paid close attention to Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland and of course, Occupy Chicago, and here I witness a burning desire to eliminate economic disparities. The youth and elders of our generation have come together to take a stand against the 1% which are the elite, big banks, and corporations that hold the most wealth in this country.

Why I can't in Good Conscious Accept Payment from the University of Connecticut

Colin Neary and Jasiri X (Photo by Paradise Gray)

After all of the media attention around my decision to perform my song “Occupy (We the 99)” at the University of Connecticut despite the objections of the student government; they still haven’t gotten the point! At first, they were saying all the right things. According to the CT News Junkie USG President Sam Tracy said, “I do regret if we crossed the line into any kind of censorship,” and USG Comptroller Daniel Hanley, who sent me the revised contract asking me not to perform “Occupy (We the 99), said his explanation of the contract was “inaccurate” and “poorly written.” They also said I would be compensated for my performance. However, a few days later I received an email from the event organizer, Multicultural and Diversity Subcommittee Chairman Colin Neary, saying he had been dismissed from his position by Student Affairs Chairman Stephen Petkiss because according to the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus, Petkiss said Neary, “inappropriately expressed his opinions and misrepresented the organization”.

On Moral Obligation

What happened at Penn State was a great travesty. None of us doubt that. I hope that each of the boys and families involved, some of whom were probably black, have gotten or soon get the care they need to recover from this abuse. (Granted, race is not necessarily central to this situation. But since I tend to have an image of white boy scout troops when I hear news like this, I thought the race of at least some of the victims was worth noting.) Each person involved in covering up these horrendous crimes failed to meet his moral obligation to those young boys.

But let’s stop acting like not meeting a moral obligation is surprising.