Hip-Hop Artists Stand for Human Rights

Chino XL, Rhymefest, Immortal Technique, Jasiri X (Photo by Paradise Gray)

Most of the discussion around rap music is almost always about it’s negative effects. Blog after blog of so called intellectuals rant about mainstream rap music’s bad influence on youth. I often wonder why they never mention the countless MCs all over the country and overseas using Hip-Hop music to educate, organize, and raise awareness about injustices in their communities. One organization that should be at the top of that list is The Sound Strike, founded by Rage Against the Machine’s front man Zack de la Rocha.


When I was a kid, after every Thanksgiving dinner my dad would go around the table and have each kid say what we were thankful for. It was an excruciating process–and nothing like the scene from The Cosby Show. Since my siblings were younger and cuter they came off a lot less abrasive than a bespectacled prepubescent misanthropist way too young to be that cynical.

This many years later, I appreciate my dad’s Cosby-esque efforts at family togetherness and reflection. Such endeavors made my upbringing semi-respectable and gave me something to undermine in my adult life. And so, it is in that spirit that I consider some of the things I’m grateful for these few days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Rihanna's TALK THAT TALK is the emptiest, shallowest & BEST Pop Album of the Year

Rihanna is the perfect pop star.

Her new album Talk That Talk sports everything from hard-hitting, dancefloor euphoria to slow-burning, guitar-driven power balladry. She’s everything to everyone; an essential quality for a pop star.

Of course, she also embodies the cynical, misleading nature of mainstream pop, major label creations: keep the music formulaic and familiar, while radically altering the artist’s image and appearance with each album cycle. She’s Madonna without the substance or autonomy. Janet Jackson without any sonic or thematic risks.

And yet she’s unstoppable.

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


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.


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.