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.

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.

While SNAPBACKS Take Over…


If I must have something that I don’t like about having locks, it would be that I can’t rock a snapback. Had there not been so much of a conversion in the herds of Black youth—fitted caps are nearly extinct among the heads of the coolest kids—my lament over snap backs would not even be an issue. No one can argue that the switch is another life-imitating-art fanatic, since none of the mainstream rappers—Drake, Maybach Music, J. Cole, etc.—wear snap backs. Besides, those types of perspectives, that restrict trends to imitations of media, demonstrate lazy thinking; instead, I think that the appeal to snapbacks connects to its forum for creativity.

New Web Episode of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl: Part 2 of "The Unexpected"


I have written previously on how much I love the web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. The show is original and features a young black woman who navigates her way through seen and unseen awkward situations on her job and in her relationships. Well, I am happy to report that the show is so popular that in a matter of a month, the creator, Issa Rae, and her cast mates where able to raise $44,000 dollars to continue the web series for another 5 weeks with a grand finale.

To read more about her inspirational fundraising story, please read below.

Trauma Center Campaigns & the Perpetual Struggle for Healthcare in Communities of Color


This past spring was the first time I attended a meeting for an organization that is mobilizing youth to stand up for their rights and be heard. The organizations name is FLY (fearless leading by the youth). Fly is now in the middle of a Trauma Center Campaign that continues to grow on the South Side of Chicago. The lack of a trauma center on the south side is a symbol of how many communities of color are continually ignored and pushed into the margins. It is a tangible and measurable representation of how poor communities are deliberately silenced or at least unconsciously forgotten. As the trauma center campaign continues, I believe it is an opportunity to discuss the larger issues of healthcare in black communities.

MJ's Doctor Found Guilty of Ending a Troubled Life

Six nights a week at the secluded Neverland Ranch, $150,000 a month, and an insomniac pop legend pleading “just make me sleep” were enough to cloud the ethics of Dr. Conrad Murray. A combination of isolation in a strange environment, inadequate qualifications, monetary incentive, and the borderline insanity of one of this country’s most famous, most questionable celebrities ever.

Michael Jackson having been performing since early adolescence, awkwardly entered the adult world and never truly assimilated. By age 8, he had a full-time job in show business and continued to experience various forms of abuse. As a young boy, he was noted for his “old soul,” but in adulthood, it seemed Jackson sought to recapture the youth he was deprived of, leading to a plethora of dramatic disturbances throughout his life and successful career.  Molestation scandals, numerous cosmetic surgeries, questionable parenting. However, Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” was a legend. And so despite the oddities of his personality, he had (and has) adoring fans and an even larger mass of people who retain a nostalgia for the music and performances he created. Jackson made some of the most remembered pop classics as a prepubescent child. As music producer Rick Rubin so accurately put it: “Regardless of anything else, he’s still Michael Jackson.”

The Problematic Project Of African-American Education?

This past Wednesday I attended a discussion entitled, “What is problematic about the project of African-American Education?” The Keynote speaker, Adam Green (Associate Professor of American History at the University of Chicago), raised important points surrounding how we discuss, practice, and envision African-American education. The talk was effective in illuminating the fact that we still have a distance to travel before we can say that African-American students are receiving the equal education Brown v. Board of Education sought after.

One point I’ve been pondering since the talk is his charge for us to be honest. This honesty unfolds into acknowledging the hyper segregated community, unstable home life, and stresses that young children may deal with before they enter a school building each day. Being aware and honest about the framing of young people’s minds by their environments is pivotal when trying to understand their experiences and aspirations. Green explicitly warned against being sensational in this attempt to be honest. The acknowledgment of hardship should at no point become a focal point or reinforced as an impossibility for young African-American students.

This charge to be honest is an important one in a society that borders on the omission or the sensationalism of issues attributed to the African-American community. My question is how do we as mentors, allies, and educators of young children strike a healthy balance between validating their experiences without dwelling on those ills they encounter outside the classroom? How can the spaces in which we interact with children serve as a safe haven for them to envision possibilities that exceed their realities?