You know. We always talk about education saying it as the answer to everything, yet we never talk about actual lessons. Talking about learning something, everyone knows about our culture: chicken induced diabetes, large rolling stone penises, the list goes on. The feeling “I’m f@cked up” extends to us as a whole when we too only know, nothing else; not thinking about solutions, just leaving our problems at the level of knowledge. We know we are spiraling downward, and nothing else needs to be said. But wait, we aren’t dead yet. I hear cats that say the conversation’s played out—I feel that—why don’t we bring up new points? Let’s consider exhibit A: undeniably racist encounters with police officers are regular routines among us with the dark skin. We know right? On the flipside, learning truly begins when we stop telling ourselves “there’s nothing we can do.”
On Monday November 8th, me and Paradise joined a caravan of Pittsburghers traveling to Philadelphia to support Mumia Abu Jamal. In January, the court vacated a 2008 decision throwing out Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and ordered a new hearing scheduled Tuesday, November 9th. The Philadelphia DA made it clear he wants Mumia dead and was seeking to have Mumia’s death sentence reinstated– regardless of the facts. So, we went to join an international crowd of Mumia supporters rallying outside of the courthouse for Mumia’s freedom.
But, the real fireworks took place Monday night at the premiere of the Tigre Hill’s new film, “The Barrel of a Gun” a “documentary” made to “prove” Mumia’s alleged guilt. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the showing was meant to garner support for those misguided individuals that want to see Mumia executed. However, longtime Mumia supporter, Pam Africa arranged for a debate after the film specifically regarding the facts of the case. So, even though the police put on the event, Pam and the “Free Mumia” movement made sure the crowd was full of Mumia supporters. Being in the crowd of cops and activists was very surreal and the fact that both men debating for Mumia’s death were black made it even more so.
Yes, the filmmaker Tigre Hill, although obviously self hating, is black, as well as Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams. The two were debating Professor and Filmmaker Dr. Johanna Fernández (who coincidentally has a critically acclaimed documentary about Mumia’s case called “Justice on Trial”, but is having a hard time getting it shown in Philadelphia) and Criminal Defense Attorney and Activist Michael Coard. If this debate was a football game it would have been 100-0. Dr. Fernández and Attorney Coard time and time again brought up pertinent facts that were subsequently ignored by Williams and Hill. Not only did filmmaker Tigre Hill at one point walk off the stage, but the debate ended with him receiving a Cease and Desist order because he used parts of another film on police brutality in Philadelphia without getting the proper clearances.
All in all, the night was a complete failure for Tigre Hill and even a film critic who thinks Mumia is guilty called his “documentary” “DEEPLY, VISCERALLY BAD”. But, don’t take my word for it, watch the video for yourself. The footage also contains an interview with Attorney Coard, as well as, Tigre Hill’s reaction to “getting served”.
When we think of the symbols of the Black Power movement, the fist is the first thing on my mind. Why the fist? Where did it start? Why is it etched so deeply in our cultural memory?
Perhaps the most prevalent image of the fist in American history is the 1968 Olympic salute given by Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Silent, strong, black gloved fists raised to the air, heads bowed. In their shining moments, Smith and Carlos took the spotlight off of their achievements and put it on the suffering and struggle of Blacks in America.
Watch video all the way through.
I don’t know what’s scarier: the black extremist advocating for genocide or the black reverend who makes white people out to be victims of unequal media coverage. No doubt, neither of them should represent black folks but the reverend is what most of our successes will grow to be. Black parents that want to guide their children down the path of dignity explain to their kids, at an early age, that they must wear the mask. For generations we’ve been told the same lie about dealing with the anti-black world. That lie is that we can beat it by conforming to the demands of white culture— which has tragically become to be the standard for respect of all races. What our loving parents are not realizing is that most of us won’t return to seeing truth, that the anti-black world is set up for us fail, no matter how extraordinary we are. We end up getting away from becoming successful as a black person or rather ourselves. That reverend has lost his mind from over-conformity. Is this really where we our heads to be?
These days I’m feeling more and more like a bastard when I hear “hip hop,” because the Hip Hop that raised me was intellectually gangsta. Guess that explains the initial hunger that goes through me when I hear a song by Somali emcee, K’naan. His debut single, “TIA: This Is Africa,” directly disses the American “hip hop” scene, calling rappers “p*ssy.” K’naan’s 3:53 of critical bars left me wondering of the whereabouts of the classic and genuine corner store heroes, American youth found at their local intersections. K’naan is the realist, when he teaches the so-called “illest” in the West that:
It’s no secret we know how to squeeze lead, But the pre-set is not to squeeze it/ Used to be at peace but now using t-shirts, And it reads RIP cause the peace dead… The rap game just got itself a new day, This is Africa, hooray/
Would someone please walk with me and ease my fears of fighting giants amused by the sight of my teeth eating dirt? My first experience of Philly left my legs in a sprint running away from a specific street intersection because it occurred to me that there stands land that will never be mine, that will never be ours. Hell burns where one of Philly’s most famous attraction, Geno’s, yells “go back home, this is my country” from its steel belly. How can this be? People with power still think that there’s something wrong with shackles not grabbing my ankles. You are still a nigger, politically.
I will admit, before the 2008 election, I was intrigued by the idea of having a Black President. There was an electric feeling in the air…that something was going to magically change, like Barack Obama, human that he is, was going to wave his hand and change everything. In the days preceding the election, Duke’s campus was rife with excitement. There were town hall meetings, class discussions, espresso induced discussions and friendly debates over dinner about the implications, political, social and cultural. I could sense it but I felt outside of it. Despite all of my attempts to involve myself, something about it didn’t feel…monumental to me.
At a first glance from the average black female, I’m dateable, if the thought comes across her mind. However, if my fingers should ever cross the knuckles of a white hand, I am dead to her; I am no longer a “brotha.” In this case, you are witnessing a type of black on black hatred that originates from insecurity. Black women and men are dealing with a shortage of swagger in their own skin. The black profile loses it smoothness while sharing space with a white person because our minds operate on an “us” and “them” mode. “Oh, he’s with that white wench, the sistas must not be good for that Uncle Tom,” We’ve heard it all before, right? It’s wrong.
Recently I had a series of discussions with people on Twitter and in real life about Marcus Garvey’s status as a Black leader. I was surprised to find that not everyone respected him or his ideas as much me. Why was I surprised? No idea. His ideas have long been misunderstood as simple back-to-Africa rhetoric couple that with his flamboyant style of dress and his consultation with White separatists and there’s no denying he was and remains a bit of a puzzle.
Recently the First Lady visited Spain. This photo was taken from her vacation. Yes, I have copies. As does Essence Magazine. Anyway, since her jaunt to Spain there has been article after article about whether or not it was a smart political move. That back in the states, there were millions of people still facing unemployment. The message here was save your money, find cheap things to do, and support those in the Gulf. To many, even ardent supporters, Mrs. Obama’s “lavish” trip overseas sent the wrong message. Michel Martin’s piece for NPR resonated widely. In part, because she gave credence to the negative attitudes that surround the Obamas including the lack of support they receive because of their race. Then she brought it back around to Michelle’s ill-timed trip to Spain. In the end, she concluded, that Michelle Obama took a “vacation from empathy” and that millions of poor Americans here were now faced with seeing she and Barack Obama as outsiders. Prior to this trip, they were much more accessible. Hell, they were just like us.