In 2008, when I first read “Gay is the New Black” on the cover of the Advocate, I CRINGED at its implications. Even as I write, “Gay is the New Black,” it is unsettling because it elides, obfuscates and erases many tensions and concerns. You may be asking, “Why speak about it now, three years after the article was published?” The answer is simple—I feel the need to talk about my concerns and fears on the matter because of the Obama Administration’s legal/political move to position/add gay people as a protected class of citizens.
Has anyone else been wondering what happened to the socially conscious voice in Hip Hop music?
Yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of emcees out there in the underground with tons of relevant shit to say. But what about the mainstream? There used to be some semblance of balance in Hip Hop. There was a time when a Neo Soul/alternative Hip Hop movement was a visual, popular alternative to the violence, misogyny, and materialism of mainstream Hip Hop. It was a time when that gorgeous and supernaturally gifted actress from Sister Act 2 became the de facto leader of that movement, and the spokeswoman for a generation.
This article is a love letter to that glorious movement, and an explanation as to why it faded away.
The interesting thing about the GOP to me is they seem to have this attitude that if they don’t acknowledge it, then it’s simply not true. It’s a great strategy on the surface, but inevitably it always leaves them looking extremely insincere. At this years Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC they had a “Black” man Allen West, Republican Congressman from Florida, as the keynote speaker. To them it meant that conservatives aren’t racist, no matter how low their attacks on President Obama go (Communist, Illegal Alien, Muslim, N-Word), because one of their best friends, Allen West, gave the keynote.
This is the same tired argument that the Tea Party gives, that despite the racist rhetoric, signs, and t-shirts, the Tea Party isn’t racist because they have black members. Instead of actually having a real intelligent conversation about racism and white supremacy, the GOP strut out this years token black to show their “diversity“. And diversity to them means parroting all of the GOP talking points and leaving any independent thinking at the door. So Allen West’s speech was just like all the other “conservative” speeches you’ve ever heard.
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When fear monger Glenn Beck attempted to hijack Dr. Martin Luther King’s seminal moment, the March on Washington, by holding his own rally 47 years later, I imagined how Dr. King would have felt if he were alive to witness it. Here were two of the most divisive public figures, Beck and Sarah Palin, invoking Dr. King after having built their careers off of trying to scare white American into believing that the newly elected Black President intends to destroy everything America stands for. Both have given rise to some of the most racist rhetoric and violent imagery while seemingly wanting America to go back to a time when women had no rights and Black people were slaves. It was then that I wrote a short verse from Dr. King’s prospective about how he would see an America so divided along racial and political lines. Little did I know that in channeling Dr. King, some lines would indeed turn out to be almost prophetic.
Did you know one of the largest prison protests in US history took place last week? If you said no that’s not surprising considering it was not covered by corporate funded mainstream media. The word got out through conscious bloggers like Davey D, effective uses of social media like Twitter and Facebook and by the hard work and efforts of some a the few independent and unafraid media outlets we have left.
According to the Final Call Newspaper (the last standing black owned weekly international newspaper),
“Fed up with bad food, unjust treatment, poor education and inadequate health care, thousands of inmates in Georgia’s prison system staged “Lockdown for Liberty,” a peaceful protest on Dec. 9, according to activists”
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.