Abolish Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day, a holiday where we recognize Columbus’ “discovery” of the “New World” with a day off–for some–and a sale or two.

For others, though, Columbus Day is the official reminder of European invasion and, to employ today’s terms, some of the first acts of terrorism.

Glenn T. Morris, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, published an oped about abolishing the Columbus Day holiday:

Youth as the Miner's Canaries of Democracies!

In Peter Coy’s article the Kids Are Not Alright, he quotes that democracies are “much better at managing large numbers of highly educated people” than are nations with an official leader who has absolute authority (read: autocratic countries).  Leaders of autocratic nations face the dilemma of needing an educated work force to grow their country’s economy, but with increased levels of education the possibility of political dissent grows. This point is most elaborated in the recent youth revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.  A large part of what drove Egyptian and Tunisian youth to take action were the high unemployment rates. Across the globe youth in democracies also face high (or even higher) unemployment rates, yet, they aren’t toppling their respective governments. In democratic nations like Spain and the United States,  where the youth in Spain and American minority youth’s  unemployment rates are the equivalent or significantly higher than those rates seen in Egypt and Tunisia, why are the youth not carrying out mass political demonstrations?

The New Nigger


Good day niggaz, the non black niggaz that is. Though many black leaders push for the burial of the term, they have not done so on behalf of the other colonized races. A Black multi-cultural person will soon confront the taboo as a minority among members of another culture. This was the case for me when I went to an Indian birthday party. “Nigga” gets thrown all over the place, and it’s not in reference to the African brother. Black folks are expected to get defensive with such lingo, but the expectation changes when the odds of safety are not in your favor.  Relaxation forces itself as an alternative, and still, the discomfort does not escape. So what does this mean for the 21st century Black American?

Art, Greed & Unpronounceable Symbols: Thoughts on Nas' Scathing Letter to the Industry….

So Nas is pissed.

Earlier this week, a private email sent by Nas to executives at Def Jam, Nas’ current label home, leaked onto the internet. And it is a doozy. Nas slams the label suits for holding up the release of his highly anticipated Lost Tapes Vol. 2 collection, railing against a major label system that serves the interests of label execs at the expense of artists and fans.

The first full paragraph goes a little something like this:

I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist @ the end of the day, they don’t connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation

Damn. Straight ether.

Nas’ sentiments are passionate, honest, and dead-on. But this is not a new phenomenon. Not even close. You think an email is intense? How ‘bout changing your name to an unpronounceable symbol and purposefully sabotaging your own career?

Razing Arizona

I guess I have to start protesting Arizona, née Mexico, which sucks because I’m totally not into marching, making colorful signs, or shouting rhymes in unison with a bunch of people.  I suppose, then, that I have to resort to other means of expressing my disapproval.  At first I thought I’d boycott  U.S. Airways, an Arizona-based airline, but then I remembered that my ma’s part-time job is with them.  Besides, if I aim to show up at my sister’s broom jumping events in North Carolina next month, I’m going to need Brenda’s buddy pass hook-up.  So then I thought I’d stop drinking Arizona iced tea,  until I recalled that several years ago I wrote Arizona a letter about the plantation imagery on their sweet tea cans.  Despite the eloquence of my letter they never sent me any free tea.  I only drink water now, anyway, and a wiki search reveals that Arizona brand tea isn’t even made in Arizona, née Mexico.  (New York City!)  Of course, I could root against Los Suns during the NBA Western Conference Finals, but doing so would mean that I would cheer for the Lakers.  But frankly, who’s willing to implicitly support Kobe Bean Bryant in an effort to express one’s solidarity with a bunch of immigrants one doesn’t even know?   I know.  What a totally crazy idea.

NNEKA'S "CONCRETE JUNGLE": Addictive, powerful, life-affirming, and incredibly necessary…

Nneka is kind of like the perfect cross between Lauryn Hill and M.I.A.; she sings and raps with ease, and writes wonderfully empowering songs, while also speaking for a people largely ignored and invisible in mainstream Western culture (you know: that massive, ridiculously diverse group of people we Westerners refer to as, simply, “Africans”) . As her brilliant album cover suggests, Nneka fashions herself as the voice of the African Diasporic experience, recalling everyone from Ms. Hill and Erykah Badu to Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. Born and raised in Warri, Nigeria before leaving at the age of 18 to live with her German mother in Hamburg, it could be said that her very existence embodies a clashing of African and Western cultures, and so she’ll surely fascinate Afrocentrics and NPR listeners in the coming months. But I can guarantee you that no amount of intellectual masturbation and hype can outshine Nneka’s brilliant, and downright moving  American debut album, Concrete Jungle. Basically a collection of songs taken from Nneka’s two previous albums (both unavailable in the US), the album is an eclectic and freewheeling, yet somehow 100% cohesive mixture of hip hop, soul, rock, pop, reggae, afrobeat, funk, and trip hop.

Concrete Jungle stuns, inspires and enthralls from beginning to end, and confirms without question that Nneka has the potential to be among the most vital and fascinating voices of pop music in the years to come. Believe the hype.

Vanity Fair's Racism Sings: Don’t Cha Wish You Were White Girl Like Me. Don’t Cha.

Cover Girls March 2010

“Mirror . . . mirror on the wall who the fairest of them all?” In most fairytales, the mirror would reply, “Snow white is the fairest of them all.” However, in the case of Vanity Fair’s March cover, the names are Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick . . . all up incoming young white Hollywood actresses. According to Shine’s writer, Joanna Douglass,

Vanity Fair writer Evgenia Peretz calls out the young cover stars by their best attributes: “downy-soft cheeks,” “button nose,” “patrician looks and celebrated pedigree,” “dewy, wide-eyed loveliness,” “Ivory-soap-girl features.”

Clearly, Evgenia Peretz has over-dosed on the proverbial white supremacist poisoned apple. I know what you’re thinking. Do such apples exist? Yes, they do just ask Pat Robertson what he thinks about Haiti or ask the producer and director of Couples Retreat about taking the black comedian, Faizon Love, off the European posters.

Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural, but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail

Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here. In this world of trouble and wars a member must be ready to go. We look forward to things to save us but in a twinkling of an eye everything can be changed. Troubles of this world feel our heart with wage from Soweto to Stonewall, Birmingham to LA. We searching for hope that lie within ourselves as we fight against misogyny, racism, hatred, and pain. Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here**

—Sweet Honey in the Rock, Spiritual

I begin this post with a song written by Sweet Honey in the Rock because its title and lyrics invoke Spirit and Spirits. Furthermore, the song weeps and wails not only of troubles, but of justice, “justice that rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It lets us know that the way of the world is not as predetermined as governments, private contractors, and multinational corporations believe it to be because Spirit and Spirits “can change some things” as the old people say. So, as we stand on the eve of remembering not only Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the Spirits that joined the movement for freedom in the US, I write this blog to acknowledge the power of Spirit and Spirits to deal with the injustices of what has happened and continue to happen in the country of Haiti.

This week I’ve read many articles and blogs about the devastation and abject poverty in Haiti and how international loan agencies and governments like the US (i.e. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have benefited greatly by keeping Haiti in debt. I’ve seen Christian fundamentalist like Pat Robertson say vicious anti-Christ love statements like, “[ the earthquake is] a blessing in disguise . . . [Haiti] made a pact with the Devil in order to liberate themselves from French rule [therefore they deserve what is happening].” Oh, this sounds very familiar to his statements about Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, I’ve watched as CNN’s pundits contort their mouths and faces to convey the inevitability of rioting and looting saying with Hurricane Katrina’s conviction, “We heard gun shots.” In addition to all of this, I’ve read some of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism and I’m left feeling completely hopeless about the long-term fate of Haiti being left vulnerable to the free market’s social experiments. Yes, my heart grieves.

But, as the song says, “Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Can’t no one know at sunset if the next day will be here,” there is hope because there is Spirit and Spirits. For me Spirit and Spirits represent faith-based practices/rituals, spiritualities, religions, justice, transformative collective action, community, Love, and all the things that have “brought us this far a mighty long way” as my Sunday school teacher would say. Spirit and Spirits are the things that allow me to wake up each morning with a renewed belief that the world can change and that I have the ability to change the world.

And for some people of Haiti Vodou is their Spirit and it also was their collective frame for mobilizing against French enslavement and other forms of oppression. Though I am not fully familiar with the practice of Vodou, I do understand the power of believing in something bigger then yourself and something that embodies community, love, and justice. I know I am sounding a little sermonic, but my intent is not to preach. I just need to know that there is something more than greed, capitalism, and hegemonic power structuring the world and the only place I can surmise where this may be the case is in the Spirit and within the Spirits of people. It is in the faith-based, spiritual, and communal practices that preach love, justice, and community that challenge us to envision and create a world of collective peace.