Wednesday, September 05, 2007

all good things must come to an end...

Well if you haven't figured it out, I'm not Black at Michigan anymore. I will probably not post much over here, but will leave it as an archive or monument to one of my feats of graduate school procrastination. I'm continuing my blog thing over at DumiSays. Click there to see my latest.

Thanks for the love Glove.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My new favorite video...

As you can tell, I'm kinda in a visual mode these days. I wanted to share this video because it's my favorite since NYOIL's - Ya'll should all get lynched. By the way, cop Hood Treason, its a good album.

I got forwarded this video.

Read A Book

I couldn't agree more. While listening and watching this video I was reminded of the ways in which nigga can still be used in critical discourse. I say this because recently in a move to make themselves even less relevant to the average Black American the NAACP buried the N word. I really intended on making the funeral, especially since I missed the N word's christianing. Aight, enough jokes, I do think it is a big symbolic gesture, I'll be watching for the next steps taken.

And while we're talking about stuff getting buried... I'm wondering what BET's hot ghetto mess is going to look like. It's already losing advertisers. I'm of two minds on this one, either it's great and ignant advertisers won't want it on or it's god awful and even folks who advertise on BET can't stomach it. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Maybe I shouldn't be eating at Wendy's anymore...

but wait there's more...

Verdict: Wendy's you are not Hip-Hop.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Because the more things change...

the more they stay the same. If you can, take some time to reflect upon the progress and loses we've had over this past year. Think about what freedom has been, is, and could be.

What to the slave is the Fourth of July? by Frederick Douglass 1852

FELLOW CITIZENS, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and natural justice, embodies in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me.

This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

FELLOW CITIZENS, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions!--whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery--the great sin and shame of America!

"I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgement is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some of my audience say, it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed.

But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are 72 crimes in the state of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment.

What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write.

When you can point to any such laws, in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery?…To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! Had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

WHAT TO the American slave is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Fellow citizens, the murderous traffic [the slave trade] is today in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to the slave markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

Fellow citizens! The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a byword to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes.

Oh be warned! Be warned! A horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's always better when it's free

So for the past couple of weeks I've really been thinking about my music consumption and how I seldom buy albums these days. I'll be real, I tend to "come up" on major industry stuff and just buy the underground or local stuff. Well today I thought I'd share with you a free, that's right, no cost, no emails from the RIAA, no bit-torrent necessary, mixtape so you have something to ride with this weekend. Follow the link for a tasty audio treat, enjoy!
Facechanger Mixtape

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let me ask you...

1) Am I the only one who gets offended when you here someone say Akon or Swizz Beatz is a rapper?

2) How come the more people who become interested in running for president, the less interested I become in the race?

3) Why are the people who know the least about religion/spirituality the first to proselytize?

4) Why does my defense date keep getting pushed back further than Montel Williams' hairline?

5) What would you do if your daughter acted like one of those little girls on My Super Sweet 16?

6) When was the last time you heard "be still" and listened?

7) Who told KRS he was the only one who determined the truth about Hip-Hop?

8) When was the last time you did something out of the kindness of your heart?

9) What if you went to prison for consensual oral sex?

Please take the time today to write, call, fax, and mail (do all of these!) your protests to Attorney General Baker’s and DA McDade’s offices. Make it clear that we will not sit idly as an injustice continues!

Thurbert E. Baker
Attorney General
Phone: 404-656-3300
FAX: 404-657-8733

David McDade
8700 Hospital Drive
Main Floor, Douglas County Courthouse
Douglasville, Georgia 30134
Fax: 770-920-7123

10) It's a week later, you still haven't written or called, why?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Last N***a Left

About 2 months ago I was babbling on the phone about baseball to my boy and he said, "You know what, you have got to be the last black man left who cares about baseball." He made this comment in jest, really just to shut me up from inconsquential spewing about the Mets, but his point was pretty profound. As the MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson's breaking in, we're watching the role of African-Americans, pardon the pun, fade to Black. I've seen a couple of stories about this run on ESPN, I remember one particular segment on HBCUs and baseball that caught me off guard, since the team was predominantly Latino, rather than African-American. At the core of this transition are really the boundaries of race and ethnicity. For most folks in the United States, in common terms, there is Black and there is Latino. While we can acknowledge there are Black or Afro Latinos, seldom do we fully grapple with that dualness and what it means for race and race relations. This debate recently got resparked by the Tigers Gary Sheffield.
In the June GQ he said... well, I'll just excerpt from the article,
The percentage of African-American players in Major League Baseball has declined percipitously over the past three decades, from 27 percent in 1975 to 8.4 percent last year. Over the same period, the proportion of Latin Americans in the game has increased from 11 percent to 24 percent. "I called it years ago," says Sheffield. "What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out."
Sheffield then unspools a curious theory about the trend in the game. It's about "being able to tell [Latin players] what to do," he says. "Being able to control them. Where I'm from, you can't control us. You mugh tget a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end he is going to go back to being who he is. And that's a person that your'e going to talk to with respect, you're going to talk to him like a man. These are things my race demands. So if you're equally good as this Latin Player, guess who's going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.

So when I read this in the magazine, I found it an interesting quote and kept reading. Didn't shake me to the core, didn't cause me to run to to post (let's be honest few things cause me to run and post these days, but you know what I mean). I actually said to myself, "interesting." This is far from the reaction that others have had. ESPN decided to get some opinions from Latinos, I wonder how they picked who they interviewed. Lester Spence gives a really good analysis that talks about Black folks and sporting preferences (though Lord knows I loathe the word preferences, probably from all this affirmative action talk over the years)and the number of Black baseball players. But for me, the thing that is serious here is the color-line and particularly as it is interpretted in a post-colonial global sense. Translation: Who is Black, and where are they from?
Recently, I had a conversation with a dear friend who has been spending some time in Miami. She said to me, about a Cuban man she met, "If you were walking down the street, you would have thought he was Black. You know, not Cuban." I paused and responded, "You mean, you would have thought he was African-American, you mean, right?" As I finished my comment/question she said, "Yeah, I guess." It was at that moment that I was reminded again, even the most well-read and educated and arguably open folks, have trouble rectifying who is Black and what the boundaries between race and ethncity are.
Whether it's Debra Dickerson making assanine comments about Obama not being Black or my friends telling me Black folks from Latin America are "not really Black." We see Black all too often acts as a synonym for African-American. To some this is a symantic distinction, but I think it is really important. Now my point in bringing this up is not to create a "race-war" (mind you there can't be a race war over this, we're not talking about race) but to just make you think about who consitutes authentically Black folks?
Now for a long time I've subscribed to the "cousins theory" of the African/Black diaspora. This is my colloquial name for the theory that basically goes, "Well, we're all cousins, the boat (slave ship) just dropped us off in different places." Usually this gets some chuckles, but it makes sense. The global struggle of people of African descent in the Carribean and other locales is, in many ways, akin to that of people of African decent in the United States. Now we can catalog the differences in slavery and colonial subjecthood, but that's a much larger project with little meaning to my argument... oh that's right, I should be making an argument.
Sheffield basically brought the point front and center that in America, folks who look like you, may not be you. For him, and many others, the social spaces that are occupied by AfroLatinos today may have been occupied by African-Americans before. For me, I realize that I may not be like a lot of my friends who cringe at such a transition. Come to think of it, it may have been in part because of my socialization into Black Latino folks via growing up in New Haven or watching so much baseball. I'll never forget seeing a "George Bell" card from Topps that said "Jorge Bell" I immediately grabbed it thinking it was an "error card", it was an error, but the error was my own. I'll be honest, it's only recently that I started to realize how many Black athletes that I'd pronounced in the most Anglosized ways were AfroLatinos, not African-Americans. Sheffield's comments really crystallized this phenomenon and others have commented very well on the colonial relationship between MLB and Latin America, so I won't take that on. But Sheff's comments should serve to facilitate another level of discussion around culture, identity, and representation in the global Black community. For many, these tensions become talked about in a zero-sum manner. Translation: If you (Afrolatinos) get something, we (African-Americans) lose something. But that is way too simplistic. For some, this is a question of coalition building. Translation: Can't we all just get along. That too is too simplistic. The real question is: Am I the last African-American male who still watches baseball? ;)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Joy then anger...

That's all I can express at the decision, then the order of appeal.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

no homo... black male intimacy

So for the past few years nearly every time I hear Black men nearing a point of emotional intimacy two words quickly have haunted the moment, "no homo." Picture this Sicily... err, I mean, so picture this, you've mentored a brother for the past 5 years, talked him through some major life issues: college, divorce, depression, women, etc. and he's about to take off for a far off land. He takes a moment to express his thanks for the love that you've showed him over the years and how you've improved his life and he punctuates his statement with "no homo." Not only has it happened once, but it's happened multiple times with the brothas that I've worked with. But the reason it urks me so much, is that so many of these brothas are the "good brothas", the brothas who have attempted to push on issues of gender, inequality at large and sexuality... well maybe not so much the latter.

The "no homo" movement seems to have grown directly out of Hip-Hop's obsession with hyper-masculinity. As Hip-Hop has pushed the masculine through performance of actions, be they violent or non-violent, the realm of intragender intimacy has consistently been silent. Now of course there are songs for my crew, my niggas, even back in the day my posse, but these songs fall far from carving out a space to discuss close relationships between Black men (except when the subject of the song is dead, then you can talk freely). But this is nothing new to our community, as Black men at large, and those embedded within the Hip-Hop generation.

Now to be clear, I don't think Black men lack intimacy, I think we simply truncate it for the "sexuality safety." To me sexuality safety is about the maintenance of an image of heterosexuality (meaning: I'm a guy, I mess with women); and a by extension a vehement rejection of homosexuality (meaning: I'm a guy, I'm not for that gay shit). They are two sides of the same coin in our music. While some are already chomping at the bit to say, not all of Hip-Hop is like this, let me take this moment to pre-emptively strike like GWB and douse some of your righteous indignation and remind you that many of our favorite rappers follow this logic. Nas, Common, Andre 3000, the list goes on. Just search through their catalogs, it's there!

Hip-Hop's response has been to dodge or turn a blind eye to homoeroticism, but sometimes it comes full frontal. While rumors about rappers being homosexual have long directed Hip-Hop (check out Marc Lamont Hill's forthcoming book on more of this). In recent months, rumors have become specters. The Lil' Wayne and Baby kiss started a firestorm, that I hoped would have lead to a different discussion of male intimacy, but lord knows that fire burned out as quickly as it went ablaze, leaving most people with the same ideas of equating black male intimacy with sexuality. In recent days T-Pain has gained significant attention regarding his comments about Ray J's sex tape and endowment. After making multiple comments about penis size he attempts to absolve himself of homoerotic overtones by saying "no homo." See, no harm, no foul. No way in hell. Most folks who read his comments and reacted offered up their own theories of the boundaries of masculinity and appropriate references to another man's physique. The bottom line that could be taken from most comments that I could stomach was "a real man never even notices another man's penis", sure, right.

While the popular attention that Wayne and T-Pain garnered is important, it tells us little about how Black folks, and Black men in particular, understand the boundaries between intimacy and sexuality. I'm most concerned with the use of "no homo" when it comes to interpersonal intimacy. I know that we as Black men have historically bottled emotion, but punctuating our sharing with "no homo" is troubling. By using "no homo" are brothas saying the only men who share emotions are homosexual? Are brothas saying that sharing emotions will immediately lead to some form of sexual encounter? And more importantly, to myself I've asked and am asking, do I create an environment with my brothas where they think I'm so anti-gay that they need to qualify their emotions and distinguish them from sexuality?

P.s. Sorry I accidently had the comments turned off on this post, now they're on!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That Mass Appeal

Remember when Gangstarr was talking about that mass appeal? I've always felt there were some rappers that had that mass appeal, but never could quite put my finger on it. Now the folks I'm referring to are groups or individuals that you wouldn't suspect would end up on my musical rotation, but when they come around, they get burn, consistently. These are the groups that you see doing collaboration and go... wtf? Four groups/rappers quickly come to mind:
1) UGK - Undergroud Kingz
2) DJ Quik
3) MOP- Mash Out Posse
4) Too $hort

Real talk, why is it so hard to resist a UGK song? I was listening to that new Ear Drum and Talib's collabo with UGK immediately pulled me in. And it's not just me, one of my homegirls recently commented when she gets to the pearly gates they were gonna be like, "Wait, you're a feminist and you listen to UGK! They had a song call Pregnant Pussy." The fact is that no matter where most of our morals stand, there's something about these folks' music. I've never been a big Quik fan, but I know a lot of headwrapped, vegan, third-eye concentrating, backpack wearing, Quik fans. Why? I'm not sure at all. His and Short's music really fall in the clasical etymological definition of miscogyny. My favorite of them all is MOP. Since I first heard them, I've been down to rob the bodega and yap fools. Why, I don't know, but their material is so ill to me. For some their guilty pleasures, but to me they're as much a part of Hip-Hop as break beats and BDP. I guess this will help motivate me to retype my long post on Hip-Hop and Accountability that got lost in cyber space.
There is no true point to this post other than to say out loud that these groups are transcendent and wonder why. Why could they easily be categorized as exploitative and harmful, but still draw me and others in. Is it there content, their flow, or something beyond that. You feel me? And for the all the UGK Kast fans this is my joint!

I declare this Hip-Hop Week

Aight, first thing's first, I know there is already a Hip-Hop Appreciation Week, but I usually miss that and right now I don't really care. Just kind of been feeling like my last 5 posts or so, in the cue are Hip-Hop related. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to pop above water to post some things that have been on my mind. As Jay said, "Just my thoughts ladies and gentlemen, right or wrong, just how I'm feeling at the time."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Peeking my head out from underground

So I'm almost free to be blogging again, but we all know almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. In the meantime, I'm peeking out like Molly the Mole. What you know about that?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still Black at Michigan... just on necessary a hiatus

Hey readers. I know I've been absent. But I'm absent for a reason, no more posts until I get a full draft of this dissertation out to my committee. It should be sooner than later, but just keep a brotha in your prayers, thoughts, or whatever you have about me. Appreciate the inquiries and the visits, in the meantime, the archives are always interesting (just ignore all the damn dead links). Peace

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Carry on Tradition...?

Nas' song has been burning through my head as of late. Could be the late nights, early morning, the travelling, the writing, but whatever it is, it's in my head. The events of the past week with Don Imus really made me think about the traditions that we carry on or let go. After a week Imus has been dropped from TV and Radio syndication, largely as the result of two folks who will inevitablely be chastised, berated and hated. The names Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are (in)famous. In talking to people, even the ones who have no clear "politics", they can always muster an opinion on Jesse and Al and "the old civil rights guard." What's yours? I'm going to give you some of mine below.

I guess part of this is written in defense of Jesse and Al, especially when I see more and more people calling for their 'removal from office' or any other downgrading metaphor. We all know neither of them are elected officials, but even without election, they "play their position." When many folks see Jesse and Al they look at them as glorified camera and victim chasers, but honestly have you ever thought that it's the cameras that chase them now? Now granted to get the attention they now garner, they had to chase some cameras over the years, but as a dear friend once pointed out to me, when Jesse and Al show, the media shows. Even whenJesse and Al threaten to bring the cameras out change gets facilitated. Now I don't think these are the brothas and sistahs who are in the trenches locally every day, that would be ridiculous to suggest, but sometimes they get the shine to those who need it in the trenches. The combination of their visibility and hard grassroots work can lead to some really impressive outcomes.

Sure Foxnews will wield Tawana Brawley and Hymietown references as their alpha & omega, but for all their "failures" haven't they brought some justice forth?As we step out to combat injustice the targets on our back become large, sometimes it blows up in our faces, but nonetheless, shouldn't we remain committed? Who has the committment and conviction to speak out on these things?

So when we talk about removing the old guard and redefining our goals as a people, who will carry on tradition? For that matter, should tradition even be carried on? Surely Al and Jesse aren't the only tradition we have. If you go to any locale you will find small time heroes who lead big lives, but never get/got the respect they deserve. Over in Benton Harbor a warrior is imprisoned. In Detroit a warrior slashes weekly with her pen. A month ago we saw a legend give his last public words down the street from where much of it all began. The struggles we engage in daily are local, but are at same time global.

A couple years back I really anticipated Todd Boyd's book the New HNIC: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop anxiously. But when I finally read it, I was disappointed. Mainly because questions of renewal and redefinition of the movement were largely glazed over or missed. As the young vanguard, do we believe in leaders? What does new leadership look like if so? What will be the moments that define our lives and our children's lives, because always remember a few short moments can change the course of history.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Back in Effect mode...

... and I still have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue!

So thanks for bearing with a brotha's absence. I knew I had been pretty awol when people I know started telling me, "Everytime I go back to your page it says "Welcome to March." Even though I'm slow to update, thanks for checking me out. Aight, to the meat and potatoes.

First, let me say that Blacksmythe has been posting like everything I wanted to post lately, so let me just give a big ol' link right here to his site. If you don't know him, get to know him. I haven't met him before, but I've been hearing about him since I stepped foot in A2 and his reputation continues to grow nationally.

The one thing he missed that is key to my life... the new Black Disney princess! If you know me, I am a Disney addict. This is a result of my Dad and loving cartoons. I know that Disney has a lot of issues (many of which I refuse to acknowledge, don't even try it) but this princess is FINALLY a step in the right direction. This of course does not negate the fact that as Disney travelled the globe when they got to Africa they decided to draw animals... coincidence, I think not. Nor does it speak to the copious absence of my Latino folks, but it is a beginning. I mean come on guys they only had 84 years to gear up and after Song of the South I think they needed to take a little time.

In other news, this week I had a chance to co-host theAddicted to Race podcast with Carmen over at Racialicious. We talked about the CBCI and FoxNews partnering and the David Mills post on the redeeming uses of the word nigger. For more info on how I feel, check that out.

Lastly, U of M released the report of the Diversity Blueprints Task Force. You can find the report here, it's surprisingly short. I will probably dedicate a post to this in the near future.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pardon my absence

Hey, sorry haven't be in the blogging spirit as of late. Not like writer's block, kinda just tired's block. Ya know. I'll be back soon with some freshness, hopefully.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Welcome to March

So last month was Black history month and now that the television, radio, and fast food are done "honoring our legacy" I'd thought I'd help you along. You see, every year I feel a little loss of something special with the passing of BHM. So today I present to you the introduction to the opposites sketch (what you know about that? Definitely one of my favorite Canadian productions, wanna know another one of my favorites now? Keep reading).

If you've ever been to a predominantly Black event like a BBQ, wedding, a club outing in Detroit, you know that Black folks love to do some line dancing. Whether it's the Hustle, the Cha Cha Slide or the Electric Slide we're on the floor tearing it up. I've always felt a particular disdain for these dances. I mean come on, doesn't it seem like some sick form of epic memory of when they brought our ancestors on deck "to dance" for exercise (yeah, I know I'm wrong)? With that being said, I have further reason to never Electric Slide or "Electric" again. His name is Ric Silver and he claims to be the original choreographer of the dance (like I care!). He's wants to preserve it, take a look (I refuse to put a link to this clown's sight). Now that you've watched, doesn't that just make the dance 100 times wacker? So now that I've shown that a White man "created" the Electric Slide. I'd like to take you on another loop.

As the great African-American philosopher Lonnie Rasheed Lynn, that's Common to ya'll, said, "I stand out like a nigga on a hockey team, I got goals and I can like a pop machine." When we think of ice hockey, we seldom think of Black folks on the ice getting it. Well, if the White man can "create" the Electric Slide, then Black folks can pioneer the forms of hockey we see played today in the NHL and internationally. Wanna know more, click here to get your weight up.

Alright, now if you're like me, you're sufficiently tripped out. I'm just trying to transition you back into normal society. And while you're transitioning, remember Black History Month is all over, so no more talking about Black people's struggles for equality in public, it seems to make folks nervous ;)

Friday, February 23, 2007

I was wondering....

1) Why do I know in a couple days it will be impossible to find all these good documentaries on Black folks on TV anymore?

2) When will BET get real and put The launch of BET on their list of events that Mishaped Black America?

3) When will people realize saying "I'm mad at you" or "We need to talk" are inversely related to my pursuit of them for a conversation?

4) Are you offended by the Geico caveman commericials?

5) Now that I'm bumping Liberation, when will Eardrum finally come out?

6) Now that I'm bumping Tru3 Magic, when will we get a Blackstar reunion album?

7) Now that You So Crazy is over 10 years old, can we officially call it the Delirious of my generation?

8) How come when I was growing up no one ever told me that Patty Hearst and Charles Manson had some racial ish at the core?

9) Shouldn't no one get the prize money on the White Rapper Show?

10) Black Snake Moan.... wtf????

Monday, February 19, 2007

Always on the Run

This Black History Month is flying by me, but I'm trying to make some Black History of my own, so forgive my absence. A couple things have come across my desk that I gotta mention. First, the Nation has an EXCELLENT piece on White History. Originally I had planned to do a whole series on White History during the month of February for the haters of BHM. As always, time kept slipping and I didn't get around to it, but you should read this piece. One of my favorite excerpts,
. That's because so much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders "get assassinated," patrons "are refused" service, women "are ejected" from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few. In removing the instigators, the historians remove the agency and, in the final reckoning, the historical responsibility.

On the Native front,two important things went down recently. The budget for the Urban Indian health program has been cut AGAIN! This has real consequences, check it out and contact your local elected official about this cut.

On the more symbolic front (kinda), Chief Illinwek is dead. Finally.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Welfare Queen Redux

As I returned to my state of Michigan a few weeks ago, I was greeted with the image of a dark skinned man sporting a fedora tipped to the side with a magenta shirt, and a white striped suit strolling out of the courthouse. In a matter of moments, for better or for worse, I knew I was home. As I visited my favorite Internet sites, I saw the image of Nathaniel Abraham splattered around. Abraham's flamboyance in dress attracted heavy media attention, but just 8 years ago his use of shotgun grabbed national attention. As I turned on the news, video of him strolling in the parking lot in his suit was accompanied by voice overs discussing how residents were up in arms that Abraham was going free and would live in an apartment and attend college on the state's dime. It was almost as if I could her the music entering as the news described the scary welfare queen in redux, this time only in the form of the cold blooded Black male killer. Let me make this clear up front, this piece is not about supporting Nathaniel Abraham's killing, nor his dress, nor anything of that sort. This piece is about understanding what Nathaniel Abraham means to us and what he should represent to us, not what we've come to represent him as.

The heresy with which Michigan residents were disgusted by the prospect of Abraham being eligible for programs designed for abandoned youth, is the same disgust they should have felt when he was tried as an adult. It is the same disgust that we should hold when young men and women of color are released back into a society with few social supports. To me, it's not a mystery that when a person, is isolated from social opportunities from childhood, and then you force them to "participate" fully there will be issues. As the old adage goes, "you gotta crawl before you ball." Spending nearly half your life in prison cannot prepare you to succeed outside of prison. As the cameras snapped images of a man in outlandish attire, I could only see a manchild.

Recently when I was spending time with my little brother who is 11 and we began talking about independence and what his mother let's him do. A typical conversation among pre-teens. As we talked, eventually we ended up telling him the story of Nathaniel Abraham, he looked on in shock and disbelief. My little brother is smart, top of his class, has his "head on straight" and I quickly realized the idea of leaving society and returning in 9 years was unimaginable. He, probably like most 11 year olds, found the prospect hard to swallow. As we talked more he repeatedly asked me questions like, "What happened to Nathaniel?" "Why'd he do (the murder) what he did?" These were difficult questions to answer. I still cannot fully answer them, but even my inability to answer speaks volumes.

I wonder about Nathaniel, not simply because he's a human, but because I wonder what kind of world produces a manchild like him. I remember reading Fox Butterfield's account of Willie Bosket and thinking that he told part of the story. Though I may not be able to retrace Nathaniel's life, I'm sure there are more than enough elements that would trouble us. While the national cameras usually fixate on Detroit as a city in decline or post decline, seldom do people think of Pontiac. Pontiac, which sits not far from Detroit, is just as ripe with social ills and dangers: high amounts of crime, drugs, unemployment, and single headed households. While we all love the stories of "beating the odds" and want to highlight the exceptions to the rules of poverty, these stories are in many ways disingenuous. I think Nathaniel represents the rule, the rule that we need to grapple with, simply put: Your chances for success (however you define it) are severely limited (if not eliminated) if you grow up poor, Black, and male in America.

As the media spins images of Nathaniel "pimping the system" and people grow concerned that a "monster" lives on state support, we still have to ask, what/who created this "monster"? In reality, we all did. When we neglect and ignore the conditions of the youth, particularly poor and Black youth, we are assured that Nathaniel will not be the last Nathaniel. When there is bipartisan support for cutting social programs, we assure the development of the manchild. When we assume that things "aren't that bad" because we can see downtown Detroit open a few shops, we ink poor children's fates. Unfortunately, there will be more Nathaniels, people locked away with little ability to transition back into "society." So the next time you hear of them getting "social support" before you ask "How could this happen?" you should ask "How did this happen?" In my estimation, his apartment and some tuition are a pittance compared to the life that we allowed Nathaniel to live before. Lastly, ask yourself, if you were Nathaniel, could you live up to the request of Judge Eugene Moore, "Show us all that you have become a caring, productive member of society", without assistance.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Black History Month

So the coming of February marks the arrival of Black History Month. Inevitably each year I hear outcries of "where's White history month" or people reducing our month to a series of quiz bowl like facts. I will address these issues later, but for right now I wanted to highlight some contemporary Black history. It come from Nas. Hip Hop is arguably one the greatest cultural forms in the last 30 years, with that said, we have a rich, yet forgotten history. As Nas said,
Rap is like a ghost town.
Like these folks never existed, they the reason rap became addictive.

Nas dropped some gems on us with his series of "Where are they now" tracks inspired by his song on Hip Hop is Dead. For me listening to these is like strolling down memory lane, hope you enjoy them the same!

80s Remix
90s remix
West Coast Remix

Recognize those flows????

Sunday, January 28, 2007


In the rush of posting my update the other day I forgot a couple of things that I thought were important. First, check out this NY Times piece on colleges' responses to banning of Aff Axn in higher ed (note I didn't say race preferences).

Second, on Tuesday U of M's local conservakids Young Americans for Freedom are hosting "Three Ex-Terrorists". As you may recall, YAF is the same org that brought us "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" and a host of other ridiculously intolerant demonstrations. In response, students are organizing a peaceful walk out. They are asking folks to show up wearing yellow (just a shirt, not a whole outfit, no one wants you to look like a banana) at about 6pm and when the event starts around 7, join in the demonstration to walk out. A simple yet powerful display. This reminds me of years go when David Horowitz came to U of M and the BSU filled the audience and when he entered we, in unison, crossed our arms instead of clapping. *As a side note, BAMN soured that great demonstration as they have soured a number of demos. I digress, you should find yourself in Rackham Ampitheatre walking it out.

I usually ignore "post me" emails since they're stupid stuff, but not the one I just got from Elizabeth de la Vega. This Wednesday at Shaman Drum on State St. at 7pm Elizabeth de la Vega (U of M alum) is giving a book talk on U.S. v. Bush. The book essentially puts Bush et al on trial for their fraud regarding the Iraq debacle. You can read an excerpt here. I was listening to Howard Zinn last night on CSPAN (yeah that is what I do on Saturday nights, don't hate!) and he was mentioning how impeachment is not really as radical as most Americans conceive, as he put it "after all its in the constitution." So for the masses who are much more comfortable being middle of the road, maybe that will seel them on bringing of G.W. up on charges ;)

So make sure to make it out the house Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7, you don't good at jeopardy anyway!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Let me update ya!

Aight, well I did revise the Black woman anthem for the title post. Sorry I've been absent. I've been working on 2 posts that take a little bit of thinking but they're not ready yet, so be on the look out for "The Welfare Queen in Redux" and "Kill Your (Reality) TV". On another note, Ann has been kind enough to pass along a story on banning the N word that I would have posted if I wasn't running crazy. Interesting policy of 500 dollar fine proposed. And I'm still wondering, did all this really come about as the result of Richards rant?

On the update side, I've been grinding. I went back east, spent time at home, in the city and in the barbershop all of which were tremendously productive. I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I even accepted a job, so come the fall, Black at Michigan will be Black at ... wouldn't you like to know ;) I'll be back soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

D'Souza v. Colbert

I'm supposed to be working but I had to post this video from the Colbert Report. Stephen's guest is Dinesh D'Souza. Enjoy!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Remembering Martin

Today is MLK day. For the first time in six years, I find myself away from the U of M campus. Each year U of M organizes many seminars and activities around the life of the Reverend. Inevitably, each year I look at the schedule and wonder what some of the speakers have to do with Martin, but I’m soon reminded Martin means different things to different people. And most importantly, to many he means nothing or in their estimation an unnecessarily vaunted social figure. I won’t even humor these people with a response. From my perspective it is important to remember Martin as a revolutionary.

I recently sat at dinner with a couple of colleagues and a conversation ensued about Martin v. Malcolm (interestingly enough years ago U of M used to celebrate Martin and Malcolm on the same day, but at some point this joined celebration decayed or was removed). While we were able to avoid pitting them against each other like a Balinese cock-fight, it reminded me that we are taught to know Martin as someone he did not seek to be.

I won’t use this space to expound on why Martin was revolutionary or even what revolution is. Instead I’ll invite you to spend a little time today and in the next few days learning about a brother with a legacy that is truncated for convenience and commercialism. If you feel like moving beyond your computer screen, check out Michael Eric Dyson’s book on Dr. King or read some Dr. Kings own words.

In a time where the nation is at war, the poor of our nation are forgotten, and the marginal are still treated unfairly, his wisdom continues to resonate.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Questions, it's the questions ya'll

1. Is a bird in the hand really worth two in the bush if you're really good with a slingshot?

2. John Brown, what the f**k is a ghetto revival?

3. Can I have the 1.5 hours back I spent watching I Love New York?

4. Why isn't there a backspace key for life?

5. What if I let them lead my life?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hard out here for a Black American

While everyone is reviewing 2006, I'm concerned about the entry of 2007 for Black folks, particularly Black Americans. Let's hang our flag at half-mast, because it's going to be a long year!!!

As 2006 ended, Prop 2 implementation was delayed and I was more concerned about the godfather of Soul's transition than Gerald Ford's. I should have known shit was gonna start to hit the fan. Then on the 30th, Black Sociologist Orlando Patterson smoothly ushered in a bad wind with his Times pieces that blamed segregration's persistence on Black residential preference. You know we're in trouble when Black folks start taking heavy shots at Black folks. Then the Black Messiah... er I mean Oprah, dissed Black American kids' craving for ipods and kicks.

Then this morning I learned/realized that the stay on implimentation of prop 2 was denied by the Appeals Court. Which really means, that we're already operating in a Prop 2 environment in admissions.

Damn, damn, damn James... it's gonna be a long year.