Archives for November 2010

TSA Full Body Searches: The People Crying are Hypocritical

I find it funny that all these people are upset about full body searches and pat downs at the airport when just two months ago many of these same folks didn’t seem to mind when Muslim-Americans were complaining about being profiled and singled out for searches. It was just two months ago when the rhetoric was thick, the words hateful and very few of us ‘good ole Americans’ was the least bit concerned about ionized radiation from body scanning machines or some college drop out turned TSA agent feeling up yours or your spouse’s private parts. After all many of us rationalized that ‘sacrifice was required’ when fighting the war on terror. Many of us emphatically insisted that in order to  really fight terror successfully some of our freedoms would fall to the wayside.

Certainly I’m not the only one who recalls pompous sounding pundits on TV saying such things like; ‘We’ll if they have nothing to hide, they won’t mind being searched’ ,’We now live in extraordinary times which requires extraordinary measures to keep America safe‘ or ‘I think most people would rather be searched and profiled than be blown up’.

We really heard this type of talk a year or so ago when the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a failed attempt and GOP leaders went in on President Obama claiming he was soft on the war on terror. Many of them called for increased profiling and searches in order for us to be safe. They scoffed at the idea of people’s civil liberties being violated and said it was sign of weakness to give into the concerns voiced by organizations like the ACLU or CAIR.

Now that  everyone is getting searched  have things suddenly changed? Are we no longer willing to sacrifice our freedoms or do we just want ‘THEM’ (Muslims and ‘other suspicious folks’ ) to be searched and forced to do full body scans? How hypocritical is that?

Newt Gingrich

Wasn’t it just two months ago this country was up in arms about the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center (Mosque) near Ground Zero? Here we saw everyone from high-ranking political leaders like former House speak Newt Gingrich compare Muslims to Nazis to Texas lawmakers Debbie Riddle and Louie Gohmert warn us about ‘terror babies‘. We saw former NPR host Juan Williams admit that he ‘got nervous’ when he saw a Muslim passengers getting ready to board a plane.

These types of publicly expressed sentiments led to many of us further demonizing and marginalizing entire segments of our population which in turn left us being unsympathetic to what we now see and hear are similar concerns they expressed about ‘invasive’ searches.

Many of us turned a blind eye reports surfaced about all the Muslim Americans in addition to being profiled and searched were also increasingly being put on NO-Fly lists resulting in more than a few being stranded after being rejected from boarding. Many found themselves in legal limbo when trying to remove themselves or even find out why they were put on a No Fly list in the first place. Sadly some mean-spirited pundits celebrated these No fly list violations because the resulted in the unintended consequences of Forced Exile

With all this in mind, one has to ask the hard questions; are folks crying about  TSA full body searches because they feel their constitutional rights are being trampled or are they concerned that they personally are being violated? We really need to be honest when answering this question. Whats really going on here?

Ron Paul just introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act

It’s interesting to note that two days ago (Nov 17th) Texas Congressman Ron Paul just introduced legislation called the American Traveler Dignity Act. He’s concerned that travelers are being subjected to humiliating conditions. He’s outraged. Here’s what he wrote

“Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.” Perhaps the political elites would re-evaluate their position on the peeping and probing Toms at the TSA; perhaps they would be willing to support the Congressman’s legislation.

Paul wants the TSA and other law enforcement to be held accountable if they cross the line and that’s not only understandable, but appreciated. However, one has to wonder where was Ron Paul pushing a bill or  all these outraged people when several years ago, Black women were aggressively being stripped searched at airports by custom agents. Back in 1999 when this was at its height, we were fighting the  ‘War on Drugs’ . The overwhelming majority of Black women searched were innocent, yet they were subjected to these invasive body searches. Their cavities were probed and their bowel movements were monitored. Pundits who supported this policy were insistent it was necessary to stop the flow of drugs. ‘We had to protect America’.. Does that sound familiar?

People weren’t outraged back then if anything, many were dismissive of the concerns expressed by African-American women who were made to feel totally violated and unfairly profiled. Sadly we heard the same retorts back then as we do now toward Muslims; ‘If-they-have-nothing-to-hide-why-complain’.

Senator Richard Durbin introduced the Reasonable Search Standard Act in 2001

There were lawsuits and alot of pressure put on airports screeners and custom agents. Eventually in 2001 Senator Richard Durbin introduced the Reasonable Search Standards Act.

Reasonable Search Standards Act – Prohibits U.S. Customs Service personnel from subjecting travelers to detention or searches based upon race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation, except when acting upon specific information that a particular traveler suspected of engaging in illegal activity is described by one or more of such characteristics.

Requires Customs Service personnel, before a pat down or intrusive non-routine search, to document reasons to support a belief that an individual may be carrying contraband in violation of Federal law. Waives such requirement with respect to anyone suspected of carrying a weapon.

The bill was read twice and referred to the finance committee, well see where Paul’s American Traveler Dignity Act bill goes.

Rodstarz of Rebel Diaz was recently searched & detained for 10 hrs at an airport

It’s a shame that many of us have short memories and selective ways in which we like to see laws enforce or who we show concern for when rights are violated. Sistas being jammed up at airports where we had dead silence and people siding with custom agents is one example. Now that we have this new war on drugs south of the border quite a few Brown folks are going through  the humiliation. The popular Bronx-Chicago based rap group Rebel Diaz on a recent Hard Knock Radio show detailed what happened when they returned to the US from Chile. They were detained searched, questioned and made to feel violated when they returned from their native Chile. What folks are complaining about now is routine procedure in some communities

For folks who live in the hood, strip searches in public are not usual. belligerent cops ‘looking for drugs and weapons’  are always jacking people up, making them drop their pants in full view of others. In cities like LA, young teens have been made to strip in front of parents. Husbands and boyfriends have been subjected to watching their spouses and girlfriends be felt up and probed by police who turned a routine traffic stop into a nightmarish search.Parents have been made to undress or be felt up by cops looking for drugs and weapons in front of their kids.

The movie CRASH depicted a scene where the character played by actor Terrence Howard had to watch his wife get felt up by police. Many thought it was just a dramatic scene for the movie, but for those who live in the hood especially in places like South Central LA, what was shown on the big screen was as real as day. It’s all too commonplace. It’s a reality and indignation that many have endured for years. Speaking out about this and detailing this is often met with disbelief or outlandish justification where folks rationalize that folks in the hood are all criminal and deserve to be searched.

LA rap star and longtime activist Mykill Miers who actually works with at risk youth inside the system noted the other night over the years he himself has been subjected to such humiliating treatment on 4 different occasions.

In New York City pat downs and invasive searches was the hall-mark of the police serving under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani. In one year alone more than 500 thousand people were stopped and searched on the streets of NY, over 70% of those stopped were Black and Brown men. We certainly could’ve used a Dignity Act type bill then..

How are police searches in the hood connected to searches and pat downs at airports? Well to start have large numbers of citizens who are being subjected to searches that they find invasive and in violation of their constitutional rights.  The overwhelming majority of those searched are obviously innocent. No weapons are found, no bombs are found, no drugs are found. Law makers insists such measures are needed to keep us safe and act as a deterrent. For the most part far too many of are willing to go along with this until they’re the ones made to drop their drawers.

Who should we be screening the thuggish looking Black guys who are Ice Cube & his crew or the Columbine shooters Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold?

As long as we have scapegoating caricatures that fits into our collective stereotypes like the Black thug, Mexican drug dealer, or a Arab terrorist, then we don’t mind the searches. In fact, as I mentioned before, we actually insist that they take place. But as soon as it things land in our direction we wanna have mass protests.

The bottom line is this, the constitution should apply to us all. If anyone has a hard time accepting that then they deserve this mistreatment they want imposed on others. It doesn’t matter how big your boobs are, how sagging your butt is or how small your ding-a-ling is. It doesn’t matter if you’re grandmother 80 years old or outstanding pillar in your community, if its ok to search Mr Muhammad, Ray Ray and Jose ‘to keep us safe’ then it’s perfectly ok to profile and search Mr and Ms Cleaver as well. After all, some of the worst terrorist this country has seen are those who are homegrown and blend in with the mainstream population. From Oklahoma City bomber Ti mothy McVeigh to American Taliban John Walker Lindh to Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to members of the Ku Klux Klan.

If this really is about protecting our 4th amendment rights, then let’s be principled. Stop all invasive searches of innocent people everywhere, both at the airport and in the hood. If this country truly stands for freedom then let’s make sure it applies to all sectors of our society. Until then as long as innocent young Black and Brown men are being humiliated and strip searched in their own neighborhoods, and we’re advocating for Muslims to be singled out and searched then one should not show an ounce of sympathy or be concerned when someone cries out about being ‘their junk being touched’ by a TSA agent at the airport.

As the loud mouth pundits like to say.. ‘If you have nothing to hide, why complain…’

Something to ponder

-Davey D-


Manny Pacquiao the People’s Champ: Is that too Much for Floyd to Handle?

The other night many got a chance to witness history in the making as the greatest fighter of all-time next to Muhammad Ali show and proved that he’s no joke. Manny Pacquiao let all doubters including his opponent Antonio Margarito know that no matter how big, no matter how fierce and no matter how much heart you have, you will undoubtedly lose to a man far too many people have underestimated.

While the world watched and cheered, we’re sure a certain boxer with a big mouth and lots of money sat at home also watching. There is no doubt that Floyd ‘Money Making’ Mayweather has come to realize two unshakeable truths. First, he can’t beat Mr Pacquiao.  Yeah, yeah, we heard all the talk about how he’s a skilled precision fighter, a true student of the game blah, blah, blah…Save it. He knows it, I know and you know it. Mayweather watched and realized this past Saturday night this is man he can’t beat.

The other thing he realized is that he’ll never be seen as one of the greatest, even with an undefeated record. As a world champ, he misread history and what it means when you hold such a title especially as a Black man. The ring was always symbolic of power we did not have.. Even with boxing legends like Sugar Ray Robinson, part of what made him great was his accomplishments in the midst of hard oppressions. the accomplishments of boxing greats like Joe Louis and Jack Johnson became a symbolic victories for all those who felt marginalized and oppressed. Their victory was our victory.

Manny Pacquiao has captured that spirit globally. Sadly Floyd Mayweather has misread the signs of today’s times and missed the opportunity to be ‘the people’s champ‘.  If Mayweather and Pacman were to fight and he somehow won, Manny would still be seen as champ all over the world. A Mayweather victory would be a hollow victory. Mayweather  does not have the admiration of the people especially globally, and no matter how much he brags or ‘adroitly ‘plays the role of villan’ aka the ‘man you love to hate’, he’ll never be seen as a man for the people. What a wasted opportunity.

Understandably that assertion is hard pill for many to swallow, but it’s a truth that Mayweather and many who have come to admire him will have to come to terms with. There are a few thresholds that must be met to truly make a fighter GREAT. The standard is Muhammad Ali..

Ali was and will forever be the greatest even if we could make the case that he was not the ‘best’ to step in the ring. Yes, there were many who threw harder punches. There were some who had faster jabs. There were some who had better defense. Ali was the greatest because he combined all his skills transcended the ring and became a champ on the world stage. He knew how to seize the moment. He always had the pulse of the people. As champ Muhammad Ali came to represent the underdog. Floyd Mayweather as fast and as technical as he is, DOES NOT represent that..

He reps a shallow and ugly version of Americanism that quite frankly we as Black people should not be about. He’s ‘Money Making’ Mayweather when much of the planet including many of our own here in the states are impoverished, unemployed, under employed and clear that big corporation have done them dirty.  He’s flossing when folks are starving, no different then the big Wall Street Bankers flossing and justifying bonuses after being bailed out and folks are losing homes.

Mayweather is not seen as the guy who makes the loot on behalf of the people. He’s not seen as the guy continuing the historic role of trickster who has out-thought oppressive situations and with each blow landed and each dollar earned has done it for those who have long done without. Sadly Floyd Mayweather has allowed himself to be positioned as the face of the ‘money making corporation. He’s the establishment. Someone best described him as a Black man who has lost his way.

Unless Floyd is doing some incredible work behind the scenes similar to the way Steelers corner back Troy Polamalu has long gone out in the night to feed, cloth and give money to the  homeless, he’ll always be known as the man who bragged and bragged without purpose or politic.

What eluded Mayweather was truly understanding the man who he borrowed a page from in terms of bragging. When Ali fought and bragged, a lot of the times there were political undertones attached to it. Ali became the ‘people’s champ’ by depicting all his opponents both Black and White as figures who were standing in the way of freedom and thus needed to be conquered. He did that with George Foreman. He did it with Ken Norton. He did it  Sonny Listen. He did it with Joe Frazier. He especially did this with another boxing champ named Floyd.

Two time champ Floyd Patterson was quick, agile and had great technique, but he’ll always be remembered as the guy Muhammad Ali called an ‘Uncle Tom’ for siding with the system and refusing to call him ‘ Ali’ and instead insisted on calling him by his ‘slave name’ Cassius Clay.

For those who don’t recall, Ali born Cassius Clay changed his name upon joining the Nation of Islam then known as the Black Muslims. It represented him shedding a name imposed upon him and his family by slave owners and Ali was not shy in asserting this and  demanding he be addressed by his new name. Most complied, but there were some white sports writers annoyed with Ali’s bragging who refused. For whatever reason Floyd Patterson also refused which led to Ali shrewdly pointed out that Patterson, a black man was Uncle Tomming for the establishment. When the two entered the ring Ali ruthlessly beat Floyd and humiliated him. With each punishing blow he could be heard yelling ‘Whats my name’?

Patterson became the symbol of a good man being on the wrong side of history and while no one is even remotely suggesting that Floyd Mayweather is an Uncle Tom, he’s definitely on the wrong side of history. He’s embraced a mindset and ideology of ‘greed’ and he has the potential to be better than that.

Some have said Mayweather with his flashiness and crudeness is simply representing today’s society. That may be true, but deep down inside he knows he can be so much more.  being champ has always meant being so much more. The question is, with Mayweather refusing to fight Pacquiao is he really symbolizing that he’s afraid to step up and be a true champ? Is he afraid to really wear the crown and sit on the throne? Some folks simply are afraid of success on that level. They are comfortable just getting by. Is that how Mayweather  feeling inside?

Sadly Mayweather  via his actions has become the quintessential American; shallow, crude, materialistic and only about himself. We don’t see him taking hard stands on political issues. We don’t see him in Haiti?  We don’t see him in New Orleans.. We don’t even see him in Detroit.. This is not to say he hasn’t done those things..We know he has a charity and this is not to say he’s required to do such things. Is that unfair to put that burden on him? Technically yes, but in the larger scheme of things ‘No’. To not rise to the occasion, Mayweather eludes being ‘Great’ and in many ways he actually cheapens his position. He’s not seen as rebellious or even street so he can’t play the role of being anti-establishment the way a Mike Tyson did.

Mayweather has allowed himself to be the face of a corporatist way of thinking that has long been problematic. He’s the hedge fund head of boxing and to be honest thats the real fight. On the other hand, Pacquiao seems to know what he’s come to symbolized and has continuously moved onto the world stage to be among the Greats.

Manny Pacquiao has come to understand that with much comes great responsibility and thus he’s been out and about doing things that transcend boxing. It could be him dabbling in politics, including being elected to office in the Filipines or it could be him having fun and dabbling in singing. Whatever the case Manny has made himself accessible and has positioned himself to be guy the working class poor person all over the world can relate to and will back up.

Say what you want, but at the end of the day, money and lots of it will only take you so far. Floyd Mayweather knows this. he knows that this is not just about matching skill sets in the ring. Mayweather has to figure out what he really represents. What does he stand for? It can no longer be just the money its got to be something more. Mayweather is wrestling with this knowing that the longer he avoids fighting the ‘people’s champ’ Manny Pacquiao the more he’s likely to wind up be just a footnote in the annals of boxing even if he remains undefeated

Something to ponder

Davey D

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Hip Hop, Album Reviews and Critics (via Davey D’s Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles)

This article focuses on the role of the Hip Hop critic/ album reviewer. Its food for thought which I think still applies today.. is it about personal opinion or being a voice for a fan base who this album was intended for.. Does the reviewer need to judge piece of work from that viewpoint or at the very least acknowledge how a core audience is liking or disliking..?

Hip Hop, Album Reviews and Critics HIP HOP AND IT'S CRITICS by Davey D Looks like Hip Hop artists are rearing their heads and speaking out about the type of ratings they have or have not received from various publications. In the latest edition of Lee Bailey's EUR Report[] where he interviews TheLost Boyz, they go off on publications like The Source Magazine. Here's an excerpt from that interview… "All these cats go out here and spend all this money to get a … Read More

via Davey D's Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles

Hip Hop History: Respect those Who Came Before Us (via Davey D’s Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles)

As we continue celebrating Hip Hop History Month, here’s another vintage article from November of ’99. Here we run down a list of key pioneers from NY and Cali.. Wish I was a bit more expansive in my thinking because I’ve would’ve included pioneers from Miami, the South and Detroit… I missed a big opportunity, but this was a good first step

Hip Hop History: Respect those Who Came Before Us RESPECT THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think all of us who are involved or down for Hip Hop should take time out and give thanks to all those who gave us the music, the culture and the game. For example we all owe a bit of gratitude to pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and his Universal Zulu Nation. Here's a guy who came out of New York's ruthless gang culture and succeeded in creating something positive when there was so … Read More

via Davey D's Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles

Stephanie Gadlin: Hip Hop’s (UNSPOKEN) Ten Commandments (via Davey D’s Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles)

In celebration of Hip Hop History Month, we wanted to bring back this classic article from writer Stephanie Gadlin which reflected the challenges facing Hip Hop back in 1999. Her piece was powerful and frequently used as a discussion tool in high schools, college campuses and on radio show’s like Street Soldiers on KMEL..

Stephanie Gadlin: Hip Hop's (UNSPOKEN) Ten Commandments HIP HOP'S (UNSPOKEN) TEN COMMANDMENTS By stephanie mwandishi gadlin © Famed Kenyan author Mgugi wa Thiongo once remarked: "…Language carries culture and culture carries, particularly through orature and literature, the entire body of values by which we perceive ourselves and our place in the world." Interesting perspective. If language carries a people's culture and therefore projects a people's cultural values to others, explain to me why are … Read More

via Davey D's Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles

Racism is Alive and Well in America..Black Postal Worker Attacked

This is a disturbing especially in midst of all the hatred and vile speech we hear on radio and seen at Tea Party events.. I said it once I’ll say it again, this is the  Reconstruction Era all over again and folks of good will and open hearts will have to step up and seriously condemn these types of scenarios. They are not as uncommon as one might think..

For those of us experiencing such treatment, we better learn better coping skills. No way one should have to put up with this.  Walk away is the first rule. Do not be glutton for punishment.

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A Tale of Two Threats: Who Do the Police Let Live When Danger is Present?

Yesterday something strange and quite frightening took place in the San Francisco Bay Area. A distraught 51-year-old man named Craig Carlos-Valentino hoped in his SUV during the height of rush hour and drove from Antioch to the middle of the Bay Bridge which is one of most traveled spans in the country.  Accompanying him was his 16 year daughter.

Carlos-Valentino stopped his car mid-span and  called local news station KCBS where he announced that his car was wired with explosives and he had a gun. he then followed up his call to the police where he announced the same thing. Needless to say local authorities went nuts. They stopped traffic, alerted the bomb squad, the free way entrances were closed. People upon hearing this man had a bomb started turning around on the freeway and headed back toward Oakland. Local programming was interrupted  and everyone was on edge. We had a man on the Bay Bridge who was ready to blow things up.

Everyone was on edge because they remembered an angry man White supremacist named Byron Williams who back in July was stopped by police on the 580 freeway leading to the Bay Bridge. He was stopped by police for some sort of traffic violation and came out with guns blazing. Williams had on full body armor and had an arsenal fit for a small army. When all was said and done, Williams shot 3 officers and left the freeway strewn with bullets. Williams was on his way to San Francisco to kill liberal workers at the Tides Foundation.

Craig Carlos-Valentino

With respect to Carlos-Valentino and his bomb threat, everyone was on alert. There was a stand-off on the bridge during which this man tossed his gun, allowed his daughter to run off to the arms of police who were near by.  He threatened to commit suicide  and was talked off the ledge of the bridge, the whole time folks had no idea about his car. Did it or did it not have explosives?

Eventually Carlos-Valentino was taken into custody. We later learned this man was upset because his wife was cheating on him and was gearing up to leave him.

This man causes massive traffic jams and got all sorts of law enforcement involved to make sure he wasn’t a domestic terrorist. Later the police explained his ordeal and Mr Carlos-Valentino will live to see another day.

The key words here  ‘He got to live’. Police used caution. They explained away a man who potentially put thousands of people’s lives in danger as someone who was not real threat, but someone who was disturbed. In other words he was humanized.  We came away feeling sorry for this man. We don’t know if  Carlos-Valentino  was abusive, cheated or did anything wrong. He was just a trouble man who issued a bomb threat.

One has to wonder why such caution is not ever afforded to any number of people who have done far far less in terms of endangering the lives of others or themselves, yet wind up being killed by police.

We can look at Amadou Diallo reaching for his wallet.. Shot 41 times. The man had no criminal record and was un-armed.

We can look at the case of Sean Bell who shot 50 times drove away from a club where he held a bachelor party. Bell was unarmed, had committed no crime, but well-trained police thought he and his passengers had reached for a gun.

We can look at  the shooting death of 7 year old Ayana Stanley Jones in Detroit. Police busted into the wrong house looking for a suspect, beat her suprised  grandmother and shot Jones.

Last month Denroy Henry a star football player at Pace University was shot after being ordered to move his car from in front of club where a fight occurred. Henry who was not involved in the altercation, bumped a police officer with his car. End result was the cop unloading his gun into the car and killing an unarmed Henry.

This list can go on and on. One has to ask the hard questions, why can’t law enforcement show the same restraint they do so many others who arguably do far worse. Hell even Byron Williams is still alive and he shot down 3 cops. Why are these unarmed men and women always being killed by police?

Derrick Jones

This past Monday police were called to the Kwik Kuts barbershop in East Oakland owned by popular 37-year-old father Derrick Jones. Police say Jones was involved in a fight with a woman at the shop, not his wife and when they approached he ran away. Jones who was unarmed was shot 8 times by two officers, one of whom shot him twice while he lay on the ground.

Police said they thought the unarmed Jones was reaching for his waistband. Eye witnesses vehemently dispute the tale. Jones had his hands in the air and was shot by cops who many feel had a vendetta out for him.

According to neighborhood folks, Oakland cops never forgot or forgave the way Jones and his family stood up to police for their brutality and misconduct when he was 16 years old and was accused of stealing his own bike.  Disbelieving cops assaulted him and his 19-year-old sister . The family fought back and got two of the officers involved fired.

Over the years Jones was frequently stopped and harassed by police and so were many of his neighbors. As one shop owner who wished to remain anonymous explained, ‘Any excuse to smash on folks near the barbershop was used’.  Monday’s altercation was no different. This time the shooting death of yet another unarmed Black man in Oakland came on the heels of killer cop Johannes Mehserle receiving a super light 2 year sentenced for the murder of unarmed Oscar Grant.

We are posting up audio from the rally for Justice for Derrick Jones which took place in front of his barbershop yesterday. Folks need to check out what’s being said to get a full understanding of who he was, what his family did here in Oakland and how this relates to the injustice experienced by Oscar Grant’s family.

Here in pt1 Derrick Jones’ friend speaks about what happened after he got shot by Oakland police and the how witnesses are being intimidated by the police. Also Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby speaks and talks about what took place in the courtroom during sentencing. He reminds people what its gonna take to bring about justice and how the shooting of unarmed Derrick Jones and unarmed Oscar Grant are connected.

Minister Keith & Uncle Bobby

We finish off with some enlightening remarks from Yvette of BAMN who runs down what this case is about and why it appears to be some sort of vigilante killing. Jones was targeted by OPD

In pt 2 Minister Keith of the Nation of Islam gives a passionate speech about the legacy of ‘unarmed Black men’ being shot.  He also gives details as to how these shootings are supposed to be investigated. He calls out the DA Nancy Omally

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Hip Hop Culture Celebrates 36 Years, Zulu Nation Celebrates 37..We Dig Deep w/ Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa in the Building.. Incredible photos from this past weekends Zulu Anniversary.. Click HERE to see more

Today November 12th we celebrate the 36th Anniversary of Hip Hop culture and the  37th Anniversary of the Universal Zulu Nation..Folks from all over the world are gathered in New York City this weekend for celebrations at the  Hip Hop Cultural Theater 2309 Frederick Douglass Blvd..Special guests will be the legendary group X-Clan who are celebrating their 20th anniversary.

It’s at this time of year we dig deep and explore various aspects of culture and history. We decided to lace folks with excerpts from an in-depth interview myself and fellow journalist Mark Skillz did with Afrika Bambaataa several years ago. He went in and gave us a lot keen insight about the early days into the pioneering days of the ’70s. We talk about the gangs  and gang culture and how that lead to the forming of Zulu nation. Bam opens up and talks about his Warlord days and the types of steps he and others took to raise consciousness. He puts an end to the misinformation about how everybody started breakdancing instead of fighting. Instead he goes in and explains how steps were taken to bring about peace during those rough and tumble years.

Bam clarifies when he first emerged on the scene. he talks about his early trips to Afrika and how he was inspired by Fela Kuti. Bam notes that many think he came around after Kool Herc. He goes in and explains in detail when he first emerged on the scene and why.

Bam talks about the work he did with the late Disco King Mario and he talks about the influence Brooklyn based deejays like DJ Plummer, Grandmaster Flowers, Maboya and others had on the early scene. He talks about the Jamaican and Caribbean Influence and how certain aspects of  scenes were inspired Black radio deejays in the United States.

Bam also goes in and talks about how the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam impacted early Hip Hop culture.

You can peep this incredible interview by clicking the links below.

Breakdown FM: Afrika Bambaataa Interview pt1

Break down FM: Afrika Bambaataa Interview pt2

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Should Kanye West Have Apologized to George Bush? He Cancels Today Show Concert!

Lots of folks have been weighing in on Kanye.. I definitely have my thoughts, but I also wanna share the thoughts of my good friend  and fellow Adrienne Marie Brown.. She penned an Open Letter to Kanye …Below is one of the highlights.. You can and should peep the entire article at

you stepped back from the single most awesome scandalous thing you have ever done. when you stood there after katrina and spoke the truth, that “george bush doesn’t care about black people”, and you spoke about racist media coverage of those trying to survive in new orleans, it was a powerful and necessary action. you spoke for many of us – i was so proud of you, using your access to millions to speak a truth that wasn’t to benefit yourself.

and you apologized?

In other news.. Kanye west pulled the rug from under the Today Show by cancelling his scheduled concert on Friday Nov 26th. he announced that for obvious reasons.. He was out.. He really feels Matt Lauer and the Today Show set him up and he’s not having it.. I wanna give Kanye props for taking a stand against main stream outlets, but this cat is likely to change his mind and show up just as everyone is cheering for him.

In any case, I’m glad Kanye is beefing with Matt Lauer and not another rapper, but who knows what’s really going on.. Wouldn’t it be something if this beef was manufactured

Peep the story here Kanye Cancels Today Show Concert


There’s an old saying that goes; ‘everything is political and to not be political is political’. I couldn’t help thinking this when I saw Kanye West on the Today Show the other morning apologizing and offering an olive branch of sorts to former President George W Bush for the stinging remarks he made in August 2005 during a Hurricane Katrina telethon.

West is quoted as saying to host Matt Lauer “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist.”

For those who don’t remember, during that telethon Kanye  asserted that ‘George Bush doesn’t care about Black people‘. It was the remark heard all around the world and unlike the Dixie Chicks who suffered a huge backlash 2 years earlier, for  saying they were ‘ashamed of George Bush’, Kanye was greeted with open arms. For those watching the telethon and juxtaposing it with images of stranded mothers and grandmothers on rooftops while plane loads of abandoned dogs and cats were shipped away from the flooded city, Kanye’s remarks were cheered rather than jeered. They resonated. He was a source of pride and a hero to those sitting on rooftops watching loved ones being swept away, who had no voice.

Kanye West apologized to former President George Bush. Many ask was that the right thing to do?

Kanye became even more of a hero, with each passing day as more information about the horrors that went on New Orleans surfaced including; vigilante killings of fleeing Black residents in the Algiers section of the city and rogue police shooting and killing unarmed residents as they attempted to cross the Danzinger Bridge. He was the who spoke truth to power at a time when it was surely needed. His words became the chorus in songs and the centerpieces for audio sound collages like the one we did a few days after  spoke out. (Kanye West vs George Bush the Katrina Mix

For many who watched Kanye’s apology on the Today show, it may have seemed like a gracious gesture and a sign of him maturing especially in the aftermath of the Taylor Swift controversy where he interrupted her acceptance speech during last year’s VMAs.

It may have also seemed like a wise thing to do because President Bush seemed really angry 5 years after the fact. He said Kanye’s remarks were the most disgusting thing he had to endure during his presidency.

Bush when shown the video of West apologizing from a soon to be aired Today Show interview of Kanye, Bush seemed to lighten up and said he appreciated Kanye reaching out. The former president said he wasn’t ‘a hater’.

It’s easy to see while one would see the apology as good thing,unfortunately, George Bush and for that matter Kanye didn’t sit through 5 days of excruciating testimony during the one year anniversary at the Hurricane Katrina and Rita International Tribunal. They didn’t hear the tales and see the tears as people told these horrific stories of mistreatment, violence and neglect that left us wondering if we were actually living in America.

Instead of getting 'disgusted' at Kanye, perhaps George Bush should've been disgusted with himself and apologized to Hurricane Katrina survivors

Had Bush heard some of these stories that were the result of his oversight and slowness to act being mad at Kanye should’ve been the least of his concerns. Instead of lambasting the rapper, he should’ve been on TV offering an olive branch to the people of Katrina.

Hell had he really bore witness to the Katrina horrors he might’ve been moved to offer all proceeds of his book Decision Points to Katrina survivors. And just on GP, Bush should’ve apologized for the insensitive remarks his mamma Barbara Bush made when she met survivors who had fled to Houston. Upon on meeting them she suggested that staying in the Astrodome was a good thing since they were underprivileged.

Had Kanye sat through the tribunal, he would’ve still been mad and upon hearing Bush was disgusted with him for  suggesting he was a racist he might’ve been inclined to stick to his guns and give the former President and war criminal the middle finger with no regrets.

Kanye let George Bush off the hook, but has Bush done the same for those he transgressed on?

Kanye apologizing to Bush, let him off the hook which is too bad because George Bush never let any of the folks he smashed on off the hook. As Governor of Texas he never let those he allowed to be executed off the hook, even when there were mass protests and compelling questions around their innocence

He didn’t let any of the innocent Iraqi’s killed in an unwarranted war off the hook and we had even bigger protests around that. He didn’t let any of those tortured at Abu Ghraib off the hook even when it was pointed out to be a violation of international laws. Bush noted that he always stuck to his decisions.

Bush as a former president clearly understood the importance of symbolism and how his every word and gesture would have meaning. He admitted to that during his Today Show interview. Apparently in his mind letting folks off the hook would be a sign of weakness and him being indecisive versus him being thoughtful. Because George Bush had tunnel vision a whole lot of folks paid a heavy price both here and abroad.

Folks forget that Bush refused to allow photographs of returning dead soldiers. His people and his supporters were real quick to shut down and label anyone who spoke out counter to the narrative they offered after 9-11 and later at the start of the Iraq war as unpatriotic. Bush was the type of cat who would not shake the hands of a foreign head of state like Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro, because he knew such a gesture would symbolize his support.

One would assume that Kanye being in the music industry would also understand symbolism. After all, he’s already been on a rampage about the interview noting that Lauer made him look bad in the way he set up the questions and framed the conversation. Kanye said hes done with media.

With all this in mind, including his outburst, which may be or may not be calculated he had to know, like it or not that when he spoke out against Bush in 05, he was giving voice to a whole lot of folks who really needed it.. This was a good thing. It forced a dialogue and may have helped push things along, primarily because his words were captured all over the world and raised important questions. While it’s true, nobody asked him to speak on our behalf that fateful day, but since he did jump into the arena, many feel he needed to take the weight and NOT signify to an oppressive former president everything was all good when Bush hasmade no move to repair the damage done.

Something to Ponder

Davey D

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Editorial: Let’s Put an End to Plantation Politics-Taking Your Base for Granted is Not the Way to Win Elections

A week after last week’s mid-term elections and many people all over the country are still trying to take stock as to what went right, what went wrong and what it means for the future. If you’re on the left  side of the political spectrum one of the over-riding concern was why the large base of young, Black and Brown folks who voted in record numbers in ’08 didn’t show up in 2010.

Now if  you listen to high-priced political consultants or the news pundits who rarely do GOTV work, they’ll tell you the drop in numbers was because ‘people don’t vote in large numbers during mid-terms’ . When pressed and asked could it be that folks felt disconnected and were enormously dissatisfied, those same consultants and pundits will try to spin it and assert: ‘These young voters were lazy they should’ve gotten off their butts and voted’ ,’They were impatient and haven’t given the President and the Democrats times to accomplish their agenda’ orThey were naive and to think political discourse would not be messy, frustrating and ugly at times. Of course the tried and true assertion is that young voters were being unrealistic with their political expectations.

The constant communication via outlets frequented by Young Voters disappeared after the 08 election. The enthusiasm young voters had for Obama dried up and never transferred over to other democrats who also ignored young voters

We say wrong answers. How about it was lack of effective communication?  Young voters weren’t being reached out to in any meaningful way?  How about much of the leadership inside the Democratic Party took those young voters for granted?  To sum up what one of the elder poll workers stated at the precinct I worked last week, ‘these young people were used and discarded’. Nobody wants to admit to that, but it’s true. That’s a hard and sobering pill for many to swallow.

Many of the young voters who rallied enthusiastically around President Obama during his historic campaign found that after January 20 2009 when he made history and was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, he would be ghost. He would do very little outreach in the same manner that attracted folks to him in the first place.i.e. he stopped making regular appearances on urban outlets and frequented by young folks. Sadly the hosts and owners of those outlets did very little to highlight and sell the policies the Obama administration was pushing.

When this has been brought to the attention of Democratic pundits and even those close to the Obama administration, instead of taking this to heart and figuring out ways to better communicate, many have become defensive and dismissive. They would resort to rattling off stale talking points about how they passed a healthcare bill and reduced student loan burdens.

These same folks would continue and arrogantly make the case that it was up to those young voters to go seek the President elsewhere on other media outlets and that he was too busy to be showing up on ‘some radio show’. In other words it was time to ‘buck up‘ as Vice President Joe Biden infamously put it. If folks kept speaking to this issue, they were then labeled the ‘professional left’ as articulated by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling those who expressed concerns, the 'professional left' not only angered folks but it also added to the perception that the base was being ignored

Are all those folks who are part of the base who volunteered their time and energy and offered innovative ideas being too thin-skinned? Perhaps, but so what?  President Obama has shown sensitivity and accommodated all sorts of groups who have challenging outlooks. He certainly seems to have no problem trying to sooth over angry folks in the opposition. These ‘thin-skinned’ people are voters who put him into office and after being dissed were being asked to support others Democrats so he could further his agenda…an agenda that many within the ranks were increasingly feeling disconnected from.

Were young voters being unrealistic? Not really. Why would their mindset be unrealistic when many embarked on a political journey for the first time with a man who told them to think outside the box, have high expectations and the audacity of hope?

Why would they be unrealistic when they were working with a man who is now President, but started out as a community organizer,  came from a single parent home and had a ‘funny sounding’ name?  His young base was sold on the idea that they were and did make a tremendous difference. They were sold on the concept that they were an important part of this push to change. This was inspiring and helped many to step up and do impossible for themselves during the campaign.

Unfortunately, many novices never knew about governance. Folks were eagerly waiting and yearning still to be involved and continue on. As far as they were concerned Obama left them. In his place were handlers and surrogates who seemed more interested in dampening the hope within folks versus uplifting them. Maybe it was poor communication skills. Maybe it was misguided attempts to administer ‘tough love‘. Maybe it was a case of haterism. Far too many in these political circles are cynical and seemingly want everyone around them to feel the same. Whatever the case, the enthusiasm people had for President Obama had diminished.  This made it difficult to transfer support and energy to other Democrats running in the mid-terms.

Democratic pundits seemed impervious and dismissive to the popularity of urban radio hosts like LA based Big Boy. If this is the place frequented by large numbers of young, Black and Brown voters in your base why not talk directly to that audience above beyond election time?

What seemed to be missed by Obama and his handlers was the importance of having direct exchanges with his young base. We’re not talking the last-minute flurry where he suddenly showed up at the 11th hour on radio shows like Big Boys Neighborhood and TV shows like Jon Stewart‘s Daily Show. What was needed was on going communication especially when he was pushing important issues. They seemed to not appreciate and realize by doing so it allowed each to check in and be on the same page. While it was true his base could seek him elsewhere and many did,  what was missed was the opportunity for him to dial in and genuinely know where many of these new voters were at. He needed to know where they were coming from in the midst of them witnessing the ugliness of  Tea Party, Fox News,  24-7 demonization and onslaught.

He needed to know where they were at when they saw him constantly bending over backwards and going out of his way to break bread with people, pundits and communities that were not only hostile to him, but also to the people in his base and the ideals and aspirations they held. Who could forget the frustration many had after watching president Obama lash out to Cambridge police for hemming up his friend and well-known Harvard Professor Henry LouisSkip’ Gates. When President Obama said the police acted stupidly for arresting this elder in his own home, many in his base who could relate to hearing about police over stepping their bounds cheered. At last someone in high office was calling it like it how many people felt. We gave each other high fives only to turn around and let out collective groans when President Obama immediately turned around capitulated, took back his remarks and apologized after police reacted angrily.

That incident exemplifies Obama’s constant backtracking on key issues and in the face of hostile political enemies. Him not directly communicating to his base exasperated the situation and perceptions.The end result was low voter turnout while the older base of his Tea party and GOP opposition doubled their turnout.

Political analyst and radio host Robert Muhammad described the constant overlooking and slights delivered to important segments of the Democratic base is a continuation of what he called Plantation Politics

We spoke with long time political analyst and talk show host Robert Muhammad (Connect the Dots KPFT-Houston ) who lambasted Democratic leadership especially gubernatorial hopeful Bill White in Texas where Muhammad is based. He pointed out that White opted to devote, time, money and resources to try for so-called Independent voters at the expense of the much larger Black and Brown communities. This was a typical pattern nationwide.

He explained, that White was so scared to be associated with the base that he even stayed away from President Obama who enjoys tremendous popularity in those communities. The end result was long time Governor Rick Perry stomping his way to victory for a 4th term and one of White’s Democratic rivals endorsing the republic governor.

Robert Muhammad called what took place a continuation of plantation politics where Black and Brown communities are taken for granted and ignored. Efforts to connect the dots so to speak were rebuffed by those who supposedly had the expertise and ‘knew better‘. Well the dismal results speak for themselves. You can peep our interview with Robert Muhammad on Hard Knock Radio…

Muhammad further elaborated that the vitriol and hostile reaction demonstrated during this past year harks back to the days of the Reconstruction when Black people had the most political power which set off all sorts of a rash of lynchings, killings and race riots all over the country and the eventual birth of Jim Crow laws.

What’s going in places like Texas is an emboldened far right coalition of law makers who are going all out to smash legislatively smash on marginalized communities. For example, there are lawmakers who are calling for the state to secede from the Medicaid. That seems to coincide with the new campaign to roll back Obama’s Healthcare Plan.

Texas lawmaker Debbie Riddle typifies the aggressive stances being taken by the far right. She's already introduced 6 bills designed to smash on Brown communities. She actually camped out at the state Capitol so she would be first on the floor.

Other law makers like Debbie Riddle, the crazy woman from Texas who sat up on national TV and told us to be wary of Brown people bearing Anchor and Terror Babies has camped out at the state capitol in Austin so she could submit 6 bills targeting Mexicans

Here’s what the state of Texas has in store for Brown communities as outlined by Texas Gop Vote


Voters have been clamoring for voter ID for the past two sessions.  It was passed in the house in 2007 and in the senate until Lt. Governor Dewhurst gave Sen. Whitmire a “do over” on the vote and the Dems wheeled Sen. Gallegos into the senate floor on a gurney and let him cast the defeating vote.

In 2009 the opposite happened with the senate passing the bill and the Democrats pulling a procedural stunt to kill it in the house.

The overwhelming majority of Texas voters support voter ID.  Now it is time to pass it.

The new bill requires the voter to present a photo ID from an acceptable source, or two non-photo ID’s from an acceptable source.

Click Here for details on this bill.

HB 17 – Criminal Trespass

This bill makes the presence of an illegal alien in the state of Texas a separate offense, criminal trespass, which can be added to a charge for which a person is already being arrested.

In other words, this bill gives a police officer who is already arresting a person for some other offense (an offense for which they may arrest without a warrant) may, upon reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally, may inquire as to the suspects immigration status and if the officer can verify an illegal status with ICE, the person may be charged with the additional crime of illegal trespass.

Before and arrest can be made on this charge, the officer must verify their status with ICE.  This bill cannot be used as a reason for first contact with a suspect.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 18 – Eliminate Sanctuary Cities

HB 18 prohibits any city, county or other jurisdictional body from adopting a rule, order, ordinance or policy which says the entity will not fully enforce laws relating to immigrants or immigration.

The bill also cuts off state funds to any entity which adopts such a rule or policy.  It also provides the Attorney General with a process and capability to enforce this bill.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 19 – Driving Without a License

This bill provides penalties for a person who operates a vehicle in the State of Texas who does not have a driver’s license issue to them and provides for the impoundment of certain vehicles involved in an accident.  It raises the status of the crime to a class B misdemeanor if the driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident.

It also provides that the vehicle cannot be released from impoundment without proof of insurance.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 21 and HB 22 – Reporting on Illegal Aliens by State Agencies and Public Schools

These two bill are grouped together by me as they accomplish similar functions. These bill require state agencies and public schools who are providing services to illegal aliens to gather information and report this information to the state for the purpose of measuring the impact of illegal immigration as a cost to the state for providing the services described in the bills.

Click here for details on HB 21 and HB 22.

So where do we go from here? President Obama is going to have to clear the boards and re-introduce himself to his base. He’s going to have to establish solid relationships the same way he and every other politician does with other communities. He’s going to have to establish strong relationships with those who reach those communities  and be sure that folks are truly instep and not just talking a big game.

Lastly and most important President Obama will have to seriously listen to people in his base and not dismiss them. You never see him be dismissive of AIPAC or Wall Street, he shouldn’t be dismissive of those who may not have money, but people power.

President Obama will have to reflect the concerns of these communities in his rhetoric. While Health Care may have been a major accomplishment, it’s not the talking point folks are trying to hear. Tell folks how they can get a job or an apartment with messed up credit? Talk to the young base about the rash of police shootings from Oscar Grant in Oakland to Denroy Henry in New York and what can be done about them. Work with folks about how they can fend off student fee hikes. The possibilities are endless, but mark my words, if Obama and friends don’t improve on the communication tip, he will most definitely be a one term President.

Something to ponder

written by Davey D

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