Today is Martin Luther King’s Birthday-He Was Fearless & Always Spoke Truth to Power

Bloody Sunday - Alabama police attack Selma-to...

Bloody Sunday – Alabama police attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers, 1965. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Martin Luther King Jr‘s actual birthday January 15th 1929. The official holiday is this Monday January 20th..Its also the same day President Obama is inaugurated. We wanted to offer up a few pieces to help you remember, inspire and get you through the day….

First up is a nice video that pays tribute to Bloody Sunday.. That was on March 7 1965 when Dr King and about 600 Civil Rights marchers attempted to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. When they came to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met with a line of police and bully clubs.. many of the marchers were badly beaten.. This song captures the moment

Next is a clip from a speech in King’s later years where he talks about Black empowerment and the vicious lies we were told about Black inferiority…

Next is the speech that many speculate led to King being killed. It was the historic speech where he talks about why he opposed the War in Vietnam.. It was a compelling speech where he goes in on the US and her policy of military violence. He also talks about the intense poverty here in the country.

What many folks don’t like talking about is how shortly after the speech major newspapers from all over the country vilified King. They accused him of being unpatriotic. Not only did he lose support amongst the mainstream, he also lost a lot of popularity amongst other Blacks and Civil Rights leaders. Many felt that he stepped out of his lane and that by speaking on the war, it would mess up their funding. You don’t hear too many people apologizing years later for dissing King and abandoning him for speaking out against the war.

Here’s part 1 of a cool in depth interview as he was just starting out in the Civil Rights Movement… The historic Montgomery Bus Boycott was under his belt.. Here on a show called the Open Mind, King talks about the ‘New Negro’

You can peep pt 2 of this interview HERE

This was a piece I put together a couple of years ago to pay tribute to the Oscar Grant Movement… We were all waiting eagerly for the verdict to the trial around the police who killed him.. Was moved to juxtapose King’s last speech with all that had been going leading up to the jury’s decision..


Returned to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner


Looking Back at 2013..The People, Places & Events that Made This Year Memorable

I2013-2014 t’s not easy to summarize all that took place in 2013.. It definitely was a year for the ages in the sense that we had a number of momentous occasions that marked the 50th, 40th and 150th anniversaries of key landmark events. They ranged from historic March on Washington to the assassination of Medger Evers to The Assassination of President John F Kennedy or the looking back at the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation to Kool Herc doing the first Hip Hop jam 40 years ago.. With each milestone there were attempts to make these once in a lifetime occasions larger than life..

2013 was a year full of impactful life altering events that ranged from the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin to the Edward Snowden blowing the whistle on NSA and telephone companies doing mass surveillance on innocent Americans and world leaders to the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature Healthcare legislation or him constantly using drones.. He had drones deployed the night of his second inauguration in Yemen where 3 were killed. He had them employed the day of Nelson Mandela‘s Memorial where a wedding party of 13 was killed also in Yemen. Sadly drones were big in 2013 with more to come including private companies owning them in 2014.

Here’s my list of big stories from 2013 in no particular order

Christopher Dorner

Christopher Dorner

1-Christopher Dorner: Former LA Cop Goes on Killing Spree; Seeks Revenge

You can’t talk about 2013 and not mention the case of Christopher Dorner and the war he waged on fellow LAPD officers last February. Dorner deemed his former colleagues racist and accused them of conspiring to have him fired. Dorner left a long manifesto where he named off a bunch of officers he said did him wrong and promised to use all his police and military training to take them and their families out..  He wound up killing 4 and wounding 8.. His reign of terror set off the one of the largest manhunts in this country’s history. More than 3 thousand cops pursued him and in doing so a number of innocent people were shot by LAPD…


LA Sheriff Jump Out Boys

LA Sheriff Jump Out Boys

2-LA Sheriff Fire 7 Rogue Cops Known As ‘Jump Out Boys’..

During the Dorner manhunt, a troubled LA Sheriff department announced that they would be firing 7 rogue officers who called themselves the Jump Out Boys. The year before it was revealed the LA sheriff had a gang called the 3000 Boys who routinely brawled with other officers not in their click.  The Jump Out Boys were described as gang who sported the tattoo shown above and celebrated any shootings or kills on their watch. If a deputy shot someone his tattoo would have smoke trails coming from the gun barrel. After the firing, other deputies came forward to file lawsuits claiming a white supremacist gang known as the Vikings ran the department.. Sadly this story got very little national attention…


Chokwe Lumumba

Chokwe Lumumba

3-Chokwe Lumuba Elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi w/ 87% of Vote-A Clear Mandate

In 2013 many left-leaning pundits celebrated the election of Bill De Blasio who ran for mayor in New York. He ran on a platform that promised to rid the city of its infamous Stop and Frisk policy. His victory was deemed a political sea change  and the dawn of a new era. That hope was damped when De Blasio appointed former NYPD honcho William Bratton the architect and staunch supporter of Stop and Frisk to head NYPD..

Many of those pundits eager for political change who championed De Blasio were silent when Chokwe Lumumba garnered a historic victory in Jackson, Mississippi. Unlike De Blasio, Lumumba’s track record is not to sell out and compromise but to follow through on the bold initiatives he ran on.. The former lawyer of 2 Pac Shakur and Assata Shakur was a bright spot in 2013.. All eyes on him in 2014…


assata-shakur-3504-Assata Ain’t No Terrorist, She’s the One Who Fought Terrorist

Many were disappointed and angered when the FBI under President Obama’s leadership decided to make history by making Assata Shakur the first woman to ever be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Shakur who has been in Cuba for almost 30 years as seen as a former political prisoner who is innocent of the charges levied on her. Her situation was a harsh reminder that the state and institutions never forget when it comes to Black Liberation while turning a blind eye and even aiding oppression in the case of others.. We set the record straight with our coverage.


Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

5-The world two great leaders of African descent in 2013…Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chavez

in 2013 a number of world figures passed. In recent days our attention was focused on the passing of Nelson Mandela as we  celebrated his life and legacy. Earlier this year there was a lot of hoopla around the passing of former British prime minister Margret Thatcher aka the Iron Lady. She was applauded as a great leader even though she was strong supporter of Ian Smith the white supremacist who ruled Rhodesia before it became Zimbabwe and staunch supporter the Apartheid regime in South Africa where she declared Nelson Mandela and his organization the ANC (African national Congress) terrorists.

What was downplayed in 2013 was the passing of Hugo Chavez a man who rose to power in spite all the obstacles and coup attempts tossed in the way by western powers. While his legacy was celebrated throughout Latin America and around the world, here in the US the corporate press demonized him..We offered up keen insight as to why Hugo was an important figure.

Additional stories from 2013 on those who passed


Homeboy Sandman

Homeboy Sandman

6-Homeboy Sandman: Jailhouse Roc: The FACTS About Hip Hop and Prison for Profit
In 2013 Kanye West made noise with his new song ‘New Slaves‘ where he name checks the DEA and the CCA (Correction Corporations of America) which is the largest private prison company in America. However it was New York based rapper Homeboy Sandman who months earlier penned an incredible article exposing the reach of the CCA and noting that major TV outlets that target youth like BET and MTV have investments in these private prison companies. Sandman’s article was banned from popular mainstream sites and he sadly didn’t get the props for going HAM on this insidious industry…


Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill

7-Lauryn Hill Pens Open letter Explaining her Money Woes
2013 saw rap icon Lauryn Hill do jail time for not paying her taxes.. Sadly she was incarcerated and forced to say good bye to her 6 kids even after she landed a deal with Sony Music that would’ve allow her to pay off her debt. Many of us were left wondering why Lauryn went to jail when so many others in the entertainment profession are arrested for drugs and other crimes numerous times and let off with only stern warnings.. Lauryn penned an open letter about her situation…


8-Rosa Clemente Blasts Rapper Rick Ross.. Calls on Hip Hop to Say ‘No’ to Rape Culture

rick-ross-rosa-Clemente350Rapper Rick Ross started off 2013 beefing with Chicago street gangs who promised to be at every show with the intent of shutting him down… Each week there was a new video threatening the Miami Rapper. It go so bad that Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew penned an open letter to Rick Ross..warning him to end his beef or wind up dead.. You can read that HERE

Sadly that was just the beginning of Ross’ problems.. Later in the year Ross dropped a song talking about how he likes to slip Molly into unsuspecting women’s drinks  so he can have sex with them later and they ‘not know’.. Rick thought it was a clever play on words.. Many women called it rape..

Long time activist and former Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente put Rick Ross on blast and demanded the men within in Hip Hop step up and disavow such remarks and say ‘No’ to rape culture. She noted that Rick and the promotion machinery behind him was connected to what she dubbed the Rap Industrial Complex which operates with impunity and without regards or respect for communities that are damaged by its unscrupulous profit-making tactics. Rick tried to weather the storm as a number of women’s organizations like Ultra Violet as well as activists like Rosa turned up the heat… When all was said and done Ross lost a lucrative deal with Reebok…….


Rebel Diaz

Rebel Diaz

9-FEDS & NYPD Fearing their Politics, Violently Raid & Evict Rebel Diaz Artistic Collective

Several years ago Rebel Diaz against all odds help bring folks together in their South Bronx neighborhood to build a one of kind, much-needed community center. For the past few years they hosted landmark events and put on an array of classes and art and music trainings. Unfortunately because one of their murals demanded that political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal be set free, it didn’t sit well with NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police brass.. The group was unceremoniously raided, equipment thrown out and landlord pressured to evict them, even though the group was in process of buying the building.. Police and political repression was real in 2013…


Alice Walker.. Alicia Keys

Alice Walker.. Alicia Keys

10-An Open Letter to Alicia Keys from Alice Walker -Please Boycott Israel

in 2013 Famed writer Alice Walker got at singer Alicia Keys with an open letter encouraging her to join the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement) and not do a concert in Tel Aviv. There’s been global protest about the way Israel treats Palestine and out of that concern grew BDS..

A lot of folks got wind and joined Walker in her efforts by signing petitions directed at Keys.. In spite of the press and noise generated by Walker’s letter, Keys bucked the boycott claiming that music is a universal language and she went to Israel and performed.



Jay-Z and Senator Marco Rubio

11-Senator Marco Rubio Tells Jay-Z: He Must Learn.. We Tell Rubio He Should Learn As Well

In 2013, Jay Z and his wife Beyonce caused an international stir when they made an unannounced visit to Cuba. Many praised the couple and said the move would help open doors, other saw it as a slap in the face and support of a repressive government.  Still others stated it was a back door move by the Obama administration to use pop culture as an overture to ease relations.. The sticking point is Assata Shakur who the US wants in jail…Needless to say folks went HAM on the couple.

Jay Z answered his critics with a song called ‘Open Letter‘…Peep that HERE..

A few days later with the help of famed DJ J Period, Common who actually did a song about Assata did a remix of Open Letter and added some political depth to the song.. Peep that HERE

Pitbull who is a staunch opponent of Fidel Castro did his own version of the Open Letter and gave Jay Z props for his trip.. Peep that HERE

Danay Suarez

Danay Suarez

Rounding out the rap responses was popular Cuban artist Danay Suarez who did an Open Letter bashing both the Cuba and US governments for keeping people divided.. She also showed love to Jay Z and Beyoncé for visiting..Peep that song HERE

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida who likes to fancy himself as a ‘hip hop head’ got at Jay Z by referencing the ‘You gonna learn tonight‘ line in the song and proceeded to remark that Jay Z needs to learn and not be a supporter of Che Guevara who asserts had a disdain for Black folks. We decided to weigh in and correct the erroneous remarks made by the Senator and give context to the quotes that Rubio highlighted. In short we put that head to bed.


jay-z-Harry-Belafonte-350 12-Some Food for Thought on this Jay Z vs Harry Belafonte Thang

Jay Z stayed in the news during 2013, not just because of his music but because of beefs he garnered over his politics or lack thereof. A lot of it was crystallized when he decided to respond to long time Human Rights activist Harry Belafonte who challenged him and Beyoncé the year before to step up and do more for charity…

Jay Z didn’t say anything at the time, but he spoke plenty when he released the Magna Carter album where he has a song called Nickles and Dimes where he calls Belafonte ‘boy’ and tells him to respect young’ins..Needless to say many weren’t feeling that and there was a lot of push back on Jay Z..

That push back became more intense when a customer was arrested because he was deemed suspicious while purchasing a $300 belt at the upscale Barney’s  New York .. It was revealed that Jay Z had a line of products coming out with the store and pressure was on him to cut ties. He opted not to which then brought up the comparisons to Harry Belafonte who was known for cutting ties with offending institutions in the past.

As for Belafonte, he stayed busy in 2013, quietly meeting with top rappers and other entertainers to craft ways they could collectively pool resources and address juvenile justice and mass incarceration. Everyone from Jamie Foxx to Bun B to David Banner to Yasiin Bey to name a few of the many have all been planning with Belafonte.. Look for big things to come in 2014.


Kiera Wilmot

Kiera Wilmot

13-The Case Around Fla, Teen Kiera Wilmot is Part of a Bigger, More Disturbing Pattern

The case of 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot an honor student from Bartlow High school in Miami, Florida was arrested and expelled from school after an unsanctioned  science experiment she was conducting went wrong.. Although no one was hurt or no property damaged, she was charged with having a weapon.

The case set off a firestorm of protest and left many wondering what the heck is up with Florida.. Eventually things got resolved, charges were dropped and Kiera was accepted to a prestigious space camp.. In our coverage we highlighted the disturbing trend of young Black and Brown folks being targeted by the police and given harsh punishments.. Wilmots’ case represented that in 2013.


Dream Defenders14-Florida Gov Refuses Black Students Demands on Zimmerman Verdict: Tells them to Go Home & Pray

A bright spot in 2013 was the valiant work undertaken by the Dream Defenders.. They were on the case from day one when Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman. They did a 40 mile trek to bring attention to his plight, long before national media got wind of what was going on in Sanford, Florida. After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, while many of us played the role of talking heads, the Dream Defenders bumrushed the state capitol and refused to leave until they met with the governor and hearings on Stand Your Ground laws be scheduled..

Initially the Governor Rick Scott refused their demands and in fact told the Dream Defenders to go home and pray.. The folks in his office wasn’t having it…They stayed put and blew up the spot.


Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

15-A Few Thoughts About Being on the Witness Stand and Rachel Jaentel

2013 was the year that our collectives eyes and ears were glued to the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Sadly many folks showed their true colors of ignorance and intolerance when Trayvon’s good friend, 19 year old Rachel Jaentel took the stand. Almost immediately, she was demonized, not just by the mainstream press but many Black folks, because she didn’t fit a mold that everyone had projected on her…

It was an ugly moment for many of us. At the same time it beautiful to see Rachel stand her ground, be truthful and hold it down for Trayvon..

For those who got high and mighty about how they would handle themselves on the stand, we brought to life our own experience on the witness stand to shed some light as to what Rachel was dealing with..In the end good won out as radio host Tom Joyner offered to pay for Rachel’s college education.


Idle-No-more35016-Why Idle No More Matters

2013 we saw the Idle No More Movement kick into high gear and come to redefine with environmental justice was really all about.. Far too often Native Peoples have been sidebars and window dressing in the fight to save Mother Earth. With Idle No More throughout the Americas Native folks were front and center. From protesting the Keystone XL to the 7 week hunger strike of Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence to flash mobbing inside the Great Mall of America, Idle No More woke up many as the mainstream press did their best to marginalize and ignore it..


Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis

17-No Words: A Firsthand Account of the Wendy Davis Texas Filibuster

2013 was a year in which we saw a continued war on women and them fighting back. Among the highlights of 2013 was One Billion Rising It was organized by playwright Eve Ensler who was concerned about the fact that one third of the world’s population of women (One Billion) would be assaulted at least once in their lifetime..

There was heightened attention of this campaign because we had a number of law makers who in the months leading up to One Billion Rising campaign had made unsavory remarks about there being ‘legitimate‘ and ‘illegitimate‘ rape and there were some high profile gang rapes in India which sadly are still taking place..

Inside Texas Capitol the night of Wendy Davis Filibuster

Inside Texas Capitol the night of Wendy Davis Filibuster

On top of that we had a congress that was reluctant to extend the Violence Against Women Act..It finally did pass after a contentious fight in the same month as One Billion Rising (February)…but unfortunately the war on women continued throughout the year with hearings in the Senate about sexual assaults in the military to conservative governors doing everything they could to pass Draconian anti-abortion bills.

These battles reached fevered pitches when Texas Governor Rick Perry tried to pass a package of restrictive, backwards bills (Senate Bill 5)  only to be confronted by a state legislature named Wendy Davis from Fort Worth who stood up to him and did an 11 hour filibuster. Her stance caught the attention of folks all around the world and catapulted Davis into the race for Texas Governor…


LL Cool J

LL Cool J

18-Accidental Racist-LL Cool J Says He’ll Forgive the Iron Chains if You can Overlook His Doo Rag

There were a number of cringe worthy moments in 2013, that left us asking ‘What the Hell Were they Thinking? ‘Among them were Russell Simmons and Dreamworks releasing a Harriet Tubman Parody Sex Tape.. You can read about that HERE

There was the case of the cop who decided to ride along with a bunch of bikers who attacked a man , the cop was caught on tape leading the charge..Read about that HERE

What stood out for us in 2013 was rapper/actor LL Cool J teaming up with country singer Brad Paisley to do a ‘We are the World’ type song called ‘Accidental Racist‘. Here Brad sings about his desire to uphold the confederate flag and not be misunderstood as a racist. LL decided to rap about Black people will forgive white people for slavery (iron chains) if they will stop being uncomfortable around us when we wear doo rags.. Later on in the song LL shouts of confederate General Robert E Lee and thanks Lincoln for freeing him.. Needless to say LL lost a lot of ‘Cool J points for that one..Not that its related but in 2013, LL was nominated to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. He didn’t make it on the first round..


Public Enemy

Public Enemy

19-We Salute: Public Enemy Inducted Into Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame Today…

Speaking of Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, 2013 saw the iconic group Public Enemy was inducted. It was fitting for a group that has toured the world over 90 times and has ramped up its tech prowess this past year. PE were among the first to record an album on-line and launch a digital only label. This year we saw them expand their online radio station found at During the swearing-in ceremonies, long time deejay Terminator X came out of retirement and joined the band..It was great to see everyone back together again.. Salute to PE..



RIP Andy Lopez

RIP Andy Lopez

20-There was No Excuse for the Police to Shoot 13 Year Old Andy Lopez

Sadly 2013 saw the continued assault by law enforcement and vigilante types on unarmed Black and Brown folks. This year was marred by numerous shooting deaths including Renisha McBride in Dearborn, Michigan and Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mariam Carey in Washington DC  and mysterious death Kendrick Johnson in Georgia…Hip Hop artist/ activist Jasiri X did an incredible tribute to these victims in a song called ‘Strange Fruit

Adding to this list was shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California. He was shot by a 24 year veteran weapons specialist for the Sonoma Sheriff department and a former military officer named Eric Gelhaus who saw Lopez walking across a field near his house to return a toy gun.. The field is frequented by neighborhood youth who often shoot pellet guns.. Without warning, the deputy turned his car around and approached Lopez from behind, yelled out an order and when Lopez turned around was shot 7 times and then handcuffed. The entire exchange from the time the deputy saw Lopez to him being shot was around 10 seconds..

There have been numerous protests in the Santa Rosa area, many of them led by the Lopez’s young classmates. What took place wasn’t isolated, it was the 56th police killing in 10 year in that area. 2014 folks will be working hard to change this dynamic of folks being killed because they are deemed inhuman or expandable RIP Andy Lopez

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin

21-Richmond, California Battles Banksters With Eminent Domain Tactic..

Another political bright spot in 2013 was Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and the city of Richmond, California who saw many of their neighborhoods severely crippled by foreclosures. Many of those foreclosed found that they were deliberately directed to predatory subprime loans. Entire blocks were being wiped out and many hard working people were being displaced. Mayor McLaughlin decided to use a new tactic to push back.. They would use eminent domain, which has often been beneficial to banks and rich developers to take away those foreclosed homes and sell them back at affordable rates to the people. Needless to say the very same group of people who once championed eminent domain, now have been going to court to try and stop it.. We salute Mayor McLaughlin and Richmond, Cali for being forward thinking..

Honorable Mentions:

Some Funky Christmas and Holiday Songs To Keep You in Step


There’s been scores of Hip Hop Christmas songs ranging from Run DMC‘s Christmas in Hollis to Eazy E‘s Merry Mutha…. Christmas.. I put a few of them together to bring that Holiday cheer.. Enjoy.. Feel free to add your own… Davey D

Beat Street Christmas Rap

Kurtis Blow Christmas Rap

Run DMC Christmas in Hollis

Santa Baby Rap

Sypda D ‘Ghetto Santa’

Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg & Tha Dogg Pound

Grace Jones Little Drummer Boy

James Brown ‘Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto’

James Brown ‘Soulful Christmas’

Jimmy Jules & the nuclear soul system

Jive Turkeys ‘Funky Christmas’

Lauryn Hill ‘Little Drummer Boy’

Cee-Lo Mary ‘Did You Know’

Surf MCs ‘New Years Day Song’

**For Adults only..Here’s a couple of dirty Holiday songs that may make you laugh or cringe but nevertheless are classics of sorts including the new Too Short

Eazy E Merry MuthaPh— X-Mas

Master P Christmas in the Ghetto

Too Short – Hanukkah Favorite Time Of The Year

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

White and Wealthy = Free Pass (Affluenza)

The Facts:

Ethan Couch

Ethan Couch

A wealthy white 16-year old teen, named Ethan Couch, dodges a 20 year sentence despite killing four people while driving intoxicated. His ticket to freedom has been attributed to a psychologist arguing that his wealthy parents spoiled him rotten so he didn’t know any better.  As reported by Jessica Luther, in The Guardian, Dr. Miller described the teen’s diagnosis of affluenza in the following way:

“The teen never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone. If you hurt someone, you sent him money. He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way. He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”

While seemingly ignoring the legal, cultural, social, and economic roots of these lessons, and failing to note the irony in putting on a defense that cites the lack of accountability and responsibility in an effort to limit accountability and responsibility, his defense team secured a victory with this strategy.

Such success reveals the entrenched nature of white supremacy and class privilege.  As Luther notes, the ability to see Couch as innocent, to see this young boy as having a future, and as someone who can be rehabilitated, helps us understand this “slap on the wrist” especially in comparison to the draconian criminal justice experienced by youth of color. “But there is something else going on here. It matters that Judge Boyd saw Couch as someone that not only could be rehabilitated but whom it was worth it to rehabilitate,” she notes.  In the white supremacist and classist imagination, Couch has the values, the culture, the family, and the whiteness that bestows him second chances; his redemption is possible, especially because his parents are able to foot the $450,000 dollar bill for in-patient treatment at a California center.   One has to wonder what the treatment for affluenza might be: writing 1000 times on the board, “just because I am white doesn’t mean everything I do is right”; or chanting, “I will be accountable for my actions.” Or will simply he be forced to live without his i-phone and car for a few months?    Poor Ethan!

The Implications:

While the outrage over the justice system’s decision to pat little Ethan on the head, sending him to bed with no dessert is warranted, it would be a mistake to see the judge’s decision as exceptional.  Each and every day, institutions and individuals make decisions with special concern for not only affluenza, but whititis (the consequences of white entitlement) and masculenza (the ailment of male privilege) as well.  The lack of accountability, compared to the harsh and unequal injustice felt by youth of color, is nothing new.

One such example is the case of Andrew Klepper, a 16-year old white male from Bethesda Maryland, who in 2002 plead guilty to three felonies, including charges that he sodomized a woman with a baseball bat, held her at knifepoint and stole $2,000 dollars from her.  His sentence: probation and treatment at an out-of-state facility (by 2011, after multiple arrests, he was finally sent to prison for 7 years – we guess three strikes of affluenza means you are out).  His parents’ ability to pay for the “treatment” and his “potential” surely led to this sentence.   We must put this latest sentencing of Ethan Couch in a historical context to really understand the depth of the implications.

In a society where middle-class white youth pop Adderall with great frequency, reporting this illegal usage without any fear of punishment, it is clear that affluenza is systemic.  In a society where Bill Maher and others white celebrities take to the airwaves to tout their marijuana use, where college students at historically white institutions break laws with greater frequency than attending class, it’s a mistake to limit the conversation to Mr. Couch, Dr. Miller, or Judge Boyd.

Quoted in USA Today, Daniel Filler, a law professor at Drexel University who specializes in juvenile law broke it down; “The real truth is that our criminal justice system is suffering from ‘affluenza’ because affluent people can afford better attorneys and better get better outcomes,” Filler said.  Numbers don’t lie how pervasive race and class privilege operate within the criminal justice system.   As noted by Vijay Prashad, in Keeping up with the Dow Joneses, almost sixty percent of juveniles detained in correction facilities are black; an additional 21 percent are Latino.  In total, half of the 700,000 youth in juvenile prison are there as a result of a first offense, usually a drug or property crime.   Mr. Couch killed four people, stole alcohol from WalMart, drove drunk, and injured two more people, and was neither sent to a juvenile detention facility, much less tried as an adult.

Numbers don’t lie – without affluenza, go directly to jail!

 A 2008 report from the Equal Justice Initiative points to the ample benefits of those “suffering” with affluenza, whititis, and masculenza:

“2,225 children under the age of 18 are serving life sentences in US. Prisons; almost two-thirds are children of color”

According to Marian Wright Edelman,

1 in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension during the 2009-10 school year.

Black students were more than three-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers for the same offenses”

Clearly affluenza and related illnesses are letting all too many off the hook, even while youth of color are routinely punished.  According to the NAACP,

“Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons.”

Highlighting racial bias along every level of of the juvenile justice system, the study found that the growing acceptance to try juvenile as adults has disproportionate impacted youth of color.

Black youth are more likely than white youth, who commit comparable crimes, to be arrested, prosecuted, tried as adults, convicted, sentenced, and sent to adult prison.

When comparing youth with no prior records that arrested for violent crimes – including murder, rape and robbery – 137 out of every 100,000 blacks are incarcerated, compared with 15 out of every 100,000 whites (Mauer 2001).

 The examples are endless, the data is telling, and the destroyed lives are countless; racism and class privilege are leading youth of color to prison all while protecting white youth.

 Why We Can’t Tolerate This:

In America, white youth, no matter how severe the crime is, are unlikely to be locked up.  The greatest “get out of jail free card” is whiteness and wealth.  Mr. Couch and his attorney merely brought this into light, showing what is all too common.

While his sentence was buttressed by a defense of “affluenza,” we see it another way: the (non)punishing of Couch was a victory for/by white supremacy, and class and gender privilege.

No fancy name will change this reality.

Stand up for what’s right

JLove and David

About the Authors

David Leonard is a professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race at Washington State University.

JLove Calderon is a conscious media maker, social entrepreneur, and author of five books, including her latest: Occupying Privilege; Conversations on Love, Race, and Liberation.


We Can Make Up Words Too!Whititis = white entitlement

Masculenza = male privilege

Coined by David Leonard



The History of Bay Area Hip Hop Dance: Roboting, Strutting, Boogaloo & Funk

Medea Sirkas

Medea Sirkas

In recent weeks we’ve been doing a series of radio shows and articles that highlight certain aspects of Hip Hop History. In particular we been focusing on local (Bay Area) and West Coast History which sadly after 40 years is usually overlooked and marginalized by many writers and scholars.

Yes there are lots of stories about stellar artists like NWA, 2Pac and Ice T to name a few, but the West Coast narrative as told by many outside the West, leaves many with the false assumption that there was no dance, music or art culture that existed prior to the 1980s..

We sat down with Bay Area dance pioneers Fayzo and Boogaloo Dana of the legendary dance group Medea Sirkas and had them shed some light on some important overlooked history. They are staples in the Bay Area and have been around before the term Hip Hop was even coined. Nationally and internationally they have been featured in numerous videos for artist like Paul Wall and Usher. They have been on TV shows including Showtime at the Apollo.

In our interview they noted that they remain relevant after  40 years because they’ve learned to evolve and change with the times while still staying masters of the styles of dance they helped pioneer. They noted that popular dance styles like Roboting, Strutting and Boogalooing that are now associated with Hip Hop have been percolating in the Bay Area since the late 1960s.

Fayzo & Boogaloo Dana

Fayzo & Boogaloo Dana

The pair talked about pioneering dance figures and crew who proceeded them including the Black Messengers  and the Black Resurgence who are considered the fathers of all this.. The pair walked us through their long history which began with them being solo dancers from different cities in the early 70s. Fayzo  was part of a group called Demons of the Mind which was started in 78 by Larry McDonald.

Boogaloo Dana joined the group in 83/84..  Demons of the Mind which was a mainstay in the Bay Area for years.  Eventually Dana and Fayzo went on to form Medea Sirkas in 91 and have been going strong for over 20 years.

Fayzo who has been dancing since 1972 noted that each city within the Bay Area had their own style and approach to the various dance styles along with particular styles of dress.  San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond were the main hubs that interacted with each other in terms of dance competitions and showcases and hence became center attractions. Other cities like San Jose and East Palo Alto were also main players as well..

Boogaloo Dana noted that the early dance scene evolved to a point that one could tell what city or part of town someone was from based upon the types of hats and shoes they wore. The way people moved outside of actually dancing reflected the attitude and vibe of particular locales..

In our interview both men noted that terms like boogalooing and strutting had been around for a long time but became specifically defined for Bay Area folks to describe particular types of dance movements. Roboting dates back in the Bay Area to the mid 60s, that was made famous by Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 via their song ‘Dancing Machine‘  in the mid 70s

It had a variety of styles that varied from city to city. In other words the way a someone did the robot in Oakland was different then the way cats in Richmond did it. Just about everyone you spoke to traced back a different influence. They ranged from seeing the robotic movements of mannequins in department store window displays to seeing the robot in popular TV shows like Lost in Space.  They also detailed how group routines evolved and all the different components like dominoes and fall aways came into being..

Boogaloo Dana talked extensively about the music scene noting that deejays weren’t the big thing , it was all about the hundreds of funk bands that made things pop. The dance crews eventually became main attractions over the bands the same way rappers eventually over took the popularity of deejays.  The music that dominated the scene was funk where the emphasis was on the bass line.. Eventually as deejays became popular folks gravitated to electronic sounds that were funky. The mainstays were groups like Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra.



Fayzo who hails from the Fillmore district opened up and talked about the strange intersection that early dance scene had with the infamous People’s Temple that was ran by Jim Jones. He and Dana are doing post production on their documentary ‘Strutters for Life: The Untold Story of Medea Sirkas‘ and in it they go into painful detail about how key pioneering dance figures of groups like Black Velvet featuring the late Charles Marshall were members of the People’s Temple and were among the 900 people who perished in Guyana after drinking the poisoned Kool Aid.

Fayzo was a member of the People’s Temple and was scheduled to go on that ill-fated trip, but wound up not going. He lost a number of family members and for a very long time never spoke on the tragedy. Dancing offered an escape from the harsh reality he and others endured with respect to the People’s Temple massacre..

Boogaloo Dana

Boogaloo Dana

During our conversation Fayzo and Boogaloo Dana spoke about the ethnic make up of the dancers at that time. They both noted the scene was predominantly Black and eventually evolved to include other races.. The crossover so to speak happened during the late 70s early 80s as media attention was given to the Hip Hop scene emerging from New York City. Both Fayzo and Dana noted that throughout the 70s many were unaware of breakdancing/ bboying or what was going on in New York. Nor did they know how big that scene had become.  They talked about how New York’s Hip Hop scene integrated into what was going on in the Bay..

We conclude our interview by talking about pioneering women in the Bay Area’s early dance scene  and the accomplishments of other dance crews including Richmond’s Housing authority who would go on to be main choreographers for Michael Jackson.

Click the link below to download or Listen to the HKR Intv

Click the link below to download or Listen to the HKR Intv

Here’s pt1 of our Hard Knock Radio Interview

Here’s pt 2 of our Hard Knock Radio Interview

Dead Prez Member Mike Flo Kicked off Plane bc of ‘Suspicious’ face Tattoos

Mike FloWe caught up with Mike Flow (Mike Flowers) who is the dj for the group dead prez who talked to us about how he was racially profiled and kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight en route from Seattle to Portland.. The flight attendant became suspicious of his facial tattoos and decided to delay their flight and have Mike removed..

Flo in our interview explained that his facial tattoos are African symbols  and part of his religion and that they are legally protected under our laws. He also noted that he’s a platinum member of Delta Airlines which is a partner to Alaska. As he pointed out, if I was such a threat or my tattoos were ‘so offensive’ why take me off and put me on later flight?

Flo noted that he was made to feel less than human and during our conversation we noted the increasing amounts of  suspicion tossed on Black people with negative and sometimes fatal results. They range from the young college student named Trayon Christian shopping at a high-end store in NY ( Barneys New York) who drew suspicion from the cashier who felt he shouldn’t be buying such an expensive piece of clothing to two young men in New Jersey who had a cashier refuse their cash payment for a baby stroller because she thought the large sum of money might be counterfeit… Even after the cops were called the store, Buy, Buy Baby refused to accept the payment..

The suspicion has had fatal results including the tragic killing of Renisha McBride last month who went seeking help after a car accident in a Detroit suburb and was shot to death by an elderly man who says he thought she was a burglar. Police shot 24 year Johnathan Fowler after he was in a car accident and approached them seeking help, they claimed they thought the unarmed injured man had a gun..The most egregious and notorious case of Black person being profiled because he  looked suspicious was that of Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed by a racist neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman who was acquitted of the crime.

From wearing hoodies in the rain to having face tattoos on the plane there’s agrowing list of these types of incidents. What went down with Mike Flo is the latest one.. In his case he’s already gotten a lawyer who are hard on the case and he’s launched a campaign  called #ItsArtNotACrime.

Click the link below to download or Listen to the HKR Intv

Click the link below to download or Listen to the HKR Intv

Cynthia McKinney Speaks on the Legacy of Nelson Mandela

My condolences to the family and loved ones of Nelson Mandela and to the people of the Republic of South Africa and all of Africa. I had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela on several occasions. It is true that he was a transformational leader;

I also visited Robben Island and saw the prison where he lived and worked and the cell in which he was incarcerated.
Mandela’s is a very moving journey, one that carried the dreams and aspirations of an entire nation and world of people ready for change and alleviation of suffering. And to all of us who work for the day that oppression is a phenomenon unknown to humankind.

-Cynthia McKinney-

Cynthia McKinney redWe had an opportunity to chop it up with former Congresswoman and Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney about Nelson Mandela and his legacy. She talked to us and explained why he was a transformative figure. We talked about his long friendships with Libyan Muammar Gaddafi, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the key roles they all played in helping Mandela get free and Apartheid to end..

McKinney noted that the US government along with Israel put up major roadblocks at every step of the way to hinder the African national Congress and Mandela and that should not be forgotten..

She talked about the contradictions of Gaddafi being killed and Obama who led the charge for regime change in Libya speaking at the memorial.  We also talked about Winnie Mandela and why she is not only forever linked with Mandela, but why she is important in her own right..

Click the link below to download or Listen

Click the link below to download or Listen to HKR Intv

President Obama, Raul Castro, Mandela’s Memorial and the Handshake Seen Around the World

Obama handshakeSeems like more than a few folks are up in arms over President Obama shaking hands with Fidel Castro‘s brother Raul. For most of us its no big deal, friend or foe when someone is in your presence, the civil thing to do is nod hello, shake hands and keep it moving.. But when it comes to heads of state, some wanna give it extra meaning…

Granted some of the manufactured outrage is via far right forces who are no fans of Obama and will look for anything to score political points. For others it symbolizes a crack in what they may have hoped to be a permanent icy relationship between the US and Cuba..For others the handshake signals a possible new direction in relations between the two countries. For some the handshake from someone who says one thing and does another its meaningless..

Lets take a step back and examine a few things..First, the world was at a memorial for a man who everyone has hyped up for his ability to forgive and break bread and find redemptive qualities with his enemies..If Mandela can make peace with the Dutch Afrikaners who did unthinkable horrors and the world is praising him at a his funeral for that deed, what the hell is wrong with folks getting all upset when gestures of acknowledgement are made? Have a freaking seat and stop crying..

If forgiveness and diplomacy are the orders of the day and that’s what everyone is pushing, then let everyone follow such dictates from top to bottom. That means the gang bangers on the street can shake hands and find other ways to settle differences. It means heads of states can find forgiveness with one another.

If folks can heap praise on forgiving the systemic and brutal horrors of Afrikaners, than those same folks can find forgiveness in those who fought them ie Winnie Mandela..Lets talk about that…

If the British Prime Minister David Cameron can show up, take selfies with Obama and the Prime Minister of Denmark and be the first to send condolences to Mandela even though 20 years ago he wanted to execute him, then he can make peace and find redemption with Robert Mugabe especially after he got a standing ovation, that no one wants to talk about..

On the other hand if we are going to play the card that a handshake with someone we don’t like or perceived as doing egregious wrongs, then let us all have a seat at the table and not allow a few disgruntled politicos like Ted Cruz be the only ones who get to say who the president gets to shake hands with and who he can’t….

I’m sure many of us in a perfect world don’t want Obama shaking hands with Wall Street bankers who bilked this country for trillions and tanked our economy..Many of us who are watching corporate powers make moves to further privatize the commons.. would like it if the president shun all of them and stop dealing with lobbyist who he said he would avoid when he ran he first ran for office..

Many of us don’t want him shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel who skipped Mandela’s funeral and overseas what many consider an apartheid like state when it comes to its Palestinian population and in more recent days its African immigrant population.. Plus Israel backed the Apartheid government.. How about Obama not shake hands with him or any of her leaders?

Many of us would be perfectly ok if Obama not shake the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin especially since he pushed for the anti-gay law in his country..Many are not too keen on the crack downs he oversees when there is dissent. We already know there are forces upset that Russia gave former NSA contractor Edward Snowden asylum and are pushing for the president to hold back his hand on that tip..How about the President hold back on human rights violations?

Speaking of human rights violations, since folks are upset with the President for shaking hands with Raul Castro citing human rights concerns, would those same folks be upset if there were folks who refused to shake hands with president Obama because of his own human rights violations.. It would be great that if the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, refused to shake hands with Obama because of all the unmanned drone strikes that besiege his country..

If any head of state in Africa upset about Africom refuses to shake Obama’s hand would that be considered rude and undignified? Would it be wrong if the refuse to shake his hand in light of him leading the charge to kill President Gaddafi as the US interests took over Libya??

What about any of the heads of state from Latin American countries that have found themselves being targeted and undermined by US policies?

Would folks be up in arms if President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela or President Evo Morales of Bolivia refused to shake hands with Obama. Certainly Morales has good cause after his plane was detained for 14 hours when rumors spread that he might be housing Edward Snowden..

We did see the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff bite her tongue and shake President Obama’s hand even though she was majorly pissed upon discovering she her phone calls were being listened to via the NSA and Obama’s policy..

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.07.10 AMIn any case the handshake has gotten folks buzzing the same way the President’s body language, his wife’s side eyed glances and him taking selfies with fellow world leaders. Some are arguing that we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions about him taking pictures and that too many people are erroneously reading into his wife, First Lady Michele Obama‘s facial expressions. We are told its trivial and pictures don’t convey all that’s really going on.. We’ll if that’s the case, maybe we are all reading too much into a handshake which is somehow deemed more important because a few Senators and some political minded folks are talking..

Maybe its just a harmless handshake, the same way a nod and smile one gives upon seeing someone. Maybe the playful selfie and side eye glances were harmless as well.. But in the event that these aforementioned gestures have deeper meaning, President Obama better watch whose hand he’s shaking and his wife should start wearing sun glasses so we cant see if she’s approving or disapproving..

Even better why don’t we lift the sanctions in Cuba find bold creative ways to engage our neighbors where its a win for the people who never get to shake any of these leaders hands.. If there were no sanctions and people were true to ideals they kept upholding about Nelson Mandela, this handshake seen around the world would be a non issue …

3 Dope Songs from Madlines Making Noise from Seattle to the Bay Area

MadlinesLot of folks have been talking about Seattle as of late and its burgeoning Hip Hop scene. Much of the buzz is due to the success of Macklemore who has had a stellar year.. But folks shouldn’t stop with one artists in exploring the Emerald City which has a rich history and filled with talented emcees.

One of the folks who is standing out is Madeleine Clifford aka Madlines one half of the group Canary Sing which has been on hiatus for a while. She is more than just an emcee, but an educator and activist. As a member of Canary Sing, she along with her best friend Hollis Wong Wear who has sung on a couple of songs with Macklemore, could be found all over Seattle at spoken word events, conducting workshops and hyping up rallies by spitting dope rhymes that gave extra life to the causes they were repping..

The group became fairly popular and released an EP called ‘The Beautiful Baby‘ Standout cuts included the big band sounding ‘Prove It‘, the boom bap inspired ‘Heroine’ and the sultry sounding ‘H206‘ which pays tribute to Seattle.

Madlines albumA couple of years ago Madlines moved from Seattle to Oakland to get her masters degree. In true form she started making the rounds  and has become a fixture here in the Bay Area.. She made some noise last year with the release of a horn laden song called ‘I Need a Moment‘.

This year she put her shoulder to the grind to finish her first solo EP called ‘Love Child‘. Here Madlines pushes the envelope and expands her sound to include nice reggae sounding jams like ‘A Good Thing‘  and ‘Irie‘ which features Hollis. According to Madlines, the sound scape to the peroject reflects her West Indian roots..

The EP has a dope stand out track that reflects her more traditional flows called Blocka which features Madlines trading rhymes with Gigante of the group Brwn Bflo. The pair recently teamed up to do a heartfelt song about mass incarceration and the impact it has on families  called Beyond the Bars

If you happen to be in the Bay Area at the end of the month December 21 2013, Madlines along with fellow Bay Area artists Aisha Fukishima, Coco Peila and Ana Roth will all be performing at the Legionnaire Salon located on 2272 telegraph Ave in Oakland

BLOCKA (Don’t Block My Shine)

I Need A Moment


St Louis Woman Falsely Accuses 3 Black men of Knock Out Game Attacks

Knock Out Game victimA couple of weeks ago I penned an article pointing out the fallacy of the so-called ‘Knock Out Game‘ and the possible dangers if we started buying into what was essentially a far right smear campaign.. Well since then a couple of things have come to light.. First the teacher who is shown being punched in a video by a teenage boy in Pittsburgh, Pa  as they passed him with a group of friends, was interviewed the other day and he’s pretty pissed off..

He says he feels he was exploited and being forced to relive something that took place a year and a half ago. Furthermore he doesn’t believe he was the victim of any knock out game.. He says as I noted, he was assaulted plain and simple. He was not victim to some nationwide trend..

The other case coming to light is that one of the more celebrated ‘nationwide‘ knock out game cases took place in St Louis.. This case involved a woman named Ashley DePew and 3 Black males was frequently sighted as proof of how the game was spreading.. The woman had to get facial reconstructive surgery.. Turns out the young woman was never assaulted by 3 Black males. She was covering up for her boyfriend.. Police were scouring all over looking for 3 Black males..She says she didn’t want any repercussions with her or her boyfriend’s family so she lied.. Read about that here—>

Dov hikindLastly one of the main alarmnist NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind,  who has been making noise and trying to get harsh legislation passed around the Knock Out game claiming that its all the rage in Brooklyn and spreading like wildfire, has a serious checkered past . He likes to wear Blackface and defends doing so. Maybe he been so hyped on the ‘knock out’ game to protect himself for folks who wanna knock him out for wearing Blackface, but lets not digress.>>

On top of that even the police in NY aren’t backing all his wild claims. They say
don’t believe the hype –>

Reminds me of the case a few years ago when a white woman claimed there was a Black woman in Portland throwing acid on people’s faces..It made national headlines.. people went off talking about how ‘crazy’ and ‘mean spirited’ Black women were.. Money poured in for the victim ..It was all a lie

Like I said in the article.. Its big business to blame Black folks. Now when folks get mad and wanna react to the false accusations and narratives, we are gonna be told to be forgiving and loving like Mandela

-Davey D-