Whatever Happened to Vote or Die?



Whatever Happened to Vote or Die?
By Davey D

original article-July 18, 2006The crowd roared with approval and P-Diddy repeated his remarks to make sure his point was not missed.

daveyd-raider2I have this nagging question, that won’t go away regarding Mr. Sean ‘P-Diddy’ Combs. It’s the eve of the second annual Hip Hop Political Convention, so I’m in a political mind set and hence I keep asking myself; ‘Does anyone know what the hell happened to his Vote or Die Campaign and his organization Citizens for Change?

I mean I already know the obvious, he shut that shit down a while back and he’s been running around throwing lavish parties, doing Making The Band’ for MTV, he was in a play Raisin of the Sun’ and now he’s gearing up for his new album in October of this year.

On the surface, most people are gonna be quick to say, ‘Dude was phony and all his ‘Vote or Die’ campaign did was help sell him a bunch of T-shirts’. Others will say he was never really serious about politics in the first place and he was on some sort of ego trip when he jumped into Hip Hop and politics arena.

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that I remember when Diddy spoke at the Patrick Lipert Awards in February of 2004, before he started Citizen For Change or launched Vote or Die, he caught everyone by surprise when he jumped on stage to accept an award and told the packed audience he wanted to ‘Get Bush’s ass out of office’.

Startled officials from the non-profit, non-partisan Rock the Vote organization who put on the event got nervous real quick and moved toward Diddy as if to hurry him up. I guess he realized that by making such an overtly partisan statement he could get RTV in trouble so he backed off just a little and tried to recast his remarks.

But then Diddy came back harder by talking about how Bush was a lousy President who failed to comfort grieving mothers who lost their sons to the War in Iraq. The crowd went nuts and Diddy restated his opening remarks about ‘Getting Bush’s ass out of office’. Nobody including myself thought we’d hear such biting remarks form Mr. Party Central aka P-Diddy directed at the president

After he left the stage I tried my best to get a copy of the remarks, but RTV held on to their copies and wouldn’t release them. Although there were a number of press outlets present including MTV, you didn’t really see or hear a lot of coverage regarding Diddy’s remarks. It wasn’t until several months later I got a tape of his speech

Which you can hear here:


In the meantime Diddy went out and started his Vote or Die campaign and showed up everywhere including the couch of Oprah to extol the values of voting. When I finally caught up with him, it was at the Democratic Convention that July. He was definitely passionate but avoided talking about his remarks about Bush when I brought it up. He kept saying that he was non-partisan and hadn’t made up his mind. It was like a mantra. I figured he was just being careful because Citizen Change was a non-profit and he didn’t wanna get hemmed up the way Russell did when he campaigned to end the Rockefeller Drug Laws the year prior.

Now after the 2004 election we all know and heard the blowhard talk show pundits like MSNBC Chris Mathews who tried to take aim at Diddy and claim that the youth/ Hip Hop vote never materialized. That was in fact a lie. The goal was to get 20 million people to the polls. More than 21 million showed up marking an increase by 11% of voters between the ages 18-25.

With respect to Bush’s opponent Senator John Kerry, the only demographic to vote for him in the majority and with record numbers was the Youth/Hip Hop vote. Sadly his spineless punk ass never bothered to show any gratitude. It was the older critics of the youth vote who voted for Kerry didn’t pull their weight in the last election

But back to P-Diddy. Here’s a guy that often states that he hates to fail. If he does have an ego, it’s one that pushes him to look and sound good at all times. I can’t understand how he just slide off into the sunset without a word. Regarding his campaign. That’s not a good look. Why not continue the momentum? Was it really about selling t-shirts? Was it really about jumping on a trend? If Diddy was so passionate and so much against Bush’s politics in 2004, why wouldn’t he jump at the chance to weaken the president’s grip in these 2006 midterm elections? Forget the ‘Vote or Die’ campaign; I just wanna know why he’s been so silent about any of these issues.

Sometimes I wonder if he pissed some folks off in high places who saw him as having the potential to really wreck some political havoc and as a result he got unceremoniously got shut down. I mean it’s not like P-Diddy has always been spiffy clean. There’s had to be few times he was ‘ridin’ dirty’. It’s hard not to when you get to certain levels in the music biz. It’s hard not to when you get high up there in politics. On certain levels in both these professions people play hard and they play for keeps. Positioning, market share and power are the end games.

With that in mind, how can I not put it past folks who roll in that infamous Neocon circle of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle and the rest of the gang that have all but hijacked the government and led us to War, to sit idly by when their position is challenged.

Think about it, if you were a high ranking political type trying to make power moves and you looked out your window and saw a guy like Diddy telling people to vote your ass out of office, you don’t think you wouldn’t dig up some dirt on him and shut him down and make him be quiet?

You don’t think you would find some sort of angle where you could literally make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? We’re talking about the music biz folks, where its always dirty. We’re talking politics here folks which has long been the dirtiest and grimiest business you can get into. Vote or Die had the potential to unseat some folks who many believe went out and stole a couple of elections and lied to us so we could be led us into a war for fictional reasons. In short the guys in power don’t play.

If you think this is far fetched, look at the vicious attacks that regularly go on during campaigns. Look at the Swiss Boat ads that sunk decorated war hero John Kerry. Look at how war hero Senator John McCain got taken out by the Neo-cons in their character attacks on him. Remember this was a guy who was a Prisoner of War during Vietnam and he stayed in prison and endured all sorts of torture to save the lives of his men.

When he ran against Bush in the 2000 primaries he looked perched to maybe win the GOP nomination, but Bush’s team took him out with the vilest attacks. Nowadays John McCain has totally changed his tune and wholeheartedly supports the president after he once proudly stood against him. He must’ve gotten some ass kicking to have changed up like that.

For a boisterous guy like Diddy to suddenly go silent, one can’t but think that something went down behind the scenes. Listen to his remarks in that February before the election. Ask yourself, how do you go from saying all that to not saying anything? The silence is glaring. The absence is more than noticeable. Diddy said he wanted to get Bush’s ass out of office and apparently, somehow, someway, somebody got his ass out of politics. How did that happen?

During the recent BET Awards, Diddy showed up to the press gallery about 20 minutes after boxing promoter Don King came through and lit up the place by telling everyone why George Bush is the greatest President ever and how he’s been real good to Black people.

Politics was on everyone’s mind when Diddy came to field questions and several reporters including myself and Andreas Hale of HipHopdx.com along with a woman from another newspaper who’s name I forgot, raised our hands to ask P-Diddy the 64 thousand dollar question; ‘Where did ‘Vote or Die’ disappeared to? ‘Do you agree with Don King and think Bush is a great President for Black people?’ etc etc

In typical BET fashion, the press monitor avoided picking anyone who he thought would ‘go there’ and instead chose three people who asked Diddy simple questions like ‘what kind of outfit he was wearing and how does he like working with Yung Joc’. He answered those three or four questions and bounced with the wind.

So anyway, P-Diddy involving himself in the 2006 election or politics in general is not be all, end all. This weekend in Chicago, there will be others who are fully prepared to engage that arena and they’ll stick I through no matter what. It’s like I said 20 years from now some of us will have grand kids and they’re gonna come across a video or an old Vibe Magazine cover or read about this campaign and they gonna have a few questions. It’d be nice if we one day got a full explaination.

Is Hip Hop’s Audience Really 80% White?


Is Hip Hop’s Audience Really 80% White?

By Davey D

original article-July 15, 2006

daveyd-raider2In recent days a debate has ensued on my website daveyd.com, around one of Hip Hop’s biggest myths. It started in 1991 when Newsweek Magazine did a cover story on Gangsta Rap and in their article they put out an un-researched statistic that said 80% of Hip Hop’s audience is white and that its reflected in record sales. That stat has been bantered about ever since as an undisputable stone cold fact.

Adding to this myth was a conversation that took place at the Gavin Convention in San Francisco around the same time when Ice T during a panel discussion stated that anything above his average 750 thousand record sales was attributed to white kids.

But is this really true? Granted if one goes to a Mos Def show or even a Wu-Tang concert you will see a majority white audience in many cities, but does that translate to that 80% white audience? How does an all white Wu-Tang show in Northern Cali compare to a sold out predominantly Black T.I. or Yung Joc show in Atlanta or in Oakland? How does that compare to a sold out predominantly Latino Psycho Realm or Sick Symphony show in East LA?

Back in 91 when this 80% first surfaced, there was no study or methodology that that kept track of race when it came to album sales. About the closest one could come was by estimating based upon record stores in a particular area, but that would yield far from accurate results. To start in many areas, folks from different ethnic backgrounds would frequent stores that were in sections of a city dominated by one race. For example, if you came to Berkeley in Northern Cali,  you found three main record stores up near the UC campus in an area that was statistically majority white. Folks from all over including predominantly Black South Berkeley and majority Black Oakland shopped at those stores. How were statistics based on purchases by race kept?

The truth of the matter is that this 80% white Hip Hop fan myth has long been a nice marketing tool used by media corporations to justify ad revenues for Top 40 radio stations. Here’s a little background on this.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, many rap artists complained how the urban (Black) radio stations did not play rap except on the weekends and even then it was only in the mix late at night. Chuck D highlighted this concern in his song ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’. He goes into further detail about this lack of support by Black urban programmers in a song called ‘How to Kill a Radio Consultant’.

According to Black radio programmers they avoided playing rap, because it was affecting their advertising. In spite of Hip Hop’s cross over success with groups like Run DMC and the ‘positive, vibe that existed within rap at that time-(it was the Golden Era), many companies associated Hip Hop with violence done by Black people. Hence a Black radio station playing Hip Hop was likely to have difficult time getting money.

The Showdown Between Urban & Top 40 Radio Over Hip Hop

Around this time several prominent Top 40 radio stations were starting to aggressively play Hip Hop. Most notably was KMEL in San Francisco which became very successful and quickly moved into the number one spot over its urban competition KSOL which had been number one for years.

This sparked a lot of controversy and resulted in a big face off in 1992 at the Gavin Convention in San Francisco between Black urban programmers and white Top 40 stations that were starting to play Hip Hop. The packed panel discussion was hosted by Lee Michaels an African American editor at Gavin who interestingly had laid down the groundwork and started Top 40 giant KMEL which went on to win Best Rap Station in the country 5 years in a row. He posed the question as to weather or not Top 40 stations should be playing Rap or were they exploiting it?

The argument put forth by Black programmers was that they were playing the music but not getting both the ad dollars and promotions benefits from record companies. They talked about how the industry had a dirty secret which two sets of rules and budgets, one for Black urban stations which were small and one for Top 40 stations which in some cases were 3 to 4 times bigger. These budget disparities were also reflected in the Black music departments of and the Crossover and Pop music departments of the record labels

They went on to talk about how major labels would come to town and show support to these urban stations by giving them a bunch of tapes and later CDs for giveaway to the audience while across town these new pop stations playing rap were given huge prizes like tickets and all expense paid flyaways to music awards and album release parties.

Black programmers contended that they were responsible for breaking a lot of the urban music into the market place only to see their cross town Top 40 rivals reap the benefits.

The biggest point of contention was that these Top 40 stations were being allowed to keep their Top40/ CHR classification in popular industry trades like Gavin, Billboard and R&R which kept them in a higher budget class. 

Hence Top 40 stations could walk into an ad agency and even though their playlist was 90% identical to their urban counterparts they could walk away with a higher ad rate even if they were not number one in the marketplace. Plus they wouldn’t have any negative stigma attached to them for playing rap. A white Top 40 station playing rap weighed differently in the minds of ad buyers compared to a Black station playing rap.

The top 40 programmers countered by saying that many of the urban stations were missing the boat by not playing rap. I remember it being said that the urban stations were not staying close to the streets and paying attention to what was going on with their own kids who no longer wanted to hear slow jamz and sappy R&B songs.

They also insisted that they keep their Top 40 classification. What they emphasized was that Hip Hop was the new Top 40 and that was what was being reflected in the playlists was what the mainstream (white audience) now wanted to hear. The compromise to this particular point was the creation of a new classification called Churban which meant Crossover-urban. However it got applied to the Top 40 stations playing rap and not to the urban stations so in many people’s mind they were still seen as Top 40 crossover entities

They also pointed out that like their urban counterparts their sales departments had a difficult time convincing ad buyers to purchase time on a station playing rap. One of the Top 40 programmers pointed out that this was a competitive field no matter how you sliced it and that it was up to the urban programmers not only to put together a strong programming team, but to also have a strong sales team as well that could successful convince skeptical advertiser to purchase air time.

What wasn’t stated and this is where this 80% myth comes in, is the fact that the Top 40 stations had this Newsweek quote along with their CHR status that they could present to ad buyers. Essentially they were able to say, ‘yes we’re playing Public Enemy, NWA and 2 Live Crew’ which we (KMEL) was doing at that time, ‘but this is what the mainstream (white audience wants). Look at this Newsweek article. It’s proof positive that 80% of the people who like this aggressive music are the main ones purchasing it. I recall specifically seeing sales kits with that page and quote highlighted.

The bottom line whether we like it or not is that many advertisers have a hierarchy of who they want as consumers. It may be as follows depending on the product; White males between 18-34, White males 25-54, White women 25-34. Women of color 25-34, white teens etc. Last on the list is often time Black males. The pervasive belief is that white males have the most disposable income and can afford to purchase expensive appliances, cars and computers.

Women are desirable because they not only have income of their own, but usually influence the purchasing in households if they are married.

Black men, especially young males are seen in many instances as unwelcome. We all got a glimpse of this several weeks ago with the Cristal debacle where their spokesperson dissed Hip Hop artists for supporting them. He said all the mentions by artists like Jay-Z and P-Diddy was ‘unwelcome attention’. Author and former ad agency executive Hadji Williams in his book ‘Don’t Knock the Hustle’ underscores a lot of what I’ve written and goes into greater depth about all this in his book.

So it’s with all this in mind that we can better understand how and why this 80% myth was sold over and over again.  It was if people’s lives depended on it or in this case, people’s livelihoods depended upon it.

Now the real question was weather or not Top 40 stations KMEL and later stations like Hot 97 in New York and Power 106 in Los Angeles which followed suit a couple of years later really had large white listening audiences.

Asians, White Folks, Arbitron and Hip Hop

Well as I mentioned earlier one of the first and more successful Top 40 stations to embrace rap was KMEL who’s sale staff definitely flipped that Newsweek quote their advantage. They had another thing to help them out, and that was Arbitron Ratings to show large white listener-ship.

If I remember correctly we were boosting a number one rating with half our audience being white.  However, you wouldn’t have known that from the large numbers of people of color who would show up at our events. You never saw like 50% of our crowds being white. It was always explained that many of our white listeners weren’t our ‘active’ P1 listeners who would enthusiastically show up at station functions. I later learned something different.

What wasn’t really publicly known or even taken into account was how Asians were classified when it came to radio ratings. They were always counted as white people. You see in the Bay Area where KMEL is based there is a huge Asian/Pacific Islander population. In San Francisco more then 50% of the population is Asian with Chinese followed by Filipino being the largest ethnic groups.  Outside of their respective countries, the largest concentration of Filipinos, Tongans and Cambodians live in the Bay Area. There’s a sizeable Vietnamese, Korean Samoan and Laotian populations. Many of the people within these Asian groups have grown up and listen primarily to urban music.  Many of the younger people went from listening to Latin Freestyle to Hip Hop as stations like KMEL evolved.

I recall when the Arbitron people came to our station to talk about ratings and this fact about Asians being counted as whites was made clear one of our Asian deejays damn near hit the roof and went off. She wanted to know why Asians did not have their own category and she said she found it offensive that they would put an entire population down as whites. She noted that it played into the model minority myth that was impacting a lot of Asian communities and it also added to this pervasive perception of them being an invisible group of people.

The Arbitron rep said he understood the concerns and acknowledged that although the Asian population was growing, it would be a while before they would count Asians as a separate group away from whites. Nevertheless the large amount of ‘white listeners’ enjoyed by Top 40 urban leaning stations in California was touted to advertisers and helped rake in a substantial amount of ad dollars. It was later estimated that the actual percentage of white listeners was more like 20% when we subtracted the Asian count, but we never really knew for certain.

But lets suppose for the moment many of these Top 40 Hip Hop radio stations have large white audiences as asserted with the 80% myth, why is that we rarely hear many of the artists being played in regular rotation that we know for fact have a large white audience?

When was the last time we heard Living Legends, Del, Sage Francis, Atmosphere etc etc? We might hear an Eminem song, but hardly a Mos Def, Public Enemy or even Talib Kweli. The aforementioned artists seem to always have packed houses at their shows. Some of those groups do pretty well in record sales as independent artists, but dont hear them now and we didnt in the past-why is that? Shouldnt they be getting airplay to satisfy the tastes of this 80% white audience?

Who is Hip Hop’s Biggest Ethnic Supporter?

So now that we understand how and why the 80% myth came about lets look at the results of an actual study that was done.In January 2003 Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push organization held their 6th Annual Wall Street project conference.  In the past Jackson had not put together panels focusing on the entertainment industry and its impact on Wall Street, but that year he did. He put together is memorable standing room only panel which included some very distinguished guests including; former Vibe Magazine CEO Keith Clinkscales of Vanguarde Media, Carol H Williams of Carol H Williams Advertising, Thomas Burrell of Burrell Communications, Samuel Chisholm of the Chisholm Group, James L Winston of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and Daisy Exposito-Ulla of the Bravo Group

The Bravo Group is part of the powerful Young and Rubicam company is considered the third largest multicultural agency in the US. The panel discussion talked about market share and leveraging dollars. During the discussion Daisy Exposito Ulla was making her remarks and while it wasn’t the main focus she mentioned that her company had done a study and come to find that the Latinos are the biggest purchasers of Rap music. They buy more rap music than both African Americans and whites.

Because this wasn’t a Hip Hop specific panel her remarks were made in the context of talking about some other issues, what she was not met with any big gasp from the audience or anything like that. But for me I took special note as she continued her presentation, because it basically coincided with the push in broadcast media to target Latinos as a primary audience. http://www.daveyd.com/articlelainsupport.html

Yes, Hip Hop is large and everybody enjoys it. And yes, a large part of that audience are white folks. But 80%? No way.  Unfortunately white Hip Hop fans were used to validate to skittish advertisers and even venue owners that Hip Hop is safe and non threatening. To me its no different and just as bad as those programmers and industry experts who hawk Black gangsterism and stereotypes and make it appear as if its a vital part of Black culture and a true representation of Hip Hop.

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Lebanon-Deconstructing the Lies-Hip Hop Speaks

Lebanon-Deconstructing the Lies-Hip Hop Speaks

It’s good to see Hip Hop artists and activists alike taking a stand and offering keen insight into the situation in Lebanon. Last week we heard from Lebanese Rapper Clotaire K who is shown holding the sign.

We also heard from Cali producer Fredwreck who gave an incredible breakdown of the situation. odeo.com/audio/1567601/view

During the Hip Hop Political Convention in Chicago an Amendment was put before the body regarding the Middle East Crisis. Part of what was proposed that the US follow International Law as well as its own laws with regards to how weapons provided to another country (Israel) will and WILL NOT BE used on civilian populations.
Our country’s refusal to call for a ceasefire is unbelievable especially when you keep in mind that many of the same players in Bush’s innercircle who have influence in this conflict including our Vice President Dick Cheney stood proudly and firmly AGAINST the armed struggle waged by the Nelson Mandella’s African National Congress during South Africa’s Apartheid Regime. We should also never forget that Israel’s government during that horrible time, freely sold weapons and gave that wicked white Apartheid Government nuclear capabilities. This was inspite of the worldwide economic boycott and sanctions against South Africa.
This week long time B-girl and activist Mona Ibrahim aka Dragon Lion comes through and kicks the science on this situation. Her background and understanding of this situation is deep. Some of these talk shows need to reach out to Fred, Clotaire and Mona to be a part of those roundtable discussions to offer up fresh new takes on things..
by Mona Ibrahim aka Dragon Lion




monabrownI don’t even know where to begin. So much to say. Though what Israel is
doing is absolutely horrifying, it is by no means surprising. In fact, it
is completely in line with the unjust nature in which Israel has conducted
itself since its colonialist inception. It is completely in line with the
nature of an apartheid imperialist country such as Israel. Let us not
forget Israel’s history of oppression. This is just one of many examples of
that. For those who don’t know or those who need a reminder you can check
this link, www.dying2live.com/did_you_know.htm

And to see a listing of some of the over 70 plus United Nations Security
Council Resolutions violated by Israel, the most UN resolution violations by
any country in the world, you can check this link:

Now on to the media. It is torturous to listen to mainstream American media
as it is so absolutely twisted. I cannot even count the number of times
that I have heard so called “educated” commentators from various political
and social backgrounds insist, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
Hmmmmm……let us rewind back to the so called beginning of the current
assault on Lebanon. Two Israeli soldiers are kidnapped by Hizballah and
this means Israel has the right to inflict mass punishment upon the entire
country of Lebanon? Hmmm….does not sound very rational to me. In fact,
it is a brazen violation of international law (look up Geneva Convention IV,
Article 33).

Lebanon is NOT Hizballah. Hizballah holds power in the South of Lebanon and
yet all of Lebanon is being punished for the actions of Hizballah. Two
Israeli soldiers are kidnapped and that justifies the killing of over 600
Lebanese civilians, many of them children, the destruction of Lebanon’s
civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of half a million Lebanese
people? To say this is brutally disproportionate and horrifically unjust is
a gross understatement. So how can these so called “educated” commentators
justify such blatant, austere injustice?

As Irish Labour Party President and spokesman on foreign affairs Michael D.
Higgins TD states,”The response of Israel, supported by the most powerful
country in the world [the US], is outrageous both in terms of the killing
and injuring of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure,
which is occurring in such fashion as to even make impossible the delivery
of humanitarian relief by the United Nations and its agencies. Such
destruction is something which should not surprise the international
community. Israel has followed this policy for decades in Gaza and the
occupied territories of the West Bank. At the heart of the policy lies the
principle of collective punishment of civilians, the denial of human rights
and the destruction of a way of life. In full knowledge of this, the
European Union has remained silent, refusing to implement the human rights
clauses of its own agreement with Israel despite being called on by the
European Parliament to do so.”

I would like to now take the time to quote Israeli military leaders to
highlight their brash cowboy mentality:
Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel’s Northern Command, said, “This affair is
between Israel and the state of Lebanon. Where to attack? Once it is
inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate — not just southern Lebanon, not
just the line of Hizballah posts.” Israel’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan
Halutz, told Israel’s Channel 10, “If the soldiers are not returned, we will
turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.” No further comment on this as their
very own words speak volumes…

I must say now that I personally do not believe that Hizballah is a
terrorist organization; in my eyes they are a legitimate resistance group,
but regardless of whether one believes that Hizballah is a terrorist
organization or not, there is still no justification for the destruction of
an entire country based on one group. What about the right of an oppressed
and occupied people to stand up and defend themselves? Let me say that
again because it seems the mainstream media cannot seem to grasp this very
basic human right–What about the right of an oppressed and
occupied people to stand up and defend themselves?

How many people truly know the origins of Hizballah? Hizballah was formed
in 1982 in response to Israel’s brutal invasions, yes invasions, plural, and
occupation of Lebanon. How quickly people forget. Over 20,000
Lebanese were killed during this occupation. And what about the massacres
at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla for which the Belgian
International Courts sought to prosecute former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as he was the
Israeli Defense Minister at the time of the Sabra/Shatilla massacres in 1982
and largely responsible for the massacres. Yet people want to
throw around the word “terrorism” so selectively. For the most part when
oppressed people (most often people of color) are defending themselves
against colonialist, occupying forces, they are almost always dubbed
“terrorists.” Yet the pernicious actions of an oppressive, colonialist,
occupying force are self defense? Even an idiot can see that this makes
no sense. It really is ridiculous yet sadly many people buy into this
egregious distortion of truth.

Another misconception I would like to address here that has been circulated
in the media is that Hizballah started this and there was no provocation
from Israel. That is the most asinine, unintelligent, overly simplistic
BULLSHIT. Israel’s partial withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in May of 2000
was not the end of its occupation of the region. Israel has continued to
violate Lebanon’s sovereignty long after 2000. Let us not forget that the
Shebaa Farms region is still occupied by Israel and many Lebanese political
prisoners still linger in Israeli jails many of whom have been denied a
trial. To this day, Israel still refuses to provide to Lebanon, through the
UN, a list of the 400,000 landmines Israel planted during its occupation of
the region.

Thus, Hizballah has very legitimate beef with Israel, meaning Israeli
military is fair game considering that it is in fact the Israeli military
facilitating Lebanon’s occupation, violation of human rights etc.
Hizballah’s attack on Israeli soldiers and kidnapping of two of those
soldiers is not a terrorist act as they were attacking military not
civilians–an occupied region kidnapping military from the occupying
force is not a terrorist act–take the time to examine international law if
you don’t believe me. Richard A. Falk, Professor Emeritus of International
Law and Practice at Princeton University and Honorary Vice President of the
the Society of American International Law said in response to Israeli
soldiers being kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza: “An Israeli
soldier is part of the Israeli military capability, and I think given the
whole context of a belligerent occupation that has not abided by
international law, that has not followed the resolutions of the United
Nations, that has not abided by the Geneva conventions, that this has to be
viewed as an act of war and that it is in the context of what Israel
itself regards as a relationship of war. My best judgment…is that it is
not intrinsically a violation of international law. If he¹s subject to
torture or is executed while in captivity, that would be a violation
of international law. But to capture a soldier is not in itself in
violation of international law in this context.” I believe Falk’s
assessment can be extrapolated to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by
Hizballah as Lebanon too has been a victim of Israeli occupation.

So now let’s examine the grotesque double standards perpetuated in
mainstream media. First let me make very clear that I do not advocate the
murder of innocent civilians whether by Hizballah or Israel. Now onto
hypocritical media: Hizballah bombs Israel in response to Israel’s bombing
of Lebanon and kills some innocent Israeli civilians and they are “inhumane
monsters” according to the media yet Israel kills almost 20 times that
number of Lebanese civilians and they are merely asserting their right to
defend themselves against Hizballah, a group that was formed in reaction to
Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Lebanese people. This makes no
damn sense. So why are people believing such flagrant lies spewed by an
ignorant media clearly pushing a very specific agenda.

This same double standard has historically been used by colonialist,
imperialist nations to demonize legitimate resistance movements across the
globe. Remember the Mau Mau’s in Kenya who fought against the malicious
occupation of their land by the British, the FLN in Algeria that fought the
violent French colonization of their land, Nat Turner and the Maroons who
resisted the holocaust of slavery; they too were all dubbed “terrorists”
when they were merely defending their basic human rights of self
determination, sovereignty, and freedom. The same unwarranted label of
“terrorist” has been placed on legitimate resistance groups that fought
colonialist, imperialist powers throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and
the Middle East. And look at mainstream media’s portrayal of Northern
Ireland in their struggle against the British occupation–instead of
recognizing their right to resist an occupying force, the mainstream media
dub resistance groups in Northern Ireland as “terrorists.” The list
of such audacious examples of double standards goes on and on…

Israel’s actions against Lebanon are not merely about the two kidnapped
soldiers; the kidnapping of the soldiers was a convenient trigger for them
to proceed with a strategic plan they have had in mind for a long time.
Things are not simplistic. Please take the time to read alternative forms
of media. Educate yourselves. The US and Israel love to bring up
international law when it benefits them but they throw international law out
the window in their own policies towards the rest of the world. This is
deplorable to say the least. As Irish Labour Party President Michael D.
Higgins TD wrote,
“The refusal of the US to agree to talks with Syria, or to an immediate
ceasefire, is reprehensible. Its policy in supporting the continuing loss
of life and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon by Israel as a
collective punishment of the Lebanese people for having Hizballah in their
midst is such a breach of international law as merits bringing it before the
international courts.”

But of course the US and Israeli governments, as proven by their history,
think and act as if they are above international law. And the world is
sitting idly by and allowing it. No more…WE MUST ACT…

To read all of Michael D. Higgins TD article,”Is this the Beginning of the
End of International Law?” click here: www.medialens.org/board/

In Solidarity and Struggle,

Mona Ibrahim

Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?


Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?
by Davey D

original articles-July 05, 2006

Davey DLast week during the BET Awards, Lil Kim’s mother and brother came into the press gallery to field questions about her incarceration. They emphasized how unfair it was for her to be locked up and how the justice system is screwed up.

I think it was her brother who pointed out how all sorts of people who have committed heinous crimes do very little time, while Lil Kim got locked down for perjury. It was also pointed out how there are many who done more egregious white collar crimes and have gotten off the hook.

When the BET press monitors finally called on me, I asked them what sort of plans they or Lil Kim had to do work with prison advocacy groups now that they’ve seen first hand how jacked up the system is. Could you imagine they type of attention some one like Lil Kim could bring to the plight of political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal, Herman Bell or 2Pac’s father Matulu Shakur just to name a few of the many? Can you imagine the type of attention that she could bring to the plight of the legions of Black and Brown folks who routinely get railroaded by the system?

Lil Kim’s mother said she was not aware of any plans Lil Kim had in the works and they moved onto the next question. Granted things are still early and the Queen Bee is probably still recovering from her 10 month bid. However, it’s an idea that should be seriously considered. After all, her incarceration was highlighted with a BET reality TV show which netted high ratings.

Many big time celebrities ranging from comedian Kat Williams on down to celebrity gossip reporter and former MTV host Ananda Lewis have spoken out about how the system was unjust and was railroading Lil Kim. Very few of us within the community who have family and friends who have done time, would argue with the assessment. Ideally it would be nice if the spotlight to the criminal justice system doesnt start and end with Lil Kim.

Now that shes out she has a great opportunity to bring attention to those who dont have a celebratory rap career. Hopefully she wont follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, who talked about how unfair the system was and how she lived alongside women who were unfairly locked up, but once she left she went back to being the media diva and multi-millionaire business woman she was prior to going in.

lil_kimpoutIf Kim speaks up, she would not be alone in terms of speaking out. In the past there have been a few rappers who have done prison advocacy work including Hip Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa who back in the early days of his career routinely took a lot of brothers who were getting out the pen and put them to work. Many of them went on the road with him as he attempted to stir them away from their troubled environments. Later on artists like Ice T and MC Hammer did similar things. One of the reasons Hammer went bankrupt was because he had employed scores of people with nice paying jobs who were fresh out the pen. This was in addition to paying for cats lawyer fees and related expenses.

Of course we cannot overlook some of Hip Hops biggest champions of prison advocacy work, The Geto Boys, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Boots of the Coup and dead prez stand out. Many people dont realize that over the years the Geto Boys along with Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince have sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for legal expenses in their attempt to get brothers out of prison. While their advocacy work hasnt been well publicized, it was and is well known by folks in power who have grown angry with the group for reaching out.

A couple of years ago I spoke with Bushwick Bill about this and he speculated that the groups willingness to underwrite legal fees and try and prove the innoncence of those railroaded into Texas jails may be one of the reasons that Rap-A-Lot found itself being aggressively investigated by the feds several years ago. Things got so heated for them that Scarface launched a song putting them on blast and naming one of the chief haters within the FBI who was pursuing them. The song was called Look Into My Eyes. Later on Congress woman Maxine Waters intervened on their behalf to help turn the tide, but not before it set off a storm of controversy that landed on the feet of former Vice President Al Gore. But as Bushwick confidently pointed out their decision to help out folks behind bars is not one they regret or would change if they could do it all over again. What the Geto Boys was doing is ideally what more artists in their position should do, especially when you consider how out of the 2.5 million people on lock down damn near half come from our community.

A couple of years ago when Suge Knight was on lockdown he actually took out ads in several magazines offering to pay lawyer fees and related expenses to help get cats out of jail. In his ad he had noted that there were way too many innocent people on lock down who needed help and he was throwing his hat into the ring.

Michael Franti has not only dedicated entire albums to addressing the Prison Industrial Complex, but for the past 8 years he has done a 9-11 Festival which includes a free concert at Golden gate Park in San Francisco which draws more then 40 thousand people. The festival started off as a way to bring attention to the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and has since expanded in both concept and sheer number of people who show up. Over the years everyone from Digital Underground to Talib Kweli to KRS-One have all graced the stages of Frantis 9-11 festival.

The work of groups like the Coup and Dead Prezs is more then obvious and speaks for itself. Over the years Boots has not only done concerts to raise money for Prison advocacy groups, but he himself was known for doing his own political education classes to help bring people up to speed on impending legislation like Californias harsh 3 strikes law and later Prop 21-the juvenile justice bill, which allows for the incarceration of 14 year olds in adult prisons.

In the case of dead prez, their songs as well as their direct involvement and membership in organizations like the POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee) have set the standard for the type of work artists like Lil Kim can either support or be involved in. Both M-1 and Boots are quick to point out that they are organizers first and artists second. In fact during a recent Hip Hop conference at Stanford University, Boots noted that if Hip Hop wasnt the platform being embraced by people hood, he would be doing another genre of music, as long as he could reach the people that need him most.

Now granted Lil Kim may not be ready to do the type of work we associate with groups like dead prez or the Coup. However, it would be ideal if someone like her who has such high visibility and is now having the spotlight put on her because of her situation would consider taking things a step further by aligning herself with those who fight the prison industrial complex and criminal injustice system everyday.

what do you think?

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