It’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
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…
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…
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…
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.
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
- RIP Bebop Jazz Legend Donald Byrd
- The Sordid Legacy of Margret Thatcher-What We Should Never Forget in Her Passing
- Afro-Mexicans on Hunger Strike to Protest Death of Malcolm X’s Grandson
- RIP Grandmaster Jim Kelly..One of the Martial Arts Iconic Figures Has Passed
- Former New York Mayor Ed Koch Dies
- Man Behind Cult Flick The Warriors Passes
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…
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…
Rapper 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…….
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…
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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..
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…
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..
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 Rapstation.com.. 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..
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
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..
- Lupe Fiasco Thrown off Stage at Pre-Inauguration Concert in Washington DC
- 9-year-old Makes Oscar History.. Foxx, Jackson, Washington Dissed by Academy
- Grape Street Crips are teaming Up w/ the KKK to Fight Other Klan Members
- How Corporations Made the Harlem Shake Go Viral
- Pres Obama’s Surprise Press Conference Addresses the issue of Race & Trayvon Martin
- Why is There So Much Hype About Riots After this George Zimmerman Verdict?
- The Universal Zulu Nation pens a Blistering Open letter to World Star Hip Hop…
- My Thoughts on that Video Showing Rapper 2 Chainz Getting Chased and Robbed
- Eric Holder Punks Out: Says Big Banks Are Too Big to Jail
- What’s Jumping Off in Mali and Why We Should All Be Concerned?
- Planting Seeds of Distrust & Seeds of Fear: The Boston Marathon Tragedy
- Shock G of Digital Underground Explains Why Saafir is Bound to a Wheelchair
- Will I Am Sues Pharrel Williams
- You Must Be Married to a N-gger: Anti-African Rallies Explode in Israel