Black and Brown Unity: Our Historical Connection & Building New Bridges

Black Brown UnityOLM News Below is the video from an incredible and historic panel discussion held at St. Ignatius High School in SF on Black & Brown Unity.. Over 500 people showed up for an engaging conversation that touched upon a number of subjects ranging from our historical connections and how our communities have helped each other resist oppression to ways in which Black Brown communities are forging political alliances to immigration and mass incarceration to how beefs and tensions on the streets are being resolved..

We also focused on what is taking place internationally between African and South American nations..We talked about the political forces at work that want to keep us divided, in particular those who run the California prison systems… We talked about the important role culture, Hip Hop and the arts in general have helped break down walls and form strong bonds.. A lot of gems were dropped..We hope you enjoy the discussion which recently aired on Free Speech TV

The panel included former Black Panther and Africa Today host Walter Turner, Educator, historian and author Ron Wilkins, Professor Gaye Theresa Johnson who is the author of new book focusing on Black Brown unity in LA called Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, Javier Gonzalez who heads up organizations like Sound Strike and Culture Strike and long time Bay Area activist Tara Espinoza

President Obama’s Surprise Press Conference Addresses the issue of Race & Trayvon Martin

President ObamaThis morning at a press conference, President Obama addressed the issues surrounding Trayvon Martin… Many seemed to be happy that he went more into depth about his feelings around this and he acknowledged that this case was about racial profiling.. He also noted that work must be done so trust in the system can be regained… He raised the question as to how the outcome would’ve been different if Trayvon Martin was white..Obama noted that he would’ve been Trayvon 35 years ago..

He wants to figure out ways young African-American men can made to feel as if they a part of society. He wants us all to do some soul searching.. He doesn’t think its productive when politicians try to lead conversations on race..He feels it leads to stilted conversations..He also thinks race relations are getting better

Your thoughts on Obama’s remarks? How do those remarks square away with the fact that he is praising NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly for his work in New York.. Kelly who is main proponent for Stop and Frisk is now being considered to lead Homeland Security. One has to wonder if Obama spoke to this issue because this Saturday there are protests scheduled in over 100 cities..

Below is the full text of Obama’s remarks

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions, and is very much looking forward to the session.

Second thing is, I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues – immigration, economics, et cetera. We’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that’s obviously gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.

I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that once again I send my thought and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal – the legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries (sic) were properly instructed that in a – in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant. And they rendered a verdict.

And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.

And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a – and a history that – that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

There are probably very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator.

There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.
That happens often.

And, you know, I – I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.

And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact.

Although, black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that, some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country. And that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so, the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of Africa-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuses given, “Well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent,” using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably, statistically, more likely to be shot by a peer than he was
by somebody else.

So – so folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it, or – and that context is being denied. And – and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question, for me, at least, and – and I think for a lot of folks is, “Where do we take this? How – how do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?”

You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests and some of that is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is: Are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government. The criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, you know, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped, but the other things was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias, and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And, initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that, it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them, and in turn be more helpful in – in applying the law. And, obviously, law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear, if state and local governments are receptive, and I think a lot of them would be. And let’s figure out, are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and – and local laws to see if it – if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who – who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these Stand Your Ground laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three – and this is a long-term project – we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them, and values them, and is willing to invest in them?

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some grand new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I – I do recognize that, as president, I’ve got some convening power. And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out, how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that – and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed? You know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was, obviously, a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there’s been talk about, should we convene a conversation on race? I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when, you know, politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with – with the final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.

But, you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country. And so, you know, we have to be vigilant. And we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our – nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.

But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long and difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

All right?

Thank you, guys

Mountain Dew Drops Lil Wayne Over Offensive Emmet Till Lyrics

Lil WayneI was on the phone with a friend of mine, Roger Suggs, AKA Vigalantee, a rapper out of Kansas City.  I respect Roger as much or more than nearly any other artist on earth because he understands that being a “hip-hop head” is not inconsistent with showing a sincere love for black people. Hip-hop was established as a voice for the people to liberate themselves, not as an avenue to accentuate our continued oppression.That’s when I heard the news: Mountain Dew and Pepsico are cutting their deal with Lil Wayne (aka Dwayne Carter).

The decision was likely due to Wayne’s unfortunate decision to compare the battered face of Emmett Till to a woman’s vagina.  This doesn’t include the fact that he has rapped about killing old ladies, little babies and women (Here’s a verse from the song “We Be Steady Mobbin,” where Wayne first says that he’ll steal your girl and make her “Nutt for me, then slutt or me, then Steal for me, then kill for me, and of course it’ll be your cash……And then I’ll murder that b*tch and send her body back to yo ass”).  The decision just had to be made to cut the relationship, and it was one that says that boundaries have to be set on the corporate sponsored, modern day minstrel show otherwise known as commercialized hip-hop.

When I heard the announcement, a thunderbolt of joy shot through my body, similar to the way I felt when that girl said “yes” to my request for a first date in the 8th grade.  My happiness came from finally realizing that progressive and conscientious activism has finally pierced through the wall of the hip-hop industrial complex, which has often lived on top of a mountain of arrogance fully funded and protected by a slew of corporate dollar bills.  Lil Wayne could have easily humbled himself to the family from the beginning and apologized for desecrating the memory of one of the most important civil rights figures in history, but artists have long felt that they can readily disrespect black people and not even utter so much as an explanation.

These record labels don’t give a damn about the fallout of their music on black communities, where the genocide of black families is being celebrated and glorified on the radio every single day.  They don’t have to see all the bodies piling up, as otherwise productive husbands, fathers, sons and daughters are being left dead in the streets or hauled off to private prisons that have turned young black children into profitable commodities.   Universal Records is not with me when I go into high schools and see how many young boys have been taught to embrace anti-intellectualism, since it’s become cool to be “ignant.”  Hip-hop didn’t cause all of the urban decay that initially created these conditions, but it doesn’t help that this music reinforces  the mindset that sustains them.

Lil Wayne pleads guilty may have to do 12-14 months

There was another part of me that felt sad about the announcement by Mountain Dew.  I felt bad that it had to come this far.  I felt bad that Dwayne Carter, a man with as much brilliance as any college professor I’ve ever seen, had been convinced to use his powers for evil rather than good.  Lil Wayne and I should be working side-by-side to keep black men out of prison, to exalt black women and to protect black children and communities, but structural racism turned him into the kind of man who tends to hate people like me.  I hated the fact that I had to fight another black man in order to save and protect black kids, and it is because I love these kids that I knew I could not stop.  I would fight for these children as hard as Lil Wayne fights for money; in fact, I would give my life.

Today is a new day and time for a new paradigm in black America.  It is the day that the black community will stop being used as the whipping boy of the commercialized hip-hop industry, which left true hip-hop behind in exchange for a dog and pony show.   Black women are not b*tches and hoes, even if some of them have come to accept that label.  Black boys are meant to be brilliant, hard-working leaders of their communities, and we won’t allow them to be brainwashed into becoming blunt-blowing, “tatted up” serial baby daddies or thugged out urban terrorists.  Law-abiding black people will no longer stand idly by as our children have their brains bombarded with lyrics that remind them to stay high and drunk, to kill one another and to talk about the women we love as if they are less than human.

Today is the day we stand UP and let the world know that true black leadership has arrived, and it’s not afraid to “get gangsta” with corporate America.

by Dr Boyce Watkins

The NRA Says Blacks Need Guns for Protection in a New Ad

Davey-D-brown-frameI found this latest ad from the NRA (National Rifle Association) featuring a Black man named Colion Noir stating that African-Americans needs guns to protect themselves to be intriguing on a number of levels.  He talks about how the government  which has a history of racism will not be there for us, hence protecting one’s family is on us..

A couple of things to think about..In the ad Colion mentions the racist government but then tells us how the proverbial hood thugs ‘Ray Ray‘ and ‘Pookie‘ got guns and that President Obama and the govt wont be there to protect us hence.. He says its best we get our guns..

To a degree some of that may be true, but lets look at the sleight of hand Noir and the NRA pulls..While many African-Americans need protection from inner city crime, they also need protection from the government that also terrorizes Black folks..

Colion Noir

Colion Noir

In the ad Noir omits and redirects an important part of history, by inferring that the racist US government allowed white supremacist groups like the KKK to come after us.. Let’s keep it real many of those folks in wearing those hoods were police and government officials.  In their height during the 1920s when Black folks were being lynched left and right, the Klan was a major force in politics..

Black folks if they were to use guns to defend themselves as suggested in the ad, would have to do so against the police and many within local and national government.. That would include mayors and governors who referred to us as ‘niggers‘ while standing before us with state troopers preventing us from attending segregated schools or voting.

When civil rights advocates like Fannie Lou Hammer spoke about being dragged off buses and beaten for trying to register folks to vote in Mississippi, it wasn’t hooded KKK members doing the beatings.. It was the state troopers.. If guns were needed for protection it was against those troopers.. What was the NRA’s take on incidents like that in the 1960s?

What was the NRA really saying with this Noir ad and how does it stack up with their historic actions in the past when gun laws were passed by the government to disarm militant Black groups like the Black Panthers Party for Self Defense?  In 1967 after the Black Panthers following the letter of the law, armed themselves and began patrolling their neighborhoods to make sure the police would cease brutalizing  law-abiding citizens, the Mulford Act of 1967 was passed in California to disarm them..

ronald reagan-225

The person who pushed for that law the hardest was lifetime NRA member then Governor Ronald Reagan who is quoted as saying We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm.” ..Well a big middle finger to Reagan and the NRA who stood silent when the disarming of Panthers, SNCC and other groups happened. Having a slick ad with an African-American talking about Black history and racism while neglecting the racism of the NRA and its most visible members when it was needed most is the height of disingenuousness..

Over the past 40+ years since the Mulford Act was passed where we’ve seen a sordid legacy of police in Cali shooting, killing and brutalizing, African-Americans, the NRA has been nowhere around to offer comfort, resources or solutions.. Where was this nice NRA ad with Colion Noir when unarmed Oscar Grant was shot point blank in the back  by an out of control BART cop?  Where was the NRA when the infamous Riders scandal and the Rampart scandal were jumping off in Oakland and LA? How was the NRA helping citizens who needed to protect themselves from a tyrannical government represented by the police?

where was the NRA when John Burge was torturing Black folks as a Chicago Police commander?

Where was the NRA when John Burge was torturing Black folks as a Chicago Police commander?

In Chicago, a city with one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, where was the NRA during the reign of terror of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge? Between the years 1972 and 1991 over 130 African-Americans some as young as 13 were tortured.. (note not beaten.. tortured) by this Burge and his men.. You can read about that HERE ..The 135 cases is what’s been documented, many believe its was hundreds more.. When Chicagoans made their plight known, where was the NRA? Where was ads like the one with Noir? Nowhere to be seen..

We can go on and on citing police brutality incidents on unarmed citizens and the NRA being ghost.. So why are they visible now? Did they have a change of heart or are they walking a razor thin line in terms of how they describe the enemies African-Americans neeed to protect themselves against? Yes many folks in the community have to deal with crime.. Pookie and Ray Ray do cause problems.. I’m not sure if shooting them is the answer, but if it is as the NRA suggests, then we have some other enemies to get at as well.. Will the NRA be standing with us the next time an unarmed Black youth is shot and killed by police? Will they have an ad advocating we protect ourselves or will they remain silent like they did in the past?

written by Davey D

Black Panthers

Davey D Interviews Soul Food Junkies Filmmaker Byron Hurt

byron HurtFilmmaker Byron Hurt has been making noise for a minute with his thought provoking film projects including Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes and Barack & Curtis: Manhood, Power, & RespectBoth gave us keen insight into Black manhood… His latest film Soul food Junkies is a gem among gems as he explores the relationship between him and his late father and our collective love affair with food. It’s insightful and touching documentary that’ll give you serious food for thought (no pun intended)..

Recently Byron came to the Bay Area to do a special screening of his flick.. We sat down and chopped it up.. Here’s our interview that recently aired on Free Speech TV

Below is a link to Byron talking about his next film which will focus on Hazing in Fraternities

Editorial: In Defense of Dr Cornel West


Who am I to defend Dr. West who is a considerably one of the greatest minds God has blessed humanity with in the 21 century. He is a prophetic voice out of the African American Baptist tradition, a scholar, writer, historian and musicologist. He has been critical of President Obama and because of his criticism he and Tavis Smiley, his partner in criticizing the president have both been accused of profiteering and jealousy. Frankly, I cannot say if that is or is not absolutely false.

However, I do welcome Dr. West’s well placed articulation for the poor and disenfranchised. I applaud his truth telling in season and out of season. I encourage his well aimed perspectives on President Obama’s administration and policies. I disregard the claim that our President cannot be the Black President as a ridiculous comment, which seems only African American make about themselves and accept from others. The President is of African American descent, but he is also from other descents, yet we are not to enthusiastically advocate for ourselves to him?

I also have reflected on President Obama’s successes because I don’t want pundits, or the media, or some misinformed colleague to tell me how to think. I have listed President Obama’s first term achievements from my contextual perspective. Everyone has the right to do so;
consequently here are what the President achieved:

He overcame an intransigent Republican Party led by billionaires like the Koch brothers
and the Tea Party, who spent obscene money to defeat him. He had to deal with Sen. McConnell
and Representative John Boehner who stated their number one focus is to stop President
Obama’s initiatives, and deny him a second term.

He inherited an economy in freefall, after being robbed by Wall Street, by initiating a
stimulus that created 5 million jobs.

During his term Wall Street averages went from 6000 to 13000.

CEO’s of major corporations under Obama’s term increased their profits over 230%

He brought the economy out of a hole.

He initiated the Lilly Ledbetter Act giving women equal pay for equal work.

He saved the United States Auto Industry and thereby saving all of the Great Lakes

He wound down the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He eliminated Osama Bin Laden, after he was considered unable to be brought to justice,
and made America safer. Remember President Bush said he doesn’t even think about Osama Bin

He appointed two women to the Supreme Court and has one more selection to make.

He initiated the Health Care Reform that every President tried to do; but could not do for
over 100 years.

He managed that we did not go over the fiscal cliff and stood up to the Republicans when
they tried to hold America hostage on raising the credit limit.

An outstanding set of presidential accomplishments, but have African Americans gotten their usual short end of the stick? Yes, and Dr. West agrees and it is why I see Dr. West serving a necessary purpose. He is critical of the President and his criticism has been on point. Speaking as a Black American I would give President Obama a B+. Why? This is why. During the first term he never spoke of the poor, just the middle class. I assume his handlers and he felt it would be political expedient to do so. However, it is the poor in this country that have been left out of any economic recovery and the poor that took the gravest economic loss. The poor are still waiting for employment, educational opportunities and gun/violence free communities.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

Secondly, the President’s Justice Department gets a “C”. Attorney General Eric Holder has been lackluster and seemingly unaggressive in his prosecutions in the face of a growing number of rogue cops and bigoted white men killing innocent black boys and men. For example, in Mississippi there has been a rash of car accidents, where running over black men as they walk along the streets and country roads is their cause of death at the hands of white male drivers. Young white southern men have stalked unsuspecting random black males to thrill kill.

Never to forget, the shooting of boys like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and others. Very little or to be fair an uninspiring response from the Justice Department has been offered – – no signal or aggressive Federal prosecutions to indicate a perception of safety and protection for people of African American descent.

Also, not one Wall Streeter went to jail for stealing our money and crashing the economy. Yes, we get reports of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and CitiBank paying hundreds of millions in civil case settlements for colluding to foreclose on vulnerable and unsophisticated homeowners. These victim homeowners were predominantly of African American descent, which resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from African Americans. I ponder if the banks are so willing to settle for 100’s of millions in awards, it must mean they stole twice as much.

Thirdly, there are the drone bombings throughout Pakistan that are killing their intended terrorist targets, but the collateral deaths are innocent women and children.

Long Lines at Voting Booths

Long Lines at Voting Booths

Fourthly, where in the jobs program? Black folk voted for our President in record number (92%), in spite of misinformation scams, voter intimidation, rigged voting machines, and the reduction of voting hours. The collusion to defeat the Black vote included the Republican Party and Corporate class, who planned, hired operatives and funded illegal and close to illegal scams to thwart the Black voting strengths. Republican lawyers, legislators, elected governors, state attorney generals and even the son of the Republican candidate all have unclean hands in these unscrupulous efforts.

Valiantly African American common folk, in the spirit of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the year – long protest in Montgomery, Alabama, that galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement and led to a 1956 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional, stood in the hot sun and long lines to cast their vote; and, seemingly no earnest effort on developing a jobs program is on the horizon.

Fifthly, I appreciate the president’s effort on the gun violence initiatives. I support his advocacy and bold leadership, but where is the focus on urban youth? Forty percent of the deaths from gun violence occur within urban communities across this nation from Oakland, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami. Yet, no specific plan to address the violence that has destroyed communities and a generation of young black males. Jobs and hope are the answer to the nihilism affecting these communities.

Dr. West is advocating for the least of these that seemed to again be left out. Gays got “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repealed and the right to marry, Hispanics got Supreme Court Justice Soto -Meyer and immigration dialog, Jews got Justice Kagan and an assurance of military protection from Iran. Wall Street bankers received no prosecutions for the theft of our surplus. Women got the Lilly Ledbetter Act that ensures equal pay for equal work and the Presidential defense of Roe vs. Wade. They also received the selection of two female Supreme Court Justices and possibly a third.The middle class received Health Care Reform.

So when the President chooses to get sworn in on MLK’s Bible the President is evoking Dr. King’s values that he has fallen short of. I understand he was trying to get to a second term, but if we do not demand in politics we will not receive anything. Lastly, every King David NEEDS a Nathan. It’s is an inoculation against corruption and apathy. Our President needs someone who will call it like it is and speak for the poor and people of color. Dr. West has done a good job at that and I hope he continues, along with others. Otherwise African Americans poor, elderly and Black middle class will not get their needs addressed.

written by Reginald W Lyles

4 Movies You Should See & Know About Before You See Django that deal w/ Rebellion

There’s been a lot of chatter about the movie Django and how it touches upon slavery and the resistance to it..Lots of debates have sparked off talking about what’s accurate, what’s fantasy etc etc.. I say use this excitement around Django and the hype machine that director Quentin Tarantino has around him to turn folks onto other projects they may have overlooked, forgotten about or not seen at all..It doesn’t have to be an either or thing.. See ‘m all.. Contrast, compare and build..

SankofaOne film that is frequently mentioned is Sankofa by Haile Gerima  It’s a film that he said took more than 10 years to complete. Hollywood wasn’t interested in financing a movie about;

A self-absorbed Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Africa is spiritually transported back to a plantation in the West Indies where she experiences first-hand the physical and psychic horrors of chattel slavery, and eventually the redemptive power of community and rebellion as she becomes a member of a freedom-seeking Maroon colony

There have been some who upon seeing the release of Django and its popularity have referenced Sankofa and asked why we didn’t support the painstaking efforts of film makers like Gerima who tried to give the Black community serious information about an institution that is constantly being written out or sanitized in our history books..

If you can’t rent the film here’s one of several copies on line..

Another film which is often mentioned is Spook Who Sat By the Sam Greenlee. It’s a landmark film that came out in the early 70s and was based upon a book with the same titled which was released in 1969.  Although this film isn’t about slavery, it’s about rebellion and fighting oppression which is whats attracting many to Django.

spook who satThe plot of Spook Who Sat by the Door goes as follows.. The CIA because of politics needs to recruit African-Americans to the agency. It’s supposed to be dog and pony show. In other words have Blacks try out for the agency, make it public, but have them fail. However, there was one guy, named Dan Freeman who played the role of an ‘Uncle Tom’ when in real life he was a Black nationalist.. He gets into the CIA, soaks up all their game and then leads an armed rebellion..This fim was so controversial, that it was banned from movie theaters and was hard to get up until recently..

According to Greenlee almost everyone involved in that film from the director Ivan Dixon on down to lead actor Lawrence Cook found themselves outcasted in many Hollywood circles. Cook wouldn’t appear in a major film for almost 20 years after Spook Who sat by the Door.

You can peep the movie here…

Soul of nigger charleyAnother flick building on the Slave revolt theme is the Legend of Nigger Charley and Soul of Nigger Charley featuring Fred Williamson. It focuses on a trio of escaped slaves who are down to fight and win against white oppressors.. Believe it or not when these films came out there were posters all over subways in NYC advertising the film. The N word was not covered or changed.. It was very much in your face.. Legend of Nigger Charley went on to be Paramount pictures highest grossing film in 1972 when it was released.




Thoughts on Robert Griffin III (RG3) being called a ‘Cornball Brother’ by ESPN’s Rob Parker

Robert Griffith III

Robert Griffin III

An interesting conversation went down on ESPN’s ‘First Take‘ the other day around Robert Griffin III (RG3) and how he identifies with race and him being Black. Sports writer and panelist Rob Parker raised the question whether or not RG3 was a brother or a ‘cornball brother‘.

Parker took issue with the way RG3 answered some questions about race in a recent USA Today interview.

‘For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin’.. ‘You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do….I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.’

In response to those quotes Parker asserted;  “Well, he’s black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us….He’s kind of black. But he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else.”

When questioned as to what he meant by saying RG3 is not one of us, Parker noted that because the rookie quarterback has a white fiance and that there were rumors he might be a Republican his Blackness needed to be called into question.

When asked about his braided hair style, which often times has led to Black people being denied employment, Parker responded; ‘That’s different…wearing braids, you’re a brother’. But he didn’t move off his initial point that RG3 might be a cornball brother

Needless to say this conversation caused a lot of outrage especially among those who read RG3’s USA Today remarks and concluded that it was admirable he appeared to be trying to rise above the minefields that often occur when it comes to discussions about race. Parker’s cohorts Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless attempted to rein him in and ESPN issued a statement saying Parker’s remarks were inappropriate.

Now on the surface all this can be seen as some BS with Parker arguably making controversial remarks as a way to get attention and boost ratings. After all, this is the same Parker who once wrote that baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron was a coward for not showing up to see Barry Bonds break his home run record.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

With all that’s going on in the world why should we be concerned about such discussions?  On the other hand, there’s a lot to consider especially when it comes to the types of demands we have long put on athletes to be better role models and to speak out. It wasn’t too long ago that many of us decried athletes like Michael Jordan for playing it safe by remaining silent or taking apolitical stances on important issues that seemed to downplayed his Blackness.

Many got upset with Jordan when he refused to speak out about all the Black inner city youth killing each other over his high-priced basketball shoes. He was famously quoted as saying ‘Republicans buy sneakers too usually at full retail’, when asked to address the issue.

Jordan further enraged people when he refused to weigh in on two racially charged elections in which former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, an African-American, challenged long time far right conservative Senator Jesse Helms for his US Senate seat. A lot of attention was on Gantt who stood a good chance at becoming the second or third African-American win a Senate seat.

Gantt sought an endorsement from Jordan who refused.. He played it safe and many accused him of not being ‘down for the cause’. It wasn’t until Jordan met Helms and the Senator dismissively looked him up and down and called him ‘Fred’ that Jordan began to rethink his position. For those who don’t know calling a black man Fred was a long-standing ‘joke’ Helms had when dealing with African-Americans. He’d call them Fred no matter what their name was, because Fred was the generic name for  ‘the Help‘. Jordan reflected on that incident after Helms died and admitted there was more to life than making money.. You can read about that encounter HERE.

All this is not to suggest that RG3 would ever be like Jordan. Perhaps RG3 is the type of guy who will proudly step up and support worthwhile candidates and speak out on issues of importance. He also may be conservative whose opinions stand in stark opposition of the ones held by the majority of Black folks. Time will tell if RG3 is ‘down for the cause’..

Rob Parker

Rob Parker

This leads to the next point..’What cause was panelist Rob Parker expecting RG3 to be down so he could avoid being classified as a cornball brother?

Did he want him to talk a certain way? Often times some Black folks who speak in a certain tone or are too articulate are accused of not being Black and acting white.

Did Parker want him to dress a certain way? Go to a particular church? Have a Black girlfriend?

Did Parker want RG3 speaking out about the recent killing of Jordan Davis, a teen shot to death by a white man in Florida who felt his music was too loud?

Or did he want RG3 to be ‘down for the cause‘ by weighing in on the controversy surrounding the firing of KTBS whether reporter Rhonda Lee?   She was fired for responding to a racist Facebook comment where a viewer told her to get rid of her natural hair and wear a wig. Was this a cause for RG3 to be down for?

Would RG3 be less of a cornball brother if he said he was a fan of Chicago rapper Chief Keef and could kick the lyrics to all his controversial violent themed songs?  Would that be an indication that he’s down for the cause?

black-power-pinParker said he was just being honest and reflecting what folks say on street corners and in the barbershop. Perhaps..The irony is that in many of those barber shops, RG3 may carry himself in a way that they deem satisfactory, while calling Parker’s Blackness into question. For example, some might say Parker is a cornball brother for sitting on a panel, cheesing at white owned ESPN, a Disney company vs showcasing his talents on Black owned TV1.

Some might say Parker is a ‘cornball brother’ because he doesn’t speak out about the prison industrial complex or bring attention to the plight of political prisoners, like; Mumia Abu-JamalHerman BellDr. Mutulu Shakur or Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald or Ed Poindexter to name a few.

Perhaps he’s a cornball for not speaking out about the plight of unions and how Black folks in Detroit, a city he once worked in, will be disproportionately hurt by recently passed anti-union right to work bill.

Some might call him a cornball for publicly blasting RG3 vs sitting him down and talking to him behind the scenes about his politics and ways in which he engages Black culture. Parker’s public condemnation of another Black man for something so personal is the type of behavior we often advise youngsters to avoid for fear of it leading to unnecessary beefs and violent confrontations. How is it ‘being down for the cause’ to call someone out like that? Was he trying to shame Mr Griffith into a particular way of being? Should RG3 upon hearing these remarks dump his girlfriend?

We could go on and on playing ‘I’m Blacker than thou games’ pointing out where and how someone falls short of some mythical mark. Someone can always claim they are ‘Blacker’. Perhaps we should be more concerned with the types of causes RG3 gets behind.. In short lets choose substance over style. It may have been a bit more instructive if Parker had noted that the folks in the barbershop were looking for RG3 to come hang out at the local youth centers, or speak out on some recent occurrence impacting Black folks who live in DC and the surrounding DMV. Even better would be if Parker himself could’ve invited the star quarterback to join him and others to an activity or be a part of cause that would enrich the community. To simply suggest he’s a cornball brother is in the words of James Brown, is talking loud and saying nothing.

written by Davey D

The Ten Weave Commandments (Great parody song)

We all need a good laugh in the middle of all the vitriol of the Election 2012 season.. This hits the mark…We need more fun songs like this in Hip Hop..The song is pretty timely considering last night a couple of sisters broke into a beauty supply store here in Oakland and stole a bunch of hair.. No money or anything else..Just the hair..

This is what happens when you mashup Biggie’s ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ with a Black Woman’s ‘Ten Weave Commandments’ – all my ladies with weave out there should be able to relate; or at least learn a few tips to take care of their weave.

Jasiri X Releases New Song addressing MXGM Report Police Violence against African-Americans

People are buzzing about the explosive report that was just released by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement which showed the increased rate of police violence against African-Americans.. The report which is titled  Report on Extrajudicial Killings shows that every 40 hours an African-American is shot and killed by police..Since the brutal slaying of Trayvon Martin police have shot and killed over 80 African-Americans..  Cities like New York, Atlanta and Dallas are the leading the charge with officers killing Blacks..

You can read the article we wrote on this topic HERE

Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X who was recently in Oakland and LA shooting a video and attending a special gathering put together by the family of Oscar Grant for mothers who lost loved ones to the police just released a song addressing this issue of increased police violence..  Its called ‘Riot

Jasiri X

Another song folks may wanna check out that speaks to the high police shooting rate in New York and Atlanta is off the new album by Killer Mike called Anywhere But Here