HKR: 04-13-15 Interview w/ Kevin Powell

Click HERE to listen to our Hard Knock Radio interview w/ Kevin Powell

We caught up with long time activist, author and head of BK Nation Kevin Powell. He sat down Hard Knock Radio to weigh in on a number of important topics. We spoke about some of the most recent and disturbing cases of police terrorism and the political, social and economic landscape that has given rise to it..

We spoke at length about the plight of Akai Gurley and the pursuit of justice for him. Powell represented the family of this young father who was gunned down by police as he walked down a darkened staircase in his housing projects. Police claim he was shot by accident. A rookie officer has been charged.

We spoke about the upcoming BK Nation conference scheduled for fall of 2015. We spoke about practical solutions all of us can take to end police violence.

Election Day 2014-Deep East Oakland Mayoral Debate

Deep East Oakland Jean QuanA couple of weeks ago it was pointed out that the 15 people vying for Oakland’s top post as Mayor had done a record number of debates. They had reached into every part of the city except Deep East Oakland. We are talking specifically about the area about 98th Avenue. Its apart of the city that is often bashed upon by the media.

Some folks came together and decided to change things. Rev Mustafa and Rev Harry Williams of Basic Ministries which is located  on a 107th street did what was deamed impossible. They reached out and got all the top candidates to show up.

This is the only time the main candidates running for Mayor of Oakland came to deep East Oakland for a debate.   Participants included contractor Ken Houston, Mayor Jean Quan, civil rights lawyer Dan Siegal, Port Commissioner Bryan Parker, city auditor Courtney Ruby, city council woman Libby Shaaf, city council woman Rebecca Kaplan, community activist and tax preparer Nancy Sidebotham and former Occupy Oakland member Jason ‘Shake’ Anderson..

Deep East Oakland Ken HoustonThe debate got contentious at times, but for the most part audience members got to hear directly from the candidates about issues most important to them and how their often overlooked and often maligned section of the city factors into future plans for Oakland.

The first question asked to the candidates was when was the last time you were in deep East Oakland, what did you do here and who are the people and businesses you work with..

This is part 2 of the Deep East Oakland Debate.. Here folks get to hear how candidates respond to audience questions..

Below is a video of the Deep East Oakland Debate

E;ection 2014Below is our Hard Knock Radio round table discussion with Bay Area activists and journalists. our guest included: Amado Uno of APEN , Melvin Willis of Team Richmond, Tim Redmond of 48 Hills in San Francisco, Maisha Quint of Eastside Arts Alliance, Eric Arnold of Oakland Local and Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress.

During our discussion folks spoke to the most heated races around the Bay Area as well as key measures and propositions like Prop 47 and Measure Z in Oakland. everyone spoke to huge the amounts of unchecked corporate money coming into local, often overlooked elections.. There is big time tech money coming into SF elections for supervisors.. You have one or two folks trying to bankroll their personal picks.. You also have big time money coming in from out the state to defeat tenant protection measures..

In Richmond its even more egregious because you have Chevron bankrolling a slate of candidates who will undue any and all progressive moves made by the previous administration. In Richmond, Chevron has dropped 3.2 million dollars.. In SF two tech billionaires have dropped 1.5 million for one supervisors race.

In San Jose Tech money is playing a major role both in Congressional races and the Mayors race..

In the race for school superintendent you have school privatization money pouring in from all over..

In this election folks have better follow the money and look long and hard at the teams a candidate supported in the past.. Many will smile in your face and be all about gentrification and pro development. Others will smile and put all their political capital behind police…Don’t be fooled by skin color or gender..There are some Black and Brown faces who are definitely riding hard for big corporate interests..

Report Backs from the Front lines of Ferguson & LA Over Police Shootings

Ferguson ProtestsDay 9 of the Uprisings in Ferguson. We caught up with Rodstarz and G1 of Rebel Diaz who gave us a sobering front line report bout the police militarization and brutality unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri. The pair spoke about the onslaught of vehicles and the over the top response by police to those protesting the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown…

They also gave us insightful context and perspective on things that took into account mass gentrification and media sensationalism that has added to the problems we see playing out before us. They also spoke on the type of anger that is seething in the community and how certain types of people and leaders are being propped up as buffers to trying and repress or redirect the concerns people are expressing

Rodstarz linked up with Michael Brown’s  family and spoke at length about what they are dealing with and what we on the outside who are concerned could and should be doing..

Lastly we talked about the role of mass media and how they have been willing mouthpieces for the police as even as they are being threatened, roughed up, arrested  and confined to so-called Free speech zones. G1 of Rebel Diaz was caught in one of those holding pens.. The two shared the types of lap dog politics many in corporate media have engaged in when reporting this story..

Ezell Ford ProtestsLater we spoke with Ivy Quicho of the organization AF3IRM‬ out of LA who was amongst those who protested in front of LAPD headquarters over the weekend in response to the police shooting unarmed Ezell Ford.. She spoke about the Ford being one who had mental health challenges and how police are ill equipped to deal with the special needs that many in the community have. Their response is systemically overbearing often resulting in fatal results.

Ivy also talked about the larger picture at hand and how reform will not be enough to turn things around..Ivy shares her experience of what has worked in LA with dealing with police militarization

Lastly we speak with Kat of Onyx and the Oscar Grant Movement who details upcoming short and long term actions planned here in the Bay Area. She compared and contrasted what is going on in Ferguson with what we in the Bay Area experienced in the past when dealing with Oscar Grant protests. She talks about the big marches and rallies planned for Wednesday August 20th here in Oakland.

Mike Hutchinson: How Oakland’s School Board Plans to Further Gentrification

Mike Hutchinson

Mike Hutchinson

Oakland, California like most city’s around the country and for that matter around the world has two big buzz word that spark intense, heated  passions among its residents GENTRIFICATION and PRIVATIZATION… Here in ‘tha town‘ public school privatization has been a key ingredient in the attempts by developers and big power brokers seeking to bring about an economic and demographic change. Translation, there are many in power who want Oakland to be whiter and more affluent.

This is playing out in very ugly ways within the Oakland Unified School District which over the past few years has seen an explosion in corporate back charter schools, a campaign to demonize teachers unions and now a new scheme which involves selling off a mostly Black and Brown Dewey high school  to developers to make way for high-rise luxury apartments..

Today on Hard Knock Radio, we sat down with long time community activist and education expert Mike Hutchinson who laid out what is taking place within Oakland’s educational landscape. He talked about the recent court decision that makes teachers receiving tenure unconstitutional. He talked to us about the proliferation of charter schools and who has been spending big time money to bring them into Oakland. he talked about the key players and organizations who are in the back pockets of Wal-Mart and the Koch Brothers who are funding charter schools..

During our interview Hutchinson talked at length about an aggressive and egregious plan by Oakland school board president David Kakishiba  who is also the executive director of EBAYC (East Bay Asian Youth Center) to sell off prime restate owned by Oakland Public schools, including Dewey High school near Lake Merritt  so developers can build 3 luxury 25 story high rises..When you hear what he has to say, it’ll make your head spin..

Our Intv w/ Danyel Smith & Elliott Wilson about the State of Hip Hop Journalism & HRD CVR

Danyel Smith and Elliot WilsonDanyel Smith and Elliot Wilson are two individuals whose names have to be mentioned when you talk about Hip Hop journalism. The husband and wife team have been at it for a minute and have covered a lot of ground.

Danyel, a former classmate at UC Berkeley and a long time fixture in her native Oakland here in the Bay Area, cut her teeth as a writer for the SF Bay Guardian and the Eastbay Express. She later went on to make noise as a music editor for SF Weekly. There she kept her finger on the pulse as she played a key role in shining important lights on local artists.

She would later to go on to knock down doors as she became editors at Vibe Magazine on two separate occasions and at Time Magazine. She also relocated from the Bay Area to Brooklyn. the past few months Danyel has been making the rounds back here in the Bay thanks to her being named a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford. 

Her husband Elliot Wilson is powerhouse in his own right.. Most people know him as the former editor of XXL Magazine where he penned popular and often controversial and bodacious columns under the name Yellow N–. Currently heads up the website Rap Radar and does the widely listened to CRWN interview series.

Prior to that Wilson cut his teeth as music editor for Beat Down magazine. later he made noise as being part of the famed Ego Trip squad, where they had a magazine bearing their name . As a member of that crew he co authored two books Book of Rap Lists and Big Book of Racism

We caught up with both Danyel and Elliot the other day and spoke to them about their humble beginnings and the  current state of Hip Hop journalism and where it intersects with journalism in general. We spoke at length about  and how much things have evolved and in some cases devolved over the years and how to turn things around and move this profession to the next level.

Danyel noted that there’s a lot we in Hip Hop can learn from traditional journalism but at the same time there has been a lot that has been picked up from Hip Hop and reflected in the mainstream.

danyel Smith and Elliot WilsonWe talked to them about the adjustments magazines and newspapers had to make in the digital age and what its been like for them to be married and at times run competing publications. Elliot noted that when Danyel was editor at Vibe and he was editor at XXL, they had to establish ground rules in the home to make sure work didn’t spill over into their marriage. Both seemed to have a good sense of humor about it..We also talked about their personal journeys, triumphs and challenges over the years in this often times hectic industry.

Lastly we talked to the pair about their new venture HRD CVR.. Believe it or not in the almost 10 years they have been married, the two have never worked with each other on a project until now. This new project is a hard covered magazine that will come out 3 to 4 times year that’s designed to be aesthetically pleasing, high-end in its design, cutting edge in its content and change the soul of journalism.

The pair sees a need to tap into market that is being underserved in terms of its diversity..Far too often readers/ listeners are pigeon-holed into simplistic categories that do very little to reflect our collective complexities. As was noted in their press release, In their press release they note

We believe one can adore DJ Snake and Cloud Nothings and Gerardo Ortiz and NIcki Minaj and still want to get deep into how things are moving at the protests in Venezuela, want to know who the humans are behind the net neutrality battles, want to prep for the 2016 elections.

Below is our insightful Hard Knock Radio conversation with Danyel and Elliot. You can get more info on HRD CVR by clicking HERE

Our Tribute to Yuri Kochiyama-Human Rights Activist & Freedom Fighter Who Never Wavered

Yuri KochiyamaOver the weekend we lost another Freedom Fighter, Yuri Kochiyama… I hope folks take time out to know she was more than ‘just the small Asian Woman‘ who cradled Malcolm X when he was assassinated that dreadful day in February 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom. For starters we should know about her political work in Harlem on school integration and the Freedom school she and her husband Bill helped established with the Harlem Parents Committee. We should know how she and Malcolm X came to be close friends and she joined his Organization for Afro-American Unity ..She wasn’t just some lady who happened to be there in the audience. She was someone who was down for the cause.

We should know about Yuri’s political work before and after Malcolm’s death ranging from her fighting to get reparations for Japanese Americans, fighting for Puerto Rican Independence, fighting to end nuclear weapons and of course the fight to free and get rights for political prisoners. The plight of Political Prisoners was near and dear to Yuri because she, along with her family and thousands of other Japanese-Americans were political prisoners after they were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Her father was one of the first to be sent away and died as a result. The camp she was sent to was  Camp Jerome in Arkansas.

For many Yuri Kochiyama was a major figure who radicalized people’s thinking and political outlook. She was an inspirational woman who touched many in particular, many progressive minded Hip Hop generation Asian activists who saw as a mother figure. She was someone who we would see at all the key rallies and demonstrations  who was accessible and mentored many.  If you ever met and spoke with her, you could see she spit more wisdom about civil rights and social justice than most have stood on podiums demanding hefty fees. Yuri was uncompromising and unwavering in her fight to end oppression.. Honor her by learning about her work and building off the foundation she laid down.. She will be missed RIP Yuri Kochiyama

Below is our Hard Knock Radio Show Tribute that features community elder,  former Black Panther and fellow Human Rights activist Sister Kiilu Nysha. Here Sister Kiilu talks about her close friendship with Yuri and what lessons all of us should learn from her. We also replay an important 2008 interview Kiilu did with Yuri about her friendship and work she did with Malcolm X..

Oakland March for Missing Girls in Nigeria | Fallout over SNL Slave Skit

Nigerian MarchOver the weekend there was a huge march and rally to bring attention to the missing kidnapped girls from Nigeria. We spoke with organizers who at the time felt not enough attention was being paid to the situation at hand. They were also concerned that folks locally weren’t connecting the dots and seeing this not as a forced marriage incident but a case of sex trafficking.

They also wanted to make sure that folks were aware of the sex trafficking and scores kidnapped girls who are forced to walk the streets right here in Oakland every night. Throughout the march folks continuously made the connection..

The organizers of the Oakland #BringBackOurGirls march pointed out that they were graciously invited to join ranks with the Alan Bluford Movement. For those who are unaware, Alan Bluford was a 17 year old who was shot and killed by Oakland police 2 years ago to the date of the march. There was a rally scheduled to celebrate his life and bring justice for him that was planned long before the Bring Back Our Girls March.. The Bluford family reached out to organizers of the Bring Back Our Girls and together they both spoke to the importance of reminding the world that Black Lives Matter.. It was powerful..

We talk with key organizers Faiza Farah, Kinfolk and Mr Bluford at the start of the march..

Leslie Jones of SNL

Leslie Jones of SNL

Later on in the show we speak with long time film maker and media justice advocate Rage Souljah from Race for the Times about the controversy surrounding the slavery skit done by comedian Leslie Jones on Saturday Night Live..

For those who are unaware here’s the breakdown..

Leslie Jones in an attempt to be funny did a skit that many felt mocked slavery..It was called the slave draft and started out with her saying,

“The way we value Black beauty has changed. I’m single now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m six feet tall and I’m strong. Look at me, I’m a Mandingo”

She then went on to pine:

“I do not want to be a slave. I don’t like working for all you White people now and you pay me. But back in the slave days, my love life would have been better.

Master would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation and every nine months I’d be in the corner popping out super babies. I’d just keep popping them out.

Shaq. Kobe, LeBron, Kimbo Slice, Sinbad. I would be the number one slave draft pick. All of the plantations would want me” she said. “Now, I can’t get a brotha to take me out for a cheap dinner. Can a bitch get a beef bowl?!!”

Needless to say this caused a firestorm where folks went in on Leslie Jones who reacted with equal venom..She tweeted that

“…Black people bitch and moan about the most stupid shyt…I’m a comic and its m job to take things and make them funny and make you think”

She noted that her skit came from the pain of realizing that Black men don’t wanna mess with her and that she would’ve been better off in slavery because she would have had a man because of breeding..”

During our interview Rage Souljah gave a detailed historical breakdown of how slavery has been used in films and in pop culture to demean Black people and sanitize the institution of slavery and reduce it to a joke. In the backdrop of all this is the rewriting of school text books where they have removed the word slavery and have downplayed its brutality.

He starts with Birth of a Nation and brings it up to music mogul Russel Simmons backed by powerhouse company Dreamworks releasing a Harriet Tubman sex tape parody to the recent slew of slave films.

Leslie Jones argued that other comedians like Dave Chappelle and Richard Pryor have done slave skits. rage breaks down the significant differences between their jokes and hers.

A lesson to be learned here is for one to be careful for what you wish for or at the very least if we are going to push for someone to be put in place to rep the larger Black community at least make sure they hold the same values..Its not enough to have a black face in high or visible places if they are going to further the stereotypes and deepen the systemic problems we are fighting…

Former Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart Speaks: From Larry Davis to the War on Terror

Lynee StewartHard Knock Radio: Over the weekend, we were honored to sit down and speak with long time human right’s activist and freedom fighter, former political prison affectionately known as ‘the People’s Lawyer-Lynne Stewart.

She swung through the Bay Area with Pam and Ramona Africa to celebrate Mumia Abu Jamal’s 60th birthday and to raise awareness about political prisoners. For those who are unaware,  Stewart was sent to jail almost 10 years ago when the Bush administration accused her of aiding and abetting terrorists, which was far from the case.

She was sent to jail under new restrictive laws that were newly applied to lawyers working with particular clients. Her case set a frightening precedent and showed just how much our civil liberties have been encroached. By using the words terrorists and painting Stewart as  some sort of danger to national security, the Bush administration was able to get away with what Stewart described as an egregious crime.

Stewart pointed out that her long history of successfully opposing state oppression and abusive police made her a target where all rules were thrown out the window. During our interview she breaks down the full details leading up to her arrest and conviction. It is truly fascinating.

Larry Davis

Larry Davis

We also spoke to Stewart about her past work, including her being the lawyer for infamous Bronx drug dealer, turned police fighter Larry Davis. Davis was accused of shooting six New York City cops who he said were dirty and forcing him to deal drugs. He went on the run for 17 days after the shooting, sparking one of the largest man hunts in New York City history.

What a lot of folks don’t know is Lynne successfully defended him of those initial charges. he was acquitted. Sadly he was actually convicted on something that was minor compared to the charges levied on him about the police shootings. Stewart noted that she wasn’t Davis’ lawyer in the last case which led to him being convicted and sent to jail where was later murdered.

During our interview Stewart  gives up a lot of key information about the plight of political prisoners  and what its like inside jail for them. She described in detail the types of tactics guards use to prevent inmates from asserting their rights and organizing..

Remembering Rubin Hurricane Carter..Our Hard Knock Radio Interview

Rubin Hurricane Carter

Rubin Hurricane Carter

Hard Knock Radio 04-21-2014: We talk with the two reporters who were on the scene last year in Boston during the bombings that took place at the conclusion of the marathon.. Chris Farone and Dart Adams share their thoughts on what was going on then and now and how the response to those bombings impacted our civil liberties ..

Later on in the show we give a throwback interview featuring former HKR co-host  Weyland Southon speaking w/ Rubin Hurricane Carter who passed away over the weekend.. The former celebrated boxer turned prison rights activist was someone who showed us how to be resilient in the face of the most oppressive and insurmountable odds.

When he came to our studios a few years back, he was in the middle of a speaking tour helping raise awareness about the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal.. Here carter speaks at length about Mumia’s case as well as dispensing advice to those currently locked up.. It was a memorable visit.. He was very inspiring

MSNBC Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom Breaks Down Trayvon Martin Case

Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom

Hard Knock Radio 04-16-14: We speak NBC legal analyst, lawyer and author Lisa Bloom about the her book Suspicion Nation which gives keen insight into the Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman trial which she feels was botched by the prosecutors..

During our conversation Ms Bloom lays out 5 key egregious mistakes and oversights about the trial which led to its messed up outcome. Among the points raised is the mistreatment and harassment of  the only non white juror, Maddy, who for weeks felt singled out, demeaned, and belittled by the five white jurors. Things got so bad that she decided to leave — twice — but was talked into staying by two minority bailiffs. Was racial profiling going on inside the jury room in the midst of the highest profile trial in America about racial profiling?

Another disturbing aspect brought forth by Lisa Bloom in our interview was how the state of Florida failed to  argue their best evidence (that Zimmerman’s gun was holstered behind him, making it impossible for Trayvon to see, much less reach for – the essence of Zimmerman’s self-defense claim).

Zimmerman demonstrated this on videotape the day after the incident, so it was right under their noses all the time. The state failed to prepare its most important witnesses, and assured the acquittal by delivering an abysmal closing argument, failing to connect the evidence to the law, asking questions rather than providing answers. State Attorney Angela Corey’s big smile and statement “the system worked” after the acquittal raises real questions about whether they wanted to win the case at all.

Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

Lisa Bloom talks about her interview with Trayvon’ s friend Rachel Jeantel who she notes was poorly prepared by the state prosecutors for her testimony. One of the key points that the state neglected to bring to light during that fateful last conversation was how Trayvon was joking with Rachel just before the altercation. This revelation would’ve have undercut Zimmerman’s claim that Trayvon was an enraged homicidal attacker.

Lisa Bloom addresses the nagging issue of Trayvon being suspended from his high school in Miami. many were lead to believe that Trayvon was some sort of violent thug who was disruptive. That was far from the case. Bloom points out that Trayvon was suspended for being late and having an empty bag with traces of weed in his locker.

Trayvon Martin wore a hoodie in the rain..In the world of Don lemon and Geraldo, maybe He should've had an umbrella instead

Trayvon Martin

During our conversation Bloom gives larger context to the suspensions by noting how there have been multiple civil rights cases filed against Florida schools for racial bias against African-American boys in suspensions. In the case of Trayvon his infractions did not warrant suspensions under his school’s own written policies.

Under those policies, his offenses, like tardiness, should have not led to suspensions at all, or resulted in only brief suspensions.  Trayvon was away from his Miami home the night he lost his life due to an unwarranted ten-day suspension, his third in a few months.

We concluded our interview by talking about the importance of making sure the right DAs and judges get into office and how the refusal of many to take such elections seriously have had long term negative consequences…