History 101: Black Panthers, Palestinians & The Fight to End Racist Zionism

Former Political prisoner Dhoruba Bin Wahad

Former Political prisoner Dhoruba Bin Wahad

We sat down and spoke w/ former political prisoner, Black Panther (Panther 21) and BLA member Dhoruba Bin Wahad who gave us an incredible in-depth history about the relationship between the Black Panther Party and the Palestinian Liberation Movement.. It’s important history that has been erased in the current conversation as there is a concerted effort by organizations like AIPAC to rewrite history and downplay the militant aspects of the Black Freedom struggles. For example many do not know that there were Palestinian Black Panthers in Palestine. Dhoruba explained that they formed because they felt organizations like the PLO were not militant enough. The breakdown on this is serious history.

Our conversation started off with Dhoruba laying down the history of how Israel formed in the first place and the mass displacement of Palestinian people. He clears up the common misperception of Palestine and Israel being in armed conflict for centuries. Its an excuse given so that people avoid looking at Israel’s human rights violations. It obscures the racist and imperialistic aspects of Zionism which is driving the current conflict. More importantly as Dhoruba points out it takes away from the reality of Israel being a ‘settler state’.

Dhoruba talks about the role colonial powers, in particular Britain and France played in issuing mandates and how they fostered a climate that eventually resulted in the current conflict we see going on now in the Middle East..

Palestinian Black PantherDhoruba detailed how and why the Black Panthers linked up with the Palestinians and the important role that the struggles in Algiers played in bringing folks together. Dhoruba explained his role as one of the liaisons between the Panthers and Palestine’s UN delegation..he also details how J Edgar Hoover and his infamous Cointel-Pro program launched a campaign with a racist name called Operation Hymie where they sent off letters to Jewish organizations asserting the Black Panthers were Nazis and Anti-Semitic. It was an attempt to demonize the Panthers and dampen the relationship and support they had from Jewish folks who did support the Panthers.

We were joined in our conversation by local activist and scholar Danea Martinez who detailed the relationship between Palestine and the Black freedom struggle in South Africa. She gave us an accurate perspective on Nelson Mandela, the ANC (African National Congress) and where and how they intersected with the Palestine struggle. She also gave us perspective on Israel displacing Palestinians in 1948 from their homeland and the formation of Apartheid in South Africa that same year.. Its remarkable and sobering history as she details Zionist Israeli’s long sordid relationship with Apartheid South Africa. Its history that many in power are trying to erase.

Both Danea and Dhoruba talked at length about Arab racism and slavery on the African continent. Dhoruba who lived in Africa for a number of years detailed the racial politics and how they play out both here in the US and abroad. He reminded folks that many of the Arabs we’re  talking about involved in slavery in places like Mali and the Sudan are actually Black. he noted they are ‘Blacker than you and me’ but in appearance but they identify as Arab. He walks us through some of the complexities around this and talks about where and how Anti-Black sentiment emerges within the Arab world. The information he breaks down in this segment is extremely insightful and gives important context to this discussion on Arab racism.

We also talk at length about the impact the cold war had on the liberation struggles in both America amongst Black people and in Palestine. We talk about the role it played in heightening racist Zionism..

We conclude the conversation with a discussion of how Israel’s policies and practices are being exported to US police departments and SWAT teams here in the US.. There is an NYPD office in Tel A Viv and many officers have taken leaves of absence to go fight for Israel’s IDF to hunt down Palestinians. This slaughter has got to stop.

Check out the full Hard Knock Radio Interview below


Update: As we are finishing up this interview we got word that Palestinian futball (soceer) legend Ahed Zaqout  was killed as a result of Israel’s relentless bombings of Gaza. We also got word that 9 members of Dr. Mona El-Farra, of the Middle East Children’s Alliance and the director of Gaza Projects Lost 9 members of her family yesterday.  You can hear her first hand accounts HERE


20 Years Ago Today Nelson Mandela Became South Africa’s First Black President


Ronald Reagan Opposed Nelson Mandela. He saw him and the Adfrican national Congress as Terrorists

May 10th 1994, 20 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first Black president.. For many like myself who were involved in the anti-apartheid and divestment movements it was a big deal. It seemed like such a day would never happen but it did.. For those on the ground in South Africa, after decades of brutality, bloodshed and all out dehumanization, Mandela being sworn in was monumental..Folks forget that South Africans had their country taken over and were the overwhelming majority in a country where a white minority ruled with ruthless force.

That white minority ruled because the US and Israel backed them with weapons, financial support and steadfastly refused to go along with world-wide sanctions that folks called for. Nelson becoming President after being imprisoned for damn near 30 years was Hope and Change years before Obama hit the world stage..

As we look back to those joyful times, one has to ask how have things improved in South Africa? There’s no doubt its one of the most developed countries on the continent? At the same time many say egregious wrong turns were made starting with Mandela not returning the land and natural resources stolen by the white minority… At the time folks praised Mandela for exemplifying humanity. It was humanity never shown to Blacks in South Africa. But 20 years later what has that gotten folks inside South Africa and globally? What lessons did we learn in the aftermath of Mandela’s presidency?


Cynthia McKinney Speaks on the Legacy of Nelson Mandela

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

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

-Cynthia McKinney-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sordid Legacy of Margret Thatcher.. What We Should Never Ever Forget

Margret thatcherThe funeral of former British prime minister Margret Thatcher took place in the UK today, one day after the Boston Marathon tragedy.. We talked to long time activist Lee Jasper former senior advisor to the mayor of London and co-chair of BARAC & National Black Members Officer for the Respect Political Party in UK about her legacy..

Lee noted that there’s been an all out attempt to lionize Thatcher and remake her similar to the way Ronald Reagan was remade and sanitized. They gave her full military honors which caused quite a bit of controversy.. They also expected to have the streets lined with millions. Thatcher’s funeral drew less than 100 thousand people. More folks came out in the streets of London for the funeral of former IRA (Irish Republican Army) leader and hunger striker Bobby Sands then they did Thatcher..

During our conversation Jasper broke down the alliance Thatcher forged with brutal Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and later Ronald Reagan to enact neo-Liberal policies that continue to this day…. He talked about how Thatcher made it a priority to try and break the unions and severely economically cripple working class people. He also spoke about her outright hostility toward Black people..

Jasper talked about the policing policies Thatcher oversaw including one called SUS  (Stop and Search) where thousands of Black people were jailed simply on police suspecting they did a crime..They now have in place a policy that was the prototype for Stop and Frisk.. Lee explained Thatcher’s brutal policies along with her refusal to have investigated a racially motivated fire started by a white supremacist where 13 Black teens were killed led to a major riot in 1981 in the Brixton section of London. Police enhanced the SUS laws and more than a 1000 people were detained and hemmed up by police.

We also talked at length about Thatcher’s foreign policies and her support for white supremacist leader Ian Smith who presided over Rhodesia before it became Zimbabwe.. She talked about her seeing Nelson Mandela and the ANC in South Africa as terrorists. The woman was grand hater of Black liberation.

Lee Jasper Gives us the breakdown on Margret Thatcher

Lee Jasper Gives us the breakdown on Margret Thatcher

It’s with that in mind that Jasper expressed disappointment in the praise that President Obama showered on Thatcher considering the intense dislike many had for her and how divisive she was.. . Of course we should not be surprised considering that strong ties Thatcher had with Reagan and Obama’s repeated praise for the man we once called ‘The Gipper’.

Also during our interview we talked about the tragedy in Boston and how Londoners had to deal with constant bombings during the hey day of the IRA, … Lee expressed condolences to the folks in Boston and then talked about how it led to widespread fears resulting in intrusive and harsh laws..One of the laws that emerged was the precursor to what we now know as one that allows for indefinite detainment of what we call enemy combatants. He talked about the type of stigma and brutality heaped upon the Irish by police during that time and how many were deemed to be that..

Check out the Hard Knock Radio interview by clicking the link below..

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The Fallout Over LL Cool J & Accidental Racist.. Are We Too Forgiving?

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameBeen thinking about this fall out and the anger everyone has expressed toward LL Cool J around his involvement in the Brad Paisley song ‘Accidental Racist‘. Yeah its a corny song and folks have been getting their clown on about that.. But it’s also brought about a lot of anger, much of directed at LL vs Paisley.

At the core of folks angst is him showing ‘forgiveness‘ and taking a conciliatory tone for wrong doings in the past.. He basically told Paisley its all good, rock that confederate flag as long as you let me rock my doo rag and sagging pants in peace… Many of us flipped out and rightfully asked; ‘LL Cool J how dare you? Where is your pride? Where’s your understanding of Black history? Where are your principles?’

Many said LL had no business compromising the way he did..and I get that..But let’s have an honest discussion..First how many of us have  ‘compromised’ on our principles? ‘ How many of us have tucked away our knowledge of Black history to have a Kumbaya moment?  How many of us have been willing to forgive and literally forget about egregious wrong doings of others who we feel we wanna break bread with? Sometimes we do this with family members, close friends and spouses. Sometimes we do this with our job, the things we consume or the politicians we elect. We compromise and have all sorts of justifications for it..Can we talk about drone strikes anyone? Can we talk about Africom?

Bottom line is at the end of the day many of us find ourselves not wanting to ‘hurt anyone’s feelings’, or wanting to rock the proverbial boat and make folks feel uncomfortable.  As a result we do one of two things.. we fail to take strong principled stances when needed most.. or we wind up self sabotaging ourselves or compromising a situation vs going all out and making hard demands even if we know its right and surely needed.  For many of us its easier to go along ‘get along’ then it is to take the reins in be in charge..We need to be honest…

Barackobama-yesWeCaveIn looking at the LL Cool J situation and the anger around it, what came across was a guy not wanting to make waves. Seemed like he was playing it safe.. Maybe he did it for his career after all Hollywood is fickle. Maybe he was afraid he might lose some friends or step on toes.. LL is no dummy.. He’s been around for minute..

I can’t help put think of the debates that ensued during President Obama‘s run for the White House. If you recall there were all sorts of heated discussions about Obama not showing anger or drawing firm lines in the sand in the face of egregious insults and mistreatment.. Whether it was his friend Skip Gates having an unfair confrontation with Harvard police, reporters, pundits  and fellow politicians taking vile racial remarks or Arizona governor Jan Brewer putting her finger in his face, we were told that Obama was doing the right thing by taking the high road and that he was setting a good example for all of us to follow by appealing to ones humanity vs ‘lowering himself’…Some of us said he was caving in too much.. The push back to such accusations was strong..We were told if we take the high road it will be reciprocated..Obama was setting a tone for us to appeal to our higher selves.. Was LL trying to take the high road and appeal to ones humanity in his own way?

Ronald Reagan Opposed Nelson Mandela. He saw him and the Adfrican national Congress as Terrorists

Was Nelson Mandela was too forgiving?

During the fall of Apartheid and Nelson Mandela pushed for the country to do Truth and Reconciliation…We were told that this was a way for folks to atone and it would help bring about true healing..  There were many who praised Mandela and said he was a shining example of humanity.. Many others including his former wife Winnie Mandela said he sold us out and shortchanged the revolution.. She and others called for justice with folks being severely punished for wrong doings and those who were smashed on being compensated and restitution given..Many said Nelson Mandela was too forgiving..

The push back on Willie were arguments centering on one can never be too forgiving.  Moving forward and healing and letting God or the Universe and higher powers take control were the orders of the day with lots of  leaders, Black, white and other say talk of ‘vengeance‘ was outrageous and shortsighted..

LL Cool J RedNow I’m in no way saying LL’s song Accidental Racist is anywhere on the level of the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa, but the anger and frustration I’ve seen expressed reminds me of the sentiments I saw expressed when folks first heard about the process..Our collective outlook on compromise and forgiveness has been complicated by what we been taught about ‘holding grudges’ and seeking revenge.. Some of us have been informed by our religious or spiritual beliefs… Some of us have been informed by societal dictates.. It gets confusing with no real blue print.. Many of us have been taught that seeking justice is the akin to seeking revenge and hence many have avoided it like the plague.

This LL Cool J situations suggests that its high time we have honest discussions on what it means to truly forgive someone and how to express it. We need to talk about ‘Whats the difference between seeing the humanity in someone and trying to ‘be humane’ by taking the high road vs appeasing someone and making unnecessary compromises?  Can you really say RIP general Robert E Lee??

Some food for thought

-Davey D-

We Remember the Father of Crack & a Key Supporter of Apartheid-Ronald Wilson Reagan

We Remember Ronald Reagan,  the Father of Crack and a Supporter of Apartheid
by Davey D

So yesterday Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger strolled into Simi Valley and with the stroke of a pen he made February 6th Ronald Reagan Day. He also vetoed a bill that would allow Farm Workers to be paid overtime. I found it interesting but not all that surprising that we would have that sort of coupling. After all, we’re honoring a man who was all about exploitation and sadly that trait was underscored with a veto. But let’s not digress..

Governor Schwarzenegger said we need to use Feb 6th as a day to teach school kids about the great accomplishments of Ronald Wilson Reagan. He said we need to teach the kids about this man’s legacy.I guess he feels kids should grow up to be like Reagan. I had to laugh because there’s so much to say and its hard to know where to begin.

Should we start by reminding the kids how Reagan ignored the AIDs epidemic that sprung up during his two terms? I contrast Reagan’s ignoring of HIV and AIDs when people suffering from the then unknown disease were begging for help with how we went all out for the Swine Flu.  Ronnie was out to lunch on that crises.

Maybe I should teach the kids about how he insisted that ketchup and relish were vegetables as he aggressively fought to push inner city school lunch programs to cut cooked and fresh vegetables from their menus.

I could always teach the kids about Reagan’s trickle down economic theory where he fought to allow rich corporations and businesses to cut taxes which would allow them to create new jobs thus benefitting the masses. I guess I should also teach the kids how many of those rich folks who got those tax breaks promptly took their American jobs overseas where they continued to enjoy tax breaks while our economy was turned upside down..

I’ll be sure to teach the kids how Reagan opposed the Equal Rights Amendment even though women at that time and even today still make less than men.

We could also talk about how he was vehemently opposed to the Black Panthers and pushed for the Mulford Act which was specifically designed to target and disarm them

The Father of Crack

I guess because so many kids are enamored with rap star Rick Ross, perhaps I could use his popularity as a teachable moment. I could start by letting kids know that Ross the rapper from Miami derived his name from Freeway Rick the drug dealer out of Los Angeles.

Freeway Rick who has been touring the country lecturing against the harmful impact of drugs is erroneously called the Father of Crack.  His South Central operations is legendary as he’s reported to have moved up to 3 million dollars worth of product a week,  but that’s only part of the story. Freeway Rick was not the Father but the proverbial God son.. The real Father of Crack was Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. The man we came to affectionately call the ‘Great Communicator‘.

You see Freeway Rick was allowed to flourish because our government at the time had some dirty war business they wanted to conduct and found it difficult to circumvent the law and limits set up by Congress. Freeway Rick was able to lavish the hood with tons of crack cocaine because of little scheme we came to know as the Iran Contra Scandal . It was the biggest scandal this country had ever known. Even bigger than Richard Nixon’s Watergate.

To sum it up what you had was in the early 80s, the US was beefing with Iran and the US was beefing with left leaning factions in Nicaragua called the Sandinistas. Reagan and his boys wanted to knock off the Sandinistas because they didn’t like their politics and the populus movement they represented. Latin America was on the rise and overthrowing dictators who were backed by the US. Reagan wanted to overthrow the Sandinistas by arming a bunch of CIA backed rebels called the Contras. Since we’re supposed to be Freedom Loving country we couldn’t do our bidding publicly, and as I noted Congress wasnt with the program, so Reagan’s senior advisors launched a secret war.

What they did was covertly sell arms to Iran and take the money and use it to fund Contra operations in Nicaragua. Additional money was netted for the Contras through the sale of crack cocaine which suddenly overnight gained huge popularity in hoods throughout the country. Freeway Rick and South Central, LA was ground zero.

LAs notorious gangs became the main traffickers who spread all out the country with Freeway Rick being the kingpen. Some of this is out lined in Ice Cube’s song ‘Summer Vacation‘.

Freeway Rick’s connection to all the cocaine was a notorious drug supplier named Oscar Danilo Blandón who worked with the CIA and was a key link to the Contras. This is where the whole CIA-Crack connection story emerged . They were outlined in the explosive 1996 San Jose Mercury expose and book called Dark Alliances written by the late Gary Webb.

Oliver North

When all was said and done damn near all of Reagan’s senior advisors were convicted, like National Security Council member Oliver North who played a central role and was later pardoned. Reagan the Great Communicator was protected with folks saying he had no idea all this was happening on his watch. The exact term used was Reagan was ‘disengaged’

Supporter of Apartheid

Thats an interesting term because it’s in opposition to what Ronald Reagan prided himself on. Here was a guy who supported South Africa’s Apartheid Regime. He aggressively opposed Nelson Mandela who was in jail as a political prisoner during Reagan’s presidency. Reagan called Mandela and his and the African National Congress a ‘terrorist organization‘.

During the early 80s, worldwide resistance to South Africa emerged including a call from the UN to have an embargo. Recording artists all over the world launched a boycott to Sun City which was a popular resort in South Africa where some of the Apartheid laws were relaxed.

Ronald Reagan Opposed Nelson Mandela. He saw him and the Adfrican national Congress as Terrorists

Ronald Reagan along with Israel and Great Britain opposed all of it. Reagan said he supported South Africa because they stood alongside us during all our wars.. He said the best way to get rid of Apartheid was not through embargos but through this term he coined called  ‘Constructive engagement‘. When he first used it left everyone stunned and asking WTF? There was nothing to engage. People were calling for an end to the brutal Apartheid regime and Reagan was opposing it. It was so bad that after he vetoed sanctions, Congress did a rare thing and over rode his veto.  This man who supposedly loved freedom was on the wrong side of history when it came to making sure it was a reality for Black South Africans. It’s no wonder Nelson Mandela didn’t attend his funeral in 2004.

We can go on and on when talking about Ronald Reagan. He was a hero for those who yearned for the days when many people in marginalized communities were behind the 8 ball not in front of it.  Yes when February 6th rolls around.. I will say Happy Ronald Reagan Day and commence to undo the revisionist history the power elite in this country have spent years constructing. I’ll leave with two musical heros who went in hard on Reagan back in the days. Gil Scott Heron with the song B-Movie and Melle-Mel with his song Jesse.



Click HERE to peep song..

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Remembering How Hip Hop Took on and addressed the issue of Apartheid

One of the most under appreciated and least talked about collaborative efforts that involved Hip Hop was the Artists United Against Apartheid  and the The boycott of Sun City. For those who don’t recall Sun City was this ultra lavish resort  in this ‘phony’ country set up by the South African government called Bophuthatswana.  This was like a country inside a country kind of like an Indian Reservation of sorts. Sun City was basically South Africa’s version of Las Vegas and was set up to be this place where rich folks could go ‘play and get decadent and then return back to SA proper.

In South Africa under the Apartheid regime there were 4 or 5 of these fake/ reservation like countries called Homelands where Blacks were forced to live in overcrowded miserable conditions. They were moved off their traditional lands onto these ‘independent’ homelands while still being  still forced to work  amongst Afrikaners and subjected to her harsh Apartheid rules that called for strict racial separation.  It was in South Africa that Blacks who were the 75%  of the population and native to the land were subjected to all sorts of humiliations including not being allowed to live on any of the good land and having to show a special ID everytime they traveled from one place to another. These rules of racial separations were brutally enforced with the Afrikaner government going all out to crush any and all rebellions.

Many asked how was it that a country where Blacks were the overwhelming majority they could be under such harsh rule.. Sadly the South African Afrikaner government had two staunch prominent allies who stood in solid support. They were the US and Israel. Both these countries supplies weapons, resources and protection. Israel worked with the Afrikaner government to develop nuclear weapons and signed some sort of secret treaty to test them.

Worldwide condemnation picked up at the time President Ronald Regan was in office and he stood firm, vetoing any attempts to smash on Apartheid via the United Nations. He said the US had a constructive engagement policy..which basically meant business as usual..while they would say ‘Apartheid was the most desireable way to govern. At one point he even sent prominent minister Jerry Falwell over to South Africa to insure the Afrikaners the US was behind them. Both Israel and the US justified their stance because they didn’t want SA to get help from the Soviets.

South Africa’s Afrikaner government used Sun City as a way to give the country a nice look and by inviting A-list entertainers and showing them a good time, they would further highlight themselves via these defacto ambassadors.  Since Regan wasn’t going to back any attempts to officially boycott South Africa, the music and entertainment industry’s launched their own boycott.. people like Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Sprinstein’s E- Street Band kicked things off and formed the group.  He gathered up prominent rock musicians like;  Bob Dylan, Bono,  Peter Gabriel,  Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates,  Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr Pat Benatar, and Joey Ramone to name a few.. Joining them were legends like Miles Davis, Eddie Kendricks, Bobby Womack, Nona Hendryx, Herbie Hancock, George Clinton, Jimmy Cliff, and David Ruffin.

Rounding out this all-star line up were prominent Hip Hop artists, including pioneers DJ Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa, Mele-Mel, The Fat Boys, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and Gil Scott Heron.. Arthur Baker who is best known for producing Planet Rock along with Afrika Bambaataa was also on board.

The overall gist was to shame any entertainer or athlete who defied the UN sanctioned boycott and played Sun City for the large sums of money they offered. For the most part it worked, but there were a few like Queen, golfer Lee Travino, Frank Sinatra,  Linda Ronstadt, the O’Jays, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart who had no qualms breaking the boycott and in doing so giving credibility to the South Africa regime.

Here are two land mark songs from the landmark  Sun City album where Hip Hop left its footprints.. Props out to the pioneers who really put it down especially Mele-Mel and Kurtis Blow. What I like most about this joint is hearing Gil Scott Heron who was an obvious precursor to modern day rap doing his thing along side them. His commentary underscored everything that was happening. I was impressed with the way he paralled the struggle for equality here in the US along with what was going on in South Africa.

In order to fully appreciate this other cut Revolutionary Situation which is basically sound clips and samples over hard hitting beats is to hear it in full stereo. That wasn’t fully captured during this particular recording. Produced by drummer Keith Leblanc who did the song Malcom X on Tommy Boy record, this  the entire songs has sounds coming out of left and right speakers. They range from Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindi , Bishop Desmond Tutu,  Alan Boesak, and Steve Biko and Ronald Regan.  You get this sense of urgency that at any minute South Africa is gonna explode if the walls of Apartheid don’t crumble. Hearing Ronald Regan inside this song makes you realize how utterly out of touch and mean-spirited we sounded as a country.. . Sadly it was because of this exposure of Regan’s insensitivity that ‘Sun City’ got limited airplay and PBS refused to air the documentary that went alongside making this album.

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa

Coming off the Sun City album which raised about a million dollars many in Hip Hop kept the message alive. there was the big divestment movement at UC Berkeley. myself and my crew did an anti-Apartheid song that was played during rallies. Others like Afrika Bambaataa who’s pioneering Zulu Nation organization was named after the South African tribe who fearlessly fought the British, took it a step further and started doing concerts overseas where he raised money for the African National Congress. Bam will be the first to tell you that he was inspired after seeing the movie Zulu to form his organization and later adapt certain things including battle strategies from them. Hip Hop had been acknowledging South Africa and her freedom struggle from day one..

Also in that vein was Arrested Development  who also donated money to the ANC and if memory serves me correctly performed when Mandela came to Oakland at the conclusion of his Free South Africa tour

One of the most prominent groups to address the issue of Apartheid was Stetsasonic the original Hip Hop band.  They did a song that sampled Jesse Jackson who had just come off making a historic run for President. The song was called Free South Africa and was not only a 12 inch single that was promoted and pushed, but had an accompanying video..

Y’all remember this?


Chuck D & Paradise at the LQ

Chuck D & Paradise at the LQ

The Setsasonic single came out during the hey day of Hip Hop’s Golden Era’ which was ushered in because of a series of secret meetings held at the Latin Quarters, the biggest and most popular nightclub in New York during the mid 80s.. Top artist of the day from The Jungle Brothers to KRS-One to Bambaataa and many others came together and agreed to stop wearing the popular gold dookie chains which were made with gold from South Africa. A fast and hard rule was agreed upon which forbade anyone from performing on the stage wearing gold.. The chains were replaced with leather African medallions and essentially ushered in Hip Hop’s Golden Era..

The primary architect behind that was Paradise Gray of the legendary group X-Clan who ran the nightclub. He is finishing up a book and documentary along with writer/activist Giuseppe Pipitone about that special period..

Also coming out of that Afrocentric/ Golden Era in Hip Hop was Queen Latifah and her song ‘Ladie’s First‘.. many may have forgotten the video that she did which was directed by Fab 5 Freddy who was also hosting Yo MTV Rap.. The imagery used in the video shows the resistance to Apartheid..


Here’s an incredible posse cut featuring Afrika Bambaataa, Brother J, Professor X, Lakim Shabazz,  Jungle Brothers, UTFO, Master Rob of Ultimate Force, Grand Puba of Brand Nubian, Kings Of Swing, Queen Latifah, Solo, Revolucien, Lin Que, Arthur X called Free South Africa from the group Hip Hop Against Apartheid


Hip Hop/ New Wave icon Malcolm McClaren best know for the landmark song Buffalo Gals which came out in 83, had on the flipside this song about Soweto


Here’s another video which I forgot.. Straight outta of the UK is Brotherhood in the form of the Black Rhyme Organisation To Help Equal Rights (B.R.O.T.H.E.R ) was a collection of some of the most talented UK Hip Hop artists around in 1989. Instigated by the political ragga-rap group Gatecrash, the main purpose of their debut record, “Beyond the 16th Parallel” was to raise awareness of the racial inequalities of the South African apartheid regime. Assembling an all-star line up, including the late Bernie Grant MP, each of the separate groups had the task of tackling the specifics of the Botha government.


Another group out of the UK that strong addressed Apartheid was the Cookie Crew with one of my all-time favorite songs ‘How Long Has this Been Going On’


In South Africa, there were scores of rappers, but the most potent and most political was Prophets of Da City (POC) who wound up being banned by the government because of their lyrics.. They wound up performing at Mandela’s inauguration, but remained critical of the government which they felt had been too forgiving to the Afrikaners.. They remained banned and were recently the subject of a documentary put together by South African film maker Dylan Valley talking about their plight .


We will leave out with a new song from Jasiri X and his new song about Mandela called Listen to what the Drums Say


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