Friday, December 3, 2010

The Great Debate: Objective v. Subjective Reality


In sociology we discuss objective reality v. subjective reality. In simple terms, objective reality is the fact; subjective reality is our understanding of it.

objective reality is the "what".. subjective reality is the "why"... when everyone and anyone can give a "why" answer ... we'll never understand what "what" really is... and this, I believe, hinders progress.

folks need to figure out which matters more...what is (the truth, facts) ...or our perception of it..

So we know poverty exists (objective reality) but folks have different explanations for why (subjective reality) and because of that, we never come to an agreement that leads to eradicating the "what"...poverty.

In my mind, staying focused on the WHAT we are doing is critical..and "sustainable progress" is what we need to be doing...yes, it matters why things are the way they are, but focusing on why will never lead to progressive change.

The problem is lived experiences are too different to effectively address social problems intellectually or ideologically. People must understand on a personal level. It must be made personal. When people speak of black anger with dismay or disgust, we can tell a history that has never actually been told outside of ethnic studies classes…a story of double consciousness…of being sons/daughters of a country that never loved us but is what it is from our labor…and our morality… of soldiers fighting for freedom abroad to come home to lynchings...or Japanese Americans interned while their sons fought for this country in segregated ranks…or 98% of FHA loans to whites after WWII to suburbanize America and the cumulative advantage in wealth that created for generations...that equality of opportunity means NOTHING without equality of condition...and all our sociological data…

we can tell contemporary stories of the brother just released from jail after doing 20+ years for a crime he was railroaded on…of unequal schools, and prisons for profit, etc… we can say what was so poignantly said at the end of the "Great Debaters" film when debating civil disobedience. The young man recalled the lynch mob they came up on, seeing the black body (strange fruit) hanging and having to run away before they were next, powerless to help that brother..."AMERICA SHOULD BE GRATEFUL THAT WE CHOOSE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AS OUR MEANS OF PROTEST"...that's the truth no one is ready for...but the reality of our humanity shines.

As a social activist and analyst, I focus on what we all have in common: reality and humanity. Too often we let ideology inform our understanding of the world instead of looking beyond ideology to see the reality that affects us all and the humanity that defines us all.

I have a number of people that I do not agree with at all ideologically or politically, but I know they are good people that had a different upbringing, socialization, media training than I did. And I can like them….and do. Their humanity is what I see and what I trust. People are more alike and all want the same…to live, love, and be happy.

what they (elites) know you can learn, what you know (working class), they’ll never learn.

Real people living real lives are the answer. When we can be honest about the ideologies that inform us, we can tell the truth more clearly, in all its complexities. In truth, I know I can trust my conservative white neighbor to be there to help us if we need something more than I can trust some of my liberal white and black academic colleagues. I think for ideologues on the left and the right, it is hard to tell these truths although I know all live them.

An example that is relevant to my life is Catholicism. I can be honest that my family faith in Catholicism comes from colonization. The Catholic Church’s empire of history was at times evil and sanctioned slavery and should be condemned for all it has done wrong. I can disagree with its anti-contraception stance and I am personally pro-choice, but I can still applaud it for being one of the only large faith institutions that is more consistent in its pro-life position, not only being against abortion but also war and the death penalty. While an oppressive empire most of its history, it also became the foundation of liberation theology that links the faith to social justice. Priests and nuns have often been on the front lines of many social justice battles...

On the micro-level, Catholicism also nurtured my grandmother, the most peaceful spirit I’ve known on earth. She would walk to church daily and sing or hum all day after. She was not an activist in the way many define it, but she lived her humanity and our family and the world was better for having her bless it. So we miss her but we feel blessed that we loved her and were loved by her. Catholic school taught me respect for others and life, discipline and sacrifice. But it also had textbooks in schools and statues in churches that falsely depicted Jesus with European features.

This is being able to tell the truth about your reality and seeing it as not all good or all bad but all real. Reality would do us all justice. Reality would bring us all justice.

Solutions in a "non-sterile" environment like the world will take first understanding that actions not intentions are what matter.. the road to hell is paved with good intentions... and the road to freedom and salvation is paved with good deeds, acts, and service (action). And those that think they can get to the "promise land" through the actions of others, be it a Leader or their "Savior" ......will find that promise land forever elusive....We can no longer wish for better and act the same, maintaining status quo by default. To get out of the hell that corporate greed, concentrated power, western imperialism, religious fanaticism, and “ideology over reality” have created, we must get specific about what it will take to realize people power. It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act (14th Dalai Lama, 1992). Micro level activism can off set macro level power imbalances.

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." - Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Jr. understood that the biggest threat to the civil rights movement did not come from those burning crosses, but came from the MANY that stayed safely away engulfed in their own lives, complacent. These are the ones that cry how horrible oppression and inequality are but do nothing to change it. It comes down to choosing to remain comfortable or to agitate..Progress takes sacrifice..and ACTION.

Sustainable change will take more than just vision for a better tomorrow; it will take reconciliation with the past and acceptance of the present reality. The reality is that social structure rules our lives. And like the entire natural world, humans must adapt to survive whatever structural conditions they must bear, and today that entails an uneven distribution of resources where 2% control most and 98% have very little. When we reconcile with this reality, we can move to build solutions, based on “what is” instead of “what ifs”. So while the Panthers tried to build consciousness they also served the community with hot meals and health care. Bob Marley inspired souljahs across the globe, but those in most need in his native country, he gave food and shelter to daily. It is the only way to liberation: people must live before they can grow in consciousness and self determination, and each of us can take these specific actions to help our fellow beings live, learn and grow, both physically and consciously. Through self determination, we can free ourselves from dependency on a system that has never, and will never, serve us well.

Once I show students a history they never learned and they hear horror stories like that of a 9 month pregnant woman being lynched and her full term baby being stomped they no longer can say what are black people complaining about…now they know…and knowing really is half the battle…our problem like James Baldwin says is that the innocence constitutes the crime. When we embrace reality, but do so from our humanity and not ideology, we will achieve what we so desperately want and need: PEACE.

We are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is. – James Baldwin

Important links to view:

The Miniature Earth:

War against Working Americans:

What Would You Do?


Note: Parts of an earlier essay I wrote in 2008 called Part Two: Death and Life are included in this post.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Tipping Point

Midterm madness ends today (in theory). The 112th Congress will take office in 2011 and the next national election is in 2012 - the year of transformation according to legend. Will it be? It just may. No matter what the results of this election, the U.S. must accept some serious realities...and despite the rhetoric of an intensely negative political battle...change has come.

It was inevitable. Demographically...globally...realistically.

With each generation, ideals shift. The manifestation of generations of multicultural history has now come to fruition, despite a dominant narrative that tried to deny that reality (read Takaki). A global village is now the moving object that proves laws of physics correct once again, and can not be stopped now even by the greatest levels of fear and anxiety.

Times are a changin'...they always do.

But this change will be transformative...and like seismic transformative change that has come before, it will come with great strife and growing pains. Many resist change. Many fear change. Many will fight it to the death. I hope folks are ready. This is why I have focused most of my writings over the past 2 years on mass organizing and warning against petty political distractions instigated from the left and right.

So, I don't know for sure what will happen today, but I have revisited some past essays and recent videos to create a narrative that highlights the stakes.

1. If the backlash to 2008 "change" occurs, this will be a pull back to more entrenched status quo interests and even more regressive politics as Olbermann highlights here:

This will also not change the economic reality of this country.

2. If the Democrats fair better than the media has framed this story, it may be a testament to the following:

and this:

it may be that everyday folks are starting to see the bigger picture - while politicians are often bought and sold by monied interest in politics, the true threat to our democracy is not "big" government but corporate fascism.

On the flip side, it will actually incite fear in the right even more and possibly bring the time of reckoning closer (The Fire Next Time).

So while I can't predict the results of this election, I can say this country is transforming ...and while it may not feel like it now, it will be for the better.

I honestly believe that if we all focused more on action over debate, and service over leadership and politics, we would not only see the changes we want to see in our world, we would be it.

From 2007 to 2012....The Narrative:

The Fire This Time

WARGAMES - The Fall of Empire

“Where the Ball is, the Game is”

The Miseducation of a Nation: Unveiling the Illusion of History

Dis'United States of America: The Red, White, Blue...and above all Green

The Burden...and Freedom...of Reality

2010: A New Year, A New Decade...Time to Try Anew

White Supremacy from Bacon to Obama: Are We Finally at the Moment of Reckoning?

Powerful People v. People Power: The 21st Century Edition

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help Hip Hop Congress Go Platinum!

To all the Hip Hop Heads, Organizers, Activists, Artists, Fans and Supporters of Hip Hop Congress

For years, members of Hip Hop Congress have discussed the strategic viability of making ourselves ‘go platinum.’ Now we are taking the initiative to do it, and we need your help. Our concept is simple: invest a portion of the resources we have committed to the hip hop economy (via music and show ticket sales) to community empowerment!

Please Donate $5 to $40 to Hip Hop Congress and help us ‘go platinum.’ This money will go go DIRECTLY back into your communities. Hip-Hop Congress will use your money to fulfill our mission of providing the Hip Hop and Post Hip Hop Generation with the tools, resources, and network to create political, social, and economic change.

What does your donation pay for?

* Funding of arts education outreach programs that will connect Hip Hop Congress members and chapters to local and regional schools, programs and youth centers

* Funding new operations and offices for Hip-Hop Congress and our cultural partners around the globe.

* Supporting our youth, high school and college chapters in their programming and event goals by funding entrepreneurial endeavors that will ensure a sustained independent Hip-Hop economy.

* Community organizing and education campaign efforts on issues that affect all of our communities like youth violence, police accountability, poverty, institutional racism, and diversity.

With just a small donation you can help fund a revolutionary economic act. We’ve all purchased an album that has gone platinum, but where does that money REALLY go? With your small donation, this year alone, we can fund a national movement of hundreds of artists and activists working on projects that will directly effect thousands on a grassroots level. Hip-Hop Congress does NOT care about being rich. But it does care about adequately investing in the future of culture, creativity, and independent economy. Donate today and see for yourself the power of YOUR people in full effect as we report all of our successful ventures and endeavors on

Hip Hop Congress - October Update!

Hip Hop Congress Monthly Update

October 2010

It’s been a long time, we shouldn’t have left you, without an update to step to!

Well, we are back in full effect with our Monthly Update...and it is a big one. Check it out and pass it along. To all those who contributed, thank you! To all those who would like to contribute you are more than welcome!

View newsletter in its entirety at this link:

...and please report if you have any problems with the link, thanks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remembering 2Pac

A big thanks to hip hop journalist Davey D for sharing these important thoughts and insightful interview as we commemorate the anniversary of 2Pac's death.

As we Commemorate the Anniversary of 2Pac’s Death-Who Speaks for the ‘Have Nots’ in 2010? « Davey D’

by Davey D

Every year around this time many of us within Hip Hop take some time out and reflect on the life and times of Tupac Amaru Shakur as commemorate the anniversary of his tragic death Sept 13 1996. With each passing year its interesting to note that as a younger generation grows older, icons like 2Pac don’t seem to mean as much. For example, I’m not sure I heard anyone shout him out during the MTV VMAs.. Not sure if people took time to acknowledge him during the red carpet interviews or if anyone bothered to ask their thoughts. Did anyone ask ‘What do you think 2Pac would be doing if he was here?’ ’What do you think 2Pac would say about our current economic situation?’ ”What would Pac have said about that preacher wanting to burn Qu’rans or all the hoopla made at Ground Zero about that Mosque/ Community center? What would he have said about the looming sentencing trial for the cop who killed Oscar Grant or the riots that have taken place in LA after cops shot an immigrant? What would Pac have said about all those homes being destroyed and people killed during the tragic fire in San Bruno which we are now finding was because of negligence by PG&E? Considering that’s an area where a lot of people of color live, do you think Pac would’ve been screaming on that? Such speculative question gets asked because it’s all but absent from those who are privileged to have access to a mic.

Continue reading full article here:

Also, peep these interviews:

Remembering 2Pac pt1 Intv w/ Shock G of Digital Undergrnd-He speaks about who deserves credit for putting Pac on @swiftfm

Remembering 2Pac pt2-Shock G talks about who and what was influencing Pac when he first got down w/ DU.. #2Pac @swiftfm

Remembering 2Pac pt3: Shock G talks about the influence of the Black Panthers on DU & 2Pac.. very insightful.. @swiftfm

Hip-Hop Politics and Capitalism: The Story of Thugnificent

Guest blogger, Dr. Gosa, provides more food for thought in his latest essay. Thank you for sharing.

Hip-Hop Politics and Capitalism: The Story of Thugnificent

Written by Dr. Travis Gosa

I spent the Labor Day weekend watching reruns of Aaron McGruder’s animated television series “The Boondocks.” The story-arc of Otis Jenkins, aka, “Thugnificent,” got me thinking about the contradictions of hip-hop, capitalism, and politics. Money and politics, it would seem, have been at the heart of every debate about “the state of hip-hop” in the last two decades. The fictional Thugnificent offers a satirical review of commercial rap and hip-hop politics since the mid-1990s.

On “The Boondocks,” Thugnificent embodies the prefabricated, corporate rap image. (Physically, he resembled real life rapper-actor Ludacris, interesting.) His album entitled “From Rags to B*tches” includes the southern club-bangers “Booty Butt Cheeks” and “Stomp ‘Em in the Nuts.” He’s an iced-out, ghetto representative rollin’ with the “Lethal Interjection Crew,” though ‘Nificent is neither the thug nor outlaw imagined in his music.

In season 2 (episode 5) Thugnificent builds a platinum- and gold-plated mansion next door to the Freeman family in the white suburb of Woodcrest. Instead of shooting at crooked cops or kickin’ reality about street-corner survival, Thugnificent spends his time starting a rap-feud with Granddad. According to the melodic chorus featuring Nate Dogg, old people are old, and senior citizens need to stop snitchin’ to the police. Despite the vapid content of his music, the rapper claims to represent the next stage of black liberation struggle. His mansion features a huge painting of a god-like Thugnificent towering above the images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

In season 3 (episode 1), Thugnificent attempts to cash-in on Obama-mania sweeping the country: He becomes a political activist. ‘Nificent now appears auto-tuned, smiling, and dancing with White Hollywood liberals (such as George Clooney) on the Will.I.Am Obama-tribute video “D*ck riding Obama.” He trades his ice and XXXL white tee for tight hipster clothes and a bow-tie. Appearing on Bill Maher’s Real Time, however, it is shown that Thugnificent knows nothing about politics—not even the three branches of government (yes, this is a spoof of J-Hova on Bill Maher).

After the election (season 3, episode 2), Thugnificent believes he is bigger than rap music, and releases an all-autotuned, R&B concept album (sound like Kanye or P. Diddy?). The album fails, and Thugnificent attempts to reclaim his fame by starting rap-beefs with teen-rappers (an allusion to the Ice-T/Souljaboy beef). In the same episode, we also learn that the real Otis Jenkins (1) is a middle-class college graduate (he has a bachelor’s degree in Communications), and that (2) his ex-drug dealer persona was just clever marketing.

The story of Thugnificent is the story of mainstream hip-hop since the mid-1990s. As ?uestlove explained in Rolling Stone magazine a few years back, “minstrelsy” in the form of “one-dimensional” hustlers-turned-rappers-turned-businessmen has come to define popular hip-hop. “Hip-hop [was],” according to the afro-adorned drummer, “’Black America’s CNN’—but now it’s turned into black America’s UPN.”

Busy negotiating million-dollar merchandizing deals and mingling with the status elite, the hip-hop-capitalist has little time for making good music, or relating the struggles of everyday people. The result is not empowerment, but the transformation of a people’s music into another spectacle of black folk “acting a fool” as global entertainment. The newest attraction seems to be playing the hip-hop ambassador, and politicking with the white left and DC insiders. Aren’t thugs supposed to throw a middle-finger to the government, the same government that threw 2 Live Crew in jail in 1990, and put hip-hop on trial on Capitol Hill in both 1994 and 2007?

The confusion surrounding money and politics represents the biggest challenge facing hip-hop culture, and perhaps black politics writ-large. The story of Thugnificent/hip-hop is a misunderstanding of *individual* upward mobility as black liberation ideology. Going from “Rags to B*tches” (or ashy-to-classy) is NOT the message of black empowerment through economic production voiced by Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, or the Nation of Islam. Those cats were talking co-operative economics and institution building, not M.O.B. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of America writing bad checks to black folk (“the declaration of independence = a check marked “insufficient funds””), but “the struggle” has never been all about the benjis.

Reverberating in hip-hop is an ethos of staunch individualism that remixes Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches American Dream mythology with Al Pacino’s/Tony Montana’s political philosophy of Scarface (1983): “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.” The Hip-Hop Generation’s love affair with that Oliver Stone flick is seen in extensive use of quotes, samples, and modeling of the Tony Montana narrative. (When the MTV show “Cribs,” a hip hop inspired version of “The Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous,” was still being aired, it was cliché to show off one’s Scarface movie poster, refrigerator filled with Cristal champagne, and well-positioned stripper pole.)

A few rap icons got the money and the women (at least in the music videos), but where is the real power of the hip-hop community? Politicians (The Democrats) might enlist rappers every four years to get the youths to “rap da vote,” but is that really power? As the Thugnificent story reveals, music and money does not automatically translate into political capital.

Reflecting on Jay-Z’s emergence as representative of the “hip-hop voting bloc” in the 2008 election, underground rapper Reks spit it this way,

Bill O'Reilly don't respect Jay-Z in no suit, you still a coon in they eyes, hope you soon realize”

Now, I would never spit anything reckless about Jay-Z (I don’t mess with Illuminati operatives), but Reks raises an important question: how exactly has cash and celebrity translated into political respect? P. Diddy/Puff/Mr. Combs has been parlaying the hip-hop vote since his 2004 “Vote or Die” campaign. Along with Jigga, Diddy reigns supreme in both business and popular culture. Rubbing elbows with the status elite in the Hamptons, DC, and NYC is what he’s about. But what has coalesced from all his efforts?

In terms of political activism, mobilization, and organization—well, not much apparently. (Hip-hop philanthropy is another story). However, I don’t think that’s not what the Thugnificent model of politics is about. Actual political activism and mobilization is old school, like mid 20th century. Rather, Puff summarizes the empowerment strategy that is actually embraced by the rap-capitalists. On the Wacka Flocka Flame Video, “O Let’s Do It Remix,” he explains

“I got my billions up, f*ckin’ wit these white folks/Now I don’t give a f*ck ‘cause I’m richer than these white folks…All I drink is my sh*t, Ciroc by the caseload…”

These rhymes represent what has become the “new” black power ideology touted by hip-hop. Interestingly, Puff delivers these lines while posturing with (rapper) Rick Ross, the ex-police officer wrapped in the chinchilla and fox-head fur. After 37 years of hip-hop, Diddy summarizes what too often passes for hip-hop politics: gettin’ money (and drinking French vodka made from grapes, yum-o). We are Thugnificent, indeed.

Travis Gosa (

Friday, September 3, 2010

Is Hip-Hop Education A Hustle? Getting Serious About Rap Pedagogy

Written by Dr. Travis Gosa

Sorry for the hate, but I feel obligated to ether Mr. Duey, the rapping math teacher who’s been “putting some flow to STEM subjects.” At the end of August, the white middle-school-teacher-slash-rapper-slash-party-entertainer (I can’t knock the hustle) dropped his second educational rap CD entitled “Class Dis-Missed 2.”The tracklist features 18 educational rap songs including “Big Ballin’ Planets” (an astronomy tune) and “Dewey Decimal System” (reppin’ library science ya’ll).

My beef is not with Mr. Duey’s flow on “Plate Tectonics” or “Long Division.” In fact, I would compare Mr. Duey’s lyrical ability to be similar to that of Mase, Silk da Shocker, or Sudanese-Australian rapper Bangs (“Take U To Da Movies”). Mr. Duey is no Rakim, and I’ve heard worse.

No, I’m ridin’ on Mr. Duey for doing what has become popular of late: the complete bastardization and misappropriation of hip-hop education for profit. Too often, what is packaged as “hip-hop education” and “rap pedagogy” is nothing more than what Greg Tate calls “the marriage of heaven and hell, of New World African ingenuity and that trick of the devil known as global hyper-capitalism.”

As K-12 and higher education continue to undergo privatization and massive corporatization, so-called “hip-hop education” has become the newest way to increase profits. The commodification of education has arrived in many forms, including predatory student loan debt; $10,000 pre-school tuition, Baby Einstein videos, $1000 SAT training sessions, and professional college essay editing. The education industry exploits the fear of middle-class parents, those now struggling to live pay check to pay check in these harsh economic times of housing foreclosures and massive downsizing. Parents will do almost anything to give their children a competitive edge in school, so I suspect that a few mommies will spend their last $12.95 on the “Class Dis-Missed 2 LP.”

Improving the academic achievement of poor, black/Latina/indigenous children has also become part of the educational marketplace. Ed policy has devolved mostly into economic analyses of teacher productivity (read test score production), accountability, paid incentives, and standardization. Under “No Child Left Behind” or “Race to the Top,” states and localities are raking in big bucks for promising to increase the output of darker skinned student-laborers. Even the most celebrated education reform programs, like CEO Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), operate as education corporations.

An education researcher by day, I am familiar with the test score outputs of HCZ, and I am a huge supporter of the health work done on CEO Canada’s watch—childhood obesity and early on-set diabetes are no joke in black communities. I take issue with handing over the education of children and communities to businesses. HCZ is a $75 million dollar education business. Don’t believe me, read the “business plan” of HCZ. About 30% of the money comes from the government (your money), but the controlling share (60%) appears to come from private interests. What does it mean to have companies like Microsoft, BP, AT&T, or Wal-Mart in control of the purse-strings of programs set to uplift the country’s most vulnerable children? Whose interests are really being served?

This is my main problem with most “hip-hop education” programs, not just Mr. Duey’s “Learning Through Rap” CDs. These programs do little to shift the scales of inequality, or to problematize American education or society. I see a clever rebranding of Eurocentric education with the “yo-yo, bling, bling” aesthetics of corporate rap media. Like Nelly’s Pimp Juice (the carbonated energy drink) or those Sean Ditty Combs 1000 Thread count sateen bed linens, rap education products tend to transfer wealth from the masses to a few individuals. Flocabulary education guides and hip-hop S.A.T flash cards may help students pass tests (I’ve read zero scientific or peer-reviewed studies that these products actually work). But these materials might also serve to further indoctrinate students into the wider hip-hop consumer culture. Seen in this light, the marriage of hyper-capital hip-hop and corporate education is a perfect match.

Most hip-hop heads already know that rap music underwent extreme corporatization in the early 1990s. Media consolidation and take-over by multi-national corporations help explain why we went from “Fight the Power” in 1989 to “Gin N’ Juice” in 1994. However, rap scholars rarely note that educational institutions and educators also became a neo-imperialist force during this time. Consider the university movement towards “hip-hop studies” as an example. In 1991, the first academic conference on hip-hop was held at Howard University. In 2009, there were over 300 hip-hop courses being taught at the college level, with Harvard, Stanford, and Cornell maintaining library archives on hip-hop culture.

This has amounted to an intellectual land-grab, one that has been mostly exploiting hip-hop. In a brave essay on hip-hop pedagogy, Ayanna F. Brown describes this as nothing less than the raping of hip-hop culture. She poses an interesting question, does rap in the classroom further dilute social consciousness?

Rap has become a commodity used for material gain—not just within the hip-hop community, but also among large corporations who have invested large amounts of money into marketing mainstream products. One of the consequences of the mass marketing of rap has been its dilution to fit the social consciousness of mainstream society. Subsequently, the commodification of rap and its acceptance in dominant society has been partially based on diluted forms of rap. Do classroom activities contribute to this type of commodification in the selection of what type of rap to use, and which artists are appropriate for classroom-based activities?

Read her essay while listening to Mos Def’s The Rape Over. I’m thinking about remixing the track, and adding, “Harvard University is running this rap sh*t…”, “I let you sip up some tenure, get a Mercedes/My mack is crazy…” [I could have said Cornell, but a brotha gotta eat too. Can I live?] If we aren’t careful, hip-hop museums, universities, rapping teachers, and hedge-fund managers are going to be running hip-hop, forget about A&R and record execs—that was the 20th century jack-move.

The Mr. Huey version of hip-hop education, which his website describes as “fun for teachers and parents,” is neither hip-hop nor education. These products, I fear, are another way to ensure that children are not exposed to an educational experience that is disruptive, empowering, and emancipatory. As Houston Baker put it years ago in the book Black Studies, Rap and the Academy (1993), the goal of hip-hop in schools should be to “disrupt the fundamental whiteness [of schools] and harmonious Western education.” True hip-hop education should not be used to trick children into memorizing white history to the rhythm of a boogety-beat. For white hipster teachers and privileged youth, rap in the classroom should not resemble a cultural safari of dangerous, exotic, yet pre-manufactured black urban coolness. The definition of white privilege is the ability to appropriate the “fun” and “useful” aspects of black aesthetics, while ignoring or forwarding the suffering of actual black people.

If hip-hop education isn’t going to become the latest hustle, it’s time to start getting serious about it. I don’t claim to know what that will entail, but I know it isn’t Mr. Huey. Perhaps a better starting point for true rap pedagogy will sound like BDP’s You Must Learn! And that was way, way back in 1989. For those interested in a critical, hip-hop pedagogy texts, I’d recommend checking out Marcella Runell’s and Martha Diaz’s The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook Volume 1 or Priya Parmar’s Knowledge Reigns Supreme.

Travis Gosa (

The Twilight Zone

School started this week so I have been busy getting ready for another hectic fall semester. I have not had a chance to comment too much on the Glenn Beck "March on Washington" rally last weekend, but i did want to at least add a couple thoughts.

Watching the rally last week reminded me of late nights when i was younger...up late watching tv...and when up late enough, I would catch episodes of The Twilight Zone. Nothing as it appeared...always some type of twist.

So far the discussion has focused on the obvious:
1. yes he is crazy
2. and dangerous
3. and cynical
4. and manipulative
5. and most likely in it for profit and fame.

But his pivot from political pundit trying to ratchet up white fear to "messiah" leading his flock "back to better days" to "restore America" is definitely taking the battle to another level and is a critical lesson in framing. After watching his performance last Saturday, I knew that if he did not suffer a backlash from his own "followers" (for avoiding overt political discourse and for employing minority symbols for faith, hope and charity), he would have secured his power to manipulate a decent segment of the population to accept whatever he said....and follow suit. He would have secured his cult status.

While some in the crowd seemed perplexed by minority after minority being the center of attention for honors...the vast majority stayed with him. When the black preacher talked about going to the "original March on Washington" and being threatened by bus bombs through the south, the crowd had to separate their support for Beck and his "mission" with the reality that many of them or their parents were the ones on the other side of that civil rights battle in the 60s...blocking desegregation of schools and buses...and NOT supporting the original March on Washington.

For Beck it was a test of his "followers" to send the same messages through minority faces...would they be able to "overcome" the label of racism through token representation. In willing participants like Dr. King's niece he was able to test his theory...They welcomed her, not only because she was the niece of Dr. King, but because her message was one they embraced: conservatism. She talked about prayers in schools, a pro-life agenda and utilized anti-government rhetoric.

If she sounded more like her uncle, I'm sure she would not have been so welcomed. ..or would she have? because they TRUST Beck so much now, he can even blatantly spit on them and they would stand by him...hmm. time will tell which is true.

The moment that has not been discussed that spoke volumes to me came at the end of her speech. This was definitely the church revival test...and a way to make this not about race but religion. You are either with God...or against Him. Gospel singers praised...many in the crowd had arms raised...others, still perplexed...but still waited....for Beck. Did they feel bamboozled? maybe...but not enough to abandon their messiah (The God they were praising was just a symbol for the God they had been waiting for).

...and then it happened...the twist...i was officially in the twilight zone...Ms. King told the singers to take them home (wrap) and they sang a brief but recognizable refrain (instantly recognizable to me but probably few in that crowd of mostly white conservative Beck followers recognized it)...they started:

"Lift every voice and sing..." ...the black national anthem.

and i saw a man who looked like he had on some southern symbol (read: confederate) with his hand raised in the air...

...Beck has them yall. Get ready.

Framing matters.

here is an old essay to revisit:

The Miseducation of a Nation: Unveiling the Illusion of History

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review - "Journey to Pro-Sperity" by Pro-Dash

Review- "Journey to Pro-Sperity" by Pro-Dash

written by Shamako Noble

Out of the lights,glitter and glam that are the slick veneer of America's premier public playground, Las Vegas, comes the one-man media conglomerate, Pro-Dash aka Brandon Greene. With his second release "Journey to Pro-Sperity," Pro-Dash takes on uson a journey; he takes us on a journey through his life, psyche, career,struggles and through the streets and politics of Las Vegas. Crafted and produced by Pro-Dash, "Journey to Pro-Sperity" is a landmark moment for independent Las Vegas Hip Hop, and one can onlyhope that the world take notice.

Boldly, Pro-Dash's"The Pro-Clamation" lays out his perspective on his origins quite clearly: "I'm from the 702 where they being trying to juice/The Mississippi of the West/where they be flying the noose." Pro-Dash addresses the forgotten nature of Las Vegas as a city, and Nevada as a state in the West Coast Hip Hop equation, and honors the Black migration from Mississippi to Nevada where blacks found the very thing they'd left.

The banger "Fresh Up out the West" featuring James Flye and C-Lown the King of Spades drives home deeply the first p oint. The tracks deep-voiced chorus, catchy West Coast anthem approach, and funky head nod beat leave no questions that Pro Dash is from the West, "Like he never took a step." Pursuing the second point in the cut, "Rock On," Pro-Dash sneaks into his true depth,reflecting on his desire to rock on as a reflection of a people who came to the West to escape the racist oppression of the South, "Just to find the west is still racist."

Of course, Pro-Dash stays diverse with tracks like "Ms. Senorita" and "Get ThatCash." His insight into the nature of a duality that pervades Sin City shines bright in the track "Night and Day. He big ups the world of emcee's and makes clear his place in it in the clever track "MC Squared."

He does a great job of keeping his eyes on the prize in tracks like "Poe Manz Ambition" and "Dreams"featuring the soul voice of Temphest Blue. All in all, this is a very well-thought-out, consistent, lyrically-strong, and catchy album. Pro-Dash keeps his level through and through, and that is –perhaps-- the album's greatest strength; that level could also be the album's biggest weakness. Again, Pro-Dash is responsible for 100% of the production on this album. I'll give him credit. At least he makes sure thatit's done. But the thing is, a versatility of thought and approach is clearly displayed on this album. In the future, I would love to see what Pro-Dash could do with a Traximillion or Rob Flow track. I would be interested to see how Pro-Dash could get down with a sound directly from Mississippi, or on some tracks with a Chicago or Detroit flavor.

The great thing is though, that this is his sophomore effort. I am eager to what his continued development and expansion in music will bring. I recommend checking out the album. You're guaranteed to diga few if not most. Pro-Dash has taken a great step for himself on the "Journey to Pro-Sperity," and might be taking Vegas with him.

Shamako Noble aka The Sword of the West

National Field Director: Hip Hop Congress

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Epitome of Public Enemy

If hip hop wants to be a part of the solution to what ails our communities, hip hop must once again become Public Enemy #1. Chuck D understood this well, and we must learn from the model he gives us in his music and in the way he lives his life.

In my hip hop class, I show Spike Lee's film Bamboozled and tell the story of what i believe to be the biggest bamboozle in hip hop history. In the late 80s and early 90s, Chuck D was the voice of resistance in hip hop. Gaining mainstream popularity, Public Enemy enjoyed play on rock stations and sold out arenas with majority white youth in attendance. Hip Hop had crossovered and Chuck D was able to do what Malcolm X never could: tell an uncensored racial truth in a way a segment of white America (youth) could hear and accept it. If middle class youth have any understanding of the class and racial warfare in this country Malcolm X exposed a generation earlier, hip hop finally gave it to them. In order to make this racial connection, Chuck D had what Malcolm X lacked: a beat. Once again, music proved to be a universal language that could transcend all boundaries.

Public Enemy's message was uncompromising and honest; direct and explicit. It was a message that needed to be heard by the mainstream masses, but prior to Public Enemy, it was a message that had been hidden in the softer rhetoric and tunes of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye (to name a few artists with social commentary songs). Public Enemy's rhetoric and music were much more fierce than what preceded...edgier, louder, and revolutionary.

Around the same time another truth teller hit the rap scene: the "gangsta". Also uncensored and unapologetic, the gangsta embraced the dictates of street life, and in some instances, glorified them. Politicians and the mainstream media declared war on "gangsta rap". Claiming it lead to delinquency in our youth, calls for censorship erupted. Ice T became one of the early "poster boys" targeted for his cop killer track. Dr. Dre, Snoop Doog, and Tupac would all be labeled gangsta rappers and targeted later. From this campaign against gangsta rap, the explicit lyric sticker was born, along with unprecedented rap sales, success, and constant radio play. Rap would take the music throne for years.

While gangsta rappers became mainstream, Chuck D and Public Enemy all but disappeared from the forefront. His prototypes (KRS-one, Arrested Develpment, X-Clan, Brand Nubian, etc.) disappeared with him. If the campaign was against "gangsta rappers" why did strong black militants disappear? Well the bamboozle was complete. The war was never against what they knew and were comfortable with...only what they feared. They had no fear of the gangsta because the gangsta could be coopted and controlled. A true Public Enemy could not.

Observing the full spectrum of the bamboozle I see we never completely embraced its scope. Ice T, the OG, became a cop on one of the most popular tv series, Law and Order. Dr. Dre is still one of the most sought after producers in the music industry. Snoop was even given a reality show about parenthood. And Tupac, the thug the media loved to hate, has been lifted to prophet status in his afterlife.

Hope for Hip Hop

While the visibility of Public Enemy vanished, the spirit never did. My hope in hip hop comes from the same source that might be its fault: its irreverence. Hip Hop is never scared. It has no qualms about challenging authority. That is a good thing. It will take organized efforts to move from being a public nuisance that just makes noise and can be controlled and imprisoned (gangstas) to becoming Public Enemy #1 (militant, strong, influential and revolutionary). It is not enough to reject authority if you are not ready to become it.

Chuck D gave us the model:

Big UP to this collaboration taking the baton...doing what they can do be Arizona's 21st century Public Enemy #1.

You got the mic hip's time to put up or shut up!

White Supremacy from Bacon to Obama: Are We Finally at the Moment of Reckoning?

A few months ago, I got into a debate online with a white woman I did not know. She was "scared to death" about the direction of this country and felt Obama and his policies were going to ruin the United States. She was worried about the "new world order" and saw Obama as the face of it. While acknowledging "problems" starting under Bush, she believed things were much worse now under Obama.

Her reasoning epitomized white privilege so I asked her one last question which i had a feeling she would not, or could not answer: When were things "better" in this country? Name one time.

as i suspected, I never heard from her again...

maybe she thought she was being set up for a history lesson...and she was. I wanted to ask her if things were better when the indigenous' lost their land and lives? or Africans and African Americans were enslaved for hundreds of years? Or maybe during the rule of jim crow domestic terrorism? lynching? the great depression? segregation? crack? 50% youth unemployment in cities in the 80s? For her, today's "sky is falling doomsday" is for many "just another day in the U.S.A.".
I'm not sure she learned anything that day....but i know i did. James Baldwin's Fire Next Time may be upon us.

“But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent.
It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.” – James Baldwin

Before Obama won the election, I knew his presidency would be the opportunity for reckoning. I wrote and said many times that this country was not ready for even the symbolism of a black man as head of state. White supremacists would revolt..and in many ways have (politically, rhetorically, and even in some cases, violently).

While Obama has no real power (or desire) to threaten white supremacy, the symbolism of him being the president is more than many in this country can bare. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have decided to employ the same strategy that has been utilized throughout this country's existence to protect white supremacy and the status quo power structure: stroke white fears.

Bacon's Rebellion: The Writing on the Wall

Early slavery was "indentured servitude" for many Africans and Europeans that were brought in bondage (some kidnapped). Many worked for years and then earned freedom. That is why there were free Africans in VA and other areas from early on (some of which even went on to own slaves themselves (but that's another story). Chattel slavery "for life" as it came to be was a result of this fear of the poorer masses (white and black) coming together and threatening the planter class (elite). Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 was a symbol of their greatest fear and THAT led to "African" based "slave for life" system, and white supremacy as an ideology to keep poor whites supporting a system that never benefited them...they were taught one thing: "at least you are not black".

And the pattern has been used ever since...Birth of a Nation was the visualization of white fear post Civil-War. Reconstruction time was a very progressive time for the African American community, including land ownership (some of which was seized from confederate former slave owners) education, & political representation (to the point we have not seen since - why you often here preface "first Black _____ since Reconstruction...etc.). Black progress was real and Black wallstreet (Tulsa OK) and Mound Bayou (Mississippi) were models of it ... but white America was NOT ready and domestic terrorism as a strategy was implemented (KKK, lynching, white mobs and finally Jim Crow by law for a century). Trust me, history does repeat itself when we do not learn the REAL lesson... these days, I hear talk of repealing the 14th amendment?! exactly...

Obama's presidency has been about nothing BUT the ongoing racial struggle in this is the latest chapter if you will. I want to take a minute to give the historical context...i will use black history but this can also be done with Native Ameican History, Chicano history, and so on...

With progress made, there is always backlash...

TO secure our freedom:
1. David Walker's Appeal (calling for enslaved Africans to secure freedom by any means)
2. Bacon's Rebellion (class based revolt)

1. racialization of slavery (from indentured servitude to slave for life)
2. black codes for non-enslaved African Americans

1. Abolition movement to end slavery (from reform tactics like pressure though press and courts to radical revolts to moral religious tactics)..led to whole free state/slave state - congressional politics of representation 3/5 clause etc.


THEN to secure freedom we:
1. Federal FREEDMAN'S Bureau
2. gains in education, land, and political representation

1. Domestic Terrorism, birth of KKK
2. Legalization of Jim Crow

1. Booker T. - building institutions but not fighting racism,
2. DuBois - NAACP, tried reforming system, holding to its ideals,
3. Garvey - actually inspired by Booker T., self determination, building black institutions and economic empowerment with black money not white donors like Booker T. had

1. J Edgar Hoover hired first black agent to infiltrate UNIA.
2. Black leaders pitted against each other as tactic (Washington v. DuBOis, Garvey v. DuBois)
3. Internal strife (movements brought down from within/tactic used in revolts earlier too)

1. CRM - Emmitt Till, montgomery bus boycott - masses organizing, SNCC, BPP, etc

2. MLK v. MALCOLM,take sides (tactic divide and conquer which Malcolm X later rejected)

hip hop - voice for youth coming of post-CR era

commodfied - frame one dimensional and sell for profit while reinforcing stereotypes..see BAMBOOZLED


1. tea party
2. "liberal" squabbling on politics instead of organizing actions (which i argue is very purposeful and again refer to Malcolm X speech on foxes and wolves..liberals and conservatives)
3. the fear of a brown planet (immigration debate, 14th amendment, etc.)

I write all this to basically point out that we have to make sure we know not only what we are fighting for (freedom, justice, sustenance)...but WHO we are fighting for (people's class), and who we are fighting against (elite)...because there have been many times in history we have been pitted against each other as a tactic when we could have united and been a powerful force for our own freedom...we can either learn lessons of history, or continue to repeat them...

Ms. Sherrod breaks it down plainly on why understanding and dealing with white supremacy is critical to building class has not only been A strategy but it has been THE strategy of the owning class since before this country formed...back to colonial days...

We cannot be free until they are free
- James Baldwin

For working people to come together (again - see Bacon) they must first recognize the humanity they share...and white supremacy is the roadblock denying that truth. That is what the white middle class has done for this system...people will continue to support a system that only benefits 1% until they recognize that they are not a part of that 1%...they are a part of the 99% masses across the globe of all hues...

so i say all that to say this:

If you really study the struggle of black history and the use of white supremacy to keep iniquity alive, as i have said many times before...even the symbolic aspect of a "black" man being the president of this racist empire and how it is driving white supremacists crazy was change enough for me to believe

Obama's presidency is an opportunity for this country if we seize it..Before Obama rattled white supremacists awake, they were able to hide behind institutional racism and now they have to come from behind the Bushes (pun intended), show their true color (pun intended) and let the fall out begin (AZ, tea party, 14th amendment now etc)...which will FORCE US to do what we have to do to ...FIGHT FOR OUR FREEDOM...and THAT is what i've been waiting for...The Fire Next Time... it's time and i've been ready..

as my son would say...LET'S GO!!

Powerful People v. People Power: The 21st Century Edition

It feels like we are at a crossroads in history...but for those that study history, it also feels like we have been here many times before...and will be here indefinitely if we do not truly learn those lessons of history once and for all.

Frederick Douglass said it BEST:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.


The TRUE power and threat that affects us all today = CORPORATE FASCISM!! I look at this latest "economic crisis" (crisis for the masses, payoff for the corporate fascists) and while disgusted, am hardly surprised. The corporate takeover of our politics (lobbyists), health care, SEC, media, prisons, & war (blackwater) where only private enterprise and profit matter will take us all down if we do not RISE UP against a system where 6% own most of the world assets while 94% barely survive. People Power must be sustained!

THE 21st Century SCENARIO

We are all in a race to the bottom. These reader comments in cyberspace summarize the 21st century struggle:

comment from one reader:
China has "communist controlled capitalism". This is where the masses work very hard to eke out a living and survive while all the profit and wealth is funneled to a small group of individuals comprising less than 1% of the population.

America has "corporately controlled capitalism." This is where the masses work very hard to eke out a living and survive while all the profit and wealth is funneled to a small group of individuals comprising less than 1% of the population.

Explain it to me like I was a six-year-old, what's the difference exactly.

I think I now understand why our corporations get along with China so well.....

A tweet from @vtocce:
Everything shifted to Asia. In 10 years China & India's consumer class will dwarf the United States. USA will be a show room.

Not only do we live in a world of imports/exports, we live in a world of outsourcing and insourcing (where people = commodities). Nothing is safe in this race to the bottom. While the U.S. has completely lost the manufacturing market to outsourcing, insourcing (ex. teachers and techs from India) is also changing future possibilities for work and existence in the U.S. and all over the world. The American empire of the last century is never to return.

What globalization did was create a world where the American worker and consumer became expendable...When Americans can let go of their "exceptionalism" and FINALLY understand this, then they will realize that all they are arguing over is pointless....and hopefully they will RISE UP against the true threat: multinational rule.

But we must also understand this in historical context. Today's corporate fascism was yesterday's imperialism, yesteryear's colonialism, and yester-century's feudalism (monarchies)...the faces may change, but the dynamics (1% rule/ all else struggle) stay the same. And if we know and study history...we know how this script goes and actually how it always ends...people power overthrows one system of iniquity and then lets the next system of iniquity take hold. Sustaining people power is where we have failed. We either we learn the lessons history teaches..or we repeat them.

THE ENEMY'S STRATEGY: Alienation, Framing and Miseducation

Marx, Gramsci and Woodson got it right a century plus ago. They must be studied in order to develop OUR strategy.

The elite keep their position not by force but by manipulation. The system survives because the masses support laborers...and consumers...and survivors of it.

This IS the system: get people to look to leaders (the very people oppressing) instead of within (ourselves, our communities, our power) for change.

We have been taught powerlessness: to buy into a system that was never set up to work for us..but we buy into it, get hope, believe, then get despondent, then cynical which leads to inaction because "nothing changes"..that is how the system teaches us to buy into our own powerlessness and how it keeps status quo power dynamics in order. If we understand that, no one would have ever looked to Obama or any "one" leader for change.

We live now in a corporate fascist state where our "democratic elected representatives" are bought and sold; and without an active citizenry, this will remain the case. Right now, most citizens are too busy surviving (also part of the system) so it becomes true that consciousness is indeed a luxury few can afford. Focusing on leaders instead of those citizens that need support becomes a part of the trap. Leaders can't bring change...never could...only WE THE PEOPLE can.

We have to move pass our alienation and taught powerlessness via miseducation and get us ALL to be about OUR freedom.

1% controlling resources at the expense of the masses is as old as civilizations. The Roman Empire was not less corrupt than the US empire...The Colonizing Empires that enslaved generations were not any less powerful in their time or any less corrupt than the corporate fascists of today...NOW, once we admit that we scapegoat ("the other") to shirk our responsibility to ACT then we can actually progress.

Those that don't concentrate on organizing the masses but instead focus on the easy (blaming powerful people) believe in the lie that the elite have sold us via hegemony for centuries...big bad boogeyman run the world and we're all just pawns. well, if we internalize that, the power elite wins again; they don't even have to do anything because we do it for them...convince others of their own powerlessness. and we become pawns of the system.

Example: Walmart now claims 4 of the 10 ten spots for richest in America, but without the workers who work there, and the consumers who shop there, there is no Walmart. There is no them...there is JustUS...once we understand that, we will achieve JUSTICE.

The only way power dynamics will ever change is when the PEOPLE stop stating the obvious (power doesn't care about us) and start ACTING to TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES.

OUR FOCUS: Marx was Right

For working people to come together, we must first recognize the humanity we share (see essay From Bacon to Obama). In this world order, white supremacy is the roadblock denying that truth. People will continue to support a system that only benefits 1% until they recognize that they are not a part of that 1%; they are a part of the 99% masses across the globe of all hues...the People's class.

Not only must we fight alienation and learned powerlessness, we must fight fragmentation. It will take class consciousness to sustain People Power! It is difficult to unite when we are so fragmented ideologically, regionally, politically, and religiously...but again, Marx was right. The masses of the world are united in their material needs and that is where our focus should remain....MATERIAL SUSTAINABILITY FOR ALL.

This should be our starting and ending point in all battles...and maybe this time, we can finally win the war and avoid the 22nd century edition.

Bless Up, You Mighty Man - Remembering Marcus Garvey

Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will. - Marcus Garvey

Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God's grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life. - Marcus Garvey

We MUST remember. His birthday was yesterday, August 17th.

The Amen Corner: Remembering James Baldwin his own words

Remembering James Baldwin

His birthday was August 2nd. He was one of the greatest writers and thinkers of the 20th century. In his honor..and for our benefit....we should hear him his own words.

If you have a free hour (lol), this is MUST watch video. James Baldwin's message in this and The Fire Next Time becomes even more powerful given today's political climate...and eerie in its accuracy (foreshadowing). All should really peep this...

Get to know James Baldwin...and the understanding he communicate in the last few minutes is why he is so important to know...

“Take no one’s word for anything, including
mine – but trust your experience.” – James Baldwin

James Baldwin on What's Important

“Color is not a human or personal reality; it
is a political reality.” – James Baldwin

“This is why the most dangerous creation of
any society is that man who has nothing to lose.” – James Baldwin

“If we do not dare everything, the
fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is
upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No More water, the fire next time!” – James Baldwin

Excerpt of speech from my film James Baldwin Anthology

in his own words...and for our benefit...if we listen.

“But it is not permissible that the authors
of devastation should also be innocent.
It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.” – James Baldwin

Who is the Nigger? -James Baldwin (clip)

We are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is. – James Baldwin

History Matters

History Matters...and in the last year we have lost three important truth tellers of the U.S. experience marking an end of an era: John Hope Franklin (March 2009), Ronald Takaki (May 2009), and Howard Zinn (January 2010). if you have not read their work, I recommend you do...and start today.

Read them in the order listed...those that know me will know why :-)

To evolve, we must take the baton from them...and run.

The Relaunch...You Got It!

I Know You Got Soul - Eric B. & Rakim

Apologies for the long hiatus. I hope to keep this blog active again, if not with essays like i did in the past, with at least short posts for contemplation that will hopefully generate ongoing dialogue. My FT jobs as mother and teacher keep me very busy, but i will try not to abandon this blog for such a long period of time again. I appreciate all the support and love :-)

Back Again....

Dilated Peoples- Back Again

it's the people....the people....the people...the people.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Citizen vs. Citizenship by Brandon Greene

Sharing a blog by Brandon Greene, Hip Hop Congress leadership council member.

The recent passage of the controversial legislation in Arizona along with the premiere of the History Channel series, America the Story of Us has gotten me to thinking about what exactly it means today to be a citizen in the United States.

From the beginning of our country we have depended on the talents of "outsiders" to make our country great. Long before there was an United States we were a community of immigrants. The gateway to citizenship in the context of the first years of our republic was simply hard work as expressed by a willingness to show a bravery and tenacity in seeking the very best life for one's family.

For full text:

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Please share with teachers, youth mentors , and arts education advocates!

We want all teachers, youth mentors, and arts education advocates to support the Urban Teachers Network!


1. Become a Fan of Urban Teachers Network FB page!
2. Spread the word!

UTN active participants:
1. Become a Fan of Urban Teachers Network FB page!
2. Spread the word!
3. Start or join a regional UTN network.

We will also need regional facilitators to organize UTN support groups in their communities.

Regional Organizers:
Contact us at to express your interest in organizing a UTN support group in your community.

Hip Hop Congress (HHC) is a 501 (c) 3 Non Profit Corporation representing the merger of artists and students, music and community. The Hip Hop Congress mission is to use Hip Hop culture to inspire young people to get involved in social action, civic service, and cultural creativity.

As a national and international organization dedicated to its mission, Hip Hop Congress has chosen Education as a central initiative promoted by its artists, chapters, partners, and donors. As the educational system continues to fail American students (particularly low-income and students of color), alternative curriculum and solutions are needed.

From this emphasis, HHC is working to organize and support an Urban Teacher Network (UTN) where educators and youth mentors can form networks to share ideas, curriculum, and build after-school extracurricular and mentor programs for the youth they teach and reach. The UTN is also designed to be a space where teachers facing the daily challenges of their field can find comfort in the company and support of colleagues with similar experiences. UTN members will create regional support groups and meet regularly in order to build alliances and power in like-minded educators wanting to connect and build a movement to enrich the lives of urban youth inside and outside of the classroom.

Objectives include:
1. Creating an ongoing database of educators and mentors working directly with the youth in our communities.
2. Promoting urban arts education and hip hop pedagogy.
3. Sharing effective ideas: curriculum, extracurricular activities etc.
4. Creating digital classroom resources online where ideas can be shared with UTN members across the country.
5. Creating regional support groups where UTN members can meet on a regular basis.
6. Organizing UTN events outside of the classroom for
students’ enrichment and ongoing mentoring.

Our urban arts education and outreach program offers the following components:

1. Hip Hop History. Classes and workshops on Hip Hop history as well as the social and political importance of hip hop to youth of color and urban communities.

2. Media Studies. Classes and workshops on critical media analyses, examining the images of people of color and women in media, specifically the hip hop industry. In analyzing media carefully, educators teach youth to be more critical consumers of media.

3. Performances and Interactive Workshops - Hip Hop Elements. HHC artists perform shows for youth as well as offer instructive workshops in various hip hop elements (emceeing/rapping, poetry, deejaying, graffiti art, and break-dancing). Through artistic expressions, youth will learn to express themselves creatively and constructively through positive outlets.

4. Community Activism. HHC members serve as mentors to youth promoting community activism and involvement in social and political issues affecting their lives. As well, existing HHC chapters will serve as advisors to youth wanting to start HHC community chapters.

5. Urban Teacher Network. Educators and mentors of youth in urban communities can form networks to share ideas, curriculum, build after-school extracurricular and mentor programs for the youth they reach.

We look forward to working with all dedicated to youth in need of mentoring and an education relevant to their lives. We are sure the youth will not only be enriched by these programs, but will be inspired by the teachers and mentors organizing on their behalves.

Stay Black and Die - Listen to the Single!

NEW DLabrie single from upcoming MR NETW3RK- Stay Black & Die ft M1 of deadprez,The Jacka, Adisa Banjoko , Shamako Noble, SaikoDelic RADIO EDIT ALBUM

Tour & Video Coming Soon

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Divide and Conquer Politrix: Malcolm X explains Liberals v. Conservatives

Last month I wrote two notes that are good reads for Black History Month.

Title #1: Wake Up Everybody! Seize, don't cede OUR Power...
link =

Title #2: In Honor of A King: Keep on Keeping On
link =

The second note was posted in honor of Dr. King on his holiday last month. In it I wrote about the efforts to pit Dr. King and Malcolm X against each other.

As we remember the assassination of Malcolm X 45 years ago today, i wanted to re-share a part of one note that highlighted the speech Malcolm X gave on liberals v. conservatives. While it is not one of his most popular speeches, I think it is one of the most relevant given today's political climate where the media continues to suck most into the traps of politrix.

Miseducation and the Divide and Conquer Strategy

Malcolm X and Dr. King Jr. were often (purposely) pitted against each other, forcing community members to pick a "leader" and "strategy". But the masses of our people loved both men because they recognized that both men loved them and wanted the same thing...our freedom.

When successful, this strategy of divide and conquer leads to a lack of focus where it becomes easy to be manipulated by political rancor.

This is no different than the tactics used to cause friction between Washington & DuBois and DuBois and Garvey...It is ironic that most who followed Garvey's philosophy believed BTW to be a sell out, when it was Washington's strategy that most influenced Garvey.

A friend of mine teaches in Black LA and most of her students know only the caricature of MLK Jr. the mainstream has created...They know "I have a Dream" MLK, but not "Stop the Vietnam War" MLK. And as incredible as it may seem, many don’t even know who Malcolm X is! One asked if he was an extreme sports star! We still do not know who our enemy really is...It reminds me of a quotation attributed to Black Panther Bunchy Carter where he explains that there should never be any hostilities between Black organizations because they are not our (BPP) enemy.

From Miseducation to Re-Education

Some may not have realized how similar MLK Jr. and Malcolm X were in their visions for our people.

I found this series and hope all will take a look:

1. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X: Striking Similarities Part 1 of 3
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2. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X: Striking Similarities Part 2 of 3
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3. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X: Striking Similarities Part 3 of 3
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It is very significant that Malcolm X reached out to MLK Jr. in his later years, going from calling MLK Jr. a pawn of white power structure to publicly recognizing that "Dr. King wants the same thing I want -- freedom!"

The Transformation:
Early Malcolm X = The "white man pays Reverend Martin Luther King, subsidizes Reverend Martin Luther King, so that Reverend Martin Luther King can continue to teach the Negroes to be defenseless."

but in one of his last speeches Malcolm X goes to Selma to speak in front of SNCC and says this:

MALCOLM X: And I think that the people in this part of the world would do well to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King and give him what he's asking for and give to him fast before some other factions come along and try to do it another way. (February 4, 1965)

Given the context of their shared vision, I am reminded of Malcolm X's description of liberals, and their need to control black leaders in order to control the black community. From a 1963 speech Malcolm said:

"The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.

The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the “smiling” fox.

The job of the Negro civil rights leader is to make the Negro forget that the wolf and the fox both belong to the (same) family. Both are canines; and no matter which one of them the Negro places his trust in, he never ends up in the White House, but always in the dog house. (peep that

The white liberals control the Negro and the Negro vote by controlling the Negro civil rights leaders. As long as they control the Negro civil rights leaders, they can also control and contain the Negro’s struggle, and they can control the Negro’s so-called revolt."

Are white liberals controlling US and undermining OUR revolt? Are we serving OUR communities and uniting OUR people or are we falling into the same old traps?
By the look of things...i would say Politrix is alive and well.

Malcolm X Fought the Real War

The truth is we live now in a corporatist/fascist state where our "democratic elected representatives" are bought and sold, and without an active citizenry, this will remain the case. We also have to deal with the reality that even if we lived in a TRUE democracy where our representatives actually represented us and our interests, we live among a nation of millions that want to hold us back (PE).

Malcolm X's speech highlights the ongoing racial struggle in this country...the RACE WAR that has been at the center of this country from its founding to today.

With progress made, there is always backlash...

TO secure our freedom:
1. David Walker's Appeal (calling for enslaved Africans to secure freedom by any means)
2. Bacon's Rebellion (class based revolt)

1. racialization of slavery (from indentured servitude to slave for life)
2. black codes for non-enlaved AA

1. Abolition movement to end slavery (from reform tactics like pressure though press and courts to radical revolts to moral religious tactics)..led to whole free state/slave state - congressional politics of representation 3/5 clause etc.


THEN to secure freedom we:
1. Federal FREEDMAN'S Bureau
2. gains in education, land, and political representation

1. Domestic Terrorism, birth of KKK
2. Legalization of Jim Crow

1. Booker T. - building institutions but not fighting racism,
2. DuBois - NAACP, tried reforming system, holding to its ideals,
3. Garvey - actually inspired by Booker T., self determination, building black institutions and economic empowerment with black money not white donors like Booker T. had

1. J Edgar Hoover hired first black agent to infiltrate UNIA.
2. Black leaders pitted against each other as tactic (Washington v. DuBOis, Garvey v. DuBois)
3. Internal strife (movements brought down from within/tactic used in revolts earlier too)

1. CRM - Emmitt Till, montgomery bus boycott - masses organizing, SNCC, BPP, etc

2. MLK v. MALCOLM,take sides (tactic divide and conquer which Malcolm X later rejected)

hip hop - voice for youth coming of post-CR era

commodified - frame one dimensional and sell for profit while reinforcing stereotypes..see BAMBOOZLED

OBAMA is elected in this

1. tea party
2. "liberal" squabbling on politics instead of organizing actions (which i argue is very purposeful and again refer to Malcolm X speech on foxes and wolves..liberals and conservatives)

I write all this to basically point out...we have to make sure we know not only WHAT we are fighting for...but WHO we are fighting FOR, and who we are fighting AGAINST...because there have been many times in history we have been pitted against each other as a tactic when we could have united and been a powerful force for our own freedom...we can either learn lessons of history, or continue to repeat them...Malcolm X understood this and it is why Black Nationalism remained his strategy to achieve human rights for all. He understood self determination was not just a was the ONLY path to freedom.