Sunday, September 11, 2011

An End of an Empire ...or an Opportunity for a New UNITED States of America? Time Will Tell.

In 2008, I wrote a blog titled:

WARGAMES - The Fall of Empire

Basically, the status the U.S. has held as world superpower is eroding and eroding quickly. I would argue that this has been a self-inflicted fall, and a long time coming. While it will be painful, and most painful for the most vulnerable, I also believe it to be an opportunity for us to build a more perfect union....time will tell.

But times are a changing. 

In 2007, I wrote an essay I titled The Fire This Time

It was an analysis of post-Katrina community organizing, specifically around the Jena case of racial injustice. By using Spike Lee films as metaphors, I argued that this generation (hip hop) had matured and was ready to take the front line in the struggle. I argued that while power dynamics had not changed, and our history had always been one of resistence to repressive dynamics (particularly re: white supremacy), times have changed and now we are able to sustain a people based movement. My reasoning was based on the following:

1. Change would be cultural based.... A cultural generational shift would be part of the catalyst. Jeff Chang wrote an important essay about this cultural and generational shift:

2. The critical realization that "they don't care about us" so we must take care of ourselves (so poignantly expressed on live TV by Kanye West when he stated that Bush doesn't like Black people). While many may have given lip service to the notion before, the images from TV showed the reality of it...and there was no choice but to fully embrace self determination as the only path to survival...and freedom. Depending on the government or other people's "better nature" gets you "status quo". 

I tell my classes that the main lesson I want them to learn is that "they don't care about you"... "they" can be substituted by "power" or  "the status quo social structure".  So we must ACT to secure what is in our best interest and the interest of our families and community.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions... and the road to freedom and salvation is paved with ACTION (good deeds, acts, and service). 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....

3. The changing world order has undermined the U.S empire's power..and Bush's overreaching policies (wars and more privitazation) actually helped accelerate the downfall. Multinational corporations now trump the power of nation-states supremacy has replaced white supremacy as the #1 global organizing principle. Everyone is in a race to the bottom which is now within reach with the highest concentration of wealth among only a small percentage.

4. The other side of the same coin is changing world dynamics, specifically re: technology. Globalization has opened up the world...and made it much smaller at the same time. Disney was right: It’s a small world after all. :) Technology has forever changed the power to control information. Propaganda is still a viable tool via media framing, but with technology, information comes quickly and much more freely via a number of sources.  The status quo power structure will have to take more drastic means to maintain its control; hence more infractions on civil liberties, police state, corrupt politics, etc.

5. But Bob Marley explains the root of all change: A hungry mob is an angry mob. The concentration of wealth is unsustainable and when people get desperate enough, they will fight back. and, you get....Revolution. And today that is in the Middle East. Tomorrow? It could be anywhere. It could be here.

This past week was all about JOBS. On September 8, 2011, President Obama delivered his much anticipated jobs speech to Congress.

A friend also sent me an article that was buzzing around the internet titled: Are Jobs Obsolete?  This article is an important read for anyone who is interested in a more just world. Its premise is provocative, but Rushkoff (author) provides an interesting vision for the future. It is worthy of a serious dialogue.  After reading it, I thought of all the reasons it  makes good sense for this country given the crossroads we are at. In many ways, I see the roots of his premise already at play in countries like Jamaica and in cultures like Hip Hop, where traditional opportunities have always been scarce (read jobs) but survival depended on human ingenuity and self productivity.

I also thought of the objective reality we face that will make this vision difficult to realize  in the near future. The fact that on a finite planet, resources are finite and in a social structure where resources are unevenly distributed, material sustenance is not treated as a basic right, but is instead, used as a hegemonic tool to promote fear over freedom.  As long as material sustenance is always at risk, people can be manipulated via hegemony to the benefit of those controlling the resources. And until the masses control the resources, this manipulation is certain to remain. The present reality in the U.S. is also not the global reality. While the U.S. standard of living is in decline, "emerging markets" around the world are now experiencing a new standard of living and are now only gaining the [false] benefit of being an emerging power in the race to the bottom.  
So while Rushkoff's vision for the future is actually a reality for many already on a micro-level, to achieve macro implementation will mean that not only have we secured a world where all have basic human rights of food and shelter with no fear that they will lose them, but we have also secured a world where all will want no more than those basic human rights.  Cooperative systems will get us the former... they may not be able to guarantee the latter. I'm not sure what will... for that reason, the struggle continues...continuously.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who is Our REAL Enemy?

I am starting to use my TWITTER acct more often....please follow me!!/gtwright​s1

Here is a collection of article links, retweets and posts you'll find!

@gtwrights1: It is time to read or re-read James Baldwin's classic, The Fire Next Time...written almost 50 years ago, the FIRE NEXT TIME is upon us NOW..

RT @MMFlint: Chase Bank foreclosed on Oregon soldier yesterday-the day he returns from Iraq! So I ask: Who is our real enemy?

RT @CommonCause; Stop Coddling Me and My Super-Rich Pals, by Warren Buffett:

RT @tavissmiley: The new poor is the former middle class. 

RT @CatalystHouse: Meet the Global Financial Elites Controlling $46 Trillion In Wealth -

RT @Debra129: Large Corporations Are Getting Tax Cuts to Send Jobs Overseas and Pocket Bigger Profits: It's That Simple

RT @RBReich: Richest 1% have largest share of nat'l income and wealth in 80 yrs.

RT@mrdaveyd: "extraction. what corporate entities are doing w/ economy. End result = wage slaves in US..booming middle-class elsewhere" - exactly!

RT: @InjusticeFacts: In 2009 the average CEO pay with stock options was $11 MILLION, the average worker pay was $31,000.

The record is clear. Corporate fascists are the real enemy.  This is powerful people v. people power, the 21st century edition...Rise UP!

Powerful People v. People Power: The 21st Century Edition by  link =  please RT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Can Work….And What Never Will

Over a century ago, a struggle for the souls of black folk raged between different leaders with different approaches to black liberation. While all shared similar goals (of black freedom and self determination), these leaders embraced different and often deemed opposing ideological bends on how to achieve those goals. Should we work within a social structure and meet people where they are and build from there? Should we demand full human rights for all - always, regardless of the entrenched power interests whose very existence depends on denying us that humanity? Or would our efforts be best spent uniting as a people to build a nation to rival any that might try to oppress us?

With each leadership approach, victories were achieved, and defeats were inevitable. Washington, DuBois, and Garvey may not have had all the answers, and could not have individually achieved black liberation, but unlike many, they dedicated their lives to this necessary cause - our freedom.  No more could have been asked of them. To the all important question, “what did you do to bring about change?” these men had answers. But the question never is: “what is s/he (leader) doing to bring about change?” The only relevant question is: “what is each and every one of us doing to bring about change?”  The reason black liberation eluded them is because so many individuals then could not answer that question. Many still can’t.

This recurring ideological debate regarding the path to liberation has plagued us since day one. It flared up again during the triumphs and tribulations of the Civil Rights Era, and its most recent reincarnation can be seen in the debate between Dr. Cornel West and Reverend Al Sharpton over President Obama and his leadership (or lack thereof).

Dr. West has expressed great disappointment in President Obama, seeing much of Obama’s policies as an embrace of elite moneyed interests and American imperialism over the welfare of the mass majority of Americans, particularly African Americans who suffer disproportionately from all the plagues of poverty. Many progressives and left leaning academics agree with Dr. West’s portrayal of President Obama, voicing their frustrations daily on blogs and via social media sites.

On the other side of the debate, Reverend Sharpton avoids placing blame at Obama’s feet. While he agrees that the interests of the mass majority are not represented in the current power dynamics, unlike West, Sharpton does not see Obama as a “puppet of Wall Street oligarchs”. He believes Obama is working within a hostile political environment but will act on behalf of the majority when the majority actively engages him. Instead of seeing him as “the” problem, Sharpton chooses to work with Obama to try to build solutions.

Neither approach (West’s criticism of Obama or Sharpton’s support of Obama) seems to be getting us closer to the goal of progressive change. Again, nothing about this debate is new. The struggle for the souls of black folk rages on, with divisions forming and positions staked in concrete. While the debate has been respectful, it has monopolized a good amount of time and energy that one can only believe would be better spent in action, instead of debate.


What Can Work: Action

In his leadership and his humanity, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provided a model of what can work.  While the struggle for the souls of black folk raged during his era as well, Dr. King rarely criticized those that opposed him and his approach. For example, Dr. King refused to publicly debate Malcolm X when challenged. King would not debate, his secretary told Malcolm, because "he has always considered his work in a positive action framework rather than engaging in consistent negative debate." (

Dr. King was a true visionary because this "consistent negative debate" still takes up critical time today that could be spent
serving and organizing our communities.  While history teaches us what leaders have achieved on their individual paths, we will never know what could have been achieved had “rival” leaders (Washington/DuBois/Garvey; Dr. King/Malcolm X) joined forces with a continuously engaged citizenry to collectively pursue a progressive path to freedom.

Dr. King understood that the biggest threat to the civil rights movement did not come from those burning crosses (adversaries) or those with different approaches to the same goal (ideological rivals). The biggest threat to progress came from the MANY that stayed safely away engulfed in their own lives, complacent, and often distracted (inactive). 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 sacrifice, and unfortunately many stay comfortable. Progress takes sacrifice...progress takes ACTION.


What Never Will Work: Insanity

Some define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. While positive actions can work to achieve progress, some things never will work and it is time we come to that realization.

What won’t work?
·         Scapegoating – Whether it be Muslims, “illegal immigrants” (read Mexicans), gays, “big government”, or Obama (from the right of the political spectrum), or Republicans, Wall Street, American imperialism, racists, or Obama again (from the left of the political spectrum), blaming others for our woes is standard practice.  Instead of working actively towards progress, scapegoating allows us a convenient fall guy to point to when no real progress is achieved. The problem with scapegoating is that it provides excuses, but no solutions. So while Dr. West may be correct in his analysis of President Obama’s policies, once Obama is no longer president, his critique will just shift to the next “leader” who maintains the same policies and status quo power structure. An understanding of the problem may be achieved, but a solution to it never will.

What won’t work?
·         Idealism - Depending on people's "better nature" gets you "status quo". There is no doubt that corporate fascists and their paid cronies in government will do what they must do to maintain power... that is a known entity that is solved and needs not revisiting.  Being surprised at corporatists and politicians for being corporatists and politicians is as effective as being mad at a dog for being a dog and barking.  The time we spend criticizing, disillusioned and disgusted from unrealistic expectations is baffling and can only be understood as gripping on to idealistic tendencies that counter progress. While it reveals our basic humanity to want to believe in our fellow mankind, that humanity could be better revealed through service and action. Instead of wishing for better from others (Obama, elected politicians, corporations etc.), we must demand better from ourselves! We must use our energy to seize our power and ACT! It's one or the other - they either control us, or we control them, and while critiques will not change power dynamics, actions will.

What won’t work?
·         Negative Framing – In framing progress, we should be against nothing...just be clear what we are for (Iyanla Vanzant). When we concentrate on what we are against (racism, sexism, white supremacy, capitalism, fascism, homophobia, etc.), we frame the struggle in terms of negatives and sooner or later can lose the true purpose of the struggle...LIFE.  If we frame the struggle in terms of life affirming principles - peace, justice, love, and sustenance, our eyes remain on the prize. 

What won’t work?
·         Ceding our power to “saviors”.  Whether we are taught powerlessness (see Carter G. Woodson’s Miseducation) or whether it is an inherent quality of human nature, most choose not to become personally invested (engage in action) until they feel in some way personally affected (self interest). Many might see the five alarm fire next door but few act unless they are immediately in danger from the fire – but by then, it is possibly too late. If not immediately in danger, we tend to cede our power to so-called “authorities”…leaders, experts, and other “saviors”, instead of acting on our own behalf.  We need to realize that functioning out of self interest just gets us status quo (survival)....functioning from self determination (seizing our power) can lead to progressive change.

It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. While the hell of slavery has ended for our people, the heaven of freedom still eludes us today.  If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven (the “promise land”) should be paved with POSITIVE ACTION (good deeds, acts, and service). Those that believe they can get to the “promise land" through the actions of others, be it a leader (Obama) or a Savior will find that promise land forever elusive. If we truly want to realize black liberation and end the struggle for the souls of black folk, the only relevant question we must ALL ask and answer = “What are YOU doing to effect change?” When we ALL have an answer to this question, progress will be realized. Yes WE can…but the struggle continues….continuously.

 “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.” - Frederick Douglass

"The time has come. This is it. People are always saying.. 'Oh they, they'll take care of it.' 'The government will do it. They'll' ...They who? It starts with us.'s US. Or else it'll never be done." – Michael Jackson 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two Words: On Wisconsin!

Two Words.

Self Determination.

Corporate Fascism.

Your Choice.


From the debate raging online and via twitter, I see miseducation is alive and well. Workers from teachers to firefighters once called public servants are now being called freeloaders. It reminds me of something RZA said in the documentary, Rhyme and Reason [paraphrasing]: why am I beefing with this brother and he has nothing and I have nothing while these other folks over there have everything and nobody is beefing with them. That doesn't add up..I deal with mathematics.

Well, here are some numbers to consider:

1. The Walmart Corporation is richer than over 150 countries.


2. And a good amount of that wealth goes to 4 people: The Walton family members who take 4 of the top 10 spots on the Richest Americans list, with net worth totaling 80+ billion dollars.

3. While the pay gap between a company's CEO and its employees has a ratio of 11 to 1 in Japan and 12 to 1 in Germany, the United States ratio is an exorbitant 319 to 1.


4. And for the most staggering numbers: the 500 richest individuals in the world have the same income as 416 million people on the poor end of the pay scale....416 million.



Probably the two most dreaded words in American politics = class warfare. But they are still embraced quicker than these two hated four letter words: Karl Marx.

The reason Karl Marx is so feared is because he rightfully exposed the fallacy of wage labor.

Capitalism is a way to make money off of other people's labor. But Walmart could not make any money without the cheap labor it gets from the workers that make the manufactured goods it sells [usually Chinese workers making slave wages], or the employees that provide the labor and customer service at its stores [making near slave wages with few benefits], or the customers who buy the goods its WORKERS produce [and those customers are spending money that they earn working for (sometimes near slave) wages ].

Marx predicted that this alienation (outlined above) would eventually lead to class consciousness...and the truth is, we may finally be seeing forms of class consciousness playing out all across the globe as we speak..from Egypt to Wisconsin...Bahrain to Iran. And the bigger truth is, we have corporate fascists and overreaching leaders to thank. As I've said many times, power will take as much as it can get away with and no less...people must fight for what we rightfully deserve. No one will give it to you.

The choices in this country could not be clearer. On one side is the language of "cuts" and "deficits" and "sacrifices", but in this language only one side of the coin is being shown. As I tell my classes all the time, one's advantage is directly linked to another one's disadvantage. They are inevitably linked. The big lie that hegemony in society perpetuates is that folks gain at no one's expense. But on a finite planet, the pie of resources is limited. And how it is dished out at the dinner table matters. If one person takes 99 slices, that leaves 1 slice for 99 people to fight over. The other option is a more equitable distribution of resources. Only people that get more and are okay with others having less prefer the former.

What free trade did to the private sector, political corporatists are now trying to do to the public sector...weaken collective bargaining and workers' rights. Instead of all seeing the reality of a new gilded age where the rich are getting richer, the middle class is being asked to accept the new "reality" and join the ranks of the working poor while big banks get bailed out with our tax dollars so they can horde that cash or use it to open markets overseas.

The truth the U.S. middle class has not been told is that it is expected to join the global race to the bottom, where we will be expected to compete in a global market where workers make less than a dollar a day. They are setting up Americans to "sacrifice" get used to a lower standard of living and accept this new world order where a small elite of corporate fascists get 95% of the pie while 95% of the world must fight for the 5% crumbs...including you now America.

Unfortunately it never is the 1% that does its own always is the manipulated who have bought in to the narrative that the elite has sold them. People that believe that giving tax breaks to corporations and busting unions will bring jobs to America have no geopolitical sense of reality.

example =

Instead of bashing me and my fellow union members for collective bargaining and securing better wages and benefits, why not demand the same for yourself?! Stop doing the bidding for corporate fascists and start putting your interest first!


Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

link =

Despite the resistance to change by some, resolve and growing class consciousness may be too strong to stop this time. But know this, even where peaceful protest can not overcome police state barbarity, universal law will. The house of cards will always does.

Two Words:

Stay Strong

Keep Pushing

People Power

In Unity

....On Wisconsin!

For more on this topic. please see my previous note: The Fire this Time: A Few Thoughts on Egypt


Monday, January 17, 2011

In Honor of A King: Keep on Keeping On

I wrote this last year, but Dr. King's message is timeless...

I must warn this is long; it is more of a lecture than a note, but I hope when you have a moment, you will read, comment, and share if inclined.
Today we remember Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and his service to humanity.

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. you only need a heart full of grace. a soul generated by love. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"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.

In his own words:
MLK Jr. =

From Miseducation to Re-Education

last night I wrote a note titled: Wake Up Everybody! Seize, don't cede OUR Power...
link =

In it I expressed some concern with our lack of we take our eyes off the prize and are easily 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.

Malcolm X and Dr. King Jr. were also 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.

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
link =

2. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X: Striking Similarities Part 2 of 3
link =

3. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X: Striking Similarities Part 3 of 3
link =

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!"

It is important to understand this because it is extremely relevant to today's ongoing debates between more progressive community members and the masses of African Americans that support President Obama.

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)

In his effort to support a black united front, Malcolm accepted an invitation from SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, to speak in Selma, Alabama. It was the first time he had traveled south to work with the civil rights movement.

OSSIE DAVIS: Malcolm was always involved somewhere in the struggle, and I remember, in January of 1965, Juanita Poitier set up a meeting at her house for the regular civil rights leaders to meet with Malcolm X to work out the differences between us so we could come from that meeting with a common platform. Once again, A. Phillip Randolph were there, Whitney Young was there, Dorothy Hieght was there. Malcolm X was there. Several others were there. Martin Luther King couldn't make it, but he sent a representative. And we spent that day discussing Malcolm's philosophy, the mistakes he made, what he wanted to do now and how he could get on board the people's struggle that was taking place.

I remember during the height of black nationalism in hip hop most were students of Malcolm X and many believed the caricature of Dr. King the media fed us..."the one dimensional i have a dream" was not until we got older and wiser that we embraced Dr. King more fully and understood he was no passive integrationist he had been made into (purposely), but a committed servant of all oppressed people with true vision and integrity.

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 Obama? If so, why are they turning on him? Or are they controlling US and OUR revolt to serve OUR communities and unite with OUR people?

Who best fits the description when Malcolm X describes "civil rights leaders"? Is he speaking of MLK Jr.? Leaders like Obama? or "Black progressives" who find themselves more aligned with white "liberals" (and conservatives for that matter) than the oppressed communities they supposedly are fighting for?

Every day, posts about Obama highlight the honeymoon between Obama and progressives is over. I understand people's frustration, but by making Obama the issue, we have been bamboozled by the media....and conservatives and liberals alike. It is always important to watch the company one keeps. If 90+% of Black people are with Obama but white progressives (or liberals) are against him, the progressive hip hop community needs to consider its alliances VERY carefully.

And while the reasons the masses of our community are supporting Obama may not be the most principled or conscious, they still are united. That is a starting point we must build on, not work against. Consciousness is a luxury few can afford in these serious times....survival is key... A friend of mine teaches in LA and most of her black students know only the caricature of MLK Jr. the mainstream has created...and many don’t even know who Malcolm X is! One asked if he was an extreme sports star! And we think our problem is that Obama is not addressing political issues like we want in this country where millions still deny our humanity? I’m sorry….it doesn’t even make the top 10. ...and systemic racism and poverty which are at the top of the list won't be fixed by Obama, period. It can only be fixed by US when we seize and stop ceding our power.

It is interesting how we criticize Black politicians and leaders who disappoint but never do the same with white politicians and leaders with the same level of passion, as if we take it more personally with the black leader...In Obama's case, that is a stretch given his biracial lineage and upbringing in I'm as guilty of this higher standard for black leaders as the next person. A favorite line I use in class when teaching about Thurgood Marshall is to call him the "first and only Black Supreme Court justice". lol...Clarence Thomas is no worse than Scalia..but our hatred is saved for Thomas. Why is that? Miseducation and mental slavery. Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery..none but ourselves can free our minds (Marley).

A King's Example

King himself took the higher road, rarely criticizing Malcolm but also refusing to publicly debate him. King would not debate, his secretary told Malcolm, because "he has always considered his work in a positive action framework rather than engaging in consistent negative debate." (

On this note, Dr. King was a true visionary because this "consistent negative debate" is still a problem today and takes up critical time that could be spent serving our communities.

Keep On Keeping On

To honor Dr. King, let us understand his philosophy completely, honor his sacrifice, and live his example, not just on this day of national service, but everyday. But more than anything, we must keep on keeping on, understanding that the promise land (progress) is not a is a journey.

Thank you Dr. King for giving us your love, your vision, your service...your life.

Song Title
Keep on Keeping On
link =

Curtis Mayfield

Gospel Greats

Everybody gather round and listen to my song
I've only got one

We who are young, should now take a stand
Don't run from the burdens of women and men
Continue to give, continue to live
For what you know is right

Most of your life can be out of sight
Withdraw from the darkness and look to the light
Where everyone's free
At least that's the way it's supposed to be

We just keep on keeping on
We just keep on keeping on

Many think that we have blown it
But they too will soon admit
That there's still a lot of love among us

And there's still a lot of faith and warmth and trust
When we keep on keeping on

Before we dismiss, one thing I insist
When you have your young, remember this song
And our world surroundings, its leaps and bounds
Ups and downs, is reality

Teach them to be strong, and when they are grown
They can proudly imply that we were an alright guy
For all the wrong now is right
This nation's people are now united as one

And we just keep on keeping on
We just keep on keeping on

Many think that we have blown it
But they too will soon admit
That there's still a lot of love among us

And there's still a lot of faith, warmth, and trust
When we keep on keeping on

Keep on keeping on, ya'll
Keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on
Keep on, keeping on
(Keep on, keeping on)

We got to move on up, ya'll
(We got to move on up)
Keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on

Some years back I remember
Still in my mind so well
My mama made this [Incomprehensible]
And I found it never fails

Never worry too long
(Worry too long)
About what goes on
(About what goes on)
Today it's sorrow
(Today it's sorrow)
Look like joy tomorrow
(Look like joy tomorrow)

Keep on keeping on
(Keep on keeping on)
Keep on, keep on
(Keep on, keep on)

We just keep on keeping on
We just keep on keeping on

Many think that we have blown it
But they too will soon admit
That there's still a lot of love among us

And there's still a lot of faith, warmth, and trust
When we keep on keeping on

Ooh ooh ooh ooh
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh)

We're gonna move on up
(We’re gonna move on up)

Keep on keeping on
(Keep on keeping on)
Move on, move now
(Move on, move now)
Keep on keeping on
(Keep on keeping on)


Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: A New Year...Time to Try Anew

May 2011 be a reflection of our collective actions for peace and sustenance for all.

As the ball dropped on 2010, millions listened and sang along to this has become the "THEME" of renewed hope in humanity to start each year for today and everyday, let's celebrate the infinite possibilities humanity brings...year in and year out...

Happy New Year Fam.

We hope all had a safe and love-filled holiday season. While I know it has been a very trying year for many, tough times will come and go, but bonds of love and fond memories created with family and friends really are everlasting. Please keep working for peace, sustenance, and justice for all, doing what you can to make the world a better place. Bless up!

Rise up Hip Hop Nation: Creating Sustainable Change

Original link =

At the end of 2006, I wrote this original essay (link above) and offered specific actions for individuals to consider for sustainable progressive change. I share it each semester with my students because while there are many things they want to see change (in their lives in particular, and the world more broadly), many do not know how individual actions they take can lead to major societal change. And I know many don't even know where to start in a world where social problems often seem larger than life. But Margeret Mead said it best:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

So in that spirit, I am reposting an edited version of the original essay, and will continue mentoring students on how to be the change they want to see.

I'd like to begin by offering peace and respect to everyone everywhere. While many are celebrating the holiday season, many more are suffering. Some are reflecting on the year gone by, while others are just praying the New Year will bring new possibilities for joy, peace, sustenance and justice. This is the time of year for reflection on the past and resolutions for the future. For me, this annual process led me to important questions. How can we make this a year of sustainable change? What concrete steps can we take to address what ails our communities and our global village more broadly? Wherever we are in life, whether blessed or oppressed, affluent or struggling, the condition of the global village will directly affect us all sooner or later, and it is in our best interest to work towards sustainable change.

The first thing we must do is realize that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. 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). And here are a few specific things you can do:

1. Pick one local issue and one global issue that you will educate your self about and stay informed!

2. Join two organizations that deal with your issues of choice (feel free to email me if you need some suggestions).

3. Mentor one child (For parents, mentor your children fully and completely). For childless adults (21+), mentor a child at your local school, Boys/Girls Club, or Big Brother/Big Sister organizations. Each One Teach One; Each One Reach One.

4. Sign at least one petition a month. Activism in the digital age is much easier than in previous ages, and it is easier to stay informed via the internet and email. For those that do not have internet access at home, utilize your city’s public library.

5. Recognizing that all media is framed (left/right, conservative/liberal), get your news from multiple media sources. By doing this, you will learn to separate facts from ideology.

6. Attend three community meetings or rallies a year or volunteer at community service centers at least three times a year. Getting involved in your community will lead to changes on the community level which will manifest on the global level eventually.

7. Be a conscious consumer. It’s a simple as this: support what you believe helps your community, reject what does not.

8. Vote. Whether the system works or doesn’t; whether elections are stolen or not. Too many of our forefather and foremothers died to give us the right to vote, and for no other reason than that, we need to honor that right. I strongly recommend all, particularly full time workers, consider absentee voting (this way you don’t have to worry about making it to the polls on the day of the election). Visit your state’s Secretary of the State page to register to vote and/or sign up as an absentee voter. Voting is easy and doesn’t cost to do, but it might cost greatly when we do not. Do not buy into the idea that two evils are the same. Voting may not directly affect your community but not voting could. To directly affect your community, it takes activism by community members and this list hopefully provides some guidance.

9. Make a sincere effort to communicate across class, color and generational lines. Most of what ails our community can be fixed with honest, open dialogue. With this we can overcome the internal divisions that separate us, and unity (which is necessary for self determination) can be realized.

10. FORGIVE. No sustainable change will be possible until we develop the ability to be critical but forgiving, unyielding on principle but yielding on people and humanity. Mistakes have been made but if we let our mistakes keep us divided, it will impede our progress. We have to embrace our mutual interests and avoid getting clogged down in our differences. A community divided is a community conquered indeed. I challenge those in conflict to take time to dialogue on what divides us (hip hop v. civil rights generation, mainstream v. underground, rapper v. rapper, bourgeois v. proletariat) and find common ground to work together on. Sustainable change will require that brothers and sisters reconcile with our humanity, and forgive past (as well as future) shortfalls and indiscretions. It is in human nature to be self-preserving, even at the expense of our progress at times. Informants have sold out movements for personal reward – and will again; some leaders have played politics at the community’s expense for power – and continue to; brothers and sisters have disrespected themselves and their ancestors through some thoughtless actions (and even profit from some of this in hip hop). Our inability to forgive one another’s trespasses will be our biggest impediment toward self determination. While I believe critical analysis of people that hurt our cause is essential, making criticism of others our primary focus makes it that more difficult to find common ground and unify around common interests. In the words of Iyanla Vanzant, Be against nothing…just be clear what you are for.

This list is a start. It is in no way definitive, but it will bring sustainable community change if each and every one of us acts on some of the suggestions listed (and others). The reason I focus on sustainable change is because our history shows us that we are very capable of big movements (Abolition, U.N.I.A., Civil Rights, Black Power), but what we have not been able to do as yet is sustain these progressive movements. To sustain them, we need continual people power and community involvement. Micro level activism can off set macro level power imbalances.

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 6% control most and 94% have 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. So for the New Year, I offer this list of specific actions individuals and communities can adopt, and if we follow it and work together to build on it, we can finally move the crowd…to freedom. One love.

* One God! One Aim! One Destiny! – Marcus Garvey and the UNIA

* Someday at Christmas, there’ll be no wars....When we have learned what Christmas is for...When we have found what life’s really worth, there’ll be peace on Earth – Stevie Wonder