bell hooks On “Central Park Five”

Recently, bell hooks passed away. Due to her passing away, new found attention to her work became main discussion across many social media platforms.

During this avalanche of attention, many decided to address bell hooks’s forgetton writings and controversal takes.

One of which was her position on Kevin, Korey, Yusef, Antron, and Raymond case, also know as “the central park five”.

As you scroll through that thread, you can see that what incensed most was hooks’s inability to course correct before her passing. According to some, this work had been reprinted at least four times without being amended.

Personally, I am glad she did not remove it. I do not need bell hooks to be something that she was not. Obviously, whether right or wrong, she felt THIS strongly about it. She was not only person, more on that later.

It is important that we all learn to take people as they are. No matter what successes they find in Life. No matter how they impress us in other areas of their Life. No matter how magnitude of information they provide us in this Life.

bell hooks had been provided enough information to publicly alter her published thoughts. She did not. This entire passage, including its theoretical socio-psychological analysis is dead wrong. It is completely founded on a lie. A lie that aided Joe Biden and Bill Clinton in pushing forward one of harshest anti-Black bills, their historica omnibus crime bill.

bell hooks should have recanted. bell hooks should have written a few pages on why she wrong, a few more pages of socio-psychological analysis doubling as bed time reading explaining how her wrongness reflects in a general sense, and a few more pages even of her detailing at length how others can avoid doing similarly. But, bell hooks did not do such.

So we must.

What WE Owe Malcolm


“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”

I was first introduced to Malcolm X during my junior year of high school. I was the only upperclassman in an Earth Science class assigned to freshmen. The teacher taught us everything but science and I am forever grateful for that. I looked forward to going to 5th period every day. Mr. Edmonds transformed his classroom into a lecture hall. It was in his class that I first heard the name “Malcolm X”, it belonged to a man who did not have a face, let alone a voice in my changing world. The next week, I walked back into his class with Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Reinvention of Life and asked him why the N.O.I. chose “X” as their last names. I never finished Marable’s book because I soon learned that I was reading out of order.

After spending the entire school year learning about everything in Black history, I was ushered into an entire new world of “wokeness”, of course, this was before being woke was even a thing. Being in that class, something awoke in me that was dormant. Something that I didn’t know was inside of me, something that hasn’t been allowed to rest since. On the last day of school, Mr. Edmonds implored us to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X for summer break; 99% of the class ignored him. The summer of 2013, I finally read The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time. The entire time I was reading his autobiography, I felt his presence there with me. I heard his voice guiding me through his book and his voice has remained with me for the last six years.

My entire world changed. Everything that I once thought was right, was essentially altered after my first reading of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I turned my back on organized religion, which was extremely radical due to my Catholic upbringing. I began to finally be aware of White supremacy and oppression in my everyday life. I realized how deeply white supremacy and oppression played a huge role in keeping me (and countless others) ignorant on just about everything.

In January of 2014, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the second time. It was then that I decided to do something that many considered to be a daunting task; I decided that I wanted to petition the White House to establish a federal holiday in honor of Malcolm X. Erica (@rickiryan on Instagram), SankofaBrown (Twitter handle), praxis (Twitter handle), and myself were the core members of this collective. We decided that the focus of the Malcolm X holiday would be self-education through reading/literacy and creating reading materials accessible to everyone, even the most marginalized community. We decided that this would be the focus because of Malcolm’s messages urging Black people to read, educate, and empower themselves and their communities through reading. Though we were never able to reach the necessary 10,000 signatures, we all, in our own ways decided to amplify Malcolm’s message and creating spaces to share and make reading/literacy a known presence in our personal lives and communities.

Malcolm’s autobiography is one of the most unique and authentically raw autobiographical works that I have been blessed to read (my other favorites include A Taste of Power by Elaine Brown, Angela Davis: An Autobiography, and Assata) for a few reasons. For me, the biggest reason why Malcolm’s autobiography had such an impactful effect on me is because how powerful Malcolm’s words were. His voice, personality, and spirit lift off of the page. Reading through his book feels as though you are sitting in and listening to a conversation between Malcolm and Alex Haley, reading Malcolm’s autobiography is an intimate experience. Malcolm makes it very clear that this is his story, told in his own unique way and he is very open and candid about himself and his life story.

Malcolm starts his journey of his life by having us start in Lansing, Michigan. He thoroughly describes his childhood and his introduction to Pan-Africanism, with the help of his parents and Marcus Garvey. Malcolm then takes to Boston, where he transforms from a country bumpkin to a true, smooth talking city boy. From Boston, we follow Malcolm to Harlem and it is here, where he transforms into a hustler. And from Harlem, we follow Malcolm back to Boston and eventually to prison for eight years. It is here where we begin to see Malcolm Little begin to take form into Malcolm X. While in prison, Malcolm began to read, “I read aimlessly, until I learned to read selectively, with a purpose.” (161). It was also around this time that Malcolm’s brother Reginald, introduced him to Islam, Elijah Muhammed and the rest is history.

I recently decided to reread The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the sixth time and this reading gave me a lot to think and reflect about. The entire autobiography revolved around two major things: reading/education and change. While in prison, Malcolm found books and those books — along with the religion of Islam — saved him. “Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened.” (176). Malcolm stressed how important it was to educate oneself and to constantly read. Malcolm knew and believed that education was the key to liberating the minds of the Black community and the tool that would dismantle white supremacy and oppression. Malcolm believed that someone who belonged to the most marginalized community would be able to undergo the most radical transformation if the individual was given the chance and the materials.

As I mentioned earlier, even though the Malcolm X holiday initiative never got the necessary signatures to petition the white House, the core members of the collective have all done something to promote reading and self-education in our own communities, most notably Erica. Two years after the petition, Erica started her own initiative called Liberation Through Reading. LTR is a community based initiative that has gifted over 1000 books to Black children, books that are bought by supporters all over the country and books that center around Black children. Erica also hosts a weekly book club where members read and discuss Leftist theory and texts. All of this was born because of Malcolm.

Every time I have read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I have been able to find something new that I missed the previous time. In the final paragraphs of the epilogue, Alex Haley describes Malcolm’s funeral and how his assassination rocked the nation and the world. The final sentence reads: “It still feels to me as if he (Malcolm X) has just gone into some next chapter, to be written by historians.” (463). This is what we owe to Malcolm, to continue writing his story, his mission, his ideas into this chapter of history and for years to come, but the only way we will ever be able to complete this book is if we begin to fight against illiteracy and a lack of reading in our communities. We must begin to make all literature accessible to ALL communities and people. Whether you are reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time or for the sixth time, like myself, I hope that Malcolm’s voice and words guide you and move you as they have for me. I hope that you decide to take up Malcolm’s call of action to continue his story and fight against your personal stagnant education and uplift your community. We owe it to Malcolm.

Gemini Che ::: A Reading Of Jon Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara By @aROSEthatGREW

Before I picked up Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson, I barely knew anything about Che. I barely knew who he was and what he stood for. I was introduced to Che back in 2014 while on Twitter. A number of the people that I follow on twitter spoke highly of Che and how he helped Fidel liberate Cuba. I never even knew how Che would look like until I seen his most famous and commodified picture float around on Twitter one day. The only other time that I would even hear or seen anything related to Che was on the newest Scooby-Doo reboot “Mystery Inc.” on Cartoon Network. On the show, there was a character named Ernesto and a radical student activist who resembled Che down to the facial hair and beret (Kudos to whoever wanted to bring Che back to life as a cartoon). When I moved to Miami, Florida back in August 2016, I was prepared to face the anti-blackness from members of the Latinx community that engulfs Miami, but one thing I was not prepared for was to be surrounded by Cubans who hated and displayed hostility whenever Fidel was mentioned and an image of Che was displayed. I received a number of weird and angry looks from my coworkers whenever I would pull out my copy of Anderson’s book and read during lunch breaks. When Fidel died last year, FIU (Florida International University) sent out a mass email with a statement from the university’s President, Mark Rosenberg. In His statement, Rosenberg states “The passing of Fidel Castro marks the beginning of the end of a most painful chapter in the lives of Cubans…” I didn’t understand the hate Cubans had for Che and Fidel. At work, a number of my coworkers were relieved and ecstatic that Fidel had died and spat on Che’s name. This is when my curiosity of Che, Fidel, and the Cuban Revolution began to bubble. In my real, offline life, I had people speaking ill about Che and Fidel. Online in my Twitter life, I had a few people such as Erica (@_Rickii_) and Taurean (@SankofaBrown) speaking so highly of Che and Fidel, especially of Che’s dedication to Marxist, Socialist, and Communist thought and teachings. That is when I learned that in history, you are seen as both the hero and the villain. The US has done an amazing job at painting Fidel and Che as villains for the last 4 decades.

 

Jon Lee Anderson’s biographical work Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life” painted Che in a way that is both critical and needed whenever Che is the topic of discussion. At first glance, the size of the book is pretty intimidating. 819 pages of information about the bigger-than-life man with a soul piercing stare we all know as Che Guevara. But when I started to read it, I found that the book was engaging and was easy to read and follow. Reading the first page of the first chapter, a bombshell is dropped. Che’s parents, Ernesto Sr. and Celia lied about Che’s real birth date of June 14th, 1928. A friend of Celia’s who happened to be an astrologer did calculations on Che and determined that he was a Gemini and a very boring one at that. But at the time Che was already a household name all over the world and on the CIA’s “to watch” list by the early 1960s along with Che. How could this “boring” and “gray” person described in his astrological chart be the same outspoken and highly visible figure known as THE Che Guevara? The confused astrologer took her findings to Celia where Celia laughed and confessed that Che had been born a month earlier, May 14th, 1928 and this actually transformed Che from a boring Gemini into a headstrong and decisive Taurus whose hands were always ready for whatever and was always ready to shoot. While reading Part One: Unquiet Youth, Anderson beautifully describes Che’s life from childhood up until he joined Fidel and Raul Castro’s movement to liberate Cuba. The many stories and thoughts that are shared about Che on Twitter and in real life paints Che as this untouchable and serious man who only had character flaws and had those who wanted to eliminate the Cuban Rebels fear and hate him. But as I continued to read the first chapter A Plantation in Misiones, Anderson reveals that Che had chronic asthma. Che Guevara, the man who was about that action suffered from asthma. Asthma that would leave him bedridden for days with haggard breathing and a horrible cough. Che, the man who had the US shook with his Marxist thinking and Guerrilla warfare expertise suffered from chronic asthma from childhood until his execution on October 9th, 1967.

 

Born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, Ernesto didn’t start school until he was 9 because of his chronic asthma, but that didn’t stop Celia from educating Ernesto. Celia passed down her love and passion of literature down to Ernesto and from that they shared a close mother-son relationship. Ernesto became a lifelong learner and a voracious reader. When Ernesto was just 17, he began to write his own “philosophical dictionary.” His philosophical dictionary notebook consisted of biographies of noted thinkers and definitions. He also had quotations on Marxism and Hitler. This notebook was the first of seven which he worked on for 10 years. As his studies deepened and expanded and his interests became more focused, his notebooks began to reflect that.

 

“Everything began with literature for him” – Osvaldo Bidinost Payer, if there was ever a sentence to sum up Che as a reader, this is it. Literature led Che to Fidel and Raul. Literature led Che to hating imperialism and capitalism. Literature led Che to becoming our revolutionary idol, hero, and brother. Literature allowed Che to live on in our revolutionary souls. Before Che was murdered, he developed a habit of documenting everything, the history he became a part of and his honorable legacy. We should follow Che’s example by documenting everything as a way to keep our legacy alive. “Che – alive as they never allowed to be”. Through the words he left behind and his courageous and rebellious spirit, Che solidified himself in history and etched a place in our consciousness.

 

Jon Lee Anderson did an amazing capturing the man behind the beret, the man whose entire death was shrouded in secrecy and his life became romanticized. Thanks to Jon Lee Anderson and his research, we were able to finally locate Che’s body and give our hero a proper burial after 28 years. Che’s last words is a small look into the man who became a symbol of resistance figuratively and literally.

 

“I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”

Did Zora Neale Hurston Plagiarize Her First Work? ::: Readings From Zora’s ‘Barracoon’

In Zora Neal Hurston’s first(finally?) published edition of ‘Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”‘, Deborah G. Plant includes an afterword and section of additional materials, edited by her.

In that section, she quotes Zora:

“Woodson knew that people’s memories were notoriously unsound and must be checked carefully by reference to written documents.”

This quote is from a biography of Ms. Zora. “Woodson”, in this quote, is none other than great luminary scholar, Carter G. Woodson. It is important to note that Zora’s “Barracoon” is not a personal vendetta against continental Afrikans or Pan-Afrikanists. Her work was in part commissioned(read that as directed and funded) by Carter G. Woodson and his staff.

As stated in Plant’s writing, citing Ms. Zora’s introductory chapter of her “Barracoon”:

From February to August of 1927, Hurston conducted fieldwork in Florida and Alabama under the direction of Franz Boas, her mentor, the renowned “Father of American Anthropology.” Boas had early on approached Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” about a fellowship for Hurston, in support of the research. In accordance with their arrangements, Hurston was to collect black folk materials for Boas and scout around for undiscovered black folk artists. In addition to the gathering of historical data for Woodson, she was also to collect Kossola’s story.

Woodson supported Hurston’s field research with a $1,400 fellowship. Half of the funds came from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization founded and directed by Woodson.

I add this above for sake of preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance particularly of arguments that have been formed as reaction to accounts documented by Zora Neale Hurston. Ms. Zora documents a detailed recounting of Cudjo Lewis’s last experiences as a captive of Dahomean royalty.

In this recounting, Mr. Cudjo discusses how Dahomean leaders and warriors destroyed his hometown. Mr. Cudjo relays how his own family’s leader had his head cut off and worn as decoration. Yet, as this article’s click bait-y title suggests, this is not my main topic.

Plant continues her discussion of how this book came to existence as she notes:

…in the October 1927 issue of the Journal…he[Woodson] published Hurston’s Kossola interview as “Cudjo’s Own Story of the Last African Slaver.” A footnote at the beginning of the article stated that as “an investigator of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History,” Zora Neale Hurston had traveled to Mobile to interview Lewis, “the only survivor of this last cargo.” The note states further, “She made some use, too, of the Voyage of Clotilde and other records of the Mobile Historical Society.” In reality, Hurston made more than a little use of the society’s records. And though part of the article was “a first-hand report,” the larger portion of the article was secondhand information drawn from Emma Langdon Roche’s Historic Sketches of the South (1914). Emma Roche was a writer, artist, and farmer born in Alabama in 1878. Her book is an account of the origins of slavery in America, couched in proslavery tenets and paternalistic perspectives.

Plant furthers her account of Zora’s usage of Roche’s work, offering a cogent enough explanation for Zora’s oversight. That oversight being not including a citation for Roche’s work. There is actually nothing to see here, though.

As stated, Woodson, a premier scholar commissioned Zora to seek out peer reviewed accounts of what might be USA’s last slave smuggling aboard the Clotilda. Further, Ms. Zora’s usage of Roche’s work is only utilized in her introductory chapter. This information aids in verify Mr. Cudjo’s words, but in no way does it form even a foundational presence in Zora’s contribution.

Tale Of Human Traitors Captain Bill & Those Meaher Brothers ::: Readings From Zora’s ‘Barracoon’

All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold. The Kings and Captains whose words moved ships. But not one word from the cargo. The thoughts of the “black ivory,” the “coin of Africa,” had no market value. Africa’s ambassadors to the New World have come and worked and died, and left their spoor, but no recorded thought.




“Barracoon : Story Of The Last Black Cargo”, Zora Neale Hurston, Introduction

Anthropologist and literary luminary, Zora Neale Hurston introduces us to Cudjo Lewis by way of historical context. Her words are museum hallway. We are gently ushered into time machines touring a media landscape of age past. Zora rewards us with texture of that time’s popular literary mold.

She shares with us a valuable insight. During that era, it had become worth a writer’s time in rent and mortgage payments to pay attention to slave narratives. Yet, as Zora so eloquently waxes her reader’s internal ear, these stories left out significant portrayals. Those first person portrayals of primary sources from inside US Slavery’s hulls.

Her tour corrals us through much research. Some of which lays foundation for controversy. In Ms. Zora’s defense, she plainly states in this introduction:

I had met Cudjo Lewis for the first time in July 1927. I was sent by Dr. Franz Boas to get a firsthand report of the raid that had brought him to America and bondage, for Dr. Carter G. Woodson of the Journal of Negro History. I had talked with him in December of that same year and again in 1928. Thus, from Cudjo and from the records of the Mobile Historical Society, I had the story of the last load of slaves brought into the United States.

cf ibid

Zora invites us through journey of horrors. Her recounting of flesh smuggler William Foster and his trio of fraternal cohorts, Jim Meaher, Tim Meaher, Burns Meaher does favor, not injustice, to those historians she chooses to trust her own reputation to. These nefarious traitors of humanity are given an undeserved heroic treatment simply by virtue of being subject of Ms. Zora’s sorcery.

This trek through time winds us through perilous waters and mutiny into those bloody waters composing Gulf of Guinea. It is here that we watch Zora conjure tale of Afrikan royalty welcoming these Whyte foreigners hoping to kidnap and trade in bodies of Afrikan kin like family. Ms. Zora writes:

Soon Captain Foster and his kegs of specie and trading goods were landed. “Six stalwart blacks” were delegated to meet him and conduct him into “the presence of a Prince of Dahomey,” but he did not meet the king.

Foster was borne in a hammock to the Prince, who received him seated on his stool of rank. He was gracious and hospitable, and had Foster shown “the sights of Whydah.” He was surrounded by evidence of great wealth, and Foster was impressed. He was particularly struck by a large square enclosure filled with thousands of snakes, which he was told had been collected for ceremonial purposes.

cf ibid

Zora concludes our majestic exploration of disgust in human trade in Dahomey by reflecting on her book’s ultimate protagonist. Wrapping up our expedition of history, she documents her thoughts thusly:

With these things already known to me, I once more sought the ancient house of the man called Cudjo. This singular man who says of himself, “Edem etie ukum edem etie upar”: The tree of two woods, literally, two trees that have grown together. One part ukum (mahogany) and one part upar (ebony). He means to say, “Partly a free man, partly free.” The only man on earth who has in his heart the memory of his African home; the horrors of a slave raid; the barracoon; the Lenten tones of slavery; and who has sixty-seven years of freedom in a foreign land behind him.

cf ibid

Race Records & Black Consumers

As I have written elsewhere, Carol Batker speaks about how Black Blues Women were alienated by other Black Women(usually professional class Black Women’s Club members) due to class antagonisms framed as lewd performance. She writes regarding analytical works about Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” that,” It is my contention that Hurston has been left out of this debate primarily because her texts disrupts neat dichotomies between respectability and desire, middle- and working-class discourses, and club and blues women. “

While constructing a historiography of Whyte corporate and business interests and US Black consumers, Robert Weems, Jr writes of advertising agencies abuses. In his “Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism In The Twentieth Century”, he illustrates that it was record companies seeking to promote Blues Women to Black audiences that created an entry point for other Whyte marketing organizations.

Weems writes of this relationship initiates as private sector businesses begin to take notice of Blacks moving en masse to cities. He states:

…as African Americans began to congregate in U.S. cities, spurred by the World War I “Great Migration” and its aftermath, businesses big and small, black and white, began to take the idea of a “Negro market” more seriously. By 1940, a growing number of American corporations began to appreciate the potential profits associated with black consumers.

pg 7

As stated above, this relationship was abusive. Weems describes the possible underlying political reasons for this where he pens:

Because of blacks’ apparent powerlessness in the realms of politics and economics, white Americans, and especially white businesses, believed they could, with impunity, denigrate African Americans.

pg 8

As a specific historical point, Weems outlines a successful set of records by Blues Woman, Mamie Smith.

By 1920 a growing number of African American urbanites, in both the North and the South, had more money to spend than ever before. Among the first national companies to aggressively target this embryonic consumer market were record companies.

The music industry’s keen interest in African American consumers sprang from black America’s enthusiastic response to the blues singer Mamie Smith’s August 1920 recording of “Crazy Blues” on the Okeh record label. “Crazy Blues” and its “B” side, “It’s right Here for You (If You Don’t Get It, ‘Taint No Fault of Mine),” represented the music industry’s first conscious attempt to vigorously woo black consumers. Earlier in 1920, Smith had recorded two other songs for Okey, “You Can’t Keep a good Man Down” and “This Thing Called Love.” Yet, OKeh’s employment of an all-white combo as a backdrop for Smith’s February 14, 1920, recording session suggests OKeh’s initial trepidation about marketing a clearly black-oriented product. Still, the sales generated from Mamie Smith’s first recordings prompted OKeh Records’ musical directors, Milo Rega and Fred Hager, to develop what came to be known as the “race records” genre.

pg 14 – 15

Much of Weems’s book deconstructs this relationship between Whyte marketing interests and Black liaisons working as a funnel to siphon Black consumer funds. Desegregation of Black dollars has meant, like this story above suggests, a desire to support Black arts and Black personalities while, often inadvertently, funding the very Whyte business agendas that created a need to support Black artisans to begin with.

In that same manner in which Dave Chappelle once framed US reparations for US Slavery within a “consumer economy”, Weems reminds us of why such an argument is worthy. It also exposes vulnerabilities that exist within cultural frameworks of Media Driven Racialized Fictive Kinship Obligations.

A Designation of Specificity ::: Shirley Chisholm’s Integrity & Kamala’s Pandering


Better cut off all identifying labels
Before they put you on the torture table

“Green Shirt”, Elvis Costello

Shirley Chisholm’s name has been bandied about lately. Former Conservative Prosecutor, excuse me, former San Francisco district attorney(2004-2011), Kamala Harris, may bear some responsibility for that. However, this slight resurrection of Mrs. “Unbought And Unbossed” Shirley should not in any way be regarded in a similar vein as say Alice Walker’s conjuring of Ms. Zora.

Ms. Chisholm’s reemergence into public mind space has caused me to revisit her own words and achievements. In her autobiographical work, “Unbought & Unbossed”, she writes about ancestry and constituency during her run to become representative of New York’s 12th congressional district.

In her words:

Less important than the sex issue was another undercurrent that ran against me. An inescapable fact, but one I have never liked to discuss because of the senseless bad feeling it can cause, is that a surprising number of the successful black politicians of our time are of West Indian descent. Thomas Jones, Ruth Goring, William Thompson, and I were all of Barbadian descent. State Senator Walter Stewart of Brooklyn is a Panamanian. So are many prominent blacks elsewhere in politics and the arts. In Brooklyn I have heard people grumbling for years, “They’re taking over everything.” Other black people will say, “Why don’t those monkeys get back on a banana boat?” There is a strong undercurrent of resentment, at least in New York, where most of the islanders migrated. It has never come out in the open against me, but sometimes I can sense it.

It is wrong, because the accident that my ancestors were brought as slaves to the islands while black mainland natives’ancestors were brought as slaves to the States is really not important, compared to the common heritage of black brotherhood and unity in the face of oppression that we have.But the feeling is there. One basis for it may be that in the islands, slavery was a less destructive experience than it was in the States. Families were not broken up as they were in the South. The abolition of slavery came earlier there, and with much less trouble. In the islands, there have never been the same kind of race barriers. There are class barriers, but they are not the same; race lines cut across them. As a result, I think blacks from the islands tend to have less fear of white people, and therefore less hatred of them.

They can meet whites as equals; this is harder for American blacks, who tend to overreact by jumping from feeling that whites are superior to looking down on them as inferior. Both attitudes equally isolate them from the greater society in which eventually we all have to learn to live.

“Unbought And Unbossed”, Shirley Chisholm, “Running For Congress”

Mrs. Shirley reminds us here that there are some specific differences between Blacks who are descendants of slavery in what is now referred to as the United States of America and those descended from slaves of other areas of these Americas. Her words, “I have never liked to discuss because of the senseless bad feeling it can cause”, points to a magnitude of courage and integrity not found in Kamala Harris’s Bardi B head nods, myths of marijuana clouds with Tupac and Snoop as soundtrack, or photo ops with hot sauce and soul food.

Another important sentiment addressed in above quote is Mrs. Shirley’s assessment of why US Blacks feel a need to address success of immigrant Blacks as a detriment to Our own achievements. Before I delve into that, it must be noted that Mrs. Shirley is a real one in my judgment. She is of that stock of Blacks that organized in housing projects before Jay-Z made it cool for people like Oprah to come through a Brooklyn housing project. This is not a discussion of Mrs. Shirley’s importance or character. I am having this conversation here — an extension of my thoughts I label, Black Media Trust– with her because she reminds us of how important it is to have a designation of specificity.

Continuing…

Her assessment, her analysis, of why US Black descendants of slaves feel a need to frame Black immigrants in a threatening way is biased. As it should be. As I would expect it to be. As I would not want it to be any other way coming from mind of such a strong and proud person. Mrs. Shirley is supposed to see this discussion from her perspective and stand as a representative of immigrant voice. Just as it is my role to represent a voice of those on that opposing side.

Given that understanding, what is Mrs. Shirley missing in her presentation of this dynamic? What would a Black person whose ancestry is so entrenched here in these states and its history of dividing families that they simply cannot name a specific family member that was not born in the United States say about relationship of descendants of US slavery and immigrants? Is the only group of people offering harmful and insulting words Blacks with US Slave heritage? Or is it possible that this dynamic is also represented by a disdain of US Black(descendants of US Slavery) by Black immigrants and those Blacks born here but not descendants of those mighty people that survived US Slavery in these states?

We are dealing with how Ms. Shirley presents this discussion. She suggests that this dynamic only exists as a US Black(Descendants of US Slavery) interpretation of immigrant success. It does not consider culture of Black immigrants embracing Whyte propaganda and ideological statements vis a vis US Black(Descendants of US Slavery). It does not consider this culture of Black immigrants harboring stereotypes about US Blacks(Descendants of US Slavery) as lazy, unambitious, anti-intellectual, and unwilling to engage resistance. Even her analysis bears this when she intimates, “I think blacks from the islands tend to have less fear of white people, and therefore less hatred of them…They can meet whites as equals; this is harder for American blacks, who tend to overreact by jumping from feeling that whites are superior to looking down on them as inferior.”

Her conclusion is not that Whytes power brokers have extended the same economic and social stratification initiated in US Slavery prior to the United States becoming “United States”. Her conclusion is that due to inferiority complexes, US Blacks(Descendants of US Slavery) are isolating themselves “from the greater society in which eventually we all have to learn to live.”

In conclusion, as I have written elsewhere, Black Media Trust has as a component a need to recognize when racial fictive obligations are being abused. It is my belief that comparing Kamala Harris to Shirley Chisholm is a form of this abuse. Further, Shirley Chisholm’s approach to distinctions of specificity represent her integrity and courage in stark contrast to Harris’s superficial pandering without addressing those distinctions of specificity although they exist.

Mrs. Shirley Chisholm’s acknowledgment that there are distinctions of specificity based on historical differences experienced is most important here. Despite her own understandable bias, her ability to recognize and publicly admit to these distinctions of specificity allows us to engage this discussion from a place of record and credibility.

Black Media Trust && Racial Salience ::: A Reading Of Devon W. Carbado and Mitu Gulati’s “Acting White”

…there is a…subtle speech dynamic that disadvantages outsiders in the workplace: what an outsider says in the workplace can confirm or negate stereotypes of that outsider and make that outsider more or less racially salient. The talking white dynamic is not just about speaking with a certain accent; it is also about the content of what we say. Under this formulation of talking white, anything an African American says that has the potential to minimize the extent to which others perceive her to be black is “talking white.” On the flipside, anything she says that increases the extent to which others perceive her to be black is “talking black.” Within majority-white workplaces, talking white is more advantageous to an employee than talking black. This creates an incentive for black employees to work their speech so as to reduce the likelihood that their co-workers and managers will perceive what they say as talking black.


“Acting White?: Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America,” Devon W. Carbado and Mitu Gulati, pg 48

UCLA Law professor, Devon Carbado writes above quoted passage from his 2013 book, “Acting White?: Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America”. This is not my first reading of this particular book. This particular passage, however, strikes an accord with my present notions of Black Media Trust.

One aspect of Black Media Trust is its approach to racialized fictive kinship in global and local scopes. Specifically, we are mostly interested in how Blacks feel a sense of obligation, guilt, or shame when watching, hearing, or otherwise engaging images or voices of other Blacks. Black Media Trust seeks to expose and deter how this sense is manipulated by ruling parties for political or economic gains. 

As this above quote suggests, how US Blacks speak in workplace environments is not solely a subject of accent and dialect. Ideological positions and ideas associated with Blackness can also work to classify Black behavior as, well, “Black”. This particular observation concerns us here because media happens in workplaces. 

Black Media Trust attempts to address when and where Blackness is allowed, and for what purposes. If audiences who impact advertising budgets determine a particular behavior set and contextual set to signal Blackness, it is important to understand why it was allowed. Why is Blackness as a conversational artifact allowed in spaces where Blackness is frowned upon and Whyteness is a status symbol? 

Which Blacks are not so racially salient as to offend Whyte sensibilities enough to be representatives of US Blacks in this present neoliberal project?

Indoctrination & Democratic Ticket

“They get all the Negro vote, and after they get it, the Negro gets nothing in return. All they did when they got to Washington was give a few big Negroes big jobs. Those big Negroes didn’t need big jobs, they already had jobs. That’s camouflage, that’s trickery, that’s treachery, window-dressing. I’m not trying to knock out the Democrats for the Republicans, we’ll get to them in a minute. But it is true — you put the Democrats first and the Democrats put you last.
Look at it the way it is. What alibis do they use, since they control Congress and the Senate? What alibi do they use when you and I ask, “Well, when are you going to keep your promise?” They blame the Dixiecrats. What is a Dixiecrat? A Democrat. A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise. The titular head of the Democrats is also the head of the Dixiecrats because the Dixiecrats are a part of the Democratic Party. The Democrats have never kicked the Dixiecrats out of the party. The Dixiecrats bolted themselves once, but the Democrats didn’t put them out. Imagine, these lowdown Southern segregationists put the Northern Democrats down. But the Northern Democrats have never put the Dixiecrats down. No, look at that thing the way it is. They have got a con game going on, a political con game, and you and I are in the middle. It’s time for you and me to wake up and start looking at it like it is, and trying to understand it like it is; and then we can deal with it like it is.”

Malcolm X(April 3, 1964), “Ballot Or The Bullet”

As of late, I have been reading through a few essays in Yale Review’s October 2018 volume . According to its typographic cover design and table of contents, this is its ‘Propaganda’ issue. As a student of communications and a practitioner of what we refer to around these parts as “GodFare”, I indulged my Self some. 

Within those pages, I found an interesting paragraph that I wish to quote at length for you here.


…sometimes manipulating beliefs, via propaganda or otherwise, is not necessary for the purposes of controlling action. The S.S. leader Heinrich Himmler noted that education in the concentration camps “consists of discipline, never of any kind of instruction on an ideological basis.” While Himmler’s stated rationale for the relative dearth of propaganda in the camps invoked an article of his particular racial ideology–that those interned were constitutionally incapable of receiving doctrine–the strategy can easily be understood purely in terms of cold political efficiency; there is no need to alter the beliefs of those whose actions are already subject to total physical domination. In the United States, mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement have worked to minimize the power of black Americans as a constituency in electoral politics since tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests were done away with. In jurisdictions particularly affected by these policies, racist law-and-order propaganda needn’t be nuanced to capture the vote of the currently or formerly incarcerated, because these Americans can’t pull the lever for anyone. Once again, altering beliefs is rendered unnecessary, this time because the criminal justice system has already so severely constrained a class of people’s political actions.    


Megan Hyska, “Of Martyrs and Robots: Propaganda and Group Identity”(https://yalereview.yale.edu/martyrs-and-robots)

Some might flinch at such a direct comparison of Nazi Germany to present United States of America, OWL applauds it. I am not sleeping on what could be an edgy conservative attack on Democratic Party by Northwest University Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Megan Hyska. In fact, I applaud it more for what it could be in that regard.

US Blacks have for decades been what Iceberg Slim might refer to as  “bottom bytch” of Democratic Party’s electoral machinery. This position extends beyond partisan divisions into a dangerous strand of identity politics. It is a definitive characteristic of US Blacks to vote for Democratic Party. It is such an identifying characteristic that Democratic Party supporters and candidates need not cater to US Blacks via their positions and policy promises, only by asking US Blacks to vote. It is taken for granted whom they will vote for, just chastise them about voting because it is a guarantee they will sign off on an entire Democratic ticket.

Not only is this a definitive aspect of US Black character, this  has become a tradition of blind loyalty punishable by ostracizing and public ridicule. Regardless of policy sins committed by key figures of Democratic Party membership, US Blacks have remained faithful. Like an abusive intimate partner, figures such as Barry Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and her hubby, Bill Clinton justify their past attacks and stereotyping of US Blacks.  

Joe Biden Not Ashamed Of 1994 Crime Bill

Joe Biden’s crime bill under former United States President Bill Clinton aided in creating an uptick of US Black Male incarceration rates greater than both of his predecessors, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton On “Superpredators”(1996)

Hillary Clinton praised her husband’s efforts. She specifically admonished his adding hundreds of thousands of state enforcement agents to US Black communities. She referred to young Black Males as “superpredators”, thus reinforcing racist US propaganda used to stereotype Black Males in this nation as violent animals.

Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Party mayor of Chicago, Illinois, has been accused of pushing US Blacks out of their communities. Emanuel closed 50 schools in US Black communities of Chicago — a historic national feat. 

While we could scrutinize entire 2009 Obama Cabinet staff here, I will save that for another date. This article has shown that Democratic Party has been able to use models of representation to manipulate very group of people they propagandize against. Alice Walker advised us that we need to see our craft performed by those that look like our Selves. Yet, this Democratic Party ploy has only enslaved, not enriched our lives.

Jared Ball’s Hip Hop Nation ::: Readings Of A Mixtape Manifesto

It is difficult for me to enjoy US media. Especially US media that has been highly touted as representing US Blacks. In fact, I enjoy a predominantly Whyte productions more. This could be a factor of 1930s popular psychology frameworks like “self-hate”. I personally sum it up as being tired of watching other Blacks worship representation that never amounts to more than symbols.

 

In his “Die Nigger Die”, H. Rap Brown discusses “self-hate” from a perspective that is more praxis and less manipulative rhetoric. He makes a statement that US Blacks are “exposed to this country’s strongest institutions every day.” This exposure is not just programming from educational systems as H. Rap Brown addresses, but also from USA’s deeply entrenched media system.

 

That media entrenchment is not limited to presentations of Whyte USA, but also employs US Blacks and Afrikans of various nations to spread its messaging. This media system does not have to invent new forms of culture, as Jared Ball suggests in his work, “I Mix What I Like: A Mixtape Manifesto”, it only has to usurp and invade less empowered cultures.

 

In chapter’s one first section entitled,’The Colonized Rhythm Nation,’ Jared Ball sets out to frame Hip Hop culture as a language and collection of artifacts worthy of designating its practitioners as a nation. He is not framing all US Blacks as citizens of this “nation”. Much of his usage of this framing is not to lift Hip Hop itself to a status, per se. His embrace of this framing of nationhood beyond territorial identifiers(land) is more to show Corporate America’s imperialist/colonialist prowess.

 

This is demonstrated in his own words when he writes:

 

The United States is often referred to as an “empire,” just as an ever expanding community engaged in various aspects of its elements is often referred to as a “hip-hop nation.” But too rarely are the two concepts appropriately related. That is, if this nation is indeed an empire, it then proceeds from and is itself engaged in imperialism, or “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory.” Empire is also a “relationship, formal or informal, in which one state controls the effective political sovereignty of another political society,” and this can be arrived at “by force, by political collaboration, by economic, social, or cultural dependence. Imperialism is simply the process or policy of establishing or maintaining an empire.” And as an empire, its relationship to its own citizens and certainly other nations is one of colonialism. Empires create colonies, externally and internally as well. Within the U.S., whether Indigenous, Black, or Latino or the more popular, politically safer, and less racially-specific “hip-hop nation,” all exist more as internal colonies as opposed to free and equal citizens. And therefore, interpreting them as such, while challenging to conventional wisdom, is far more appropriate.

“I Mix What I Like: A Hip Hop Manifesto”, Jared Ball, chapter one

 

Father of Two, and Communications Scholar(*smiles*), Jared Ball presents a set of answers that also raised a few questions for me. I am one of those late seventies babies that embraced music as a lifestyle. Living in St.Louis, Missouri in 1980s meant you got your hip hop as an imported product. I heard Dana Dane over a dubbed cassette made by downstairs neighbor in our complex hallway when he came back from visiting his family on summer vacation. I sat outside Streetside Records while my older friends purchased cassettes with stickers that prevented me from purchasing directly. When me and a cadre of close childhood comrades came late to an EPMD signing at Vintage Vinyl in U City’s Loop, I ran up to their van and got an autographed poster anyway. Even in our adulthood, going out to concerts showcasing artists from Doug E. Fresh to Rick Rozzay casted lifelong friendship into memory. If there is a Hip Hop Nation, I am one of its indigenous natives.

 

That particular distinction does come with a set of defenses related to my dislike of much US Black media. Whenever a scathing critique of Black Twitter makes its viral rounds, those of us most associated with that labeling begin to question who is Black Twitter. In that same vein, I often question exactly who makes up this Hip Hop Nation that Jared Ball points to. Ever since I was younger, like pre-teens younger, there has been a going separation of hip hop fans and hip hop artists. That framework rests on a label of either “hip hop” or “rap.” A silly distinction that almost never explicates that most of Hip Hop post-1970s is commercially driven.

 

This defensive posture is probably mostly a result of Hip Hop’s enjoyment factor. Many will argue that Hip Hop stands as a vehicle for social messaging. This I do not disagree with, however, Hip Hop is party music. Hip Hop is a good time. Like much organic or grassroot artistic expression, it weaves a socially pleasurable technique with an awareness of social climate and texture. It is not Hip Hop’s fault that sex is as pleasurable an act to engage in as it is one to discuss over an 808 bass heavy beat. It is not Hip Hop’s fault that violence attracts our attention like a train wreck. Whatever commerical factors Hip Hop succumbs to, those elements most pointed out to distance one artistic expression from another have always existed in Hip Hop’s more nascent moments.

 

It is not Hip Hop’s commercial appeal, however, that makes it a target for usurpation. It is Hip Hop as a cultural artifict of a group of people that cannot defend it from outside Corporate interests that makes it an interesting resource. Jared Ball describes this dynamic when he states:

 

Empires do not deal with equally sovereign nations or citizens. Empires reduce nations (those both exterior and interior to themselves) to satellite client-states, which do not contain equally free sovereign people but at best “citizen-subjects” who, even when born into a “first world” setting, are met by the “intersections of race, culture, sex, gender, class, and social powers [that] are already locating in order to provide a particular space to hold [them].” This allows for appearances of “freedom” where “good citizens” unconsciously “replicate the social order and its hierarchizations, usually without the necessary imposition of directly brutal state force.”

“I Mix What I Like: A Hip Hop Manifesto”, Jared Ball, chapter one

 

What Jared Ball cleverly, if not brilliantly, maps for us here is that relationship between extremely powerful entities and their only so powerful global neighbors. I do agree with some academics that Black Nationalist embrace of internal colony framing presents a few cavaets. What Jared Ball is doing, however, is presenting concrete and historically objective relationships beyond their abstract labelings. As he argues in this chapter, there are no land based distinctions for Empires, only rulers and resources. Whatever we call Hip Hop purists and fans, it is essential to understand that our cultural artifacts have been used because they are valuable. As an analysis, there are not many working frameworks outside of studies of settler and indigenous native that map well.

 

Jared Ball continues along this similar trajectory of thought:

 

[…]regardless of whether we embark upon an analysis of rap music, or the entire “hip-hop nation,” as being “located within a continuum of black cultural movements including the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s” or “through an evolution of African American musical production, with the blues, jazz, and R&B as its predecessors” or “mapped diasporically as a point of convergence for African polyrhythms, Brazilian capoeira, and Jamaican sound systems,” what cannot be avoided in any case is that it emerged as part of a pre-existing, and global, imperial process of colonization that had long been in full swing.69 The hip-hop nation is a colonized extension of a predating and continuing colonialism that engulfs its progenitors and governs still the process and necessity of the theft of soul or the grossest forms of distortion of communication.

“I Mix What I Like: A Hip Hop Manifesto”, Jared Ball, chapter one

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In “Life, Inc”, Douglas Rushkoff places capitalism along a historical trajectory with Royal commercial charters. These charters were crafted, not for growth of “free markets”, but so that powerful families could control how domestic markets were controlled, and how foreign resources where exploited. In many ways, Jared Ball envelopes elements of Black USA under a term that can explain developments similar to what Rushkoff attempts to point at. It is less about Hip Hop, more about domestic or indigenous resources being exploited and exported for gains garnered by elite powers.