December 01 – Volume 2 # 12
My beloved New York Yankees heartbreaking defeat in the World Series was not my only recent disappointment, although that will cut deep for years to come.
I was also disappointed and shocked when a friend of mine told me that over 70 percent of African-Americans polled in a recent survey agreed with profiling people of Arab descent.
“Not my people,” I thought to myself. Not the ones who have been targeted by police for ages, beaten and killed by them for no other reason than the color of their skin.
Not those who have to accept undo harassment as a way of black existence, whether a broke cat like me or a wealthy celebrity like Lenny Kravitz who got harassed down in Florida a few months back because he “fit the description.”
Certainly this couldn’t be true, I thought. Not of a people who have seen first-hand the result of systematic profiling and targeting, as a generation has been lost to the nation’s prisons. Prisons that make big municipal dollars.
A common justification for profiling blacks has been that we statistically commit the most crimes. It is, after all, black and Latino people that are disproportionately poor, providing them greater incentive to commit crime.
“I don’t have to be as careful around whites because I know 90 percent of the time down here, they have a lot of money,” said my liberal, white South African “comrade” a few weeks back.
His statement is right and exact and perfectly rationale. Hell, even Jesse Jackson said he walks faster when he sees one of us behind him at night.
However, all of that is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that in recent weeks I’ve seen our president and millions of other flag-waving patriots talk so much about how free our society is and how this war is being fought to ensure that the freedom of all people in the “civilized world” is protected.
In theory, all people are to be treated equally before the law. When you begin to say it’s ok to infringe on one group’s rights, whose rights are ever safe?
Black people have seen the results of such stereotyping on so many levels. It’s disgraceful that so many of us would welcome seeing another group suffer such injustice.
Mr. Bush also recently announced that any non-citizen that he deemed a terrorist would be subject to a secret trial and have no right to appeal. We’d be crying out against human rights violations if this happened to an American citizen somewhere abroad.
Attorney-General John Ashcroft also passed a law that will allow for eavesdropping on suspects private conversations with their attorneys. Whose to say that one day the government won’t say it’s ok for them to listen in your phone calls and read through your e-mail – in the interest of national security of course.
I do understand that the actions on September 11 were extreme, and call for extreme measures to be taken by the government to prevent it from happening again.
However, these measures are likely to catch a lot of innocent people in the crossfire and could cause the loss of many of the freedoms we claim to hold so dear.
Then 30-40 years from now, they’ll try and right the wrong in the old American way – by buying it in millions worth of reparations like they did the Japanese-Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II.
America should be extra secure and cautious, but of everyone, not just Arabs.
As I said before, America has made enemies in far more than just the Arab world. For example, while much is still unknown, many are sayng that the anthrax scare was likely perpetrated domestically by some right-wing militia group or something.
The government should be able to provide sufficient security for its citizens, enabling them to live and travel safely without violating the rights of anyone, but particularly some Arab-Americans who would be unduly harassed or isolated.
A lot of money is being spent on this war and more lives are being lost in the name of peace, liberty and justice for all.
America has consistently not put these ideals into practice for all of its citizens. It’s a shame that 70 pecent of my people -at least those polled- think that this should continue.
Peace and God bless.
November 01 – Volume 2 # 11
“Why do they hate us?”
And you thought it was just the Middle East as CNN would have you believe.
No sir, here in South Africawhere I’m staying currently, they hate America as well.
And I don’t mean an agitation or a mild dislike, I mean downright bitter hatred.
Before leaving the States a little over a week after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I often heard shocked, frightened and disillusioned Americans asking, “Why do they hate us?”
My stay here in Cape Town is giving me some insight into why.
I mean you look at TV and listen to radio here and America is everywhere, all up in your face. I’ve seen more American movies and heard more music over here than I did at the crib. I’ve actually been brought up to date over here.
As a result many here are picking up some of the worst moral aspects of American culture. Our drugs, violence, greed, corruption, eroding family values, detachment from the community, disrespect for women, disrespect for elders, disrespect for life.
Cats are abandoning their traditional African garments and are wearing New York Yankee hats (can’t blame them for that, but still). Randy Moss jerseys. Michigan State t-shirts. Nike. Tommy. Gap. Etc.
Their streets are littered with Kentucky Fried Chickens, 7-Elevens and McDonalds.
I even saw a cartoon on national television here devoted to AMERICAN history. We don’t even have those on OUR broadcast networks.
Our money goes so far over here where even a starving student like myself can live in relative comfort. Yet it is impossible for many here to come to the other side of the Atlantic because their money loses an absurd amount of its value the moment they leave African shores.
Those here in South Africa that are conscious about these problems are angry about it. Particularly when they see such mass marketing ofAmerica and Africa is still often portrayed by the West as being a backwards jungle filled with conflict, political turmoil, famine and disease.
It’s the young people I’ve spoken with here who have been particularly vocal about their hatred for the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And after being here for a month I can see where they’re coming from. These boys and girls grew up in the last days of the evil apartheid era.
They remember how when the rest of the world was putting pressure on South Africa to end apartheid, the American government sat quietly.
And while American industrial dollars were funding the oppression of black folks under apartheid, they see U.S. politicians today having the nerve to talk shit about Chinese human rights issues.
Yeah these 20 and 30 somethings over here; as well as their peers in the Middle East, Asia, Central America and South America; have seen American and European businesses making a fortune off of natural resources from their country (oil, coffee, diamonds, gold, cocaine, etc).
Then they’ve looked around and not only are their lands depleted of many of these resources -sometimes never to be replenished- but the people around them are still poor and sick.
Hell,3-4-5hundred years of this kinda stuff can make anybody’s temperture rise more than a little bit.
In similar fashion the history of black folks in America has caused many of us to hate.
Not too long ago I was among them.
As I looked at the condition of my life and the condition of other people in black and poor communities. As I reflected on lynchings, rapes, police shootings, assassinations, wrongful imprisonments, kidnappings and stolen identities at the hands of America, an intense hatred grew in me.
But as I grew older, saw more things and came in contact with different people who have had a profound impact on me, I underwent a bit of a metamorphosis.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a rage against the machine as I believe it perpetuates inequality, but I was doing little productive to change things with my hate.
I decided to channel my energy towards more progressive means. My hate eroded under a tidal wave of love for the oppressed.
I hear Bin Laden and his boys talk about their support for Palestine and the citizens of Iraq.
But if Bin Laden is in fact behind the attacks on theWorld Trade Center, he would have done the Palestinian and Iraqi people a horrible disservice.
Rather than investing human and economic resources, as well as that most valuable of resources – time, into plotting how to demonically TAKE lives, why not use that energy to try and SAVE those who are dying in Baghdad and the West Bank.
Ultimately, I don’t believe that anyone can maintain over the long haul in a military battle with the U.S.
America’s been killing folks since they got here and ain’t stopped yet. We do it better than anybody in the world. That’s how America got so powerful in the first place.
I hope that my brothas and sistas here in the Motherland are not overcome by hate. If their history is any indication, I’m sure they will not fall prey to the vulture of hatred.
I sit in absolute amazement at how this country was able to make a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy in 1994, here in this country of 75 percent black people (90 percent if you do like me and count the lighter skinned people who list themselves as coloured on their census forms – which is a whole ‘nother story in itself).
That they were able to have dialogue rather than war in this country that had been controlled by whites for so long is one of the great miracles in the history of mankind.
A love for life, freedom and equality overcame the hatred that had kept them oppressed for generations in their own country.
It is my hope that love can be the final victor in the current world conflict as hate has been winning the battle long enough throughout the world’s history.
Peace and God bless.
October 01 – Volume 2 # 10
It took me flying thousands of miles toParis and a thousand more toCape Town to finally collect my thoughts about the recent tragedy in the States.
First off, allow me to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the plane crash. The victims and their families are in our prayers in enduring this horriffic event.
Since this tragedy, that is unparallelled in American history, there have been a wide range of emotions. Shock. Depression. Anger. Grief. Uncertainty.
Many have recieved a jolt of patriotism and want to see swift and immediate reaction. “Bomb the bastards” and “kill ’em all” have been some of the quotes I’ve heard.
In these uncertain times there is little room for such reactionary, knee-jerking rhetoric. It is this very kind of idealism that has made America a target, hated by many throughout the world, in the first place.
The action taken on September 11 was extreme, but American foreign policy helped in many ways to plant the seeds for the attack – a fact many Americans either have not considered or are not informed about.
In its facscination with Sadaam Hussein, the U.S. has imposed embargos that have done little harm to Hussein, but has strarved thousands of impoverished Iraqi citizens. A similar embargo has affected the poor in Cuba.
The U.S. has funded the slaughter of many Palestinian children as they provide the overwhelming majority of Israel’s weapons.
And in the chase for the almighty dollar the U.S. has lead the globalization movement that has often benefitted many American and European companies, but often has stripped developing nations of resources and culture.
As was written in these pages, just last month the U.S.refused to attend talks in South Africa to address potential human rights violations, a dispicable act in these times where dialogue is needed far more than war.
Our fascination with weapons of mass destruction during the Reagan 80s armed America to obliterate any nation in the world in the event of a nuclear conflict, preparation that served little purpose on September 11 and is likely to play a smaller role in the battle ahead.
It was during this climax of the Cold War that the CIA helped train Osama Bin Laden to fight off the Soviet Union during its invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. prioritized battles on these fronts while millions were suffering from the crack epidemic, AIDS and poverty back home.
How ironic it was to see this mentality come back to hunt the U.S. in a most frightening display.
September 11 was another episode in an extensive saga of terror and death. Perhaps now it’s time to take a different approach and time to deal with these issues that fuel hatred for America before they manifest.
One truism about tragedies is that they often bring out some of the best parts of human nature. This was certainly true of the attacks on September 11.
There was the courage of the firemen and the police officers rushing into the World Trade Center. People put away their petty differences and united as Americans in ways I have never seen.
Let us hope that this is the future of America and not just a reaction during a moment of crisis.
I have heard a lot of talk about the attack being an attack on the American way of life: freedom, democracy, equal rights and all that.
However, for many in this land of the brave, that has not been the reality of American existence. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, homosexuals, and women just to name a few.
Hopefully this horrible tragedy will make us realize we have a lot more in common than we do different and that we need each other a lot more than we think.
Another thing that is encouraging is that it has created a renewed sense of interest in the world around us.
Many Americans probably didn’t know Afghanistan existed, or where it was, 30 days ago. While we were counting our money during the boom 90s and the media was feeding us a steady diet of O.J., Monica and Elian, there was lot going on in the world that we thought didn’t matter to us.
It’s a shame that it took horriffic events for us to realize that what happens in these remote spots DOES affect us.
As citizens of the world we have to take notice of what’s going on, and while it was tragic what happened on the 11th, recognize that in many parts of the world – hell, in many ghettos USA- violence is a part of everyday life.
After seeing it so vividly, so close to home, my hope is thatAmerica will not continue to turn a blind eye to violence and destruction wherever it may be. Whether lower Manhattan or Jerusalem or Johannesburg. Northern Ireland or the Robert Taylor projects.
Wherever someone is suffering we should all suffer and weep for their losses.
One of the main things we learned on that day in September is how valuable and precious life is. Let us cherish it all over the planet. Let’s take more time to be more human to one another. To respect one another. To love one another.
Doing this could go a long way towards avoiding any similar acts.
Peace and God bless.
9 – eleven
September 01 – Volume 2 # 9
For the longest time (much like I was about O.J. long before and after the trial) I was slightly indifferent about Colin Powell. Sure, I don’t necessarily agree with his right-of-center politics, but I attribute that to his military background and thought he seemed like a nice guy nonetheless.
And he got some props from his speech at last year’s Republican National Convention where he defended affirmative action, saying, “We must understand the cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly heard a whimper from them over affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax codes with preferences for special interests.”
Colin showed great courage in making such a statement at a national forum like that. This made it all the more disappointing when he recently cowardly followed the party line in supporting President Bush’s decision for the U.S. to boycott the U.N Conference on Racism and Xenophobia.
For those who don’t know, the United States, this beacon of democracy and free speech, decided not to attend this historic conference to be held in Durbin, South Africa from August 31 until September 7 because American diplomats were not happy over a couple of the topics to be discussed.
One topic involved Zionism and pondering the question of whether or notIsrael’s occupation of Palestine is racist. In support of their allies inIsrael, and the large Jewish population in the U.S., Bush decided not to attend.
The larger point that made the compassionate conservative unhappy, however, was that the question of reparations for American slavery was going to be discussed at the conference as well.
The move for reparations for African-Americans has picked up steam over the years thanks to the likes of Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Jr. and Chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman bringing the question into the public consciousness.
I feel quite certain that despite reparations being paid to other communities such as Holocaust survivors, some descendents of Native-Americans and Japanese placed in American war camps during World War II, black people in America will never see a penny of any form of reparations, just like we haven’t received our40 acres.
Nonetheless, one would think that there should at least be some dialogue about it which is all the conference was going to be about. Talking, not necessarily taking a stance on the issue one way or the other.
Not pointing fingers or anything, but having an intelligent, informed discussion that all parties could take part in so we as a nation, and a world, could move on. A discussion that could help us avoid the problems of the past that we continue to foolishly repeat.
President Bush, however, chose to do what America has always done when it comes to issues of race in this country; sweep it under the rug, turn a blind eye to it, act like there really is no problem at all. It’s a huge sign of disrespect to black America, and all Americans who sincerely want to heal the wounds of the past.
Perhaps black folks do merit some kind of reparations, perhaps we do not. Perhaps there is no racism subconsciously involved inIsrael’s policies, perhaps there is. That’s for you to decide as individuals.
However, we can all agree that with black people continuing to feel the ill affects of slavery, and numbers of Palestinian and Israeli children continuing to die in the Middle East, these issues merit some discussion.
It’s disappointing that our nation’s leaders seem to disagree that these things are worthy of talking about. I guess it’s even more disappointing that these are our nation’s leaders. Peace and God bless.
August 01 – Volume 2 # 8
One must always be very leary of all these different polls they have nowadays, the networks gave us proof of that during the election last November.
But if one takes seriously a recently released a Gallup Poll on perceptions of race in modern America, there is cause for concern.
America has a lengthy legacy of racism (and all types of other -isms) and the numbers taken from the poll does not paint a promising picture for change. For a problem can not be solved if people don’t realize it exists.
According to the poll, large numbers of white folks don’t see much of a racial problem at all. Here are some numbers from the poll that stood out to me:
•85 percent of whites feel that black children have as good a chance as white children to get a good education. 52 percent of blacks feel that way.
•83 percent of whites feel that blacks could get any housing they could afford. 48 percent of blacks feel that way.
•69 percent of whites feel blacks are treated the same as whites in America. 41 percent of blacks feel that way.
•35 percent of whites feel that blacks are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with police. 66 percent of blacks feel this way.
These perceptions of what it’s like to be black in America make it seem almost like we’re living on two different planets. And while numbers do lie, my own personal experience is inclined to rate the white percentages as too low and the black ones too high.
If these numbers are even remotely accurate that would be unfortunate. But it should also make those of us (black and white) who are aware of what W.E.B. DuBois called “the problem of the color line” that much more aggressive in trying to do our part in permanently erasing that line.
Sometimes I fear that maybe I deal too much with issues of race and socio-economics. But seeing numbers like these, and the thought that they could potentially represent some truth, reminds me that this is a subject that needs to be addressed until the issue of race no longer merits discussion.
Until blacks stop getting denied home loans simply because they are black. Until black men stop getting pulled over by 5-0 simply because they are black.
And for those 65 percent who aren’t aware that these things happen everyday, it’s my job, and yours, to make enough Noyze so they hear what’s going on.
Peace and God bless.
July 01 – Volume 2 # 7
Making An Ass Out of U and Me
Presently I’m making Noyze in the District of Columbia. I’ll be out here a few months doing a residency reporting on Capitol Hill and what not.
It’s tight. It’s a beautiful city. The monuments are phat. Hot as “all get out” like my girl Kim would say. Has a nice vibe to it overall.
No matter where ya’ at though some things seem to always be the same: The black man is often treated like a second-class citizen.
Most times in subtle ways, but my experience with the D.C. taxicabs has been pretty blatant.
On several occassions I have been passed up for cabs in my short time here. None was worst than when I tried to wave one down after going grocery shopping one day.
I had like six or seven bags so I couldn’t step it although I didn’t live that far away.
I waved only to get passed by like the Pharcyde as they came from all directions. For the most part it was my own people treating me like a second class citizen. A few times I even saw a few of them laughing at me, like it was all some childlike game.
Afer a while, a brotha in his car, who was witnessing it all said, “Hey man you betta call them cause they AIN’T gone stop.”
He was about right so I started to call when a cab began to pull up at the light.
I flagged him down just for the hell of it when, to my surprise, he stopped. He even held up traffic as he got out of his car to help me get my stuff.
He tried to calm me down as I yelled out a succession of explicitives about his taxi brethren, and eternal thanks to him.
When we got in the car he explained to me that cabby owners like himself paid a lot of money per month for their cab and hence they gotta make that money by getting tips from the “big fish.”
I asked him how did people know whether or not I was a big fish, to which he responded, “I’ve been around a long time and you ain’t no big fish.”
I told him it wasn’t fair for people to deduct that just by looking at me. True, I was wearing shorts and a phat ass Illanoyze t-shirt, but still.
I told him Snoop or Allen Iverson could be out waiting for a cab dressed that same way and “they certainly are big fish.”
He acknowledged that, but said for the most part, “we don’t be having money like they do.”
That was true indeed, as it was that I wasn’t a big fish. It’s just that you shouldn’t make assumptions about a person just by looking at them.
Besides, it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to pay for my service which is another thing I think factored into my disses. What was I gonna do, run out the cab like Appolonia in the beginning of “Purple Rain” with seven grocery bags?”
As we rode on, and my temperature began to cool, he said, “you know the system makes it where you almost have to be like that. Everything is about money.”
I said, “that’s the problem with the world, people need to start making some Noyze against the system.”
Peace and God bless,
June 01 – Volume 2 # 6
For the last several years, all anyone heard was how horrible the NBA was. How the league wasn’t the same since MJ retired. How the new kids had no respect and love for the game.
A lot of that has been warranted as we see baller after baller getting hemmed up for domestic abuse or a DUI. We have seen selfish individuals leave teams-on-the-rise so he could be the man.
But the NBA’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. Anyone who has watched this year’s playoffs can’t front on that.
These kids can truly play, and for all the glory of the era of Mike, Patrick, Hakeem, David, Karl, GP, Isiah, Magic, Bird, Doc, etc., there has never been the overall talent level throughout the league like there is now.
One need look no further than the position once manned by MJ, two-guard, to see this.
While attempts to elevate Kobe to rare Air are way too premature, dude is very dangerous. He’s the best all-around player in the NBA. It was ridiculous the way he dunked on Duncan and Robinson like me and my brother were in the paint. And the scary part is that with all this talent, Kobe is only 22.
The shootout in the East in round two between “Half-Man, Half-Amazing” and “The Answer” was one for the ages, plus the series itself was high-drama.
Then after hearing all this talk about Allen, Vince, and Kobe; Ray Allen put his smack down in the conference finals. Dude really does have game.
And all this has happened since the incomparable Tracy McGrady went home for the summer to refine his already polished game.
Talent like this is good for the game, it’s had people talking in barber shops and over sessions. “Did you see what Kobe did yesterday?”” “Is that nigga Vince sick or what?”
And while there was absolutely no question who the best player in the league was between 1990 and 1998 (you could argue Magic in the early Mike years), there is room for debate nowadays. And what’s really dope is that these kids play the game the right way.
Allen Iverson, for example, long a symbol of what’s wrong with the NBA, is now one of its shining lights. Not only because he makes a ton of money for David Stern, but because he leaves it all on the floor, because he plays hurt and still plays with no fear, because he’s worked to improve himself on and off the floor, because he worked to make his teammates better, because you can see how badly he wants to win. Just like some of the old-time greats who we romanticize.
What was really wrong with the NBA wasn’t the so-called lack of character or passion for the game at all. At least not in my mind.
The media didn’t like all the cornrows, tattoos and do-rags. It wanted that clean-cut, boy-next-door image of MJ, Karl Malone and David Robinson.
Everything goes in cycles and the NBA is no different. In the late 1970s the NBA’s image was suffering as it was thought to be “too black.” Dr. J, one of the greatest ambassadors to the game of all time, trimmed his classic afro to shake some of his early negative images.
They thought that guys like Doc and George Gervin symbolized a game that was becoming more focused on looking good than winning. A game focused more on form than substance. This sounds eerily familiar.
Doc proved all this to be hogwash by doing his thing on the court. And that’s what these young guns have done in this year’s playoffs.
Iverson is not Jordan. Just like Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins and George Gervin weren’t Bill Russell, Jerry West and George Mikan. But none loved the game any less and none failed to contribute in their own way and help the game to grow.
So to will these young men of the NBA’s hip-hop generation. We should respect them for their unique contributions to the game we grew up loving, and our kids will love it because of them.
Peace and God bless,
May 01 – Volume 2 # 5
The word in various circles nowadays is that I have a nasty mouth.
I can’t deny it. It’s true indeed. We all have our flaws, and an overuse of profanity happens to be one of my many vices.
For the most part, it’s never really been a big deal as I trade unspeakables with fellow potty-mouthers.
But as I make noyze I must be ever more conscious of my every breath, move and step or else my own mortal weaknesses will cause my noyze to quickly grow silent.
This is in reference to my use of a couple of four-letter, one-syllable words in my biography. There was well-grounded fear that such a public representation of myself could put the company in a bad light.
My parents were so disappointed in me that they wanted their names removed from it if I didn’t take the swears out. They feel that I am not being representative of the way I was raised and didn’t want to be associated with such behavior.
Also, I have often spoke of how -despite what Charles Barkley may say- those athletes, rappers and movie-stars we see are role models. It’s not right, really. Parents should be role models, but like it or not, that’s the way it is. And to that end, these so-called celebrities do have a certain degree of responsibility for their actions for those who watch them and often imitate their every move.
If our young company can get to the level I hope God blesses it to, I and my people could be in the public eye quite frequently. We have to watch what we do now so we can set a good example for the babies. Man, if only four shorties come in contact with our vision we want things to be tight.
All of these are points well taken, but I was not for one moment swayed to make any edits.
Perhaps this was subconsciously due to some degree of prideful stubbornness, but largely due to the defining principle of what Illanoyze is all about.
Illanoyze is about making noyze for who you are, rather than having somebody tell you what noyze to make. To be able to have your own individual voice, rather than one that has been programmed for you.
My bio was a personal thing, an introspection. I invited y’all to have a seat in the family room of my soul. When I’m in class in Evanston I talk perfect English and articulate pretty clearly I believe. When I’m talking to my boy Jamaal’s mother I am courteous, respectful and polite.
However, when I invite some old friends over to my spot and I got my shoes and socks off, chillin, listening to Digable Planets, and shootin’ the breeze, somewhere in there a profanity or two is bound to come out.
That’s me in my essence, in my element. That’s who I am, warts and all.
I wanted my bio to show the truest representation of who I am. I’m a guy who isn’t very patient. A guy who could be a little more sensitive and tactful. A guy who can be a little too uptight sometimes. A guy who curses too much.
But that’s who I am, and I can’t compromise that. I cannot allow others to define the barriers of right and wrong for me.
They say it’s wrong to shack-up. They say it’s wrong to be pro choice. They say it’s wrong to be pro black. They say it’s wrong to have interracial or homosexual relationships. They say it’s wrong to be a Muslim or Hebru. They say it’s wrong to listen to Hip Hop.
Illanoyze is about making noyze against they and them. Making noyze against being defined or labeled by someone other than yourself and God.
I say that so long as an individual is doing what makes him or her happy, and they’re not interfering with someone else’s happiness, then live and let live. That, of course, means that you can’t just go around shooting people if that makes you happy.
I didn’t think I was doing any harm with my bio, that was just me being me. That being said, I do have a responsibility to present this company in the best possible light and to consider the feelings of all our potential supporters.
For that reason I apologize to whomever I offended and will make every effort to clean up my mouth in the future. I swear on it.
Peace and God bless.
April 01 – Volume 2 # 4
In the old days they would look at the 21st century and picture us as having space cars and shit like that. We haven’t gotten quite there yet, but man has made many strides as technology has allowed us more luxuries than ever before.
It ain’t all good though as De La would say. All these gadgets have caused us to lose a little bit of our humanity. A story one of my old professors told me recently really makes this hit home.
He was searching for a computer part so he called the company to try and order it. So he called and of course got one of those computerized operators. You know that say, “Press 1 for customer service, Press 2 for Personnel, Press 3 for more help, etc.”
So he presses customer service and a computer tells him to wait for a few minutes. He needs the part, so even though he is hella busy, he must wait and wait and wait.
Finally, the operator, I mean the computer returns from a coffee break or whatever computerized operators do while they have us on hold, and tells him he’ll be charged an automatic $25 for a service charge.
Again, he needs the part, so even though he hasn’t talked to anyone, he is compelled to give his credit card info to the computer and then once again is put on hold.
He waits and waits, then waits some more, before he is transferred to another computer who tells him to wait some more. Finally, he gets to talk to a computer, or rather listen to a computer, give him a list of different parts. Halfway through the list, they are suddenly disconnected and my professor is left without any more information than when he started.
By contrast, he has given away $25 and almost an hour of that most precious of commodities, time.
Fortunately, dude is much more patient than me so he called back and went through the procedure again, but this time he pressed the button to speak to a customer service representative. This time it only took him a half hour before he was finally put through to an actual, living, breathing person.
Not surprisingly, the lady he talked to couldn’t do shit for him, and didn’t know what to tell him about his part, or his $25. Unlike people, computers can’t really be held accountable. She gave him another number to call so he could waste more time.
By this point, the little hair that my professor has was in danger of getting pulled out at the roots. He eventually got his shit tight, although I don’t know if he got the part yet. With all this trouble, you’d think he was ordering something for a NASA space shuttle.
I thought that computerized systems like this were supposed to make business work more efficiently. Efficient for whom? Certainly, not the consumer. Episodes like my professor’s are becoming the norm and are making customer service a thing of the past like Chicago Bulls championships and 21-year old virgins.
What kind of world do we live in where it is a rarity to get service from a human being? When we lose contact on such basic levels, even with all this marvelous technology, have we really made gains? The Jetsons never showed life like this.
Peace and God bless.
March 01 – Volume 2 # 3
Before I knew it, black history month had passed, but it did not go without some note for me.
For as short as it is, it is one time that we get an opportunity to get some, at least token recognition of the many accomplishments of our people. Accomplishments that have often come in the face of great adversity.
The middle passage. Slavery. 100-plus more years of institutionalized racism.
Yes, indeed we have overcome and persevered.
It seems to me, however, in the year 2001 that our greatest threat is not a confederate soldier, a Christian missionary or a lynch mob, but our own people.
Our oppressors can not be let off the hook for their role in our current state, but despite this, years of history has not educated many blacks on the importance of loving and respecting their own.
Shit be mad thick in this white man’s world where one is trying to progress.
In trying to aid to my progress I am presently attending graduate school at Northwestern University. The school is predominantly white, with a significant ratio of Asian students as well. Nonetheless, there are a few of us peppered in here and there.
One would think that because of our small numbers, there would be a great degree of unity amongst the black students here, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
I’d say 80 percent of the time, my brothas and sistas will look me dead in the eye before allowing my “what’s ups” or head-nods to go without a response. “What’s that all about?” I think to myself.
It’s equally ill when I’d see that same cat a few minutes later, laughing it up with Jim or Suzy in the cafeteria. Oh well, no big deal I guess.
In that very same cafeteria works a brotha. For the sake of anomity, we’ll call him “Randy.” Randy shows his teeth more than Louis Armstrong when the white folks come around, especially the ladies. Cracking jokes, being extra courteous, talking in his Carlton voice.
That smile turns into a frown as soon as I approach. His tone is dry. Demeanor sour. He takes his time in getting my shit. Usually will stop and talk to one of the white girls for a minute before he gets my stuff. I don’t trip, well not too much.
Recently, I’ve even had the misfortune of seeing this brotherly un-love in the business sector. I guess there certainly ain’t nothing new about this, as business in itself has some elements of shadiness by nature.
But, it still is disappointing when it comes from other blacks. Our people can least afford to be barriers to one another, yet we often do.
Recently, some of my people have displaced much of the anger and torment the world has put in them, unto me. We’re on the same team, why play me?
While this whole shit, this whole mentality does wear on me from time to time, I am nowhere near ready to give up on my people.
There are many good brothas and sistas doing their thing and working cooperatively. Cats like my man Yasim and Papa San from Blak Box, my man Theo from Eclipse Entertainment. My man Terrence Lee from the Third Generation of Hip Hop. My boy Dave from MIC. My boy Mikkel who just signed to Cash Money Records. Amina from Urban Mines. My man Parrish and Ill Dilema. My mello Derrick from Grown Man Entertainment. And of course my niggas, the Twenz.
There are many cats trying to make power moves, particularly here in the Chi. It is very necessary like Salt n’ Pepa for us to work collectively for the benefit the masses.
I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time some stud is mean-mugging me in the club. And the next time the hoochie at Harold’s throws my change on the counter instead of putting it in my hand the way I gave it to her.
That there are black folks who still exemplify such vivid images of self-hate in 2001 is mind numbing, yet perfectly understandable considering how much we’ve been conditioned to despise any and all things black. For this reason, it is that much more important for black people on the same path to work together, and also be willing to work with other communities to bridge the gaps like the Black Eyed Peas.
Peace and God bless.
February 01 – Volume 2 # 2
I am a huge, huge hip hop fan. One might think that with the onset of hip-hop becoming the highest selling music genre in the United States that this would be a golden age for hip-hop. Quite the contrary.
Never in the history of the art form has there been such a lack of creativity and original thought in the music. The major music companies have found a formula for commercial success that consists of the glorification of violent crime, misogyny, individualism, drugs & alcohol, and rampant materialism. In a desire to sell records, other record companies feature artists who adapt to this formula and then can use their deep pockets to ensure that the artist is featured on radio 15 times a day.
There are, to be sure, hip-hop artists who uplift women, speak of cultural tolerance and unity. These artists receive little or no exposure on radio and MTV, as they do not fit into that formula.
I do not wish to censor the other artists, but I do wish the playing field were more level. The public is who’s deprived under this format, as they are not really given a choice, the only choice is what those who control the media feel will generate the most profit. Currently there is little incentive for this to change.
This lack of balance is what recently caused New York Times writer Bob Herbert to write that hip-hop “has so thoroughly broken faith with the surpassingly great, centuries-long tradition of black music in America. With rap, both the music and the poetry have vanished.” While this was a case of some middle-aged man speaking about shit he knew absolutely nothing about, on some levels he can be forgiven.
He probably hasn’t had the opportunity to hear Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Common, De La Soul, KRS, Outkast, Gang Starr, or some classic Tribe. There is still good music out there, it just doesn’t get the kind of exposure where some middle-aged, suburban white man will have heard a lot of it.
But this lack of exposure gives the underground that much more responsibility to support our artists. So rather than complaining about hearing Ja Rule 20 times a day, just go buy Pharoahe Monch’s shit (rather than getting a dub from ya’ boy) and bump that 20 times a day at your leisure.
Peace and God bless.