December 02 – Volume 3 # 12
“That’s me in the corner”
The lady of rage has consumed me as of late. A ruthless rage against all things existing.
I haven’t acted out on it, just simmered internally, but the rage was still there nonetheless.
A rage against spineless moderates. Rage against right-wing conservatives. Rage against supposed white- liberals. Rage against blacks who continue to do more to harm their own than their oppressor. Rage against Latinos and Asians for not feeling more connected and sensitive to the struggle of my people.
Rage against disengaged youth who choose to do nothing, meanwhile people who were born before color television decide the fate of them and their children. Rage against intelligent, beautiful black women who consistently choose to deal with bullshit ass niggas.
Rage against mu’fuckas who make repeated life mistakes by not taking a moment to think things all the way through. Rage against the NFL for trying to soften and pussify the game as much as possible. Rage against all these damn reality TV shows.
Rage against the machine.
Rage against myself for not being more patient, understanding and humane.
That rage was in danger of erupting from a simmer to a boil as we came upon the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season.
I have loathed this time of year for some time now. Christmas, Ramadan, Hanukkuh, Kwanza, and probably a few more I forgot are the high note of the year for many good people of faith.
While these holy days are rooted in spirituality, many have largely become commercial holidays, totally devoid of spirituality, and just full of mindless, soulless ritual. Makes me angry to see, especially nowadays when more than ever we need to put God in the forefront and pay less attention to these superficial material possessions that are the hallmark of these Hallmark holidays.
Many religious theologians say these are the last days, and the Armageddon that has been cited in most all known books of religious scripture lurks in the midst.
Worldwide political corruption and disenfranchisement, a tighter concentration of power, an array of regional wars with international links, economic uncertainties and nature wreaking havoc makes it hard for me to argue with this assessment.
I don’t believe these are finite last days. Just the last days of the world in its current state before God comes to reclaim his kingdom and puts things back in their proper order. In this world, every day will be a holiday, not just at the end of the fiscal quarter.
This new world order, this age of Aquarius, this heaven on Earth is worlds away from the international society we have created for ourselves. In my opinion, this does not make such a magnificent transition likely to happen in the next 5-10 years. The type of evolution required would probably take no less than 100-150 years.
But the future is now and the evolution is in progress. It just isn’t being televised because it got canceled for one of those damn reality shows.
I am always upset this time of year as I see the oppressors benefit and profit by throwing God’s name around all month after ignoring him all year, all the while encouraging people to do much that is ungodly during the holiday season.
But as I’ve stated before, it is futile after 450 years in America to place responsibility exclusively with the ruling elite. We must do our own individual part to combat these forces, and to do that we have to get closer to God.
And not just because it’s December 25, be Christ-like all year. Don’t just talk about cooperative economics at Kwanza, incorporate it into your being. If you feel physically, mentally and spiritually refreshed from fasting during Ramadan, why not make it a year-long practice?
Whether these are the last days or not, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and their children, we have to bring God back into the center of things.
Once I centered things in my life, my rage miraculously disappeared. If only I could do this everyday, then it could always be the most wonderful time of the year.
Peace and God bless,
November 02 – Volume 3 # 11
“Ah-huh, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus”
Any great social change in history has generally had its leaders. Ultimately, it would be the collective masses who generally forced change, but some leaders generally emerged as in the War forIndependence, The French Revolution, the scientific revolution and the ongoing digital revolution.
The black community has long looked to its leaders to set off an evolution out of the oppressed and destitute state that has largely characterized our existence in America. From W.E.B DuBois. Booker T. Washington. Frederick Douglass. Harriet Tubman. Elijah Muhammad. Martin Luther the King. Ida B. Wells. Kwame Toure. H. Rap Brown. Fred Hampton. Huey P. Newton. Etc.
But it is becoming more and more apparent that for blacks to find their salvation we may have to find our own way, as it seems that our leaders are more concerned with bringing attention to themselves, rather than bringing attention to the real issues that are affecting the people at large.
As you have likely heard by now some of our storied civil-rights era leaders seem to have taken their eyes off the prize for just a moment to address a scene in the hit film “Barbershop.”
In the controversial scene, a character played by Cedric the Entertainer creates a stir (both in the film and in real life) by dissing Rosa Parks for gaining national attention for refusing to budge from her seat to make room for a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery bus on December 1, 1955.
He said that others had done the same thing as Parks beforehand, but Parks received the publicity because of her connection to the NAACP as a secretary. The character also called Martin Luther King, Jr. “a hoe” due to the good doctor being alleged to have made many a housecall in his day, if you catch my drift.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, clearly the moral leader of our generation, said that Parks and members of Dr. King’s family felt the line was disrespectful. And despite public apologies being made by the film’s producers, Bob Teitel and George Tillman, want the line removed from the film.
These niggas really need to get a grip. First of all, this movie is a comedy and should be treated as such. Comedy is often offensive, and public figures have been fodder for humor for years. Politicians, clergymen, businessmen, musicians, athletes and so forth. Right or wrong, all are constantly potential objects of ridicule and satire, and many of our leaders have endured offenses far worst than what was exemplified in “Barbershop.”
And anyone who’s actually been in a barbershop, particularly a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago like the one in the film, know that you are liable to hear things a lot more outlandish and offensive than anything said in the movie.
For this one line, there were more than ten people disagreeing with Cedric’s character, a balance that I think should ease any viewers who might be offended.
But unlike some of the off-the-wall stuff you might have heard some old men say this very weekend at your own barbershop, the comments in the film actually had a lot of historical truth behind them.
Rosa Parks was not the first person arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus. According to the book Freedom’s Children by Ellen Levine, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for the same offense on March 2, 1955 and 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested on October 21 of that year.
Due to former FBI director Gay Edgar Hoover, whoops, I mean Jay Edgar Hoover’s surveillance as well as other noted sources, evidence strongly suggests that MLK may have engaged in extra-marital affairs.
Such a fact would be relatively mild by today’s standards, and I’m sure Jesse in particular would agree in light of his own transgressions, but it seemed pretty scandalous by the conservative moral scale of the time.
But even if these allegations are true, even if he wore women’s underwear while he gave his famous speech at the National Mall, it would not diminish the sacrifices he made for his people, and all of humanity.
Similarly, the fact that others chose to remain seated before Parks does not at all diminish her act. Time and chance met her at just the right moment. Whether it involved Parks, Colvin or other anonymous individuals, it took a unique brand of courage and conviction to take such a stand by remaining seated.
But facts are facts, and I would think that taking just a moment to note them may have caused Jesse, Al Sharpton and others to decide against launching this latest publicity stunt.
But if the facts of the matter weren’t enough, I would think that these visionary leaders would put more of their efforts and relative political muscle into some causes that are more of a legitimate threat to black people.
As oppressive forces continue to choke the life out of our community, our leaders -Negro leadership in the words of my father- should be mobilizing the masses.
And they have. I saw on the news that town meetings were being held in various spots of Chicago to discuss the controversy.
The same black people who won’t make it out to vote in a few weeks. Who haven’t found the time to get to that new black restaurant that opened up around the way. Who often can only come together at the club. These black people turned out in mass to discuss this most pressing issue.
Yes indeed, the shepherds are leading the sheep to pasture.
Black boys are filling up the prisons at alarming rates. Financial aid and community social programs are being slashed. In Africa, a continent is being lost to the worst plague man has seen in centuries. And this is what our leaders are paying attention to?
I do understand that our leaders, and those who have sacrificed for us, merit the utmost respect. However, I do not believe that they fought for us to have our creative-artistic voices stifled. The kind of censorship that Jackson is suggesting goes against the democratic principles that Dr. King and others fought for.
This beginning of the 21st century is a critical point for black people in America and we need our leadership to fight for us more than ever.
But we need them to fight the true sources of oppression and stop being so lazy, and downright cowardly, by picking battles that are more destructive than constructive.
Peace and God Bless,
October 02 – Volume 3 # 10
“Rock the vote, rap the vote, hell, polka the vote if you want to, just vote please.”
It would seem unthinkable for anyone to not see the value of every single vote in light of the 2000 presidential selection, um I mean election of George W. Bush over Al Gore.
I would expect that the turnout will be improved for the 2004 presidential election, but it may be even more important that those who are eligible turn out for the round of gubernatorial, senate and house races going on throughout the nation in 2002.
What happens in these elections may very well determine what happens in the race to the White House in 2004.
Going into November, the Republicans hold a six-seat in lead in the House of Representatives and the Democrats hold a one-seat lead in the Senate.
How this balance looks after the dust clears could tell a lot about how Americans think George W and the GOP are guiding the nation during these times of war and economic uncertainty.
More significantly, this year’s election results will determine just how much the White House will be able to instill its vision on such issues as social security, health care, potential war with Iraq and the economy.
My home state of Illinois has 19 House seats up for grab including those held by Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Luis Gutierrez. Richard Durbin (D) is up in the Senate and is expected to be re-elected easily.
State polls are also showing that Rod Blagojevich could become the first Democratic governor elected since 1972. Incumbent Republican George Ryan decided not to run under a cloud of controversy from the infamous license-for-bribes scandal that loomed over his one term in Springfield.
In addition to the scandal, state Republicans also felt that he was too liberal in his stances on the death penalty and abortion and were happy to see current state Attorney General Jim Ryan (no relation) receive the GOP nomination who is more conservative and has been highly critical of the current governor throughout his campaign.
Many such issues will be in play all over the nation this election season. How it turns out could largely affect your life for years to come.
Indicative of the polarized divide seen with Bush vs. Gore in 2000, many states have races that could go either way and swing congressional leadership in the process.
According to The Washington Post, these states include Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
Many of these states have some interesting storylines.
-In W’s home state of Texas, Republican John Cornyn is attempting to fill the seat of Phil Gramm (R). However, Democrats are trying to take what would be a crucial seat by rallying to support Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas. Kirk is attempting to become the first black senator in the state’s history.
-In North Carolina Bob Dole’s chick, Elizabeth, is trying to fill the seat of ultra-conservative Jesse Helms who is also retiring after three decades in office where he worked relentlessly to take blacks back to plantation times. Due to her name-recognition and deep pockets, the more moderate Elizabeth Dole is expected to defeat Erskine Bowles who served as a White House aide during the Clinton administration.
-Although you might personally know more people than actually live in South Dakota, the sparsely populated state is a key one in this year’s elections. Home to Senate Majority leader and potential 2004 presidential candidate, Tom Daschle, the race between incumbent Tim Johnson (D) and John Thume (R) is so coveted by Republicans that George W and his daddy came through to campaign for Thume. So far the two are running neck-to-neck.
The results of this race may well determine the political landscape for at least the next six years. Here are some of the issues that the people you put in office (or choose not to take out of office if you don’t vote) will be discussing in the next few months and years:
-Social Security: Established during the Great Depression to provide workers with some income during their retirement and serve as insurance for disabled workers. Many economists fear that the well will run dry by the time cats like myself get old enough to enjoy it.
The 6.2 percent the average American has deducted from their checks doesn’t go towards their social security, but rather goes to fund present beneficiaries. In turn, the workforce of let’s say 2040 will pay for us when we’re old and gray.
The only problem is that Americans aren’t having enough children to supply the workforce necessary to support us. Nor are there expected to be enough of a workforce to pay for the social security expected to be received by many of those born during the baby boom just after World War II who will begin to go into retirement in the next decade.
This all clearly presents a problem.
In wake of massive instability in the stock market, George W has reduced to a whisper the talk he had during his presidential campaign about allowing Americans to privatize their social security by gambling it in the stock market. What does happen with social security may largely depend on the makeup of Congress and the pressure you put on them.
-To stimulate the stock market and the economy on a whole, Bush is expected to call for another tax cut soon. Whether he admits it or not, the look of the polls will largely affect his decision.
Tax cuts are always attractive on the surface to American voters during election season and have long been a staple of Republicans. It’s understandable. It appeals to the working woman and man. With as much money is taken out of most of our checks in taxes, it’s not hard to jump on that bandwagon at all.
But being consumers like we are, the rationale for these tax cuts is not that you’ll save it, but that it’ll give you more money to spend and increased spending will help improve the economy.
Perhaps, but if the war on terror is to continue, and there seem to be no indications that an end is in sight. And if the U.S. plans to wage war with Iraq, these things are going to cost money. Best believe Americans will pick up the tab at some point. By exercising your muscle at the polls you can help decide whether you want to pay now or put it on layaway.
-Personally, it seems to me that Bush is behaving like an irrational cowboy trying to avenge his father as he has thus far demonstrated very little rationale for invading Iraq to the American people and the international community. Let’s explore some of the evidence why.
Last fall the President made it explicitly clear that the war on terror was not only aimed at individual terrorist groups like Al Queda, but “nations that harbor” them. Bush made no secret that he felt like Iraqwas one such nation. However, a recent commission found that there were no links between Al Queda and Iraq.
Bush has also said that the U.S. needs to act against Iraq because it possesses weapons of mass destruction that could potentially be used against the U.S.one day. It is absolutely essential that we act preemptively against Iraq to avoid another 9-11.
Following this logic it might also become necessary to act against other U.S. adversaries such as Cuba, China and North Korea, a nation that has nuclear capabilities.
So far President Bush has not found the success he did in launching the war on terror in convincing many foreign leaders of the necessity to invade Iraq. Even many of his boys in Europe have questioned America’s beef, or at least settling it right now while the first front of the war is still undecided.
Crucial to America’s “success” in Afghanistan was support it received from Middle Eastern leaders. These leaders have not been able to buy along with an invasion ofIraq, and the leaders have -at least for once- acted in the faith of the people they are supposed to represent as recent polls show most Europeans do not favor the U.S. acting alone against Iraq.
Whether it is or not, many in the region would see an attack on Iraq as an attack on the Middle East and the Islamic world. Particularly with the winds of Palestine flaming animosities in the region, it would be a delicate balance to set off.
This is particularly true in nations like Pakistan that has been a crucial U.S. ally to this point despite large unrest among some Pakistani citizens to President Musharraf’s pro-U.S. stance.
If Musharraf were to lose power it would open up an entirely new can of worms as Pakistan does not potentially possess weapons of mass destruction, it already has nuclear weapons.
This one needs to be approached with caution because there will be no turning back once the decision is made. What decision is made may largely depend on what decision voters make this fall.
-The Economy: One thing seems almost certain if the U.S. invades Iraq, you will feel it at the gas tank. Particularly here in Illinois, which has the highest gas prices in the country. So get your El passes ready if it goes down.
The last time the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991 gas prices rose, which served as one major cause of the recession that ultimately cost the first George Bush a second term in the White House.
With the nation already in unstable economic times, a full-scale conflict emerging in the Middle East could make things really get thick.
-Republicans continue to get heavy funding from the National Rifle Association to make sure that current gun laws are enforced. Unlike many Americans, they did not see massacres like the ones that were seen in Columbine; and that can be seen at a ghetto near you everyday, as reason to have stricter background checks and longer waiting periods for getting a gun.
What do you think? Answer at the polls.
-We hear a lot of talk about stem cells, an issue that’s true significance may be seen down the road.
Stem cells are retrieved from the core of 5-day embryos that are usually left over from in vitro fertilization processes used by couples trying to have a shorty. Stem cells can be made to turn into virtually every kind of body tissue. Some scientists say that they can be used to fight diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, spinal cord damage, or help my grandmother with her Alzheimers so she can stop asking me the same question every 5 minutes, bless her heart.
Stem cells have been used in animals and seemed to have some positive impact, but it is not yet known how they will affect humans. Scientists want to increase funding for testing so they can find out more.
Conservative religious groups oppose the testing, however, much for the same reason that they oppose abortion as they feel that all embryos that have potential to grow into a person should be left to their natural devices.
In a mild compromise, President Bush decided in August, 2001, that federal money could only be used to study embryonic stem cells that are already present at fertility clinics. The decision prohibited government subsidies of any additional creation or destruction of embryos for the purpose of research.
Private groups can still fund the research, but some scientists feel that those funds, nor the existing supply of stem cells, will not be enough to make significant findings they feel could benefit humanity.
The President’s decision is law presently, but Congress could override his decision.
-Even with all the racism, sexism, classism and all that, there is today no greater tragedy in America than the current state of healthcare. In this the richest nation in the world, there are an estimated 28 million without health insurance. And really more than that, because this figure doesn’t take into account all the recent legal and illegal immigrants who are working for peanuts without insurance as their bosses profit from their desperation.
But not your problem, right? You got health insurance to be sure. At your job, through your husband, your parents got you.
But even with that, the overwhelming majority of Americans are just an extended hospital stay away from extreme poverty that could span generations.
You can spend $100,000 easy at a hospital if you’re there a week or more. Many in poverty lack even the basics that many Americans take for granted such as regular checkups and prenatal care.
And while they often do fantastic work, at the end of the day a hospital is still a business. So when many of these bills go unpaid, to make up for the difference, they charge you a little more.
And for those unfortunate hospitals who aren’t able to attract enough consumers, they will shut down or make their product accessible exclusively to those who can afford it. It’s no coincidence that major hospitals aren’t generally found in black neighborhoods. We got a gang of clinics though.
But last I checked many of these businesses, the bedrock of America, were laying people off 30-35,000 at a time. Paying for your insurance and what not gets expensive so cost has to be cut.
But even when the economy improves, we have got to come up with something better for healthcare than we have now. I, for one, feel that it should be a fundamental right for all in this land of enlightenment, morality and democracy.
Your government will be responsible for making this feasible. But you would be responsible as well. Something like that is going to cost.
The hospitals have to get paid and the people have to have the care, especially in these days and times. In some European countries workers give up half of their paycheck.
I don’t think we’d have to go that far -and Americans never would- but something’s got to give.
People have to sell their homes because chemotherapy is too expensive. Poor people choose to slowly die at home rather than have the family go in debt for hospital bills. Gun shot victims die at a counter because they spent 20 minutes filling out paperwork after they waited 2 hours for a doctor because the hospital was so crowded. Mothers are producing unhealthy, underdeveloped babies because their first medical visit was for the delivery.
We’ve got to find a solution and our elected officials need to display true leadership.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to romanticize the power of voting too much. Don’t walk out of the polls thinking that you individually changed the fate of the 21st century.
But if you don’t vote you would have given up the little say you have on the issues that will shape your life and the life of your children.
For my black people, it would be most unfortunate to continue to forfeit that right that so many of our ancestors made untold sacrifices for.
And my ladies of all backgrounds, remember it was less than a century ago when your grandmother couldn’t vote and had no say in many of the issues that affected her life.
But don’t get content with just voting. Write or call your congressman. Become more informed about the issues surrounding you. And empower and organize yourself so that your voice will be heard throughout the year, not just during election season.
Peace and God bless,
September 02 – Volume 3 # 9
A.I. – Artificial Intelligence
“Dedicated to the everlasting memory of Bryant Hood, Jr. May your eternal rest, be the way you lived: in peace”
It was about two months ago now when the news from the sportsworld was dominated by Philadelphia 76er guard Allen Iverson’s problems with the law after he allegedly had a domestic dispute with his wife and subsequently threatened a guy with a handgun when he came looking for her the next day. Despite one of the staples of American democracy being that individuals brought before the law are innocent until proven guilty, the media all but convicted A.I. before an ounce of evidence was heard. Despite the case not really being newsworthy according to most legal experts because the case was full of holes from the beginning, the story consistently was the lead story on Sportscenter. It even gained a lot of attention in the rest of the press, even being discussed on the political show, “Crossfire,” where Iverson was condemned to be a thug and a wife beater from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum. In these stories Allen’s past behavior was often brought up to add context to the story. They talked about how A.I. did jail time in high school for his involvement in a brawl and how he had run-ins with the law for having possession of marijuana and a firearm. Before I continue, allow me to make a disclaimer. I am a huge A.I. and Philadelphia 76er fan since the days of Dr. J, Moses Malone, Bobby Jones and Mo Cheeks. I love the way A.I., unlike many modern athletes (particularly in the NBA), plays hard on every play, plays while he’s hurt, and is not afraid to mix up with the big boys in the paint despite being one of the game’s smallest players.
I personally will probably never have a tattoo or corn-rows, but I respect that Allen is not afraid to be himself in this age of corporate conformity where our heroes are neatly packaged and marketed for us – often before they’ve really done anything of note.
And whether white America, or conservative black Americans like my brother Hasan; like it or not, Allen is reflective of the culture that he comes from. And he has not abandoned that because he has a corporate job like many of us black folks do when we get a little bit of dough.
Despite my personal feelings about Iverson, the fine journalistic training that was provided to me at Northwestern University, has allowed me to take my personal bias into consideration, but still provide information in an objective, balanced and fair manner.
It seems more and more, that the media is unable to follow this universal journalistic standard when it comes to black athletes. Especially black athletes who do not walk in step with so-called mainstream values. This seems to hold true despite the fact that nowadays your average kid on the street -black or white- looks, dresses and talks like Iverson.
In telling these stories some journalists knowingly slander guys like Iverson because they have some personal axe to grind. He didn’t stay a few minutes longer for an interview, or more often, they are bitter that Iverson had the kind of athletic career that they hoped for, but didn’t possess the athleticism, talent or work ethic to make that dream come true. But I give the benefit of the doubt to most well-meaning journalists who are unconscious to the error of their ways, and sometimes just plain unconscious.
Much of this unbalanced reporting stems from journalists not taking the time and effort to better understand the culture that many of these athletes came from, which is very important in understanding a guy like Iverson.
In the story it was made clear that A.I. didn’t point his gun at his accuser, just that he allegedly made a threat while in possession of a gun. The fact that he had a gun was the part of the story that was played up most. Nowhere in these news reports was there a mention of how American domestic policy has made the inner-city into a warzone where young black kids feel a gun is as essential to their survival as vitamins, minerals and oxygen.
Don’t get me wrong, even with all these very real social factors, A.I. is still responsible for himself, but there are many forces at work that created his mindset.
Responsibility lies with Iverson in the regard that he is a public figure and knows that he is under an intense media spotlight and everything he does will be scrutinized very carefully.
To that end, the media would be right to question his judgment, but depicting him as a bad guy because of this event would be a bit of a reach.
This became even more apparent when the judge in the case dismissed all the charges brought against Iverson except his threat, a misdemeanor that probably won’t go very far.
After making a lot of Noyze about his charges, there was barely a whisper from the media when he was cleared.
Meanwhile, around the same time Nascar driver Al Unser, Jr, who is white, actually had charges filed against him by his wife for beating her, leaving her on the side of the road, being an alcoholic (which he later declared himself) and abusing cocaine.
Also, around that time Baltimore Oriole pitcher Scott Erickson, also white, was arrested for beating up his live-in girlfriend.
I feel quite confident that most everyone reading this heard about the Iverson case, I feel substantially less confident that they were aware of the others. It doesn’t seem that this is just a coincidence the same way it wasn’t a coincidence a few years ago when Baltimore Raven linebacker Ray Lewis was convicted in the court of public opinion, despite being found not guilty for a murder committed in Atlanta during Superbowl weekend – and Green Bay Packer tight-end Mark Chumura got a free ride from the media despite getting into legal trouble for having sex and providing alcohol to one of his daughter’s under-age friends.
Personally, I feel that even if Iverson had been guilty of domestic abuse it should be treated as a personal matter to be dealt with by he and his family.
The media for years now has cited the public’s right-to-know as a reason for digging up people’s dirt. They say it’s the price that comes with being a public figure.
I don’t fully agree, but I could accept this point when dealing with elected politicians, clergymen and business leaders. The public is largely affected by the judgment, values and leadership that those individuals reflect. But who is affected, or really cares, what some jock is doing in his personal time during the offseason?
But like everything else, journalism is a business. It will sell more papers to have Allen Iverson on the cover than some state rep fromIdaho. Whether or not it’s good journalism or actual news, seems to matter less and less these days.
But don’t take my word for any of this, pick up your local paper tomorrow. It’s right there in black and white.
August 02- Volume 3 # 8
My boy Samuel L. Jackson was recently quoted as saying he didn’t accept roles in films starring a rapper.
“It’s not my job to lend credibility to so-and-so rapper who’s just coming into the business,” Jackson is quoted of saying to the Sacramento Bee. “I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some actor that’s been created.”
Throughout his career Sam has been a stand-up guy so his comment was likely taken out of context, but I still found it troubling.
Sam’s point was valid. He felt that it was unfair that talented black actors such as himself, Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman had to pay dues for years to get the big time starring roles.
Meanwhile young rappers like Ice Cube, DMX, Snoop, Method Man, Redman and of course, the late Tupac are able to strike it big at the box office without having to go through years of accepting lowly roles, lowly pay and to be sure, a lot of industry b.s.
Jackson did make an exception with the talented actor, and huge box-office draw, Will Smith, whom I still like to refer to as The Fresh Prince, but that’s neither here nor there.
And it’s not that he is opposed to working with rappers on some level as is witnessed in his appearances in films with LL, Busta and his latest film “XXX,” which features Eve.
But, Sam’s comments singling out other rappers, however, were aimed in the wrong direction.
It is not the rappers who are to blame for young, deserving, black actors getting overlooked, it’s the box office executives who are in charge of casting and marketing these films.
Hip-hop culture dominates all aspects of popular culture throughout the world right now. Just like every other sector of business nowadays, the Hollywood bosses are just trying to capitalize off of this. So to improve a movie’s chances at the box office many rappers are featured in films, sometimes in starring roles.
I can understand Samuel’s frustration, but take a stand against the system that often encourages and perpetuates having a greater focus on commercial success than featuring true art.
These rappers that he speaks of are generally some black folks trying to work just like Sam.
Rather than trying to take food out of Master P or Puffy’s mouth, a better remedy might be for him to do like Babyface’s wife Tracy Edmonds (Soul Food, Hav Plenty) and put his money with other black ballers and open up a studio that can feature work by black directors and producers, featuring young up-and-coming black actors where they can get some work without compromising their art, as they would have to do under the current status quo of Hollywood.
I do feel Sam’s frustration at how the system works, but it is unfair to single out rap, why not say he won’t work in films starring untrained-acting musicians from ANY musical genre who didn’t pay their dues. People with ties to the music business like Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Dean Martin,Cher, Harry Connick. Jr, Ashley Judd, Madonna and even Britney Spears and Mandy Moore.
While few will doubt the acting talent of most of those listed here, few will also doubt that they were able to have some doors knocked down because they were big in music.
But then I guess saying something against some white entertainers or the white executives who make these decisions might take some bread out of Sam’s mouth. But I still love you, Sam and can’t wait to see you set it off in the next Star Wars starring Nelly. I’m just kidding.
It’s not just Hollywood, but a lot of people eating well off of hip-hop these days. Hip-hop is, and has been for some time, popular culture.
Ain’t that a trip, black people?
I mean, right here, right before our very eyes, this shit took over. This thing that they thought was a fad back in the day, didn’t really think was music, to say nothing of even being art. It was too black. Too misogynistic. Too violent. Too low-class. And much, much more.
Yes sir, it’s a great day inAmerica. No doubt, a lot of black people are getting paid through hip-hop. Rappers, producers, video-makers, writers, publishers, bodyguards and even actors. A lot of jobs have been created.
And not only can the critics not front on the music anymore, they have to adapt to it. Everything on the radio, from rock to even gospel, has an element of hip-hop to it now.
But this culture that I love has had an impact far beyond music. All of culture. Wall Street markets its products to us through hip-hop, whether it’s Dell having a stupid-ass rapping cow trying to get you to buy a computer, Mountain Dew telling you they have somehow bottled the “flava of the street,” or one of a million shoe/rap video commercials full of all types of manufactured hip-hop slang that real b-boys don’t use at all.
But while its good to see hip-hop’s relevance universally recognized and for cats to be able to eat, I see the money causing hip-hop to be represented in ways that disconnects it with its glorious past and diversity. Ways that give those who are unfamiliar with the culture, a false view of what hip-hop is all about, and of what genuinely is and is not hip-hop in the first place.
Hip-hop is big business now. Many are in it just to make a buck, not for the love of the culture or art. If those of us who truly love this culture are not careful, this culture will be exclusively controlled by those who see it as nothing but a business. And when that happens not only does the music suffer, but the entire culture is watered down like some bad cliche?
Hip-hop is on life support, but it still has a chance. A chance to control its destiny, to shape the face it presents to the world.
Hopefully those of us who truly love hip-hop will do our part to make sure her beautiful face does not become completely cosmetic like many of the faces – and other body parts – we often see in Hollywood.
July 02 – Volume 3 # 7
“I Was Dreaming When I Wrote This, So Excuse Me If I Get Too Deep”
In 1998 we started Illanoyze to change the world. To save the world.
We knew on that sunny day in April that this would take a tremendous amount of labor. More labor than we knew we were capable of individually. Whatever the case, we were fully aware of the awesome task before us.
Flash to September 11th and that task took on a whole new urgency. There was no more time to waste. There was no longer room for error. I had to be hustling, grinding and progressing all the time. Every moment.
I had been a workaholic for some time, but since that dreadful day it has reached a new intensity.
And I didn’t mind it. I take great pride in my work ethic and I also recognize that the goals this company hopes to achieve will take a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice.
But the goals are most certainly worth it. At least that’s been my ideal for as long as I can remember. Recently, though, I began to question.
Man, I can’t even front, this business shit beats me down sometime. There’s so much shadiness, and people not following through on what they say they’re going to do. Unprofessionalism. Greediness. Jealousy. Laziness. Deceit. All the values you work to avoid in people, are not only prevalent in business, but almost the accepted norm.
And these aren’t even the people working against me. Add in all that to bureaucratic red tape, institutionalized b.s., and knowledge that most of your efforts will ultimately be lost to at least 85 percent of the public. It makes you wonder is it worth all the stress? The lack of sleep? The heartache that my people give me on a daily basis? Well, at least it made me wonder anyway.
Due to my work, I often am kept in isolation where I sit in front of my computer and ponder these issues, and more, for hours on end.
With no clear-cut answers I spend most of my days incredibly stressed, and quite frankly, often downright depressed. I was feeling myself drifting. Slowly becoming one of those uptight, stressed-out, soulless businessmen I vowed never to become.
But as summer began to finally emerge in Chicago, God shined through and brought me back to the basics. In being so consumed with my work, I had gotten very disconnected with the world, with life. I hadn’t made as much time recently for family and friends.
Life is changing so very fast before me, so I felt it was important to take time to enjoy those who made me who I am. So I did.
A lunch here. A dinner there. A two-hour phone conversation. Burnin’ CD’s. Playin’ ball. In doing all of this I was brought back to life.
I learned I wasn’t alone. There were people all around me who shared my passions, my frustrations, my hopes, my jokes, my memories, myself.
It is not an option for me to stop working so hard, but it is important that I keep a sound balance and understanding of what I’m working for. And that I have plenty of help in trying to save the world.
My peoples helped me regain my balance like Ma Dukes along side of you on some trainin’ wheels. By getting reconnected with them, I got reconnected with myself. I wish life were always like riding a bike.
Peace and God bless.
June 02 – Volume 3 # 6
“Lettin’ Em Hang”
What makes you just set it on somebody? Ya’ know, verbally or physically blast them for some ignant” (that’s right “ignant”) stuff they’ve done to you?
What makes you turn that cheek and keep a cool head?
I know for many, like me, that line is very thin. Others sit squarely on one side or the other and often end up sitting in jail later on or go through life getting punked all the time.
Although I understand how thin that line is. I remember in days past I used to be ready to set it on a nigga’.
Maybe it was some little-man, Napolean-complex thing. Maybe it was pent up frustration and teenage angst.
Whatever the case may have been I would not shy away from confrontation back in the daze.
But as I grew older I recognized all the negative energy wasted on getting into arguments and brawls over generally the most trivial of issues.
In these days of adulthood, there is far more to be lost than gained when entering into a confrontation.
You usually get yourself more worked up than the person you want to feel your wrath. You risk getting locked up. You risk getting shot up. You waste precious time and energy. You often subject people around you to unnecessary stress and drama.
I try and do my best to steer clear of as much drama, arguments and potential for violence as I possibly can. And when I come in contact with someone, I try and show them the utmost respect until they give me reason to do otherwise.
Despite my best efforts, however, that respect is often not mutual. The lack of respect usually isn’t anything blatant such as someone smackin’ your mama or something.
No, it’s usually very subtle forms of disrespect. Forms that usually go undetected by the person actually displaying the behavior.
There’s the girl who is blowing cigarette smoke in the direction of you and your two-year old child. The white guy who has no clue how patronizing he sounds when he greets his Latin co-worker by saying, “Que pasa, amigo?” The group of teenage girls on the train who talk and curse loudly, disrupting what was a peaceful ride home from work.
Not being aware does not, in any way, excuse the disrespect, but it allows me to be more understanding and less retaliatory.
But everyone has a limit. You can’t consistently allow disrespect and maintain your dignity. There are times when you have to damn all the negative consequences and just let your nuts hang.
I’ve gotten concerned lately that I might be letting too much stuff slide. I don’t want to be a tyrant, but I don’t want to be a pushover either. I felt like the latter one night at Pizza Hut as I stood in line patiently waiting while the cashier deliberately found any and every task to do before finally taking my order. Then she had the nerve to have an attitude when she finally took the time to get around to me.
But I remained calm. I had been having a nice day and didn’t want to destroy my vibe, nor did I want to have her sabotage my pizza like Eminem did those onion rings in “The Real Slim Shady” video.
As I waited several more minutes and thought some more, I stewed. Not just for me, but for society.
While I want to avoid drama and conflict as much as possible, I also hate that there are not more deterrents for negative behavior. Sometimes a motherfucka needs to get cursed out or get their ass wouped to see the importance of showing someone their proper respect.
You can’t really reason with an ignoramus, so sometimes you have to get ghetto to really get your point across.
As I sat longer I grew more frustrated, upset that I had allowed someone to unjustly disrespect me. Disrespecting her back wouldn’t have necessarily accomplished anything, but maybe it’d make her think twice about disrespecting someone else next time.
As I pondered this, I looked up to see the cashier treating another customer rudely. But this time she had picked the wrong person. Before I could blink, this heavy-set sister was launching into a furious verbal assault, chop-full of explicitives. Yet she still came off intelligently as she stated her case, and ultimately hit back where it hurt most by asking for her money back.
But just to add icing, she added “bitch” as she left out the door. That could have been it, but the cashier (who was much smaller) had to say something back under her breath.
The big girl was swiftly returned, cursing more than ever now, and all up in the cashier’s face.
Wisely, the cashier kind of backed off, as she saw that she was but a moment away from getting the shit smacked out of her.
The smart, big girl kept her composure and left back out without incident, knowing her point was gotten across quite thoroughly, but not letting things get to the point where she’s getting taken away in cuffs with a handful of hair.
As I went back to the seemingly endless wait for my order, I immediately noticed a change in the cashier’s demeanor.
Where before she was ignoring me, now it was all “Your order will be ready in just a moment, sir” and “sorry for the wait.”
It was bitter sweet.
I was delighted that a transformation was made, albeit mild and probably temporary, where she will hopefully make more conscious efforts to treat people with fundamental levels of respect.
I was also pleased that this transformation occurred without having to disrespect anyone myself.
However, I thought it was a shame that it once again took being disrespected for someone to see the error in their ways.
Does this mean I have to behave like an ignoramus to receive the respect I feel is due to me as a human being? Or do I play the nice guy role and come to accept these subtle, yet annoying, incidents of disrespect?
Peace and God bless.
May 02 – Volume 3 # 5
The woes of the black community have been well documented. Yep, sometimes right here in these very pages.
That is, I should say, they’ve been well documented in the black community. MainstreamAmericastill has some catching up to do.
Whatever the case may be, history has shown that the American government and powers- that-be have done little to improve the conditions in these communities but, in fact, have often done everything they can to make it worse.
With this history in mind, history that is going on up to this very moment, it is absolutely essential that black people begin to take a more active role in improving the conditions inside our community rather than looking outside for help.
I sincerely hope and believe that the tide is turning, but a recent Chicago Cares volunteering session I attended left me feeling a little pessimistic about those prospects.
I arrived early on a Wednesday evening shortly after rush hour, and saw there was a small crowd as I expected there would be. “After all,” I thought. “How many people in this selfish culture of ours are willing to take time out of their life to help someone else?”
Within minutes, however, my cynicism was erased as a wave of eager volunteers flooded into the room with hopes of doing their part to help Chicagoans battle homelessness, domestic abuse and various social issues.
Nearly all of the programs offered by Chicago Cares were based in black communities. Roseland. Englewood. Woodlawn. Etc.
It was really good to see, and perhaps a hint of American social progress, to see that so many people wanted to take extra steps to help out people who were not as blessed as they were.
What I found disappointing, however, was that there was only one other brotha’ in the audience of nearly 40, here in this huge city that is mainly populated by blacks. Yeah I know. I can hear the excuses already.
“I have to work.” “I don’t have the time.” “I have kids.” “I don’t know how I can help.”
I shouldn’t call these excuses really. They are good reasons and are usually stated sincerely. But from what I gathered, most of the people who came rushing in from work were middle-aged working professionals with families and a variety of other demands, yet somehow they found time.
Not that it really has to take a lot of time. Most of the Chicago Cares projects, for example, are two hours or less. There are no obligations. A person can volunteer as often as 20 times a month or as few as one time a year. You can pick the projects that most interest you, and fit best into your schedule.
Man, please believe me, I know that time is very valuable. And these days there never seems to be quite enough of it.
But we usually make time to do things we want to do. Go to the club. Go to the mall. Holla’ at that girl. “Go smoke that… well you get the picture.”
Hopefully, we will make some time in the near future to rebuild our communities from the inside out.
If this is not what you want to do, that¹s fine, and you are well entitled. However, you are not entitled, -at least in my humble opinion- to complain.
If you are interested in making more than just idle noyze in the Chicago area, a good start could be contacting Chicago Cares at (312) 780-0800, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto to their website at http://www.chicagocares.org
But there are many groups out there that would happily offer you opportunities to volunteer. Or you can even find your own way to contribute.
Either way, everybody could be doing a lil’ sumtin’-sumtin’. Our city, nation and world need all the help we can get.
Peace and God bless, and may Left Eye rest in peace. She was reportedly in Honduras doing volunteer work when she met her sudden and tragic death.
April 02 – Volume 3 # 4
This time I won’t make Noyze on any one topic but have several gripes from all over the place, so bear with me…
It must be rough being a recording artist these days. It seems no matter what you do, you just can’t win sometime. Take for example, Chi-town’s finest, Common Sense. Many here in the Windy City have repeatedly dissed Common for moving to New York.
This riles me to no end because Common continues to represent Chi-town like no one else. He still sends out hometown shouts like he did to Sean Lett, Doug Inf, and No ID on “Doing It.” And he still talks about Chicago things like he did on “A Film Called Pimp” with a subtle reference to Chicago legend Bishop Don Juan and lines like: “I seen her on Madison Where Vice Lords be travelin And Chevy windows be rattlin”
I’m pretty certain that there are no Vice Lords in New York, but it is the unquestioned center of the rap industry and was becoming a place where Common was reportedly spending a great deal of his time working with the likes of Mos, Kweili, Premiere, De La, Roy Hargrove, The Roots and Slum Vil.
And I would imagine that could get expensive after a while, especially when you’re an underground rapper who doesn’t get enough critical due, or even more importantly, critical dough.
Besides, we all know we don’t really show our own any love a lot of times here at the crib.
I was at a D’Angelo concert here where Common made a cameo and the chick next to me didn’t even know who Common was. But beyond that, I don’t see how anyone can argue that Common’s move didn’t help him to expand as an artist.
He was able to work with some of the world’s greatest artists of and put together one of the top twenty albums of all time. Not top twenty rap albums. Top twenty albums period. Up there with the likes of Kinda Blue, Off the Wall, Songs in the Key of Life, Purple Rain, Love Supreme, Sgt. Pepper, L.A. Woman, Straight Outta Compton and Midnight Marauders.
My first concern with any artist is that they do quality work. And whether or not Common lives on Stony, in Brooklyn or Sydney, Australia- so long as he makes quality work I can’t front on him too much.
Common also was able to enjoy greater commercial success with his latest album and is on the edge of superstardom. But unlike most rappers these days, he has done this while maintaining his artistic integrity.
If he were an actor and moved to Hollywood, no one would blink. It just serves as another disappointing example of the often limited mindset of headz in Chicago. Not that Chicago is alone in being close-minded. In many cases it’s the American way…
Music once used to be an avenue to opening minds, putting forth new ideas and concepts, birthing cultures and challenging listeners to explore new worlds. This is not true as much in modern times where every rapper/singer/director/producer goes from one flava of the month to the next.
Whatever sales records is what everyone is trying to copy. But while the artist, or rather the entertainer, is at fault, the audience holds the greater responsibility because it is we who the entertainer follows.
Many rappers argument for watering down their music is they are giving the people what they want. I contend that often what the people want is shaped by marketing geniuses and hearing something on the radio 20 times a day, but that’s a debate on par with the chicken and the egg.
But certainly the buying public has become conditioned to fear and despise our artists changing or going against the grain. This is why I’ve heard really intelligent people in recent weeks say they couldn’t feel Outkast anymore. Or saying Common is the gay rapper because he dresses Baduish now. Or dissing Q-Tip for lacing his latest work with rock n’roll, jazz and R&B.
We want that same familiar hook, that same catchy phrase, that same production sound, that same R&B artists singing at the end, that same announcement at the beginning of the song that let’s you know “This is the remix.”
This process has greatly discouraged any break from the norm, and has produced a music industry that stifles originality. But I even hear people that complain about everything sounding the same, complain about artists that stretch the boundaries a little bit.
Now don’t get me wrong. Me personally, I’m not going to be wearing any feather boas or bellbottom jeans with rings at the bottom at all, but I respect people for being true to themselves. After all, I thought this is one of the things that hip hop was all about. Oh, I forgot, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby…
With North Carolina nowhere near the NCAA tournament this year, I’ve found that I’ve probably been able to really enjoy the game a lot more than normal. This year I did not have to be totally stressed out for three weeks and screaming at the TV like usual. It’s been cool to see the passion the kids play with, and all the drama of games coming down to the wire.
Seeing black coaches like Mike Davis and Ernie Kent do their thing. And of course, my favorite part was seeing dook lose and go home. Them not being national champs is almost as good as Carolina being national champs.
But what has not made me happy is to see the poor fundamentals of many of the players. Missed free throws, not boxing out, silly turnovers. Not that this is just college, mind you. The NBA is probably the main culprit. In its product marketing there is such a heavy emphasis on glamour and glitz and not a lot of the basics that really are the key.
Cats want to dunk, score and look cute. This is not to say that I want everyone to play like Princeton or the Utah Jazz, I like the acrobatic plays as much as anybody. I just don’t think that the fundamentals have to suffer as a result.
Rebounding, sound passing, free throws, good defense, selfless play and winning are often overlooked nowadays. You don’t get on Sportscenter (which I love dearly) for taking a charge or making a good backdoor cut. And the kids see all this stuff and want to emulate it.
I couldn’t help but to think this when I sat in the park last week and watched a shorty do all types of fancy dribbles during a game of V. Going through his legs, behind his back, fallin’ down while dribbling, bouncing the ball off of his defender. Yeah it was a sight to see. Eventually dude got around to make a move, when he was stripped on his way to the basket. But at least he looked good doing it, and that’s what most important, right?…
Ok, no gripes here. Just want to express my absolute delight in Denzell Washington and Halle Berrywinning Oscars this year for best actor and actress. I was especially delighted for Denzell who was robbed a few times before, most notably for his role in “Hurricane.”
Yeah, Denzell threw down in “Malcolm X,” but I could live with him losing to my boy Paccino. But while I like Kevin Spacey very much, his role in American Beauty was nowhere near Denzell’s portrayal of Ruben “Hurricane” Carter.
He always does a superb job and carries himself with decency and integrity. He is a big star, but will still have the courage to do roles that he knows might not have as much support from white movie goers or the Academy such as “He Got Game.”
It’s good to see you can still get rewarded without having to totally compromise yourself. Hopefully this will become the norm, rather than the exception.
Peace and God Bless
March 02 – Volume 3 # 3
“Look at mama baby boy actin’ like he grown.”
This is the realest shit I ever wrote.
I’ve been going through a straight thing lately in making my transition back to the homefront. Things are all love. It’s just taking some time to readjust.
This is made especially difficult because I have entered into a whole new world that didn’t fully exist when I was last here.
The world of adulthood.
In most regards I’ve been here quite some time but I’ve been a student for most of the last 5 years and university life is not fully tied into reality. Now that I’ve graduated it’s full throttle.
So this is it, huh? What I’ve aspired to and hoped for all these years.
Man, now I can stay out as late as I want! I can eat candy, chips, pizza, and fries everyday if I want at any time of the day! I can stay on the phone past 10 pm.! I can watch dirty movies and listen to songs with explicit lyrics openly! I don’t get put on punishment!!!!! I don’t get woupons – well at least not that much.
Yeah, but it’s also coming into a new reality. People all around me are getting married. Some people have questioned me like I was crazy because I’m 26 and ain’t married with children yet.
One of the major concerns was the economic responsibility that comes with adulthood, especially while trying to keep the business growing.
By age 26 most people are probably into their careers already. I haven’t regretted my path in the least, as my classroom and life education have enriched me greatly.
But there does come a time when that investment needs to pay off. And I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity as the uncertain economy has most media publications going through a hiring freeze.
God looks out all the time though so I was blessed to have a friend refer me to substitute teaching, which I’ve been doing the last few weeks just to get some dough in, plus I get to do something that’s not boring and monotonous.
I’ve been teaching at my old high school, a concept that totally fucks my head up on so many levels. To think that I’d be in charge of somebody’s kids in a place where I wreaked so much havoc is just unbelievable.
It will be ten years since I left Rich Central next year, another amazing thought that shows me just how far into adulthood I am. Yet, I’m trapped in between worlds because even though I’ll be 27 next month, most people don’t believe I look anywhere near my age.
Several times, as I’ve been subbing, I have been mistaken for a student. Security stopping me and asking for ID and what not. One day this boy even cut in front of me in the lunchline before he found out I was a teacher.
If my role is confused in the schoolyard, life is not fooled in the least as it is forcing some big boy decisions upon me.
While working as a sub I was offered a job at a local publication. Good media outlet, close by. Good reputation. Hell, it was a job in the field of study that I paid more money for than I care to admit.
I felt more certain and reassured in getting the job. Let me know I wasn’t a complete fraud in grad school. It wasn’t a no-brainer though.
One of the things that I love about substitute teaching is the flexible time schedule. For the most part, the kids have been a lot more well-behaved than I could have ever imagined. I guess I thought all kids acted like I did when we had a substitute teacher. It’s pretty painless work. I learn a lot from the kids and genuinely enjoy them. And the pay is pretty good, particularly for my amount of labor.
Most of my labor these days is dedicated into developing this baby of mine named Illanoyze.
2002, her 4th year on the planet is a very big year for Illanoyze. As she has grown she has become quite a handful. Consuming most of my time and money. I don’t go out with the boys as much because I have to take care of her. She keeps me up late nights and has me back up again at the crack of dawn. She has me making madd sacrifices. I think about her when I’m away from home, wondering if she’s ok. Calling home neurotically several times just to check on her.
But it’s very fulfilling. I’ve never been happier than being able to watch her grow and spend time with her. Building for her future and watching with amazement each John Coltrane-like giant step she takes. Recording it all for her to appreciate when she gets older.
I don’t know how much I could stand it and how much it would be in her best long-term interest to be away from her right now.
You see this with a lot of families. Parents have to meet the economic responsibilities that come with having children, but their work often keeps them away too often and the child is shaped by outside influences.
Fortunately, my baby is in real good hands even if I couldn’t spend as much time with her. But it’s still best for her if I’m there as much as possible. At this time substitute teaching best gives me that opportunity.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fool. My baby has to get fed and it takes money to do that. But the money balances out on both ends, but the other factors of convenience, time and peace of mind go with teaching.
I guess my father told me that I’d have to make some big decisions when I got grown. I’m certainly finding out, as this is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I would be allowing a big opportunity to pass but I think it’s worth it.
Yes I still intend to pay off my investment from my education, but getting a job is not the way that I think I’d best pay that off. I’m trying to build something and it’s hard to do that working for somebody else.
The difficulty lies not in turning down a job offer, but of turning down the privilege to contribute to humanity as I believe journalists -good journalists, at least- do. I wanted to get into journalism because I want someone to speak for the oppressed, the neglected, the afterthoughts of society.
As I was pondering my decision over the job this weekend, my heart stung when my cousin said to me, “That’s why it’s so important with you doing this journalism thing because there are so many questions that don’t even get asked.”
He’s absolutely right and I intend to ask those questions and even be able to answer a few along the way. But I believe I can best position myself to ask those questions through my baby’s voicebox.
Once she’s a little older I can maybe afford to devote a little less attention to her and not fear it altering her course of development. But right now I don’t think I can risk it. If it is God’s will, I can get another job. But this child has but one life to live and I need to be there now so she can walk on her own when she’s all grown up.
I remember Dr. Etta talking about how crucial the ages of 4 and 5 are in my Child Developmental Psychology class at Chicago State. What happens to the child and what role the parents play at that age could largely determine whether you’re raising the next great scholar or a smooth criminal.
Yeah, just like you, I know a gang of cats who had outstanding upbringings and still ended up on some other stuff. You never can tell.
I don’t think I’m going to take my chances, this child is too important. She has so much to give the world if she’s raised right.
Peace and God bless
February 02- Volume 3 # 2
Black History Life”
I was recently engaged in an argument with a friend, well not an argument really, a friendly debate over how relevant race is in determining social class.
She, a liberal African-American young lady of twenty-something, made note of my militant rhetoric and said that I pay too much attention to race in my endless crusade to end the world’s oppression and inequality.
She felt that people are not discriminated by race as much as by social class in modern times. It’s not about your color, it’s about the haves and the have-nots. After all, she contended, look at all the opportunities that blacks have access to in the United States. How we shape popular culture. Largely dominate sport. Have a real and visible middle class. More blacks are graduating from college and starting their own businesses than ever before.
There was not a single point that I could refute. Ultimately it is about the rich and the poor, as there are some wealthy blacks who do their communities more harm than any white man ever could. It is unfair that a small percentage of rich have massive power compared to the vastly larger numbers of poor throughout the globe.
The poor are left to fight amongst themselves and pull each other down over divisive and insignificant issues of race, religion, neighborhoods, gang affiliation, fraternity, West Coast, East Coast, Dirty South, male, female, national, foreigner and the beat goes on.
But it can not be denied that in this country, and throughout the world, race has been used as a justification and a powerful weapon for keeping many of the poor down. The system that we live in closes off so many avenues for the poor that many families are stuck in a cycle of poverty for generations, largely determining their fate before they are even born.
It is not just mere coincidence that the overwhelming majority of wealth in the United States is controlled by white males.
Nor is it a coincidence that there are a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos that fill the prisons, have lesser access to good schools, good homes and good health care.
I do not believe that it is a coincidence that people of color all over the world have far less quality lives than their European counterparts from the western world.
My friend does not deny that race is an issue, but she feels it’s better to attack these inequalities at the root, which is economics.
I couldn’t agree more, and the fact that economics is at the root of inequality motivated us to start this company to help balance the scales. We hope to gain economic leverage for the black community in order to improve the lives of the suffering poor of the black and all communities.
Ultimately, and quite unfortunately, the only thing that capitalism respects is money. Frederick Douglas said, “Power never concedes anything without demand.” It might better be phrased that power concedes nothing without dollars. That’s certainly been the case in this country.
The Civil War that freed blacks from slavery was not some humanitarian effort to end slavery, regardless of what your history books may say. It was basically about the dough.
The South didn’t want to shake up the backbone of their economy, which was, of course, the backbones of black folks in the form of free labor for their assortment of agricultural products.
The North, in turn, didn’t want to lose Southern consumers, trade ports, military force, and a share of many profitable resources such as cotton, tobacco and oil.
Slavery just happened to be the issue, but the dollars is what motivated it all.
Later, during the Civil Rights Movement, all that marching, holding hands and singin’ was a good sign of solidarity, but where the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement really had an impact is with the boycotts that caused massive amounts of dollars lost by Southern businesses, perhaps most significantly with the bus boycott inMontgomery, Alabama.
Just imagine if a sizeable chunk of blacks spending dollars were taken out of this economy, it would be quite a dent since even though we often have little, we consume like few others.
In the 1960s America couldn’t lose that cheddar so they allowed us to sit where we wanted at their shops, busses and what not. They couldn’t afford the money or the drama, especially while trying to keep up with the Soviets during the Cold War.
In South Africa apartheid did not end due to some stroke of moral fortitude, at least not completely anyway. South Africa was beginning to feel the affects of its racist political stance as it was losing business due to economics sanctions imposed by several nations.
The United States was not one of those nations, however, as it found South Africa a good market for its numerous products.
The United States also feared that South Africa would fall into Communist control, like several other African nations had after they gained independence from European colonizers. Fortunately, the Cold War ended just around the same time apartheid ended, a “war” that ended because the former Soviet Union could not afford to keep spending the kind of money that the free-willing Reagan Republicans were spending on weapons of mass destruction.
Thanks to their foresight we are all able to live a little safer, at least that was the plan anyway.
Anyway, in reflecting on this history and countless other examples, we hope to grow economically to better position ourselves to be agents for change. You say you want an evolution? Well evolution costs.
My friend thought it was contradictory because while we are trying to change certain aspects of the system, we would also be capitalizing and benefiting from this very system.
That is an irrefutable argument and a dichotomy that I battle with often. I have seen many people much smarter than me who have gone in with these same intentions to change the system from within, only to get sucked in by it and become pawns of the system as they continue to perpetuate elitism, oppression and inequality.
But we are running a business and are not in business to go broke. We’ve invested quite a bit into our young company in money, time, blood, sweat, tears and labor. My God the labor!!! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to get compensated in the future for present sacrifices.
However, there is something drastically wrong if we get our fortune and go into our little corner like so many black people who have “made it.” If God blesses us to get to certain levels of success, we don’t want to isolate that for ourselves. We want to use increased economics, exposure and information to pull up those who haven’t made it yet, and make them go pull somebody up, and make them go pull somebody up, and make them go pull somebody up, and make them go pull somebody up…
We at Illanoyze hope to benefit all of mankind, but it is essential that we as black people get our house in order, as it is in disarray like no community in America, and is the one that can be fixed most quickly as compared to the final goal of healing the entire world.
Self-help is presently the only solution to black upliftment. In 400-plus years there has never been a fully-committed effort by America to end racism and all the inequalities that come with it. The first step to changing things must come from within.
We must, at this crucial hour, unite and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps to achieve equal citizenship in this country in the tradition of the Italians, Irish and Jews, other groups who were discriminated against in America but managed to truly empower themselves and become communities with tremendous voice.
I feel that black people most definitely must ultimately work with people of all backgrounds who are pushing towards all Americans having a truly equal voice, not the ornamental stuff we have now. But to be equal partners at the table there are things blacks need to get together on our end.
This is not a concept of separateness, we know we can’t go it alone and do not hold any bitterness towards whites, at least not too much.
But now, for real, we have no ill will with white folks, not in 2002. While the seeds of much of the despair that plague our communities were planted during slavery, black folks are the ones most responsible for our current state. And all of us are responsible for changing our condition.
Not the government. Not the old white lady who follows you around the store thinking you’re going to steal something. Not the man at work who can’t seem to pronounce my name but can say Parazinski just fine. No, it is your black ass that is responsible for your condition in 2002.
We at Illanoyze are trying to hold up our responsibilities to end black-on-black crime, getting drugs and alcohol out the neighborhood, provide our people with job skills, and just getting our community together.
We always hear so much about this so-called black buying power. If that power were to really manifest and not be a feel-good slogan, we could go a long way towards obtaining equal citizenship, as even if they didn’t like our color, they couldn’t front on our dollars. We want to help put our community in a position where the powers-that-be really know that turning a deaf ear to our voice would not be in their best interest. Since , after all, power concedes nothing without dollars.
Yeah, I’m real pro black and make no apologies for being so. But only in the regard that I love my people immensely and have great pride in our culture. This has not caused me to lose focus of the big picture of benefiting all of humanity and getting us to live in a Camelot of peace and tranquility. Just like my friend hopes to achieve.
Peace and God bless