Noyzes 2003

Noyzes

December 03 – Volume 4 # 12

“Inner Net”

“At times I feel like my back’s against the wall
And if y’all ain’t with me, then it’s me against y’all
I stand my ground, that’s what I was taught
W hile others stand around, I hold it down like a fort
In the midst of war I find peace within
Run, lock your doors, don’t let the beast get in
The mind is a terrible thing to waste
I show love, cause it’s a terrible thing to hate”
– Gang Starr- (6:09)

At the Hip Hop Conference for Social Change in Chicago in October a furious exchange occurred between two fellow revolutionaries.

Brooklyn-based MC Mos Def, when commenting on rappers’ responsibility to the community, said that he was only responsible for himself and his family.

This drew the ire of Chicago native and former death row inmate, Aaron Patterson, who shouted Mos down, and with the able aide of his crew of other 40-somethings, effectively shut shit completely the fuck down.

While it was too bad that yet another hip hop event got ruined because niggas couldn’t keep their cool, I could feel where Patterson was coming from.

We are responsible for one another, and every living creature in the universe, on the real. The system has trained us to behave in an individualistic, selfish manner by-and-large. And with black people especially, we have no choice but to work collectively to change our condition.

Like Patterson, I share a burning frustration with black folks who try and deny their personal responsibility for the community. Unlike Patterson, I didn’t lose 17 years of my life serving death row for a crime I didn’t commit at all.

But I think Mos understood what Patterson was saying, his point was that before you can change the world, you have to get your own house in order.

Can the preacher who drinks and fornicates bring salvation to his flock? Can the father who sleeps all day really impress the significance of work and responsibility to his child? Ladies, how much credence do you lend to your perpetually single girl telling you how to maintain your relationship?

In each scenario the message is still often able to get through despite any impurities in motive and deed of the messenger. Maybe you still become a responsible contributor to society in spite of your pop’s behavior. Maybe in spite of your girls track record, she says something that rings true that you can apply to improving your own life.

But in my experience it gets through much more affectively when there are life actions behind those words.

Like Mos Def and Aaron Patterson, I want my time on this planet to be spent on bringing about revolutionary change.

Since I can’t govern anybody else’s behavior (as much as my friends say I try sometime) I recently made a recommitment to governing myself better and allowing God to work out the many things that are outside of my grasp in bringing out about the change that must come.

That’s not to say that I don’t get frustrated, angry and still hold people accountable. But my best opportunity to change the world is to take Gandhi’s advice and become the change that I want to see in the world, and in this quest try to be a positive example for those around me.

For those whom I may come in contact with for 60 seconds in line at the grocery store, to people I’ve known for all my life, I want to give to people something that can allow them to make some positive change in their life.

This only makes sense as I see it as the most positive influences on me have been those that have been subtle in nature.

Seeing my father hold down a household. Seeing the spirit of God in my grandmother. And many other people have taught me what not to do through their actions.

I came to this recommitment after I experienced yet another feeling of helplessness during my ongoing attempt to save the world in one big swoosh.

This occurred when I attempted to form a Chicago-based networking group of MC’s, poets, entrepreneurs, magazines, DJ’s, film companies, accountants. Hell, everybody. Mimes, bicycle messengers, cats who sell herb, prostitutes, elves, people who put the paper around Crayons.

This would be taken on with the hopes of working more collectively for all the organizations and society’s overall benefit. The lengthy process would be done with hopes of establishing some tangible infrastructure for our community, provide us with some independent sources for culture, food, clothing and shelter.

The pattern that black people have displayed historically in America would suggest that this project would be about as challenging as finding weapons of mass destruction.

And so it was.

We probably all know the formula by now. A lot of excited talk followed by inconsistencies, no-shows, excuses and tardiness. Bad habits taken from slavery continuing to hunt us like hounds from a North Carolina tobacco plantation.

It was depressing that my individual efforts generated little structural change, then God began to show me how I was making a difference in other ways.

One of my guys told me that seeing me go to school for 62 years motivated him to go back and get his degree. Seeing the gradual growth of Illanoyze, a number of my people have taken initiatives to take on the challenge of starting their own business with hopes of becoming independent and doing what they love. Early in the semester one of my bright students did exceptionally poorly on an exam, to which I “gently” persuaded him of the need to do better. And reminded him of his extra responsibility as a black man at an overwhelmingly white university. Of how some people are looking at him hoping and expecting for him to flunk out of school. I have been pleasantly surprised at how he excelled on the next exam and has been progressing on the A-track ever since.

It is these collections of individual changes that will ultimately change the world. These people that I helped, probably went and helped ten more people thereafter.

And while I was playing my position, I imagined that other cats who were in the networking organization undoubtedly were somewhere shining their light on the world like Umi said to do.

My girls Kim and Anitra of Make Some Noyze are having their personal revolution by helping tutoring kids. My boy Mark Armstrong plays his part by bringing the black experience to film. MIC were making music that spoke for a segment of Chicago that nobody has ever listened to. My guy Mike Miller was giving someone a fade that made them approach that job interview with the extra-needed confidence on Monday. Something that Malik Yusef said in a poem struck a chord that made someone put down the bottle. A Tarrey Torrae ballad made a young girl feel that there was somebody else that could relate to what she was going through. A 12-year-old learned something new from what they read in Frontline. Somewhere today on the South Side of Chicago a thug decided to fight the system instead of his brother by listening to the Mikkey mixtape. Up north, some young girl is inspired to get into event promotions because she saw my homie Kysha from Groundwerks on her grind doing monotonous work, but looking like she’s having the time of her life.

At my old stomping grounds at 26th &California, Aaron Patterson is helping an inmate get by, offering him words of encouragement, strength and hope. Telling him some good books to read that will lift the shackles from his mind, if not from his person.

Meanwhile on the Red Line, some kid is grateful to have Mos Def in his headphones during his train ride. The lyrics and energy of the tracks perfectly give voice to what he’s feeling today. It calms him down on his ride and relieves the stress that he endures on the regular that comes with being black in America. When he got on the train he felt he was ready to succumb to the pressure and do something self-destructive, but Mos has taken that energy and put it somewhere else. He wants to use that energy to make sure that other people don’t have to feel the kind of stress that he usually endures.

It is here, in these private, personal setting that real revolution is taking place. It is ongoing and best believe it is not being televised.

But these personal revolutions are tied in to some larger social order that connects and binds us all.

Ultimately we will need to make some collective dents in the structure, but it will take unseen, non-publicized individual efforts to prepare us for that point. What will be your personal revolution?

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

 November 03 – Volume 4 # 11

“Bushwack”

Americais at a crossroads.

As of this writing we are 383 days away from the most important presidential election in the lifetime of most who are reading this.

This time Democrats will have to get away from the pussified campaign they ran in 2000, particularly while W. is exceptionally vulnerable on issues domestic and abroad.

Not sure that many American people can reasonably say they are better off than they were before Bush took office. The deficit is out of control, millions of jobs have been lost.

And do you feel safer with America diplomatically isolated like it hasn’t been since the turn of the 20th century? Made more enemies in the Arab world with America’s callous imperialism? With no knowledge of where Osama Bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein are at? With the Taliban regaining momentum in Afghanistan? With North Korea building nukes while the Bush administration cowardly ducks the issue? Choosing instead to bully the smallest kids in the class. Recent reports suggest that the U.S. may consider plans to go after Syria. Now we can all sleep better at night.

This guy doesn’t have a clue. The guy who got into office because America thought he was straight-shooter has not been honest or forthright. And his policies have not demonstrated any real intentions of improving the life of the average working American.

Hopefully this demographic, which encompasses most ofAmerica, will demonstrate its wrath at the polls.

But who to choose from?

Presently, there are nine candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Many have never heard of some of these guys, to say nothing of hearing their ideas for America.

Here’s a little background on each:

Carol Moseley-Braun

Braun, 56, came to prominence when she became the first African-American elected to theU.S.senate in 1992. She lost her re-election bid in Illinois to Republican Peter Fitzgerald, where shortly after President Clinton appointed her to be the U.S. ambassador toNew Zealand.

Previous to her seat in the Senate, she served as an Illinois state rep from 1978-88, and the Cook County Recorder of Deeds from 1988-92.

Braun supports affirmative action, full rights for homosexual couples, a more inclusive war on terror, universal healthcare, a woman’s right to an abortion.

She opposes the Patriot Act, the war inIraq, current gun laws and the Bush tax cuts. She said she would repeal the tax cuts if she were elected.

The wealthy need not worry about that, however. Moseley-Braun has about as much chance of getting elected as you or I. She’s black and she’s a woman, which makes it a tough road to hoe in national politics.

And most significantly she only has $144,658 in campaign donations as of this writing.

http://www.carolforpresident.com

Wesley Clark

The 59-year-old Clark is the current wonderboy of the party, as he is the most recent to enter the Democratic field.

Although the biggest question thus far has been is he really a Democrat at all? Clark having voted for both Reagan and Nixon in previous elections. And having publicly commended the Bush’s administration and their handling of international affairs at a Republican fundraiser in 2001.

Clark is a career military man who has never sought public office. He began his time in the military in 1962 and ascended to NATO Supreme Allied Commander before being relieved of his duties.

To this point it has not been made clear where Clark stands on a variety of issues, other than the war inIraq, where he has expressed strong opposition.

Clark is an attractive candidate in many regards. Bush, who unlike Clark didn’t participate in active duty himself, has wrapped himself in the flag and played on people’s fears anytime he’s gotten in trouble politically. He points to the confidence the American people had in him in the wake of 9/11. But certainly with the way the war has gone, Clark is hoping that Americans will think that an experienced military man might have a better insight than Bush on how best to “support our troops.”

Additionally,Clark is an Arkansas-native, which makes him a Southerner, a region the Democrats must do well in if they have any hopes of winning in 2004. This is where Al Gore “lost” the race, not even winning his home state of Tennessee.

However, Clark has not evoked confidence by entering the race so ill-prepared, and not having firm stances and knowledge of some critical issues.

Regardless, of what he’s said publicly, he’s been positioning himself for a run at the White House for some time. Certainly he had a staff doing research and getting background info for him before he decided to make it official. He’s had plenty of time to get some level of a platform going.

Prediction: If Clark can wither some early storms, I think he will be the Democratic nominee. I think he will choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate and they will take the White House next fall.

http://www.draftwesleyclark.com

Howard Dean

Dean is a five-term governor fromVermont(they serve for two years there).

The former physician’s mantra is that he is “a Democrat who is not too afraid to be a Democrat again.”

Dean’s comments are in reference to the Democratic national platform gradually drifting from the left, to the center, and in many cases nowadays, to the right of the political spectrum.

He has taken some stances that other democrats wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. For example, he madeVermont the first state to extend rights to gay and lesbian couples. He also supports affirmative action, and a woman’s right to an abortion.

His opposition to the death penalty is conditional.Vermont currently has no death penalty.

Dean has gained notoriety for his tough talk against Bush, largely on the war in Iraq. Dean, however, did not oppose war in Iraq, but rather wanted the U.S. to invade with its allies.

Dean said that he would repeal the Bush tax cut if elected to try and stimulate the economy.

While Dean is socially liberal, he calls himself a fiscal conservative (doesn’t everybody) and points to how he rescuedVermont from a $64 million deficit and turned it into a surplus during his 12-years in office and was still able to somehow reduce taxes.

Many say that Dean is too liberal to defeat Bush, while others say he is what the party has been missing.

Certainly to this point, he seems to have gotten many motivated as he easily leads other potential nominees in fundraising with a total of $7,603,620.

Prediction: Will probably win New Hampshireand will be competitive inIowa. Will probably be one of the last men standing. How he does on Super Tuesday in the south will decide his fate. If he survives that, he will be tough for any Democrat to beat. Unlike many other leading Democrats, he can evoke passion in people. With money to get his message out, Democrats better get him early.

And if the economy hasn’t improved, and there’s still drama inIraq (both likely scenarios unfortunately), he can reach enough independent voters to beat Bush.

http://www.deanforamerica.com

John Edwards

Edwards is a 50-year-old former personal-injury lawyer from North Carolina. He gained quite a reputation for putting his smack down in the courtroom which propelled him to defeat an incumbent Republican for the senate in 1998.

Shortly after being narrowly passed over to be Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, he began to launch his own campaign for the oval office.

Unlike most of the other candidates – this time, and throughout history – Edwards comes from a working-class family. His ole girl worked several jobs and his father was a textile worker.

It is this working class connection that Edwards hopes will appeal to voters.

He supports adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare, affirmative action, abortion and wants tax cuts for the middle class, but higher taxes for wealthier cats like himself.

More liberal democrats will find his support for the patriot act and the death penalty, and using his senate vote to propel a war inIraq, disconcerting.

Due to have only raised $4,517,709, word has it that Edwards may drop out of the race soon.

Prediction: Without the dollars it won’t make much sense for Edwards to stay in past the New Hampshire primary in January. Bill Clinton lost both primaries and was seriously on the ropes after losing New Hampshire. However, he had more dough to this point and was able to recover by the time the votes went south for the winter. It doesn’t appear Edwards will be as fortunate. He’s banking that he’ll have enough dough until the primaries head to native southern states.

http://www.johnedwards2004.com

Dick Gephardt

This is Gephardt’s second attempt at the presidency. The first was in 1988 where the congressman from Missouri started very well, winning the Iowa caucus (as he likely will this time).

By March he had to drop out of the race, however, because – you guessed it – he ran out of money.

Gephardt is not unfamiliar with leadership positions, however. He served as the House Majority leader from 1989-94 and House Minority Leader when the GOP seized majority control during Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution of 1994.

Gephardt is viewed by many as a traditional big-government, LBJ-styled Democrat, a point that might hurt him against Bush.

Additionally, like Al Gore in 2000, many view Gephardt as being too boring. While he may not evoke a lot of passion, he has already secured the endorsement of many labor organizations.

Gephardt has liberal bends in his support of affirmative action and adoption by homosexuals, but voted for the war in Iraq and supports the death penalty.

Prediction: Gephardt’s primary challenge in the campaign will not be his opponents, however, but rather to find some eyebrows. He probably has a better chance of that than winning the nomination. Look for a similar pattern as in 88, rise fast, fall dramatically.

http://www.dickgephardt2004.com

Bob Graham

The Florida senator was the first candidate to officially exit the race. His campaign was not able to raise enough revenue, dropping out with $2,016,165.

Look for him to be heavily involved, however, by the time the general election rolls around.

While hopefully avoiding the theft, I mean the controversy of 2000, Graham’s home state of Florida will be a huge state in deciding the outcome of the election.

http://www.grahamforpresident.com

John Kerry

Bush can take photos on military ships, but navy officer and medaled Vietnam vet John Kerry knows the real deal.

The senator from Massachusetts first came to the national spotlight when he was critical of the U.S. policy inVietnam at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” the 27-year-old Kerry asked.

Perhaps it was this question that lingered in his mind when he voted against sending American troops to combat in the first gulf war in 1991.

However, the senator voted for the authorization of force in Iraq earlier this year.

Like most Democrats, Kerry has since been critical of the Bush-lead war inIraq, arguing that Bush mislead the American people.

Kerry’s only hope is for him to steal New Hampshire, not a likely proposition. Dean is currently leading the polls there, with Wesley Clark gaining.

His campaign has nice money with $5,866,127 and if that runs out he can holla at his wife Teresa Heinz, widow to Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania.

That’s the Heinz catsup, mustard and other goods Heinz. She has an estimated fortune of $600 million, giving Kerry a nice fallback plan just in case the dough runs low. (now that’s what I’m talkin bout fellas).

But they’ll only go there if they think it’s worth it. I don’t think it will be.

http://www.johnkerry.com

Dennis Kucinich

For progressive, totally flip-the-script type of voters, there’s not much you won’t like about Dennis Kucinich.

The Ohio U.S. rep first reached national prominence at the age of 31 when he became mayor of Cleveland, making him the youngest to ever be elected mayor of a major city.

He was run out of office in 1979 with the city in massive debt. He was criticized for not selling the city’s public Municipal Electric System to private interests despite demands from area banks that the city was in debt to.

Years later, it was found that the banks had a business interest in the deal.

Since coming to Washingtonin 1996, Kucinich has often damned politics and stuck to his convictions. He joined in the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. He not only voted against the war at the time, (rather than criticize it now like most Democrats) but has twice sued President Bush for withdrawing from a missile treaty and for invading Iraq. Not surprisingly, he lost both cases.

He even went against fellow democrats in calling for an investigation of President Clinton.

Kucinich backs gay marriage with all economic benefits, said he would cut defense spending by 15 percent, opposes the death penalty, would allow for medicinal use of marijuana, would treat drug addiction as a health issue instead of a criminal one and is in favor of Palestinian self-determination.

With all this of course, there is no way possible that Kucinich could win. He is too far to the left. Sadly, his platform could not likely get him elected anywhere in the world.

And his campaign dowry of $1,539,320 certainly won’t get his message out in America.

http://www.kucinich.us

Joseph Lieberman

While Kucinich stands to the left in Democratic party ideology,Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman stands decidedly to the right.

Lieberman was elected to represent Connecticut in the senate in 1988, but gained national prominence in 2000 when Al Gore selected him as his running mate, making him the first Jew to be nominated for the post. Lieberman has not been favorable towards the hip-hop community in his public demeanor. During the 2000 campaign he denounced rap’s affect on America’s youth and was highly critical of it at a 2001 senate hearing I attended that was aimed at looking into applying universal rating system for movies, TV shows, video games and music.

Lieberman is in favor of Bush’s increased spending on defense, voted for the Patriot Act, supported the war in Iraq and actually helped write the resolution, advocates putting more pressure on Palestine to maintain stability in the Middle East, opposes gay marriage, wants to take a tougher approach to drug offenses, and supports the death penalty.

Lieberman has also often clashed with other party members, most notably with his outspokenness during the Clinton sex scandal where Lieberman said from the Senate floor, “The president’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the last six years, it has, I fear, compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we are facing.”

Lieberman worked heavily as an activist in his days at Yale. He helped organize for the march on Washingtonwith Dr. King and helped register black voters in Mississippi.

Lieberman voted against the Bush tax cats and has been an outspoken critic against President Bush for misleading the country about Iraq.

Prediction: Lieberman, the family-values candidate, actually has ideas that are most in touch with the white, middle-class, voting public. However, since America is largely still a racist society, it seems unlikely that the Jewish Lieberman could do well with Southern, white Baptists.

But with national notoriety from his vice-presidential campaign, he should have money for the long haul. Currently his campaign has $5,137,733. He’ll likely be one of the last men standing.

http://www.joe2004.com

Al Sharpton

Anyone black, hell, just about everybody period, knows that Reverend Al has absolutely no shot at all.

And if he were to win, it would go sort of like Chris Rock’s presidential visions in “Head of State” (an absolute must-see by the way) where he is shot and killed almost as soon as he is elected.

All jokes aside, if you get beyond the hype for a moment, Sharpton almost certainly has the little-man at heart more than any other candidate.

He said he would look for ways to trim waste at the Pentagon, opposes the death penalty, supports a woman’s right to an abortion, opposed the war in Iraq, and wants a government-funded universal healthcare system.

But most of his ideas won’t get out to be able to do much good as he has too many factors working against him.

One is history, where the New York Cityordained minister has a reputation amongst whites, and many blacks, as being a media-whore who has supported some questionable issues over the years. Sharpton has also been the subject of investigations from the law and the IRS.

Another issue he’ll have to overcome with voters is his political inexperience. Sharpton has sought public office three times previously, losing each time. Twice running for the U.S.senate in 1992 and 1994, and running for New York City mayor in 1997.

And in addition to his race, which is tied to the final and most important factor, Sharpton just won’t have enough money to battle with the big boys. His campaign is pulling up the rear, having raised just $54,759 to this point. He may make it to Super Tuesday in March, but after being blown out of the water there, it will likely be quittin time.

Like Kucinich, Sharpton has accused the Democrats of getting away from their traditional values. “I do believe the party has moved far to the right. I do believe that the party has a bunch of elephants running around in donkey clothes,” Sharpton said.

Prediction: Sharpton won’t and can’t win the nomination, but his candidacy can still have huge affects.

If blacks come out in mass and vote largely within racial lines, that could be votes taken away from another leading democrat. If that does happen, Republican strategists will certainly portray Sharpton’s ideals as being tied in to the ideals of the Democratic party at-large, playing on the hidden racial hostilities of many white voters. This would not be the first time a Bush has used this strategy.

George Herbert Walker Bush’s campaign linked the images of Jesse Jackson to the Democratic party in 1988, influencing white independents in some states.

Some have suggested that Democratic party power-brokers pushed Carol Moseley-Braun into the race to negate Sharpton’s influence on the black voting public.

http://www.al2004.org

George W. Bush – Republican,Texas

This guy is the worst U.S president in our lifetime and maybe the worst since Herbert Hoover over 80 years ago.

The labor market is in a slump like it hasn’t seen since World War II with a combination of reduced wages and loss of jobs. The unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in a decade.

He convinced America that Iraq posed an imminent threat and that we had to spend more money to ensure our safety and freedom. Now months later, there are still no “weapons of mass destruction” in sight, showing that perhaps our so-called freedom was never in jeopardy in the first place.

Now he’s asking the unemployed and thinner-pocketed American people to give him $87 billion to colonize Iraq.

Meanwhile, if you look even casually, basic services are dwindling right before our eyes. In our schools, on inner-city roads, in our healthcare.

Not sure how anyone but the wealthy could really support his policies.

But Bush has the benefit of being an incumbent and not having to deal with a cumbersome primary season. And once again he will have sick dough as he has in all his political campaigns.

His first came  for Texas governor in 1994 where he defeated incumbent Anne Richards with his daddy’s help in raising the most money in the state’s history.

After being re-elected to a 2nd term in 1998, talk of his seeking the presidency began to circulate and money began to pour in almost immediately. W. eventually raised a record $139 million for his 2000 campaign. The $34 million he has raised thus far is more than all the Democrats combined.

And even after the dust clears on the Democratic side, none still will come close to Bush in fundraising.

However, his inability to raise funds for the American people could ultimately prove his downfall, just as it did his father.

In his first campaign, Bush repeatedly said that he would not engage in “nation-building.” Yet he has now twice come to the American people and asked them to forfeit resources they don’t have to maintain American imperialism. And that’s what’s happening, not this “freedom” shit they’re talking about on TV.

His international rhetoric and action has not made America any safer, but rather has made it even more of a target. And made America’s historical allies unwilling to come to her aide.

Bush has been on both sides of the fence on affirmative action. He opposes gay marriage and gay adoption. Opposes abortion, except in cases of rape and incest. He supports the death penalty and he thinks that Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia are model Supreme Court justices. Not surprising, as they are two of the five that helped get him elected, I mean selected as president.

If Bush is given another term, he will have a lot of leverage. Being a lame-duck president, he will not have to worry as much about the political fallout from some of his decisions. His party will also likely continue to have control of both the House and Senate. He may get to select as many as three Supreme Court Justices.

He has to be stopped at all costs.

Please, even you haven’t done so, and you feel like me, make sure that you take steps necessary to vote next fall. And make efforts to get informed between now and then.

Do not rely exclusively on the information provided here. Any and all of the Democratic candidates listed above have many visionary flaws and shortcomings. And many third-party candidates may emerge that’s worthy of your attention.

Just make sure that Mr. Bush hears what you have to say.

A ballot in your hand is worth more than a Bush.

Peace and God bless.

9

Noyzes

October 03 – Volume 4 # 11

“Higher Miseducation”

“It is strange, then, that the friends of truth and the promoters of freedom have not risen up against the present propaganda in the schools and crushed it. This crusade is much more important than the anti-lynching movement, because there would be no lynching if it did not start in the classroom. Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class that everybody is taught to regard as inferior?”
– Carter G. Woodson, 1933-

“When I was young
They was feeding me fairytales
And this goes on
Til I’m old and I’m gray”

– Gravediggaz, 2:6-

Right now as you read this I’m probably sitting in a classroom trying not to count down the minutes until I can escape. Hoping that I can make it out before I’m forced to stab myself in the neck with an ink pen, putting me out of my misery.

Don’t get me wrong I love learning. Knowledge and information is about the best thing in the world. Well, maybe not the best, but you know what I mean.

It’s just that increasingly learning and knowledge have little to do with the American educational system. It’s more about memorizing and reciting. This is worst on the collegiate level where you have to deal with this and a blatant focus on profit.

School trains us how to behave in a capitalistic system. American education generally does not promote thought that is alternative to promoting this system, and ultimately becoming a slave to it. Even its most liberal bends do not seriously challenge the status quo.

And what’s most frustrating is the limited number of views often discussed in academia. Mainly the views, accomplishments and interests of wealthy Western males.

I have no problem with getting that history. I find much of it very fascinating, and it gives insight to current and future times. And there have been many white writers and scholars who have had much to offer to people of all backgrounds.

But other cultures have made great contributions to the world of knowledge as well, and that often gets lost in Western education, which because of American imperialism, is quickly becoming global education. Even many students who come to study in the states from other countries have been trained to talk and behave like Western eggheads.

On my own this summer I gained more intellectual stimulation than I did in my entire first year of my Ph.D. program. Here I was hit with a consistent wave of bourgeois thoughts from ancient, Western intellectuals who sat behind a desk all day studying society and whose philosophies often don’t speak to the underclass of modern times, but rather tries to speak above them.

So this summer I read works that might hold more relevance to my experience from Richard Wright and Donald Goines. I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin from Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1984 by George Orwell. The Debt by Randall Robinson where he makes a flawless argument for reparations. Highly recommended reading if you haven’t checked it.

I read The Future of the American Negro by Booker T. Washington. The Isis Papers. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.

In these works I was able to gain a range of views that I have not received in all my many years of education. Certainly, I thought, my teachers must have heard of them.

Most of the books I read these days are full of bullshit that nobody really gives a fuck about as it often doesn’t connect to anything tangible, doesn’t connect to the everyday people that Sly Stone sung about.

Blessed with amazing resources and technology, we often spend three hours talking about things that exist in some abstract universe, while people are out on the street dying.

Much of this work is being done on behalf of the oppressed, but is deliberately written in language that does not speak to them. The information in the classroom, media, etc. is purposely kept in the hands of the elite.

This is particularly detrimental for students of color as they are subliminally trained to worship those whose accomplishments they’ve heard so much about, and are given one more vehicle in which to hate themselves. Being told they have nothing to contribute, and constantly seeing themselves absent in their books, certainly has an affect on black psyche.

Additionally, white students also are deprived as they miss out on alternative views that could aid to their growth, and that they could relate to. While I certainly feel that we must carry our weight as a people, if we are to get proper justice in this country it will also take the efforts of some white folks as they have control of the majority of resources and power.

From infancy, however, the school system has trained many outside the black community to be unsympathetic to our cause because they have not been properly educated about our struggle as black people. And the struggle of others as well.

I don’t begrudge my education a bit, but it’s a means to an end and not an end in itself. And for all its many benefits, our current system should give more and take less from its students on all levels.

From kindergarten to becoming a tenured professor, money is always at the center of what kind of services you receive.

No child left behind? Hell, many of our children aren’t getting a start in the first place.

And for those who “make it” like me, we have to endure the indignity of reading texts that arrogantly uses America and Western Europe as the starting point of all discussion, no matter the context.

Say for example, we were recently having a discussion about “modernity,” which according to our readings started in Europewith the industrial revolution and all that. This era is characterized by rapid change, amazing bursts of industry and global trade.

But that’s generally how it goes. Just from a scholarly standpoint this is disgraceful, to say nothing of being academically inaccurate.

There were great civilizations in Africa and Asia while Europe consisted of disorganized, nomadic tribes. In his book Before Columbus Ivan Van Sertima gives strong evidence that Egyptians came to North America well before Chris and his crew in 1492.

However, the Egyptians didn’t kill everyone by gun or disease and steal their land. They came through for a minute, kicked it with some of their Native peeps here, and went back to the crib, feeling that there wasn’t much here compared to their lands where they had access to all types of spices, technology, real thick sistas, gold, ice and other tradable commodities.

What happened in Europe and America was and is an amazing chapter in the history of mankind, but it is far from the beginning of that history. This is no surprise, black people have come to expect these kinds of opaque injustices in America. It’s just frustrating to still have to endure this all these many years in school.

And this is the sad conclusion to this story. You can gain much from a formal education. For all this shit I’m talkin’, I wouldn’t change a thing. My education has allowed me to see the world. Both physically and through my imagination. I’ve met a lot of brilliant people who have taught me much. I have had the opportunity to make some positive contributions.

But despite this, it seems clear that our education system is not producing by its own standards often times, but also the standards of basic society.

Education needs to work to expand the mind, not just to try and ultimately expand one’s bankroll (and expand America’s empire). And it really doesn’t help you do that.

Hell, most of the brothas who got real dough didn’t go get 47 years of education. And while I’ve learnt a lot in school, it’s nothing compared to what I’ve learned running in the street, grindin’ in the business world, in the keys of life, or just chillin’ with some of my peeps.

The moral to the story is that formal education alone will not be sufficient to stimulate the type of mental growth that is needed to bring about serious change in the world.

Peace and God bless

9

Noyzes

September 03 – Volume 4 # 9

 “Line in the Sand”

 “So what can you do in the times which exist?
You can’t fake moves on your brother or your sis
But if your ya sis is
Brother is a jerk
Leave them both along and continue with your work
Whatever it may be in today’s society…”
Tribe Called Quest(2:1)

Maybe for a-tenth of a second, well less than that even, I thought about being a complete sellout.

You know just get the dough, go into my own little corner of the woods, abandon my people, and maybe flaunt my good fortune in their face for good measure.

This brief thought came during my most recent episode of depression about the sad state of the world. I mean after all, it’s certainly a lot easier to walk the path of an Uncle Tom in America than the one of being a conscious black man that I am attempting to follow.

This time I was not so much depressed by the systematic barriers deliberately placed in my path by our oppressor, but by the actions of black folks and the barriers we place in front of one another.

I find myself reading the fate of the universe into many of our most simplistic, individual acts. Because of this, sometimes I’m charged with being too harsh and judgmental over black people. So much so that recently this beautiful, black queen said that I sounded like a white, racist Republican.

In these pages I’ve been hard on Bush and the rest of the white power movement, but it’s nothing compared to how rough I am on black people these days.

But while my motivation in attacking the fascist right is motivated by intense loathing and contempt, my critique of black folks is inspired by an intense love of my people.

There are so, so, so many factors stacked against us.

We are born at a tremendous disadvantage from others in society. The system is dependent on us being subservient to it, so the system’s institutions work against us in kind.

The economic system is designed to keep us poor and dependent. The education system is designed to keep us uniformed about who we are as a people and trains us to conform to the will of a machine that crushes us in its wheels at every opportunity. The legal system is designed to profit at our expense. The state-sponsored religion is designed to keep us divided, passive and out of touch with the God within us. Healthcare is designed to keep us sick, which keeps us as constant consumers to their massive healthcare industry.

However, blacks have overcome far greater obstacles than these just to be able to see this moment in time.

Being kidnapped from our families’ fertile shores.

The middle passage where we lay chained at the bottom of boiling-hot ships on top of one another’s vomit, urine, feces and menstrual cycles for months at a time.

Our mothers, daughters and wives raped.

Barred from education, from even reading.

Stripped of our religion and God. Our culture and heritage mocked and then stolen for profit.

Trained to hate and disrespect ourselves on the plantation and in the projects.

Yet we survived.

Today unfortunately, that’s all most of our people are doing. We are surviving, not living.

As one of my Latino comrades pointed out in a recent discussion, it’s hard to be thinking about revolution and changing the system when you’re just trying to eat.

I feel that to the fullest and can’t front on it all.

However, this reasoning won’t change the fact that if they do not act ­ Pardon me, if we do not act proactively, we will be systematically destroyed and/or placed in a position of destitute and systematic, subtle slavery for no less than another 200 years.

It’s like this. Very, very soon, cats like Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Cheney will be the extreme minority inAmerica, to say nothing of the world.

By the structures of American so-called democracy, and just by shear numbers, the white Anglo-Saxon male will have to share some of the power that they have worked so hard and savagely to seize over the last 500 years.

Decision making and the future development of society will be decided by Blacks, Asians, white women, Latinos, Cherokee, lesbians, handicapped cats, closet cross-dressers. You know, like a real live democracy.

To prevent this division of power from happening, the elite are working to keep power and wealth in the hands of very few. And making it where that centralization of wealth and power will be almost impossible to wrestle from their slimy hands.

This is happening right before our very eyes, often with the enthusiastic and unquestioned support of many American citizens in the form of tough crime laws, congressional “patriot acts” and more lenient FCC rules. Things that the politicians you elect (or don’t help defeat by not voting) tell you are done for your benefit and safety.

But the people have always been taken advantage of somewhat politically, now more and more they aren’t even getting paid for it.

At the rate things are going now, the middle class will be something read about in history books several generations from now, as there will be predominantly haves and have-nots.

Working class people will have to work until they drop dead as there will be no social security or pension to fall back on, it having been spent on winless wars.

But this can be averted by people of all backgrounds beginning to wake up and get to work right now. Or as my brother Hasan says to hype the crowd at the Papa San shows, “Get your ass the fuck up!”

A plea of ignorance unfortunately will not be enough to prevent death of the body, mind and spirit. Everyone has a role to play in the coming battle of all battles.

These efforts come in many forms and must begin on a personal level. But as black people in particular, we also have a responsibility to push each other to excel in the way that we know we are capable.

These are the times that try men’s souls. We’ve got to get it together and we’ve got to get it together now.

We need a completely new mindset. I can’t tell you how recently I’ve been frustrated and broken hearted by all the neurotic behavior displayed by many of my people, resulting from centuries of severe physical and mental abuse.

People coming late to things and marking up their lack of personal responsibility by saying, “you know black people can’t never be on time.”

One business acquaintance cancelled a meeting because he had “stayed out kicking it too late the night before.”

That’s bullshit. We have no time to waste. We have to be more responsible. More accountable.

Individually we can’t change the world or everybody, but we need to each do a better job of making positive changes within ourselves. Simple shit, man.

Like following through when you say you’re going to do something. Communicating. And supporting each other.

In Chicago I have seen many worthy black businesses come and go because black people don’t support them.

I was dismayed to learn recently that the Isaac Hayes Lounge had gone the way of the Salaam Restaurant and countless other establishments. We can’t blame white people for us not supporting our own businesses. This must end now!

It’s disrespectful to our ancestors, black people, to get down like that in these days and times. They have carried us much too far on their shoulders for us not to do better than we have been. And I am certainly included in that number.

Illanoyze has been truly blessed in the amount of love and support we’ve received throughout the country and the world in our first five years.

This journey has enabled us to come in contact with so many wonderful people who inspire us to keep on, giving me further evidence to my belief that Illanoyze is something inspired from the divine.

But it gets hard to keep on sometime the way black people get down sometime, man. Not the average 85er on the street, but cats who say they know better.

Niggas who call themselves my friends, who say they love me, make excuses not to even show token support for a positive black business like Illanoyze. I understand if you ain’t got dough to get a shirt or something.

But we just had a free event that gave people a lot more than they’ve gotten when paying for most venues, and niggas couldn’t find a few minutes out of the day to patronize that several years in a row.

Cats will sit around the weed smoke and talk all types of revolutionary rhetoric, about how we need to do this as a people, and do that.

Then when the opportunity to put up in some tangible way comes, they are nowhere to be found. Such inaction makes these individuals a far greater threat to black progress than even our oppressors in 2003.

You can’t blame the white man for you not supporting black businesses. Or for not being about your business if you’re in business.

Almost 90,000 people are getting laid off from their job every month. Schools are being closed early because they ran out of money. Mysterious diseases are coming seemingly from nowhere.

Like Guru said, there ain’t no time to play.

And if you’re playing I can’t really afford to associate with you on all that. There’s work to be done and I’m not just working for me, but for all of us.

This does not make me special or anything, this seems fundamental, natural. Lately I have little tolerance for any work or individual that isn’t going towards the aim of improving our community.

For the longest I have done my best to try not to be separatist and elitist. My so-called consciousness, if I do in fact have it, is a blessing from God. He can take it and all my blessings away at his will, at any time. So never should I, nor anyone, think too highly of ourselves.

This is not lost on me. But at the same time there are some things that every black man, woman and child should know almost instinctively about their place and role within this society in 2003. And what kinds of things we can do to improve our peace and prosperity in the wilderness of North America.

Say for example, a few weeks ago I sat in a park near my parents crib on a sunny afternoon and watched as a group of about four, black teenage boys sat in a parked car. Smoking, drinking, music banging. You know the business.

I thought to myself how much they put themselves at risk. They were a complete target for the police. White cop or black. I’m not even talking about the intoxicants, you be your own judge on that. But if you’re going to do that, at least outsmart the system. Upset the setup.

It is wrong, unfortunate and immoral that this scene is an almost immediate attention-getter forAmerica’s police officers, yep even the heroes in New York. But it is.

Many black men have sat in similar circumstances and had the police rummaging through their car under the guise of probable cause. This is often followed by some trumped-up, petty arrest which is inconvenient in itself.

But then you lose money in bail, that you don’t get back even if you’re found innocent in court.

If you’re not innocent in court you’ll be hit with other fines if you’re lucky. And most often you do lose in court because you can’t afford any kind of decent legal representation.

In jail you lose time from making a productive living, and work for free for the state. Or if you’re lucky you can work for a private company like Microsoft like prisoners inWashingtonin the early 1990s.

Whether in the private sector or the public, your presence in prison also means jobs for the neighboring community. Officers, guards, probation officers, judges, court reporters, clerical workers, parole officers, attorneys, cafeteria workers. Businesses open around the prison to serve the prison workers, and more jobs are created. All from the system doing a target marketing spree of young, black men like yourself to boost its business.

When you finally get out of jail it’s difficult to find any kind of work where you can really make a decent living because you continue to carry the blemish of prison even though you paid your debt to society. It’s hard for educated, middle class white people to get a job, so it’s real tough on you these days.

Your neighborhood has been purposely isolated from any type of business establishments making you have to spend money you don’t have just to travel to fill out applications.

For many, the only viable option to trying to live the American dream is by illegal means.

This may work out for a while, but despite what you hear in the rap records, for the overwhelming majority of those who go this route, the end result is death or prison. It’s the only options that the system makes available.

In 2003 I can’t fathom that there would be more than a handful of black people who don’t know and understand intimately this cycle that I have described. That don’t understand that they are a target for law enforcement, and slaves to the legal system. Regardless of class, it’s almost impossible to be black and not know that. Even coons like Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly know that, even if they won’t admit it.

The legal system has a strong responsibility to bear, but those young men have to be responsible for their actions as well.

Fortunately nothing came of it and they were all good. This time.

I don’t remit the young cats too much. I’ve done shit like that and things a million times dumber, like a trillion times. It’s unbelievable how many times God has rescued me from my own foolishness the way he rescued these boys from theirs on this day.

Today’s youth have a much sharper learning curve, however. I am fortunate that I was able to make up some of the time I wasted, and recover from the errors of youth. But now I, nor anyone else, can afford to make too many life-altering mistakes.

I can’t express how much just paying more attention to the fundamentals would do for us as a people.

Only then can we climb mountains.

But as Martin said, I realize that I won’t get there with you.

The mental revolution that is needed to reform our community is a generation or two away at best. For those of us who want to do the work that’s necessary to save our community, many such as myself have come to the realization that we won’t be the ones to reap the direct benefits of these changes.

And benefits does not mean any material stuff, but working so my grandkids will be able to have a life where they have complete self-determination from the womb to the tomb.

It’s very overwhelming and depressing at times. But I can see no alternative to trying to carry on the struggle. It’s just hard having to fight against the ways of black folks and the ways of the system that programmed us to behave this way.

You can’t be mad at a hurricane for being a hurricane, or winter for being cold. In similar fashion, the system will do only what it is designed to do: to keep power concentrated, and to keep black folks down. As with a hurricane and winter, black people must make the necessary adjustments to survive in this environment.

With this in mind, we must make efforts to do as little as possible to hurt our own cause. If only we begin to wake up, there is no way the system can hold us back.

I love my people and I hold them to tremendously high standards. But overall I’m just sick of cats only making noyze in word and not deed. Those who continue to do so will have the blood of our people on their hands.

Peace and God bless.

9

Noyzes

August 03 – Volume 4 # 8

“Rock, Rock On”

Hear me people, and hear me well. Hip-hop ain’t fuckin’ dead and it ain’t gone die. Not as long as I’m breathing.

Nope, you’re not going to find it on your local radio station too often. The monthly magazine you subscribe to isn’t really interested in helping you connect with it. Every now and then you might see glimpses of it on your favorite video show.

But hip-hop, which extends far beyond the music, was born in the people not inside the idiot box.

But despite this fact, I can’t front, I still have moments of great concern.

Most recently was when I saw MTV II’s list of Top 22 MC’s of all-time. I’ll give you the list for yourself first, before I comment.

22. Chuck D
21. Method Man
20. Queen Latifah
19. LL Cool J
18. Foxy Brown
17. Common
16. Snoop
15. KRS-1
14. Run DMC
13. DMX
12. Nelly
11. Big Pun
10. Missy Elliot
9. Beastie Boys
8. Lil’ Kim
7. Dr. Dre
6. Rakim
5. Jay-Z
4. Nas
3. Eminem
2. Biggie
1. Tupac

Of course, most hip-hop purists and even laypersons would know not to expect much out of MTV when it comes to hip-hop. Their play list has generally favored artists who aren’t going to disturb the social order ofAmerica.

But this wasn’t a list made by middle-aged, network executives, but was rather made by the fans.

And if this is reflective of general public opinion (and I think it probably is), then people seem to be greatly mislead about exactly what hip-hop is all about and what it takes to earn the distinguished title of MC.

Those polled surprised me by selecting Common, KRS-1 and Chuck D. Not that they aren’t worthy, I just didn’t think the general public was up on them like that. Nonetheless, they were ranked far too low.

But how are the likes of Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim and Nelly making the damn list? Check some of their album credits and you’ll see that some of these cats aren’t even writing their own lyrics. They are good entertainers, good rappers maybe. But that’s not the same as being an MC.

An MC is an artist, most of these cats are performers.

An MC can get inside your soul and pull something out.

Nelly can rock a party for about four minutes, and I’m not mad at that, not at all. But an MC leaves something with you beyond the song’s duration. The best MC’s leave something for years to come.

An MC can rock a live show. They don’t just stand on the stage with a bottle and their shirt off, forgetting their simplistic lyrics because they’re too drunk.

An MC brings energy to the crowd. Gives you something intangible that you can’t get from listening to a CD.

There can be 10,000 people screaming in your ear and you can hear the MC’s every word clearly.

An MC can rock without a microphone if they had to like KRS-1. They can freestyle like Phife. They can rhyme about a lot of different subjects. They write ahead of the curve like Dre from Outkast. They can tell stories like Slick Rick. They make you laugh like Redman or Too Short. They have longevity and always bring it for the people like Scarface. They set trends like Snoop. They have a phat voice like Mos Def. They’re arrogant like LL. They have phat word-play like Eminem. They have presence like Big Daddy Kane.

MC’s?

But most people don’t know the criteria, it’s no longer become important. Those who control the mediums in which hip-hop is accessed give you the fluff and not the culture.

People no longer understand that there are certain standards for even touching a microphone. Most of the clowns on this list would not have lasted two albums in 1988.

Back then, everything had to meet certain standards and it was very easy to see a fraud, someone who was trying to capitalize off of rap, but had no connection with the larger hip-hop culture that the music came from.

But this is no accident. Those who control our ideas, and how they circulate, were uncomfortable with the positive manifestations of this resurfaced jungle music called hip-hop.

Through the culture and music, poor people of color in the inner city were experiencing an awakening. They were channeling the negative energy that had been self destructive for so long, and using it to gain a foundation formed on its own terms, not those of its oppressor.

Simultaneously, white & Asian kids of all economic backgrounds were connecting to the energy and attitude expressed through hip hop’s four elements of graffiti, breakdancing, DJing amd MCing . They were hearing about people and stories of the black experience that their parents, churches and textbooks had never told them about. Knowledge that would make them less likely to duplicate the sins of their fathers.

Gaps were being bridged. A revolution was on the way.

But just like most historical anti-establishment movements here in America and throughout the world, hip-hop was soon infiltrated by capitalistic forces, and suddenly the positive messages of unity, freedom, politics and change were not made accessible to the public as they weren’t deemed commercially viable.

Music today is horribly formulaic. Made real simple so as many people can remember the elementary lyrics as possible. Most times only the hook, or chorus, is important. The content of the song isn’t really significant.

Add a phat, familiar-sounding beat from the hot producer of the minute and you have a hit. Then get some special, celebrity cameos for your remix.

It completely baffles me how cats can stand to listen to this shit on the radio for more than 15 minutes. Hell, in the 16th minute you’re going to hear the same song you heard 15 minutes ago.

But the fans are only exposed to a limited amount of artists, sounds and ideas and this reflects in their tastes. Anything sounding remotely different is often greeted with a deaf ear.

But we can’t expect the institutions and controlling interests of this nation to do anything much different than what they’ve always done.

So the blame is not exclusively with radio, TV and record companies.

Personally, I listen to absolutely great hip-hop. What am I playing these days?

Jaylib, Little Brother, Gang Starr, J-Live, The Primemeridian, Large Professor, some resurfaced INI, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Polyryhthmaddicts. Just to name a few.

It’s not likely that you’re going to hear any of that on the radio anytime soon. Nowadays to get some cutting-edge music, you’re probably going to have to rely on word-of-mouth, like I’m fortunate to be able to do. And you’re going to have to make special efforts to hunt for good music. Yes, I’m sorry, this is what it has come to.

Here in Chicago, that shouldn’t be much of an obstacle though, as there are many artists here worthy of our unwavering support.

Like my man Papa San of Blak Box-Basstone, who just released his 2nd album, “Black Market.” He reps Chi to the fullest and gives a wide array of perspectives in a manner that is entertaining, educational and sincere.

Same deal with my man Kenny Bogus on his recent release “The Game: In the Raw Uncut.” The fellas will really appreciate his catchy banter about the opposite sex.

And if you live in Chicago and you haven’t seen Poetree, Usuall Suspectz and Family Tree perform live, you are truly cheating yourself.

To do our part to ensure that hip-hop lives on, we are featuring performances by several Chicago hip-hop acts at our 5th Annual Summer Jam on August 16. These are a collection of fantastic MC’s that we feel reflect a similar passion and vision for hip-hop culture that we do at Illanoyze.

They include our peoples The Primeridian, The Outfitters, MIC, Kamau Rashid and CODE F.I. We will also feature artists from two of Chicago’s hottest independent labels, Ill Regards Records, Inc and Hedknod Recordings. For those who think hip-hop is dead, these acts are certain to reassure you that this culture is alive and well.

This would be a great opportunity for you to do your part to ensure that it continues to live on.

The reason why hip-hop is in the condition it is, is that the people don’t have as much ownership of the culture as they should.

This can change by us beginning to show greater support to the artists right here in our midst who continue to ground their music in the culture.

And while economic support is fantastic and much desired, support can come in other ways as well. Something as simple as telling people about different artists and sharing music with others.

The Summer Jam is free, and we’re even feeding you (if you get there early enough, you know how free food goes). Harold’s at that!

Come get some nourishment for your soul as well. And perhaps together, we can begin to reclaim hip-hop for the people. Both the culture and the music.

Peace and God bless.

(Here are the top)

9

9(tie). Scarface – For one, this cat has sick flow. Two, consider he’s being doing this since 1986 and has never fallen. He appeals to different audiences, he stays true to himself and still sells records. Doesn’t get his just due.

LL Cool J – These days I’m not really fuckin’ with LL at all, and I think he’s comfortable with that, as he targets his contemporary music more to women.

Still, you can’t ignore what LL has done. Go back and listen to his old stuff, man. Dude is sick. This guy has ended mu’fuckas careers. And even all these years later, don’t test him.

He still can rip your guts out at anytime.

Go listen to the Jack the Ripper. Lyrically, that’s some of the best ever. He’s like a man possessed.

8. Run – Run DMC changed the game and are principally responsible for the expansion of hip hop. That’s really enough said.

7. Mos Def – I left him off of my original list. What you’re reading is the final edit. I didn’t feel comfortable putting him so high with only one full album to his credit…Then I listened to “Black on Both Sides.” This nigga is cold as hell.

Brings intellect and flare to the mic in a way that’s very comfortable and down-to-earth. He drops knowledge without being preachy. Is unbelievably versatile and never says a wack rhyme. He also snapped on the Black Star album and he’s had a billion songs on Rawkus releases and other cameos.

Still, it’s enough that his solo album is among the top five of all time. I think I may rank it 3rd behind “Midnight Marauders” and “Niggaz4life.” Check his song “New World Water.” Who rhymes about that?

6. Big Daddy Kane – Had Big Daddy not started with all that “This is for the Lover in You” type-shit, he might be even higher. Off of just lyrics, he’s maybe just behind Rakim, he was that raw. R-A-W. His delivery was sick, very clever. Plus this big, cool nigga used to dance with Scoob and Scrap. Always nice for a rapper to have a song or phrase that becomes an anthem. Kane’s stands to this day, “Pimpin ain’t easy.”

5. Q-Tip – I love Tribe, but for most of their reign, I thought Phife was the better of the pair. And he may be the better rapper. But Q-Tip is a consummate MC. He has a presence, a unique style, a phat voice, is versatile and trendsetting. The neosoul/Soul Aquarian sound of The Roots, Common, Mos Def, Deangelo, Badu of today bears it direct link to the Native Tounges, and Tribe specifically. And Q-Tip was the driving force behind the group.

Artists have gone out of their way to work with him. He has rapped with just about anybody who is anybody. And many other MC’s and producers sample him, always a tremendous show of respect in hip hop.

After you read this, go and listen to Tribe’s first album, “People Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rythym” released in 1990 and listen to some of his lyrics, and the different styles he brought. He was incredibly ahead of his time.

4. Dre from Outkast – Luke and the Geto Boys had sold before, but Outkast was the ones who really opened things up for the South to get paper like they are now.

Talk about being ahead of your time. Ignore the way he dresses, that makes the things this cats says all the more amazing. Again, he has all the criteria of an MC. Voice, presence, cadence, very unique. I like MC’s where you really have to hear them, can’t just listen to them. He hits me right in the heart when he rhymes. Just check this out:

 

“Twice upon a time there was a boy who died
Lived happily ever after
But that’s another chapter
Live from
home of the brave, with dirty dollars
Beauty parlors
Baby bottles
Bowling bra’d Impalas
Street scholars
majoring in culinary arts, you know how to work bread, cheese and dough
from scratch
But see the catch
is you can’t get caught
Know what you selling, what you bought
So cut that big talk
Let’s walk to the bridge, Meet me halfway
Now you may see some children dead off in the pathway
It’s them poor babies
walkin slowly to the candy lady
It’s lookin bad, need some hope like the words “maybe”
“if”, or “probably”… (Outkast 3:5)

Wow! That’s a pretty complex rhyme and he has said a whole bunch in a short time. But you have to think a little, the message is not blatant. Compare it to the superficial, transparent, elementary rhyme schemes on your radio right now. Compare it to the typical rhyme schemes of most of MTV’s top 22.

But the genius of Dre, and of Outkast, is that they still make their music adaptable to radio, without diminishing their art.

3. Common – For a long time I wouldn’t rank Common too high in the billions of times I’ve been asked, “What’s your top 5.” I would try and compensate for my Chicago bias.

But no more. It’s not just about him being from Chi, and that’s where he’s from regardless of where he lives. Just like George W. Bush is a Texan who works in D.C.

But his flow is hard to top. He can engage in many different subjects in a variety of ways.

And he’s the most courageous MC around right now. He could risk his entire career with the release of his last album. It’s definitely too far off for mainstream radio, and most of his hardcore fans might be alienated.

But he did it because he wanted to be true to himself and true to his art. Years from now, those who dis it now, will see the genius of “Electric Circus.” Part of being a great MC is realizing these things before the masses do.

And he also showed madd heart in his unmerciful lyrical beating of Ice Cube. When most hardcore east coast rappers were talking in clichés, Common took on Cube and the West Side Connection blatantly. And by himself, without a crew or nothin. Say what you will, but his song “The Bitch in You” is one of the illest dis records of all time, way phatter than anything Jay-Z and Nas were doing. Everything Common said in that song was right and exact.

2. Rakim – No one is touching him lyrically. Not sure anyone ever will again. Listen to stuff this dude was writing in like 86, 88. Cats still haven’t caught up to that stuff yet.

There are so many songs to pick from, but my personal favorite is “Mahogany.” Hmm.

That song there. Hell, after listening to it, you’re in love with Mahogany. So descriptive. He draws out the whole scene. Gives you a mental picture of it all. Takes you to another place. That’s an MC.

I listen to his old stuff, and I’m still just catching things that I can’t believed I missed.

Greatest mic presence in hip hop. From the very first time you heard him, you knew this cat meant business.

1. KRS-1 – KRS is number one because he has done it on such a high level for so long. Has gone through so many different eras. No one is fading him in a live show.

But the reason why KRS is still number one is because no MC in hip-hop is as firmly rooted in the culture. No, I don’t think the last couple of albums have been on par with some of his earlier works, but he has set the bar pretty high for himself.

And if there’s an alien invasion and in order to save the world, we need one MC to kick one rhyme for all the marbles, I’d like KRS to spit it.

Honorable Mention:

-Eminem: Say what you will, this white boy has sick flow. Sick flow.
-Nas: Unbelievable skill, but not enough consistency. Lost madd points during years he was making songs with Ginuine and the like.
-Black Thought: Nothing bad to say, top 9 just too good.
-Special Ed: Too large of a void, but revisit him. This nigga was ill.
-Lauryn Hill: If she makes another album with a significant amount of rhymes, she could crack the top 5. She’s that cold.
-Mikkey: Hey nobody’s really heard this cat yet man, and the ways of the industry make it where you may never get the full dose. But this nigga is really sick. I know first hand that he is colder than at least 95 percent of cats out. At least. That’s my word.
-Redman: Never says a wack rhyme. Only MC whose interludes I tolerate on his album. They are hilarious.
-Biggie: I LOVE Biggie, love him. That dude’s flow is absolutely ridiculous. But “Life After Death” was a mediocre album, and I’m being polite. There were some songs on there that banged, but too many songs like “I Love the Dough.”

“Ready to Die” was one of the great works of all time, a product of pure genius. But to put him in the top 9 with just one album would be incredibly disrespectful to all the MC’s that came before him and since.
-Chuck D

Noyzes

July 03 – Volume 4 # 7

“Sport and Play”

 “Damn, what happened?” I asked, sensing in Marcus’ voice that something terrible had happened.
“Prior had fanned 16. Went to the 9th up 3-2. Blew it. 3-run homer,” Marcus said.
“Damn! They loss?”
“Yeahhh, man,” he lamented.
“Fuck!!! I’ight man, let me hit you back when I get out of class.”
“Peace, black,” he said ruefully.

“What happened?” one of my students asked when I got off the phone.
“The Cubs loss,” I said as if all of the oxygen had been punched from my body.
“You had money on it or something?”
“Naw, naw,” I said with a laugh?

“Did I have some money on it?” I thought to myself. Not right then. At the time I didn’t think much of it, I was still in shock from the loss and had to get back to work.

But a couple of hours later when I was walking home, still thinking about the game, it came back to me.

“Did I have some money on it?”

Legitimate question, no doubt. It wasn’t the question so much that he thought this could be the only reason why I would display such clear and evident emotional distraught.

No I didn’t have money on it, I’m a sports fan. I love my teams, live and die with them. And I feel it when my teams lose.

Correction, I’m not a sports fan. I’m a sports fanatic.

When it comes to my teams I am obsessed.

I credit the 1996 Yankees heroic playoff run that season as helping (with various other factors of course) me regain perspective on life. At times the Yankees were down and out and things looked totally hopeless, but they persevered and emerged victorious.

I blamed myself for most of the Bulls 10 regular season losses of the 82 games they played in 1996-97. Statistics show that almost all of those games were ones that I didn’t bother to watch, generally because I felt like they were games the Bulls would handle.

When I watched, they played well. When I didn’t, they’d lose. You can’t argue with that logic, can you?

I also largely blamed myself for the Yankees losing the 2001 World Series, one of the great series of all time.

I didn’t see a single game of it at the time because I was selfishly doing a journalism residency inSouth Africa.

Of course, I felt if I had seen the games the end result would have been drastically different. The days after they loss, I was inconsolably depressed. I was in one of the most beautiful places on earth, but the Yankees loss almost ruined my three month stay. I had a great time. It was a life changing experience, but I’ll always feel a degree of guilt for what happened to the Yankees. They were one out away from winning four straight. Hmmm, still hurts.

Around that time I began to seriously think about not watching sports anymore. I try not to get upset over things I can’t control and just leave those things in God’s hands, but it was hard with sports.

I felt my values were screwed up. Plus, a lot of what I was seeing in the sportsworld was not characteristic of many of the things I had come to love about it many years ago.

Part of the thing I liked about sports is how people rose to the occasion. The pressure of a last second shot. Your teammates depending on you. The sacrifice, practice and discipline it took behind the scenes to be able to perform in the clutch.

These are all things that I can relate to the game of life. We see this manifested in teachers, in firemen, in doctors, in parents everyday and take it for granted. I try to marvel at it in whatever arena it occurs. It just so happens that in sport it’s very entertaining too.

Charles Barkley said he wasn’t a role model, and I feel him. Parents should be responsible for raising their children, not some dude on TV who’s only qualification is he can grab some rebounds.

Still, Americans, hell everybody, takes heart in their sports stars. When we see them present God’s grace in the athletic realm, it can sometime help motivate the God in us in some way.

Take for example when Emmitt Smith lead the Cowboys to an overtime win on the last Sunday of the season in 1993 on a cold afternoon in New York against the Giants. Emmitt played almost the entire 2nd half and OT with a separated shoulder and continued to get the ball and excel.

I winced with him after every hit. Emmitt, a man of small stature compared to most NFL giants, stood strong, not fumbling or nothing.

The Cowboys won and eventually went on to win the Super Bowl.  Again.

Seeing that made me think twice the next time I had a sore throat and was thinking of staying home from work. Fortunately, I had a more consistent role model down the hall from me in the form of my father, but it didn’t hurt to see this lesson played out in a different arena.

The main thing I took during those championship years was that Emmitt and the Cowboys wanted it badly, and nothing was going to get in their way.

I also better understood how life goes in cycles as the Cowboys were winning their 2nd Super Bowl just 4 seasons after going 1-15. Ouch. It made me appreciate those good times of Michael Irvin-hosted hot tub parties and trophies. And seeing what had happened in the past let me know, even then, that this wouldn’t go on forever and at some point we’d see some more of those lean years. And so it is. Get ready to see the other cycle soon, Cowboy haters.

And so it is in life. In recent years I have been blessed to see my stress level drop tremendously, as my responsibilities increased. But I knew, even then, that things would get thick in the future and stress would consume at every angle. And so it is.

I can’t front, but understanding cycles allows me better able to deal. And I’ll get ready to see the other cycle soon.

However, I’m not finding as often examples that I can relate to my current mindstate.

I rarely see the kind of fire that Emmitt showed that December anymore, man. That kind of heart, those kind of nuts.

I see lots of talented players in all sports. These cats can run and jump like no generation before them.

But the talent is raw, and is too often utilized to serve personal interests rather than those of the team. And the talent lacks the mental resolve that is necessary to be a champion, which should be the ultimate aim of any competitor.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trailblazers have a lot of talent. Much more talent 1 through 12 than the Lakers. But unlike the Lakers, they have no rings. Both have had opportunities right before them to rectify that situation, but wilted like Midwestern flowers in October when things got hot.

And while guys like Emmitt Smith earned their reputation by performing in big games, nowadays stars are marketed before they’ve really done anything.

On the night of the NBA draft, there were video game commercials for incoming players who haven’t played a minute of pro ball yet, and hadn’t officially been in the league for 45 minutes. But shit like this, and countless other promotions will make them stars. Used to be your game made you a star. And despite Chuck D’s warning in 1988, many will believe the hype.

Take for example my man Vince Carter, who I like being a Tar Heel and all. But he’s never been a star. I think he will be one day soon, but he isn’t yet.

Vince won a dunk contest and the media went crazy. This shows the mentality of the media as it gave undo attention over an individual event. And an event that really is totally irrelevant and became irrelevant when MJ stopped being in them. Vince’s dunk was ill, but big deal. Just win baby.

Don’t get me wrong, he had some decent numbers, but in my opinion he still had some growing to do, as is the case with most young players.

But beyond that, his team had never won anything and he hadn’t consistently proven himself in the playoffs. And that’s the bottom line to the all these games, winning. Well, at least it used to be anyway.

Now the bottom line is the bottom line. Increasingly it seems that the main issue of sport is like my student figured, money.

This is clearly true in Chicago where  historic ComiskeyPark is now the bland, faceless U.S. Cellular Field. Insane.

There’s even more corporate madness going on a few miles north at Soldier Field where the Bears will return after playing a season in Champaign while the stadium was being remodeled for $365 million at Chicago taxpayers’ expense.

But they won’t simply be the Chicago Bears, they’ll now be the Chicago Bears presented by Bank One.

Ridiculous. I’d stop watching the Cubs if they changed the name of Wrigley Field to Microsoft Park or something. Although the Chicago Cubs presented by Illanoyze might sound ok, and solve a lot of problems.

Not that this is something that’s unique to Chicago. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid I’d watch college football and would check out the Orange Bowl, the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl, etc on New Year’s Day.

Now I don’t know what I’m watching it’s the damn FedEx Orange Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Nokia Sugar Bowl, The Outback Steakhouse Bowl, etc.

Even segments of Sportscenter are getting into the act. The Budweiser “Hot Seat,” and crap like that.

And since media ownership is becoming more and more centered, corporate Americaca swing its slimy tentacles everywhere, even places where it doesn’t belong at all.

Like a couple of weeks ago I was watching a game on ESPN and the broadcasters had Jim Belushi on to talk baseball for a few seconds, and then hype his wack-ass show on ABC the rest of the time. Both ESPN and ABC are owned by Disney coincidentally.

Rather than pay for a commercial, why not force the advertising during the game as well? Get this clown the fuck out of the booth, and move on with the game!

You see this all the time. The network gets some schmuck tickets to a game, and the sideline reporter finds their way to them so they can lie about how much of a big fan they are, and then proceed to hype their show. Then the announcer gives you the day & the time of the show 3 or 4 more times in case you didn’t hear the sideline bimbo.

But it’s the players too. Many of them act like the only thing they’re playing for is the money sometime.

A lot of them will leave championship teams through free agency and go to a team that totally sucks and everyone knows it, simply because the wack team will give the player 80 million and the championship team is only offering a meager 70 million.

They hold out and cost their team games over a few million.

But money has always played a major role in sport. Wrigley Field itself is named after a corporation. It was just that back in the early 1900s when Wrigley was built, when a stadium was named after a company, the company either had a stake in the team or at least had some large connection with the team¹s city. Now a lot of these teams are named after companies whose home-base is thousands of miles away.

And even still, most stadiums were basic. Take for example, Chicago Stadium, where the Bulls played before the United (Airlines) Center. You’re in a stadium in Chicago, Chicago Stadium. That’s all you need to know.

And others had real phat names. The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Mecca in Milwaukee. The Summit in Houston. The Polo Grounds where the New York Giants baseball team played before moving to San Francisco and they played in Candlestick Park, which is now called 3ComPark.

Let me be quick to say I’m not mad at players getting their paper at all. Many of these athletes are black, many come from poor backgrounds so it’s cool they’re able to get their families up out of that. And even with all the money the athletes get it’s nothing compared to what the owners get.

Plus, back in the 1950s and 60s many of the guys playing professional baseball, football and basketball had to work jobs in the off-season just to get by like Talib Kweli.

But that just shows how much many of them loved the game.

And that’s the thing, more than anything. Call me a fanatic, crazy, just plain stupid, but I have a burning passion for sport.

I want to see that in the guys who get to do it for a living, and I don’t see that as much as I’d like. I care, I want them to care too.

Nowadays, everything’s about a show. Guys trying to get on the highlight shows.

In the NFL, it angers me to no end to see a guy get a touchdown and start dancing when his team is down like 21 points.

Earlier this year a guy hit a game-winning shot in college and in celebration, he made a collar-popping motion in the center of his jersey, pointing to his team’s logo.

That kind of celebration I don’t disparage. A game winning shot is certainly something worth celebrating, and his celebration was done in a way that it not only brought attention to himself, but his team as well.

What I do disparage is that after his highlight was shown on Sportscenter, ballplayers on all levels began to bite what dude did after their team won games, whether or not a last second shot was involved. This was done with hopes that they could be on Sportscenter too. Quite predictably, Sportscenter obliged them for the most part.

For many a day I used the world of sport as sort of an escape from many of the things that disgusted me about this world of ours.

But now it seems more difficult to escape all the superficial and cosmetic aspects of the real world. And I am really getting fed up with it.

I tell myself I want to hold out until the Cubs win a World Series. It’d be just my luck that the year I decide to tune out will be the year that they win the World Series for the first time since 1908.

So I’m going to hold on for now, because despite it all, I still love sport. And I don’t want to miss the party of a lifetime that will be all of Chicago when the Cubs win the World Series.

That’s right, when. Not if.

After today’s game we’ll get it together.

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

June 03 – Volume 4 # 6

 “Thanksgiving”

“I get the job done
But somedays I want to take off.
D be like we ain’t got no time for that
Questlove said we ain’t got no time for that
My old bird like we ain’t got no time for that
So I rhyme when my back hurts.” ­ Common (4:3)

What’s up y’all, how are you today?

I’m good myself. Just busy, always runnin’ like the Pharcyde.

So much has been happenin lately that I almost barely noticed the 5-year anniversary of this adventure we call Illanoyze.

Plus I feel guilty in a sense to devote time, energy and celebration to something like that when there’s so many more important things going on in the world.

Perhaps most significantly, I don’t want us to get caught up like we’ve really accomplished something, when there is so much ahead, and we’re so far from our ultimate goal of saving the world.

Still, it’s good to stop and smell roses and give ourselves a brief, but well-earned pat on the back.

Man, we’ve worked so hard to get here. It’s unbelievable when I think about it sometime.

But it’s easy to get lost in the journey while you’re going through it, as I’m sure you can relate to in your path.

It seems like just yesterday we were having our first party on June 5, 1998.

These days I’ve become almost too numb to the dealings of business to the point where these days I rarely get rattled over anything. But I can’t front, I was a shook one that night.

It fuckin’ started pouring down raining a little before we were to get started. The Bulls were playing Game 2 of the Finals against the Jazz so you knew nobody was moving until that was over. Plus it was the first Friday in June in Chicago which meant there was a lot going on.

But the clouds parted, the Bulls won and we ended up getting a very nice turnout. And most importantly people had a good time as Twilite Tone and my boy Ed Scott (the artist formerly known as DJ Left) rocked the spot.

Other parties weren’t so good though. Like the one we had in September of that year where we had exactly three people show up the entire night. Madd props go out to Tracy, Dapo and Leron for coming through, staying to the end and actually having a good time for what it was worth.

Through the early struggles we argued, fought and clawed and had some casualties along the way like you’ll have in any battle. But madd thanks to those who are no longer with us physically, but will always be part of Illanoyze in mind and spirit. This thing is a movement, not just a company. So our connections to the central movement binds us beyond the boundaries of the corporation.

Nonetheless, we are extremely grateful for the immeasurable contributions made by Sean Bradford, Danny Graham and Hasan Muhammad. And that you all continue to make on our behalf.

Hell, a few times I gave momentary thought into giving up, but we trudged on. By 1999 we introduced the fashion line to amazing early success.

What is more amazing in retrospect is just how much we didn’t know. We were fortunate to have many such as Bob Nolan of Jockey in our midst to help make our learning curve a little easier. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us nobodies back in 2001.

What we lacked in knowledge, we more than made up for in elbow grease as we hustled like we were starving. From the jump, we promoted our product wherever we could.

Making ourselves visible, putting our product in the hands of as many people as possible.

Cats like Common, Wyclef, Eric Sermon, Guru, Talib Kweli, Remy Shand, Faith Evans, Ananda Lewis, Bobby Simmons of the Wizards, Darrell Armstrong of the Magic, Penny Hardaway, Jalen Rose, David Aldridge of ESPN, Guru, and my boy Nelson Mandela.

But here in sweet home Chicago is where we’ve been shown the most love. And for that I want to thank:

Jeff the Illest, DJ Tical, Mary Jane & AMPM, The Diz, Usuall Suspectz, Mickey for rocking the jones on Rikki Lake and touring with Cash Money. DeRay for hooking us up at Riddles. Diverse City. Papa San and Blak Box. VIP-TV. McKluskey & Associates. The Prime Meridian. Eric Nance for putting us in your movie “The Get Together.” Gino & L &G Productions. Ceon Forte, Earl Husbands and Focal Point Films. Kenny Bogus, Tony Wilson and Clockwise Entertainment. Upside of Down Entertainment. Ill Skillz. Fred Hampton, Jr. Chyna. DJ Markfullaflava. Kamau Rashid at theUniversityofIllinois. The Contender for rocking the piece on your album cover. Lisa Bertagnoli for featuring us in Crain’s and Chicago Tribune Magazine. Self Promotions. Tizone. Our boy Dave and MIC. Mai and Elemental down at Columbia. Keisha & Alex from Nu Group. Square One. Sinibar. Subterranean. Malik Yusef. Poetree. J-Ivy. Tarrey Torae. Vice Verse. Ill Regard Records. Nina Powell. Frontline Magazine. White Chalk. Tourey Muhammad & Bean Soup Times. Ang 13 & Lyricist. Puggsley and Kevin Maxie at WHPK. Winchelle at University of Illinois. The American Red Cross ofChicago. Chicago Cares. Kwesi & Lewis University. Dare-O for rockin the jones on the Fox interview and MTV’s “Tough Enough.” Groundwerks. My man Theo and Eclispe Entertainment who has shown us madd support from the beginning.

In these few years all of these cats have helped us grow tremendously to the point where we have gone from exclusively selling shirts out of car trunks and bedroom closets to being featured in several stores throughout Chicago.

Thanks to Hitz, Zemskys, EQ, Shashemane Creations, Raw Tek, Tony’s Sports, Leader’s, and Marshall Fields.

But true thanks and gratitude is owed to all those who do so much to help us behind the scenes in so many ways.

I want to give a personal thanks to my parents, Halif and Shakira Muhammad, who gave me the knowledge of self and God which inspired this. Thanks to my pops for instilling in me my work ethic, discipline, frugality and toughness. Thanks to my mother for giving me my passion and social skills, and for believing in me during dark days of 1993 when few else did. Thanks to you both for allowing your home to be a warehouse, shop and office.

Thanks to Mia for your unconditional support, love, companionship and patience. To Marine for being such a dear friend to Illanoyze and sharing in our vision.Pierre at Hollywood East. Cathleen Stagen. Kimaada Moore. Carla. Chaunda Muhammad for letting us use your home for socials and meetings. Melva Davis for modeling and scanning like 1,000 photos. Jennifer Wehunt for designing the plugger. Models Teresa Yuan, Nasazi Lwanga, Karen Grace, Stephanie, Lisa McLeod, Ron Nixon at Nix Nax, Grasso Graphics, Gina Sullivan from the Niles Show. Kim Terrell, Joy Carter and Anitra Willis from the Make Some Noyze Foundation. Kareem and Tirshatha Armstead who married a couple of years after meeting at an Illanoyze social. Robert Nolan, Jr. Tina Crawford. Aneatra Tolliver. Jon Tamari. Terrence Lee. Our lawyer Norma Sutton. Our accountant Will Howard. Deepali Dewan. Marcus Wilson. B.J. & Michele Jarrell. Jaleel Milsap. James Martin. Josh Drazen. Thom G. Alysia Tate. Kevin Newson. My niece Haley for helping to keep me young. Kelly. Shawna. Ronald Reed. Sean Mason. Chuck for buying a gang of gear despite talking a lot of shit. Javon Pelt. Angie of Angelic Creations. Even Laverne from the Park District. My UPS man who looks like the black dude from Barney Miller. Jamal Bristol. Roland Smith. The late Steve Pendergrass. Christina Silvera. Farrah Hilliard. Corey Thompson. Derrick Brown. Willie E. Aiasha Muhammad. Mary Pearl Waller. A Tribe Called Quest whose work has gotten me through many a day.

Thanks to all who I have failed to mention. Know that you are close to my heart always, if not my mind immediately. Thanks to everybody who bought a shirt. Who borrowed one from a relative and wore it to the corner store. Who came to an event. Who checked out the website. Who actually gave our plugger a look and didn¹t refuse it or throw it down in the street.

And most of all, thanks to God who makes it all possible. He has blessed me to be surrounded by an all-star team of talent that helps hide all my many flaws.

Madd thanks and love to Previn, Ed, Chico, Troyand Tiffany. We have busted our ass to get here. Rejoice in it.

Especially considering the fact that to this point nobody’s given us anything. I think I am most proud of that.

Here’s to seeing our 5th birthday. Have a piece of cake and ice cream.

Now let’s keep it movin and get back to work.

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

May 03 – Volume 4 # 5

 “The Game from the Truth”

“All I do is separate the game from the truth
Big bang boots
From the Bronx to Boliva
Getting physical like Olivia Newt
Tricks up my clit
Dick all day
But no trivia” -Notorious B.I.G. (1:07)-

Being a bit of a wordsmith myself, I probably pay a little closer attention to the affects of one’s words than others.

And it has been with a keen ear that I have listened in recent weeks at how the Bush administration and his puppet, so-called liberal media have stupefied the American people when it comes to issues surrounding the current war in Iraq.

Hey, Biggie said the world is filled with pimps and hoes. So I guess I can’t be too madd at them. And I can’t front, as a former mack of legendary proportion myself, it’s impressive to watch them a little bit as they run their game on the American people in ways that would make Max Julien proud.

But also like Biggie did on the album (and phatter) version of “One More Chance”, allow me to separate the game from the truth.

1. Let’s start with the name of the mission: “Iraqi Freedom”

Iraqi freedom? Hell, can a brotha get his40 acresand a mule? How about the enslaved Africans and Latinos in this mu’fucka? But after almost 500 years that’s a lost cause so we’ll move on.

The United States doesn’t give a damn about providing the Iraqi people any freedom. If  the U.S. is in the business of providing freedom from dictators then they have a long and expensive tour ahead of them. Maybe next they’ll go get some freedom for the people of Nigeria where reported “intimidation” at election polls has left 25 people dead.

And people throw this most precious term, freedom, around ever so loosely. Freedom is more than just having the freedom to consume more freely, or the freedom to choose between two corrupt, manufactured leaders. A large part of freedom is self-determination, and no one could be fool enough to think that an “independent” Iraq-free from the shackles of Saddam- will have that.

What the Iraqi people will receive is freedom from an overt domination, to one more subtle. They will have the freedom to think and behave like westerners.

Once the dust clears, American businesses will open in Iraq, sometimes even taking American jobs with them. It will become difficult to distinguish Baghdad from downtown Kansas City with all the billboards for American products like Coke, Nike and Gap. Schools will open to train Iraqi children to be good, assimilated capitalists just like the boys and girls here in the States. Its democratically elected officials will put American interests over those of the people who voted them into office. You know, the way they get down in democratic Spain and England.

But just like game spit at a naive, emotional street girl; saying this is about “Iraqi freedom” will tug at your heartstrings. Make you feel a little bit better about colonizing a country when you see soldiers giving them water.

2. In launching such an ambitious and expensive effort to secure Iraqi freedom, it presupposes that freedom is already a matter of fact here at home.

If you watch the news or read a paper you’ll read all about how, here in the 21st century, America stands proudly as a model for all the world to see.

One of this nation’s shining symbols has been its defense of free speech. This is particularly valued with American media.

However, it seems clear in this current conflict that alternative opinions to the Bush war machine are not encouraged, nor welcomed.

NBC journalist Peter Arnett was fired after he spoke honestly about the war. Similar threats were aimed at Fox war correspondent Geraldo Rivera, who compromised by agreeing to come home under executive order from the White House.

While Rivera’s drawing a map in the sand on TV of his location in Iraq may not have been the brightest idea, his return probably had more to do with his history of being critical of the Bush administration. These cats are giving all types of info on TV all the time, and have for months before the war.

After the Arab network, Al Jazeera, aired footage showing U.S.hostages they had their space removed from the New York Stock Exchange because of an all-of-a-sudden “lack of space.”

Some radio stations have banned the country group The Dixie Chicks for member Natalie Maines saying “I’m ashamed President Bush is from Texas” during a concert in London.

I was plenty disgusted by all of this censorship. And I couldn’t even find escapes from the fascists. As even in the wide world of sports, tyranny reared its ugly head.

This happened after the Baseball Hall of Fame cancelled a showing honoring the baseball film, “Bull Durham” because of anti-war comments made by Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, two of the film’s stars.

Hall of Fame president, Dale Petroskey (who worked as an official in the Reagan administration) said that these actors comments were somehow putting the troops in even more danger.

I thought the soldiers were fighting to protect the freedom of speech in America.

No, none of these individuals had their tongues cut out like they might have in some countries for speaking in opposition to the government, but this form of censorship is even worse in that people don’t even know it’s taking place.

3. Some of the rhetoric that makes me most angry is this talk about “supporting our troops.”

Granted, many of the troops who served inVietnam were treated very poorly upon their arrival back in America. This was an unfortunate misplacement of justified animosity.

But just like now, those of us who oppose this imperialistic war are upset with the rich, bourgeoisie leaders who send working class kids off to fight in a war that will not make their way of life better upon their return.

Putting the emphasis on the troops, takes the attention away from the foreign policy that put the troops in harm’s way.

4. As America began to launch its vaunted “shock & awe” campaign, the Iraqis initially put up more resistance than most expected.

This unexpected circumstance was explained away by U.S. officials and CNN as the Iraqis survived by “fighting dirty.”

The techniques are labeled as such because they are unorthodox compared to those performed by American stormtroopers. Just like inVietnam, when small children would be sent as martyrs with bombs, killing several soldiers instantly.

It’s real bug that things go down like that sometime, but these people use the resources they have available to them since they don’t have a few billion to throw into their military like the red, white & blue.

Shit, it’s like Shaq and 4 Q-dogs comin’ to try and take me out of my crib. I’m going to defend myself by any means necessary. Most sensible people would agree with my stance. After all, what and the hell is dirty in life or death?

Besides, is it somehow more courageous and honorable to kill children from 5,000-10,000 feetin the air?

5. One of the terms that most certainly got many Americans in an uproar in the campaign leading to this conflict is “weapons of mass destruction.”

This is a total, utter and complete misnomer. The Bush Administration knows this but continue to throw words around since so few are paying attention.

“Weapons of mass destruction,” for most, evoke images of nuclear holocaust, Hiroshima, something like that.

What Iraq was said to have possessed are chemical weapons and some bombs that can’t travel200 miles. Far short of American shores.

Whatever the case, none of these weapons could cause any “mass destruction.” If there were a chemical attack in a large metropolitan city it wouldn’t be pleasant by any wild stretch of the imagination.

But this scenario didn’t pose nearly enough of a threat to merit engaging in an expensive war at a time where 200,000 people are getting laid off every other day, like R. Kelly cries.

And now that it’s on, where are all these weapons of mass destruction we’ve heard so much about anyway?

Fin. There are plenty of other instances where what’s being said doesn’t seem to be on par with reality. I’m really skeptical about some of these casualty counts, for example. CNN is telling me that American tanks are being destroyed, but no deaths, or even injuries are mentioned. And what’s up with all these mysterious “helicopter accidents?”

Not surprisingly, a couple of times some members of the Bush Admin have made pleas for Iraqis not to burn their oil fields. And as they have since 9/11, the media gave them a pass on the issue, but it’s cool.

I understand that a politician has a job to do. And it’s in his best interest to spin things in a certain manner. So I don’t hate the playa so much as I hate the game. But the American people have a responsibility to look at things more critically and not just accept the script that’s fed to them.

Being really informed about the issues that surround the troops’ combat in Iraq would be the best way to truly support them. All that other stuff is just game. Make Noyze for the truth, please.

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

April 03 – Volume 4 # 4

“When Doves Cry”

“Bombs over Baghdadddd…yeaaaahhhhh” ­Outkast-

 “The sky is falling ain’t no need to panic” ­Outkast-

As I exit onto the platform, there is almost instant pandemonium and slight panic.

I wipe the sweat off my forehead and take off my headphones to take it all in. So much had happened during my 55-minute train ride from 211th Street to Randolph & Michigan Avenue.

A burly conductor with brown hair, and a tight blue suit with brass buttons, is trying to direct people. There’s nowhere for them to move.

I take Ludacris’ advice and throw some subtle bows to make my way through.

Finally, out of the tunnel I notice the sun hit off the back of my neck just as I saw the wave of people emptying out of buildings and coming my way. Rushed. Hurried. Talking on cell phones. Horns blow. Buses are packed, but not moving.

It’s just after 9 am on September 11, 2001 and everyone was leaving downtown Chicago. I felt as though I were the only person coming in.

As I walked through empty Chicago streets like Tom Cruise in Times  Square in Vanilla Sky I knew this was reality, though it felt and looked like a movie.

However, this was a plot that did not completely catch those who study history off guard like it did many Americans.  I didn’t think that an attack on America would come in such a dastardly manner, and at a time where the U.S. was enjoying peace, power, prestige and prosperity like no empire had before it.

But I did know that the kind of rage that would inspire such an attack had been brewing for some time.

So I ached and hurt with the 3,000 people who died on 9/11, but I ached with them long before the attack as well. I ached over the misdeeds that America has had a hand in all over the world for centuries.

This is why I currently ache for the young Iraqi soldiers and civilians who may be dying in coming days, who probably will be perished by the time you’re reading this.

I ache for American fathers who may lose their lives abroad immediately, and domestically in the long run. I ache for Israeli mothers. I ache for 7-year-old Palestinian martyrs.

But it seems like this is of little consequence to many Americans as numbers show overwhelming support for war with Iraq.

If this is true – and I believe it is -America stands alone almost like it never has before.

Of course there has been much note of France and Russia and several other nations opposing war with Iraq. But they are far from alone.

Even U.S. allies such as Britain and Spain have leaders that are not acting at the will of their people.

Regardless of what the talking heads may say, polls say that the only other national populate that supports war with Iraq is Israel.

In other parts of the world there is such a strong anti-American sentiment that it has become a major political campaign issue in national races like it was inPakistan, South Korea and Germany.

There is such strong anti-American sentiment in Turkey that none of the nation’s major party candidates would agree to allow American troops to base there, and risk losing precious votes.

Turkey, which borders Iraq to the north, shows polls that say 90 percent of its citizens oppose a U.S. war with Iraq.

And this had been another traditional ally who has supported every U.S. military action since the Korean War.

The world-at-large wasted no time in displaying its opposition to the attack in Iraq, as protests were organized throughout the globe following the first night of bombing. And many protesters displayed not just opposition, but downright hatred and disdain for America and its new-age imperialism.

100,000 marched to the U.S. Embassy in Athens chanting, “America, killers of people.”

“U.S. warmongers go to hell,” read one sign at a protest in Calcutta,India where 6 demonstrators and 12 police officers were injured.

Germanydrew 80,000 protesters. One sign read, “Let’s BombTexas, they’ve got oil too,” alluding to what many in the international community believe to truly be at the root of the conflict.

Some of the 15,000 protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh burned American and British flags. In Manila, Phillipines they burned portraits of George W. Bush and their own pro-U.S. president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Fortunately, these people are like most, and are able to express their dissent diplomatically and peacefully.

Others around the world may not be as civil and may look for some form of retribution. And then America will go kill some more people, and on and on.

By the time you’re reading this, it is highly possible that the war with Iraq may be over, and the American people may feel really fired up and have its chest puffed out.

However, author and Pennsylvania University scholar Robert Wright cautions that the true outcome of this war may not be seen right away.

Wright says, “I contend that the biggest dangers posed by the war are in the long run. So beware snap postwar judgments on the success of the undertaking. The Persian Gulf War (in 1991) seemed like an unqualified success until the troops remaining in Saudi Arabia caught the eye of Osama Bin Laden, putting him on the path of 9/11.”

In the midst of tragedy, the Bush administration had a great opportunity with 9/11. With unparalleled power and the world’s attention, they could have opted to work more closely with nations in the interests of peace.

Instead, their foreign policy has been fraught with the arrogance of a western gun-slinger. Rumsfeld and Cheney and the boys had talked so much shit to the point where they had no choice but to fight.

But in the process they have likely made many new enemies, and given more fuel to old ones.

And the Bush administration doesn’t get it. This is a whole new world, a world that America created where private capital has more value than a nation-state politics in some cases. Microsoft and Disney by themselves, for example, are probably more powerful than at least half the countries in the world.

America will not necessarily be safer because “Iraq has been liberated.”

It wasn’t a nation that attacked America that morning while I was on the train. The “terrorists” had acquired enough money through means of western capitalism to acquire the resources they needed to mount an attack. They had no physical borders that America could strike back like Han Solo.

America on the other hand, through its excess and might, has many visible targets.

There was an outpouring of humanity like I’d never seen in the 9/11 aftermath. Perhaps that’s just when death has an American face. In other cases we can go on treating life outside of our borders for granted. Like we did before 9/11.

God bless America?

Peace and God bless to all,

9

Noyzes

March 03 – Volume 4 # 3

“Common Cents”

 “Men are free to make history, but some men are much freer than others. Such freedom requires access to the means of decisions and of power by which history may now be made – if men do not make history, they tend increasingly to become the utensils of history-makers and also the mere objects of history-making.” ­C.Wright Mills, 1964 –

 

“Trade money
Different color and shape money
Money that looks funny
But never no fake money
Make money, money
But please don’t waste money We don’t love money But we don’t hate money”
­Dialated Peoples, 2001

Y’all have often heard me make Noyzes in these pages where I aired various criticisms of our materialistic consumer culture.

And while it is true that I am very distraught over the sole-minded focus on money that seems to dominate all aspects of our society. Don’t get it twisted, I want to get some dough too. As a matter of fact, I want to get as much as I possibly can.

A few cats, both righteous and 85 alike, I’ve talked to lately have questioned whether or not this desire contradicts some of my revolutionary beliefs.

After all, money has been at the center of oppression for thousands of years now.

Much of the evil in the world today, behind all the social and political rhetoric, has money at its root.

Consequently, many believe that anything related to the quest of acquiring and keeping large amounts of money, could be oppressive in its own right.

This is a dilemma that I have battled with, and likely will continue to battle with, for some time.

See, I believe that the current systematic world structure under which we live is designed to create and perpetuate oppression. And it is my hope that Illanoyze will ultimately do its part to end, or at the very least, combat this oppression.

But the sojourn that we have ahead of us will require quite a bit of funding. We don’t want revolution to be about just abstract ideas, and emotional slogans. We want to build something tangible for the people, something to let them know that shit is real.

At its fundamental core, we started Illanoyze because we were dissatisfied with the standards and values of the global culture that we live in. A culture where most people have little hope of being truly free. A culture where almost every aspect of freedom and quality of life is tied to money.

I hope I am fortunate enough to have children one day. And it is my hope that they can grow old in a culture where money is not worshipped in actual practice more than the od we claim to hold so high on Sundays.

I do not trust those who currently control the pulse of our culture to create this world for my children, so I set out to try and do it myself.

But this new world cannot be merely embedded in rhetorical ideas that black bourgeoisie intellectuals have left us before.

Many well-intended young men and women have succumbed to the pressures of selfish materialism because they see the manifest benefits of this mindset everyday.

Those of us who talk about wanting to see change need to have something to provide kids who will begin to take their first steps later this year.

We need to have concrete examples that they can see and touch. Of how you can simultaneously contribute to the overall society, live according to God’s law and still be able to have you a Hummer if that’s your thing.

To do that, however, will take a large degree of economic independence. Since it is so difficult to navigate through society without having money, many people are forced to lose their autonomy and soul in the pursuit of the dollar.

Most people in this world work jobs where they don’t do anything that inspires any degree of passion in them, but do what they can because food comes before passion.

Consequently, the world loses many positive contributions because our society’s exclusive emphasis on money has blurred our focus.

So don’t tell me money don’t matter. It certainly doesn’t solve all of life’s problems by any means, but if you can eliminate money as a worry, most of us could sleep a lot easier. And more importantly, we could probably be more productive contributors to the world.

And with money we could pursue our life’s passions and manifest God’s essence in sharing the unique gifts that he blesses us with. Gifts that often lay dormant because economic necessity did not allow them to fully develop.

Having conquered the financial realities of everyday life such as heat and shelter, the hidden poet can write because she doesn’t have to worry about trying to fit her moments of inspiration around a clock. The artist could paint magnificent works of art because he wouldn’t have to forego his art supplies to get some baby formula.

But this goes far beyond merely the subjective level. Right now if America decided to cut black people off permanently we might starve to death. As a unit, unlike many other communities, our destiny is almost totally at the whim of those outside of it.

Just on a basic level, we have access to no collective farmland, trucks and planes to bring the food in, fuel to put in the vehicles, the natural resources to create the fuel, the banks to finance any projects. We have few grocery stores.

We have no hospitals to heal our sick. No schools to educate our youth, and educate them in the three R’s as well as the value and contributions of the culture that they came from.

Our people all across the world have been stripped of much, and currently we have very little that is truly our own.

I consider it my life’s work to try and change that reality, but it is going to take some money to make that a reality. Since we have nothing, it is going to take money to acquire what we need to survive.

Once we have satisfied our basic needs we can begin the work of creating a culture where money is not the primary value and determinant of human outcome.

And having enough money to satisfy our basic needs means satisfying our collective needs, not just having my personal $100,000 chain that I flaunt in the face of cats who are broke just like I was not too long ago.

I understand well that this will be a long and difficult journey. One that many men before me, far greater than me, have attempted; only to get sucked into the belly of the beast, and find themselves becoming all that they have despised.

I am aware of these challenges and hope to overcome them. I have surrounded myself with a good solid support base to support me through these trials. I have surrounded myself in faith for the many things I am too weak to handle.

But as outlets for conscious and progressive ways of life continue to get shut off, I see it as absolutely essential for us to keep on. And we have to remind one another that the prize that we eye does not have dollar signs on it.

But we might need to bring some dollars with us when we go and pick up the prize. You know, just in case they don’t accept credit.

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

February 03 – Volume 4 # 2

 “The Chain on the Door”

 “I’m the Nigga that you put the chain on the door for The Nigga that you started changing the laws for.”

 -Common, “Soul Power”

I can see it in their eyes sometimes.

Not all. Not most. But some of them look at me and think to themselves, “I wonder what this black boy is doing here.”

My skin and demeanor would be enough to beg the question in a silent few, and my typical mode of dress only adds to the query.

Then soon, they understand when I’m consistently bustin’ their ass in class. And by mid-semester when I have papers done ahead of time, that some of them will begging for extensions on because they drunk away much of their semester on their daddy’s money.

Yeah by that point they know beyond doubt that I didn’t need any special preference to be here.

See unlike a lot of them, education could never be taken for granted. Wasn’t too long ago that it was denied to us by their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. Plus, unlike quite a few kids I’ve gone to school with, we haven’t had our parents’ money to fall back on in case things don’t work out.

No, this is our ticket. So most of us that are fortunate enough to get through the gate take this school thing very seriously, not a 4-year keg party like some of our cohorts.

But even with this degree in hand, the historical structure of this country gives whites a tremendous head-start in the marathon that is life inAmerica.

Our fine government is directly responsible for many of these inequalities, so I think it would go to reason that they should shoulder some responsibility for cleaning it up.

The 1976 Supreme Court case that allowed race to be a factor in college admission procedures was a step in doing that, however the recent lawsuit filed against the University of Michigan is bringing affirmative action under attack from all angles.

And if we are to lend any credence to recent polls-always a risk- much of America agrees with them as 73 percent of whites said that they opposed preference for blacks, and 56 percent of minorities agreed with them in a recent Newsweek poll.

These numbers are disappointing, but not necessarily surprising. However, they miss the point. It is not about preference, you aren’t just letting any black or Latino through the door. The greatest determining factor is always the student’s academic record. Race is one of several other factors in determining admission. The same way it was often a determining factor in denying blacks for generations.

But of course, all those things are in the past. Black folks have made it now, so we don’t need any special assistance. We can make it on our own merit like all other hard-working Americans. You know like that intellectual giant, George W. Bush, used his academic record to get into Yale.

That same roommate I told y’all about last month often conveyed to me his white angst over being denied admission to Stanford. His wealthy black neighbor in their Beverly Hills neighborhood got in “just because he was black” even though his GPA was better and he did all types of extra curricular activities.

My roommate had to settle for going to Duke instead. Such injustice.

No respecting black person would want to have their color be their only criteria, but we ain’t madd at special efforts to ensure diversity. The same way there have been, and continue to be, special efforts to limit it.

Historically, when America has been left to its own devices, it has not treated diversity as a priority.

And it is a priority, as it is the reality of the world we live in. Black, white and other students benefit greatly from being in that kind of environment. I have been fortunate enough to go to school with poor black kids, poor white kids, kids from Africa, kids from India, from France, from Japan, from Peru, from Russia, from Taiwan. I cannot express how much hearing their different perspectives has helped my view of the world we live in. And I think this is true for most.

Besides, just like with my roommate, affirmative action doesn’t really hurt white students so much as it does help black students.

In their book, The Shape of the River, Derek Bok and William Bowen studied the records of 45,000 students and found that blacks were greatly helped by affirmative action. Their study found that most blacks went on to graduate and were more likely than their white counterparts to be community leaders. It also found that blacks were more likely to pursue graduate study.

Without affirmative action, whites chances of being admitted improved slightly to 26.2 percent from 25 according to their study.

It seems unlikely that the case will be reversed on the federal level. However, there have been some recent precedents where race has been eliminated as being a factor in admission.

In George’s home-state of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court banned the racial policy at the University of Texas law school in 1996. The University of Georgia also caved in on the issue after it was hit with a lawsuit.

Nowadays, you never know what’s going to happen. And if the polls hold any grain of truth, it adds to that paranoid feeling black people keep getting that America wants to shut us out of the system that we built on our backs.

But maybe it’s just paranoia.

Maybe we should try and build a system of our own just in case.

Peace and God bless,

9

Noyzes

January 03 – Volume 4 # 1

“Whistlin’ Dixie

 

My fellow Americans, don’t believe for one moment that Sen. Trent Lott’s (R – Miss) resignation as Senate Majority Leader will change the overall tone of the Republican party.

Most won’t be as stupid as Lott to say that the country would be better off if retiring Republican senator Strom Thurmond would have been elected president in 1948 over Harry S. Truman. The 100-year-old Thurmond was a Democrat at the time and ran as a segregationist from South Carolina to try and fight off the coming tide of change that would overflow in the south over the next 20 years.

But while the messenger has changed, as Tennessee senator Bill Frist has taken the leadership post, the message will likely remain the same. But one good thing that came from the good ole boy’s comments is that, for at least a moment, it brought the issue of racism back into the national discussion.

Even before 9/11 this issue had almost totally disappeared from the political radar as if we had healed all of the racial wounds that have characterized this land since Columbus and his crew got over here.

White politicians steered clear of race. Some, such as the “first black president” Bill Clinton, even enacted policy that was detrimental to blacks like welfare reform that was done so the Democratic party did not appear too liberal for moderate, middle class whites that make up a large portion of the voting public.

Even uncle-tom black politicians and religious leaders have downplayed the issue with hopes of gaining white favor.

In the long run this creates more problems than it solves, because when the conversation stops, our so-called democracy suffers greatly.

One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about the university atmosphere is that there is generally a free flow of diverse ideas. However, in some of my experiences in my first semester here at the University of Illinoisit has appeared that many of my white and black cohorts wish this issue would go away altogether.

And I agree with them, I wish it would go away too.

Many of my classmates this semester probably would have a hard time believing that, because every opportunity I got, I pointed out underlying racial dimensions to whatever social problem we might be discussing that day. I felt it my duty, particularly since most others were too cowardly or were simply blind to race’s continued significance in America and throughout the world.

Many white liberals will argue that as blacks have moved up the economic ladder inAmerica, social class is a more significant issue for contemporary analysis.

And I agree that social class is very important. There are many wealthy blacks who do quite a bit to oppress their people, or feel detached from the overall struggle because they’ve “made it.”

But race is not something that can be removed from that equation as I don’t believe it’s just mere coincidence that:

– 30.6 percent of blacks live below the poverty level, compared to 9.4 percent of whites

– In 1926 whites made up 76 percent of the prison population and made up 50 percent of the prison in population in 1950

– Today blacks fill up 65 percent of prisons, despite being just 13 percent of the national population

– Between 1986-1991, years that linked the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush (and their “war on drugs”), the number of blacks in prison jumped an astounding 465 percent

– In 1992 the US Public Health Service estimated that 76 percent of illicit drug users in the United States were white, 14 percent black and 8 percent Hispanic? Yet in New York state, 92 percent of all drug-possession offenders sentenced to prison were black and Hispanic. In California it was 71 percent.

– According to 1999 figures, 22.4 percent of South Africans are HIV-positive. It was just 0.7 percent in 1990 when apartheid ended.

– In America 107.2 out of every 100,000 African-Americans have AIDS compared to just 12.4 whites

These figures represent a pattern that can’t be explained away by looking at social class exclusively. Many, such as myself, believe that these things are structured into our society, and whether or not you directly have blood on your hands, your silence makes you an accomplice in this crime of this century. My fault, I guess it’s been a few centuries now.

But anyway, America has come a long way and has created a fine society. It is held up as a model to the rest of the world.

However, there is still some unfinished business like EPMD talked about over a decade ago. We have to get to work, but that work evolves from ideas gathered through dialogue.

Last summer when I lived in DC it was like something off a bad sitcom as I lived with a white dude who was extremely liberal, and another white cat who was so conservative he’d make Newt Gingrich blush.

Me and my conservative friend would talk and debate deep into the night about a range of political issues. We talked with great candor without being offensive or disrespectful.

I didn’t agree with most of his ideas, and he didn’t agree with mine, but by the end of the summer I think we both had a lot more respect for other ideas than we had before, and even had our own ideas more solidified.

I see no reason why other intelligent, sincere Americans can’t do the same.

One of the main reasons why the issue of race has taken a backseat is that it might open up some white guilt for good, well-meaning, hard-working Americans. I can safely say this is not the desire of most black people at all. We can’t do a damn thing with your guilt.

We understand very well that some 30-year-old school custodian from Rolling Meadows is not responsible for kidnapping entire families from the coast of West Africa, for a slavemaster forcing himself on a teenage slave girl, for killing Emmit Till, or for disenfranchising black voters in Florida in 2000.

But what he can understand, and needs to understand is how as a white person, whether he opposes racist views or not, irregardless of his economic class, has benefited from the racial inequalities of this system. And that this is not by accident, but by design.

As a black man, I don’t hold all whites of present day responsible for the past, but I do hold them responsible for trying to make a better future for ALL of us. And part of that involves trying to properly and sincerely deal with issues of the past.

We often behave as if our nation’s racist legacy is in the past, but Trent Lott showed us different, and the support he received from the audience that day, and from many whites around the country, displayed that perhaps we need to examine where we’re really at on this issue.

Lott did not feel this way all of a sudden, this has been part of his makeup for a while. We just didn’t know it because nobody wanted to talk about it.

Screw this politically correct shit, let’s start talking again. After all, look what talking did for our homeboy, Trent Lott. Well, bad example, but you know what I’m sayin’.

Peace and God bless,

9

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