You Asked For Revolution

The attention has been on Trump for some time now. Rallying his protestors to violence. The hurled racial slurs, the veiled slogan “Make America Great ‘Again’”; quite the spectacle it’s all been. Trump supporters, Republicans etc. are the angry ones. This tension is their fault. Right? Sort of, kind of, yeah, not really, but mostly. Right. I will not take any blame away from Trump for his vicious rhetoric, but Republicans aren’t the only ones fighting. “Bernie Bros” plague the internet with pictures of Bernie at Civil Rights events, forcing their candidate on those they (disrespectfully) assume must be uninformed. Those repping the #StandWithHer set are asking if you’ll really vote for Trump, turning the spotlight onto the options rather than Hillary’s uncomfortable political history and the fact that when asked about if she preferred creamy or crunchy she short circuited.

Overall we can’t agree. Not in the usual Republican/Democrat way. There’s Republicans planning to sit out this election. New young Democrats saying, Bernie or Bust. Two out of three candidates are “anti-establishment” and one probably can’t name more than five cabinet positions. Hillary has people arguing over everything, and could sneak out a victory on her No, but seriously, Trump? campaign. I think she wins because luck, historical trend and Bill playing that damn saxophone.

After all the confetti and celebration though, what about everybody else? Her victory would be with reluctance and wavering support from those who vote for her. She’s alienated minorities and young people, and obviously conservatives assume she’s the Anti-Christ (literally). What about all the Bernie Bros cursing her name? The Trump supporters burning her pictures to light their non-menthol cigarettes and the Democrats who vote but don’t believe they chose. Tensions are high. Maybe it’s that this is my first election where I’m a maturish adult, but this seems much more tense than any other election I’ve lived through. The air comes out of the balloon in November, and I don’t see a resolution that doesn’t see already violently active people angry. Regardless of their mascot of choice.

Now to clarify, I don’t see this election fallout looking like 1860. I’m not making any bold predictions about violence in the streets. I don’t THINK anybody is that mad (although Texas citizens petitioned to secede after both Obama elections *eye roll emoji*). People aren’t taking off their political goggles, for anything. News pundits are throwing around terms like systemic oppression and privilege, in various lights. Being a Republican is starting to mean fiscal and moral conservative less, and when I see a Trump sign I think bigot. Moron. Ignorant. I’m sure when some see a Hillary or Bernie sign they think, man-hater or communist, respectively. I always try to keep in mind my own age, and wonder if this much anger is normal but I can’t imagine it is. Summer hasn’t really started yet and we have two heated conventions before the actual election. People are throwing hands and this is just the preliminaries.

Bernie has been calling for political revolution. People are on board for a political revolution. I’m just not entirely sure any of us know what we’re signing up for.

“Have a rally out in L.A., we gon’ fuck it up. Home of the Rodney King riot, we don’t give a fuck. Black students, ejected from our rally, what? I’m ready to go right now, your racist ass did too much. I’m ‘bout to turn Black Panther.” –YG

“Look, Reagan sold coke, Obama sold hope. I’m from a place where you prolly can’t go, speakin’ for some people that you prolly ain’t know. It’s pressure built up and it’s prolly gon’ blow.” –Nipsey Hu$$le

-FDT (Fuck Donald Trump) – YG and Nipsey Hu$$le

More Malcolm, than Martin

ASIDE *I’ve been wanting to write this for about four weeks. But quizzes, papers and finals happened and true to the student life, emotional expression ranks below my GPA. Finals are done now. That being said, I feel a need to explain something in detail via a blog. Once. Hopefully once is sufficient.*

I don’t hate white people.

I know, that should be fairly obvious. But recently, more than one person has suggested or outright asked if I do. I was taken aback. Then I thought about it more and I wasn’t. Over the course of less than eighteen months I went from Uncle Ruckus Lite to Huey* and that was a lot for people to take in. I found a pride in myself, then mixed that with three different classes in one school year on American History, two specifically from the perspectives of minority groups (African-Americans and Native Americans). I took in a lot of information and mixed it with a lot of information I had compartmentalized and defined as “yeah, but not me” over the years.

It’s been a lot. I see things in my life growing up and things now through a different lens. Things that bothered me before but I decided I could ignore aren’t so easy to ignore anymore.

 

One of the most important terms I learned in school this year was “double-consciousness”. I learned there’s a word for what every single minority I know has done their entire lives. There’s a sociological term (dating back over a century) for “don’t be acting up in front of these white people.” I was shocked. I almost wanted to cry. I felt less ashamed of the years I spent trying to ask for a place in mainstream culture and for ignoring offensive things for the sake of fitting in. We have all done it, so much so that W.E.B. Dubois coined a term for it in 1903.

I could never unlearn it. I could never stop seeing myself acting different in white spaces. Like a flashback in a movie, twenty-two years of memories flooded my mind. I didn’t feel ashamed. I just acknowledged them. But with acknowledgement came transition. A phrase I’ve seen thrown around a lot recently.** “Unapologetic Blackness.” My African-American History professor said it when she told us about the first activist to say “Black Power” (Stokely Carmicahel). About the afros and bright colors of the 1970s. The boldness to be black in front of white people (an era I believe we are cycling back to Harlem Renaissance, Black Power, whatever they inevitably name my generation). It made me beam with pride. Generations past have decided they don’t want to apologize for the cultural differences we didn’t’ ask for or create, but they would wear them proudly.

That comes with a price. When you inhabit mainly white spaces for the majority of your week, not laughing when somebody mocks patois comes off as an assault, acknowledging that there are cultural differences between you and those around you, and not wanting to be part of their culture is firing shots on Fort Sumter***. The right to be offensive in “their” spaces (which is most of the academic/career/social spaces in the United States) free of guilt has been challenged. You also learn to not correct or try to educate everybody around you. That’s not my role unless addressed or asked. So to simply ignore those things which offend you and revel with the one other worker who looks like you over how amazing Lemonade was is seen as social violence. But, none of those perceived slights are my problem.

I’m not sorry. It doesn’t mean I hate white people, or have some deep bitterness against anybody. People build relationships with those they have things in common with. I don’t care what color or background you have, if you fuck with Kendrick and Beyoncé, we have something to talk about. But don’t demand I learn to like what you like to appease you. I’d sooner not be your friend. The interests that connect people (music, sports, politics, hobbies) are valid for anybody of any background. If the people who believe Ultralight Beam was gospel, that crazy dunks require equally wild responses, that Black Lives do Matter, and also like to freestyle, roast each other and look at sneakers for fun happen to be the same color isn’t racism. They are cultural differences created BY racism. Created by a history of being excluded from mainstream culture and being forced into segregated neighborhoods, schools and workplaces.

America STILL is one of the most segregated places in the world****. Even I, growing up in predominantly white spaces (special shoutout to the other 3 black kids who by dice roll might end up in one of my classes) had one best friend over everybody else, and he was black. We would hang out and do all the things other black teenagers did: marvel over beats in hip hop songs, debate Chris Brown’s place in R&B and dance greatness, watch movies where the main character looked like us, Stomp the Yard still being a favorite etc, and then turn it off when it was time to go back to our respective schools on Monday.

Double consciousness is a burden to bear. I will not anymore. Just know it isn’t racism. Racism is about hating others. In this case, it would be centering whiteness. I would be acting with white people in mind. But I’m acting with me in mind. Centering my experiences and my race for once. If you can’t wrap your mind around that, I’m probably not going to be a fun friend in the first place.

Know that not every black person feels the same as me. Martin Luther King, Jr. was just as important as Malcolm X. Both views were necessary, as we are not a monolith. I speak for me. I’ve been told this isn’t a progressive way to view the world, but I disagree. It centers on perception and what we’re trying to progress towards.

 

“Channel 9 News tell me I’m movin’ backwards. Eight blocks left, death is around the corner. Seven misleadin’ statements ‘bout my persona.”

“But mama, don’t cry for me, ride for me, try for me, live for me, breathe for me, sing for me, honesty gudin’ me, I could be more than I gotta be. Stole from me, lied to me, nation hypocrisy.”

“Yeah, open our mind as we cast away oppression. Yeah, open the streets and watch our beliefs.”

-Kendrick Lamar, feature on Beyonce’s Freedom

 

 

*Go on Netflix and watch The Boondocks.

**Mainly online spaces such as Twitter, BuzzFeed, Washington Post etc.

***The Confederacy fired shots on Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, unofficially beginning the Civil War

****http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150625-data-points-racial-dot-maps/

Whitesplaining 101

In Speech class we were tasked with writing a persuasive speech. At my PWI (Predominantly White Institution), I decided to be soft. I wrote my speech about football concussions because this wasn’t a good forum for me to spout my sometimes controversial persuasive opinions. HOWEVER, a girl decided to do her 7 minute speech on police brutality (she’s white, obviously). 

It was about how police brutality affects…COPS, aka her daddy. How it affects morale and how people are starting to not trust the police because of the media attention on “this new issue of police brutality”. Now, that was expected. I had some questions obviously because I expect white people to not understand the view points of minorities and marginalized groups. Why would they? These issues don’t affect them. My issue was with one statement she made in regards to being part of a cop’s family:

“Most people don’t know what it’s like to fear for their family member’s life every time they step outside.”

When white people say “people” they mean white people. 

Most people don’t know. Every time I leave the house my parents both say be careful infinite times because they know how quick-triggered cops can be with a smart mouthed young black man. Most people don’t know. I’m scared for my brother every day because he’s already got a record and that’s the only excuse they need. Most people don’t know. A young black boy was murdered 15 minutes from my house because he liked Skittles and Arizona (RIP Trayvon Martin). Most people don’t know. I’ve been asked if I was selling drugs in my neighborhood. Most people don’t know. My best friend has been strip searched on a dark road driving home from Bible college. Most people don’t know. I pray my sisters never talk back to the wrong cop (RIP Sandra Bland). Most people don’t know. I hope my sisters never run into a cop with an affinity for black women (Prayers to the victims of Daniel Holtzclaw). Most people don’t know. My mom has told me having black sons makes her scared for us. Most people don’t know. 

The trauma of decades of police brutality have shaped my view of police since I was a child. In my family police were never a friend. Most people don’t know. 

No. YOU don’t know. If we only view the world through our own experiences, we’ll never believe anything beyond what we’ve seen. Stop trying to understand issues that don’t affect you, through your own lens. Ask somebody who doesn’t look like you how they feel about (insert issue here). 

“Yea, it makes me wanna holler, and throw up both my hands. Crime is increasing, trigger happy policing. Panic is spreading.  God know where we’re heading.”

-Marvin Gaye, Inner-City Blues (1971)

“Fuck the police coming straight from the underground, young nigga got it bad cuz I’m brown. And not the other color so police think they have the authority to kill a minority.”

-NWA, Fuck the Police (1988) 

“Cops keep firing in my environment. Leave you slumped over then they drive home far from the hood.”

-Nas, Classic (2007)*

*Super unrelated, Classic is a fire combo about Air Force Ones byNas, KRS-One, Rakim and Kanye. Go to YouTube now. 



The New Slur

Privilege.

Privilege.

Privilege. Privilege. Privilege. Okay, got that out of the way. A few people will have closed the page already because they hate this word, so I figured I would just give them an easy exit now. People see privilege as more offensive than any of the actually offensive slurs used so flippantly. The irony though is that I don’t want to talk about privilege. Well sort of. If you go on BuzzFeed, Hufington Post, Twitter or any other site whose readership is made up primarily of millennials, you’ll see articles, studies, data, thinkpieces, mathematical equations, soliloquies and limericks explaining privilege and what it is. If you’re not sure, please refer to Google for a relatively free education. We can all agree (if you’re still here and not on Google) that in American society certain groups succeed at a higher rate than others. It’s easier to be: white than of color, straight than LGBTQ, a man than a woman, rich than poor, cisgendered than transgendered; and if any of those things intersect, even worse. And so on and so forth. Marginalized communities have been very vocal in recent years in explaining what America is like for them. So we all keep talking about privilege. We are generally learning what it means. Why are people afraid of it?. When you mention privilege, the immediate deterrent is

“well maybe some white people have it, but not me. My family struggled.”

“being a man is hard too though.”

“…” Actually, you get the point.

People rush to defend themselves when you credit their success to privilege. This seems deterring or obnoxious, until you put it into the context of the American Dream. The narrative of being an American is to build. To own something. The value of a name (see Donald Trump). To come from nothing like their forefathers and build a new country out of “nothing”. To overcome, to triumph. So when you accuse somebody of having an unfair advantage built into the system, their only response can be to defend because your accusation of privilege is an attack on their narrative, on their tale of triumph. It’s not actually that hard to understand. It’s a built in mechanism to defend your privilege.

American history is largely taught from the perspective of us, as Americans, overcoming. The tale opens with pilgrims escaping religious persecution. Then skip past a little bit of theft and genocide, we get to the tale of persecuted colonists being unfairly treated by their government in the British monarchy (African-American slaves roll their eyes), so they declare independence, fight a war and are now a free people. Then over the next one hundred years, American innovation and ingenuity developed technological advances that tamed the wilderness that was North America. Venturing into the wilderness to the west, the bold and brave Americans created the economic powerhouse that is the United States of America (again African-American slaves and the Indigenous peoples who remain after acts of genocide roll their eyes).

Then Civil War and Rec…wait we don’t talk about that. Then Civil War because of some stuff, and then the Roaring Twenties because to be honest most people I’ve interacted with have no idea what happened in America from 1866 until about 1917 when we joined World War I (see Google for labor union assaults, Jim Crow, the lynch mobs, women’s suffrage battles etc.). So, America comes to the aid of Europe and helps end WWI. Then due to all of our greatness, the Roaring Twenties. Then the Great Depression. In the midst of one of the great lows in American History, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. So to defend our honor we skip to WWII and America is bailing out Europe (after using socialist programs and the profits from WWII to end the Great Depression) again. The Make America Great Again era follows where Mr. and Mrs. Smith built the suburbs and created the greatest and most moral era of American history (eye rolls from everybody). Then the liberals (see communists, hippies, minorities and women) destroyed America up to the present day. Pause for Reagan attempting to fix it for those eight years. Bill Clinton caught cheating on his wife. 9/11 by B…during the Bush administration, and now we’re here.

That summarizes how a large portion of the American population views American History. It’s mostly “our” forefathers building this country off of blood, sweat and tears (just not theirs), then minorities, the LGBTQ community, women etc started asking for rights and tearing everything “we” had built. If you click around this blog a few times you’ll see some historical evidence to the contrary, but that doesn’t matter. The narrative of the American Dream requires oppression. It requires overcoming to build. So even when there is virtually nothing to overcome, the default reaction to being told you had advantages is to deny at the cost of what you believe to be the American Dream being deferred. We can’t work towards dismantling oppressive systems if we each our afraid to acknowledge that some of those BuzzFeed and Huffington Posts lists include us. If each of us continues to view the world through only our own experiences, we can’t work towards something that allows an equal playing field.

P.S. For the various members of marginalized groups who may read this: There’s levels to this. It’s not just on white people to acknowledge their advantages. It’s also on men, straight people, cisgendered people etc. It’s on black men to acknowledge that black women are running with ankle weights and a backpack. That gay minorities run with the backpack and have to jump hurdles. That intersectionality matters. We’re not in a race to see who can take power and oppress others next. But to see that we all get free.

 

 

“Inter century anthems based off inner city tantrums based off the way we was branded. Face it, Jerome gets more time than Brandon.”

     -Kanye West, Gorgeous

“Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho trying to make a sister feel low, you know all that gots to go”

     -Queen Latifah, U.N.I.T.Y.

“Walk outside, he whole world hate me. Nervous stares at the thoroughfare, surveilance cameras, police tracing. Poor so hard, this shit weird, we be home and still be scared.”

     -Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Niggas in Protest

“When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless, rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen. I might not be the same, but that’s not important. No freedom ‘til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

     -Macklemore, Same Love

My President is Trump

With all of the mayhem surrounding Donald Trump and his bid to represent the Republican Party in 2016, there’s been this rush to denounce Trump by the faces on news stations, celebrities on Twitter etc. The phrase is familiar, “I just cannot believe in 2016 we’ve let Trump get this far. That this would be accepted in America in this day and age.” Pretty standard. How in this great land of freedom and equality can a candidate run on a platform of white nationalism, with a smidge of sexism and homophobia? As a student of history, this questioned is a little stupid. How is this not MORE common? Trump has been the President of the United States of America multiple times.  When people cite America’s history with (insert group that isn’t straight, white males), we avoid the pieces of legislation that encouraged violence and hate. The individuals who were in charge. The Donald Trumps.

 

  1. Andrew Jackson, POTUS 1829-1837.

Andrew Jackson was a jackass. He is easily one of the most racist commanders this country has ever had. The fame that led him to the presidency can be found in his time destroying Seminole and runaway slave villages in Florida, and illegally seizing Spanish territory (occupied mainly by women and children) in Pensacola. What a hero huh?  He can be credited with signing into law the Indian Removal Act, one of America’s many, many racial blunders. This act essentially gave President Jackson the power to grant “unsettled lands west of the Mississippi” (WHICH DID NOT BELONG TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT) to tribes in exchange for their lands in American territory. Unsettled land assumes nobody lived west of the Mississippi. The hundreds of Plains tribes living in those “unsettled lands” would disagree, and would showcase their disagreement by warring with tribes that were placed on their lands.

In attempting to remove tribes, Jackson would famously, and publicly, disregard a Supreme Court ruling (Worcester v. Georgia) dealing with the Cherokee Indians. Gold was found on Cherokee land in Georgia. The Cherokees refused to move, but had Americans come on their land and fight/kill for the gold. The Supreme Court sided with the Cherokee Indians. Jackson said their decision would fall “stillborn” because he had no intention of enforcing it. Instead, he would have representatives sign an illegal treaty with an unelected group of Cherokees signing away their land. When the Cherokees leader sent a petition with 16,000 signatures stating this treaty was illegal and was not representative of their government, the federal government ignored them. The Trail of Tears would follow.

  1. Andrew Johnson, POTUS 1865-1869

When the Civil War ended, and slavery was abolished, it would have made sense to see multiple generations of former slaves be granted rights over time. Equality shouldn’t take but a generation or two to phase in right? WRONG. Because we had Andrew Johnson. Johnson should have never been President. He was only Vice President because Lincoln wanted a southerner on his ticket to make sure he would win the 1864 election. Then he was assassinated. So Reconstruction, the period where America would try to repair itself after the Civil War was left to a southern man who had previously owned slaves. If the mountains of irony are not apparent, let me spell it out for you. By 1866, Andrew Johnson had pardoned 7,000 Confederate soldiers and officers and returned all of their property. Seven. Thousand. Pardons. Half of the country committed treason and waged war with the federal government. Former governors and congressmen leading Confederate troops against the United States. We blow up countries just for thinking about warring with the U.S. These men who had just attempted to create their own country and destroy the United States, had just been put back in power by Andrew Johnson. Very few of them saw trial for their treason.

Let that sink in. A series of events would lead to former slaves being lynched and burned, former slaves who, per the Constitution, were American citizens as was their birthright. This series of events begins with Johnson’s presidency. Many former Confederate officers and soldiers would go on to form hate groups targeting black politicians in the South. The Klu Klux Klan was one of many. What better way to mobilize a group of racist white men in the south than to pardon them and their former Confederate leaders. Now military bands could change their name from Confederate Army to Klu Klux Klan, the Red Shirts, White Knights of the Camellia etc. and so forth.

  1. Woodrow Wilson, POTUS 1913-1921

How did we go from freeing the slaves in 1863 to not having basic civil rights promised by the Constitution until 1957? For this one, we can look to the famously religious man that was President Wilson. Under Wilson, the federal government would copy southern policy and enact segregation in many of its departments, including in Washington D.C. Jim Crow had spread to the capital. The government in the land where all men are created equal was reinforcing the racial hierarchy.

Wilson had met with many black activists during his run for presidency, and was thought to be an ally to the black community. Many activists were now being called traitors to their people as Wilson not only did not help black Americans, but made their situation worse. Now, the blame could be spread around and Wilson may not even be labeled a racist by historians had he pleaded ignorance. But, when meeting with civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter, Wilson famously told Trotter that segregation was best for everybody. It kept white people happy, and black people safe. Wait, pick your jaw up. He’s not done. He also told Trotter that the humiliation black people felt at being treated as second class citizens was up to them, they didn’t have to take it as embarrassing. Yes. Yes he did, and no this is not conspiracy. It was plastered on the front pages of newspapers nationwide. While black bodies were being mutilated and economic advancement was being made impossible, Wilson told a group of Americans to suck it up because he didn’t want to make white people mad.

  1. Roanald Reagan, 1981-1988

Reagan. Reagan strikes a chord with most minorities and poor people (see “welfare queen”). Conspiracies run rampant, some even believe he was the Anti-Christ or the Devil. But, none of those have stable enough ground for me to argue without mountains of research, obviously. No, Reagan’s Trump-like move would actually be against a different subset of American society, the LGBTQ community.

HIV/AIDS struck like a plague in the late 1970s. Researchers rushing to figure out what was killing off men and women, and looking frantically for a cure. When a disease begins to spread globally, America has often sent help or offered support. When that disease touches American soil however, we have historically done all that is needed to keep our citizens’ safe (see Bird Flu, Ebola etc in the last decade). HIV/AIDS was treated a little bit differently. Actually a lot bit differently. Think back to how many Americans had Ebola before a cure was discovered. 2, maybe 3? 16,301 Americans had died, not just been diagnosed, but died from complications related to HIV/AIDS by the end of 1986. Reagan’s first time ever saying the word AIDS in a public forum was in February of 1986 to Congress (as part of a greater speech, not the main topic), it wouldn’t be until April of 1987 that Reagan would address the American people regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A plague was spreading amongst the LGBTQ community, not that the disease was exclusive to them but they were hit the hardest. Now people will argue for ignorance on Reagan’s part, that he wasn’t ignoring them. But how much leeway does he get? People knew about AIDS, not much, but they knew it existed. Organizatons for research and funding were popping up nationwide to save American lives. A damn play was written about AIDS. All before Reagan would ever mention the disease. An accident? Maybe, but this is the same man who said American society could not condone the gay lifestyle. The same man who’s communications director said AIDS was “nature’s revenge on gay men”. In 1983. In the New York Post. Reagan knew about AIDS and what it was doing, he didn’t care.

 

 

Now, with the exception of Andrew Jackson (who also owned slaves), each of these presidents either targeted, or ignored certain sects of American society. That’s what we usually lose in the shuffle. The LGBTQ community inside our borders, are all Americans. Former slaves after the Civil War, all Americans. Black people seeking protection by their Constitution from Jim Crow and the lynch mob, all Americans. The President of the United States is the President of ALL Americans.

Take any of these situations and insert Donald Trump as president, would you expect him to do anything different? Could he have done anything worse? Trump’s rhetoric has inspired a fervor of white nationalism. Making America great again right? Let’s go back to the days when a president could tell black people that their bodies don’t matter or could play ignorant to the cries for help by gay men. Let’s turn the clock back, and make sure everybody knows their place, that the hierarchy is as it was before we had a President who culturally resonated with a group that wasn’t white dudes. That is what I hear from Donald Trump when he speaks. President Obama seemed to be a turning point for us as a country, hopefully the first of many to right the centuries of wrongs done by this country to its own citizens and those tribes with whom we share this land. Donald Trump is asking to be put in the lineage of men who have done the opposite. He isn’t the first, in fact he’s probably the 20th or 30th if we start doing our Googles. Any member of a marginalized community in America will tell you that Trump is only reflecting the hate American society has for them. He is only a shock to those who believe in the “post-racial society” and those who don’t know he has run this country for most of its history.

“Our history, black history, no president ever did shit for me”

-Nas, My President (By Young Jeezy)

 

#Trump2016 Pt. 2

I gave Trump predictions a few months ago. If Super Tuesday results follow recent political trends, which we have no reason to think otherwise, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election. Spend a moment thinking about that. I won’t start listing of all the various demographics in various states. There’s too many. There is no one group a finger can be pointed at to blame for this (besides Republicans obviously). But I will offer you one statistic, 2,483,436 were cast for Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. 2.4 million. 2.4 million.

Across 11 states, 2.4 million people voted for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination. The idea that Donald Trump hasn’t been annihilated by public backlash is embarrassing enough. Trump calls Ted Cruz a pussy and the crowds roar. Trump suggests WAR CRIMES in killing the families of terrorists, the news casters run the clip back hundreds of times across our 24-hour news cycle. Trump refuses to state he does not want the support of white supremacists (the KKK). Leaders of the Republican Party state they do not support white supremacy; Trump threatens them on national television.

I’m standing by the notion that Trump is a paid troll sent to destroy the Republican Party. Nothing else makes sense. Logic is out the window at this point. A candidate in 2016 is using outright xenophobia, racism and has yet to present ONE valid and logical policy on ANYTHING and is leading the GOP in March of an election year. 30 years from now, this election year will be a large section in history books. For what I have no idea, but it will be there. People have stopped laughing. The joke may still be on us, there’s no guarantee Trump can win a general election as he’s already splintered Republicans on both state and national levels. But I wonder who is voting for Trump? It can’t just be everybody’s crazy racist uncle, or dumb backwards cousin. These people are voting in primaries in mass numbers?

Donald Trump may be the next president of the country I will live in for the foreseeable future. He may not be. Regardless, I live in a country where Donald Trump is being legitimately considered as a nominee. A candidate whose entire campaign has been based on mockery of other candidates and hate speech towards black and brown people, women, the LGBTQ community and the physically disabled.

2.4 million.

 

 

 

Queen Bey and the BPP

With all of the stir caused by Beyoncé, her song Formation and the subsequent Super Bowl performance, I figured this would be a good time to do a history lesson on the Black Panther Party (BPP). Given the recent comparisons of the BPP to the KKK, nw seems as good a time as ever. I will not dive into how amazing the performance was, there are plenty of black women who have written about it from the most credible perspectives. Today we’re doing the Black Panther Party.

No, having acronymns and wearing mostly one color doesn’t make them the same. I won’t do a rundown of the KKK. They’ve murdered thousands of black people and allies in their various forms since the end of the Civil War. Their tactics brutal and their message hate. America’s homegrown terrorists. The BPP is NOT that. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was not the first nor the last black organization formed out of resistance and exclusion (shoutout to Stacy Dash for thinking we shouldn’t have things like that i.e. NAACP, BET).

*I would like to add a brief disclaimer here, I personally have much more to learn and study, however this will cover the basics so we can settle these discussions with facts not misinformation*

 

Over 5,000 full time party workers, 45 chapters nationwide, and 250,000 papers sold weekly at their height. The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Both were members of activist groups in college in Oakland, California. Their ideology was farther left than many of their contemporaries (black nationalists like Malcolm X): they believed that there was a difference between racist whites and non-racist whites, they believed black capitalists were included amongst exploiters and oppressors, and that overthrowing the capitalist system was crucial. Bobby Seale said:

“We do not fight racism with racism. We fight racism with solidarity. We do not fight exploitive capitalism with Black capitalism. We fight capitalism with basic socialism.”

Yes. These Black Panthers, these pro-black revolutionaries that have been likened to the racist terrorist organization the Klu Klux Klan, believed in the same fundamental economic principle as 2016’s heralded savior, Bernie Sanders. They understood that capitalism at its root, is an oppressive system, and in order to free ALL Black peoples, they must work towards the destruction of such an oppressive system. They also opposed some of the segregation-based Black Nationalist views of the day that believed in the evil of all whites (“white devils”).

Their methods were brash, sometimes offensive and intimidating. But they worked towards economic achievement for their community and focused on educating children who otherwise would not have learned their history. I won’t list everything the group has done since 1966, some I agree with others I do not. The Party still exists today, but we know the argument being made is against the BPP peak, the berets and afros of 1966-1973 or so. Without listing every individual’s biography and rap sheet (as volumes can be and have been written on Bobby Seale and Huey Newton alone), the BPP can be summarized in one anecdote:

The BPP started the Free Breakfast for School Children Program in 1969 in Oakland, California. The program grew, and spread across their other chapters. Thousands of young children from impoverished, still unofficially segregated, black children from Oakland to Harlem were being fed breakfast before school each day. Alongside feeding the children, they also provided education, health care etc at their centers. Teaching students about their own history in a way their local schools would not (and still do not, pickup your younger sibling’s history book and see how these stories are framed). This program led to Head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover to say the following:

Consequently, the BCP represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP, and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities… to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for.

Among other programs, the BPP opened health clinics, a free ambulance service, a free food program (specifically healthy food) and black student alliances on college campuses. This Party needed toe be neutralized? Maybe it was what they stood for that Hoover thought needed to be destroyed:

 

Freedom. Their goals aren’t too different from the fight happening today, their message of power for themselves and their people not too different from Beyonce’s declaration of souther pride. The reception hasn’t been too different either.

“Always stay gracious best revenge is your paper.”

-Beyonce, Formation

“Five-star dishes, food for thought bithces. I mean this shit is, Bobby Seale making meals, you can’t resist.

-Kendrick Lamar,

The Father of Rock and Roll

Of course, it’s Black History Month. History is my favorite subject. It’s what I major in. It’s what I plan to teach, and it’s my nerdy pleasure. So to celebrate BHM, I’m going to write a feature in Black American History each week (UPDATE: haven’t had Wi-Fi for a few days, so this first one will be Wednesday, the rest on Monday). We all learned in school about George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, MLK and Malcolm X. Although many of their stories have been whitewashed and made safe for elementary age children, they’re important figures nonetheless. But I want to focus on contributions people don’t always expect. Moments in history black people are not often given credit for, or that are more complex than on the surface:

Most will credit black people with Jazz, Blues, R&B, and of course Hip Hop. Innovative genres that all played into the next, a mirror of our history so to speak. Of course certain genres are acknowledged to be founded by other cultures in America. Nobody is rushing to credit us with Country music, although we are represented in that space in modern times. Most casual music fans chalk up the start of Rock N’ Roll to the wave begun by Elvis Presley in the 1950’s and 60’s. The logical end to the swing and miscellaneous dance crazes of the WWII generation spurred out of the Roaring Twenties. Music evolves with the times, so Elvis was just the next logical step for that genre, birthing Rock and Roll.

But that isn’t the whole story. Rock and Roll started before Elvis graced stages and melted the hearts of women. Before Elvis, was the inventor the duckwalk, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member, and the first to put Rock music on wax, so to speak, Chuck Berry.

Charles Anderson Edward Berry was born in St. Louis in 1926. He served three years in prison from age 18-21. He was a father of four. He had a college educated mother, and a self-reliant carpenter for a father. Chuck Berry lived in a highly segregated community, in the south, in one of the most oppressive times in American History. These are the quick highlights. The facts you can find on Wikipedia really quickly. Down to the real story. How we ended up with Rock N’ Roll.

Playing jazz songs by guitar in the Sir John’s Trio in 1953, a band started by a high school friend, Jonnie Johnson. Playing in local nightclubs, Chuck gained a reputation for his lively performances and showmanship, while also mixing in upbeat country songs along with their jazz and pop set. This style of music, a black man performing traditionally white songs and putting on a show, attracted an increasingly segregated audience. With growing popularity, Chuck Berry began making trips to Chicago in order to attract the attention of record labels and eventually sign a contract. After meeting blues performer Muddy Waters, he was directed towards Chess Records. He presented the record label with his song Maybellene, signed a contract and recorded his eventual #1 hit on May 21, 1955. The first rock song was recorded and distributed.

Chuck Berry would go on to put out 18 studio albums, 45 singles (only one went #1, although many spent weeks on the charts), and was still performing as recently as 2014, at the age of 87. As described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “he played western guitar licks over a base of rhythm and blues. The distorted sound of Berry’s guitar captured the rough, untamed spirit of rock and roll.” While tame compared to today’s rock stars, without Berry’s foundation, The Rolling Stones and Beatles might have been singing bluegrass. A genre not often associated with the history of black people in this country, but an important figure in musical, and our history nonetheless.

 

 

*Duckwalk can be seen at 1:15 mark of video

“Elvis Presley ain’t got no soul, Chuck Berry is rock n’ roll, you may dig on the Rolling Stones but they ain’t come up with that style on their own.”

-Mos Def, Rock N’ Roll

 

**I own none of the photographs or videos linked in this post

MLK Day

I have a few short thoughts today. No 1000 word dissertations on nonsense I’ve seen:

1) Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) was a socialist
2) MLK was not a passive, color-blind reverend from the south
3) He was an activist. He made demands.
4) He spoke out against the Vietnam War. Vehemently.
5) He was assassinated by the U.S. Government.
6) He would support BLM today. I believe that.
7) He would not say “All Lives Matter”.
8) He had much more to say than “I have a dream…”
9) Quoting that small portion of his speech to use for your agenda is disingenuous and ahistorical.
10) Even if he was a soft spoken weak pacifist, all of his beliefs are not universally bestowed on all black people. He isn’t our Jesus.
11) Happy Belated Birthday to an important figure in my and our history as Americans.

“No apology, I walk with a boulder on my shoulder, it’s a Cold War – I’m a colder soldier, hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King.”
-Common, I Have a Dream

Dr. WIlliam H . Cosby Part 2

Does the evidence defend, or condemn him?

First, the total number of women who have accused Bill Cosby is over 50. Various sites report various amounts, but it is consistently above 50. That alone is staggering. Some say it is so many, some must be lying. I agree. There’s a good chance not all of the 50+ are telling the truth, some no doubt looking to gain exposure or money from this situation. Whether that applies to 1 or 49, does it matter though? 1 rape makes a rapist. 50 makes a serial rapist. The numbers matter. But I don’t assume 49 women are lying. I will not deny their right to be heard. Some may be lying, but that is not for me to discern when the evidence is stacked against Cosby.

In seeing opinions fly across the internet, I kept seeing people reference a deposition* from 2005 when Cosby stood accused by the same Andrea Constand of sexual assault. Our courts are open to the public for a reason, things go on record for a reason. A deposition isn’t hearsay, it isn’t blind accusations. It is the exact questions and answers given by Cosby, on the stand, under oath. I’ll be blunt, this deposition was damning. In it, Cosby acknowledged getting a prescription for Quaaludes, but that he did not intend to use them for himself. He said the drugs “made him sleepy”, and that he gave them to women he intended to sleep with. He likened it to buying a drink for a woman.

Buying a drink for a woman is a normal social act, however intentionally trying to get a woman drunk so that she cannot consent, then having sex with her is rape. Cosby acknowledged that the drugs made him “sleepy”, then gave them to women he wanted to have sex with. Sleepy from drugs, of course, is not the same as sleepy from exhaustion. The women claim he would offer them medicine for a headache, or other ailment, then woke up after having been sexually assaulted, not having given consent, and even if they had they were no longer conscious. He goes on in the deposition to say he only gave Andrea Constand Benadryll, then offered to pay for grad school for her, after she said all she wanted was an apology, and the name of the drug she was given.

That is a damning circumstance, multiple women with similar stories, and Bill Cosby’s own words stating he bought drugs and gave them to women he wanted to have sex with. The stories are not verbatim, but they carry dangerous similarities. Accusations aside, the predatory nature of giving women drugs to sleep with them is very questionable.  I have yet to see Dr. Cosby defend these actions, or deny them. Until then, I cannot stand behind him. The evidence is there to support their stories. We can watch how it plays out in court, but the deposition speaks volumes for me. Cosby has done nothing to prove the accusations wrong. I hope he does, but he has not and until then, I can only make logical conclusions based on the evidence presented.

 

Who is Bill Cosby, beyond his art?

            I planned on writing more about who Bill Cosby is as a person, in my eyes. About the Pound Cake Speech and his stereotypical patriarchal views. But we have Google. I’ll leave the personal opinions of him to you. The case against Cosby is about rape, not his disagreeable conservatism.

 

However, a man standing accused of drugging women to sleep with them, admitted to buying drugs to sleep with women on record in 2005. That speaks volumes. How we interpret the information, that speaks volumes as well.

 

“Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die, horoscopes often lie, and sometimes why, nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain, nothing lasts forever.”

-Outkast, Aquemini

 

 

 

*http://deadspin.com/here-are-the-documents-bill-cosby-didnt-want-you-to-rea-1716083975