Wednesday, December 28, 2011

F**k Yo Kwanzaa (not my words)

A, what appears to be dated, opinion piece where the author took a stance against celebrating Kwanzaa sparked some thoughts (Kwanzaa Is Wack: There, I Said It). Now I do not wish to proclaim whether or not I participate in the celebration of Kwanzaa, nor to I wish to confer to whether or not I agree with this blog post – that’s unimportant (by the way, those who know me know I give little credence to blog posts, including my own, which is why I rarely post anything). However, in this “open forum” era I would like to focus on what seems to be a continuing trend that I find interesting.

For disclosure, my understanding of Kwanzaa is that it is not a holiday in the current conventional sense, nor should it ever be observed as such. This is not because I agree with the writer of the piece, but rather, I look towards the initial intention of its creation. Yes, I lean towards the thought that it was not set up to be a Christmas replacement. Having said that, and for the purpose of this ‘little post,” the facts and personal views (mine or the blogger’s) regarding Dr. Maulana Karenga are an aside. My vision of Kwanzaa, or to further my point - the “Observance of Principles,” leaves me to being a bit more expansive in thought.

We are clearly living knee deep in the “freedom” era; thanks to the Internet and the relaxation of former moral/cultural norms, our freedom of speech and expression sometimes goes well beyond the parameters of where it belongs or needs to go. We also are draped in the freedom to believe in what we choose to believe in and/or observe, as well as enjoying the freedom to agree or disagree with one another – in particular, or in this case, with our elders and the foundations they’ve laid and established. Now I don’t necessarily think that any of this is “bad,” however, like Integration there’s a thin line between this train of thinking being a free and thoughtful inclusion of Black life in America, and a less than helpful side of that same life.

Just like not believing in or celebrating or observing Christmas, not believing, celebrating, or observing Kwanzaa falls into the territory of one’s own prerogative. However it remains that in this “Freedom Era” articles in this realm are becoming more and more common place – almost like Black republicans (and no, I’m not opening up that can of worms right now… I’m just saying). My point is, Black folk, in particularly young Black folk, are more and more feeling free or okay to express their opposing point of view on the so-called “Black Monolithic Thought.” While I think that’s perfectly cool, or fine, or whatever, there’s a tin lining in such a cloud with a low rust-point where, like in the metal, cohesive and malleable elements breaks down and such a streams of logic can become brittle and fragile.

In essence, this article speaks to a larger issue at hand – in my opinion, and that is on Black cohesion on a whole. I agree and believe that as Black folk we should, and have always had, the ability to express differences of opinion on all topics great and small. However, in the larger sense, we also need to be historically conscious of the theoretical, and proverbial, “other side of the coin.” In specific regard to the Kwanzaa piece, I think the immature mind can whole-heartedly embrace its sentiment. Nevertheless, what seems to be missing or maybe not fully understood is the sentiment behind Kwanzaa and other Cultural Nationalist "trends" established during the era of “Black Beauty” and awakening. At the accepted risk of sounding antiquated, there’s a foundation we have no choice but to steady ourselves on – freedoms were fought for, and won, in order for us to have the ability to disagree, or even disregard, our past.

The flip side to the negative speculations as to why Dr. Karenga possibly created Kwanzaa can easily be subverted with an argument that suggests a more positive spin – such as maybe he did it to atone for his alleged sins against the Black community (and more particular those against Black Panther Party, and/or members of the Us Organization). Regardless, my point is that there are positive elements to everything; this is what we call Equality.

In this age of contrarians and instant “snarkiness” for the sake of establishing a name for one’s self, it is very easy to jump on the “yeah I was feeling this way too, and now I can anonymously say this” band wagon. For many, in their rush to prove that they are not apart of the mythic “Black Monolith” the cause, effect, and purpose behind our traditions and general history in this country (and the world) is either overlooked, misunderstood, or ignored. We need to be more conscious about embracing the positive elements concerning our culture. Dragged here we were stripped of everything historical and traditional, so it only makes sense for us to create and establish new customs based on what some may perceive as myths and half or un-truths. Yes, the truth is the truth, but when we begin to dismantle all that has supported us and built us up until this point, what do we have left? This aim of reasoning will lead us wondering in the desert of ignorance – which, if one turns on the TV/radio/Internet will look rather familiar.

I look at it like this; Kwanzaa could possibly be an element that exists for the sole purpose of reinforcing the tin lining, almost similar to the idea that many of us have chosen to believe regarding the flip of the N-word into having a more positive meaning and connotation. Being a “Black alternative to Christmas” aside, Kwanzaa’s observance could possibly be used as a means to keep some degree of cultural awareness and/or historical context in the minds of our people, the youth in particular. As we wade deeper and deeper in the waters of free expression, or the “non-monolithic era,” I fear the Black or cultural foundation (some may refer to this as pride) will rust, disintegrate, and blow away leaving, as many of us are today, longing for the “good old” pre-integration days when we were “together.”

While I’m no more complaining about non-celebration or observance than I am promoting it, I will say it may not be such a “bad” thing to remember or introduce elements that provide some degree of positive cultural direction and foundation into our consciousness which seems to be bombarded daily with ignorance and negative reinforcements. For that reason alone, who cares whether or not corn is native to The Continent of Africa, fact is there may be those on the lower side of intelligentsia who may need symbols and rituals to keep our collective hope alive. Just like the lone Black candle on the Kinara, the idea of Black unity needs to shine to some degree for all of us, including those who believe or not, think they know or honestly don’t know, and for those who choose to embrace or discard elements of our collective foundation.

Now playing: Parliament - Chocolate City

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Monday, February 01, 2010

The REAL Black Entertainment Television

Happy Black History Month, I used to do this every year when I was working in advertising and got this info in advance, and when TV programming was a little better. So enjoy, and if you watch television responsibly you might just learn something. These times may not be 100% and schedules are subject to change, all times are based on EST. I'm sure there's more programming out there, so feel free to leave comments that add on to the info or make any corrections. Hell even leave comments on some of the shows you watched. Oh, and by the way if you want some more Black History Month TV programming check out:

PBS Explores African-American Contributions to History and Society

TVOne - Way Black When/Our History Month

Monday, February 1

BET – The BET Honors' – 9:00PM
Hosted by Gabrielle Union the annual event honors the best and brightest in African-American culture.

Tuesday, February 2

This remarkable documentary explores one of the most controversial public assistance programs of the Great Depression. The Federal Writers Project was one of four arts programs created under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The project employed thousands of unemployed writers, including the future icons Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison, to fan out across America, interview its citizens, and produce a portrait of the United States from the ground up, in a series of state travel guides. They captured a unique portrait of 1930’s Americana. But what began as a program to create guidebooks for every state ended up igniting a storm of controversy when writers sought out not only the triumphs of America, but also its tragedies.

PBS - 'Independent Lens: Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness' – 10:30pm
Examines the forgotten legacy of Melville Herskovits, a controversial Jewish anthropologist whose writings in the 40s and 50s challenged widely held assumptions about race and culture. Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts.

The idea of establishing a museum dedicated to presenting and preserving the African American experience was first considered not long after the Civil War. It took well over a century, however, before Congress, in 2003, finally mandated the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The building isn’t finished yet, but the first exhibit is already assembled – an extraordinary collection of photographs of this country’s most celebrated and influential African Americans. Museum director Dr. Lonnie Bunch discusses his efforts to not only design the museum, but to fill its shelves with objects, documents and artifacts that capture and reflect the African American experience.

Thursday, February 4

Beginning in 1911, Addison Scurlock’s photographs portrayed African Americans in a way that wasn’t often seen. With the help of his two sons, George and Robert, the Scurlock Studio mastered the photographic portrait and captured the essence of Black Washington. Their portraits, photographs of weddings, graduations and families stand as a visual record of not only Washington, DC, but of African American culture. The Scurlocks created images to resist the racial stereotypes of their time and, in the process, produced truly fascinating art.

Friday, February 5

VH1 – 'Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America' – 9:00pm
This year marks the 40th anniversary of 'Soul Train.' Terrence Howard narrates the documentary that taught America some of it's smoothest dance moves.

This special tells the forgotten true story of an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi for 40 years before finally achieving freedom and becoming one of the most famous men in America. Mos Def narrates.

Saturday, February 6


Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for standing up for what he believed in. Slowly, from the remote prison on South Africa’s Robben Island, he galvanized the world around his struggle to end apartheid. When Mandela was released from prison, he entered a world that had been profoundly shaped by his dream. Lives That Changed The World: Nelson Mandela tells the story of Nelson Mandela through the stories of nine people who were inspired by that dream, including F.W. DeKlerk, former Prime Minister of South Africa, and Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi, who continues her father’s legacy through her work with the children of South Africa.

Muhammad Ali is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Lives That Changed the World: Muhammad Ali shows that he is also one of the most influential men of our era. This unique documentary tells the story of Ali through the human faces and voices of nine lives that he has inspired, including, his fight doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, and Etan Thomas, a professional basketball player and poet who was inspired by Ali to work for change.

The blockbuster hit starring Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker is a drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Sunday, February 7

BET – TEN9EIGHT – 12:00 PM
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio, this documentary tells the inspirational stories of several inner city teens from Harlem to Compton and all points in between, as they compete in an annual business plan competition run by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

PBS – GREAT PERFORMANCES “Harlem in Montmarte” – 10:00pm
A picture of the African-American expatriate community in Paris between the First and Second World Wars.

Monday, February 8

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL’S sound revolution: sounds of jazz – 8pm ET/PT
Jazz was perhaps the first great American art form of the 20th Century. Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman tells the story of the first few decades of jazz, beginning at the mouth of the Mississippi, in the city widely acknowledged as its birthplace, New Orleans. He follows jazz’s journey from its origins as a mixture of African, Classical European and Blues; through the great Dixieland days of Louis Armstrong and King Oliver; to the swing and big band eras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, when it became the most popular music in the country.

HBO – “The Black List: Volume Three" – 8:30PM
The third installation in a series featuring well respected and distinguished African-American notables. Including 'The View's' Whoopi Goldberg, 'Precious' director Lee Daniels and John Legend.

Thursday, February 11

PBS – 'In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement' – 8:00PM
President and Mrs. Obama will host this musical special at the White House East Room. Performers include Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal and many others.

Sunday, February 14

The inspiring fact-based saga of a mentally and physically handicapped young woman who fulfilled her dream to excel at track and field.

Tuesday, February 16

PBS – 'Mine/Home' – 10:00PM
A powerful story of animals left behind during Katrina, and of the struggles of hurricane survivors to reunite with their beloved pets. A meditation on the essential bond between humans and animals, “Mine” is an equally compelling story of race and class, and the power of compassion, in contemporary America.

Monday, February 22

PBS – AMERICAN MASTERS “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun”- 10:00pmET
This is a profile of author Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most celebrated — and most controversial — figures of the Harlem Renaissance, that creatively expansive era in the 1920s when “the Negro was in vogue.” S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) narrates.

Tuesday, February 23

PBS – INDEPENDENT LENS “Behind the Rainbow” – 10:00p.m. ET
A previously untold account of South Africa’s political problems, struggles and realities. Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts.

Friday, February 26

FOX – 'The 41st NAACP Image Awards' – 8:00pm
Celebrating some of the most outstanding achievements from notable minorities. Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Mo'Nique are nominees.

Saturday, February 27

PBS – 'Tavis Smiley Reports: One on One with Hillary Clinton' – 8:00pm
Tavis Smiley sits down with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her first year as America's chief diplomat.

Sunday, February 28

The story of Mary Thomas, the mother of basketball star Isiah Thomas, and how she fought to keep her family together and her sons out of trouble despite the surroundings of poverty, drugs, crime and violence of their ghetto neighborhood. Starring Alfre Woodard.

Now playing: Sade - Soldier Of Love

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home Is Where The Hatred Is

We now live in a post racial America. And by post racial I do mean that the level of “race relations” have traveled from the insanely ignorant and overt, past the inane and uncomfort of the post-civil rights era, through the in you face lets confront this ‘70s sit-com era, and finally to the insanely ignorant and overt. We used to fear that if we had a Black president someone would assassinate him, but we never pictured this. These right-wingers are as nutty as a fruitcake, as my grandmother used to put it, but what’s even more bizarre is that these fools are spewing there nonsense with straight faces and complete conviction. Beyond that are their followers, who seem to be nowhere near as educated as these pundits claim to be, but who are swallowing what they are serving like it’s the straight, refreshing gospel. They’ll cop to this being about race, but this can’t call it politics either. There is going come a time soon when some on Fox News will use the N-word, it is just a matter of time. It may not be a pundit, but it will happen, and it will be directed towards the president. This is why I believe the president should not have made the call or had the “beer summit.” They are trying to push him like they do all Democratic presidents and they know the N-word is their ultimate weapon of last resort. I don’t know maybe it will be a pundit, maybe someone will be ordered to fall on their sword, but it will happen. But the sad-ass-truth is, nothing will happen and all will be forgiven, apologies will be made, meetings will be held, and in a few short months all will be forgotten. Imus who???

There will be no terrorist banging on this country’s borders with bombs or planes, this place will surely implode on itself… from the inside. And it will be the very people who are telling the ignorant “they’re coming to get you” who will ignite the fuse and those ignorant listeners and followers who are now strapping on the bombs of discontent will be the very instruments of their own and everyone else’s destruction.

Now playing: Ten City - Goin' Up In Smoke (Revelation Mix)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

On Michael Jackson, Part II

Yeah, I'm usually not one to beat a... wait maybe I aught not use that analogy, however, I'm just saying this may be the only time you will see the same topic addressed back-to-back. With that said, I just really, really had to post this video from my man Jay Smooth, dude hit the nail on the head with this - it's so on point that its ridiculous. His incredible insight on MJ's struggle with "the spotlight" and the media goes beyond words. So now I'll just shut the F up so you can watch this...

Ran across this and had to add because it fits...

Now playing: Lonnie Liston Smith - Expansions


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Michael Jackson

It’s crazy and unfortunate that people are so fascinated with the ugly side of life. People crave the particulars, more so the bad than the good, of a person's being without a thought or care of what that level of pursuit does to the pursued. Maybe its the news culture of - if it bleeds, it leads - that's been created where people are conditioned to seek out the most intimate and inane details of a person's existence which they choose to label “interesting” and follow with pseudo investigation, pseudo meditation, or even a pseudo discussion of why a person (the pursued) has become whatever they (the pursuer) perceived or otherwise, has become. It’s deplorable that a person cannot live and engage in the life they wish, but sadder yet is the irony that pushes those to the ultimate extremes, extremes that continuously fuel the pursuers and thus creates a never-ending cycle of lunacy that’s not even broken in death. A cipher that begs the question; is life even appreciated in the first place.

We appreciate you Michael Joseph Jackson, and may you finally get some Peace.

Below are a few well thought comments on Michael Jackson’s life. It is with hope that these written and spoken comments can be used as tools to combat the negative and allow us to hold on to the essential spirit of the man who, since childhood, brought so much joy to a multitude of lives around the world.

James Baldwin on Michael Jackson from "Here Be Dragons" (1985)

The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.

All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair--to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America.

Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated--in the main, abominably--because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.

This clip is about 50 minutes long, but check out the comments by a caller and the hosts in the first 10 minutes.

“You can’t use the same ruler we use for ourselves to measure their inches.”
-- James Mtume on artists like Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, et al.
, The Open Line 98.7 KISS FM, NYC - June 28, 2009 - Part II

Now playing: The Jacksons - This Place Hotel

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The North Didn't Have No Slaves!

Funniest ish, Chris Matthews wild out on Steve Cohen who sponsored the Apology for Slavery bill. Dude gotta be bi-polar, lol.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Now playing: UMCs - Blue Cheese

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Long Response To An Article

This article is very interesting to me on a few levels, besides my building a program to make our students ready for college, with an emphasis on HBCU, I'm also dabbling in the writing another novel that considers this very premise only expanding it to Black Nationalism on a whole, and as we know The Nation plays a major part in that. We all have recognized and been amazement by the amount of change that's taken place on the political landscape in the past 20 years. While we celebrate Obama and generally Black folk having advanced opportunities towards being progressive, in the 'hood those 20 years don't necessarily look unfamiliar, in fact they look very familiar; they look like they've always looked for some unfortunately. And it’s not just the 'hood, for many our world at large looks very familiar, when it comes to racism and justice progress seems to take two steps ahead, and then four steps back. There's still police brutality and unjust killings, race/sex/religious based killings and crime, Mumia and other political prisoners from that era are still locked up while racist murders go free, and while it seems that we're moving towards lifting the embargo on Cuba, we have politicians (both Black and white) still stuck in their ways of 20 years ago and unwilling to adjust to the times.

So while I understand that the necessary rhetoric and movement of Black Nationalist is urgently important, I think the question is how do the tactics evolve. I think the author’s argument about the Million Man March points to this. Not that I completely agree with her, however, there is the issue of continuing the momentum. The example of Obama’s first 100 days could possibly stand as sort of a road map to addressing this issue. He hit the ground running, and while many of us are already on the ground, some are nowhere near running and others (do to age/lack of young new blood or resistance to new technology) are continuing at that snail’s pace chipping away at the problems as they’ve done for the past 40 years. I make this point particularly because I know of grassroot level organizations that’s been doing their thing for years, but ask them for a simple email address and you damn near get a conspiracy theory about why they don’t have that or a cell phone. Now that may not be the norm, and I don’t hold them to fault on anything but point is it exists.

I say all that to say, I love the old school Civil Rights and Black Power movements, it’s hard for me not when I fancy myself a student of history, however there is a generational gap – much of which picked up steam due to President Obama’s election – that tends to break away from that spirit. That’s why I equate it all together, just like the movement away from HBCU by our students. The argument or dilemma is akin to asking “what’s the need or necessity for all that old school Black talk?” Which is like asking “what’s the need for community action?” when we know for a fact it’s needed and why. Or for that matter “what’s the point or need for HBCU?” Now while there are those of us knee deep in answers, those questions still remain and many of us feel and believe we have overcome so The Nation, Black Nationalism, HBCU, and much of what has traditionally been apart of our history during our sojourn here is passé. And I guess therein lies the opportunity for a progressive discussion towards evaluating and moving forward many of our old ways of addressing the same issues we face in this new day.

Now playing: Jackson 5 - I Am Love

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