I Knew I Would Never Be the Same

I knew that I would never be the same when, while researching
the Beyond the Down
Low post, I read a passage in Keith Boykin’s
book where he describes affirming the rage
or questioning the rage.

I am rage sensitive. It comes from watching the world around me,
as a child, be eaten alive by addiction. In many ways rage operates
like a stray bullets, taking out whatever is in its path.

In the book, Boykin was discussing how he was speaking at an event on
AIDS, and the women stood up and said “Sure they would have you here,
you are one of them”, one of them meaning that he is a gay man.
Apparently the womans husband, cheated on her and left her for a man.

It was at that moment where Boykin pointed out that she wanted
him, to affirm her rage, but instead he questioned it by telling her that she
has a right to be angry but a conference about Black people and HIV
isn’t automatically about Black men who are in the closet and
to presume that it is the same is apart of the problem that leads them
to being closet in the first place.

When you read the paper, or watch the news, think about whether the story
you are reading is raising questions or affirming passively held values,
be they healthy, racist, sexist or pathological.

I think about affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I go back and
forth with C.Dubb about what this non profit is going to look like.

I think about it when I say to myself, that there are so MANY people getting
money off of poverty that anything we do MUST be committed to being about
solutions. No more talk about the problem. ((Problem))((Solution)).

I think about affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I read Michael Eric
Dyson talking a whole bunch of yak about Tupac, as if Pac was the second
coming. Pac was an artist. He had potential. Sadly he did not live up to it.

Sometimes Dyson man reads like he is Pac’s publicist.

I listen to Pac. I listen to rap. But, what is bugged out to me is Dyson’s
unwillingness to question Pac or Hip Hop at all.

However, if Dyson questioned Pac he may begin to question other things,
and who know’s where that may lead.

Its almost like we need a conference where we criticize each other, then decide to
take action on the issues that arise.

But that would mean taking time from Fox News appearances, conferences,
the Black Literature circuit and actually figure out sustainable ways to address the
sh-t “we” talk about on Fox News, at conferences and on the Black
Literature circuit.

I thought of how the rage was affirmed when I picked up Street Lit Review.
In many ways it is a magazine with great potential. But most of its
reviews are thinly disguised pressed releases. But for one article
on the challenges of ghost writing, I learned nothing new about street
lit that I couldn’t have easily picked up by browsing a book table at
Fulton Mall.

What really got me was the pages in the magazines displaying the covers
of the books. Many of them looked like stills from an R. Kelly or Young Joc
video.

All I could think was, “Is this what we think of each other?”

Often times, I evaluate Black art by asking myself, if II came from
another country and knew zero about African Americans, what
would this piece of music, book, tv show, tell about
me about Black folks?

This is NOT to say that every piece has to be on some Fight the Power.

Because that is nonsense.

However, it must be noted how much both street lit and how much
of Snoop, 50 and Weezy says about us, as a people to each other and to
the world.

I thought of affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I was
reading Black Issues Book review and Melody Guy, senior editor at
One World Ballentine said, in defense of street
lit, “You can’t force them to read James Baldwin. There is a reason
why people are choosing these stories and maybe we should
look at what is causing this hunger”.

I know what causes the hunger, the same thing that sustained my appetite
for Mobb Deep, sustains and feeds desire for these stories
which ultimately play the role in feeding the dysfunction within us.

The Baldwin statement interesting for two reasons.
First, since the 4th, I have been reading
Baldwin to get a handle on how to write about my family
in an accessible an effective way.

Two, Baldwin always questioned the rage.

In many ways, the folks who want more diversity in Hip Hop,
are like the folks who want more diversity in Black book titles.

I wonder what will happen when we decide enough is enough
and that we will support both the musicians, writers and fine artists
who create images that aren’t hella corny like a back to school special,
see the above Ice Cube movie, yet aren’t so pathological they make
me want consider homicide because the ________ is enough.

Try and F*ck a Black Girl


Last night I walked out of the movie “The Wackness“.

This was a disappointment for three reasons.

First of all it was a date.

Secondly, we planned on watching it for the last two weeks.

Thirdly, I had moderate hopes for the movie, as circa 1994 hip hop
played a prominent role in the film.

The gist of the story is that the main character, Luke, is a
18 year old virgin who is spending the summer before college
selling weed, listening to Biggie, navigating his parents dysfunction
and trying to have sex for the first time.

A modern coming of age story.

The movie also reminded me of Brandon Soderberg’s analysis of
Judd Apatow’s usage of hip hop in his films. Soderberg’s theory is that
Apatow uses hip hop to illustrate the more dysfunctional and or pathological
aspects of his characters. Soderberg writes,

Apatow’s producer/director/writer filmography contains a weird trend of using hip-hop as either a quick throwaway joke or as a way to reduce a character or scene to absurdity. Recall the intro to ‘Knocked-Up’ which uses Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s classic ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ (Armond White: “white boys clowning to Old Dirty Bastard?s ?Shimmy Shimmy Ya?) with emphasis on Dirty’s “Ooh baby I like it raw” hook to make it really obvious and funny what this movie’s already going to be about. Think of the constant hip-hop slang used by everyone but Steve Carrell’s character in ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin’ and how it’s essentially used to represent just how vulgar and crass everyone’s become and how stupid white people are for adopting any part of this culture.

Back to walking out.

I walked out of the movie when Ben Kingsly’s character, Dr. Squires,
is giving Luke advice on life, love and sex in college and beyond
and suggests to him, hopefully, “Try and Fuck a Black Girl”.

The take away from that is that we are easy. We are exotic. If you are
having a hard time try the Black girls. We are willing.

I am not lying y’all, he said it. I said “The F*ck is this?” I told my date,
“Uh, I’m leaving”.

The issue for me wasn’t just that Dr. Squires said it, it was the fact that people,
many of whom were white women, laughed.

It wasn’t funny.

I wondered if they would have laughed if the character said
“Try and fuck a Jewish girl?”

I also wondered if writer, director Jonathan Levine, thought twice
about keeping that line.

Related
Soderberg has a thorough, with a capital T, analysis
of the role that rap music plays in white movies.

The Guardian

I woke up this morning tired. Putting ice on my knee tired.

I went out to Ms. Coca’s party last night.

Ali Shaheed played Electric Relaxation and I got hoarse from singing along.

I was checking my blog statistics this morning and noticed that I was getting
referrals from
The Guardian.

I clicked on the link and saw that The Guardian had linked to my
“If You Want to Change Society” piece under their Best of the Web section.

I had to blink back the water y’all.

Thank you to Latoya for the Racialicious cross links.

Thank you to all who read and comment. Thank you to the lurkers. I see you.

Thank you to the folks who e-mail me, who reach out and ask for advice,
who write and share how they are “on becoming a more human human”,
or that they are “struggling with learning that their partner has a near
fatal disease and they just wanted to reach out”.

bell and Audre speak out their being power in the margins, so there is nothing
like being recognized, publicly, for being yourself.

If You Want to Change Society, Close Your Legs

Yes. David Banner said it.

Talk about colored girls, homicide and patriarchy.

You would think that Capitalism, the fall of the stock market and the price
of rice were controlled by who we had sex with.

What if a white man sat on that stage and said that? R.I.O.T.

David goes on to say that “Most of these men sell dope because
they want to impress you”. So wait, if we stop having sex with D-boys
then they are going to get jobs at Mc Donalds?

I think we need more labor and gender theory.

It Ain’t My Fault
Whats incredible to me about this video is two things.
David Banners and to a certain extent Kweli’s response is
indicative of
an unwillingness to acknowledge the ways
in which our music affects our kids.

Why is that so hard?

We don’t want the rappers to have any personal responsibility
because we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable.
The minute we hold them accountable we have to hold
ourselves accountable.

Its like this, if your momma is telling you not to smoke and drink,
but she smoking and drinking, you ain’t gonna listen to her.

If we start talking about the rappers and their music and
the effect it has on the kids, then we have to start looking
ourselves, the fact that we buy and listen to the music
and the message that this sends to the kids.

We don’t criticize the rappers because then we would
either have to stop listening to it, or think about
why we get enjoyment from listening to “It Ain’t No Fun,

If the Homies Can’t Have None”.

Do you know how hard it was to write that listening
to Mobb Deep was nurturing the dysfunction in me?
Type difficult.

But knowing what I know about crack, Oakland,
and crack in Oakland, it would only make sense
that there would be a part of me that would find
tales of murder and crack entertaining.

We try and turn the dysfunctional ‘ish entertaining as
as a way to cope. And many times it works. But we are

conflicted over it. Think of the art, music and theater
associated with The Holocaust. However, there is conflict
within the Jewish community over whether art about
whether it is appropriate for something so terrible can
serve as a basis for art, be it comedy, drama or a musical.

Listening to Mobb Deep reminds me that I am not living
in the 1989 war on drugs zone. It’s a reminder
that I survived.

However the words have an impact, perhaps an unintended
impact but an impact just the same.

For example, at the Spinna party last Saturday, I was singing alone with
Snoop and I turned to Filthy and said, “If my dad repeatedly telling me over
the years that I could do anything had an impact on my self esteem,
what impact does listening to and singing Ain’t No Fun have on
esteems of both men and women?”

You Wouldn’t Get Far

Hip-hop in many ways traffics in the Black sexuality and the availability
of Black female bodies as tools for sex.

No one wants to admit it, talk about it or analyze it.

What would these rappers think if their daughters were vixens,
and their sons murdering and hustling?

In a culture where Karrine Steffan’s is a slut, but being a pimp is revered,
where R. Kelley marries Aaliyah, is a known longtime pedophile in Chicago
and is acquitted of child porn charges, there are some serious issues with
how we view Black female bodies.

Its much easier to call Video Vixens tramps rather than analyze patriarchy.

Hip Hop’s Identity Crisis

While watching this video, I also thought of Hip Hops conflict within itself.
On one hand folks say that Hip Hop is “just music” on the other hand
folks say “that hip hop is revolutionary and political”.

What is it gon’ be? Just music or revolutionary?

As far as I am concerned, most of it is just another
form of employment.

In fact Birkhold wrote recently about how Hip Hop
isn’t the child of The Civil Rights Movement but is in fact
the child of Black youth unemployment. He writes,

I?m tired of people calling hip hop the child of the civil rights and black power movements. Everyone from hip hop artists, hip hop activists, hip hop scholars, and regular everyday listeners have called it that and all of them are wrong. I believe this error is made for two fundamental reasons, as a nation we don?t understand the civil rights or black power movements nor do we understand labor in a capitalist society.

If we did, we would understand that hip hop is the child of unemployment.


Parents Raise Kids Rappers Don’t

Not only do we fail to understand how Hip Hop isn’t

“revolutionary” but we also fail to understand how
rappers sound like neocon Republicans
when they say “Parents need to raise they kids”.

Yesterday, I began do wonder, do these negros sit around reading

In fact, I know d-boys that take more responsibility for contributing to
the down fall of the hood many of these rappers do.

Why is it so difficult to care about children other than our own?

We know better. Pre-crack we certainly weren’t raised like that.
Ms. Johnson down the street would tell your momma if she saw
you doing something out of pocket. I have written about it here before.
This extra parental intervention stopped during the crack era because
while Ms. Johnson would say something to Hakeem, now that it was ’89,
he had a 9(mm) and she wanted to keep her life.

We Just Need More Money and Programs
If the solution is economic then our people should be in better shape.
Black people have more money than ever before, and their children
are STILL underemployed and in prison in record numbers,

If the solution is economic, how many people you know have
cake and still decomposing on the inside?

An after school program and a fund raiser is not going to change this.
After school programs and fund raisers are apart of the problem.
We can’t party our way to social justice, reduced unemployment,
reduced drop out rates or lower AIDS rates.

Many people who work these jobs, like their work, but are scared of the hood.
Non profit jobs serve as a stepping stone for folks. Its like an urban boot camp.
If you can survive with the darkies you can work anywhere.
They are far more interested in keeping their jobs than changing
society so that the children who are in these programs can have
lives full of options, dignity, humanity and power.

There are a lot of mortgages being paid off of managing Black and/or
White poverty.

I am not dissing afterschool programs. Afterschool and summer school
was my salvation when three and four hundred cats were getting murdered
a year in Oakland 89-92. What I am saying is that it is important to keep
an after school program in perspective and to understand the extent
to which some folks care more about getting a grant, then deciding what
their organizations mission will be. This method of thinking enables them
to put their personal mission ahead of the needs of the people they are serving.

Black children in the hood know that there is a war on drugs. They know
it because they are in the middle of it. They know that we won’t, can’t
protect them, so they protect themselves. They also know that we care
more about our music than we do standing up for them.

Every time an emcee says “Parent’s raise kids” not rappers, the kids are
reminded of this.

We don’t also don’t understand labor and power, and until we do we will
be on stages saying things like “If You Want to Change Society, Close your Legs”.