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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Change your bookmark!!!!


Wait, have you been looking for me over here? Oh no, you didn't catch the move. I'm over here! Update your bookmarks to
WWW.UPTOWNNOTES.COM.
Then when you get there you can subscribe to the new RSS feed. If you liked what you saw here, you'll love what we've got going on over there. My old posts from BlackatMichigan, DumiSays, and UptownNotes are even over there!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Black man with the permanent tan...


What you know about the title to this post????

Since my last post, I've been very busy. For the first time in a while, I've been making good progress on my academic scholarship. Looking forward to getting a couple of things out there real soon. Also, my classes have started to take a really good turn and I'm excited about their potential. Okay, now to a short yet important post.

This past weekend, aside from battling a cold, I got a chance to go check out the African American Day Parade. There were so many beautiful Black folks out in Harlem it was site to behold. I was only at the Parade for a short time, but it was great to see Red Black and Green flying everywhere. While I was excited to see the UNIA flag, I was quickly brought back to reality by the sight of a brotha with the flag in one hand and a handful of passing strangers buttocks in the other. Can we truly be thinking about Black Liberation if we continue to oppress and degrade women? As we as people strive for greater power, a greater community, we as Black men, must interrogate our position in society. Recently brother Jewel Woods put out a Black Male Privileges Checklist.

What do you find yourself answering yes to?
Do you think as a Black man in America you have privilege?
What are you willing to do to change your privilege?

On a separate but related note, when traveling home post parade and post movie, I saw cops everywhere in Harlem. This may be some of the explanation.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Harvey Dent visits the RNC


The Daily Show recently did a great segment on GOP/RNC double speak. Some pretty amazing footage in here. Who knew that Harvey Dent was a Republican Strategist!



What you don't trust the Daily Show as a reputable news source ... fine, fine, fine, here is an AP article on the GOPs contradictions around Palin and her family.

Shout out to JF and AMB for the links!

Jay Smooth on "No Homo"

If you aren't accustomed to clicking links on the side of this page, I hope this will help. This is a videoblog by Jay Smooth, long time Hip-Hop head and host on his blog illdoctrine.com. Jay in mid August posted a guide to "no homo", he really comes with it... [not gonna say it Jay!]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are they serious? RNC Palin Edition



1) "The Pta","Hockey Moms 4 Palin" and "small town" are those the parts I'm supposed to connect to?

2) Did Palin really spend the first 5 minutes explaining that she has a family ... how does that mesh with the GOPs insistence on leaving her family out of it?

3) Ugh, could someone check on her baby, cause the kid didn't look well?

4) Am I supposed to think being mayor matters?

5) Can you claim that you aren't a part of the power structure when you're on the ticket of the Grand Old Party?

6) Are we supposed to think that "Drill, baby, Drill!" is a real energy plan?

7) Am I to believe Palin will put Air Force One on Ebay?

8) What the hell was that powerpoint slide show in the background?

9) How many times did she say "man" when she could have said person, president, or something gender neutral?

10) And now that she talked about Obama and McCain ad naseum, can you tell me what she stands for!?!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics is Politricks?


"I don't fuck with politics, I don't even follow it." -Talib Kweli on the Beautiful Struggle 2004

I love Hip-Hop, no for real, I love Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop has been one of the cultural forms that I gravitated towards since I was small. Hip-Hop has been more than beats and rhymes, it helped build my ideology. It provided me access to different perspectives on the social world. I'll never forget when I heard NWA yell "Fuck Da Police." Hip-Hop spoke for me when my voice trembled. Hip-Hop hasn't been perfect, but it it's been full of perfect imperfections. While some will say it's all about the Beat, Hip-Hop WAS more than that to me. It's moments like this that make me really miss Hip-Hop. Correction, it's moments like this that I miss political Hip-Hop... or at least MY political Hip-Hop.

Now don't get it twisted, Hip-Hop is political, arguably more political than at any other point in its history. The quote above by Talib Kweli in 2004 is the type of political Hip-Hop that I'm talking about. Kweli wasn't advocating apolitical behavior, he was acknowledging the inadequecies of politics. But always, things change. I doubt Talib Kweli could even back that quote anymore, especially since he made a song about Hillary Clinton "falling back" during the primary season. With Luda freestyling for Obama, Big Boi sitting in the Oval office, and Daddy Yankee championing McCain we're seeing so much political discussion it should be cause for celebration. Hip-Hop is finally coming of age and is forming a union with Politics. Unfortunately, like most weddings, there is always someone who is disturbed by the union. That someone is me! The marriage between Hip-Hop and mainstream politics is beginning to worry me.

Now I'm not someone who has a myopia or nostalgia about Hip-Hop that romanticizes Hip-Hop. I know Hip-Hop was a party before it was political. But as a Black man in America, the personal is political. I remember sitting in high school listening to The Goats as they railed on politicians like Bill Clinton. It was an odd moment because most people I knew, including progressive Black folks, were in support of Clinton and at first I was confused. I wondered, "How can they be against Clinton? Isn't he a "good" president?" Their lyrics challenged me to see beyond a saxophone performance on Arsenio Hall and made me dig deeper to understand real politics: welfare reform, immigration, crime policy, and even the limits of politics. And yes, I began to dig into these questions in part due to Hip-Hop's critical perspective. Now, I don't think this occurred for most folks who listened to Hip-Hop (hell most of you reading this probably have never heard of the Goats) but for me, the questions that began to percolate in those years continue to power my critical thoughts today. As I got older and became more involved in social change, I realized that mainstream politics have more often than not been the enemy of social change, not the the ally. The placations that politicians offered people traditionally have come in response to serious pressures from folks outside of Capitol Hill.

I believe in grassroots activism. I believe in political participation. But I'll fight for politics that are pushed to accountability by the grassroots. I vote, I have organized people to vote, and even admonish those who don't participate in the electoral process, but I know a ballot will never be enough. I learned that from Hip-Hop. As I dug my feet into grassroots work in New Haven, Atlanta, Michigan, and New York Hip-Hop provided a soundtrack. A soundtrack that pressed me to think critically and act critically. But for some reason, right now, I feel like I'm missing that soundtrack. To be honest I don't think I noticed it was playing for years, until it went silent.

For months, I've been waiting for a song that expresses an unease, disappointment, or at least concern that the election of a single political official is not enough. An artist that challenges us to think outside of a two party system. A joint that pushes us to see peace as not just as an idealized alternative, but a livable reality. A crew that knows we have to make politics work for the people. In the past, I was able to find that in the voices of Hip-Hop. My old Hip-Hop provided the perfect soundtrack to my struggle for social justice. I could pop in a tape or CD and know someone else felt my frustration with the state of the world, that someone shared my concern for change, that someone wasn't afraid to question the status quo. These type of songs, questions, and challenges probably made Chuck D nearly 20 years ago call rap "CNN for Black people."

Hmmm, maybe that's just it. Maybe he was right. Maybe he predicted it. Maybe Rap/Hip-Hop has become CNN for Black people. No really feel me, the parallels are scary. It features the same stories, same shallow analysis, same three minute clips, and runs on a loop. Maybe I don't need Rap to be Black CNN anymore.

Have I given up on Hip-Hop? Have I outgrown Hip-Hop? Am I living in the past? I think the answer to all of those is no, I'm still waiting. I still want more from Hip-Hop, I still demand more from Hip-Hop, I still believe in my Hip-Hop. Right now, the soundtrack to my struggle is silent. But I'll wait patiently, because as Greg Tate once said, "the only known alternative to hiphop is dead silence." And I'm not ready to do the work without my beloved soundtrack.