Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chris Brown, Others, Out 'Ignoranting' One Another

Gil Scott-Heron wrote the celebrated, militant poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." The title, which has become a popular mantra, means that thinking is paramount and, unfortunately, not a common practice. Featured on his 1971 album, "Pieces of Man," the lyrical poem describes how media transformed into a medium that keeps individuals, especially African Americans, from thinking. Although Scott-Heron’s piece focused on television, his concept also applies to radio.

As a child growing up in Memphis, music was one of the most socially responsible mediums for communication, political and social activism. This was even applicable to R&B music; although it was one of the most expressive vehicles for transferring the amorous feelings of love, during the Civil Rights era, the music was used to lend voice to important social commentary reflective of the needs of the African American community. In fact, most popular artists consistently used their music for this purpose, producing some of the greatest love songs known to this genre. Whether it was Aretha Franklin's "Respect," which spoke of equality for black women, Marvin Gaye's protest of the Vietnam War in "What's Going On," or James Brown's "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," music tended to reflect the needs of the community and collective more than the selfish avarice of the individual.

Today, there are few such artists with a focus and dedication that would allow them to sing for the betterment of the African American community. Instead of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Sam Cooke, there are the Dream, Pleasure P, Chris Brown and Trey Songz. These individuals, albeit talented, lack substance and often sing about the same topics.

Looking at Trey Songz, it appears that most of his songs are about sex; titles include clear messages -- "Sex for Yo Stereo", "No Clothes On", "Make Love Tonight", "Just Wanna Cut", "Neighbors Know My Name" and "I Invented Sex." One would imagine that a conscious and responsible adult would be able to sing about subjects beyond sex, and I am certain that he could if he tried; however, his focus may be elsewhere. Perhaps he doesn’t know the history of the music that’s representative of the community from which it originates.

Throughout history, we African Americans have used music as a tool to tackle prejudice and racism. It appears that this practice is no longer lived or perceived as vital and may even be considered by some to be unappealing or worse unimportant. The question is, will music ever continue the legacy of Marvin Gaye's "Make Me Wanna Hollar" or Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come"? I cannot answer that, for it seems that most current artists in hip hop and R&B are more interested in being carbon copies — content on "out ignorating” each other. It is obvious that the revolution will not be on the radio either …

Friday, June 25, 2010

Post-Racial? More Like Pre-KKK

Most people don't know who Steve King is. And no, I am not talking about the writer of horror fiction. Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, is a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. He is considered by many to be either an extremist or a nut job. To me, his behavior is sadly comical and may even suggest the need for some sort of hospitalization, medication or both.

King, like Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., is an example of what is wrong with American politics and the festering infection called white supremacy that can lead to irrationalism.

Tancredo claimed in 2008 while addressing the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., that Obama would have not been elected president if America had literacy tests for voters. In the same vein, Rep. King appeared on G. Gordon Liddy’s talk show and asserted that Obama has a “default mechanism” that favors ”the black person.”

Now if any African American politician stated such, the claims of racism would be flying out the woodwork from the GOP and their supporters. But this is a common occurrence for King, who represents the 5th District of his state. Iowa, which has 600,000 people, is 99 percent white.

King has also been embroiled in a decision made to grant amnesty to Obama's aunt, Zeituni Onyango. Onyango was recently granted asylum by an immigration judge, overruling a previous judicial determination ordering her deportation. Congressman King thinks that she should have been deported.

Even prior to Obama’s election, King suggested that if Obama won, al-Qaida would be "dancing in the streets" more so than they did on Sept. 11, 2001.

Given his incendiary comments, it is no wonder he is held in high esteem by the likes of well-known klansman David Duke and the White Nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens.

King needs to be cautious with his rhetoric, given the increase in the number of hate groups in the United States.

It is obvious that the legacy of white supremacy and racism continues and that America is no more post-racial than it pre-KKK

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Televised Skankery: When a Woman Is a Wife Without a Husband

For the first time in my life, last week I reduced myself to look at a show that I had vehemently criticized without even watching. I have always frowned on such practices in the past, although I have always evinced the uncanny ability to evaluate what is presented on television without watching it. Especially when it is self-described as reality television. I was at a friend's house and was mandated to watch it with them because his wife wanted to see it. She asked us both not to be overly critical. I have always been critical of reality television, because it's reflective of the Sambo buffoonery that television has typically used to show black folk. Plus, it was strange for me to try and understand why any woman or man would watch a show that doesn't serve any intellectual purpose. It is obviously not the type of content that will help you assist your kids with their homework or can teach you any valuable life lesson. But I gave in and watched.

They say water-boarding is torture, however I will gladly tolerate a day of water-boarding over the 5 minutes of what I saw on "Basketball Housewives." Oddly enough, none of the women presented themselves as the type of woman I grew up around and carried themselves with as much tact as a woman on the stroll late at night in any major city. Moreover, the general disposition displayed by all the women was that they did not need a man but yet they would not have fame or riches if they had not hooked the big mouth trophy bass many call a professional athlete.

Truth be told, I can't name one of them or pick one from the other in a lineup. But there are a few high yellow women that look like they have missed the sun even though they live in Florida. Then there is this little fidgety babe that rocks an S-curl. She must be from Memphis cause folks at the crib still rock them too. But I don't know who she has slept with because they never said her dude's name like they did for the one described as an ex-fiancee — which last I heard was not a wife. Another feature that struck me was how often they referred to each other at b---- and displayed behaviors that lets you know that before they were with or unwith (is that a word) the men they claim, it is likely that they were groupies.

I say this because as they sit down, defining themselves with the material contamination of designer clothes, boutiques and restaurants, they give off the appearance that they do not like each other sincerely but play as if they do. They even have a severe disdain for other groupies as if they are different gang sets. Maybe it is just me, but logic precludes me from understanding why the show is called basketball wives. I would imagine that televised skankery would be more important given that only one of them is actually married. They don't even carry themselves like women who are married or that deserved to be respected as women. I have never seen behavior as such from the women in my family. Never would they call each other b---- or reduce themselves to throwing objects at each other.

It is sad that such a show is popular, even more so than reading a newspaper. But what can one expect when a person is with another because of what they own, their profession and wealth? You can see their unhappiness through how they treat others. Like I said, maybe a better show title would be Televised Skankery, or What Happens to Women When They Marry and Date Men With a Sixth Grade Math and Reading Level

Televised Skankery: When a Woman Is a Wife Without a Husband