Django Unchained | Discussion w/ @ellication and others

African American, African American, Culture, Education, Films, History, Uncategorized

I just wanted to share this discussion from last week on the controversial film, Django Unchained, that was hosted by Al Elliott. Al Elliott will be having regular discussions on Google+ hangouts about important issues, so stay tuned and get involved.

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Must See Documentay Planet Rock: The Story Of Hip Hop And The Crack Generation #HipHopEd

African American, African American, Culture, Films, History, Music & Hip-Hop, Politics, Race, Race, Uncategorized

This week I watched the new documentary film, “The House I Live In” by Eugene Jarecki, that highlights the impact that the War on Drugs has had on economically marginalized communities. Although I was thoroughly impressed with the film, it is not the only documentary out there that has dealt with this issue. The documentary “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and The Crack Generation” by Ice-T is another powerful film that has also examined this topic.

The New Jim Crow, a term coined by legal scholar Michelle Alexander, describes the oppressive segregation that has resulted from the war on drugs, mandatory minimum sentences and the continued criminalization of African-American communities. This film features Hip Hop legends such as Chuck D, Rakim, Raekwon, RZA, Pepa, Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), Too Short, B-Real and others. A number of leading scholars contribute to the film such as, Michelle Alexander, Todd Boyd, Paul Butler, Nelson George and more. There is also powerful commentary from two former drug dealers, “Freeway” Rick Ross and Azie Faison along with stories from individuals, who experienced crack cocaine addiction themselves. Planet Rock weaves all of these stories together through the lens of Hip Hop, the urban American phenomenon that emerged in the South Bronx in the 1970s.

The film highlights how Hip Hop has responded to the War on Drugs and the introduction of crack cocaine into our communities. The film discusses the Hip Hop community pre-crack cocaine, the influence of the film “Scarface“, the efforts of Hip Hop to combat crack addiction and economic realities that pushed many into the drug trade. This film definitely tells a sobering and nuanced story that will help us all realize the tremendous devastation that crack and the war on drugs have had on our community. We need to continue to raise awareness and encourage action to combat the New Jim Crow, the most pressing civil rights issue in our nation today. Let’s share, comment, connect and keep building!

P.E.A.C.E.

Proper Education Always Corrects Errors

– Amil

Also See:

The House I Live In —> New Documentary by @DrugWarMovie

That Ain’t Gangster…That’s Mental – The Philly SEPTA Bus Shooting

Tattooed Teardrops: The Tragedy of The Tattoo Fad in Hip-Hop

Must See —> The House I Live In —> New Documentary by @DrugWarMovie #HipHopEd

African American, African American, Films, Politics, Race, Race, Uncategorized

Tonight I had the fortune of watching a documentary about one of, if not the most, significant issue facing our society here in this “Land of the Free”. The title of the documentary I am referring to is “The House I Live In” by Eugene Jarecki which based solely upon the cast and executive producers makes it a most see for every citizen of this nation and any concerned world citizen. The films executive producers are Danny Glover, John Legend and Russel Simmons, none of whom are featured in the film. The documentary includes candid contributions by many people most notably, Michelle AlexanderWilliam Julius Wilson, Charles Ogletree, and David Simon to name a few. The film also covers the story of many people within the periphery of our society, individuals actively involved in the drug trade, those who have been victimized by the War on Drugs and mass incarceration and those fighting against the War on Drugs, many of whom are behind the shield, gavel or prison walls and know first hand the cruel and unjust human cost that this war is inflicting upon the masses from historically oppressed communities.

It needs not be a secret or an obscure reality that the War on Drugs, most recognizably instituted and enacted by the Nixon and Reagan administrations, has resulted in both a de facto (matter of fact) and a de jure (law based) system of racial and class oppression that is destroying the fabric of urban and rural America.

This film outlines the political, social/cultural, racist, classist and economic histories of the War on Drugs in great detail, providing viewers with a deeper understanding of the realities on the ground in our society. This film sheds light on why we as a society are so blindly complicit with millions of humans being systematically oppressed by the legal machinery that has effectively instituted a New Jim Crow in this third the beginning of the millennium of the Common Era.

For all lovers of justice, humanity, peace and good conscious, this is a must see film. The scholars in this film are top notch and the narratives of those beyond the margins and enforcing the margins are tremendously honest and shockingly vivid. If after watching this film, you are not better informed and motivated to take action no matter how seemingly infinitesimal, than you are existing a life on the wrong side of truth and history.

I am encouraging everyone to see this film, disseminate its message and take interest and action to rectify this inexcusable and intolerable injustice. Lastly, I would ask that you move forward in life with a greater sense of purpose and passion for ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and the criminalization of economically disadvantaged communities. As one of the documentary’s contributors eloquently stated, “you don’t treat pneumonia by treating the cough,” but you treat the actual inflammation of the lungs, which is causing the coughing. I have also heard it explained that throwing police and prison at the drug problem in the United States is akin to throwing ambulances at cancer. This is in effect what has been going on in the United States since the 1970s and the resulting crisis in African American, Latino and rural communities has been no less problematic than cancer and arguably worse. The solutions to the United States’ drug problem do not lie in the criminal justice system as we currently know it but rather lies in abolishing and amending current legal codes related to the sale of narcotics. The cure also lies in truly recognizing the humanity of marginalized communities and individuals by creating dynamic educational programs that empower members of these communities to know the historical narratives at play in their lives and realities and provide them with tangible access to livable and gainful employment. I do not have all of the answers but I am willing to think on possible solutions, share my ideas, dialogue and connect with others committed to this “the most pressing civil rights issues” of our time.

Below is a trailer for the film and a link to its website that has information about where the film is begin shown. I want to thank the creators and cast members of this film for there service and for raising awareness regarding the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. I am a fan of the Maya Angelou quote that, “when you know better, you do better.” I trust that this film will result in us all collectively DOING better.

P.E.A.C.E.

Proper Education Always Corrects Errors

– Amil

 

Also See:

Law and Disorder in Philadelphia

Juneteenth Presentation at Clarion University – “and Justice For All”

Tattooed Teardrops: The Tragedy of The Tattoo Fad in Hip-Hop

We Must Learn More About Africa

Africa, African, Culture, Education, Films, History, Politics, Uncategorized

Africa: States of Independence – The Scramble for Africa

Africa has so much meaning for humanity and particularly for African descendants spread throguhout every corner of our globe. Africa though, is a complex continent for many to comprehend, with a complicated history, burdened by mis characterization, prejudice and exploitation.

In 2003, I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa as a student learning about Human Rights. It was a journey that had many meanings for me. On one hand it meant reconnecting with the land and the people on the continent where my father’s descendants lived. It also meant being actively connected with young people struggling for progress in their respective nations in the spirit of Pan Africanism. Lastly, it meant an incredible summer as a 20 year old fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time.

I remember watching a scene in the movie, Belly, where Nas’ character, Sincere, announces to his friends that “I’m going to Africa!” In this scene he explains how he is getting his life together, moving away from his past lifestlye and reconnecting with his roots and his motherland.

Personally, I have always felt this type of affinity and connection with Africa. I am sure that being raised by a Pan-Africanist father has a little something to do with that. Anyway, Africa is a complicated continent and it is important that people of the African Diaspora in particular become knowledgeable about Africa’s history ancient and more importantly the history colonization and decolonization. This documentary published by Al-Jazerra English effectively provides a snapshot of Africa’s experience with colonization and its sturggle for decolonization.

The film highlights the glorious period of the fall of colonization, the subsequent failed governments, the coups and the modern struggle with the exploitation of neocolonialism. If you are interested in learning more about the current state of Africa, I would suggest that you begin by learning which countries were colonized by which European nations. Then I would begin meeting different people from the continent and discussing some of their history with them. When did your country get Independence (be careful though Ethiopia was never colonized)? Who are your famous leaders? What are some of the major ethnic groups in your nation? What is the name of your capital city?

Many times growing up in the inner-city environments we are surrounded by people who have recently immigrated from Africa. Often times its the classmate, the sister braiding hair or the brother driving a cab that can help us learn more about Africa. We just need to take the initiative and ask. I am sure that if we can work to avoid judging, keep an open mind and sincerely try to learn, our questions will be appreciated and our knowledge will increase. It is my hope that you are or will be inspired by Africa, the great continent, the cradle of humanity, the wounded land, the hopeful l. Hope you enjoy, share and comment.

New Documentary – Hip Hop: The Furious Force of Rhymes (Full Film)

Culture, Films, Music & Hip-Hop

Hip Hop: The Furious Force of Rhymes 

The Grammy Nominated French ‘Afropean’ Hip Hop/Rhythm and Blues Group – Les Nubians

Hip Hop, like the Internet, is a potent tool for education and empowerment. I happen to be an enthusiast of both of these amazing tools.  While on the Internet the other day, I had the fortune of finding this incredible free documentary by the Smithsonian Channel, Hip Hop: The Furious Force of Rhymes. This film directed by Joshua Atesh Litle, embedded below, explores Hip Hop’s history and role as an instrument for empowerment and a voice for marginalized communities worldwide. This documentary begins by examining the origins of the Hip Hop universe with Busy Bee Starski and Grandmaster Caz. The film  moves from the Bronx in the late 1970s and follows the diffusion of this amazing cultural movement through time and space to cities in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Africa. This is not your typical Hip Hop documentary focusing on the meteoric rise of this phenomenon in terms of commercial viability. Instead, this documentary focuses on the ability of Hip Hop to connect people to the struggles of others in similar struggles, irrespective of their nationality, language, ethnicity or religion. It is this ability of Hip Hop, to speak to and for the voiceless, that makes it such a powerful asset for humanity. This film contains poignant and insightful commentary by the legendary Hip Hop journalist and activist, Davey D and others. This film undoubtedly shows the true power and potential of Hip Hop. It is an honor to share this film with you and I hope it uplifts and inspires you as much as it did me. It is up to us to tell the true story of Hip Hop and shape the future of our world! Let your voice be heard, leave a comment and share this with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers!

Law and Disorder in Philadelphia

African American, African American, Culture, Education, Films, History, Politics

Law and Disorder in Philadelphia

This BBC series examines  the state of the street violence and  the drug trade in Philadelphia. For me, this piece is important because I work with young men mainly from Philadelphia already knee deep in the juvenile justice system. I want to warn you that the journalist, Louis Theroux, is more of a comedian and sensationalist than a sincere journalist. However, I do think that some valuable discussions take place in this documentary including: the exploitation of the youth by higher level drug dealers, police brutality, the role of drug dealers as community figureheads, the impact of the drug trade in these neighborhoods, the lack of cooperation and understanding between police and citizens and the issue of ‘No Snitchin.” Philadelphia is one of America’s incredible cities with incredible people but it also has some significant problems that need to be addressed more effectively. What do you think can be done to make a difference? As always, watch, enjoy, learn, comment and share.

Must See: Jay-Z on Oprah’s Master Class

African American, Culture, Education, Films, Music & Hip-Hop

Jay-Z on Oprah’s Master Class

On January 1, 2011 Oprah Winfrey premiered her new television network OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). During OWN’s premiere, Oprah featured Jay-Z on the first episode of her series, Oprah Presents Master Class. I found this episode of Oprah Presents Master Class with Jay-Z very powerful and educational. Jay-z, arguably the most successful rapper in Hip Hop’s history, shares insights and lessons learned from his experiences growing up and from his involvement in Hip Hop and the business world. Jay-Z has numerous things to teach younger and older generations. I am sure that you will find the following videos highly informative and thought provoking. I hope you get as much from these videos as I did. As always, feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment, posting this to your Facebook wall or tweeting it to your followers on Twitter.

Europe’s African and Islamic History

Africa, African, Culture, Education, Europe, European, Films, History

Europe’s African and Islamic History

Many African Americans grow up in the United States and other countries throughout the African Diaspora lacking much knowledge about the history of Africa and the great contributions African people have made to civilization and Western civilization especially.

It seems as if we are taught that Africans were brought to the New World from a Dark Continent that was devoid of the light of knowledge, advanced culture and civilization. We are made to believe that illiteracy and primitiveness are essentially African concepts.

The following well produced and credible documentaries serve to debunk these myths and begin to shed light on the impact that  the African and Islamic civilizations of West and North Africa had on Europe. This influence was most pronounced in Islamic Spain or Al-Andalusia, which lasted for a period of over 700 years until 1492. Al-Andalusia  as the following films document, brought advanced sciences and knowledge to Europe via Spain that changed the course of European and world history .

Learning about the influence Africa and the Islamic world had on Europe and the European Renaissance, should create a sense of pride and appreciation among people of African descent or Islamic faith, while also teaching us about the importance of tolerance and mutuality. I hope that these films will enhance your understanding of the history of Europe and highlight that the proliferation of knowledge, civilization and culture was never a one way street leading out of Europe.

These films in light of the current clamorings in Europe against the rising immigrant populations, mainly from African and Islamic nations, will hopefully serve to instruct people on how much can be accomplished when we respect diversity and bring the best of our cultures to bear for the common good of man.

Must See – Hip Hop Genius – Remixing High School Education

Culture, Education, Films, Music & Hip-Hop, Politics

Hip Hop Genius – Remixing High School Education

Sam Siedel is an educator, innovator, Hip Hop artist and author serious about leveraging the Hip Hop movement to improve the lives of young people through education. I was fortunate to find out about Hip Hop Genius via Twitter. I am encouraged to see a concept like Hip Hip Genius is finally on the verge of being widely recognized and implemented! The struggle is just beginning! Get involved and learn more about Hip Hop Genius by watching the YouTube clip below! Sam Siedel also curates the Husslington Post, the Huffington Post for the Hip Hop generation. You can follow him on Twitter@husslington or check pre-order his soon to be released book, Hip Hop Genius at Amazon.com! I can’t wait to get a copy! Like always, comment, tweet, share and Be The Change You Want to See!