I’m extremely honored to be featured on TheBlackManCan.com’s League of EXTRAordinary Black Men! Check out the piece at the link below!
This week educator and leader, Al Elliott hosted a discussion on the Hot Cheetos & Takis YouTube video sensation. This discussion centered around supporting the young performers earn scholarships and financial support for their video promoting products own by subsidiaries of PepsiCo. The Hot Cheetos & Takis video has received over 5,000,000+ views and if PepsiCo gave these young people just $.10 per view that would equal a $500,000 scholarship fund that could be divided equally for all the rappers and their youth organization. Now that may seem like a lot of money but considering that PepsiCo had a net income of $6.462 billion in 2011, we believe it is highly doable. Al Elliott and myself will continue to investigate what we can do to help support Y.N.RichKids and the North Community’s YMCA Beats & Rhymes program in Minneapolis (firstname.lastname@example.org), that runs the after school program where Y.N.RichKids was formed.
Don’t forget to also share this Jasiri X’s Video “Snacks Kill” that highlights the problem that junk food causes in our communities!
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.
#HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape”
Curated by Amil Cook and Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd
On November 13, 2012 #HipHopEd featured its weekly chat session, which was operating off the topic, “Creating and Evaluating a #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape.” This was an important topic for #HipHopEd to tackle because of the realities that Hip-Hop educators face in teaching our students through Hip Hop music and culture. This chat was not trying to devalue and delegitimize the substantive value of Hip-Hop music that contains profanity and delves into seedier topics. This chat was actually the response to the continuous requests for Hip-Hop tracks that could be played in schools around our country and classrooms throughout the world, without creating ethical and professional dilemmas for these much needed and highly valued educators.
As educators and adults, many if not all of us have learned how to speak effectively in the various settings that we find ourselves in, from our classrooms, office suites, homes, and our neighborhoods. This instinctive ability to “switch up” is something that many of our young people based on the language that they hear and speak at school and in their neighborhoods. If you include the language in the Hip-Hop that many young people listen to and the movies that they watch, they are bombarded with profanity filled narratives that can limit the range of how youth use words to communicate.
The #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape” is a resource for educators to allow young people to hear Hip-Hop that met and or meets the musical aesthetics test of the day based on overall production, content, and delivery. The songs on this Mixtape can also serve as examples for students who believe that you can not effectively rhyme without using profanity. In putting together the Profanity Free Mixtape, we wanted to be conscious of trying to focus on music by Artists with a level of commercial success so that students wouldn’t dismiss the Mixtape as an underground effort of Artists who never achieved mainstream success.
For this endeavor “Profanity Free” is focused on language with some consideration for subject matter. We know that you can have a song with questionable subject content without being profane and in these circumstances we as the Executive producers of the project made the decision as to whether to include the song on the list. We also wanted a list of songs that are absent of profanity which is different than edited versions of songs that are on the radio and are on sale at retailers such as Walmart.
Out of this chat, came numerous song suggestions, that have been collected in one place for educators, Hip Hop aficionados and others to enjoy, share and teach with. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape Edcanvas, an intuitive educational media platform, that contain profanity free Hip Hop track in each of its tiles. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape YouTube Playlist of profanity free Hip Hop tracks.
It is our hope that more songs will be suggested and included to this dynamic and live database of profanity free Hip Hop tracks. If you have a suggestion, comment or find profanity in any of the songs let us know.
For those who don’t know, #HipHopEd is a Twitter hashtag that hosts interactive chats on a range of topics at the intersections of Hip Hop and education. These chats take place every Tuesday from 9pm to 10pm EST. Unlike many other educational Twitter chats, #HipHopEd embraces the freestyle, the cypher and inclusion of the everyone in attendance. Timothy Jones (@tdj6899) serves as the Master of Ceremony, tweeting out the week’s topic on Tuesday mornings, inviting special guests and community members.
#HipHopEd was created by two top tier leading educators, Brandon Frame (@brandonframe) and Dr. Christopher Emdin (@chrisemdin). #HipHopEd has organically grown into a significant community, mission and movement, intertwining and advancing education and Hip Hop simultaneously. The community’s response to #HipHopEd was so overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic that other participants and leaders were brought into #HipHopEd’s leadership team. #HipHopEd celebrated its second year on November 27, 2012. Make sure you get involved with #HipHopEd and come through the weekly Tuesday night chats from 9pm to 10pm EST. Alright ya’ll, it’s time to get it! Let’s keep building!
- “Power to The People” Vinnie Paz Live From The Serengeti (thehiphopdiaries.com)
This week I watched the new documentary film, “” 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!
Proper Education Always Corrects Errors
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 Alexander, William 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.
Proper Education Always Corrects Errors
Article Written by Christopher Emdin
The first day I heard about the mass shooting of Sikh worshippers in Wisconsin I was moved to write a piece detailing the range of emotions I felt as the details of the shooting emerged. As reports described the religious background of the worshippers, the history of the gunman and the callous way that innocent lives were taken, I felt as though the event would raise the ire of the public. I thought the shooting would invoke an awareness of the connections between this event and others across the country where lives have been lost for no justifiable reason.
However, it’s been over two weeks since the Sikh shooting in Wisconsin and the coverage of the story has quickly vanished from the general media rotation and the event seems to have been erased from our national consciousness. While many sympathize with the victims and their families, they justify their lack of emotion with the idea that the shooting was merely the act of a lone crazed gunman. Unfortunately, this general perception is flawed.
We live in a nation that prides itself on being inclusive to all. However, at the same time, we tout slogans and belief systems about the “American way” and “American dream” that is anything but inclusive. Our history tells us that people from across the globe who come to the United States have changed their names, are forced to lose their accents, others deny where they’re from, some change the way they dress. For many, this process has been a formula for success; America has been inclusive to them because they have chosen to conform.
Images Courtesy of TurbanInc – Get Your Turban On
I bumped into this amazing and inspiring poem and video by Luka Lesson yesterday entitled Please Resist Me. Luka Lesson is an accomplished Australian Poetry Slam Champion, conscious Hip-Hop artist, and co-founder of The Center for Poetics and Justice. In this poem Luka Lesson speaks to the indomitable and universal spirit of the world’s youth, which by nature continues to challenge the entrenched power structures and oppressive beliefs that seek to silence, limit and ostracize our voices and lives. This video voices a collective resound from our globe’s youth, please resist me, but your resistance only makes my passions burn more intensely and makes my insights more perceptive. Luka Lesson recently released a new album also entitled Please Resist Me, which can be listened to and downloaded here. To learn more about Luka Lesson’s work visit lukalesson.com and see the links at the bottom of this piece. In closing, lets support the artist, activists and leaders that are dedicated to making our world a better place! Let your voice be heard, share this post, drop a comment, buy an album, start building!
On Friday, August 17th of 2012, as I watched my Twitter timeline, my eyes were drawn to a tweet by Bakari Kitwana (@therealbakari) that read, “we spend 2 much time in mainstream national discourse letting racists define what racism is. those who know, call it what it is #noapologies.” Mr. Kitwana prefaced and followed this tweet up with a number of links to a recent MSNBC political discussion regarding controversial comments made by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney’s comments and the ensuing discussion can be viewed here.
MSNBC contributor, Touré, of post racialism fame, and co-host S.E. Cull, engaged in a brief, heated and racially charged debate. Mitt Romney’s comments that were called into question are as follows, “This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like…Mr. President take your campaign and division and anger and hate back to Chicago…”
MSNBC co-host, Krystal Ball then stated that these comments “seem loaded” and she elicited feedback from the panelists. Touré then provided his assessment of Mr. Romney’s political rhetoric; “That really bothered me. You notice he said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us. I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization.’ You are not one of us and that you are like the scary black man we’ve been trained to fear.” Touré went on to explain how the use of the descriptor, angry in reference to the President was antithetical to “No Drama Obama’s” political methodology, training and philosophy.
Co-host S.E. Cupp took offense to Touré’s assertion that Romney’s statements were a veiled attempt to niggerize President Obama. In making her point, Ms. Cupp alluded to Vice President Biden’s recent “Back in Chains” comment, which Touré called “divisive.” She continued by posing questions regarding a double standard, “…because he [Romney] used the word ‘angry,’ now his is the racially charged comment. Do you see how dishonest that is?” Touré clarified that he did not call anyone racist while S.E. Cupp continued to assert, “Certainly you were implying that Mitt Romney and the base will respond to this dog-whistle, racially-charged coding, and hate Obama, the angry black man?” She completed her assault of Touré’s assessment stating matter-of-factly, “that is so irresponsible Touré.” At this point Touré begins to lay out some historical allusions as to how the GOP (the Grand Old Party a.k.a. the Republicans) used racial coding going back “perhaps as far as Nixon.”
I want to end the synopsis about the discussion here, and add that racially coded language is a cornerstone of American politics, history, culture, life and reality. Furthermore racially coded language does more than date back, “perhaps as far as Nixon.” Racially coded language has been in play on both sides of the popular political discourse in these “United” States for as long as her creation, and that may in fact be what truly unites us.
Today I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the guest speaker at Clarion University‘s 10th annual Juneteenth Celebration! The theme of today’s event was, “and Justice for All!” It was a great event that featured live music, poetry and interpretive dance. I delivered the keynote address, which sought to highlight the linkages between Juneteenth, the emancipation of African descendants and some of the most pressing issues of our day like, mass incarceration, the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring. All of these issues were tied together through Hip-Hop and #HipHopEd! Please share your thoughts and comments! We must continue to Build and Work together to make a Difference!
Here is the link to the presentation I did http://prezi.com/0b0ad1neyynz/justice/