Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Newark Mayor Cory Booker takes a stand where he lives
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and 24 hold outs were evicted from Brick Towers to make way for the bulldozers. He lived in the dilapidated building since 1998.
Photo: Richard Perry/The New York Times
In a powerful display of the adage "The personal is the political," Newark mayor Cory Booker moved from Brick Towers, a famously dilapidated building where he has lived since 1998 to another rough neighborhood where he vows to lead change. He and 24 hold-outs were evicted from the condemned high-rise to make way for, what the city promises, will be a much better housing facility. Taking up residence alongside trash, dealers and crime as a city council member brought Booker national recognition as a tough fighter of landlords and City Hall and made him the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary. He is now moving into the top floor unit of a run-down three-story building in another tough part of Newark's south side, eager to, as he says, "become a part of a community." Amiri Baraka, who lives six blocks from the Mayor's new residence on Hawthorne Avenue, discounts Booker's choice of domicile as a politician's ploy and doubts that it was his real residency. However, neighbors report that he did spend most nights in the run-down high-rise. I, for one, am proud to see a Black leader putting his money where, in this case, his whole body is. Right on brotha Mayor Booker!
GET THE MOVIE
Review from theocarsite.com: Street Fight chronicles the bare-knuckles race for Mayor of Newark, N.J. between Cory Booker, a 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School grad, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics. Fought in Newark's neighborhoods and housing projects, the battle pits Booker against an old style political machine that uses any means necessary to crush its opponents: city workers who do not support the mayor are demoted; "disloyal" businesses are targeted by code enforcement; a campaigner is detained and accused of terrorism; and disks of voter data are burglarized in the night. Even the filmmaker is dragged into the slugfest, and by election day, the climate becomes so heated that the Federal government is forced to send in observers to watch for cheating and violence.
Ooops: Seinfeld's Michael Richards lets his inner bigot out
Michael Richards said Monday he spewed racial epithets during a stand-up comedy routine because he lost his cool while being heckled and not because he's a bigot.
I don't know about you but I'm sick and tired of watching some racist celebrity do the bigot mea culpa all over the media sphere while racking up publicity points. I'm not sure we shouldn't just ignore these bastards and deny them the air time. I guess if I were an evil-genius manager I would be ecstatic - my previously forgotten client is almost a household name. In my maniacal glee, I would scheme, "So what if he's banned from some LA comedy club. He will be a star in Bush country, with an unbreakable hold on a new fan base of racists, bigots and weirdos. They will welcome him at White Power rallies as a cultural hero. They will take up "50 years ago we would have you hanging upside down with a fork up your ass," as a war cry and anthem. He's going to be huge with KKK audiences!"
If you haven't caught the frightening tirade hustle on over to YouTube for a lesson in stupidity. I feel bad for the guy because I really think he needs therapy that he's not getting. Poor little bigot. He's so sorry you now know him for exactly what he is - a racist.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Head to Head: Juan Williams vs. Michael Eric Dyson
Being without cable has robbed me of my weekend geekfest - BookTV. So, with a little blogger shame I reveal that I did not hear about the Juan Williams vs. Michael Eric Dyson smackdown that took place on the usually placid c-span channel dedicated to all things non-fiction. So, check it out for yourselves as Williams, senior NPR correspondent and political analyst for Fox defends Cosby and Michael Eric Dyson in effect keeps asking "What is wrong with you?" in three hundred word questions? Big brain brothas dukin' it out over books. I call this Black Bloggah Boxing.
From BookTV: Juan Williams is a senior correspondent for NPR and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. His previous books include, "Eyes on the Prize," and a biography of Thurgood Marshall. In his book, "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America-- and What We Can Do About It" Williams expands on the arguments made by Bill Cosby during his 2004 speech to the NAACP.
Michael Eric Dyson doesn't mince his words on the subject of Cosby's controversial 2004 NAACP speech. Here he is lobbing rhetorical incendiaries at the comedian in an NPR interview: "While Cosby took full advantage of the civil rights struggle, he resolutely denied it a seat at his artistic table. Thus it's hard to swallow Cosby's flailing away at youth for neglecting their history, and overlooking the gains paid for by the blood of their ancestors, when he reneged on its service when it beckoned at his door." I hope I never make the brother mad.
OJ "If I Did It" Interview cancelled on Fox
Public outrage over OJ Simpson's book describing how he would have killed his ex-wife and her friend has led several Fox TV affiliates to drop an interview. BBC UK: Row deepens over OJ Simpson book
So it's tasteless, scandalous and probably unethical...but, you have to give it to Judith Regan who brought it to press because no matter what happens "If I Did It" will sell millions of copies if the interview is aired on FOX or not. Regan claims that she brought the book to market because she wanted to heal victim of domestic abuse. Hmmmm. It's off the top of my head, but how is dredging up all the pain that the trial caused going to help victims of domestic abuse heal? Also, she said that she sees the book as a veiled confession. Another hmmm. What responsibility does she think she has to get a "confession" from a man who has been acquitted? No matter what you think of the outcome there was a trial and a judgment - however botched you think it was. It seems to me that (mostly) white folks just can't live with the results of the trial and continue to try Simpson in the court of public opinion and in every discussion with a black person in which they angrily insist you answer the only question they think matters..."Do you think he did it?"
But, let's be frank, at this point, talk about the Simpson case is really about coded exchanges on race and sex and the stereotypes in our racialized brains about dangerously feral Black men and pure undefilable white women. This sad strain of awful music has been playing in the American psyche since day one. And just now our national race record seems to keep skipping over the Simpson trial - again and again and again. If the whole sordid tragic mess wasn't drenched in race and sex no one would remember O.J. Simpson, let alone care if he was appearing on the oh-so-ethical FOX news channel. We've forgotten all the other murderous husbands and wives that appear regularly on Court-TV.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Bring the draft back? Rep. Charles Rangel thinks we should all serve
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees reinstating the draft as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
Excerpt from The Houston Chronicle:
WASHINGTON — Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.
Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, said he will propose a measure early next year.
In 2003, he proposed a measure covering people age 18 to 26. This year, he offered a plan to mandate military service for men and women between age 18 and 42; it went nowhere in the Republican-led Congress.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Election 2006: Deval Patrick Becomes First Black Governor of Massachusetts
From FOX News:
BOSTON — Deval Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts on Tuesday, restoring the Democratic Party to the Corner Office after a 16-year absence, and putting himself into the history books as the first black person to win the state's highest office in its 218-year history.
Patrick defeated Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, the Republican nominee, as well as independent Christy Mihos and Grace Ross of the Green-Rainbow Party, based on a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
In addition to the state distinction, the victory made Patrick just the second African-American governor in the nation since Reconstruction. The first, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, left office more than a decade ago, in 1995.
MORE POLITICAL DRAMA:
Chisholm '72 - Unbought & Unbossed is the first historical documentary on Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and her campaign to become the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in 1972. Following Chisholm from the announcement of her candidacy in January to the Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida in July, the story is like her - fabulous, fierce, and fundamentally right on.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Vindicated: Kim Osorio wins $15.5 million in sexual harrasment suit against The Source
"I think this victory is significant not only for women in hip-hop but for our generation of women as a whole. I feel this case will give people the courage to stand up and say that sexual discrimination and sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated in hip-hop."
On October 24, Kimberly Osorio, The Source's editor in chief from 2002 to 2005, won $15.5 million against the hip-hop monthly.
Excerpt from interview in The Village Voice:
When did you begin working at The Source?
January of 2000. Editor in chief Carlito Rodriguez brought me in. I began as associate music editor, became music editor, and when Carlito left I was appointed executive editor. For seven months I held that title. It's important to say that because I was not given the title of EIC, but for seven months I did the work of an EIC. It wasn't until November 2002 that I would be given the official title...
Kim, after you were fired, Benzino gave a fiery radio interview, stating that you slept around, you were incompetent, you liked the fast lifestyle. He called you a ho and a slut. What was your gut reaction to these statements, and to some in the hip-hop community supporting Benzino?
I felt humiliated. I was already in a committed relationship. These rumors were hurtful and hateful. What did my private life have anything to do with my job? Whose business was it who I slept with? It was a way to smear me in the hip-hop community. I acknowledge a lot of the support given to me from others in the hip-hop community, from people I did not expect. The online petition that began immediately after Benzino made his comments made me feel like people get it. It empowered me and gave me more strength.
As women of color, do you bear any responsibility, not for what happened to you but for being part of an industry that objectifies women?
We all have a responsibility to protect hip-hop... People have to realize that The Source magazine is not Essence magazine; I was not going to change it, but I was trying to do something different there.
GET THESE BOOKS!: Put some feminism in yo' dome fool!
When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism
"He was rapping before they called it rap." Taschen releases massive tome of Ali's wisdom
"He was rapping before they called it rap."
Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records
Ali Rap: Muhammad Ali the First Heavyweight
by George Lois
Published by Taschen
This book contains over 300 rap rhythms, witticisms, insults, wisecracks, politically incorrect quips, courageous stands and words of inspiration from the mind, heart and soul of the brash young Cassius Clay, as he steadily grew into the magnificent man who is Muhammad Ali. From a narcissistic self-promoter who eventually became a man of enduring spirituality through a journey of formidable tests, Ali has emerged as a true superhero in the annals of American history, and the Worldwide Ambassador of Courage and Conviction. This fresh, first-person book serves as a hilarious and moving hands-on autobiography by Muhammad Ali, the intrepid man of action who spoke in soundbites, all wittily and powerfully visualized by the provocateur graphic designer, George Lois.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Performing the Narratives of America Now: Sekou Sundiata's The 51st (dream) State
From left, the poet Sekou Sundiata, Christopher McElroen, Adam Klipple and Graham Haynes in rehearsal. Richard Termine for The New York Times
"World history is being dreamed despite the fact that America is conceptualized in a monochromatic way sometimes."
An extended excerpt of a story from the New York Times this past Saturday in which yours truly was briefly quoted:
Questioning U.S. Identity in the Aftermath of 9/11
By FELICIA R. LEE
Published: November 4, 2006
To answer the question of what it means to be an American citizen in these turbulent times, the poet Sekou Sundiata traveled the country for two years, conducting classroom discussions and attending potluck dinners to forage for people’s personal experiences to add to his own insights. The result is “The 51st (dream) State,” a hyperactive mosaic of poetry, music, dance and videotaped interviews that has its New York premiere on Wednesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Mr. Sundiata met with students, professors, artists and people in various neighborhoods. He asked: What is the American language? What does it mean to be the dominant country in the world? What future do people imagine? When he found powerful voices and ideas that shaped his thinking, Mr. Sundiata said, he turned on the camera. He is continuing to look for ideas this weekend, with discussions at Harlem Stage’s new facility, the Gatehouse.
“State” had its genesis after 9/11, he said, when like many citizens he began sifting through what he calls his “troubled love” for a country he had often critiqued.
“I thought maybe the 51st state is a dream state,” he said. “I discovered an active discourse in academic circles about the 51st state. Maybe the 51st state is a state of war. Rumsfeld has said the 21st century will be a time of constant war. You need dream language to get at it.”
A woman to my right worried a flag
the size of a handkerchief
the kind you get at the fairgrounds
And little Emmett Till came to me
a face that long ago cured
my schoolboy faith
in that lyric
So that I could no longer sing
With the voice of praise
As if it was my own
O Beautiful for spacious skies.
The Walker Art Center preview of “State” was sold out and had people dancing onstage at the end of shows, said Reggie Prim, the center’s community programs manager. “It’s such a compelling way to link citizenship to art,” Mr. Prim said. “The idea is to seed a movement.”