The discussion around “net neutrality” has probably become one of the most perplexing for common consumers to join. Yet alone not knowing what it means, many people still don’t understand how doing away with net neutrality on the internet will impact … Continue reading
There is a burgeoning sentiment rising in America, quavering in the bowels of the oppressed, impoverished and attacked and waiting to erupt. It has grown from apathy, to a wary worry and then subsumed into an internal monolith of apoplectic rage. It did not originate in Ferguson, Missouri where an 18-year old unarmed Black boy was killed; nor was it founded in Sanford, Florida, on the ground in which unarmed Trayvon Martin was murdered–nor in New York with Eric Garner, Ohio with John Crawford, or California with Ezell Ford.
It is the rebirth of the Black radical–the generational development of a group of activists indignant over the the subjugation and demise of its people, and tasked with providing the country with a salubrious counter action. Throughout history, it has reemerged in moments where America has seemingly chosen a noxious cleptocracy over a fair and equal justice and social system.
It was in the early 1900s, following the Civil War, when we saw it in the rise of the New Negro Movement. Progressive minds such as Hubert Harrison, W.E.B. Dubois, Alaine Locke and Zora Neale Hurston–individuals that used art, literature and intellect to combat Jim Crow laws–were the apparent Black radicals of their time. This movement was also composed of middle class Blacks who demanded their civil rights and was marked with calls for armed self-defense. Even Dubois, notable for his scholarly rhetoric and passioned poetry, patrolled his home with a shotgun following the Atlanta race riot.
Then again in the 1960s, following the murder of 14-year old Black boy Emmitt Till, the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and incessant police repression, there was an extreme surge in the Black Civil Rights movement. Led by the likes of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ella Baker, the movement used a diverse series of protest tactics to focus particularly on stark policy and social change.
There were the Birmingham Riots of 1963, the Selma and Montgomery marches, and the Million Man March, where King delivered the speech that made him what the FBI called, “the most dangerous and effective Negro” in America. This was also America’s introduction to the Black Panther Party of Self Defense, which focused on reducing poverty and improving health in the Black community but also staunchly protesting against police brutality and the murder of Black people. The coupling of these non-violent and gallant protests brought about all of the policy changes of the 1960s–the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the sale or renting of housing. In this sense, Black radicalism proved to be a diverse and cross-generational practice from a variety of activists.
It is now, as the world watches the unfoldings in Ferguson, Missouri, that pockets of activists across the country grow tired of the harrowing mores of America and begin actions similar to their predecessors–and from a multitude of focal points. From demonstrations and awareness campaigns led by HBCUs like Morehouse College and Howard University to more salient actions from international hacktivist group Anonymous with its National Day of Rage, America is seeing the beginnings of a movement. The hacktivist group has already been credited with cyber attacks against local authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, including releasing the home address, Social Security number and phone number of Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, and hacking the city of Ferguson website. Most of the protests and actions in response, although various and somewhat decentralized in their application, have called for the passing of “Mike Brown’s Law,” a petition on the White House’s “We the People” site that would require authorities to wear body cameras. The petition currently has over 150,000 signatures, requiring a response from the White House. Although unclaimed, there is a even a meme being circulated around the web invoking the Montgomery Bus Boycott and calling for a nationwide “Black Out Monday” where Black Americans only patron Black businesses for a day in September.
There is not, and never has been, a question of whether Black Americans are capable of galvanizing beyond the gabs of ostensible activists, politicians and pundits.There is only a question of when, in what form and concentration. It is happening now–on the campuses of HBCUs across the nation, in the community and church centers of predominantly Black neighborhoods, in barbershops, group chats, Instagram and Twitter. Black Americans are beginning to look beyond apocryphal stories to discuss more impactful and radical actions. This time, the cause du jour is serving as a catalyst moreso than a trending topic and diminishing the badinage with every video of unwarranted force or killing of an unarmed Black man. And when the radicalism of this generation fully emerges from behind the curtain of traditional marches and tactics, there will be little acquiesce offered, the seemingly hollow musings of President Obama will go unnoticed, and the gait of the disenfranchised and attacked Black youth will move like a levanter out of the concrete. The only thing to stop it will be drastic and unequivocal change in American policies, practices and moral conscious.
It’s February again and like clockwork, we’re bound to see a plethora of marketers invoking the success and aspirational elements of African American culture. Bring in the MLK, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman shirts and tributes.
Some content may even draw attention to the plight of African Americans throughout history–que BET’s ongoing run of Alex Haley’s ROOTS.
However, there are some cases where a brand will conjure up just the right sentiment needed and wanted to open up dialogue about Black History Month–and that award goes to Saturday Night Live.
This past Saturday, February 1st, SNL featured Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson (who I grew up watching on ALL THAT–good times), and newcomer Sasheer Zamata in a sketch that was both funny and refreshing.
“28 Reasons To Hug A Black Man”
I’m pretty sure, reflecting on my own grade school experience in good ole South Cackilacky, there are classroom situations just like the one portrayed in the video. The Black students are asked to give a presentation on Black History Month and an awkward silence blankets the air for the duration of the class.
I’d take the content on SNL with a grain of salt. They’re not trying to be society’s intellectual elite with their content. They’re trying to make you laugh and boost ratings. Period.
With that said, they did well. The main reason to hug a Black man today, the video said (considering the Black man is one of the most if not the most disenfranchised and undervalued person in America) is that “We deserve a chance.” Reasons 2 through 28 include slavery, slavery, and only slavery. It made me chuckle. Not only because it reminded me of arguments by noble columnists harping that Blacks should “get over” slavery. But it added laughter to a conversation that usually sends uncomfortable ripples down a forgetful and nonchalant America’s back. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be taboo for Blacks or Whites to talk about slavery.
Of course, this obviously wouldn’t suffice for a BHM tribute. It’s SNL; why would it? But props to the writers and comedians that pulled it off.
I’ve been experimenting with different structures as of late. Here’s a piece I originally called “Chopped”
begin. body. touch. push. lie. scratch. blend. go. move. no. river. slut. cry. cream. might. warrant. me. fly. bleed. end.
begin. be. grow. friend. friends. gone. pick. pull. red. flaunt. sit. eyes. mine. flow. thighs. brown. black. blow. lying. backs. pulling. thick. throwing. it. sticks. arm. strong. bend. end.
begin. kiss. forget. struggle. missed. miss. enemies love. fresh and blood. ending. whole. chopped up. missing. falls. shit you saw. sold. drip. cut. free. fuck. sad. strut. trust. end.
quickly, in the dark.
penetrated future of running water,
running down my mouth?
no, down my stomach.
Can see it in the dark.
Run Run Run.
Confused by the tree roots, come from no where.
Run past there,
over. under. through
quickly, in the dark.
Lead down the river.
Lead down the river.
23 Crippled little mind of mine. Always playing tricks on me. The first time I ever set foot in this building was three years ago. It was my first day at Kilders Graduate School. I was timid and worried, nearly … Continue reading
Fear. the shivering cold that replaces the warmth you feel under blankets of safety. Where did you find this fear, eh? Locked in between your thighs? Etched on the skin of your back? Imprinted in the veins of your brain? … Continue reading
Since coming back from Europe, my sleep has been all over the place. I’ve been going to sleep at midnight and waking back up at 4am–without going back to sleep. Even though it’s likely I may be slowly encouraging a … Continue reading
It’s a very peculiar mindset you live in when the tumultuous times that you go through are used as a strategically placed stool for your personal or professional prosperity. What is that called? I’d have to believe it is called … Continue reading
My upcoming film, loosely based on my first book, plows into the question of what happens when we have that one obsession that plagues our lives every day but is incapable of being fulfilled. It’s made me pry into my … Continue reading