Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Revolution Mixtape

During the 17th century, John Locke (social scientist) had theorized a particular relationship between the people and their government. He believed that the people willed a government into existence. As such, the people demanded that the government only protect them and defend their property. Thus, a government can only exist because the people say so. Thus, a government that fails to protect, defend, or becomes tyrannical, the people are obligated to overthrow that government. Therefore, power is with the people.

Peoples of various nations, have long since been in the business of “overthrowing” governments, before Locke’s theory and ever since. Locke’s theory, just helps us to frame and understand our political actions and relationship to a government. A Revolution, albeit political or social knows no political and social class boundary.

The common thread that links all revolutions (political or social) is; governmental oppression, failure to protect the people from outside forces, and a sustained gap between rich and poor.

The African American social revolution of the Civil Rights Movement (1954 to the present), can be characterized by a movement for full social and political inclusion and protection, in every aspect of the American landscape. This resulted from centuries of abuse, neglect, and denial of basic civil liberties within the American political-social system.

The Wisconsin protest (that began on February 14th, 2011) can be characterized as the state government of Wisconsin, under Republican control wanting to strip the people (labor unions) of the right to collective bargain. This resulted because Republicans wanted state employees to contribute more of their salaries to address the state’s budget deficit. The only real tool that can be used as leverage against a giant corporate entity or business is collective bargaining.

Then around the world, we see protests in Tunisia (December, 2010), Egypt (January 25, 2011), Syria (January 26, 2011) and Libya (February 15, 2011). The people in these countries demand better political and social conditions. They also favor a more democratizing spirit in their counties. All three countries, except for Libya (at present), saw their presidents and cabinets flee the country.

Every Revolution will have those who will tell the story (through painting, drawing, or song). Every person will cite something that called them to action. African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement may say; the face of Emmett Till, the Brown Decision, or the water hose sprayed on Black children by fireman. As for the Revolution around the world; Facebook and Twitter are being cited as the mediums spreading the ideas of social democracy to these places.

Provided in a mixtape format, are a collection of songs that have been created in the space of a Revolution or possess a call to action spirit. These songs could even spark Revolutionary ideas still (political or social). These songs could easily be a soundtrack for a Revolution (past or present).

One day governments will realize that “what we want” and “what we need” is “power to the people” and what we call for is better conditions, the best kind of conditions, in order to be have a life, to obtain liberty, and pursue happiness.

Click this link to hear a soundtrack to a REVOLUTION (provided below are the track listings)

1- Last Poets "When the revolution comes"
2- Goodie Mob "Free"
3- Dead Prez "Psychology"
4- The Roots ft Mos Def & Styles P "Rising down"
5- India Irie "Strength, courage & wisdom"
6- Dead Prez "You'll find a way"
7- Goodie Mob "The day after"
8- Gang Starr "Conspiracy"
9- Lupe Fiasco "All black everything"
10- Nas "Ghetto prisoners"
11- Big Daddy Kane "Young, gifted and Black"
12- Mobb Deep "Survival of the fittest"
13- The O'jays "Give the people what they want"
14- Kool G Rap "Road to the riches"
15- Marvin Gaye "What's going on" (Remix)
16- Nas "Black President"
17- Public Enemy "Fight the power"
18- Edwin Star "War"
19- James Brown "Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Obama's Revenge

On Sunday, May 1, 2011, the American people were interrupted in their television watching programs.  The major television networks, around 10:30 p.m. received "Breaking News" coming from the Office of the President.  No one knew exactly what this "Breaking News" could have been.  Those of us on Twitter, along with news reporters (on the major television networks), speculated as to what this news could have been.  Twitter was first to break the news that Usama Bin Laden had been killed (or rather a reporter on Twitter provided the news via Twitter). Usama Bin Laden had been killed by the United States military, in the country of Pakistan.  Then, taking the podium (about 30 minutes after the news broke on Twitter), sometime after 11:30 p.m., the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama, made his announcement to the world.  For this President, this was a campaign vow.  A vow, that he was able to make good on during this his second year of his presidency.
We are now in a moment.  A moment, that is linear.  Linear, in that we are nine years removed from that dark Tuesday, September 11, 2001 day.  But, our landscape has changed much since then and is far more complex.  In the name of 9/11 the United States military is in conflict in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  As a result of 9/11 we have declared war against Terrorism and Terrorist.  Yet for many, we still do not know who they (these Terrorist) are.  Who have been identified them thus far and incorrectly as Muslims.  We as Americans, have been made to feel less secure, as a result of 9/11.  We want our leaders to be ever bolder. We are even more suspicious about our government and governmental officials and their actions, particularly in international matters.

There are those who wish this to be a war of West versus East.  There are those who wish this to be a war of Christianity versus Islam.  Even some, who wish this to be a war of First World versus Third World.  It is however, a war of ideology.  An idea about how we as global citizens ought to live and interact with each other and as nations of a global citizenry.  All nations of the world must and should take a position against terrorism.  Terrorism knows no boundaries and will turn on the very population it grew out of.  The challenge is; how to do find common ground for all these nations.  What will the United States of America do in this Moment?  What will be the reaction of various groups around the world in this Moment?  There are many more questions, with answers that will be revealed over time. 

Click to hear President Barack H. Obama's Bin Laden Announcement

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama and The Challenge from Carnival Barkers

Today, at about 9:45 a.m., the 44th President of the United States of America (Barack H. Obama) re-released his birth certificate to the American people.  No one was expecting this move.  Thus, it came as a shock to the American press.  So much so, that it was "Breaking News."  As stated by the President, he has not ever been able to secure a "breaking news" moment, thus far, while serving as President.  Just before the President made his announcement and juxtaposition, in a split-screen, Donald Trump (who has since fanned the flames of Birtherism), was responding to Obama's announcement.  He did this in New Hampshire, the state the holds the first Presidential primaries for the 2012 Presidential Election.  So of course this raises a level of speculation as to whether or not Donald Trump will make a run for president.

The juxtaposition comes at, while on the one hand, Obama acknowledged what had been a source of much inquiry since he ran for presidency two years ago.  Then on the other hand, he gently asked the American people, is this really what we should be focusing on.  This and many other statements were provided to the Press Corp, during a press conference at the White House.  In his usual fashion, President Barack Obama took the time to create a teachable moment regarding the theme of "what is and what ought to be" in his always adult, calm, and intellectual fashion.  Obama made his remarks and took no questions at the end.  He and his wife would later appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show, wherein follow ensued.  Of course all media outlets are a buzz with follow up, analysis, and inquiry.  More to come on this topic at a later date.  As for now, enjoy the concept that FACTS trumps FICTION.

You can learn more by clicking "Obama releases detailed U.S. birth certificate"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Idea: Hampton University

Hampton University opts to celebrate the birth of its Founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong.  Most universities will celebrate its founding or maybe the day the school opened its doors.  Perhaps, lost to the Hampton University community is the day that the school was founded, which was April 1, 1868.  Both the school's founder and its history is well documented in books, magazines, scholarly journals and the like.  Generations of students have graduated from this Institution and have gone out and made a way for both themselves and the communities, in which they found themselves.  The Institution's Alma Mater, like the Founder and the founding of the Institution, is packed with vision and ideas.  Equally important, to (the Founder, the reasons for the school, and the Alma Mater), is the way that the school and its residences have been portrayed in pictures.  There is an Idea, also at work.  Here are just a few, to celebrate the Institution's "founding," in which it is both a continuing and evolving, IDEA!

From the lips of the Founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong to your eyes:
"The thing to be done was clear: to train selected Negro youth who should go out and teach and lead their people first by example, by getting land and homes; to give them not a dollar that they could earn for themselves; to teach respect for labor, to replace stupid drudgery with skilled hands, and in this way to build up an industrial system for the sake not only of self-support and intelligent labor, but also for the sake of character."

Hamptonians BUILD, LEARN, and HEAL!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Returning U.S. to the Mountaintop

IN THIS MOMENT, we find ourselves 43 years removed from an event that found an iconic African American leader struck down by an assassin's bullet and a social movement that seemed to have been left without a leader.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on this day in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.  He had once again, been called to service, to lead another group of people over troubled waters.  This time King had been called to lead a group of African American sanitation workers in the acquisition of equal pay with their white sanitation workers.  Unlike previous marches, the protesters within the group became rowdy and individuals were injured, hurt, and one person had been killed.  As a result, the police were called to disperse the growing crowd.  Distressed, King took up lodging at the Lorraine Motel to rest, where he would subsequently be shot on it's balcony at 6:01pm.  Martin Luther King was 39.

Often times, we like to cherry-pick our way through United States history and narratives of people to fashion what we like the most.  We have seen both Conservatives and Liberals, over the years, pulling at the fabric of the King Legacy. We most often see this during elections cycles, as politicians search for iconic figures to use to support their positions.  Like then, political forces were tearing apart at labor.  These forces made labor out to be the villains in the United States' growing economic problems.  Again, we find ourselves in a problematic economy.  Currently, the GOP is referring to these people, as a special interest group, as opposed to who they are, the backbone of America.  We see teachers being bashed in the media, as being solely responsible for our failing school systems.  Yet, all Americans, is the educational system.  We also see, the most vulnerable protesting the power of their government from Wisconsin, to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other places around the world.  The United States, also finds itself involved in three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), not to mention Cold War posts around the world.  Today, Barack Obama (44th President of the United States of America), choose this day to officially launch his re-election campaign for 2012.

Returning back to April of 1968, a distressed and not feeling well King delivered a speech (I've Been to the Mountaintop) at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ.  This speech used biblical references and along with four specific areas of thought; the sanitation strike, the Civil Rights Movement, the ideas of economic boycotts, and he used language that seemed to foreshadow his death.  While the characters are different along with the "movement" but the context remains the same. Today, we see workers striking in Wisconsin, social movements of people in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya are all demanding better treatment from their government.  These people are going to audacious lengths to earn this equal treatment.

Our nation finds itself today, triangulated by a; tittering economy, three wars, and various topics in our continuing domestic culture wars.  On this day that rocked a nation 43 years ago, we should return back to King's "Mountaintop."  Instead of gleaning from the speech, a few sound-bites, perhaps we should ask, what was happening then?  What is happening that is simialr now?  What did he see?  What do I see?  What should I do differently?  Then, we must apply these words to our daily lives, in our interactions with each other, our neighbors, and globally.  It will be at that moment, which we will return U.S. back to the "Mountaintop."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Perfect Union: A Racial Solidarity Blueprint

Immediately following Barack Obama’s oath of office, liberal whites and others rushed to proclaim the dawn of a new day.  They called this dawn a Post-Racial America.  They used the ‘obvious’ fact that whites voted for a black man, that made him president.  Not so fast, most polls suggest that it was minority America coupled with white votes that secured his election.  The fact that Post-Racial enthusiast support a narrative, that does not include the whole picture, undermines the ideology behind being post-racial.  Whites casting votes for a black person (for any political office), by itself does not denote being Post-Racial.  There is still much work left to be done in clearing our American institutions and social spaces free of racism.  Once this is done, perhaps, we can proclaim to be a post-racial nation.  How can Barack Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech be used as a blueprint for racial solidarity?

Barack Obama gave his “More Perfect Union” speech two years ago on March 18, 2008.  Presently, we are seeing an ever increasing critique of Obama (as President) on matters of leadership, his handling of the economy, international awareness, political ideology, and still, his origins.  Politicians are infamous in their use of wedge issues to drive communities apart.  Race in America has always been the card to play, especially during election cycles.  Racism is coded in phrases like “he is not like us.”  It is not by happenstance, that we are two years away from another Presidential election cycle.  The GOP, along with some African Americans continue to question Obama on grounds of loyalty (albeit to America or to the Black Community respectively).  The Birther Movement, the Tea Party, and the GOP, with their respective spokesman, all use tongue and check jabs at Obama’s racial origins to galvanize a specific (albeit dwindling) segment of American society that are still unwilling to accept change.  This segement will believe that race, sexual orientation, and religious afflilation are to blame for America's continual decline and thus, change for them must be resisted.

During Obama’s presidential campaign, he was triangulated by Party Politics, those drawn to his ideas of change, and America’s third rail of race.  Those who sought to tank his bid for president, tried to use charges that he was anti-Americanism.  This belief was rooted in the belief that he shared the militant Black views of his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  Obama navigated the rail of race through his belief in the “unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people.”  Barack Obama was alas forced to address the nation regarding these attacks.  In delivering his speech, Barack Obama seemed to understand the intersection of time, space, and symbolism.  All of which served to positively impact the delivery of his “More Perfect Union” speech.

Barack Obama delivered his speech in Philadelphia.  This is the city of “brotherly love.”  When he gave the speech he noted his proximity to Independence Hall.  In United States' historical terms, this is the birth place of our nation, where the Constitutional Convention took place.  It is where certain compromises took place to forge a union.  Also, it is where certain aspects would be left to future generation to solve.

The speech opens with a line from the United States Constitution, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union” immediately grounded the conversation in the spirit of collective nation building.  The question is, however, what are we moving from in order to become perfected?  The Constitution is a document of compromises that is both “unfinished” and “it was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery.”  As it did for the patriots, it continues today, to be “a question that divided.”  Ideas left to “be perfected overtime” include; “the ideas of equal citizenship under the law,” and things “that promised its people liberty, and justice and union…”  For Black people in America, this would not be enough to “deliver slaves from bondage or provide men and women of every color and creed their full right and obligation as citizens of the United States.”  Later generation would have to “protest and struggle, on the streets and in courts, through civil war and civil disobedience” in order “to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.”

“The More Perfect Union” speech was presented amid comments made by his then pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr.  Political pundants, began to believe that Obama shared his pastor’s views on condemnations of the United States.  Obama still was hampered by some within the Black community regarding question of his blackness, being black enough, and if he possessed a Black agenda.  This speech traces the American issue with race through the Constitutional Convention's shortcoming to the way his presidential campaign sought to frame race.  He also addresses himself in racial terms, how race hurts America in various arenas to charting a path for racial solidarity.

He begins his path within the African American community.  He suggests “embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past.”  African Americans must continue to demand justice across the American landscape.  This means demanding more within the community too, on matters of health care, schools, and jobs.  While it is a historic conservative value within the community but to not abandoned the idea of self-help.  As you self help believe that society can change.

Americans must realize that our nation is not “static.”  This nation has made progress.  In fact this “..county that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land…”  For this to have been possible and to sustain all other such possibilities, coalition building is essential (with whites, blacks, Latino, Asian, rich and poor, young and old).

He also charts a path for the white community.  This is a path that begins with acknowledging the legacy of discrimination and current incidents.  This means that they have to embrace that they are very real and not in the heads of the minority.  They should being to invest our schools, the communities, enforcing our civil rights laws, and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system.  This community must also provide “ladders of opportunity” that were not available to previous generations.  Investing in health, welfare, and education of black, brown, and white children will help American prosper, Obama inserts.

He concludes by reminding us that we can continue to talk about what divides us or use race as a spectacle or we can say “Not this time.”  We can at this moment and every moment demand change and work to rebuild what is crumbling, together, for the sake of “one America."  Barack Obama's blueprint for creating racial solidarity is a  path that begins with acknowledgement of racial pains, providing opportunity, investing in each other, and demanding consistent changes.This seems to be the way we ought to use Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech.  As he concludes in his speech but it ought be the beginning of any racial conversation, “But it is where we start.  It is where our union grows stronger.  And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the 221 years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where perfection begins.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Power You Possess: Wonder Woman and Girls

For the past two years, I have been enjoying my new role, as uncle to my niece (Amisah).  A year prior, Ceasar Augustus and Sophia Flowers (both former students) made me Godfather, to their daughter Chloe’.  These are two little girls, for whom I care for greatly.  As a result, I am paying even more attention to the socio-political realities that impact girls.  I have spent many hours collecting materials on the mystique of femininity, of ranging diversity.  One such piece, that my niece adores greatly, is Wonder Woman.  I grew up watching Wonder Woman during its original airing.  I had no idea, that my niece would love the show so much.  She refers to it as “her show.”  I asked my niece what she liked about Wonder Woman (“her show”) and she said her “outfit,” “jumping”, and “rope.”  Unbeknownst to her, she is connecting to the ideas of liberty, freedom, and wisdom that are represented in the aforementioned.  So, what can girls learn from Wonder Woman?

In the past 30 years, since Wonder Woman went off the air, there has been a recession in empowering women through the media.  This includes a recession in women that espouses; femininity, wisdom, American values, and defense of humanity through action or rhetoric.  Women and girls are under attack by politicians, who are creating anti-choice legislation under the guise of fiscal responsibility.  Budget cuts at the Federal, State, and Local will mean cuts in education, health care, and critical media programs (i.e. PBS).  The negative images from the media and selfish politicians combine to further weaken at-risk groups, in this case woman and girls.

Set during the World War II period, when villains (The Third Axis), plundered across the Pacific Ocean, the First Season of Wonder Woman (1975) d├ębuts.  While, World War II (1939-1945) is the war’s years, the United States did not enter the war until 1941 (following the attack on Pearl Harbor).  During this war, the Western idea of freedom and democracy were under assault.  The president of the United States was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The pilot episode (wherein Wonder Woman is introduced), has FDR delivering his “Four Freedoms” speech stating in a rewrite “the only hope for freedom and democracy is…” enters Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman is a super heroine created by DC Comics in 1941.  She is based upon the Greek mythology of Amazons.  She is adorned in the rapture of Americanisms; her outfit is the American flag, her values are republican, and her defense is in the name of America.  The show (1976-1979), appeared during the modern cultural period of the Women’s Movement.  A period that can be characterized by questioning traditional assumptions on sexism, demands for equal pay for equal work, strides in higher education, advancements in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Employment Opportunities enforcement of laws that upended gender based discrimination in employment. This is a work, along with new issues, that continues today for women.

While, the First Season of Wonder Woman is set during WWII, girls today can observe the cultural norms of the period and learn how Wonder Woman both interacted and chipped away at the conventional wisdom of the time, with feminism.  Feminism provided the theory that opened political, economic, and social spaces, in the name of equality between the sexes.  The First Season of Wonder Woman had 13 episodes.  In each episode, Wonder Woman uses strength, wisdom, and beauty, while being triangulated by the political ideology of Nazism-Fascism, American values, and the stereotype and oppression of women.  The overarching themes of this season are liberty, freedom, and wisdom.  There are eight of thirteen episodes that best reflect the best of these themes.

Provided below are the eight best of thriteen episodes.  You can view the entire First Season of Wonder Woman, here on this site.  Click the title "First Season of Wonder Woman."  Then, you will see each episode on the page.  Click the episode and a dropbox will appear.  From here, you can proceed to viewing the show.

Pilot:  The New Original Wonder Woman

Episode 1:  Wonder Woman meets Baroness Von Gunther

Episode 2:  Fausta:  The Nazi Wonder Woman

Episode 3:  Beauty on Parade

Episode 4:  The Feminum Mystique, Part 1

Episode 5:  The Feminum Mystique, Part 2

Episode 9:  Judgment from Outer Space, Part 1

Episode 10:  Judgment from Outer Space, Part 2

In the end, what girls will be presented are the American values of freedom and democracy.  They will learn that despite often physical and ideological space, as well as cultural restrictions, that intelligence will always triumph (it may take some time).  Though not exclusive to women, but they remind us that through compassion, people can learn from their mistakes.  So, let your daughter twirl, jump, and use her mind, she is unleashing her powers that she possesses.  As Wonder Woman reminds us, (girls) "woman can do wonders, when put to the test."