Sunday, May 30, 2010

MAYLEE TODD - Protection Plan 101 A.K.A. Quit Before Getting Fired from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.

Black Boy

right before i started Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, i was finished Black Boy by Richard Wright. i was completely engulfed in this book. i think autobiographies are some of the most enlightening books. i love seeing life through a complete stranger's eyes and hearing about situations and experiences i might never find myself in. next up-Native Son.

in a literature class i took last fall online, an excerpt from this book was on our reading list. it was the part where Richard's boss, Mr. Olin tells Richard and another black kid from another company that Richard wants to fight him. eventually, Richard and the young man realize that everything is made up and their white bosses just want them to fight for their entertainment. like two men watching two pit-bulls fight. after money enters the equation, however, they disregard the fact that they are degrading themselves and their people and fight anyway. both boys feel like the animals these whites believe them to be at the end of the fight. the excerpt was just a testament to how blacks weren't considered humans and how many whites took that notion and ran with it.

in the class, we had to make posts about the required reading and make three responses to other students' posts. most people said the typical, non-thinking, generic crap like "blacks were treated really really bad. Mr. olin was bad. richard shouldn't have fought...." and some other mess. but one chick said the excerpt portrayed southern whites in a negative light and that she enjoyed it, but didn't like the stereotypical role whites were in. to me, she was completely disregarding the main characters' feelings, as well as the feelings of all southern blacks. yes, southern and northern whites were racist, vicious, and completely inhumane. was she trying to deny the fact or dilute the severity of what living in the south with brown skin meant?
Richard was born in 1908 in Mississippi and died in 1960. that excerpt from the book was while he was staying in Memphis, Tennessee working, trying to make it to Chicago around 1930. nearly any book written by a black author from that time can back up his depiction of southern whites.

i responded to her post. basically saying that she was, like i said, disregarding the feelings and realities of black men, and black people in general in the south; she was trivializing the extremes racism took. not to mention that she was just wrong. this was an excerpt from a book, and not once did he say Mr. Olin or any other white he ran into was indicative of ALL whites (although, if he had, i don't think it would have been off in the least bit).
she responded saying that she was proud of our country and proud to be from the south and that these cirucumstances have made this country the fantastic country it is. i thought i was conversing with Sarah Palin at one point. i responded saying "yea, it made this country what it is. it lynched, raped, murdered and beat it. it forced people off their land, gave it blankets ridden with smallpox, starved it, exploited it, and left it destitute and confused...." i was going "in" like they say here in brooklyn.
my teacher sent me a message saying i was attacking this girl and that i shouldn't throw around the word "racist" or make people feel as though they're "trivializing" a topic or a group of people. not once did i call her a racist, or any name, for that matter, and my teacher ignored whether she really was trivializing it or not. my teacher was just an ignorant person that knew nothing about racism and became uncomfortable at even the mention of it. sticking to the typical, elementary responses is what she expected of her students. two people actually analyzing and debating about the implications of characters and concepts was too much for her. coming from a pre-K teacher, a response like this would have been acceptable, but coming from a college professor, it was a disappointment.
anyway, go check this book out. heres a quote from the book i liked:

"My life as a Negro in America had led me to feel-though my helplessness had made me try to hide it from myself-that the problem of human unity was more important than bread, more important than physical living itself; for i felt that without a common bond uniting men, without a continuous current of shared thought and feeling circulating through the social system, like blood coursing through the body, there could be no living worthy of being called human."
comment. think. read this book.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


thursday i walked into the Barnes & Nobles near Time's Square and i was happily surprised to see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a new book out entitled Nomad. i nearly screamed when i saw it at the check out counter. how did i not know of this?
i read two pages and bought it. usually, i would just check it out from the library, but since it was just released this month, they probably won't get a copy in until late summer. plus, i own and have read her other books (Infidel and The Caged Virgin), and i think she's such an amazing woman. her perspective is so extraordinary and remarkable that i cannot pass up one of her books. i would say she's one of my idols, but i don't idolize anyone. i idolize characteristics in people, but never the person.

i'm about 100 pages in so far and she's talking about specific family members of hers and detailing what she's been doing since she was stripped of her Dutch citizenship and the long-distance reunion with her family.
but in between talking of her family, she goes into the issues with Islam, the issues of underdeveloped countries (and/or with overly religious societies), and the reverence she has for the west. at some points, though, it is almost as if she has an infatuation with western countries. in a letter to her dead grandmother, she contrasts western and non-western countries ("non-western countries" meaning, in this context, countries that have a national religion or an overwhelmingly religious citizenry like Somalia, where she is from). she says this:
Grandmother, i have compared the infidels' morals to those that you taught us, and i must report that they have, in practice, a better outcome for humans that the morals of your forefathers.
the infidel insists on honesty and trust. everywhere you turn here, you must trust someone: to fly the airplane you travel in, to teach your child, to take care of you when you are sick and feed you food that is edible. and everywhere your trust is borne out.
the infidel does not see life as a test, a passage to the hereafter, but as an end and a joy in itself. all his resources of money, mind, and organization go into making life here, in Earth, comfortable and healthy. he is obsessed with cleanliness, a good diet, and the right amount of rest. ....
because the infidel trusts and studies new ideas, there is abundance in the infidel lands. in these circumstances of peace, knowledge, and predictability, the birth of a girl is just fine. ......
salvation lies in the ways of the infidel, grandmother. he has printed and bound books full of memory. he peeks through lenses that allow him to see an invisible world of creatures that live in us and with us, and he has sought and found remedies that attack them and defend our bodies. grandma, fevers and diseases are not caused by jinn and forefathers rising from the dead to torment us, or by an angry god, but by invisible creatures with names like parasites and bacteria and viruses. the infidels medicine works better than ours, because it is based on facts, inquiry, and real knowledge.
the sooner we adopt the infidel attitude towards work, money, procreation and leisure, the easier and better life will be.
it's interesting to see what my/our society looks like through someone else's scope. she praises a number of things i wouldn't consider positives. for example, she says we have an abundance in western countries. i'm assuming she's referring to our resources. but theres so many things that are ignored in that abundance. like the cheap (or often times free) labor i spoke of in the last post, the stealing of resources we do to nations like Somalia, and the countries we unlawfully dispose of this abundance.
she also speaks about western countries as if we don't have religious zealots simply because we have secular governments. anyone who has lived in a western country and paid attention could tell you the extremes religion takes in the United States, especially.

one thing that always makes me think from her books is the criticism she makes of western liberals and feminists. she says when it comes to their own countries, liberals and feminists are relentless in their criticisms, but when it comes to other countries and cultures, theres the go-to response of relativism. which is very true. conservatives are mainly the ones openly condemning some of their practices (although their criticisms are usually saturated in a superiority complex and racism).
but Ayaan sees this as egotism. to her, it is almost like someone saying "this is right, good, better, beneficial and progressive for MY society, but for yours.....its whatever. MY society is the society that can handle this concept and reap its benefits. yours probably cannot. your people aren't intelligent enough to grasp this concept, thus i suspend my opinion on YOUR country and YOUR people....".

i think religion has some benefits (very very few, that can probably be accessed through alternative mediums), but that overall it's destructive, divisive, counter-productive and idolizes mental docility, dogmatism, and ignorance in its followers. and by "religion", i mainly mean Christianity and Islam. other ideologies and practices that may fit under the umbrella of "religion" don't, to me, share or continue to exhibit these features. "religion" is too broad a term to make one single true statement about it. and while i may side with liberal on 99% of the political issues, the topic of Islam is one i would disagree with them on. that being said though, there are many aspects of any religion that is difficult to tell apart from the tradition of a land. the Qu'ran says nothing about female genital mutilation, yet it is most practiced in Muslim populated countries, and many Muslims in western countries continue to practice it. so is it a part of Islam or their culture?

this post isn't all that coherent. maybe when i finish the book i can get some cohesive thought(s) and my post won't sound like a ramble.
anyway, theres so many questions that arise while reading her books. you should definitely pick this one up.

comment. read her book. but her book. think. criticize.
also, she did an interview on the Tavis Smiley show you can view.

Friday, May 28, 2010

yesterday at a protest...

i went to a mini-protest outside the W Hotel in Manhattan yesterday.
Wendy's and Arby's have joined forces and were having a little meeting and the CIW was there to encourage them to get their tomatoes and other fresh vegetables in an ethical manner..... and to notify some pedestrians about the situation. that situation being modern-day slavery-Haitian and Mexican undocumented workers being chained when they're not in the fields slaving, being made to wash their hands in bleach, being paid literally pennies a day. the executives of these fast food companies (and non-fast food companies as well) know of this but, apparently paying someone 46 cents per 32 lb. bucket of tomatoes is too much to ask. have you ever wondered how in the world these fast food companies are able to make, sell, and earn a profit from selling hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and tacos for $1? there is no way food can be that cheap without fucking someone over in the process. you, the consumer are being fucked over because you're consuming far-from nutritious food and these workers are being fucked over.

and while i was protesting, i saw the chick (i swear) from this video i keep seeing everywhere.

the protest was in middle Manhattan near a bunch of fancy schmancy businesses and....people. and she walked by twice, probably staying in the hotel. and i've been meaning to put this video up, but i've forgotten about it until i saw her.
from maybe the 8th grade until i graduated high school, i wanted to be a fashion designer. my measly little paychecks were spent on clothing, fabric, sewing machine accessories, and fashion magazines. most American fashion magazines are around $4, but imported ones like French and Italian Vogue could be $10 each. special editions went for around $20. yes....for a damn magazine. i would never do that now, but at the time, it was my life. retrospect, i think the magazines did add a lot to my internal racism. and it's sad, but i don't think the fashion designers should be blamed any more than the society at large should be. and fashion designer that wants to have a successful company knows that the art of fashion has to be second, and business first. they know the consumer better than we know ourselves. they know that white people buy what other white people wear, and (too many) minorities want what whites have. putting a black girl on their runway is like putting Monique's character from Precious or Aunt Esther from Sanford & Son in your fashion show because that is the often seen black woman.
just recently, i've been watching the new series Glee on my minuscule cable, mainly to see what all the hype is about. and, just as predicted, the black girl is the finger-shaking, neck-twisting, loud, and in-your-face girl. WHY? i've also been watching the sewage dump that is known as Grey's Anatomy. and gee by golly the black woman is....finger-shaking, neck-twisting, loud, and in-your-face. not only that, but she's always having these outbursts and crying. i'm starting to think her character is possibly a manic-depressant. and although she has a child and a husband, she's an asexual character-sporting a 1982 mop 'do and always in ill-fitting clothing. she's basically Shrek in scrubs with a vagina. look at the photo below. she's the one scowling in the bottom left corner. everyone else is semi-smiling, and she's ready to shank you with a scalpel....whats the deal?

i'm nearing a tangent, so i'll stop. i think you get my point. when black women in films are more often than not the aforementioned women, then isn't it just a ripple effect that the fashion industry choose its models with these stereotypes in mind? what more could be expected from a capitalistic and materialistic industry (for the most part. every now and then and there some amazing art is taking place)?
post racial society? where?....

watch the video. check out the CIW. get involved. comment. think. criticize.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

an encounter with brother X

the other day i went to a really chill pub up in Harlem. good music. good time.

on my way home....i'm at the 59th street station when this brother sitting on the bench says something about Obama to another sitting behind him. we all get on the train, and, in the beginning, it seemed like an interestingly constructive conversation. one guy says "ok. when have you actually read the constitution?" the other guy says "a number of times. are you referring to blah blah amendment? Article blah blah that refers to the right to search and seizure?" (or something along those lines...). the conversation then goes to what Obama is and isn't doing and what he should be doing. then one of the guys gets off the train about 2 stops later when the second guy is still kind of talking aloud to no one in particular, but really to me and this older man sitting across from me. the man sitting across from me then puts his few cents in. he thinks Obama is doing the best he can, and thinks people shouldn't expect the entire system to change overnight. and the other guy goes into a tangent about how we (all of us being black) aren't really Americans and that the idea of a "president" is foreign to "brown-skinned people" (his words) because we come from kings, queens, etc.

i notice at this point that he's wearing a necklace with black, red, and green beads on it with a black fist pendant at the middle, a black, red and green ring, and a pick in the back of his tiny fro that has a black fist at the end (just like ?uestlove's). if i sound like i'm making this stuff up, trust me, i'm not.

i have jumped into the conversation at this point and ask him if he thinks we (“brown-skinned people”) should live under a monarchy since we come from "kings and queens" (no mention of the regular merchants, farmers, and yes, enslaved individuals that should be spoken of as well and not disregarded as the unimportant ancestors), to which he indirectly says "no", and then goes into some things about the government, its structure, and how its designed for Europeans and not for anyone else. after he raises the fact that South Africa is doing for themselves seeing as how they've just recently taken control of their gold assets that Mandela has been trying to do since he was released from prison. i brought it to his attention that Madela's been out of prison for around 20 years, and that how can he not expect the same amount of time for the US to get our shit together. he then says "sistah, we been here for 400 years...."

He then goes into so many other things, i may not be able to recall.

Over the course of maybe 2 hours (that’s about how long it took me to get home, with about 30 minutes of him talking to me at my last stop) he revealed that he had been a member of 4 different black nationalist groups-The Nation of Islam, New Black Panther Party, UNIA, and some group under some guy named Dr.York (whom i googled. .....yeeeea. turns out to be a pedophile that had so many child molestation cases against him the prosecutors had to lessen them so the jury wouldn't think it was absurdly unrealistic) all totaling about 22 years of his life. He wanted to start his own organization with 12 disciples (6 female and 6 male). He was currently writing a 500-600 page lesson plan for blacks to home-school their children with that compiled all the knowledge he’d received from all these groups and leaders he’d followed. Towards the end he asked me if I wanted him to teach me (me being one of these 12 disciples…) but that I needed to be sure I wanted liberation for our people. The first and second steps to liberating our people, he said, was first, changing my name to something that wasn’t chosen by slave masters and second, removing any form of personal identification I had with the government, such as a driver’s license, social security number and birth certificate because the government used this to track me, not for identification.

Now, looking at what I’ve said up to this point, you might say a)he’s crazy, b)he’s trying really hard to get some ass, or c) he’s a fool. And really, I don’t think any of those were true. I think he was a genuinely concerned and believes he’s on the right path for the liberation of “brown-skinned people”.

For one, he wasn’t crazy and he was not a fool(well, what is crazy anyway….?). he had the facts to back up all of what he said. He knew what seemed like every detail of the life of Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Marcus Garvey and almost every other black leader since Garvey. He had read the constitution and knew what articles and amendments said what, as well as the acts that preceded certain laws, such as the act that put social security in effect. Not to mention the dates of all these and the presidents they were enacted under. And aside from these facts he’s was spewing out, he also was logical. He said he’d left the Nation of Islam recently because during some huge march Louis Farrakhan arranged, he asked for a donation of $1 from some 2 million or so attendants and instead of putting that money back into the community, the money instead went to his mansions, personal planes, and expensive wardrobe. He also told me that he got into it with a brother passing out commemoration flyers are the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem to celebrate Malcolm X’s birthday because he thinks people have put too much stock in idolizing Malcolm X while not doing the same for his message and the teacher of his message (Elijah Muhammad). But that part of the conversation I was most vocal about because he basically said that Malcolm X “got himself killed” by not keeping his mouth shut when the “HONORABLE Elijah Muhammad” (the way he said his name every time) instructed him to and that Malcolm X was neither the brightest, smartest or best followers of the NOI…..and that he was brainwashed by white people when he went on his Hajj.

Some of the things he said I agreed with, some of it not, some of it I agreed with but would never ascribe to his method of doing it. Towards the end of our conversation, he asked me if I wanted liberation for our people, to which I said “of course” but asked him what his idea of “liberation” entailed. He was vehement about telling me some factors on the path of liberation and the teachers I should read and the clothing I should wear, but not once went into what exactly he meant by “liberation”.

It’s almost like talking with some liberals whose sole arguments are centered around “peace”. “WORLD PEACE!” But what does “peace” really entail? All nations being subservient to the United States? All nations that have nuclear weapons disarming them and signing some treaty (which really just end up being sheets of paper that say "look how ethical i am" and nothing more)? All nations and peoples having democratic governments? What exactly is this idea of peace and why do people act as if it is an objective concept?

What does this man actually mean by “liberation”? does this entail all black people moving back to the “motherland”? all black people ascribing to one of the four groups he was in? is it every black person dressing in dashikis with cowrie shells in our hair and black fists around our necks?Is it all blacks following one train of thought as if we aren’t individual thinkers with our own personal aspirations or thoughts on what liberation is and how to go about it? does "black liberation" mean the same thing as "white oppression" to him?

i didn't voice it directly to him, but I would never join any of these organizations, let alone his, nor would I ever be a student of any of these “teachers”. For one, I’m not religious and I think any group that promotes the liberation of a group of people while promoting their religion compromises whatever liberation might be obtained by excluding members of that group that don’t commit to their religion or their thoughts on theology. How can you be an organization for a specific group of people without being respectful of dissenting opinions and different lifestyle choices within that group? Every member of the NOI is expected to follow Islam (THEIR version of it) because Christianity and Judaism are for whites (their arguments, not mine) and Christianity was used to help brainwash African slaves. While I agree with the last part, I don’t think that being a Christian or a part of any other religion means you don’t want liberation for your people (with the exception of Mormonism. Blacks are descendants of Cain whose end in hell is inevitable? FAIL).

I’m a student to everyone, everything, and every school of thought. I don’t like the way in which they act like THEY have this information and THEY are the only ones that can teach it. I’m sure he has some knowledge on some things that others may not; that I may not have, but I go about seeking knowledge in my own way on my own time.

I would never join an organization that limited my hairstyles, clothing, name, etc. I just don’t ascribe to anything or any teacher that limits my personal expressions. Even if this group agreed with my politics and views on life 100% while dictating way in which i should dress, wear my hair, and change my name to….i would never join it. I think labeling oneself as a member of almost anything limits one’s ability to seek knowledge indiscriminately. i may vote democrat 99% of the time, but I would never identify as a democrat because I think it would cut me off (subconsciously or consciously) to dissenting opinions. conservatives and republicans have a number of issues. But they may (MAY in the far far future in one or two aspects…ha) have some things right, and if I’m always in the oppositional group (because democrats don’t really have any core values, they’re just a group in opposition to republicans), then I’m not going to be as open as I should be to knowledge from this group of people i may have subconsciously labeled the enemy. not to mention the type of dogma other member of that group expect from their members. does voting for a Libertarian make me less of a democrat? most, i think, would say yes. if i'm in one of these groups and want to date a white guy or feel like criticizing Garvey on a number of factors, then, again, does that mean i want liberation less?

it seems that control happens to be a large portion of these groups. This brother said he wanted the members of his group to wear a red fez with a black and green tassel down the side with the females wearing dresses/skirts with the men in traditional African attire. For what? will be able to attribute more knowledge and skill to this group in that outfit that I would be in a t-shirt and jeans? Does this type of control actually serve a function or is it just an infatuation with all things Africa (this is the way he talked about it, as it if were a country with one culture)? I mean, where does it get ridiculous? When I turn in my subway card/car for a camel or walking? When I turn in my iron and copper cooking pots in for clay ones and my stove for an open fire?

sometimes groups like this make me understand why there is so little solidarity within the black community, although its the opposite of what they aim to do. while i would never join any of these organizations, i do respect that they aim to liberate blacks (whatever that may result in). i really do believe that this man believes that he is going about liberation in the correct way and really just wants to see all blacks happy. even though i disagree with him (and/or them) on many aspects, he still gets my respect. and this conversation made my week, really. made me love NYC all over again.

comment. criticize. think.

also, that photo is not him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Paul Sika

i found this cool artist on a blog i follow.
check out his stuff here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


my friend Yvette sent me this video about how Arizona (aka Errorzona) wants to take ethnic studies classes out of the public school curriculum. the main video on that link is a conversation on the Anderson Cooper show between some cunt from Arizona and Michael Eric Dyson (LOVE him! love when he told the guy the CORRECT pronunciation of Paulo Freire. me and Dyson are actually dating. he's unaware of it at this time, but will know some time in the near future...), but the other 3 videos below it are interesting as well.

if i believed that the current public school curriculum was balanced (learning about all histories, cultures and peoples as opposed to just that of Europe), i might probably think that a class like this would be divisive. however, anyone that has taken the time to actually think about their public schooling, and look to what is being taught now, they would know that the "knowledge" being taught at these schools is extremely euro-centric. i talked more about that in a past post. i think this journalist best describes what is happening with this law, but anyone with at least a 2nd grade education could see that this is nothing but racism. "it teaches minorities that they're oppressed." the guy in the first video and the woman in one of the videos below it said this. with no response as to whether it is true or not. in other words, they don't want these classes teaching the truth. too much knowledge is apparently a bad thing.

this is nothing more than an assault on the realities of oppressed people; minorities; an attempt (or rather, a continuation of) to discredit, deny, and vilify the lives of those that the mainstream society would rather not think about; an attempt to deny that their histories and struggles not only took place but that they have a direct correlation to what our situation is in this country presently. and not just a correlation with the current situation of their descendants, but of this nation as a whole. slavery made this nation one of the wealthiest in the world, yet we shouldn't hear about the side of those enslaved? even today, do you know where your tomatoes come from and who picks them off the vine? and people think this is a "post-racial" society....
i'm ready RIGHT NOW for a protest. anyone know of any in the nyc area? hit me up.

i think Harriet Tubman said it best when she said: "I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves." lacking the knowledge necessary to realize that you are a member of an oppressed group of people is not a victory against racism (as these legislators would have one believe). it is ignorance.

comment. think. criticize. protest. organize.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oprah is giving away a television show

so Oprah aka The Almighty has her own channel coming out soon, and she has a slot for anyone that wants their own television show. she's opened auditions on her website and will give you your own show if she...likes it, i'm guessing.
so far they have two losers wanting a traditional talk if we don't have enough of those. Jimmy Fallon has killed the traditional talk show and no talk show host is funnier than Conan O' my opinion. and someone else wants...oh....a cooking show. how original. Paula Deen butchered the little pleasure i took out of cooking shows with her artery-clogging, stroke worthy dishes (deep fried sticks of butter? c'mon now...) and exaggerated southern accent (no one really sounds like that in the south. she's probably from Canada anyway). i feel like she wants me to answer with a "YESSA MASSA!" with the way she talks....just....not right.

i'm tempted to audition. i want a travel show. hell YES.
just like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern. what more could one want than to be paid to travel and document different experiences and events on camera?!
but then again, if i'm being paid by Oprah, she would get to decide where i go, what i do, and how long i stay. i would also have to sign some sort of contract, and be expected to deliver a smile and be camera-ready even when i'm not in the mood (which would probably be rare, but still...). and my thoughts and opinions on the politics of other countries would have to be diluted, if not blatantly ignored. not to mention that i would miss out on truly valuable experiences with people from other countries that might shy away from a camera or those moments that happen when everything isn't mapped out on an itinerary.

just thinking out loud....

comment. audition. whatever.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


i'm sooo ready for summer.
these last few weeks were nice, all hot....but the last 2 or 3 days have been just ugly. its raining outside right now...ugh...
but if you turn up the heater, get some iced tea, listen to some summer songs and think happy thoughts....studies have shown that it can bring summer faster. what studies? by whom?....thats not important. check out these videos that remind me of summer. i'm working on getting me a spot in Bed-Stuy so i can sit on the steps and blast these from an old school radio. a radio Raheem radio.......yup.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010