May 30, 2013 Leave a comment
May 27, 2013 Leave a comment
I wrote this for Memorial Day last year, and I think it’s relevant this year, and it will continue to be relevant every year. It’s just another way for us to look at Memorial Day and how we observe it.
Every year at this time, Memorial Day is observed. It’s a time when Americans remember the service people who fought and died in the country’s various wars from the birth of this nation through the present day. The United States habitually involves itself in wars and conflicts abroad, declared or undeclared. In history classes, students learn about these battles and acknowledge the entirely too many lives lost in combat overseas.
Unfortunately, the history books and Memorial Day observers fail to acknowledge and memorialize the soldiers who lost their lives fighting in wars at home and quite inexplicably, against home. I don’t mean the government and mainstream media-spawned “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror,” although this message is also dedicated to the victims of these illusory wars.
In essence, I’m referring to the wars declared against individuals who merely wanted to enjoy their so-called irrevocable human rights but were denied…
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May 23, 2013 Leave a comment
I was debating on whether I should write about President Obama’s commencement address to the graduates at Morehouse. I was absolutely moved to say something until several other articles starting springing up this week discussing issues primarily around the President and the First Lady lecturing African-Americans and speaking condescendingly towards them.
Writing for “Journal-isms,” Richard Prince reignites the reignited debate on Barack Obama’s attitude towards Blacks and whether they should display some “personal responsibility” or if it’s the government’s responsibility “he [Obama] leads to address African Americans’ plight.”
The title of Vanessa Williams’ article for The Washington Post is self-explanatory: “Obama Needs to Stop Lecturing Predominantly Black Audiences, Some Supporters Say.” Kai Wright’s post on Colorlines echoed the same sentiment about the Obamas’ “finger-wagging lectures.” Yvette Carnell marked the differences between Obama’s Morehouse speech and former president Bill Clinton’s speech at Howard noting that overall Clinton didn’t “make a racialized speech evoking tough love or the imaginary penchant black men have for excuse making.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins questions whether Obama would give the same “no excuses” speech to women and gay people, and Raynard Jackson critiques the Black bourgeoisie for venerating the President and not challenging him on “Black issues” like mass incarceration and teen pregnancy. Of course you can’t leave out probably the most popular critique coming from Ta-Nehisi Coates, which reverberates the feeling that the speech was “hypocritical and condescending.”
To be fair, a Morehouse graduate, commented on Carnell’s article expressing support for Obama’s speech:
The speech that Obama gave was tailored to black males and was intended to prepare for what we are about to face once we enter the “real world”. It also charged us to be men who do not believe in excuses. I would not have wanted Obama to present a speech that he would at any other institution because Morehouse in not just any other institution. As black men we do not need to be “pacified” or “blanketed” from the harsh realities that we will face once we enter work spaces where in some cases there will be no one that looks like us.
It’s also fair to add that the speech was a hit amongst the graduates. It’s also fair to say that right before publishing, I came across Jack White’s article on The Root, which questions the harsh criticisms Obama received from Black commentators, and he contends that their comments went too far by challenging the President for sounding like a father figure rather than a politician.
I feel bad for adding to the list of editorial pieces about President Obama’s position on Black people and our issues, and I believe all of the scholars, journalists and pundits are brilliant and respectable individuals presenting thought-provoking and insightful opinions. I enjoy reading some of these writers’ thoughts on the daily basis. But, they all seem to have missed an important caveat that they’re either unaware of or don’t support: colonialism and the role it plays in America.
I probably would’ve forgotten about it if I didn’t just complete I Mix What I Like: A Mixtape Manifesto by Jared Ball. In the book, Ball analyzes how corporate control of the music industry compares to colonialism. How does this book relate to this discourse? The author provides readers with a general understanding of colonialism first. In order to understand Obama’s–seemingly-allegedly-possibly-maybe-based on some people’s opinions–condescending remarks to the Black college graduates, we must have a basic understanding of colonialism and neocolonialism (the 21st century manifestation of the former) and then learn one key lesson of colonialism.
In my own words, colonialism can be defined as the act of an autonomist power taking control of a dependent nation and its land, resources and people. The action has been in existence since the beginning of history, but the concept was popularized in the 19th century. It’s primarily associated with Africa and Europe’s assault on the continent. As mentioned previously, neocolonialism is the 21st century manifestation more covert form of colonialism.
Ball makes an interesting and compelling case, arguing that African America is a colony within the United States and that Black people are the colonized. It makes sense considering our history in America under slavery, terrorism and discrimination and our continuous predicament under the current versions of slavery, terrorism and discrimination.
It’s also critical to understand that many African-Americans are colonized regardless of affluence. Many are wealthy and/or (mis)educated but are either dependent on mainstream society, to an extent are psychologically enslaved or lack power. Money alone doesn’t equal power.
There are many key components of colonialism and lessons to take away from this concept. The single message on colonialism emanating from Obama’s speech and the number of columns and blog posts on “personal responsibility” and “tough love” is what Ball briefly mentions in his book in regards to what happens to any colonized group: “The colonized are blamed for their condition.” It’s a quite simple and concise lesson, but very profound and significant once it’s thoroughly and seriously considered.
What the President did in his speech and what many writers and analysts subconsciously danced around was that he blamed the colonized for their condition. Women and gay people are colonized groups as well, and Dr. Watkins is probably correct in his assessment that the President most likely wouldn’t offer the same patronizing tone if he were speaking to the aforementioned groups, but keep in mind that African-Americans and Africans throughout the diaspora are at the very bottom of the colonial pyramid.
Like the title of Frantz Fanon’s work on Algeria’s fight against French colonialism, Black people are considered to be the Wretched of the Earth. What makes this a sticky situation is that Obama was speaking to a crowd of young, Black men like myself and the speech could very well be identified as a father-to-son message, but I came this far…no turning back.
Most people with the exception of my African-centered, conspiracy theorist, Tea Party and apathetic folks will disagree and strongly rebuke me in the name of Jesus for this assessment of the President. Logically speaking when Black people debate the President’s position on the Black condition, both Obama supporters and the opposition use the argument that he is not only the President of Black America, but he’s the President of the United States. This is indeed the truth, but not because he has to represent all of the diverse cultures and groups in America, but because he’s a representative and the spokesperson for the powers that truly control our society.
As a student of Pan-Africanism, the principle of colonialism within the U.S. isn’t farfetched. Clearly I’m writing too much, but it’s all necessary (in my own mind). The point is that if we don’t expand our thinking, grasp these ideas of colonialism and neocolonialism and apply them to our political theory, we will continue having these dead-horse-beating, reignited and tired debates over Obama’s position on “Black issues,” how he talks to us and the so-called “Black Agenda.” How’s that coming by the way?
May 23, 2013 Leave a comment
When one says “terrorism” in a democratic society, one also says “media.” For terrorism by its very nature is a psychological weapon which depends upon communicating a threat to a wider society. This, in essence, is why terrorism and the media enjoy a symbiotic relationship. -Paul Wilkinson
Despite his having properly noted the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and mass media, he promulgates a dangerous inversion of the fact that it is not terrorists who use media to carry out their goals against a powerful enemy. It is instead the powerful enemy who terrorizes the colonized via their media.
In terms of U.S. mass media, and hip-hop specifically, colonized African America is targeted and then assaulted by intentionally-selected damaging forms of its own cultural expression buttressed by an entire lack of news.
As the Colonialism and Mass Media model attempts to show, popularity is determined not by the consumers but by the entities in control of dissemination. – Jared Ball
May 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Many people want to know why, out of the entire White segment of society, we want to criticize the liberals. We have to criticize them because they represent the liaison between both groups, between the oppressed and the oppressor. The liberal tries to become an arbitrator, because he is incapable of solving the problems. He promises the oppressor that he can keep the oppressed under control; that he will stop them from becoming illegal (in this case illegal means violent). At the same time, he promises the oppressed that he will be able to alleviate their suffering–in due time. Historically, of course, we know this is impossible, and our era will not escape history. -Kwame Ture
May 22, 2013 Leave a comment
For the vast majority of White Americans, the past decade–the first phase–had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation, or all forms of discrimination. The outraged White citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away. White Americans left the Negro on the ground and in devastating numbers walked off with the aggressor. It appeared that the White segregationist and the ordinary White citizen had more in common with one another than either had with the Negro. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
May 21, 2013 Leave a comment
I say babies are closest to God cause they’re the most recent ones to come from the other side. So next time you see the smile of an infant, take it as a sign of divine intervention. – Billy Bang
Inspired by my bus ride home from D.C. to Jersey. A mother sat next to me with her baby boy. His tiny feet kicking at my leg and resting on it as he slept brought me joy and reminded me of this quote from a song by Billy Bang, a lyricist from Lefrak, Queens and fellow Howardite.