Saturday, January 26, 2013

Black Blogs Lost, Black Blogs Dead

I now know why the Field Negro told me last year to keep writing, even if it is a paragraph. I understand why Rippa told me that it is hard out here for a blogger to stay motivated and energized.

It is because the number of blogs have died tremendously. It is like a reappropriation of a Nas mixtape entitled, "Black Blogs are Dead".

Maybe it is more than that, more like, the good blogs shall inherit the internet domain. I mean dagggg, blogs are dropping faster than strippers' panties, and believe me folks, I am not one of them. I have just been absorbing this conundrum of life and have been writing offline in other important matters.

I asked myself, "Ecosoul, why have so many blogs died?" There are many ways to explain this Darwinian phenomenon of the dying black blogs.

Blogs are A LOT of work to manage; especially when you are doing them alone, without any pay, and feel like you are just writing out in space without little to no feedback. And when you are actually writing original pieces on original topics with your own thought, that even presents another labor that is done in love, and thanklessly.

Which leads to my other angle to the depreciation of blogs. Since people don't read at length anymore and want fast food notes that are about four sentences long including the title, a lot of people just recycle the same shit posted in 80% of gossip or gossip news without their own spin.

Like that Pac song, "Every other city I go, all on the video, no matter where I go, I see the same hoe." Excuse the misogynistic citation, but blogs have become some what of a news brothel. Stank nasty, overused snippets of fishy things that are recirculated on CNN and Fox every hour. For the last two years, the same blogs talk about the same shit, with the same tag lines and speaking points.

Plus, black blogs just don't get the funding or the love like they need to expand. You hear about these simple blogs that become these media giants, and they seem so innocent. There is the fantasy that is distributed that goes something like this "Peggy started with $10 and turned her shoe love into a million dollar online shopping Bonanza. And you can too! (gush, cheer and applause)"

Truth be told, those Cinderalla stories are far, far, far and few between, and take a lot of backing that we rarely, rarely see.

Lemme give you a little intel on the online/digital community, it takes a shitload of investment money and labor to position yourself as successful (meaning financially lucrative) in the digital community. And definitely time and labor for them to grow and thrive.

Finally, black blogs simply fall behind on the latest gadgets and online knowledge to expand and keep up, along with the time and work it takes to maintain them. Simply put, one way or another, you have to put dinero into the product to see it grow. Or you get burned out and die.

So what can the readers do to keep us motivated? Read, respond and encourage. Plus, if we have a product or an event, attend and support. It won't hurt, but will sincerely help black blogs thrive.

Blog on....EcoSoul

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Miners Protest Magnifies South Africa's Struggles With Apartheid Conditions in Wealth Distribution

South African mners of Lomin Mine protest wages.
They are seen wearing tribal clothes during protest.
When the white South African regime brokered deals with jailed leader Nelson Mandela prior to Mandela's release in the 1990s, there were several agreements that were made regarding wealth distribution in the severely Apartheid torn nation.

It was a deal that Winnie Mandela is still, openly hypercritical towards because it left majority of South Africa, a largely black nation, dependent on whites to dictate wealth, and has played in the continual destabilization of the African National Congress. Resultantly, it were the terms of that complex agreement that are directly tied to the miners protest on August 16, 2012.

Mandela agreed to terms that shifted much of the political power to blacks, yet the economic power stayed in the hands of whites, hence the mines and multinational, long standing corporations are all  white owned in South Africa.

Another aspect of the agreement were that white government workers who did not want to work alongside blacks in federal jobs could retire with a pension for life immediately. As a result, South Africa has to fork over a chunk of its budget to a pension system that pays whites who retired from work as early as 18 years old.

Although South Africa is rich in minerals and natural resources that could balance the budget and create more wealth, the white domination, white privatization and control of the money flow has made it difficult for the upward mobility of a majority black population and increased enhancement of South Africa's infrastructure that is dire need of a better public education and hospitals.

Mark Munroe, left, executive vice president for mining at Lonmin,
speaks alongside chief financial officer Simon Scott.
Whites have privatized much of their existence. Schools, hospitals, neighborhoods and businesses are in the hands of whites who were in staunch support of Apartheid. Unfortunately, when Apartheid was dismantled, their worldview did not switch; yet whites have reaped all of the rewards from the ending of the sanctions, boycotts and embargoes against South African countries during the Apartheid regime.

Today, South Africa has progressed politically, yet the wealth distribution has created bigger gaps in the haves and have-nots. Miners have not received proper increase of pay, health plans or sustainable living benefits for their families.

As well, a large sector of the labor, which is still in mining, receives pittance wages, but these mines have not been regulated for the gross environmental damage they have caused to towns who live close to the mountains of unearthed dirt that blow toxic soil on windy days, along with other issues.

What the miners of Lonmin were protesting were an increase of wages from about US $600 to $1500 a month. The average day for a miner is 15 hours underground with shadey safety conditions. Most miners still work in conditions where they are separated from wives and families who live in the rural area.

Lonmin is the third largest platinum mine in the world, and has been refusing to budge in the wage increase like other local mines who have responded to the national debate regarding the mines being privatized. More importantly, the now suspended ANC Youth League leader  Julius Malema was demanding that South African government nationalize the mines to bring wealth to the people rather than keep it in the hands of few.

SA President Zuma talks to miners.
ANC leaders, such as current president Jacob Zuma saw his actions as divisive and disagreed. Zuma, as well as others like Mandela, opt for a plan that gradually, but with little certainty, shifts wealth.

For example, the resettlement plan of South Africa that gives land and homes to South Africans who once lived in Shanty towns, or were ripped from their homelands, is an iniative of wealth redistribution.

Nonetheless, the gap that has widened between white wealth and black poverty, added by growing costs of living in South Africa are making the average black South African anxious and disappointed. Add to the that, the ANC is weakening from within, which further makes governing and staying in power more diffcult.

Yet the cold truth is emerging amongst black South Africans through their controversial, and ineffective head-of-state, black power without black wealth is only a mere puppet to the highest bidder.

The protest that occured and the cold response by Lonmin executives is a reminder that the past is not far away, and that the past is the current. The racist, color-stratified, white racist regime is alive and kcking.

Women family members of miners eye police at Lonmine Mines.
African Americans gawked at how black police officers were involved in killing their own black countrymen, but those of us who understand oppression know that all to often the oppress perpetuate their oppression better than their oppressors.

South Africa is much like the US in its racial politics and issues. Just because Obama is president and South Africa has black presidents and Mandela has been free for over 20 years, does not make any two of the countries post-racial.

Just like an ordinary day in New York, Chicago, New Orleans or Los Angeles. As Zora Neale Hurston prophetically said, 'Your skin folk ain't [always] your kinfolk.'

Those black officers probably really believe they were doing what was right along with white officers who are paid a little more than the miners.

Both are still perpetuating the residuls of a white South African regime that suppresses black enfranchisement, and protect white wealth.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paul Ryan's Black Ex-Girlfriend Does Matter

Funny  thing, I could not find a picture with Ryan and one black person.

Paul Ryan's recent disclosure of having a serious relationship with a black woman does matter. Though it is an embryonic tactic to create a racelessness Republican identity, it is still heavily embedded in race politics; or rather, keeping race in national political discourse

But let's face it, who we openly date is some very old shit. In mainstream dialogue, it is being erased with the relevance of the NAACP, the prescription pill addict known as Limbaugh, and me favorite little chicken nuggets.

Of course in moral, politically-correct discussions, an interracial relationship is far from damning. In fact, saying you have had an intimate relationship with a black person elevates your post-racial status on white people's liberal scales.

And since the movie, 'Something New', starring Sanaa Lathan, it seems that forward-thinking, assertive, career-oriented black women, have chosen white dime pieces as the accessory of choice. Of course that comes after every black radical male has fathered at least two biracial children since Civil Rights.

Today, it is okay to be gay, ask any black woman's best friend on a reality show. And certainly, it is cool to taste the rainbow, much like wearing a vibrant, chic little DKNY suit on Wall Street, it is the change we have become.

But this ain't moral politics, this is new world order. In order to play, you have to appear, well, "we-are-the-world-ish" with accents of suppression and highlights of sexism. But racism, oh noooo, not fashionable and not a good sell, just a whole bunch of videos going viral on Youtube.

We not post-racial. That ploy didn't work. We are more post-racecard.

For instance, when the Gabby Douglass hair incident came out, I heard so many white people in particular point out that they did not "see" Gabby's race nor her hair as she captured to gold medals in the London Olympics. And frankly, they were offended by the discussion of her blackness and nappyiness; especially when Negroes talked about it, we were framed as perpetuating the race problem.

But this new trend of being non-racial is the re-emergence of the colorblind scheme to cover up outright racism that has been popping up like opiate leaves in Afghanistan since the Obama election.

For decades, bedding a black woman was the rights of passage for white males, hence the interesting story of celebrated politician Strom Thurmond, the biggest racist who fathered a biracial child. If Ryan's girlfriend's color or that of his sister-in-law did not matter, he would have left that out of any discussion.

According to some reports, Ryan's admittance is said to have caused a hail storm in the Right Wing camp. I disagree. Those who have responded negatively are the ignorant minority that the Republican Party is weeding out and re-educating and re-politicizing with the notion that you gotta give a little something to get the power back.

A little chocolate wetting Ryan's tank is a good thing. It makes Ryan look more attractive, and creates a more progressive head of state for a future America that is currently being heavily criticized by the world for its backwardass politics.

Paul Ryan for President in 2016.

The Republican strategy is something like the known secret amongst blacks who warned other blacks to not be too radical, or too hard on Obama during the 2008 campaign. He had to appear non-threatening to white voters. Certainly, we were banned from pointing out that he really didn't have a traditional "black" experience because of his biracial heritage and middle-class, upbringing is what made him most appealing to voters.

Now Republicans are cultivating someone who defies the traditional right-wing image in pursuit of a 2016 president and a Republican dominance after the Obama reign for at least fie to six terms.

Ryan is just going through the motions as a (pseudo) Vice-President in the already failed, and cartoon feature that is called the Romney campaign. They are grooming him for president, and scouting out Chris Christie as the Veep, and maybe even the other way around. God help us all.

Ryan is establishing a vanguard political identity that will be the "new" face of a Republican Party that has been split between blatant racists and those who have been indifferent, and to some degree ambivalent. He becomes the unifying factor of being progressive, but still conservative enough to maintain, and perhaps grow the voting base of the party; especially young Republicans.

If Republicans want to crawl out of this self-dug hole, they have to dig deeper and edit its public representation in creative ways that keeps the crazies, but regulates them so they can continue to get the vote, yet present a more progressive public image.

Bill Maher naively said that rednecks and old racist foggies will simply die off. And though they do, there are certainly many more who are happy to replace cogs in a wheel.

But this is where politics gets very interesting. Many people like to point out the individual and not look at the system that produced this person, and provided an environment for them to thrive.

It is so easy to crucify the individual, so the Republican thinkers are using this perspective in developing Paul Ryan as the individual who is transcending current and past stereotypes of the Republican boogeyman.   A more progressive, handsome malverick who is "color blind" and comes from an inclusive, yet conservative family.

Yes, bring him home to Jesus. Ryan has made it to the promise land of . . . dare I say it, a post-racial Republican.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Biometrics Surveillance, Mark of the Beast for a Turkey Sandwich

There is something very disturbing when children are used to "forward" surveillance technology. In a small, modest-earning town in Louisiana, an elementary school is implementing a palm scanning device in their lunch program.

This latest implementation of surveillance is one of a long line of biometrics surveillance and tracking what will be called your digital footprints and biometrics footprints.

The youth will have to scan their palms instead of giving a ticket. According to the principal, the palm scanner provides more accuracy. To whom he doesn't say, but it is probably for government purposes in a free lunch program for needy children. Either that or for all those lunch thieves in the second grade stealing beans and rice and beignets.

But thank goodness there is an "opt out" program.

Are you appalled, please don't be. Using children, poor communities, military enlistees and prisoners have been the easiest, simplest population of guinea pigs.

Don't think so, ask Disney, they have already implemented facial recognition, fingerprint scanners and monitors throughout the park.Yes, it is a small world.

Or the martial artist suffering from Parkinson's Disease who was arrested at a cycling event London Olympics by technology that reads body signals to determine if you are threat, and was snatched up because he was not smiling.

Or perhaps, the London advertisement agency, Clear Channel UK and 3D Exposure; that determines how to target consumers based on recognition of gender with facial recognition and eyeball scans.

This is not Wonderland, Terminator 3, or Total Recall, its the now ladies and gentlemen. Get ready for the ride, and take pictures all the time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lauryn Hill Replaces Mary J. Blige, Slotted to Play Nina Simone in Biopic

Ahhh, now if that headline were to be true I would be jumping up and down right now. But it's not. Zoe Saldana has been rumored to replace Blige in the long-awaited Nina Simone biographical film.

If only production companies would find people who are most believable; especially a woman like Nina who totally embraced her dark skin and full features, I don't get the Twiggy-esk, light-brown, self proclaimed Latina to be anything close to a decent pick. Zoe, maybe Cecilia Cruz, and that is even pushing it.

Even more so, Simone was one of the most complex and brilliant artists of her time. We need someone who has gone through some serious shit other than wondering win her white boyfriend is going to marry her and stop fucking other chicks. Nina, who indulged in white flesh would've went Watusi on that ass, and then wrote a groveled-filled, moaning jazz piece.

As well, I didn't really get Mary J. playing Nina other than their shared reputation of being a diva during performances, and alcoholism, oh yeah, and drug addiction. But Nina was so much more, so profound in her history that those things were just scratchings on her feet. She was a musical genius who leapt light years back to bless us with her presence.

I am not taking anything away from Mary J.'s contribution, she just isn't a believable contender either. Nina was a mystical intersection of sophisticated, cosmic and crass. She was down-rooted and extremely politically conscious, but Mary J., bless her soul, is sugared heavily with ratchety tendencies. And frankly, I just cant see Mary J. picking up a book, other than the bible, to read a thought provoking anything. But I'm not going to front, I prefer her over Fantasia, who struggles with literacy.

In contrast, Nina Simone, though raised by a strict Methodist mom chose music as her religion.

But have you ever seen a clip of Nina. I often play it to my students and they absolutely love her. I know in acting you must embody the soul, but Saldana is not only unbelievable, but can we employ some more chocolate sisters to play major roles?
While you're imitating Al Capone, I'll be Nina Simone ...

I think if Lauryn Hill got to do Nina, she would rock this shit. I know she was hand-picked by Rita Marley to play Rita in a biography, but Simone via Hill would be classic.

So let me tell you a little about a musician that black America disregarded and white America, plus white Europe could not control nor contain, she ascended by carving her own niche, and died lonely, and brokenhearted, and misunderstood.

Let me point out some similarities. And for the most part, I am cutting and pasting from articles I will cite at the end. Read more about what happens to women who define themselves for themselves, but please pay attention to the stunning similarities that I know will make Lauryn perfect for the role.

As I was thinking and digging, there were other things to that I saw were similar, but that would've turned into a book. Hmmmm, good idea.

Tax Issues
Nina Simone - IRS cited her for tax evasion and garnished her wages for back taxes. Nina Simone's growing bitterness over America's racism, her troubles with the IRS all led to her decision to leave the United States.
Lauryn Hill - Facing up a year's worth of jail time for not paying three years of "knowingly and willfully fail(ing) to make an income tax return to the IRS" that are worth up to about $1.8 million dollars. Took to tumblr to explain that she did it to protect the welfare of her family. "It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed," she wrote.
Man Issues
Nina Simone - Married twice, Simone was known for her intense, whirlwind love affairs, one of which lasted 40 years, and another in which she moved to West Africa; and another being the "kept woman" of Barbadian Prime Minister Earl Barrow.
Simone and Stroud
A later move to Switzerland for the sake of her daughter's education was followed by a comeback attempt in London which failed when she put her faith in a sponsor who turned out to be a con man who robbed and beat her and abandoned her.
Her first husband Don Ross was a white beatnik and alcoholic who put her in financial ruin.
She was also raped and beaten by Andrew Stroud, a former NY detective on their wedding night before eventually ruining her financially. They had a daughter together, Lisa. It was Simone's second marriage and Stroud's fourth. Stroud later became her manager.
Stroud just died, July 16, 2012, but was slapped with a sanctions a week before.
"Nina Simone's former husband and business manager disobeyed a court order and must pay more than $40,000 in sanctions to the jazz great's estate, record label, and attorney, a federal judge ruled.
Defendant Andrew Stroud was married to Nina Simone, who died in 2003. The couple divorced in 1970, but Stroud has been involved in several legal battles involving the rights to Simone's recordings."
Lauryn Hill - Her 'complicated' love affair with Fugee comrade Wyclef Jean is said to be the inspiration of her songs on the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album. The two were lovers while they often had others, which furthered the complexity of their relationship, and to some, proved difficult for them to work anymore.
Afterwards, Hill had five children with Rohan Marley, their first child was conceived when he was already married to another woman. Marley, who was spiritually married to Hill, went on twitter in 2011 claiming the paternity of some, but not all of Hill's children. Former associates of the Marley-Hill entourage have claimed that Marley was physically abusive toward Hill, and has sent her to the hospital on occasion. Hill's sixth child is rumored to be with her guitarist and was the reason as to the Marley-Hill split. Ironically, Hill was sued by her guitarist for lost wages and verbal abuse. Don't know if this is the same one who conceived baby. Marley is now engaged to Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana.
Leaving the Country
Nina Simone - She first moved to Barbados, and then, with the encouragement of Miriam Makeba and others, moved to Liberia.  When she moved to Barbados, while still married to Stroud, she had a "lengthy affair" with then Prime Minister Errol Barrows.She also moved to London, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and finally adopted France as her new home like Josephine Baker.
Lauryn Hill - Moved often moved her family between Miami, New Jersey, Ethiopia and the Caribbean with investments in the West Indies. Hill is noted to invest heavily in Caribbean and Ethiopian culture; oft requesting Caribbean nannies.
Recording Company Issues
Nina Simone - Her first single, "I Loves You Porgy," was a George Gershwin song from Porgy and Bess that had been a popular number for Billie Holiday. It sold well, and her recording career was launched. Unfortunately, the contract she signed gave away her rights, a mistake she came to bitterly regret.
Her disputes with the record companies she called "pirates,". . . In 1995, she won ownership of 52 of her master recordings in a San Francisco court . . .
Lauryn Hill - It has been known that Hill has had numerous clashes with her recording label over creativity that have caused many delays. It is said that she has hundreds of songs in her catalogue, but is reluctant to release for a number of issues. On on hand, it is what she labels as the "blood-sucking" on the industry, while on the other, it is residue from the 1998 lawsuit against her by New Ark, a creative production team and former friends who actually helped her pen and create the Miseducation album.

On tumblr, she wrote about the industry. "Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual," Hill wrote. "I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival."
Political Consciousness
Nina Simone - In the 1960s, Nina Simone was part of the civil rights movement and later the black power movement. Her songs are considered by some as anthems of those movements, and their evolution shows the growing hopelessness that American racial problems would be solved.

Nina Simone wrote "Mississippi Goddam" after the bombing of a Baptist church in Alabama killed four children and after Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississipppi. This song, often sung in civil rights contexts, was not often played on radio. She introduced this song in performances as a show tune for a show that hadn't yet been written.

Other Nina Simone songs adopted by the civil rights movement as anthems included "Backlash Blues," "Old Jim Crow," "Four Women" and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." The latter was composed in honor of her friend Lorraine Hansberry and became an anthem for the growing black power movement with its line, "Say it clear, say it loud, I am black and I am proud!"

With the growing women's movement, "Four Women" and her cover of Sinatra's "My Way" became feminist anthems as well.

But just a few years later, Nina Simone's friends Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes were dead. Black heroes Martin Luther King, jr., and Malcolm X, were assassinated.
Lauryn Hill - Hill's lyrics and songs have been tinged with intellectualism and a black-political consciousness. Her first solo album is from Carter G. Woodson's book, Miseducation of the Negro, a prolific and provocative read in the early 1900s that still holds weight and truth today about the US institutions, in particular education and political that disenfranchise black people.
In 'Miseducation' album, Hill enlisted school teacher, now principal and city council member of Newark, Ras Baraka, to create an impromptu class session. Baraka is the son of famous poet, Amiri Baraka.
Catholic Church critique: "Lauryn Hill took time during the taping of a [2003] Christmas concert for television over the weekend in Vatican City to criticize the Catholic church about priests who have abused children, saying there is "no acceptable explanation for defending the church."

Hill's comments were picked up and translated by several Italian newspapers, one of which, La Repubblica, quoted her as telling her audience, 'I realize some of you may be offended by what I'm saying, but what do you say to the families who were betrayed by the people in whom they believed?'"

"The comments came in a huge hall used by the Pope for his weekly addresses.
"God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses ... by the clergy," she said.

Standing just yards from five of the most senior cardinals in the Roman Catholic faith, Hill told the crowd to seek blessings "from God not men" and said she did "not believe in representatives of God on earth".
She then went on to sing a song about social injustice which was not the one listed on the programme.
Organisers of the concert have said it is likely her outburst and performance will not appear in the final cut"
Hill also said that the perpetrators and the one's who covered up the scandal need to repent for their sins.
 African Aesthetic
Nina Simone - She arrived through the audience waving a bouquet, wearing a one-shouldered cotton flowered-print gown with matching pants and a blossom in the topknot of her cornrowed hair.
Nina was known for her African-inspired clothes and hair; her most memorable moment is a Pharoah's headdress and the intricate braids she popularized. Simone would often fuse traditional African hair styles and patterns with contemporary, fashion-forward styles. She loved her Afro too, and to show off her beautiful body, even in her late 60s.
Lauryn Hill - First coming to the scene with Bantu knots and a b-girl fashion sense, she went between baggy jeans on her lean and petite, boyish frame to small skirts. Her style has drifted between hip-hop to sensual Rastafarian livity, without hyper-sexualizing her image. But definitely has become unpredictable over the years with androgynous long Coptic Christian robes, and questionable make up. So I will focus on her natural hair journey.

It was Hill who revamped and refreshed one's approach to locks, and when she came back out she has been wearing different lengths of Afros, with a straight wig faze in-between. But her aesthetic, though clearly undefined has always had a tinge of the African aesthetic.
  Performance Critique
Nina Simone - Performances described as brilliant and bizarre. She would often do various renditions of songs that were unrecognizable. Wives nor girlfriends were not allowed to travel with band members, and she also spoke about aspects of life, and in particular, the complications of love.
Simone's outbursts were often directed at her fans. Performing in 1978, she told an audience, "Talent is a burden, not a joy. I am not of this planet. I do not come from you. I am not like you." She had mysterious hospitalizations and was on medication for multiple-personality disorder. (From and LA Times Article)
Lauryn Hill - The first shock by her fans came when Hill did the 2002 with her MTV Unplugged live performance that was filled with long dialogue to the audience between acoustic guitar songs no-one heard, other than her Bob Marley renditions at the end. Hill talked about her frustrations with the industry and negotiating her identity. ''I had created this public persona, this public illusion, and it held me hostage,'' we hear her tell a small audience on "MTV Unplugged No. 2.0", her first new work since ''Miseducation.''

After long stints of silence and reclusion, Hill would briefly resurface with concerts where she was known to be notoriously late, and the songs would be unrecognizable by either being sped up or over a Reggae Dubplate sound. Some concert goers would boo, and walk out, or demand a refund at times here performance was to be desired.

Nevertheless, when Hill re-emerged in 2011 she began to sharpen her chops and crowds got used to her re-styled songs. In 2012, she filled in for Nikki Minaj who boycotted Hot 97s Summer Jam concert with Nas, and apparently blew the sound system of the stage. As well, performances at the Jimmy Fallon show and some other appearances shows she has greatly improved; but the bun in the oven she delivered last year has postponed her career once again.

I must add she did appear in Dave Chappelle's Block Party in 2004.

Nina Simone - Raised in a strict Methodist upbringing where she had to use a performance name, hence Nina Simone, so her mother would not find out she had started to gig at a local lounge in her early days. In her later years, Nina said she was of no faith, but her religion was music.
Lauryn Hill - Raised a devout Methodist, she was also a follower of a "spiritual leader" named Brother Anthony. She was also baptized at a Coptic Christian Church in Lalibella.
"Her consuming relationship with religion. After she pulled her disappearing act, Lauryn would reappear from time to time, announcing in interviews that she'd met a spiritual leader. She told MTV Online, "I met someone who has an understanding of the Bible like no one else I ever met in my life. I just sat at [his] feet and ingested pure scripture for about a year." Reports later named the man as a mysterious figure who called himself Brother Anthony.

According to Rolling Stone, Lauryn turned her life inside out for Brother Anthony, firing her management team in the process. Brother Anthony was affiliated with no particular religious organization or church; Pras, Lauryn's Fugees' compatriot, described their relationship as "real cult sh--."
But even before Brother Anthony, Lauryn's strong connection to spirituality is evident throughout Miseducation, from her description of an angel coming to visit her to announce her pregnancy in "Zion," to her references to Psalm 73 and her name-checking Cain and Abel, Moses and Aaron and Ethiopia's holy churches in Lalibela."

Articles Cited
Nina Simone Obituary, LA Times

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

London Olympics Entry #4: Crip Walk Controversy, Serena Williams and the Gold

When Justin Bieber, a Canadian who wears sagging pants (a fashion style that is said to come from prison culture), tweets Missy Franklin for winning a gold, it is called sweet teen spirit. When volleyball players sport itty-bitty-titty bikini's in front of the royal palace, it's called a proper uniform.

When the English Queen does a skit with the most misogynistic and man-whore spy in the world, the director is considered brilliant, while the queen was crowned as the memorable crowd favorite of the opening of the London Olympics.

When a tennis player smashes their racket to the ground like a drug-riddled heavy metal rocker, that's just great sportsmanship.

But when Serena celebrates with a dance that has become a crossover move that was created and popularized out of urban culture, she is signified as a trashy representation of the USA. Like her father said many years ago, the people in Compton will be celebrating with their 40 ounces and Chronic.

But eff'em, let me unpack this complex cultural moment that has contributed to this shift in Olympic culture.

In an unconscious moment of resistance, Serena Williams, in her own way, threw up her own black fists. While NBC covered her matches at ungodly hours, and did very minimal in highlighting her slaying top players, Williams decided to be unapologetic for the on-court beat downs with a victory dance from her own ethos.

And by the way, she is one of the few black women to win golds, and one of three African American women---her sister Venus, and trailblazers Whilma Rudolph who won three individual golds share this history.

Williams who is a huge hip hop fan, and a product of a hip hop generation, did what emcees do when they win, they celebrate in a braggadocio manner.

And as a child who grew up about a 10 minute drive from where Serena was reared, I know exactly Serena's POV. It has nothing to do with gangs. This is our native American black Angeleno war dance, a dance of strength and champion.

For several seconds, she displayed her connection with an aspect of black American culture and defied the Euro/Amero Bourgeois expectations of the lily white culture of tennis player. She bowed in victory with grace and swagger.

She has never apologized for her grunts, flashy outfits, and assertive court behavior. She and her sister were booed for years, their appearance has been scathingly critiqued, and oft times, US announcers imply their favor towards a Williams opponent.

Serena, no matter how many titles and now a gold that you win, you will be accepted as a brilliant and phenomenal player no earlier than 2073. So in the meantime, hop, step, hop. I celebrate you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

London Olympics Entry #3: Gabby Douglas and Hair Politics

I write this journal entry particularly to the black women who thought Gabby Douglas' hair was inappropriate or unkempt.

While the rest of the US are celebrating a newly minted American hero, some Negroes are fuming over something as petty as her hair. I guess this is what happens when the emphasis for black women has become how one looks in the eyes of others, even if it is to her own detriment.

Tis true, we are the first to attack our own about our coily tresses; however, if you are a black woman, you know the first tormentor regarding your kinky aesthetic looks just like you.

But since a good portion of black women in the United States have been locked into years of relaxers, flat irons, extensions and weaves, we don't even know what their natural hair really looks like anymore, nor how to care for it.

I am sure most of these critics look in the mirror and see their thinning or disintegrated edges, male-patterned baldness at the crown, severe breakage and empty patches where hair used to reside, and still think Gabby's hair is a mess.

But this time, as you attempt to project your self-deprecation, something I understand is not all of your own-doing, I am telling all of you to step the fuck off.

Keep your 'Buckwheat' images tucked into the orifice of your arse. And don't come crying to people like me when a non-black person calls you a nappy-headed ho.

Our tresses do not wisp about in the wind. They roll and wine in spirals like a Trini Calypso song during Carnival. We are not Snow White, no matter how biracial and octoroonish you may think you are, our edges will forever puff up in resistance like a Zulu army.

SPOILER ALERT FOR MEN WHO DATE BLACK WOMEN: If you have only seen us with relaxed, pressed hair and tracks or weaves for years than it is highly likely that there is not much to work with. Case and point, Naomi Campbell

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flying Squirrels and Jumping Monkeys at the London Olympics

There isn't anything remotely close to London Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, being a squirrel---be it flying, scurrying or smashed like roadkill.

Gabby is the quintessential American hero who has risen like a graceful Phoenix---dark skin, thick lips, broad nose, coily hair and all.

Gabby is not a mascot that you pat in sympathy with white patronizing sentiments like a Pickanini slave child dancing for watermelon seeds.

Her father is serving in the military with an overseas deployment, while her mother pooled all of her resources so that she and Gabby's siblings could be there to support. They may be cooking dinners on hotplates at the hotel, but they are there by hook or crook.

That is the black family template I know. We make do when the can't do is staring us down in the face.

So let me give this PSA to the world. The name, 'The Flying Squirrel' is not cute nor is it endearing.

And though I am sure Gabby laughs at this 'nickname', and wears it proud, I am quite disgusted. And I know I am not alone. As a result, I will take the role as her elder, and defend her, even if she isn't quite clear how historically demeaning and racialized it is to be reduced to a furry, disease-infested, buck-toothed critter.

Gabby's story is nothing short of phenomenal. 

She was thought to not have "what it took to be an Olympian" because 'experts' believed she "lacked confidence and focus". Commentators emphasized these 'doubts' with implications that she had fell short on maturity, competition experience and an understanding of what it took to be a victor.

It seemed as if her only skill was to smile like a 20th century Amos N' Andy caricature. But we who have been there knows that Gabby, whether consciously or not, understands the true meaning of "grin and bear it" or to smile, even when they are the meanest.

Juxtaposed against Gabby was her teammate Jordan Wieber, who was touted consistently as America's real "darling". Unlike Douglas, Wieber was framed as effortless and destined to win. But when she failed, the commentators showered reports with endless, acceptable excuses as to why and how she wasn't performing up to par.

I almost spit out my smoothie when a news report said, "the world watched in shock as Wieber shed heart-wrenching tears—she wouldn't be competing in the all-around competition." NOT. I wasn't stunting Jordan Wieber, and I question what world that, that reporter belongs to---perhaps white Suburbia that orbits around asinine.

But the one-sided outrage of the individual finals being Wieber-less went as far as an NBC gymnastic commentator stating later that he thought Olympic officials should reassess the rules of how many people can qualify. I have seen this strategy repeated when certain people lose at a game of which they created the rules---they simply change them when they are no longer the game-changers.

And although Gabby scored highest during the team finals, it was projected that Wieber's leadership and emotionally evolved, selflessness is what actually got the job done for the win.

Even up until the final event leading to Gabby's individual gold, while the world was cheering, the privileged and supremacist eye kept disbelieving. When Gabby won, it was so antithetical for the biased commentators who were edging for any white girl to win by the end, that folks took to twitter and Facebook to celebrate what wasn't being acknowledged on air.

So uncomfortable with Gabby's domination and being the current face that represents the United States as a champion,  those who have absorbed the ideologies of privilege and supremacy threw jabs like the alleged "ill-timed' monkey commercial following the ceremony.

It is as if  Gabby is like Obama in 2008.The results are in, and they will never admit, that they were all dead ass wrong, upstaged by and underdog and still soak in their racism.

Rumors of Casting Call for Black Panther Superhero Animation Draws Predictions

Black Panther
I want to live in Wakanda. I want to have three black babies with T'Challa. I want to take down all the corrupt leaders in Africa and the West Indies. And I want to sip cups of healing wine dipped in vibranium.

If you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, I just had a viewing marathon with Mr. EcoSoul for the Black Panther animation series two weeks ago. I watch Black Dynamite and adore the Boondocks, but there is something quite endearing about Black Panther.

Maybe its my revolutionary roots. Or my private enjoyment of poignant, provocative thoughts and ideas without crass humor.

Now, you know I can be the Queen of Crass, but there are days I want intellectual stimulation that is sobering, dry humor, instead of jarring, borderline vulgarity.

After watching Black Panther,  I wish I could swap Zhinga moves in the jungles of a place that is better than Disneyland, but I am quite content that Marvel Comics is supposedly making an adaptation of the comic superhero into real life.

I am praying that they leave Madeia out of this and give a black man some fucking dignity. Oops, there goes my vulgarity.

But, if I know anything about Hollywood, they will dumb down Black Panther to an albino Tiger. The first series' content in the animation written by one of the Hudlin brothers and produced by Stan Lee was too risque for BET to continue or properly advertise, but Negroes are always about pleasing their masters.

Recently, there has been rumors of a casting call for the movie adaption. In the past, Wesley Snipes, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Djimon Honsou have lobbied for the position of Black Panther, but here are my cast picks, based on the animation.

T'Challa Black Panther

Rugged intelligence and raw, powerful presence. Plus Idris Elba is a great actor.

Ororo "Storm" (TChalla's love interest and Future Wife)

Move over Halle, we need a sister with curves and substance to play this Egyptian goddess shero like Nia Long.

Princess Shuri (T'Challa's sister)

I am really into believable casting. Danai Gurira is beautiful, strong and fierce. Great match for warrior royalty.

Queen Mother (T'Challa's Mom)

Viola Davis is the perfect match as the Queen Mother for a warrior nation. She has acting chops and a die-hard physique.

T'Chaka (Black Panther's Father)

Djimon Hounsou makes a great T'Chaka. Some might say Black Panther, but he is more kingly in an old school way.

 Uncle Syan (Former Black Panther head who still advises T'Challa)

There is an old soul feeling and quiet fearlessness that I like about Anthony Mackie who could totally transform into an older, wizened uncle who once served as the head of state.

  T'Shan (Son of Syan who is jealous of T'Challa)

There is something very bold, grimy and genius about Electronica breaking up the marriage of Rothschild with his penis. Just put him in the movie because he got balls the size of the IMF.

W'Kabi ( T'Challa's trusted advisor)

Finally, a movie that will allow Mos Def to be a dignified side-kick. He would make this movie a serious hit.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Watch Entry #2 The World is Black People

I can recall as a child how the US would feature Russian ice skaters with dingy skates, and tough-as-nails Yugoslavian gymnasts or pale Canadian swimmers. Every now-and-again you'd catch an Ethiopian or Kenyan runner, but black folks were always (and sometimes solely) present in track-and-field, and perhaps boxing, and definitely basketball.

It seems like track-and-field was black day. Flo-Jo, Carl Lewis and Jackie Joyner were talked about in our private circles the next day. "Did you see what Flo-jo was wearing? Her nails were too long!" Track anf field competitors were our pride. Our legacy of Jesse Owens. Our mark of athleticism in a world gathering where it seemed we were the minority, even in most of the sports, sending a message that we could only run and beat up shit.

Honduras soccer team who have defeated Spain

But now I know the fascade that was painted in the Olympic Games. Often times, this elitest competition was too costly for most countries to attend or train.

And although globalization has historically reared and ugly economic and socio-cultural disadvantage, it has deterritorialized borders. In an agenda, not of its own, globalization has pushed into the forefront nations and peoples who were once absent or relegated to the periphery of the Olympics. Resultantly, it shows the true hue-man make up of the world. That thing that European explorers were shocked to see during the Age of their Discovery.

Costa Rican track star.

The world is black people, teeming and full of black bodies that range of deep brown, midnight complexion to olive tanned. We are the world.

Canadian diver Emilie is part of the duo who garnered Canada's first medal.

And as I talk about the Olympics to the little ones in my family, I let them know that even though we don't see much of us competing, we are there representing, we are in every corner of the world. even in the whitest of places, you will see our skin.

Gymnasts Danell Leyva and John Orozco

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lupe Fiasco Pushes Against the Machine with Lyrics, Sweat and Tears

Of course people would argue that Lupe Fiasco's tearful interview explaining the continual violence, gross disenfranchisement and hopelessness in his hometown of West Side Chicago should be the very reason why he should vote.

On the contrary, it has provided the impetus for him to be vocal about not voting and seeing it useless for the average person whose interests are never served.

Lupe's perspective, in truth, is the reason why black and brown youth are ever so turned off about the voting process 4 years since they largely participated in the 2008 presidential elections.

Though they say politics are local, the youth were reined into the national election, thus staying mis-educated about the issues on the local level. There is a difference between casting a ballot and being politically active; however, most "activists" were not interested in that part of the equation. You see, mentoring youth and their activists so that they can understand the importance of localized political engagement would only mess up Sharpton's time at the salon to get his edges retouched.

As a result, local politics remained the same---completely failing and disregarding the same population that was mobilized to vote for them.

Nonetheless, this reality also pushes Lupe to be politically engaged in his music and beyond.

Lupe who  is currently providing, free, healthy food during Ramadan, articulates the contradictions and ironies he sees in US policies and social order. Lupe's latest single, "Freedom Ain't Free" provides insight into the conundrum, corporate exploitation and chaos that the average young person navigates in the midst of profiling, unemployment, and streamlined resources to be a productive citizen.

I agree with Lupe when he states in his latest single, "America’s a big motherfuckin’ garbageman." And as he says in the interview, this system has eaten and thrown away many of his peers. The brilliant and provocative emcee who also attended and supported Occupy Wall Street pointed out in this interview that some of cats on his block are either imprisoned or dead, haunting him today as harsh testaments that black and brown Chicago communities and blighted and burning.

The MTV interview showed a previous Lupe interview when he first came out six years prior. He was a hood kid who used skating as a way to balance his life. When he went to the other side of town, the place he called home, he described is displeasure with the high levels of disenfranchisement that his community endures.

The two frames are juxtaposed realities that the average inner city youth lives. On one hand, we are entrenched with visuals and realities of social-political-cultural implosion from Brooklyn to Oakland , but on the other hand, we live a parallel to an alternative life of the hipster movement, a commercialized, and fresh-faced Justin Bieber-esk campaign that borrows heavily from our culture, minus the poverty and prison records.

And that is how a lot of us youth live, even if we have made it, we must all go home. Even if we are second and third generation "middle and upper class" black people, we all have family members who are struggling. And while Lupe enjoys the lightness he feels in his career choice, his travels, and his evolution as a human, he wears the weight of his people on his shoulders.

Though Pete Rock is pissed that Lupe took his legendary beat that was used in "They Reminisce Over You (TROY)," a song that memorializes friend Trouble T, he is simply the pot calling the kettle black since he stole it from Tom Scott and the California's Dreamer's song "Today".

Love the lyrics in Lupe's shit. Rip it brother on both ends.

Profound line
Crucifixes, racism and the land grab/Katrina, Fema trailers, human body sand bags

Another dope line
Say that we should protest/Just to arrested/That goes against all my hustling ethics/A bunch jail niggas say its highly ineffective

Speaking truth line

Down at the Lakota Sioux casino/A whole culture boiled down to given you Pokeno

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Price for Covering Up Decades-Long Child Sexual Abuse? A Job with the Feds

I must admit, Graham Spanier's latest job in crisis management for the US government is extremely appropriate. I cannot see a better candidate who can cover up a fuck up (literally) for more than 10 years like the ousted president of Penn State.

He said in an email:
“For the next several months, as I transition to my post-presidential plans, I will be working on a special project for the U.S. government relating (to) national security. This builds on my prior positions working with federal agencies to foster improved cooperation between our nation’s national security agencies and other entities.”  

I know people who were fired for being short on a cash register by $25, and couldn't find a job dealing with money, but this guy conspires to hide sexual abuse, and leaves a hero who already has a gig.

Can I say white privelege?

I am scratching my head at how many people I have read about getting life for drug conspiracy and this guy knowingly held information that caused the harm to a number of boys, some we will never know, and he gets carte blanche and high level clearance.

But that shows you the power of institutions, and the length that people will go, even in their ignorance, to protect something that kills them too. We will defend universities and governments the convenient argument that these are individuals, and not representative of the institution.

Welp, journalist Chris Hedges says, "Inherently, all institutions are demonic."