Thursday, May 29, 2008

W.'s senioritis

By definition every second term U.S. President since FDR eventually becomes a lame duck that the public ignores. No matter how good or bad their presidency, after the last midterm congressional elections we're looking towards the next possible president, we pretty much could care less what the sitting president says or does -- unless it is a veto, military act, impeachment or presidential pardon.

Most just bow out gracefully and forgettably -- not W, whose recent behavior is strangely reminiscent to Will Ferrell in Old School. Except Ferrell is "Ha Ha" funny whereas W is a tragic comedy. I have to agree, from the pictures below it looks like the President has a bad case of high school senioritis.

From When I Write:

"I will give it to this guy because he’s like a high school senior that has a case of senioritis, or the I don’t give a f#ck type of attitude, which is shown below in the other photos from the US Air Force Academy cadets graduation ceremony in Colorado…

For those having no clue what the “Heizman” is, just click the picture or close over it to get the hyperlink. I mean really for a president to just let it all hangout and say to hell with it in front of the public is kinda comical no matter how much I dislike what he’s done over the past 7 plus years. You also wonder if he’s dipping back in the sauce when he was speaking at the ceremony, but I won’t go there because you can just view those pictures below to see something is a little off ;) I hate to caricature this guy, but he really makes it too easy…

Sirota's Uprising

I'm a bibliophile, so hat tip to PageOne KY for alerting us about the Louisville appearance of a great rebel journalist, David Sirota. He'll be at Carmichael's on June 25 @ 7:00 P.M.

From PageOneKY:

Those of you familiar with the internets and reality know all about David Sirota and his liberal left ways with the truth. He’s renowned as a journalist and has led the fight to bring the reality-based community into the mainstream. And he has a great new book that’s hitting shelves across the country.

THE UPRISING: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street & Washington is what could only be called a masterful look at the force shaping American politics today. David spent a year traveling the country documenting the new populist revolt on the Right and Left and this book is his powerful examination of what’s taking place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blackface on Facebook

Browsing on Facebook, a friend of mine found this casually displayed in his News Feed. Not surprisingly, there is a phenomenon on the website of people dressing up as minstrels to the point that some even call it blackfacebook.

The guy in blackface went all out, he even painted his chest and hands. Brought the malt liquor too. I wonder who he's suppose to be dressed as anyway? Ironically he's being embraced by a guy dressed as Uncle Sam.

More and more I'm seeing minstrelsy reappearing. Many are saying that because we're past Jim Crow, this is longer offensive. Yeah. Right. I guarantee a lot of these frat boys dressing in blackface will update the "I'm not racist, I have a black friend" defense and start saying, "I'm not racist, I voted for Obama."

My ¢2 on the changes @ LEO

No one better than Stephen George could have written about the rumblings, changes and new ownership at LEO. His editorial in this week's edition about the torturous "low trade" known as journalism that is a "habit worse than heroin", summarizes and addresses it best. For those of you who don't know what in the blue blazes I'm talking about go here, here, and finally here to catch up.

Being a rookie to Louisville's journalism means that my opinion on the subject ought not matter as much or register on the local media radar. Stephen in many ways was Cary Stemle's mentee at LEO. He's the best authority on the matter. Still, there's a bit of survival's guilt. Also, I haven't seen Cary since last Wednesday, before his ouster. My last memory was him at his desk going over a story yet chatting cheerfully. It's a bit unnerving that I haven't seen him since.

There've been plenty of people who I have felt have been mentors, advisors and allies to my writing. The first group of people are obviously the founders of The SOULution, who gave me my first platform as an undergrade at the University of Louisville. My 'big brothers' are to blame if you've been upset at anything I've written. Of course, I cannot say enough about my mentor, Dr. Ricky L. Jones.

Since then I've met a handful of people in this town I respect without question -- Cary Stemle was among them. His ideas were inspiring, his writing was superb and his leadership was motivating. Plus, he was a funny guy to match. It was Cary who suggested last year that I enter my name in the Academy for Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University. I remember thanking him when I was accepted in this year's class. Those spitting fire over him demonstrate the public's investment in not just LEO, but its character. I hope readers who are righteously indignant will at least give the post-Stemle era a chance to pass or fail before claiming hyperbolically 'LEO is dead'.

Whether in dress, speaking or thought, I have never been a shark in the free-market waters. I picked up a pen because I love writing. I suck at business. I hate capitalism. Even though it's great at making toys -- my Palm Centro cell phone and 2004 Volkswagen Passat especially. I'm naive, I don't believe in putting dollars and cents before conscience, principle, or people.


I just couldn't let this moment pass without saying Thank You to a great writer and a helluva friend.

Peace & Blessings Cary.

What's the matter with Kentucky?

Boy, Kentucky has sure gotten plenty of attention for being racist. Maybe it's a bit unfair to compare Kentucky to Oregon. Our results in the presidential primary cannot be examined in a vacuum. The Beaver State has a different history (no Civil War) and racial makeup (absolutely no black people). Nonetheless, there's something about our toxic soup of race, income, education, geography and history that makes this subject so important. Maybe it's the isolation of being in rural Kentucky. Maybe it's the split decision during the Civil War. Maybe it's becausae Barack didn't campaign personally in the Bluegrass. Maybe it's just shit eating rednecks who wouldn't vote for a black person whether it was Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas or Uncle Ruckus.

Read my contribution to the conversation, which just so happens to be LEO's cover story.

Race and the Presidential Race

Whatever the case may be, let's be clear, 21% voted against Barack just because he was black! We can ignore it at our own peril, but Appalachia hysteria is real. Watch below.

Fear of Islam hurts Obama in Kentucky

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day memo to the U.S.

For several months I've been on a steady diet of what you could call "end of empire" books. From Niall Ferguson's Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire to Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement, there's something about this sort of literature that captures my mind. I don't know about you, but I'm worried about my country --intolerant religion, imperial hurbis, broken government, corporate media and bad financing is a toxic soup for a nation with even the loftiest ideals.

As we approach the end of this Hobbesian decade one of the great oracles on the subject has been the thoughtful Kevin Phillips, author of and The Emerging Republican Majority and American Theocracy. In today's C-J, Phillips says the recent pessimism about America might not be as overblown as the super patriots from Team America think. He writes a warning Americans to stop thinking of themselves as the "city on the hill" and face the pending domestic and global crisis we're facing.

From the Courier-Journal:

More than 80 percent of Americans now say that we are on the wrong track, but many if not most still believe that the history of other nations is irrelevant -- that the United States is unique, chosen by God. So did all the previous world economic powers: Rome, Spain, the Netherlands (in the maritime glory days of the 17th century, when New York was New Amsterdam) and 19th-century Britain. Their early strength was also their later weakness, not unlike the United States since the 1980s.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NY Gov. pardons Slick Rick

I told people NY Gov. David Paterson is a true blue progressive. We either forget or never knew that he drafted legislation to create restrictions on the use of deadly force by police officers. Fewer know that he was arrested in protest when he symbolically blocked the doors of One Police Place in protest of the 1999 Amadou Diallo shooting.

Slick Rick ought to thank that escort for busting Client 9.

From Nah Right:

Governor David A. Paterson announced today that he has granted Ricky Walters a full and unconditional pardon of his 1991 attempted murder and weapon convictions, in order to allow Walters to seek relief from deportation from the federal immigration courts...

"Mr. Walters has fully served the sentence imposed upon him for his convictions, had an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole, and has been living without incident in the community for more than 10 years,” said Governor Paterson. “In that time, he has volunteered at youth outreach programs to counsel youth against violence, and has become a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people. Given these demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary invoking RFK assassination is code for "Hang him!"

Given her white workers appeal comments plus the ugly race-based vote in 'Klantucky', this sort of talk puts my racial paranoia in full bloom. Added together I just hear: "Hang him!"

Sen. Clinton could have used plenty of other historical examples exist of lengthy primary campaigns, but bringing up RFK's assassination as a rationale to stay in the race is morbid. If you needed another reason to turn your back on the Clinton campaign, here's one more.

From Newsday:

Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the June assasination of Robert F. Kennedy to defend her decision to remain in the race until the final primaries -- sparking immediate condemnation by Barack Obama's campaign.

The former first lady, speaking to the editorial board of the Sioux Falls, S.D. Argus Leader, expressed outrage over calls for her to exit when she inexplicably brought up the killing of the Democratic icon in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.

She later apologized, but SHE HAS DONE IT BEFORE. What lengths will this desperate Dixiecrat go to in order to become president? Keith Olbermann's 'Special Comment' ought to be especially poignant tonight.


"Sen. Clinton, this is unforgivable"

Common f. Pharrell - Universal Mind

Boy, it's been a rough week. So to close it out I need something to lift my spirits. One of LEO's interns, Erin, put me on game to the leaked track from Common's new album, Invincible Summer due July 1.

Notice the electro sound mixed with the old school sound. A lot of the more conscious MCs are taking us back to hip-hop's origins. Tell me you don't want to break dance to this track.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

R.I.P. Alice Wade

One of Louisville's most dependable and committed voices in the civil-rights movement died yesterday. Alice Wade, 69, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer passed yesterday morning. According to an e-mail sent out by the KY Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, Wade was given less than two weeks to live by doctors last week at Jewish Hospital. Though lesser-known to the public, Wade was a committed organizer to the struggle for equality in Louisville.

From the Courier-Journal:

A native of Jeffersonville, Ind., Wade had lived in the Louisville area all her life. Her daughter, Ursula Wade, said her mother worked at the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, at various other jobs and in nursing.

Of her involvement in civil rights, her daughter said: "I think she just wanted to make sure that she made a difference."

Alice Wade's family is planning a memorial service, but arrangements were incomplete yesterday. Memorial gifts may be made to The Braden Center, 3208 W. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40211.

"I saw her yesterday," said Rev. Louis Coleman, director of the Justice Resource Center and longtime friend and ally of Wade. When I called him about Wade's passing, Rev. Coleman kept repeating, "It's a tragic loss."

Raoul Cunningham, President of Louisville NAACP said Wade was one of the most dedicated individuals in community activism and her dedication will be severely missed.

"She was always dependable," Cunningham told me. "Always ready to make whatever contributions were necessary."

"We're almost gone," Rev. Coleman commented somberly, speaking about the dwindling number of his peers who marched, petitioned and spoke out for civil rights at the movement's genesis in the 1960s. "We're just about gone, either that or tired or worn out. Some of us hit a wall and cancer is a rough trial."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hillary wins Klantucky -- Louisville needs to secede

UPDATE: Halfway across the globe Al Jazeerah reported on how race played a factor in the Democratic presidential primary. Pay attention to the first woman.

Watch, she almost says it.
"I just don't want to vote for a--"

It's a bit disheartening watching Hillary Clinton declare her Klantucky victory in Louisville considering she lost the Derby City to Barack, 52% to 44% by 12,000 votes. Growing up in Louisville, you get a lopsided perception of the Bluegrass. We forget that outside our metro oasis outlined by the Watterson Expressway is an entirely different world. A world where minstrel black-face figurines still adorn kitchen cabinets.

Especially if you're from the neighborhoods within West Louisville, which is the most densely black populated area in the entire state, you tend to forget you're in Kentucky. We're reminded about that face when the contrasts between Louisville & Kentucky are drawn after elections where exit polls illustrate a lucid difference. Using a rubric of education, age and race means that overall Kentucky is uneducated, old and white. By themselves those demographics are harmless, but combined it's a lethal equation (Barack got wiped out by 35%.)

When African-American Kentuckians travel they often hear, "They got black people in Kentucky?!?" Watching Hillary's victory speech on MSNBC and analyzing the results, I see why.

As Howard Fineman noted on MSNBC:

"There's a huge resentment between Louisville and the rest of the state and Obama became the downtown Louisville candidate"

Ironically, Hillary declared victory at the new Marriott in downtown Louisville. As my former editor at The Cardinal, Dylan Lightfoot commented:

"Just proves what we all know: The Ville is a nucleus of progressivism surrounded by a protoplasmic ooze of assbackwardsness."

After today's results where 21% of Kentucky voters openly said they voted based on race we cannot deny the writing on the wall.

I want to make something abundantly clear to outsiders. I'm from Louisville, home of Muhammad Ali and Hunter S. Thompson, and damn proud of it. The basketball team I cheer for is U of L (NOT UK). My congressman is John Yarmuth.

I love my city, but Louisville needs to secede.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Msg. to Hillary, 'Fall Back'

Maybe after the Kentucky and Oregon primary, Hillary will listen to the dozens upon dozens of messages, suggestions, pleas and demands for her to quit. Just in case she doesn't, one more kick in the teeth won't hurt.

'Fall Back' by Idle Warship f. Chester French:

For those lost in the wilderness of BET and b96.5, hearing this sort of direct and clear political hip-hop is alien. Idle Warship, the duo of Talib Kweli and Res, a soulful female singer out of Philadelphia, has made it clear that not all hip-hop is party & bullshit music.

Also, did you see Barack's crowd in Portland, Oregon!?!

Obamania is running wild.

Jealous, new NAACP Pres.

Introducing Benjamin T. Jealous, 35, the new and youngest President of the NAACP.

I doubt Jealous will be dubbed the 'hip-hop NAACP Pres.' as
when Kwame won Detroit.-- he doesn't have the 'swagger' of Kilpatrick. Carrying the 'youth activist' description to the NAACP helm will have everyone giving Jealous a second look.

Another 'young, gifted and black' leader emerging from the Hip-Hop generation is noteworthy for the 99-year-old organization, which is historically controlled exclusively by elders in the community. One of the reasons the national organization makes so many decisions that seem out of touch.

What I notice is the Barack effect, a movement of younger, Ivy League educated blacks with a pinch of social justice taking these
seats of influence and power. Whether in public office, private business, or political advocacy it's happening (slowly but surely).

Will it change anything?

From L.A. Times:

Benjamin Todd Jealous, a graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes scholar, will become the youngest leader in the 99-year history of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

"I'm excited to take the helm of the NAACP," he said. "I believe in the urgent need for strong civil rights institutions and strong black institutions in general."

The NAACP's 64-member board, however, was not united in its selection of Jealous. The vote, taken after an arduous eight-hour closed-door meeting that ended close to 3 a.m., came as some members complained that they were being shut out of the selection process.

Jealous received key support from NAACP board Chairman Julian Bond.

Besides his wealth of accomplishments, what caught my eye about Jealous was not his age. It was the fact that he was once a key player in African-American media as the former executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association/ Black Press of America (NNPA). The NNPA is
the largest association of publishers of black-oriented newspapers in the country with over 200-black owned papers under its umbrella.

It will be interesting to see if the NAACP will take a new position on issues from the substantive (felon voting rights) to the silly (burying the N-word) because of Jealous' generation perspective. Highly doubtful considering the organization is still controlled by its board, rank and file memberships and individual chapters.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ga. redneck selling Obama/Curious George t-shirts

Mike Norman, owner of Mulligan’s Bar and Grill in Cobb County, Ga., is selling t-shirts with a picture of Curious George peeling a banana with "Obama ‘08" underneath. So much for post-racial America.

My favorite line:

"We're not living in the (19)40's," he said. "Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears -- he looks just like Curious George."

According to this shit eating redneck, because we're in post-Civil Rights era, it is permissible to use old, ugly racial stereotypes. Get over it darkies!

Go here to read the article.

'Cruising the Divide' @ 8pm today

Today is the first scheduled performance for “Cruising the Divide: From West Broadway to Churchill Downs”, a community-based play by the Apprentice Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

I covered it in LEO here.

Today's performance will be at Actors Theatre as will another on Saturday, May 17, 8:00 pm, which will also be followed by a community dialogue. On Friday, May 16, 5:30 pm, a special performance will be held in the backyard of The Braden Center located on 3208 W. Broadway.

Admission is free but a ticket is required, so call 502-584-1205 or stop by the box office at Third and Main Street. I hope to see you there

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hillary, please stop

From LEO's General Sense of Outrage:

Our friend David Harpe, one of the best photographers we know, has a new site where you can post photos of yourself with a message to Hillary Clinton to give it up.


LEO Elects...

After reporting on the Louisville appearances of both Hilary and Barack, Stephen George nails it with his observation for LEO's cover story.

By the way, LEO endorsed Barack, with a noted dissenting opinion from Sara Havens supporting Hilary.

Am I the only one who cringed at the cover art? Anyway, you should really pick up this week's issue. Especially to learn more about the most important election on May 20th, which is the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate between Bruce Lunsford and Greg Fischer. Yes, it's a big Zzzzzz to most but is a preview to who'll face 'Son of a Mitch' in the general election. Oh, and I covered the 2nd and 6th district Metro Council races too.

From LEO:

Despite the Obama destiny, too many Democrats believe that Clinton still has some path to victory — other than, of course, this one: Enough superdelegates decide to go against the popular vote, the pledged-delegate count and, now, the pledged superdelegates, and nominate her. That is not math. That is a machine. It will reek of the 2000 election, of the politics of George W. Bush, and it will destroy the Democratic Party. - Stephen George

Face it Hilary supporters, the uppity colored boy from Kansas won. Burn your bras, but if your candidate attempts to overthrow or undermine Barack's nomination -- kiss the black and youth vote goodbye. Trust me, this new generation is aware of her Dixiecrat tactics. We'll stay home or vote for Cynthia McKinney.

It's sad really. For a generation black voters and white female voters have been the bedrock of the Democratic Party. I wish these two historic candidacies didn't occur simultaneously. I wish the two most important American social justice movements hadn't gotten into such a public political wreck. In the end, however, someone had to win. Might as well be Barack.

Death of a Hero

I don't usually cover the local murder beat for various reasons. However, the visual presentation of the Timothy Barbour vigil by freelance photgrapher Abdul Sharif was particularly moving. Barbour, 26, a father of three, was shot and killed last Saturday when he intervened to stop a fight on a TARC bus.

The C-J's Jessie Halladay reported yesterday that TARC officials are paying for Barbour's funeral. On Sunday, police arrested a suspect, 22-year-old Apollo Avery on charges of murder, first-degree assault and several counts of wanton endangerment.

From JPG Mag:

What would you do if you were headed home on the bus after a hard day of work and you noticed a man using foul language and becoming physically aggressive towards a group of teenage girls? Would you sit back and do nothing while letting the situation continue? Or would you step up and put a stop to the harassment you see taking place?...

Timothy's actions more than likely saved the life of one if not all of the teenage girls involved in that heated argument. But, unfortunately, his heroic actions led to the end of his own life.

The question from Sharif's photo essay is on the forefront of many minds. The fact that Barbour's heroism was met with a bullet secures and augments for many the Hobbesian feeling of helplessness and lawlessness in pockets of West Louisville. Better to mind your own business, lock your doors, and look the other way. Leave the death and the dying to the police, the media and the activists.

I see it different.

The Barbour shooting further illustrates there's a choice to be made in black communities locked in the forgotten American inner-city. It is not a simple one, but it is there nonetheless. It is a choice Barbour made with his life. His sacrifice is an activism that is priceless. We can let the drugs, the criminals, or 'the Game' consume our neighborhoods or we can fight back. The choice is staring us in the face.

Monday, May 12, 2008

ATL's 'Soulja Girl': "Hip-Hop made me do it"

ATL police are looking for 'Soulja Girl', the young Atlantan who has gained viral video infamy for harassing and threatening an elderly woman. Once they find this crazy bee-yatch, I guarantee her defense will be: "Hip-hop made me do it".

After watching this video, I'm disgusted. Every stereotype of the hip-hop generation -- young, brainless, profane, gaudy -- versus the civil rights generation is on display. Worse than her inexcusable behavior are the dozens of people who sat by and did nothing. As Edmund Burke stated: “The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Sadly, incidents by these type of social terrorists occur more often than not.


She's been found and arrested (thank you white Jesus!).

"According to Sandra Rose, 'Soulja Girl's' family called into a local Atlanta radio station V-103 to let everyone know that “Soulja Girl” is a good woman but is unfortunately suffering from bipolar disorder and has not been taking her meds."

Break out the violins. She's bipolar, so what!?! Let that be your grandmother she was going off on. By having medication and not taking it she's responsible.

Ready, Set, Obama

Barack's in Louisville today, which means downtown Louisville will be a cluster &$#% from 3pm til 8pm. Sorry Obamaniacs, he'll probably lose the Bluegrass to Hilary. Politically KY is old, white and uneducated --- her base!

Though he's already got two Bluegrass superdelegates (Rep. John Yarmuth and Rep. Ben Chandler), Hilary's got three. KY Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo endorsed Barack over the weekend, but sorry again Obamaniacs, Mongiardo is not a superdelegate. That would be our commander-in-hick, Gov. Steve Beshear, who is keeping up the Kentucky tradition of staying neutral.

Anyway, this essay on B. Hussein Obama in Esquire by Charles P. Pierce is a must read. My favorite line thus far: The war in Iraq is the powerful bastard child of the Iran-Contra scandal, which went unpunished. Zing!

Pierce writes with such clarity and wit and cynicism, this is why I write. The essay looks at Barack's entry into the American public scene as the so-called hope-monger and the context of the crumbling American empire. I'd say it is one of the best pieces on Barack thus far.

From Esquire:

“Yet, even as we speak,” Obama said, “there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spinmasters and the negative-ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there’s the United States of America.”

(A month later, at the Republican convention, the cynic saw fat little delegates and their fat little wives wearing Purple Heart Band-Aids to mock John Kerry’s war wounds. He saw the Swift Boat ads. The country bought it. The country moved on.)

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America, there’s the United States of America.”

(Three months later, the cynic watched black voters be systematically disenfranchised in key precincts all over the country. There was no anger. There were no demonstrations. There was no great rising in defense of a fundamental right. There was, instead, nothing. The country bought it. The country moved on.)

“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states: red states for Republicans and blue states for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. We are all of us one people, all of us defending the United States of America.”

(Over the next several months, the cynic watched as the Republicans masterfully used the threat of gay people getting married to gin up turnout where they needed it the most. It was a creepy, shabby election that wasn’t about anything that was really happening in the country. The country bought it. The country moved on.)

Urban decay in West Louisville

Since the city-county merger of 2003, Louisville has been eager to join the fraternity of medium sized American cities. Key to that has been the redevelopment of vital downtown locations. Creating Waterfront Park and 4th Street Live!, demolishing the Clarksdale housing projects being demolished to create Liberty Green, has all been a movement to attract suburbanites and urban professionals back into the heart of the city.

The new Louisville we're trying to become is a city incomplete, still under construction. But one where there's an ongoing debate about what to do with I-64 and a future downtown stadium. And let's not forget the 'Possibility City' campaign.

There's another story, however. It's a part of the Louisville-Jefferson County merger either forgotten by city fathers and mothers or something that was never included in the original plan.

And freelance photographer Abdul Sharif, is committed to telling that side of the story.

"For many people, the scenes of boarded up houses and vacant graffiti ridden businesses in the West End have become a norm," Sharif said in an interview with The SOULution. "I believe that when something so detrimental starts to become so normal, people start to become desensitized to it." Introduced to photography by his 9th grade Spanish teacher when he attended Shawnee High School, Sharif believes accentuating the problem of decay with visual documents will re-awaken the entire city to what some of Louisville’s urban areas truly look like.

"I only hope that my photos can bring about awareness to some of the social, and economic issues that are facing certain urban areas in the city of Louisville."

Sharif's photo essay @ JPG Magazine:

These photos represent a community in need. A community that is headed on a downward spiral. True, not all homes in West Louisville are boarded-up. But to ignore the areas of West Louisville that are decaying, would be like a teacher turning his back on one of his student that cannot read because he or she has nine other students that can.

Check out Abdul Sharif's work here, here and here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hillary's white appeal

The black blogosphere is livid about Hilary Clinton's USA Today interview.

Even though Barack is leading in pledged delegates, popular votes, states won and -- according to ABC News -- superdelegates, his appeal isn't broad enough.

"Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me." - Sen. Hilary Clinton

As dnA from Jack&JillPolitics said, I guess the rest of us are sitting on the porch eating watermelon and plucking banjos.

Hilary's latest yardstick is no subtle dog whistle like her husbands, "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina" comment. This is a giant race-baiting bullhorn. Mike Barnicle got it right, Race Is All The Clintons Have Left.

From The Huffington Post:

Now, faced with a mathematical mountain climb that even Stephen Hawking could not ascend, the Clintons -- and it is indeed both of them -- are just about to paste a bumper sticker on the rear of the collapsing vehicle that carries her campaign. It reads: VOTE WHITE.
I'm not surprised. The history of the Black Freedom Struggle is never aligned permanently with any political party no matter how long voting trends last. Democrats return to their Dixiecrat roots when it fits their electoral needs. Here's the problem, Sen. Clinton (supporters).

From Steve M:

According to CNN's 1996 exit poll, Bill Clinton lost the white vote (Dole 46%, Clinton 43%, Perot 9%). He lost the white male vote by an even larger margin (Dole 49%, Clinton 38%, Perot 11%). And he lost gun owners badly (Dole 51%, Clinton 38%, Perot 10%). However, Clinton won the popular vote overall

In 2000 -- when Al Gore won the popular vote by half a million votes -- he lost white males to Bush by a whopping 60%-36%, according to CNN's exit poll. He lost men overall 53%-42%. He lost whites overall 54%-42%.

For the past forty years it has been common knowledge in American politics that Democrats cannot win the presidency without the black vote. Hilary's numbers have been Reaganesque. She's alienated that vote further. For a new generation of black voters with no agenda ties to the Democratic Party or the Clinton years, this is damning.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What Use is a Black President?

Though Barack Obama's electoral support among black voters is cosseted between 85-90%, legitimate criticisms of him in the black public sphere is more common than one might think.

These opinions are muted for a variety of reasons. The avalanche of Obamania among black supporters -- which I participate in at times -- is a leading cause. It may have buried Tavis Smiley. Being the single greatest "positive" black male role model in U.S. history has been the black bourgeoisie's dream on how to crash the political glass ceiling. Watching Barack Obama can warm the heart of even the most racially paranoid black cynic.

Still, we rarely if ever hear critiques of Barack mainly because of the limited space afforded to only a handful of black thinkers. With fewer participants being solicited outside the usual punditry, views become easily sliced. If you criticize Barack, you must either support Hillary Clinton, John McCain or be a Barack hater. Those offering meaningful observations about the pitfalls of an Obama Presidency are generally unknown to the public.

One of my favorite Obama critics is political scientist Michael C. Dawson, author of the integral book, Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary Political Ideologies. Dawson has written several stinging pieces on Barack and the black vote (see: He's Black and We're Proud), but his most recent article for The Root, End Games: How he black pawns got pushed off the board, should raise as many questions as it does eyebrows.

From The Root:

"Sen. Obama is playing his own brand of risky politics. As he works to maintain white support, he is forgetting his black base. Just a week ago he urged voters to "respect" a New York judge's racist verdict allowing the police killers of Sean Bell to walk. His message was not unlike Booker T. Washington's admonishment to black Atlantans a century ago to respect the law in the face of a deadly pogrom. Black rights were sacrificed in the name of electoral expediency. And Obama is resorting to the same expediency now...

Obama did not find it necessary to condemn a justice system that ­still
does not punish agents of the state who kill black men and women whose only crime is being black. (In Chicago we have had black women shot down in the same manner as Sean Bell.) I will not respect a verdict that once again demonstrates, all too clearly, the continued lack of full citizenship rights for black people in this country.

Like Booker T. Washington a century earlier, Obama chose to emphasize the need to be "calm" over expressing outrage at yet another deadly taking of black life. He, too, has taken the electorally "safe" road."

I've defended Barack when he's faced this type of criticism. No, I don't posit he's a radical in hiding (i.e. The Spook Who Sat by the Door). I recognize he's running for U.S. President, not Black Panther Party Chairman. We want him to deliver some militant quote because so much of black politics and leadership is based upon crucifying someone on a cross of rhetorical martyrdom. Whomever plays the dozens with white America the best is awarded with fond memories, usually posthumously.

Think about all the people who cheered Malcolm X during his auditorium speeches but never joined or volunteered to help his group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). As The Last Poets rhymed, "they loved to hear Malcolm rap but they didn't love Malcolm."

It is paramount that Barack is pushed on urban policy issues more forcefully by black voters and scholars. Constituencies are obligated to do more than simply vote in the 90 percentile for a candidate, believing his or her office seat will equal liberation.

A review of the rise of black mayors showed us the pitfalls of relying on politicians to single-handedly fix collective, systemic, and behavioral problems. After hurricane Katrina, Jerry G. Watts wrote an open letter, "What Use Are Black Mayors?" that highlighted those false hopes.

From The Black Commentator:

"First and foremost, we need to bring under scrutiny all of those analytical paradigms that presume that blacks (always imagined as a collective horde) collectively gain political inclusion or incorporation when black elites enter the ranks of a city’s governing elite...

Part of the problem is that too many black political scientists continue to treat black elected officials as if they are part of an insurgent political formation. This is nonsense. Regardless of their rhetoric, black elected officials are, in varying degrees, part of the political establishment."

This is not about hating on Barack. It is about raising awareness to the importance of maneuvering pieces in the chess game known as American politics. I'm supporting Barack because he's a valuable piece on the board. No piece is worth losing the whole game. And as Dawson suggests, "The criticism of Senator Obama must continue when he takes positions that are detrimental to progressive causes and the black community."

Either play or get played.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Video of Philly police beatings

Message: Philly PD ain't nothing to %@#$ with. Though fifteen officers have been taken off the street as a result of the videotape, this is unsettling to say the least.

From CNN:

An internal investigation is under way into the videotaped beatings of three men by several Philadelphia police officers, according to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

The video, shot by WTXF-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shows at least a dozen police officers pulling the men -- who were suspected to have been involved in a shooting -- out of a car after a vehicle chase Monday night.

At least eight officers are seen either kicking, punching or striking the suspects with batons while the men lie restrained on the ground.

The atmosphere in Philadelphia is a perfect storm for this type of brutality. The murder rate and brazen criminal activity puts citizens on pins and needles. As a result we often support an unchecked police force. Add to that a slain police officer, Sgt. Stephen Liczbinsk, was shot and killed last weekend.

Dumbing it down in L'Stylz Magazine

When L'Stylz Magazine publisher Chekata Tinsley and its editor-in-chief, Afrykah WubSauda, approached me about writing a column for their hair magazine, I hesitated.

If you haven't noticed, I'm not the most commercial friendly writer in town.

Tinsley and WubSauda, however, are anything but shallow merchants. Their partnership at L'Stylz has combined Tinsley's entrepreneurship with WubSauda's activism to create one of Louisville's most promising publications.

Flip past the glitter and you'll find a quarterly magazine that has a tidy layout, crisp photography and burgeoning features on African-American topics. Sure there are a few hackneyed editorials, but overall it's a breath of fresh air in the smog of African-American journalism in Louisville.

It already rivals The Louisville Defender, which has tumbled clumsily from a once proud newspaper to a clerical photo gallery.

Besides Dr. Ricky L. Jones' monthly LEO column, Betty Baye's weekly C-J column, and Javacia Harris' blogs at Velocity, there are few options for readers seeking black folk in print. Even less who own and operate their own publication.

Anyway, I decided there's always a need -- even if just to be obnoxious -- to invade pop culture forums. So for their Derby issue L'Stylz collaborated with the conductor of the ol' SOULution to unleash the "Dumb it Down" column.

Excerpts below:

"...dumb it down.

We hear it so often that it has become social gospel. It's a position that believes nuanced conversation, opaque ideas, and complex words are beyond comprehension for the masses. As a writer I've encountered several editors from various sorts of publications who insist readers shrink from thorny words.

Therefore, writers must boil all prose down to a linguistic penury that befits kindergarteners. Others advocate this position thinking you're afraid, and for the sake of sparing your ego the embarrassing task of learning something new in your journey from womb to tomb, we shall dumb it down.

Both positions, I believe, are the true measure of an elitist. One insists you are too stupid to learn, the other posits you are a coward. Here are the scholarly morsels, dumbass..."

Of course I addressed hip-hop:

"...I find it troubling that hip-hop has partnered with anti-intellectualism when there's richness in the pulpits of many influential bases of the culture. Among many enthusiasts, the willingness to trade lyrical excellence and content for monetary reward is shameful.

As Jay-Z rhymed in "Moment of Clarity", so succinctly, "I dumb down for my audience, and double my dollars."

At the grassroots level many hip-hop representatives eclipse their more enlightened backgrounds to present audiences with a crasser version. In my hometown of Louisville, KY, for example, DJ E-Feezy (Eric Sanders), who deejays the most popular hip-hop show on WGZB-B96.5, from 7 p.m. to midnight five nights a week, has an unfettered pulpit of influence. Yet one night while discussing the presidential campaign Sanders said, "I don't like to talk politics on my show."

That's odd, considering Sanders graduated from college with an undergraduate political science degree. It was good enough to study Plato, Rousseau, Locke and Mann, for four years but forbidden to disclose to a mass audience. Maybe it won't sell, but to say hip-hop audiences can't understand complexity is contrary to hip-the work of its iconic figures and founders, who increased the English language's ability to deliver political, cultural and social messages cryptically. If anyone has ever listened to a Wu-Tang record, can they honestly argue the hip-hop audience was bred upon simplified lyrics and ideas?"

To order a copy, contact L'Stylz here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Does Eight Belles matter more than Kenneth Chandler?

I'm sorry, I care more about a human than a horse.

From MSNBC via WLKY-32:

"[Louisville] Metro Police are investigating a fatal accident involving an off-duty officer and a man on a bicycle.

The collision happened around 5:15 a.m. Sunday in the 4400 block of Dixie Highway. Police said the 3rd Division officer hit and killed a bicyclist. The coroner said Kenneth Chandler, 56, died of multiple blunt force injuries. Authorities said there were no witnesses to the crash."

I understand why the national media paid more attention to the tragic death of filly Eight Belles. It was an on-track death at the KY Derby. It was a sorrowful ending to an otherwise promising narrative for Derby '08.

However, local coverage of Eight Belles eclipsed the death of Kenneth Chandler, who was killed after being hit by an off-duty LMPD officer.

My tipping point on the matter was when the C-J produced an awkward video montage for the horse that was rightfully ridiculed by Stephen George over at LEO.

From LEO's General Sense of Outrage:

"...the folks over at Sixth and Broadway had to go and cheapen the damn thing by creating a video montage of Eight Belles working out, complete with sentimental piano music, awkward cuts to slow motion and closeups of things like the horse's name tag."
Seriously, does Eight Belles matter more than Kenneth Chandler? This is what David Simon was crucifying with his critique of the media in the 5th season of The Wire.

This is embarrassing

Wars of Scarcity

With gas and food prices rising, not to mention other environmental concerns with our planet in peril, it may be important to note that U.S. military planners and other world powers such as China and Russia are outlining scenarios of wars driven not by ideology or politics, but by the fight for scarce resources.

Is the return of the tribal age looming?

Perhaps not, but global trends do indicate that sooner or later the natural resources human beings have used to build modern society will evaporate. They were never infinite. Today is the time to be an alarmist and force world leaders to develop an energy policy that is environmentally sound and socially efficient.

From The Nation:

"At a time when world supplies of oil, natural gas, uranium and key industrial minerals like copper and cobalt are beginning to shrink and the demand for them is exploding, the major industrial powers are becoming more desperate in their drive to gain control over what remains of the planet's untapped reserves [for more evidence of major shortages in fossil fuels, see Klare, "Beyond the Age of Petroleum," November 12, 2007, and Mark Hertsgaard, "Running on Empty," May 12].

These efforts typically entail intense bidding wars for supplies on international markets--hence the record high prices for all these commodities. But they also take military form, as arms transfers and the deployment of overseas missions and bases. It is to bolster America's advantage--and to counter similar moves by China and other resource competitors--that the Pentagon has placed resource competition at the center of its strategic planning."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Oh, Kwame!

We've left the laugh out loud text message scandal that wrapped Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in controversy alone for awhile. It was getting sort of old. I mean how many text message jokes can one blog tell.

Today, however, a Wayne County circuit court judge released more embarassing text messages between Kilpatrick and his former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty:

"LOL! N----, I already claimed it! KCK 2012. You told me that you would be my boyfriend everyday until I was your wife. Are you renigging?"

"Hell no! Don't start none. Won't be none n---ette! LOL"

This has brought a renewed chorus of calls for Kilpatrick to resign, most notably from former Detroit mayoral candidate Freman Hendrix:

"At some point you really have to put the welfare of the city, of the taxpayers, of the people who live here first, and I think if he's honest about doing that, I don't think there's any other conclusion he can come to than to step aside."
This does have implications on the presidential campaign. Detroit is a mayor voting bloc in Michigan and some Democrats are openly questioning Kilpatrick's ability to get out the vote.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The real Afri-Am connection to the KY Derby

Jimmy Winkfield atop Alan-A-Dale in the 1902 KY Derby victory

On Derby Eve, like everything else in America, we've forgotten the African-American origins of this 130 plus year racing tradition. Blame it on decades of racial discrimination that eventually excluded blacks from a sport in which they were commonplace. Call it a lazy reading of history by us all. For whatever reason, black folks have seemingly relinquished what goes on at Churchill Downs as a de facto "whites only" affair.

Not so!

Visit the KY Derby website here to learn more. Or read 'The Great Black Jockeys' by Edward Hotaling. Or order the KET episode, 'Black Jockeys: A Forgotten Legacy'.

My rant from LEO's "Run From the Roses: The Perfect Derby Issue":

"Being a child of the 1980s, born and raised in West Louisville, you might expect that my sole memories of the Kentucky Derby come from cruising on Broadway. And it’s true; I can’t recall anything noteworthy about the Chow Wagon or Churchill Downs.

Sadly, cruising — that now-defunct accumulation of spruced-up cars, family oriented vendors and wandering pedestrians that once filled Broadway — has voided an entire generation’s historical viewpoint of the Kentucky Derby’s relationship to African-Americans. Before black jockeys became a symbol of dehumanizing minstrelsy for the front lawn of many sophisticated rednecks, they were the premiere athletes of the late 19th century.

Shamefully, Oliver Lewis, who rode Aristides to victory in the inaugural Derby in 1875, is all but forgotten. Fewer still know about the 15-year-old phenomenon Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, who rode Azra to victory in 1892 — the youngest jockey to win a Kentucky Derby. If you’re lucky, Isaac Murphy, the greatest jockey of all time, who won three straight Derbys, makes the pop culture lexicon. Give credit to historians and the Kentucky Derby Museum for keeping them alive for posterity.

Fast forward more than 100 years.

Most of my peers’ anecdotes about this annual equine sprint are anchored to the good, bad and ugly happenings of cruising years past. Broadway is our Derby history archive.

Today, Lonnie Clayton is a 13-year-old kid dancing suggestively with a woman twice his age atop a car, her clothing suggesting she is an exotic dancer. His Aristides is a lime green candy-painted Impala.

I’m not particularly upset that cruising was aborted. Frankly, the arguments against it were better than the ones for keeping it. What I am bitter about is unimaginative city leaders and pigheaded hip-hoppers who have zero understanding of how the Kentucky Derby is related to the African-American community. That history is deep, rich and worth more than the embarrassing image of West Broadway abandoned on days designed to overflow the city with people."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rising Down & Up with The Roots

One of the reasons I can never fully divorce my eardrums from hip-hop are the boys from Philly, The Legendary Roots Crew. With their tenth album, Rising Down, dropping on April 29th, The Roots may not be a commercial success but have established a career of longevity based on artistic principle.

After a handful of purchases, The Roots have provided my 2008 soundtrack with an aesthetic anchor to the lyrical weaponry of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool and experimental talents in Gnarl Barkley's The Odd Couple.

Yes, there's a lot of horrible debris to criticize out there but if you keep your ear to the ground, you can hear hip-hop's faint pulse still beating. Let's applaud the heroes.

From Rolling Stone:

"On its tenth album, the Philadelphia crew explores dark territory. "Criminal," which includes verses from Saigon and Philly newcomer Truck North, takes on police brutality; "Singing Man" is about Middle East terrorism and the Virginia Tech shooting.

Drummer and bandleader Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson says the album, which also features Mos Def, Common and Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, was inspired by watching lots of CNN on the road. "It's not a party in 2008," he says."
My favorite track thus far, 'Get Busy' f. Dice Raw & Peedi Peedi:

I'm kinda like W.E.B Du Bois/
Meets Heavy D & The Boys/