1Hood Media to teach music artistry and media literacy in Shuman Detention Center through new partnership.
A local view from inside the activist movement.
Today is my last day as CEO of 1Hood Media. I’ve been CEO since 2013. I, for better or worse, live, breathe and feel 1Hood on a level that one might consider as obsessive. Because, to me, this work is just that important. For if we are not overly concerned with what we are seeing take place in the world, in our lives, and in these streets...we are dead. So yeah, it’s that real to me. Our work is important.
I've always been a very casual fan of the NFL. I live in Chicago and was born in 1984, so I can't even recall when the Bears went all the way and for the entirety of my consciouslife have seen all my family and friends be disappointed year after year by a very sub-par football team. So I don't have a whole lot of skin in the game, but I do enjoy the competition, the fantasy football stat chasing, and getting together with friends on Super Bowl Sunday that I don't get to kick it with that often due to us having wives, kids, and no longer living in the same neighborhood.
That being said, I will next say that now is as good a time than ever to boycott the NFL. By that, I mean not tuning in to games and contributing to it's ratings. Its been made very clear to those who've been paying attention to current NFL events, that the league is a morally bankrupt organization.
Colin Kaepernick, who brought about so many white tears due to his kneeling protest during the national anthem ceremony to make a statement about unarmed black men being killed by the police with no recourse, still doesn't have a job suspiciously the season after he began his protest. So many associated with the NFL...players, ex-players, coaches, commentators...have had so much to say about the alleged disrespect Kaepernick is showing with his non-violent protest, but say nothing about the issue itself he's protesting. Its nothing but selective obtuseness. In other words, people see what they wanna see. Now it's pretty obvious he's been unofficially black balled in the league which explains why he's still a free agent but chain smoking sacks of overrated crap like Jay Cutler have just signed $10 million contracts.
The NFL is 70% African American and is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Not one NFL team owner is black so to a person like me, the optics are very bad. You can make tons of money off black men and black athleticism, but the second one of those black men stand up and use his constitutional right to speak on a black issue, you all of a sudden have no use for him. He immediately becomes disposable and "not worth the distraction". Distraction??!! As if the issue of sanctioned murder by the police is tantamount to a housefly buzzing around your head at a picnic...How bout we as a country fix the problem so there won't be a reason for players to have to speak up and cause a distraction as they put it??!!?
And in this racially charged climate, ESPN saw it appropriate to air a segment featuring an NFL "auction" to amp up excitement for the upcoming season with the clear support fans of the NFL, the same NFL mainly comprised of black men. When I heard about this, I thought "Maybe everyone's overreacting? Maybe they're unfamiliar with how pro sports drafts are set up?" But then I saw the actual clip with an all white sea of "buyers" putting up what can only be seen as monetary bids on black players in a scene that was eerily similar to the scene from the black body-snatching thriller Get Out. And at the very least it seems eerily similar to a slave auction. Peep it:
Meanwhile, NFL players who cheat, drink and drive, use drugs, murder (allegedly), obstruct justice, and beat women are just fine and have all the job security in the world?! I think now is a more appropriate time than ever for us who care about these issues to stop supporting a league where black lives don't matter, only black dollars.
But there is a glimmer of hope. More and more players have joined in the kneeling protests, most notably Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch. Even one white player has recently joined in with kneeling with his black teammates due to, I assume, seeing the bigger issue at hand here. So who knows? Maybe one day the NFL will get it. Maybe one day, they be as progressive of a league as the NBA where coaches, owners, entire teams, stars, heck, even the league commissioner have taken a visible, unmistakable stand on black social issues and social issues period. Until then, maybe we need to start putting our money our mouths are.
Dear, White people, please stop misquoting, misinterpreting, misdirecting, and plain old twisting the quotes of the late, great Martin Luther King Jr. to criticize black people fighting for social justice who they don't agree with, or who make them as white people benefiting from white supremacy, feel uncomfortable.
Whenever the social climate of America gets tense, volatile, or violent due to oppressed people reacting to the many injustices of their oppressors, whenever an event happens that leaves no question as to what's been happening in America for hundreds of years (the black minority suffering at the hands of the privileged white majority) and verifies what we as black Americans have been decrying forever, whenever conservatives get backed into an ideological corner and can no longer use narrow minded rhetoric that has no application in the real world, they almost always, without fail, attempt to invoke the spirit of our fallen Civil Rights leader.
It's like there saying "Well I know you may not agree with me, darkie, but your dearly departed King of the Negroes would!" Why would he?! How can you speak for a dead man? None of us can truly say what Martin Luther King would be doing or saying or who he would be agreeing with or not agreeing with if he was alive in today's social climate. I'm pretty sure not even black people can say, and I'm almost certain white people can't say. It's like they pull out that trump card whenever things get rough to say "Why can't you be like this guy was?" because they know MLK was the MJ of the Civil Rights movement. So they know it's hard to argue with values system of a martyred man, but...it's even harder to say for certain what that man would be saying if he was alive!
Just take a look at this clip where a white conservative attempts to bring up MLK in a discussion about football players (non-violenty, mind you!) protesting social injustice by sitting during the national anthem:
I don't know why they go for MLK so much, but I could hazard a guess. It could be because he is the only Civil Rights leader they know by name. Which is sad. But the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement were the result of a cumulative effort. There were countless names and faces that made ish happen in the streets, in the courts, and at local and federal levels of government. MLK was just the most prominent and visible figure from that time. So when white folks invoke his name, I ask myself, "how many other great black Americans and Civil Rights leaders can they name?" It feels similar to the same lame"I'm not racist, I got one black friend!" argument (and then that one black friend turns out to be an ex-cult member). But tokenism is not proof of acceptance or celebration of diversity. My other guess as to why they love (or appear to love when it's convenient) the message of MLK is because non-violence was his signature mantra. It's like they're hoping and thinking "if more black folks were like him and non-violent, the safer we are!" And what makes me personally annoyed is that this call for non-violence is often in response to black people becoming more vocal about the violence perpetrated against us! White supremacy was established through violence and is sustained often times through violence, but when we stand up and say that "That ain't right!" every "well meaning white person" wants to point to a sound bite of one man and say "See, he got it, non-violence is the answer guys!" but will say nothing about unarmed black men being shot to death on the regular by cops. What they say "can't you be non-violent?" what they really mean is "can't you be passive?".
I personally think the real reason they quote our fallen leader and pretend to hold him in such esteem is quite simple: A dead man is no threat. He cannot at this time topple the system of white supremacy that white folks benefit from even if they did not create it. That is why they act like MLK scholars when race relations get hairy, but at the same time brush off, criticize, and try to discredit Al Sharpton, Farrakhan, Obama, Colin Kaepernick, Van Jones, Shaun King, George Soros, Cornell West, Angela Rye, Jesse Williams, Maxine Waters, Michael Eric Dyson, Michelle Alexander, Marc Lamont Hill, Rosa Clemente, Johnetta Elzie, Deray McKesson, Bree Newsome, Ava Duvernay and whoever else I'm forgetting. These are people who are currently fighting the good fight who may often get labeled by White America as "race-baiters", "social hustlers", "whiners" and "anti-American". Father Time and the Grim Reaper have not silenced their voices yet, so they'll be marginalized and demeaned as much as possible by bigots and those who benefit from white supremacy until that happens. And lets not forget when MLK was alive and active, he wasn't exactly very popular among white America. The majority of white Americans polled at that time found his non-violent movement and way "disruptive" and thought he "hurt the Negro cause." Imagine that!!!
There's a song by the legendary hip hop group Digital Underground called "Heartbeat Props" were they excellently explain the reasons we should give just as much support to our living black leaders as we do our dead ones. I suggest you Google it out and check it out. And please share with any white folks who can only name one Civil Rights leader.
And I'll leave you with a quote appropriate for the times.
Again. And again. And yes, it's going to happen again, as long as people want to continue to turn a blind eye to this monster's established modus operandi. I mean, didn't I just write on this last month? People from Chicago can tell you about R-uh's predilection for hanging around Kenwood high school to prey on young girls easily dazzled by his fame, money and promises. Most folks can tell you how his creepy ass secretly married Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was twenty-Old-As-Fuck-seven, though the marriage was later annulled due to its illegality. Everyone can tell you about him raping and peeing on underage girls on video. These are facts that no one, besides R. Kelly and his lawyers, even bothers to dispute. Yet somehow, plenty of these same people try to reason that "You Remind Me of My Jeep" is so awesome we need to separate the art from the artist, or twist themselves into pretzels to argue that it's a young girl's fault when she falls prey to a rich older man who, at this point, can surely list a master's degree in manipulation of youth on his C.V. In the latest iteration of this story, where a young woman known to be a Kelly Superfan is breaking her nondisclosure agreement and putting herself at legal risk to talk about how she first had sex with Kelly at the age of 15, the first comment under the article said something to the effect of "I guess the money wasn't enough."
There is something so soul destroying about watching this happen again and again. Women, Black women--vilifying their sisters in defense of the indefensible. And once again, keyboard warriors are rightfully up in arms about the dozens of black and brown girls that have gone missing in cities across the U.S., but when we have a documented predator targeting our girls for literally decades, all some of y'all can do is talk about his music? Y'all really want to cape for this? For this? For fuck's sake, -- the man actually calls himself the goddamn Pied Piper of R&B! How fucking loaded is it that a man known for going after underage girls gave himself a name that purposefully evokes a fable about a man guilty of luring a town full of young children for his own purposes.
Then on the flip side you have the most nauseating of his defenders, the ones who immediately victim blame, placing the onus for this man's longstanding and documented predilection for young girls on the girls themselves. These are the ones that searched out and watched every frame of that sexual assault video -- no, it's not a "sex tape," it's a fucking rape on film -- their eyes pouring over every inch of the girl's frame so that they could decide that she was "too developed" to be underage, or that the things she was doing somehow proved her lack of innocence. This isn't a man that routinely uses his wealth, fame and the skills he has honed in decades spent manipulating young minds to his own ends, this is all the fault of a "fast" girl. After all, these things never happen to "good girls."
Another novel defense is the one that says that the girls should "know better." What's interesting about this, is that these folks tacitly admit that there is something to know about him, something to beware... but then somehow twists that into an indictment of the victims. Dafuq? Now, I agree that we should all know better by this time when it comes to R. Kelly, and I wish we did. I would love it if the younger generation thought that "R" stood for Rapist. But with the older generation still venerating this pervert and throwing out all manner of excuses for his actions, how can we expect our girls to know what's up? How can we expect them to "know better" when we don't expect him to do better? And how exactly does "knowing better" serve to excuse the rapist for raping?
I literally said this before, in my previous post on Kelly, and I'll keep on saying it until it's no longer true: "Women in general are not being protected from predatory men. Black girls in particular are not just being sacrificed, but when they try to speak out, they are then blamed for being victims. When we do this, we are adopting as our own the White supremacist myth that Black women are rabidly sexual creatures that lure men by their female wiles and animalistic natures. No. We must do better by our girls. But how can we do this if we can't even turn the dial when R. Kelly comes on?"
Recently Adult Swim comedian Eric Andre came out with a series of tweets that criticized hip-hop for openly embracing and promoting rap artists Kodak Black and XXXtentacion. Just so we're clear on what he said, here's what he said:
i was just looking at World Star Hip Hop on my IG and they’re always promoting XXX and Kodak Black. and i got upset.
i was also mad at myself for promoting XXXTentacion’s music the other day. my friend was like, “that dude beats up pregnant women” :(
1 out of 3 women are beat, raped, or murdered in their lifetime. that’s 1 billion women. Shits got to stop. No more apathy or indifference.
racism, sexism, homophobia - it's all bigotry. it is all part of the same systemic evil that keeps people subservient and disenfranchised.
Alot of supporters of said rappers on the Twittersphere have come out against Eric Andre with the same predictable defenses of their adored idols- in so many words: "She lied to get all his money!" and "They couldn't prove it court!" and "Innocent til' proven guilty, bruh!" And let's not forget the standard "Stick to comedy, bruh" which Eric Andre pointed out himself is just code for "Stick to apathy." and don't criticize anyone in our community.
But I for one believe we should demand some sorts of standards and accountability from our more visible hip-hop artists. There's nothing wrong with that. We don't have to celebrate negativity, violence, and misogyny. And I don't want to hear that "It's all just entertainment." cop-out. He singled these particular artists for a reason. That reason being their criminal records or alleged acts seem to be some pretty reprehensible stuff. They don't appear to be just talking the talk, they're actually walking the walk.
Another reason I agree with his criticisms is because if we don't question, challenge, and police our own culture and those who represent it, then those who are outsiders to our culture will begin to do so and often through a misinformed, uninformed, and biased prism. A lot of the current hip-hop audience (especially those who are fans of Kodak Black & XXXtentacion) are probably not old enough to remember when Fox News' Bill O'Reilly went on a crusade against rappers Nas and Ludacris (even causing Luda to get endorsements pulled from him) for their "vile, obscence" lyrics when in their personal lives, they were clearly normal, law-abiding citizens. And maybe they don't remember the days of C. Delores Tucker, VP Dan Quayle, Senator Bob Dole, and countless other high profile white folks who tried their best to put an end to "gangster rap" by taking the lyrics of songs totally out context to prove rap was responsible for cop-killing and every social ill of the inner-city in the early 90s.
So if they weren't around for days, maybe they don't understand the need for those within hip-hop culture to hold certain ones' feet to the fire for committing heinous acts in real life. It's like when we want Republicans and conservatives to denounce people who are racists and white supremacists and claim to be under that Republican/conservative umbrella. We should likewise denounce, or at the very least criticize those who are members of the hip hop community who seem to embody all those negative things (specifically misogyny & violence) that hip-hop's critics claim is synonymous with hip-hop music and culture itself.
Its waaay better for someone like Eric Andre (who's clearly a fan of hip-hop) to come out with these criticisms than some out-of-touch, but dangerously influential Trump disciples to come out against certain rappers. Because when that happens, the focus goes from a few bad apples to hip-hop as a whole genre because bigots and xenophobes don't have the capacity to distinguish between the good examples and bad examples and will paint all rap with same brush. And when that happens, record company execs and sponsors who pay artists for promotion will get shook from the political pressure and pull support from artists. When comedians, young black actors, or even other rappers criticize the culture, it's from an honest desire to want to see the culture reach it's potential and not go backwards or destroy itself. And it sparks discussions like these where we ask ourselves "Why aren't we giving more of a listening ear to rappers who are socially conscious in their content and personal lives??!"
We live in bizarre times where the media can villainize pretty much anyone. A movement started to stop police killing unarmed black people has been equated to the Ku Klux Klan. And I would hate to see hip-hop be made into the boogieman. Again.
Minor spoilers ahead...
So the other day, I was able indulge in the rare treat of catching a movie. By myself. In the morning. When the theater first opens. Which is the best time to catch a movie if you haven't tried go at this time. I decided on seeing Detroit, a movie that caught my attention when I first saw the trailer about 6 months ago. My wife and none of my friends wanted to see this movie due to being squirmy, sensitive types who were put off by the film's reputation for containing what is being labeled as torture porn. And while I do understand not wanting to view black people being beaten, abused, & psychologically tortured at the hands of white people, it is a story I felt needed to be told.
This is not a movie review exactly. I cannot break down a film's strengths and weaknesses the way a true film critic could, but I can tell you that I thought this was an exceptionally excellent movie. The atmosphere feels palpable and transports you back in time to the world where the story takes place, and you're emotionally invested in all three acts that the movie is broken down in. You care about the characters. Nothing feels forced or crow-barred in just to shock the audience. The overall storytelling was well crafted and the acting was on point!!!
But one thing kind of bothered me, and this is no reflection on the quality of Detroit as a movie. What bothered me was that while viewing this racially charged story and all the injustice surrounding it and after it, there were times I forgot what I was watching actually took place in the 60s. 1967 to be exact. The events in Detroit felt so current despite going down 50 years ago, reinforcing in my mind just how little has changed since then. I'm not saying to short change the achievements and progress that we as African Americans have made, I'm saying that in reference to deeply entrenched ideologies and practices that keep white supremacy alive.
Every few minutes in the film, there was something being said or done that frankly just happened in the current news cycle. Black communities were being policed by a predominately white police force. Black men were shot in the back by police despite posing no threat to law enforcement. The shooting of black men in the back was either ignored or justified. White policeman told themselves and their partners that they had nothing against black people right before calling them 'niggers' and physically brutalizing them to the point that they never would a member of their own community. White officers got butt hurt over the mere appearance of white women dating/sleeping with young, black men (much like the racists who vent over interracial scenes in the comments section on YouPorn- or so I've been told). White police officers made up and corroborated stories with their co-workers to explain away dead, black bodies. Evidence was planted (much like we recently saw from the body cam footage from the police officers in Baltimore). White officers were acquitted of murder charges by an all-white jury of their peers. Dead and brutalized victims were discredited and demeaned because of their own alleged criminal pasts despite the fact they weren't the ones on trial (much like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Alton Sterling). One black character identified himself as a veteran and was accused of outright lying about it (much like the black veteran last year who was denied a free meal from Chili's because some white man didn't want to believe he served and was wearing a stolen military hat in an effort to get a free meal). And even on a lighter note, black people back then floated theories about how the government killed certain black musicians because they "knew too much" and blamed it on drug overdoses (much like black people today put out theories on any deceased or shamed black celebrity who "was about to buy NBC" or was talking crap publicly about the Illuminati).
It just puzzles me how movies like Detroit get the "hard to watch" label when everything in it is based on realities that are still in effect today. We live in a world where people will make the argument to keep up statues of seditionist, racist, murderous Confederate soldiers and generals in an effort to "learn from our history" (pick up a history book, jackasses!!) when clearly American society has learned nothing at all from its past and continues to keep up the status quo of white supremacy and defend the legal, sanctioned murders of black people.
I guess that's why they have to be told "black lives matter".