Hip-Hop's Gender Problem

I read the above article in last week's edition of Black Commentator and I could not agree more the author. How did we get to the point where an African culture could show as much disrespect to our women as Americans do? Taking as a given that not all African cultures are alike and that many African cultures have their own issues with proper treatment of women, is there anyone over the age of 25 who does not look at some of these videos and think, "I was raised to treat women with more respect than this?" How did we come to a place where we not only treat our women as poorly as our former slavemasters did so enthusiastically, but we do so at the same time as we embrace a culture of ignorance as willingly as our current president has so ably demonstrated?

My point is that it is not an accident, that a people who used to fight, die and suffer torture just to learn to read - now contains a huge subclass that thinks learning to read is "acting white". A culture that used to work for years to reunite families spun apart by slavery now fragment before they even begin? Until we formulate a plan to counteract the negative programming that has had a deleterious impact upon us and continues to do so, we will continue to be defeated by our enemies.

So how do we - as Black people - defend our image in this capitalist society, protect our children from falling victim to the negative portrayals of us and prevent them from assuming ownership of these negative images as if they were in actuality true about us? We need to take control over our own images and how they are projected throughout the society. To do this, we need to focus not on the least powerful who are only mimicking the world they see and the images they feel they need to project in order to “keep it real” and instead focus on those who become millionaires (Jay-Z, this means you) and billionaires (Robert Johnson, this means you) by instilling those negative images in our youth.

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What is torture anyway?

Can you help me understand why no one - i.e., no major media outlet reporter with access to question any Bush administration official, but most especially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - seems to take the death of at least one Iraqi prisoner in Abu Ghraib very seriously?

I watched a Q&A session that Rumsfeld did last week with reporters and they listened to a five-minute diatribe from the SecDef on how using words like torture to describe what happened at the prison Saddam built to torture people was tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy and the height of irresponsibility. After this lecture, why did not one single reporter ask what is a better word than torture to describe the death of a prisoner at the hands of his captors?

Not only do we have photos of the man killed by US troops while in their custody, we have scenes of those same troops grinning and leering over the body. This is what Rumsfeld describes as abuse? I wonder how the dead man's mother describes it? In an era in which Paul Johnson, Jr. is now a household name, why do we still not know the name of this man killed by his custodians? With the several hundred prisoners released in the days after the photos were made public, is there still any pretense that he was some sort of terrorism suspect? Reporters should be demanding his name and his family should be given equal airtime, if only so we can hear what word they would use to describe having their son taken from home in the middle of the night; their father taken from home in the middle of the night; their brother taken from home in the middle of the night and then beaten to death for sport by foreigners.

30 men in the custody of US soldiers have died over the course of this "war on terror" that the Bush administration has been conducting for the last three years. That is about 10 a year or little less than one a month; Republicans have developed a habit of comparing the "troubles" in Iraq to what you might find in a troubled inner city. Even they might look askance upon one police shooting a month for three years - no matter the city.

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Juneteenth (Man Has Only Those Rights Which He Can Defend)

Wouldn't it be great to be able to play the role of a self-righteous district attorney, where you get to pronounce lofty phrases like the one above on a weekly basis? And what does rhetoric like that have in common with Juneteenth, anyway?

Juneteenth - for the uninitiated - is the day in which African-Americans commemorate our Independence Day. The fourth of July not being a day we choose to recall with the same pomp and pageantry, as from 1776 until the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, this declaration, which white folks hold so dear had no meaning for us. But do not take my word for it, the US Supreme Court said so in the Dred Scott case; that a Black person had no rights which the US government need recognize. Perhaps someone should inform mister strict constructionist, Clarence Thomas, that a strict reading of the intent of the founding fathers would mean he would be beaten daily for the temerity he has shown by learning to read.

19 June 1865 is the day that Union soldiers entered Galveston, Texas and informed the Black population of the area about the Emancipation Proclaimation - the somewhat less grand than its title implies document President Lincoln pronounced that manumitted all of the slaves in territory he no longer controlled (oh, so laws like the USA PATRIOT Act have a historical precendent in their hollowness?). Of course, this makes Juneteenth a somewhat less than complete independence day celebration, as all of the slaves in territory Lincoln did controlled were not freed until the aforementioned amendments to the US Constitution were passed, but if anyone is used to celebrating hollow victories, it is us.

For those who cannot see the implications of not knowing you are free until the agents of those who have enslaved you come to tell you and the opening quote from the lead prosecuting attorney on "Law and Order", let me make things clear: what rights can African-Americans claim to have when we have no ability to defend ourselves? How can we claim to be free when our "freedom" was handed to us by a President we did not elect and by soldiers who were merely "following orders"; what shall we do when those orders change? Place the shackles back on our own feet?

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Things that make you go hmm

Was I the only one to notice that at the same time George W. Bush was claiming everything he did up through the age of 40 was a youthful indiscretion, his brother Jeb Bush was trying a 12-year old as an adult?

While I managed to refrain from dancing throughout the apartment, I certainly did not shed a tear for the passing of our 40th president; he never shed a tear for the passing of a single child of Africa did he? How many of us are still feeling the reverberations from his CIA-induced crack epidemic (or just read the book Dark Alliance)? In 1980, cocaine was an expensive drug used by Wall Street types and A-list actors; by the time William Casey received his just desserts, crack was the scourge of every major American city.

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