Archive for November, 2007

Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority honors Rosa Parks

Posted in Events, Slavery & Justice on November 28, 2007 by blackrep

Rosa Parks
RIPTA will be offering free rides to all patrons this coming Saturday, December 1. Interesting move:

This is a significant victory for the African-American Community and all freedom-loving people, after a year of work to gain passage of a resolution in the RI Legislature, two important achievements have come to fruition:

December 1st in the State of Rhode Island, has been designated as “Rosa Parks Human Rights Day” through a legislative resolution.  Also, on December 1, 2007, and perhaps in the future, RIPTA will provide patrons free bus rides in acknowledgement of her legacy in the Civil RIghts movement.

This contribution by RIPTA does much more than just save people a few dollars on December 1st, but it also is an effort to provide a living history lesson to remind present and future generations that there is a great and inspiring legacy of heroic efforts by generations of African-Americans to struggle for freedom and equality.


Posted in Articles of Interest, White Privilege on November 27, 2007 by blackrep

Kill Whitey Dancer
I came across an article from the Washington Post about a dance party in Williamsburg (where else?) called Kill Whitey. The host, a white DJ who came up fetishizing the 69 Boys and Southern Black spring break parties like Freaknik, feels like he’s a representative for colorblind Gen Y hipsters:

Tha Pumpsta, who happens be white, has built a following in the past few years by staging monthly “Kill Whitie” parties in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for large groups of white hipsters. His proclaimed goal, in between spinning booty-bass, Miami-style frenetically danceable hip-hop records that are low on lyrical depth and high on raunchiness, is to “kill the whiteness inside.”

What that means, precisely, is debatable, but it has something to do with young white hipsters believing they can shed white privilege by parodying the black hip-hop life. In this way, they hope to escape their uptight conditioning and get in touch with the looser soul within them.

Tate on Gates

Posted in Articles of Interest, Artists on November 27, 2007 by blackrep

Greg Tate
Village Voice
music critic and the band leader for NYC’s free-jazz Burnt Sugar Arkestra, Greg Tate, weighs in on Mr. Gates Jr.’s op-ed below:

Whatever his merits as gentleman and scholar our good brother Gates, like many of today’s successful blacks, owes a farthing of his wealth, position and privilege to the Black Power movement and the American cities it set aflame right after Dr King’s assassination. The Civil Rights movement spoke to liberal America in a language it could feel. Black Power spoke to reactionary America in a language it already understood–insurgent violence. Black Panther H. Rap Brown’s rallying cry of ‘burn baby burn’ suggested todays riot could become tomorrows organized rebellion. Federal dollars for social programs to alleviate institutional racism, and Ivy League Black Studies programs all soon followed Black Power’s realpolitik. Corporate desegregation would eventually produce success stories like that of the Times former eminence Gerald Boyd. Today’s successful blacks have history more recent than 40 Reconstruction-era acres to help account for their spoils.

We should all be troubled by the neo-Victorian refrain detectable in Gate’s vilification of women, poor, Black, and otherwise, for ‘out-of-wedlock births’ and heading-up households. Many of today’s successful Blacks in entertainment, academia,literature and sports also come from and lead such households. Equally troubling is that Brother Gates equates wealth with character (and race with poverty) as if America’s poor everyday find paragons of virtue lurking among the bourgeoisie. Try this supposition: there are only two real crimes in America–being Black and being poor. The American prison system is disproportionately stuffed with people who fit the profile. After incarceration these same ex-citizens can magically find employment opportunities with Fortune 500 companies–positions nigh-impossible to locate on the outside. Richard Pryor once quipped how during slavery ‘every nigger had a job’. Happy days are here again. Perhaps prison reform legislation, (and even prison abolition, per Angela Davis), could do more to keep hope alive than Afro-pessimistic fairytales. Land rights for the the people in gentrifying ‘hoods? Priceless. Ditto Gates amnesia about historic and recent disenfranchisement of African American voters.

Hoorah-hoorah though to Gates reparations dream (more Black Liberation Army than Thatcher btw) wherein The People are ceded control of public housing. But let’s also wish them their own banks, tax-abatements, and farm price-supports (legal marijuana being the most viable crop the barren-earth projects could produce; bootstrap capitalism requires fertile ground too.) Like many of todays progressive and successful Blacks I applaud the way Venezeula’s Hugo Chaves has, once again, made socialist engineering–redistribution of corporate wealth and other commie-pinko notions of social justice; state pensions for maids, minimum wage workers and such–seem a more viable proposition for ending poverty than intellectually impoverished plots to fling children’s books and moralize from Harvard yard.

The legacy of the “40 acres and a mule” promise

Posted in Articles of Interest, Slavery & Justice on November 27, 2007 by blackrep

40 acres and a mule
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
wrote an NY Times op-ed last week attempting to shed some light on the class divide within the African American community. He doesn’t say much about how African and Afro-Caribbean/South American immigrants, but he does have some pretty interesting perspectives on 40 acres and a mule:

Ten years after slavery ended, Constantine Winfrey, Oprah’s great-grandfather, bartered eight bales of cleaned cotton (4,000 pounds) that he picked on his own time for 80 acres of prime bottomland in Mississippi. (He also learned to read and write while picking all that cotton.)

Sometimes the government helped: Whoopi Goldberg’s great-great-grandparents received their land through the Southern Homestead Act. “So my family got its 40 acres and a mule,” she exclaimed when I showed her the deed, referring to the rumor that freed slaves would receive land that had been owned by their masters.

Well, perhaps not the mule, but 104 acres in Florida. If there is a meaningful correlation between the success of accomplished African-Americans today and their ancestors’ property ownership, we can only imagine how different black-white relations would be had “40 acres and a mule” really been official government policy in the Reconstruction South.

Public Humanities at Brown shares stories

Posted in Education, Events, Slavery & Justice on November 26, 2007 by blackrep

Lonnie Bunch
This weekend will mark the first Sharing Stories Conference by the John Nicholas Brown Center for American Civilization at Brown. I’m especially excited for the discussion with the National Museum of African American History and Culture staff on Friday morning. Lonnie G Bunch, pictured above, will also be giving the keynote address for the conference this Thursday evening. Check the Sharing Stories site above for venues and times.

Allen Watty skirts the burden of self-hatred

Posted in Articles of Interest, Artists on November 26, 2007 by blackrep

Whitening Cream
Singer Allen Watty has been catching all sorts of praise, condemnation and controversy for his new song, “Sometimes I Wish I Was White.” The singer has been pushing buttons with songs that frankly address everything from racial profiling to hurricane Katrina, but this latest number has NPR and other media outlets abuzz like never before. In Watty’s words:

The song portrays the common frustration that many African Americans have when it comes to injustice. As mind-blowing and as absurd as it sounds, in the world that we live in, you have to entertain the concept of being white in order to experience true equality. So, our song is not controversial; the concept of a person having to be white to be treated right is controversial. When we wrote this song, we knew the phrase ‘I Wish I Was White’ would stir up emotions, and this was intentional to get people to open some new doors of communication.

Black Indie Rock, now and forever

Posted in Artists, Genre-defying on November 26, 2007 by blackrep

This is a cute video by British pop star Remi Nicole, who’s fed up with broke-ass boys and media pigeonholing. She might be the next Fefe Dobson, but I’m betting she’ll reach demi-Avril heights. She’s an unabashedly Black singer-songwriter who wears tight jeans and flannels AND she’s adorable as hell and writes her own songs.