Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dating with Contracts

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Monday Morning Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar & Bell Peppers,
Wheat Toast & Watermelon Prepared by Filthy Supreme

I was recently reminded of a beef I had with Filthy last February.
It arose when he asserted that in the past he would
let women know up front that he wasn't interested in a long
term anything but would continue to hang out. In his mind
this absolved him of any responsibility for a woman
catching feelings
.

This conversation initially started off as a discussion about
how he dates.  Because we have first jeans, first date hats,
first date hair cuts, and my favorite, first date eye shadow,
we are not really being ourselves when we begin dating.

He mentioned that he approaches it with the intention of 
not subscribing to societal gender roles because those roles
don't allow people to be themselves on their first Dates. 
His rationale is that when we wear the first date gear, we are 
not being ourselves but someone who wants to avoid rejection. 
The idea is that we perform gender norms to avoid rejection
from a potential partner.

Needless to say, I was intrigued. 

While I thought that the gender role theory was very
bell hooksian of him, I had a problem with the notion that telling
a woman up front that he wasn't interested in something long term
absolved him of any responsibility if and when she caught feelings.

My rationale is that if we are eating together, catching flicks
together, Barnes and Nobling together, then you are doing
the things that I would DO with my dude.
And to sit there, marinate, benefit and soak it all in, without
concern for the title or duties associated with receiving such
benefit is short sighted and selfish. Besides being on the take
like that is a sure fire way to cultivate a stalker.

Welcome to dating with contracts.

To be fair, I have been on both sides of the the equation. On one side, I am
hanging out with the someone who I DO not want a title with, but enjoying the
benefits just the same. Then there is the other side of doing partner type
labor without the partnership title.

We fall in love meal by meal, flick by flick.

I was reminded of all this last week when Mean Sexy and I were talking
about someone she met recently and the time they spend together.
She has a desire to keep it low key but stays hanging out with dude.

Getting it in.

My line for Filthy was the same for her, which is "With every meal, you
grow closer, not further apart" so if you want space you have to stop
eating with him. But ya'll know how it is.

Good cooked food. Long Saturday mornings. The warm and fuzzy's
feel good. But those warm and fuzzy's require work.

Saturday nights dinner.
Pesto Pizza with Artichoke hearts & Mozzarella.
Courtesy of 'ya boy.


Our exchange reminded me of a notion from Junot Diaz's Drown
where he talks about relationship break-up velocity. His rationale
is that once the break up is
on the horizon, there ain't really
nothing you can do to stop it.

I hate admitting that. Hated it. Hated it. Hated it. But he is right.

Try as you may. Its unstoppable.

I would also say that there is relationship start up velocity.

You may not think that the time that you are spending
with this person, the breakfast, the movies, the long good byes,
are just good clean fun, but seeds are being planted and someone
is bound to catch feelings.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

8 Top Moments from Rafi & Dallas's Checkmate

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1. Ben of Consumerist saying, "I can't wrap my head
around the idea
of paying someone for my own money".
Ben, Ben, Ben, welcome to the hood.

2. "One stop shopping, income tax time is here". GRIMEY.

3. Who wants to walk out of a check cashing spot with their money?

4. I want to keep this whole American economy rolling.

5. Another reason the poor stay winning. Dallas is foul for that.

6. Bankers workers love to drink Starbucks.

7. "Banks... are beholden to their shareholders not to their
customers...often at the expense of the low income customers" Real Talk.

8. Debt is the new money. I'm through. I'm out. Dead.

I love the teaching through sarcasm. It's way less heavy handed
than the sh*t I write.


I would have like to have seen an interview with someone
who has the numbers on the collective impact of check cashing
operations on the hood. Another suggestion would be a visual
comparing how much money is spent over a year, cashing a monthly
$ 1200 check at a bank versus a check cashing spot.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NYPD and Sean Bell on My Mind

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Last night, at about 10pm, I remarked to Filthy how quiet
the block was.
He responded saying that the playoffs were
on and that it isn't unnatural for the streets to hum a bit more quietly
during that time.

I was responded with a lip smack, saying, "the kids watching
the game too?"


We were in Crown Heights. (That neighborhood is cooking like a kettle.)

At 11:31pm, I mentioned it again.

At 11:45pm the quiet was broken when I heard a woman shouting
and a man saying "Arrest me then". Initially, I thought that he was
responding to her threats of him calling the police on her and I wrote
it off as a lovers quarrel. Then I heard the police shouting "Get the f-ck
back, all of you, get the f-ck back".

The block was hot.

I looked out the window, and said to Filth, "Eh blood, popo has a dude out
on the ground".

He put on his jeans and sneakers and said he would be right back.
He *Malcomed me. (more about that later). My heart started beating
incredibly fast. I couldn't find my sandals. I threw on one of his
hoodies and a hat. There was no way I was staying in that house
not because I need to protect him, but because I needed to bear
witness to what was going on. Based on the shouting, it seemed
as if popo was a hair away from shooting someone.

I felt helpless. I felt like my legal training didn't matter. I felt like I was 10
years old in East Oakland again. Helicopters flying, Task Force on both
ends of the block, people standing outside in their bathrobes and slippers.
I felt like I should do something. I also knew that being reactionary would
only escalate the situation.

My mind was awash with ideas. I was reminded that I had had these
experiences before as a kid and that it had been a long time since I felt the
emotions that went with it. There is nothing like it. My hands were
shaking because I felt powerless. I thought someone was going to
start shooting, po po or the block cats, and I knew that our lives
would be changed forever. I thought about God.
I had empathy for the policemen I saw, as those men were sons,
fathers, brothers. The man who was beat and arrested
is a son, father and brother as well.


Soon eight cop cars showed up. The man was hand cuffed and placed in
a police car. Two officers had an exchange with some of the
dudes on the block.

One of the dudes said, "Ya'll don't care about us, about our lives.
You ain't from the hood".

The officers responded, "Yes, we do and I am from the hood too".

Block dude retorted, "Out of 100 of you, 5 of you are cool,
the rest are
rotten apples."

The police got into their cars and began driving away.

I went back into the foyer and began to think about Oakland, about
violence, and about hip hop.

In the past week, I have been conducting research for a piece
on Grand Theft Auto 4. Last night in the foyer I
began thinking about how much more difficult it would be for the
young men who don't live in the hood to play Grand Theft
Auto 4 after seeing a black man, held down on his back by a
police officer, while the officer yelling "Get the f-ck back" to on
lookers.

I began to think, "What if the police beat Black men in GTA 4"?
If the gamers like the real, and they want real, isn't that the realest?

The fact that arguably 6 cars showed up, to arrest one man is indicative
of the level of fear, and NYPD's mode of operation.

Didn't I say mentioned a couple weeks ago that this was going to
be a long bloody summer?

*Malcom left Betty and the girls and went to Detroit to give
"The Ballot
or the Bullet" in Detroit a couple of days after their
home was bombed in
Queens. Filth and I frequently talk about
how men in The movement
leave their families for The, Capital T,
movement. So when he went outside
I got "Malcolmed". When I mentioned it to him, he knew exactly
what I was talking about showed and immediately showed
appreciation for my ability to make that connection.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Violence and the 2008 Presidential Race

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There are two stories that I have arisen in the past two days
that have me thinking about violence in the
presidential election.
The first is the story related to the
above image of Michelle Obama. It
was allegedly created by an
Obama supporter who is apparently completely
ignorant of
the legacy slavery, lynching for African Americans.

Professor Kim
wrote an informative piece on it. This quote sums
up my perspective on the the image,

Two final layers. This image flips and merges two of the most emblematic images in our tragic racial history: the black (usually) male victim suffering unjustly at the hands of white racists, and the fragile woman (historically white) being violated by brutish (black, and often imaginary) men. In a provocative 2001 book, Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White From Uncle Tom to OJ Simpson, UC Berkely professor Linda Williams argued that racial melodrama sets the terms of our debates over equality. What we may be witnessing in part, is just how poorly those terms fit our current situation.

Last thing. As I pondered the image, I thought about Sen. Obama's recent call for an end to the attacks on his wife. Bowling Green Daily News columnist Kathleen Parker derided his comments, along with his recent gaffe when he called a woman reporter "sweetie." But look at that image again, and think of another historical echo. During and after slavery and Jim Crow, black women were routinely sexually violated by white men -- and their husbands, fathers and other family members were powerless to defend them.

On another note, there is something about the notion of "defending them"
that strikes me as being uber patriarchal. I think I would reframe it as
"no way of seeking justice" instead.


I was also reminded of violence when I heard Hillary Clinton's
statement that she is she is staying in the race because her
husband didn't win California until June, and that Bobby Kennedy was
assassinated in June. On its face, it seems to be a careless comment,
but then again, Bobby was a young senator who was assassinated.
Obama is a young senator as well.
Given this countries history of violence, what does the fact that she
said
this intentionally or unintentionally say about her?
Was she tired? Is the statement in exusable even if she is tired?
I immediately thought, If she is insensitive enough to say this, if she is lacking
in judgment to the extent that these words could come out of her mouth,
we are left to infer, what else is she capable of saying and doing?

Don't get me wrong, last year,in March of 2007 I mentioned how
Obama may be great, but the prospect of him being murdered makes
his viability questionable. I now realize that this reactionary thinking
that has no place in what he is trying to accomplish for if fear was the
determining factor, MLK would have been just another Cadillac driving,
Negro preacher tauting prosperity gospel.

Hillary has apologized, but has the damage been done?
How does one view her apology?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Are you Ready to Have a Black Man President? No.

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Obama Faces Racism in West Virginia - For more funny movies, click here



The Times
also reported last night on Hillary's rationale for remaining in
the race. Patrick Healey writes,

Rebuffing associates who have suggested that she end her candidacy, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has made it clear to her camp in recent days that she will stay in the race until June because she believes she can still be the nominee — and, barring that, so she can depart with some final goals accomplished.
That video is priceless.

HiIllary knows the pledge of allegiances and so does John Mcain.

Birkhold has some very interesting things to so about Hillaries manipulation
of white racism. He writes,

Hillary Clinton’s statement that “hard-working Americans, white Americans” won’t vote for Barack Obama is quite simply an endorsement of white racism. It also clearly demonstrates what is wrong with American politics.

Because Clinton may be right to say that these folks will never vote for Obama because he’s black illustrates why Obama is needed. Since delivering his now famous race speech in Philadelphia, Obama has consistently challenged working class whites to see the cause of their problems in Washington and in offshoring, not in black people. Clinton, on the other hand, instead of challenging working class whites to rethink how they got where they are, has capitalized on their racism saying that because they won’t vote for Obama, she should get the nomination.

...... A presidential hopeful who capitalizes on white racism to get herself elected is part of the problem and is not interested in making the country a better place to live. At a time when the country needs serious change, we need leadership that will challenge us to change. Because Clinton is using our nation’s unwillingness to change to her advantage, its time we demand she sit down. If we don’t demand this, we also endorse the racism of working class whites.

Macon D, over at Stuff White People Do, also has a post up
on Hillary and Whiteness. He writes,

White Americans tend to overlook the racism of Hillary's playing, in this instance and others, of the white race card, as well as those by her husband Bill, and by other supporters of her campaign, such as Geraldine Ferraro. White Americans commonly overlook such racism because they've been trained into ignoring the more general white supremacist context of contemporary American society.

Democrats are making history this year because for the first time, their nominee will be a person who is either a woman or an African American. While Obama continually downplays his racial status, nearly everyone else foregrounds it. Clinton usually downplays her gender status, and with the exception of many white feminists, who receive little attention in the corporate media, nearly everyone else downplays her gender too. These disparate treatments of Obama and Clinton have more to do with the significance of race, which in this election seems to be trumping the significance of gender.
The White Race Card?

Hillary & White Racism?

What do you think?

The woman in the video stating "I don't think a Black Man
should be president".


The skeletons are out apparently.

Get Back

TwitThis


Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey.
I had no idea how responsive and affirming the feedback
would be.


M.dot will be doing them once a quarter.
The findings are interesting:

82.4% of you want me to write more about politics

64.7% of you said that you would listen to an M.dot podcast
depending on how good they are.

There were also some comments that I found particularly interesting.
I have provided excerpts below.

"Love your commentary on women, because it is something that I rarely understand. If you talk about hip hop make sure to include those songs in podcasts. I also love the talk about other topics that seem so distant but you somehow tie together using your random collection of data. Gotta love tieing together information. Yessir."

fuck us. talk bout what you want. as epmd said "dont give the people what they want". give them what they dont know they need. besides that, fuck other peoples opinions. where would any good journalist, musician, whatever be if they did?"

"The cogent stream of consciousness posts & hot linx keep me hitting up your blog. What's your view on the non-profit industrial complex that'll likely end up employing me out of college?"

I am glad that you all like it here. In many ways your comments
came at a time when I am in the midst of a meaningful transition
and I am grateful for the kind words.

So, if you will excuse me. I have to go work on a podcast. *****Wink.

~m.dot

Monday, May 19, 2008

Malcolm, Martin and Personal Transformation

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Martin's and Malcolm's public transformation should be an
inspiration
for all of us. I have spent the evening reading
Martin & Malcolm in America
by James Cone, trying to
determine exactly what I would like to say on Malcolm's birthday.

Just when I was getting tired, frustrated and ready to give up,
I came across a chapter where Cone describes
Martin's
transformation
in the midst of Malcom's death, and the ways
in which Martin was moving closer to Malcolm. Cone writes,

Equally significant was what Martin did not say. He too was
re-evaluating his presuppositions and was moving toward a
greater understanding of Malcolm, especially regarding Black
pride, separatism, and white America's lack of commitment to
genuine Black equality. He began to urge Blacks to be proud
of their "blackness," a word he almost never used publicly
before he turned his attention to the North. The subsequent
rise of Black Power deepened his convictions regarding the
need of blacks to affirm their somebodyness in identifying with
their African heritage. He also started to speak of Black
oppression in northern slums as "domestic colonialism".
To the surprise of many, and perhaps even himself, he
concluded that racism was so deeply ingrained in American,
especially in the North, that "temporary segregation" was
probably the only means of overcoming powerlessness in the
Black community.
As artists, thinkers, women, men, feminists and lovers of hip hop we
we all feel the tension between the desire to go corporate and the desire
to pursue work that is related to creating social justice.

This issue is the subject of endless conversations in our lives.

For instance, last Saturday I noticed one of Filthy's people in a magazine.
I tore out the article and gave it to him saying "I have something for you".

He looked at it and laughed, but soon became melancholy
and I asked why.
He mentioned something about his boy's desire to succeed in his
career.
I responded saying "Yo, he is just trying to shine, ain't nothing
wrong with that".
He shot back, "Shining, is all he is trying to do".

I was deaded because he was right. There was nothing I could
say because it was true.

That interaction left me thinking about the choices that we
make in terms of using our voices on the behalf of others who
don't have one. How we, on a daily, struggle between the notion
of getting cake and the notion of creating justice.

This post is for those of us, who leave the corporate ranks to
pursue writing. Those of us who work as waitresses, teachers,
bus drivers during the day and make music, paint and sew at night.

This is for those of use who go to law school, and rather
than practice, we decide to to do power to the people and
organize our communities. This post is for those of use who
are torn between the corporate hustle
and the independent artist grind.

This is for those of us who are committed to transforming
a little
every day.

Dysfunctional Ping Pong

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I like Judd Apatow. In fact, I think it was a year ago that I wrote
about how he convinced me that I should
do stand up.

I have written about him here, here and here.
I thought about this
while reading Brandon Soderberg's post
on how Judd doesn't
like Hip Hop.

On one level, I enjoyed the fact that Soderberg's post was analyzing how hip
hop was being used as a vehicle to allow Apatow's largely white characters
express their vileness at the expense of hip hop.

On another level the post was incredibly misogynistic. I will deal
with the two issues separately.

Soderberg's general thesis is the Apatow uses hip hop as a vehicle
to allow the characters to express the most vile things about
society which implies that this is what hip hop represents in our
culture.
He cites a Apatow's use of hip hop in "Walk the Line" and "Knocked
Up" and "40 Year Old Virgin" as evidence. Full disclosure, I haven't
seen "Walk the Line".
He writes,

Recall the intro to 'Knocked-Up' which uses Ol' Dirty Bastard's classic 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya' (Armond White: "white boys clowning to Old Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”) with emphasis on Dirty's "Ooh baby I like it raw" hook to make it really obvious and funny what this movie's already going to be about. Think of the constant hip-hop slang used by everyone but Steve Carrell's character in 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' and how it's essentially used to represent just how vulgar and crass everyone's become and how stupid white people are for adopting any part of this culture.
He also goes on to write that,
In the Apatow and company universe, which is one that despite all the blowjob and weed jokes is incredibly conservative- dumb critics say this is why his movies "have heart"- rap music and culture are one of the biggest signifiers of how low things have sunk and how distant people are from their "real" emotions: Rap as ruiner of everything.
I think that the situation is a bit more complicated than that.

I would argue that the vileness ( hyper violent masculinity, hypersexuality)
in hip hop started off in mainstream society, was adopted by minorities
and is reflected in hip hop. Furthermore, it is being used by Apatow via the
characters in his movies to express dysfunction, albeit flippantly.

There is a tendency to seperate the pathology of the mainstream from
the pathology from the hood, however, at the end of the day they will
always be connect.

It is one big dysfunctional ping pong game.

Now for the misogyny. The misogyny is there period point blank
and it sat there glaring at me. In the following excerpt, Soderberg
intended on describing how hip hop is used as story support for
a scene, and that unlike country music, it isn't presented with
empathy. He writes,
Leslie Mann's bar-slut in 'Virgin' is speeding home, too drunk to drive, blaring and singing along to Missy Elliot's 'Get Ur Freak On', which is sort of real- drunk white sluts love Missy Elliott- but it's sort of the icing on the cake for why this girl's so terrible. It's not presented with any of the sympathy given to a whiny loser who collects action figures, rides a bike, and hasn't ever dropped his dick in a pussy.
While his intentions were to point out the discrepancy between
Apatow's treatment of hip hop versus country I couldn't help
but notice that the term slut was used not just once but twice
in the same sentence. Was that necessary? Was he trying to be
provocative?

The second thing that stood out to me in that paragraph was
the phrase "and hasn't ever dropped a dick in a pussy".

What? P*ssy's arn't sitting around like ashtrays waiting to receive
a deposit. A p*ssy isn't a garbage can, basketball hoop or an ATM
machine waiting for a deposit. P*ssy's are attached to people.

These people are women.





Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hello Brooklyn

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I woke up in Brooklyn this morning.

It fit me like a pair of leather turquoise ballerina flats.

Perfect.

I have come to the conclusion that the reason why
this place suits me is that it serves as a mental buffer as I
am a person who thinks, lives and breathes on the margins.

My thoughts and views are not mainstream. I mean, the blog
is named Model Minority for a reason.

When I am talking race with a white person, or Black masculinity
with a woman, or "welfare reform" with a Latino Libertarian,
many time I depart these conversations feeling like I am on the
margin of the margins. It can be a lonely place.

However, I am not complaining, in fact, I think that is why Bk'lyn
holds me down the way that it does.

For instance, I was on the 3 train this morning, and all 35 people
on the train were Black. EVEN though, many times, my thoughts,
politics, and beliefs place me in the margin of the margins,
In that moment, on the train, I am not on the margin of the margins
and it isn't as lonely.

Speaking of Brooklyn. Last night I was walking on Fulton with
Filthy and we got the bugged out ice grills from the older Black men.
Normally he doesn't notice, but this time, it not only struck me,
but him as well.

I pointed that when I was here last, that we were walking around,
and that didn't happen. But he reminded me that we weren't in
the hood, we were downtown and in Fort Green which of course, is a
different animal.

The other side of it is that folks smile at us. On two occasions
yesterday at the MOMA, women smiled at us. I imagine that we
are a sight
. Me with my tight jeans, bucket hat, and big green
earrings, he with the train conductor jeans, apple hat and country
@ss accent, an interesting mess.

We all know that I am already paranoid. Now being out with a white
dude will add an extra layer of "Did he/she just say that to me
because I just walked into this bodega/restaurant /Banana Republic
with someone who isn't black?"

For instance, we stopped inside that pattie place on Flatbush last night.
The server was taking his sweet time to give me my food, and when
he handed me my change he dropped my coins. I was like is this is
this how its going to be? Black men doing little sh-t to irk me in public
because they disapprove?

Filthy pointed out two things. The first thing was that that on
its, face it may seem like the cashier was trying to disrespect, but he
wasn't very friendly to the customer just ahead of me, so he just may be a
grumpy @ss to everyone.
But, once I got outside, I tasted the
pattie and it was all warm, good and full of vegetables.
The second
thing that he pointed out was that while he was taking is time,
it could be indicative of him trying to hook me up with the proper pattie.

So. In the end, you never know why people do what they do.
The most important thing, I am coming to understand is that 70% of
what people say and do to you has nothing to do with you. Nothing.

How do you avoid taking things personal?
When was the last time you took something personal?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Knowledge

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Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding are beautiful things.
With that in mind, I request that you fill out this tiny, short,
sweet,
survey. You all KNOW how I feel about feedback.

I LIKE feedback.

I also know many of you are at work, school and busy
parenting, so I kept it short. I know, moi, keeping something
short?!?!?!
Here is the survey. Will take you 90 seconds, max.

I promise.

Click Here to take survey


I have been meaning to share this editorial with you
about Crack.
Its Toure's piece in The Times about the
crack house on his block, titled A Snitch Like Me. He writes,

ONE hot night last summer, just past midnight, I discovered that in the apartment building across the street from my duplex in Fort Greene there was a little crack house.

I was parking my car after a late movie, the windows down because my air-conditioning was broken, when I heard a man and a woman arguing on the sidewalk. I didn’t know them, but they weren’t new faces to me. In the four years I’d lived in the apartment on South Oxford Street, I’d walked past them many times. They were constantly moping around the block with glassy eyes, scratching themselves, and muttering. Any New Yorker could tell they were crackheads.

I never gave much thought as to why these two crackheads were on my block so often. Some days in Fort Greene you walk past celebrities like Adrian Grenier or Colson Whitehead or Mos Def. Some days you walk past a crackhead.


Some days Mos Def. Some days a crack head.

That sounds like the hood to me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

F-ck Going Green

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I hate vague definitions. They are easily manipulated and mean nothing.
You can't measure it and because of that it runs the risk of being
a worthless catchall.

Take the term green. What does being green look like?

Another phrase is Leave No Child Behind.

What does Leaving No Child Behind look like?

If I sound cynical it is because of the profound laziness that I see people
display. Part and parcel, we are scared of each other and until we can
overcome that fear, until we see the humanity in each other, we
are doomed.

How can we care about each others air when we don't care
about
each others children?

Now do you see where the cynical tone is coming from?

These labels need to be about action. For example,
I have been green for 15 years.

We have recycled since the 80's in California. Cans, plastic,
clothes, music, all of it. There was a huge water shortage in
the 80's and I remember being encouraged to drink milk to
preserve water, to never leave the faucet running and to wash clothes
and water lawns at night.

We not only conserved energy but my parents grew their own vegetables.
The first beet I ever remember tasting was one that my parents grew
in our next door neighbors yard. Yes, my folks wanted a garden so bad,
that even though there was no soil available in our apartment complex,
that they settled for gardening in our next door neighbors yard.
They kept most of the vegetables and returned some to the
gardens host as. Green onions, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers,
greens, cabbage, pickles. Oh and the pickles. It was from my parents
garden that I learned that a pickle was a cucumber that had
been placed in vinegar for an extended period.

Now that I think of it, it was quite interesting that my family
was gardening in someone else's back yard, as we were solidly
working middle class. But then again, pop's was raised on a
farm, so gardening probably took him back to his childhood.
I thought about this notion of what green means
while reading a post by Carmen Swartz at Fresh Glue. Carmen
focuses on the marketing perspective of being green.

I would ask what does the term being green means from a human
perspective?

I have been thinking about the myth of going green as it relates to public
education. Recently Will Okun posited that we needed a two tier educational
system I immediately thought that we already have one. It just isn't called that.
Will wrote,

Every child has a right to an education, but what do we do with the large numbers of students who impede other students’ pursuit of knowledge and achievement? Until there is a massive overhaul of the urban public school system, perhaps we should embrace a two-tier school policy that separates involved families (like Steve Collins’s) and motivated students (like Shatara) from the disruption and discouragement of the students who seemingly do not care.
We don't need a two tier educational system. We already have one.

Recently, I had a conversation about fund raising with a
professional school fund raiser. I mentioned to her that it amazed me
though my high school prep school charged tuition well into the tens
of thousands of dollars, that parents of each class raised tens of
thousands of dollars annually. Her response was that tuition
only
covers 60 percent of educational expenses, so the parents
had to raise money. I thought to myself, well if THESE affluent parents
were raising money to address the funding gap then the underfunded
public school kids are screwed.

With this in mind, you can see how hard it is to believe the green-hype.
As of now, being green is sexy term created to make people feel good about
their unwillingness to collaborate with others to address the issues
that affect all of us.

However, the doom and gloom that I had at the beginning of this piece has
subsided a bit, and need to I have to acknowledge some thoughtful, work
being done. Perhaps most importantly, for this work to have the
kind of transformative impact that we are capable of it will take
the investment of our time, planning and energy.

The two things that come to mind are the urban farm movement
and the movement to address the inequitable distribution of funds
within public school districts.

Tracie McMillan wrote about the a garden in Brooklyn in the
New York Times recently. She wrote,
Growing up in rural Jamaica, the Wilkses helped their families raise crops like sugar cane, coffee and yams, and take them to market. Now, in Brooklyn, they are farmers once again, catering to their neighbors’ tastes: for scallions, for bitter melons like those from the West Indies and East Asia and for cilantro for Latin-American dinner tables.
ED Trust has just published a study on the impact of funding
inequities in school districts. Their main argument is that
teacher seniority undermines low income student achievement.
Experienced, tenured teachers take their salaries with them when they
leave schools and they typically choose better resourced
schools, higher performing schools. The consequence is that the
students at the lower performing schools get the least experienced
teachers, over and over again.

The study suggests changes to the teacher compensation formula
and more support and incentives for teachers to work at
schools.

Check these folks out, here, They can use your help.

Ask M.Dot

TwitThis


We all have questions. Well M.dot has some answers. The last time
I did an ask M.dot post, it was quite informative.

So lets play.

The questions can range from:

Race

Hip hop

Gender

Relationships

Oakland/ Brooklyn

Saving Money

Black Mommas

Nerds

Video Vixens

Or you can try me with some off the wall 'ish, and I will probably
just post a wikipedia laink. Just Kidding.

Im looking forward to it.

It should be fun.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Signs that it is Going to Be a Long Bloody Summer.

TwitThis

4.17.08 Oakland, CA

Gas riots (these haven't happened yet, but it's a matter of time).

The Sean Bell verdict.

The videotape of twelve Philadelphia police beating three black men.

These are all signs that
this will be a long, hot,
bloody summer.

The videotaped beatings of three restrained men by several members of the Philadelphia police force were inexcusable but had nothing to do with race, the city's mayor and police commissioner said Thursday.
The police don't have an easy job. Infact, I would
imagine they are terrified. The streets are hungry.
Cats ain't eatin' and it seems that everyone has a gat.
It's Combustible.

What an incredible thing to recognize.

Jay Electronica vs. S.O.U.L Purpose?

TwitThis


"How can you be nostalgic for something that you
didn't live through"
What?

According to Webster defines nostalgia as:
1: the state of being homesick : homesickness2: a wistful
sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or
irrecoverable condition
; also : something that evokes nostalgia

While I think it is reasonable to criticize the young bucks for not coming
up with their own thing, no one starts from scratch when making music.

For that matter, sampling is a cornerstone element of HIP HOP. So
why the resentment toward the young bucks?

I must say I liked the video and the song. It seems to be more
of a critique of passive consumption than contempt of '89 nostalgia.

What struck me about this is that no one can CONTROL culture,
especially when the culture (music, videos, distribution and display
methods) isn't OWNED by the people that create it.


I have had conversation
with countless cats who think that
the teens with the dookie chains, door knockers and name buckles
lack creativity.

But, if you were a young buck NOW wouldn't you think that
the '89 style was fly in comparison to now?

What did they say about imitation and flattery?

I LOVE the mentioning of "the Internet Nerds".

The whole time Q-Tip is talking all I am thinking about,
"Back in the days when I was a teenager/ Before I had status and before I had a pager/ You could find the Abstract listening to hip-hop/ My pops used to say it reminded him of be-bop/ I said, "Well daddy don't you know that things go in cycles"/ The way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael" ~ Excursions, Low End Theory
Tip has a point about the fact that during that era CATS were inventing
new steez. BUT. Its important to NOT become dogmatic and insist that
WE never borrowed from other people in order to make our 'ish.

Hip hop is all about sampling. So in a way that Tip and SOUL Purpose
are making their argument, they sound like our parents generation
who were mad that EPMD, RAKIM, TRIBE, HAMMER were sampling
"their" OLD soul songs.

We turning into our parents? Yikes.



========

========





One of the first things that I noticed when watching this
was a sense of intimacy.
I knew, based on the music used
and how it interplayed with the images
on the screen, that this
documentary was made by someone is his inner circle.

It soon became clear that it was his brother he made it.

This trailer moved me for several reasons. The first is that I have
been listening
to a lot of Ol D B lately. Second, I was surprised by
the production values. Third,
given the fact that so many
of us have lost love ones, especially Black men, I began

thinking about ways of using video/documentary to grieve
our losses.


Sidenote. Is it legal for Masta Killa's & the GZA's skin to be
so luxurious?
Aren't they like 36 & 38 respectively?

=========
=========


via Grand Good

Wow. Man. I realized I usta have the horn intro from "Sh*t is Real"
on my answering machine. I know. I know. My backpack is showing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Benny McIntyre ain't Voting for No Black Man.

TwitThis


Class mobility is mind boggling. I remember being in high
school
and Jua's momma told us that once we graduated
from college "that where we come from is going to be irrelevant to
people
". I understood this to mean that people would look at our clothing
and the way that we spoke and come to their own conclusions
about which
box to place us in.

Implicit in her moms statement was that school would sanitize us.
On one hand, we would have access to opportunities that our
parents didn't, on the other hand our backgrounds would become
murkey, and perhaps non existent and that it would be up to us
to reconcile that.

This is a lot to ask a teenager to navigate but young people do it
everyday.

This conversation came to mind while reading about Hillary's new
working class identity. Jodi Kantor
writes in The Times,

Whatever the results of the primaries on Tuesday in Indiana and North Carolina, Mrs. Clinton has accomplished the seemingly impossible in those states. Somehow, a woman who has not regularly filled her own gasoline tank in well over a decade, who with her husband made $109 million in the last eight years and who vacations with Oscar de la Renta, has transformed herself into a working-class hero.

In promoting herself as a champion of ordinary Americans in a troubled economy, Mrs. Clinton has also tried to cast her rival, Senator Barack Obama, as an out-of-touch elitist. She has made her case at all the right stops (an auto-racing hall of fame) and used all the right props (lately delivering speeches from pickup beds).

It's amazing. Her husband is single handedly responsible for ensuring
the acceleration of wealth distribution outsourcing.
Read about it here, here and here.

If a $28 an hour job is moved to Mexico, and now pays $3, who is
pocketing the difference? Why do we continue to buy from companies that
move our jobs to other countries, pocket the difference and then
TURN AROUND and STILL attempt to sell us their goods.

This behavior makes the d-boys look like girl scouts.

Never thought I would say that in public.


Paul Rockwell lays out the evidence of Hillary's dual
positions on outsourcing,

Siddharth Srivastava reported in Asia Times, March 1st, 2005: "Hillary Clinton made it apparent where she stood on outsourcing during her India visit...Hillary has been at the forefront in defending free trade and outsourcing. She faced considerable flak for defending Indian software giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for opening a center in Buffalo, New York." (TCS provided hundreds of special visas for foreign employees to work in New York for substandard, non-union wages.) She praised Clinton's "strict adherence to the principles of free trade and outsourcing that affect India directly."

Outsourcing is inherent to global free trade, the attempt of corporate goliaths to move resources, jobs, money, capital in search of profits anywhere in the world without accountability.

Clinton's globalization speech in India would hardly be noteworthy today, except that, in her current campaign for the nomination, she is saying exactly the opposite of what she said in India. She was a globalizer in India. Now she's a protectionist in Pennsylvania, and voters have a right to ask: Which is the real Hillary Clinton?

Not only are Hillary's working class roots showing, but some
of her supporters are actually speaking honestly about
their unwillingness to vote for Obama, if he is nominated.
In an article in the Christian Science Monitor a voter came RIGHT OUT
and said that if Hillary wasn't the nominee that he wasn't going
to vote at all. Talk about party solidarity. Alexandra Marks writes,

Benny McIntyre represents Hillary Rodham Clinton's strength and Barack Obama's challenge here in the Tar Heel State.

Sporting a Democratic donkey on his baseball cap and wearing wraparound sunglasses, this white, retired factory worker came to the train depot in Salisbury, N.C., this week to show support for Senator Clinton. As for Senator Obama, Mr. McIntyre says he's got "nothing against him, he's a good man." But if Obama is the Democratic nominee, come November McIntyre may just stay home "for the first time in 40 years" – even if that means four more years of GOP rule.

"That's just the way I feel, I guess," he says.

McIntyre represents a pivotal Southern constituency for Democrats: the white working class.
My question is, if he has nothing against, Obama, then why
not vote for him?
What is implicit in that quote is that Obama
is a good man, but McIntyre
ain't voting for a Black man.


As the election gets tighter are folks going to become more
honest about their politics?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Patriarchy & a Tale of Two Rap Videos

TwitThis







Have you ever read something so potent that you had to stop
put it down, and read something else just to get a sense of what you
were doing?

Thats what happened to me when I started writing a piece
on gender and hip hop
.

It stated out as a post on Gender, Hip Hop and Patriarchy
and it has turned into a post on how my insistence on listening
to Mobb Deep is indicative of my willingness to put my interest
in the music above the fact that I know that it harms young people.

Its as if the post is so egregious that I am blogging about it
BEFORE I post it.


I was reminded of the post when I watched the two videos above
by AP and Busta Rhymes respectively.


When I first clicked on it, I hadn't heard of him. That was a plus.
Of course I liked the stakes is high beat. And it was black and white,
you know, low budget guerrilla style. AP started rapping I was
like word, we on some bragging collar popping type 'ish
.

Then the screen panned to the cats hustling in the video.

Swanging bottles.

Next, I saw that they were gonna bring the
baby into the shot. I was like WORD? The baby is gonna shoot
dice too?

Like that. I was taken back to Boyz in the Hood.

I couldn't help but think about how this video is
working to NORMALIZE the crazy 'ish that happens
in the hood.

Let me ask you this.

Do we need that sh-t to be normal?

Now compare this to the Busta Rhymes piece.

Busta sounds like he is on some "it's only five years left level".

Classic 1996 "Ya yaaaa yaaa ya yaaaah" Busta.

He's having fun, changing costumes and being his
normal amped self.

This COMPLETELY contrasts with AP's video.

I was left thinking. Man. After doing this Patriarchy piece,
I don't think I will be able to see hip hop the same again.

When was the last time you were listening to Ghost,
Jay or Lil Wayne and just had to turn it off because of
how they were talking about Black people, Black women
or just crazy sh-t in general?

Only Built for Bloggy Links

TwitThis

Links make the world go 'round.

Anwar has some poetry that I was also pleasantly surprised by.


I came across Doorknockers and was surprised to find a
kindred spirit.
B-Girls, check. Bk & The Bay, Check.
Boom Bap, Check.

Peep this map of humanity. I heart maps.

HHIR has just posted samples for both BlackStar and Big Doe Rehab.

Keak and Prodigy have a video together for That Go. Its odd,
because you can tell that they WERE never on set together. I wonder
what how that fact would improve this attempt.

G has just posted the Parents TV Council Analysis of MTV's and BET's
daytime programming.

Specifically, this report provides a detailed analysis of adult content that aired on BET’s Rap City and 106 & Park and on MTV’s Sucker Free on MTV. These shows were chosen due to their daily new and recent video releases as well as the fact that they all aired during afternoon or early evening hours.
Ming-Tzu @ GrandGood has video of the EPMD, Naughty By Nature,
Lords of the Underground, DITC show. Vin is quite the HYPE man.

B-Boy, Morgan Alexander Jones, breaks down how his life is lived
as a working, beat boxing-artist, living in China.
Any funny stories?
A Chinese girl was walking past me and muttered a strangely straightforward phrase in Chinese: “Wow, there are a lot of black people in this country now.” So I turned around and yelled back to her “Yeah, there are a lot of black people in this country now ... and they speak Chinese, too.”
Don't hesitate to send me interesting links ::: m.dotwrites@gmail.com

Friday, May 02, 2008

8 Favorite Moments from the Empire Strikes Barack.

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Hillary walking in as Darth Vader.

Obama saying "NO, im in touch".

The Hillary anti NRA but PRO hunting contradiction.

Obama brushing off collar with Jay in the background.

Obama asking "Is the Darkside stronger?"

The McCain gremlin face.

What do you think of it?


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