Thursday, October 30, 2008



I am closing just for a couple of weeks. I am facing 4 deadlines.
You know it must be real because I have never not posted
ever. No matter what I was going through.
I am just trying to prioritize and focus. I will try and

I will be back.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading Blogs at Work


I was speaking to Robbie a couple of weeks ago. He asked me
how my History of Hip Hop Blogs piece was coming along (meaning
that it has gotten way bigger than I anticipated).

I told
him it was large, and that I wasn't sure whether to make
into one, two or three parts. He responded saying that most
people cut and paste, so I shouldn't
be bothered with the length.

Experience has shown me there there is
only so much that
you all are willing to read before you glaze over
and stop
My question for you is, what is your technique
for reading blogs
at work? Do you cut and paste? Do you
read on your phone? Do you avoid
blogs at work?
Are blogs firewalled at your job?

Im curious.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anthony Hamilton, Good Lawd


I don't trust Black men (or men in general) who don't have facial hair.
They get the side eye.

You notice how LL's face just look's a wee too clean?
However, now that I think about it, there are exceptions. Obama
is clean shaven, but the juttyness (yes I made it up) of his
chin strikes a balance on his face.

However, Black men with those half-way beards don't get a pass.

Which brings me to Anthony Hamilton. I always thought that one
song from his first album was okay, but the straggely beard, just
had me on some "uuhhhh no".

Imagine my surprise last night when I saw him in his new video
cleanly shaved. He cleans up real nice, looking like
somebody uncle at the family reunion.

Thumbs up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Me & Lauryn Hill: An Evolution


The first time I heard Lauryn Hill, was probably a single from
the Blunted on Reality album and I hated it. At that time
it appeared to be crazy gimmicky.

I didn't like The Fugees and I didn't like The Score. The Score took an L
because in many ways, it was accessible, cross over Boom Bap.
Many folks who knew how much I liked rap, and hip hop heads in general
felt that it should get a pass. I was like, eehhhhnnn no. I can also admit
now that I was lightweight hating. She was fly, fresh and a B-girl. It was
perhaps a knee jerk, "There can only be one of us" reaction.

In addition, as a teenager I was heavily influenced by Islam and subsequently,
I felt that Lauryn should wear more clothes. I know, hard to believe, 
Ms. actually had something to say about the clothing of that a 
woman wears. But it was true.

The fact that I used to believe that back in the day goes to the notion
that we don't become who we are over night.

While I was certainly familiar with feminist politics then, I didn't have
a historical understanding that would allow me to question WHY it 
was any of my business how scantily clad L was in the first place.

Remember when Dave said on Stakes is High, " The underground is about
not being exposed, so you better take ya naked ass and put on some clothes"?

Well, In my mind that was directed towards over exposed rappers in general
but could be applied to Lauryn as well. In fact, when De La came to 'Frisco to 
perform, I asked Dave whether he meant that line for L and he looked at me
and was like, "nah, uhhhh, nah".

When she came out with Miseducation, I warmed up. From beginning
to end, the album was what she was going through in her life.
Not entirely self destructive, a little heavy handed, and perhaps most 
importantly, really human. 

As I have gotten older my thinking about clothes, presentation
and human beings has changed over time. I now realize that 
not only do I not want anyone talking about how short or tight my 
skirt is, I have also come to realize that it is none of my business 
what L wears as well.

I also realize that, and Erykahs recent pregnancy certainly underscores this,
that as Black women,  many folks feel that they have say so in what
we choose to do with our bodies. I find this intriguing given
the unbelievable pass given to Black men such as Puffy, R.Kelly, Akon given
their relationship and or sexual practices.

Which brings me back to Lauryn. I miss her. As I think about these 
Hip Hop and feminism study groups I wonder what her music
would sound like today. I wonder what the beats  would sound
like, who she would be collaborating with and how much being
a mom would play into her music.

Recently there were complaints about the fact the neither VH1's 
Hip Hop Honors and BET's Hip Hop awards nominated a single
woman. An anonymous source said that the reason why
there were fewer women emcees being launched on major labels
their hair and make up costs are expensive. You and I both know
that this is a lie, as record companies will invest millions into an 
artist if they believe that the return on investment. So I am suppose 
to believe hair weaves and mac eye shadow run into the tens of thousands
for female emcees? Besides grooming costs are irrelevant as artists are
responsible for paying back the labels for money that they spend on an artist.

The fact that there are no women were nominated for BET Awards or for a
Hip Hop Honors award underscores the significance of seeing Lauryn's
image in pop culture. There she was, petite, chocolate brown and
a mane of natural hair. Then and now, we are not allowed to be 
represented like that in pop culture.

That being said, Lauryn if you are out there, we are waiting for you.
To the young woman who sees her self as the next Lauryn Hill, we
are waiting for you as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Blues and Transformation


Still from I'm Through with White Girls

There is something to be said for
The "Borderless Relationship"
post, as it was was a catalyst for
change in M.dots world.

Out of a desire to both write in a way that reflects what we
have come to be known for, and to also avoid being
outta pocket (see that interest balancing, wink nod wink)
I won't go into the fine print.

Bear in mind that I wrote the above sentence a few times.
I was unsure as to which tone to strike. Anger? Thats
conceivable. Empathy? Of course. In trying to empathize,
at first it felt like, nah homie, I ain't doing that. But then again,
its one thing to talk that personal transformation
talk, but a whole other to practice it when tested. Besides,
aren't life's tests
designed to show us what we hold most dear?

In many ways it reflects what many of us do when sorting through
something. We think. We talk. We think. One of the amazing things
about writing is that you do have the time to think, revise, and
rethink, which can drive you nuts, but it can show you things
about yourself that you were unaware of

However, writing it has proved to be interesting. On one level I am
glad I had the courage to write, glad I was able to see The Graduate
and not rage at his borderless tendencies, glad that I could make a
connection between my borderless relationships of the
past and how it is playing out with Filthy right now.

Still it is hard, because their is a level of uncertainty, tension,
and proverbial sh-t hitting the fan, emotion wise.

I have always contended that "you don't want to bring me
around" if there are things that you want to keep from yourself,
because more than likley those issues will surface.

I think it comes from having seen the best and worse of my parents
at a young age. I survived by cultivating the ability to analyze intent,
capacity, anger and rage of adult human beings starting from the time
I was about 8. It was at that period that I realized that the people
that I knew my parents to be may or may not come back.
It has influenced that way that, perhaps in a way that I can't imagine,
I read see an interact with people in general.

As a result, I have to be careful to not "tell people about
themselves", simply because while it may feel like the right
thing to do at the time, it is, at the end of the day, it is none
of my business.

Blogging however gets me into that a gray area, because I am not just
writing about myself, but others as well, which may get me in that
sticky, icky, ooohhhh wee gray area.

When I write, I write to share, to make a contribution,
and many times simply to make a sense out of an experience
I may have recently had.

Many of you e-mail me to mention a post, to say thank you, or just to show
general appreciation for the fact that I shared something. It's wonderful,
as I know that we are all busy so it shows me that their are folks feel
the contribution being made, which is validating in and of itself.

In the spirit of that sharing, I will say that, ultimately this past week
has shown me that you never really know what life holds and that it
is incredibly important for me to remember that I am powerless over
all people except for myself

How do you hold on when faced with uncertainty?

What coping mechanisms, if any, do you use to keep
your mind right, during uncertain times?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Byron Hurt Presents Barack & Curtis


"We are Not Allowed to be Seen as People Who have Baggy Jeans
and a Hugo Boss Suit in the Same Closet"
-Michaela Angela Davis

It is interesting to see how the film turned about based on the raw footage
that was available on youtube last week.

I found Ras Baraka's comments to be show a nuanced understanding
of Black masculinity and the general difference between how it
is lived and how it is PRESENTED to the world how it is lived.

Young Birkhold holds it down with the George Bush/50 Cent
analysis. When he said that that Hip Hop does the dirty work of, say
it with me now,
White Supremacist Patriarchal Capitalism, I shuddered.

There is a distinction between Spike Lee and calling hip hop modern
day minstrelsy and saying that 50 Cent and Bush are similar and that
50 is doing the work of
White Supremacist Patriarchal Capitalism.

That went to the bone gristle.

But then again, remember my post earlier this year where a white
man commented about how Hip Hop teaches teens to be afraid
of Black men. He wrote,

It seems to me, as a suburban white kid, that another problem with rap music is that it conflates black youth culture with violence. It teaches non-black listeners that black youth who listen to hip-hop and dress like rappers are likely to be violent. Recognizing that this is largely a false assumption and rooting out the biases stemming from that conflation has been hard work for me. It’s also work that I don’t think I could have accomplished when I was growing up in the suburbs.

I wish that rappers would stand up and admit that they are delivering prepacked stereotypes straight to the suburbs. Not only are they teaching black youth to disrespect themselves but rap teaches non-blacks youths to fear and disdain young blacks. -Vodalus

The great thing about this doc is that, in many ways it is an nice
counterpoint to CNN's Black in America.

On a personal note, every since I watched Barack and Curtis, I have kept
thinking to myself,
where is our narrative, where is the conversation
about our sexuality?
Then it hit me. I think we are going to have to
make it ourselves.

Tracey has made a film about street harassment, Black Woman Walking,
and there is also a documentary on street harassment titled
Hey Shorty (made by young women at Girls for Gender Equity).
There is also the website. But, to my knowledge,
there hasn't been anything done on Black Female Sexuality.

What is interesting about Tracey's film is the range of responses
that it triggers. In the last month or so I have noticed some
interesting conversations about it at The CW Experience ,
All Hip and What About Our Daughters and Essence.

On the
strength of the fact that we are both writers, and that she is
a filmmaker,
I think it is time for a short doc on Black Female
Sexuality. I am thinking we can look at the public representation of
Black female sexuality perhaps we can do one on Michelle Obama
and Karrine Steffans.

Byron has inspired me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Attack of the Borderless Relationships


Borderless relationships are dangerous because there is
only a matter
of time before a border is crossed and the entire
spot gets blown.
This past weekend, I fell back from Filthy.
He decided to take the time
to deal with the impact of a
borderless relationship with a lady friend that preceded me.

When we take part of borderless relationships we do so out of a fear
of being rejected. Think about it, if you don't have boundaries, you don't
have to worry about losing the person, or about being accountable
to a relationship. The upside of Borderless Relationships is that
they operate in that zone of the mushy middle. The down side
is that when it goes all bad, it has a tendency to be nuclear.

On Thursday Filthy told me he wanted to limit contact this
weekend, so that he could, pray, fast, reflect and I responded
saying that I understood. We also decided to put some plans
to take a trip on hold. I did understand, but I also missed my
friend. The notion of putting the trip plans on pause lighweight
scared me, as he had been talking about it for a few weeks.
But I took the highroad and agreed to play it by ear.

On top of that my road dog is in Chicago networking at a conference,
so I took it upon myself to go to a cafe and work on sketching the
100 Visionaries website.

Last night, I walked into a cafe, set my stuff down and I hear a
man clear his throat, yet I say nothing, but my mind registers
that it sounds familiar. I proceed to pay for my tea, and as I
look for the honey, I felt eyes on me.

I turn and look and it is The Graduate, sitting there, with a pretty Black
lady. He is smiling and staring.

I return the gaze. I don't blink.

I thought to myself, God has an amazing sense of humor.

I haven't seen The Graduate since May '07. All I could think was, man,
you can't write better scenes than these. In many ways, my relationship
with The Graduate was a borderless relationship. While I have spoken
to him recently about grad school, I deaded having contact
with him as a realized last year that he was interested in me,
but he wasn't
interested in doing the work to be with me.
This of course is the recipe for the Borderless Relationship Syndrome.

The chickens came home to roost, kick it and freestyle last night.

I grabbed my tea.
I spoke to him and walk and set my stuff down. He
mentions something about not receiving a hug, and I call him an "ass".
I give him a hug, speak and I introduce myself to his lady friend.

Then she says, "You must know him pretty well to call him an ass".

I smiled.

He responds saying, "What, I didn't hear her call me that".

I responded playing it off- with, "Hey, Lisa, ladies gotta stick together,
moi, I said nothing of the sort ", and we all laughed.

Her statement was clever. She didn't know who I was, and she was letting
me and him know that she didn't know.

I spoke to young Filth about the run in and he responded, of course, saying,
"How you feel?" At the moment I was grateful that I was humble
enough to bring it up and for the fact that we have a friendship
where we can talk about ish like this. He responded saying, I been there
before, and it ain't pretty. We laughed.

This was a lot to deal with in one night. It many ways it goes to show
you how God tests you and provides challenges when you least expect them.

Been in any borderless relationships recently?

How do you deal with them?

Did it blow up?

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'd Rather Be Poor and White than Rich and Black: McCain and the White Vote


Obama is a Hooligan, Terrorist and a Socialist?

Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo
has an interesting piece
up on how McCain is fanning the flames of anger and rage on
the campaign trail. He writes,
Look, it's easy to dismiss the guy at this rally as a crank. But the larger context here is important. The McCain campaign -- with public statements and ads suggesting Obama is linked to terrorists and many other tactics -- is very deliberately trying to whip up mass fear and loathing about the prospect of an Obama presidency.
When they stood up and started I was lightweight reminded of a
lynchmob. Before you dismiss me consider this.
Black men were
lynched under the auspices
of protecting the sexual well being
of the southern bell, however
there was an more stealth agenda
operating as well. Black men were also lynched as an act of voter
suppression and as an act of economic oppression. According to

There were often three motives for lynchings in the United States. The first was the social aspect: punishing some social wrong or perceived social wrong (such as a violation of Jim Crow) to restore social order.

Another motive was the economic aspect. For example, upon successful lynching of an African American farmer or immigrant merchant, the land would be available and the market opened for white Americans. In much of the Deep South lynchings peaked in the late 19th century, as whites turned to terrorism to dissuade blacks from voting and to enforce Jim Crow laws. In the Mississippi Delta lynchings of blacks increased in the early 20th century as white planters tried to enforce control of labor when more blacks became sharecroppers and laborers.

Lynchings occurred in frontier areas where legal recourse was distant. In the West cattle barons took the law into their own hands by hanging those they perceived as cattle thieves.

Journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells wrote in the 1890s that black lynching victims were accused of rape or attempted rape only about one-third of the time. The most prevalent accusation was murder or attempted murder, followed by a list of infractions that included verbal and physical aggression, spirited business competition and independence of mind. White lynch mobs formed to restore the perceived social order.[3]

How can working class whites identify with affluent whites over
other working
class Black folks, Latino folks and Asian folks?

It goes back to our history. Irish indentured servants chose
to identify with the affluent white owner class, rather than the Black
folks they were working alongside. Many white folks choose to
identify with
whiteness over class then, and many are choosing
over class now. It is important to note that many or not,
which gives us Obama's multiracial, multiclass coalition.

This choice is why some working class whites can blame the
loss of their factory jobs on Affirmative Action, not on the fact
that Clinton's NAFTA gave companies an incentive to move
their jobs to China, Mexico and India.
With the union jobs that have historically created the American middle
class are in China, we are a nation full of service workers (employed
at restaurants and retail jobs as opposed to factories that make
things) earning low wages, and little to no health insurance and
very little job security. Blame Affirmative Action?

Simply, whiteness is a currency. The fact that some white folks choose
race over class is indicative of this. Remember when Chris Rock said,

I love Black people, but I can't stand N-ggas". There is something
very similar
operating here. Didn't Chris stop performing
that joke because white folks were laughing too hard?

Truth hurts.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

$125K to Teach Future Highschool Dropouts


Only 32 percent of Black men graduated from New York City public schools
on schedule in 200

Only when we decide that we are teaching young people, young urban people
with the sole intent of liberating them, will we have any success as educators.

Apparently, there is a school in New York that thinks that paying teachers
$125K per year will make substantial gain in transforming the lives of
future drop outs. Cristine Gralow writes in the New York Times,

The Equity Project Charter School (TEP) will open in September 2009 in Manhattan’s Washington Heights community, and it will aim to enroll middle school students at risk of academic failure. Students with the lowest test scores will be given admissions priority. In order to recruit the country’s top teachers to work with these at-risk students, the school’s founding principal will cut administrative costs and put a higher percentage of the school’s public funding into teacher salaries. He’s also seriously raising teacher qualifications, offering teachers a potential $25,000 bonus, and expanding the school day and work year for teachers. The principal will make $90,000. There will be no vice principal.
Only then will they become critical thinkers who feel that they can make a
contribution to society. In Living for Change, Grace Bogg's
what young people need in order to be engaged in school.
She writes,
Meanwhile, watching high school dropouts hanging around on our corners, as our communities deteriorated, I began to talk less about education to govern and more about creating a system of education to address the needs of these young people and of our communities at the same time. Instead of seeing our schools as institutions to advance individual careers, I argued we must start turning them into places to develop our children into responsible citizens- by convolving them in community building activities, such as planing community gardens, preparing school and community meals, building playgrounds, cleaning up our rivers and neighborhoods. In this way our children will learn through practice, which is the best way to learn.
Unless you are educating oppressed people with intention of liberating them
all efforts will
be unsustainable. That is not so say that there will be no success,
what ever that may or may not mean, what I am saying is that paying more
isn't scalable, and it isn't sustainable.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere gets to the heart of the matter
when he writes,
Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize and repeat. This is the "banking" concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing deposits.

It is not surprising the the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable manageable beings. The more students work at storing deposits entrust to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness from which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world...The capability for the banking education to minimize or annul the students creative power to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor see it transformed. The oppressors use their "humanitarianism" to preserve a profitable situation.

No pedagogy [way/method of teaching] which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among oppressors. the oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.
While I think its commendable that the school wants to pay the teachers more,
teacher pay does not address the fact that a banking system of education
will only produce people who only survive, not people who are critical
thinkers who feel that they can make a contribution to society

Most urban public school's aren't anything but jails with training wheels.

I don't believe you, you need more people.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Barack and Curtis: Byron Hurt's New Film


Chickenhead. Bitch. Ho. Gold Digger. Sapphire. Jezebel.
Trick. Auntie.

Apparently as a Black woman, I am everything and I am nothing.

Uncle Tom. Gangster. Sambo. Homo Thug. Dope Dealer.
Gang Member. Drop Out. Uncle. Sell Out. Uppity. Nigger.

Perhaps, Black men are everything and nothing as well.

Black gender myths operate similar to American racial myths,
interdependently. In this way you can't have a Barack without 50,
and you can't have a pimp without a trick, and you surely
can't have Black without White. To take a step back, I am not
in any way saying that Barack and 50 are in any way similar to
a pimp and a trick. What I am saying is that in order for myths
to work they have to operate on binary, Black/White, A/B level.
Any attempt to seperate the two will leave you without a leg to
stand on, argument wise.

The notion of how Black masculinity is performed was on my
mind as I watched the trailer for Byron's new film "Barack and Curtis"
which is set to be released this week on October 10th. I found
it interesting that their "swagger" was mentioned twice by two
different men. I also found it interesting that the white gentleman,
Kurt, wanted to talk about rappers in general but not 50 specifically.

Barack and Curtis operate within their on kind of binary. Curtis
has been shot umpteen times, has an impressive rags to riches
story and has appeared as hyper masculine as a human man
can get. Barack on the other has had his masculinity questioned
throughout the campaign. He has been called, soft, weak, and
presumably unfit to lead the free world.

Barack has had an interesting impact on influencing our willingness
to talk about how we map race onto a binary of Black or White.
Whenever I hear someone speaking about whether he should
be categorized as Black or White, all can I think is, whose interests
are being served by thinking about race that way?

Which brings me to race and the 2008 election. The fact that some
white folks are so cagey about speaking honestly about race is
indicative of how pervasive and deeply rooted race is in our
everyday lives. For instance, just today there was an article on
assessing how honest white voters have been about voting for
Obama and the impact that this may or many not have on the accuracy
of exit polls.

All of our myths, from mammies and jezebels to thugs and uncle toms
serve the function of keeping us trapped in neat tiny boxes of invisibility
and stereotypes. And don't get me started on Soccer Moms, Wallmart Moms,
Nascar Dads, and Joe Six Pack. These myths

We are all interdependent, whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge
it or not. Accepting our interdependence is the first step towards transformation.
Which brings me to the question, what stops us from accepting the fact
that we are our history?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

VH1's 100 Best Songs in Hip Hop: The Evolution of Black TV


Two major things happened in Black television in the last week or so.
Rap City was canceled, TRL was canceled and VH1 presented the
100 best songs in Hip Hop

All of these are interesting because they relate to hip hop. I remember
when I first learned that 106 and Park audience surpassed TRL's about
7 years ago, and I thought to myself, hmm thats interesting. In fact, I think
Carson Daly had just left the show for Hollywood.

Recently, I read a quote in S. Craig Watkin's book which said that black teenagers
in general and boys specifically occupy a very interesting place in the American
culture. On one level their presence is reviled, their bodies are policed (laws on
sagging pants) and they are systematically undereducated (only 35% of Black men
starting 9th grade in NYC graduate) yet their "cultural product's" are in demand from Madison Avenue to Japan.

In watching the segment on NWA, I was reminded of how far from mainstream
hip hop was in the early days. I was particularly tickled when Kurt Lorder
of MTV asked Ice Cube a question about the educational system and he
responded "We ain't activist, we give social commentary, we like the news".
I find that this sentiment squares nicely with my my post last week, titled,
"Hip Hop Isn't Political". What was particularly interesting as well was how
none of them were making money except Eazy E and Jerry Heller.

Here NWA was, making their social commentary and not getting paid. I am
almost willing, let me repeat, almost, willing to go out on an ledge and say
that there was something pure about their music, at that time.

They had no radio play, they sold millions of albums, the free speech
folks rallied behind them, and they were not motivated by the money
because they (the majority of them) were not making any money.

The marginalization of early hip hop and its subsequent popularity
reminds me of how easy it is to go from being shunned by capitalism
to being used by it. In many ways Black men are like Detroit, when
capitalism no longer needs you, you will be left to figure out what
to do with yourself.

It happened to The Chinese, The Japanese, Black folks and it will probably
happen to Mexican folks in the next 30 years. Cheap labor is America's best

Back to Rap music. The fact that Rap City was canceled reminded me
of all the programming that was once on BET that is no longer shown
such as Rap City, Teen Summit, Midnight Love and BET Nightly News.
Don't get me wrong, I don't look to television for social justice or spiritual
up lift, but there is something especially gully about willingly canceling
all programming thing that may have some social value beyond promoting

Black people stay loving/supporting those who don't love them back.

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