Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Asher Roth and Why Rappers Need "Nappy Headed Ho's"


Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Bryon Hurt

28:20 sec Women respond to being called Bitch's on the street at BET's Spring Bling
29:43 sec "If George Bush called you a Nigga you would think he was talking about you."
43:00 sec "You can't go to a label with self destruction, you will self destruct."
46:10 sec Jadakiss, "after seven hundred thousand records its all white people buying the records."

First off, let me start off by saying that I love hip hop. Love it.
Every since I was 8 years old and my brother gave me my first dub of
LL Cool J's "Radio." Then, when I was 11, I stole his Too Short "Freaky Tales"
and listened to it in my room with the volume low and the door
closed because I didn't
want my momma to hear me play it.

That being said for the last few days I have been thinking about
Hip Hop, Black women and "Nappy Headed Ho's."

Five days ago Asher Roth
Tweeted, while on Rutgers campus, that
he was hanging out with the some "Nappy Headed Ho's".
subsequently deleted all the tweets and apologized
for making the comments.

Some of the user's comments that followed stated that
"he was just
playing", other people said that they were
going to unfollow him on

I then thought, if Asher Roth's Black fans stopped following him,
it would be irrelevant, because corporate rap doesn't need
Black listeners anymore, in the same way the the United
States no longer
needs Detroit.

Hip hop's unspoken truth is that white teens play a large
role in deciding which music will be signed, promoted
and distributed
by record companies and played on the radio.

In the book Hip Hop Wars, Tricia Rose lays out the
theoretical framework for analyzing the current state
of corporate rap music. She writes,

The trinity of of commercial hip hop a whole: The trinity
of commercial hip hop- the black gangsta, pimp, and ho-has been
promoted and accepted to the point where it now dominates
the genre's storytelling view.
She goes on to to say that "what gets presented creates audience
desire as much as it reflects it."

In many ways her book has given me a theoretical framework
to analyze Asher Roth, why rappers need ho's, and the White
desire for Black death and I will refer to it throughout this essay.

Asher Roth has what may be called the luxury of being a white
rapper. As a white rapper
he isn't forced to confront the choice of having
to take on the the myth of the "Black Thug, Gangsta and The Pimp
in order to sell records.

Perhaps, it isn't a luxury, perhaps he is being treated like a
being and the other rappers being treated like or at
least portrayed
as subhuman. Yesterday, I was on Passion
of the Weiss
reading Jonathan Bradley's analysis of Roth's
album and he basically concludes that the album fails because Roth
isn't being true to himself.
Bradley writes,
Roth’s debut isn’t a hip-hop chronicle of the life
and times of a middle class suburban kid. It isn’t
like I was expecting an
Illmatic for the commuter
towns (though wouldn’t such a thing be incredible?)
but given Roth’s insistence that he hasn’t been
feeling a quarter century’s worth of hip-hop made
by black folks from the inner city, I hoped he could
offer a more compelling vision of his lifestyle than
1) Smoking weed; 2) Hitting on girls; and 3) Playing
video games. Because I’ve never noticed hip-hop
lacking for songs about smoking weed and hitting
on girls....
Roth's, timing, alliteration and flow is different from most cats.
His flow is nice and he is a decent emcee. Would I play it on
a regular basis, no?
I like my story telling a bit
more dense. However, what is relevant is that being White gives
him the option of being
able to rap about girls, weed and college, to
forgo being a
thug, and perhaps most importantly,
to not
be relegated to Hip Hop's margins because of it.

Talking about the white consumption of Black Death is
downer of sorts but so is 800,000 African Americans in
When a Black male artist decides not to represent the
Gangsta/Thug/Pimp trinity, he risks
committing career
suicide, at the worse, or being severely marginalized at the least.

The Roots, Nas, Common, Kweli, Dead Pres, De La Soul, Doom,
Lupe Fiasco, Wale, Mos Def and Little Brother are relegated to
greater or lesser
extent, to hip hops margins largely because,
by and large, of
White teen male desire for Black death.

Common, The Roots, Dead Prez, Little Brother, and Talib Kweli do
not have platinum albums.

Tribe (Beats Rhymes and Life, Low End Theory and Midnight
Marauders) and De La Soul (Three Feet High and Rising), do.

Nas has five platinum albums (Nastradamus, Illmatic,
Stillmatic, God Son, Streets Disciple) one multiplatinum
album, (It Was Written).

In Byron Hurt's film, Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Jadakiss
states very plainly (46:10 sec) that after selling 700,000
records "you are only selling records to white kids... the
white kids love the murder."

Last year, I wrote about my love of Mobb Deep and my
final conclusion was that Mobb Deep fed something
dysfunctional inside of me.
Listening to Mobb Deep
reminded me of where I came from, it reminded me that I
that I went to school and escaped
the trenches of the crack epidemic
that had deep East Oakland
on lock.
It is also a reminder of the fact that so many of the people
that I came up with are either dead or in jail.

What exactly is 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, feeding inside
of white
suburban teens? A fear of Black men? A hatred
of Black people? Or is it just entertainment?

Free Speech
Yes, I understand that rappers do tell stories that would
normally be ignored.
However, the Pimp, Gangsta, Ho trinity
has come to be synonymous
with corporate rap and it needs
to be addressed head on. Professor
Rose articulates this
point when she writes,
"Understanding and explaining are
not the same as justifying
and celebrating, and this is a crucial
distinction we must make if we stand
a fighting chance in
this perpetual storm.
She goes on to explain,
"Thug life is a product and given our history of racial
stereotypes young black men are the ideal sales force
for it.
So if we are going to talk about investment and
we have to admit that there is a large
market for these images and attitudes,
a market far
bigger than black people can be held responsible for."

"Multimillion dollar corporations with near total control
over the
airwaves and playlists which never release
objective and complete
information about callers or
song requests, refuse to openly discuss
how they
determine their playlists or explain the cozy and illegal

relationship between many record companies and radio
uncovered by various investigations over the
years. They want us
to believe that we the listeners
determine what gets played....In
the Early 1990's
prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996
programmers played popular songs an average
of 40 times
per week, By the end of the decade
that number had jumped to 140
plays per week.
Yes, we live in a country that protects free speech
but, with freedom comes responsibility.

No, rappers do not raise the children, the parents
raise the children, however it is disingenuous for rappers to
claim that they are not role models. They have the cache,
buying power, influence, because they have created a
persona that young people want to look up to. If young people
did not look up to them, they wouldn't imitated them, buy their
mix tapes, buy the products that they recommend.

Its ironic. Young people have tens of millions of dollars of
advertisement thrown at them, then they are told, "Well
don't try and be like us, we aren't role models."

The marketing industry is a trillion dollar industry because
marketing works.

Thinking about the ways in which rappers influence
young Black people doesn't let parents off the hook. Professor Rose
articulates both the responsibilities of the parents and artist when
she writes,
Parents alone couldn't possibly be responsible for all
the social influences and pressures that communities
must weather. Yes, parents must do their best, and they
surely bear primary responsibility for raising
their children. But to assume they have total
responsibility- to deny the impact of larger social forces
that profoundly limit some parents ability, including what
highly marketed celebrities say and do in our celebrity
driven culture- is to deny the powerful communal
responsibility we all have for one another.
Some may argue that to tell rappers to change
their rhymes constitutes censorship, but rappers
are already censored.

When Mos Def said on, The Rape Over, "Tall Israeli's is running this rap
shit " the song was removed from the second pressing of the
album. Mos Def rapped,

All white men is runnin this rap shit
Corporate force's runnin this rap shit
The tall Israeli is runnin this rap shit

We poke out the asses for a chance to cash in

Cocaine, is runnin this rap shit
'Dro, 'yac and E-pills is runnin this rap shit
Rose also quotes Lisa Fager Bedaiko from Industry Ears
on the ways in which rappers have been censored. She writes
Freedom of speech has been spun by industry
conglomerates to mean the b-word, the n-word,
ho while censoring and eliminating hip hop music
discusses Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, Jena 6,
the dangers of gun violence and drugs, and songs
that contain "George Bush" and "Free Mumia." In
2005, MTV and Radio Stations around the country self
regulated themselves to remove the words "white man
"from "All Fall Down." The lyric demonstrated the far
reach of capitalism by exclaiming: /Drug dealers buy
, crackheads buy crack/ And a white man get
paid off all of that/. When asked why they decided to
dub "white man" from the lyric the response from MTV
"we didn't want to offend anyone."
I also remember listening to a Kanye's "Gold Digger, and noticing
that it was censored, at the end of the verse. On Gold Digger, Kanye raps,

He got that ambition baby look in his eyes
This week he moppin floorz next week it's the fries
So, stick by his side
I know his dude's ballin but yea thats nice
And they gone keep callin and tryin
But you stay right girl
But when you get on he leave yo a** for a white girl
Rap doesn't need to be censored. It already has been.

How Hip Hop Affects How Black/All Men Treat Black Women

I was walking on 125 and Lexington Sunday, the first 90 degree
day of the year. I came out
of the train station, I remarked to myself,
out loud, that it was really hot. A Spanish man who was posted up,
on the train entrance banister looking down on me
"Yeah mommy, its hot, how you doing?"
I said nothing. He then
said. You can't speak? He became aggravated.
I said nothing.
You smell like fish.
I said nothing. You too good? You smell
like fish.
Louder as I walked away. It was 1:33pm.

I then took out my pad, and decided that I was going to
the time and place of all unwarranted harassing
comments for the next
few blocks.

Next, I had gotten to 125th and 5th. A young Black man,
about 18, was walking behind
me mumbling, "I want to
put my dick in your butt."
I kid you not. Yes. He said,
"I want to put my dick in your butt."

Frankly, I thought he was singing a rap song, and kept
to the corner.

He then said it a couple other times, a little louder. There
no one else around, so he was talking to me. It took
me two seconds to asses the risk, because you never
know if you will be assaulted when you question they
way someone treats you in public. I then turned and said,
"Why would you say
something like that?" His response?

"Because I like you." And he waived for me to come towards him, then
he paused
and kept walking away. It was then that I knew he was sick.
This happened at 1:44pm.

Many folks would like to believe that the music doesn't influence
the way Black men interact with us. Can we prove that? Do we
need to prove it in order to accept it as being true?
That being
said, if seeing can Black president can make someone want to be a
person, then doesn't it extend logically that listening to
Lil Wayne
would make someone want to thug harder?

Then there is the music and how we deny that rappers are talking to
us. Often times, Black women will try and say that the rapper is

not "talking to me" similar to the woman in Beyond Beats and
Rhymes [28:34 sec].
Professor Rose addresses why in rap
songs, the rappers are talking
to all Black women. She writes,
The line between women who "deserves" to be called
these names and those who do not does not exist.
Winding up one side or another of this imaginary
divide is at the discretion of the males and sometimes
the females around you; its not a choice you get to
make. Remember the "classy" women at BET's Spring
Bling whom J-hood confidently identified as "bitches"?

"This separation of black women into the good ones
(the ones we are not insulting) and the bad ones (the
ones we have the authority to label and insult) is a primary
means by which sexism and other forms of discrimination work.
(Remember "good blacks and bad blacks"? "Good
Immigrants and Bad Immigrants"? Model Minorities
and the problem ones. The idea is to establish negative
group terms for the dominated or discriminated group
an then find the good members, the ones who are
wind up serving as the exceptions. This proves the rule,
thus perpetuating the group discrimination for everyone."
Rose goes on to make the amazing assertion that rappers need
"ho's." This analysis blew my mind and was acutally the passage in
the book the confirmed that I needed to write this essay. She explains,
Rappers are not under assault by black women whose
behavior they do not like. The gangsta rapper image
needs "bitches and ho's," and so they continually
invent them. Women so labeled add lots of status and
value to gangsta and pimp images. If you can't have lots
of women servicing you, then how can you be a real
player, a real pimp? So the process of locating, labeling,
partying with, and then discarding Black women is part of
the performance that enhanced gangsta-and pimp
status and thus their income. If, as Jay-Z raps in "99 problems,"
"I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one," then why bother
telling us about her inability to give him problems- unless
controlling bitches is part of his power.... If there so good at
identifying women they insist should be called bitches and
hos then it shouldn't be too hard to stay away from them.
And if they are able and want to stay away from them, then
there is no reason to rap about them constantly.
Think about it this way. What would rap videos look like without
Black women? Then you see my point.

At the end of the day, corporate rap music affects how Black men treat
us, and if it doesn't hurt,
it most certainly doesn't help.

They Just Some Nappy Headed Ho's
In March of 2007, I wrote a post titled, "My Duke/Imus Moment".
The post is about sitting
in an evidence class in law school
when my professor decided to use the Duke rape case as a
teachable moment on the inadmissibility of evidence in
rape cases. I wrote,

One of my colleagues says,
"Well can we offer into evidence the fact
that she dressed like a prostitute [I paraphrase
but this is the gist of his statement".
There were good hearted chuckles in the class as well as
several female class mates looking around. Like. What? Did
he just say that for real.

Personally. I felt my HEART raise up in my throat and I KNEW
that I had to say something.

I raised my hand. She didn't call on me and 30 seconds later
the moment passed. She asked, "Did I see a hand raised in
the back?" Did I wanna be the Black girl, talking about the
Black girl topic? NO. But, my hands were sweaty so I said,
"Yes" and proceed to talk. I stated,
"In response to my colleague David's
[class laughter] regarding the
admissibility of the fact that the dancer
wore "prostitute like" clothing.
David's response. "Oh I was just kidding."
I didn't think to say it, but it was the Imus defense in class.
He said it. He meant it, he would have had some integrity and
stood by his statement.
I responded saying,
I know, however, some things need to
stated explicitly.
One has to be very careful when making a
statement regarding a womans clothing in
relationship to rape, because it can lead to
the very dangerous inference that how a
woman dresses invites her to be raped.
Imus tried to play it off and say, he was just kidding.
My classmate tried to play it off and say he was just kidding.
Asher Roth tried to play off saying on Twitter, saying that he didn't
mean to offend anyone when he said he was "hanging out
with some nappy headed ho's."

They are not kidding. They are serious as two strikes and
possessing five grams of crack.

Corporate rap sanctions the Bitch/Pimp/Ho' trinity.
The corporations hide behind the rappers, the rappers tell
the fans to "turn off the radio" and yesterday,
a young man on the street told me he wanted to stick
his "dick in my butt."

No rap music did not invent sexism and if rap music was
eliminated sexism would still exist. However we can no
longer hide behind the "just turn the radio off."

We are all connected whether we want to admit
it or not. I would imagine that the current state
of the global economy would be a reminder of this.

I close with these words from Tricia Rose,
The people most injured by the fraught, hostile and
destructive state of this conversation are those who most need
a healthy, honest, vibrant (not sterile and repressed)
cultural space: young, poor and working-class African American
Boys and girls, men and women,- the generation that comprises
the future of the black community. They have the biggest
stake in the conversation, and they get the shortest end of
the stick in it.

You like how I snuck in the White consumption of
Black death?

Are Rappers addicted to "Ho's"?

I got 99 problems but a blog ain't one?

Bracing myself for the hate mail. Awesome!

*Correction: The post about Asher Roth, on the blog, Passion
of the Weiss, was written by Jonathan Bradley not Jeff Weiss.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Look What I Found.


I was looking at the analytic's for the blog a few minutes
ago and I was both pleased with, interested in and curious
about what I found.

My sight has come up for searches on:

  • blogs about michael baisden and his nonsense
  • rihanna+thugs
  • how did white feminists respond to shirley chisholm
  • gentrifying neighborhoods oakland
  • keyshia cole and feminism
  • watch black female stripper's having sex
  • how much do video vixens get paid
And my favorite.
  • how much for 5 grams of crack
Analyzing search patterns can tell you more than
you want to know.

Have you peeped into another person's internet search
history recently? What did you find? Where you shocked?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Asher Roth x Don Imus x Nappy Headed Ho's


Apparently, Asher Roth was recently on the Rutgers campus
and tweeted that he was hanging out with some
"Nappy Headed
Hoe's." He then tried to clean it up and recant
by saying that "he
was trying to make fun of Don Imus."
He apologize as well.

Recently my post, "Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig",
ran on Racialicious. The post is about the fact that Michael
Baisden stated on his radio show that a wife "should just
lay there and take it", if her husband want's to have sex
and she doesn't. One of the commenter's, "Nina"
who was open, honest and thoughtful in several her comments,
said that she felt that Baisden was being hyperbolic. She writes,

Perhaps because I think of him as being like Chris Rock, someone who exaggerates but often has a bit of wisdom at the core of the shit talking, what I hear is the kind of thing many men say when alone. And there is the risk that he goes to far OR that listeners will take it as gospel and not hear it as hyperbole. I hear it as hyperbole, my brother and friends hear it as hyperbole but that doesnt mean everyone does.
I responded saying,
Let me ask you this, do you think Don Imus was being Hyperbolic when he called the Rutgers women’s team Nappy Headed Ho’s?

If he wasn’t being hyperbolic and was being racist, why should Imus not be tolerated but Baisdens comments are hyperbolic?
Often times, I have found that people hide behind the defense of laughter when in reality it constitutes hate speech.

Can’t sprinkle sugar on shit and call it ice cream.

Having just wrote these comments on Wednesday,
you can imagine my surprise at
seeing Asher Roth say the same thing,
on Twitter, on Thursday.

Why should Asher Roth be singled out when Black men call us
all the time?

I am not saying that Asher should not be criticized for what he has done
but we need to keep it even and acknowledge that many Black rappers
and Black men, and for that matter Black women, refer to Black women,
reflexively, as "hoes."

Perhaps, the underlying assumption in the Black community
at large is that Black women, belong to Black men, that we do not have to
freedom to do what we wish with our bodies, without being subjected
to public scrutiny within our community.

Shoot, I love The Clipse, and I am excited about their new song
with Kanye and their new CD, but thangs havn't been the same since their
"Tree Huggin Bitch" skit.

In some ways, I feel that if Black people want White folks to
take racism
seriously then Black folks need to start taking
sexism seriously

The elephant in the room, as far as I am concerned about rap music
is that in the same way that America no longer needs Detroit, rap
no longer needs Black people or Black listeners

Both the White American and global consumption of Black death and materialism
is part and parcel of Hip Hop. It may be hard for us to admit it, but it is
what it is.

In fact, what we have failed to admit publicly is that rap, by and large
is an opportunity to consume Black death, and the Black female body.

In the essay, "Get Rich and Die Trying", Matthew Birkhold explains
the relationship between Hip Hop, capitalism and the White and
Black consumption of Black death. He writes,
S. Craig Watkins correctly remarks that the extraordinary
success of The Chronic signaled the incorporation of hip
hop into mainstream America. Following in the footsteps of
The Chronic, the years 1993-94 saw the release of debut
records by Nas, the Wu Tang Clan, and the Notorious B.I.G.

All three albums, which all contained descriptive stories
about selling drugs were largely hailed as classics as soon
as they were released and, with the exception of Nas, had
tremendous crossover appeal. However what Watkins does
not point out is that the incorporation of hip hop into mainstream
America was made possible by white consumption of
black men celebrating black on black murder, selling crack,
capitalism, misogyny, homophobia and a rejection of cultural
nationalism. Importantly, during this era, hip hop was not yet
overwhelmingly saturated with drug raps and many rappers
took cultural nationalist positions.

For example, artists such as Brand Nubian, A Tribe called
Quest and De La Soul all released albums that were hailed as
classics during this era. However, these groups did not cause hip hop
to crossover. Because the purchasing power of young whites
created the success of The Chronic and a lack of crossover
success for Brand Nubian, The Chronic was emulated by artists and
labels around the country. As an example, the success of the
Notorious B.I.G and Bad Boy Records is worth examining closer.
Yesterday, @Jarobione further nailed this sentiment when he tweeted that,
jarobione @fwmj lol.... hell no!!!! just making a parallel. Hip-Hop is like a sleazy strip mall with one health food store...lmao
In researching this post, I found an interesting article by Bakari Kitwana
titled, "The Cotton Club:
Black-conscious hip-hop deals with an
overwhelmingly white live audience." He writes
about Hip Hop's white audience,
Boots says he first noticed the shift one night in 1995, in
a concert on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Opening for
Coolio, he stepped center stage and grabbed the mic as
usual, but then saw something unusual about the audience:
a standing-room-only sea of
whitness. Some were almost
dressed like farmers, he recalls. Others had their heads
shaved. "Damn, skinheads are out there," he thought.
"They can't be here to see us." But the frantic crowd
began chanting along rhyme for rhyme.

Zion, MC of the independent rap group Zion-I, agrees the
similarities to jazz are striking: "Jazz went white, then
Black, then white again. At this point African Americans
aren't the ones supporting live jazz [performances]. It's
the same in many ways with independent hip-hop. I've
been to shows where the only Black people in the place
are onstage. It's kind of surreal."

"I love Boots Riley's music, but in general people in the
'hood are not checking for the Coup," says Brother Ali,
part owner of the Minneapolis-based hip-hop collective
Rhymesayers Entertainment. "It's hard enough to get some
of our people to go to a Kweli show. It has a lot to do with the
fact that the emphasis on the culture has been taken
away. It's just the industry now and it's sold back to us—it's
not ours anymore.
It used to be anti-establishment, off the radar, counterculture. People in the streets are now being told
what hip-hop is and what it looks like by TV."

According to industry insiders and most media outlets, though,
the shifting audience isn't just a Black consciousness thing—it's
prevalent in mainstream hip-hop as well.
Whites run hip-hop, they
say, from the business executives at major labels to the suburban
teen consumers. But the often-intoned statistic claiming that 70
cent of American hip-hop sells to white people may cover
up more than it reveals.

No hard demographic study has ever been conducted on
hip-hop's consumers
. And Nielsen SoundScan, the chief
reference source on music sales, by its own admission does
not break down its over-the-counter totals by race. "Any
conclusions drawn from our data that reference race involve
a great deal of conjecture," a SoundScan spokesperson insists.

Wendy Day, founder of the Rap Coalition, a hip-hop
artist-advocacy group, says she's attempted to pair up with
several popular hip-hop magazines on such a study, but none
would commit to help fund it. When she asked an executive at
a major record label, she got an even more interesting
response: "He didn't see the value in writing that kind of check,"
she says. "Because rap is selling so well, he didn't see the value
in knowing who his market is. 'It's not broken, Wendy,'
he said.
'We don't need to fix it.' "
This is relevant to me, because when I walk to the streets,
minding my own business, I, along with other Black women
that I observe, are treated, by default, as nappy headed hoe's
by some Black men.

Some of the interactions are fine, sincere and are warmly
received compliments. Most though, constitute harassment.

We want to walk the street and be. It would make for a more just
sustainable and democratic society if we are able to do so.

With that in mind, last Sunday, I was eating some Mentos, walking
to the train station on 7th avenue to the 2/3 on 42nd street. There
were some young men near the entrance selling candy. They were
wearing skinny jeans, fitted's, tee shirts and a purple
scarves, you know THE uniform. Here is how the exchange went,
Young man: Ms. do you want some candy? No, no thank you
Young man:Can, I have some of your candy?
I keep walking.
Young Man: "Can I have some of the candy between your legs?"
I stopped at the foot of the steps, raised my hand to God, asked for a
right thought or action
, then proceeded to walk down the steps.

Moments like this serve as a connection between the music and our day to day
lives and I wonder what it will take in order to get others to do the same.

I wrote this listening to 10 Jay Electronica songs on repeat.
I may get hate mail, but you know what. F-ck it.
I write this for the Black Girls & Boys in East Oakland that people
consider disposable.
Tionna Smalls on Mine.


Why are white men held to some higher standard
in terms of calling Black women 50 million hoe's?

Why is it so hard to admit that hip hop by and large
involves selling the death of Black men and the bodies
of Black women for White, Black and arguably global consumption?

Why is it so much fun saying "You can't sprinkle sugar on
and call it ice cream?"

Monday, April 20, 2009

What is So Wrong with Living in the 'Hood?


Former California State Assemblyman and former SF Mayor, Willie Brown

Below you will find a link to yesterday's podcast on Gentrification
and Black San Francisco.

Choosing to live in the hood, in many ways is like choosing to
send your child to private versus public school.

Given the fact that public schools are tax supported, we often move to neighborhoods
in order to send our children to "better" schools. That being said,
this is an interesting conversation
to have in the midst of uncertain
economic times and when many of our high schools have a
50% drop out/push out rate. According to the America's
Promise website,

A report to be released today [April 1,2008] finds that only about half of all students served by the main school systems in the nation's 50 largest cities graduate from high school. Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation released today by the America’s Promise Alliance and prepared by Editorial Projects in Education Research Center further reveals that in the metropolitan areas surrounding 35 of the nation’s largest cities, graduation rates in urban schools were lower than those in nearby suburban communities. In several instances, the disparity between urban-suburban graduation rates was more than 35 percentage points.
There is an important connection between the health of a
community being tied to the health of its schools.

I have been having an interesting conversation with a reader, Ahmed, that I am

working on using as a part of a post. Basically the conversation is about
whether middle class Black people in Harlem, BK, and Chicago, who move to
working class neighborhoods, want to displace the current residence,
more so than White folks who move to the same neighborhoods. And for that
matter do intentions matter in race Capitalism demands that land goes
to the highest bidder.

Highlights from the Podcast:
  • Medicine for Melancholy
  • The North is as bad as the South, for African Americans
  • California is a hot bed for testing Neoliberal Policies even though it is "seen"
    as being progressive
  • Can Black people gentrify Black communities?
  • Faith confronted SF Mayor Newsome about Gentrification in SF
  • The Civil Rights Industrial Complex

Thoughts, comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Visualization of NWA's "A Bitch is a Bitch" using Manyeyes


Every since I did the chart on humanity in the hood
a few days ago, I have been thinking about a visualization of
rap lyrics.

Above is a visualization of NWA's "A Bitch is a Bitch."

I was recently reading one of Bol's post's about women
in the rap game
and I found myself wanting to count the number
of time's Black women
were called Bitches, Hoe's and Tricks
and the like in the comments section.

I then knew that I would do a visualization of the NWA's "A Bitch
is a Bitch", and perhaps a post on those comments.

I think the most arresting thing about this image is that
it reaffirms the power that words have, especially when
they are seen and heard over an over again.

What do you think of the image?

...........Don't forget to tune into the podcast tonight on Black
San Francisco and Gentrification.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gentrification has Nothing to do with White Hipsters


Photo I Took Last Year of Banner on Valencia Street
Addressing Mission District Gentrification

Last year, it took me roughly six weeks to earn $5,800.
This is significant because during the late
eighties and early nineties my mother received
public assistance, subsequently she and I lived off of
$5,800 for an entire year.

Yes, $5,800 per year.

Given these facts, last year, I thought a lot about the ways
in which I could personally serve as a gentrifying
factor in my home
town of Oakland, California.
Often times, in popular media, there is very little talk of
or if there is, it is discussed in vague terms,
such as"those hipsters are moving in"
or "those
white people are moving in" or "this area is becoming nicer."

Gentrification has very little to do with white hipsters
moving into
the 'hood and everything to do with process of people
who earn higher incomes moving into neighborhoods
where folks reside who are earning comparatively
lower incomes.

If I am a Black women, in Bed-stuy, East Oakland or the South
Side of
Chicago, and I earn $60K per year and I am willing to
pay $1000 for an apartment that everyone else, who earns
between $10-15K/year, pays $500 per month, then I am
serving as a force of gentrification in this neighborhood. It bears
being stated that I in may ways I am a gentrifying force
in the
same way that a white person earning $60K who moves into
the same community.

What becomes pivotal is my willingness to be engaged with the community
that I have moved into.

A more sustainable, honest and
comprehensive conversation about
gentrification would
involve a discussion of the income of the gentrifiers
not just the race of the gentrifiers.

Wikipedia defines gentrification as,
...the change in an urban area associated with the movement of more affluent individuals into a lower-class area. The area experiences demographic shifts, including an increase in the median income, a reduction in household size, and often a decline in the proportion of racial minorities (if such minorities are present). More households with higher incomes result in increased real estate values with higher associated rent, home prices, and property taxes. Industrial land use can decline with redevelopment bringing more commercial and residential use. Such changes often result in transformation of the neighborhood's character and culture.
Most of what I understand about gentrification is derived
from brilliant scholar and professor at City University New York,
Neil Smith.

Professor's Smith scholarship is meaningful because he discusses
gentrification not only as it pertains to urban communities
but also on a global scale. In an interview with
Jens Sambale,
Volker Eick of Policing Crowds, Smith writes,
Early examples of gentrification might include the Islington area of London or Greenwich Village in Manhattan but by the 1970s there were many recorded cases of gentrification in Europe, North America and Australia. In Berlin, early examples of gentrification were recorded in Schöneberg and Kreuzberg, among other neighbourhoods, but the fall of the Berlin Wall released a huge stock of housing that had undergone considerable disinvestment, leading to a widespread gentrification of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte.

Professor Smith's general premise is that gentrification is a natural
feature of capitalism. If the goal capitalism is both the endless accumulation
of capital
and the extraction of all possible profit from a piece of property,
then it makes sense that once a neighborhood becomes more desirable
it will then be sold to the highest bidder.

Smith goes on to explain the nuances of gentrification when he writes,
Gentrification occurs in urban areas where prior disinvestment in the urban infrastructure creates urban neighborhoods that can be profitably redeveloped. In its earliest form, gentrification affected decaying working class neighbourhoods close to urban centers where middle and upper middle class people colonized or re-colonized the area, leading to the displacement and eviction of existing residents. The central mechanism behind gentrification can be thought of as a 'rent gap'. When neighborhoods experience disinvestment, the ground rent that can be extracted from the area declines meaning lower land prices. As this disinvestment continues, the gap between the actual ground rent in the area and the ground rent that could be extracted were the area to undergo reinvestment becomes wide enough to allow that reinvestment to take place. This rent gap may arise largely through the operation of markets, most notably in the United States, but state policies can also be central in encouraging disinvestment and reinvestment associated with gentrification. But only wealthier people are able to afford the costs of this renewed investment. Integral with these economic shifts are social and cultural shifts that change the kinds of shops, facilities and public spaces in a neighbourhood.
After reading this, I thought word? Gentrification in West Oakland
and East Germany? Rent Gaps? All of this brought me back to San
Francisco and the film Medicine for Melancholy.

The process of gentrification and the impact that it is having on African
Americans is a central aspect of the film Medicine of Melancholy.
In some ways, Jo, one of the main character's in the movie, has
a sense of entitlement with regard to living in San Francisco.

San Francisco is the largest urban city with the smallest Black population.

Jo's rationale is that he shouldn't have to be middle class to live in
San Francisco. There is nothing wrong with a sense of entitlement.
Entitlement compels people to act , to change the world. However,
given the systematic removal of African Americans from San Francisco, I was
curious about the intersection of entitlement and the history
of African Americans in this city.

In the book, Black San Francisco, Albert Broussard describes
San Francisco has always resisted the presence of African
Americans, how historically San Francisco has upheld racist policies
towards African Americans.

By an large, African Americans came to the Bay Area during
WWII to work in the shipping yards and other war time jobs, however they
found that after the war, the game changed. Broussard writes,
The question of whether blacks were qualified was not an issue,
but whether or not private business and industry would break long-standing
precedent and integrate their work forces in the absence of statutory
pressure or coercion from the local, state, or federal government. Fearing
low employee morale and adverse public opinion, many companies were reluctant to integrate. Others were satisfied to hire black workers only for menial labor.
According to Broussard, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors knew
that the businesses were practicing open and aggressive
employment discrimination. Civil Rights leaders sought to implement
a local Fair Employment Practices ordinance in 1950. This ordinance
was met with resistance on both the state and the local
level from the California State Assembly and the agricultural lobby.
There were an intense effort to ensure that there was legal recourse
for African Americans who were discriminated against by employers.
Broussard describes,
...there were attempts in 1945, 1946, 1949 to create a commission
whose most controversial feature was its "broad sweeping
power over employment discrimination, including the
authority to receive, investigate, act in, and render decisions" on
complaints that alleged discrimination in employment.
This was an incredible amount of power, to say the least,
and it wasn't going to be obtained without a protracted fight.

There was also open and aggressive housing discrimination
in San Francisco. Broussard writes,
Seaton Manning was so distressed over his personal housing
situation that he threatened to resign as executive director of the Urban
League and return to Boston. "After two full years," Manning wrote
Lester Granger, " we have been unable to find a house or apartment
in San Francisco. The housing shortage is acute ...Anything good
is restricted.
Black leaders thought that the housing shortage could be addressed
with a permanent low income housing unit. They soon learned differently.
Broussard describes how the San Francisco Housing Authority
allowed African Americans to live in only one of six newly constructed
housing projects. He writes,
The housing authority adopted a resolution in 1942 by unanimous vote
which stated.....In the selection of tenants for this project, this Authority
shall ac with references to the established usages, customs and traditions
of the community." Nor would the Housing Authority "insofar as possible
enforce the commingling of races, but shall insofar possible maintain and
preserve the same racial composition which exists in the neighborhood
where a project is located.
No commingling of races in "liberal" San Francisco? Who knew?

The state of 2009 Black San Francisco can only be examined
in the context of its history. Given the discrimination that African
Americans faced historically, the fact that San Francisco's African American
population grew from 43,460 in 1940, to 55,000 in 1951, and the restrictive
that kept working class, middle class and prominent
African Americans from moving out the 'hood, the fact that African
Americans are leaving San Francisco in droves isn't that surprising

At the end of the day, when we look at shifting demographics,
it is important for us to turn to history and to what is going
on in the world at large in order to understand how our economic
system and legal policies affect our lives.

If we do this, I think we will be on the road to having a meaningful
conversation about the sustainability of our communities.

Want more?
Tania Ketenjian conducted an interview with Medicine for
director Barry Jenkins.
Tom Wetzel's essay, What is Gentrification? is informative.

Experience any gentrification lately?
Can you afford to buy a house in the neighborhood where you grew up?
Why do people hate hipsters?
Was this post informative? Is there anything you wish I would have discussed?

Faith, publisher of the Acts of Faith Blog will be joining us
for this podcast.
Sunday, April 19th at 7pm.
Call in number, (347) 843-4723.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tiye Phoenix x Empress Sharhh x Jean Grae


She hits her stride @ 1:20 sec. Just watch it. I will wait
you get back.

Tiye Phoenix x Empress Sharhh x Jean Grae.

I would pay $20 to see the three of them at a show.

I don't pay for shows. Shoot. I don't have $20. I'm just saying.
Plus, Hip Hop Shows tend to have suspect quality.

But for these three ladies. Yes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig


I was riding through Ohio the other day on a road trip toMichigan.

was looking for NPR when we settled on the Michael

Baisden show.
I was intrigued because the show was about
whether a woman,
a wife, has the right to "Go on Strike"and
hold out on sex from her husband.
Seeing as my research
interests are women and sexuality,
I was intrigued about the
possibilities that the discussion presented.

So, I am listening to the show, and at 6:40 Baisden says to a caller, "If you were
my woman, not feeling like it is not a reason
to give me some." Word?

At 7:53 Baisden says, "If you are not in the mood, just lay there and take it."

The woman caller says that if she doesn't feel like it she isn't doing it.

Then Baisden's co-host says, "Your feelings are obselete, your feelings don't
matter for 30 minutes." [Laughter].

Record scratch.

I understand that withholding sex from your partner is a very serious
matter and typically
indicative of other issues going on in the relationship.

However, "You should just lay there and take it" is a very serious line of
thought and action for Black women for many reasons.

Think about it this way.

We are raped at a higher rate than all other women in the United States.

We are murdered at a higher rate than all other women in the United States.

We are beat by our intimate partners at a higher rate than all other women

in the United States.

According to study conducted by the Department of Justice, African
American women:

  • ...were victimized by intimate partners a significantly higher rates than persons of any other race between 1993 and 1998. Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races.
According to the study published by the Africana Voices Against Violence, Tufts University:
  • The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
  • In a study of African-American sexual assault survivors, only 17% reported the assault to police.
I was waiting for Baisden to insert some kind of disclaimer, and
say, "Ya'll know
I am just playing, I don't want you all to call here
cursing me out", but he didn't.

Baisden's comments got me to thinking. I am currently in the
middle of writing a review to Steve Harvey's "Act Like A
Date Like a Man" and I couldn't help but think
about about how
the Black male talk show hosts are just as
patriarchal as some of the rappers.

Really what is the difference between Snoop saying "Bitches
Ain't Shit But Ho's and
Tricks" and "Just lie there and take It?"

Granted the show mellowed out a bit when Baisden brought
on a
therapist, Dr. Gail Saltz who specializes in relationships
and sex, but the statement
had already been made.

Baisdens comments are also interesting because,
in the United States, it has historically been permissible for
a husband to have
non consensual sex with his wife.

We had no legal standing to refuse to have sex with our husbands.

The courts position was that getting married meant a lifetime
of permanent consent. This meant that
a wife could not be raped.

So you mean to tell me we have rappers, blogs and talk
host's trashing us? I'm cool on those.

My contention is that every time you visit a site, play a tape,
listen to a show, you are voting.

Why vote for
a man who thinks that non consensual sex with your husband
is okay or that you should just lie there and take it, is okay?

Why do we passively accept Baisden's actions?

What does a healthy Black Female sexuality look like if
are just lying there and taking it?

Who is he getting money with?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Martin Luther King jr., Tionna Smalls and Me


About month ago, I cut my hand with a razor sharp stainless
steel Japanese cutting knife at about 6:30pm.
I was cutting green
onions for a fish soup when
I sliced through my finger and finger nail. Ouch.
Snapper, bell peppers, turmeric, red potatoes and cracked pepper. Delish.

At 11pm, Filthy called to check on me. I told him the wound was discolored
and still bleeding a little,
so he insisted that I go to the hospital.
I didn't want to. He was in another
city, my momma is in another
state, and I didn't want to be in
at the hospital alone.

Rather than pout like a big baby, I grabbed a pillow, some Cheez-its
and got a ride to ER.

I don't have health care.

While sitting in ER, I began reading Martin Luther King's Why We Can't
. We pay a lot of lip service to Dr. King, but that man has
a way with words that can make you want to commit. I was particularly
moved by,

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness
of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta
and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an
inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can
we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea.
Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an
outsider within its bounds.
I hope you can see why was moved by his words. Given the state
of our economy, these words resonated with me.

So, I left ER at 2 am and was struck by the fact that there were so more
people many in the waiting room, about ten, most of whom where young
men and women.

Something changed in me.

Every since that night I have had this profound feeling that I should
be doing more.

I think it has something to do with the fact that
the day before I cut my finger, I learned about Tionna Smalls.

Tionna is that deal. She is straight 'hood, committed, action oriented
and completely unashamed of who she is and where she comes from.

Tionna had a column on Gawker
, which is known for its NYC media
incrowd snarkiness. Apparently, Gawker fired her by e-mail
and then turned around and reprinted her statement. What I loved
about the statement was her matter of factness. She writes,
On December 31, 2007, Gawker's owner/managing editor, Nick Denton, informed me through an email that Gawker was going into a different direction and that my beloved column, "Ask Tionna", was no longer being published on the site. He left his number for me to call and emailed me the news twice, incase I didn't understand what the email meant.......

I received the job from Gawker after I wrote an email to them regarding featuring me on their site because I was a motivated black girl from East New York, who wrote this fabulous, self-published book that had plenty of grammatical biscuits in it. To my surprise, they featured me the next day and made fun of my ass so much that it made me laugh (even though I was the subject). The commentators made so much fun of this "ghetto ass black girl" that the editors of Gawker stalked my blog site Talk Dat Ish ( I think it was amazing to them that this girl from the ghetto would write an email about herself and act as if it was coming from someone else. People were just outraged and excited about me, all at the same time.

I must admit when I started my column, I was a grammatical-mess (still am) but my voice was unique and my advice was real and soon the uppity folks at Gawker welcomed me with open arms. My pay at Gawker was minimal but I thought and still feel that it was a great opportunity. If it wasn't for Gawker, many of you would never know who I was. I mean, you would have found out sooner or later, but it wouldn't have been so quick. I learned that I was Gawker's little secret when my column came out on Tuesdays at 6PM, but it didn't bother me because my numbers always stayed between 8,000-20,000 views. That is an awful lot for someone who has never had a job in the industry. I know I got the job because Gawker knew that it would bring numbers and people would laugh at the little Black girl that could but let me explain something. I am the one who is laughing. I now have great connects in the media industry, a contract to sign tomorrow for a reality show of my life on the come up and in the entertainment business, I have genuine fans who loves me and my work, and I have dreams that cant be erased by no one not even Gawker.

Gawker didn't make me, it only made me better. Sure they didn't give me any notice, and leaves me to save up the little $1200, I have in the bank but you know what I have other bigger problems that the CEO who resides in SOHO could never understand or relate to. My cousin just died of AIDS and cops just killed a man (in a buy and bust ordeal) right around the corner from my house. I may rock Gucci sneakers and aviator lenses but listen, I am still bounded by the hood and I cant move out of it until my money get right and I am ok with that because without struggle, there isn't any success but listen no one, not one person in this entertainment industry can stop me because I am a serious person to play games with.

What struck me the most about her was how real she was
and how she wouldn't let anyone shame her.

I saw myself in her.

This became clearer to me after I read the closing to her Gawker
statement. She writes,
Most of all, I am a born leader who understands that it's not where you're from, it's where you going baby. I can sit and beg for a chance to show my talent; hell, I could be like other woman who is trying to make it big in the world and blow balls for cheddar but that is not what my ancestors died for...

They died so we could go out there and make it for ourselves. They died so many of you people who never stepped foot in the ghetto could say, Tionna Smalls lives in East New York, and so it can't be that bad. It is for that little girl that says if Tionna Smalls wrote a book, so can I. So as Robert Frost would say, there's two paths (roads), which one are you going to take?

And my answer would definitely be the road on top because this black girl is going places. So please watch out for me and remember, I am still here to answer your advice, just hit me up and I will help you out.

Wishing you nothing but Hard Dick and Bubblegum,

Tionna Smalls

I came across Tionna at a turning point.

I have been struggling with the process of self promotion,
with relaunching the blog, with writing under by given name,
with marketing myself as a writer and web content manager.

Its hard. Holding oneself out publicly to be something requires
both humility, discipline and courage. It also, and perhaps most
requires the willingness to accept criticism
the way I accept praise. I have the capacity to do these things
most of the time but not all the time. When I don't, I pray for it.

When I read about Tionna, I realized that we are similar in that
we see the work that we do as being important because
we want the girls who come from where we come from to see
that they CAN do something.

My whole crew, Jonzey, TR, Latoya,, Filthy and Ann have all
been crazy supportive in getting me to recognize that I have
a voice and to step out on faith and claim it.

On the other hand, there is a lot of money in the game of
trashing Black women. When I look at my bank account,
I would be lying if I didn't admit that I haven't thought
about running a site like that

But when I think about MLK's words, I can only think,
that ain't me. I need to embrace my lane and stop playing.

Thank you for reading, for commenting and your support.
It is in this blog that I have learned to develop my voice.
Feel free to digg, retweet or just ask questions.

This post felt good.

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