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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Dreamcatcher

I just had this thought while watching Dr. King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. The things he is speaking about– justice for black people; that one day we would have the rights to vote and walk freely without segregation, etc. I sit here and I’m grateful that these things have now come to pass, but it wasn’t until just now, just now, when it clicked. This march, and the actions of the hundreds of thousands of people that preceded this march, at one point, were just leaps of faith. These things were just small footsteps with faith but they set the blueprint for the freedom that we have today, and an anchor for which we can hold onto as we continue sailing through to true justice for ALL people. Dr. King had hope, and a dream and power to move people’s hearts with peaceful determination. But, he had no idea what would happen, just faith, a faith that saw that at the center of all people there is good.

 

There are people –black people- who say there will never be true justice in the legal system for the African American woman or man. I don’t doubt that there were once people who thought they would never walk onto a bus and sit down where they pleased. I don’t doubt that there was a child who sat quietly in her classroom accepting that she would never sit in the same classroom with a white child. I don’t doubt that there were people who didn’t care either way. But, if one could dream–if one could dream of true change- change in a country founded on the oppression of the very people who built it, now that’s remarkable.

That dream made provision for my dream. So, maybe it isn’t far-fetched to see a world where a young black man walking from the store with skittles won’t be judged by the color of his skin but the content of his character, or to imagine an education system that doesn’t clear a direct path to imprisonment or death for young brown men. Maybe, just maybe, I could have a dream too.

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I, like many of us have been tuned into the George Zimmerman trial since it began. I almost typed “Trayvon Martin” trial because, at times, it was hard to understand just who was being tried. Today jurors in the case heard the closing arguments for the defense and the final rebuttal from the state. The defense rode on the platform, if you would call it a platform, that Zimmerman had every right to act the way he acted, that he was a regular man with aspirations of protecting and serving his community but was attacked by a young man who refused to “run away” upon being followed. The defense went as far as to say that Martin had plenty of time to run— four minutes. Defense attorney O’Mara went on to list all of the things one could do in four minutes, but that Martin chose to stay put. My question is, why would a person run if they’re guilty of nothing? If I am minding my business walking to the store and I notice a man following me, am I to assume he is going to kill me?

I understand that the defense attorney had to do his job and try to convey to the jury that, all things considered, Zimmerman acted logically considering these circumstances, but there were times during his argument where I wondered if even he, believed himself.

“When I first got this case, I thought it was going to come and go in 20 minutes,” Defense Attorney O’Mara said.

These were not his best moments. Many times during his argument, O’Mara sounded insensitive, condescending and even patronizing in his attempt to get his point across; certainly not a good technique when speaking to a jury of women.

This trial has ignited quite a movement via social networking, as many know. I have seen countless tweets refuting the support behind the #ZimmermanTrial and the apathy about the young black men dying in our own communities. My problem with this is that no one black man’s death is more important than the other. This case was yet another reminder of the racist society that we live in, not an attempt to diminish the violence that runs so rampantly in the African American community. We have to fight one battle at a time, or get enough warriors together to fight them all.

Trayvon’s parents decided to reach out to media to bring about some justice for their son. If every parent of every slain teenager in Chicago, Philadelphia, or Atlanta made it a point to speak out on their child’s behalf, would we still be marching to our city courtrooms or wearing hoodies to show support? Don’t answer that. That answer is too complex. If Troy Davis, Caylee Anthony, and Trayvon Martin have taught this country anything, it’s that some of the laws and the policies that are effective in this country are not JUST at all. Getting upset has to do more than a hoodie and a march. Getting upset has to send you to your local politician- has to send you to your post office with your petition- has to encourage you to get up and DO SOMETHING about it, or else, we’ll be back here, not long from now, protesting about another person killed in cold blood because of a culture that ignores hatred if it doesn’t directly affect them.

 

Disclaimer: (I wrote this post on my lunchbreak so please excuse typos and punctuation!)

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I’m having a moral dilemma. I like to think of myself as a modern-day-feminist. I like to think of myself as a person who will always fight for the rights of women, especially black women, and the oppressed, which generally  fall into the same category. I am embarrassed to say that I have been struggling with how to feel about a certain situation in the popular media headlines.

I have begun re-reading one of my favorite books, Deals with the Devil, and Other Reasons to Riot, by Pearl Cleage and I have just gotten to the chapter where she discusses Miles Davis. Miles Davis admitted, willingly in Miles: The Autobiography that he hit actress Cicely Tyson when they had been together. What is so brilliant about Pearl Cleage is that she always presents readers with a question to present to themselves. We learn about how she felt when she learned that one of her favorite musicians had hit a woman. She felt a moral responsibility as a feminist to defend her sisters but in the same breath she questioned whether or not defending her sisters meant abandoning the music that was once so sweet to her.

I am faced with a similar issue when asked about the Chris Brown/ Rihanna “relationship”. I cringe just thinking about it because the image of Rihanna’s battered face left an imprint on my brain, but, it seems to have faded from her own.

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I was so upset at what he had done to her and the comments that quickly ensued about what she could have possibly done to bring him to do this. These are the same unnerving, unacceptable conversations that follow the rape of a woman because she had to have done something to get raped. We all know men don’t commit violent crimes against women without being first encouraged too, right? Wrong.

We all watched as the couple sashayed together to the Grammy’s and have been spotted cuddling around town. Now, before my brothers accuse me of giving racists another opportunity to confirm the hate against the angry black man, please understand that I am black and woman before I am anything else. I have to defend the black woman at all costs, before anything else. I also need my kings to know that my defense of my sisters should not cause an offense to any secure, honorable black man.

After all, I am conflicted about this. I started writing this post months ago and I am just now finishing it. I was so conflicted that I couldn’t even work up enough courage to publish the post. But now, I’ve had it. I’ve decided that if I stand for anything, I have to speak out against this relationship. Not solely because of the physical abuse but because of that womanly intuition that allows each of us to see one another for who we really are, when we’re in tune with it. I am not judging Rihanna. I feel so sorry for her. I feel sorry for Chris Brown too. They are perfect examples of a generation of entitled kids given everything too soon and losing everything too quickly. I know, “ain’t nobody’s business but you and your baby,” –got that.

I’ve seen that “ain’t nobody’s business” mantra do more harm than good in this short life I’ve lived.  It was everyone’s business when you cried to Diane Sawyer, when you were pissed off, heartbroken, and in love with the man that beat you. When you didn’t know how to respond because unlike most battered women, your beating took place on the main stage and now the stage hands, back up dancers and audience were waiting on your next move, literally. There was no turning back then. Rihanna couldn’t hold that in, and anyone who follows the pop princess, knows that she isn’t one to hold back on her feelings.

 

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So now, I have to decide how I’m going to handle myself now that I’ve confronted my disdain for this relationship. Does this mean, I have to turn off my radio, and delete all of my Rihanna and Chris Brown songs from my I-pod? Does supporting the music of these two individuals conflict everything I stand for? My hopeless romantic spirit is rolling its eyes at me right now. As much as I’d like to twist this into some love-story between two broken souls who defied all odds to be together, I can’t. While I can’t predict the future, there’s one thing I know about gravity: when something fragile hits the floor, it breaks, and no matter how you glue it back together you will always see the cracks, and cracks lead to, more cracks. Eventually, we’re back to where we started with a whole bunch of jagged pieces cutting you every time you try to mold them. I don’t wish ill-will to either of these lovers, actually, somewhere deep inside I’m hoping that the universe shakes things up and things work out between them, at least, for my i-pod’s sake. So it goes.

 

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I have realized that I rarely ever talk about my non-profit organization Mic Check 1-Two! on here. Well, that’s about to change! I wanted to let my loyal readers know about a talk show that I am producing, directing, and co-hosting for Mic Check 1-Two! The show is called Misled. 

Misled is a show dedicated to informing the uninformed and the misinformed. We are living in a time where negativity sells and positive images are not always easily accessible or attractive. Our aim is to bring positive images into the media. Misled will focus on common misconceptions and stereotypes about African-Americans by exposing the truth behind them and offering solutions and alternatives to broaden perspectives and perceptions.

Basically, all of the things I talk about on here, and am disgusted with, and conflicted with and otherwise, have finally found a place to be hashed out.

Episode 1 of Misled will focus on colorism within the African-American Community, specifically, the dreaded: Dark-skinned vs. light-skinned controversy. We’ll talk to a historian to get to the root of the issue, we’ll talk to some young women and men to find out just how much this issue has affected us throughout our lives, and what we can do to change perspectives for the future.

Check out the promo video for Misled, Episode 1 below.

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President Barack Obama was re-elected to serve as President of the United States of America for four more years last night.

I had no doubt in my mind that he would win. I remember my dad asking me back in 2010 if I thought the president would be re-elected and I said yes. I believed it then, I believed it when I cast my ballot to vote and I was right **toots horn**.

Although the media and the exit polling results helped to prove that this was a close election, I would hope that we as Americans, have learned a great deal from this election and presidential campaign.

I know that POTUS has learned a great deal, as he pointed out in his victory speech last night and I am hopeful that he will use this newly discovered wisdom in the coming years.

Some of the conversations surrounding the election and voting have been very troubling. While I have seen many young people motivated and inspired to exercise their right to vote and be involved in the democratic process, I have also heard some of the most uninformed and misguided statements from my peers. I know people who didn’t vote at all because they say the president didn’t do enough for the poor. Do I think the president could be more vocal about the conditions and issues affecting the poor? Absolutely. On the other hand, I feel that the President’s plan of investing in education and offering tax cuts to the middle class will have a direct affect on the poor. I know that this is not enough for some people. I know that some people need him to broadcast for “the hood” at all times but I think that is an unrealistic request of the President of an entire country.

There are some movements such as, #Occupythehood  (@Occupythehood on Twitter)  that are geared toward organizing minorities in underserved areas and engaging them in the political process to get their issues to the top of the president’s list. I hope more of these groups are formed and put into action because simply “hoping” that the President will represent every issue that plagues minorities simply on the premise that, “he’s just supposed to” isn’t smart at all. “Hope” may have made for a good campaign slogan but organization is the key to progress. This was ever so evident with the results of this presidential election.

 

What would’ve happened if women no longer had the choice to govern their own bodies or if they no longer had access to the minimal healthcare they have now in order to treat and prevent the diseases that so disproportionately affect poor, African Americans? I am black and female and I couldn’t afford to take that chance by voting for the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. I have no desire to support a party that does not support me. Women’s issues can be found at the bottom of that thick binder Mitt Romney is so proud of and they’re far too important to me to be brushed under the rug.

I just want to encourage people not to let the media tell you who to vote for. Vote on the issues. That’s what democracy is about.

Bipartisanship is going to be so important in the coming years. The President is going to have to lead in a way that forces congress to put politics aside and find reasonable solutions to the issues. There are SO many issues.

To get back to the lessons learned, I hope and pray that the Republican party has discovered their AHA! moment. You cannot alienate minorities and ignore women’s issues and expect to win an election. This strategy may have worked 50 years ago, but in 2012, that’s just not going to fly.

I’m a firm believer that thoughts become things and what you speak into existence shall be. That being said, I’d like to suggest a small detail that could help to move the Republican party forward. It’s just a small thing, I promise. STOP calling yourself  “The Grand Old Party.”

If this election has proven anything, it’s that old policies and ways of thinking will get you nowhere in this country. It is time for the Republican party to start thinking in the “now”. Republicans need to evaluate how conservatism is defined. Is conservatism merely an ideology that disregards anything that opposes Biblical and traditional values? If that answer is yes, “Houston, we have a problem.”

There will be 20 women with seats in the Senate come January  and that alone should be enough to show the world that we are moving forward.

Forgive me if this post was all over the place but I’m filled with so many different feelings after this campaign. We still have a way to go in this country but it’s encouraging to know that the only way to go from here is, up.

 

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IGNITE 2012 EVENT COVERAGE

Lana Adams

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(left to right) Journalist Andreas Hale, Hip-Hop pioneer Paradise Gray, Rapper Jasiri-X, Tarik Ross (Stampede Management), Brandon Wyche (Hiphopsince1987.com), Kim Osorio (E.I.C., The SOURCE)

“Well, should Obama be the president of Black America?” –This question has been raised increasingly since the 2008 Presidential election, and it was now being posed to a group of writers, entertainment personalities and hip-hop artists on a breezy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

This controversial topic was one of many during the first panel of the day for the final stop on the Ignite 2012 tour. Panelists included, hip-hop journalist Dream Hampton, former host of BET’s 106 & Park, Rocsi Diaz, SOURCE Magazine, Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio and many other community leaders and activists.

“Could Obama do more?” —“Yes,” Rocsi Diaz interjected but, she’s happy with the work that the president has done for the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The president signed The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2010 which included a proposed $98 million increase to funding for HBCU’s. Diaz added that Governor Mitt Romney is very open about the demographic he represents and serves and that there is nothing wrong with the President supporting African Americans.

Panelist Deion Jordan, a seventeen-year-old young leader and member of The Philadelphia Youth Commission, entered the conversation claiming that Blacks in America need to see themselves not as “Black Americans” but as Americans.

“I consider myself an American. Race is philosophical nonsense,” Jordan added.

The crowd erupted into an uproar with this comment but moderator Biko Baker, Executive Director of The League of Young Voters politely asked the crowd to let the young man speak.

Jordan, pointed out that there are many credible universities that don’t qualify as HBCU’s that are in need of funding as well. Jordan will be attending Haverford College upon graduating from High School next year.

Hip-hop journalist, Dream Hampton, added that the POTUS should feel a responsibility to represent the African-American community because of the integral part the community played in getting the president elected. Exit polls from 2008 show that President Obama won approximately 96% of the black vote, with Black women voting at higher percentages than black men.

The feeling of abandonment when it comes to the president’s representation of issues plaguing African-Americans is not new at all. Most of the panelists agreed that many successful blacks begin to separate themselves from the community upon becoming successful.

“With successful people, it seems as if blacks are scared to be black [publicly], there is a sense that when you speak out on something that is a “black issue” and you have some sort of esteem, you are doing something wrong– as if, when you endorse your own, it’s seen as reverse racism,” journalist Andreas Hale added.

SOURCE magazine Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio agreed with Hale’s theory of desertion as she recounted the many artists whose careers were launched by The Source magazine, but who decline interviews when asked now.

“Certain artists get to a certain level and they don’t want to do The Source anymore; they’d rather be on Rolling Stone or GQ,” Osorio said.

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(left to right) Rocsi Diaz (BET), Chuck Creekmur (Allhiphop.com), Malik Rhassan (Occupy The Hood), Biko Baker (League of Young Voters), Deion Jordan (Philadelphia Youth Commission), writer, Dream Hampton

Many of the megastars like Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z have used their influence to encourage people to get involved with the political process. One may recall the excitement behind the “Rock The Vote” movement during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

I too, remember being in my sophomore year at Temple University running down Broad Street to see Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and other stars perform for free to get the youth mobilized about voting.

Many, including rapper and panelist, Jasiri X, have wondered if the hip-hop community has fallen short in the months leading up to November’s presidential election with efforts to keep the youth motivated and engaged in the political process.

Tarik Ross, of Stampede Management believes that when it comes to hip-hop’s role in civic engagement, it is just a different time. Ross doesn’t believe today’s artists can be compared with emcees like KRS-1, and other more conscious rappers from the 90’s. “Hip-hop culture is still just as powerful, there’s just less focus on being lyricists,” Ross said.

Dream Hampton, who co-authored rapper Jay-Z’s book, “Decoded,” doesn’t believe the hip-hop community should be expected to do anything.

“Jay is doing what he can do,” Hampton said. “Why is he held to such high political responsibility? It’s our responsibility to peer educate; all of these wannabe rappers should want to be activists. Would it be nice if the mainstream artists cared more? — “Yes” but, Hampton added, “each individual, no matter your occupation, should help one another [become more politically aware], not just celebrities. Churches and spiritual leaders should be leading those movements; we need more youth leaders.”

Hampton isn’t a fan of this sensationalized popular idea of “celebrity”, which is one of the reasons she asked not to be photographed and declined my request for an on-camera interview. Hampton talked candidly with me about the power and influence of social media and how enthralled our generation is with sharing ourselves so freely through pictures, and constant status updates.

Other panel discussion topics included how men in the hip-hop industry can do a better job of protecting African American women.

“Be intentional about what we do; stop supporting women that take their clothes off to rap and stop being afraid to love,” Hip-Hop pioneer, Paradise Gray offered as one way to make a change for black women in the hip-hop industry.

Brandon Wyche, CEO of Hiphopsince1987.com believes that more “respect records” should be made for women to set a trend while Tarik Ross believes we should be honoring the women in our community that are making positive strides.

Kim Osorio knows how hard it is to be a woman in the male dominated industry of hip-hop all too well, having won a lawsuit filed against The Source Magazine in 2006 claiming unlawful termination for filing a complaint of gender discrimination, as well as a defamation suit against the owners of the magazine.

Osorio credits the misogynistic views of women in the industry partly to the current sensationalism with female exotic dancers. Osorio also wants women to be responsible and held accountable for “not always doing things that are constructive,” which adds to the negative portrayal of women of color in hip-hop culture. She wants people to understand that these things are for entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously.

The issue of violence and its alarming rates in the African American community was another topic of discussion.

“It makes people too much money,” Paradise Gray said. Gray noted that the images of violence in hip-hop serve as a perpetual money-maker for businesses which set young black men up for jail or death.

Rapper and activist Jasiri X, cited that blacks are to blame as well for the perpetuation of violence by supporting many of the violent images and artists. “Through our own dollars, we finance our own destruction,” X said.

The conversation closed with a performance by Rapper Dee 1 and a charge to the young people to stay motivated and involved with the community.

The event was organized by The League of Young Voters Education Fund and The Philadelphia Youth Commission.

View event photos here.

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A woman in her 60’s was killed the other day. In her neighborhood. She was the mother of nine. Nine children. Her neighbors said she was a pleasant woman who could be found outside sweeping the sidewalk outside of her home.  Her son said she was always quoting Bible verses. She was shot in the back of the head and left for dead in an alley near her home.

A 51-year-old woman was beaten and robbed today, by a ten-year old boy. A ten-year -old boy. Police say his accomplices were ages 9 and 7.  He’s Hispanic–because I know you’re googling the story now just to make sure it wasn’t “one of us”, but it was, wasn’t it?

There is a war going on out here. The violence against women and children is increasing at alarming rates. Not to mention, our young men. But we rally, and we wear T-Shirts and we blog about it. (Exhibit A, I’m apart of the problem). Oh and we march, boy, do we march. Then we go home, and lock our doors, and ignore the suspicious looking activity on the corners because we’ve got to live in this hood, and we know that boy’s mother and couldn’t stand to send him to jail. Until, of course, he’s standing over us with a pipe, demanding money. Or until, that “crazy, fast, girl from up the street” is found dead, on that little block, where you never park your car. But you won’t tell police about that scream you “may have heard”, because, who will hear yours? You have to protect yourself. Isn’t that the way to win a war? Protect yourself; beat the opponent to the punch, or to the shot, or to the wound, or, to the grave. Pick one. Survival of the fittest. But if the armor of protection still ends in death and tragedy, what good is the shield? It shields one of us by ultimately harming all of us.

 

We’ve become such an individualistic, selfish society, only satisfied by attention. Like my picture, Re-tweet my post, come to my show, and take a picture with me there, so we can show everyone how amazing we are. Instant gratification is satisfying enough; we are so enthralled in ourselves, so intrigued by the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The people most of us will never be or get to meet. We have GOT to do better. I feel a revolution coming on. I’d like to channel the motivation of the Black Panther party, a little less radical, but just as passionate. We have to preserve and protect the human race against, the human race. I challenge you, whoever you are, to do something to positively benefit someone else. If you see something that’s wrong, say something, if you’re doing something that’s wrong, stop it. Figure out an action plan to promote positivity and stop some of this senseless, selfish behavior that’s killing us. Start an army of change. Don’t wait for a chain of command, every soldier that joins must also be the General. Start today.

That’s an order.

 

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