Tag Archives: Message

Agree with the Message, but not with the Methods

I keep hearing over and over that people agree with the issues we are protesting, but that they disagree with our methods of protest. To me, and to anybody else who knows the history of Civil Rights and Black Power in the United States will recognize this as something right out of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963). While sitting in jail in Birmingham, Alabama after being arrested for yet another peaceful demonstration during Project C (for confrontation), King wrote a letter in response to many of the white clergy who chastised King for the methods the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were employing. It is interesting that these clergy members chose to chastise King and SCLC, instead of Bull Conner and his police department for unleashing firehoses and attack dogs upon peaceful protestors; or for the segregation and discrimination that was rampant in the Birmingham at the time. The clergy were not writing to chastise the federal government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for sitting idly by and watching Freedom Rider buses be bombed and the Freedom Riders beaten within inches of death. No, they chastised the oppressed for challenging their oppression in one of the only manners left for them to do so. These people that I am hearing agree with our message, but disagree with our methods sound and feel to me as being no different than the white clergy that King was responding to.

When I receive messages like this what it reveals to me is that people are telling me that the suffering our people are forced to undergo can be withstood longer, while we proceed through the acceptable and respectable channels. It’s like they are communicating; “I know you people are suffering and that many of you are being killed unjustly, forced into slavery via the New Jim Crow, that intimidation and coercion are common tactics used by the establishment to maintain the status quo and to keep you and your people subjugated and relegated into positions of inferiority, and humiliation. But, you have not right to do what you are doing to compel this unjust and unfair system to change.” These statements are made as if we have not been to the Board of Regents of the University of Washington, as if we had not been to the Seattle City Council, to the King County Metropolitan Council, to the legislature in Olympia, Washington to lobby and petition for amendments to our policies and practices. We have been to them all, and I have been to each one personally, and so have many of the people I work with. When you go to one of these places, you only get two minutes, if that, to speak and to present your case and most often, the people you speak till will never respond to a single word you have said. Now if the issue was about the height of a curb, or putting a bench in a park—things that you are very likely to hear during public comment—then that is the place and the forum for it. However, when we are talking about institutional discrimination, the political assassinations of our people being executed by the police, the school-to-prison pipeline, or any other institutional or systemic issue those two minute time slots are merely not enough.

Once, when we went to the King County Metropolitan Council to testify in behalf of King County not building the new juvenile detention center, a black man who had more to say than two minutes worth, was rushed by the police and taken into custody; he was arrested. A black man spoke just too much, shared just a bit too much truth, and they took him down. This is what happens when we follow the prescriptions of the acceptable and respectable channels. The King County Metropolitan Council voted unanimously to build the new juvenile and our youth are continuing to suffer through the school-to-prison pipeline. Nobody who makes the statements that we agree with your message, but disagree with your methods is or has written to King County to protest that behavior or the building of the new youth jail, but they will chastise us in a heartbeat for occupying an intersection, or taking over a meeting to make sure that our testimonies are heard.

While marching through Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington during the Decolonize UW Walkout, a woman came right up to me to chastise me about our interrupting their study time to tell me that she agrees with our message, but that she disagreed with our methods. Granted, studying for mid-terms is important, there is no doubt about that. However, the people who were in the library studying only had their studying interrupted for but a few minutes. While the prison industrial complex is responsible for destroying generations of families, and the police brutality that goes hand-in-hand with it destroys our neighborhoods, and both rob us of our brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. When death is the result, often we never get to see them again, “justified” by the establishment or not. The systems and the structures we were protesting and that we will continue to protest until we have eliminated the problems are constant interruptions in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. So, breaking someone’s concentration, or interrupting someone’s commute to or from work long enough for people to pay attention to what is really going on, given what they propose an acceptable and respectable channel of active opposition is to the establishment, and the results of those actions, the interruption is completely justified. As a matter of fact, they should be happy that we have pulled them away from the broken education they are receiving, or interrupting their continuing complicity in the structure of oppression and subjugation.

What is worse is when these statements come across with the intent of suggesting that we have no right to protest, that we have no weight behind our complaints and grievances, and that we should be happy with the state of affairs as they now stand. What that is suggesting is that we should be thanking our oppressors for having their knives only half in our backs, paralyzing us, and not all the way in and killing us. Let the government steal their children and force them into slavery; let the government start denying their children access to higher education; let the police start executing their children in the streets and see how fast they take to the streets and shutting down the status quo. They chastise us from the moral standpoint of a double standard without fully divulging the entire story, and argue against our position and methods as if we were wrong and bad. These are half-truths and contradictions, and most of the people who spew them are hypocrites who merely enjoy the privileges their position in this society grants their status.

Until it becomes clear the premises and precepts that underlie these statements and these people’s frustrations we will continue to be at odds. They simply do not understand that the same methods that are open to them to address their grievances and harms, are not open to us. They simply do not understand, that the issues we are contending with require and obligate much more than the acceptable and respectable channels permit.

Returning to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who is often misquoted and misrepresented to us today as a foil for what a “good negro” should be in today’s society, it was King who after the Watts Rebellion in 1965 said that “I will not let my oppressor dictate my methods.” These people can sit on their high horses, and armchair moralize about what they think is appropriate or not all day long, and they can get upset that their days have been interrupted, but that will not change that we are doing what we must because there are very few practical and reasonable options left to us to select from. Instead of chastising us for being compelled to resort to the methods we have, they should be chastising the systems, and the structures, the administrations, and the governmental officials for creating and sustaining the unjust, inequitable, and subjugating conditions that have forced us to employ these methods. Perhaps if they did, then our struggle would be over much, much sooner and they could get back to the comfort and ease they so seem to love and our people can have some of that too.

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Rappers Equal Nerds

Rappers = Nerds

 

The Real World

 

Collegiate Rapper

 

I took a hiatus from making music while I became acclimated to life at the University of Washington, but the wheels are up and I am taking off!

What I have been learning has influenced the creation of a new project titled “Rappers = Nerds.” The premise underlying the project is that anyone can achieve success, regardless of where they have come from or where they intend to go.

My hope is that I will be able to share with people, especially teenagers and young adults how success can be achieved in high school, college, universities or the professional atmosphere of careers. Furthermore, by using the prestige I have earned as an accomplished emcee and poet will help to grab and hold their attention long enough to be a positive influence in their lives and the decisions they will make.

To achieve this, I will be using Hip-Hop and Spoken Word as the initial means to transmit these messages because they are the mediums that people both enjoy listening to and learning from. This seems to be a very likely way to bridge the gap between academia and success, and those who believe that college and a professional life is not for them. In addressing the issue of being successful, several of my songs seek to shatter many of the stereotypes that face minority groups in the United States of America.

RappersEqualNerds” is part of a campaign to change the paradigm of what Signithi Fordham and John Ogbu termed “Oppositional Identity,” whereby it is not cool, or right for minorities, especially those who are indigent or poor to be intelligent and to excel in academic or professional environments.

I am hopeful  that teachers and mentors will be able to use this material to break through the communication barriers they confront with adolescents that are difficult to reach. If and when, teachers and mentors find that words and speeches in classrooms and mentoring sessions alone are inadequate to transmit the message that success is both possible for their students and that they deserve it, then maybe a hip hop song or spoken word piece can.

The album will be featuring such artists as K.O. Nikkita, the renowned spoken word and slam artist, and host of the infamous The Seattle SlamReady Ron of the Impossiblez; Mark HoyProject RZ; Edward Lamar Hoey Jr.; Mamma Nikki of Over Mediocre, DJ Rise and many others.

All of the music created for this project will be distributed free of charge and are available for streaming live on SoundCloud and Reverbnation. I do not believe that this type of beneficial information should come at a cost to anyone.

The final component of this project is creating a curriculum of seminars and workshops  to be brought into schools and mentoring programs. For an example of the type of material that will be covered in these discussion please take a look at the background Renaissance has prepared for his song titled, “Turn the Day Into the Night,” at the following link:

I encourage any and all teachers, mentors and even parents to draw from this material when you are finding it difficult to reach and inspire an individual or group you are working with. You are welcome to use any materials that I have posted, which includes the essays or photographs, if the intention is to benefit those you are working with and the is not a profit associated with its use. You may even send me a request on my Facebook Page to come and speak to the people you are working with.

We Can Do It Together

I know you all have seen the lyrics and heard the song that I have been working on for this #Diaspora and #Apartheid research project. 

The purpose is two fold:


(1) To get the message out in a different medium than the tradition essays and articles &

(2) to draw attention to fundraiser so that I can afford this project.

I know that you all believe in and support me and the things that I am fighting for because I am fighting for all of us and for a better tomorrow. The truth though, is that I cannot do it alone and I need you help to make this possible.

I also know how it is, sometimes money is tight and if it is, then I certainly do not want you to hurt yourself and I am not asking you to. What you could do for me though is share the link to the fundraiser with you people and ask them for their support; that would go a long way in helping me.

On the other hand, if everyone I know chips in $10, then the research would be fully funded.

I potentially have some scholarships that I will be awarded, but as of yet I have not heard anything. The only way this research may be possible is with your help.

http://www.gofundme.com/Diaspora-and-Apartheid

 

The song I put together can be listened to and downloaded for #Free @:

https://soundcloud.com/renaissance-the-poet/do-i-doom-my-kids-to-poverty-1 

http://www.gofundme.com/Diaspora-and-Apartheid