Archive for December, 2008

Why President Elect Barack Obama is not the first Hip Hop President

By Rosa A. Clemente
The Green Institute
http://www.greeninstitute.net/clemente_obama

“Each generation out of relative obscurity, must discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” Frantz Fanon

It has been 45 days since the Hip Hop generation helped usher in the first Black male President of the United States of America. Since that historic night, many within Hip Hop culture, like writer Greg Kot of the Boston Globe, entrepreneur Russell Simmons, artists Common, Jay-Z and P. Diddy, have declared President-Elect Obama the first Hip Hop president. In my humble opinion they are wrong, dead wrong. It does not matter how many Hip Hop pundits, non-profit organizations, and recognizable figures within the culture declare it. Much like an MC or B-Girl battle, I’m ready to challenge that declaration.

As a long time community organizer and Hip Hop activist and journalist, I have always followed a rule: never allow someone to become your priority while you become his or her option. For President Elect Barack Obama and the entire Democrat Party leadership in this country, the Hip Hop generation has never been a priority, we have always been an option and that option is used mostly to get out the vote during elections. Efforts like Vote or Die, Generation Vote, Rock the Vote, Respect my Vote, do not empower a generation – they are catchy slogans emblazoned on pretty white tees that offer empty rhetoric. At the end of the day, those G.O.T.V. efforts become guaranteed votes for the Democratic Party and often fail to educate their followers about candidates that run outside of the two-party system.

I believe that like many before him, President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign used Hip Hop to create excitement amongst young people in this country, but we must clearly see through the $750 million bling-bling marketing haze of his campaign. The few times he was pressed on his association to Hip Hop, he spoke about offensive rap lyrics and Black men having respect for themselves by pulling up their pants. I do not recall one specific mention of the political victories and social consciousness brought out by millions in the culture. Just because you brush off your shoulders, fist bump the future First Lady, or play a mean game of street ball, that does not make you Hip Hop. What we have now is an Obama administration that came into power with the promise of change, but is remixing that promise by sampling from the Bill Clinton Presidency, including Hillary herself, and this new remix will do nothing to change the mass conditions of our people.

In Van Jones new book, The Green Collar Economy, Van says, “It is time to change from fighting against something to fighting for something.” For me that statement encapsulates why I chose to accept Cynthia’s McKinney’s invitation to be her running mate and why the Green Party made history by choosing us as the first women-of-color ticket in American Presidential politics. I accepted the call because I was no longer interested in fighting against the Democratic or Republican Party.

I want to fight for a Hip Hop political movement not dominated by white liberal politics or white foundation money. I want to fight for a Hip Hop political movement that is African-centered, respects women as leaders and believes in Universal Health Care. A Hip Hop movement that fights for amnesty for undocumented immigrants and an end to the prison industrial complex. We must all fight for a Hip Hop political movement that wants to be at peace with our global brothers and sisters, that will build a truly independent media apparatus and will stand up and mobilize against the increasing racial violence against Latino/a immigrants and demands a live-able wage. We need a Hip Hop movement that is not afraid to say that the Palestinian people should have the full right of return and that the Israeli Occupation of their homeland is illegal. I need Hip Hop to affirm the right of the Puerto Rican people and our island to be an independent nation and I need Hip Hop to help free all of our political prisoners and prisoners of war. We need Hip Hop to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to end the death penalty and we must create a Hip Hop political movement that empowers working class communities, fights for Green Jobs and will never deny L.G.B.T. brothers and sisters their God-given human rights. Finally I want Hip Hop to uplift and support its women, to accept women of color as capable much needed leaders, and to understand that as long as it continues to deny women their much fought place in the culture, Hip Hop will die.

So this is what I am fighting for. For me its not only about holding Obama, the House of Representatives, or the United States Senate accountable. Holding public officials accountable is important, but building a multi-racial social justice movement is a necessity for our very existence. Yes Hip Hop, President-Elect Barack Obama may be the first Black President, but he will not be the first Hip Hop President. Only we the people of Hip Hop can make that a reality.

Rosa A. Clemente can be reached at clementerosa@gmail.com

Rosa Clemente and her daughter Alicia-Maria, live in North Carolina. This the first in a series of four articles commissioned for the Green Institute by Rosa Clemente.

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Katrina’s Hidden Race War

Posted: December 20, 2008 by trggradio in Uncategorized

This video exposes the racist vigilantism that accompanied the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. A.C. Thompson, contributing writer for The Nation published his investigation in the December 17, 2008 on-line issue of the magazine. (It will also be featured in the magazine’s January 2009 print edition.) He was also a recent guest on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090105/thompson

The progressive organization Color of Change, which was formed in the wake of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita by James Rucker and Van Jones, has started a letter campaign to Louisiana and New Orleans government officials demanding that they conduct their own thorough investigation into this matter and bring to justice the perpetrators of racist vigilantism in New Orleans. You can find the petition at their web site: http://www.colorofchange.org

The description of Katrina Vigilante Shootings on their web site states:

In post-Katrina New Orleans, White vigilantes viciously assaulted and, by their own admission, killed Black folks while the police looked the other way. To this day, no one has been prosecuted. Thanks to a new report by The Nation, the secret’s out and we have an opportunity to demand justice.

» Watch the video, then join the call for justice!

TRGGR Radio Interview with INVINCIBLE by Bro. Chris
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KNONAME (CA) – TRGGR Radio Drop

Posted: December 17, 2008 by trggradio in Uncategorized
TRGGR RADIO

The Roots named house band for NBC’s Fallon talker

[Ed. note: I’m a little late on admitting this one, y’all. Mostly because I didn’t want to believe my ears until I heard it for the fifth time and had to give in. But it has been confirmed that The Legendary Roots Crew are going to be the damn houseband for Jimmy Fallon’s new show. This is absurd and ridiculous. Somebody please slap me out of this nightmare! Just when you thought that Hip-Hop would find its roots (no pun intended), these mofos sign on to this gig. It can’t be the money; it can’t be the fame. I have a knot in my stomach as I write this. I mean, yeah, we gave the group hell for backing up Jay-Z a few years back. But then the Jigga Man started showing that he could still rock the mic with the best of ’em and the Roots dropped Game Theory and Rising Down and all was forgiven. But this?! Like I told a friend yesterday, the moment this show airs, the Roots and Hip-Hop are severed. Everything up to this show that they’ve done is Hip-Hop; everything after ain’t about HIP-HOP culture. It’s just about POP culture.–CT]

NEW YORK (Billboard) – Cult hip-hop band the Roots will serve as the house band on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” which premieres March 2 on NBC. Fallon, who is filling the slot to be vacated by Conan O’Brien, made the announcement Monday on the show’s newly launched Web site.

Fallon is taking over “Late Night” for Conan O’Brien, who is in turn taking over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno.

The Roots will get in a handful of live dates before taping begins on the show, including December 30 in Atlantic City, N.J., and a four-date run in Japan in mid-January.

Source: Reuters/Billboard

[Ed. Note: I know you’ve seen (and perhaps purchased) the Respect My Vote tee or the Vote or Die tee. This is an addition to the collection of Barack-era paraphernalia. Watch out! I heard Nike is working on an official inaugural sweatsuit. Hopefully, we’re not too cool to hold bruh accountable.–CT]

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Fitted for the Inaugural ~ January 20, 2009 ~ Washington, DC

Plaxico’s Wounded Leg is Connected to his Heart and Mind
Chris Tinson, TMG

“A yo, my man, leave the gun at home,” I imagine a voice cautioning Plaxico Burress, the New York Football Giants’ star wide receiver who accidentally shot himself in the leg while at the Latin Quarter in New York this past Friday night.

This is sad. Plaxico is a great player, but he seems to be going through a rough moment in his life. I’m not one of these cats who thinks that because NFL, NBA and MLB players get paid a boatload of money—which they do—that they are somehow above the anxieties, frustrations and dumb mistakes that the rest of us go through. They are human beings first and foremost. And no matter what Sportscenter tells us, these players don’t have it all that easy even if they don’t have to worry where their next meal or rent check is coming from. At least not right now.

Burress could be facing criminal charges for carrying a loaded weapon into a public space. This might amount to a felony charge, which could also constitute a violation of the player conduct code that all NFL players agree to when they join the League. So Plax may indeed be out of a contract if this goes in that direction. Worse he could face between 7 and 15 years in jail.

Why would a dude like Plaxico need to carry a weapon into a nightclub in the first place? The only time I’ve known people to carry weapons on them was when they knew something could go down or they knew that something was about to go down. (The other dudes would leave their piece in their car, if indeed necessary, but that’s another story.) Was his life threatened in the recent past? Reports say that he was with fellow Giants teammate, Antonio Pierce, when the gun went off. And that Pierce disposed of the weapon after driving Burress to the hospital. You think that $35 million contract he signed recently would matter if Pierce had been accidentally shot? Details are still coming in at the time of this writing, but you can be certain that Plax’s publicist and agent are scrambling to get a handle on what the press gets their hands on in hopes of salvaging the rep of their client.

But there is a larger point here: youngbloods (a.k.a. black men) need to make better decisions, especially when it comes to deciding whether or not to carry weapons into nightclubs. Once you are on the television, especially when you are an entertainer—which football players are—you have to expect that folks are looking at you every minute of the day. Perhaps this is bothersome for many, but it no doubt comes with the territory. I don’t think Burress’s situation is as simple as that, however.

I’m concerned that many young athletes and young men in general don’t get proper mentoring that they need in order to lead healthy lives. What does the League’s mentoring program look like? I’d love to get a look at the manual. We still by and large operate from the mindset that money solves all our problems. We’ve been hearing it since we were very young; have seen many of our elders struggle with medical bills and utility costs, so we’ve gotten comfortable thinking that a little extra dough around the house or in our pockets will also solve our emotional imbalance and speed up our mental maturity.

Listening to story after story of Plaxico’s troubles with the team this year—missing practices, arguing during the game with head coach Tom Coughlin and teammates, arriving late for meetings—I knew something was up with him. I don’t have to be a psychologist to intuit that something was eating at the young man. But my conditioning told me that there couldn’t be anything wrong with Plax; after all, he’d just won the Super Bowl.

African American male athletes have an incredibly difficult balancing act to perform, but perform they must. Many are successful and many more are not. They must perform during the game and they must be whole at home.

Like Dave Chappelle, who everybody thought was crazy for leaving his $50 million contract, people are going to think that Plaxico is nuts for “letting his team down,” for “not being humble” and for “dishonoring the NFL” for what happened at the club Friday night. Hell, most of my friends called former Atlanta Falcons QB, Michael Vick crazy (and a jury agreed); and the same was said about Tennessee Titans QB, Vince Young. But this is where we go wrong. We have to look at the industry that these players are brought in to. The problem is that unless you’re an elite-level athlete you will never gain access to that world. Part of this is the responsibility of the players themselves. Burress, after all, is 31 years old, so he needs to get it together for himself and for his family. But it doesn’t absolve us from interrogating the institutional pressure that bears down on the young men we think haven’t a worry in the world.

Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg, and now his professional football career hangs in the balance. If this incident costs him his career (i.e. his livelihood), will we still care about his wellbeing?

For now though, as the reports swarm in and his legal counsel gathers the facts, Plaxico Burress has some healing to do, both his wounded leg and his heart.