Thursday, May 1, 2014

You Better Watch What You Say (or at least who you say it to)

I’m sure by now at least 80 percent of America has heard what Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had to say on a secretly recorded audio tape, or at least seen Donald Sterling and racist in the same headline, the rest must not have a TV or internet connection. I’m sure 100 percent of sports fans have heard the hateful words of an owner, revealing his feelings about minorities as well as his inner feeling towards women and the space both occupy in the world according to Donald Sterling. As juicy as the details to this story are, especially the fact that the NAACP was about to give Mr.Sterling a second Lifetime Achievement Award, there are so many angles to this story we have to break this one into several parts; Ownership, Culture, Racism.
              “Structure” …… “WHITE POWER STRUCTURE”.  What did you feel when you read those words…”WHITE POWER STRUCTURE”, better yet what do you think about when you read the words “BLACK POWER STRUCTURE”. Which one sounds more believable? The concept of the “White Power Structure” is something like the famed continent of Atlantis lost to the magnanimous ocean, great  stories from the likes of Plato of how large and magnificent the continent was, perhaps larger than Africa, however, these claims can’t proven because there is no evidence it ever existed, we don’t see it. The absence of  evidence is not the evidence of absence when it comes to Mr.Sterling, his perfect exemplification of the “White Power Structure” was put on display for our ears,  and in turn allowed us to individually paint a different picture of America in our minds; an America  some said didn’t exist in a post racial society. A white man in charge of a team of mostly black share cropper s because let’s be honest the basketball players bring all the revenues to the Clippers, look at all those State Farm and Kia commercials; not wanting his mistress, who is part black by the way to publicly associate with Black people nonetheless bring them to his games to watch his share croppers pick cotton…I mean shoot hoops.  
Seriously though, there have been parallels for years about how sports owners are like slave owners with the football fields or basketball courts being the plantation where all the action happens. So for a situation  like this to happen raises questions about the other NBA owners as well as the owners of other professional teams and their mindsets about the players who earn them millions. The questions shouldn’t only be reserved for sports owners; there are several owners of Fortune 500 companies who share similar views to Donald Sterling, and while I understand it may not be all, a few bad apples do spoil the bunch when it comes to racism. But we will get to that later.
                Culture basically consists of an individual/groups customs or rituals despite race or ethnic background, although those factors do make up exclusive cultures in America such as the big money culture where White males seem to dominate; 29 out of 30 Majority NBA owners were White at the time of this post. In the Big Money Culture woman are in abundance, Black White, delicate Latina it doesn’t matter (Not many are CEO’s),Ms. Stiviano was one of these women. There is a known culture, I’m not sure if it’s the world but let’s just say the US, where young woman are attracted to old guys… with money. I’m not saying she is a Gold digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke ni88a$; she’s taking pictures with Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp. Now, there is no evidence that that Ms. Stiviano, which is a weird last name for someone who is Black and Mexican, is looking for handouts from only rich men,  but it does seem that ole’ Donald doesn’t like the idea that his investment is walking around with other ballers. The question this raises for me is how deep is your hate for black people that you don’t want your mistress, someone whom you are committing a moral wrong with to be publicly seen with Black people. Remember, it is Mr. Sterling who says that he is “living within a culture” That whole exchange shows the level of entitlement that goes into the mindset of people who benefit from the white power structure.
 Back to Culture, like Chris Brown said “these hoes ain’t loyal”, Mr. Sterling was ultimately done in by a young model who got tired of stroking his ego.  I don’t think this will stop groupies from seeing sports figures as a meal ticket, but I do think the fact that it took a female who might ultimately end up on Basketball wives, Bad Girls club or some Bang Bros porno to uncover the vitriol, and contradictions that make up Donald J Sterling a man whose shady dealings have been on public record for a long time. I’ve heard people on news shows say how the way she gathered the information was wrong being that California is a two party state in regards to voice recoding consent, and how we recently voiced our disgust at the NSA and their overreaching surveillance tactics. Using that argument and placing the characters of both situations in their appropriate role. Donald Sterling would play the role of the NSA, an arm of the U.S government.  Now I don’t know if Mr.Sterling was checking anyone’s phone calls or messages, I’m sure he checked Instagrams, but Mr. Sterling acted so egregiously and made such repugnant remarks, it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t instituting those beliefs in the daily operations of the Clippers organization just like it’s hard to believe that the NSA isn’t somehow making avatars based on our digital footprint. Ms. V Stiviano, was privy to the goings on of Donald Sterling and his franchise the way Edward Snowden was to the NSA and the Homeland Security portion of the United States government. Ultimately both Edward Snowden and Ms. Stiviano, brought to the American public two of the most pressing issues of our time, racism (hidden and institutionalized) and government overreach. Now the way they broke this news to us was questionable, but what would have been the proper way?? Obviously there is none because Snowden is in exile in Russia and Ms.Stiviano is walking around in a stupid visor covering her face.
Lastly on culture and how it relates to his case, I’m tired of every time someone White says something racists, America rallies to protest and ultimately takes away pieces of their empire, whether it be a basketball team, cooking shows or corporate sponsors pulling their support, the only message this send is that racist who speak out aren’t allowed to participate in the system especially if it’s bad for public relations. Once again this man was allowed to operate for years with questionable business practices towards minorities, and yet still had his business connections. We have to call corporations out for their hypocrisy especially since Blacks have major purchasing power, we just have to realize it
                Racism is just too big to explain, I’m sure there are several definitions to be found in dictionaries, but brochures can only do so much to describe a cruise, you have to actually go on the cruise to feel the wind in your hair, the lime in your drink and foot on your neck from the oppression of all you can eat buffets and private islands. Racism is the same way, yeah you can prepare in school by learning about the history of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, or you could watch roots or other documentaries, but nothing means more to racism than the actual manifestation of racist beliefs, attitudes and ultimately behaviors. It’s why the names Jordan Davis, Rahmarley Graham and Trayvon Martin matter, because it not just some tale about big foot Black folks have been telling to society about why they may act certain ways or why the subculture is so heavily scrutinized and basically lost. Racism is real and it’s not just slave owners whipping slaves, its housing discrimination, horrible legal representation, bias law enforcement policies which creates this malaise amongst not just whites but those who are aspiring towards affluence, that Black is bad as a whole but simultaneously profitable as well (Insert Miley Cyrus twerking). What makes this story so bad is that there was a possibility the audio recording could  never have been released, the record button could have never been pushed and our ears, ultimately our minds would have never made the shift in thinking about how race effects our everyday life, but would have rushed home from work to see the game, ignored a spouse for two hours or so without acknowledging how our social idleness contributes to the wealth gap that is America and ultimately the demise of ourselves. Open racism is easy to attack and dissect and pass around in the court of public opinion; hidden/institutional racism  moves like a silent assassin, scarring generations with impunity but still able to show face in public after a trolling post on the internet or an application denial based solely on the spelling of a name.

                In the coming weeks I’m sure there will be several articles written, news stories reported and meetings amongst top African American figures in lieu of this transcending  moment in the NBA, but what should be on everyone’s minds is how this three headed monster of ownership, culture, and racism can be used to their benefit whether financially or intellectually. The tasks is up us, everyone, from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to not let things go on as usual and not be afraid of the pushback from being a “whistle blower” (especially Ms. Stiviano because after all that’s how she got to where she is at LMAO) on conduct we know in our hearts is wrong.  I hope this isn’t swept under our memory rugs, forgotten in place for some new Instagram trend or TV show that’s coming back, rather I hope meaningful action and self reflection is done. Donald Sterling was just one corporate boss, who true feelings were shared to the world. Imagine how the CEO of a private prison must feel about minorities, just some food for thought. Get your mind right. Let’s Go Nets!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Black "OUT"

I had to get this one out of my head while everything is fresh and the concepts make sense to me. Two days ago on April 29th, Jason Collins an NBA journeyman who has played on several teams and shared the NBA spotlight with his twin brother came out as a gay male to much accolades and support of sports figures and notable public figures. As some might have expected, but were unable to put a face to the detractors there were those individuals, who’s comments seemed to put a damper on the moment or come across as homophobic (enter ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace). Both Mr. Broussard and Mr. Wallace employers were quick to release statements saying that the views of these individuals did not reflect the views of ESPN and the Miami Dolphins respectively.

With this post it is not my intent to put a damper or a black cloud on this revelation of Mr. Collins but to pose a question and hopefully get a conversation started around Black masculinity and black male inclusion in mainstream society. Personally, I feel rather indifferent to Jason Collins decision to announce to the world he is gay, I’ve felt mainly indifferent towards a lot of people who reveal their sexual orientation, its never been something that got my attention because bills are to be paid and papers are to be written for grad school. However, one thing that gets my attention is how I’m viewed not only as a Black man in America but as a man without consideration for my racial make up, which brings me to the question I pose. Why is it that in America, the only time in which a Black man is given any significant amount of media attention, it because he is involved in some form of violence (Christopher Dorner), expression of misogyny (Rick Ross), or coming out of the “closet” (Frank Ocean, Jason Collins). The other notable time when a Black male is in the news is for his defiance of American political values and in need of a history lesson on how an American male is to act abroad and who he is to interact with (Jay-Z),
As of this morning, Jason has appeared on Good Morning America and been the topic of several late night cable news shows, as a long time fan of basketball I can’t remember the last time Jason Collins was interviewed on a meaningful post game stage, or interviewed on any sports show, that’s not to say that some tape doesn’t exist but, I don’t recollect any. Now, he seems to have captivated the attention of a good portion of America and the sports world, receiving praise from, Kobe Bryant, the president and the first lady, even the former first daughter Chelsea Clinton who went to Stanford University with Jason.

 I challenge you to pick out the last time a black male was recognized by the mainstream media for any positive accomplishments in his personal life, celebrity or ordinary citizen…I’ll wait!! Did you think of any because I’m having trouble coming up with a name myself. What does this say about the media and the overall consciousness of America towards Black masculinity and the terms for inclusion in the overall society? Are Black men who disclose their homosexuality placed in higher regard in society than those who implicitly or explicitly express their heterosexuality? Is the constant coverage of Black males being aggressive, violent, misogynistic, unemployed and other negative portrayals a way of debasing heterosexual masculinity? Showing mainstream America what they should be afraid of while contextualizing a Black male “coming out” as the sole route to self knowledge and admittance to the American table for a slice of American pie. I ask myself this question as I watch the media fall head over heals to get an interview with Jason Collins or run his story on the beginning of their newscast.

 Being a fair minded individual, I leave room for the belief that all this hype can be a result that Jason is the first human being regardless of race to make this revelation in professional sports, leaving me even more perplexed as to why there is a lack of media coverage for black males doing something other than questionable behavior or admitting to living a homosexual lifestyle. All that said, I’m glad to live in a country where I am free to express myself even if no one cares to pay attention.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You Human Spirit

Last month the Tri state area was hit by Hurricane Sandy or Superstorm Sandy as others have called it. What ever the name what is certain is that the damage that was cause by this storm was unimaginable to the people in the northeast especially after last years hype over Hurricane Irene. I stayed away from watching much television while the storm was happening because the news loves to give minute by minute updates of the same thing, but once I started to see houses destroyed like they were in a tornado or in the vicinity where a bomb was dropped, I knew this was going to be different. It was difficult to wrap my mind around the idea of neighborhoods in the northeast being destroyed by a hurricane, that just doesn't happen in New York or at least it hasn't in my lifetime. At work we were already given two days off following the storm because of the system wide shutdown of the mta, however, when it was reported that the tunnels were flooded and it could take days to get it out I became affected by this storm although not on the level of hundreds of New Yorkers in Staten Island and Breezy point, Queens. In a matter of hours emerged a Tale of two cities; one city where its inhabitants had power and no damage to their homes and another city where houses were demolished from flood waters, powerful winds or unexpected fires. As options became available to travel to work, the anticipation of chaos, disorganization and stress became a reality once anyone came to the Barclay's center on Atlantic avenue. Lines held together with no barricades zig zagged into a straight line of bunched individuals that seemed to wrap around the stadium. Some people decided to forgo order and head to the front of the line where buses were being filled to its capacity to transport what seemed to be lost souls over the Manhattan bridge into a different looking lower Manhattan highlighted by no lights, gates pulled down on stores and traffic cops at every intersection directing cars and buses uptown to limited train service in midtown. As difficult and stress filled the morning commute was, the realization that the trip home had to be made was anxiety producing. After a work day that was mainly about the unbelievable devastation caused by Sandy, New Yorkers made their way to pick up points throughout the city to catch a shuttle bus back across the bridge into Brooklyn. The long lines were the same only the people were different. Several buses passed filled with people looking at those outside standing on line with little remorse because they were in that same position earlier. As the buses were filled to capacity, those who got seats were the lucky ones avoiding the shoulder to shoulder ride back through the powerless lower Manhattan. Things felt normal once I reached my apartment, I had power my family was safe and so were my friends. School was canceled for me, that coupled with the changes in transportation were the only ways this storm affected me. For thousands of residents in the tri state area, however, their difficulties were just beginning. Moving into shelters, losing loved ones, feelings of loss and abandonment all became a reality for people only a few miles from East New York, my safe haven. Even as I'm writing this blog post families are still trying to figure out their next move. I didn't know what to expect from this storm but I did find out plenty about New York and how we are able to adjust to any hardship thrown our way the same goes for folks across the Hudson. On this Thanksgiving day I am most thankful for the human spirit that provides aid when needed. Whether it be to a telethon or handing out food in Far Rockaway. The human spirit that is in most NYPD officers who interact with thousands of New Yorkers and out of towners looking for guidance in a city that will swallow you whole if you aren't careful. The human spirit that is present in MTA workers, my Dad being one, who deal with being the scapegoats at times for fare increases implemented by executives in tailored suits. These men and women work on holidays like today to bring us to our families throughout the city. The human spirit that is in college students old and young struggling with papers and exams to attain that degree and slice of American pumpkin pie. The human spirit in those who have suffered loss of loved ones and property but still have the resolve to plan a brighter future. And to the rest of the people who envision a better life for themselves I leave you with this; enjoy today, forget yesterday and conquer 2morerow.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Its What You Are NOT Saying Mr. President

Last week, President Obama attended the Al Smith dinner in midtown Manhattan at the Waldorf Astoria. This annual event, held during the final stretch of a presidential campaign brings together all the political heavyweights from government, media, and religious institutions. Attending this dinner was mayor Micheal Bloomberg, who's proposed soda ban was the subject of a light hearted joke from the president.  What I found not humoring was the inability of this president to even address the violation of rights of thousands of young men in this city at the hands of the NYPD, commissioner Ray Kelly and the aforementioned Micheal Bloomberg . Of course I don't really expect him to make damning statements at this dinner, but perhaps at a local church or playground in NYC. Less amusing is knowing why the president didn't address stop and frisk that night or any other time he has come to New York for a fundraiser; the president does not want to jeopardize his political run in a blue state with lots of green. I understand the strategy here, but when I see the president with his white tie among a group of people described by our last president as his base, laughing and seeming aloof to the social issues the same way the mayor does at times, it makes the future look a little bleak. Back when Trayvon Martin was killed the president caught some heat for saying if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, I'm pretty sure if he had a son who lived in NYC, he would have been stopped and frisked. What gets my attention as well is the fact that when the president comes to New York its usually in the capacity of fund raising, but skirting the social issues unless of course speaking at the United Nations. As a member of a community that has seen its fair share pervasive policing tactics, and a supporter of President Obama its disheartening for him to show a sense of acquiesce to the young persons struggle in NYC. I do not believe if Romney is elected he would do anything to address or change this situation in New York, he would be too busy reaffirming the ties between government and Wall Street. That's why I feel its so important for President Obama or at the least his attorney general Eric Holder to say something about this violation of fourth amendment rights. I mean after all when Harvard professor Henry Gates was being asked for identification after breaking into his own home -a case some argued was caused by the everyday assumptions and racial biases of white suburbia- the president stated that the Cambridge police department acted stupidly in arresting in Mr.Gates. So why isn't the same rhetoric or some rhetoric used to describe a police system that implements chastisement when citizens question why they are being stopped. I understand that running for high office puts a candidate under the public microscope that watches every statement and interaction, but sometimes the inaction and silence speaks louder than any campaign speech or MTV interview can.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

40 Oz Bounce

As I'm sure most of you know mayor Bloomberg has put in motion a plan to stop the selling of any sugary beverage that is over 16 Ozs at restaurants, stadiums, and  other venues. Stating obesity as the reason for this change, Bloomberg has received criticism from New Yorkers who feel that the government has no right dictating how they enjoy their sugary drinks. One has to obey their thirsty even if that thirst comes from diabetes.  Without question this "new rule", is a conversation starter because nothing like it has been done before. There might be long term benefits such as healthier, slimmer New Yorkers which may create more space seat space on trains and buses. Seriously though, the stated reason by Bloomberg was a concern for public obesity and the ailments that come along with being overweight. This lead me to think of another beverage that affects public health, alcohol. Almost every New Yorker can attest to the disruptive nature of people who have had one too many drinks. Whether its a homeless person, an individual from a non profit residence, loud newly minted 21 yr olds or washed up old heads, alcohol brings the asshole out in everyone. Since Bloomberg is speaking Trap talk oz's and pounds, why not start with banning the sale of 40 oz beers, maybe even 22 Oz's. Beers of only 16 Oz should be sold in corner stores and gas stations, just a suggestion. Imagine the potential impact this can have on alcoholism. Sure people could buy more that one 16 Oz can but maybe there is some truth to this reverse psychological stuff that Bloomy is talking about. Throughout his soda campaign, mayor Bloomberg has cited studies that suggest people are more likely to have only one sugary drink of that's what's in front of them. So by logic shouldn't this work in the case of 40 Oz beers. I would love to see how a ban on the sale of 40 and 22Oz beers would affect my neighborhood of East New York as well as places like Brownsville, Bed Stuy, Harlem and the Bronx. I know that this won't eliminate alcoholism in NYC but it would send a strong message that public health is more than protection from airborne diseases and zombie attacks its about finding creative ways to solve problems. I'm sure the public won't oppose something like this, I'm more confident that areas around NYC where two or three non profit residences are on one block won't be opposed to a measure banning 40 oz's.

 Battling obesity, is a commendable thing to do, however, direction from the government on how much soda to drink with my meal when I'm out is too close to Big Brother for me. Regulating liquor, however, is something that I'm down for, after all prohibition was a real thing. I believe a ban of this nature would have a stronger impact than a sugary drink ban and would be welcomed with open arms in a city that had a quality of life campaign by the previous mayor. Maybe I should run for mayor now that I think about it, I got nothing to lose except my privacy and life if I get enough haters. All jokes aside, I'm apolitical for now and don't see any change in the future, the TV show Boss has confirmed my suspicions about elected office. I'll stick to talking unfiltered shit on the internet. Back to the business at hand, ask yourself why a similar approach can't be applied to alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes deaths the same way obesity does, many times in ways more tragic than being overweight can. I don't see Bloomy asking for limits on how much rum and cokes a person can have, but maybe he needs to and people will start to take him serious, well people in neighborhoods where I'm from. Its going to be interesting to see how the city will adapt to this new Big Brother tactic from a little mayor lol.

 On that note I'll be checking in with you again with more thought provoking blog post. Pray for me because grad school and working in social service is kicking my ass. I feel like I need a 40 oz of St. Ides right now. Later folks !!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maxed Out

I've been meaning to write this blog for the longest but that annoying little thing called procrastination crept up and held me hostage. Nevertheless, I still want to share my opinion on this because I'm an opinionated dude and I'm on a mission to finish what I start. Rapper Max B had his appeal denied at the end of August, meaning that he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. He received a 75 year sentence for his role in a 2006 robbery. Between 1997-2005, Max was incarcerated on robbery charges.  A few years back Max B was tearing up the underground ago rap scene with his unique rap style, use of the term "wavey" and his burgeoning beef with Dipset member Jim Jones. Now he and his fans only have memories and songs to keep the wave going. Many of these fans, myself included, were holding on to the idea that the appeal would be granted and Max B would return to producing good music.
I remember not being impressed by Max B when I first heard him on songs with Jim Jones because I didn't know what he was saying. However the catchy melodies were to much to ignore and I started to seek out more music from the Boss Don as he calls himself. A large portion of his catalogue were songs with the newest artist of Bad Boy records, French Montana. This combination proved to be deadly as the duo pumped out "quality street music" to quote DJ Drama. Their two Coke Wave mistapes along with their individual efforts, showcased both artists raw talent and provided the foundation that helped French get his deal in my opinion. Their feud with Jim Jones provided them with an established artist to spar with and spar they did. In videos and songs that can be found on YouTube, Max B explicitly talks about his "special" relationship with Jim Jones fiancé and Love n Hip Hop star Chrissy. Max was relentless in his attacks on Chrissy, going as far as claiming that "she touched it" in Miami. Max B seemed to be on the verge of rap stardom but the murder case involving several characters in a New Jersey hotel room in 2006, proved to be something not even a wave can wash away. Even though he posted bail and was still touring while his case was being handled, the full weight of the law was thrown at Max B when he was found guilty of being the head conspirator in the murder of the two individuals in that hotel room. At times I think to myself how rap, especially New York rap would look if Max didn't have his legal issues or even beat the case. I'm sure Love & Hip Hop would have had different cast members. I get mad at the fact that there is no new music and there won't be for a long while. Its like when Shyne got locked up or Tupac and Biggie's posthumous albums, The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory and Life After Death respectfully, ran their course. But after I spend too much time thinking about it I realize that its better to appreciate the music that he left and forget how hot of a rapper he would have been if he was free now. That man has bigger things to worry about than rapping. And I got other posts to write because greatness doesn't come without work!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Molly Takeover

Throughout 2012, there has been a reoccuring word in the rap/hip hop music that I listen to. The word is not "nigga" or "bitch", "gats" nor "swag" but a simple word called "Molly". When I first heard this term in songs, I overlooked it and made no connections to drug use. Later, after listening to songs again and hearing new songs mentioning that simple name, I started to pay attention to this new lyrical fad in music. My mind shifted into research mode as if I was writing a paper for class. It turns out that molly is the pure forrm of MDMA, the same chemical that is in the popular club drug Extacy. This pure drug which comes in powder and pill form has been around for over 20 years even though to some hip hop heads and youth may think that its new.

So why has this drug reemerged and found itself a new home in hip hop and across urban neighborhoods in America. In my opinion, this is part of a larger problem or phenomenon of drug use in America and how some people feel that using a drug that was mentioned in a song will suddenly make them popular, cool, or turned up. Prior, to the over saturation of Molly in hip hop music, the drug or drugs of choice that I remember being mentioned several times was of the prescription kind, like Xanax, Percocet and Oxycontin. Shouting out ones love for drugs obtained by legal drug dealers (doctors) is stupid, especially in the hip hop world where some of the most devoted fans are in urban communities where they have enough struggles with drugs like crack, heroin, alcohol. These young fans are impressionable and have a hard time listening to advice that in the long run will be beneficial to them. So when they hear their favorite rapper talking about how a Molly will aid in getting a female butt naked its hard to combat that with a statement like "You should be real concerned about the level of unemployment in your neighborhood" or "What should be done about poverty and disparities in the educational system". What strikes me as unique is the fact that MDMA was something that was found in suburban areas and at raves where I'm sure not too many minority folks would be rolling deep too, but now the use of this drug is something alluring to those same folks. I don't want to sound like a parent or a "your brain on drugs" commercial but, I feel that certain questionable trends, especially ones that are spearheaded by celebrities and involve illicit substances, should be reexamined and heavily scrutinized because the average person may not have the resources to bounce back if the latest trend triggers a personal downfall. Being that Molly in most cases consists of pure powder, users don't really know what they are putting in their body. Anything can be used to cut Mollies to gain profit, from cocaine to baby powder, just some food for thought.

 I'm over hearing people talk about Molly this and Molly that, especially those who don't have much going on for themselves, but heard about the seductiveness of this lady on a few mixtapes. Oh yeah, I'm tired of YOLO too, I just felt like I had to throw that in this post. But to each their own, I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. If I was I would have way more posts on my blog and way more readers, but a little thing called procrastination rears its ugly head in my life on occasion. I'll expand on that another time, as for now I'm going to another lady whose name begins with an M and isn't man made, well not always!!!