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The Farce of Youth Political Classification

A lot of times the political views of people can tell you exactly what you need to know about a person. So, I tried to find out as much as I can about some people, without them knowing, simply by asking what are their political beliefs. As the self-proclaimed Black Advocate, obviously I’m very liberal and fall on the left almost exclusively, as do many people who advocate for social justice and equality across the spectrum. So, seeing this trend of center-right politics among college students was interesting. Though, having took several psychology classes it was clear why exactly that was…

a) First and foremost, this wasn’t a statistically sound experiment. The people weren’t completely random and the pool was entirely too small to even fathom coming to any kind of conclusion.

b) Most of the people saw “liberal” as a nasty word, as it still has a stigma attached to it which is why many liberals choose to go with the word “progressive” in place of “liberal’

b) Some people just wanted to be contrarians and/or simply regurgitate the views of their friends/family

c) Most didn’t have a clue what they thought, so, in wanting to sound intelligent they choose to claim to be moderates/independents so as to not be deemed partisan

All of those things are what you’d expect among younger people. Sitting down talking with these people from anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes it was clear who knew what they were talking about and who was faking the funk. In any case, the past midterm election had the lowest voter turnout since 1942. 1942! The reason? Voter apathy, lack of knowledge, pure ignorance of the electorate? You decide.

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Youth voting in particular was also extremely low. The youth generally have an ambivalence to politics and, quite frankly, they do not have a dog in the fight of politics majority of the times. The laws do not, generally speaking, have to do with them. So, they are generally uninterested and lack participation in the political process.

At the same time, it is well-documented that college has a liberalizing affect on people. The more education you have, the more liberal, and therefore more democratic, you become. So, given that most of the people I spoke to were Freshmen, it is safe to say the tides could readily change. However, the farce of youth political classification still remains. They largely, do not have an idea what they’re talking about. Generally speaking of course. So, take whatever they say with a grain of salt. I know I did.

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My App

My app is an app that will let people report when and where they experience some kind of racism or bigotry of any kind. This will allow people to anonymously connect with one another and rate businesses based on their inclusivity and respect for people unlike them.

Essentially, this will be a Yelp type of app but specifically to rate the inclusivity and tolerance of business and organizations. i think this will help whip people into shape and whip organizations into shape and realize they have to respect people who they may deem different.

For example: You’re at a eating place and you notice your waiters area bit homophobic, you give an H rating noting mild homophobia by the waiting staff. This lets people on the app know to steer clear of this place, depending on how their expression of their sexuality is. This works for sexism, racism, islamophobia and transphobia and all other things as well.

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The Interesting Case of Marissa Alexander

On May 10,, 2012 31-year-old mother of two, Marissa Alexander, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for “Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.” For what reason? Firing two warning shots into the roof of her ceiling while her admittedly abusive husband attempted to attack her once again. No one was shot, no one was hurt, yet the judge sentenced Alexander to 20 years in prison.

Facts of the case, her estranged  husband admitted, in a sworn deposition, that he did beat her that day and even threatened to have her killed. HE ADMITTED THIS! Let’s not forget, this all happened nine days after Alexander prematurely gave birth to one of her children. Not only did her estranged husband admit to beating her and threatening her, but he also admitted to beating other women he was previously in relationships with. Yet and still, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shoots.

The trial of Alexander and her case drew immediate comparisons to the famed George Zimmerman trial. Not only were they both in Florida, but they both also sought to use the “Stand Your Grand” law as their defense.A defense that, worked for one, but not the other.

Experts argued that if Alexander would have shot at her husband and killed him, instead of firing warning shots, then she more than likely would have been protected under the “Stand Your Ground” law. Which is absurd and a miscarriage of justice if you ask me, on both accounts.

Funny enough, in a thought-provoking way, not a “hahaha” kind of way, the same prosecutor was used for both the Zimmerman trial and the Alexander trial; Angela Corey. Many shamed protesters attempted to get Corey off of the case citing her using this black woman as a way to get reelection. Playing on the racist undertones of her constituents. The Congresswoman, Corrine Brown, for Corey’s district even argued that she had overcharged Alexander due to long-held institutional racism.

Some have even gone as far as to equate her to Jim Crow era bigots.

“[Angela Corey is] a throwback to those Jim Crow era prosecutors and legal authorities – where there were instances of black people needing justice and they could not count on their local government official” – National Organization for Women

Thankfully, Alexander remains free at the moment as she awaits her retrial after an appellate court struck down her sentencing by the district court. Citing incorrect application of the jury process to the jurors. Hopefully this time Alexander will be freed for attempting to protect herself and the man who had abused her for so long. She could have killed him, but she chose not to. She had more regard for his life than he did for hers, and clearly more than the justice system has for the lives of black people across this country.

The Problematic Nature of Raven Symoné

Raven

Huffington Post

Former “The Cosby Show” cast member and popular Disney Channel television series, “That’s So Raven”, star Raven Symoné made headlines over her comments on Oprah Winfrey’s “Where are They Now.” The episode sparked controversy because of Symoné’s comments regarding race and labels.

“I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m an American…I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person.” – Raven Symoné, “Where Are They Now”

Ironically adhering to the label of “American” while claiming “African-American” as a burdensome label she’s tired of. Illustrating, she clearly didn’t think this whole thing through. The fact of the matter is she’s only tired of labels because of the stereotypes and bigotry that comes with the labels that she particularly falls under. No one ever says “I’m tired of being labelled as wealthy” or “I’m tired of being labelled as powerful,” it’s always someone saying they’re tired of being labelled as gay or black or transgender or some kind of identifier that has historically been diminished and discriminated against. Which only furthers the discrimination and disenfranchisement. Instead of rallying against the problematic views of people and using this as a educational opportunity, they seek to abandon the label because they don’t want to be compared with “those” people.

Raven attempted to double-down and clarify her statements during an interview with TheGrio where she stated,

“I never said I wasn’t black… I want to make that very clear. I said, I am not African-American. I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people. I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America”

Here we see a more nuanced explanation of Symoné’s comments on “Where Are They Now,” however, there is still something that she is missing. While I’m glad she clarified that she didn’t mean she wasn’t a black person, which I think is a reason for a lot of the backlash, there is one thing she’s missing and one thing she has a legitimate point on.

First, she’s missing the nuance to African-American labelling. It is a source of pride for those of us descendant of a stolen people who were stripped of their culture, their language, their religion and their names. She was right when she said we don’t know where we come from, however, the label seeks to connect us with where we come from! The label seeks to show that though you tried to disenfranchise us, we’re still here and we’re still connecting with our people. Even if we don’t know where specifically we’re from, we know we’re from the motherland and we seek to connect ourselves with a culture and a people who we’ve been distanced from. That’s the point and legacy of the “African-American” label.

Now, where she had a legitimate point. Yes, it is very true that European-Americans, seemingly, do not have to use a hyphenated form like the rest of us. Which does, in a way, “other” everyone else. Americans, for a lot of people, equal white people. Everyone else has to be hyphenated; African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, etc. Meanwhile, we’re all just as much American as the people of European descendant. In fact, I’d argue more so. The overwhelming majority of African-Americans in America are descendants of slaves. A very significant, nigh majority, minority of European-Americans are descendants of the immigrants that migrated to America during the Industrial Revolution which started in the mid-late 1800s.

Overall, we’re all Americans. Yes. But we all must also find solace and community and power in the labels that describe us. Don’t fight against your label, fight for it. Better the opportunity of your people, better the views about your people, better the perspective and admonish the stereotypes. That’s what you do Raven. That’s what we do.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the video on the OWN Youtube channel here.

BET Hip-Hop Awards 2014 Cyphers

On Tuesday night, October 14th, was the 2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards. This year the awards show was hosted by legendary emcee Snoop Dogg, or is it Snoop Lion still?  Hmmm, I don’t know. Anyways, the show is…uninspiring for the most part. It’ s still a fairly new awards show, so the kinks are still being dealt with. Personally, the one redeeming quality of the BET HIp-Hop Awards are the cyphers. Now, I know some of you are looking at me like, “what is a cypher?” Well pumpkin…allow me to explain.

A cypher is a basically a freestyle rap battle of sorts. Except, there’s not much battling. You have several emcees, a single beat, then they each take turns dropping bars over the beat. Now, there is a common misconception that “freestyle” equates to “off the top of the dome,” but it doesn’t. Freestyle simply means free of style. It can be improvised, it can be rehearsed, it can be previously recorded, etc. Just needs to be free of style.

At the BET Hip-Hop Awards they often have upcoming emcees on the cyphers sprinkled with legends and big-hitters in the game. Previous cyphers included upcoming emcees such as Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa. All have gone on to have international success. These cyphers have also included legends in the game such as; Snoop Dogg, KRS-One, Ice Cube,  Eminem, Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Rev Run among many others. So, basically, this is a pretty big deal.

Finally, with all the formalities out of the way let’s discuss the hits and misses of this years BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers.

The Bad:

  1. Charron. The Canadian rapper. Sir, I’m so sorry, but those struggle bars are not cutting it. Time to go back to the drawing board. Great battle rapper, but when put on the spot on a national platform…he fell very flat.
  2. The entire Taylor Gang Cypher: Just….no. Please, don’t come back.

The Good:

  1. Detroit Che: This chick spits bars! Her flow? Nigh perfect. Her content, very timely. As the name suggests she hails from Detroit and she, in rapid secession, speaks about the troubles in detroit and government apathy. Then she goes into the string of black boys murdered by authority figures. Very well done.
  2. Snow the Product: While I couldn’t understand most of what she was saying, I enjoyed her bilingual freestyle. Her flow was on point, her delivery was perfect and the parts that I could understand was sound critique of her as a female emcee in a male dominated industry. Very well.
  3. Papoose and Remy Ma: Everyone knows this couple can spit. After her six-year bid in federal prison Remy Ma has hit the ground running these past few months. Interview after interview, mixtapes, records, etc. Her husband held her down for all those years and they showed that this year on their cypher. They rapped flawlessly in a conversational freestyle. Their point on black love had the crowd cheering. All hail Remy the Ruler.
  4. Logic: First things first, I want him. He’s so fine. Sorry, had to put that in there. Logic is a biracial man but looks almost indistinguishable from your ordinary white kid. His skin is white, his hair is straight and aside from his full lips, his facial features are white. But, don’t let that fool you! He bars are some of the realest I’ve heard in a long time. He attacks racial stereotypes, the media and politics. Which just adds to his attractiveness.
  5. David Banner: Last, but not least, we have my man David Banner. An OG in the game, Banner has taken a more cerebral turn in recent years. Trying to be a more conscious rapper. And he definitely delivered. There’s nothing more to say really, I’ll just leave you with his parting words.

“Where were the white rappers when they mowed Mike Brown…down! Nowhere to be found.”

However, don’t just take my words for it, conclude for yourself. Check out all the cyphers below.

#FergusonOctober and a disturbing report on police homicide and race

Over the weekend, October 10-13, Ferguson October was in full affect. A weekend of protests, demonstrations and even concerts were scheduled, advocating change in police departments while remembering the life of slain teen Michael Brown. Headlined by many high profile thinkers, clergymen and even rappers, these events focused on racial disparity and discrimination and saw over 1000 people come out in full support. Some of the more awesomely shocking support came from people who traveled all the way from Palestine to show solidarity with their black counterparts in America.

Ferguson October comes perfectly, almsot as if planned, on the heels of a recent ProPublica 32-year analysis of police homicides as reported by the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report. In their analysis of the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports ranging from 1980-2012, ProPublica solidifies the fear, apprehension and cynicism many black Americans feel towards police officials.  One of the more disturbing parts of the in-depth analysis was the finding that black boys were 21 times more likely than their white counterparts to be slain by police officers from 2010-2012, the three most recent years of available data. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. 21 TIMES more likely to be killed by police officers!

Of course, many of these officers I’m sure had justified reasons for killing some of these boys.  However, what was telling when reading the report was that after the 1985 Supreme Court decision which said deadly force can only be justified if the suspect posed a threat to the officer and others, almost immediately police homicides increased. Not only did the number of people killed by police increase, but the “officer under attack” defense increased as well. Before 1985, the “officer under attack” defense was used in  33 percent of the police homicides. Now looking at recent data from 2005-2009, note that all crime has drastically decreased over the decades, “officer under attack” was cited in 62 percent of police killings. I find this to be very telling.

While a said truth has been solidified by the reporters over at ProPublica, there always exist a silver-lining. These demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri sought to rally against the seemingly sanctioned killing of  black people, men and boys most egregiously. The recent happenings in Ferguson has sparked a national debate and hopefully, this time, it bodes well. Hopefully, this time, we get actual reform. No more killing officers, these kids just want to live like everyone else