I am well aware that the name Wyomia Tyus probably doesn't registered in most households. However, she is a historic track and field figure in both American and American black history, being the first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100 m, which she achieved in the '68 games.
If you recall, the '68 Olympics were also the games where fellow Team America track and fielders Tommy Smith and John Carlos gave the black power salute when they won their medals. Although Tyus didn't give the salute, she did wear black shorts in solidarity with Smith, Carlos and the other members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.
On Thursday, just a day before the kick-off of the 2013 Penn Relays, Tyus was guest of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania for the Race & Sports Lecture, which was hosted by Professor Kenneth Shropshire. Listen below as she not only discusses the controversial '68 games and her historic runs but also what it was like to meet Wilma Rudolph (before tying her world record); the politics of race and gender on and off the track; and why the glory days of sports were happening on HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) campuses.
If you are a serious fan of sports, you should check this out. If you don't like sports but can appreciate Black Women history, you should check this out too.
picture by Charing Ball
Check out this video of Immortal Technique freestyle at the 59th birthday/rally for political prisoner Mumia Abdu Jamal.
The birthday party/rally, which took place at the historic Church of the Advocate, 18th and Diamond Street, was organized by Students for Mumia (with the assistance of friend and teacher TJ Dean) in Philadelphia and featured a number of notable Mumia supporters including Pam Africa, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Philadelphia Poet Lyrispect and of course Immortal Technique.
This sign is posted on the top platform of the Broad Street Line at the City Hall station. There were three other identical signs posted at the entrance staircases to both Northbound and Southbound trains. The mere fact that we need not only a hotline but prominently-displayed signage should definitely serve as a wake up call that there are people among us - including some folks waiting beside you for the next train - who are being treated as chattel. Even in 2013 America.
Why doesn't Barack Obama rock his mustache, which, judging by the ever-present five o'clock shadow at even hours of the day, he clearly has?
Better question: what does this have to do with the title of this post? Maybe something. Or maybe nothing at all:
“...Any black person in America who's successful has to be able to speak several different forms of the same language. It's not unlike a person shifting between Spanish and English” - Barack Obama.
Yesterday, I attended a free discussion with H. Samy Alim, professor Education, Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University, who presented from the book, Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.,
which he co-authored with Geneva Smitherman. As the title suggest the title book addresses the question of how linguistics played in the election and reelection of President Barack Obama. As someone, who once took a linguistics class and almost got an “A” for my paper on the phonology within the Gullah Language (my poor spelling and grammar prohibited that from happening), I found this discussion quite fascinating. So fascinating that I actually purchased a book – at full price, I might add. I haven't read it yet (of course, because I just got it a few hours ago), however I want to share with you some interesting notes I took from the discussion, particularly how f President Obama is able us
selectively use speaking styles, or as Alim referred to as Obama English, communicated subtle messages both interracial and intra-racial.
For instance Obama's call and response style of interacting with people and using terms in speeches such as "dream deferred," "hoodwinked" and "bamboozled," served as subtle winks and nods to the African American community. Dream Deferred of course, triggers the time-honored poem by Langston Hughes (What happens to a dream deferred
? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore...) while the terms "bamboozled" and "hoodwinked" connects many black folks to Malcolm X, particularly a term he may or may not have actually spoken but thanks to Spike Lee's film X
, has become the synonymous with the slain black leader. So without actually speaking directly to black folks, Obama through the use of these colloquialisms and other gestures (including the now infamous Fist bump) was and is able to convey a message of special camaraderie to the black community, which might not be so obvious to people outside of that experience.
Likewise by drawing linguistically from the “Black preacher,” particularly the slow cadence, pregnant pauses and biblical references, had helped to put Obama firmly into a comfortable categorize for many white Obama voters, who might have been hesitant about, or didn't know what to make of, this Negro with a non-traditional American Negro past (i.e. born of one African parent, lived outside of America, educated in a madrasa, etc...). According to Alim, the topic of articulation is so essential to how one perceives Obama that it had been and still does continue to be referenced whenever folks, in particular white folks, speak about his appeal. This includes Joe Biden ("I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,"
); George Bush (“He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate...
); former House Majority Leader Harry Reid ("light skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one"
); Rush Limbaugh (“Obama can turn on that black dialect and turn it off.”
); and Rep. Joe Walsh (...they were in love with him because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that.”
Alim said that while some writers, in particularly the blogger Undercover Black Man,
have noted that this emphasis on articulation at times does go beyond the Black/White binary, as in the case of former presidential candidate and Senator John Edwards, who during his run for office was too acknowledge often for being “articulate” and “well-spoken,” they tend to still exist in to note some level of distinction. Edwards, while clearly white, is from the South and has longed carried the torch for the folks in the “other America
.” So when folks speak of Edwards being well-spoken, what they really mean is that he doesn't speak like the rest of the poor and white rednecks. I thought this to be interesting as I have always wondered about the distinctions in how Obama's articulations are perceived within the black community? In particular his quoting of Young Jeezy and brushing his shoulders off like in the manner of Jay-Z. While accepted enthusiastically by many within the black community as a whole it is hard to deny that outside of the first black president, a young black man, particularly from a lower class community, quoting Young Jeezy and/or shoulder-brushing would be considered by most as acceptable behavior to emulate, especially in professional settings. I asked the professor if this distinction is addressed in the book, to which he replied: “Good question: Chapter five is for you.” And that is the story of how I ended up paying full price for a book.
So, I will likely delve into the book tomorrow while at the laundromat. I plan on reviewing it or at least doing a first chapter review. We shall see what the final verdict is however you have to admit that the book does seem very interesting.
Oh and back to the mustache thing: Traditionally speaking, black men have used facial hair to acknowledge, if not reclaim their masculinity
, an clean shaven face has also been tied to helping black men appear non-threatening in more corporate
(i.e. white) environments. Of course I don't have any proof that this is President Obama's aim. But I can't help but wonder if his clean shaven face is a matter of personal preference or is meant to articulate a certain level of comfort among folks, who still find him threatening?
This is the most highly rated comments on an article at CBS Pittsburgh
about the gunman, who decided this Friday afternoon to go on a shooting rampage on a rural central Pennsylvania road, killing 3 and wounding 3 state troopers:
Kathleen • 5 hours ago
> Troopers then shot and kill the suspect.
Emergency officials say 3 men were killed, and one woman in the shooting. The suspect’s was one of those men. <
This reads like it was written by a 6th grader who doesn't speak English as a first language. Is it too much to expect a news reporter to have basic writing and grammar skills?
138 2 • Reply • Share ›
Because bad grammar kills.
Also the responses to this comment are pretty interesting as well, especially the ones, who managed to tie this shooting to a grand conspiracy involving Obama and Ebonics in schools.
Black people: we are at fault even when we're not around.
Next time someone says, Why do they hate us? Remind them that "they" hate "us" because we are fucking idiots.
They brought their own signs
The School District of Philadelphia Facilities Master Plan proposes to close 44 public schools, and restructure grades in 23 others, in an effort, they say, to address a declining student population and a significant budget deficit.
I’m not going to rehash the back story. I’m sure you can go to the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News, Philadelphia Public Notebook
and host of other more involved local publications with deadlines, budgets and a more fluent working knowledge than I can provide. But I will say that the story of what is happening within the Philadelphia school district is identical to what is happening in major and minor towns across America. Public schools, with long histories, leaky roofs and underfunding, are closing and charter schools are opening in their places.
Folks have been expecting this for months however the officially announcement came last week about which schools made the list. One of the schools on the list is Germantown High School, which is my alma mater. I have good memories and I have bad memories. Nevertheless, Germantown High School is a party of my history and I don’t really appreciate my memories being fucked with like that. So I decided to go check out the community meeting, which was held at Martin Luther King Jr., High School in West Oak Lane.
It was the second meeting about closings in the Northwest, which was held this week. The first one was a planning meeting sponsored by the Germantown Alumni Association at Germantown High School. Judging by the pictures and video in Newswork
, they had a pretty solid turnout. The meeting I attended, however, was hosted by the District and was attended by Dr. William Hite, who brought his entire team along to hear concerns and answers questions about the master plan.
I managed to bring both my voice recorder and camera. So we have actual audio and some pictures from the meeting.
The first clip is of Hite speaking about the process and criteria the district used in determining which schools to close:
The second clip picks up where Cynthia Dorsey, chief inspector of the school district, gives her remarks on the safety plan and Paul Kihn, deputy superintendent gives a couple of statements about transitioning for special populations. State Representative Cherelle Parker also spoke. But a good portion of this clip is sometimes spirited question and answer period from the audience:
Folks came out but there was definitely some empty seats
While you are listening to the audio, here are my observations from last night:
- The meeting wasn’t as crowded as I anticipated. I mean the usual suspects of activists and political affiliated were in attendance but I expected more of a standing room only-type of showing. Also this was a pretty tempered crowd compared to previous community meetings involving hot button issues.
- One of the reasons for the underwhelming showing in the Northwest could be because the meeting was held at King, as oppose to one of the several schools in the Northwest, which are actually proposed for closure or some sort of grade restructuring. Not a really well thought-out idea if you ask me. If you listen to the first clip, you will hear Hite explaining how he received the alumni association’s correspondent and would arrange for a follow up meeting in Germantown.
- Let’s be honest: Hite is a hatchet man. He’s only role here in Philadelphia is to carry out the plan, which was started a while ago. In other words, it’s not personal. He kind of reminds me of the guys in suits, who would come down from corporate to give you all the news “personally” that there is a strong possibility the company will be downsizing - but don’t because we are all family…aaannnddd just sign right here stating that this conversation happened.
- Also, don’t you think this Negro kind of resembles Cory Booker?
He got that Obama swagger to him...
Just look at the picture and look away real quick, you will see it.
- The matrix behind the school closures and grade restructurings are a bit confusing. For instance, not only will Leeds Middle Schools absorb students from McCloskey and Roosevelt middle schools – both schools on the list to close - but will also have to take in students from five other nearby schools in the Northwest because of grade shifts. Parents are rightfully concerned about overcrowding, safety and over stability.
- Some parents offered some alternative plans, including ways in which they could keep their individual schools open. Hite promised to take whatever proposal and review them, which got a nice reception from the audience.
- It took about 30 minutes for someone to mention the expansion of charter schools in the city, and the school to prison pipeline. It was a teacher at one of the schools scheduled for closure. He drew the most applause. He also suggested that the people “rise up.” That brought sporadic applause.
- Germantown and King high schools have a rivalry, which goes beyond the annual Thanksgiving Day football bowl game, according to some parents at the meeting. So it probably doesn’t seem like a good idea to have to two schools sharing the same space. Chief Inspector Dorsey’s response was interesting. And by interesting, I mean dismissive.
- Out of all the schools scheduled for closing in the Northwest, I give McCloskey the best chance. Not just because they are pretty well organized and dominated most the mic time at the meeting but also because that school is located in a more affluent and politically actively black community: West Oak Lane, or as I like to call it, The Black Mt. Airy.
I left the meeting around 8 p.m. and there was still a line of parents, teachers and concern citizens waiting to get to the mic. In the two hours I was present at the meeting, I was most struck by the parents, who spoke about the condition and overall quality of life within the schools – even the ones proposed for closing. In the grander scheme, these parents weren’t helping their cause, which is to keep the schools open. However, I got the impression that for some parents, they are generally frustrated with the state of education in this city.
Hite is the fourth superintendent (?) of schools in a matter of a decade. Each new superintendent brings with them a new master plan and new changes. Most of these changes involve rearranging schools including grades, curriculum and leadership. Despite all the shifting around, closures, transformations and expansion of charter schools, the system just doesn’t seem to be working. Or if it is working, it is underfunded or just consistent (as is the case when we are instituting new “master plans” every three years or so). Something about those chairs on the Titanic.
Final thought, next week is Christmas. The district certainly has awful timing. After listening to the clips, let me know your thoughts on the meeting as well as the proposed school closings in general.
This is an interesting story hailing from The Baltimore Sun:
A Baltimore blogger wanted on a court-issued warrant refused to come out of his home for hours, broadcasting his discussion with a police negotiator live on the Internet before turning himself in peacefully.
Frank James MacArthur, 47, was taken into custody outside his home in the 600 block of McKewin Ave. at about 11 p.m. — timed, he said, for local news stations — after a standoff lasting more than five hours and which involved the department's SWAT team.
Police were there to serve a warrant issued in June by his probation agent stemming from a 2009 gun case and another for subsequent failure to appear in court, according to court records, and the situation was ratcheted up after police said MacArthur made threatening statements to officers over social media.
Social media in the end was where the situation found a wide audience, with thousands following on Twitter and listening on his web radio channel as MacArthur denounced police and refused to surrender.
At one point, MacArthur called 911 and asked to be patched in to police on the scene, and spoke for hours about his surrender on speaker phone with Lt. Jason Yerg. It became a discussion about his grievances with police, and frustration with the original charge that resulted in the current warrant. He debated with the officer about whether they were focusing too much attention on him.
"Your department has wronged me severely, Lieutenant Yerg," MacArthur said. "Your turn."
"You're spinning this into what it doesn't need to be," Yerg said.
MacArthur, who has said he was never notified about the court date, had been posting on social media for days about his "fugitive" status and predicted that police would try to harm him.
Police officials said some of the messages were threatening toward officers and required a precautionary presence of the SWAT team, particularly once MacArthur refused to come out. Police said he had not complied with an earlier attempt at surrender and could have turned himself in once he learned of the warrant.
You can actually listen to the entire exchange (which clocks in around 2 hours) between MacArthur and the police man Here:
One thing that stood out to me the most in this exchange was MacArthur usage of the term "Stand My Ground," which is interesting because it is not a term we usually associate with black men. And here he is, using it, not against another private citizen but against the state itself. Plus he makes some good points. Yes, he has a warrant however on the grand scheme of things, he warrant for arrest is for a three year old gun charge. It did not warrant SWAT participation. I can certainly understand his overall defensiveness as well as reasons for "why he doesn't just give up?" MacArthur/Balitmore Police situation speaks very clearly to a number of situations here. One being, the militarization of police, especially in the black community. Light poles now house camera boxes - some of them actually work.
Cops regularly creep down blocks like sharks looking for preys. A few months ago, I'm driving down Belfield Avenue, bouncing along to the music when no less than ten police vehicles, of various makes and kinds, circumvents traffic and goes past my car. The last vehicle, which I thought most odd. It was one of those produce or fish trucks filled with cops in full tactical uniforms. I'm like, damn who are they
after? Manuel Negro-iega? Not in these streets. But the site of police officers in body armor, high powered rifles and other big machinery does change the mood and escalate tension. For me personally, I was no longer bouncing to the music. I just felt anxious.Keguro of Gukira also notes the
ways in which the mainstream media decided to cover this story and how MacArthur, who refers to himself as a citizen journalist, was able to use the power of social media, including twitter and live Internet streaming to provide a more balance account to what would probably be gloss over as just a standoff with a paranoid black criminal.From Gukira:
One cannot listen to MacArthur’s livestream—recorded and available—without thinking of Du Bois asking, “How does it feel to be a problem?” In his conversation with the negotiating officer—note that MacArthur rejects the notion of “negotiation” and emphasizes that he is under duress, as one might be with a SWAT team surrounding one’s house—MacArthur repeatedly notes how he is made into a problem. He notes that he lives in a neighborhood where several black men have been killed; he notes that the police attempted to force themselves into his home (slam the door down style); he notes that when this tactic of intimidation did not work, a SWAT team was called to the scene, further heightening the tension of the situation; he notes the history of violence and carelessness in the BPD. Importantly, he provides an extended answer to that terribly violent question posed by cops to young minority men: “why did you run?” The question is violent because it presumes that only the guilty run. MacArthur refuses to grant policemen the righteous amnesia that permits this question by insisting on the archive of black memory and knowledge: we run because we know how you treat us. We run because we are frightened. We run because we are never granted the right not to be criminalized.
In creating a space where witness is possible—a vitally important space—MacArthur asks us to consider how police procedures of intimidation and harassment silence so many. His very reasonable conversation with the police negotiator is unusual precisely because it is reasonable. More often, the shouting policeman (“against the wall, motherfucker,” which I’ve witnessed) forecloses all opportunities for reasoned discourse.
Happy-belated Zumbi Day
African slaves in the US, the Caribbean and Brazil ran away whenever they could. In favorable situations, escaped slaves called maroons were able to form villages and settlements and defend themselves against their former masters. The most successful maroon settlement was Brazil's Palmares, which held out for a hundred years ending in 1695
November the 20th was Zumbi dos Palmares Day in Brazil, which commemorates the great leader and kingdom of the trans-Atlantic slave rebellion. A fun read on the maroons, among other rebellious Africans in the Americas,
is Black Rebellion by Thomas Wentworth Higginson
. You can get it for FREE through Project Gutenberg
Last March, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter outlawed serving meals to the homeless in city parks, citing health concerns as the primary reason for the ban.
Chosen 300, a private charity with a mission to serve the city's homeless, is in the midst of a lawsuit against the ban. They insist that the new regulations are harmful to the homeless community.
"These laws are really designed to eliminate people out of plain view so that we can have this idea that the city doesn't have a homeless problem," said Chosen 300 executive director Brian Jenkins.
The ACLU, which sued and won a temporary injunction against the new law, said the real reason for the ban is to protect the city's image as a tourist destination.
The federal lawsuit will be brought to trial early next year and both the city and Chosen 300 are working to resolve the standoff out of court.
My question is: What should we do with the homeless? I always hear the term: "Help the Homeless" but what are we helping them to do exactly?
I think this video best illustrates why this question needs to be address first before we look to government for the solution.
Puffy says, "Sign this petition - or die!!!" Sike, he didn't say that.
I know the Obama Administration is now regretting signing off on adding this new online petition element to the White House's website
- especially since folks found out about it. Now the Prez is gonna have to spend half his time responding to all the petitions with more than 25 thousand signatures. I mean, in addition to the more serious petitions,
like the petition to, "Save the lives to all Venezuelans in risk of Deportation by granting a Deferred Enforced Departure," there are some really trivial petitions like the whole secession nonsense and petition to "invite Jacques Fresco of the venus project to the white house as a consultant on rebuilding a sustainable economy.
" Out of that grouping, guess which petitions have the most interest?
So now I'm thinking that the White House's PR people are kicking themselves square in the nuts on this one. They didn't take into consideration that every racist wingnut and morning show shock jock with a white house petition and 25,000 friends will be using this thing to basically cyber harass the president for responses to silly shit. I mean, The Venus Project? For real? Listen, until someone can give me a suitable answer as to what will happen to our utopic robot society in event of a vicious computer virus, I'm not buying it. I saw the Matrix. But then again maybe it is not a bad idea. No, not The Venus Project. That's a fucking horrible idea. Robots, for real? Did anybody else see iRobot? But petition the government. I mean, this is a democracy, dammit! And who is and is not to say what constitutes nation's business? "
...and to petition government for redress of grievances
..." is probably the most significant part of the first amendment. It is cornerstone of a free nation to exercise the ability to make complaints and demands of our government without fear of punishment or reprisals.And in lieu of all this discussion
about the Black Agenda and how we should go about supporting the country's first Black president, especially in the face of all this racism, I figure the best way to support the president is by giving him an agenda for what we would like to have his administration specifically address in and for the community. And that's how I came up with the idea to create a petition for black reparations.
Originally, I wrote this 400-word petition (talmbout: Jim Crow, Black Codes, convict leasing, sharecropping, peonage, welfare reform, the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, etc...), which I thought was abbreviated, however the White House's online petition setup said otherwise. So I had to reduce it down to 1800 characters, which means it doesn't say everything I would have wanted to say about the debt owed to the enslaved African and their survivors of African descent. However it is a start.
So sign this petition
and share it. After 150 signatures, it will be publicly viewable on the White House's website. And if it gets the 25,000 signatures by the December 15th deadline, we get a response from the Obama Administration. Also create your own petition. Hopefully one that builds off the agenda of Black reparations. Make sure to hashtag it on the White House website as Black Agenda and send it to me. I'll post it.
I mean, my dad kept telling me, "wait for his second term. He can't do anything right now until he gets second term first." Well, he got one. So let's go...