An Open Letter to South Africa’s Caster Semenya

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South African athlete caster Semenya has been globally brutalized by a public that thrives off scandals

South African athlete caster Semenya has been globally brutalized by a public that thrives off scandals

On this day that many of us will say “good morning” several times, I am deeply troubled. I am troubled by the reality of the space and communities in which we live, where I can wake up to tweets and facebook statuses ranting about the apology and protection we should be demanding for a country pop star, who one person (as ignorant in his behavior that he may have been) did not find should have been named the most popular for the year. I am troubled because for the last month our daughter and our sister has been globally brutalized, yet the tweets and statuses demanding her protection and respect of her humanity have been far and few between. Thus, I wake up this morning in an effort to make it a “good” one with a public letter to Caster Semenya. If you agree, this will be the email that you circulate throughout your “friends database” today. If you believe in globally protecting the humanity of black women’s bodies, then you can number and add your name to the count.

Be and live well,

Stephany R. Spaulding, Ph. D.
American Studies
Literature & Critical Race Theory
drspaulding@alumni.purdue.edu

September 14, 2009

Dear Caster,

My heart breaks and bosom aches for the shock of inhumanity you are being forced to see in this moment. If I could right now, I would gently pull you into my arms and cradle you as my child. I would blanket you in the comfort of knowing that you are of a people who are fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearful in that when other’s epistemologies are too minimalistic to understand our existence, they have sought to devalue and diminish it. Yet wonderful we are, for we live knowing it has never been about us, but an obsession with validating irrationally supercilious ideologies.

If I could, I would bend your chin and connect with your eyes and beg you to allow me to make amends for the things I have let my memory erase. I would bathe you in a wash tub of tears as the century of years return unto me—remembering the persisting global attacks on black women’s bodies.

I would kneel down with you and cry out libations for Saartjie and offer humble apologies for all the time expended before we could finally give her rest. I would mourn all the names that cannot be recalled, lost to the hypocrisy of Western medicine vested in white supremacy, for as slaves stripped of human dignity we were sacrificed upon the alter of modern gynecology.

If I could, right now I would hold on to you for dear life and reassure you that you do not have to choose to do anything other than live. No one could ever strip you of the victories you have and will continue to win, for our glory is not of man. In the short time of your living, you are teaching of the deep sense of courage, honor, and dignity that is our legacy.

With love that is all powerful, patient and kind, I would rescue you from this diabolical global attack. I would show you how wrong many are in believing it takes the presence of ovaries to be a daughter, “normalized” levels of estrogen to be a sister, or the opening of a womb to be a mother.

But Caster, most importantly, I earnestly plead that you allow me to shoulder this cross with you because I can. From across the ocean and spanning global miles, I reach out to you for the daughter you are and for all of our daughters to come.

Sincerely,

1. Me (Stephany Rose)

 

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M-1 of Dead Prez launches from the Ghetto to Gaza Speaking Tour

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P.O.C.C ,Block Report Radio &Hip Hop Congress Present: Ghetto to Gaza in Northern California (Oakland, S.F, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Sonoma Ct)

M1 of dead prez speaking about his Travels to Gaza in support of those at War and in an intense struggle for basic human needs. Also J.R Minister of Information w members of P.O.C.C , Richard Brown of the SF 8, Nadra Foster from KPFA, DLabrie, and more!!

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Support S.F BayView

M1, of the prolific rap group dead prez, will be on a speaking tour called “From the Ghetto to Gaza” through northern Cali from September 23-29.

Sacramento, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 9 p.m., Capitol Garage, 1500 K St.

East Oakland, Thursday, Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m., Wose Community Center, 8924 Holly St. – Minister of Information JR will interview M1

San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., POOR Magazine, Redstone Building, 2940 16th St. at Mission, Second Floor Theater – Richard Brown of the San Francisco 8 will interview M1
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West Oakland, Saturday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m., Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St. – Nadra Foster, the 12-year volunteer KPFA broadcaster who was beaten by police inside the station, will interview M1

San Jose, Sunday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m., DeBug Magazine, 701 Lenzen Ave. – Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir will interview M1

Santa Cruz, Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Barrios Unidos, 1817 Soquel Ave.

Sonoma, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Student Union Building, Sonoma State University

The Minister of Information JR
POCC Block Report Radio
http://www.blockreportradio.com

M1-Gaza-0909-webWelcome M-1 of dead prez to the Bay Area – East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Cruz – for six days of sharing his recent experiences in Gaza, Cairo and Europe and comparing them with ghetto life in the U.S. – six events Sept. 24-29 benefiting the SF Bay View and Block Report Radio. Get ready for some explosive revelations! Get a foretaste with 24 hours in Gazaby M-1. And listen to Khalil Bendib’s interview with M-1 this evening,  on KPFA 94.1FM – hear it in the archives at http://www.kpfa.org/archive/show/47 .

24 hours in Gaza

by Mutulu Olugbala, aka M-1 of dead prez

http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/24-hours-in-gaza/

M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

You may have heard me say, “I work for the people; the streets are my office.” Well, my recent mission to Palestine was a testament to that statement. Through the Existence is Resistance organization, I bore witness to a very moving and eye-opening experience. As a man-at-arms in an African Liberation Movement in the U.S. which is currently in the process of re-organizing and re-inventing itself in these times, I see the role of international solidarity critically important to our future world view. So when asked, “Why are you all the way over there when there is a war going on in your own community?” I proudly quote dead prez’ “Psychology” (“Let’s Get Free,” 2000): “My enemy’s enemy is my man!”

With respect to all the progressive organizations and cultural workers who have been putting work in to stop the siege on Palestine and amass resources and resistance to the same imperialism which is plaguing my community, I say, “Asante sana!” (“Thank you very much!”) You have provided critical political education at a time when the hip-hop community in particular has been devoid of analysis of the world around us. In places like Chicago and New York, I would continually bump into artists like Rebel Diaz, Shadia, Mansour, DAM (Palestine) and Immortal Technique, who I’d like to report as courageous fighters!

Now that we have kicked the preliminaries (as the old Flavor Flav would say), let’s get to the details … Moments after we rocked a solar-powered event on 23rd and the FDR in Manhattan promoting our recent release, “Pulse of the People,” I jumped on a plane to Cairo, Egypt. The plan was to join a caravan that would originate there and move north to the border of Gaza with loads of resources which had been donated for the people there who had been under an Israeli imposed, U.S. backed embargo for months.

From my trips to Cuba in the past years, I was aware that an embargo is only a nice way to say war, so I knew what to expect. Upon arrival in Egypt – which is northern Africa, in case you forgot – I could feel the intense military repression in the air. Nonetheless I was awed by finally touching and seeing a place that held such importance in the history of civilization. Fuck colonized Egypt; to me this was Kimet!

As I was toured through the recent developments and structural work like the Anwar Sadat Memorial and felt the pulse of the cluttered city streets, I was awed by the backdrop of the Nile River, which had been dirtied by the recent Arab neglect. Unfortunately, it was like a “toy” tag on a “burner,” for all my graf writers out there. Nonetheless, it was a moment I will never forget.

As my new-found comrades Ayman, Mazzi and I toured through Egypt just an hour off the plane, we could not help but to be drawn to the pyramids in the near distance as the sun began to set on this powerful land. In a moment of spontaneity, we urged our guide to take us closer to get a better look at these incredible wonders of the world.

As the sun continued to set, I found myself on the back of a camel, trodding through what seemed like the Kasbah on our way to the sands of the desert in which these six pyramids were implanted. Unfortunately, night fell upon us as we were on the way and we had to turn back, but our efforts produced a great memory and a backdrop which was indescribable.

Later we arrived at the hotel, which would serve as the headquarters for the caravan, war-room for the organizers and hostage zone for the Egyptian government who had assigned agents to follow and document every word and action taken by the Viva Palestina group, whose numbers would reach around 200 people. As we settled in, there was an update meeting called for the people who had just arrived.

It was at that meeting that we learned that the preliminary caravan, which had been sent forward to prepare for our entry into Palestine, had been turned back by armed soldiers at the Suez Canal! It was at that moment that we realized there would be serious worldwide opposition to this support which we planned to bring there.

At the center of the meeting was British Parliamentarian George Galloway, who was the chief planner and organizer of this mission. Seated to his left were two very familiar faces to me, New York City Councilman Charles Barron and Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney. I was elated to see these two, who I had worked with before on many occasions.

“The revolution is like the back of the camel, to be ridden by the masses ...” – M-1
“The revolution is like the back of the camel, to be ridden by the masses …” – M-1

And I was especially anxious to speak with Cynthia McKinney, who had, just days before, been freed from an Israeli jail for attempting to get into Gaza to investigate the crimes against the people there. It was good to be amongst comrades in a sea of unfamiliar faces. Later I would retire my room with mc’s S.O.U.L. Purpose (U.S./Iran) and LowKey (Britain), only to break night preparing for the next day.

Little did we know that the Egyptian government had no plans to let this mission succeed. Under the watchful eye of the Israeli government, we endured countless exercises in futility at the U.S. Embassy while being followed by suspicious looking Arab agents carrying sub-machine guns.

The idea was to exhaust our resources by paying for useless, unnecessary documents and dealing with bureaucratic paperwork to delay the mission as much as possible. Plus, while waiting on the Egyptian government to deliberate these matters, which they had been made aware of months prior, we were not allowed to leave the vicinity of the hotel, which we were paying to be held hostage in!!

Was this the same place that U.S. President Barak Obama recently visited in a so-called attempt to ease relations precisely in this region? Is this a glaring example of political lip-service or what? The Viva Palestina group spent the next couple of restless days plotting, planning and strategizing around how we could heighten the pressure to free us from this Egyptian purgatory.

There were international demonstrations called in the U.S. and Britain in which people stampeded the embassies and flooded officials with phone calls. In the final analysis, even with all the efforts, we were still left with undesirable choices to make.

With some forces who had been in Egypt for up to seven days already with no success at breaking the siege on Gaza, we were now faced with the fact that the Egyptian government would not allow the resources we had gathered to bring into Gaza to cross the border. I am talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and pounds literally “jacked” from us!

“The road to Rafah, Viva Palestina ...” – M-1
“The road to Rafah, Viva Palestina …” – M-1

Some of these resources were in the form of two ambulances, many trucks full of food, medicine, wheelchairs and equipment, basic household needs, children’s books and school supplies and the list goes on and on! On top of that, we were now reduced from spending three days in Gaza to now only being given 24 hours to get in and out! It was pretty ridiculous if you can fathom it; however, in war we have to make decisions on our feet and move strategically.

With the leadership shift from Galloway to Charles Barron in the heated hours, and around-the-clock negotiations, it all came down to a final decision-making meeting in which all cards were placed on the table before everyone in the Viva Palestina caravan. In a room full of people from every walk of life: white, Black, Asian, Palestinian, Jew, rich, poor, political, non-political, uninformed, young , old, tired, adventurous and of course police planted agents, we had a discourse of which type I had never been a part of. And I am thankful for the seasoned leadership of Mr. Barron that helped to pull us through. At one point, there was even the “discovery” of an agent in that very meeting, which caused a huge conflagration that almost ended in physical harm to the snitch!

Our decision was to accept the offer made to us by the Egyptian government and bring some sense of hope to the Palestinian people who would be waiting on the other side of the Rafah border. And in the wee hours of the morning, we loaded up the vans and trucks with our people and our belongings and left the hostage hotel to embark on a six- to eight-hour caravan to the Gaza Strip.

The journey through the sand was remarkable. Only the pictures can describe these moments. On a comfortable chartered bus I daydreamed and listened to one the head organizers, Nancy, deejay to our anxiety and excitement. One of my favorite songs is the one that demanded us to “wave our kufiyas in the air!” which many of us wore. Even though they have become a passing fashion statement, we wore the red and white ones, and I felt extremely proud when the brothers got together to wave our Red, Black and Green Liberation flag in the immigration office as they chanted loud enough for the people to hear us on the other side in Gaza.

One thing I will never forget is the Palestinian people on the Egyptian side of the border who were not allowed to get back into their country since the embargo began. I felt unworthy of passing through the checkpoint as tears rolled down their faces and their children pleaded to be on the bus with us. I would have given up my seat in one second if it would not have compromised the mission.

As we endured a couple more hours of bureaucracy and finally made it to Palestinian land, many of us could not believe we were actually in the Gaza Strip. There was the warmest welcome planned even though they had prepared for this moment over a week ago. Who knows when their Israeli captors will allow the border to open again?

For all intents and purposes, we were visiting an open-air prison that is intended to never be given its human rights ever again! During the press conference and the hubbub, I saw many reactions to our arrival. There were families reunited and political opportunism ran amuck. Many of us were exhausted but elated to inhale the experience to the fullest. The next 24 hours would change my life …

Stay tuned for the finale …. Power to the People!

[Author’s note: The views I am expressing here are mine alone, and subject to input from all certain people who shared this experience. Please excuse any error in my recollection; it wasn’t done intentionally. Thank you.]

Learn more about M-1 and dead prez and their latest album, “Pulse of the People,” at www.deadprez.com and www.myspace.com/m1rbg. Join M-1 on his historic speaking tour Sept. 24-29, “From the Ghetto to Gaza” – six events in six days in East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose and Santa Cruz to benefit BlockReportRadio.com and SFBayView.com. Contact Minister of Information JR at blockreportradio@gmail.com or the SF Bay View at (415) 671-0789 for more information

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The Phony, Corporate Sponsored Disruptions & Outbursts of Kanye West & Joe Wilson

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DaveyD-leather-225Lemme  cut to the chase, Kanye West is phony as was his contrived outburst when he rushed the stage to disrupt an acceptance speech from country singer Taylor Swift, during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. It was a perfectly executed stunt which was designed to make national headlines (which it did). It was designed to become among the top trending topics in twitter and one of the hot key words in google (which it is). It was obviously designed to take away attention from issues at hand as Kanye’s outburst overshadowed many of the performances and presenters including the Michael Jackson tribute.

Like it or not in 2009, notoriety works and unchecked disruptions, outbursts and controversial statements and gestures are the order of the day especially if you need to do a little bit of ‘social engineering’.  Kanye rushing the stage at the VMAs was no different than the idiot congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during his speech the other night. It was no different then last month’s so called ‘spontaneous’  shouting matches and YouTube ready disruptions during Democratic sponsored healthcare townhall meetings around the country.

Did congressman Joe Wilson's outburst orchestrated?

Did congressman Joe Wilson's outburst orchestrated?

The end results are all the same. People are still talking about Joe Wilson and more importantly his opposition to Obama’s Healthcare plans. It created a huge windfall of donations to the tune of 1 million dollars for his re-election campaign. Lastly, this once obscure congressman is now a national figure and a household name who is seen as a hero in many circles. His notoriety and 15 minutes of fame has gotten him a platform to voice his espouse his opinions and political philosophy.

 The disruptions during the healthcare townhalls were obvious game changers. First, it put the Democrats on the defense and allowed a vastly outnumbered Republican party that was in disarray to gain momentum and popularity. It also emboldened a number of people including staunch racists who were frustrated and angry to let loose and grab a seat at the proverbial table.

Kanye West has been getting kinda phony lately

Kanye West has been getting kinda phony lately

In the case of Kanye West, people are obviously talking about him and inevitably whatever projects he’s pushing. In a crumbling music industry where personality and branding is whats being sold more than music, the attention Kanye received is extremely valuable. The free publicity is worth millions.

But all this is just part of the story in terms of who benefits. Whether we’re talking about Joe Wilson or Kanye West, they are small cogs on the totem pole. There are larger and more powerful beneficiaries. It could be Health Insurance, leadership in the GOP,  Kanye’s record label and MTV/Viacom. The 64 thousand dollar question is what hand did these larger institutions have in these controversies.

Did GOP leaders plan to have Wilson act out during the president’s speech as a strategy to take some shine away and minimize Obama’s persuasive oratory skills?  To me, its more than obvious they did.  No one seems to be to upset with  Wilson.  Thus far I’m not hearing about Wilson being removed from any committees. He already said he’s not gonna apologize a second time and it’s not like President Obama is gonna run up and punch him in the face for being disrespectful.  In short there’s been no penalty for Wilson breaking the rules as his party has pretty much circled the wagons  around him. Wilson and his GOP buddies are relishing in the fact that they were able to reaffirm and in many ways re-established their position as scrappy fighters who are down for the cause of the blue collar man compared to the ‘whimpy’ Democrat. 

Cartoon-FreedomWorks-PartyIn the case of the townhall disruptions, we already know that many of these ‘grassroots’ , ‘spontaneous’ gatherings were actually orchestrated and seeded by lobbyists and corporations with the main groups being Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Expensive PR firms were hired and a strategy was developed  instructing people how to systematically disrupt townhalls. This included, spreading out amongst the crowd to give the appearance as being larger in numbers, rattling the sensibilities of a congressperson early on by shouting and aggressively challenging him/her  and just generally being disruptive so that what got reported on the evening news was people shouting down the congressperson and not the finer points of healthcare.

Anyone who has ever done commercial radio and been in a ratings war, much of these ‘political’ disruptions are text book. Early on we learned the important lesson of controversy sells. We’ve learned the importance of staging ‘spontaneous’ activities including cheering, hissing and booing  in such away that the people around you would catch on and join in. ‘That’s all classic social engineering tactics. We learned how to show up at our competitions events and concerts, give up t-shirts, bumper stickers and signs and create the illusions that we were somehow apart of what was deemed exclusively theirs.

This brings us full circle back to Kanye West rushing the stage.  because we’ve been inundated with crass disruptive behavior at political events, many of us forgot that this is a hallmark of the music industry. Creating illusions and smoke and mirrors is what we specialize in. Was Kanye’s antics sanctioned and planned by executives at MTV?   LOL, last night’s Kanye moment was about as real as the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction several years ago.  It was about as real and unscripted as an episode of MTV’s Real World.  or even better last night’s Kanye outburst was about as real as the battle for record sales between him and 50 cent two years ago.

Long before Kanye, the late ODB was known for bumrushing stages during award shows. At least ODB said he was doing it for the kids

Long before Kanye, the late ODB was known for bumrushing stages during award shows. At least ODB said he was doing it for the kids

This should be more than obvious.  By the end of the show MTV had a graph in place to show how Kanye’s disruption was the thing everyone was talking about on twitter? Plus, is Kanye being banned from any radio play? No. Will he be back at the next MTV event or is he banned for life? Hell naw. Will MTV keep showing the clip of Kanye rushing the stage? Hell yeah. This is not the first time he’s acted a fool at these type of events and he’s always invited back. Kanye is playing the role of the late Ole Dirty Bastard who was known for having a number of spontaneous outbursts including rushing the stage during the Grammys, that became seared in our collective memories over the years. 

 Me personally, I knew Kanye was phony balony when he rushed the stage and proclaimed Beyonce should’ve won without being nervous. That was the scripted Kanye we saw last night. The unscripted Kanye was the one we saw during the Katrina telethon when he said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. But lets not digress.

Look the bottomline  is everyone was in on it. Hell I’m beginning to even think Taylor Swift and Beyonce went along for the ride and had scripted out roles with Beyonce being the gracious sheroe and Smith being the poor victim we all rallied around. No matter the case, scripted or not it all seems to have worked out. Remember this is the same MTV who  just a few months ago had us all looking on in shock as Eminem shed his bad boy image to go along with promotional stunt  concocted by actor Sacha Barron Cohen dressed in character as Bruno.  People were led to believe that Cohen ‘had an accident with his stunt cables and somehow landed  in such a way that his ass and nutsack was in Em’s face as he attempted to untangle himself.  An enraged Eminem stormed out the building only to have it later revealed it was a stunt he was in on and even rehearsed it.

I guess the bigger and more somber picture to all this is how we are constantly being manipulated. It may start somewhat harmlessly with Kanye West-like stunts at MTV but then it  leads up to ‘staged’ outburst by ‘upset’  lawmakers during a Presidential speech. All of it corporate sponsored and all of this is part of a larger pattern to dumb down the masses and keep a population ill-informed.  In the business we call it learned behavior and it allows for people to be easily duped and eventually pimped.

Something to ponder

-Davey D-

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