Black History Fact: Remembering How Hip Hop Took on and addressed the issue of Apartheid


Black History: Remembering How Hip Hop Took on Apartheid…

by Davey D

One of the most under appreciated and least talked about collaborative efforts that involved Hip Hop was the Artists United Against Apartheid  and the The boycott of Sun City. For those who don’t recall Sun City was this ultra lavish resort  in this ‘phony’ country set up by the South African government called Bophuthatswana.  This was like a country inside a country kind of like an Indian Reservation of sorts. Sun City was basically South Africa’s version of Las Vegas and was set up to be this place where rich folks could go ‘play and get decadent and then return back to SA proper.

In South Africa under the Apartheid regime there were 4 or 5 of these fake/ reservation like countries called Homelands where Blacks were forced to live in overcrowded miserable conditions. They were moved off their traditional lands onto these ‘independent’ homelands while still being  still forced to work  amongst Afrikaners and subjected to her harsh Apartheid rules that called for strict racial separation.  It was in South Africa that Blacks who were the 75%  of the population and native to the land were subjected to all sorts of humiliations including not being allowed to live on any of the good land and having to show a special ID everytime they traveled from one place to another. These rules of racial separations were brutally enforced with the Afrikaner government going all out to crush any and all rebellions.

Many asked how was it that a country where Blacks were the overwhelming majority they could be under such harsh rule.. Sadly the South African Afrikaner government had two staunch prominent allies who stood in solid support. They were the US and Israel. Both these countries supplies weapons, resources and protection. Israel worked with the Afrikaner government to develop nuclear weapons and signed some sort of secret treaty to test them.

Worldwide condemnation picked up at the time President Ronald Regan was in office and he stood firm, vetoing any attempts to smash on Apartheid via the United Nations. He said the US had a constructive engagement policy..which basically meant business as usual..while they would say ‘Apartheid was the most desireable way to govern. At one point he even sent prominent minister Jerry Falwell over to South Africa to insure the Afrikaners the US was behind them. Both Israel and the US justified their stance because they didn’t want SA to get help from the Soviets.

South Africa’s Afrikaner government used Sun City as a way to give the country a nice look and by inviting A-list entertainers and showing them a good time, they would further highlight themselves via these defacto ambassadors.  Since Regan wasn’t going to back any attempts to officially boycott South Africa, the music and entertainment industry’s launched their own boycott.. people like Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Sprinstein’s E- Street Band kicked things off and formed the group.  He gathered up prominent rock musicians like;  Bob Dylan, Bono,  Peter Gabriel,  Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates,  Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr Pat Benatar, and Joey Ramone to name a few.. Joining them were legends like Miles Davis, Eddie Kendricks, Bobby Womack, Nona Hendryx, Herbie Hancock, George Clinton, Jimmy Cliff, and David Ruffin.

Rounding out this all-star line up were prominent Hip Hop artists, including pioneers DJ Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa, Mele-Mel, The Fat Boys, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and Gil Scott Heron.. Arthur Baker who is best known for producing Planet Rock along with Afrika Bambaataa was also on board.

The overall gist was to shame any entertainer or athlete who defied the UN sanctioned boycott and played Sun City for the large sums of money they offered. For the most part it worked, but there were a few like Queen, golfer Lee Travino, Frank Sinatra,  Linda Ronstadt, the O’Jays, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart who had no qualms breaking the boycott and in doing so giving credibility to the South Africa regime.

Here are two land mark songs from the landmark  Sun City album where Hip Hop left its footprints.. Props out to the pioneers who really put it down especially Mele-Mel and Kurtis Blow. What I like most about this joint is hearing Gil Scott Heron who was an obvious precursor to modern day rap doing his thing along side them. His commentary underscored everything that was happening. I was impressed with the way he paralled the struggle for equality here in the US along with what was going on in South Africa.

In order to fully appreciate this other cut Revolutionary Situation which is basically sound clips and samples over hard hitting beats is to hear it in full stereo. That wasn’t fully captured during this particular recording. Produced by drummer Keith Leblanc who did the song Malcom X on Tommy Boy record, this  the entire songs has sounds coming out of left and right speakers. They range from Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindi , Bishop Desmond Tutu,  Alan Boesak, and Steve Biko and Ronald Regan.  You get this sense of urgency that at any minute South Africa is gonna explode if the walls of Apartheid don’t crumble. Hearing Ronald Regan inside this song makes you realize how utterly out of touch and mean-spirited we sounded as a country.. . Sadly it was because of this exposure of Regan’s insensitivity that ‘Sun City’ got limited airplay and PBS refused to air the documentary that went alongside making this album.

Coming off the Sun City album which raised about a million dollars many in Hip Hop kept the message alive. there was the big divestment movement at UC Berkeley. myself and my crew did an anti-Apartheid song that was played during rallies. Others like Afrika Bambaataa who’s pioneering Zulu Nation organization was named after the South African tribe who fearlessly fought the Dutch, took it a step further and started doing concerts overseas where he raised money for the African National Congress. Bam will be the first to tell you that he was inspired after seeing the movie Zulu to form his organization and later adapt certain things including battle strategies from them. Hip Hop had been acknowledging South Africa and her freedom struggle from day one..

Also in that vein was Arrested Development  who also donated money to the ANC and if memory serves me correctly performed when Mandela came to Oakland at the conclusion of his Free South Africa tour

One of the most prominent groups to address the issue of Apartheid was Stetsasonic the original Hip Hop band.  They did a song that sampled Jesse Jackson who had just come off making a historic run for President. The song was called Free South Africa and was not only a 12 inch single that was promoted and pushed, but had an accompanying video..

Y’all remember this?

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It’s About to Get Nasty:How Corporations Are Secretly Gearing up for the 2010 Elections


There’s so much one can say and write about last month’s Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to weigh in and spend unlimited amounts on campaign contributions. One thing is certain-it’s about to get nasty and ugly.  The bottom line is, no matter how many ways people try to justify this ruling under the umbrella of ‘free speech’, it’s only a matter of time before the realization hits that it’s not exactly Free Speech when only the rich and powerful have access and can afford to voice their opinions on traditional powerful mediums.

We often forget that radio and other media outlets are corporations and with all the criticisms we have about the bias of news outlets like Fox or if you’re on the other side of the political spectrum, the so-called ‘left leaning’ media, that in itself should be proof  that an unbridled corporate voice could be really, really bad. The fact that our airwaves are now dominated by over-the-top political pundits who have become more and more strident and divisive over the past 5-10 years should have rung a few alarms, but sadly we are at a day and time where people have been lulled into believing that

1-There’s always opportunity to lay out one’s ideas via the internet.

2-Things aren’t  so bad as long as they can see or hear their own political viewpoint.

Look for corporations like AT&T to take full advantge of the new Supreme Court Ruling by campaigning to eliminate free speech on the Internet

A couple of things to keep in mind… First and foremost, we better make note that some of these corporations who are now free to spend billions are spending billions of dollars on law makers via lobbying efforts to cripple the internet and stifle the opportunity for the little guy to reach millions. Companies like AT&T and Comcast have been working night and day to get rid of Net Neutrality, which has allowed a free and open internet up til now. As we noted in recent stories thse corporate telecoms outfits are spending millions to sponsor events put on by law makers that represent communities of color as well as traditional Civil Rights organizations.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the end result has been the majority of members in both the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses siding with AT&T and other telecoms that want to bring about a restricted and consolidated internet.  Even more disturbing is seeing organizations like LULAC and the NAACP who have held events heavily sponsored by AT&T take supportive positions.

What’s even sadder is noting that these expensive lobbying efforts were happening before the Supreme Court ruling, where these corporate telecoms still had constraints and rules that limited them. All thats about to change big time. One of the first places you are likely to see the impact of this Supreme Court decision will be in the form of aggressive campaigns launched by the telecoms supporting lawmakers who are willing to eliminate Net Neutrality and cripple ‘free speech’ for the average John Doe on the internet. How ironic that the granting of unrestricted speech to corporations will result in them using  likely their far reaching destructive power to shut down free speech for others.

2 or 3 years ago AT&T brought computers for Chicago congressman Bobby Rush who then turned around and voted to eliminated Net Neutrality via the COPE Act

Many of these corporate telecoms simply don’t want a blogger who writes from home to be on the same playing field as a big newspaper or giant media outlets.  They want faster and more efficient access to be granted to those who can pay and like I said earlier,  millions of dollars have already been put in the coffers of Black and Brown leaders in both Congress and Civil Rights organizations who have had their votes and support brought and paid for…

Now that the Supreme Court has unbridled these corporations, you will see these efforts increase as these corporations will start looking for influencial groups and individuals who desperately need money in these economically challenged times for crucial projects and events or as was the case with Congressman Bobby Rush in Chicago, new computers for a school and write them big checks in an ‘unspoken’/’Unwritten’ exchange for votes, support or silence.  Many law makers will go for the short-term relief  and not concern themselves with long-term damage.  We all need to pay close attention because we are about to see some strange and disturbing political pairings.

The other widely held viewpoint is-as long as one can see or hear their own political viewpoint via a popular media outlet, then there’s no reason to trip off the Supreme Court’s ruling.  This is shortsighted and rooted in the belief that one’s favorite medium will always be forever and in a position to effectively champion ‘the cause’. The recent closing and filing of bankruptcy by progressive leaning Air America should serve as a strong reminder this is not always the case.

 Air America was supposed to be a viable alternative to the increasing use of right-wing talk show hosts on corporate radio, many who were accused of being racist, homophobic and carriers of ‘Hate Speech’.  With Air America gone there has been no replacement and even if one makes the argument that it wasn’t as popular as its right-wing counterparts, it nevertheless served an audience and represented an  important voice and political perspective that is now is gone. Where does one go now, keeping in mind the assault to corporations to cripple free sppech and control the Internet?

Glenn Beck led a corporate backed assault against political foes in the Obama White House. The end result was two were forced to resign

How bad can things get?  Well, we’ve all seen the type of damage that can be inflicted when a corporation pours money and resources into unrelenting attacks in political arenas. Fox News host Glenn Beck‘s vicious on air assaults on White House appointees Van Jones and Yoshi Sergent are two prime examples.  Beck was relentless and there was very few opportunities and outlets for Jones and his supporters to really strike back. The end result was both Jones and Sergent resigning and an emboldened Beck promising to intensify his crusade and go after other White House appointees. If Beck’s attacks weren’t an example of  corporate free speech gone wild then I don’t know what is.. What i do know is that after last month’s ruling  such attacks will increases tenfold with very few protections for those lacking resources and access.

On the political flipside to the Beck’s attacks, within urban America we have Radio One, the largest Black owned radio outlet which has long come under fire by leadership in the African American community. many have lambasted the outlet for not taking advantage of its enormous reach and influence within the Black community to help raise political awareness and social consciousness on a variety of important  topics versus dumbing down the audience and relying on the constant ressurection of troubling stereotypes of ignorance and buffonary. Radio one has noted that they have a well respected talk show line up which includes Civil Rights leader Al Sharpton and lawyer Warren Ballentine among others..However, that  punditry is rarely shared or exposed on their day-to-day music oriented stations which attract the largest number of listeners.

Radio One owner Cathy Hughes is using her popular media corporation to try and unseat Black lawmakers who she disagrees with over a proposed bill that she says will weaken her radio stations.

Last year Congressman John Conyers introduced a bill HR 848 which would force radio stations to pay an extra tax to record labels for each song they played. It’s a policy I definitely don’t agree and it sparked a big debate within many communities. Some took the proposed bill as a referendum against lack of politicalness of Black radio and Radio One in particular and came out in full support.  This resulted in Radio One owner Cathy Hughes taking to the airwaves and running a series of in-house political ads and editorials designed to unseat Black lawmakers including Conyers and  Houston’s Sheila Jackson Lee.  Hughes took things a step further by refusing to run ads or editorials that countered her concerns. The 2010 elections will show how impactful those ads were. It was the topic of discussion during a heated panel I sat on during the most recent Congressional Black Caucus gathering where there was a lot of back and forth and haggling to squelch the assaults. Again I bring this up because all this took place  prior to the Supreme Court ruling. Imagine how much crazier it will get now that corporations are free to say and do as they wish…

White House appointee Van Jones was a victim to vicious corporate sponsored attacks

The Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations the right to weigh in and contribute to elections unrestricted is not only dangerous, but one that many including those who seem to think its ok will come to regret sooner or later.  Those who support this ruling are those who simply have not been on the receiving end of such attacks and influence. The nature of corporations in America is grow and make as much profit as possible and eliminate an and all obstacles in way of its goals. Right now its easy to dismiss this because a Yoshi Sergent, Van Jones, Sheila Jackson Lee etc, don’t impact the day to day lives of most people. But after those victims of corporate assaults are eliminated who’s next? Will it be your church? civic group?, union? or son, daughter, mother or father voicing a strong opinion to an important issue?

What happens to the voice of coal miners in West Virginia when the owners decide they wanna drown out the complaints of  workers about low pay or shoddy work conditions and put someone in office who will reinforce their policies via legislation?  What happens to voice of nurses and doctors who find themselves drowned out by powerful  HMOs or Big Pharma companies who may be cutting corners or doing something that workers find unsettling?  What happens when you live in a small town or community and have elected rep who you like because he or she speaks to your needs, but those opinions rub some corporate owner the wrong way and he decides to launch a crusade against that small town official even if he lives thousands of miles away. Folks better start taking note.. The price for freedom is to be forever vigilant. In 2010 we best note that not all attacks are made with guns and swords.  Sometimes it comes with a pen as demonstrated by the Supreme Court  and their reckless decision last month.

-Davey D-

below is an article detailing some of the moves being made as corporations gear up for the 2010 election season..


How Corporations Are Secretly Moving Millions to Fund Political Ads

Gaping legal holes allow corporations to spend enormous sums on politics without leaving a paper trail.

original Aletrnet/Raw Story link

 stockwallcorporate Exclusive: How corporations secretly move millions to fund political adsThe Supreme Court’s seismic January ruling that corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts of their profits to advertise for or against candidates may have been the latest shakeup of campaign finance – but gaping holes already allow corporations to spend enormous sums without leaving a paper trail, a Raw Story investigation has found.

Campaign finance experts confirmed that though disclosure rules remained intact in the new Supreme Court decision, there are effective methods to circumvent them.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, an attorney and campaign finance expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said corporations already effectively end-run campaign finance law by shuffling money through trade associations.

“One of their favorites right now is spending through trade associations,” Torres-Spelliscy said.

Trade associations are considered tax-exempt non-profit organizations under US law. While they must report contributions received from other corporations to the Internal Revenue Service, the document itself remains confidential and is not

“Money coming through the trade association doesn’t get disclosed,” Torres-Spelliscy explained. “You can’t tell if it came from particular corporations.”

For example, she said, “The disclaimer form is likely to just say, ‘This is brought to you by the Chamber of Commerce,’ with no extra ability to see behind that.”

The Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest trade association representing at least 300,000 businesses and organizations.

A fellow non-profit that works on campaign finance, the Center for Political Accountability, calls trade associations “the Swiss bank accounts of American politics.”

“What was the lesson from Watergate?” Torres-Spelliscy quipped. “Follow the money?”

Health insurers, pharmaceutical companies embrace loophole

Trade associations such as America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have had an enormous impact on the health insurance reform bills pending in Congress. In fact, AHIP was recently found to have solicited $10 million to $20 million from leading health insurance companies — UnitedHealth, Wellpoint, Aetna, Cigna and Humana among them — and funneled it secretly to the US Chamber of Commerce to underwrite anti-reform attack ads.

Asked about the story, the Chamber’s top lobbyist told the reporter, “No comment. We never disclose funding or what we’re going to do.” The Chamber of Commerce did not respond to a Raw Story request for comment.

Raw Story’s 2008 award-nominated investigative series The Permanent Republican Majority noted that, “Despite its seemingly bipartisan name, the Chamber of Commerce has operated as a pro-Republican powerhouse since the fervently anti-regulation Thomas J. Donahue became president in 1997.” Raw’s Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane uncovered, for instance, that the Chamber, under Donahue’s leadership, had an indirect role in the defeat and political prosecution of Governor Don Siegelman and in targeting sitting judges in contested state elections.

President of the Center for Political Accountability Bruce Freed told Raw Story that trade associations also use other trade associations in this manner as “blinds for ads” to “launder their money.”

“It’s a way for the industry to avoid responsibility for those ads,” Freed remarked.

Karl Sandstrom, the Center’s lead counsel, noted that it isn’t only the public that remains in the dark over the “Swiss bank” loophole. He said that when the Center surveyed boards of directors of companies, the majority of them just assumed their businesses’ contributions supporting political ads were being disclosed.

“It’s just almost a working assumption,” Sandstrom said.

Most of the boards of directors, he said, were “shocked to learn there is no disclosure.”

While these types of contributions prior to the new Court ruling could only be used for “issue ads” — political advertisements that do not expressly advocate for or against a particular candidate — many such ads were often accused of blurring this line and having nearly the same impact as express advocacy ads.

Christian Hillard, spokesman for the Federal Election Commission (FEC), confirmed Tuesday that the FEC has “no authority over issue ads.”

Corporate funding of issue ads through trade associations has “no filing requirements with us,” he told Raw Story.

New ruling’s impact on the trade association loophole

Now that corporations, including trade associations, are free to spend funds on political ads – which cannot be coordinated with a candidate or political party but which expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate – the line between funding issue ads and express advocacy ads has been largely erased.

Campaign finance experts expressed grave concern in conversations with Raw Story.

Paul S. Ryan, an attorney and expert in federal election law at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., asserted that Congress did not contemplate this new Court ruling when it wrote the laws for disclosure related to independent expenditures or electioneering communications, because at the time such corporate spending was prohibited. Ryan said that it’s imperative that the FEC addresses disclosure requirements pertaining to this decision.

“Take hypothetically a group like the Chamber of Commerce,” he explained. “The Chamber collects money from lots of other corporations. So the question becomes: What kind of disclosure are we really going to get when the FEC gets around to promulgating rules to implement this Supreme Court decision?”

“Yes, the Chamber needs to file paperwork with the FEC saying we ran an ad saying Vote for Candidate Smith,” he continued. “But does the Chamber need to tell the FEC where it got its money to pay for that ad? And when the FEC adopts its rules to implement this new Supreme Court decision, the FEC will likely say, ‘Chamber of Commerce, you only need to tell us where you got your money if that money was given to you specifically designated to run election ads.’”

Ryan and other campaign finance experts told Raw Story this is a simple dodge.

“It’s child’s play to get around that type of disclosure,” Ryan said, adding, “It’s unclear whether the Court was being naive or disingenuous” when it touted disclosure provisions during its decision.

He explained that, for example, all the Chamber of Commerce has to do is tell other corporations, “Give us money and we’ll make sure it advances your business interests.”

“So as long as the donors don’t say to the Chamber, ‘We’re giving you this money to run political ads,’ as long as they refrain from saying that, then their identity can continue to be shrouded or hidden from the public.”

The Center for Accountability’s Sandstrom agreed, saying this type of disclosure “is easily avoided” and adding, “As long as you don’t designate it, you won’t be disclosed.”

The Chamber of Commerce, in fact, argued against any disclosure in the Citizens United case.

“Their first brief filed in Citizens United is on the disclosure issue,” Sandstrom said. “They argued that they would raise substantially more money the more they could keep it anonymous.”

FEC spokesman Hillard said that the FEC was still examining the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision and would not comment on anything pertaining directly to that ruling, including disclosure provisions.

 Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter for Raw Story

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