Key Muslims in Hip Hop, Media & Politics Speak out on Ground Zero Debate & Put Heads to Bed

Click HERE to hear the interview w/ Brother Ali

Yesterday we did a special radio show focusing on religious intolerance toward Muslims in America and amount of viciousness that’s been emerging with the debate around Ground Zero and the proposed Community Center/ Mosque..

We started off by talking with Minneapolis rap star Brother Ali. We talked about his new album US and where he’s headed musically speaking. Afterwards we go in on the Ground Zero controversy. Ali gave us an in-depth and insightful break down on the history Muslims in America and what Islam is really about…

He did a great job dispelling many of the myths  surrounding this religion which is practiced by a couple of billion people. He also talks about the media tricks being played both in terms of how this has been depicted. He expressed concern about how the end of Ramadan may land on 9-11 and that right-wing forces will use the occasion of showing people celebrating the end of Ramadan and twist it to make it seem like they are celebrating the 9-11 attacks

One of the most telling points that Brother Ali laid out was the demographics of those who practice Islam.. The average Muslim is not Arab. In the US the average Muslim is Black. Check out our interview with Brother Ali in the link below..

In part two of our interview we chop it up with Muslim reporter and journalist Nida Khan who has been covering the protests near Ground Zero. She talked about the violence directed at Muslims since this controversy started and how things are more intense than they were after 9-11.  Khan who has just returned from Pakistan talked about how anti-Muslim sentiments play out overseas. She also focused on a recent article she penned called Islamaphobia Weapon of Choice for the Midterms. Here Khan talks about how much of the hoopla is about political position so one can have a wedge issue to get people wound up over.

Click HERE to hear intvs w/ Nida Khan & Keith Ellison

We followed up our conversation with Nida Khan with a Congressman Keith Ellison who called to weigh in. Ellison who is from Minneapolis and good friends with Brother Ali, is the only Muslim in Congress. He confirmed much of what Khan said and focused on the unique campaign challenges him and some of his colleagues have come election time. He felt that making Islam a wedge issue will backfire.  Ellison also dropped science about the difference between culture and religion.

This came up when we spoke about the concerns raised about how women are treated and other practices. Ellison was meticulous with his answer as he talked about stonings and flying planes into buildings are pure distortions of the religion and to the degree any sort violent practice is widespread has more to do with culture then religious tenet.  Its kind of like us having an Easter Bunny to celebrate Easter.  The bunny is culture. The Resurrection of Christ (Easter) is the religion.

He talked about the practice of covering ones head. Ellison pointed out the irony of making fun of Muslim women who choose to wear a Hijab while finding it perfectly acceptable that Nuns and quakers may keep their head covered. He pointed out in traditional Black churches very few women will show up without their finest Sunday hat..

You can listen to our interviews with both Keith Ellison and Nida Khan by clicking the link below

While listening to these interviews check out just how over the top things are getting.. yesterday a Cab Driver was stabbed after being asked if he was Muslim

You can see the News Report by clicking the link below–cab-driver-stabbed-by-passenger-who-asked–are-you-muslim–

A city cab driver is in the hospital after being stabbed by a passenger who allegedly asked if he was Muslim, police tell NY1.

Investigators with the New York City Police Department say it all began Monday night when a 21-year-old man hailed a cab at 24th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.

Police say the passenger asked the driver, “Are you Muslim?” When the driver said yes the passenger pulled a knife and slashed him in the throat, arm and lip.

The 43-year-old driver was able to lock the passenger in the back of the cab and call 911.

Both the driver and the passenger were taken to Bellevue Hospital.

As of late Tuesday, no charges had been filed.

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Who are the Real Gangstaz? Will You Find Them Within Hip Hop?

Jasiri X and Paradise return with a hard hitting video that challenges the notion of gangstas who the real ones are in 2010..

Paradise the Arkitech of X-Clan and Jasiri X go on location to New York and Chicago to show the world who the Real Gangstas are, you know the ones who collapsed the economy and were rewarded with billions of dollars. Produced my GM3 “Real Gangstas” is not meant to be a diss song, but a defense of young Blacks and Latinos who are made out to be scapegoats for our country’s ills, while the super wealthy continue to add to their tremendous fortunes at the expense of the poor and middle class. Special thanks to Edward 6X for directing the Chicago shoot.

Verse 1
Gangster means organized crime
to exploit the poor or the blind using fortified lies
before you use the word think more than five times
they use to run with the cops they are borderline swine
with a 360 deal still a whore to the signed line
like a child still amazed at how quarters and dimes shine
real gangstas make billions making slaves of civilians
making slaves of ya children making slaves do the killin
really the games brilliant create the pain and the illness
then sell you the medicine that they claim will heal it
Real Gangstas don’t need guns to leave ya brains on the ceiling
they teach ya self hatred and leave ya chained by ya feelings
almost insane from dealing with ya everyday problems
they in every state mobbin doing heavyweight robbin
intimidate congress giving orders to the president
that’s why all were selected before we elected them

Verse 2
If you spent ya whole paycheck and you ain’t even saved yet
and you still in great debt then are you still a slave yes
800 billions in bailouts is what the banks get
Goldman Sachs Merrill Lynch throw up ya gang sets
Money talks but Ebonics isn’t its language
that’s why any black man teaching economics is dangerous
Real Gangstas are the 10% Satan and his apprentices
banking discipline businessmen raping pillaging innocents
master plans intricate Africans witnessed it
at the hands of the wickedest bastards and damn hypocrites
scamming riches with cash derivatives on wall street
then slash ya benefits ask the senators cause they all meet
to send soldiers to secure the Iraq boarder
before BP and Halliburton New Orleans had black water
if ya land resources you getting attacked for it
cause Real Gangstas run the world on the backs of the poorest

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The Rise of America’s Prison Empire: The Relationship Between Texas Prisons & Slavery

The Austin Chronicle has an excellent article that deals with the prison system and its relationship to slavery.. Apparently the prison system in Texas is the basis for all US prisons…. Some of this is not surprising, buit its always disturbing when its in your face..Here’s an excerpt from his book Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire:

“Just as New York dominates finance and California the film industry, Texas reigns supreme in the punishment business. … By almost any measure, Texas stands out. The state’s per capita imprisonment rate (691 per 100,000 residents) is second only to Louisi­ana’s and three times higher than the Islamic Republic of Iran’s. Although Texas ranks fiftieth among states in the amount of money it spends on indigent criminal defense, it ranks first in prison growth, first in for-profit imprisonment, first in supermax lockdown, first in total number of adults under criminal justice supervision, and a resounding first in executions. When it comes to imprisonment, writes Joseph Hallinan, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Texas is ‘where it’s happening.'”

Grim History

Author traces Texas prison system from its roots in plantation slavery

Earlier this year, historian Robert Perkinson published Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Henry Holt and Company, 496 pp., $35), in which he traces the history of American prisons through the prism of the “retributive mode” of the Texas system. Perkinson, an associate professor of American studies at the Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii at Manoa, has been studying Texas prisons since the late 1990s, when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on “convict leasing,” the privatized, for-profit system that replaced plantation slavery after the Civil War and survived into the 20th century. The book’s title is a quote from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst – “There’s tough. And then there’s Texas tough.” – advocating broader application of the death penalty. Perkinson’s thesis is that harsh Texas prisons, perfecting punishment trends established throughout the South, have become a model for much of the country. Texas Tough is a broad historical survey, a detailed history of Texas prisons, and in the end a scholarly polemic about the state of American prisons in general.

Perkinson has spent his summers over the last decade visiting and researching the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and he says that on the whole, the TDCJ was very helpful in helping him do the research and providing current statistical information. The book is also informed by numerous interviews and correspondence with prison officials, inmates, and others with knowledge of the lengthy and complex history of prisons in Texas.

Perkinson has also met with state representatives and officials working on prison reform and is hopeful that Texas and the U.S. are, as he writes, “about to embark on another era of humanitarian criminal justice experimentation.” We spoke recently about his book and his tentative sense that this could be a moment of opportunity for reform. “The good news,” he told me, “is that [the book] could be kind of an obituary for a moment that could be passing. It’s too early to tell.”

The following is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Austin Chronicle: How did you come to the conclusion that the Texas system became the model for U.S. imprisonment?

Robert Perkinson: If you look at almost any book on prison history, they start in the Northeast with these reform-oriented institutions, around the period of the Revolution, that were meant to rehabilitate criminals. They never worked out so well, but the standard story that’s told is this “narrative of halting progress”: They try one thing to rehabilitate criminals, and that might not work, it degenerates into scandal, and then they try another. But there’s always been this counter-tradition of criminal punishment that just hasn’t received as much attention from historians but is just as prominent in the records. And that’s a hard-fisted retributionist model, tied up with racial stratification, and that’s always been more powerful in the South.

So I found that with a little more sober eyes, if you look at the whole history of American punishment, there are really two traditions: the reformatory tradition that traces to the Northeast, and the retributionist, racially discriminatory model that traces back to slavery. In Texas and other Southern states, those connections are more stark than in other places. Until very recently, until the Eighties, Texas’ entire prison infrastructure was centered in the same counties that were the predominant slave counties before emancipation, and the properties were all former slave plantations that were then converted to private prison plantations, until 1912, and then were taken over as state plantations. So the personnel, the daily rhythms of life, the work expectations, the disciplinary traditions were all kind of passed down from slavery to convict leasing, then to the state. To a certain extent, that fell apart with the federal litigation in the 1980s but in some ways still is with us.

Texas Prison Board from 1930s

AC: The popular mythology of Texas doesn’t acknowledge the plantation history. It’s all about big, wide-open spaces and cattle ranches, and to the extent it recognizes the bloody historical record at all, it’s all about fighting off the American Indians and the Mexicans.

RP: Texas is funny, because it’s both a Southern state and a Western state, and it’s become an urban state. … The history of criminal justice and law enforcement is tied to that Western frontier experience. If you look back at the early history of the Texas Rangers, they were not engaged in what we think of as law enforcement but really involved in what the best recent history calls ethnic cleansing against Mexicans and Indians. That’s the origins of law enforcement, and slave patrollers were the other origins of law enforcement. In Texas, all white men were required to serve on slave patrols in the antebellum period, so that was a state-imposed way of imposing order. But the prison system really has its origins in the Southern history of Texas.

continue reading this article here…

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