RIP Grandmaster Jim Kelly..One of the Martial Arts Iconic Figures Has Passed

Jim KellyJust got word, one of the greatest and most influential martial artists Jim Kelly aka Blackbelt Jones has passed away.. I recall seeing Jim Kelly as a kid alongside Bruce Lee.. His presence was appreciated and inspired many, especially at a time when Black folks were really into defining themselves on their own terms..When we talk about the influence Bruce Lee and his movies had on Hip Hop, we can’t really have that conversation and not include Jim Kelly..

believe it or not I knew Jim Keely not just for his martial arts movies, but also because he played tennis, which was my sport growing up.. Him and basketball great Dr J played tennis.. and that was an inspiration to me..

Not sure why he passed, as far as I knew, he wasn’t sick, but for far too many of us, we hadn’t been checking for him the way we should..I know he was making appearances at events like Wondercon, but we weren’t shouting him out in songs and making those references like we do with so many others like a John Gotti..I was also curious as to whether or not Wesley Snipes had ever worked with Kelly being that he came up at a time when Kelly had a strong presence

RIP Blackbelt Jones

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jblzuCUHzo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeoUSI9Y9cU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_d6tLMgRsU

 

A Few Thoughts About Being on the Witness Stand and Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

Rachel Jaentel

A few thoughts on Trayvon Martin‘s friend Rachel Jaentel... The minute that sister took the stand, jokes were flying around twitter about her looks and her weight… People were going in and saying nasty jokes about how Trayvon went out with Precious etc etc…

I’m sure the sista has heard such cruel jokes in real life more than a few times.. I can only imagine what sort defensive postures she’s adopted over the years to rebuff such remarks.. maybe she’s over aggressive, maybe she’s shy and stays low-key, maybe she makes lots of jokes, maybe she drowns herself in drink and drugs..who knows?

Hearing that she wanted to stay hidden and out of the public light had me thinking that was because she didn’t want to get the public ridicule.. It’s the type of mean-spirited ridicule that many had levied on Olympic champ Gabby Douglass when she was competing, one could only imagine what this sister, Rachel would’ve been dealing with if she had made herself public long ago..

On top of this, we still have someone who was a good friend to Trayvon who was the last to talk to him who lost him violently..To my knowledge, there weren’t grief counselors who went to Trayvon’s school and made sure his friends could process this sudden loss..

Like so many of us who come from the community, we are expected to suck it up, not cry and see the violent passing of love ones as some sort of truth about how tough we are and how tough are respective hoods are.. We ain’t supposed to need counseling, therapy or any sort of comforting to help get our mind right..

So we have a 19-year-old girl, who is overweight, dark-skinned who is supposed to ‘have her mind right’ because those who were going in on her supposedly could’ve and would’ve if they were on the stand… Some the harshest judgement directed at Rachel were from so-called professional, academic types, the sophisticated folks who saw Rachel as more of an embarrassment vs someone who was good friend to Trayvon..She even had folks like Lolo Jones, the Olympic athlete who herself was ridiculed, weighing in and adding to the viciousness. She compared Rachel to the character Medea and has made no move to apologize even as she herself as recently as a week ago is still upset and battling with those in the media who said nasty things about her..

Instead of thinking of Trayvon and respecting the fact that this was his friend as overweight and as dark as she is, many were projecting their own insecurities and bias on him and her.. Again this all before she started to speak..

Now lets talk about being on the witness stand..Many who talked crazy and judged crazy have themselves never ever been on a witness stand.. Many have not been a reluctant witness.. I recall being on the stand several years ago for the defense and being questioned for two hours before the cross-examination started.. I was not spoken too or prepared by the lawyers as to what to expect.. I’m a public person, I think I’m fairly articulate.. I have education and I speak as journalist for living, so being before a crowd and answer questions off the cuff is second nature to me..

When you’re on the stand and the job of the lawyer cross-examining you is to discredit you, its one thing to know it in theory and intellectually, it’s a whole other ball game when it’s happening, especially if you never gone through it..I recall when on the stand, the prosecutor asked me a couple of questions and then out of left field he pulled up an article I had written and read a sentence which on its own made me sound crazy and foolish..

He set me up my asking if I wrote the article? I said yes, then he asked me if these were my words.. and read the quote.. I said yes and tried to explain and was immediately cut off.. In a harsher more stern tone of voice that made me feel like I was 6 years old, he repeated the question are these your word? Yes or No..

I tried to explain and was instructed by the judge to answer yeh or nay.. I answered slowly almost like Rachel.. ‘Yes I wrote those words’.. My mind-set was anger and wanting to let everyone know in the courtroom there was a larger context to what I was saying..

The prosecutor upon hearing my ‘Ye’s answer said to the court “this is the type of individual we are expected to believe, someone who thinks like this who will pen these words in an article…”

Next the prosecutor pulled up my MySpace page and read my status update.. All this caught me off guard.. I wasn’t on trial I was a witness for the defense.. and he read my status which was ‘NYPD are dipshits’. Again i was asked yes or no is this whats on my page..

I tried to explain, and was cut off which had me even more heated.. Then the prosecutor said something to the effect that my juvenile ramblings were not very becoming of someone of my stature and profession.. Officers of the law gave their life on 9-11 and are more professional than you..

I wasn’t asked a question, but I responded, very slow and deliberate with major attitude just like Rachel.. ‘I wrote that because the officers who you claim are professional shot Sean Bell 50 times and not one of those so-called professional officers apologized..”

The prosecutor without missing a beat said something to the effect that my ramblings had sullied my profession and he was glad I wasn’t covering a story he was involved in….then he dismissed me.. I started to answer back.. and was stopped by the judge..

With all that I know about media and public speaking experience, degrees etc..and the 20 + years in age I have over 19-year-old Rachel Jaentel, I let my emotions get the better of me.. especially when my words were twisted and ridiculed.. I was only on the stand for cross-examination for 20 minutes, not 5 hours like Rachel.. I wasn’t on TV and there weren’t newspapers around digging into my past or making fun of my looks..Nor was I traumatized because of losing a friend..

I was angry that they took my words out of context and was mad that they saw my MySpace status update and ran with that to try and discredit everything I said earlier during being questioned by the defense..

I share all this to remind folks, what seems easy and no big deal isn’t always the case.. All I had that day was my truth and I left feeling like I was the one on trial.. I’m sure Rachel felt that and whole lot more.. The closest thing I can think of that might make this experience a bit more relatable is when you get pulled over and have to deal with rude arrogant cop who treats like you like crap.. Some are able to bite their tongue and endure the humiliation, others lose patience and wind up arrested or even dead.

I think Rachael told the painful truth..and was made to feel like she was on trial in that court and still on trial in the court of public opinion.. Even the daughter of the defense lawyer was taking instagram pictures calling this sister stupid.. Rachel is seen as everything under the sun, but a good friend of Trayvon Martin who she lost to unwarranted violence..

That’s some food for thought…

-Davey D-

Voter Restriction Laws Will Impact More Than Just Black People

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameJust peeping the news this morning about the House not even debating the Immigration Reform Bill.. Granted , many of us know the bill itself is kinda weak, but that’s not why the House won’t debate it.. They wont debate because politically they know there can and will be no consequence..

Its pretty certain that most folks who are impacted by immigration reform, which is more than just Latinos are not gonna vote for the GOP folks who wanna shut this down.. However, because of redistricting and now the ability to enact crazy Voter Restriction Laws, thanks to the SCOTUS decision, many sitting in the house know they have nothing to fear at the polls..

This brings me to my next point, yes we all know the story of courageous Black folks marching to Selma in 1965 to get Voting Restrictions removed and in doing so, they were brutally beaten and sprayed with water hoses. This has led to the face of voting rights being a Black one.. The cold reality is at the end of the day Restrictive voting laws will not simply be used against Black people…

Wars of suppression have been waged against all sorts of folks ranging from students to union members to Muslims to other People of Color etc..There is no doubt that restrictive voting laws will be put in place to make it difficult for specific populations to get to the polls or get registered.

Do not think for one second, that folks are not sitting in backrooms redrawing voting maps and crafting news laws to hinder voting attempts for college students who are set to see their loan rates double…One law that was struck down and likely to be resurrected will force students to go back to their home towns versus voting in the student communities they reside..

It was already tested in think Tanks and realized that many students Black, white etc, have challenges with getting all the government issued IDs that they will require for voting.. The hope and anticipation is many will simply stay home..

There will be more than a million people in the streets of San Francisco at the Pride parade. Folks in power see such large numbers as a potential political windfall or a potential threat to political power. To those in the LGBT community don’t get too comfortable in thinking that those upset about the recent Supreme Court decision who are sitting in seats of power are not looking at ways to suppress votes where they find large gay and lesbian populations..Dont think they dont fear political payback from you because of the insidious ways they opposed you..

Voter suppressionThe focus has been on national elections but as you can see from the drama that unfolded and will continue to unfold in places like Texas, the political action is stateside and locally.. For example, Texas state senator Wendy Davis the women who filibustered SB5 in Texas is targeted for redistricting.. In short they gonna remove her seat. And now Texas is putting in place one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the country.. Any state with a majority minority pop can expect to see similar patterns play out..

Bottom line is everyone needs to be involved in pushing back.. Whether you live in places like Michigan where they have crazy governors assigning mostly Black and Brown cities to be run by ‘business managers’ to liberal enclaves like Austin, Tx where they have carved up neighborhoods to people living next door to each other are in separate legislative districts that are based 500 miles to states like Florida that has made it a felony for third parties to register people.. everyone is impacted..

One of the first things people should do, is no matter what, get the proper IDs.. There is more than a year before mid-term elections.. no matter what get that ID if for any reason just to smash back and upend these think tank plans.. Folks who are doing GOTV work need to do more than just register folks.. It needs to be a priority to make sure folks got their documents and funds to get them..That should be a fight while others work to change the laws

To those who are going on tours or who make the rounds speaking at college campuses, churches etc, you should insist that at every speaking engagement, there is a voter registration and ID table..I’ve gotten commitments from several artists who will make sure this happens when they play.. but others need to join that effort..

vote No to Voting-signWatch out for well-funded disinformation campaigns including some that will say if you owe money, child support etc, you are not allowed to register or vote.. Look out for campaigns telling you Not to vote because it doesn’t matter and electoral politics is a farce….It’ll be slickly packaged as being anti-authority. Some of will manifest itself in the form of ‘whisper campaigns’. Some of it will come in the form selected spokes people who suddenly have media access  burst on the scene and start telling you none of this matters.. A good look at the documentary Merchants of Cool can spell out how these types of techniques and other stealth marketing techniques are effectively used.

And ‘yes’, there are some folks will say this who are sincere and have genuine political rationale.. But right now you will see more of that from folks who are being paid to keep you from going to the polls.. Check the track records and see what work and results of that work from people telling you to stay home.. Weigh those findings with what you feel you can achieved by voting someone who you believe in into office or a proposition that can put in place or strike down a law..

We saw this during the Healthcare debates when executives, actors and stand ins were pretending to be grassroots organizers were going to townhall to townhall disrupting it and saying no to HCR.. Initially people thought it was the average Joe, later it was discovered to be paid plants..Just know that will be happening to keep you away from the polls.

Voter Suppression will not be limited to Black folks from this day forward, so hopefully folks from other groups keep this fight top of mind….

-Davey D-