Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Race? What Exactly Does that Look Like & With Whom?

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameEver since President Obama gave his speech on Trayvon Martin and race, I’m been hearing pundit after pundit wax poetic about how now is the time to have ‘a serious conversation‘ on race…’

My question is..’What does that mean?’ Seriously, what does that serious conversation look like and who does it involve?

Do we have some sort of nationally televised panel discussion or is it Hearings on Capitol Hill?

Do we have a C-Span-like version of Tavis Smiley‘s now defunct State of the Black Union? and if so what do we talk about? Racial profiling? Affirmative Action? Attacks on President Obama? Who’s on the panel? Al Sharpton? Tavis? 50 Cent?

Does this serious discussion only involve Black folks, Are we including Asians, Latinos, Native Americans? Do we need to have a conversation on race with Blacks and Latinos?  Asians and Whites? Arabs and Latinos? Arabs and whites?  etc

Within our  respective communities we have a variety of political stripes, so does this serious conversation include Black conservatives?  Are we including Pan Africanists? Revolutionaries? Garveyites? Traditional Civil Rights types? Hip Hop generation folks? LGBT folks? Who are these folks breaking bread with? White radicals? Suburban housewives? Tea Party types? NRA folks? Wall Street bankers? Birthers?

Thomas Norman DeWolf & Sharon Leslie Morgan

Thomas Norman DeWolf & Sharon Leslie Morgan

As far as I’m concerned serious conversations about race have been going on for a very long time..There have long been forward thinking people who have engaged this conversation full time..For example, recently I did an interview with Thomas Norman DeWolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan who penned the book Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade. Does our serious conversation look like the work these two have been doing for the past few years where they been touring the country speaking about healing and reconciliation?

Does our serious conversation look like the unlearning Racism and white privilege workshops put on by folks like Tim Wise and author J-Love (Jennifer Calderon)?

Does it look like the work done by  Shakti Butler and the work she outlines in the film ‘Cracking the Codes ‘The System of Racial Inequity’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36XCiGr8muw

Howard PinderhughesOr does it look like the unlearning racism workshops that scholars like Dr Howard Pinderhughes was doing at UC Berkeley back in the early 1980s? Do we draw from the work covered in his book Race in the Hood: Conflict and Violence Among Urban Youth which was penned in 1997?

Do we look at the International Race Relations Roundtables that were done in New Zealand back in 2004 and build off those findings? or do we hark back to the Race Round Tables that were done in Michigan since 1942? Those serious discussions on race have been going on for decades, what has worked? What hasn’t worked? Is Michigan a model for us because after the riots in 1943 when mobs of whites came after Black folks? Those riots got everyone together to deal with the so-called Negro problem back then? 24 years later when Detroit exploded in riots in 1967 that ‘Negro Problem’ was addressed again by the Michigan roundtables with the attempts to bring about racial harmony. What can we draw from those attempts?

Do we look at the attempts made by places like Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland when they opened their doors to the Jewish community and Rabbi Michael Lerner to have a service focusing on improving race relations? It was called Solidarity Sunday.. Lerner’s remarks are HERE
End Racism

Does our serious discussions on race look like the work that was done at  World Conference on Racism. These conferences have been going on since 1978, with the first one addressing the issue of Apartheid in South Africa..In 2009, the World Conference on Racism was held in Geneva, Switzerland.. President Obama had promised folks before he was elected that he would attend.

He was well aware that President Bush’s delegation had walked out the conference in 2001 when it was held in Durban,  South Africa. At that time the US was upset that the global attendees had declared Zionism as a major form of racism and that the US legacy of slavery was something that needed to be seriously addressed. Our country felt this was unfair and bounced mid way through the conference.

Globally speaking all sorts of countries around the world were seriously upset about the US walking out, but before shyt hit the fan in a big way, our collective attention got diverted because of the 9-11 attacks which happened a day or two after the conference was over..

Obama got a game plan about this gun control stuff

Obama backed out of the 2009 World Race Conference after being pressured

President Obama noted that he was different then Bush and would have us at this conference, but after AIPAC and Israel got at dude and he decided not to attend at the 11th hour resulting in US and some of her key European allies pulling out.

I bring all this up to ask whether or not there be another World Conference on Racism and will Obama attend? We should also ask, if the World Conference which has been in existence for darn near 30 years, is the place to have that ‘serious conversation’ on race? Do we build upon the work there or start from scratch?

In the meantime, most of us may wanna start that serious conversation on race on our own and by keeping a few things in mind..

1-Learn to listen. Learning to listen and not getting caught up with what some dub ‘Oppression Olympic’ conversations where we compare atrocities and try to one up one another while invalidating the experiences of others. We should ideally be striving to listen with the understanding that racism has resulted in trauma.. It’s intergenerational. It’s personal. It’s systemic. A one time conversation won’t make things go away overnight..Healing is important and healing is defined differently by many.

Are we looking at the work people like Dr Joy DuGruy are doing around intergeneration trauma..Her book and lectures on post traumatic slave syndrome are informative. We see similar approaches toward healing in Native American communities.. This documentary called Journey to Forgiveness is one example worth peeping..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZwF9NnQbWM


2- Recognizing that there are all sorts of political, economic and social power dynamics at play when dealing with race..How the playing field gets leveled in those areas is important..Understanding how class factors in to all this is important.. In other words the conversation traditional Civil Rights leaders may have on race may be very different that the one we are having in our neighborhoods and amongst our family and friends. Some of this is related to age. Some of this is geographical.

Trayvon-Martin-brownFor example, when the when there was national discussions about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman being a vigilante, we often saw this couched by pundits as one a time occurrence vs something that was systemic.

Where I’m at in Oakland, California Zimmerman’s vigilantism was seen as part of larger climate of intolerance which also manifested itself in Brown communities with xenophobic Minutemen and ‘neighborhood border watchers’ using the name US Border Guard who were shooting and attacking Brown folks with impunity.

Investigations by both police and independent media outlets have revealed many of these vigilante border watchers are members of Neo-Nazi groups..peep that HERE . The case of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores who begged for her life before being shot along with her father by Minutemen vigilantes in Arizona who suspected they were in the country illegally is one prime example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgcVMvl-k7A

In other circles, Trayvon’s murder was connected to the large numbers of police killings. In fact the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in the wake of Trayvon’s murder did an exhausted study which brought to life that every 28 hours a black person was killed by police, security or wannabe police.  In many circles Trayvon’s murder was rarely spoken without referencing the MXGM Report.. Watching numerous pundits not talk or write about border killings or the MXGM Report was an indication that folks have very different perspectives on addressing racially charged issues.

Race matters3-Allowing yourself to become culturally literate.. This means goings beyond memorizing a few dates, times and historical figures. It means knowing more than a few songs from genres outside your comfort zone.. It goes beyond dating outside your race and thinking that you’re an instant expert because of that..Ideally this may mean going out of our way to find ways to stay informed about other communities. Do we read publications of other ethnic groups? Do we watch documentaries dealing with other people’s issues?  Do we have list of websites to go that cover a wide breathof other communities. For example, I like to peep  websites like Colorlines and Racialicious.

4-Determining what justice looks like..Is it an apology? Is it people being punished? Is it people being compensated? We should also be clear as to what we are fighting. Are we fighting systems of oppression and institutionalized racism or are we dealing with day to day bias and prejudice?  Can and should we put both on the same plane? Yes, I have lots of white friends, but how has that ended or is working toward ending systemic racism?

Another way of looking at this is noting that I have friends who are police officers. How has that friendship ended police brutality? Does my friendship mean that we pull back or no longer address the systemic problems within police departments?

There’s the personal and there’s the systemic.. What are we really fighting?  Are we trying to bring awareness and end racism within our own circles? Its one thing to talk publicly about the need to end racism, while ignoring the bigotry and ignorance at home with family members and friends.

Along these lines are we putting into play ideas of how a society free of a system dominated by White Supremacy looks like?  Have we peeped scholars like Neely Fuller to understand what White supremacy is? As people of color are we deliberate or unwitting tools of white supremacy? Are white folks asking questions as to how they being used and enabling this system?

There’s no one size fits all model..For some it may mean exchanging books and having discussions. For others it may mean doing retreats and having purposeful discussions with a specific goal in mind. For others its simply means getting certain types of legislation passed. Still others feel having a healthy understanding of a variety of political and social philosophies that govern folks from particular backgrounds is a way to start making inroads into improving race relations.

Any that’s some food for thought..

-Davey D-

Advertisements

Jasiri X: George Zimmerman is a ‘Creepy Azz Cracka’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwHhemgXp-Q

George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman

I’m Loving what Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X just did around this George Zimmerman Trial..here’s what he had to say:

I decided to put my thoughts about the Zimmerman trial, the ruling on the Voting Rights Act, and Race in America into a 16 bar verse:

Oh you was born black welcome to the curse race

Oh you was born brown you sure this is your birthplace

This is America the home of the white man

Where every other American gets a hyphen

People of color police shoot us on site man

And then be like damn I was just frightened

See just the color of my skin is intimidating

Here I’m a criminal just based on my pigmentation

We need God our only mass is incarceration

We need Jesus cause these preachers got the heart of Satan

They toast to our death celebrating with ice cream

Vanilla with the cake cone must be a white thing

They wanna stop us from voting well what do rights mean?

If the end result of our struggle can just be wiped clean

And Zimmerman is a creepy ass cracka

A racist child murdering liar and bad actor

 

Marco Rubio Tells Jay-Z: He Must Learn.. We Tell Rubio He Should Learn As Well

jay-z sideAccording to USA Today, Jay-Z is applying to become a baseball agent with Major League Baseball Players Association receiving his application to  be certified was received last week.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports announced last week New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano was their first client.

Jay-Z, who denied he was selling his shares of the Brooklyn Nets in the song Open Letter‘ obviously is to avoid any sort of potential problems and conflict with the MLBPA.

If Jay-Z gets certified, this may put a whole new twist on his trip to Cuba.. As folks may know Cuba’s amateur Baseball is deemed a powerhouse on the world stage.. Currently many in MLB have raided Latin American countries including the Dominican Republic looking for the next superstars.. Perhaps Jay-Z’s visit to Cuba was a way to get a head start on looking for great players in that country.. who knows? It’s not something to rule out..

Marco_Rubio,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress

Senator Marco Rubio

On another note Senator Marco Rubio, a self subscribed Hip Hop head and Jay-Z fan responded to Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba saying he should get informed..Then he dropped a couple of misleading gems to cloud the issue.. He said on ABC News with Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl

“I think Jay-Z needs to get informed.  One of his heroes is Che Guevara.  Che Guevara was a racist.  Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up,”

What Rubio was referring to was Che’s diary notes written when he was 24 years old where he noted that

“The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”

He also noted that Blacks didn’t bath too much..

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Such remarks were written and espoused by Che who at the time had little contact with Black folks and brought into a lot of the myths an stereotypes.. He also changed over the years and his thinking evolved.. As was noted in an article by our good friends at Afro Punk who famously addressed this issue a couple of years ago,  Che not only evolved his thinking but also fought in All-African armies in Cuba  and in the Congo..where he went to fight after the death of leader Patrice Lumumba. He called for school integration before the US was down to address the issue.. Peep the article here..http://www.afropunk.com/profiles/blogs/che-guevara-a-racist-a-glimpse

Che went to the United Nations to denounce the organization for not doing enough to end Apartheid Rule.. He came down hard on the US for her treatment of Black people..In his speech before the United Nations Che said

“Those who kill their own children and discriminate daily against them because of the color of their skin; those who let the murderers of blacks remain free, protecting them, and furthermore punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men—how can those who do this consider themselves guardians of freedom?

You can peep the entire speech here; http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1964/12/11.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wdo6FwAPyng

Malcolm X talked about Civil Rights & Black church leadership taking funds to compromise on key positions during the March on Washington

Malcolm X admired Che and invited him to speak at OAAU Meeting

With respect to Jay-Z educating himself.. Rubio is right, Jay-Z should. He should educate himself about the harsh, hostile hatred shared by many of the rich wealthy 1% plantation owners towards Cuba’s Black population who aligned themselves with the Batista Regime who were overthrown by Castro. Many of those 1%ers fled from Cuba to Miami and for years held on to the same racial disdain for Black folks that Rubio accuses Che of holding. And I’m saying this as someone whose father lived in Miami, Liberty City since the 60s and was very active up until his passing two years ago.. We won’t even talk about the scapegoating and racial hostility directed at Haitians which is a whole chapter onto itself.. But I’m sure in 2013 Rubio would argue that things are different now and that people’s attitudes have changed.. Well we do know that Che had evolved the same as Malcolm X who expressed admiration for Che and even invited him to speak at the Audubon Ballroom to speak at a meeting for OAAU [Organization of Afro-American Unity.. You can read about that HERE

During the interview with ABC News, Rubio  “Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics.”

This is an interesting assertion on  a number of levels. First the Cuban rap artists who is on hunger strike has become a cause celebre His name is Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga better known as Critico de Arte. Most people up until Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba never heard of this artist and would be hard pressed to name a song or the political party Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) he is affiliated with..He’s a tool of convenience..He’s a talking point for those trying to win a political argument. Sadly his plight and the plight of many like him are of very little concern to Rubio and people who think like him..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSoszQXgzik

Hunger strikeI find it fascinating that Rubio would talk about this young man’s hunger strike but as a United States Senator has ignored the massive hunger strikes here in US prisons..Last year there was a big one in several Georgia State prisons.. Rubio was absent from that.. You can read about that one here http://blackagendareport.com/georgia-jackson-state-prisoners-hunger-strike-day15

There were prison hunger strikes in California most notably Pelican Bay the year before which Rubio was silent about .. You can read that Here: http://solitarywatch.com/2012/07/03/one-year-anniversary-of-pelican-bay-hunger-strike-against-solitary-confinement/

What’s most disturbing about this prison strike in California since we are talking about the state clamping down on dissident voices in Cuba is whats went on here in the US with the media Blackouts of the prison strikes  http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/21/headlines/media_ban_imposed_as_california_prison_hunger_strike_enters_4th_week

As we speak there are hunger strikes going on at our own Guantanamo Bay. In addition to torturing people who are held as enemy combatants, meaning they haven’t even gone on trial yet, we have guards shooting at those hunger strikers .. Again this is going on right now.. in April of 2013. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/15/headlines/military_guards_fire_on_gitmo_hunger_strikers

The hunger strike which involves more than 100 prisoners has been going on since March http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/13/over_100_guantanamo_prisoners_on_hunger

With respect to political beliefs we can talk for hours about our own political prisoners, many of them former Black Panthers.. some have been locked away in solitary confinement for over 40 years..  http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/28/after_40_years_in_solitary_in

We would be here for days if we talk about the countries our government led by Senators like Marco Rubio are in alignment with and have strong ties who routinely prison dissident voices.. Try speaking out against the government in China or Saudi Arabia or even Egypt where they actually have a censorship czar. No one’s speech should be silenced, even the rapper in Cuba..But if our foreign policy is going to be galvanized by that while we ignore more egregious behaviors in our own backyard, we are beyond hypocritical.

Lastly for those who don’t know there has been serious cultural exchange going on between the Hip Hop community here in the US and the annual Hip Hop Festival they have in Cuba.. It’s been going on since 1995. Quite a few artists have been there numerous times and the bond between artists from here and Cuba has been strong.. It was just recently Las Krudus came by our show and spoke at length about the arts, racism and politics both at home in Cuba and here. It’s by no means all peaches and cream..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j2lBr42sFg

-Davey D-