All Articles Tagged "Jim Crow"
If A Christian Rapper Is Delivering A Powerful Message In A Song, Can You Overlook His Use Of The N-Word?
I’m not really into gospel music. In fact, I only know a handful of gospel songs by heart; the two most prominent are “Oh Happy Day” (courtesy of Sister Act 2) and the jawn from The Color Purple when Shug Avery burst into the church and was like,“See daddy, sinners have souls too.”
Basically, I live a pretty secular life, but I can still appreciate Christian artists like Amisho “Sho Baraka” Lewis. From CNN:
“DuBois wrote in an essay titled “The Talented Tenth” the “best, or the talented tenth of the black community, must be elevated and cultivated, to in-turn guide the mass away from the contamination of the worst in their own race and other races.” Though DuBois used Christian principles in his calls to uplift the black community, he was widely considered to be either agnostic or an atheist at the time of his death, as Brian L. Johnson writes in his biography “W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward Agnosticism, 1868-1934.” Lewis makes it clear it’s the Christian principles DuBois championed and not his beliefs about God that inspired his album. Still, the DuBois connection isn’t what has ruffled feathers among some Christian listeners, but the subject matter of his song “Jim Crow” aka “N*gga Island.” On the song, Lewis addresses the negative effects of racism and ignorance. He uses the “N” word and profanity to get his point across, a move too close to secular hip-hop for some Christian rap enthusiasts.”
Yeah, I bet.
Based upon the few tracks I’ve listened to, Baraka’s stuff isn’t half bad. In fact, if you were in the car and this song (Chapter 6: Ali) came on, you would think you were listening to a song by Drake with John Legend on the chorus. And I’m not just talking about his flow, but also the emotion and introspection, which appears to be really big among the rappers today. At the same time, I can see how some of the more saintly fans of the genre might be a little put-off.
In addition to the “praise-Him” gospel, which tends to associate with the musical genre; Baraka clearly takes a more secular approach to Christian music. Think Kirk Franklin meets Kanye West, circa the “Jesus Walks” time. He might be too raw for some of the more truist fans of gospel music, who see the musical genre as an extension of the real biblical gospel. And the chorus to Jim Crow – “I guess I’m stuck here on N***a island/Where n***as be wildin’/And color is violence/Moment of silence...” — doesn’t exactly help the cause.
I am reminded of the time I had a college friend visit Philadelphia and I took her to one of the open mics we have in the city. She was (and probably still is) a gospel singer, so I figured she might enjoy being around some other artists. I was wrong. From the minute we sat down and heard the first poem, she was making faces and talking about how profane the lyrics were. In the midst of all that gesturing, she missed how the poet was making his own testimony to how dissatisfied he was with the condition of his community and what inspires him to change it. I found her instant dismissal of him odd, considering that she had been boasting to me earlier about how she saw her music as ministry to the everyday-folk. But, I guess some saints really are more comfortable only hanging out with the choir.
In the same song where Baraka drops the “n-word,” he also says this:
“’C’mon son why you always ruin the mood?
Race talks happen every time you enter the room.’”
Cuz there’s ignorance in the masses
Too many people think racism is past tense
We fight for blackness
But we don’t know what Black is
I know it ain’t the zero sum of white men
They wanna know how to reach the hood like there’s magic
Like we’re all the same
Like we’re not dynamic
Hollywood wants to pimp us to get dough
Exploit us, but give us money
Somebody say “Ho!”
Let’s thank them movies and them TV shows
Be a token or I’ll play an Uncle Tom role
Or be a magic negro until the day I’m gone
Help the white man reach his goal
But never reach my own
Or an oversexed male
Even a c**n
A young man who loves ignorance
Praising his doom
Then the chorus happens.
You know, context is everything. Who cares how he says it? I’m just glad someone is saying it, especially when many of our secular rappers are not saying very much. And if it is his Christian faith that is leading him to speak truth to power, well than, I say God bless him! I swear, some folks probably wish that Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and the African Methodist Episcopal Church had just stuck to worshiping and not been as involved in the often dirty work of merging theological beliefs with the social realities. But shouldn’t these things go hand and hand?
I’m having déjà vu reading about the case of a white Cincinnati resident who is attempting to put the city right back in Jim Crow era with her discriminatory pool policy. On Sept. 29, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission found landlord Jamie Hein to be in violation of the Ohio Civil Rights Act when she posted an iron sign that read “Public Swimming Pool, White Only” at her duplex. Now Hein wants the commission to reconsider its decision.
The landlord posted the sign when a black teenage girl was visiting her parents who lived in the complex. Hein indicated the move was necessary because the girl used chemicals in her hair that would make the pool “cloudy,” according to the commission.
Parents of the teenager filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex, and the commission determined that the sign “restricts the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color.” Still, the organization is obligated to hear Hein’s request for reconsideration.
One summer when I came home from college, I invited three of my friends to go swimming in the pool complex where my mother lived. Almost immediately a white woman came over to me and asked what I was doing there and demanded to see my pool pass, which my mom neglected to tell me I needed. I was then asked a series of questions about where I lived, who my parents were, and whether they rented or owned a condominium there. After the interrogation subsided and I voiced my opinion about their obvious race policing, one woman told me, “we just had to make sure you belong; and now it’s your job to do the same when you see people you don’t think belong here.” Anger was not the word for how I felt at the time. A former black coworker of mine also told me that one of her white friends asked that her husband not swim in their pool because of the products he puts in his hair.
I’m not sure what leg Hein has to stand on in trying to prove her actions weren’t discriminatory. If the commissioners uphold their original finding, the case would be referred to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which would represent the commission’s findings before an administrative law judge. Penalties in the case could include a cease-and-desist order and even punitive damages to be determined by the administrative law judge. Parties could still reach a settlement before resorting to legal action, though, commission spokeswoman Brandi Martin said.
Have you ever had an incident like this happen at a public or residential pool?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By Brande Victorian
The year 1960 was the first and only time 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper didn’t vote. A new state law in Tennessee that requires a photo ID in order to register may make 2012 her second.
Cooper, after finding out the requirement, set out to get the necessary ID. Rent receipt, lease, voter registration card, and birth certificate in hand, the Chattanooga resident was denied an ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center because her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, was the one on her birth certificate. Without a marriage certificate she couldn’t prove that Cooper is indeed her last name.
State Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, told the ChattanoogaTimes Free Press Cooper’s case is an example of how the law “erects barriers” for elderly and poor people who are disproportionately minorities.
“What you do, you suppress the vote,” Brown said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. It makes no sense in these economic times that we are shifting our time and resources to this.”
Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls acknowledged in an email to the Free Press that things could have been handled better.
“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls wrote. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.”
Still, “the examiner should have taken extra steps to determine alternative forms of documentation for Ms. Cooper.”
A total of $438,000 was allocated to provide free photo IDs for registered voters who don’t have a qualified ID—a move lawmakers said was necessary to prevent voter fraud. A coalition of organizations announced an effort to repeal the law In Nashville on Tuesday.
“This is a nonpartisan issue. It’s a fair voting issue,” Mary Mancini, Executive Director of Citizen Action, told the Free Press in a phone interview. “It’s all about the legislators seeing that the people of Tennessee don’t want this law.”
After Cooper was denied a photo ID, Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs, contacted Hamilton County’s Administrator of Elections Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. She recommended that Cooper vote with an absentee ballot which doesn’t require a photo ID.
(Indianapolis Star) — U.S. Rep. Andre Carson is being called upon by many aligned with the tea party movement to apologize for comments he made recently which suggested those in the group want to see blacks “hanging on a tree.” Speaking recently at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Miami, Fla., Carson said: “Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me — hanging on a tree.” Emery McClendon, an African-American from Fort Wayne who is among the most popular speakers at tea party events both in Indiana and nationally, said Carson should apologize.
Sunday was the 56th anniversary of the death of then 14-year-old Emmett Till. The late Till, from Chicago’s South Side is said to be a catalyst for the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. It was the gruesome murder of this young man that would rally blacks and whites together against the violence and extreme racism of the Deep South in the 1950’s.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Emmett Till, his only crime was flirting or whistling as legend has it at a white woman, 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant while visiting relatives in Mississippi in the summer of 1955.
Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later.
Till’s mother Mamie Till, devastated by the murder of her son presented the world with the forever haunting image of Emmett Till by holding an open casket funeral for Emmett back in Chicago. Till was unrecognizable, his mutilated body was published in newspapers and magazines and served as a wake up call to America about the horrors of racism and the second class citizenship of blacks in the deep south. The murderers would be later acquitted, though days after the acquittal they admitted their role in the murder but double jeopardy laws prevented them from being tried again on murder charges.
As I reflect on what Emmett Till means to me I’m saddened by the story of James Craig Anderson who was lynched by young white men who were on a mission to “find and hurt” a black man in Mississippi earlier this month. Racism in America is still alive, it’s just more nuanced and sometimes it’s just as heinous and gruesome as the Till murder in cases like Anderson. But Emmett Till remains a story of resistance to white racism. Rather than sweeping his murder under the rug and dealing in pain his mother taught us that we have to fight back against racism, that it’s our duty to those who have died for us to call attention to any injustice that befalls our people.
How do you honor the legacy of Emmett Till? Are you shocked that racism still motivates hate crimes in 2011?
Graham Boyd in (2001) asserted that the “war on drugs” is the New Jim Crow. His use of this metaphor is to illustrate the erosion of rights African Americans are subjected to under this pernicious campaign. Moreover, many of the same rights fought for during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the 19th Century by the abolitionist are being fought today because of this campaign Boyd opines. He predicted that by the year 2017, more black men would be under bondage than they were during the zenith of slavery in 1860. Michele Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow has been quoted as saying more black men are in prisons, probation and parole than they when they were enslaved. Her statement appears to confirm Boyd’s prediction.
Much has been made in regards to the inimical impact hyperincarceration has on the African American community, especially the impact on African American males. Michele Alexander builds on the earlier work of Graham Boyd and offers an interesting line of reasoning in regards to the impact incarceration has on the African American community. When she characterizes mass incarceration as a racial caste system, she inserts a different and interesting viewpoint, which has not been explored to the degree her new tome has forced scholars to examine. This caste system she defines is one where the stigmatized group is relegated to serfdom as a result of law and custom according to her. She goes on to aver that the residual affects of incarceration locks incarcerates out of mainstream society and the economy.
Both authors make excellent cases in regards to how the prison system resembles Jim Crow in the way it circumvents rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Additionally, they both underscore how incarceration decreases life chances for gainful employment, successful college matriculation and a host of other life enhancing opportunities averted once ensnared by the criminal justice system. However, I assert that they have placed the cart before the horse and have failed to credit the educational system with being the most salient reason for a permanent racial caste in the United States. Lack of education is the gateway to a lifetime of limited opportunities and a pathway to prison and poverty.
The educational system creates the caste system and prepares students for incarceration by reproducing social inequality via cultural and structural mechanisms, which researchers such as Ewert and others have demonstrated.
School practices such as tracking hamper future social and economic mobility. A byproduct of tracking is decreased skill level and low educational attainment, both salient factors in regards to contact with the criminal justice system. Educational attainment enhances occupational mobility and mitigates disadvantaged background and in many instances provides an upward path toward economic and social mobility. As a result, we should treat the symptom of incarceration and not the cause of hyperincarceration.
I strongly believe that the African American community should focus its energy on improving the educational system before attempting to get laws changed to mitigate the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Why? Because researchers have found that schools socialize students to assume their position in the class structure through a myriad of mechanisms according to Ewert (2010) et al. The authors, along with various other researchers, “contend that schools reflect the occupational structure and expectations found in society.” Thus, the underclass is prepared by the educational system to remain in the underclass and the mechanisms used to maintain their mediocrity are tracking, socialization and inadequate school funding.
Many authors have shown the link between lack of educational attainment and contact with the criminal justice system. Tracking, dropout, carve-out, and push-out mechanisms are the real culprits in creating fodder for the criminal justice system. As iterated, years of research have unequivocally established a connection between education, employment and criminal involvement. Furthermore, the inability and unwillingness of the government and schools to educate students has led to an unprecedented number of dropouts.
The Center for Labor Studies at Northeastern University found that “nearly twenty-three percent of all young Black men ages 16 to 24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution in America.” The dropout problem is worse than we realize because the Current Population Survey which does not count the incarcerated population underestimates the dropout rate among African American males by as much as 40% according to Ewart and others.
So when you consider that fifty-four percent of the nation’s dropouts ages 16 to 24 were jobless on an average month during 2008 and you consider the link between educational attainment and contact with the criminal justice system, reforming the educational system has the most potential to mitigate the impact of mass incarceration on the African American community and provide a pathway to economic and social mobility.
Byron E. Price is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?
(The Hill) — Republicans would “literally drag [the U.S.] all the way back to Jim Crow laws,” the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) charged over the weekend. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accused Republicans of trying to resurrect Jim Crow laws in the form of stricter laws at the state level that could limit access to ballots by some voters. ”Now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally — and very transparently — block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates,” she told host Roland Martin on “Washington Watch” this weekend [emphasis hers]. “And it’s nothing short of that blatant.”
(Political Affairs) — PA: What inspired you to write Right to Ride?
BLAIR KELLEY: It was really sort of a dual idea that drew me to the work. First, when I was an undergrad and working on my senior thesis, I was trying to do a project on Lani Guinier, who had just been a big part of the news during the Clinton Administration who withdrew her nomination to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. I wanted to add an historical level to the project, which was my thesis in the Department of African American studies. I wanted to look back at voting rights and Black dissent more widely, back maybe to Reconstruction.
It’s no secret that when it comes to learning about history in our nation’s schools, students are primarily receiving a Eurocentric education. In social studies classes, the American Revolution, the voyage of Christopher Columbus and George Washington, (just to name a few) are topics repeatedly discussed from Kindergarten to 12th grade. When there is a lesson on Black history, it is near Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and in February, the designated month that packs years upon years of Black history into 28 days—just enough to do a brief overview of slavery and civil rights. But the fact of the matter is that unless students take it upon themselves to do some independent learning, they may be short changed about such a pivotal era in the history of the United States.
It appears that the state of Mississippi had similar thoughts and wanted to address it. Unlike other schools in the nation who may implement a single class on civil rights or Black history typically as an elective and not a required course, civil rights lessons will be required for students from kindergarten to 12th grade all across the state, according to the Associated Press.
State officials believe Mississippi could be the first state to require civil rights studies throughout all grades in its public school systems. A civil rights/human rights curriculum will become mandatory in the 2011-2012 school year, five years after Gov. Haley Barbour signed the requirement into law.
This curriculum adjustment is impressive given that it is being instituted in a state that was once one of the prime players for racism, violence and Jim Crow. Notably, it was in Mississippi where 14-year-old Emmett Till was taken by two white men and his body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River in 1955.
Mississippi education officials say the curriculum change took some time to implement because they waited to include it in the revision of the social studies framework that was scheduled for 2011. The state has made civil rights part of an assessment test students must pass for graduation to ensure that it is taught in the schools.
Of course, there is opposition by people who question who will write the textbooks and craft the materials students will be taught. Enthusiastic teachers say school districts can tailor their textbook orders to support what will be taught, and there can also be visits to historic sites, as well as lectures by veteran activists.
John Paola, who teaches at the predominantly black Hattiesburg High School in Mississippi, told the AP that “the change is needed because ‘every year the movement itself loses momentum. What I find [is that students] know who the people are, but they don’t understand the story…’”
(The Root) — In an excerpt from her new book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander argues that prison has become the tool to minimize black political power.