Afro-Punk (AKA The Story of My Life)

afropunk

Pretty much sums up my adolescence/early adulthood/current state of existence (I’m so old I remember when being black and playing rock/punk/metal was a radical, disruptive act, etc):

Bonus: Interview w/ James Spooner, director of Afro-Punk: The Movie:

Also, too: Live performances (because AGGRO):

 

The Murder of #MichaelBrown And Why ‘Black Rage’ Is Entirely Justified

Michael Brown, Ferguson

MSNBC, quoting Dorian Johnson, eyewitness to the shooting by Ferguson, MO police of Michael Brown:

“There are two crowds. An older crowd that wants justice but there’s anger. Then it’s the younger crowd that wants revenge but there’s anger there, too… . What do you expect when something is steadily occurring and its hurting the community and nobody is speaking out or doing anything about it. I feel their anger, I feel their disgust.”

Michael Brown, Ferguson

Brittany Cooper:

Mike Brown is dead. He is dead for no reason. He is dead because a police officer saw a 6-foot-4, 300-plus-pound black kid, and miscalculated the level of threat. To be black in this country is to be subject to routine forms of miscalculated risk each and every day.  Black people have every right to be angry as hell about being mistaken for predators when really we are prey. The idea that we would show no rage as we accrete body upon body – Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown (and those are just our summer season casualties) — is the height of delusion. It betrays a stunning lack of empathy, a stunning refusal of people to grant the fact of black humanity, and in granting our humanity, granting us the right to the full range of emotions that come with being human. Rage must be expressed. If not it will tear you up from the inside out or make you tear other people up. Usually the targets are those in closest proximity. The disproportionate amount of heart disease, cancers, hypertension, obesity, violence and other maladies that plague black people is as much a product of internalized, unrecognized, unaddressed rage as it is anything else.

Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us.  They are a compass pointing us to a raging fire just beneath the surface of our national consciousness. We feel it. We hear it. Our nostrils flare with the smell of it.

James Baldwin called it “the fire next time.” A fire shut up in our bones. A sentient knowledge, a kind of black epistemology, honed for just such a time as this. And with this knowledge, a clarity that says if “we live by the sword, we will die by it.”

Bu2Gej2IAAABiXw

Bag News Notes:

For these acts and images to do more than express the release of anger over one more senseless killing — fueled by the invisible crisis in America of a two-tiered economic system, the rage over institutional racism and the persistent harassment of black youth on town and city sidewalks by increasingly militarized police departments — is still another textbook example of America’s racial and class polarization. The looting photos should not be fodder for finger wagging or utterances of “what do you expect?” Rather, as transient reactions to the same impoverished and marginalizing conditions that spawn these meager “convenience” franchises in the first place, acts of violence — sensationalized as they are — are little more than one more (albeit shocking) expression in a constellation of of cause-and-effect.

Michael Brown, Ferguson

Update: Mia McKenzie (h/t):

I wish I didn’t have to tell some of you that victim-blaming when a Black person is murdered by police is a huge no. That it doesn’t matter if they were on the honor roll, or smoked weed sometimes, or were going to college, or what brand of hoodie they wore, or even if they spent time in jail at some point. That the right to walk down the street without being a target for murder by the police isn’t a right one should have to prove themselves worthy of. That we should all just have that right by virtue of being human beings.

When you’re Black, you don’t always get the benefit of being seen as a human being, though. Black people are seen as ‘up to no good’ by default. The truth is that our lives, like anyone else’s, are filled with good choices as well as mistakes, achievements we’re proud of as well as missed opportunities. Successes. Failures. Just like everyone else. But what’s also true is that we, as marginalized people, get fewer do-overs. The system is rigged to punish us at every possible opportunity. Longer prison sentences compared to whites who commit the same crimes and disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for even Blackpre-schoolers attests to this.

If we were to talk about a victim’s past, we would have to talk about it in a context of oppression. But, you know what? We don’t need to talk about it at all. Because it is irrelevant to issue of their victimization. Just like bringing up a victim’s past to justify her rape is wrong, bringing up a victim’s past to justify his murder by police is also wrong. Yes, even when those people are Black.

Questlove Remembers Robin Williams

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Man. The smallest gesture can mean the world to you. Robin Williams made such an impact on me and didn't even know it. He named checked all of us in the elevator during the 2001 Grammys. I know y'all think I do this false modesty/T Swift "gee shucks" thing to the hilt. But yeah sometimes when you put 20 hour days in you do think it's for naught and that it goes thankless. Grammy time is somewhat of a dark time simply because you just walk around asking yourself is it worth it or not: all the sweat and blood. I just felt like (despite winning grammy the year before) no one really cares all that much for us except for a select few. Especially in that environment I'm which people treat you like minions until they discover what you can do for them…if you're not a strong character you run the risk of letting it get to you. This particular Sunday we were walking backstage and had to ride the elevator to the backstage area and we piled inside when suddenly this voice just said "questlove…..black thought….rahzel….the roots from Philadelphia!!!! That's right you walked on this elevator saying to yourself "ain't no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography"….we laughed so hard. That NEVER happened to is before. Someone a legend acknowledged us and really knew who we were (his son put him on to us) man it was a small 2 min moment in real life but that meant the world to me at the time. Everytime I saw him afterwards he tried to top his trivia knowledge on all things Roots associated. Simply because he knew that meant everything to me. May his family find peace at this sad time. I will miss Robin Williams. #RIP.

A post shared by Questlove Froman, (@questlove) on

Man. The smallest gesture can mean the world to you. Robin Williams made such an impact on me and didn’t even know it. He named checked all of us in the elevator during the 2001 Grammys. I know y’all think I do this false modesty/T Swift “gee shucks” thing to the hilt. But yeah sometimes when you put 20 hour days in you do think it’s for naught and that it goes thankless. Grammy time is somewhat of a dark time simply because you just walk around asking yourself is it worth it or not: all the sweat and blood. I just felt like (despite winning grammy the year before) no one really cares all that much for us except for a select few. Especially in that environment I’m which people treat you like minions until they discover what you can do for them…if you’re not a strong character you run the risk of letting it get to you. This particular Sunday we were walking backstage and had to ride the elevator to the backstage area and we piled inside when suddenly this voice just said “questlove…..black thought….rahzel….the roots from Philadelphia!!!! That’s right you walked on this elevator saying to yourself “ain’t no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography”….we laughed so hard. That NEVER happened to is before. Someone a legend acknowledged us and really knew who we were (his son put him on to us) man it was a small 2 min moment in real life but that meant the world to me at the time. Everytime I saw him afterwards he tried to top his trivia knowledge on all things Roots associated. Simply because he knew that meant everything to me. May his family find peace at this sad time. I will miss Robin Williams. #RIP.

(h/t)

RIP Father Raymond Gravel, Progressive Catholic Priest

Father Raymond Gravel

Sad news via CBC News:

“Father Raymond Gravel, a well-known Catholic priest, an advocate for Quebec sovereignty and a social activist, has died.

[…]

“He served one term as the Bloc Québécois MP for Repentigny, before he was ordered by church authorities to choose between his priesthood or politics and returned to the pulpit.

“He was a progressive force in the Catholic Church and an outspoken supporter of gay and women’s rights.

“At one point Gravel called the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex marriages “discriminatory, hurtful and offensive.”

“Gravel challenged the Catholic Church to adopt a more compassionate tone and get in touch with the beliefs of its adherents.

“”The Church must evolve beyond the language of interdiction and condemnations,” he wrote in an open letter dated April 23, 1999. “Such language only proves, once again, to the entire world just how disconnected the Church is from reality.”

[…]

“Gravel personally opposed abortion except in cases of rape, but he said he also opposed rules and regulations that “infantilized” women.”

Listen to an interview with one of Father Gravel’s parishoners, Gregory Baum, a retired professor of religious studies at McGill University, after the fold: Continue reading

#CancelColbert and ‘Radical Choices’ Re: Rhetoric

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, #CancelColbert

This:

The #CancelColbert supporters have a very valid point in arguing that radical action and racial outrage should not require that people of colour temper our actions and reactions to appear more acceptable to the mainstream, particularly when this is in conjunction with needing to silence valid expressions of racial anger and pain. Race activists should not need to be “well-behaved” to be taken seriously; and we should not be dismissed when we are not. Tone policing is not okay, particularly if it is used to marginalize oppressed voices.

However, what also struck me clearest in watching tonight’s Colbert Report was the disservice that the radical choices made by #CancelColbert had on the very conversation it hoped to start. I tend to be an action-oriented “activist” (in so much as I am an activist): I am focused on  what goals that can be achieved and what changes that can be made; every activist action is, for me, purposeful — and usually with the purpose of educating and convincing others. Consequently I am always viewing campaigns through the lens of how each action will affect the likelihood of achieving certain tangible goals; this is just my starting point, one no more or less valid than any other.

But applied here: if the purpose of radical action in this instance was to initiate a dialogue on an instance of racism for the purpose of either a) expressing a point-of-view and convincing someone who might not a priori understand or agree, or b) agitate for some sort of apology from Colbert Report, I have to wonder whether that conversation was challenged or facilitated by making actual (or unintended) demands to “cancel” Colbert? Such demands could only be expected to inflame defensiveness from the show’s rabid fans, and alienate those who might otherwise agree in principle.

Speaking for myself alone, I cannot fathom structuring a campaign around a political demand that I did not actually want to have happen (or around a hashtag that could reasonably be mistaken as being the actual goal of the campaign). Or, I cannot fathom launching a campaign where the goal of my campaign was not immediately clear to movement members or the casual observer.

Obligatory ZOMG CONCERNED!!1 #CancelColbert Post

Stephen Colbert Colbert Report #CancelColbert Suey Park Deadspin

Jamilah King breaks down #CancelColbert:

What’s important to understand here is that Park’s aim wasn’t necessarily to get The Colbert Show kicked off the air. Instead, it was to, as point out that satire isn’t always the best activism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told the Jay Caspian Kang at the New Yorker. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

While I think Suey Park is entirely in the right (even if I share some of the middle ground staked out by Melissa Fong), part of me wishes that she had chosen a less alliterative and more immediately representative hash to define her campaign. “Cancel” erroneously projects a censorious sentiment that doesn’t reflect the actual end being sought. None of this excuses the subsequent rank, reflexive racism and misogyny in response to Park’s efforts (as if anyone could have cancelled Colbert over this, even if they wanted to). Nor do I believe that a less inflammatory hash would have made much difference when it comes to vicious, dickhead Colbert Nation fanbois and their vicious, dickhead fanboi-ism (oh, and Deadspin/Gawker can go piss up a flaming rope). But I do think that it was ill-chosen, counterproductive rhetoric.

Of course, since, as noted, Park (and pretty much any WOC who dares to do a digital end-around structural impediments to social justice — perhaps this will help) is damned if she does or doesn’t mind her P’s and Q’s, what’s the point in nominal allies (eg, yr’s truly ^^) honing in on such messenger-killing minutia anyway?

Aaron Bady:

I am left…with Park’s own statement that “There’s no reason for me to act reasonable because I won’t be taken seriously anyway.” For one thing, this is obviously true. When we are told that Suey Park “does not make any claim to objectivity or fairness,” we are seeing a sharp limit to how much a journalist in a fact-checked journalism publication can fully see from her perspective, or allow himself to, without bringing his own narrative frame into peril. Sympathizing with an activist makes it hard to make claims to objectivity or fairness; it makes people wonder if you might be an activist too, and therefore untrustworthy. Quick, better make her unsympathetic!

An activist is, in the end, a living medium; thanks to overwhelming dudebro aversion to empathy, the ultimate message of #CancelColbert has been completely distorted, not amplified, by the superficial meta of indifference (and in many instances outright hostility) couched in dehumanizing demands for impossible perfection.