Thursday, December 13, 2007
- quoted in the December 14, 2007 Washington Post article 'The Ghost of a Father' profiling Barack Obama
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 19,500 persons in Federal Prison will likely be eligible for a sentence reduction of more than two years.
Lawrence and Lamont Garrison
Identical twins Lawrence and Lamont Garrison were inseparable. In elementary school, one would rush to the other's classroom and wait until he was dismissed. Living in the same house in Washington, D.C. that their mother and grandmother had grown up in, they attended Howard University together. Both worked part time to help pay their tuition – Lamont for the Department of Justice and Lawrence for the Department of Energy. Good students and aspiring lawyers, the twins graduated together in May 1998.
A month before their graduation, the police came to the door one night and arrested Lawrence and Lamont. They were charged with conspiracy as part of a 20-person powder and crack cocaine operation, implicated by a target of the investigation, the owner of a Maryland auto body shop."
My boys never missed a day in school, they never stayed out all night and then one night the police knocked on the door and said they were drug dealers," recalled the twins' mother, Karen Garrison.
In court, they maintained their innocence and would not accept a plea bargain. Although no drugs, paraphernalia or drug money were found in their house or on their person, they were separately convicted of conspiracy to distribute powder and crack cocaine.
The conviction resulted from the testimony of members of the conspiracy, and records showing calls they made to the body shop. According to Lawrence and Lamont, the phone calls were related to a botched repair job on their uncle's car. The owner of the body shop had his sentence reduced by implicating others in the conspiracy, and was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
The Garrison twins were finally separated by harsh federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws when they were sentenced and incarcerated in federal prison. Although neither brother had a prior conviction, Lamont was sent to Manchester, Kentucky for 19 years; Lawrence was sent to Elkton, Ohio for 15 years.
"After they were found guilty in June they never came back home," the mother recalled. I didn't think stuff like this happens. If I had other children, how could I tell them ‘stay in school, be good and nothing bad will happen to you,' because that's not true.
In 2001, the Washington City Paper quoted a letter from a former professor written to the judge on the twins' behalf: "I have known Lawrence and Lamont for about five years. They were present on time for every single class session. They were diligent in their work, enthusiastic and highly motivated … They struck me as very focused and spiritual young men. I enjoyed having them in my classes and conversing with them outside of class … Lawrence and Lamont do not belong in jail."
Now 34, Lawrence and Lamont have served nine years in prison, and still maintain their innocence. Ms. Garrison, 53, now spends every other weekend on the road to visit one of her sons. It's a 300-mile drive from her home in Washington, D.C. to visit Lawrence and a 500-mile drive to visit Lamont. Lawrence remains interested in the law and has taught a legal writing class in prison. Lamont wants to pursue a Masters in business. However, both will continue to face hurdles to success.
The Garrison twins' cases raise questions of innocence, although they were in fact convicted of a drug conspiracy. But, did the punishment fit the crime? Twenty years ago, at the start of the "war on drugs," penalties for drug offenses increased dramatically. These new laws were intended to target major drug dealers, or "kingpins." However, the people most affected by these policies have not been kingpins. They are most likely to be people from low income communities and communities of color. The result has been the mass incarceration of low-level and non-violent offenders.
Sentences for federal drug crimes are based on the quantity of the drugs involved, not the individual's role in the crime. The emphasis on quantity rather than the role of the offender, along with the conspiracy laws, too often result in disproportionate sentencing even for first-time offenders such as the Garrisons.
Ms. Garrison has since become an advocate to change the sentencing laws – despite the fact that any alteration would not retroactively change the fate of her only twin sons. She said she aims to help the sons and daughters who have been victims of the law which has claimed many – whether innocent or guilty – as a result of the racial disparity and collateral consequences that arise from the unfair sentencing guidelines.
"I hope I can be halfway effective in helping," said Ms. Garrison. "It's not getting better; it seems to be getting worse."
Please see the details of the case of African-American teen, James Johnson, below and visit www.ncprosecutorialmisconduct.com for additional information.
On the afternoon of June 28, 2004, a shocking and terrible crime occurred in Wilson, N.C. Brittany Willis, a young white woman who had just graduated from high school, was kidnapped at gunpoint from a shopping center, taken to a deserted field nearby, raped and murdered. Her car was stolen.
The NAACP has deep sympathy for Brittany Willis and her family. The courts must punish people who commit such heinous crimes. However, the criminal justice system should not punish the innocent.
James Johnson, a young African American man who recently graduated from high school, reported the following to investigators and the NAACP to establish his innocence: On June 28, 2004, Kenneth Meeks, an African American youth aged 16, drove Ms. Willis’ stolen car to Mr. Johnson’s home. According to Mr. Johnson, Meeks honked the horn and begged Mr. Johnson to take a ride with him. Meeks showed him a handgun and admitted that he had just killed a young woman and stolen her car. At that point, Mr. Johnson feared for his life. Mr. Johnson further reported that Meeks drove to the crime scene and showed him where the body was. Then, Meeks drove to a carwash and tried to clean out the car. Mr. Johnson further reported that Meeks drove him back to his home and said that he knew Mr. Johnson would not report the crime. Julian Deans, a 19-year old classmate of Mr. Johnson, also told police that Meeks had discussed some of the details of his crime with him.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Deans struggled with how to deal with Meeks’ confession. Three days later, they went to Mr. Johnson’s father, Arthur Johnson, for help. Trusting the criminal justice system, Arthur Johnson took James Johnson and Julian Deans to the police station without counsel. James Johnson voluntarily reported to the police that Kenneth Meeks confessed committing the crimes.
Within the next few hours, on July 2, 2004, the police arrested Meeks. Meeks discovered that Mr. Johnson provided information to police. Apparently angry with Mr. Johnson for informing the police, Meeks told the police that James Johnson was directly involved in the murder and rape of Ms. Willis. Meeks admitted that he was involved in the crimes. The police charged Meeks and Mr. Johnson with murder, rape, kidnapping and armed robbery. The prosecutors asked for the death penalty and no bond for Mr. Johnson. Julian Deans was charged as an accessory after the fact for not immediately reporting the crime.
In 2005, Meeks recanted his statement against James Johnson. Meeks admitted to his lawyer, his psychologist and several other people that he committed the crimes alone. In 2006, Meeks’ lawyer and his psychologist testified in court that Meeks admitted to them that Mr. Johnson was not involved in the crimes. Moreover, in a letter dated April 24, 2007 to the Wilson Daily News, Meeks wrote, “I committed the crime alone. James Johnson is innocent. For them to keep holding him is a crime in itself.”
James Johnson and Meeks took polygraph tests. Meeks’ test indicated that Johnson was not involved. James Johnson’s test confirmed that he was not involved.
Furthermore, there is no physical evidence against James Johnson. None of the DNA, blood evidence, hair and fiber evidence connected James Johnson to the crimes. There are no credible witnesses against James Johnson.
In April 2006, Kenneth Meeks pled guilty to first degree murder and six other charges. Currently, Meeks is serving a life sentence for Ms. Willis’ murder.
In December 2006, the District Attorney decided not to seek the death penalty against James Johnson, making him eligible for bond. In January 2007, the Court set his bond at $1 million. As a result of the NAACP North Carolina State Conference’s rallies, marches, vigils and lobbying, on September 24, 2007, after spending three years in jail, the Court reduced James Johnson’s bond to $60,000 and he was released from prison. Under pressure from the NAACP North Carolina State Conference, the Wilson County District Attorney’s Office asked the Court to appoint a special prosecutor to reconsider the case. The special prosecutor will make a recommendation to a Superior Court judge about whether to proceed.
In sum, all of the evidence shows that Meeks acted alone. James Johnson should be exonerated. Therefore, the NAACP demands that all charges against Mr. Johnson be dismissed.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Do you agree with the students surveyed at New York University (NYU)?
Most at NYU say their vote has a price
By: Lily Quateman - Washington Square News
November 14, 2007 07:29 PM EST
Two-thirds say they'll do it for a year's tuition. And for a few, even an iPod touch will do.
That's what NYU students said they'd take in exchange for their right to vote in the next presidential election, a recent survey by an NYU journalism class found.
Only 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an iPod touch.
But 66 percent said they'd forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they'd give up the right to vote forever for $1 million.
But they also overwhelmingly lauded the importance of voting.
Ninety percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for the money also said they consider voting "very important" or "somewhat important"; only 10 percent said it was "not important."
Also, 70.5 percent said they believe that one vote can make a difference — including 70 percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for free tuition.
The class — "Foundations of Journalism," taught by journalism department chairwoman Brooke Kroeger — polled more than 3,000 undergraduates between Oct. 24 and 26 to assess student attitudes toward voting.
"The part that I find amazing is that so many folks think one vote can make a difference," Sociology Department Chairman Dalton Conley said. He added, "If we take them at their word, then perhaps they really think votes matter, and that's why someone might pay a year's tuition to buy theirs."
Sixty percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for tuition also described their families' income as upper-middle or high.
Their reasons for giving up their votes varied.
"At the moment, no candidate who truly represents my political beliefs has a chance of winning a presidential election," one male junior studying film and television at the Tisch School of the Arts wrote on the survey.
"It is very easy to convince myself that my vote is not essential," wrote a female CAS sophomore. "After all, I'm from New York, which will always be a blue state."
Other students wrote that they were disgusted by the thought.
"I would be reversing history — a lot of people fought so that every citizen could be enfranchised," said a female in her second year at the Stern School of Business.
One CAS junior went even further, writing that "anyone who'd sell his lifelong right to vote should be deported."
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Now it's back for you viewing pleasure!
Check out the video slide show 'Banned by YouTube'. Sometimes Its Just Fun to Gawk II.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Before you believe and / or forward this type of material, you should at least do your research and get your facts straight. There is no debate that the picture that first appeared in Time Magazine is legitimate and the occurrence took place during the playing of the National Anthem. However, there is no data to support the claim "he REFUSED TO NOT ONLY PUT HIS HAND ON HIS HEART DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, BUT REFUSED TO SAY THE PLEDGE"
...and what image did you form when you heard or learned that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein? Did you think of the former King of Jordan [King of Jordan (1953-1999) who established a constitutional hereditary monarchy and espoused a moderate, generally pro-Western policy in the Middle East. He lost control of western Jordan in the Arab-Israeli War (1967) but was victorious in the resulting civil war (1970).] or did you just let mind run wild and just get scared? Remember your history, before he was America's enemy, Saddam Hussein was America's friend...and King Hussein and the country of Jordan have always been America's friend. The point...a name is just a name.
Read and respond to this email and others of this sort with truth and context.
If you can't find your "Google" button, here's a couple links that you might consider:
from the Washington Post
from Think On These Things
from Time Magazine
Thursday, November 1, 2007
"WHO: Warren Ballentine "The People’s Attorney" and radio "Truth Fighter" is calling for a National Blackout throughout America, on Friday, November 2, 2007.
WHAT: Attorney Ballentine is calling for a National Blackout that is necessary for African Americans, and is long over due. Especially with all the present injustices that are being allowed and accepted in America right now. From the situation with Mychal Bell and the Jena 6, Genarlow Wilson, Megan Williams, and all of the nooses being hung all over America lately. Until we have federal legislation in place regarding these hate crimes, as African Americans we need to band together to show our "Economic Power" by refusing to spend ANY money that day from fast food restaurants to gas.
WHY: As African Americans we spend an estimated 715 billion dollars a year, and if we were to stop spending for one day that is 2 billion dollars that will not in the system. However, we ask that you don’t make a mad dash to the stores days prior or on the days following. If the stores have a major increase in sales right before or right after the Blackout than we will not create the impact we are striving for.
WHEN & Friday, November 2, 2007
WHERE: Nationwide Blackout for ALL African Americans
Syndication One, a JOINT VENTURE of Radio One, Inc. [NASDAQ: ROIAK and ROIA] and REACH Media, Inc., is designed to develop African-American targeted programming. While there are more than 1,200 talk shows currently available to radio audiences nationwide, there are few programs that offer listeners a daily dose of ideas, issues, analysis and information targeted to the African-American audience. Syndication One offers its listeners timely, relevant, probing and entertaining programming, addressing a wide range of issues from a broad spectrum of viewpoints.
For more information:
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"Each album on the list finds a sweet spot between artistic brilliance, stylistic innovation, and cultural relevance."
That's what the experts say, but what does the "average" listener think about Spin Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums produced during their first 20 years (1985 - 2005) published in their July 2005 issue?
1) Radiohead - O Computer (1997)
2) Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
3) Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
4) Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
5) The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)
6) Pixies - Surfer Rosa (1988)
7) De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
8) Prince - Sign O the Times (1987)
9) PJ Harvey - Rid of Me (1993)
10) N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton (1988)
11) U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)
12) Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)
13) Husker Du - New Day Rising (1985)
14) Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation (1988)
15) Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville (1993)
16) Beck - Odelay (1996)
17) Nas - Illmatic (1994)
18) Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
19) Hole - Live Through This (1994)
20) Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
21) Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
22) My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)
23) OutKast - Stankonia (2000)
24) Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out (1997)
25) Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (1994)
26) Bjork - Post (1995)
27) The Cure - The Head on the Door (1985)
28) Oasis - Definately Maybe (1994)
29) Fugazi - 13 Songs (1989)
30) The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die (1994)
31) Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me (1987)
32) The Replacements - Tim (1985)
33) Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990)
34) Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)
35) Dr. Dre - The Chronic (1992)
36) Pixies - Doolittle (1989)
37) Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand (1994)
38) A Tribe Called Quest - The Low end Theory (1991)
39) Lucinda Williams - Lucinda Williams (1988)
40) Run-D.M.C. - Raising Hell (1986)
41) Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993)
42) Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking (1988)
43) Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded (1987)
44) Green Day - Dookie (1994)
45) Kanye West - College Dropout (2004)
46) The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace (1985)
47) Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full (1987)
48) Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
49) Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
50) New Order - Low-Life (1985)
51) Nirvana - In Utero (1993)
52) Beastie Boys - Licensd to Ill (1986)
53) Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
54) The Breeders - Last Splash (1993)
55) The Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
56) PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love (1995)
57) The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)
58) Metallica - Master of Puppets (1986)
59) Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)
60) De La Soul - De La Soul Is Dead (1991)
61) Weezer - Pinkerton (1996)
62) Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly (1997)
63) Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
64) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
65) Basement Jaxx - Remedy (1999)
66) OutKast - Aquemini (1998)
67) Slayer - Reign in Blood (1986)
68) Tricky - Maxiquaye (1995)
69) DJ Shadow - Entroducing DJ Shadow (1996)
70) Jay-Z - The Blueprint (2001)
71) The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985)
72) Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995)
73) Pulp - Different Class (1995)
74) Portishead - Dummy (1994)
75) Le Tigre - Le Tigre (1999)
76) Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister (1997)
77) Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
78) The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)
79) Moby - Everything is Wrong (1995)
80) D'Angelo - Voodoo (2000)
81) Beck - Mellow Gold (1994)
82) Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)
83) At The Drive-In - Relationship of Command (2000)
84) Soundgarden - Superunknown (1994)
85) R.E.M. - Automatic for the People (1992)
86) Meat Puppets - Up on the Sun (1985)
87) Blur - Parklife (1994)
88) Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)
89) Yeah Yeah Twins - Fever to Tell (2003)
90) Sonic Youth - Sister (1987)
91) XTC - Skylarking (1986)
92) Big Black - Atomizer (1986)
93) Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)
94) Slint - Spiderland (1991)
95) Elastica - Elastica (1995)
96) The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy & the Lash (1985)
97) Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
98) Cornershop - When I Was Born for the 7th Time (1997)
99) Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen (1993)
100) The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Smooth Magazine #30 features cover model Buffie the Body along with the feature article "The Buffie Brain.
Buffie first hit the scene in Tony Yayo's video to 'So Seductive' and "In the two years that the multimedia phenomenon know as Buffie the Body has been in the public eye, she's evolved from merely having one of the biggest asses in the game to being one of its brightest businesswomen.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Understandably, the panelists representing the Rap Industry took offense. However, rapper Cam'Ron's (Killer Cam) recent interview on Sunday's 60 Minutes seems to have proved Crouch's point.
Did Cam'Ron think that he would convince the 60 Minutes audience that his point of view was right? He might have had some success had he indicated that people may remain quiet in the face police questioning for fear of reprisals, however, this knucklehead simply reasons that his record sales would suffer if he were found to be a 'snitch'.
Well, if we believe the numbers, 80% of rap music is purchased by suburban white teenage males. Where's the logic in going on a show and promoting yourself (and your idiotic ideology) to their parents...parents who until this point probably had not idea who you were, much less the content of your lyrics.
For all of those who want to put a face on everything that's wrong with rap music and hip-hop culture, "Cam'Ron the Clown" is it.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Oprah Issue - starring Nas, Killer Mike, Gayle King, Young Jeezy, The Game, Elon Johnson, Ice Cube, Ludacris, Hip-Hop and Ms. Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Winfrey and Hip-Hop have peacefully co-existed for decades with little-to-no fanfare, but the inevitable happened - friction. The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted in 1986, the same year Run DMC injected a heavy dose of Hip-Hop straight to America's commercial vein with "Walk This Way."
Since, rappers have continuously gained acclaim and notoriety, in a timeline that runs concurrent with Oprah's dramatic ascension. These artists have penetrated nearly every level of popular and underground culture. However, Hip-Hop's traction on America's most revered and longest-running talk show has been quite limited considering the manner in which the world fawns over the lifestyle.
Oozing testosterone, Hip-Hop has maintained an ever-growing penchant for music of the misogynist sort, not unlike heavy metal of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sexist, often hateful lyrics towards women don't encompass the full scope of the music, but it has been a point of contention for one Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah, who turns 54 on January 29, 2007, has repeatedly insisted that she has no qualms with all Hip-Hop music, but loathes the type that degrades women. No matter how the African American business woman states her case, Hip-Hop’s many enthusiasts, conformists and artists like Ludacris, Ice Cube and 50 Cent can't seem to hear the logic in her words.
Why the Hip-Hop community remains upset with the billionaire media mogul is baffling to Gayle King, Oprah's best friend and television personality in her own right.
"I really question the backlash, because Oprah’s not trying to denigrate Hip-Hop, but she does make a valid point when she says the lyrics, calling women b***hes and hoes, are not something she supports. She’s hasn’t painted Hip-Hop with one big brush," King tells AllHipHop.com. "She’s just said that some of the lyrics have been problematic for her. That’s all she’s ever said. This has turned in to a big huge thing that isn’t true. What she’s against is lyrics that denigrate women and that’s not a surprise."
However, various Hip-Hop artists have taken issue with Oprah and her perceived opinion of the music.
"I'm down here on the f**kin' bottom. I'm never going to sit on [Oprah's] f**kin' couch. It’s never gonna happen," Atlanta rapper Killer Mike laments. "If Cube couldn’t sit on there and Luda got attacked, what the f**k do I have to lose? Just tell the truth. She's never going to decide she likes me, [wants] to help me sell some f**king records.”
On October 6, 2005, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show alongside cast members Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard to promote the thought-provoking movie Crash. He was taken aback when he found himself in a discussion about the N-word and raunchy rap lyrics, as opposed to conversation on the award-winning film about race relations. On the show, he appeared muted, but publicly stated later that his real responses were edited out of the televised version of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
"Oprah is Oprah. She ain't got to put n***as on the show if she don't want to. Look at all the f***ed up s**t that we're doing. If I was her, I'd only put John Legend and Kanye [West] on my show," says The Game, a Compton-based, platinum selling artist. "We got stories, but there are other shows that can tell our stories. She's made billions of dollars doing what she gotta do."
These days, King and Oprah both listen to Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, some 50 Cent and a few others within Hip-Hop's diverse culture. "I listen to some Hip-Hop. I've been accused of not liking Hip-Hop and that's just not true," Oprah said last year on New York City radio station Power 105.1. "I got a little 50 [Cent] in my iPod. I really do. I like 'In Da Club.' Have you heard the beat to 'In Da Club'? Love that, love Jay-Z, love Kanye, love Mary J. Mary J. is one of my friends."
Yet soon after, Ludacris openly condemned Oprah for her show's editing tactics and angst towards rappers. Ice Cube came out against the media mogul as well.
In the July 2006 issue of FHM, Cube said, "She's had damn rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show. And if I'm not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?"
But, does Oprah Winfrey owe anything to the Hip-Hop community?
"I have a problem with the fact that she has her audience and doesn't show the love to Hip-Hop that much," Nas says from Def Jam's Manhattan offices, but also acknowledges that Oprah supporters have a point. "All respect to Luda, but how could she put him on the show if he's singing 'Move b***h get out the way,' [and] 'I got hoes in different area codes?' I don't understand that. But then Luda has a point too, he's got something to say. Ice Cube has something to say."
Oprah's supporters, regardless of the color, have asserted that the musical history of these rappers automatically causes tension. Both Cube and Ludacris have evolved into more mature individuals in their cinematic and civic accomplishments. Cube has starred in and produced a number of popular, mainstream family films, while Luda regularly commits his time and money to charitable causes. Both artists have a duality wrought in negativity. Ice Cube, now a married family man, dubbed himself "the b***h killa" in the early ‘90s, and used the derogatory term to describe the women he encountered in South Central Los Angeles. Luda's lyrics have generally been more playful even if the content indulges in the sexually explicit. Both, topics are areas of discomfort for "O."
Oprah Winfrey is worth an estimated $1.5 billion and has gone forward to conquer nearly every frontier possible for a person in televised entertainment. Her show is transmitted in over 130 countries; she has the number one talk show in history, and is beloved by an estimated 26 million people who watch her show daily. She's won dozens of Emmy Awards, has honors as an actor and has extended her brand into plays, books, magazines, internet, and more. Additionally, the Chicago resident has been a consummate philanthropist, volunteer and unwavering women's rights advocate. And those credits don't even begin to quantify the range of her achievements.
So why the backlash?
Her remarkable resume, her claims of liking some Hip-Hop music, and the explanations of her best friend and her supporters, didn't stop Killer Mike from recording"That's Life." The track is a contemptuous song about the presumed ignorance of upper class about the lower class' struggle. The Oprah issue is the cornerstone of the song.
"The fat b***h singing show[s] over end Oprah, leader of the rap crack pack, I'm Sinatra, They say I dissed Oprah, I'm like so what /I'll never get to jump up and down on the sofa / Now, watch me as I "cruise" through the slums like Tom / Where the education's poor and the children [are] going dumb /In the section of the city where 'soditties [rich people] don't come / Where Mr. Cosby and Ms. Winfrey won't come / Unless its a hurricane and FEMA won't come / Coming live from the city where the dreamer [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] came from / Standing on the same city that he stood upon..."
The song not only chastises Winfrey, Bill Cosby and conservative talking head Bill O'Reilly, it conveys a poignant message - albeit abrasive - about the haves and the have-nots, the causes of negative behavior in the ghetto and why he's so infuriated. Like many rappers, Oprah, a native of Kosciusko, Mississippi, grew up poor, survived abuse but also managed to defy the odds.
"I want people to understand, I ain't [out of nowhere] going at Oprah,” Killer Mike says en route to Houston after a speaking engagement in New York City. “I ain't sit in my house and just say, 'My wife won't cook for me. I'm gonna diss [[Oprah].’"
Mike contends that Winfrey does little to counterbalance many of the negatives that might be seen on her shows. He even charged that Oprah has unwittingly helped further the stereotypical notion of women in Hip-Hop. “By putting Superhead [Karrine Steffans, whose sexual exploits were chronicled in Confessions of a Video Vixen] on your f**kin' show, every one of your gotdamn audience members now thinks, "That is what a Black women that listens to rap does."
Elon D. Johnson, TV producer and seasoned journalist, has chronicled the culture for the likes of VIBE, XXL and The Source argues rappers are missing the point as to why Hip-Hop hasn't been represented on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
In response to Killer Mike's comments, Johnson incredulously asks, "Why is he so mad at Oprah? Since when has she been branded with the 'save Hip-Hop or save your career' tattoo? Why is she even on his agenda? Why, all of a sudden, some rappers have bought this ‘buying the Brooklyn Bridge’ idea that Oprah owes them something is inane."
"Bottom line. Oprah is a women’s lifestyle talk show. To so indignantly suggest that any rapper - never mind the ones intermittently spewing venomous misogynistic lyrics - is entitled to a place on a daytime women’s talk show, well, that seems just over a tad bit foolish,” Johnson continues. “It’s not necessarily the format for the genre given the audience. That’s what late night, MTV, BET, FUSE and a slew of other music networks are there for.”
Atlanta-based artist Young Jeezy suggested that the gap between the street-wise sentiments of rap and Winfrey's largely female audience is too wide to bridge. However, should O deem it, she could analyze why rappers rap as they do.
"I don't think she understands. She don't understand our reality. Our reality is her nightmare and I can understand that. Sometimes you get to the point where you don't have to deal with the riff raff," Young Jeezy tells AllHipHop.com. "At the end of the day, she's Oprah. She's the gatekeeper and she can make the other people understand why we act the way we act. Supposedly, she came from that. Dealing with us is like dealing with shit you have left behind. She's doing Oprah and that's cool."
The reality is, the topic is bigger than Hip-Hop, as dead prez once rapped prophetically. Beneath the shallow surface lie issues that extend beyond mere music and television. There are matters of class, male/female relationships, money and societal validation that come with appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Furthermore, the abuse women take in music on a commercial level is of concern to Hip-Hop devotees as well as Winfrey and King, but most of those voices go unheard.
Earlier in January, Oprah revealed her plan for South African girls, but she found that she was hearing criticism from a more mainstream place. She erected a $40 million all-female school in South Africa, a noble deed indeed, but in an interview with USA Today, the billionaire admitted she "failed" in her efforts to help American youth.
"I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going,'' she said in a separate Newsweek story: "If you ask the kids what they want or need, they say an iPod or some sneakers.''
If anything should change in America, people like Winfrey, Cosby and others are necessary, with their wealth of knowledge, financial strength and popular clout. As previously reported on AllHipHop, the high school graduation rate for Detroit was 21.7%; Baltimore offered 38.5% in 2005. New York's graduation rate has plummeted to 32.8% in June of 2006. Within and outside of Hip-Hop, kids are constantly bombarded with images of a sexual nature, overt materialism, instant success and products that defer that which is in their best interests. While some question the stats, it's irrefutable that our youth need a patient, relatable source of help.
As for Killer Mike, Oprah's fiercest detractor, when he's not working on music, he's speaking to high school kids and acting as a motivational speaker for adults.
"I'm passionate about what I believe in. The knowledge I had, I paid for. I decided that I could take that and help other people," says Mike, a former student at the prestigious Morehouse College in Atlanta. "As far as somebody that speaks in front of people, I've been doing that since I was 15 [and being] the national spokesperson for and organization in high school."
Killer Mike and Oprah seek the same thing for youth and Nas concurs the time has come for a balanced attack upon the ills that plague urban America.
"We have to play both sides because America is open for all of us to do what we have to do. Oprah is fighting her fight in her way, Nas fights his fight his way," he says. We shouldn't let the B.S. get in between it."
Meanwhile, Oprah Winfrey has some mysterious plans for the Hip-Hop community, but insiders like King are tight-lipped about it. "She has some ideas...and I’m not going to tell," Gayle King concludes.
As for Oprah's ploy for Hip-Hop, only the future holds whether or not those ideas will come to fruition.
Believe it or not, Oprah Winfrey and Hip-Hop have grown in strength and influence in ways that are quite parallel (and others that clearly are not).
If unity happens - for the betterment of disillusioned and disenfranchised American kids - it will be welcome.
Imus isn’t the real bad guy
Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.
By JASON WHITLOCK - Columnist
Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.
You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.
You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.
Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.
The bigots win again.
While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.
I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.
It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.
Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.
It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.
I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.
But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.
I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.
Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.
But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.
In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?
I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?
When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.
No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.
Monday, April 16, 2007
A Catch-22 Keeps Willing Army Officer Out of Iraq
By Yochi J. Dreazen
The Wall Street Journal
April 5, 2007
As U.S. Navy Capt. Leonard Hatton pinned a Bronze Star to the lapel of Army Lt. Fred Nicholson, who spent the last year serving alongside him in one of Iraq’s most dangerous cities, he said, "You know this means you’re always welcome in the Navy."
"Good – the Army doesn’t want me anymore," Lt. Nicholson replied.
Indeed, the 45-year-old’s return to the U.S. is triggering a forced discharge from the Army, ending his military career – and preventing him from receiving a much – needed military pension.
The reason isn’t Lt. Nicholson’s performance, which by all accounts has been stellar. It is the Army’s shifting educational requirements, and its unwillingness to bend them in his case.
When Lt. Nicholson was commissioned as an officer in 1992, the Army required just two years of completed college course work. That is what he has. Today, the military requires all officers to be college graduates – and the military says the rule change leaves them no choice but to expel Lt. Nicholson, who never finished his degree.
"If the speed limit changes, you can’t fight a ticket by saying that the lay used to let you drive faster," Army Lt. Col. Eve Seibel, a reservist who handled the Nicholson case for the Army during her own recent year in Iraq, said in an interview. "The educational requirements are set in stone."
The Nicholson case is at odds with them military’s current trend toward looser personnel standards, though. The manpower strains caused by the prolonged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led the military to break with longstanding policies by recruiting soldiers who lack high school degrees, have criminal records or are so overweight they would once have run afoul of military physical – fitness requirements. Lt. Nicholson is in many ways precisely the type of officer the military is desperate to retain, but the Army is nevertheless insisting on discharging him.
Lt. Nicholson is trapped in a Catch-22. "I’ve put my life on the line. But when I get back, the Army will say, ‘You’re out. We’re through with you,’" he said.
Lt. Nicholson joined the military in 1986 at age 24 to escape what he describes as a "dead-end life" in his small Colorado hometown. He excelled, and was allowed into a prestigious program that gives enlisted soldiers a chance to become commissioned officers. Of the 43 soldiers who began the course with Lt. Nicholson, fewer than a dozen others made it through.
He was soon promoted to first lieutenant, his current rank. At the time, young reserve officers like Lt. Nicholson didn’t need college degrees. He had finished two years of course work and was taking evening classes toward a planned degree in architectural engineering.
In 2000, the Army sent him to Germany for several months for a war-game exercise. By the time he returned to the U.S., he has lost his spot in the university and didn’t have the money to resume his classes.
In the meantime, Congress approved the Reserve Officers Professional Management Act, which put in place a new requirement that all officers have college degrees, part of a peacetime effort to raise the overall educational level of the military.
The shift meant Lt. Nicholson was on borrowed time: The Army discharges anyone who twice fails to win a promotion, and without a degree Lt. Nicholson couldn’t be elevated to captain. In the summer of 2000, he received formal notice that he was being discharged because he lacked a college degree.
Lt. Nicholson returned to Colorado and opened a small construction company.
Then came the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which dragged on far longer than expected, triggering widespread manpower shortages that forced the Pentagon to look for ways of bringing old soldiers back to active duty.
In the summer of 2005, an Army human-resources officer in St. Louis called Lt. Nicholson and told him he would be promoted to captain – potentially salvaging his military pension, for which he needed five more years of service – if he agreed to a yearlong stint in Iraq, Lt. Nicholson says. Army officials, at the time desperately short of officers for Iraq, weren’t being rigid about the educational requirements.
At the officer’s direction, Lt. Nicholson sent a written request for a waiver of the educational requirements and made his way to Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
In February 2006, two months before he was slated to deploy to Iraq, the Army sent a letter telling Lt. Nicholson the education waiver had been denied. The personnel officer told Lt. Nicholson that he "must be discharged" no later than Aug. 1.
Lt. Nicholson says his only solace was that his scheduled discharge date was a few months after he was supposed to be sent to Iraq. He doubted the Army would send him to Iraq in April and bring him home in August.
The Army had a different solution: Officials told Lt. Nicholson they would delay his discharge until his unit returned from Iraq.
He arrived in Iraq in April 2006, and was assigned to a reconstruction team in Salahaddin Province. He made regular trips into Samarrah, one of Iraq’s deadliest cities, and was awarded a Bronze Star for chasing down gunmen who ambushed him one afternoon in the nearby city of Bayji.
The Army’s decision to discharge Lt. Nicholson has infuriated some high-ranking officers here, several of whom have written senior Army officials asking that he be given time to complete his degree and resume his career.
"There is very strong feeling on this side of the world that being told on one hand that you can die for your country but on the other that you are being kicked out for a lack of a college degree is a travesty," retired Maj. Gen. Eric Olsen wrote.
Capt. Hatton, Lt. Nicholson’s commanding officer in Tikrit, wrote the Army last fall that Lt. Nicholson "served his country only to be used and thrown out on the back end of his mobilization," a situation he called "appalling."
"He gets a medal and a shove out the door," Capt. Hatton said in an interview.
Senior military commanders say Lt. Nicholson’s case represents an extreme example of a broader problem: Soldiers and officers who confront shifting rules about how often they can be deployed to war zones and how long they have to spend in the military before resuming civilian lives.
For the moment, the military’s decision stands. Col. Ken Sanchez of the Colorado National Guard, Lt. Nicholson’s former unit, said the education rule can’t be waived. "Each of us has individual requirements placed upon us to remain in service," he said in an email interview.
Lt. Nicholson plans to drive to the military human-resources center in St. Louis to make a final attempt to press his cause in person. A retired marine general has promised to help in any potential litigation.
To Lt. Nicholson, it is a matter of economic necessity. He wasn’t able to save much money when he ran his construction company, so his ability to retire one day depends on receiving a military pension that would be approximately $2,000 a month.
"We’re not talking about a lot of money, but it’s an issue of survival for me," he says. "And it’s an issue of fairness."
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
- Harlem rapper Cam'ron plans to release a DVD about catching pedophiles. Patterned after a MSNBC special, the DVD will show Internet predators lured to a location with the intentions of having sex with a minor, only to be confronted by Cam'ron and his manager, Big Joe. He reports catching a few men in the act and will film at least 10 more for the DVD. All we need now is an accompanying soundtrack?
- Crack must not be that wack! Tennessee drug dealers are required to anonymously buy a tax stamp and affix it to all substances in their possession. If they are caught for drug possession with no stamp, they will also be fined for tax evasion. Since the law's inception, the state has received nearly $2 million from taxing illegal drug dealers. Ironically, the money collected is used to fight drug-related crimes.
- Records from the FEMA $2,000 debit cards distributed to Katrina / Rita Hurricane victims showed that victims and phony applicants had purchased tattoos, massages and erotic products, none of which are deemed a necessity. Now that's taking advantage of an opportunity...Or is it a situation?
Friday, April 6, 2007
From the Wikipedia Wiki...
In the 1990s, it was late to cover the grunge scene that emerged in Seattle in 1991, most famously with Nirvana's Nevermind being given a three-star review and chucked into obscurity in the middle of the reviews section. Later it would be rebuffed multiple times by Nirvana's front man, Kurt Cobain who famously wore a "corporate magazines still suck" t-shirt to a photo shoot for a cover story. Rolling Stone was also slow to cover the emergence of hip hop, leading to the emergence of other competitor magazines such as The Source and Vibe.
This issue and other vintage issues of Rolling Stone Magazine, as well as The Source and Vibe, are available at Jaymo's Garage Sale.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Every year come tournament time at SportsBooks and SportsBars around the country conversations turn to basketball fans hatred for Billy Packer. Questions are repeated from the end of the previous season "Does CBS have a clue how bad this guy is?" Tivo's and other recording devices are set in hopes that we'll capture Jim Nantz and Greg Gumble wishing Packer a final farewell just before Luther Vandross gives us "One Shining Moment".
But, alas we realize, CBS doesn't have a clue. They've been stuck in the same time warp for 26 years and it seems that the only way that Billy Packer will get sacked is if he commits suicide on-air.
And if we're lucky, that may have been just what occurred on Charlie Rose last Friday night.
Come on CBS, the order is D.N.R. - Do Not Resuscitate!
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
With Newt Gingrich shaping up to be the most conservative of the electable Republicans, will Ann Coulter flip-flop on her views of Gingrich?
I had to look up the National Federation of Republican Women, but he knew where to find them, how to make a provocative comment or two and now will sit back for the next couple of days while the cable channels and talk radio try to get every announced candidate to come out for or against (that's the 'steer the debate' part). Meanwhile, his comments play in to the fears of all the "knuckleheads" who are scared that everything that doesn't look like them or sound like them, may soon be living in their neighborhood or working at their job (that's the pander to the racist right part).
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich equated bilingual education Saturday with "the language of living in a ghetto" and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages.
"The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote, said Gingrich, who is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He made the comments in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women.
"The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. ... We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto," Gingrich said to cheers from the crowd of more than 100.
"Citizenship requires passing a test on American history in English. If that's true, then we do not have to create ballots in any language except English," he said.
Peter Zamora, co-chair of the Washington-based Hispanic Education Coalition, which supports bilingual education, said, "The tone of his comments were very hateful. Spanish is spoken by many individuals who do not live in the ghetto."
He said research has shown "that bilingual education is the best method of teaching English to non-English speakers."
Spanish-speakers, Zamora said, know they need to learn English.
"There's no resistance to learning English, really, among immigrants, among native-born citizens," he said. "Everyone wants to learn English because it's what you need to thrive in this country."
In the past, Gingrich has supported making English the nation's official language. He's also said all American children should learn English and that other languages should be secondary in schools.
In 1995, for example, he said bilingualism poses "long-term dangers to the fabric of our nation" and that "allowing bilingualism to continue to grow is very dangerous."
Bilingual programs teach students reading, arithmetic and other basic skills in their native language so they do not fall behind while mastering English.
On voting, federal law requires districts with large populations of non-English speakers to print ballots in multiple languages.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
#1 - What the heck is Jaymo's Garage Sale?
Well, Jaymo's Garage Sale is my eBay store where I sell all types of things, but lately have been working aggressively to build my sells in 'old' and 'collectible' magazines.
#2 - So, now we know what Jaymo's Garage Sale is...but who are you?
Well, I'm Jaymo...or MrJaymo...depending how old you are. I run the day-to-day. I'm the organization's chief buyer. I'm the organization's chief seller. And lately, I've been spending a lot of time wearing my...Director of Marketing hat.
#3 - What kinds of things are you doing to market Jaymo's Garage Sale?
It's definately been a several-pronged approach, the most fun though, has been a brand and inventory awareness campaign using YouTube, and to a lesser extent, Google Videos.
Here's a few examples from my YouTube channel:
The Women of GQ
Breaking and Entering...Not!
Classic (and some not so classic) Rolling Stone Covers
Come by the store for a visit. I'm sure that you'll see something that you like.