On Ben Affleck and Slavery

April 22, 2015

DICooper:

For some reason I just feel that this sums up the recent hubbub with Ben Affleck and the legacy of slavery very well.

Originally posted on John Matthew Barlow:

A few years back, I was contacted by the producers of Who Do You Think You Are?, a popular TV genealogy show, to help them with an episode.  The show was predicated on tracing the ancestry of celebrities, attempting to capitalize on the boon in genealogy amongst the masses, and was based on a popular British version.  For an upcoming episode, they were working with Rosie O’Donnell, whose Irish ancestors had passed through Montreal, living for a time in a long-defunct neighbourhood in the city’s east end.

So I met with people from the show when they came to Montreal, spent the good chunk of a day with them, showing them what mid-nineteenth century architecture in the city looked like, using Pointe-Saint-Charles in the stead of this defunct neighbourhood, which was destroyed by the expansion of rue Notre-Dame in the 70s.  Not surprisingly, the majority of the Montreal part was excised…

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More Than One Way to Take a Life: Anthony Ray Hinton Edition

April 22, 2015

I guess you can file this under there is more than one way that white people can rob you of your life.  They want to use fancy words like the justice system and due process and miscarriages of justice and the like, but make no mistake that this is racist oppression.  An all white jury sent Anthony Ray Hinton, a black man, to death row for murders despite flimsy evidence and then refused to let him go.

Whether the black people swing from trees every time or not is a non-issue when you have the justice system in your pocket.  Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black and they took over thirty years from him.  Should we blame the state of Alabama?  I think that cases like this illustrate that it is a problem bigger than the individual states.  The United States of America has a history of racist oppression and this happened in 1985.

The video is heartbreaking but still worth a look if you can stomach it.  Democracy Now and Amy Goodman do a pretty good job of showing why if you are black and poor, white people can take your life with little consequences.   Stay awake.  Sure Anthony Ray Hinton was eventually exonerated after serving 30 years, but it was obvious to many people that he never committed these crimes way back in 1985.  White people have been coming for black lives in the United States since this country was founded and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down.

Consider the prison system, the for-profit prison system, as conspirators in modern-day lynchings.  Again, go back and read Michelle Alexander’s book.

DeMatha Catholic High competes at Virginia Beach Music Fiesta-val

April 18, 2015

DICooper:

DeMatha Music might be one of the best in the country that isn’t exclusively a conservatory.

Originally posted on WTKR.com:

[ooyala code=”N5OTZsdDqEWiKrOxTTW9FvEGOOMO2vvI” player_id=”55ce3a06495346ddb20768902d1e991c”]Virginia Beach, Va. – The Richmond based company, Fiesta-val runs an invitational music competition every year.

They invite middle and high school students to travel for band and choral competitions in different cities across the east coast.

This weekend at the Virginia Beach Music Fiesta-val, held at Cox High School, DeMatha Catholic High School from Hyattsville, MD went head to head with St. Marks High School from Delaware.

DeMatha is one of Fiesta-val’s premiere schools. They’ve gotten an invite to perform for over the last ten years.

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Dance + Lessons: Samuel With Jay Electronica Edition

April 13, 2015

[Intro – Martin Luther King Jr.]
We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now
Because I’ve been to the mountaintop; I don’t mind
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.

And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight
I’m not worried about anything
I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

[Verse One – Jay Electronica]
Boom bash dash
I had to break, I had to get away
Pack my bags, headed for Greyhound, it was a Monday

Time to start my mission
I felt that burning feeling in my soul, I had to listen

I had this re-ocurring dream from the stage in a suit with a fade
I had set the game ablaze and they threw me a parade
I stacked a little change and took my family out the caves
But I was trapped in a maze like a lab rat
And at the bottom of the barrel where they keep the crabs at

No Geico, no Aflac, nothing to fall back on
But the streets where niggas cussed out the police and sold they crack on
Better known as back home, where they treat the Arabs and the Spanish and the blacks wrong

There he go with that song
You may be tired but I spit what I’m inspired
From the Lord of the worlds cause the devil is a liar

[Hook – Tone Treasure]
Say, I’ve seen the lightning flashing (yes I did)
And I’ve seen the thunder roar
But you can’t (you can’t keep me down for long)
Because I’m getting stronger (Because I keep getting stronger)

[Verse Two – Jay Electronica]
My style is like a shot of Jack Daniels, a baby grand piano
Lightening Hopkin, smokin’ cigs, strummin’ on the banjo
The son of man’s the son of a gun with hella ammo
Sheriffs shootin’ Bob Marley, John J. Rambo
Six sextillion, 19 million, the holy pyramids say we all Allah’s children
Voodoo for the pilgrims who bring weapons and conceal ’em
They silence you with force
 and then indoctrinate the children
Yo Gabba Gabba
, Ahmadinejad will blow up your apartment if you don’t observe the Sabbath
I look the devil in his eye and say abracadabra
Then drown ‘im in the mighty light his brain couldn’t fathom
Scrappin’ every day, just like fight club
A thriller and a smooth criminal like Mike was

[Hook]

We stay on the primrose path.

A photo posted by Dan Knuckles (@danknuckles) on

Party in the Street: Andalusia Edition

April 11, 2015

I am told that in all of Andalusia people like to party in the street.  Andalusian people are festive and they don’t need much reason to throw down at a moment’s notice.  Dancing in the streets is common and the Flamenco style is apparently in their blood.

My family and I were walking down the street, minding our own business, and this elderly gentleman just started playing the guitar.  Another stranger started to bang out a beat on a box that he found.  Two ladies that were having lunch nearby started dancing.  My wife joined in but I pretty much started filming like a tourist, even though the entire scene was reminiscent of African cultures.

People all over the world aren’t really that different, I suppose.  If you are ever travelling through Spain, you might want to take part.  The next big party in Andalusia is La Feria in Jerez and Seville in May.  The people have been warming up since March, when this video was taken.  The orange blossoms are filling the air with a sweet smell and the weather is already quite warm in the South.

We are going to get with you at a later date.  You have got to come to Spain!

My son, Samuel, and I.

We stay on the primrose path at Jardín Escénico, Jerez De La Frontera.

Exhibit A: Walter Scott

April 8, 2015

Walter Scott was a United States Coast Guard veteran gunned down by the police in North Charleston, South Carolina after a traffic stop due to a broken tail light.

By now everyone in America has seen the video of the white police officer that killed Walter Scott, and so I won’t post it again here.  I would like to point out the similarities between the victim and myself, if you would permit me.

It turns out that we are both United States Coast Guard veterans.  I also lived in North Charleston, South Carolina for a spell.  I’ve had a busted tail light in my car, on more than one occasion -and I suspect that most people that own cars can say the same.  Walter Scott and I have both had issues with child support.  We are also both African-Americans -or black, if you will.

The United States of America can be a very scary place if you are black.  I can totally understand why Walter Scott could have been frightened for his life especially if he had issues with child support.  There are many mistakes that can be made in the family courts in America and it is not inconceivable to have a warrant issued for your arrest until you are able to get those matters straightened out.  (In my case the warrant turned out to be erroneous.)  Whether the child support issues were valid or not, every time a black person is confronted by a white law enforcement official in America there is a higher chance that a life can be permanently ruined than if that black person happened to be white.  This is now my new Exhibit A of why I had to leave the United States of America.

The USA just isn’t safe for me anymore.

I was willing to risk it when I had a high-paying, six figure income that afforded me the luxuries and privileges that I felt insulated me from this kind of racist oppression.  However, as soon as I lost that job I realized that I was too black and poor to be taking my life into my own hands just by staying in a country that has a rich history of various types of white supremacy.  It wasn’t worth the risk anymore.  I wanted to live to be able to raise my kids, and you just can’t do that from the grave.  I can’t think of too many other countries in this world that have the same murderous track record against people that look like me -regardless if they have ever had any other trouble with the law or society.  The United States of America was practically founded on racist oppression, so it was logical for me want to leave despite having every right to stay.  Living is more important than money and it is hard to pursue any type of happiness when you never know if you will be confronted by police.

It doesn’t matter how respectable you are in America: if you are black, this sort of thing can happen to you.  If it were not for the video of the murder submitted by some hero, we would probably be talking about Walter Scott in the same manner in which people talk about Michael Brown of Ferguson.  Any way you cut it, this sort of thing happens way too often in the United States of America.  I don’t have the stomach or the patience to name all of the black people that have been gunned down.  I just don’t think that all of this is a coincidence anymore, also.

Luminous Without Further Comment

April 6, 2015

Wonder how many Stags we shall see tonight in 'One Shining Moment'?

A photo posted by DeMatha High School (@demathacatholic) on

What a Slave-Reparations Claim Has to Do With Harvard Law School

April 3, 2015

DICooper:

I just found one of those blogs that can change your life. This was my introductory article. I hope that you enjoy it.

Originally posted on :

Harvard University (photo: USA Wallpapers via http://coolwallpapersblog.blogspot.com) Harvard University (photo: USA Wallpapers via http://coolwallpapersblog.blogspot.com)

By Henry Louis Gates and Julie Wolf

Who was the first person to ask for reparations for slavery?

In America the concept of reparations for slavery is generally thought to have originated during the Civil War era, with the failed promise of 40 acres and a mule. But it actually dates back to Revolutionary America, when a former slave named Belinda went before the Massachusetts Legislature and asked that an “allowance may be made … out of the estate” of her former master.

Belinda lived for more than 40 years in bondage to Isaac Royall Jr., a native of Massachusetts and the scion of sugar planters who made their fortune in Antigua. She spent most of those four decades on Royall’s expansive property in Medford, Mass., where he was the town’s largest slaveholder. (Some 60 slaves—not simultaneously—would occupy the house in the decades…

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Domingo de Ramos 2015 en Jerez de la Frontera, España

March 31, 2015

Well I finally got the wide angled HD shot that I was looking for in the procession of the Holy Virgin, Mary during the first procession of Semana Santa.  Everybody wants more Samuel, anyway, so peep my best effort below.  I told you that I was going to get with you at a later date…

I am not a professional photographer, folks.  I got really distracted by my beautiful wife and cute son, but I managed at least one close-up of the statue of Mary.  In addition to a solid silver platform you can also make out the rich gold embroidery in the long shawl covering the back of the statue.  You can probably tell from my previous post on the subject that I am not a big fan of mixing materialism with religion but I also realize that Catholics aren’t the only one’s.  (Reverend Creflo Dollar recently made headlines by asking his Baptist congregation to foot the bill for a brand new jet that costs somewhere upwards of $65,000,000.)  You have to be really careful out there, people.  Plenty of meaning is lost on folks when they get caught up in the almighty dollar and I am pretty sure it is irrespective of denomination.

Money isn’t everything, folks.  I can think of plenty of things that are more important.

Samuel eats his hand and mom watches.

My wife and teething son await the procession of the statue of the Holy Virgin Mary -for free.

Semana Santa in Jerez de la Frontera 2015

March 30, 2015

Let me apologize in advance for not going full wide screen with this video of my son, Samuel, at his first Semana Santa in Jerez de la Frontera.  You really need to see this in the full HD glory to appreciate the magnitude of all that gold.

Holy Week is a really big deal here in Andalusia.  There are plenty of religious relics and important statues strewn about Europe but I am told that Jerez goes above and beyond the call when it comes to commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There will be parades like this all week.

Folks dress in tunics with pointy hats and walk solemnly through the city streets with heavy statues depicting various aspects of Catholicism.  Spain is a Catholic country after all.  My wife explained to me that the valuable statues and the various marchers are indicative of an extensive subculture of laypeople devoted to religious organizations.  Of course there are meetings all year long in order to ensure that the events are well-coordinated and go off without a hitch.

I never knew that Holy Week could be so lucrative.  People pay big bucks to anonymously accompany the elaborately adorned statues.  Older and richer people pay even more money (all year long) just to have a seat in one of the many grandstands along the parade route.  Even the people working the hardest in the Andalusian heat carrying the relics have to pay to join the religious associations for the privilege.

It kind of makes you wonder what Jesus would think about all this gold.  We haven’t even gotten started about the Virgin yet.  We are going to get with you at a later date on that, but please consider this photo as a preview.

Holy Week in Jerez 2015

My son has no idea what is going on during the parades of Semana Santa, but maybe nobody really understands.


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