Archive for the ‘African American Culture’ Category

So Much for a Tranquil Summer

July 30, 2015

“You either build or you destroy, so what you waitin’ on?”  Jay Electronica from the Victory Mixtape

It is way too late to say this sort of thing is getting out of hand.  We are headed into a new phase now.  I’m labeling it as a purposeful revealing of intentions, of sorts.  The United States of America is finally willing to let the world see her for what she really is: an overtly racist nation. Thanks to the real racist powers that be in America that have managed to display an even more graphic disregard for non-white life we are seeing yet another eventful summer of institutional racist oppression involving an array of international media.

It is getting hard to keep up, but here are some of the recent headlines in the good old United (police) States of America.  (I have been meaning to tell you how it looks from way over here in a distant land but I already know that it looks the same wherever you are.)

  • On the night of June 17th a twenty-one-year-old apartheid sympathizer shot and killed state senator Clementa Pickney, Cythia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson while attending a bible study with them at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  [Individual]
  • Two days later on June 19th Samuel Dubose was executed by a University of Cincinnati police officer after being unnecessarily detained for not displaying his front license plate in Ohio. [Group: police]
  • Sandra Bland, a member of the Movement for Black Lives, was pulled-over for her failure to signal a lane change on July 10th by a Texas state trooper in Waller County that quickly escalated into her arrest and she was found dead in her jail cell on July 13th.  [System: justice]
  • On July 14th Rexdale Henry, a Choctaw Native American activist, was also found dead in a jail cell under mysterious circumstances after being arrested for an unpaid fine and held over the weekend from July 9th in Neshoba County, Mississippi.  [System: justice]

With stuff like this happening all the time it is hard to tell if it is making writing careers or breaking them.  This writing business is beyond excruciatingly painful.  I was recently engaged in an intellectual, social media conversation about an article by Jonathan McWhorter that compared the strong antiracist sentiments of the Movement for Black Lives to a religion.  McWhorter basically extols that the good white people that are likely to be drawn into the very specific cause of Black Lives Matter in the United States of America will be ultimately shackled by guilt and result in some failed policy.  I argued amongst some of my white friends that McWhorter unwisely called out Ta-Nehisi Coates as a pied piper of sorts for white liberalism along with other points in the article that I found problematic.

The notion that people standing against racism are somehow infectiously following the most recent beautiful music of morality is serene but if that were the case Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King could have succeeded long ago.   Individuals, groups, and systems claim the lives of minorities in the United States with increasing clarity and at an alarming rate therefore the struggle against that phenomenon has refined itself.  The correct diagnosis of the sickness in America and the preponderance of evidence has led two separate white minorities to the realization that they might not have started the fire or put the kettle on the stove, but they would either like to completely avert or accelerate the seemingly inevitable boiling over.  Black lives indeed matter and the urgency implies that time is running out on anybody still mulling it over.  Most smart people can see this choice has to be made now, for deliberation is also making a clear statement.

The Movement for Black Lives that has propelled organizations like We Charge Genocide and writers like Coates appears to have just a little more self-determination rather than just relying solely on some white people, however.  This movement wasn’t quelled by the removal of some flag or defined by the people that have already lost their lives during the long and winding course but there have always been drum majors serving as prominent beacons keeping up with the times.  (I thank God every day for those willing to get out there and do the heavy lifting because I have a strong feeling that I know where all this is going.)  Black Lives Matter can exist totally beyond white validation and beyond the grasp of those attempting to stop it while still somehow, reaching those groups whether eloquently or crudely.  The real shining stars are the throngs of real patriots marching in step for the most basic of human rights in America: the right to live.  Ta-Nehisi Coates is deserving of his accolades, too –even if he is moving to France with his family in the pursuit of happiness.  Coates has a new book out dedicated to his son and he was compared to another expatriate, James Baldwin, who issued wise words about oppression to his nephew by literary great Toni Morrison, but you already know I’m going to let them tell it.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

May 15, 2015

We have talked about this many times on The Chronicles of Six but this brother here went way beyond the call to illuminate Michellle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow. I’m just glad that I’m not the only one talking about it. I will get with you at a later date.

World Is Africa

By Michelle Alexander (TomDispatch)

Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race”. There’s an implicit yet undeniable message embedded in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks like; this is what democracy can do for you. If you are poor, marginalised, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for you. Trust us. Trust our rules, laws, customs and wars. You, too, can get to the promised land.

Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but they can be counted on one hand. Racial caste is alive and well in America.

Most people don’t like it when I say this. It makes them angry. In the “era of colourblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the…

View original post 1,412 more words

La Feria Lighting to Tio Pepe: Gitanas Edition

May 13, 2015

La Feria in Jerez is definitely worth a long form article.  But I think that I am going to have to try that article at a later date.  You see, right now, La Feria is in full swing.  I can’t miss too many of these moments because you never know when you are going to be able to live them.  The video above doesn’t due the production value of La Feria proper justice because there are so many things that go into this event besides the massive construction tour de force that took place to squeeze an entire city into a park.

Let’s start with the lighting ceremony, or rather two weeks before.  Some gitanas or gypsies basically took over the tree stump hangout behind the parking lot where I live.  I am not going to make some grand claim of understanding gypsy culture but these guys were basically drinking all day and playing backgammon.  They weren’t even loud with it.  Then on Sunday when La Feria kicked-off, they started working and shit got real.  You see normal Spaniards aren’t really for all that working crap during La Feria so it was a little suspicious when the folks known for never working started to work in overdrive.

(Only New Yorkers will appreciate these analogies: La Feria is like Saint Rocco’s Feast or San Gennaro’s Feast multiplied by Las Vegas.)  Incredibly gorgeous gypsy women came out of nowhere selling flowers or balloons.  Gypsy men were busying themselves with charging people to park in illegal parking spaces around La Feria.  Then the old gypsy ladies roved La Feria grounds like gangs pushing flowers and romero on anybody inexperienced enough to make eye contact with them.  The transformation was total, complete, and mind-altering.

I had to seek refuge in a caseta operated by the Jerez de la Frontera City Hall, and guess who was on the stage?  Gitanas with jobs, again.  Gypsies get their music on, and if you have ever heard sevillanas then you will understand what I am talking about.  Never mind how the City Hall partnered with one of the most well-known sherry makers in Spain.  That isn’t important right now.  After all, we are in Spain and we have to live somehow.  La Feria only comes once a year so forget your woes, get on a horse, and just watch this video.

Pregaming La Feria in Jerez de la Frontera

May 10, 2015

This was certainly something.  Samuel and I keep it real and show you how it is about to really go down at the biggest event of the year in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.  Again, the thing to remember is that La Feria hasn’t officially started yet but stuff like this has been going on for at least a week…

On Ben Affleck and Slavery

April 22, 2015

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

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…

View original post 603 more words

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.

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 post shared 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.

Paris St. Patrick’s Day Edition: Notre Dame

March 17, 2015

I hope you are out there being responsible and all that good stuff.  Just so you know, I’m wearing green.  Oh you already knew that it was St. Patrick’s Day just like you knew that the DeMatha Stags won the ACIT.  You probably also knew that the Notre Dame basketball team (in Indiana) won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championship later on that night.  Did broadcasters mention that Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey graduated from DeMatha in 1971 1977?  Did they mention that Notre Dame has a Player of the Year candidate and ACC Tournament MVP winner by the name of Jerian Grant that graduated from DeMatha in 2010?

A very cute baby at Notre Dame.

My son Samuel outside the cue at Notre Dame in Paris.

There will be more on that stuff at a later date.  We should all spend more time in our lives talking about the saints that we actually met.  (Anyway, shout out to my Irish-DeMatha-Music homey Coleman Mellett who is no longer with us.)  My wife tells me that Semana Santa or Saints Week is about to pop-off in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain very soon, so I know at least one fat baby boy that has some traveling to do.  I’m wishing all of us out here safe travels and may God’s grace and the luck of Irish be with ye!