voila a little production i recently made. it won best use of a cell phone
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Micheal Eric Dyson at Morehouse
I shuffled in the cold over bricks arranged to evoke Morehouse College’s emblem, a sun peeking through clouds. My mind preoccupied itself by contemplating my academic performance, potential future employment, and the other means that my college education was going to insure my entrée into the middle class. A dark, hooded figure entered the corner of my periphery. “Excuse me, sir.” I told myself that he would go away if I just kept walking. A number of students had been robbed recently. One was shot. I, unwilling to join their ranks, continued to my nearby dorm.
But, Trey persisted. I sensed something soft and honest in his voice and decided that since I, unlike many of the more privileged students could empathize with where he was coming from, I should at least listen to him.
“Thank you for talking to me,” he said after I stopped. “Everyone else around here runs away from me.” Trey said that he had just run away from his foster home and came back to the impoverished neighborhood around Morehouse to find his mother. Upon finding her, the fifteen year-old walked to the top of hill where the campus overlooks one of the poorest areas of Atlanta to ask for money. For him, Morehouse was a beacon, beaming with college kids who, although looked liked him, had more disposable income then he has survive.
Early on Election Day two weeks earlier, a friend and I took the side streets instead of the main thoroughfare to get back to campus. As he put it, we needed to “get a dose of reality” on that day abuzz with talk of historical change. The scene was a familiar one. Burnt down houses. Liquor stores. Crack addicts. Prostitutes.
But even in the community known as the “Bluff” where rapper Young Jeezy is said to have made his early fortunes in the traps, or drug houses, the city’s underclassed and typically apathetic lumpenproletariat filled the streets with Obama signs, singing and dancing like it was the first Juneteenth.
Before that, I had often thought about what Obama meant to the world, and me but for the first time I thought specifically on what his candidacy and potential presidency would mean for the very least of these.
I started to think of the same question as Trey told me his story only yards away from the symbolic chapel bell alluded to in Alumnus’ Spike Lee’s School Daze that students rang for nearly three hours after Obama’s win. Now, as Trey looked to me for help, no bell rang and no one mentioned Obama in response to the reality of immediate needs.
The first thing Trey did was to assure me that he was not a thief and that he had genuine intentions. As he told me his story and as I asked him questions, he started to come to tears. What disturbed me about this interaction was that he spoke to me as a person of a lower class soliciting some one of a higher class, as if I had power over his immediate future. I told him “hey man, I’m from the south side of Atlanta too; if it wasn’t for my scholarship, I wouldn’t be here.” He looked at me incredulously with the same disdain he talked about my classmates who drove around in Range Rovers. I’ve never been comfortable with my privilege. However, encounters like these remind me that I have to acknowledge it.
Privilege or no privilege, my wallet was empty. And after hearing the news, Trey kept moving.
Just a few days earlier, Michael Eric Dyson, Stic.Man of Dead Prez, and few others participated on a panel discussion at Morehouse on education and the Black male.
The resounding theme was something that Dyson said late in the program: “Class warfare in Black America is at an all time high.” The poor and the working class of black people in America are under attack for being poor and working class, he said, taking another slice at Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake.
Stic.Man highlighted the point that Obama is dually a gift and a curse to Black people because although Obama’s presidency shows that a black man can, it ignores that Obama is one type of black man from one class. According to him, Obama’s political change was cool, but he preferred revolutionary change.
Thinking back on Trey and our face off on the campus named after the white man that gave Du Bois the concept of the Talented Tenth, I have to ask my self what type of change would Trey like to see. And what side am I on in the waging class warfare.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The qoute reads (roughly): "I have always been proud of being mixed"
Miss France wants to advertise French diversity
By RACHID AOULI – 2 days ago
PARIS (AP) — The new Miss France, born to an African-American mother and white French father, said Sunday she wants to advertise her country's diversity on the world stage.
Chloe Mortaud is not the first nonwhite winner of the beauty pageant, but she is joining a growing chorus of French public figures breaking traditions by speaking openly about race.
"I want to go to people and explain to them that fear of the other is unfounded," she told The Associated Press the day after being crowned. "I want to incarnate ... today's French diversity" at international beauty pageants. Continue
She reps Halle Berry amd Akon.
Monday, December 8, 2008
All too often, art is seen to be above the people, inaccessible to most. The art industry, with its stiff museums and pretentious galleries, maintains a distance between what makes us human (art) and us (humans). However, the work of Purvis Young shatters the paradox. He is what Antonio Gramsci would probably call an organic artist. He has no interest in preserving institutions because he has never been institutionalized or, as many would say, he never went to school. Young is self-taught and self-styled. He paints the world he sees. Above all, his work is a view from the bottom, a vision of the world as it really is.
Morehouse College has acquired a substantial amount of Young’s paintings. They hang from the two towering walls of the African-American Hall of fame in the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. The amount of the work is overwhelming and its presentation is very crowded. It is almost too much to look at. The pieces are bolted to the wall in jigsaw puzzle format. A question that came up for me was whether or not its presentation cheapens its value or does it reflect the type of work that Young makes.
Watching a documentary Young’s website, I got a much greater since of the artist. In his studio, he was surrounded by perhaps thousands of his painting. The work at Morehouse is not made with expensive materials. It’s made mostly on scrap materials that the artist has gathered around Miami. Ragged plywood and soiled carpet scrapes typically frame his vision. These are the everyday materials that are seldom given a second thought. In that way, his tangible work communicates his the intangible that it represents: the creative potential of the multitude.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I'm getting back to it. I will start with a back log of stuff i've done in the interim.
Here is the first.
I took this photo election night. Frank Bryant is crying. I published it in Creative Loafing
I also wrote a blog entry for the website. It got a lot of response.
It was hard to breathe last Tuesday night on the campus of Morehouse College. The election season often felt like someone was pushing our head into and out of water. But then the time came to sit back and watch the tide of electoral votes come in. This community of black men was confident that the right thing would happen. However, no matter how beautiful we saw the potential waves of change, we feared being yanked down by the undertow of history and deep-seated inequality. Click here for the rest
Friday, September 26, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
"Dekk naa ci Dakar pendant 6 mois," I said to Ahmed, a tall lanky Senegalese man dressed in a bold orange boubou. The dark figure had floated across the the street in the amber light, forcing me to slam my brakes shortly after passing him. For the past six months, while I was in Senegal I would not have thought twice about the scene. But now, I was just off of Campbelton Rd. in the heart of an "insular" black community.
Surprise encapsulated his face and curiosity enlivened his words. "Where are you from" he said, breaking the language relationship that we had established between French and Wolof. "I'm from Cascade!" I said all too enthusiastically. I asked him about all the cars that had lined the corner of Willis Mill and Cambleton. They were having a magal, a commemorative feast for serigne Fallou. "Go park, and come inside," he said.
There was no way for me to know that he was Senegalese. But something about his manner, something about his boubou, something about his spirit sang Senegal. So, I sang the song of greeting, played my part on the stage of salutation.
"As salaam alakum," I called out.
"Malakum a salaam," he followed as a response.
"Nga def?" I asked.
"Maangi fi rekk," he replied.
I walked in to the room and was instantly transported across the Atlantic and somewhen else. To my immediate right, lay a mound of sandals and slippers. My pair eased off with ease as they had for the past six months at various formal events. To my far right sat a mouride marabout, a senegambian religious leader. Coincidentally, these were couture sandals that I bought from the senegalese singer's Youssou Ndour's son. Ndour is perhaps the most famous mouride who glorifies Chiekh Amidou Bamba.
I caught up with Ahmed inside. We played the usually dance around the food. Eat. No thank you. No, you must. Ok, Thank you. An older gentleman piped orders to a women behind the food table. "Donne-lui un plat. Il est americain." I stuck out in the room. Bad. I dug into the chicken yassa and washed it down with tamarind juice. Afterwards, I sat back, well satiated and let the singers who chanted the khassaides to take me back... way back.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I'ts been a tumultuous two weeks (no escape from dakar, malaria, vestibular disturbances). But, after it's all said and done, I'm sitting in a café in Evanston, just outside of Chicago.
I am here for Unity, a joint conference of the NABJ, AAJA, NAJA, NAHJ, any other arrangement of letters that you can think of that indicate a professional journalist association.
I left Senegal early to be here. I've moved mountains to be here.
I'm here to make moves.
Monday, June 30, 2008
I recently published this on Allafrica.com. It is perhaps becoming my most widely read piece of writing. The interview with Mbembe was one of the best I've done in my last few years in journalism. Let me know what you think!
Does this week's intervention by U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama in the debate over Zimbabwe's election signal that Africa will play a more central role in the foreign policy of an Obama administration? AllAfrica intern W. Hassan Marsh looks at the prospects.
The rise of Barack Obama to presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States has electrified much of the continent. But an examination of his positions and advisors shows there is potential for an Obama presidency to deliver for Africa more than just excitement at having one of its sons in the Oval Office.
Born to a Kenyan father, Obama suggests in his memoirs that Africa has always figured an important place in his personal and political life. In his first book, Dreams From My Father, he relates his political engagement as a student activist to end apartheid in South Africa.
Much of Africa reciprocates Obama's attachment to the continent. In Kisumu, near his father's birthplace, locals have renamed a local beer brand from "Senator" to "Obama". Nightclubs across the continent bang out hits such as Tony Nyandundo's song "Obama" and the British newspaper, the Guardian reports that Nigerian co-eds plaster photos of the junior senator for Illinois on dormitory walls as if he were a rock star.
Obama has not gone unnoticed by African governments either.
"Today marks a pivotal moment for the United States," said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga in a statement released when Obama emerged with more convention delegates than his rival, Hillary Clinton. "The decision by the white majority electorate to vote for an African-American for such an august position is a vibrant indicator of the long distance the U.S. has traveled from its history of slavery and racial discrimination."
Obama Goes To Africa
Obama's political interest in Africa was first displayed on a 15-day diplomatic tour of five African countries in 2006. In Kenya, he addressed directly the issues of corruption and ethnic politics, getting under the skin of President Mwai Kibaki's administration, several media outlets reported.
Obama also traveled to the Darfur conflict zone with U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (Republican - Kansas) and co-sponsored the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006 which Brownback introduced. The act classified the conflict in Darfur as genocide and authorized U.S. assistance for African Union forces in the region.
Obama has also co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007 that would enable federal, state and municipal government entities to divest themselves of Sudan-related stock.
Bringing Hope To Hopeless Conflict
An Obama presidency won on a campaign message of hope might help bring long-lasting and seemingly hopeless conflicts on the continent to an end.
One of his leading foreign policy advisers, Susan Rice, is known for her research both on the Darfur genocide and on failed states. Rice, who served as President Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of state for Africa and is now a Brookings Institution senior fellow, has formulated a political philosophy of humanitarian intervention around the newly-developing principle under international law of a "responsibility to protect" civilian populations.
Militants fighting in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria are reported by This Day newspaper to respect Obama, and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) stated recently it would consider seriously adopting a ceasefire in response to a personal appeal.
Although the Obama's campaign denied reports that Obama had made such an appeal, MEND's statement suggests he might be able to play a role in mediating an end to African conflicts.
But some African scholars are responding to the Obama phenomenon in more measured fashion.
Cameroonian historian and political theorist Achille Mbembe warns that Africa's expectations of Obama are "too emotional, irrational, and unrealistic."
"I would make a distinction between the symbolic significance of this black man being elected to the most powerful position on earth and the political consequences," he said in a telephone interview from his home in South Africa. "Obama will be pushing the interests of America first. He would not be there as an African; he would be there as an American."
The key interests for the U.S. in Africa are securing strategic resources such as oil, fending off Chinese competition and preventing terrorists from seeking refuge in failed states.
Nevertheless, says Mbembe, an Obama presidency offers Africa unprecedented opportunities.
"It doesn't seem to me that there would be new ideas coming out [from Obama in the U.S.]. It's up to some major countries in Africa – such as South Africa, Nigeria and a few others – to begin reflecting seriously on what an Obama presidency might mean.
"We will have a sympathetic ear; how that sympathy translates into progressive, radically new forms of America's engagement with the continent needs to be seen."
The Bigger Picture
Much of the buzz surrounding Obama's campaign has related to just exactly who he is. Some call him black, others call him mixed. Many on the continent consider him African.
Mbembe considers the controversy as a part of Obama's strength. "He is all of that," he said. "He is afropolitan in the sense of bringing together the African side of him and the other side that has to do with the worldliness. That capacity transcends all the primary identifications and makes him a powerfully unifying force in our fractured world."
In that vein, Obama's rise to office holds the promise of a shift in Africa and the Diaspora from a politics of victim-hood to a politics of possibility.
"The Obama phenomenon reframes the black question," Mbembe concludes. "It pushes it to a level that we have not achieved in the history of modernity. It's more than Frederick Douglass; it's more than Martin Luther King, Jr." He paused, searching for words: "It's something else."
Monday, June 9, 2008
A while back, friend and cultural critic Anthony Harris briefly mused on the Bishop Desmond Tutu’s philosophical definition for the concept of Ubuntu. His post and the resulting comment present quite the fruitful opportunity to explore ideas of hybridity and the informationalization of society.
Besides from further establishing techies as one-minded dogmatist, it shows what eventually happens when the West collides and colludes with the present day postcolony. As Anthony explains it, Ubuntu is essentially an idea that all humanity is interconnected, a certain “I am because we are.” Now this is a belief that predates Tutu as a cultural item of his native South Africa. However, because of the limiting definition of Philosophy as determined by the West, African philosophies and world views, even perhaps reasoned ones, are not considered as Philosophy. African scholars have to reintroduce these long held beliefs within the formal frame work of Philosophy in order to be accredited. Hence Tutu’s pioneering of the terminology as a professional philosopher.
Now Philosophy, as defined by post-renaissance Europe in its image, is also the source of Science. Europe used Science in its conquest of the world, making claims of superiority wherever it went and fulfilling a history that it had invented. To make the broad simplification, Europe imposed itself on its dialectical opposite, the rest of the world, its other. Europe said “we are here to conquer you with our Science and Technology. You will submit to our culture and will be rendered technologized but only in service to and in the image of Europe.
However, Europe’s method of conquering held within itself the potential to destroy, or at the very least neutralize itself. Spike, one of Anthony’s friends and a guy I never quite “got” left the comment: “I thought this post was going to be about the open-sourced operating system Ubuntu.” What Spike missed and even Anthony might not have intended was that his post was about the OS Ubuntu. Ubuntu (the computer program) is the technological manifestation of Tutu’s Ubuntu (the idea). As an open sourced operating system, the creators of Ubntu firmly believe in the interconnectedness of humanity and implement that belief in the very technology. What’s more, it comes from South Africa like Tutu.
This marriage of “western” technology with “non-western” belief is the dialectic synthesis that screams of a new hybridity. The information society is the newest historical period that is resulting from the dialogic confrontation of Europe and the rest of the world. This is only one example of many of how people affirm their identity in a growingly homonogeized world, how a blackness is carried on to be a positive, pluralistic force in a globalized world.