Friday, January 26, 2007



Let's rewind to 1989:Crack in the streets & HH in the ears. I was a twelve year old seventh grader trying to take it all in. I attended a junior high for "Gifted" and/or high-performing students. As I look back it was a good experience due to the diversity of the group. You had white kids, black kids, rich kids, poor kids, puerto rican kids, gay kids & everything in between. Now, at that time there was a unspoken ranking as far as academics in my school. The list looked something like this:

1) Asians
2) Upper - Class White Folks
3) Weird White Kids (Dungeons & Dragons Types)
4) Poor Whites & Middle Class Blacks (Tie)
5) Smart Black Kids who didnt want to appear smart (For reference, see Jawanza Kunjufu)

It was basically an accepted "fact" that asian kids would have the best grades & test scores*. On the rare occasion they failed a test, you'd see them having a fit in the hall ways. I remember a kid that scored 1000 on the SAT in the 7th grade. Being kids, we just thought that they were naturally smarter & thus deserved better grades.

Now with the benefit of age & experience, I know that culture (in this case, the culture of many asian families regarding education). was the primary factor in the disparity. At that time, widespread hustling had only recently become in vogue, so the anti-school sentiment wa s not as large as it is today among black babies, b.u.t. yet and still, the difference in attitude was obvious.
A couple of weeks ago, I happened upon a book written by an asian man regarding the secrets of asians in school. I'll share them here so that you can use them however they see fit.

1) Instill a love & need for learning & education

2) Instill a sense of family pride & loyalty

3) Instill a respect for delayed gratification & sacrifice

4) Define your child's role as a student

5) Cultivate a respect for elders & people in positions of authority

6) Play a active role in your child's education

7) Determine & develop your child's individual talents

8) Set clearly defined short-term & long-term goals

9) Teach your child to value academic success over social status or popularity

10) Reward positive school performances & devise a plan of attack for poor school performances

11) Forget the "Do whatever makes you happy" mentality & focus on professions with financial security & intellectual fufillment

12) Keep your money in perspective

13) Limit activities that interfere with schoolwork

14) Promote an environment of healthy competition

15) Surround your child with similar minded children & role models

16) Help your children view America as an land of opportunity

All of the abovementioned points aid in developing basic civilization (Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Culture, Refinement, & not being a savage in pursuit of happiness), and should be taking place in families where the parents are aware of the way that this country's economy works. Additionally, we must seek to provide a safety net for the children in our communities that do not have the "luxury" if you will, of having parents who are as aware.

I acknowledge that some of you may take issue with #16, b.u.t. it is important to recognize that we are in a place to acquire resources (Knowledge, Money, etc..) to spread across the original diaspora, and that can be looked upon as opportunity. Something that was once the "poor part" of the planet could now be seen as the "best part", and vice versa (See 1st & 3rd degrees in the 1-14 for those in the NGE).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tradition vs. Innovation


Every now & again, I tune in to what's happening on various NGE listservs and groups to get an idea what people within the nation are thinking & saying. After watching a number of conversations go back & forth regarding some controversial topics (those of you that know, know), I decided to write on the topic of tradition vs. innovation. This topic is in no way limited to members of the NGE, and in fact I build that those of us who are looking to be part of the solution for humanity's issues can add on to what i'm thinking.

In every group, sect, culture, religion, or way of thinking, there will eventually come a time where the members of that community have to discuss and come to some form of understanding regarding this issue in order to chart a path for it's collective growth & development. Now, before it seems like I'm veering off into intellectual wonderland, let me give you some tangible examples: Much of the underlying tension that exists in HH today is a result of the debate, with those who think that HH should remain as it was in the 80's & early 90's on one side, and those who see HH as an ever-changing and ever-developing art form and Culture on the other side.

Another example is leadership within the Black community. Some think it appropos to continue fighting for Black people in the vein of 1960's - style civil rights protest & advocacy, while others see the primary issue as economics and argue that new tactics are needed. Additionally, you could include the debate on tradition & innovation within the Black Church (e.g. Kirk Franklin & the fusing of "Holy" & "Secular" music). Below, please find some of my views on the debate:

- If one errs on the side of tradition, cultural progress can grind to a halt; Err on the side of innovation, and context for the original idea can be lost

- From my view point, one must be well-versed in tradition in order to propose innovation so that the impetus for change isn't grounded in cynicism or iconoclasm

- Most of what we know as tradition today was innovation at some point, so it would be wise for us to always be open to growth

- People who live on the fringes of either side are probably missing the big picture. Life is a mix of the two, and if evaluated and executed properly, the two will propel your idea to new heights.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Peace is not the word to play


Just thought i'd take a second to shout out a classic from back in the day, & to underscore a very good point: Let's not use such a powerful word in vain. It's more than just a thing to say when you begin a conversation. It should be an ethic that we subscribe to at all times. Another thing while I'm at it: It's cool if you want to show me respect by saying Peace God, b.u.t. if you're going to do that, have some idea why we advocate that. If not, you sound silly and it comes off as patronizing.

Earlier this week, the federal holiday for Dr. King was observed. Though obviously a man of great ideas & vision, the rev has nonetheless been presented as a peace-loving pacifist who loved everyone & wouldn't bust a grape in a food fight. By white & black people continuing to juxtapose rev vs. mr. shabazz, it diminishes the depth & complexity of both men. We now know that King was opposed to the 'Black Power' slogan versus being opposed to the idea itself. Additionally, in his later years, rev became more outspoken in his criticism of the status quo & began organizing in ways that took him outside the bounds of a traditional "Civil Rights" leader (ex. The Poor People's Campaign). In America, to speak about Civil Rights is one thing, & to advocate for huan rights is another. Below is a article that goes more in-depth to Dr. Kings' perspective written by Dr. Manu Ampim, a noteworthy professor from Oakland. Do the Knowledge, extract what you will, & let me know what you think!

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. SUPPORTED BLACK POWER Prof. Manu Ampim (Excerpts from 1989 Master’s Thesis, “The Revolutionary Martin Luther King, Jr.”) ----------------------------------------------------------

There have been consistently glaring omissions by biographers of Martin Luther King concerning his statements embracing Black Power as a concept. The focus usually has been on his statements rejecting Black Power as a slogan, without making the distinction that King himself made between Black Power as a concept and program on the one hand, and the use of the phrase as a slogan on the other. When the militant cry of “Black Power” burst on the public scene in mid-June 1966 in Greenwood, Mississippi during the Meredith March Against Fear, King suggested that the Black Power slogan had negative overtones and was causing divisions within the march. King preferred “black consciousness” or “black equality” to “Black Power.” He reasoned that the words “black” and “power” together give the impression of black domination rather than black equality. King debated with Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and Floyd McKissick of CORE over the matter. He asserted that a leader must be concerned about the problem of semantics, and the “Black Power” slogan carried the wrong connotations. Carmichael replied by saying that the question of violence versus nonviolence was irrelevant. He argued, that the real question was the need for African Americans to consolidate their economic and political resources to achieve power, as practically every other ethnic group in America had done. King had no problems with this, but he responded by stating that ethnic groups such as Irish and Italians did not use slogans of Irish or Italian power, but they worked hard to achieve power. King stated, “This is exactly what we must do. We must use every constructive means to amass economic and political power. This is the kind of legitimate power we need,” He added, “But this must come through a program, not merely a slogan.” [emphasis added]. If we look at the primary sources it is clear that Dr. King had problems with Black Power as a slogan, but unlike the established civil rights leadership – which denounced the Black Power advocates – he called for and worked to implement Black Power as a program. Dr. King’s Statements in Support of “Black Power”:

“Black Power, in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals. No one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power. Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power. From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. … The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. The problem of transforming the ghetto is, therefore, a problem of power – a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo.” (Where Do We Go From Here, pp. 36-37). Emphasis added.

“Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. …What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. …There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed.” (Where Do We Go, p. 37). Emphasis added.

“Black Power is a call for the pooling of black financial resources to achieve economic security. …If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power. Finally, Black Power is a psychological call to manhood.” (Where Do We Go, p. 38).

“Black is beautiful and as beautiful as any other color. When we believe that, this is something very necessary, this is something very constructive and very creative. So, the concept of Black Power is something we are certainly able to understand and accept. …So as we talk about power, we must always see power as the right use of strength.” ((SCLC Staff retreat, Frogmore, SC, 11/14/66). Emphasis added.

“Power is the ability to achieve purpose. Certainly the Negro needs power because this is our problem, we are powerless. We have been powerless economically and politically in the ghetto itself in a sense came into being to keep the Negro in his powerless position.” (Frogmore, SC, 11/14/66).

“Power is not the white man’s birthright; it will not be legislated for us and delivered in neat government packages. It is a social force any group can utilize by accumulating its elements in a planned, deliberate campaign to organize it under its own control.” (Where Do We Go, p. 157).

=========================================== King acknowledged in an interview that the unsuccessful “end slums” campaign in Chicago was an implementation program for the concept of Black Power but, as the Baltimore Sun reported on July 10, 1966, “under a more palatable name.” The Sun further recorded that King “totally indorses [sic] the concept of ‘black power’ ” as enunciated by McKissick and Carmichael. The newspaper also noted that King’s statements placed SCLC, CORE, and SNCC “in basic agreement on the new ‘black power’ direction of the movement.” King indicated that his differences with CORE and SNCC over “Black Power” were only semantic. Dr. King did not only endorse the concept of Black Power as an individual, he endorsed it as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Similar to the Black Power advocates, SCLC advocated the building of a positive and cohesive concept of black history and fostering “a sense of …community” among African Americans. In addition, SCLC resolved that it would encourage and work toward true community through the development of economic and political power, and by constant emphasis on African Americans “owning and controlling their communities. (see SCLC board resolution, “Afro-American Unity,” August 17, 1967.) This emphasis was exactly what Black Power advocates were calling for, though they may have sometimes said it in different words. Beginning in late 1966, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that ‘black power’ is a most timely issue in the country today.” The Bureau later commented that there is a “marked tendency on the part of SCLC to move away from integration and move toward economic and political power.” (FBI files, 10/27/66; and 2/26/68). Emphasis added.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Knowledge & Power


Earlier today, I was lookng for something to watch at the rest. As I scanned through the seemingly endless collection of "street" dvd's that I've picked up over the past few years (I must say that they can be a great teaching tool for the youth, as far as what's going on in other parts of the country), I decided that I wanted to watch something with substance that could be used for analysis & observation. I chose 'Syriana', a movie starring George Clooney & Matt Damon that caused a fair amount of controversy last year around the "fictional" country that the movie was set in & how closely it bared resemblance to present-day middle eastern politics. To say that it sparked thought & analysis would be a understatement. Please find some of my thoughts below:

- What the hell is the Middle East? Names are a large part of identification, and that particular phrase tells you nothing. To be sure, at one time, comparing middle east vs. far east (China, Japan,etc..) was relevant, b.u.t. in this day & time, it does nothing by confuse joe public as to what continents these countries are really on. Egypt is considered as such to seperate it from Africa; Tunisia is right next to it, and everybody calls that Africa, so why not Egypt. If those countries really attached themselves to a continental or pan-continental bloc (See the big homie Hugo for reference), they could be much more powerful than they are now.

From a historical angle, The middle east is/was a area that was destined to fail. It's been the bastard child of European/Western countries since WWI, when it was recognized as a strategic area by european countries who were uncomfortable with the Ottoman Empire. For all those in the NGE, please see the Knowledge degree in the 1-14 for reference and analysis.

- Things are often much more complex than they seem. In the movie, you couldn't judge a book by it's cover as far as who thought what solely based on ethnicity, position, etc.. Similarily, today there are a myriad of issues that are often painted as one dimensional (ex. Young Black men sell drugs because they're lazy and irresponsible). The more nuanced the anaylsis, the more comprehensive the solution can be. Think about where America would be re: the Iraq fiasco if GWB and his neo-con cronies were a bit more "nuanced".

- Knowledge & Power born Equality; simply put, your idea & your ability to affect your environment create your overall impact. Low expectations create low realities. This is no disrespect to my more "enlightened" or "deep" brothers, b.u.t. if your life goal is to "master" yourself (control breathing, high science diet, etc..), while letting idiots run with the globe, you're doing yourself & your children a disservice. Those of us who know better have to take our ideas to scale, and not be satisfied with the crumbs off of the table. There is no reason to be satisfied with having no or little impact on the world around us (& I don't mean your woman or family; that should be implicit). Allah the Father advocated for those of us in the NGE to be pacesetters for our people; none of us can do that by playing the back when it comes to the future of the planet. Let's build, grow, multiply & expand for the good of the entire planet.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Urban Orientalism

Below is a post on "Urban Orientalism" that I posted on a blog that I share with my esteemed brother Divine Culture Allah. Do the knowledge & enjoy!

Urban Orientalism Pt. 1

During my younger years, one of my primary role models was my uncle. Approx. 10 years older than me, he served as my example of what I wanted to be when I got older. One memory that sticks in my head is the thought of saturday afternoons during the early-mid 80's, when he stopped everything he was doing to watch "Karate Flicks" on Channel 48 ( & the resulting practice on me and house objects). In fact, It seemed that the whole hood pushed pause on any activity while checking out flicks like The Five Deadly Venoms & Master Killer. My uncle went on to become a Black Belt in Kempo(A Korean Martial Art). This was my introduction to Urban Orientalism.

Urban Orientalism?

What the hell is Urban Orientalism?I'll start by telling you what it isn't:

- It ain't the "Chinese" take-out in your hood. That, my brother/sister is a grease factory & a urban crime magnet.

- It ain't getting a tatoo of a Chinese character that someone told you means "loyalty"

- It ain't wearing Chinese slippers on the concrete until the bottoms look like tar just because "all the girls are wearing them this year".That, my people is capitalism & cultural appropriation at it's worst.

No, Urban Orientalism (A self-coined term, by the way) is the connection and relationship between Black & Brown communities in the Wilderness of North America and filaments of Asian Culture (For the sake of PC, I must state that I was made aware that the term Oriental can be seen as offensive in some circles, & that Oriental refers to culture, while Asian refers to people as well as culture). A book that gives a good introduction to the phenomenon is Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting by Vijay Prashad. In the book, Prashad lays out the origin and implications of the connection between Black & Asian/Indian communities, from the development of the Moorish Science Temple & Nation Of Islam, to the relationship between the Black Panthers and The Yellow Peril (look it up if you're not down), to the Black community's love for Bruce Lee. The evidence presented in the book is exhaustive, so my musings on the subject will be based on elements of UO that occur closer to home, if you will: Shou Wu Chih & Bidis.

During my high school years, I was involved with a young lady who would wax incessantly at times about this mystical drink called "Sa-wu-chi". Now I considered myself pretty hip & aware regarding alternative potions & such, b.u.t. I had no idea what she was speaking of. She went on to tell me that it was a drink that the Muslims that she knew partook in. At that point, I took it as info for info's sake & moved on...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hip Hop Ain't Dead, Yall Just Grew Up


The title above may come as somewhat of a surprise to some of you, given the tone of some of my posts in the past that have been critical of contemporary HH. And don't worry, I'm not going hipster on yall or anything; It's that after taking a critical look at the environment that was being created around the music, I noticed a few inconsistencies in the prevailing perspective that HH had some how gone astray in the last few years. For a look into where I'm coming from on this, please check the following points:

- To all my 30 and over east coast - Centric fans: To say that HH died when "Laffy Taffy" came out is indicative of a serious bias, as nobody said that HH died when Wrex - N- Effect came out with "Rumpshaker". Hey, they are both totally devoid of content and marketed to do one thing: Have a woman shake her @$$. When you were 15, it rocked the party; give 15 year-olds of today the same opportunities. Let's not even get to talking about Luke, who was at least as profane as the Ying Yang Twins. Back then, we didn't say it wasn't HH; it was just a different regional spin on the music.

- To all those that say that HH is being overrun by "Studio Gangsters": Yo chief, studio gangsters have been around since day uno, and that issue is more economic than everything because poor people are looking to HH as a profession more than an art form, and that fact causes people to make decisions & moves that are not in the best interest of the music. Also, let us not have short memories & forget that some very good HH was made by brothers who were not who they said they were, or who were telling the stories of other men: See NWA, Ice Cube, B.I.G., Nas. I would love for HH to be genuine and authentic, b.u.t. I have come to accept that some people are good storytellers.

- To the little homie Nas: Of all people to say that HH died! You were the so-called "savior" of the music with Illmatic. Between It Was Written & Stillmatic, you confused the hell out of everybody, and made jams like You Owe Me w/ pony man. If HH is dead, it's because you didn't give it any guidance.

- For all of my 30-&-ups, it's really about the subjective vs. the objective, as far as the ability to see the music as changing, b.u.t. still having some of the basic qualities it had when you were growing up: Imagination, projected importance, social commentary (you just have to look a little deeper), misogyny, dances, and most importantly, Black Expression. Give the corporations hell, cause they're really the ones who are trying to kill the music, and give the kids(& old men acting like kids) a break.