No broken records here. Or scratched CD’s. Or jacked songs on the MP3/iPod/iPhone…ah shit you get it. It’s time these particular folks stopped dissing kids. David Banner’s open letter has some good points. Love when a rapper surpises folks and uses punctuation and capital letters and what not.
Stop Attacking The Kids
To all the black ‘so called leaders’. Al, Oprah, Jesse, etc, etc, etc… I’m saddened by your current direction and current ‘pet projects’ you guys have taken under your wing at the expense of Young Black America. As an urban professional living in this crazy world, I dare ask, who are you leading? I listen to what you say, I hear you complain about the youth, and about the direction of our lives, the kids, and where Black America is going and yet I still ask – who are you guys leading? And most importantly, where are we going? Do we know the goal we are trying to reach before we get there? Have we identified our end before articulating our means to an end! Who are you REALLY reaching? Why do you feel the need to attack the young generation for the things we are doing? “WHO DID WE LEARN THESE THINGS FROM? We are trying to have fun in the midst of our traumatic circumstances. People are trying to make a living by any means necessary, people are voicing their experiences, people are speaking the truth about situations and honestly the truth hurts and sometimes it’s ugly. If music/hip hop/ rappers are wrong with the language they use, the images they portray in their videos – then come talk to us – I use the term ‘us’ as a collective because I’m defending what I have a passion for so this also involves me. Pull us to the side and say “hey kids, that’s not the way to go” and then we can say “change what we see daily so we cansing and rap about the roses and not about the bullets”. We will say, help give us better situations to create better verbal material”. Don’t just go running off to the media to air the dirty laundry of the family and not expect us to fight back in some kind of way. What you are doing is wrong and it’s pissing off a lot of people with less money and camera
time! Young Black America’s problem is not Hip Hop or the music, Young Black America’s problem is Old White America. In the young black community, there is a growing level of resentment toward the ‘so called leaders’ because you guys DON’T WANT TO REALLY FIX OUR PROBLEMS. You guys don’t really want to be on our side fighting for better school systems, more after school programs, more money for college funding! Where areyou leaders at when there’s a need to break down to freshman in college on how not to get caught up with credit cards by singing up for an MBNA card, with high interest rates that eventually screw up your credit and makes it that much harder for you to become a homeowner after you graduate college pending you can find a job in your field after you’ve spent all this money in student loans! Where are those seminars? Dubois had it right when he spoke of the Talented Tenth! Rally around us to help teach us about THIS life! It’s not our fault that the world is messed up and filled with debauchery. It’s not our fault that our communities are screwed! The problems in our community should not fall on our lap. And if you begin to hold us accountable for simply our words – then I will begin to hold you accountable for your actions; or lack there of. Right is right and wrong is wrong. You as our leaders should have taken a better approach to gaining the attention of those that you are dissatisfied with and had a conversation with them. You don’t scold your child in public without fair warning!
Al Sharpton: You run around towns and cities speaking words of wanting to better our community by cleaning up the airwaves. You hold rallies in front of radio stations saying turn off the music and clean the airwaves. You want to shut down local stations that are playing urban music when most of these local stations house and employ the same people in your community – the black community. When you visit any station in any city (big or small) playing urban/rap music, the staff is generally black. Now if those stations were to ever shut down – where do those employees go? Al, if you are for the people, where was your rally when the 3 college students were executed in New Jersey by black men. Where is the rally atfor those families and that neighborhood??? I don’t see you out there asking for justice yet that incident happened in a black community. If someone was to rap about “how f**** up black on black crime is and how even if you go to college you aren’t safe on the streets and nigga’s aint’ s—” – that kind of tone is offensive to you and you want to stop that! If that’s the truth, then why are you censoring it? No, you need to stop the crime before it happens so that there is no gangster song about a gangster situation.
Oprah: You recently you held a town hall meeting dedicating 2 days of talk to have an open forum about the “Nappy Headed Ho” comment from Imus. Everyone had their 2cents to say and yet the people that needed to REALLY be there were not at all on your panel of ‘experts’. The questions all were about “why use the word ho or b**** or nigga etc” yet the rappers in question ala Nelly, Snoop, Ludacris weren’t anywhere present on your panel. In my eyes you had all the wrong people on there representing and speaking on behalf of other people. Common is great but he’s not gangsta. If you had a problem with the true content of rap songs then where were those that do that kind of rap
100%? You want to talk about change, and about having us not call women in rap songs “bitches” and “hoes” but one thing I noted, you had all men on your panel of executives. Russell is wonderful but he’s not the Zenith when it comes to new school rappers or their new school mentality. Kevin Liles is great but what happened to Sylvia Rhone the head of the label that Nelly is signed to, or Kathy Hughes the head of Radio One or Deborah Lee the head of BET. If the problem really was about women and the “bitch, ho” term being used, where were those ladies to speak on their stance on this issue! They are the ones with the ultimate say pulling all the strings and yet they weren’t dully noted as absent from your panel! Oprah you are suppose to protect us, I can find more harm being done to the black community by the movies and sponsors you promote than any rap song.
Just like your son or daughter, niece or nephew… rappers are just kids growing into their own. They aren’t always right, but they aren’t always wrong either. If our path is misguided, then help us get back on the right road. I’m young, I’m black, and I’m a hard worker. I’m from the hood where mother’s leave their kids in the hands of strangers and never look back, I’ve been with killers, dope dealers, b******, church folk, grandparents, bad parenting from good parents, pushers, junkies, robbers, middleclass workers, but that’s the life I’vebeen around. Gunshots and church hymns usually go hand in hand in most neighborhoods. The grim reality for a lot of kids out there living alone is that life is harsh and cold; kids grow up faster than they want to because they are forced too! Kids are growing up in situations that are f***** up. So the songs we listen to mirror the things we see, the things we dream about and the fantasies we have! Don’t change the songs I listen to, change the circumstance from which it comes from—then the situation will be better!
Growing up in this world of hip hop it’s disheartening to see our ‘so called leaders’ leave us out to dry. Fine you don’t like what we say. Fine disagree with our choice of topics; however, the things we talk about aren’t new. We didn’t invent the term pimps, pushers, hoes, tricks, doobies, nigga’s and gangsta’s. Hip Hop didn’t create that. Those words were left here for us to use by you guys, your generation. This life we are continuing to live was handed to us by the people before us who didn’t do much to clean it up. There may never be a time that we agree on anything, but there is always room for change. As a family – we will agree to disagree but it’s the synergy in which we do it. If you are on one extreme tangent, and I’m on another, we will never meet eye to eye. At the same time, I will not allow you to bash, yell, condemn, and have a condescending tone on my source of refugee and happiness. As you leaders call out the hip hop community saying that we are wrong for what we do and how we do it, I am CALLING EACH OF YOU OUT saying you are wrong for what you are doing to us. How dare you guys not call Nelly, Snoop, Lil Wayne, David Banner, Jim Jones, Akon, Rick Ross, Fabulous, 50 cent, Young Buck, Bun B, Too Short and say lets talk this through. Do you even know who ANY of these people are??????? You are so disconnected from us that we don’t even look at you for guidance. If you really want to change something, start by changing your dialogue. Don’t talk at us, talk to us!
Okay so here’s what’s happening in my world relatively soon. Both coasts. What what…
For the New Yorkers:
Reel Sisters Film Festival
SECTION: The Silent Treatment
The four films in this section examine the weight of words unspoken.
SUNDAY, September 30, 12:30pm-3:15pm
Film Title: Woodshed
Length: 15:00 Min
Date of Completion: 2006
Director/Writer: Ella Turenne, T. Tara Turk
Producer: Ella Turenne, Jason Vera
Synopsis: When two artists just can’t communicate they let the art do the talking. woodshed, a semi-silent short film where the music is as much of a character as the actors, tells the story of August Lansing and Clef McKinney. After a sudden break up, they use music and art to communicate with each other, saying all the things they couldn’t get out with words.
For those of you in Hollywood:
An Evening with The Black OP:
K(no)w De:tales (18 min)A paraplegic woman gambles on a chance at unconventional love when she consents to a blind date with her online suitor, “Dark Gable”.Written by kA’RAMUU KUSH from a story by t. tara turk
Love Aquarium (37 min)Three writers create three separate stories about three couples deconstructing their myriad concepts, ideas and ways of relating in this cinemtic meditation on the complex theme of love.Written by t. tara turk, Herb Donaldson and Keith Josef Adkins
The Bus Stop (17 min)Style, heat and subtle innuendo catalyze a woman’s chance encounter with a mysterious stranger at a deserted bus stop.Written by Sabah El-AminRaleigh Studios:
Raleigh Studios: Chaplin Theatre
5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038(Across from Paramount Studios - Melrose & Van Ness)
Across from Paramount Studios - Melrose & Van Ness)
Please RSVP by Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 by calling or (323) 969-4748 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(There will be a brief Q&A followed by a reception.)
Suggested Donation: $5.00
So I wrote one today:
by t.tara turk
Uncoil your ideas before they strangle you
Uncoil your expectation before it gives you the kiss of death
Seducing you in the night like the shadow lover from your past wearing the personality you draped heavily around them
Who can you be if you don’t release yourself to what is coming up in the morning sky?
Must you always expect sun or rain?
Is life so divided?
My grandma used to say that sunny rain was the devil beating his wife
Like something bad happening to evil?
I would like to unwrap that from my heavy bag of fears other people gave me.
This inheritance does me no good on a road that might look familiar to them but has dirt unique to this moment, this butterfly landing, this rain drop, this Adidas print
This road could have carried a heavy me,
The one with eyes downcast and heart broken, beating in my hand, outstretched to show you all what you did to me
But I chose different shades
I chose the ones that kept my heart thumping in my perspiring skin, eyes clear to the front, to the sides, behind me
I am right here in this spot
Slithery habits slide around the ground, hissing their arrival
“You can still cuss her out, girl!” they say
“You can still damn his ass straight to hell,” they say
Their colors are seductive and comfortable but it is up to me to remember that laying down on the floor of the jungle
Was never a method of survival I could live through
I am afraid I will be trampled by my own insecurities
So I pay those melodious sliding devils no mind, might smile and entertain a pleasantry or two
But I’ve got a road to tread lightly on
A dance around a fire that needs my off key voice
A jump in a cool water fall begging for my refreshment
We need our fairytales to evolve with us or they will outgrow us like last year’s lowrise jeans
We need to find some good stories to tell right now instead of waiting for the ending later
We may not see that ending
For waiting might make us prey to cool scaly skins, hissing, squeezing, hurting, suffocating
Until there is nothing left of us in a jungle of possibilities that will go on
In need of real love poems. Are there any you feel? Send them on and let’s fool time by freezing it for a little while and remembering some thing good. Love.
I will say that Jimmy was not ever the easiest read for me. In fact, I loved him more after I read the letter to Angela Davis. Before that he was someone who had the adult writing life I thought I wanted and was at the cocktail things and rents parties I always dreamed of. His books have amazing quotes amidst stories so sweeping that one feels like if Gypsy Rose were black and from the ghetto, Jimmy would have her cornered. He mingled in a world our parents and grandparents didn’t know existed until he told us about it. And then we all could hope on board the intergrationist express while always keeping the ear out for Malcolm’s words. What other writer could dance a watusti in both worlds? You must understand and repeat after me: James Baldwin, black gay writer from the ghetto turned international metropolitan writer extraordinairre was the writer to which Malcolm shared his story.
Know that before this time, our pop culture celebrities were not anything like Jay or Kanye or even Whoopi. We’d had Butterfly McQueen and Stepen Fetchit but they all lived under the roof of Jim Crow and would not know the life Jimmy had. Nor Malcolm. More than his writing, I value Jimmy’s dedication to staying in the present moment of life. Whenever you read about some movement of that time, Jimmy is there and then writing about it. He was no couch potato activist. I myself am a moderate keyboard activist so I can tell the difference in our movements. Jimmy multi-tasked in a way that was necessary and not just for ambition, success or convenience.
Known widely for his essays, Jimmy shared instead of telling. How many writers make you feel as if you are having a glass of wine with them while listening to a Max Roach record in an apartment off of Central Park, waiting for the driver of some socialite who’s invited everyone back to her place on Park Ave. for cocktails all the while giving you a blow by blow of the latest riot that happened down south?
In tribute, my friend Jelani Cobb who is walking down the essay road that Jimmy paved awhile ago, adding his own detours of course, has sent out this email that I wanted to share.
I’m sure you all have very busy schedules and days crammed with work and responsibilities. I wanted to take a moment to point out that today marks what would have been James Baldwin’s 83rd birthday. I’ve often repeated the story of not really knowing who he was until he passed away my freshman year at Howard and my English professor spent the class trying to impress upon us his monumental significance. Earlier this year I published The Devil & Dave Chappelle, my first collection of essays. As an essayist Baldwin’s work has been indispensable to me. I read Notes of a Native Son and Evidence of Things Not Seen in my early twenties and then devoured his collected non-fiction The Price of The Ticket. I remember being stunned at how eloquently he stated our claim on America and the weight of history in the present. I have pointed more than a few aspiring writers at Spelman in Baldwin’s direction.
I included below some of Baldwin’s notable quotes below. I hope you enjoy them and remember a brother whose contributions to our tradition is inestimable.
Peace & Love,
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they’re better than other human beings.
People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.
Education is indoctrination if you’re white - subjugation if you’re black.
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.
No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.
One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.
People can cry much easier than they can change.
The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.
The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
Now Available from NYU Press: To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic