Friday, March 30, 2007

The Optimistic Hoax

The cited “time of optimism” for the West African Country of Liberia is once again overshadowed by fate’s unsympathetic and unfortunately very cynical sense of humor.

On February 13th, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced that the United States will forgive the $391 million debt Liberia owes it. President Bush also asked congress for more than $200 million in assistance for the fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman head of state in Africa, was elected in November, 2005. The relief of the total 3.7 billion dollars is Johnson-Sirleaf's top priority. The first lady petitions that most of the country’s debt was acquired during the presidencies of Samuel Doe, and Charles Taylor, including 740 million dollars to the International Monetary fund, 530 million dollars to the World Bank, and 255 million dollars to the African Development Bank. America's forgiveness of the debt seems to be the least that they can do since the Firestone Plantation has occupied 400 acres of Liberian soil for 6 cents an acre since 1926.

But alas Liberia once again sits on the porch step like an illegitimate child that awaits their day at the park with a father that never seems to come. According to the country’s Finance Minister Samuel P. Jackson, “if Liberia is to get relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative, to have its bilateral debts (funds owed to countries) cancelled; the country must first settle outstanding arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the African Development Fund (AfDF)”.

Apparently, Liberia can only be forgiven the 700 million dollar debt owed to the U.S., Germany, and the UK if they agreed to “significant economic and social reforms”. According to Jackson, that would still leave Liberia with outstanding debts of close to 3 billion dollars, most of which were acquired during the country’s war by former (and now either deceased or exiled) presidents.

The reality is devastating. In order for the country to barely stand on their own, they must re-sell their souls for the “significant economic and social reforms” which we all know suggests the further exploits of human and natural resources.

See the link for the full article below:

-Wayetu Moore READ MORE

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oh look, and it's not Amy Winehouse

Not that with a heavy duty punk pedigree she'd want to be making a sprite can disappear in her mouth, but I'm really glad that Santogold has gone the post-punk/ dub/ electro/ whatever- other- genre- I- could- come- up- with- if- I- weren't- doing- this- about- 24- hours- too- late route, instead of doing pussy raps. It's rare enough to see black women finding genuine success in the music industry, and it's always a nice bonus when they're actually innovative and like, good (sidenote: no disrespect to kim, but I think we all know that black women have super-limited options in this arena, and at this point in the major label/ clear channel/ viacom/ the sex tape is actually in my contract age, those options may be all but exhausted). Santogold, NeƩ Santi White, has been pretty much slaughtering the internet with a handful of singles that reveal an incredibly versatile voice and a preternatural ability to slip right into the groove of some of the roughest beats I've heard since I stopped listening to hardcore. Which actually makes sense, since White cites a heavy relationship with the punk scene since high school, at one point fronting the post-punk/ new wave band Stiffed for about three years. Listening to her, you can hear echoes of pioneers like the Slits, Siouxsie and The Banshees, and even bass- heavy crusties like Crass.

This is not to say that Santi White is all screams and yelps (though it may be obvious that I'm a big fan of her doing so). While she rarely breaks out into straight-up rapping, Santogold also has a pretty tight rhyme flow- one that rivals a lot of people who are getting paid to be actual rappers. Ms. White even maintains a solid rhythm in her singing, which is alternately ethereal, haunting, and withering. Santogold appears to have no problem getting ululation, double time raps, and sweet melodies into about 10 seconds of audio and having it sound like it makes perfect sense.

It's not uncommon to see women doing the type of music that Santogold does like on paper; Gwen Stefani and Fergie on pop radio and a whole bunch of other up-and-comers, like M.I.A and Kidsister on indies, are making names for themselves doing a playful rap/ singing thing, informed equally by late '80s girl rap and contemporary global urban music. What sets Santogold apart, aside from her mind-bending vocal abilities, is the ease with which she calls on her influences and makes them cohere in a totally seamless, un-contrived way. in "shuv it," a background heavy in dub, ska, 60's pop, and classic hip hop braggadocio comes through loud and clear, but the song still sounds totally new. And it's amazing.

-dial 917


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The New Model Minority?

To come in the first issue of 2007, The Coup Magazine's newest addition, Associate Editor Wendi Muse examines a recent study proclaiming black immigrants as the new model minority, and its possible affects on the black community in the United States. The preview is below:

Although uncharted land, wild animals, safari rides, and the AIDS crisis are, unfortunately, often the first images that come to mind when most Americans think of Africa, a recent high academic achievement study didn't exactly find itself in their thought bubbles. According to a recent study produced by Douglas S. Massey of Princeton University and Camille Z. Charles of University of Pennsylvania entitled "Black Immigrants and Black Native Attending Selective Colleges and Universities in the United States," the black immigrant population, which, in this case, includes black Africans and blacks from the Caribbean and Guyana, “make[s] up 13 percent of the nation's college-age black population, [and] account[s] for more than a quarter of black students at Ivy League and other selective universities" (Fears, "In Diversity Push"). While reflecting on these statistics, I wasn’t exactly surprised.

The nation's most elite colleges and universities are bolstering their black student populations by enrolling large numbers of immigrants….the large representation of black immigrants developed as schools' focus shifted from restitution for decades of excluding black Americans from campuses to embracing wider diversity, the study's authors said. The more elite the school, the more black immigrants are enrolled (Fears, "In Diversity Push").

In a time when conservative college political groups hold rallies with the purpose of ridiculing immigrants, legal and otherwise, and students protest Affirmative Action policies by way of lawsuits, I found it odd that universities were somewhat adding fuel to the fire. While there is already considerable tension and competition between blacks and whites on college campuses, the act of increasing their black student population by enrolling a high percentage of black immigrants seemed like an early stage in the “divide and conquer” process we see all too often in a society where people of color are at constant competition for resources.

Last time I checked, Affirmative Action was a government policy with the intention to “right the wrongs” of slavery by providing more opportunities for black American descendants of slaves, who, for centuries, have been systematically barred from equal access to resources and active participation in American society, not necessarily to assist immigrant populations. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Lani Guinier, two Harvard professors and well known scholars in the area of black American issues, argue that affirmative action may have lost its course as schools “are skirting long-held missions to resolve historic wrongs against native black Americans by enrolling immigrants who look like them." Guinier goes on to state that high black immigrant enrollment “. . . has to do with coming from a country, especially those educated in Caribbean and African countries, where blacks were in the majority and did not experience the stigma that black children did in the United States," and thus challenges the notion of whether Affirmative Action programs should include black immigrants at all (Fears, "In Diversity Push").

However, the universities themselves are not entirely to blame for this shift in focus. With the multiculturalism movement in the 1970s, Affirmative Action became less neo-Reconstruction, if you will, and more an open embracing of diversity in all forms. This definition of diversity was not only limited to race. It included gender, ethnicity, and, more recently, class, sexual orientation, and nationality. After all, we cannot view the “black experience” in a vacuum, or, in other words, continue to address only its effects on black Americans. If we wanted to be more specific about who deserves what from whom, we could expand government programs to a global level, so black Americans would receive a form of reparations from Spain, Portugal, England, West Africa, and many Middle Eastern countries, as they all played a role in slavery, and most Africans would receive a form of reparations from Western European nations as well as the United States, for the role they played during imperial expansion, as well as mass land displacement and apartheid.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Arts Announcement!

An event for you:

MORE FEAR: The Final Call

A visual diary of the finest and most nadir moments of a people neglected featuring work by Brooklyn photographers Akintola Hanif and Jamel Shabazz.
Hanif and Shabazz have been using their lenses as tools to unearth society's successes and failures. Through this exhibit(ion) they aspire to light a match of influence that will provoke communal change and evolution.

The show will run from April 8 - May 4, 2007 with an opening reception on Sunday, April 8, from 3:00PM – 6:00PM.

Hosted by: Parallel MVMT, Harriet's Alter Ego, Akintola Hanif & Jamel Shabazz

When: Sunday, April 8, 2007
3:00pm - 6:00pm

Where: The Gallery at Harriet's Alter Ego
293 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Contact: READ MORE

Monday, March 19, 2007

Crystal Kay

Recently, while in Osaka, I had a conversation about J-pop (Japanese Pop) with a young woman. The two of us, sitting in Seattle's Best Coffee-in Osaka-exchanged glances as I passed her in my search for a table. I like to sit by the window and read, while working in some good people watching.

I'm usually left to my own devices, so when Yuka tapped me on the shoulder and asked where I was from, I was a little taken aback. I told her I was from New York and she gave me that slightly impressed look you get from people who have never been to the place you're from, but have seen it in movies. It's almost as if you've announced you have magic powers. It's understandable though, I guess it's almost how I felt about Osaka before I came.

I digress. The point is, the J-pop star I know the best is Crystal Kay. Yuka seemed impressed when I mentioned her name. Kay's father is an African-American bassist and her mother is third generation Japanese of Korean decent and a professional singer. Kay was born in Yokohama and has been singing professionally since she was about 13. I'm posting one of her videos for you to check out.

There are a lot of interesting conversations about people of mixed race in Japan. I've been searching for information for a while. I've come across a few message boards.

It's interesting to explore, given the often very nationalist tones in the country's history. Younger generations, as it often goes in most cultures, have slowly been beginning to embrace the differences. It's a process of course, moments of progress and set backs. I have big hopes though.

J-pop is pop music as you would expect it to be, but of course in Japanese. Adults and teenagers alike love it and admit it openly. I think, whether she intends to or not, Crystal Kay is a little more than just another J-pop princess.

Oh, but please note the black "Barbie" in the beginning and end of the video. I would comment further...but I just don't think I have to.

- Ashleigh Rae READ MORE

Saturday, March 17, 2007

President of Gambia Cures AIDS

Yes, I know. It seems way too simple and I'm not saying it definitely works. But, who's to say that "modern" medicine will ever fully work. Somewhere in my brain the simplicity of the president's cure is comfortable. At the same time I understand the concern.

What do you think? READ MORE

That's right. Check this out.

Oh, and one of their main ads:


Monday, March 12, 2007

Poem about My Rights - June Jordan

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:

Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be

I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of

I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life READ MORE

UBUNTU! A Call to Action

We're posting this because it's important. If you're in the area or able to travel for the day please try to make it out. And as always, feel free to share your thoughts.

For all who ARE survivors of sexual violence…
For all who choose to BELIEVE survivors of sexual violence…
For all who KNOW WE CAN end rape culture…

…join us on April 28th, 2007, in Durham, North Carolina, as we come
together—across divisions and disempowering silences—to create a world
full of the safety, possibility, dignity, justice, and peace that we
all deserve. Stand with us as we dare to imagine a world free from
sexual violence and ALL forms of oppression.

Meet us in Durham to speak, teach, learn, demonstrate, and tell the
truth. Together, WE can make this world a reality!!!

Questions? Contact us at or check us out
on My Space at READ MORE

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Who is this man?

In an issue published on February 7, 2007 in zmag, an online leftist magazine, journalist Paul Street proclaimed Democratic electoral candidate Barack Obama an opportunist with “presidential ambitions from the start” in an article entitled The Obama Illusion. Street, a pro-socialist, anti-imperialist leftist accused Obama of addressing only mainstream contemporary issues that the public wanted to hear, and taunted Obama’s claims at being a progressive candidate, citing his dismissal of “Al Gore's widely discussed proposal to link a "carbon tax" on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation's millions of working poor (Joe Klein, "The Fresh Face," Time, October 17, 2006).” Barely one week after his formal bid at the 2008 presidency, Obama’s political competency and motives are denigrated and challenged by extremists from the political party in which he hopes to represent. As Street devalues Obama’s attempts as screams of “presidential ambition beneath false humility and ponderous, power-worshipping prose”, the Democratic hopeful remains reserved as he awaits the endorsement of community leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Considering the cynical undertone of commentators like Street, and the increased media coverage of what may be history in the making, African-Americans are finally beginning to ask, “Who is this man?” “Who is this proclaimed hero that is being praised even by right-wing conservatives like Republican columnist David Brooks of the New York Times for having "a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS?” Though Obama is a Democrat, there is irresolution of how accommodating he will be to the black struggle and dilemma in the United States. Also since most voters have proven partiality to candidates that share commonalities with them, favoring race and gender over ideology, the race will be particularly interesting for black women, who have an opportunity to either endorse a black person, or a woman; Democratic front-runner and New York Senator Hilary Clinton.

In a poll taken by of 800 likely voters, 79 percent said that they were willing to vote for an African-American president. However, in a January ABC news poll, Clinton led Obama among African-American voters, 60 percent to 20 percent, and is currently leading him in the overall primary, 28 percent to 24 percent.

Obama is apparently being questioned of the loyalty he may or may not have or show towards the black race. The son of an African father and white mother, Obama speaks of the struggle of humanity as a whole, and focuses on the plights of all people. This disconcerts the African-American population because these outlooks are the same that were held of former presidents of whom the black race remained downtrodden under. Obama’s blackness is questioned due to his education, and his lack of a direct link to the civil rights movement and inner-city life.

So who is this man? What are your instincts, apprehensions? And will a black leader that is not categorized as a civil rights leader be a progressive or detrimental step in the African-American struggle in the United States?

- Wayetu Moore READ MORE