Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Bridge the Gap - Teach the Babies"...

   ...Through music.

   One of the visions shared between Dr. Cornel West and the band, The Cornel West Theory. Here's a quick video of a sit-down chat between the two as they relate their similar theories on the shaping of current and future music, and the ramifications it can/will have on today's and future generations. More to come on the band and the man themselves, but sit tight with this bit for now.

Short Post - Watch "Bamboozled", Pt. 1

   Though I certainly don't recommend watching the movie online, I found the full series of videos on youtube for it, and thought I should at least post the first one up. Watch, and react.

The Entire Concept Leaves Me Utterly...Bamboozled.

   One of the movies that rocked my sheltered, suburban world almost a year ago was "Bamboozled". It was released in 2000 by Spike Lee, and features an all-star cast, with names such as Savion Glover, Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tommy Davidson, Michael Rapaport, Mos Def - and many more. Before I go further about how it affected my way of thinking, watch first this clip from episode one of "The Boondocks":

   Here, Huey imagines telling "the truth" to white people, and the damaging affect it could have on their fragile world. In his imagination, everyone at the garden party that heard the truth immediately broke down and began a violent riot - women screamed, chairs were thrown, random ninjas attacked, and a man was lit on fire. Later in the episode, Huey's "dream" does come true - he attends a garden party full of the Caucasian bourgeoisie, and attempts to tell the "the truth" - but instead of rioting, or even becoming upset, they applaud Huey's eloquent manor of speech. 

   This basic idea - that when the truth is heard, one that would turn our worlds upside-down, we will not listen - is the central theme to Spike Lee's "Bamboozled". I will not give a dissertation of its full plot - if you haven't watched it, it's a must-see. If you already have, you may have shared in my experiences, or at least shook your head at the absolute "Coon"-ism which was revealed in our society. 

   Still on the topic of "Coon"-ism, in my earlier post, I attempted to relate the theory that our current image of "Swag" is, in fact, "Coon"-ism. While delving into other issues (which I will address in due time), "Bamboozled" has it's own ideas about what "swag" actually is. At first glance, you'd want to laugh. But when watched closely and listened to, can you not hear a hint of "the truth" behind it all? Here's a clip from a "commercial" from the film:

   There are almost too many areas to address with this commercial. So-called "urban" retailers owned and created by Caucasians - and then replicated by African American-owned retailers, thus refreshing the cycle and stereotype of "swag", while not erasing any of the original consequences of buying into it. Another issue would be the term "ghetto" and what it, today, means. Yet another would be the lack of censorship on television - the images of success American media tattoos onto our brains from an early age: that it comes from what you buy, not what you do. 

   I will only touch on that last issue by saying somehow, I would not be surprised if I saw a commercial like this on BET someday - "Black Entertainment Television", as owned and outputted by Caucasians. What do you think we could do to stop this cycle? What CAN we do, besides create a coup in the largest of media corporations to take back what airwaves reach our homes? I already applaud such up-coming apparel companies like Coup d'etat Brooklyn, and dNBe Apparel - who are struggling (and becoming quite successful) at creating more than just a clothing line, but also, a movement. But a movement is only as great as its supporters. Pioneers cannot create a new world if no one follows suit, which is the problem for so many of the various organizations gearing towards the betterment of our race as a whole. 

   The entire concept leaves me utterly Bamboozled.

P.S. - If you know of any other such companies, why not list them here? I will edit this post in a few days to include your suggestions. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Introduction: "Swag" VS. Coon-ism.

  I've always wondered why, as African-Americans, we've felt the need to constantly give the past tools of our enslavement new "positivity". It's like swallowing fire and regurgitating matches, or sparks. Our ancestors were born whipped, born in chains - and today, we drive whips and wear gold chains.

If we were run over by a brand new Bentley, or Cadillac, would that make us officially "whipped"?

   I'm probably only reiterating something you've heard before - something you swiftly rolled your eyes at. Conspiracy theories spoken by black prophets on the subway platform you turned the volume up on your iPod's to drown out. Well, to ignore is to be ignorant. It's true that, while I don't expect my opinions to be adapted by the masses, I expect them to be heard. I will not be another voiceless, indignant prophet on the subway platform - or another muted blog about social issues floating around on the web. There are messages here that I'm tired of tossing to the wind. There are travesties that I'm tired of turning my cheek to - and there are voices of the faceless that demand to be heard. I can only be one of these voices - you, as the reader, must supply the rest.


   "Swag" VS. Coon-ism. If you're not familiarized with the technical image of the "Coon", you will at least be acquainted with this next quote:

Racial depiction of the "Coon" character.
    "Before its death, the coon developed into the most blatantly degrading of all black stereotypes. The pure coons emerged as no-account niggers, those unreliable, crazy, lazy, subhuman creatures good for nothing more than eating watermelons, stealing chickens, shooting crap, or butchering the English language." (Read more Here.)

   Now that you've been introduced, listen up: I'm not saying that if you love watermelon or fried chicken, you're a "Coon". And if you walk around with giant red lips, a face as black as shoe polish, and eyes the size of half-dollars - you're probably not human. What I am saying is, collectively, as a race, we tend to recycle our stereotypes without first eradicating these old images. Specifically, why are we so much more obsessed with our "swag" than our betterment? Spending money we don't have for superficial reasons is not an answer to our problems. Dumbing an entire generation down through mind-numbing media outlets - the very same outlets that pump the need for "swag" into their brains - is not an answer. What it is, is "Coon"-ism. It is the reaffirmation that the psychological damage done to us as a people, by being called filthy names and portrayed in degrading ways, is so deeply branded into us that we refresh these horrid stereotypes - create endless cycles in which we name them something new, give them different meanings, find new ways to pretend that they can become "positive", before we would ever decide to throw it all away and start new - to actually be original.

   There are too many issues to address in our societies - I literally don't know which one to start with - but the short list is thus:

  • Gentrification
  • Education
  • Health
  • Fads
  • Media

   And within these genres, there are tons of sub-genres. Prevalent issues like the use of bleaching creams as a fad; how little we know of current events in our homeland; eating fried foods as a convenience while buying into racial consumerism in the community; how the hell Soulja Boy became famous; "displacement"; racial segregation within our race - and so much more. 

   What I'd like to know from you, for now, is your reaction. How you feel about this article, this blog, my mission statement - everything. Tell me how utterly and overwhelmingly vague I'm going to have to be in each post here. Tell me that I, myself, am ignorant. Tell me that I'm "refreshing". Expand, explain, complain, comment. That is the purpose of having a blog in the first place, is it not?

   - P.S. - search "coon" in Google search, and see what the very first definition is. Just for kicks.