Monday, December 13, 2010

Public Enemy

One the most influential rap groups to come out of Long Island, New York was the powerful Public Enemy. The ultimate rap group which was established in 1986 and was comprised of a MC by the name of Chuck D, hypeman Flava Flav, DJ Terminator X, and the Minister of Information Professor Griff. Known for their poignant lyrics, Public Enemy, became synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement and their preachings about racial discrimination, inequality, and injustice. You can hear it in their music that their sound was influenced by Gil Scott Heron, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King just to name a few. In the song "Party For Your Right to Fight" from the 1988 album "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back", Chuck D, is making references about J. Edgar Hoover and his conspiring acts of COINTELPRO. As we all know by now, Edgar Hoover, was the man behind the take down of prominent organizations and figures, so Chuck D took the liberty to confront his evil tactics against Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. "Power, equality and we're out to get it I know some of you ain't wid it This party started right in'66" Chuck D is saluting the Black Panther Party and their achievements towards racial equality and justice across African-American communities. He also made a reference to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who was the founder of the Nation of Islam and converted the likes of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Fight the Power from the "Fear of a Black Planet" album and soundtrack of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, is one of my favorite Public Enemy songs of all-time. I vividly remember the first time when I saw the video on Video Music Box and this video was very electrifying and uplifting. "What we need is awareness, we can't get careless You say what is this? My beloved lets get down to business Mental self defensive fitness..." Those few lines are so inspiring because he's telling us to watch out for the evil tactics of men who cogitate for the sake their well beings. "Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps Sample a look back you look and find Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check..." For 400 years African-Americans have been the victims of oppression, brutality, and slavery and they are the reason why this nation has become so world-class. In return, you see no African-Americans being revered for their history in this nation. In the last song "911 Is a Joke" Chuck D talks about the cops and their everlasting history of injustice and brutality towards black people. They are suppose to be leading by example as far as professionalism, courtesy, and respect and yet, they do the complete opposite. "They don't care 'cause they stay paid anyway..." Overall I believe Public Enemy is considered to be one the greatest groups any genre of music because of their powerful voice and messages.

Public Work of Art

From the depths of impoverishment, murders, and depression, Williamsburg Brooklyn, has become one the most appealing neighborhoods in all of New York City. In this small world of Brooklyn you will find diverse cultures, beautiful landscapes, convenient ways to travel to different parts of the city, and some of the nicest restaurants and lounges we have to offer. In the midst of some those amenities you can also find some aesthetically artwork. One of the artworks that survived the gentrification process is a mural titled “Ashes to Ashes” constructed in 2000 by the Los Muralistas de El Puente. (Known in English as The El Puente Muralist)
Many of the features of this mural seem to supplicate the ills of cigarette smoking, and the evil tobacco companies that leech from the citizens of urbanized communities. The mural is comprised of beautiful colors, an infant smoking on a cigarette during birth, different people of all races smoking, a heart facing the effects of smoking, and the inevitability of dying when you choose to smoke. Smoking cigarettes has become a detriment and an epidemic in a lot of communities all across America. Teenagers should not smoke because smoking is the most preventable cause of death in America today, especially among teenage smokers. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and it is also responsible for chronic bronchitis. Last, there is emphysema, which is another disease caused by smoking. By smoking, people have a fivefold increase in the risk of dying from lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.  Lung cancer accounts for 29 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States and smoking accounts for about 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. The risks of dying from lung cancer are 23 times higher for male smokers and 11 times higher for female smokers than for nonsmokers.
Results of a recent study suggest that rebellious, risk-taking kids as young as 11 are more likely to smoke by the time they reach high school. According to the report, children who demonstrate these personality traits in the 5th grade are most likely to smoke in the 12th grade. Targeting smoking in high school students is important since studies have shown that adolescents who smoke daily in the 12th grade are likely to become established smokers as adults. Results of the study, published in the March issue of Preventive Medicine, show a strong association between rebelliousness in males in the 5th grade and daily smoking in the 12th grade. For example, the most rebellious males were three times more likely to become smokers than the least rebellious males.  
I chose this piece of artwork because I was part of the problem and now I want to be part of the solution. I lost friends and family members due to this horrible epidemic and if we don’t start pushing the agenda of teaching and raising awareness we are going to lose many others. It is nice to see that people are taking the time out to create these artworks to show us the ill effects of smoking. More importantly, I hope this piece stays up for a long time because it has become part of the community.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Research Paper

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”(William Faulkner). A picture is worth more than a thousand words, especially when it correlates to such a powerful movement like the Black Panther Party. In the past week or so, I've been brainstorming and searching for ideas as to what I want to base my research paper on, and I've decided to analyze a specific artwork done by Emory Douglas. Emory Douglas was a minister and graphic designer for the Black Panther Party. Known for his poignant artistry, Emory Douglas, used and manipulated art to capture the hearts and minds of African-Americans that struggled against racism, discrimination, and brutality.
One the greatest images of his collection that stood out the most to me was, the illustration of John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s reenactment at the 1968 Summer Olympics. “Smith and Carlos made me understand that athletes were not removed from the fray; in fact, their visibility and contact with the public allows a certain opportunity to speak loudly.”(Rhoden N.Y. Times) Both Tommie Smith and John Carlos represented the United States in track and field, and each respectively won the Gold and Bronze medal. During their acceptance, Smith and Carlos proceeded to raise their clinched fists in black gloves while the Star Spangled Banner played, to showcase black power and unity. This representation speaks volumes of significance, bravery, and determination despite the negative criticism both men received for standing up for what they believed in.
“Revolutionary art gives a physical confrontation with the tyrants, and also strengthens people to continue their vigorous attack. Revolutionary art is a tool for liberation.”(Doss New Political Science) Emory Douglas’s goal from the very beginning of his drawings was to ignite the masses with awareness and information about the African-American struggles in the United States. The drawing of both Tommie Smith and John Carlos depicts the true nature about this nation; oppression, inferiority, and exploitation. What’s even more nerve wrecking is the fact that these two men strived to be the best athletes, won medals for this nation, and at the end they received backlash because they were not afraid to confront the issues afflicting African-Americans. The correlation between Douglas, Smith, and Carlos doesn’t only lie within their color, race, or creed but with the same struggles and fights of racial equality and justice.
“In retrospect, the ’68 Olympics hadn’t planted a seed for political or social consciousness. Anyone who was raised in a large United States city in 1968 had to work awfully hard to not be aware of political currents.”(Rhoden N.Y. Times) When I first encountered the drawing at the New Museum it felt like I was a part of the revolution. The image is captivating because it allows you to envision how America systemically enforces those who choose to speak out about the negatives. The image subconsciously invokes the pattern of an African-American running for freedom, but when he reaches the finish line he’s being reprimanded for running for freedom. Meaning that no matter if they won for the sake of their country at the end of day they are still looked upon as inferior because of who they are.
“The black fist is a meaningless symbol. When you open it, you have nothing but fingers-weak, empty fingers. The only time the black fist has significance is when there’s money inside. There’s where the power lies.” (Sports on the Edge of Panic) Jesse Owens, track legend and winner of a four gold medals in the 1939 Olympic Games in Berlin, critiqued both Smith and Carlos for their brash political stand because he too faced adversity during his Olympic outing. He personally felt that there was no place in the world of athletics for politics. Jesse Owens wasn’t the only prominent African-American athlete to speak out about Carlos and Smith’s agenda, Joe Louis even made comments, “Whenever you have a chance to do something for your country you should do it.” (Sports on the Edge of Panic) Furthermore, both men did not lose their medals, but they were both ostracized by the Olympics committee, fellow African-American boxer George Foreman, and many others.
Contrary to the remarks and bad criticism that they were receiving, many people from around the country showed great expression and solidarity around their cause. “We are facing the greatest crisis in sports history.” (Hartmann Sports on the Edge of Panic)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Post #6

Internalized racism has and always will be a disease that plague’s society until the very end of time. Growing up for Malcolm X was very rough due to his hair color and skin complexion. Being that he was the lightest out of his siblings, Malcolm X, received little to no beatings from his father, ironically it was his mother “who looked like a white woman” (Malcolm X p.2) who would reprimand him with whippings. Malcolm X believed that the ideology of “white being better than black” embedded in the mind by whites subconsciously affected his father’s way of viewing his brothers and sisters. Even his mother received harsh beatings from his dad because her level of education was much higher than his father’s. “I was among the millions of Negroes who were insane enough to feel that is was some kind of status symbol…” (Malcolm X p.3), it was this type of thinking or dogma that Malcolm X adapted when he was young which lead him to “frying “ or relaxing his hair like white folks and having sexual encounters with white women.
Malcolm X is conveying that this type of thinking is what’s eating away the core of black people. Whites for decades upon decades having been tricking the minds of blacks into thinking that white is right and black is wrong, feebleminded, and inferior. Internalized racism has in many ways contributed to self-hatred and hating amongst those in the same race. Even in today’s society many African-Americans are succumbing their natural beauty whether physically or mentally to achieve social and high status.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blog #4

A picture is worth more than a thousand words, especially when it correlates to such a powerful movement like the Black Panther Party. In the past week or so, I've been brainstorming and searching for ideas as to what I want to base my research paper on, and I've decided to analyze a specific artwork done by Emory Douglas. Emory Douglas was a minister and graphic designer for the Black Panther Party. Known for his poignant artistry, Emory Douglas, used and manipulated art to capture the hearts and minds of African-Americans that struggled against discrimination and brutality. One the greatest images of his collection that stood out the most was the illustration of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Both men were representing the United States in track and field, and each respectively won Gold and Bronze medals. During their acceptance, John and Tommie proceeded to raise their fists in black gloves while the Star Spangled Banner played, to showcase black power and unity. The depiction is everlasting in my opinion because demonstrates bravery and fortitude.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Post #3

Mississippi also known as “The Closed Society”, was a totalitarian state where African-Americans were being brutalized, arrested, and killed by racist white people. The state officials of Mississippi were so malevolent that they, enforced laws where African-Americans were deprived of voting privileges and furthermore, they made registration difficult by assessing tests knowing that African-Americans had lacked knowledge due to poor education. What these white politicians were doing was continuing white domination by creating a system where African-Americans were subjugated to a position of inferiority.
In the 1964 Malcolm X, delivered a speech at a Harlem rally about, delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party’s being denied seats at the Democratic National Convention. His speech was constituted from the continuing injustices and inequality acts being done by these white racists. Unlike any other activist, Malcolm X, thought that the only way of getting respect and being treated as first class citizens was to, adapt to the ways of the white racist man. The notion of non-violence and freedom songs were oblivious to Malcolm X because he believed that, whites were still running rampant and doing whatever they felt was necessary to keep African-Americans subjacent. In addition, Malcolm X made the correlation between Mississippi and Harlem because, he believed racism had no jurisdiction in the America, what was going on in Mississippi was also taking place in Harlem U.S.A.
It was clear to me that Malcolm X was talking and raising awareness within the African-American community. This was a man of fortitude and intelligence and never shied away from telling his brethrens about the malicious acts of white towards African-Americans. I believed his speeches were both significant and effective because, his ideologies which some may say militant and hectic, gave birth to the likes of Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokley Carmichael just to name a few.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Post #2

    The first myth or misconception that came to my mind after reading the first chapter was the mistaken belief that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the sole entity to establish and lead the civil rights movements. I think it was very critical for Mr. Reed to delve into this misapprehension first because, throughout the years Dr. Martin Luther King’s name has become synonymous to the civil rights movements due to discrepancies within the educational systems and media outlets. It’s ashamed that prominent and heroic names and establishments such as Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Carmichael Stokely, Marcus Garvey, NAACP, and SNCC just to name a few, subtlety gets swept under a rug and thrown into oblivion. I believe the civil rights movement is just as important as WWI or WWII and ought to be taught in the same spectrum or realm. Not just Martin Luther King but many women and men gave their blood, sweat, and tears for a cause that helped shape society today, and it’s only right that these major figures get embedded in the minds of Americans.
    The second myth that caught my attention was role that women played during the civil rights movements. Along with the Dr. Martin Luther myth, I personally believe it is a disservice and a crime that women like Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Septima Clark didn’t get the recognition that they deserved. What Mr. Reed does in this chapter is compelling and phenomenal to show the readers the unfortunate scrutiny that both men and especially women went through as activist. Prior to reading this book I’ve learned about such names but never acquired the concrete knowledge about the momentousness role each individual played during the fight for equality and justice. These flaw claims that women never participated in the struggles just shows you how corrupt this nation really was.    

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Post #2

    In the first song which was performed by Billie Holiday in 1939, she emphasizes on the harsh brutalities endured by African-Americans while living in the south. At this time and age, African-Americans, were victimized by whites specifically lynched, because of their race, color, and creed. The melody is more of an morbid sound which entails a black cloud looming over African-Americans as they fight for equality and justice. The setting or performance to me seems like it's being done in the North, at a club and in front of an African-American audience. I believe it's performed in the North because, maybe she's trying to raise awareness about the inhumane acts done by whites against African-Americans.
    In the second song performed by Bernice Johnson Reagon, the tone is more uplifting and gospel/spiritual like. I interpret this song as unison and equality between both African-Americans and whites, as it is performed alongside two white people. A song like this would probably be performed at church or at a college campus to show that whites and African-Americans can coincide with each other.
    "If You Miss from the Back of the Bus" performed by the S.N.C.C.(Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers also has a uptempo and uplifting type of sound. To me it's a mixture of both swing and R&B with poignant lyrics about the boycott that took place in Montgomery, Alabama. The performance is being done at a church and can also be performed at protest rallies and college campuses.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

     "Eyes on the Prize" is a documentary series broadcasting the African-American Civil Rights Movement which entails, human stories of the movement for social change in the words of both famous and less-known participants. Since the documentary was completed, a number of key figures who appear in the film (including George Wallace, Ralph Abernathy, and Kwame Ture, also known as Stokely Carmichael) have died, making this record of their testimony all the more valuable.
     The two critical parts behind the driving force of the Civil Rights Movement was winning the case of, Brown vs. Board of Education and the brutal killing of Emmett Till. Before the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, schools throughout the all nation were segregated due to the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision of 1896 which permitted segregation. The victory of Brown vs. Board of Education was one element that accelerated the Civil Rights Movement.
     The brutal killing of Emmett Till was an important aspect to the Civil Rights Movements as well. Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy from the Chicago (The North) who traveled down to Mississippi to visit his family. During his visit, Emmett had went to a grocery store with his cousins and allegedly flirted with the store owners' wife whom was white. This lead to Emmett's kidnapping and unfortunate death to hands of Roy Bryant and half brother J.W. Milam. Emmett's Mother, Mammie Till Bradley, refused a burial and decided to have an open casket funeral to showcase the inhumane acts displayed by white men against African-Americans. The two men were found innocent in front of a all whit jury within 67 minutes of the trial. This uncivilized act raised awareness throughout the nation amongst African-Americans and it lead to the full throttle of the movement.
     I will like to learn more about the struggles and how the Civil Rights Movement lead us to having an African-American President. I want to learn about S.N.C.C. and the Black Panther Party and key figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael. I'm intrigued about this course and I will be delighted if you can teach me about the struggles that we minorities have faced throughout the years of our existence.