In this episode Kwasi brings back Dutty Bookman to discuss the movement he has helped dub as the Reggae Revival after a panel at SXSW 2027. He also speaks to Koro Fyah of the Bevel Rock camp about his ABC’s at SXSW as well. Bomani interviews the founder of the Uganda’s Bavubuka Foundation, Babaluku, and their chief archivist Gilbert Daniels about Hip-Hop in Uganda and the Lugaflow movement. Bomani and Kwasi also discuss spirituality in independent music, and how the community discusses things like sin. A must listen!
I had fun watching the RNC Convention. It was a welcome distraction from the late nights of work I had, and was as disturbing, jingoistic, xenophobic and factually incorrect as I suspected. Their most popular positive talking points were, “God is real”, “hard work pays off”, and “love your family”. Three things no one in America will argue with, and none of the 3 branches of government can do anything about, rendering them pointless. I was already aware of most of the views espoused by the RNC, but to see it produced on a stage, with a big screen behind it, and thousands of fellow Americans screaming in approval, sheds a new light on the reality. For the hell of it, let me summarize my favorite parts.
First, as a black man, and a student of history (I’m not Zinn, but I keep up) two statements struck me as completely incorrect and intolerant. In the closing prayer on the first night, the Greek Orthodox priest said, “America has always been a nation of peace” [paraphrase]. I don’t know where to begin on that one. I won’t even cite history, both current and centuries ago. Any 10th grader who has taken an American history class can refute that statement. The second quote, even more damning, and based in the same incorrect thinking was from Marc Rubio, “We are a uniquely blessed people”. That thinking is toxic. It’s why we invade countries that never attacked us. It’s the cause of manifest destiny and the Maafa (the slave trade) and the slaughter of millions. The idea that any group is “Gods chosen people” is unacceptable, and the root of much evil in the world. We should not let people state this without being challenged.
Next, the fact that Republicans lie or stretch the truth doesn’t bother me any more. They are politicians and lawyers. In all honesty, there are Democrats who lie just as frequently, and stretch the truth to meet their agenda. What bothers me about Republican falsehoods is when they obviously haven’t recognized them themselves, and state them in comical and ironic ways. The best example was Governor Chris Christie’s speech. Christie is, as advertised, a great speaker and an “every-mans man”. He seems to talk just like a Democrat in his philosophy, and as a Republican in his policies, I can see how he can be a red Governor in a blue state. His speech, like all of the speeches this week, was full of platitudes and unarguable truths about what it takes to be a good person. His story about his mother was a better olive branch to the women of America than all the other attempts by both men and women from that stage this week. I don’t have the transcript of his speech in front of me, but let me paraphrase the entire thing this way: Saying what is popular, just for people to love you, is fleeting and dishonest, please vote for Mitt Romney. Once again, irony is so thick I don’t want to waste time how a once moderate, pro-choice, universal health care advocate became a “severe conservative” over ten short years.
Clint Eastwood’s stand-up routine did the exact same thing as Christie’s speech. Clint seemed senile and nonsensical, as he did a ventriloquism routine without a dummy, or throwing his voice. To be honest, if he was a Democrat I would’ve laughed. But his most ironic statement was lost on the speaker and the crowd, “we do not have to be metal masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there…”. Statistically, Romney is the least popular man to ever get his parties nomination for President, and his campaign (and the super-pacs supporting him) have been dishonest and distasteful with their campaign advertisements. Most importantly though, Republicans obviously do not like him, they just settle for him because of his business experience and bank account. I can’t believe Clint said that, and no one noticed that it fit into the meme that is Mitt Romney.
Now to Mrs. Romney. Ann Romney’s futile attempt to humanize her husband was painful to watch. Her opening statement was, “I have not come to talk tonight about politics, or party”. My first thought was “Ann, this is the RNC convention. Why are you talking then?” She then proceeds to make a political speech disguised as the love story of her and her husband. She was obviously sent out there to prove that Republicans love and respect women. And when I say “obviously” I mean way to obviously. Her pauses for applause that never came, and her “we love you women!” plea for cheers seemed staged and awkward. I hated the dishonesty in the “this is not a political speech” comments she kept making. It was an attempt to shield her from the falsehoods that she stated in her blatantly political speech, and it worked. None of the pundits afterwards criticized anything she said, and that’s unfortunate. She made a political speech, at a political event, for her politician husband.
For my next and last trick, I want to post these two quotes from the SAME Mitt Romney speech last night, and try to see if you can make them fit together somehow, because I surely can’t.
“To be an American was to assume that all things were possible. When President Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon, the question wasn’t whether we’d get there, it was only when we’d get there.
The soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent’s sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.
God bless Neil Armstrong.
Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.”
Then he said (mocking the Presidents 2008 inauguration speech)
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”
Romney didn’t need to go into the whole spiel that Republicans have perfected about Obama’s poetic reference to our battle against global warming.
“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”
But my question is, how do those two statements work together? In the 1950’s and 60’s, Americans had, what up to that point was an impossible dream of reaching the moon, and through hard work and a firm grasp of science, accomplished something in the physical world that no one had previously thought possible. But when it comes to global warming Republicans claim that scientists are wrong, and even if they are right, stopping the warming in the world, and the melting of icecaps, is humanly impossible. Someone should ask Romney this conflict of logic in the debate, but unless “The Newsroom” anchor Will McAvoy is moderating, that won’t happen. The Republican parties disbelief in global warming, and the human ability to stop it, flies in the face of their self confessed patriotism, and the belief that Americans can do anything.
Well that’s it. The RNC was fun. I don’t know why they always go first with their convention. No matter what party you support, you have to admit that the DNC has better writers and more creative people (you know, college professors and Hollywood elites). Now they’ve seen the Republicans best and can respond. It’s not going to be fair. That will be my distraction for next week!