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!
floss looking boy, boss looking boy, at the bar showing off looking boy
that’s just a decoy for the pills you deployed took her home and enjoyed
rick ross lookin boy
ioeno why you free looking boy
rob women of their bodies looking boy
then treat her like a toy, are you trying to fill a void
i’ll leave that to Freud, lost me little boy
went from Hey ms. Parker looking boy
to creeping Darren sharper looking boy
the pills would stop her, from acting proper
she ain’t a willing partner but that you avoid
You like them drunk and sloppy looking boy
all up in her like a hemroid
no joke Bill Cosby looking boy
should be an autopsy looking boy
so what’s a date raper looking boy
if she don’t want it i’ll take her looking boy
they’re taking all her joy you a faker looking boy
could play shooting guard for the Lakers looking boy
i can get away with murder looking boy
Brock Turner, Mark Chmura, Rothlesberger looking boy
give the press a story and your fans annoyed
before you even know it her life is destroyed
she came in my room late night looking boy
yeah she put up a fight looking boy
she must be horny, all my fame and my glory
end up locked down, Iron Mike looking boy
funny all the excuses we employ
when you learn our heroes ain’t the real mccoy
she wake up on your pillow in the morning
she don’t remember, Cee-lo looking boy
Woody Allen and Soon Yi looking boy
Weak looking boy, sneak looking boy
Nasty R. Kelly looking boy
With a toot toot and a beep beep looking boy
wait for her after her school looking boy
think that we are fools looking boy
i’ll bend and break the rules looking boy
just to steal her family jewels looking boy
but let’s go a little farther with the story
famous we don’t even bother with the story
they’re supposed to be a father to the boy
Sandusky and Bambataa looking boy
rapist aren’t skulker looking boys
hyenas and vulture looking boys
we got to be more vocal with it boys
so I ask you how’s rape culture looking boys?
I’mma properly record these soon, but If i don’t just spit them out I’ll sit on them forever…
the war on drugs ain’t just reagan and nixon
the blood in my eye causes rose colored vision
so i approach the game like george jackson in san quentin
remind myself that patience has it’s limits
i peep democratic game plan and it’s gimicks
let’s start will Bill Clinton
played sax on arsenio, we all watched and listened
and said he’s blacker than kool-aid and fried chicken
create a trade agreement that depress the state of living
create a system
that put more black men under justice supervision
than there were slaves,
they make money off of prison
Bill was handing out years like handing out minutes
generations know their fathers from upstate visits
then wonder why the black community is diminished
cops hunt us with no limits
and harassment is infinite
screaming “black lives matter”, their confused like it’s physics
send the DOJ to baltimore and ferguson to witness
when they’re done the cops go right back to business
we looking at the Obama like “man, what is this?”
while he steadily explains and defends this
we’re try to break this, he’s trying to bend this
now we elect a president whose family did this
not mention bad decisions and shady stuff she been did
she apologize, we’re forced into forgiveness
scared of trump so we readily dismissed it
choose between a neoliberal and a nitwit
are you an educated voter or you getwit
i watch her run like a getfit
her down home talk, tossing us a biscuit
you say a third party can’t win this
but if not right now, when do we begin this
insanities is a certified sickness
it’s when you do the same thing and expect something different
Son, they shook
’cause if you out here voting for crooks
Scared to death, scared to look
’cause if you out here voting for crooks
Scared to death, scared to look
give back the life that they stole from us son
There’s numerous ways they abuse us to earn funds,
We get shot, locked down even when they’ve won
and still vote for them after the shit they’ve done
That ain’t the look son, you just a shook one,
There was no “Tamir Rice Case”. Tamir was not on trial nor did he commit a crime. Tamir was a 12 year old playing with a toy gun (in a state where white people are allowed to openly carry real guns) playing in a playground. This is case about Officer Timothy Loehmann, the City of Cleveland Police department and District Attorney’s office. Tamir Rice suffered from a sanctioned killing by the state, and I am one of millions of people trying to not go batshit crazy about it. Maybe find a life lesson from it to move on from.
The only new life lesson I could pull from the whole incident is to not be that 911 caller. Don’t be the adult who sees that a black child needs to be told a life lesson (in this instance not to play with toy guns as if they are real) and expect the police to come and do it for you. That is not the police officer’s job. “Serve and protect” is like “How ya doin?”. It’s just something you say. The police officer’s job is to be able to prove that they were afraid of a black male, justifying whatever action they take after that. There are officers who choose to go beyond that, and treat their black constituents like people, but all they are required to do to dodge indictment by the law is prove that the black person made them afraid enough to do it. “It”, meaning absolutely anything from beating to shooting them.
Seven years ago around this time, we had just elected a black president. I remember the buzz in the air that lasted long after election night. Everyone was trying to figure out the new world we were in, and just happy to have lived to see it. That year I ended up over my best friend’s house on the weekend after NYE to watch the Rose Bowl. I don’t remember anything about the game, except for that before the end of the 1st quarter the announcer pointed out the black head referee and said, “This is the first black man to be head referee at the Rose Bowl”. My boy and I looked at each other for second, serious screw faces and heads cocked sideways, then we burst out laughing. Full belly laughs. Not that we thought the first black referee at the Rose Bowl was a joke, just that all “first black” (or any black) accomplishments now paled in comparison to what we had just accomplished just weeks earlier. We had moved on in the last few months before that football game, where our goal posts for what we considered success and black historical relevance had changed. The same has happened to the art of black filmmaking.
I had the extreme pleasure of appearing on the Global African with Bill Fletcher Jr. Here is the video and the transcript of my interview. Click the link here to find out more about The Global African and the Real News Network!
BILL FLETCHER, HOST, THE GLOBAL AFRICAN: Today on The Global African, we’ll talk to D.C.-based artist Bomani Armah, and we’ll also look at African American-Palestinian solidarity. That’s today on The Global African. I’m your host, Bill Fletcher. Thanks for joining us. We’ll be right back.
~~~FLETCHER: Hip hop as an art form can be used to teach activism and science, creative writing skills and math. Some say it’s the language of our youth.Producer and poet Bomani Armah skillfully uses hip hop to teach young people the power of perspective and the importance of telling their own stories.
~~~BOMANI ARMAH: My name is Bomani Armah. I am not a rapper. I am a poet with a hip hop style.UNIDENTIFIED: Bomani, you say that you’re a poet with a hip hop influence,–ARMAH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.UNIDENTIFIED: –but not a rapper. Can you explain the distinction?ARMAH: Sure. So, I mean, I track my art form past hip hop. I love hip hop. You know what I’m saying? I grew up in it. But I track my art form past that. I connect myself to Langston Hughes. I connect myself to Shakespeare. You know what I’m saying? I can do a poetry reading. I can do it with a deejay. I can do it a cappella. But it’s about understanding and respecting the art form and using the words. And I love rappers. You know what I’m saying? Rappers are some of my favorite artists. But now when I would go in and teach young people and I would tell them I’m a rapper, they’re like, yo, where’s your chain? Where’s your car? And I’m like, oh, I’m not that kind of rapper. I’m a poet with a hip hop style. So it all kind of came together. Yeah.UNIDENTIFIED: That makes sense.ARMAH: Yeah.
~~~ARMAH: In hip hop you talk with your hands and your voice. One, two, three. [incompr.] You’re, like, right in front. Alright. Let’s try this. One, two, three. [incompr.]VOICEOVER: For many, the sum of hip hop today is what we see in popular culture: gold chains and fast cars. But there are artists like Bomani Armah who represent the hip hop community every day, teaching young people how to write, rocking stages at night, and producing albums for other artists. Bomani is a modern-day renaissance man, believing in music’s intrinsic spiritual power to move people with clever lyrics and strong beats. He gained national attention with his song “Read A Book”,–
Read a book, read a book, read a mother– book
Read a book, read a book, read a mother– book
–encouraging young people to read, while also teaching [incompr.] the importance of satire by examining how hip hop culture shows up in mainstream media. The sum of his work shows us that he is in fact an artist who embodies the power and style of hip hop, the social responsibility of teacher, and the wisdom and observation of poet.
~~~FLETCHER: We’re joined for this segment with Bomani Armah, who is a Washington, D.C., based self-identified poet with a hip hop style, who’s also known for a 2007 single “Read A Book”. He is a teaching artist, a producer, and homeschools his twin sons Olu [spl?] and Dela [spl?]. Welcome to The Global African.
ARMAH: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
FLETCHER: You don’t like to be or don’t want to be identified as a rapper.
ARMAH: Well, yeah. So, I mean, that began because I started doing spoken word poetry before I started doing hip hop. But I was always doing my poetry to a rhyme, but not on beat. And so I started doing that just as an homage, I guess, to rappers, didn’t think I’m not trying to do the same thing. But then I started really getting serious about hip hop. But the students I would teach, I would come into class and they’d be like, where’s your gold chain? Where’s your car? So I’m like, well, I’m not a rapper. You know what I’m saying? It started meaning that a little bit.
ARMAH: I think it’s the duty of the poet, especially in the tradition of black poets, to shed light on the community that you’re in and to give a vision of the community that you want. I mean, like, once again, Langston Hughes is one of the biggest examples of that.
FLETCHER: When you mentioned Langston Hughes, so my great-grandfather was a major pre-Harlem Renaissance poet, author. His name was William Stanley Braithwaite. And I’ve read a number of his poems, and there’s a complete contrast between his more generally socially progressive commitment and his poetry. It’s not reflected in much of his poetry. His poetry is almost 19th century British in some ways. Hughes, on the other hand, very much integrated his critique of the situation facing people of African descent into his poetry. And that struggle seems to be a struggle that is faced by many artists in black America.
ARMAH: Mhm. Well, Langston and the people that were part of the Harlem Renaissance movement were completely a part of a lot of things going on. They were part of the blues tradition, which is very raw about the realities of people’s lives. They were part of the activism against–the anti-lynching campaign. When a black man was getting lynched every two or three days, it was the poets, it was the artists who were making mention of it in everything they could write, everything they could sing. He was very much an active communist. You know what I’m saying? And communists at the time were very much about using every form of entertainment and propaganda to get their message out. So the idea that your art is directly connected with some kind of social issue, I mean, you couldn’t avoid it in the time that Langston was doing it. I honestly don’t think you can avoid it now. One of the reasons that I guess I probably separate myself from the commercial aspect of hip hop is, like, we’ve been at war for 15 years. We’ve been at war–for a lot of the young people that I work with, we’ve been–maybe not 15, 13 years, the majority of their lives. I can’t tell you the popular song that made it to radio in hip hop addressing the war in any way. You know what I’m saying? Like, we, as a–commercially, not as a culture–the culture has been making a lot of noise about it, but commercially there is no recognition in hip hop of a battle that we have been fighting, that almost 1 million people have lost their lives over in Iraq.
FLETCHER: In the late ’60s, early ’70s you had the predecessors of hip hop, The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, highly political in their art. But at a certain point there’s, like, a divergence that seems to happen of this tradition.
ARMAH: Completely. And, I mean, I would throw other artists in there. James Brown is one of the godfathers of hip hop. I honestly think, just because I’ve been overdosing on his music, like, the humanity that I hear in Bill Withers’ writing is, like, the same kind of humanity I hear in Tupac’s writing. You know what I’m saying? Very much can relate. “I Ain’t Mad At Cha”, is, like, one of the best songs ever, and it’s about recognizing that you’ve gone to a different place in life but you still love your friends. Even if it’s not, like, anti-drugs or violence or something, it’s understanding the humanity of people, right? And watching Bill Withers and watching Gil Scott-Heron talk about their careers, they always talk about them reaching a point where people wanted to put them in the R&B category, the same struggle Marvin Gaye was going through when no one wanted to put out “What’s Going On”. You know what I’m saying? They want to completely make him R&B. And there’s ways you can do both. There are always ways you can do both. I mean, I was talking to a good friend of mine. He’s a banjo player in a folk band. And we were talking about the common connections of all folk art is, when it comes down to it, it’s about telling women to shake their backside, no matter what culture you come from, right? But they also, also incorporate the struggles they’re having with the crops, the struggles they’re having, you know what I’m saying, trying to recognize whatever culture they’re in. So it’s all–it’s got to be a part of the entire human experience. And yet commercial music always wants to cut off that one half of you. And my favorite artists always fight against that.
FLETCHER: Let me ask you a question that I’ve been grappling with. A lot of my work has been in the trade union movement.
ARMAH: Okay.FLETCHER: And much of the culture within the trade union movement seems frozen in time. When you have performances, for example, at union rallies, it’s folk music, 1930s, 1940s. A
RMAH: Mhm. Guitar.
FLETCHER: That’s right, guitar, guitar solo. You know.
ARMAH: Right, right, right, right, right, right.
FLETCHER: But it seems frozen. And I’m trying to understand why that happened. But I’m also trying to understand someone like yourself. What would be your critique and what would you say to such a movement about a kind of–some sort of cultural renovation?
ARMAH: Well, you know, it’s interesting. So the single that I put out a couple of years ago, it’s a song called “Late Shift”, and it’s about people who work two jobs, you know, more than 60, 70 hours a week. And, actually, I got a chance to perform that at a couple of different union-related benefits, and they all loved it. But it was an interesting dichotomy or difference between that and the other performers that would come up. And I definitely think all movements need to embrace especially youth culture, popular culture. I love, you know, being PG County, Washington, D.C., I love bounce beat. I’m a little older than the kids in D.C. who are doing go-go bounce beat, but the actual rhythm of it is powerful. If you see the kids in PG County and D.C. move to it, you understand that it’s powerful. And finding a way to incorporate that sound into the songs that we do about our reality–. I got blessed into a project with Chuck Brown’s band and some members of the Free Minds Book Club, which is incarcerated youth who were part of a book and writing club in prison, and then they stay in it when they come out. And we took a bounce beat and made it about what they’re doing [snip] FLETCHER: Now, you are involved in various ways in the Black Lives Matter movement.
ARMAH: I’m–I would say no. I’m very much involved in the black community. I’m very proud to be black. And I’m not a protester. Martin Luther King used to tell the protesters that if you can’t promise that no matter what happens you’re not going to be violent, please don’t come. And I took that to heart. And so I don’t really show up at the protests. But I am behind the idea of people mobilizing and getting their voice out. Black Lives Matter feels wrong coming out of my mouth, just the actual phrase. The concept works with me, but saying Black Lives Matter feels like saying water is wet. Like, it should just be like–you know what I’m saying? Like, that can’t be my–I’m human is not my rallying cry. That was my grandfather’s rallying cry, that was my father’s rallying cry till he was, like, 25 or 30. But it’s my generation’s being like my life matters and you’re going to respect that. You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to ask you for it; I’m going to demand that. And so I’m with the movement in the sense that I stand understand what they’re trying to accomplish, but, yeah, that’s not a strong enough statement for me in that sense.
FLETCHER: So two things. Well, so (A) maybe you need to amend the statement, right?
ARMAH: Uh-huh.FLETCHER: But the other thing that I would say about Black Lives Matter is that the part of what I think is important about the statement is that it is actually an anti-genocidal statement. In other words, it’s not simply–.
ARMAH: But I don’t know if you can ask to not be killed off.
FLETCHER: No, no, no. But I don’t think it’s asking. I think it’s an assertion.
ARMAH: It’s an assertion.
FLETCHER: Yeah. It’s an assertion. I don’t think it’s, like, asking, please don’t kill us, right? I think it’s more–I mean, this is the way I interpret it–
ARMAH: I gotcha.
FLETCHER: –is that it’s an assertion that, yes, we are humans, we are not going to be killed off, right, that it’s actually an interesting assertion around the whole concept of race, in that what race and racism does is that it basically says that there is a relevant and an irrelevant population. There’s one population whose experiences are important and another who’s not, right? So in that sense I think of black lives matter as saying, yes, we are human; we are not going to be the victims of genocide. Something like that.
ARMAH: I agree with you. And I’ve never–like, I’ve–kind of write extensively on social media and my own blogs about what I see going on in the movement, and I appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong. Like–.
FLETCHER: No, no. I gotcha.
ARMAH: But I guess–so my amendment would be the “I wish a MF-er would movement”. You know what I’m saying? Like, I want to set up a scenario where that can’t happen, you know what I’m saying, where we’re not asking you to please recognize that this 17-year-old black boy is just as valuable as that 15-year-old white girl that went missing that you showed the pictures.
FLETCHER: How do you recommend integrating the cultural perspective, the artistic perspective that you’re offering into political activism?
ARMAH: I know personally one of the ways that I have learned to create my art and do my art activism and education together is to go to meetings and organizations like you’re talking about and have us write a song together, to have a brainstorming session where we’re talking about it. So it’s not–I’m a big fan of Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. And one of his–the biggest concept that sticks to my head about that is not going to these communities and telling them what their problems are, not assuming that I know just because–. Even, like, my experience with the Baltimore riots. And I think sometimes artists, or just activists in general, like, think they can represent–they think they understand what a particular movement is because they’ve seen Eyes on the Prize or something like that or they’ve read some headlines. And I think we have to integrate ourselves into that community.
FLETCHER: Bomani Armah, thank you very much for joining us. And we definitely need to stay in touch.
ARMAH: Cool. Definitely. Thank you. I appreciate it. FLETCHER: Thanks very much.
ARMAH: No problem.FLETCHER: Take care. And thank you very much for joining us for this segment of The Global African. I’m your host, Bill Fletcher. And we’ll be back in a moment. Don’t go anywhere.
What are we marching for?
When I ask this question I am not being satirical. I’m not being an asshole trying to demean the efforts of thousands walking down the street with a backhanded question. I really want to know. I have the utmost respect for people who put their time, energy and body on the front line of non-violent protest.
My fear is that due to the one-dimensional way that the civil rights movement is taught, most of the people activated to do something about obvious injustice don’t know the art and science of the marches they admire in grainy black and white videos of Dr. King. They don’t know that the major aim of Dr. King’s marches was to embarrass the federal government (which was working relentlessly to claim it was more progressive than communist countries) into taking action. On top of that, not all the grainy black and white films are of marches or of King/NAACP/SCLC marches. There are dozens of strategies that marches work for, and not all of them are to beg the Federal government to do something about the local governments.
Are we marching like Garvey?
Garvey inspired young people to galvanize into a nation and repatriate to a nation that recognizes our humanity from its inception. Garvey was not asking for anything from the government. He was trying to show his people the strength they had in numbers, and the pride and real progress they could garner if they banned together as a nation.
Are we marching like Malcolm?
The Nation of Islam (then as now) can be seen marching in formation all over the country in black neighborhoods, but never to ask the government for anything. Their strategy for marching was to let the people in their black neighborhoods know that they were there, they were organized, they were disciplined, and they were going to control their own neighborhoods. This tactic would do the people of Ferguson well, considering that they have almost no representation on the city council or the police department.
Are we marching like Huey P Newton?
The Black Panther Party was marching, in the infamous footage we always see of them with guns, specifically as a counter to the police department. As you may know, the outlandish rate at which black men met untimely demise at the hands of law enforcement is hardly a new phenomenon. Now we simply have video cameras in everyone’s pocket, and social media so we can skip over the racist gatekeepers of national media. The Panthers wanted the police to know that they were armed and ready to die defending their families from the police. Republican icon Ronald Reagan even changed California gun laws to combat the radical idea that men and women were not going to simply be victims of the Oakland police department any more.
But let’s say we are marching like Dr. King. A noble cause, that forwarded the plight of black people in this country when it comes to blatant Jim Crow discrimination (but not financial discrimination or law enforcement discrimination). Can we expect the federal government to step in the way it did for them? We aren’t protesting against local election boards, or retail shops, or public transportation. We are protesting against law enforcement: The blue line and the originators of the “no snitching” rule. We cannot expect the National Guard to be called out on our behalf the way Kennedy and Johnson did for King and all the others who forcibly integrated the South. The National Guard has been called, not to defend us but to control us because we have a problem with unarmed black men being killed. What use is it trying to get the federal government involved if the President considers himself proof that institutional racism isn’t an issue any more? Obama is the black president who believes that being “neutral” means being “not-black” even on issues like police brutality. What other President could stay so quiet about an issue that affects a demographic that voted for him at a rate of the mid to upper 90 percentile?
For the past several weeks I’ve been joking from the stage and online about waiting for the “I wish a mufucka would” march. It becomes increasingly clear that this is what needs to happen though. Police and District Attorney’s are a team, together called Law Enforcement. They would like to keep the precedent that if they can claim a civilian resisted arrest in any form, that civilian’s death is justified. We can tell by the Eric Garner video that this idea simply isn’t true. Unless you truly believe a young Mike Brown (with his whole life ahead of him) committed suicide by police because he got caught with a five-dollar box of cigarillos, the argument that a wounded man 100 feet away was an imminent threat is garbage as well.
We know from our history that Dr. King’s marches had no effect on one of his main causes. The march on Washington was a march for “Jobs and Justice”. Black unemployment rate is still twice that of whites, and our median income gap between blacks and whites is greater than it was in South Africa at the height of apartheid. Marches, like the ones Dr. King lead, make the federal government react to the appearances of racism, but not the systematic racism that this country was based on.
Should we march? Yes. I was at the Million Man March, and it was one of the most important moments of my life. We weren’t marching asking for anything though. We were marching to show ourselves our strength in numbers, and to promise each other we would strengthen our communities. We should march to galvanize our communities and to insist amongst ourselves that law enforcement comes from our communities, not the occupying armies that exist in Ferguson and NY. Marching to activate others to our aid will not work.
Social media has been great for the black community in the last couple of years. People are under the false impression that the killings of unarmed black men has been on the rise but, if you check the statistics, it has happened consistently throughout our history. What has changed is that now social media means we don’t have to wait for traditional mass media to report these incidents. The people on the ground have control of the story, and can broadcast it to as many people as they would like. Social media isn’t going to solve this age old American problem, but it has made it impossible to ignore. The rage on display in Ferguson is the result of years of abuse. The geography of Ferguson puts in smack in the middle of the country, the easiest location from people from all corners of the continental U.S. to come and
In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
It’s amazing the things people discover by accident. Discovering that my sons where learning the poem that began with those lines was the end of my children’s public education. You see, I don’t pay attention to Columbus Day. Other than wishing there was a hell for him to burn in every October 12th, I could care less about the man and the day dedicated to him. So when I decided to pop in on my sons’ class a year ago today, it was not to make some social political statement about the use of erroneous history in our school systems. I didn’t even realize the date yet. Being self-employed just gave me the luxury to find out how they were adjusting to being in the same class.
We had been trying to keep the twins in different rooms, letting them develop their own personalities and reputations separately. These early years are the most important ones for children to discover themselves. In Pre-K a teacher notoriously said to me “Your son hit Mary during recess”, to which I responded “Which son?” and she answered, “I don’t know, one of them”. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to say that to me. What was I supposed to do with that information? Was I supposed to punish both of them? My sons are twins, and I don’t expect people who see them on only Thanksgiving and Christmas to tell them apart, but this was their teacher. Their differences are obvious, from the shapes of their faces, their height and build, the sounds of their voices, and their general approach to life.
Here in the 1st grade, they had both tested into the T.A.G. (Talented and Gifted) class, and there was only one of those classes in the school. We could have picked which one was going to stay in the class, to keep them separated, but then that seemed unfair to the one not getting the more rigorous education. Their mom and I aren’t the easiest parents to deal with in the public school system setting. We have our own ideas about what was appropriate for our children, going as far as telling the teacher and principal in kindergarten not to expect our sons to have their homework done all the time. It was just too much, and we planned on letting them just be 5. Our belligerence might have been more bearable if we weren’t so active, but at least twice a month both of us where in the classroom, and Eshe was volunteering so much at the school that she went on field trips with children that weren’t even her own.
So here they were at the beginning of the school year, in the same classroom, with an obviously talented and caring teacher. She was 8 months pregnant when the school year started, and was counting down the days to leave. You could feel it in the air. So when she was replaced by a long term substitute, a retired teacher they brought back for the months the original teacher was on maternity leave, we weren’t upset about it. She was old school. I don’t think she had the energy to have lasted the whole year but she was a loving and determined teacher, giving the kids all she had for the few months she was substituting. On the day I happened to walk into the classroom, she had just started the day’s lesson on Christopher Columbus.
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!
As an educator myself, I know that the 1492 poem isn’t used in schools any more. At least not used in schools where the parents of the students actually read books like Zinn’s “A People’s History”. Maybe (shoot probably) in places like Texas, where they have replaced the term “slave holders” with “planters” in the history books, they still have their students read fanciful recollections of our countries glorious founding. But in Maryland you won’t find the 1492 poem unless it has been heavily edited to be more factually correct. My sons joined their classmates in working on the handouts the teacher on maternity leave had left. It was pretty much factual. Columbus set sail and landed in the Bahamas. It didn’t go into how much of a mistake it was, maybe just mentioning it. I would have had my students using a thesaurus to find new synonyms for “dumb-ass” to describe Columbus, but I had missed my chance to be the radical teacher. This is the reality we are faced with. This is the education my children are going to receive, and I have to find ways to augment it separately. Then the substitute, in what she thought was a stroke of genius, pulled out the teaching material she had been using her whole career to teach about Columbus. She passed this lie of a poem to every student in the classroom. Me, trying to stay cool and remember the rules of observing a class, waited until she was by herself to tell her that I am positive she is not supposed to use this poem. “It isn’t true” I tell her. “But it rhymes, so it’s easy to remember, and the kids love it!” she says with a smile. I’m a smart ass, with a desire to argue and debate in the marrow of my bones. I have no idea how I was able to let her say that and not respond. She didn’t say “no, it is true” she said “but it rhymes, it’s easy to remember and the kids love it”. I could have had a field day on her ass. That would have made me the angry black radical in her class. I didn’t have time for that.
I pulled Olu and Dela to the side instead, kneeled down real low so I could look them in their eyes, and said “hey guys, you are doing a great job in class today. I just want you to know that this poem about Columbus is bullshit (I’ve taught my sons that curse words should be used sparingly, and to only accentuate an important point) and Columbus was one of the worst people. Ever! We’ll talk about it more later”.
This Columbus Day gaffe strikes extra close to home, and made me feel even more convicted about my initial promise to homeschool my children, because at one point I was training to be a high school history teacher. Back in the 1996, I was a wide eyed freshman at the University of Maryland, who knew deep in his heart all he wanted to be was a teacher. After enrolling in the school of education as a secondary ed and history major, I had all the fanciful dreams of teaching kids the “real” history of America. These dreams came to a screeching halt when I had a conversation in 1997 with one of my frat brothers’ mother who was a teacher. I gave her my pie in the sky reasoning for teaching kids history and she tells me, “you are going to be frustrated your whole career. You won’t be allowed to teach history the way you are imagining it. There is going to be a curriculum and a script you must stick to, and that’s it”. I discovered that being a public school teacher wasn’t for me. I can’t live other people’s inconsistencies. Maybe my own, but being paid to teach children something I didn’t believe would have driven me mad.
“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.
This sent my young idealistic mind into a tail spin that I have never recovered from. Trust me, my closest friends and the people I admire most are educators. Our nations school system is setup to teach our children “what to think” more than it is “how to think”, but teachers everywhere (especially here in the state of Maryland) are dedicated to giving students comprehension tools and life lessons beyond the facts that are crammed into their heads to pass standardized tests. I have no fear that my children would be okay in the public school system, but my goal for my children is for them to be more than okay. I don’t want my sons to discover the African diaspora, and the world before European domination at a later age. I want them to know the history of where they are from first, and learn this alien system second. Discovering later what it means to be part Cape Verdean, descendants of West Africans, part Native American people of South Carolina, and how these people had their own civilizations before being virtually annihilated by those who followed Columbus, is not the perspective I want for them. Discovering that I had forfeited control of the process was too much for me to handle. Realizing that the school hadn’t even started deifying the slave-holding founding fathers was giving me nightmares.
By some stroke of fate I had stumbled into my children’s class on the right day. But unlike Christopher Columbus, stumbling like a toddler onto the “new world” and destroying it, I discovered my reasons for originally wanting to homeschool. This forced me to rededicate myself to that mission. Homeschooling has not been easy. I am still learning how to balance my business and homeschooling, with homeschooling being the top priority. But I have discovered many resources and a village of people willing to help our children become the people we know they can be. I hope to share more of that in this blog and in my art as we discover new ways to see the world. But today I thank Columbus, well, the teacher who shouldn’t have had my sons read that Columbus poem. It was the discovery I needed.
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.
At four o’clock Eshe called me with anger in her voice “I can’t believe the teacher gave them that damn 1492 poem! They had it in their hands when they left the building. I took it out of their hands and ripped it up. I’m sure all the other parents thought I was crazy. I don’t even care! I told them that this wasn’t true and they said ‘I know, Daddy already told us’. Remember when we were talking about homeschooling?”
I’ve spent my adult life working with young black men, from all economic and social backgrounds, arming them with the rules I have learned to navigate the bi-polar United States that we live in. This world is a complicated matrix of social constructs and unjust laws, a matrix my peers and our elders thought we at least understood (though we haven’t mastered). We knew who the enemy was and how to avoid them. We recognized, painfully, that some were going to be casualties, collateral damage, in this struggle. Some would fall victim to the stray bullet in gang related drive by. Some would have their wallet mysteriously confused for a gun by police. That not withstanding, we knew what neighborhoods to tell them to avoid, what colors not to wear, and how to talk to a badge-carrying officer of the law. This complicated matrix was a math equation we taught in our schools, churches, and after school program. But now, just like “The Matrix” (the popular turn of the millennium movie) this equation we thought we had figured out has an Agent Smith. More accurately, an Agent Zimmerman.
(scroll down to see a performance and music video from Omekongo)
Introduction: Welcome to the even place. My name is Bomani Armah. We are taping my show today called ‘The Indie’. We’re talking about independent thought, independent business, independent art—got one of my favorite independent people sitting here next to me, Mr. Omekongo Dibinga. Say hello to the people.
Omekongo: Hello people, how are you doing?
Bomani: Alright now Omekongo—if you don’t know, you really need to get familiar with this brother. As long as I’ve been doing the music and poetry scene, he has been in it and he has been one of my favorite poets, favorite activist. He’s always on top of some issue where he’s traveling the country and the world talking it through his art form and his motivational speaking. And today we brought him here to talk about a couple of different things. One is his latest video which is “It’s a Girl” which I was actually really proud to be a part of and also the End of Silence Campaign—I see you’ve got the cool t-shirt on there. So, tell us a little bit about yourself. Let’s start from the beginning; who and what does Omekongo Dibingo do?
Omekongo: First of all, thanks for having me on the show.
Bomani: You’re more than welcomed.
Omekongo: For all of you out there, I’m a kid who grew up in Boston Massachusetts, son of Congolese immigrants and I started writing as a tool to escape. I was bullied a lot. People used to pick on us because we’re African. They used to hate on our names—Tarzan references, writing just became my escape. I discovered people like Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. They were talking about Africa being beautiful so I started memorizing their stuff until I felt mature enough to write my own in the 4th or 5th grade. And from there, I just started writing with one hope. The one hope was that people would hear what I’m saying and stop bullying me, stop picking on me and really be interested in my story. The more I shared, the more they were interested in my story and the more they were to share their story and as they say the rest is history.
So, I’m here with my family and co-conspirators putting together this years Malcolm X Birthday Celebration, and we realized why this is such an important event for us. There should be more opportunities in our community to reflect on our shared legacy of struggle against oppression, celebrate our abilities and potential as a people, and recharge our emotional batteries for the long struggle we still have ahead of us. What better way to do that than a party celebrating the life of Malcolm X! As much as our iconic imagery of the man is his fiery speech and opposition to American imperialism, his true goal was to create a strong community. This community exists today, even if not in the size that we would like it. We should celebrate that. The thought of celebrating that has created a level of excitement from everyone involved that is palpable.
We really want to have a great time with with the entire community at Malcolm X’s Birthday Celebration at Sankofa Video & Books Cafe on May 19th. Would you mind helping us do that? There are hundreds of ways you could help, but we’ve narrowed it down to five.
1. Come Out and Party
Come nod your head, listen close, scream “Amen”, hug somebody, shake a hand, shake ya booty, eat some food, drink some drinks, smile at a bunch of people who respect what Malcolm X stood for, and meet someone new.
2. Volunteer at the Party
You can read a speech excerpt, help the setup team, grab some flyers to pass out at your school or job or neighborhood, or a hosts of other things. Contact me ASAP and we’ll welcome you to the team in what ever way you’d like.
3. Tell Your Friends
Just pass this message to people you know would appreciate this event. Even if you can’t make it yourself, pass it to that buddy who likes positive, family friendly entertainment and a good time. Take a moment now. It would just take hitting the “share” or “forward” button. Your friend will thank you later.
4. Buy Tickets to the After Party
If you haven’t seen Head Roc, Radio Rahim, or me do my thang with Immaletchufinish up close and personally, you should just put down a twenty do that. If that’s not enough incentive, the proceeds from the after party are going to fund the free show that happens earlier in the day. All are welcome to come to this event, but if you can help support the event by buying a ticket you are an extra big help to the cause! http://malcolmxcelebration.eventbrite.com/#
For all of our friends and family who are out of town or working during that time, or maybe just want to put a dollar in the bucket, here is your chance to do so! We cannot make events like this happen with out you. Thanks http://malcolmxcelebration.eventbrite.com/#
As always, thank you for supporting the art that supports you. I will see you soon!
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war…” – Emperor Haile Selassie
This past Friday I had a great time raising money for medical relief in Gaza following the latest bombardment of the Palestinians there by the U.S. backed Israeli military. There never seems to be enough that I can do for any of the wars I’m passionate about ending, but right now I make my strongest contribution to the movements through art and writing.
In front of a large crowd in the basement of St. Stephens Church in NW (a bastion of people led social movements in the city) Radio Rahim led a benefit event full of people standing solidly with Gaza. Radio Rahim is the man! With just one weeks notice, he brought people out and raised some real money for medical relief in Gaza. His boom-bap style of hip-hop was so on point my sons couldn’t help but break dance during his whole set. Alternative hip-hop band Leftist held it down! Deen is one of the coolest and personable front men you ever wanna see, and his bass and guitar players are Centaurs so you know they put on a show. Head Roc only solidified his position as D.C.’s official voice of resistance. Most emcees have to hunt down their sociopolitical material, Heady just does his joints from Negrophobia and this new album (that I’ve heard, but you haven’t yet) and he’s guaranteed to be relevant. I played the hell out of the air guitar that night. The Grammies should add a “best air guitar in a live hip-hop performance” category, give me the award for the next 3 years. … Continue Reading
“…See I don’t want him, if he ain’t made no arrangement with you/ I hope you would’ve done the same thing for me too” – Erykah Badu from “Booty”
Can we stop lying to ourselves for a moment? Can we stop pretending like it’s some historical anomaly for the most power military general on the face of the planet to be having sex with more than one woman? We would do better as a society if we’d stop lying to ourselves about monogamy.
…I’m sorry. I wanted to start this story off with some cute antidote, or a lighthearted take on this situation, but this has gotten out of hand. Especially considering that this is the conversation we are having about Petreaus, and national security, at the time that we have a war going on in Afghanistan and bombings going on in Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Compared to great military leaders from the Bible like David & Solomon, Petreaus is a freakin’ saint. … Continue Reading
“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord! Please don’t let me be misunderstood” – Please Don’t let me be Misunderstood Written by B. Benjamin, G. Caldwell and S. Marcus
Consider what it would be like, if your religion taught that you were cursed at birth? To know that what you are at your core is deformed, inferior. Stereotyped and compartmentalized. What would it be like to be persecuted for being you in public? You are the downfall of man. Like generations of your kind, for millenniums before you, you learn to stay covered. You try to explain to the rough and tumble men who run the world, that this is just who you are. To explain that, by sheer evidence of your life, you are as loved by their god, and necessary to their gods plan, as anyone else. Mothers and fathers prayed to this god, to not give birth to the likes of you. Fathom what it would be like if your government upheld that religious view of you and your 2nd class citizenship. Imagine going through the court system and the electoral process to be granted legal rights everyone else was granted without question. Imagine, if you were a woman.
I know. It’s hard for many people to wrap their minds around that idea. American society, and Western understanding of Christianity has evolved a lot since the days the bible was written. It has matured since the days when Emperor Constantine converted. It has advanced from a time when Martin Luther nailed that letter on the church door.
Which is why we must evolve and vote yes for Question 6 in Maryland. Considering that the only reason to vote no for Question 6 is a religious one, the question should not be on the ballot at all. If your reasoning for a law boils down to belief in your religion, it is immediately unconstitutional. But even more damning to your argument, is that you already disagree with the bible about a whole bunch of things, especially God ordained genocide Deuteronomy 3:6. Take a look at how the Christian church, and the governments they controlled, treated women in before the 1400’s. Aren’t you glad we ignore the bible’s mandates? We decided long ago that a man couldn’t escape being punished for rape leading to pregnancy by paying a fine to her father or marrying his victim Deuteronomy 22:28-29. If your women come to church without their heads covered, in full make up and jewelry, or if you let women have any speaking rolls in the services, you have already defied direct instructions of the bible 1 Timothy 2:8-14. … Continue Reading
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson
Last spring my twin sons were learning how to identify coins in their kindergarten class. I was excited to help them, so I pulled out a bunch of change from my pocket and started explaining who all the Presidents were on the coins. “Most of them were slave owners,” I said. “That means they were white?” my son Dela said. “Yes”, I replied. Then Olu (with an honestly confused look on his face) asked, “They let white people be President?”
This is the world we live in now. A completely topsy-turvy world from the one I was born into. A world where there are children who do not know life before a black President. In this new world, our sitting president got his ass handed to him in a debate. Not in factual statements, as his defenders accurately screamed louder on Thursday than anything Obama said on Wednesday night, but in debating skills and just straight up attitude. (For the record, the art of debating has nothing to do with truth or righteousness, its about your ability to be convincing in stating your point. That’s why in debate class they always randomly assign each team their side to defend randomly. The winner is the one who shows the most skill, not who represents the “correct” side.) People have been trying to figure out why. Was he to busy being President to prepare the way Romney could? Was it his 20th wedding anniversary distracting him? Was it (in King of horrible excuses Al Gore’s words) the mile-high air of Denver that threw him off? No. It was because Obama and his team still think, incorrectly, that America is not ready for an aggressively litigating black man as President. … Continue Reading
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~ Mark Twain
When it’s all said and done, I’ll blame my Presidential vote on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa being such a horrible party host. When I tuned into the DNC’s big convention party, I was rudely reminded that it was a party about a game. That should have been fine. I’ve been tailgating before. I’ve cheered crushing blows and cringed at horrific injuries while inhaling beer and chips, but until this point I considered the game I was participating in to be much more cerebral. “This is chess not checkers” as Denzel Washington so famously said in Training Day. There I was, with my beer with chips and salsa, politely smiling and making small talk about how great a party it was. I was ready to move my pawn anywhere necessary to win this game, when Mayor Villaraigosa introduced the former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to make this addition to the Democratic Party Platform:
“This summer, I was proud to serve this party as the platform drafting committee chair. As the chair, I come before you today to discuss two important matters related to our party’s national platform. As an ordained United Methodist minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we’ve expressed in our party’s platform. In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and our party’s platform should, as well. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing, and I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates.”
Cool. Whatever. Sometimes in political chess, you have to let the Bishop do what it’s going to do to make sure you win. I would’ve voted (in the words of the late great Whitney Houston) “Hell to the Naw!” on both parts of that platform amendment. But I was prepared to lose those pieces off the board in order to win the game. Then, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s (turning from party host to game referee) let this painful moment happened: … Continue Reading
E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist. He is the board chairperson of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). He is a board member of The Writer’s Center and editor of Poet Lore magazine. Since 1974, he has been the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. Mr. Miller is the former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. and a former core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. … Continue Reading
Let’s get ready to rumble! In this corner we have the “Grand Ol’ Party”, the people who brought you Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. The party responsible for preserving the Union and shifting all the money and power to the top of it. Representing them is the richest man to ever run for president and the first Mormon to ever make it to this stage of the election, Mitt Romney. In the opposite corner we have the Democrats. The people who brought you FDR and and JFK. Yes, they are the more hip party, hence the 3 letter acronyms for their POTUSes (for some reason it feels like that the plural should be “POTI”). Representing them is the first, the one, and the only, foreign-born-socialist-muslim-sleeper-cell incumbent president Mr. Barack Hussein Obama.
What’s more important than the combatants in this duel, is their respective philosophical corner men, represented by Darwin and Jesus. That’s right, Charles Darwin, the scientist who authored the theory of evolution and Jesus the Christ of Nazareth, the Jewish Rabbi who Christians believe is the Son of God and whose death freed mankind from their sins. Their philosophies, on science and religion respectively, have been transposed to fit any and every ethical and financial situation in daily American life, but you’d be surprised at which party leans more towards one of these timeless icons over the other! Republicans seem to believe in Jesus and practice “Economic Darwinism” while Democrats believe in Darwin and a “What Would Jesus Do” economic system. … Continue Reading
Christylez Bacon (pronounced: chris-styles) is a GRAMMY Nominated Progressive Hip-Hop artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, DC. As a performer, Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics.
With a mission towards cultural acceptance and unification through music, Christylez is constantly pushing the envelope – from performances at the National Cathedral, to becoming the first Hip-Hop artist to be featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, composing and orchestrating an entire concert for a 12-piece orchestra commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institute, or recording a Folk/Hip-Hop children’s album.
The Angle is an eclectic documentary series that features a different topic, person, place or thing affecting American Culture each week, exploring subjects from a variety of angles or perspectives. The series covers a wide range of topics, from food and sex, to religion and modern politics. Personalities run the gamut from intellectuals and activists to artists and the girl next door.
Unlike your typical documentary series, our commentary doesn’t come strictly from experts, but also from everyday people who offer their insights and criticisms, and share their candid opinions, artistic expressions and true life stories as they pertain to each week’s topic.
The Angle enables more voices to be heard, and we don’t shy away from controversy. Prepare to be entertained, inspired and even offended. We are always looking for real world people with interesting stories, ideas, or artistry to contribute to future episodes. Do you have something to say? Then tell us, what’s your angle?
Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place. First established in 2005 Busboys and Poets was created by owner Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist and restaurateur. After opening, the flagship location at 14th and V Streets, NW (Washington DC), the neighboring residents and the progressive community, embraced Busboys, especially activists opposed to the Iraq War. Busboys and Poets is now located in three distinctive neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area and is a community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers.
I had a great time last night at performing with my good friends Sahel, Christylez Bacon and Evelyn Kingada-Njuko at Busboys & Poets for the Global African Diaspora Summit. This event, sponsored by the South African Embassy, was a great fusion of artistic expression from throughout the diaspora and inspirational words from the ambassador of South Africa, Ebrahim Rasool. I wrote an original poem for the event, and started off the evening by reciting it. Check it out below. I’m looking forward to the next event, and I need to start saving pennies so I can go to the diaspora summit in South Africa this Spring!
A Portrait of Africa
I asked them to paint me a story
they turn up their noses
as if the pictures
while passing a folded
scrap of cardboard
primitive cave wall etchings
stick figure men
while their children
with distended bellies
fight civil wars
armed with AK-47’s
painted life like
and full scale
i stared at this eulogy by the illiterate
on a poor man’s tombstone
as they told me
“this is a country called africa”
… Continue Reading
None of the “leaders”, or the news segments they promote about the state of black people, ever addresses the ideas of real black change and organizing. We seem to be stuck talking about when it is okay to say the dreaded “n-word”, or reacting to some obvious case of racism. Rarely are there any black speakers to bring on about the Prison Industrial Complex or the rate of AIDS in America. When they do discuss something pertinent and personal about black people, like fatherhood or drug addiction, it seems to be our “leaders” defending black people against the accusations of not handling fighting our demons. Yes, black people need to take charge of our own destiny, but no, CNN is not the place for that to happen.
Literally no one follows Cornel West he just has fans. Well deserved fans, because he speaks and writes eloquently about philosophical dilemmas in the African American world and the U.S. in general. He has made no organized call to action that black people have responded to. That has to be a prerequisite before you call someone a leader. With that as a bar, Farrakhan is a leader, and Jesse Jackson use to be a leader. At this point in history though, no black man, or black organization for that matter, can mass mobilize black people around a single issue. Let’s call West what he is, a philosopher, and honor his contributions to our dialogue in that way.
On that note, Barack Obama is obviously not a black leader. And to the dismay of some media elected black leaders before him, he’s never been a black leader. Barack Obama is the President of the United States. Cornell West, and sometimes Tavis Smiley, have gotten on Obama for his lack of leadership in the Black community. This is a role he’s never undertaken, and one that he most definitely cannot fulfill now. Should he be more active in the politics that help improve the lives of African Americans? Of course! But he would argue that extending the unemployment benefits and passing health care are things that are helping the disproportionately poorer African American community, and the things that fall right under his job description.
Elder black statesmen like Jackson, Sharpton and West are confused right now. They didn’t think they’d live to see this moment, or at the very least thought that who ever this black messiah was, he’d have to be blessed by them first. You know Jesse thought if he wasn’t Jesus, he’d at least be John the Baptist. On top of that, most everyone assumed that there would be a black liberator before there was a black president. We envisioned that our neighborhoods would rise to the acceptable caucasian levels of poverty, AIDS/HIV, education, crime and drugs. This would be led by the champion of the next generation of civil right movement. Steeped in the history of southern Church roots with stories of their grandfather joining in at sit-ins and freedom rides.
Cornel West is correct in calling The President of the United States a “mascot for oligarchs and a puppet of plutocrats”, but his blackness has nothing to do with it. Cornel West brings up the possibility Obama’s white heritage affecting his decision making as a) real news (of course Obama has a white sensibility and a minorities understanding, that is the story of his life) and b) a diss. He sounds like a punch drunk Bernard Hopkins aimlessly swinging verbal jabs at Donovan McNabb (who once again, just like Obama, stays above the dirty politics of our countries racial imagination). More than one political pundit has questioned whether Cornel West is personally conflating Obama not liking him, to Obama not liking black people.
West makes a valid point that gets lost amongst his racial mudslinging and ethnocentric psychoanalysis. He shouldn’t (I don’t think he truly meant to) chastise Obama for HAVING a pass on economic and social issues. He needs to be mad at Black America for GIVING him that pass. That’s real.
This countries greatness relies on criticizing the president, it’s the only reason we are not a despotic leach on humanity. What has made this country great are all the oppressed people pointing at these sacred founding principles and calling out the leaders of this country, telling them to put up or shut up. That role does not stop once a minority has gotten the job of president. The founders of this country, with the exception of a few of the actual framers of the declaration of independence and the constitution, did not believe half the stuff they signed their name on. They where trying to justify why sending other men to die over their tax rates, but you can’t scream “I hate the price of tea” if you’re a landless, penniless soldier and get amped about it. So they said it was about freedom, God given rights and equality. Then to galvanize the spirit of any nation you have to make your founding principals sacred, the constitution and the declaration of independence are second only to the bible in their importance in this country. But literally, George Washington did not see me as his equal. If he had a time machine he would not look at Obama and say my dreams for country have been fulfilled. He would ask why no one has whipped this nigga within an inch of his life.
People have always been delusional about what the first black president would be like. Cornel seems to miss the point that the unstated but none-the-less understood black agenda has never been the overthrow of the oligarchic system that this country has, it has been the assimilation. Think about it, 80% of Black History month has always been about celebrating the first black man to do something white men has always done. The radicals, the revolutionaries like Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, have been marginalized in mainstream public American education. They are only mentioned at all because the ripple they left in history was so large, and they represent the lesser of two evils when it came to the black problem, explaining why their less threatening (but equally necessary and courageous) counterparts like Douglass, Dubois, Carver and King dominate our history books. Men who have demanded the radical and revolutionary change of this countries financial system have been run out of the country or assassinated (see Dr. King after he started harnassing his considering power and influence to attack poverty instead of just racism). The black president and the black liberator where never going to be the same thing. That was never possible.
Obama’s greatest accomplishment is that when I tell an 11 year old black boy with no father to be found that he can grow up to be president if that’s what he really wants, he believes me. I’ll always appreciate Obama for that, while simultaneously calling him out when he’s wrong.