Released 47 years to the day after the assassination of Malcolm X, Yasiin Bey offers the video for his counternarrative to Jay-Z and Kanye’s luxury rap, club-banger. Equipped with the glyph and all – the stylized Arabic writing for “Yasiin” flashes on the screen throughout the video – the emcee formerly known as Mos Def goes line for line and concept for concept as he reps/raps for the conditions faced by the “Niggas in Poorest” who couldn’t make the trip to France with the two multimillionaires.
I’m gonna take a different approach on this one. Before that though, let me honor this man for handling these two children exactly as he should have. Two adolescent boys squaring each other up aren’t going to pay attention to “gentle verbal warnings” or even stern ones from a seated teacher. Beyond “showing them who’s boss” however (more on that in a second), the teacher did some very important things.
- First, he persisted until the physical threat in the situation was done.
- Second, not only did he ‘lay a verbal smackdown’ on them, he explained to them exactly why their actions needed correction.
- Third, he turned it into a teachable moment for the entire class about how to handle disputes properly.
My concern, in this scenario, isn’t with the teacher or his handling of the situation at all. I don’t like how this short video itself plays into the popular “get tough” / “no nonsense” / “zero tolerance” trope that we reserve for people of color, and for people with the least economic means. We often advocate for and enact these policies because we pathologize behaviors by people of color and the impoverished as a part of our unfair, ineffective, and bigoted treatment of them. Watching a man “lay down the law” with these kids appeals to the anger and intellectual violence to which so many of us want to subject them. We are so frustrated with their behavior that we want to ‘smack them down’. Oftentimes we do, and their behavior becomes compliant; maybe even self-deprecating.
But is compliance really the same thing as uplift? Who are we satisfying? The needs of the people being ‘smacked’? Or our own desires to ‘smack’ them? And what are the short-term and long-term ramifications of using intellectual and/or physical violence to force people into compliance?
Though all of us may be stoked by the fire with which this man addresses his young charges, it behooves us to also consider what happens next. If he is as effective as he appears to be in this microscopic period of time, then I’ll bet that it ended something like this…
I was watching Ice Cube’s Behind the Music the other day, and had a few things cross my mind.
Let me start here: I’m an N.W.A. apologist. I purchased and really liked the first two tapes, “N.W.A. and the Posse“ and “Straight Outta Compton“. I had seen political hip-hop artists, but I don’t think I had ever seen a music video that showed enslaved Black people in an insurrection.
During this weekend’s main event, Showtime Pay-Per-View sandwiched eight rounds of anti-climactic boxing between two spectacular events. If you watched the fight, you saw them: in round 3, Manny Pacquiao hit Shane Mosley with a beautiful straight left that put him on the canvas, and drew the obligatory “Ohhhhh!” from the guys with whom I was watching the fight.
Then, in between rounds 11 and 12, the cameras showed a side-profile shot of Bella Gonzalez, Mosley’s girlfriend. Comically, the exact same “Ohhhhh!” went up from the fellas at our fight party.
Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wives, and Your Husbands: Antoine Dodson and the Collision of Media Images, Social Justice, and the Black Bourgeoisie
The Background : It Aint Over!
Though the furor over the original video has been replaced with a catchy song, as Teddy Riley (G-rated version) and Ice Cube (R-rated version) have quipped: “it aint over!” With over 32 million views on YouTube and a live performance on the BET Awards, Antoine Dodson and his story continue to remain extremely relevant.
The response below is based upon this email, in which Harvard Law Review editor Stephanie Grace indicates that she would entertain the possibility of the genetic intellectual inferiority of African Americans.
In most university research, much of the work that is done is completed by students. They are often rewarded with co-authorship of the articles that describe the outcomes of their projects.
For the students who serve as editors of the Harvard Law Review (HRL), they go much further. Serving as the sole researchers presenting their findings, interpretations, and editorials, these students’ journal is the second-most referenced legal publication in the country. It means that practicing lawyers doing casework everywhere use the writings of these students to help them interpret the law and deliver their opinions.
Below is my response to this article about an elementary school principal in Ann Arbor, MI, the city in which I went to school. The synopsis: a Black principal started a group called “Lunch Bunch” for Black children. The goal of this social and academic group was to help address the so-called “achievement gap” in education by helping these students to become more successful. They took a school-sponsored field trip with just these children to see a Black rocket scientist talk about his job and his challenges and triumphs as a Black man in general. The community in Ann Arbor – the affluent, predominantly White city in which the University of Michigan is located – is apparently outraged over this principal’s “transgression”.
I graduated from Huron High school in Ann Arbor almost 20 years ago. As a Black student, I was privy to, helped by, and hindered by all different types of programs to close this so-called “achievement gap” (yes, I do mean all of those verbs). What I took from all of these meetings and trial-and-error programs were two things: 1) Our teachers, for the most part, had no idea how to teach Black children effectively and 2) no one cared enough to actually change things. Nineteen years later, it appears that nothing has changed.