July 30, 2008

Apologies for Slavery & Jim Crow

Recently our United States House of Representatives formally apologized for the violent enslavement and imposing of discriminating (“Jim Crow”) laws on African-Americans in this country. Now, I can understand the emotions of users like “darnelic” who asked: “What does that mean for me today”. It might seem like the apology doesn’t matter in this day & age, but in reality it means a whole lot more for us tomorrow than it does today.

Because our government has now undertaken the official position that something it enforced in the past was immoral and wrong, we can better understand how we got to where we are today, in order to better shape the future. People make claims that slavery ended hundreds of years ago and therefore today’s apologies don’t matter, but really the systematic enslavement and social oppression of Blacks didn’t start to die down until the mid-1960s. Which, at that point, made it over 450 (I say again, over 450!!!) years since the beginnings of the Atlantic Slave Trade. To compare, it was just a mere 40 years ago that Black people were finally recognized with the full freedoms that an American citizenship provides. Ya dig?

Whether it was being granted the right to vote or if it was something as simple as dining at a restaurant counter, the 1960s gave African-Americans our first glimpse of what Dr. King saw when he was “at the mountain top”. The end of Jim Crow marked the rise of the “American Phoenix”. The time in our country where those who had been subject to centuries of unjust discrimination and systematic oppression by our own Government, were able to better comprehend the grief their ancestors had fought through in order to lead this country to a new social destiny.

And to think, tomorrow’s future was all set off with one formal apology. (As well as a Black President.)

Maybe reparations are next… (*fingers crossed*)

- Steve Tyson Jr.

July 24, 2008

Nas vs. Fox News

I just got back from the MoveOn.org and ColorofChange.org protest of the Fox News Corporation and News Corporation. Legendary Hip-hop lyricist Nas hosted the entire protest after being just over an hour late. As usual the NYPD and Hip-hop police squads were in attendance, but the true crowd was formed by members of MoveOn.org, ColorofChange.org, fans of Nas, and your average American citizen who is just fed up with the bullsh*t that Fox feeds us.

Fox poisons this country every time they air racist propaganda and try to call it news.”
- Nas

He kept it 100% real in his speech. Not only did he come at them for their consistently negative portrayal of the Obamas, he also put them on blast for demonizing black leaders, black institutions, and other black people. Nas even used the example of when Fox covered Coretta Scott King’s funeral and used it as an excuse to label other positive Black leaders as “racist”.

In the end, Fox News declined the 620,127 signed petitions showing their cowardice towards it all. Regardless of whether or not they will ever accept those petitions, it is only the beginning of the end for Fox News and other racially biased media outlets like them. More Hip-hop heavyweights like Nas need to step up to the plate and become a powerful voice for the voiceless. Since he was willing to stand alone while standing united with the people, I guess that makes him a hero. They say we’re looking for one…

- Stephen Tyson Jr.

July 22, 2008

Thinking Outside Since 1947

So, I wear a lot of clothing made by LRG Co. and one of their phrases I’ve seen them use time & time again on their clothing was “Thinking Outside Since 1947”. Now I know that they weren’t founded in 1947 and it began to interest me as to why they picked that year and what did “thinking outside” have to do with it. So I looked it up in order to see what went on. Come to find out, it was a very busy year. Here are (what I think are) the Top 10 events of 1947:

10. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the MLB.
9. Bell X-1 breaks the sound barrier
8. Harold Dahl reports meeting the “Men In Black” after seeing 6 UFOs.
7. The Truman Doctrine is imposed.
6. The basis of the World Trade Organization is founded.
5. The Dead Sea Scrolls are unearthed.
4. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is formed.
3. A UFO allegedly lands in Roswell, NM on 7/7/47
2. Palestine is partitioned between Arabs & Jews, creating the state of Israel.
1. The CIA is formed.

Hmm… maybe LRG is on to something when it says “Thinking Outside Since 1947”. I mean it was the first time that there was a mass speculation toward the idea that life could exist outside of this planet. It also applies directly to us when new branches of our Federal Government like the WTO and IMF are created, making an increasing number of people around the world dependant upon the value of an inflated American dollar. We also confronted our country’s rough racial history when an African-American was allowed to professionally participate in our “National Pastime”.

All in all, I’d personally like to thank the people at LRG for waking me up to see what’s gone on in our past in order to better steer the future. The Jackie Robinson thing most people know, but there was a lot of other stuff going on that still affects us in a major way today. That’s all I’ve got for this week but stay tuned yo.

- Stephen Tyson Jr.

July 16, 2008

Fear of A Black Planet

Ok, so Barack Obama is the Presidential front-runner in a country that has the worst race relations in modern history, Tiger Woods is on pace to become the first billionaire athlete in the world’s most historically racist sport, yet Nas can’t title his album “Nigger”. Richard Pryor threw that word around in his album titles freer than a slave with papers, but when someone uses it to make a social statement it's shut down. Chuck D said it the best when he said there was a “Fear of a Black Planet”. Not a fear of us coming together for a coup d'├ętat of the government but a fear of us collectively achieving a new social status through more influential professions. That means less brothers and sisters striving to be professional athletes or shakin’ for the cameras and more of us entering fields like the sciences, academia, or politics.

“Too many rappers, athletes, and actors
But not enough niggas in NASA”
– Nas

The expansion of blacks into broader professions would send shivers down the spines of a lot of closed-minded people when they realize that blacks all over the world would be able to help pave the way for a new history in humanity. Come on, there's room for everybody!

We’ve already broken the chains on our feet, now it’s time to break the mental ones. When that happens, the sky would no longer be the limit for our young people’s potential.

Americans get fueled by today's mainstream media when they ruminate over meaningless topics like lapel pins, out-of-context soundbites, lack of patriotism, “terrorist fist jabs”, etc. It’s precisely this issue that the artist who drew the recent cover of The New Yorker was attempting to address. Granted, it might have been tasteless, but the flavor of the picture resonated through all who saw it. Mission accomplished.

More and more young African-Americans in this country and blacks around the world are moving up the social ladder. Whether assisted by the helping hands of those who reach down, or pushed up by the ones behind, we shall soon make it to the top. The days ahead don't seem as dark anymore.

“We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

- Stephen Tyson Jr.