Thursday, February 12, 2009
Cantstopwontstop.com V 2.0.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:10 AM
Monday, January 19, 2009
Notes On The Eve Of Day One
Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i only two years after my father's generation voted for statehood, and that small fact illustrates the deep emotional cross-currents I am caught in over his inauguration.
On November 4th, when the TV pundits called the election for Obama, my two sons danced around the room in joy. Lourdes and I hugged, and then began to weep. Our boys stared. They already understand color lines, but they will never know how strange it was that we made a biracial Black man from Hawai'i the iconic face of hope and progress and change, then elected him president.
And yet Hawai'i is a conquered land, whose civil rights moment—the moment when cultural change, social integration, and political enfranchisement converged—came when a similar swelling of its darker-skinned classes voted in 1959 to give up their right to self-determination.
My father calls himself a pragmatist who voted for Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush twice each, but in Obama, he may have recognized the same kind of historic decision he faced as 24-year old. When he made up his mind, he didn't hesitate. My family and friends assumed I was long past the point of deciding, and I made a good show of it, but I hemmed and hawed and fussed until the end.
I finally decided that I wanted to stand with the arrival of the new majority. I wanted to join with millions in flipping a big bird to those who insisted this country was "center-right". No, I wanted to say, November 4th showed we are progressive-left. Perhaps even my father.
Still I couldn't get the words of Rosa Clemente—the 36 year-old Green Party vice-presidential candidate who was for many of us just as much a symbol of hope and progress and change—out of my head. "If we become the majority," she told me last summer, "then we're going to have more people like us put into these positions from really moving us towards justice."
As we look at who Obama has brought in to his administration thus far, I'm struck by the notion that perhaps even he doesn't yet recognize the transformative possibilities of the new majority that elected him.
Cornel West said last March, "I told Obama that when he wins—which I think he will—I will celebrate for one day, I'll breakdance in the morning and party in the afternoon. But the next day, I'll become one of his major critics."
When the flags are hoisted and that beautiful sea of hues gathers on the Mall and that biracial Black man from Hawai'i raises his hand to take an oath, call me fucking emo but I am sure I will cry again.
Onto this body of Barack Obama we have projected all possibility, and the faith that we are moving toward answers. And yet Obama also materializes the same question that has haunted people of color on American soil—the lands of native peoples—since long before W.E.B. Dubois articulated it over a century ago: how does it feel to still be a problem? Does our desire for hope and change and progress lead us further from the actual thought and practice of justice, or closer?
And yet if we really care about these questions, we will never have the luxury of doing nothing.
This moment will not mark the end of our struggles over questions of nation and race, nor will it mark the end of our Duboisian double consciousness. It's the beginning of something—I'm not sure what—but it's something that we, the new majority, must write.
This is cross-posted at the Asian Law Caucus's new blog Arc of 72, where you can read a whole bunch of other API perspectives on the inauguration.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:16 PM
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Students Occupy The New School
Last night students began what they call "an occupation" of the New School in New York City, demanding the ouster of university president Bob Kerrey and other school officials and direct student involvement in the school's governance and investment policies. Students have taken over the Graduate Faculty Center.
Certainly media will compare this to the Columbia occupation in 1968, but the more immediate echoes may be of the anti-apartheid divestment movement of the 80s and the anti-sweatshop movement of the 90s, a precursor to the Battle in Seattle.
In addition to their demands for SRI, socially responsible investment--a movement that was catalyzed by the divestment movement--the students have also been deliberate about claiming solidarity with the striking students in Greece.
In response, Kerrey--who recently received a "no confidence" vote from the faculty--has actually begun a blog, in which he discusses a student senate meeting tonight as an example of the school's "support of dialogue and dissent".
You can keep up on the latest by following the New School In Exile blog.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:19 AM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Farai Chideya's News And Notes on NPR Has Been Cancelled
NPR is announcing it has cancelled Farai Chideya's brilliant African American-themed talk show "News and Notes". Argh.
Aside from being a good friend and a brilliant journalist, Farai has changed the game for people of color's media, regularly broadcasting a smart, topical, and witty show on a national level. She was the first hip-hop gen host on NPR. Her show, on the air since 2005, was axed along with "Day To Day". In all 64 journalists will lose their jobs.
NPR leadership blamed the layoffs on a decline in corporate sponsorships. Ain't that ironic.
The truth is that NPR has been fickle with younger audiences and audiences of color. Its audience continues to age. The median age is 48.
While NPR has experimented with bringing in a more diverse listenership, it hasn't shown much willingness to commit. The list of casualties includes Tavis Smiley (News and Notes' predecessor) and Ed Gordon (Farai's predecessor at News and Notes), not to mention a long list of young producers and staffers of color.
The only remaining show for African Americans on NPR--never mind Latinos and Asian Americans--will be Michel Martin's relatively new "Tell Me More".
Farai and her team will be on the air until March 20th. Whether they will be employed after that depends on you. Jasmyne Cannick has already set up email forms and petition forms to the NPR top brass. Let em know...
posted by Zentronix @ 8:01 PM
I Am Nixon
Large up T.A. Negro for rocking the hardcore David Frost to my Nixon in one of the best interviews I've ever had the opportunity to be a part of. Unfortunately my negotiating skills are suspect--I didn't get paid anything close to $600,000 for this.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:43 AM
Monday, December 08, 2008
Shouldna Lef Ya...
...without a strong post to tempt you.
Sorry for this folks. Let me explain a little bit where I've been hiding and let you know what's in store with this blog, website and me for the new year and beyond.
First off, thanks to all of you readers, longtime and new, for all the love you've showered on ya boy this year in the form of emails and comments and shouts. I've been one gratified dude, let me tell you. If you see me in the street, I might buy you a drink on GP.
Also I've been a little burnt out. Other than in a few moments of inspiration--thank you UCLA APC, Ferentz, Sin Yen, and the hip-hop generation!--I've been taking a bit of a break this past month from the daily hourly grind of reporting and blogging.
For now, I've stepped back too from the Vibe blog. That was an amazing experience, and a great outlet to push out the stories you don't get on the front pages of your newspaper or news-aggregator or your favorite comedian's fake news show. I'm very proud of what me and the Vibe fam accomplished this year.
But now it's time to regroup for the next few years.
I'm in the midst of starting on a number of other projects, two of which I can talk about now.
Soon--very soon--we'll be launching a revamp of this website. Yes, it's finally time. Cantstopwontstop.com Version 2.0. We want to give you much more access to many of the pieces I've been writing over the years--in music, culture, politics, hip-hop history, and much more. The CSWS supercr3w is hard at work. Look for our efforts early in 2009.
The other big thing I can say is that I've begun working on a new book entitled Who We Be: The Colorization of America. It's about how we got from the end of civil rights to Obama's election.
The Colorization of America is a story about how visionaries--many you may not have ever heard of--forged a new vision for the U.S. against the context of rapidly shifting demographic change. It's a story about the last three decades in America--and the world--and about how diversity became so mainstream that people could begin to use a strange term, "post-racial", in a thousand different ways and mean a thousand different things, usually contradictory things.
Working on this book means that I get to think and talk about the visual arts, comics and cartoons, literature, politics, and a million other things that will be fun to think and talk about for the next few years. I'm not going to give away much more than that for now, only that it's possible the book may be more relevant now than when I began pitching it over year or two ago, and for that reason I want to get it exactly right.
Finally, I was beginning to tell friends in the waning days of the election season that I was done with blogging for good. Good thing I didn't go Jay-Z or Jordan on myself and announce a retirement. Life will go back to different, slower rhythms and so will this blog. But it won't go away. There's too much to be said.
So here's to the next time the words won't wait. Hope to see you back here...
Thanks for reading!
posted by Zentronix @ 5:15 PM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
2G2K Is Back! :: On Hillary, Again, And Foreign Policy
Ferentz was inspired to write--wickedly, I must add--about Obama's impending Hillary appointment. Loved these lines on the quickening such news stirs in the hearts of the Blitzerites and Hardballers:
Like his predecessor Bill Clinton from whose staff Obama has poached many of his top advisers, and John F. Kennedy, the young American prince to whom he's often compared, Barack Obama has developed an uncanny knack for moving the needle.
Hilary Clinton, she of 18 million votes is no slouch herself when it comes to getting people to tune in, which means that her appointment guarantees us at least four years of soundbites from Freud impersonators dissecting her relationship with Obama.
Unfortunately I have to disagree with my brother's main point.
Ferentz would have loved to see Hillary appointed Secretary of Education, if only as a way to bring high-profile recognition to the office and the work. It's true that recent Education secretaries have been stunningly low-pro, even in the face of NCLB. Ferentz believes that's an indication of how low-priority the work is, and is worried about that.
But he also asserts this:
In my estimation, the whole restoring America's image abroad narrative has been blown slightly out of proportion. George W. Bush was an awful President who made a number of horrendous decisions, but outside of Iraq and Afghanistan most Americans have been largely unaffected by the Bush's regimes decisions abroad, and it will therefore be difficult for us to really assess how much the world's image of America has changed.
Well. No. How about the results of: Allowing turbulence in Africa and Asia to become ethnic cleansing? Botching the peace process in Palestine and Israel? Pretending climate change doesn't exist?
Sadly there's lots more where that came from. All corners of the globe have been scorched in this fire.
Bush's free-market unilateralism has indeed been disastrous. It even undergirds the global economic crisis that has finally come home like the chickens, as Malcolm might have said. It's not merely an aesthetic thing of whether they like us or not. We've really fucked it up.
I think Ferentz hints at the larger ideological question now being played out beneath the surface. The nation has serious war fatigue--and, coupled with the economic crisis, it is leading to a strong vibe of "let's handle our own right now".
There was a moment, I thought, a few years back when progressives were trying to make the case that the wars abroad were creating the chaos at home. I think we made the case very well--and Obama reflected this in his own campaign, morphing easily from the anti-war candidate to the steady-hand-on-the-economy candidate. McCain had no desire to link the two issues, and so the progressive line carried the day overwhelmingly.
Now though isn't the time to forget how interconnected domestic and global issues are. It's not an either/or, it's a both/and, and that's the difficulty of the moment that we're facing.
posted by Zentronix @ 7:58 AM
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Impact of The Hip-Hop Vote
We now have some idea of how hip-hop may have impacted the presidential election. According to stats from CIRCLE, those under the age of 45 delivered all of Obama's margin of victory.
Those under 30 formed the core of his victory. 23 million young voters came out, and nearly 16 million voted for Obama. He won by 9 million votes.
Youth voter turnout increased to 53%, a 4% increase over 2004 and the highest turnout rate since the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1972.
All demographics under 30 voted for Obama by huge margins--including 95% of African Americans, 76% of Latinos and 54% of whites.
We don't yet know what the turnout rates were for young African Americans and Latinos, or the precise racial breakdown of young voters. But we do know that 36% of Under-30 voters were not white, an 8% difference from 30-45s and 20% difference from over-60s.
We also know that 2004 marked a turning point for young African American and Latino voters. That year, for the first time, they made up more than half of all new voters. In this election, 43% of young voters were first-time voters, including 45% of African Americans and 61% of Latinos.
Credit goes to a robust Obama operation. It's the first time that a party has taken full measure of the importance of young voters and post-Boomer voters of color.
Credit also belongs with the many organizing efforts in the hip-hop world that were largely--and quietly--responsible for the 2004 surge. It's clear that without their success back then, an Obama candidacy would have been unimaginable.
There is one significant down-note. CIRCLE notes that there remains an economic gap in the voting population. It turns up as a gap in voters' educational attainment. Those with at least some college-going experience were about twice as likely to vote as those without any.
There are still lots of hip-hop heads alienated from electoral politics. But it's possible to say that the electorate looks a lot more like the one hip-hop introduced to the mainstream over a decade ago than at any time in the past.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:34 AM
Notes On The Eve Of Day One
Students Occupy The New School
Farai Chideya's News And Notes on NPR Has Been Can...
I Am Nixon
Shouldna Lef Ya...
2G2K Is Back! :: On Hillary, Again, And Foreign Po...
The Impact of The Hip-Hop Vote
UCLA Education In Action Keynote Speech
A Great Day In Baseball History
select * from pages where handle = "BlogLinks"