4 Hip-Hop tracks 4 the 4 weeks of Black History Month.

As the month of February comes to a close…. I thought it would be fitting to have four tracks for the 4 weeks that are Black History month…I could have chosen a number of tracks…but these are the 4 tracks that have influenced me the most this month.

Cee-Lo “White Boy’s Plan”

Nas “Can’t Stop Us Now”

Nas and Damien Marley “As We Enter”

and as we march into the month of March…. this is the message we need to hear: ” they said my future was dark…look at me now….I’m beaming…”-Lupe

Lupe Fiasco “I’m Beaming”

…this is just my train of thought….

peace.

Pen

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Drew Hall’s Sunday Night Cipher

Sunday Night Cipher has been a staple of the Charles R. Drew freshman dormitory since I arrived on this illustrious campus of Howard University, but this year has had momentum like no other.

The original host was a man by the name of Basheer Jones; Basheer has since left to pursue a career in politics as well as being an acclaimed radio host on a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio.

I happened to be at the right place at the right time, and the legacy Basheer left behind fell directly into my hands.

Once called “Drew Halls Poetry Night”, now called the “Sunday Night Cipher”, this stage ( a set of ikea tables in the dormitory lounge) is the platform many talented freshman use to catapult them into Howard University stardom, Washington D.C. notoriety, and as far as their artistic ability will take them.

The event is held every Sunday Night, from 9pm-11pm. It is an open mic format, and brings about the singing talents, comedic genius, poetic prose, the acclaimed acting, and the all out passionate performance of the Howard University Student body.

I constantly compare the Sunday Cipher to Superman’s phone-booth. A place where normal students come in, and metaphorically change into super-heros and share their superhero ability with the greater society…And then they get off stage and return to the form of college student…only difference is: now we know the truth.

I wouldn’t dare expose all of what goes on inside of a Sunday Cipher… its kind of sacred…But here is a snap shot:

and this one is a personal favorite….

and for more photos check the link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ogpenn

I wanted to write this in effort to thank the people’s energy they bring when they come through the doors of the dorm lounge during Sunday Night cipher . thank yall.

…just my train of thought…

peace

Pendarvis

Ring Leaders

She looked dead in the camera and asked, “if these guys are going around the country talking about manhood…why aren’t any of them married?”

I was in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. It was muggy June night. June 14th, the day before Tupac’s birthday, and father’s day… I wonder which one is more readily celebrated in the Black community?…but, I digress…

I was in New York; a trip sponsored by the 21st Century Foundation’s initiative to alter the image of Black men in the media, “The 2025 campaign for Black Men and Boys“. We sat in conferences and workshops, we networked and cracked jokes, and above all…I documented the entire experience.

The conference was full of males: elder men with stories longer than their grey locks,young boys cut from a cloth that was newer than their suites, and I was there with a camera.

I met Kevin Powell. He was the figurehead, leader, and prime speaker for the conference. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a small dinner party with him and a handful of others. During the dinner party- I got antsy and decided to go outside. While outside, I good piece of advice from my mentor Cheo Tyehimba Taylor kicked in: this conference is all male- why not get some female perspective on manhood?

I saw this group of ladies. funny enough, when I initially accosted them, they brushed me completely. They thought I was trying to “holler” at them. But once they saw my approach was genuinely for journalism reasons, the conversation rolled…

And after all of the insightful input, they still inquired about attending the dinner party- trying to meet Kevin Powell…

But, the points made were thought provoking…how can you speak on the topic of manhood when you are not fully experienced in all manhood has to offer?

I think about this when I look at male leaders- namely politicians, business men, and members of the religious realm.

I almost always notice if a man has a ring on his left hand or not. Maybe a judgement on my part, but I cant help but thinking there is a correlation between a man who can uphold a solid union between he and his female counterpart, and a man upholding his position in society. After all, the family is the microcosm of society. family is the first society. If you cannot govern a family, how will you govern a people?

I bring this all to a forefront today, February 21st, 2010…45 years after the assassination of Malcolm X. The man.

In “man-hood circles”, Malcolm’s constant growth and development signified a man who was forever becoming greater. forever growing.They say manhood is a journey, and Malcolm X’s trials and tribulations symbolize that journey to a tee.

But a part that is often overlooked, and the part that inspires me to write this piece, was his relationship with his wife, the late Mrs. Betty Shabazz.

She was in his corner. She was his inspiration to move forward, comfortably; for he knew she would have his back. While Malcolm toured the Nation speaking and leading, and later toured the world reading and thinking, she did much of the rearing of the children.Malcolm and Betty...and 2 of three children

All day, my mind has been with Malcolm X; I have been watching youtube clips of Malcolm X, I have been posting quotes from Malcolm X on twitter, I have been reading random excerpts from his Autobiography… Today is Malcolm X day.

And even with all of my research, the most profound quote from, about, or having anything to do with Malcolm X is this….

“I loved him, he loved his people” – Betty Shabazz.

Rest in Peace Malcolm X

Rest in Peace Betty Shabazz

…this is just my train of thought…

Peace.

No Gravity

I took a flight from California to Washington, D.C. on February 16th, 2010. The flight landed. I didn’t.

As the night turned from the Fat Tuesday Holiday of Mardi Gras, into the Ash Wednesday that is the first day of Lent, although I am not Catholic, I decided for the 40 days of Lent, I would give up Gravity. 

Gravity
Gravity

I joke sometimes, when I see someone drop something out of obvious clumsiness: “don’t worry about it, it’s a high gravity day”.

But what if you awoke one morning and there was a no gravity day… I known i’m venturing along the lines of the esoteric (weird) world. But just think for a minute: if you defy one of the elementary laws of physics and proceed to rise as you desire, then what physical being can stop you from rising?

What can hold you down, if gravity can’t? 

I got off of my flight and went on a twitter rant….Or as I like to call it: standing on my “milk crate”…

These were the results…

The plane landed…I didn’t…#NoGravity 12:10 AM Feb 17th 

#NoGravity…this make sense 2 me- once you defy 1 of the basic laws of physics- what can another human being do to hold you down? 12:12 AM Feb 17th

So when hw, $, and otha bullshit is holdin me down…the voice n my head is finna say “fuck that bru! #NoGravity“…and I’m back on ma shit! 12:17 AM Feb 17th   

My soul is too young to be pacified. I gotta burning desire to be satisfied….. #NoGravity. 12:19 AM Feb 17th   

“Keep yo head-up”-Tupac…. #NoGravity. 12:20 AM Feb 17th   

Yea, and fuck Isaac Newton…#NoGravity. 12:21 AM Feb 17th  

But speaking of “Newton”…happy birthday to Huey P. Newton….Fist up High…#NoGravity. 12:22 AM Feb 17th  

Speaking of B-days…happy B-day to Michael Jordan…yea, he knows about the #NoGravity movement. 12:23 AM Feb 17th   

And most importantly -Happy Born Day to my momma…she’s an angel on earth….#NoGravity 12:24 AM Feb 17th  

*This time imma just levitate off of my twitter-rant milk crate…#NoGravity * 12:29 AM Feb 17th

And before I went to sleep…this was my last tweet…

When u live n a world w/ #NoGravity… U don’t lay down to sleep…fuck na…u jus simply rest UP!…peace. 2:08 AM Feb 17th

I admit, explaining my mindset to people has been rather challenging. When you tell someone that you don’t believe in gravity-  they look at you like you came from a planet without gravity!

But when I explain how the feeling of “heavy gravity days” is the problem that usually sets me, and many others back, people start to listen. Who can’t relate to those days when the world has you bogged down, those days where you don’t want to get out of bed, or even those days where you clumsily drop something and some witty-wiseguy takes it upon himself to make light of the situation…

So with that said, no more heavy gravity days. period. And for the next 40 days…no gravity- I’m taking to the sky!

…this is just my train of thought…

Peace,

Pendarvis.

Sesame Street’s Black History

 

Who doesn’t remember when Tickle me Elmo came out? better yet, who didn’t watch Sesame Street as a kid? and the real question: who knew there was a Black History moment tied to the the turf which Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster claimed?

His name is Kevin Clash, and he is credited as being the one who brought Elmo to life! Sesame Street’s bio of Mr. Clash credits him as more than just the puppeteer that gave Elmo his voice and charm- but he also worked with the Ninja Turtles!!! (another childhood favorite). My bru Kev…aka Mr. Clash worked for Sesame Street, but he was from  Baltimore, MD

An interview with Huffington Post shows that Mr. Clash was just pulling strings- he is actually an avid educator. Who would have known?

much respect to Kevin Clash…

 

Listen 2 Your Heart

Listen to Your Heart
Listen To Your Heart via http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs43/f/2009/063/3/9/Listen_to_your_heart_by_screamst.jpg

               When life begins, you are but a fetus in the womb. The doctor holds a stethoscope up to your  mother’s belly, and the sound of your heartbeat is the first significant sign of life.

And from that point on, you should listen to your own heartbeat… but we don’t.

Instead, we listen to the overwhelming influential thoughts of our cognitive brain. Damn that influential brain! And how you could you blame humans for listening to our brains- for starters look at the location. It’s conveniently lodged between a human being’s ears…ears which are receptors to every audible influence outside of the dog whistle!

The worst part of listening to your brain as opposed to your heart is
the myth about how much brain humans actually use. There are results on the internet saying humans use 10% and there are some saying humans use 90%…whatever the case- if you listen to your heart- then your heart works 100%.  

And when the heart doesn’t work 100%…or rather enter into a cardiac arrest, there is little hope for the continuance of life outside of a tiny given time frame…while on the other hand, a human being can be
in a vegetative state for years- brain-dead to the world, but so as
long as that heart is pumping: there is hope!

So the body without a heart is hopeless…

Morbid? Yeah, kind of unsettling to bring thoughts of mortality into a
piece about true love, but it makes sense…the 1st thing that
signifies our lives- is what should lead our lives. And as a point of
clarification- when I speak of “listening to your heart”, I’m not speaking
of the after effects of an adrenaline rush when your pulse is pumping like pistons…. and I’m not  talking about that one time you got some bad weed and you got really high and you could hear your heart
beat…na, I’m speaking of pursuing only things that bring you true
fulfillment in this world: listening to your heart.

Look, I’ll bring it home… You ever wondered why people ware a wedding ring on the left ring finger?
yeah, so did I- and then I found this video…

…And that sealed the deal: You can listen to what you want to- I’m going to listen to my heart…

Peace and Love,

Pendarvis Harshaw

Memories of More Martyrs than Martin and Malcolm.

There are more  martyrs than just Martin and Malcolm.Read about: Patrice Lumumba- who fought for his people in the Congo , Assata Shakur- who fought for her people in America and is now in exile in Cuba,  George Jackson and Jonathan Jackson -the court case that inspired the last verse to Easy-E’s lyrics to Boyz in the hood!

It is Black History month- but any time of the year you should read about: Amilcar Cabral, Emmett Till,  Kwame Ture,  Geronimo Pratt… and this young man named “little Bobby Hutton”- a founding member of the Black Panther party who was killed by the Oakland Police…

This post is partially inspired by a fellow Howard Bison and talented writer from New York who’s latest posting on her “Mother’s Chronicles” WordPress page, asks the readers to “learn your Black History“. After reading her feelings about the tunnel vision that is Black History month in popular culture,  the powers that be- and a text message from a good friend lead me to a presentation on the legacy of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.

The presentation was organized by Howard University’s History Graduate Students Association, and was titled “The Assassination of Fred Hampton, The Black Panther Party, and Black Power in the Diaspora”. The keynote speakers were former member of the Black Panther Party Lynn C. French Esq., Attorney and author Jeff Haas, and author Quito Swan.

The portion of the presentation I chose to focus on was author Jeff Haas’ new book titled ” The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther”.

For those unfamiliar with the story of  Fred Hampton’s death, in brief: Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.  was an acclaimed organizer in Chicago, Il. His position within the Black Panther Party caused the local and federal law enforcement to take note of his momentum in terms of what he was doing to empower his community. This caused Hampton to be the subject of a document later discovered, called “COINTELPRO“, which was a signed government document to put an end to the perspective of “the rise of a Black Messiah” within many revolutionary circles, including those who fought for civil rights.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were also named targets on this document. But the distinguishing aspect of Chariman Fred Hampton’s death is the amount of evidence. Below pictured are the actual blueprints of Chairman Fred Hampton’s apartment as with held by the US government.

FBI Floor Plans of Fred Hampton’s House

The author of the recent book depicting Chairman Hampton’s story, Jefferey  Haas,  spoke from the perspective of the late Hampton’s attorney; and as the attorney Haas was privy to first hand interviews with Hampton’s widow who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the raid and subsequent execution style murder of Hampton.

Chairman Fred Hampton- dead.

Although Haas’ story is interesting, and any information on a topic such as this one needs to be published to the American People, I couldn’t help but looking at this white man as an intruder. A man who happened to be at the right place at the right time. A man that happened upon this story, and is now capitalizing off of it as he goes on tours and sells Chairman Fred Hampton’s story in order for personal profit.  In Haas’ speech, he told the crowd that the Black Panther Party of Chicago initially hired Haas as a public defender to represent them in a case concerning being evicted from their apartment.  This was just months prior to the night of December 4, 1969- Chairman Fred Hampton’s last night. Now Haas tells this story as if he was “with the movement”.

Amazing,  Carter G. Woodsoon’s concept of Black History week has grown to a month of Black history- complete with corporate commercials shining light on “this moment in Black History”, and other forms of Black History tied into capitalism. Its wild- not only will the concept of American capitalism make sure to make money off of anything done in America’s name- they do it all, and turn our history into his-story.

Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and company in Chicago's Little Black Pearl Cafe
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. Myself and company.

The greatest story ever told is your own story. This Black History month- tell your own story…

I’ll start… here is a picture of me and Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.

Much respect to him and the Prisoners of Conscious Committee  (P.O.C.C) …yea, read about that too!

much respect to the memory of Chairman Ferd Hampton Sr. and all of my ancestors mentioned in this post. peace.

I HEART MELANIN

"one of the greatest Black men of the 20th Century"I was 2 weeks from turning 21, it was the summer of ’08 and I was at theUniversity of Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal.

Pendarvis interviewing students in Senegal

I was learning French and Wolof. I was learning about the sub-Saharan drought and how it influenced the formation of hurricanes in the gulf of Mexico/ Caribbean . Back home my mom was fighting breast cancer and my cousin was fighting throat cancer. The strength of the spirit in Senegal kept my spirits high. I learned about a religious leader name  Shiek Ibrahima Fall and how he influenced many Senegalese families to name their children in his likeness; one of those children of Senegal was  a revolutionary scientist named Dr. Cheik Anta Diop.

Why should you care about Dr. Cheik Anta Diop? Well, have you ever the theory that Egyptians were Black? Yea, he proved that! It was Dr. Diop’s rigorous studies and appeals of his findings to credited scientist in the mid-1900’s that finally lead the word to accept that those amazing pyramids on the banks of the Nile river were built by Black people.

Ha, to think: when Napoleans’s army blasted off the nose of the Sphinx, they thought they had trashed the evidence of Black folks created such amazing monuments in their likeness… ha…little did they know this evidence ran deeper than blood. the evidence was in our melanin.

on the campus of Cheik Anta Diop UniversityAnd to this day, melanin is what continues to be the fuel that drives us to create monuments of greatness.

Thank you Dr. Cheik Anta Diop.

also, check out the article I wrote when I got back from Senegal…

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=d826ffed78d3f6ab8193259f4cdf2d75