DMX, Zimmerman & The Value of Life.

Who killed Abraham Lincoln? John Wilkes Booth. 

Who killed John  Kennedy? Lee Harvey Oswald. 

Who killed Trayvon Martin? George Michael Zimmerman.  

Image

 

Why am I mad about George Zimmerman gaining celebrity status? I mean, don’t we celebrate murderers– all the time?

As my portion of the world turned to face the sun this morning, I read the news and felt as if I had been slapped in the face: DMX vs. George Zimmerman in a celebrity boxing match.

“Celebrity”: That’s what the twitter accounts of News Breaker, The Griot (NBC’s effort to appease African-Americans), and CNN (supposedly the standard setting news company… supposedly) called the forthcoming fight.   

I got mad: Mad at the media, mad at social media, mad at America. 

Like, this shit is cool? A guy shoots a kid, gets away with it– and now he’s a celebrity. I mean, come on… It’s Black History Month: we’re supposed to be celebrating our ancestors and forefathers. I don’t celebrate murderers!

Well… Actually, I do. And I’d argue that the majority of Americans do too.

From famed Wild-West gun slingers to renown rappers who claimed Westside– murderers are celebrated in America’s popular culture.

“Yeah, I’ve killed somebody,” said a friend, during a casual conversation not too long ago.

The living room got dead silent. There were only a handful of us in the room– but mannnn, you could hear our collective interest growing. We wanted to know that story. My friend, a former Marine, told a bit of his tale of traveling the world, and spreading Democracy with bullets; the American way.

We didn’t “celebrate” the fact that my friend killed someone (and neither did he). But for that brief moment, while we indulged in his story, he was the coolest dude in the room. Hands down.  

“Murder was the case that they gave me,” once said a young Snoop Dogg. And when Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus beat that murder case, his popularity grew. And continued to grow. Is Snoop Dogg a murderer? Well, he beat the case. I mean– I don’t know if he actually killed anyone. I wasn’t there.

The fact is: a “gang member” (as the LA Times Article initially identified him), a man by the name of Philip Woldemariam is dead… and Snoop Dogg/Lion/Zilla is still making music. And he’s still a celebrity. 

Speaking of celebrity rappers getting out of jail after beating a murder charge: Lil Boosie is set to come home soon! He’s currently serving an 8-year bid on a drug case. But while in the pen, Lil Boosie was facing a 1st degree murder charge. Torrence “Lil Boosie” Hatchet was accused of ordering Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding to be his hired triggerman. Well, Marlo Mike is now sentenced to life in prison without parole. Lil Boosie’s name is gaining a greater celebrity status as I write this … and Terry Boyd, a young Black man, is dead. But, #FreeBoosie tho.   

I’m not saying Boosie or Snoop shouldn’t be stars for their talents– I just think it’s ILL that killing someone can earn you respect. 

On the other side of the “famous because I killed” coin, are people like this guy named Watani Stiner.

I think Stiner has an awesome story. It’s a tale of the struggle for freedom, a shooting on UCLA’s campus and a father’s sacrifice for his family. I’ve interviewed Stiner before; I was only allowed to bring in paper and pencil. I’d love to interview Stiner on film/ audio/ oh hell, if I had a nice photo of him it’d be worth a thousand words. I think the world would love to hear about how he is serving a life sentence for the murder of two former Black Panther leaders, how he escaped prison, and then turned himself back in– for his family. But, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prohibits the media from conducting interviews with specific inmates, out of fear that the interview will cast that incarcerated individual into a world of stardom.

First name: Eye. Last name: Ronic. (Ironic).    

The amount of money the prisons are making off of Black men is astounding– but that’s a totally different story.

The crux of this story: “Tell me what’s a Black life worth?”- Tupac.

Look man, even if World Star Hip Hop gets exclusive broadcast rights, TMZ photographers catch first-row photos of the carnage, and they attach a GoPro to DMX’s forehead– so we can see a 1st person perspective of what some people might call justice. I wouldn’t watch it. I just don’t want to see that shit. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to see a petition signed to end this fight— I’d rather see people valuing life.

That’s what we’re fighting against. As young Black men, we’re fighting to show the world that our lives are valuable.  

… But first we have to value our own lives. 

Side note:  …  I wouldn’t mind seeing George Zimmerman fight Johannes-Mehserle

Oh, and here is a top ten list of celebrities who’ve killed someone. (Don King is on there, who knew?) 

Peace.

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Change the Game

Game Changers Project.

gamechanger
game changer

Have you heard about the 2025 campaign for Black men and Boys ?

The Grio. com ran a big story on the site at the start of this year, check it out: http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/about-game-changers.php

The game changer’s project is a media inititative to change the image of young Black men and Boys in the media by simply uploading the untold; by taking stories of men and young men alike doing uplifting things in their communities, and giving them proper acknowledgment.  The theory is simple: become the change you want to see in the world… or in the media.

For more information about the initiative, check the website:

http://www.forwardevermedia.com/gcp.html

A key part aspect to being able to tell the stories of Black men and boys in the urban underbelly of America is having storytellers on site, and the Gamechangers project specializes in that. With representatives in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

… I’m the Oakland rep…. Here is my bio, along with the rest of the game changers: http://www.2025bmb.org/thegame/

Here are a couple of stories that I’ve published thus far in efforts to change the game:

Oscar Grant’s Uncle, and the Oscar Grant Foundation: http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/in-oakland-oscar-grants-uncle-continues-the-fight.php

An article on an education program in Oakland, The Nation’s First African Male Achievement Initiative:

http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/nations-only-school-district-to-take-on-educating-black-males.php

And soon to come…

http://www.gamechangersproject.org/

Stay updated on how the game is changing via twitter: @Gamechangers007

peace.

Twittpic: Caught Slee-Penn…

…The last thing I remember thinking:

“After a long night of darkness, the sun rises fast”.

And the next thing I know… this was on twitter….

Caught Slee-Penn
Caught Slee-Penn

Will Worley, a good friend, talented event host, and aspiring  paparazzi photographer caught me dozing at the wheel. While I was knocked out,  Will knocked out a vicious perspective about not being able to reverse, I suggest you take a glance, when you get the chance: 2 Weeks Notice

I digress…

This photo of me,  in what the advertising department of Apple inc. should call the “i-sleep” position is a product of  “finals time”. A time period where college students work odd hours, eyes-red in the glow of computers,  as they pound out final projects. Look, I’m no the only one…

a good friend of mines, Charles, catching some Z's.
Cap-Sized.

This is a photo of a good friend of mines by the name of Charles. In this photo Charles has succumb to the lifestyle of a college student living through the gauntlet of finals: knocked out in the computer lab. This picture was taken just days prior to my sleeping beauty pose. This picture was captured by President L. Davis; who, like Will Worley, is also a talented event host and an aspiring paparazzi photographer… And however talented Will and President might be, they have nothing on Charles’ good friend- a man by the name of “Darnell the anonymous” took this photo of an inebriated i-lab dweller…known as “#DrunkILabGuy”.

drunk-ilab guy

The story behind the photo, is a common tale of an inebriated soul that was ushered into the computer lab by an unidentified assailant, and then abandoned in the bathroom stall to sleep his night away.

No, I was not forced to re-post this picture of this unassuming individual, however,  my theory is that- people don’t see how deep shit is, until they come face to face with the toilet.

This could have been you or I caught in eye of a camera phone; just to be carbon-copied all around the wonderful websites the world wide web has to offer. The concept of paparzzi-esque exposure has gone from publishing compromising pictures of public figures, to publishing compromising pictures of private citizens in public places. There are studies on top of studies of how many cameras are present in society, or how often Americans unknowingly appear on camera; many of which I could very well supplement the point I am attempting to drive home through this train of thought, but to keep it simple: watch what you do, more than likely someone is watching you.

Baa-Ram-Ewe Jay-Z, Baa-Ram-Ewe!

…Since we are on the topic of Images in the mass media and how the effect the greater society: let us discuss secret societies.

Shawn Cater, also known as the Brooklyn born rapper who dawns the stage name of Jay-Z, has a following that is unmatched by most contemporary rappers. His track record speaks for itself, and gives credence to his claim that he is “the best rapper alive”. But with all the praise that “Hova” (another one of his aliases) receives from his fans, supporters, and above all- consumers, it doesn’t stop eye-brow raising and the subsequent questions as to what is going on in Jay-Z’s imagination? And what are the meanings behind the latest images his videos are generating?

His newest video “On to the Next One”, is the latest successful hit from arguably the most successful rapper to ever do it. But something about this video didn’t sit right with the blog world, the real world, and has people in an uproar wondering about the symbols from the underworld.

This is video in raw form…

 

Jay-Z’s mysterious affiliation/ affinity for secret societies has been the topic of conversations in barbershops to business offices and back to the block, but the one question the easily entertained world is wondering: what does it all mean?

So much so, that this video was produced in effort to break down the symbolism present in his videos. Watch closely…

I find it fascinating that people are scared to speak on “the dark side”;If you shine light where there is darkness, there will no longer be darkness.

Ironically, Illuminati by definition means “the enlightened ones”. 

I found this video, where a gentleman by the name of Michael Tsarion sheds some sort of light on the symbolism in the media…

In watching this video and listening to Jay-Z’s lyrics “On To The Next One”, there are commonalities: the alcohol, the entertainment, the constant consumption of things that will bring about immediate satisfaction. These  things that will only matter until we again chose to move onto “the next one”. So when will we find “the one.”

This is how illusions in society  will steer you from true forms of fulfillment in life.

With fear that this conversation is lacking depth, I think I have the perfect way to summarize my point. Now, don’t get me misconstrued,  tangled, or twitsted, I’m not a fan of Swine or enforcers of the laws of which we (sometimes) abide by… But man, a pig has never spoken truer words:

Baaram-ewe, baaram-ewe. To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true. Sheep be true. Baaram-ewe.”-Babe

We are all sheep in way or another, but it is a matter of staying true to yourself in the midst of all this media consumption, in the midst of society, and in the midst of the unknown…know yourself: sheep be true. 

 

Invisible Man: Visible Negro.

President Barack Obama’s image is slandered by a government official who holds a high raking seat in the US Senate …NBA star Gilbert Arenas’ image is torn off the side of Washington DC’s Verizon Center…while I’m right down the street, in my dorm room, looking at Ralph Ellison’s book, Invisible Man. The book is a depiction of the life and times of the “Negroes” of the mid 1900’s. He describes the world-view of a group of people society seemingly deemed invisible…no question, “Negroes” in the year 2010 are visible now.

In the first ten days of 2010:

I’ve seen Gilbert Arena’s face all over the place: the TV, the news, the blogs- it is everywhere, except for the side of the Verizon Center- where his image was literally torn down!

I’ve seen stories of President Barack Obama’s image slandered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid…and I wonder if this is the common thought with the majority of other leaders?

I have seen stories of rapper Lloyd Banks make headlines for his newest mixtape release, and his subsequent arrest on charges of assault and robbery.

There are a few hi-lights: Heisman trophy award winner and Alabama star running back Mark Ingram stood in-front of the unblinking red light on a live camera, as it fed a National audience: he respectfully honored his incarcerated father, and he didn’t flinch. I praised this in an open letter to the gentleman.

Sunday afternoon, Ray Lewis, a man with his own history of run-ins with the law, stood in-front of cameras after a remarkable performance on the gridiron. It was eerily similar to the Mark Ingram situation, except Ray spoke directly about his on-field performance. And instead of it being about his words or the way he appeared- it was the words on what he appeared in; a shirt he had been wearing under his jersey all game which read: “best dad”.

And right after that… I got into a conversation about Marshawn Lynch. A top ranked NFL running back, who is also from my home city of Oakland, Ca. Its seems Lynch has made recent headlines for allegedly stealing 20 bucks off of a restaurant table….

…Marshawn? A Black man? Oakland?…that hit home. Just think, this time last year, Oakland was rioting over the video phone images of a Black man, Oscar Grant, being murdered at the hands of a transit cop. And even that is still making headlines as the court case is now turning into another reason to riot, as they continuously postpone the hearing.

For Marshaun Lynch, Gilbert Arenas, and every story in-between, the stories are shady and the news is skewed. But there is one universal truth: we are watching you.

It seems as though, the tiny lens at the end of the microscope that Black men fall under, is directly connected to the larger than life images in mass media. I’m not amazed that the same “Negroes” Ralph Ellison wrote candidly about, have now become “visible”. But I do wonder if Ellison saw the potential for negroes to become visible in American society to this magnitude? And did he imagine we’d be seen in such a light?

And above all the other headlines thus far this year, I’m interested in the United States Census‘ results; just to see how many actual “Negroes” are seen in society.