Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball

A significant tendency in Hip-Hop Female Studies provides “a crunk feminist mode of resistance” that “will help you get your mind right.” Properly armed with the canon, “You might not only break the ‘Madonna/Whore split’ when dealing with ‘women in rap music,’ but you might even break up the two-party political system or better still the haves and have-nots!”

 

Women’s History Month, Hip-Hop and The Ten Crunk Commandments

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball

We are drunk off the heady theory of feminism that proclaims that another world is possible.”

They may claim that their commandments are to reinvigorate Hip-Hop Feminist Studies but as I heard them discussed by the brothers at TRGGR Radio this week, The Crunk Feminist Collective, authors of the Ten Crunk Commandments, may be able to reinvigorate much more than any one particular field of inquiry. Intellectuals, activists and artists have a more or less constant need to be reinvigorated and generally speaking those in the hip-hop community are no different. So it is good to know some strong women are endeavoring to yet again save us all.

As the collective explains, the term “crunk” combines “crazy,” or “chronic” and “drunk,” to describe a state of being “crazy drunk.” It signifies hyper-intoxication but, here, as they say, “ …where merely getting crunk signaled that you were out of your mind, a crunk feminist mode of resistance will help you get your mind right… As part of a larger women-of-color feminist politic, crunkness, in its insistence on the primacy of the beat, contains a notion of movement, timing, and of meaning-making through sound, that is especially productive for our work together… In other words, what others may call audacious and crazy, we call CRUNK because we are drunk off the heady theory of feminism that proclaims that another world is possible.”

You can read The Ten Crunk Commandments in their entirety online but here are my thoughts on why these commandments are so valuable, beyond their importance to the important work of Hip-Hop and Feminist Studies:

Their first commandment, “Know your history,” is great. We should have and know the canon in any field that we enter or want to improve. But just like they say in their second commandment, “Don’t romanticize the Past.” As they say, “there is no Hip Hop Eden” and that’s true musically, as well as, intellectually. We are collectively getting our butts kicked out here so lets definitely raise up the canon and then fire one [cannon] at it filled with today’s conditions and questions to see how it holds up. This requires the third commandment, “Positions – Knows Yours/Take One.” Place yourself politically and state that position and, as commanded, “be willing to take intellectual and creative risks, to question orthodoxy.”

We must ‘Recognize the Power of the Collective.’”

Number four, “Contextualize and Situate” the socio-political conditions which have shaped these fields of inquiry precisely because they have shaped the people themselves. This will help to, number five, “Avoid the pitfalls of presentism” to know that these conditions are part of a continuing process that your investigations must not be so narrow as to miss and, therefore, have less relevance. So when you, number six, “Embrace ambivalence” or “reject false binaries” you might not only break the “Madonna/Whore split” when dealing with “women in rap music,” but you might even break up the two-party political system or better still the haves and have-nots!

This requires that we, number seven, “Envision the possibilities,” to move beyond merely “deconstructing” and to actually begin asking questions about what society we want to build. So we definitely need to, number eight, “Wield technology” specifically, as the collective commands, for “social movements.” Its bigger than Twitter because, number nine, “Lived Realities Still Matter.” Our work must be “accountable to the people” and reflect their immediate and future needs. Because, as the tenth commandment states, we must “Recognize the Power of the Collective.” That is where the power is. With the people, not the famous, not the rich and not the politician the rich and famous tell us to vote for.

The sisters are speaking and that’s some of what I heard.

Acknowledging that Women’s History has no Month, I’m Jared Ball for Black Agenda Radio.

For more, including links to more evidence sent to us by friends that hip-hop is very much alive and in the hands of brilliant women, see us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Hip-Hop Lives, Check Her Out:

Stahhr - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qWUj_ZXNvU

Boog Brown - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SGeFP68VfY

Sa Roc - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCfaVFIijP0

Rita J - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksbUUS-iTls

Kalae - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igh--Qv5n1k

Psalm One - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Ls9KSmhTw

Tiye Phoenix - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccc9p5am7mo

SoulFlower - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-x6dKTBJUI

Tiff The Gift - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFFcUfxwuJ8&feature=related

Akua Naru - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyVbOFLkOw8&feature=related

Invincible - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxZbpbCKKL4

Dominique Larue - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcihEc2XoqA&feature=related

Jean Grae - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJMgnuUnrBU&feature=related

She the Hard Way - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joWKTN49BDE

Direct download: 20110316_jb_WomensHistory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The surfacing of a 1970 open letter from 69 Black journalists “reaffirming” to the Black community that they would “not be spies for anybody,” stands in stark contrast to the current state of African American journalism. “It is almost impossible to imagine that so large and prominent a group of Black journalists would affirm their responsibility to the Black community, today, or even acknowledge that such a responsibility exists.”

A Reminder of When Black Journalism Meant Something

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We are not the white world’s spies in the black community nor will we be used as such.”

It has been so long since there existed a vibrant, principled and effective Black journalism, few young people today have experienced it. The Black printed press is a flickering shadow of its former self, Black radio news is less than a whisper, having been made nearly extinct decades ago, and television offers a menagerie of Black news readers who don’t even write their own lines or care what comes out of their mouths. So, I felt privileged when I recently received an electronic copy of a February, 1970 advertisement in the New York Amsterdam News, a Black paper that, thankfully, still exists. The 41 year-old ad was a “message to the Black community” from 69 Black Journalists, in support of Black New York Timesreporter Earl Caldwell. Caldwell had been covering the Black Panther Party for the Times for more than a year, when the FBI subpoenaed him to testify before a federal grand jury, in California. They wanted to pick his brain and his notebooks in order to build a case against the Panthers. Caldwell refused – an act of personal courage and principle.

Caldwell’s defiance of the Nixon Administration galvanized a Black press corps that had grown in both size and militancy during the previous decade and, most importantly, considered itself part of, and beholden, to the Black Freedom Movement. Their words, published in the 1970 newspaper ad, are worth hearing, today.

The Black press corps considered itself part of, and beholden, to the Black Freedom Movement.”

It is of the utmost importance,” the Black journalists wrote, “that our position as black men and women in the news business be reaffirmed to the black community. We do not intend to be used as spies, informers or undercover agents by anybody – period!”

The open letter continued:

We are not the white world’s spies in the black community nor will we be used as such. We are not undercover agents for local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies, nor will we be used as such. We are not spokesmen for the black community. As black journalists we are attempting to interpret, with as great an understanding and truth as is possible, the nation’s social revolutions.”

That was February of 1970. It is almost impossible to imagine that so large and prominent a group of Black journalists would affirm their responsibility to the Black community, today, or even acknowledge that such a responsibility exists. In the intervening four decades, corporations have consolidated their hegemony over the means of communication, creating a kind of bubble of disinformation, propaganda and just plain nonsense that makes Americans possibly the most uninformed and misinformed people on earth. Serious, genuine Black-controlled news gathering has been missing for so long, most people wouldn't recognize it if they stumbled upon it. But I'm grateful to Tamara Nopper, the Philadelphia-based writer and researcher who dug and dug until she uncovered the ad supporting Earl Caldwell in the Amsterdam News, an almost archeological find from a time when Black journalism had real social force, when Black journalists saw their mission as one of service to their people, rather than climbing up a corporate ladder.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Tamara Nopper can be contacted at kiljakim2003@yahoo.com

Direct download: 20110316_gf_BlackJournalism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:27am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Racism is a powerful potion. It invents fungible constructs that can be deployed against new targets that are not comprised wholly of people of color. “Public workers have now become fair game for abuse, because they are associated with Blackness – the ultimate American curse.”

 

The Blackenization of Public Sector Employment

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Public employees have been associated with Blacks ever since they began unionizing.”

America’s racist chickens are coming home to roost – in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and California, under Republican governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich, and Democratic governors named Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown, as well. Racism has always been the Achilles Heel of the U.S. labor movement, the insurmountable obstacle centered in white American hearts and minds that has prevent the United States from forging any kind of real, lasting compact between its peoples. If there is an American exceptionalism, it is race, which has kept the U.S. from even coming close to forming a true working people’s party.

It is racism that allows poverty to be perceived as something that Black people have afflicted on the nation, rather than the other way around. It is the multitudinous crimes of racism that have made criminality synonymous with Black in the American mind. And, through the remarkable powers of racial transference, public workers have now become fair game for abuse, because they are associated with Blackness – the ultimate American curse.

The fact that Blacks are disproportionately represented in government employment makes the entire public sector vulnerable to attack – not just because billionaires like the Koch brothers back Tea Party politicians, but because huge sections of the white public are prepared to withhold solidarity for racial reasons. When the Post Office became perceived as too Black, public support for the Postal Service began to evaporate. Black people’s relative success in the public workforce, where civil service regulations limited the reach of raw racism, has allowed rightwing politicians to slander public workers as the equivalent of “welfare queens.” Many of the same white workers that feel so assaulted by the language of the Right, deployed the same vocabulary against Black people they considered shiftless and lazy freeloaders and malingers. That’s the chicken coming home to roost.

Racism has always been the Achilles Heel of the U.S. labor movement.”

Monica Wilson, a Black Madison, Wisconsin organizer, puts it this way: “They came for us already, and now they’re coming for all of them.”

Public employees have been associated with Blacks ever since they began unionizing. Nelson Lichtenstein, of the University of California's Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy, says “the origins of public sector unionism coincide with the rise of the civil rights movement.

The most famous strike in American history, today, is the Memphis sanitation strike,” in support of which Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Dr. Lichtenstein says the Memphis strike has “eclipsed” the 1936 Flint, Michigan auto workers strike, “and probably eclipsed Homestead,” the 1892 steel workers strike - two seminal moments in U.S. labor history.

And now Wisconsin and Ohio are moving to break their public sector unions. What does the future look like? It threatens to look like the same place most Black folks came from, and where more than half still live: the South. The future, if it is allowed to happen, looks like the present in Black activist Kevin Alexander Gray's home state. Gray will tell you that “South Carolina is first when it comes to everything bad, and last when it comes to everything good.” The nation's fate is anything but unknown. The chickens know where they came from.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110316_gf_BlacksUnions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59pm EDT