Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Archive for March 2013

Keep It Real, Rick Ross

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One of these things is not like the…wait, maybe not

 

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Rick Ross at all.  I can appreciate a rapper who has a great ear for picking beats to rhyme over, as much as I can an individual who can establish relevance with his own music label with a proud cokehead as one of his marquee acts.

It’s appalling enough to me that we have a rapper who lied about being a correctional officer, continues to use the identity of a drug dealer as his stage name (said drug dealer who was so offended by this that he sued him–and lost!); and who consistently puts out street anthems in which he adapts yet another person’s persona in order to make a hit song.

Dude has been Big Meech, Larry Hoover.  MC Hammer. Freeway Ricky Ross.

And now, the person who wants to be known as anyone but William Roberts wants to be that creepy guy at the party that your parents told you about.

The one if you leave your drink unattended. even for a second, you might as well just throw it out.  

Hm.  That rhymed.

I won’t link the song in my blog.  I feel as if that gives it even more controversy and some dumbass kid who stumbles across this post will probably end up listening to the whole thing and trying to justify it.

Or, worse yet, they could just do like Roberts himself and refuse to even accept responsibility for this type of lyricism, or lack thereof, in the music.

The article I’ve linked above is basically an interview where Roberts is doing damage control and basically saying, well, I don’t condone that.  And I never actually used the word “rape,” so that’s not accurate.

So maybe someone can use my comments section who might actually have a clue about what “popping a molly in her drink” and then, “having fun with her, and she don’t even know it” would be making reference to.

This originally started off as an open letter to dude.  However, I’ve decided to save that for the people who actually deserve it (more on that soon).  I’ve already spent enough words explaining a situation that should never have happened in the first place.

It’s partially our fault for accepting it, though.

We accept the foolishness in our music, allow these artists to play on our radio stations. We watch the videos.  We download their music and follow them on Twitter.

Worst of all, we allow them to blatantly perpetrate a lifestyle that they may or may not actually lead, in order to entertain us.

As long as we continue to give them a voice and support their behavior and the things they choose to speak about in their music, we are just as guilty.

Here’s another disclaimer: I remember when Eminem first came out with the Marshall Mathers LP, and being completely appalled at the lyrics on the album.  

The difference here is that I never actually saw Eminem run from the controversy.  Instead, he used the music to create a debate about why we actually found this acceptable to listen to in the first place.  And in the meantime, he just so happened to get rich off of it–and then, repeated the formula with 50 Cent and sold drug music and violence to hip-hop all over again, making anyone who railed against homophobia, misogyny, and an assortment of other social ills while banging Get Rich Or Die Trying or The Slim Shady LP complete hypocrites.

Myself included.

So today, being a grownup, I say this. 

Some things are acceptable as art as long as they push the right boundaries and make room for discussion about what we value as a society.

There is no room for fakes and frauds in hip-hop, especially if they are designed to mislead and corrupt our people, especially our young men and women.

I intentionally did not use the word “artist” when referring to Roberts’ music. Nor will I until he looks in the mirror and admits to himself that he has been living someone else’s life and attempting to pretend that he isn’t who he really is.

Because art, at it’s most basic, is truth.

Track #4 on God Forgives, I Don’t, ironically titled “Ashamed”, has him uttering the lines, “Before I was a fetus/I had the genes of a leader.”

If this is remotely true, then he can start by leading by example and not hiding behind the music.

Written by aceviewblogger

March 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Canaries and Coal Mines: On Adria Richards

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Even though the furor over the whole Adria Richards Tweet-gate has seemed to die down, it really doesn’t take away from the fact that still, even after all we’ve learned about minorities in any field and how they are often the butt of jokes, bullying and exclusion—

–we still excuse the perpetrator’s behavior or attempt to minimize what wrong they’ve done by saying, “well, so and so blew xyz out of proportion.”

Which is why I believe that the screenshot above, taken directly from her twitter feed, speaks volumes about what behaviors we should reward and consider heroic.

For those unfamiliar with the story or too lazy to click the link, here’s a quick summary: Woman at conference where there are few women already hears male colleagues behind her making inappropriate (and corny) sexual jokes.  Woman takes picture of men, posts to Twitter.  Event organizers hear of it, speak with men, one of whom eventually loses his job.  Woman also loses her job after controversy erupts.

And yet, the biggest debate is whether or not she took things too far by standing up for herself and calling attention to the offensive behavior.  Even in the story I linked to, the first thing that comes up after a description of what happened is the question about how SHE could have handled the situation better.

Here’s what I think:

I’ve often been told that I take things too seriously, especially when it comes to matters of race.  And I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes this is accurate.

But seeing things through the eyes of someone who has been bullied for everything from race and skin shade to size to coming from a two-parent household (never understood that one, to this day), you eventually do one of two things with being marginalized:

1) Develop an extremely thick skin to the point where nothing bothers you, at all, as a defense mechanism, and become desensitized to the point where you ignore any of the symptoms of being targeted because of your differences, or

2) Implode and self-destruct because of holding in your feelings or explode and verbally, physically, or spiritually harm one or more people.

I’ve been both of those people at different points in my life, on all points of the spectrum.  And I have to say, I’m not usually proud of or satisfied with the results from either of the two.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to ask for a third, more viable option, where we just simply ask others to treat people well from the beginning and act accordingly to the values that we say that we hold dearly?  Is it too much to ask people to not make inappropriate jokes at work or work events where others have to choose between cringing and remaining silent or having to make the situation more awkward by telling another adult how to behave?

Wouldn’t it be easier to teach your kids not to stare at people who look different than them in Wal-Mart?

Would it not be easier to accept people as they are, as long as their differences aren’t harming you, and embrace them rather than isolating them?

Isn’t it be easier to treat others how you would want to be treated?

I may have answered my own question(s).  Apparently, it’s not that easy. 

Doing nothing and standing by or ignoring the problem is much easier. 

But canaries back in the day didn’t have that option.  Sometimes you do have to sacrifice yourself to make a stand for what you believe is right. 

So for a second, today, please take a moment to remind yourselves that people are people.  Like you.

And despite this post being inspired by and starting with Adria Richards’ story, please be reminded that there should be no need for canaries in coal mines anymore. 

We, too, should be more advanced by now as human beings.

Written by aceviewblogger

March 29, 2013 at 9:35 am

The System’s Broken; The Schools Is Closed, The Prison’s Open

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Full disclosure: I went to school in the Chicago suburbs, from kindergarten to senior year of high school.

And although I can say that there were things we definitely missed out on that our counterparts in the predominately white suburbs had access to (astronomy classes? Damn, we barely have science classes!), I will say that we often heard one refrain from teachers, faculty and parents:

“Well, at least you aren’t in Chicago Public Schools.”

And, judging by what’s going on today, they were right.  Because as strapped for materials and some other luxuries that others seemed to take for granted, we never had to worry about our grade or high schools being closed or consolidated.

We didn’t have to worry about crossing through gang territory to get through school because it was pretty much all gang territory, anyway because most of us took the bus, drove or got rides to school, or lived close enough that a walk would not be reenacting scenes from The Warriors.

So yeah, we were lucky.

Not so much if you’re a Chicago Public School student in 2013.  Especially a black or Hispanic student in 2013, as the growing list of schools scheduled for closing will affect students who just happen to be of that background.

(Writer’s note: At the time of this writing, that list was 30+ schools.  For a complete and updated list, go here.)

And it got me to thinking, about a fraternity brother who I hope will let me tell his story here one day, who was recently released from jail.

It’s not enough that he was jailed, but since his conviction was overturned by a higher court, the prosecutors have to decide now if they want to pursue a retrial in his case.

The fact that they would even consider it tells me more about the priorities of what’s important in our state and federal government than I expected to know:

They want us in jail instead of learning different trades and occupations to stay out of jail.

They’d rather take your 14th Amendment rights than to have you learn about them.

Why would you spend the money to pursue charges that were thrown out all over again against someone who, before their arrest, was a few credits shy of a bachelor’s and who has talked more about getting their master’s than ever before?  

You know, instead of attempting to focus efforts on not closing schools and putting resources into making sure kids know what options they have before they consider resorting to crime?

It’s this simple, or at least I think it is–your knowledge is not as immediately profitable to them.  Not as profitable as it would be to have you in jail and to be able to control your every move.  And no, the statistic about how much it actually costs to house prisoners does nothing for me.  In fact, it further reminds me that taxpayers funds are being allocated more frequently to imprison the bodies of more and more minorities rather than training their minds and hearts for greatness.

The title of this entry comes from a line from Kanye West’s “Power,” and I think it captures the events of today perfectly.  There are a wave of protests scheduled for tonight, and tomorrow, and probably more in the days after that.  And I fully expect to see the frustration grow as the days go on and parents realize that as these schools close and resources are taken away and redirected to send their kids to prison instead of prom.

Not that I think that it will change the mind of Mayor Emanuel or the school board.

But we ain’t got nothing to lose.

So motherfucker, we rolling…

Written by aceviewblogger

March 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

The Face of Racism

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Maybe this is just a delicious form of facial skin treatment. Or….

 

I’ve been on Facebook off and on for the last couple days, and I’ve noticed that there is a trend of race memes going back and forth between my black friends and more of my black friends, who are the ones thinking that we’re taking some of these things too seriously.

And so it only seems fair that I write about the one shown above that inspired this entry, because sometimes, a picture is already worth a 1,000 words.

But ain’t nobody got time for that.  

So here’s a couple hundred of those on what I think is funny:

Black people, myself included, are often accused of being overly sensitive to matters of race.  We are often looking at every instance where a slight, real or imagined, comes into our world, under this racial microscope.

It gets old after a while, the constant questioning of other races around you, and wondering if it’s really just you that’s being too sensitive.  

And maybe you start to wonder if you should just accept that this is the way that things are; with the rest of the world just pegging you as having a chip on your shoulder.

And then, you see that there are pictures like this out there, and you realize that it’s not the chip on your shoulder that’s weighing you down.

It’s the reality that this ignorance and disrespect of our culture is generational, and is passed down through the years from the old folks to their parents to their kids, to their kids…

It’s enough to make you resent the white adults that teach their kids this.

It’s enough to then make you resent the kids that you see that stare at you in the stores.

And best of all, since you can’t tell them apart in public until someone steps out of line completely, it’s easier to just put everyone in the same category and just avoid connections with white people in the first place.

‘Cause you know, this is what they really think about us.  So we shouldn’t give them the chance to know who we really are.

And, since they don’t know who we really are, this kind of behavior can be even more justified.  Because we are not to be respected or feared or loved, but mocked.

And then the cycle begins again.

So I’m going to attempt to stop it here.  I don’t have any more words to give to the two idiots pictured above, or those who think like them openly or behind closed doors.  

Instead, my words will be designed to reach the ones who actually are receptive to the fact that we are a people who are angry and hurt over a lot of things, the most important being that most of us will probably never be able to call a place our home country, after being uprooted during the slave trade and forced to build and contribute to a country in which we are no longer welcome.

And that’s just what I’ll do.  From now on.

Meanwhile, y’all enjoy the Nutella.

Written by aceviewblogger

March 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Jonylah Forever-Lyrics

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There is no actual entry today.

Instead, below are the transcribed lyrics to the song dedicated to Jonylah Watkins from Chicago rapper/activist Lupe Fiasco.

I figured if a song could have me near tears at 4 in the morning, the words are probably worth posting.

If you haven’t heard the song yet, go here.

See y’all Monday.

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(You live)

How ‘bout them bullets ain’t slow you up

You ain’t really die and we watched you grow up

At twelve months you took your first steps

Uncle Lee across the kitchen floor to your best

Your first breaths that we can call words

Were in your fathers’ lap on November 23rd

And they would live for me

And he did for you, flipped a neutron and stayed inside the crib for you

And this commitment from your father imparted a deep sense of value you’d forever harbor

We were all so proud as we seen you getting smarter

And the bond grow deep between a mother and a daughter

‘Cause you were not a martyr

You live

 

At 6 you started reading whole books

At 7 you knew how a brain looked

And could roughly describe all the different regions

Could tell when we were sick, and even knew the reasons

The world wasn’t at peace, gunfire every weekend

But you were hardly there, ‘cause you were always leaving

Field Museum, planetarium, aquarium

You saw something special in the tank you were staring in

And in those moments, as a little girl

You realized there was a bigger world

Bigger than the South Side, bigger than Chicago

You were bigger still wanted rims on your car though

And big-ass woofers in your car door

So you could wang like your daddy at the park eatin’ Sharks

Went to King where you were teached to being smart

When you bumped into Hadiya teaching art

You live

Forever

 

At 16 is when you got your scholarship

At 22 is when you got your doctorate

Even now it’s kind of hard to believe

But your father taught you work hard, and achieve

And you complied, accepted by every medical school you applied

But the coolest thing is when they offered you that high paying slot you replied

“They need me in the hood,” and that’s where you reside

Free clinic, nobody denied

That’s when you heard the shots and quickly ran outside

And saw a man in a van with a bleeding baby in his hands

Fading fast but you knew she could survive

Did everything you could to keep this girl alive

Stabilized until the ambulance arrived

And in that moment where you gave your help

I bet you didn’t know that you saved yourself

You live

Written by aceviewblogger

March 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm

#SmellTheRoses

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I took a couple days off from updating this blog because, as someone mentioned to me in my Facebook inbox, it’s kind of a downer when you have a blog dedicated to minority issues and with a focus on black communities across the world and there is never any positive news to report on.

Well, there is.  The Doc McStuffins entry from a couple weeks ago drew a few interested readers and probably some kids who were looking for what time the show came on, but I digress.

The bigger point is that for every tragic thing that I choose to write about, there is a positive story that I’m not writing about.  And so I’ve made a point to include at least one thing per week that is, indeed, positive.  Even if the situation that produces it is far and away negative.

So, in the wake of 6-month old Jonylah Watkins being shot five times and murdered in Chicago, there seems to be a silver lining to this awfully dark cloud.

Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose has reportedly offered to cover the funeral costs of the little girl.

And apparently, this isn’t the first time he’s done such a thing.

Which brings to mind how rapper Lupe Fiasco started a trending topic on Twitter a few months ago (y’know, before Rose tore his leg up and the Bulls playoff hopes went to shit) with the hashtag #SmellTheRoses, a Chuck Norris-esque list of sayings dedicated to the legendary level at which Rose is already playing basketball.

What’s even better is that as good of a basketball player as he is, he appears to be an even greater person.  By providing a positive to such a city where such negativity seems to be bred in the streets, and so many leave and never look back unless there is some kind of incentive–

–it gives the phrase “smell the roses” a different meaning that I don’t think Lupe had in mind when he got onto Twitter.

We take a lot of time to pay attention to the things that our athletes do on the court or field.  But Dwayne Wade donating funds to keep a library open is overlooked and a footnote.  Derrick Rose’s career will be a legendary one, but unless we shine the light on these things of note that show their character and measure them as great men when they aren’t handling a ball, they will continue to go unnoticed.

And so, while fans in the city where he was born and raised, the league, and people around the world await him to step back onto a basketball court in uniform, I’m asking all of us to pause, for a second.

If you know of someone who is doing good in this world to balance out the hurt that this world can bring us, thank them.

So thank you, Derrick Rose.  And get well soon.  (But take your time.  Pleeeease.)

For the rest of you, take a moment to stop and #SmellTheRoses, and appreciate the good that there is out there.

Written by aceviewblogger

March 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

For Jonylah

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During my time spent at Triton College, I had a professor who, to this day, remains one of the most influential educators I’ve ever met.

Not because of what he taught (history) or how he taught it (outright and intensely), but because he found meaning in anything, and made it somehow relevant.

One of my most memorable in-class moments from Professor Dixon was when he was illustrating the demeanor of a lesser known black civil rights leader (whose name escapes me at this point)–

–who, as he told us about his significance to black Americans, challenged us to find a picture of him smiling.

“Do you know why he was never photographed smiling?”

I had no idea, and neither did the rest of the class.

He went on.  “Because wasn’t a damn thing funny.”

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I was reminded of this class last night when the news broke that a baby had been shot in Chicago.

6 months old. In the front seat of her dad’s van, while her father changed her diaper. 

Couldn’t run or crawl away if she wanted to.

And someone decided that was the best time to exact revenge. 

The night before, my wife and I were having a discussion about how black life is devalued, and it leads to the kind of environment where it’s okay to creatively edit a news clip and showcase a proud 4-year old as a calloused, hardened adult.

And it got me to thinking, what does this matter to the world now?  After Hadiya?

Murders may be down overall in Chicago (they’re probably not), but I kind of felt like when a six-month old gets shot and rushed into surgery, it should lead the news that night.

So, just because, I stayed up a little late to see what was more important to our local news.  And I got to witness the ranking called The Importance Of Black Life, according to those who report the news.

 Apparently it goes weather, the next Pope, 5 Americans killed in chopper crash, Baby Shot.

If I could start somewhere, it’d probably be with reversing the order of the stories, because it seems that in order of importance and seriousness…well…

But apparently, almost having a degree in journalism does not give me that power. 

Nor does it give me the power to change outcomes, as she died later on that morning, after I went to bed.

Giving me a blog, however, gives me some sort of avenue to write about it.  Or at least to try to make sense of it.  So here goes:

Maybe this is a good thing, Jonylah.

Maybe old black history professors are wiser than we are, and maybe there is meaning in this and it is somehow relevant to us right now.  Because I can’t think of another reason why God or any form of higher being would teach us a lesson in this way.

Maybe it will spur Mayor Emanuel from his office and somewhere to actually do something meaningful to help reach the community and get these offenders caught.

(We commend you, Corey Brooks.  But $5,000 isn’t going to be enough for someone who kills a baby.)

Maybe it is best that your face be burned into the minds and dreams of everyone who thinks that the life of a baby is worth a mention seven minutes into a newscast.

Maybe it is best that the rappers in my city who won’t take responsibility for the violence they preach in their music, but who want to take on a positive stance when the violence they profit from recording spills into the streets (and don’t give me that it’s just entertainment shit, there are several entertaining rappers who have never killed anybody on a record)—are forced to deal with the reality that they are creating the soundtrack for violence.

Maybe now the fact that we have a problem that may very well be too big for us to deal with by marching against guns in our communities will be apparent and not something to be talked about a few months from now as a footnote to how bad last year was in Chicago.

Maybe you will be the watershed moment we’ve been looking for.  Because a 15-year old girl wasn’t enough.

And all it took was a 6-month old beautiful baby girl to die because of it.

Professor Dixon was right.  There’s not a damn thing funny at all, then or now, and maybe that’s what makes the situation we’ve been facing for this long so serious. 

So until we start taking it seriously, maybe we need our community to do the right thing and figure out if the code of silence applies in a case like this, or if there are some things worth fighting for. 

Not marching.  Fighting.

Taking back our community from the very gangs and lawless people that make up the minority and become folk heroes while the rest of the city has to worry about their child being the next one.

And not smiling, at all, while we do it.

Written by aceviewblogger

March 12, 2013 at 10:57 pm