J. Cole Talks About Colorism in Hip-Hop and the White House

J. Cole Talks About Colorism in Hip-Hop and the White House

North Carolina native J. Cole recently sat down for an interview with BET and admitted he might not be as successful in hip-hop if he were dark-skinned:

You’ve talked about including dark-skinned women in your music videos versus all light-skinned women. The light-skinned, dark-skinned issue certainly affects women in hip hop; does it affect men in hip hop?

I can’t say it for sure but I just think we’re still in America. We’re still Black Americans. Those mental chains are still in us. That brainwashing that tells us that light skin is better, it’s subconsciously in us, whether we know it or not… still pursuing light skin women. There are some women out there that are like, “I don’t even like light skin men” and that’s fine. But Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin. You know what I mean? That’s just the truth.  I might not be as successful as I am now if I was dark skin. I’m not saying that for sure, I’m still as talented as I am and Obama is still as smart as he is, but it’s just a sad truth… I don’t even know if this is going to translate well into text and people not hearing what I’m saying, but it’s a sad reality. So I can only naturally assume it’s probably easier for a light skin male rapper than it might be for a dark skin male rapper. It’s all subconscious s***, nobody’s aware — I think that s*** still subconsciously affects us.

Read the entire interview over at BET. It’s not the first time that Cole has spoken publicly about race. Back in a 2011 interview with XXL, the rapper talked about being biracial (his mother is white):

I can identify with White people, because I know my mother, her side of the family, who I love. I’ve had White friends. I know people from high school that I might not have hung out with outside of high school, but I think I got to know them pretty well, so I know they sense of humor. But at the end of the day, I never felt White. I don’t know what that feels like. I can identify. But never have I felt like I’m one of them. Not that I wanted to, or tried to, but it just was what it was. I identify more with what I look like, because that’s how I got treated. Not necessarily in a negative way. But when you get pulled over by the police, I can’t pull out my half-White card. Or if I just meet you on the street, you’re not gonna be like, This guy seems half-White.

Meet Abby White, the Worst Interracial Relationship Counselor Ever

Meet Abby White, the Worst Interracial Relationship Counselor Ever

Because some racism is just so bad that you’ve gotta laugh, here’s a short piece of satire directed by Doan La. Also, check out this interview with the filmmaker.

(Via Angry Asian Man)

An App That Lets You Design Your Own Self-Guided Civil Rights Tour

An App That Lets You Design Your Own Self-Guided Civil Rights Tour

This weekend’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is as good a time as ever to revisit the history of the Civil Rights Movement. If a group of a web developers have their way, accessing that history is about to get a lot easier with Freedom Lifted, a smartphone app that lets users map out their own self-guided tours of museums, monuments, cemeteries, and unmarked spots that were pivotal in the formation of the movement’s history.

“I believe the app can open up a new world for people who want to know more about history, but don’t have access to it or were turned off by it in school,” says Mia Henry, the project’s founder and owner-operator. “This is a way that history can really come alive for people.”

Henry has taken to crowdsourcing in an effort to raise $10,000 to develop the app.

She added: “By giving as little as $5, you will be part of a new endeavor to really give everyone access to their history in order to inform activism in the future.”

The Moment Macklemore Saw His Own Merch in the Thrift Shop

The Moment Macklemore Saw His Own Merch in the Thrift Shop

We all know that Macklemore loves the thrift shop. But when his own merchandise ends up there? Awkward.

MacklemoreThriftShop.jpg(Via Instagram)

TAGS: Macklemore

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.D city’ Goes Platinum

Kendrick Lamar's 'good kid, m.A.A.D city' Goes Platinum

Kendrick Lamar may have spoken his success into existence when he anointed himself the king of hip-hop. A couple of weeks ago, his debut album “good kid, m.A.A.d city” was no.52 on the Billboard charts. But the rapper’s highly touted verse was released as part of Big Sean’s “Control”, the album shot up to no. 40. Even though Interscope presented Lamar with a platinum plaque back in June, the album officially went platinum last week, thanks in no small part to his battle rap.

(Via VIBE)

Bradley Manning Talks Race and Justice

Bradley Manning Talks Race and Justice

Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years for sharing documents with WikiLeaks. The sentence was lower than the 60 years the US government argued for—and Manning will be eligible for parole in about 12 years.

There’s been a lot to learn from the trial. There’s also a lot to take away about Manning’s motivations from a statement released today. The statement seems at least partially rooted in a racial justice framework. It reads, in part:

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. 

You can read the statement in its entirety over at Common Dreams. 

A Tale of Two (or Three) Marches in Washington, D.C.

A Tale of Two (or Three) Marches in Washington, D.C.

Some may be confused about the spate of events happening over the next seven days, all sharing some version of the label “50th anniversay of the 1963 March on Washington.” We know that there is a massive march this Saturday through downtown Washington, D.C., that will feature civil rights activist and “Politics Nation” host Al Sharpton. But we also know that President Barack Obama is speaking at another event on Wednesday, Aug. 28, also honoring the 50th anniversary of the historic march. But which one is the official?

As it was explained to me by a spokesperson from the National Action Network, which is the lead convener for the Saturday event, “It’s like a birthday. You may have your birthday on a certain day and I may take you out to dinner on that day, but then someone else is having a party for you on another day.”

The event this Saturday, officially billed the “50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March & Rally,” is the official march commemorating the 1963 massive demonstration that featured Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It is primarily coordinated by Sharpton’s National Action Network and Martin Luther King III. There are dozens of other partnering organizations involved, including the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Urban League, SEIU, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. 

But it is one of a string of events over the next seven days that all fall under the The 50th Anniversary Coalition for Jobs, Justice and Freedom. The event held on August 28, which will close the seven-day commemoration, is the “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony to honor King. That event will feature an address from President Obama and speeches from former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. 

Other conferences, symposiums and gatherings held throughout the week can be found at MLK Dream 50

The 50th Anniversary Coalition hosting the full week of events includes the civil rights groups that organized the 1963 march: King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, National Urban League, and King’s family. 

Other organizations in D.C. and around the nation are planning events that will honor the 1963 march, but there are some groups and websites that appear to have a dubious connection to the official events. 

The website 50th Anniversary March on Washington is promoting the August 28 event, but doesn’t seem to have any actual ties to the 50th Anniversary Coalition. The website’s owner is a Rochester, N.Y., lawyer named Van White who heads the Center for the Study of Civil and Human Rights Laws. It has information about an August 27 conference on civil rights and an online store where you can buy books, buttons, calendars and t-shirts that have images from the 1963 march. It even has a Twitter accout and Facebook page. 

But when I talked to media organizers of both the August 24 march and the August 28 event, no one knew who he was. 

“I have never heard of him, I don’t know anything about him,” said Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, the press contact for the 50th Anniversary Coalition. 

Media reps from the National Action Network said they didn’t know who he was either. 

In a Washington Post article about this week’s events, White is attributed as an organizer of the August 28 event.

“I understand the symbolism of a march,” said White in the article. “But if it’s just a march, and you’re not doing anything to rectify the problems, what’s the march for?”

No one answered when I made multiple calls to White’s law office, and emails to him have not been returned. 

More information on the Saturday, August 24 march can be found at the National Action Network’s website. The official Twitter and Facebook accounts of the 50th Anniversary Coalition can provide more information on this week’s full agenda. 

Macklemore: ‘I’m a White Guy, Parents Feel Safe’

Macklemore: 'I'm a White Guy, Parents Feel Safe'

Macklemore’s comments about white privilege are making their way around the Internet. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the Seattle-based rapper (legal name: Ben Haggerty) acknowleges that he wouldn’t have been successful if he weren’t white.

“If you’re going to be a white dude and do this shit, I think you have to take some level of accountability,” Haggerty says. “You have to acknowledge where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it. At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging that, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013 with the success that The Heist has had.”

“We made a great album,” he continues, “but I do think we have benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something. A song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids. It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my ass off in the song, the fact that I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their six-year-olds listen to it. I mean it’s just…it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no.”

This isn’t stuff he’s just thought about since he began making hit records. Back in 2009, the rapper released a song called “White Privilege.” You can listen to on YouTube.

South Asian New Yorkers Speak Out Against Stop and Frisk

South Asian New Yorkers Speak Out Against Stop and Frisk

Amid the Twtterversey over Kal Penn’s tweets about the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy, South Asian youth in New York City with the group Desi’s Up and Rising (DRUM) began a campaign to bring awareness to how the NYPD policy targets people of color, including South Asian youth. You can see the series of photomemes on the DRUM’s Facebook page.


The Washington, D.C., Football Team Didn’t Exactly Approve This Shirt

The Washington, D.C., Football Team Didn't Exactly Approve This Shirt

We’re only a few weeks away from the official kickoff of the NFL season, and with Washington, DC’s football team defiantly holding on to its racist team name, stuff like the shirt below — featuring star quarterback Robert Griffin III and a caricature a Native man (aka the team’s mascot) —  is sadly predictable.

D.C. Sports Blogger Ryan Kelly spotted this shirt for sale in a store on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland.


(Via Deadspin)

M.I.A. Is Sick of Waiting for Her Record Label, Releases New Track

M.I.A. Is Sick of Waiting for Her Record Label, Releases New Track

M.I.A’s new album “Matangi” is slated for released on November 5, but she’s tired of waiting around for her label, Interscope, to get its act together. So she’s dropped some new music on her own. 

(Via Jezebel)

Watch: Cops Plant Crack in Black Business to Arrest Owner

Watch: Cops Plant Crack in Black Business to Arrest Owner

Police officers in Schenectady County, New York had their eye on Donald Andrews Jr., an African-American local businessman and owner of a small smoke shop in town. And apparently, cops were willing to go above and beyond to insure his arrest, including planting crack cocaine in clear view of the store’s multiple security cameras. 

“[The officer] comes in, places the crack on the counter. Crack, which under federal sentencing guidelines, would get him 4 years in jail. Under New York State law would get him 2 to 7 years in jail,” attorney Kevin Luibrand said while narrating the video for an audience that was in stunned by what they saw.

Andrews was initially arrested but released after the other investigating officers saw the video evidence. The Schenectady Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has taken up the matter.

And the cop caught on video planting the evidence? He’s on the run.



Artist Creates ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Paper Dolls

Artist Creates 'Orange Is the New Black' Paper Dolls

Can’t wait for the second season of Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is the New Black”? Then check out these paper dolls, created by artist Emily Niland.


OITNB2.jpg OITNB3.jpg OITNB4.jpg

(h/t Jezebel)

MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech Was Also About Police Brutality

MLK's 'I Have a Dream' Speech Was Also About Police Brutality

You’re probably pretty familiar with some part of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech. You can probably easily compel your mind to hear Dr. King’s voice talking about the “red hills of Georgia,” before concluding with “the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!” And you’re likely to hear bits of it again in these days leading up to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

But those are a few seconds of a more than 15-minute long speech, during which King talked not only about racial justice, but specifically addressed “the unspeakable horrors of police brutality” wreaked upon blacks, twice. As The Atlantic points out, however, you’re not likely to have watched the brilliant speech in its entirety due to complicated and ever-evolving copyright laws.

At least one site has posted the speech in its entirety, however, as “a small act of civil disobedience.” 

Kendrick Lamar Explains His Black Hippy Crew

Kendrick Lamar Explains His Black Hippy Crew

Kendrick Lamar has had a busy summer. In addition to offering up the verse-heard-around-the-Internet, the 26-year-old rapper has also logged more minutes — 46 hours, 2,760 minutes— performing at music festivals than any other big-name artist. Lamar recently big upped his Black Hippy crew (ScHoolboy Q x Ab-Soul x Jay Rock).

(h/t Okayplayer)

Meet the Lead Actors of the New Spike Lee Joint

Meet the Lead Actors of the New Spike Lee Joint

With about a day left in his successful Kickstarter campaign, Spike Lee has announced the new lead actors for his unnamed film: Zaraah Abrahams and Stephon Tyrone Williams. Abrahams is a British actress known for her performance in “Waterloo Road” and for competing on “Dancing on Ice.”

Lee posted an update to his Kickstarter page with more information about Williams:

Ladies and Gentleman Mr. Stephen Tyrone Williams has been offered the Lead MALE Role in my New Spike Lee Joint. I first saw the fresh face and abundance of Talent at The Broadway Opening of the late Nora Ephron’s LUCKY GUY starring Tom Hanks Directed by My Main Man George Wolfe. Stephen’s performance as Abner Louima was haunting. The Opening Night Audience held their collective captive breath as he retells the terror of being sodomized with a Billy Club by one of New York’s Finest. At the After Party, I found Stephen and told him how much I enjoyed his performance and God Willing One day we would be able to work together. Well, that day is here. Stephen Tyrone Williams is gonna do his THANG. And That’s The Bloody Truth Ruth.

Lee set out to raise $1.25 million on Kickstarter and has gotten more than $1.35 million.

TAGS: Spike Lee

What’s On Your ‘Black Power is For Men’ Booklist?

What's On Your 'Black Power is For Men' Booklist?

Lots of smart and critical people have been chiming in at the #blackpowerisformen hashtag — initiated by EBONY editor Jamilah Lemieux on Twitter —  to challenge the ways in which gender is often divorced from discussions of race and racism in the United States. Cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal took the discussions a step further by putting together a list of seminal books on the topic.  Here are some of his picks (see the full list here) — what would you add?

Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins, Routledge
In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thoughtoriginally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers, both within the academy and without. Here Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. Drawing from fiction, poetry, music and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, Barbara Ransby, 
UNC Press: One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of livesIn this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker’s long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a complex figure whose radical, democratic worldview, commitment to empowering the black poor, and emphasis on group-centered, grassroots leadership set her apart from most of her political contemporaries. Beyond documenting an extraordinary life, the book paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across the twentieth century.

All the Women Are White, All the Men Are Black, But Some of Us Are Brave; Ed Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, Barbara Smith; The Feminist Press: Winner of the Outstanding Women of Colour Award, and the Women Educator’s Curriculum Material Award, this ground-breaking collection provides a wealth of materials needed to develop course units on black women, from political theory to literary essays on major writers to work on black women’s contributions to the blues. Bibliographies and a collection of syllabi provide readers with essential classroom materials and a map for further research. For course use in: African American studies, feminist thought, lesbian studies, racism and sexism, women’s studies.

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, Joan Moran, Simon & Schuster

:  In this fresh, funky, and ferociously honest book, award-winning journalist Joan Morgan bravely probes the complex issues facing African-American women in today’s world: a world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men; where women who treasure their independence often prefer men who pick up the tab; and where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than 40 percent of the African-American population.

Blues Legacies and Black Feminist, Angela Davis

Pantheon BooksThe author of “Women, Race and Class” suggests that “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday represent a black working-class, feminist ideology and historical consciousness. Davis’ illuminating analysis of the songs performed by these artists provides readers with a compelling and transformative understanding of their musical and social contributions and of their relation to both the African-American community and American culture



Next Up for Lee Daniels? A Sammy Davis Jr. Biopic

Next Up for Lee Daniels? A Sammy Davis Jr. Biopic

Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” is a certified box office director, and now the director is reportedly turning his attention to his next project: a biopic of pioneering African-American entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. According to Showbiz 411, Daniels is trying to get HBO’s interest with the project. 

(h/t Shadow and Act)

Mayor Bloomberg’s Parody Black Son is on Twitter

Mayor Bloomberg's Parody Black Son is on Twitter

During an interview with The New Yorker, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared to backtrack—albeit awkwardly—on remarks he previously made about stop and frisk:

Earlier this summer, on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg said, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” An uproar ensued. When I spoke to Bloomberg, he conceded, “If I had a son who was stopped, I might feel differently about it, but nevertheless. Maybe I was inelegant, but I don’t think anybody thinks I am anything but—I hope not, anyway—supportive of trying to help all people. With my own money as well as time, thank you very much. I’ve spent twelve years of my life doing this.” 

Bloomberg appeared to allude to mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who’s run several ads about his bid to end stop and frisk.

Well, not too long afterwards, a parody account that imagines Leroy Bloomberg as the current mayor’s black son, began sending tongue-in-cheek tweets:

No word yet if Leroy Bloomberg and Miguel Bloombito have father/son, brown/black tweets in the works yet. 

Russell Simmons is Working With Harriet Tubman’s Family on Documentary

Russell Simmons is Working With Harriet Tubman's Family on Documentary

Russell Simmons is still in damage control mode over the Harriet Tubman sex tape that was released on his ADD Youtube Channel. Simmons recently sat down to talk about the fallout. In it, he talks about everything from how it “broke his heart” to hear that black women were so disturbed by the video to what it might take for Spike Lee to “make a decent movie.”

But Simmons dropped an even bigger bombshell on Twitter when he wrote that he’s been speaking with Tubman’s direct descendants, who have not only accepted his apology but reportedly want to work with Simmons to develop a documentary on Tubman’s life.

(h/t Davey D)

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