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The Joy & Pain of a Young Generation: “Chiraq”

Watched some of Noisey’s “Chiraq” documentary last night. The gang culture there and the Drill music scene are really interesting. Basically, you can see how these youngsters have been affected by the previous generation. When I see these young men dancing, smoking, and waving guns in their videos I think, “Where are the fathers, where is the guidance?” Then I realize they are the product of a generation that was almost entirely killed or incarcerated by the system in the 80s and 90s. The family unit has been disrupted, the guidance is not there. Then I listen to the music. I used to not feel Chief Keef, Lil Reese, etc., now I realize they’re just a mouthpiece to the streets. The emotion they put into their music is very real, the production is creative, and their expression is honest. It’s just kind of a shame that their generation seems to have lost the lyrical and performance skills that MCs used to need to get respected. Now respect comes from how “real” your music is. This is also a result of the past generation.

I often think how I grew up in the early 90s hearing 2Pac, Wu-Tang, Ice Cube, etc. on the radio. These kids grew up in the early 2000s hearing Ca$h Money, Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy. Partly, the elders have failed to build with the youth and properly pass on the culture, but it’s mostly due to corporate America promoting ignorance and negativity, and blackballing artists with a positive message. While I don’t think Chief Keef is personally to blame, I think it’s a shame that a corporation pumped $8 million dollars into spreading his message of violence and destruction when there’s so many talented young artists out there who could have a positive impact but are going unheard. Funny enough, most of the consumers of Chief Keef’s music are white kids who are physically and mentally far removed from the South Side of Chicago. It reminds me of mainstream’s America initial shock once rap music left the ghetto and started coming in the suburban households of white children in the 90s.

I have a feeling that the producers of this Noisey documentary were some of those children. Same goes for many bloggers, journalists, and other people of “influence” within the music industry. It’s crazy how many people in hip-hop have nothing to do with the culture, the areas where it was created and the people it’s supposed to represent for. It’s almost like a regular 9-5 family man watching The Godfather and feeling like a Mafia don. Of course dude would never join the Mob, but he gets excited when he sees Michael Corleone shoot up the restaurant. For some reason it’s exciting to see impoverished Black teenagers point guns at the camera, smoke weed, and talk about the murder and destruction that makes life in Chicago a living hell for many people. Kids are really dying behind the lyrics to these songs, the videos on YouTube, and the posts on social media- meanwhile record labels, magazines, and blogs like Noisey are profiting. I don’t believe this documentary was made for any reason other than shock and entertainment.

So I will ask the questions that I didn’t see get asked in the “Chiraq” documentary: What can be done about the gang violence in Chicago? How do you reach a kid like Chief Keef and teach him accountability & the true meanings of the culture without attacking him for who he is and still respecting his art? How do we shift the culture of the industry so that people from our communities are properly involved and represented?

This is a picture of a 13 year-old boy in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. 
Last night my internet was down so I threw in an old DVD, “City of God.” On the bonus features of the DVD, there’s a documentary about gang warfare in Brazil called “Memoirs of a Personal War.” I had seen the documentary a long time ago, but I had forgotten it and last night it really made an impact on me. First I will say that it definitely made me feel aware of all the privilege I have as an American, and as someone who grew up in a household that was, for the most part, economically stable- but even living in the worse projects in the US is better than living in the slums of Brazil (favelas).

This documentary shows kids as young as 11 talking about committing horrible acts of murder and feeling no remorse. Drug dealing gangs are either shooting at each other, or the police. Life in the favela is equivalent to life in a military warzone. There is footage in this documentary of police shooting at these youth with high-powered weaponry and using tactics that are straight out of an army training course. While I was in college I was taught about an international movement that wanted to officially classify police violence in Brazil as genocide. In the documentary, even a police captain admitted that the system does not work and that the police are corrupt. When the police aren’t killing, they’re arresting people and taking them to prisons that make San Quentin look like a picnic. The documentary showed footage of the prisons and each cell is packed full with black and brown youth. Honestly I had an emotional response to seeing that and getting a reminder that the issues we face in the black and brown community in the US are the same ones being faced by our people all over the world. Unless you subscribe to the racist belief that African, Indigenous, and Latino people are naturally criminals and inherently geared towards evil, this should make you realize how intentional and deliberate all of this is. We still have yet to move on from slavery.

When you really think about it, the US and Brazil are actually not that different. Right now in Chicago there is an epidemic of street violence, particularly amongst black youth. It is not uncommon for there to be weekends where the number of homicides is almost in triple digits. Also, every 36 hours a black or brown person is murdered by police in the United States. Recently we’ve been seeing more and more cases where these murders have been recorded on film- yet they continue to happen. This is thrown in our faces for us all to see and yet the police and government keeps killing unchecked, as if they couldn’t care less about their misdeeds being exposed- they’re going to keep doing what they want and we are powerless to stop them. Even if they aren’t saying this directly, the message is very clear. 

The biggest difference I see between the US and Brazil is that over here, the circumstances that I described above are marketed as entertainment. The American DVD “Hood 2 Hood” basically shows the same thing as the Brazilian documentary, yet it is sold to entertain while the latter is meant to educate. I still don’t see how watching young black men in miserable conditions and short life expectancies is entertaining. “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” is a video game where the main character is a gang member and the player earns points and advances for committing robberies and drive-by shootings against other black and brown people. Chief Keef is a celebrated rapper whose lyrics personify every issue I’m talking about. He’s been in the news for being connected to another teenage rapper’s death and shooting at police. The fault does not lie within Chief Keef but the people spending millions of dollars on marketing him and his pain as entertainment. I believe that this form of entertainment has desensitized us as a culture and helped make this type of poverty, violence, and misery acceptable. Don’t forget that most of this media is consumed by white people (they are the majority in this country, after all) who are far-removed from the places where this violence occurs, not just physically but culturally. However I am convinced that if we only saw this violence in our communities and on the news instead of MTV and WorldStar Hip-Hop, the people would be more motivated to make a change. 

Just some food for thought. One day I would like to travel to  Brazil and do some organizing and workshops with the youth there. Hopefully, if keep pushing my form of entertainment I’ll be able to get the resources to do that. But that Chief Keef is some heavy competition…
( Another interesting note is that the guns in this picture are made by Israeli and American companies. With all this recent talk about gun control, I’m surprised that the finger has not been pointed at the people MAKING the guns. Even though these weapons were obtained illegally, if you follow the paper trail far enough you’ll see that every single bullet fired in the slums is profit for these companies. )

This is a picture of a 13 year-old boy in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. 

Last night my internet was down so I threw in an old DVD, “City of God.” On the bonus features of the DVD, there’s a documentary about gang warfare in Brazil called “Memoirs of a Personal War.” I had seen the documentary a long time ago, but I had forgotten it and last night it really made an impact on me. First I will say that it definitely made me feel aware of all the privilege I have as an American, and as someone who grew up in a household that was, for the most part, economically stable- but even living in the worse projects in the US is better than living in the slums of Brazil (favelas).

This documentary shows kids as young as 11 talking about committing horrible acts of murder and feeling no remorse. Drug dealing gangs are either shooting at each other, or the police. Life in the favela is equivalent to life in a military warzone. There is footage in this documentary of police shooting at these youth with high-powered weaponry and using tactics that are straight out of an army training course. While I was in college I was taught about an international movement that wanted to officially classify police violence in Brazil as genocide. In the documentary, even a police captain admitted that the system does not work and that the police are corrupt. When the police aren’t killing, they’re arresting people and taking them to prisons that make San Quentin look like a picnic. The documentary showed footage of the prisons and each cell is packed full with black and brown youth. Honestly I had an emotional response to seeing that and getting a reminder that the issues we face in the black and brown community in the US are the same ones being faced by our people all over the world. Unless you subscribe to the racist belief that African, Indigenous, and Latino people are naturally criminals and inherently geared towards evil, this should make you realize how intentional and deliberate all of this is. We still have yet to move on from slavery.

When you really think about it, the US and Brazil are actually not that different. Right now in Chicago there is an epidemic of street violence, particularly amongst black youth. It is not uncommon for there to be weekends where the number of homicides is almost in triple digits. Also, every 36 hours a black or brown person is murdered by police in the United States. Recently we’ve been seeing more and more cases where these murders have been recorded on film- yet they continue to happen. This is thrown in our faces for us all to see and yet the police and government keeps killing unchecked, as if they couldn’t care less about their misdeeds being exposed- they’re going to keep doing what they want and we are powerless to stop them. Even if they aren’t saying this directly, the message is very clear. 

The biggest difference I see between the US and Brazil is that over here, the circumstances that I described above are marketed as entertainment. The American DVD “Hood 2 Hood” basically shows the same thing as the Brazilian documentary, yet it is sold to entertain while the latter is meant to educate. I still don’t see how watching young black men in miserable conditions and short life expectancies is entertaining. “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” is a video game where the main character is a gang member and the player earns points and advances for committing robberies and drive-by shootings against other black and brown people. Chief Keef is a celebrated rapper whose lyrics personify every issue I’m talking about. He’s been in the news for being connected to another teenage rapper’s death and shooting at police. The fault does not lie within Chief Keef but the people spending millions of dollars on marketing him and his pain as entertainment. I believe that this form of entertainment has desensitized us as a culture and helped make this type of poverty, violence, and misery acceptable. Don’t forget that most of this media is consumed by white people (they are the majority in this country, after all) who are far-removed from the places where this violence occurs, not just physically but culturally. However I am convinced that if we only saw this violence in our communities and on the news instead of MTV and WorldStar Hip-Hop, the people would be more motivated to make a change. 

Just some food for thought. One day I would like to travel to  Brazil and do some organizing and workshops with the youth there. Hopefully, if keep pushing my form of entertainment I’ll be able to get the resources to do that. But that Chief Keef is some heavy competition…

( Another interesting note is that the guns in this picture are made by Israeli and American companies. With all this recent talk about gun control, I’m surprised that the finger has not been pointed at the people MAKING the guns. Even though these weapons were obtained illegally, if you follow the paper trail far enough you’ll see that every single bullet fired in the slums is profit for these companies. )

Dia de los Muertos event tonight in SF! Honoring those killed by police & state violence. I will be performing and there’ll be some great guest speakers in the house. Please come through and support!

Dia de los Muertos event tonight in SF! Honoring those killed by police & state violence. I will be performing and there’ll be some great guest speakers in the house. Please come through and support!

Menace to Society: Why So Many Young Black Men are Accused of Being in Gangs (SF Weekly)

Read the article here: http://www.sfweekly.com/2012-08-08/news/gangs-police-race-sfpd-calgang-jeff-adachi-george-gascon-street-terrorism-enforcement-and-prevention-act/


to be young, black, and in san francisco you might as well have a target on your back… if the media/cops used the term “troubled youth” instead of “gang member” incidents like these would play out way different. don’t think this doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the elitists who run SFs plan to slowly eliminate almost any poor & people of color from the city. wake up.



As a response to recent wave of violent deaths of black & brown children (as young as 1), folks are holding this event today in Oakland. I won’t be able to make it but I encourage those who can to show up!


In Oakland alone, since January 1st to July 12th there has been 65 killing compared to 51 last years for the same time period. The recent killing of children has exacerbated the gun violence in Oakland. August 2011, during a drive-by shooting on International Boulevard, Carlos Nava, a 3-year-old was killed. Early December, Hiram Lawrence, a 1-year-old child, was killed in West Oakland from a stray bullet. And finally, on December 31st 2011, Gabriel Martinez Jr. — 5 years old — was killed while with his father outside a taco truck on International Boulevard. The last time a young child was killed in Oakland was in 1997, when a 7-year-old child was shot and killed.  A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/race-wars-part-1-the-shocking-data-on-black-on-black-crime). This chilling figure is accompanied by another equally internalized racism fact, that other blacks in fact perpetrate 93% of these murders. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, for example, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans. Approximately 22 Black men are killed per day. These killing are at the hands of another Black men. To put these numbers in perspective, recall that over 6,400 U.S. service men and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the course of a 10-year war fought in those nations. During the Vietnam War, which lasted nearly 13 years, some 58,000 Americans were killed — nearly 13 percent of who were African American. Malcolm X Grassroots Movement releases “Report on Extrajudicial Killings of 110 Black People since January 1st, 2012”.  Every 40 hours in the United States one Black woman, man or child is killed by police, and by a smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes. These are the startling findings of a new Report on Extrajudicial Killings of Black People released July 9, 2012.  The combination of police killing and Black on Black killing has created a state of emergency in our community. If we fail to stand now for our children, what kind of daily reality will our children and children’s children have in our community. Our children are dying all over this country at the hands of gun violence. Will you join us by coming into the street showing your support to stop the violence? We as a community united can be the change that saves this country. Join the Oscar Grant Foundation in this vigil to call for Love not Blood. “We are all Oscar Grant, Carlos Nava, Hiram Lawrence, Gabriel Martinez Jr” ” Johntue Caldwell, Oscar Grant best friend, and so many others. Where: 98th & international ave  Speak out by family members who have lost love ones  Community members Spoken word Artist Poetry Most importantly a Vigil for our Love ones For more information: Contact: OGF Call 510-599-6357
As a response to recent wave of violent deaths of black & brown children (as young as 1), folks are holding this event today in Oakland. I won’t be able to make it but I encourage those who can to show up!
In Oakland alone, since January 1st to July 12th there has been 65 killing compared to 51 last years for the same time period. The recent killing of children has exacerbated the gun violence in Oakland. August 2011, during a drive-by shooting on International Boulevard, Carlos Nava, a 3-year-old was killed. Early December, Hiram Lawrence, a 1-year-old child, was killed in West Oakland from a stray bullet. And finally, on December 31st 2011, Gabriel Martinez Jr. — 5 years old — was killed while with his father outside a taco truck on International Boulevard. The last time a young child was killed in Oakland was in 1997, when a 7-year-old child was shot and killed.

A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. (http://www.theblaze.com/
stories/race-wars-part-1-the-shocking-data-on-black-on-black-crime). This chilling figure is accompanied by another equally internalized racism fact, that other blacks in fact perpetrate 93% of these murders. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, for example, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans. Approximately 22 Black men are killed per day. These killing are at the hands of another Black men. To put these numbers in perspective, recall that over 6,400 U.S. service men and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the course of a 10-year war fought in those nations. During the Vietnam War, which lasted nearly 13 years, some 58,000 Americans were killed — nearly 13 percent of who were African American.

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement releases “Report on Extrajudicial Killings of 110 Black People since January 1st, 2012”.

Every 40 hours in the United States one Black woman, man or child is killed by police, and by a smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes. These are the startling findings of a new Report on Extrajudicial Killings of Black People released July 9, 2012.

The combination of police killing and Black on Black killing has created a state of emergency in our community. If we fail to stand now for our children, what kind of daily reality will our children and children’s children have in our community. Our children are dying all over this country at the hands of gun violence. Will you join us by coming into the street showing your support to stop the violence? We as a community united can be the change that saves this country. Join the Oscar Grant Foundation in this vigil to call for Love not Blood. “We are all Oscar Grant, Carlos Nava, Hiram Lawrence, Gabriel Martinez Jr” ” Johntue Caldwell, Oscar Grant best friend, and so many others.

Where: 98th & international ave
Speak out by family members who have lost love ones
Community members
Spoken word Artist
Poetry
Most importantly a Vigil for our Love ones




For more information:
Contact: OGF
Call 510-599-6357

Trying to give a f*ck about the Colorado shooting… (don’t judge, just read)

I’m about to say some controversial shit. But I feel like it needs to be said. Since I heard about the movie theatre shooting in Colorado, I’ve been trying to put a finger on how I feel about it. I was in 6th grade when Columbine happened and it’s kind of crazy to see myself at 25 and being numb to this type of event. Basically… I’ve been trying to give a fuck.

That might sound insensitive to some folks so let me explain. This 24 year old man (who I found out attended UC Riverside during the same time that I did- didn’t know him or anything, just found that interesting) killed 12 people and wounded 58, and hasn’t given any reason. The day it happened it was all over TV news for the entire day (I don’t even own a TV and I still noticed this because everywhere I went that day there was a TV playing something about the story), not to mention social networks and the rest of the internet. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both spoke on it; in fact I just read that Obama is going to personally visit some of the families of the victims.

In the same country, the city of Chicago had 3 consecutive weekends during the month of June where gun-related homicides & injuries were in the double digits (the highest being one weekend of 8 murders & 46 injuries).This epidemic is barely touched on by the media. I have seen relatively few people tweet or post on Facebook about it. And even though Barack Obama was once an Illinois State Senator (he still owns a house in Chicago), he has not addressed this issue. In fact, he visited Chicago during a weekend where 7 people were killed and 35 were injured. During the last ten years, that city’s homicide rate has been worse than the casualties of the war in Afghanistan. The response to Chicago’s violent spike is typical of similar situations in any other American city- especially when the main people being affected are poor people of color.

Speaking of war, although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been officially declared to be over, there are still thousands of US troops active in both regions. Just this morning, I read a friend’s tweet linking me to a New York Times article from today that headlined “Iraq Insurgents Kill Nearly 100 After Declaring New Offensive.” 99 people were killed and 300 were wounded. That tweet from my friend was the only thing I saw about that today. I even checked the website of my hometown newspaper, the SF Chronicle, to see if maybe they wrote something about it. Instead a story about James Holmes (the Colorado shooter) was their main headline.

The truth is, the violence of the Colorado shooting is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact there are places in the world where this type of thing happens everyday. Children are growing up with this type of violence as their daily reality since birth. Amerikkkans are only shocked about what happened in Colorado because they’re not used to having to deal with these types of situations. They conveniently occur in countries far away with names we can’t pronounce- but these types of shootings almost never happen in the USA! Or do they? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOx0az9vWko&sns=fb *

(* for those who don’t click the link, it leads to a video of Anaheim Police shooting rubber bullets and sicking dogs on a community of Latino men, women and children who were protesting an earlier police shooting. This happened yesterday July 22nd.)

So the point I’m making is that the unfortunate circumstances of the movie theatre shooting is nothing new, nothing unordinary, nothing unique. So why is the media so concerned with this story above all the other incidents I brought up? Is it because the victims were people middle class suburbanites, as opposed to poor inner-city people of color? Is it because the perpetrator of this violence was an emotionally disturbed graduate student, as opposed to a US official such as a soldier or police officer? Is it because this incident was caused by one man’s twisted view of reality, as opposed to factors that the US and its institutions are responsible for?

I take back my earlier statement- I do give a fuck. I care deeply for the victims of this tragedy and their families. I even care about the suspect and feel sorry for the mental anguish he must have been suffering from that pushed him to do this (I do not support the death penalty or the prison industrial complex, they do nothing to improve our society). I also care about the community that this occured in. But I am not selective with my sentiments. I extend the same concern towards Chicago “gang members” (I prefer to call them disadvantaged youth, because that’s what they really are), towards Iraqi citizens, and Anaheim protestors. As I said, I care about the community- that means a global community.

Once Amerikkkans understand that, that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (to quote MLK), that the next man’s life is just as valuable as your own, that these events across the world affect each one of us as a whole, then and only then will we start to see some changes.

Until then, this shooting- like all the others- is just another headline.

Here’s a cover I designed for a report my girl is doing. I’m proud of her for addressing the issue of police brutality. Plus I find intelligence and social awareness extra sexy ;)

Here’s a cover I designed for a report my girl is doing. I’m proud of her for addressing the issue of police brutality. Plus I find intelligence and social awareness extra sexy ;)