New America Media - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 23:45
As a teenager growing up in Cape Town in the 1960s, a favorite weekend activity was climbing to the top of Table Mountain, the glorious promontory at the end of the African continent. From there it was impossible to avoid... Louis Freedberg http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 23:30
Foto: Darren Walker, presidente de la Fundación FordEnglish TranslationNota del Editor: En septiembre de 2013, Darren Walker se convirtió en el decimo presidente, y el segundo Afro-Americano, de la Fundación Ford, la segunda organización filantrópica más grande de EE.UU., cual dona... Khalil Abdullah http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=69
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 23:23
We've already mentioned how excited we are that "Dear White People" is set to screen at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film, from first time director Justin Simein, follows four black students at a predominently white university where a riot breaks out over a popular "African-American themed" party. Here's a first look at some images from the new flick:
(h/t Shadow and Act)
New America Media - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 23:08
Un nuevo informe muestra que el número de niños sin seguro médico en los Estados Unidos está disminuyendo, sobre todo entre las personas que viven por debajo del umbral de pobreza. Pero todavía hay más de 5 millones de niños... Anna Challet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:51
For the Central Park Five--Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise--the election of New York mayor Bill de Blasio could be a blessing. In 1989, when they were teenagers, the five black and Latino men were falsely accused of and convicted of the brutal beating and rape of Tricia Meili, a 28-year-old white jogger in Central Park. In the sensational, racially charged case, they were coerced into confessions by police and prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer. The five, who were tried as adults and convicted of the crime despite their inconsistent testimony and a lack of their DNA on the victim, had their convictions vacated in 2002 after serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted that he'd committed the rape. That same year the five filed a $250 million civil suit against the city of New York and the officers and prosecutor involved in their case. McCray, Richardson, Salaam, Santana and Wise have waited for a settlement ever since.
In mid-November filmmaker Ken Burns, who directed the documentary "The Central Park Five," renewed media interest in the settlement when he told HuffPost Live that the mayor-elect, had "agreed to settle this case."
Further reporting by Colorlines showed that "agreement," however, had come in the shape of an old campaign promise: "It's long past time to heal these wounds," DeBlasio said in a January 2013 statement. "... As a city, we have a moral obligation to right this injustice. It is in our collective interest--the wrongly accused, their families and the taxpayer--to settle this case and not let another year slip by without action."
At present, says de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell, there is no timeline for the settlement.. Colorlines talked to Yusef Salaam, one of the five, about the long wait for closure, holding the mayor-elect accountable for his campaign promise, and what he'd say if he had a sit-down with de Blasio.
Have you been in touch with de Blasio's transition team?
No. The information I have is similar to what you have. This came up when the mayoral candidates were campaigning, especially early on when people would ask, "Hey, what are you going to do about the Central Park Five [suit]? [Candidate] John Liu was actually the first. He said, "I know what's going on. This is an atrocity." He said it would be one of the first things he would do, that he was the one to actually settle this case. ... Folks were going around to these mayoral candidates' meetings, asking, "Where do you stand on the Central Park Five suit?" Every candidate but a few said "I would do what John Liu said he would do."
So Ken Burns was repeating a campaign promise.
Yes. People are saying that Ken Burns jumped the gun, but what he was saying was what de Blasio had been saying all along, especially since the film was released.
How will you hold Mayor-Elect de Blasio accountable for his campaign promise?
I don't know. I think that when we fought in the past we fought on another level. Politics are different and we're seeing that now. For instance, I've never understood what it meant to be judged by jury of your peers. But the city said something really funny--somebody said ["The Central Park Five"' film] is poisoning the jury pool. But the jury pool is we the people. If we the people have proper information then we can do our job. If they don't have proper information, we do what happened in 1989. So the fight now, the struggle is going to be fought and won in the streets. People have power. They have to go to elected officials and be about the change, be about fixing this. We've been in this loop for 20 years. ... Since the film, I really think we the people are that much more driven in wanting to make sure not just that there's justice for the Central Park Five but that there will never be another. Yes, we've gotten something out our lives back, but we're still fighting for that final piece. It's crazy. People ask me all the time, "How do you keep moving after all of this." Sometimes I feel like I'm having an out-of body experience.
If you met Mayor-Elect de Blasio what would you say to him?
I would remind him of the awesome power that he has, not just to fix the Central Park Five situation, but being the mayor with the greatest legacy. He represents New York, from his physical appearance--he's a white guy with a black wife and biracial children. I would also congratulate him for winning the mayoralship [sic]. ...I would tell him,"We can't regain our youth, but I want to go back to believing that the system can work. I want to say, 'Wow, this mayor really changed the police department. They really are about CPR--courtesy, professionalism and respect. I don't have to worry about CPR because they sent me to the emergency room.'"
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:31
The man that the world is mourning today was a son, a husband, a father, a lawyer, a freedom fighter, a president, a statesman and a lot more. When Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday, he left words behind that were uttered in court, written in letters from prison, spoken to accept the Nobel Peace Prize and more. Here are 10 quotes from Mandela to celebrate a long life committed to justice.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:29
As Vijay Prashad points out, many of the world’s leaders that are apparently mourning the death of Nelson Mandela were the “same people opposed [to] freedom in South Africa to the very end.”
Although Ronald Reagan has passed away himself, one can imagine he might salute Mandela today. But as president, Reagan worked against Mandela, so much so that he vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986. Believing that he knew what was best for black people living under apartheid in South Africa, Reagan opposed sanctions and wanted to maintain friendly relations with the white supremacist government.
South Africa’s Desmond Tutu disagreed. Watch this 1986 news report about Tutu’s visit to the White House, in which Tutu explains the way that Reagan failed black South Africans.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:26
President Mandela in many ways reflected the character, substance, revolutionary presence and diplomatic acumen of Dr. Martin Luther King and Minister Malcolm X. His dedication was no less than those two brothers. It is clear to me that his walking among us allowed us to be larger the we would have been without him. Like Dr. King and Minister Malcolm X, he was here to work for rather than lead us. He was here in all the imperfections of the human condition to be an example rather than telling us what to do. He not only liberated South Africa, he in many ways liberated Africa and much of the world by his action and very careful articulation. As the first black president of South Africa he felt the weight of the world on him to fail. Much of the world felt that, due to the generations of apartheid legislation and policies in South Africa, there was no way that the nation itself could be liberated without bloodshed. He, as King and Malcolm, was working 24/7 between a hurricane and volcano: the white South Africans and the black majority, who were at odds about how to move and how to resolve the conflict of generations of white nationalist and white supremacist policies in South Africa.
We must understand in no uncertain terms that President Nelson Mandela, with an acute legal mind and a history of revolutionary struggle, had emerged out of Robben Island as a diplomat of the first order, and his portfolio, just as the portfolio of King and Malcolm, was not from the illegal government of South Africa but from the people. And he never forgot that. He was not only a moral authority but a political one. As we celebrate his life we cannot, we must not forget Winnie Mandela, a revolutionary also, and the Mandela children and what they must be going through at this time.
He was one of the true revolutionaries who stood up at the right time. We, all around the world--his cultural sons and daughters--worked to make sure he was liberated and free from Robben Island. I, along with many other artists, struggled using art as a political force to make sure that the apartheid nation of South Africa would not stand. We, as artists, boycotted South Africa, the poets the writers, the musicians and actors, we all understood at this critical juncture of our history and vowed among ourselves that we would not let that nation stand as it was. Many of us grew up in liberation struggles here in the United States and South Africa represented in no uncertain terms one of the most brutal, disrespectful, ugly, white supremacist countries in that growing continent of Africa.
He set the example for what I feel true revolutionaries are about. True revolutionary men and women are about the love of their people and all people who are working in the best interest of the great majority rather than the acute few. They are men and women who are keen on lifelong knowledge acquisition. They know that just because it was right last year doesn't mean that it's right today. They're about action rather than talking about what we need to do. They have a plan and in that plan are means and mechanisms for creating rather than destroying. Nelson Mandela represented all of that.
He was a lawyer and he used his legal and diplomatic skills to actually save South Africa. His death is a great loss, but I'm not saddened by this. I think we need to celebrate and study his words and work rather than mourn. I'm happy because he's not suffering anymore.
As president he showed us that he didn't need to be president for life. He truly believed in the democratic process. He set an example in terms of his time in office and maintained a lifestyle not of the rich and famous. He reminded me on one level of Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania, in that he was a common man but politically brilliant. To me he was as important as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to our struggle, two men whom I believe did not in any way fail us, just as President Mandela didn't fail us.
This is a great loss but we can't dwell on the negative. We need to dwell on what he brought to us and how we all grew. People who are serious about the development of the world will continue to use President Mandela's work, words and revolutionary action as an example. I loved him as a brother--he's many years my elder--but he was a brother. I learned so much from him.
--As told to Akiba Solomon
Dr. Haki Madhubuti is an author, poet and publisher of Third World Press.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:24
The warders called us by either our surnames or our Christian names. Each, I felt, was degrading, and I thought we should insist on the honorific 'Mister.' I pressed for this for many years, without success. Later, it even became a source of humour as my colleagues would occasionally call me 'Mr.' Mandela.
--Nelson Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom"
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, 18 of them at Robben Island - the notorious island jail that held the principle leadership of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. It was at that jail, with the help of his comrades, that Mandela wrote his story, "Long Walk to Freedom" (published in 1994). In this book, one gets a sense of Mandela as the deeply political figure that he was: a lawyer who fought against apartheid -- a lawyer who discovered that the law was the barrier to change and so moved to politics, including terrorist operations against the intransigent apartheid state.
Mandela had a capacious political imagination: he joined the African National Congress (ANC) for its politically left-wing and socially accommodative framework. When he got to prison, most of the prisoners came from the Pan-African Congress (PAC), a black nationalist party that was, in Mandela's words, "unashamedly anti-Communist and anti-Indian." Not for him this kind of narrow politics. He always had a large heart and a razor-sharp vision.
Not long after his arrest in 1964, Mandela became the iconic figure of the South African struggle against apartheid - one that was not only against a ghastly political system, not only against the white ruling clique in South Africa, but also against the governments of the Western world which backed the apartheid regime virtually until the end (Mandela appeared on the U.S. terrorist lists until 2008). It was this iconic figure that the world knew from the 1960s until now. Rarely did people engage with Mandela's ideas: rarely do we hear him quoted for his principled positions. Particularly after the struggles within South Africa weakened the regime and brought it down, it became impossible not to engage with Mandela - but it was only with Mandela as icon, as Madiba, not Mandela as the political person with deeply held views and commitments.
Everybody now is sad that Madiba is dead. Not a dry eye can be found. But many of these same people opposed freedom in South Africa to the very end. Many of these same people pilloried the struggles around the world in solidarity with Mandela's ANC. And many of these people now ridicule the kind of views that Mandela held to the very end. When Mandela opposed the Iraq war ("All Bush wants is Iraqi oil"), the Western press lambasted him -- the same press that is now aggrieved at his passage. All the obituaries detail what he did in his life, but none go into his political views.
Twenty years after freedom, South Africa remains a survivor of its past and wounded by the unsound ambitions of its current leadership. Mandela had sharp words for the neo-liberal direction in South Africa, but also for the general tenor amongst the managers of the world economy. In 2005, he went to the G8 meetings in the U.K. and made it clear that "where poverty exists, there is not true freedom. The world is hungry for action, not words. In this new century, millions of people in the world's poorest countries--including South Africa--remain imprisoned, enslaved and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free." Where would this freedom come from - by constraining the rights of property to feed untrammeled off of social wealth? Poverty, like apartheid, is man-made, so it can be unmade by man. The rich, he said, must feed the poor.
Mandela's legacy is not only his tremendous role in the fight against apartheid. It is also his contribution to the fight against unjust systems of power, property and propriety that shackle the world's people from their true destiny. Goodbye Mr. Mandela, but long live his legacy.
Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 22:04
Is there anything quite so beautiful as masses of people joining together to demand better treatment for themselves and others? These photos should quiet the naysayers. In what organizers are calling the largest fast-food strikes in U.S. history, workers and their supporters in over 100 cities went on strike on Thursday to amplify their calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage and the right to unionize.
McDonald's dismissed the strikes, many of which targeted the company's locations, and said its workers were not among the protestors. "To right-size the headlines, however, the events taking place are not strikes," the company said in a statement Thursday. "Outside groups are traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies." The company's statement prompted a gleeful response from striking workers around the country who took to social media to identify themselves and point out their coworkers in the photos of demonstrators.
In the early morning hours in New York CityDecember 5, 2013
Later in the dayDecember 5, 2013
All the way up in Providence, Rhode IslandDecember 5, 2013
Taking over the streets of Chicago with the GrinchDecember 5, 2013
A young demonstrator in PittsburghDecember 5, 2013
With rhyming chants in BostonDecember 5, 2013
Protestors hit up Jack in the Box, Little Caesars and McDonald's in St. Louis, MissouriDecember 5, 2013
Outside a McDonald's in Huntsville, AlabamaDecember 5, 2013
From Green Bay to Madison to Milwaukee in WisconsinDecember 6, 2013
Outside a Detroit McDonald'sDecember 5, 2013
McDonald's in Tampa, FloridaDecember 5, 2013
In front of a McDonald's in Los AngelesDecember 5, 2013
In the snow in DenverDecember 5, 2013
Lighting the way in SeattleDecember 6, 2013
New America Media - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 21:55
What does it mean to be a child of color in Texas?It means being much more likely than your peers to be uninsured, say advocates, and much more likely to be living in poverty. It means being more likely to... Anna Challet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 21:41
Despite continued depression-like joblessness amongst blacks and Latinos, this morning's official unemployment report registered the lowest overall jobless rate in five years. According to the Department of Labor, the percentage of those actively looking for work but who could not find it fell to seven percent. The jobless rate for African Americans is almost double that at nearly 13 percent and for Latinos it's close to 9 percent. Overall the numbers show that the economy continues to inch forward but in a sideways sort of way.
Alongside the difficult black and Latino unemployment numbers is the fact that the November report showed surprising gains across the board. The number of people unemployed for less than five weeks fell by 300,000 and full-time work grew versus part-time work. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of workers are less discouraged about the job market than a year ago and the number of people opting out of job hunting due to frustration has stabilized, though it remains at a near thirty-five year low.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Obamacare appears to be a jobs creator, rather than a jobs destroyer as many have claimed. One of the strongest areas of hiring was in the healthcare sector as companies prepare for an influx of new policyholders. Tens of thousands of health-related jobs were added in November alone.
But in a sign of the economy's continued fragility, the number of long-term unemployed remains stuck at 4.1 million and there's not enough improvement in the labor market to entice the additional 6 million people who've given up on work to start looking again.
The bottom line is that the jobs report, while encouraging, shows the ongoing disorientation of an economy that's trying to recover but hasn't quite figured out how to do so.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 20:50
Like many emcees and public figures, rapper Kendrick Lamar took to Twitter to mourn the death of Nelson Mandela. But instead of well-intentioned platitudes, Lamar urged his more than two million followers to join him and research Nelson Mandela's historic life.
"Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life," Lamar wrote on Twitter. "That's how you pay your respect."
Lamar's call to research means a great deal. Like many of his fans, Lamar is of a generation that came of age years after Mandela's fight against apartheid and release from prison in 1990.
(h/t Hip Hop DX)
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 18:29
Junot Díaz recently spoke out against the Dominican Republic's court ruling that could strip citizenship from thousands of Haitian immigrants. Díaz, who was born in the DR, called the ruling racist.
His outspoken criticism has drawn disapproval from some well-known politicians and intellectuals on the island. In an email that was later published by Latino Rebels, Executive Director for the Dominican Presidency's International Commission on Science and Technology José Santana called Díaz a "fake and overrated pseudo intellectual" who "should learn better to speak Spanish before coming to this country to talk nonsense."
Díaz responded with a message on his Facebook page this week:
All these attacks are bullshit attempts to distract from the real crime -- the sentencia itself which has been condemned widely. All of us who are believers need to keep fighting against the sentencia and what it represents and we need to keep organizing and we need to show those clowns in power in the DR that there is another Dominican tradition --based on social justice and human dignity and a true respect for the awesome contributions that our immigrants make everywhere.
The Huffington Post notes that human rights groups estimate the ruling could strip more than 200,000 people -- mostly Haitians -- of citizenship, a figure the Dominican government disputes.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 18:00
Missed Lauryn Hill's special Thanksgiving shows in New York City? Not to worry. The reclusive artist just dropped the video for her latest track "Consumerism" -- and it's about as trippy as you would expect.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 17:56
2013 was a huge year for the racial justice movement. While we had our share of losses, we also achieved unprecedented victories and took on challenges we'd never considered possible. From media justice, to legislative protections, to the accountability of our own movement, there's a lot to celebrate!
In this video, we revisit 10 victories from 2013. If you'd like to help us work toward more wins in 2014, here's one easy way to help.
New America Media - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 17:55
How do you bury a man whose life has had a profound impact on just about every world leader, sports hero, politician, college student, professor and Hollywood star? How do you capture the impact that life has had in a... Stephen A. Crockett Jr. http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 17:53
The Republican National Committee's newly appointed Communications Director for Black Media, Orlando Watson, had the unenviable job of answering for his organization's embarrassing weekend Twitter gaffe this week. And it didn't go well. Speaking with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Wednesday, Watson dismissed the controversy, saying "Talking about a typo and a tweet, it's old news."
It's an awkward, deeply uncomfortable TV segment. Watson isn't interested in talking about the tweet, so Roberts asks Watson about the GOP's efforts at voter suppression, the party's relationship with black voters and its ongoing, failing efforts to torpedo Obamacare. Watson flounders, but not before repeatedly holding up a printed copy of the RNC's statement about the organization's honoring the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks' historic act of civil disobedience and offering to read straight off the release. (He never does.)
It's not suggested viewing if you're averse to seeing people embarrass themselves publicly.
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 17:16
Today New York City's mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed William Bratton as police commissioner. In policing circles it is well established that as goes the NYPD, so go police departments throughout the country. For communities of color, however, de Blasio's selection could mark the beginning of the end of nearly 30 years of oppressive, "one-size-fits-all" policing.
Under the Michael Bloomberg-Ray Kelly partnership, communities of color have borne the brunt of aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics, spying, and in certain high-crime and high-arrest neighborhoods, decreased public safety. Perhaps no other agency has ground its standard-issue footprint onto the lives and livelihoods of communities of color as thoroughly and unapologetically as the police department.
"For the last decade the NYPD has taken a paternalistic approach to communities of color and has dictated a harmful, top-down approach to public safety," says Delores Jones-Brown, a professor in the department of law, police science and criminal justice administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and founding director of its Center on Race, Crime and Justice. "The new commissioner needs to recognize the role these communities play in maintaining their own public safety and partner with them. They don't need another 'great white father.'"
Other NYPD observers agree, though for different reasons, that the department is in need of fundamental change. But is Bill Bratton the man to bring it?
Bratton ran the Boston police department in the early '90s, led the NYPD for two years under mayor Rudolph Giuliani and most recently headed up Los Angeles's department for seven years.He's synonymous with so-called broken windows policing based on a theory that punishing small acts of deviance leads to a decrease in serious crimes. He's also known for implementing CompStat, the NYPD's data management and police accountability system that, with some debate, has been credited with facilitating, if not causing New York City's historic crime drop. Since the 1990s the system has been replicated by police departments throughout the country.
However, CompStat is also the target of substantiated allegations--from both outside and in the department--that the NYPD "polices by numbers." As a result, critics say, the policy encourages systemic racial profiling through stop-and-frisk as well as the downgrading of crimes in certain precincts to artificially lower the city's overall crime rate. The decision to act (or not) on CompStat is a key indicator of whether and how Bratton means to improve relationships with communities of color.
"There's an obvious need to reform CompStat and as the inventor, Bratton might be the right guy to call a halt to numbers-based policing," says Eugene O'Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor turned professor at John Jay. "It's much more likely CompStat can be changed if it comes from him."
Suspending the use of stop-and-frisk until the NYPD's 34,000-member force is retrained would be another indicator that the new police commissioner means to improve police-community relations, says Jones-Brown.
And Bratton will also need to build trust with millennials, in particular, who've come of age knowing only aggressive policing and intrusive stop-and-frisk tactics. Before this year's decline, at least half of all recorded stops annually involved youth--primarily black and Latino males, ages 13 to 25. Nearly half reported being stopped repeatedly--nine times or more. More than 70 percent reported being stopped at least once and roughly two-thirds describe being searched. That kind of policing took its toll: According to a 2011 Vera Institute of Justice survey of 500 youth living in highly patrolled, high-crime neighborhoods, just one in four would report someone who had committed a crime.
It's possible that Bratton's implementation of "broken windows" policing and stop-and-frisk would look very different from Kelly's. The real test of that will be how officers interact with residents on the ground daily rather than what Bratton says to the cameras, says Alex Sanchez, co-founder of Homies Unidos, a violence prevention and gang intervention organization in Los Angeles.
"Bratton's a threat to minority communities," Sanchez says, pointing to the gentrification of downtown Los Angeles that he says officers enforced under Bratton's seven-year tenure as police commissioner. He also points to the displacement of so-called undesirables who were mainly Latinos, to cities bordering L.A.
"He's a likable person," Sanchez says. "You talk to him you're going to like him, but his basic agenda is corporate."
A 2009 Harvard assessment of Bratton's leadership of the LAPD while under forced federal oversight was largely positive. But it also documented a substantial increase in stops and arrests--particularly for "minor crimes." At the same time, citywide approval ratings of the LAPD crested at 70 to 80 percent according to a June 2009 L.A. Times poll taken near the end of Bratton's tenure. Among Latinos, nearly 80 percent approved of the LAPD's performance; among blacks, nearly 70 percent did.
Bratton's view of stop-and-frisk is a clinical one. "The challenge is to do it appropriately," he said in a public address. "Applied in the right way, in the right moderation, [chemotherapy and radiation] will cure most cancers. [Stop-and-frisk] is an intrusive power...but applied the right way, it can have an effect on reducing crime."
Colorlines - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 17:14
It takes a certain discipline to resist R. Kelly. He's a genius of contemporary R&B and, as evidenced by his absurd "Trapped in the Closet" series, he's quite funny. But--at least for responsible and/or semi-literate adults--there has to be a code we live by. A code that says that when some people make art, even really enjoyable art, we shouldn't support it.
As we all know, R. Kelly is a pedophile. Yes, he's evaded prison time but anyone who remembers how he married Aaliyah or watched the video of him literally urinating on a hairless pubescent black girl knows that "show me some ID please" isn't just a line in the "Bump and Grind" remix. It's a tongue in cheek hat tip to his illegal desire for underage girls.
Which brings us to his latest album, "Black Panties," a musical offering that the allegedly feminist blog Jezebel has called "A Magnificent Ode to Pussy." While mocking his absurdity, a very clever writer Isha Aran posits that R. Kelly's latest work is worth our financial support.
Everyone's favorite masterful weaver of stories, Robert Sylvester Kelly, has blessed us with an 18-track opus, winding his musical threads on his freaky sex loom, and you can stream it in it's spectacular entirety over at Vibe.
Should you choose to accept this sensual mission, approach with caution and be prepared to be bombarded with some super sexy R. Kelly sex. Like, more than usual. There's "Crazy Sex," there's sex in "Every Position," there's some "Physical" sex, there's sex with the "Lights On." And then there are the real ballads. ...
Of course, no song quite reaches the heartfelt poignancy of "Marry the Pussy," a song which not only boasts repeating the word "pussy" 56 times, but also is an actual proposal song to a woman's sex organs. Yes. A marriage proposal to a pussy. And one that will undoubtedly usurp the stronghold Train's 'Marry Me' has on the first dance at far too many weddings.
That's some really hip writing. Aran certainly captures the guilty pleasure that one can derive from Robert Kelly and even provides the release date for "Black Panties." What she doesn't figure out is how is how to tell the truth about R. Kelly and still be funny. She skips over the part where there's visual evidence that R. Kelly has raped at least one black girl. (Yes, rape. Pubescent girls aren't old enough to consent.) I challenge any hipster to put that image in the frame and still come out chuckling. I'm also asking Lady Gaga, who simulated soft porn in the Oval Office with Kelly during this year's American Music Awards, to explain how any of this is OK.
Look, my friends and family will tell you that I'm not innocent of listening to old R. Kelly albums even after seeing that tape. Just as the NAACP nominated this man for an Image Award while he was facing trial for sex with underage girls and actually gave him a 2013 award this year for penning Whitney Houston's "I Look to You," I've been guilty of choosing pretty melodies over what is right. But this isn't fodder for jokey joke writing.
It's called hypocrisy.
An ugly hypocrisy that is only possible when you temporarily ignore and devalue the young girls whom Kelly has assaulted, or call them liars, or insist that they tempted him, or claim it was his brother, or allow the jagged memory of those vile scenes to go soft. If that's what we're doing--and that is what we're doing when we bump R. Kelly--we should at least be real about it.
Or we could just do the right damn thing and ignore this man.
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