Monday, November 24, 2014

No Surprises. No Justice.

The Grand Jury in Missouri has made it's decision.  There will be no indictment of Darren Wilson.

Don't act like you are surprised.  Because truthfully you aren't.  Don't act like you didn't see this coming.  Because truthfully you know you did.  Don't act like it isn't what you think.  Because deep in your heart you know it is.

To review:  Darren Wilson shot an unarmed young man six times at point blank range, killing him dead.  A grand jury collectively decided that he did nothing wrong and at no point did he violate protocol or police procedure.  He also received the backing and support from not only other law enforcement but he received almost $300K dollars in donations from "honest citizens".

Now you tell me.  How much more proof do you need?  What ELSE does society have to do to show you that black life is expendable in this country?  That you do not enjoy equal justice under the law?  That the system will protect it's own?  What more has to happen?

Do politicians have to come out in support of the decision?  They will.  Does the first black POTUS have to go on television and remain calm in the face of injustice.   Because he's going to.  Do self hating brothers and sisters need to stand in solidarity of your oppressors and make you complicit in your own murders?  Because they will.  Does law enforcement have to use this verdict and civil unrest to kill even more of us?  Because that's going to happen.

Tell me I'm wrong.  Tell me.  Tell me it's raining and we are not being collectively pissed on.  Speak to me of post racial America.  Go ahead.  I'm listening....

Why Marching and Non Violence Isn't Enough: The Genius of MLK

I want to talk a bit about the genius that was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  In the wake of the grand jury decision regarding Darren Wilson I can't help but think of him.  He was more than just a charismatic leader of men.  He was more than just a well spoken minister.  He was an incredible man.  He was a genius.

We often lose sight of the true MLK and the magnificence of what he was able to accomplish.  We are often blinded by the light so to speak.  We often try to put MLK into a box.  When we think of MLK we think of "I have A Dream" and "We Shall Overcome".  We think of marches and speeches.  We often miss the true substance.  We often forget one of the most important lessons MLK tried to teach us.  That lesson is that marching and singing alone isn't enough.  If we want to see true change we must decisive and definitive actions.

MLK chose the path of non violence for a number of important reasons.  He knew that we could not over power the system at that time.  He knew that we were outgunned and outmanned and force was not a feasible option.  He knew that our message would be diluted through violence and bloodshed.  So he chose a different path.   That said, he also knew that marching and singing would not be enough.  He knew that while non violence would ensure that we could not be dismissed or framed as violent thugs looking to cause harm, it would also not be enough.

MLK knew that it is impossible to appeal to the morality of your oppressor.  Your oppressor is completely aware of their actions.  They are completely conscious of what they are doing to you.  Appealing to their morality is useless.  So MLK chose a different path.  He attacked the system economically and socially.  And it worked.

Think about the bus boycott for example.  Black people showed their collective economic power and crippled the public transit system.  He showed our oppressors that he knew where to strike them and that he had the ability to rally black people together to make that strike.  That's why the American establishment was so afraid of him.  Because they knew that through King's inspiration Black people could cripple the system.   J.Edgar Hoover called MLK the most dangerous negro in America.  They knew what King knew.  That those marches and songs were not the means to fight.  They were the rallying cry.

Those marches and songs were for US not for our oppressor.  They were meant to inspire us.  They were meant to encourage us. They were meant to embolden us.  Once inspired, encouraged, and emboldened we had the fortitude to do what was necessary.  Imagine what we could do today.  Imagine if we decided to stay home from work and keep our money in our pockets on Black Friday.  Imagine if we came together and did something of SUBSTANCE. 

We are so busy marching, singing, rallying and listening to weak ass milksop leaders that we are missing a great lesson that Dr. King tried to teach us.  Non violence isn't enough.  Marching isn't enough.  Unless we want to see cities on fire we need to do more than just sing and march.  Our people are crying out for justice and they will have it one way or the other.  It's time we remember one of King's most important lessons. 

Missing Our Leaders....Especially Now

When I was young I was a troubled young man with anger issues.  I often fought and got into all manner of trouble.  One of the ways I was taught to control my emotions is to write.  I find that when I'm consumed with emotion, writing helps me "see my thoughts" and control my energy.  On the eve of the grand jury's decision regarding Darren Wilson I again find myself consumed with emotion.  I imagine I'll be writing quite a bit.....

It's times like these when I wish we had leaders like Malcolm and Martin still with us.  It's times like these when I wish we had leaders with the fortitude of the elders and not these milksop cowards we've got running around now.

These fools don't do anything.  They'll show up and organize a rally or march, run their mouths, march, raise some money and disappear.    They'll placate us with honeyed words and patronize us with useless platitudes. 

Most importantly they'll tell us "violence is not the answer" without providing any answer of their own.  Our young people need guidance.  Help.  Leadership.  They are despondent and frustrated over a society that seems to want the dead.  They aren't receiving equal justice under the law.  They tell our young people to "be smart" but they wont provide a reasonable and pragmatic solution.  They wont arm them with a means to properly resist and oppose the system.  Again they'll just offer useless platitudes and nothing of substance.

Then it hits me and I'm reminded of the truth.  We can't rely on our "leaders".  We must be our own leaders.  Each one must teach one.  We have to find our own way and not depend on these suited weasels to assist us.  Still, even with that understanding, we could sure use Malcolm right now....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Ray Rice Incident: Why Some of My Brothers Need to Stop the Nonsense

I'm going to be short and to the point.

My brothers we need to stop.  Seriously.  Stop.  I'm growing weary of hearing the same bigoted, oppressive, and privileged logic used by racists being applied to black women.  The Ray Rice incident has really exposed some of you.  It's really frustrating for me as a seasoned brother trying to do what little I can, to see us being set back by our own arrogance, ignorance, and misogyny.

We are never, and I repeat, NEVER going to heal the rift that exists between black men and women if we engage in the same type of victim blaming, excuse making fuckery we constantly go in on racist whites for.  We love to go on at length about how Black women are Queens and how they are the Mother of the Earth and the foundation of the family.  But for some reason when the time comes for us to speak on her behalf, far too many of us lose our voice and even more of us start parroting the same demented foolishness we hear coming from bigoted racists. 

Cut the shit.  Please.  Domestic violence is a serious problem.  I don't want to hear shit about Rice losing his job, how women are gold diggers, how she provoked him, how this is a distraction, or any of that other shit you're using to justify domestic violence.  Just stop it. 

I don't believe you when you say you care about black people or the black experience when you've got all kinds of excuses for Rice dripping from you lips.  I don't hear you when you speak of social injustice but then take an apologetic tone to domestic violence.

You get angry when racist whites suggest Eric Garner had it coming.  You get angry when racist whites suggest Trayvon had it coming.  You get angry when racist whites suggest Mike Brown had it coming.  Then you sit there and suggest that Janay had it coming.  Stop that nonsense.  Enough with the victim blaming.  I really can't stand it.  Cut it the hell out.  I will hear no more of it.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

No One is Safe From Police Brutality

I am going to be straight, blunt, and to the point.  There is no point in dancing around this issue any longer.  It's time we accepted the undeniable truth.  If you live in America you are not safe from police brutality.  In America today anyone runs the risk of being beaten, assaulted, and killed by law enforcement.  It is a fact.

Children.  Women.  The elderly.  Doesn't matter.  We are all targets and at any given time we could easily become statistics.  It boggles the mind how often police brutality occurs.  We've almost become desensitized to it.  The killings of brothers like Eric Garner, sisters like Rekia Boyd, and children like Aiyana Stanley have become commonplace.  Beatings and assaults have become a regular occurrence.  We have become fodder.   They were put here to protect us, but no one protects us from them.

This is not just the truth for my black brothers and sisters.  This is not just the truth for my Mexican, Spanish, and Latino brothers and sisters.  We've lived with this truth since this country was founded.  Guess what white people?  Today you aren't safe either.   Some of you seem to believe you are immune to police brutality.  You believe that those who have been brutalized by law enforcement brought it on themselves.  If only they hadn't resisted right?  If only they just complied right?  If only they learned to respect and obey the law right?  Wrong. Your naivete  is largely the reason why police brutality exists.  What's more, the odds grow stronger every day that you too will become a victim.  A victim of police brutality and of your na├»ve viewpoint.

Don't believe me?  I could tell you the story of how the police threw a disabled man out of his wheelchair and onto the ground.  I could tell you the story of how an elderly white man was assaulted after leaving church.  I could tell the story of police beating a homeless man to death as he screamed.  I could tell you the story of a white woman kicked in the face by police during a peaceful protest.

It doesn't matter who you are.  Your children are not safe.  Your loved ones are not safe.  You.  Are.  Not.  Safe.  What's more, it's only going to get worse until we come to this undeniable conclusion and start speaking out against this injustice.  Or you could stay silent.  As I often say to anyone who will listen your silence condemns us all.  Including you.  One day it will be your son.  Or your daughter.  Or your father.  Or your mother.  Or....you.

Find your voice.  Speak out.  No one is safe from police brutality.

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Thanks for reading

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I left the Game Years Ago

Respect.  Thank you for reading.  For those of you who know Doc Sinn well, you remember that at one time I was an emcee. I was once a part of one the most influential underground Hip Hop groups in the Carolinas.  If you've been following me long enough, you also remember that even before that I  had a record deal and my group was distributed by Atlantic records.  There was a time in my life where Hip Hop music was all encompassing and there was nothing more important to me than writing rhymes and making songs.  You also know that I abruptly left the game in my early 30s and started focusing strictly on producing, writing, and social activism.  Many have theorized why I left the game and I've never talked about it much.  I've heard people say I did it because I wanted to focus on my family.  I've heard people say I became disgruntled with my associates and bandmates.  I've heard people say a lot of things.  Well I want to clear the air.  Just for my own benefit.  It's just something I want to write about and something I want to do.  And I want to do it now.

I didn't leave the game because of family.  My wifey and family are the ultimate support unit.  They'd follow me and stand behind me no matter what.  I had all the support that I needed.  They didn't take me away from Hip Hop.  I also didn't do it because I fell out with my people.  I love them.  They are my brothers and sisters.  Sure there were tough times.  Sometimes there were cross words exchanged.  But those were also some great times and I don't regret a second of it.  There isn't a single negative feeling I have about anyone I shared a mic with.  In fact, right now I want to acknowledge Shef Seenya, Mr. Rozzi, TreZure the Black Widow, Big Ski, Dreadswaye, LS, and Doc Hairston.  They are family.  They will always be family.  I will always be there for them and they for me.

I left the game for one reason.  The game changed.  Or should I say, the direction of the game changed.  When I was going hard and emceeing heavy, emcees were considered artisans.  We were wordsmiths.  We were judged by our ability to create rhymes.  By our ability to formulate our thoughts and weave them into verses.  Emcees were lyricists.  Not only that but Hip Hop was more than a business, it was a culture.  I immersed myself in that culture.  I was an apex predator.  My goal was to be the most prolific lyricist possible.  To manifest every aspect of Hip Hop culture.  I loved it.  I lived it.  Then, as I said, the game changed.

At first, life was good.  Hip Hop became mainstream.  Hip Hop artists were enjoying massive success.  The type of success one can only dream of.  Double and triple platinum records.  Multi-million dollar deals.   Endorsements.  You name it.   Hip Hop music had arrived.  It was what we thought we all wanted as artists.  Unfortunately there was also a horrible side effect.  Record labels and music companies who had neither care nor interest in Hip Hop culture saw the music as simply a cash cow.  As such, min/maxing became the law of the land.  Labels wanted maximum profit for minimum effort.  Music became disposable.  Artists became disposable.  Hip Hop culture became disposable.  The seeds were sown for what we see today.  A broken genre.  A mirage.  A facsimile of what Hip Hop was and what it used to be.

At first the change was gradual. The DJ was phased out as an integral part of Hip Hop groups. Song production became more and more simplistic. Then the floodgates opened.  The standard bar plummeted for what qualified as an emcee.  This had a massive impact on female rappers in particular.  A woman's skill on the mic meant nothing.  If she wasn't selling her ass, she wasn't selling.   As such, the female emcee went from prominent to nearly extinct within a few short years.  The culture was no longer a focal point.  Getting as much fast money as you can was all that mattered.  Suddenly it didn't matter so much how skilled you were.  Or how hot your 16s were.  If you had the right gimmick and could turn a fast dollar, little else was important.  Now I love fast money as much as anyone.  But I also love Hip Hop culture.  I knew at that moment I had to make a personal decision.

I am a proud man.  I am a principled man.  I live by my own code  I live by my own sense of honor.  After everything I had invested in the game, there was no way I was going to dumb down who I was.  What I was.  What I do.  I couldn't.  I couldn't be a part of it anymore.  I also realized that as long as I was still emceeing there would always be a part of me that resented what the game became.  I would never love Hip Hop the same way.  So I unplugged my speakers, dropped my mic, and walked away.

I still write.  I'll likely write until I die.  But I don't ever think about coming back.  For one, I'm too old.  I'm in my early 40s now.  Hip Hop is a young man's game.  But more importantly, I'm just not inspired anymore.  I don't love it like I did.   Maybe one day that'll change.  Maybe something will hit me and I'll pick the mic back up.  But as of yet, that hasn't happened.  

I also want to be clear about something.  This isn't some old man's rant or an older man whining about the "good old days".  To be clear, as I said before, Hip Hop is a young man's game.  When I was 20, I wasn't going to let some 40 year old cat tell me how to rock.  So now that I'm that 40 year old cat I'm not going to try to talk down to the youth.   It's not about old vs. young or new school versus old school.  It's about the quality of music.  There are several artists near my age rocking who quite frankly sound terrible.  I still see Hip Hop through the eyes of an artisan and the art as been lost.
Emcees should care about their music.  They should work at it and that work should reflect in their music. I don't see it.

I don't pass judgment on those who are still grinding in the name of true Hip Hop culture.  I applaud them.  I don't set myself above them.  In fact I admire their fortitude and willingness to press on in the name of good music.  I just couldn't do it.  In many ways they are far better than me.  To those emcees I say "Keep rocking.  Keep doing what you do."

Twenty years ago if you told me that mainstream Hip Hop would be little more that sugar coated pop music in a hard candy shell I'd have laughed at you.  If you had told me emcees today would be a joke compared to emcees then I would've told you to go fuck yourself.  But that is where we are.  I made a decision.  This why I made it.  I don't know if it's the right one or the wrong one.  But it's the one I made.  I stand by it.  I live with it.  Thank you for reading.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

We All Should Be Outraged At the Kidnapping of 240+ Girls by Boko Haram

Respect Everyone.  Thank you for reading.  This is directed and those of you with families(which is pretty much all of you).  I want you to picture something in your mind's eye.  Imagine going to pick up your child from school.  When you arrive at the school, imagine seeing police cars, flashing lights, and government vehicles and personnel.  Imagine being told your child and several other children were taken at gunpoint by armed terrorists.  Imagine receiving a phone call that your son or daughter, or your brother or sister was abducted while sitting in class.  Now imagine that those who took your children announced your children would be sold into slavery and prostitution.  Imagine the government and law enforcement being slow to act.  Imagine it happening AGAIN just a few weeks later in a neighboring city where you live.  Stop there and just think about how you'd feel.

That is how the families of nearly 250 girls in Nigeria feels.  It was reported today that Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 8 more girls ages 12-15 from their village.  (Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27298614 ).  This is in the wake of Boko Haram kidnapping 234 girls from their school on April 14.  This is an absolute catastrophe.  There is no way to overstate how horrible this is.  It is impossible to overstate how terrible this is.  Yet for some reason, we have heard nothing from military leaders, political leaders, or the media.  The only thing more outrageous to me about what has happened to these poor girls is how casually we've been ignoring it.

We constantly hear talk of fighting for freedom.  We constantly hear talk of fighting injustice.  We constantly hear talk of fighting oppression.  So why the silence?  Where is our outrage?  Where is the media?  You want me to be outraged over Iraq.  Over Afghanistan.  Over Benghazi.  Where is your outrage over Boko Haram?  Why isn't this story trending on Twitter?  CNN had us chasing an airplane for weeks.   Why isn't CNN chasing our girls?  Fox wants us to mourn four dead Americans in Benghazi.  Who mourns for nearly 250 lost girls?

The fact that we are so disconnected from what is happening in Nigeria is both sad and deeply troubling.  What does it take for this story to take center stage?  How many more girls?  How long will military forces in Nigeria as well as around the world allow this to go on?  When will top ranking Republicans and Democrats speak on this at length?  When will the President?

Imagine these were your children.  In your neighborhood.  In your towns.  Imagine terrorists running up into schools and neighborhoods snatching your seeds.  Your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and cousins.  Our collective silence on this is both shameful and disgusting.  We should all be outraged right now.  And I'm outraged that we are not.

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