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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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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Friday, May 2, 2014

"Doc Sinn Why Do You Focus So Much on Race?"

Respect everyone.  In this blog entry I want to address a question I'm frequently asked.  A week doesn't go by without someone asking me this question.  I am always puzzled by it even though I understand why they are asking.  It does get tiresome though so whenever someone asks me this question from now on I will refer them to this blog.  If you are like me and hear this question often yourself, feel free to refer your inquisitors to this blog as well. 

On the surface the question seems to be a rather simple one:  "Doc Sinn why do you focus so much on race?".  The question is often presented in a non threatening way and appears to come from a place of curiosity and even innocence.  But in reality few questions are more ignorant and more annoying.  Few questions grate the nerves more.  Let me explain why.

For starters, as I have said many times, racism is woven into the fabric of America.  This country was founded on racism and centuries later this country continues to function based on it's tenets.  A day doesn't go by without us seeing or experiencing racism in this country and abroad.  It's literally everywhere.  It's in the workplace.  It's in entertainment.  It's in sports.  It's in politics.  It imbues every aspect of our lives.  It's in our faces every day of our lives.  So the real question is not why do I focus so much on race as much as it is "How can I NOT focus on it?"

But that's not really what makes the question annoying.  What makes the question annoying is that it's very much a rhetorical question.  The answer to why one would focus on race in this country is brutally obvious.  But those who ask the question already know this.  They are not asking because they are curious.  No.  When you ask me "Doc Sinn why do you focus so much on race?" what you are really saying to me is "Doc Sinn I don't like that you are focusing on race.  It makes me feel uncomfortable and I want you to stop talking about it.  I don't want to deal with this so why are you talking about it?  Stop."

Now some of you are saying "That's not true.".  But it is true.  How does one look at a black person(or any person of color) in America and ask that person "Why do you focus on race?".  Knowing how this country was founded.  Seeing how society treats "minorities".  Witnessing the hatred and discrimination people of color experience.  Seeing the constant injustice.  Observing the systemic imbalance that promotes a caste system based on skin color.  Truth be told, the question is almost an affront.  It's almost disrespectful.  It is akin to asking "Why are so focused on that foot on your throat?" or "Why are you focused on that gun to your head?".

I'm sorry was that example extreme?  Tell that to the families of Trayvon Martin.  Or Rekia Boyd.  Or Ayana Stanley.  Or Jordan Davis.  Tell that to families of the young boy who was killed taking out trash.  Or the elderly woman who was accosted by police and thrown onto a highway after a traffic stop.  Or the young black man who was shot in the back.  Or the Mexican brother who was kicked in the face while handcuffed and lying on his stomach.

So while I'm not mad at you, before you ask me "Doc Sinn why do you focus so much on race?" I want you to consider the society we live in.  I want you to consider my people's history in this country.  I want you to think about how America was founded.  I want you think about all the hatred that exists in this country and in this world.  By then you'll have answered your own question.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Brothers: It's Past Time To Speak Up

I am speaking to my brothers right now.  I am also speaking to men in general.  I am speaking to the strong minded, strong willed Alpha males of our communities.  The stand up, stand strong, focus minded men of our communities.  The fathers, sons, and brothers that are the pillars of their families.  My brothers, there is a catastrophe taking place.  A near epic crisis.  This is not hyperbole.  It is the truth.  An ugly truth that up until now we have not really spoken about.  That crisis involves our sisters.  Our wives.  Our daughters.  Brothers, our women are suffering.  Badly.  And it's time we said something about it and did something about it.

I've been married a long time.  I have a son and two beautiful daughters whom I love deeply.  It pains me to see what our women are suffering through.  This isn't an attempt to pander to women.  This is an attempt to shake us out of our collective, apathetic funk.   Our women are going through a ton of shit right now and it's really high time we collectively took notice.

We need to speak to our fellow brothers.  Oftentimes females are dismissed as loud, angry, man hating feminists when they speak of the issues that plague them.  Such stereotypes seem to make it easy for us to ignore their pleas.  That is where we need to step in.  We who count ourselves among the strong minded Alphas.  We need to get a hold of our brothers and let them know that this is serious.  It's on us to start healing the black family and so far we have been deficient. 

I know some of my brothers are reading this and are already dismissing my words.  I know you are.  You've been trained to.  We've all been trained to.  So I want to hit you with some hard math.  Math we have been collectively ignoring.  These are just three glaring examples of the struggles our women face:

One in five women have been sexually assaulted in college.  One in five.( Source: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/new-obama-group-tackles-sexual-violence-on-campus-102479.html ) If you have daughters or a sister that number should shake you to your foundation.  As a father with two girls that will soon be heading off to school it's disturbing.
One in three women have been raped in the military.  The MILITARY.  One in three.  (Source:  http://www.care2.com/causes/war-among-comrades-1-in-3-women-raped-in-the-military.html )  A woman in the military is more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than killed in combat. 
Two weeks ago 234 girls in Nigeria were abducted and are now being sold to Boko Haram militants.  (Source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kidnapped-nigeria-school-girls-reportedly-sold-as-brides-to-islamic-boko-haram-militants/).  Innocent girls who likely being raped, assaulted, and treated like trash as I write this.

Now look at those three stories and combine them with the everyday stories you read about rape and domestic violence.  "Crisis" and "catastrophe" doesn't seem that far fetched now does it?

It goes deeper than that as well.  How many young boys are not learning how to be men because we haven't taught them how?  How many young girls are suffering with bad men because we didn't teach our daughters what a good man looks like?  We need to own this stuff my brothers.  That's what a man does.  A man owns problems and then solves them.  That's what we do.  That's one of our many callings.  We need to own this crisis and start working on ways to fix it.  But we can't fix what we don't acknowledge as broken and collectively we've been too quiet.

I'm also not going to offer the proverbial phrase "there are good men out here".  Because I already know we're out here.  We've BEEN out here.  What our sisters need is for those of us that are out here to make some NOISE.  Let you voice be heard.  This isn't about pandering or patronizing.  This is about your wives.  Your ladies.  Your mothers.  Your sisters.  Your daughters.  This is about helping them.  Keeping them safe.  Making sure they have what they need.  They are counting on us to do what we do.  We need to start delivering and we haven't been doing enough.

So lift your voice up.  Get your hands dirty.  It's time to confront this crisis.  Your wifey is worth it.  Your mother is worth it.  Your daughter is worth it.  Your sisters is worth it.  Alphas where you at? 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

How Donald Sterling Inadvertently Exposed the NAACP

Greetings everyone.  Today I want to build on something that I've been thinking about since this story broke.  By now you've heard the infamous Donald Sterling audio.  For the few of you that are unaware of what I'm talking about, Donald Sterling is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.  He was recently caught on tape verbally chastising his extremely young girlfriend V. Stiviano for taking pictures with blacks and being seen with minorities.  He took great offense to her taking a picture on Instagram with Magic Johnson and launched into a tirade about how he does not want her to be seen with black people or to bring black people to "his" games.  The audio can be heard here:  http://www.tmz.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-clippers-owner-black-people-racist-audio-magic-johnson/.

Now it goes without saying that Donald Sterling is a bigoted lowlife who's slave master's mentality has no place anywhere, particularly in professional sports.  I fully intend to build on that in another blog posting.  But I wanted to speak about a different aspect of all this.  An aspect that not many people may be aware of.  Before this story broke, Donald Sterling was tapped by the NAACP to receive a lifetime achievement award.  Check the link here: http://www.tmz.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-naacp-audio-racist-l-a-clippers/
This is not the first time that Sterling has been praised or awarded by the NAACP either.  Which beggars the question: "How does such an obvious bigot receive such high praise from an organization like the NAACP?"  An organization that supposedly is committed to the advancement of "people of color" and fighting racism and discrimination?

I have always been critical of the NAACP.  First and foremost, as my brother Lanfia Toure pointed out, they are long overdue for a name change.  But my criticism has really been about their lack of involvement with any serious issues that affect the black community.  They are largely silent on injustice in the black community.  When they do speak they offer a few obligatory empty speeches and platitudes, raise a few dollars for themselves, and disappear.  They don't do anything tangible or of any real substance.  Now some people may feel differently and that is fine.  But in my view, the fact that a blatantly racist white man can consistently receive awards and accolades from an organization that is supposed to be diametrically opposed to individuals like him, is another example of why the NAACP serves virtually no purpose other than to enrich themselves.

Now the NAACP could probably be forgiven if this was some new revelation.  They could probably be given a pass if this were something out of the blue.  But the truth is that Donald Sterling's history of racism and racially charged remarks is well documented.  Just ask former players and those who have worked for him like Baron Davis and NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  In 2009 NBA legend Elgin Baylor filed a wrongful termination suit against Sterling and is quoted saying that Sterling has a vision of a "southern plantation structure" for the team.  In 2006 the Justice Department accused Sterling of housing discrimination.  This was the second of such allegations levied against him.  How does the NAACP not know this?  How do you tap an individual for a Lifetime Achievement Award with these types of blemishes?  A simple google search reveals all sorts of issues with race surrounding Sterling. 

Had this tape not been released to the public, the NAACP would've awarded Sterling with a Lifetime Achievement Award, put his money in their collective pockets, and gone about their way.  Meanwhile, Sterling would have continued his racist practices and espousing his racist beliefs(albeit probably not nearly as publicly).  It is, in my view, another clear example of how the NAACP has sold us out and is just another instrument of the establishment used to keep us placated.  Once again the NAACP has been exposed for being what they are.  Donald Sterling's racist rant has, among many other things, reaffirmed that the NAACP is hardly interested in the "advancement of colored people" and far more interested in the advancement of their finances. 

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