Black Lives and Police Lies

October 26, 2015

The Top Cop in the country, FBI Director James B. Comey, is in a blue rage and on a public relations rampage.
He’s worried, he tells audiences and media outlets across the country, that “a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year” has led to an increase in violent crime.
The police are being “sidelined by scrutiny,” as the New York Times put it.
“Lives are saved,” Comey continued, “when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing.”
You don’t need to listen to the critics—Comey’s out front with a clear statement about a particular police perspective on public safety and the place of the cops in a free society: let the cops loose everywhere; let them do what they do without oversight or constraint or citizen/community scrutiny; don’t watch; trust us.
The culprit in Comey’s perverse world is Black Lives Matter!
If they would just stop watching, things would be fine.
He brushes breezily past the ongoing serial assassination of Black people by militarized cops and the state, claiming there are no reliable statistics. Lies! Read the Guardian—they have a counter running.
This isn’t new: the Black Freedom Movement was accused of creating civil unrest and disrespect for the law in the 1960s and 70s by reactionary politicians and racist police leaders. That was a lie too.
But it’s key to the agents of power to change the frame, to blame the victims of police murder, their allies, and the activists who rally in the name of justice and humanity.
Oh, and when the cops ask “What are you doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning?” ask them what the fuck they’re doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning, and catch it on camera.

BreakBeat Poets! by Krish Lingala

October 20, 2015

Poets Quraysh Ali Lansana and Kevin Coval discussed their new book “The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop” with educator and activist Bill Ayers at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Hyde Park last Sunday afternoon.

“The Breakbeat Poets,” edited by Coval, Lansana and Chicago poet Nate Marshall, gathers work from 78 poets representing a broad spectrum of racial, sexual and gender identities. Coval and Lansana described the project as the first of it’s kind – a true recognition and compilation of poetry as hip hop. Sally Bergs-Seeley, a DePaul University English professor who attended the event, was excited by the pioneering work the three poets are doing.

“This is the newest edge of poetry,” Bergs-Seeley said. “for hip hop poetry to actually be published in anthology, that’s new – that’s a new frontier.”

Both poets also emphasized the book’s vital aim of increasing the representation and credibility of marginalized and underrepresented voices.

“There’s no hip hop without women, there’s no hip hop without folks from the LGBTQ community, there’s no hip hop without Puerto Rican brothers and sisters,” Lansana said.

The discussion covered topics ranging from police brutality to beat poetry, all through the lens of examining hip hop – what it is, its heritage, and its legacy. Throughout, Ayers, Coval, and Lansana articulated a vision of hip hop centering youth and knowledge as vital components.

“When the south Bronx turned their back on a crew of primarily young people of color, they continued to create despite the lack of arts funding, despite the criminalization, the rise of the privatized prison industrial complex,” Coval said. “They took to the public space to reclaim it for themselves and for their community.”

Most at the event expressed feelings that the legitimacy and centrality of hip hop as a poetry movement cannot be ignored – it is too ubiquitous and preeminent in youth culture and too prolific in its ability to inspire people to pick up the pen.

“This particular movement in art, this particular upsurge in the last couple of decades of hip hop and spoken word is really the largest poetry upsurge in the history of the world and it’s inviting people to share their voices,” Ayers said.

However, some in the poetry community continue to ignore the voices that Coval, Lansana, and Marshall highlight in their compilation. In a recent article in The New Republic, poet Cathy Park Hong derides the lack of racial sensitivity of esteemed poets like Kenneth Goldsmith. Coval says he has little time for those who are dismissive.

“It’s undeniable, man,” Coval said. “If you’re still in those same arguments that this is not art, you have not paid attention, you have not been involved in anything new for 40 years and you sound old as f**k and you’re going to die tomorrow if you’re not dead already.”

Despite the lack of recognition from some, the work Coval, Lansana, and Marshall are doing is gaining traction, with a feature in Poetry magazine’s April 2015 issue. Bergs-Seeley says the three poets are making a positive difference.

“Poetry saves lives,” Sally said. “I love what they’re doing, taking kids who feel vulnerable and giving them a voice and a place to express themselves.”

Brother Rick

October 19, 2015

Socialism, Seriously!

October 15, 2015

Memo to Bernie:
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a socialist, and so was Jane Addams, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Dorothy Day, Eugene Debs, and Julian Bond.

Claim it.

King said in 1967: The US is on the wrong side of the world revolution…We need a revolution in values in order to get on the right side.
Glory in it.
Memo to Anderson Cooper: You haul out “supporting the Sandinistas” as if that’s a shameful historical mistake and a sin? Millions of us supported the national liberation movements there and around the globe because it was the morally and humanly right thing to do. In your universe is supporting imperialism, invasion and occupation, and fascist reaction what makes someone “electable?”

Who writes your shit?

American corporate journalism—institutional stenographer for power.