What exactly is the ‘other’ black experience…..
October 27, 2009, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Life....I wonder... | Tags: , , , , ,

Photography by Phil Knott

I dig Afro Punk. Anyone who has read my post Where You Been All My Life, knows just how dear and important this movement is to me. I have been an afro-punk all my life, but it’s hard for me to explain, because honestly I feel I owe no one an explanation for what I be. I cannot explain the depths of my being to you in a mere blog post so I won’t even attempt. I will say this though, within the Afro Punk community there are no stares, there is no judgement, there are no designated ‘tests’ or ‘indicators’ that reveal the ‘authenticity’ of your ‘blackness’, there is nothing but an irreverent respect for and nuturing of the the divine individuality present in us all, there is absolute freedom from what ‘they’ think you ought to look like, sound like, move like, and listen to. That is why my soul rests easy among the legions of those who embody this lifestyle. Among them I can be a ‘real’ black woman and be Takeema, something many folk I come across attempt to make me compromise daily. 

While on the Afro Punk site, which I have just recently become a member of, I came across the post of a brotha expressing his displeasure and belief that the scene had been “hijacked by hipster scene kids”. No disrespect to him or his views but after reading I felt compelled to write. His main point of contention was that the scene is called Afro-PUNK but there was not enough focus on punk, metal and hardcore. He felt that there had been an influx of people jumping on the bandwagon just because it is now “trendy to be different and they don’t listen to rock music”   He went on to say that if this is what is was going to be”…just change the name  to Afro-funk or Afro-Electronica…” I had mixed feelings upon reading this.

I feel exactly where he’s coming from. There are those who walk the walk and talk the talk and have done so before it was  “cool”, many have been ostracized, ridiculed, and have found a solace within this community that wasn’t available anywhere else. So what do you do when you see you’re community getting further and further away from it’s origins? It’s a lot like when your favorite underground artist gains mainstream popularity and your are subjected to the slow torture of watching them conform to a new audience and eventually….sell out. I feel him on that one, I really do, but then again in a community that is the personification of rebellious freedom, why the restriction of labels?

Punk itself is rooted in the philosphy of anti-establishment and homegrown DIY ideology.  The key words are wild and rebellion.  This type of mentalitiy can be and has been manifested musically in a myriad of forms.  Blues, rock n roll,  psychedelic rock,  punk, funk, new wave, metal, hip-hop……wild, rebellious, against the grain expressions of the musical impulse. Even within the genre of “punk” there are several sub-genres, just as within the vast sea of human life no two beings are exactly the same.  The tagline on the Afro Punk site is this “Afro Punk is a platform for the other Black experience, the one we don’t see in our media D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) is the foundation.” The concept of D.I.Y. deals heavily with reliance on independent effort. Musically it referred to the idea of bands distributing thier music independently, not dealing with big money contracts and studios, doing things thier own way on thier own terms. Applying this concept to a way of life, I take it to mean that I need not look to any source outside of myself to provide me with a structure on which to base my identity.  I create myself in my own way on my own terms.

With that being said, it would be a sad thing to let elitism and exsclusivity permeate a community such as this one. The scene jacking hipsters who don’t live what they talk about will not last long because real recognizes real. I have no doubt in my mind that once the breezes of trendiness change direction, which they always do, the flakes will float off right along with it. The spirit of Afro Punk, if anything, is enriched and fortified by the diversity of those souls which gravitate towards it.  I’ll end this with the comment of a sista who replied to the brotha’s remarks….

“…….I agree the stronger emphasis at the root, is punkrock, but I can’t be mad at the rebellions of other non-pop genres against the status quo feeling at home in the AP community. I think it’s beautiful; an expansive ‘Other Black Experience’ for wavers of various kinds of freak flags. Shine on”


Just a few questions…….

Is it wrong that I don’t want to watch CNN’s Black in America 2? Is it wrong that I didn’t watch the first one?

Truthfully I have no desire at all to watch because I feel CNN really can’t tell me nothing about being black in America, I’m sorry that’s just what it is. I’m also tired of all the mixed messages news specials like this send. When black people get indignant and fired up about something we perceive as an  injustice, like the Jena 6 situation or Sean Bell or any of the other slights that have deeply affected our community,it seems people come out the woodwork claiming that we’re not as seperate as we think we are, times have changed, it’s not what it looks like, you’re over reacting, we’re all equal now blah blah blah, yet CNN still finds it necessary to dedicate a special news series to the experience of the Black American? When Black folks talk about the “struggle” people tend to get upset, and I’ve personally been told things like “Black people need to stop, slavery was so long ago.” or ” At least you all are still around the Native Americans are practically extinct.” Were these sentiments ignorant? Very, but I can manage to pull a little sense from statements like these and I get the impression that other ethnic groups are increasingly becoming disenchanted with being left out the great race debate. America is not just Black and White, anymore. There used to be a time in our history where blackness and whiteness were the main criteria for which all things were judged. We have been a multi-ethnic country for a long time now. Why doesn’t CNN give us White in America or Chinese in America, Indonesian in America, Dominican in America, Korean in America, Puerto Rican in America, Jamican in America, African in America, Native American in America… see where I’m going with this. Now I’m not saying that there are not any issues facing the black community, because those within the black community know what’s up, but something about a mainstream  mega- media outlet such as CNN airing a special about them disturbs me for some reason. It gives me the feeling that we’re some exotic zoo animals or that we don’t know what issues trouble or community and can’t change them unless CNN shows us the truth, the way and the light. The “black” experience is too complex, too varied, and too multifaceted for CNN to ever portray in a way that would completely satisfy someone who strives to break the barriers that closed minded social norms have placed around me and my “experience”  everyday. It all boils down to this; this is a conversation for black america, if you’re going to attempt to have the conversation about what it means to be black in America don’t sugarcoat it or water it down, show it in all its aspects, show all the factors that contribute to the negative and positive aspects of our past, present and future existence. News outlets like CNN are too concerned with retaining an air of political correctness which must be thrown out the window if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty. The black experience involves so many other facets that CNN will not explore, like the role of the mass media in perpetuating negative stereotypes……….

Thanks for bringing my attention to this pressing issue seeing as how many black americans are too dumb and/or ashamed to know when they are suffering emotionally and psychologically and need professional help, what would we do without you guys…….

Notice how she only says black and white? And I know Ms  Obrien is supposed to be at least 50% African American but they couldn’t find nobody that looked a little bit more like the bulk of the disapora they’re talking about to narrate me through this enlightening journey? Yeah I said it…….

Daily Jewelz: Past, Present and Future Heroes……….
July 8, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Dopeness | Tags: , , ,

This piece was written by a very talented friend of mine hailing from the Bay Area, east Oakland to be exact. Whenever I read his poetry, I always tell him he writes the kind of stuff that you have to read again. I mean no doubt about it, the piece will be crazy good, but the first reading doesn’t do anything for me. That’s nothing negative though, that’s the way it is with all good poetry . A poem must force the reader to focus on the subtle wisdom woven between the verses.  A good poem is hard to critique because, in essence, it’s an extension of someones being . The total sum of their thoughts and emotions recorded on paper.  You know a good one when you read one, but sometimes, to grasp the full genius of what you’ve just read you have to read it again……..

Words and wisdom run hand and hand
freedom is once in a lifetime, while time is free
can’t control so fire turns desire
soul to soul each for white house retire
If you build it they will come but past is unsure
When black build it they took from me to say it’s yours
Now is this a place for freedom to prove
A place where black children were hung, black women were done
So if you have answers for the wise
Don’t let the past be the creator of the demise
Sit back and watch history reverse course
Now that is a hero with out a sword

-Jensen D. Best