International Decade for People of African Descent

TRNN was in Harlem this week to cover the commencement of the UN ‘International Decade for People of African Descent.’ Activist Opal Tometi, Actor Danny Glover and President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro were among those who spoke. They encouraged Black activists to build solidarity with the over 200 million people who claim African descent in the Americas.

To watch the entire story click here: http://bit.ly/1j1aj54

http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/

Confederate Flag Controversy

Check out our Youtube Channel for video content. We’re trying to expand and would love your support!

Sincere Ignorance Podcast

Sincere Ignorance (7)

It’s here, the full, weekly podcast of Sincere Ignorance. A week early from its’ iTunes and Stitcher releases due to of the waiting period for the pending reviews and the fact I wanted critiques of any kind for improvement.

We’ve finally got our Youtube channel running. You can watch a series of new videos along with some revamped older ones. We’re committing to releasing at least one video a week. Subscribe, leave suggestions and tips.

This is not like our usual audio commentaries, this is the official promotional podcast.

First episode deals with the issue of classism, the following 2 episodes will deal with sexism and racism.

http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/68500/39642828

 

Crossroads: A Story Inspired By Robert Johnson

https://i1.wp.com/image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/yz4Pc1FTiZNs8z1EhNZqocVJho7.jpg

I held my guitar, strumming the strings to hear its cool twang echo bounce through the forest as I stepped up the moonlit dirt road. I thought I was pretty good. Some said I had talent, but I was never talented enough to step on stage.

But that was about to change. I reached an intersection, where four worn roads came together. By this time, the forest was behind me and there was nothing but miles of sweeping Mississippi farmland coating the earth. The distant, pained howl of a hound lingered in the night air for a second before fading into silence.

A man stood in the center of the crossroads, dressed in a sharp gray suit with a fedora tipped sideways atop his head. The look in his dreary blue eyes sent a whirlwind of doubt ripping though my subconscious. I stopped within six feet of him; a lump filled my throat.

“I believe you know how this works, right?” he asked, his voice as pale as his skin.

I nodded and swallowed my uncertainty. I stepped closer to present my guitar to him.

His eyes widened. “I suppose not. We’ve changed policy, dear.”

Before I could raise an eyebrow, he slipped a hand into his jacket, pulled out a sleek pen and a sheet of paper— offering it to me. I placed my guitar on the ground, next to his briefcase, and took the instrument.

“Sign the dotted line, please,” he said.

The paper was strong enough to write on without need for a clipboard and it was glazed with legal jargon. Some words I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone understand.

“Midnight doesn’t last forever,” he said after a few minutes.

Fearless of sin, I scribbled my name in pen. The signature glowed a bright blue, but the ink started to sizzle and smolder to a coal black. There was a blank section below the signature line which filled itself in with words that formed my biography. Before I could speak, the man snatched the paper back and scanned it.

He arched an eyebrow. “Keisha Williams? Born in New Orleans, sixteen-years-old, and second daughter of James and Angela Williams?”

I nodded.

He bit his lip. “I see, and what do you plan to do when you’re a rich and famous musician?”

I paused for a second. “Charity,” I admitted.

A thin mocking smirk played on his lips. “For the hurricane, I assume.”

“Yes.”

He tore the paper to pieces and blew them into the humid air. Like fireflies, the pieces lit up the night sky before fading into darkness.

The man then reached into the breast-pocket of his jacket, taking out a red pack of cigarettes and a pack of matches. He shook a thin single out and plopped it between his lips. “Please don’t try to undo our work, Ms. Williams. You have a good evening.”

He struck a match and a bright flash nearly blinded me; my eyes slammed shut. The flames crackled like witches. When my eyes flicked open, he was gone. The dirt beneath me was covered in dark soot.

My guitar sat next to my sneakers as a pile of black ash. Left were the twisted metal strings protruding from the instrument’s charred remains.

Law school it is, then.

————————————–

Robert Johnson was the inspiration for this story. I felt it could’ve went in a better direction, but I see these shorts I’m posting as literary exercise than anything else. Decent to be written in a day I’d hope.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sacurrent.com/imager/king-of-the-delta-blues-robert-johnson/b/original/2401841/9337/cityguide48-1.jpg

Robert Johnson was a 30’s blue musician, passing away at the age of 27 and joining the legendary 27 Club (with Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix), Johnson left a huge dent in music despite his short tenure in blues. In the 60’s his re-released works grew immensely popular and went on to inspire many white and black powerhouse artists of the day.

It’s always been according to legend that Johnson made a deal with the Devil to play the guitar the way he did. That, coupled with the fact little is known about Johnson’s life besides his music career and his early demise, and you have yourself the music blues legend.

Things like this “alleged footage” increase the spookiness factor.

The idea of the crossroads has always interested me. Standing alone by yourself, making a choice in which direction to go. Or hoping to meet something of supernatural origin to strike a deal that you’d soon regret.

Check out some of Johnson’s music:

Sources:

http://www.robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org/biography

http://www.biography.com/people/robert-johnson-9356324

https://i0.wp.com/fc03.deviantart.net/fs45/i/2009/124/6/f/Robert_Johnson_by_jugodenaranjo.jpg

American Bandit + Black Literary Magazines

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From the darkness, I approached a woman with a daringness and audacity not seen since the Old West. Her brown eyes lit up. I flashed a gun and any intention of heroics died in an instant. I aimed the barrel at her chest and she froze; her silk green dress ruffled in the wind.

But those shock-stricken eyes were familiar. Thick, white lines of cocaine had nearly erased my memory, but not of her. I blinked and she came back in flashes. I remembered her short, curly black hair and her smooth, dark skin. Danielle, the woman I once loved.

My confident smirk faded and my head sunk low like broken ships into the cold harbor. A shadow lingered above me, not below. She said my name, asking if I needed help. The worry in her voice was a needle to my heart. I could feel the spots and blotches dotted along my arm. I needed help. I needed her.

I didn’t want help, though. Help strangely always arrived and handcuffed me. The blue bandits. Red and blue lights flicked in my eyes just thinking of them. I didn’t want to risk rotting. A drizzle of rain pattered on the worn sleeves of my jacket as I contemplated both lunacy and salvation.

“Just give me the money,” I said.

I closed my eyes held out my hand, expecting crumpled bills or a credit card on my palm. After a few seconds of silence, a soft hand wrapped around mine and squeezed gently. Whispers of support floated through the air.

I squeezed back.

——————————————————–

I’ve been reading more, so that’s inspired me to write more. Not my best work, fairly heavy-handed, but pretty decent for 15 minutes. I’ve been struggling between activist and artist for the past year now.

I’m leaning more towards artist.

Black Literary Magazines to check for:

http://www.unionstationmag.com/issues-3/

http://www.spectermagazine.com/

http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/new-literary-magazine-spook-228#.VQh5M-FsWM8

The Boondocks: In Hindsight

Season 4 of the Boondocks was probably one of the best examples of Seasonal Rot, where a show gets progressively worse with each season. Which is sad, because the show had some of the cleverest writing, most beautiful animation, and likable characters I’ve seen in a long time.

For me, seasons 1 and 2 are perfection of comedic satire. While season 2 was more outlandish and less grounded in reality than Season 1, it captured the feel of the comic strip perfectly. The show constantly caused controvery from having Dr. King say the N-word to directly calling out BET in two episodes. Season 3 lost the social commentary, but not the humor.

Season 4, neither profound nor funny, was panned.

Aaron McGruder, the creator of the season had suddenly left. And once season 4 was announced, his lack of involvement was announced soon after:

“As the world now knows, The Boondocks will be returning for a fourth season, but I will not be returning with it. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sony and Adult Swim for three great seasons”.

“I created The Boondocks two decades ago in college, did the daily comic for six years, and was showrunner on the animated series for the first three seasons. The Boondocks pretty much represents my life’s work to this point. Huey, Riley, and Granddad are not just property to me. They are my fictional blood relatives. Nothing is more painful than to leave them behind”.

“To quote a great white man, ‘Hollywood is a business’. And to quote another great white man, “Don’t hold grudges”.

“What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks – particularly the television show and it’s relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable”.

“As for me, I’m finally putting a life of controversy and troublemaking behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, BLACK JESUS”. –

Source

In my opinion, either 1 of 2 things happened:

1: He lost the rights in a dispute.

2: He sold the Boondocks to move on to other projects.

Either one is unfortunate, but based on his “don’t hold grudges” comment, I’m guessing he lost the rights to his show.

The Boondocks was a property that could’ve been handed down to the right people, and could’ve gone in so many different directions.

Take the concept is that Huey is in love for example. Whether it’s with Jasmine or another cynical radical revolutionary remains to be seen. Perhaps, never to be seen. There are probably hundreds of writers slamming their heads on the keyboard. A show that had so much more to dive into.

There were entire arcs from the comics that could’ve made great material for the show, yet were completely abandoned. Like when Huey and Caesar (who was never introduced in the TV show) tried to create an alternative media outlet.

Or Jasmine’s struggle with racial identity.

Or day to day racial prejudice.

I haven’t even bother to watch Black Jesus, not because I think it’s bad. But because it truly seems like this one gag of “how funny would a black Jesus be?”. Same with Black Dynamite, while hilarious, it’s often void of the social consciousness that the Boondocks has (or had). And because it’s a period piece, you don’t get to see much outside 70’s African American culture. Whereas the Boondocks is the something where you can comment on African American culture, history, and progression as a whole.

This is why, personally, I’m always wary when people of color decide to sell off their ideas and brands. Like when the natural hair company and African American owned Carol’s Daughter was bought by L’Oreal Monpolizes and cooperate is something that can screw over anyone of any ethnic background, but in a country where minorities already own so little, for once, I’d like to see this trend end. Something becoming mainstream and then taken over.

On the bright side, these rights can be bought back,

But for now, the Boondocks has become a parody of itself.

Sources

http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/03/aaron_mcgruder_sorta_explains_why_he_left_the_boondocks.html

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/aaron-mcgruder-finally-explains-why-he-left-the-boondocks

http://www.okayplayer.com/news/aaron-mcgruder-not-involved-boondocks-fourth-season.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/10/24/358263731/a-black-cosmetic-company-sells-or-sells-out

African American Economics: Consuming

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Should The Term African American Be Eliminated (Emiliano Response)?

I’m going to show a friend of mine excellent rebuttal to that particular question; it was asked by a person who doesn’t know the history of Black Americans in the U.S.

 

Response: 

This has been an interesting thread to read on my commute home. So thank you for that.”

I certainly agree with the sentiment that a unified American identity is a beautiful thing, and on a broader level, that unified identity does exist. But we all have many identities.

African American as a term is complex. As it’s been pointed out already, most of the people described as African American are many generations away from any direct African ties. African American though isn’t really an identifier for an African immigrant in the USA. Rather those people would more appropriately be considered Nigerian American, Ethiopian American, or something along those lines. Africa is made up of diverse and distinct people and countries.

African American really describes an identity tied to the experience of being black in the US, specifically to the descendants of African slaves. And despite how they might identify themselves, more recent immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean, Latin America, or even from Europe but who happen to have black skin, are often identified as (and historically treated the same as) those whose ancestors were once slaves.

We are not always able to control whether others use the identity we use for ourselves.

Throughout many times in this country’s history black people have tried to be integrated into and be a part of the American identity. But they have been kept out of it. Sure, slavery ended a long time ago. But Jim Crow isn’t even a lifetime ago. And even after the Great Migration, it was made painfully clear to many that Jim Crow didn’t have to be the law to still be denied jobs, education, loans, and true integration.

Even if we can so easily put the recent past behind us – to either forgive it, forget it, or pretend it wasn’t so – it’s not as easy to shake an identity and the culture created by it. To now, in 2014, say why do people feel the need to segregate themselves, to identify themselves as something different – that is to ignore the events and social and personal consequences of the very recent past.

I live in NYC, so hearing things like Russian American, Italian American, Korean American, Mexican American… They aren’t unfamiliar terms. 1st and 2nd generations still feel cultural ties and still have that identity put upon them. But something happens with white Americans that doesn’t as easily happen to other racial groups. They end up integrating not just culturally, but visually as well.

I identify as an American. A New Yorker, to be specific about it. I’m multi racial and the the child of immigrants from different parts of the world. Unlike my parents though, my ties to those other countries and cultures aren’t as strong as my ties to this one. But that doesn’t stop people from asking me what I am, or where I’m *really* from, or complimenting my English despite it being my first and primary language.

Does that happen to the son or grandson of an Austrian immigrant or a Polish one?

“Certain people may or may not feel excluded from the American identity, but because of how they look, they are often reminded that they are. Compound that with the unique history of being black in the USA, and you might find the answer to the question as to why there exists identities outside of just the general American one.

 

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