Monday, January 31, 2005

Women are dum

Why are people so dumb? And I'm not talking about women, I'm talking about Harvard president Lawrence Summers. It's the year 2005 and he's the president of Harvard. Why would he be a complete idiot and publicly state that women are inferior to men in the sciences -- and this reason could be genetic?

Sunday, January 30, 2005



Women with their faces wrapped
Hide within a world trapped
And dominated by the masters
Wailing o’er their sons’ disasters
Can you put the past behind you
Will you break the chains that bind you
Free your body, free your mind.

From You Gotta Stand For Somethin'
A Song Blog by Patrick Anderson

Michelle Malkin asks: "Will American feminists be celebrating these amazing images and this historic day? The silence is deafening."

Freedom Amid the Chaos

An amazing thing has happened in Iraq. Given the opportunity to grab their freedom, Iraqis have not only taken it, but they've done so amid the expolsions and homicidal efforts of a viscious terrorist insurgency. When the smoke clears we'll know the score, but there are indications that the turnout was astounding--somewhere between 57 and 72%. U.S. presidential election turnouts have exceeded 60% only twice since 1968, and no one had to dodge bullets, mortars, roadside bombs, and maniacs strapped with explosives. There are reports of thousands of people walking over 13 miles to a polling place just to cast their vote. (How many of us would walk more than two or three blocks to vote if there wasn't a good parking space?)

The whole scenario is stunning, and it answers once and for all the question: "Do they really want their freedom?" It gives enormous meaning to the lives and deaths of thousands of Iraqis and over 1400 American soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in the name of liberty. This war is a horrible mess, but there's no turning back now. We've got to finish the mission.

Planes are crashin’, lights are flashin’
People dyin’, children cryin’
Heroes charging through the smoke
God in heaven we invoke
Soldiers screamin’ ‘cross the desert
Facing dangers, freeing strangers
Do they even want the freedom?

How to keep it, how to use it
Why it matters, why you choose it
Are we even right to give it
Can they ever hope to live it
Sons and daughters packed in boxes
Save us from our paradoxes
Who will bless your sacrifice?

From You Gotta Stand for Somethin'

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Conservative Bias in the Democratic Party?

This morning on "To the Point" with Warren Olney (you can listen to the episode here), various guests from both sides of the political spectrum were discussing the viability of Howard Dean in the race for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. All commentators said that Dean had made a mistake when he said that removing Saddam from Iraq had not made the world a safer place. Conservative pundits attacked Dean for the supposedly outright stupidity of this statement. The kindest members of the Democratic party said Dean's comments may be true, but they are not the kind of truth that the American people want to hear right now.

Time out!

I thought the Democrats were supposed to be members of the reality based community? Let's apply a little bit of critical thinking. Was Saddam a bad person and a bad national leader? Absolutely. Is the world safer from terrorism now that he's removed? Not at all. First, we destabilized the region, creating a chaotic environment even more conducive to terrorists. Second, we pissed off a lot of Iraqis who might now be inspired to take up terrorism against us. Third, Saddam had no connection to the Al-Qaida terrorists that we ought to be most interested in bringing to justice.

The message that attacking Iraq made the world a more dangerous place in terms of terrorism ought to be one of the Democratic party's central messages. The pundits on this morning's radio show mostly sounded like they were worried about the party seeming soft on defense and national security. Seems to me a great way to tough on those issues is to point out that current administration is being really, really stupid on those issues. It would also help to have a clear, alternative plan.

But don't just take my word for it. Earlier this week on "To the Point," conservative pundit William S. Lind argued that the U.S. has "destroyed the state" in Iraq. Which is to say that any and all previously existing governmental structure has been destroyed. Lind argued quite emphatically that this made Iraq more of a breeding ground for terrorists. (You can listen to that show or get a transcript here.)

Then there's the Israeli think tank, the Jaffee Center. They say that the war in Iraq is 1) siphoning resources away from other efforts against terrorism that are actually effective, 2) providing a rallying cry for Islamic terrorists (thereby stirring up more terrorism), and 3) not at all effective in reducing terrorism because Iraq was not the "swamp" in which the "mosquitoes" of terrorism bred. The article quotes Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli army general: "On a strategic level as well as an operational level," Brom concluded," the war in Iraq is hurting the war on international terrorism." You can read the article for yourself here.

This has me so mad, I'm actually cross-posting both here and on my own blog. Grrr! I want a party to say what I believe, not what they think I want to hear. If I believe a falsehood, I want my leaders to keep bringing up the truth until I am forced to confront it. Especially if the falsehood tricks me into hurting myself. Double Grrr!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

HOT 97 sings, Asians scream and the polticians lean back...

Well, well... what do we have here:

HOT 97 in NYC (I've been gone 5 years and i still miss manhattan) drops a joint called "tsunami song": The kids who've been oprhaned by the floods will be sold into sex slavery... Asians need to shut up... People laughing at the death and destruction...It's a foul and racist song all the way around. And the culprits? Mainly Black radio talent.

Star and Buck, Miss Jones and crew decided to play the same card that Howard Stern, Debbie Shlussel, Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus and countless of white on-air talent have played for generations: It's the "ethnic people of color is funny and their suffering is even funnier" card. All these guys grew up on Stern's nigger jokes and slurs. They've heard all of Limbuagh's thinly veiled and not-so-thinly veiled racial slurs. They've seen the Jenny Jones and Ricky Lakes parade out sterotypical blacks at a profit for generations. They've seen the success of Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and (neocon-in-training) Dennis Miller. And now it's 2005 and they've decided that "well hell, we can do what they do and get ratings, too. After all, we're all equals now." And this time, Asians, a smaller demographic, get to feel the heat.
There's something amussing about black talent essentially thinking that a) it's okay to slur other races in the name of ratings and "cuz i can, and screw you if you can't take a joke," reasoning. and b) because we're "equal" to "mainstreamers" therfore we should have the right to do everything "they do/did".
And we also have the Republicans and Democrats teeing off on HOT 97 in the name of their various constituencies. All matter of congressfolk from coast to coast have weighed in on this one as a lay-up. "Racism is wrong!" They're screaming. Racism. Is. Wrong... Way to go out on a limb, folks. (Tax dollars at work.)
In some way, this HOT 97 also reminds me of the confirmation hearings on Judge Gonzales and Dr. Condoleeza Rice. Like the outrage against the black racist stuff on HOT 97 it's like Congress and many americans are saying, "Lookit, White right-wing neocon simpathizers and activist judges are one thing. But we'll be damned if we have black folks and brown folks pulling the same card!" And as I've said before, I don't care for Rice (or Powell before her) or Gonzales' politics and views, but what separates them from any judge or high-ranking cabinet post-holder in the past? The others were all telling the truth? The other's were all looking out for the people? What, Tip O'Neil never told a lie? When Bush, Sr. ran the CIA, he gave full-dsclosure to the American people? C'mon, y'all. The differences are pretty obvious.

One of the many ironies in all this mess is hearing folks like Jin, an asian-american emcee (and a good one ) firing back using rap lyrics criticizing HOT 97. And he's not alone. Thanks to hiphop, soul music, BET, etc. Many Asian-Americans, along with Hispanics, Europeans, etc. "embrace" black culture--at least as far as they can claim ownership and definition of it. Consequently, most of th Aisians complaining about this know HOT 97 because they're fans of 97's "urban" format, which is just a bastardized term for "black music that's acceptable everyone else."

There's always been something amusing in America about having non-blacks embracing and in most cases flat-out stealing black culture, then turning around and using it as a platform to criticze black folks. Even when the criticism is just--and in this case it is--it's always struck me as more than a little bit hypocritical on more than a couple of levels. It's like saying, "I'm gonna take from your community, with or without your permission, because I can, and i'm going to use what i've taken to put you in your place whener i see fit." You see this alot with the co-option of MLK Jr.'s legacy. (Everyone from midgets to smokers to fat people to white gays pulls the " this is not what MLK would've done" card to justify getting whatever it is they want"--usually at the expense of black folks, by the way.)

This is also the part of multiculturalism in America that I've always struggled with. So much of what we call "multiculturalism" really comes from everyone doing their versions of black culture (artforms, language, dress, etc.), yet there's no real discussion about the racial politics or reprecussions of this. There's an arrogance, almost a type of racism involved when you decide that simply because you like what comes out of someone's community that you're entitled to own it or create your version of it. Particularly when those people could never pull the same stunt on your respective culture/artforms, etc. (Consider how accomidating Koreans or Chinese or French or Italians or Jews would be of Black Americans suddenly decided to claim ownership and authority of their various cultures (music, dress, lanugage, etc.). The result is a psuedo koombya vibe where everyone pretend to have something in common; that is, until one of the "friends" gets out of line and spits something like the Tsunami Song.

Anyway, this HOT 97/Senate Confirmation Hearings stuff is just the beginning of the New America, an American where way too many black folks, in the name of "having overcome" will be forced to learn 4 very ugly lessons the hard way:

1) Being equal to the mainstream society that's held you down for so long doesn't mean you adopt the worst of their traits, too. 2) We've probably sacrificed being ourselves and embrancing our own communities in the name of being "equal" and "accepted" by everyone else. 3) No matter how far we go, someone'll remind us that "Oh hell nawh! Nuh-uh, nigga--you can say/do some things, but you don't get to say/do (that)!" And 4) If love of money and power ain't the root of all evil, they're at least evil's biggest cash crops.

Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE:How to save your job and your life from Corporate America. ( It's hiphop's first guide to success in business, culture and life. You can reach him at:

Hip Hop gettin locked up

All of the hip hop sites are reporting that Irv Gotti, head of record label The Inc. (formerly Murder Inc.), and his brother turned themselves into the Feds today. Seems that the record company may have been established with drug money and that they continue to have links to major players in NY's narcotics scene. If you don't know The Inc. is home to Ashanti and Ja Rule. This rumors have been going around for a couple of years now and the Feds have been investigating them for a long time.

Well, innocent until proven guilty!!!

It's just sad to see another gifted young brother go down because of an (alleged) inability to relinquish ties to the streets.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

80 billion vs. 1.5 billion

Two interesting news articles today:

1. The Gates Foundation is doubling its donations to Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. With 1.5 billion dollars, "more than 42 million children had been vaccinated against hepatitis B, that more than 670,000 premature deaths had been prevented from 2001 through 2003 and that 991 million syringes had been used to improve vaccine safety, since they could only be used once."

Wow! Amazing what 1.5 billion dollars can do!

2. On another note, the Bush administration is requesting 80 billion dollars to continue fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-Jean Chen

Monday, January 24, 2005

even bush supporters are sad on innauguration day

why is it that even those who support bush; in this case, young students, can't get to the event on time because of the nefarious homeland security. exactly who are we protecting the president and all his fine men from ? last week's 11 oclock news advised that a group of teenagers who had each spent $700 to travel to d.c. to see the prez get sworn in were frisked, searched and delayed to the extent that they could not watch the main event.
the good news is that if more supporters of bush get peeved with him and join in concert with other red staters, then ahoy maties, we may have turnaround time. let those who agreed with his policy help shine the light on his contradictions, because they certainly are not inviting any liberal type to the front of the class for show and tell.
so speak up now, loud and proud if you are a bush supporter and he is letting even YOU down.!~

But Leave God Out of This

I'm in full support of our military tracking down and exterminating bonafide threats to American freedom, wherever they may be. And I even find justification in defending the fundamental human rights of the defenseless. But I cannot abide the rationalization that "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom," a quote from the President Bush's inauguration speech. Is Bush implying that God calls us to kill our enemies? That's no less ludicrous than Islamic fundamentalists claiming homicide bombers will be greeted in heaven by 72 virgins. Why can't we leave God out of this? I don't think he's taking sides, and I really don't think He gives a damn who occupies the Promised Land.

Patrick Anderson


Everyday the news headlines always include a report on the latest round of violence in Iraq. Today it was, "Blast Near Iraqi Leader's Party Headquarters Wounds 10." At this point, everyday just sounds like the same old same old and I feel like I'm becoming desensitized to it all. Another five U.S. soldiers are killed. Yeah, so what else is new?

It's frustrating because I don't feel like I can do anything about it.

-Jean Chen

Thursday, January 20, 2005

MLK, Jr. GWB II, etc.


Over 30 Mil tuned in for American Idol just to watch on car wreck after another. Laurence Fishburne was right when he said "American Idle"... We are a sad bunch, aren't we? Meanwhile with minimal fanfare, MLK, Jr.'s B-day has come and gone again. Personally, I don't feel any freer today than I felt Monday. I still feel--well, just read my peice on MLK on the site--that's how i still feel about MLK and race, etc.

But all of that is moot, because today is GWB Day. 40 million dollars in a "state" (DC) that has no congressmen to celebrate a guy that only 28% of the 200 million eligble voters voted for. What a country, as Yakov Smirnov once said.

Is it just me or is Joe Biden running these confirmation hearings like a man campaigning for '08? Every question he saks is like 5 minutes long... And what's Barbara Boxer's problem? Can she make a point just once and move on? I can't stand Condi Rice---hate her politics. think she's crazy and a myopic who's stuck in academia and conservative bliss... but i don't like seeing her get bashed by all these suspect, condescending two-faced SOBs who don't have half her qualifications or skills.

Ooh... the simpsons is on. Gotta run. TV. The great pacifier.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Ok, maybe this is too much of a conspiracy theory, but a friend forwarded me a link which points to the following article. Apparently, the US government has some sort of weapon that can trigger earthquakes and floods. Sounds very James Bond to me, but the suggestion is that perhaps the Asian tsunami was an experiment that was unleashed by the US.

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Mideast Tensions at Columbia University

There's an interesting piece in the New York Times talking about politics getting very personal:

"Every Monday and Friday until its work is done, a novel faculty panel will make itself available to hear narratives from students and faculty members in the hope of sorting out a virulent dispute that has rattled the university for months. If anything is clear in this very unclear quarrel, ostensibly over supposed intimidation of Jewish students by pro-Palestinian professors in the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department, it is that it has already produced some unbecoming fallout."

-Jean Chen

Reducing Poverty

There's this article in the paper today reporting that the UN has a plan to drastically reduce extreme poverty.

"To fulfill this goal, industrialized nations would need to roughly double aid to poor countries from a quarter to a half of 1 percent of their national incomes.

"We're talking about rich countries committing 50 cents out of every $100 of income to help the poorest people in the world get a foothold on the ladder of development," said Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, who was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead the project in 2002."

Wow! Who knew it could be that easy!

-Jean Chen

Monday, January 17, 2005

Leo's Plea

I was watching the Golden Globe Awards last night, and when Leonardo DiCaprio went onstage to accept an award, he made a plea to the audience to continue to donate money to the tsunami relief efforts. I think that's commendable, but it's a bit ironic because when he filmed "The Beach" in Thailand a few years ago, the movie producers pretty much destroyed the area they filmed in.

-Jean Chen

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Canada's hypocrisy...

When I read this article, i thought the USA was the only one with a crappy foreign policy against Haiti... It seems, our brethren up north have been following our lead... or have we been following theirs?
Canada's role in Haiti is 'destructive'

by Yves Engler
January 13, 2005

January 1 was the 201st birthday of the first nation of free people in the Americas. Its citizens are descendents of the only successful slave rebellion in human history.

The country is of course Haiti, which in its 201st year finds itself occupied, not just by International Monetary Fund or World Bank policymakers, but by well-armed foreign soldiers. Some in the international community want to deepen and extend this occupation. They call it making Haiti a UN protectorate.

All this, it should be noted, follows last February's foreign-orchestrated overthrow of Haiti's constitutional order: the elected president and hundreds of elected mayors, council members and senators throughout the country were forced from office. The poor — especially those associated with ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party — have been the primary victims of the recent upheaval. Food prices have skyrocketed, thousands of government workers fired, and thousands more jailed or killed.

The Canadian government, through the Ottawa initiative and soldiers sent to “secure” the airport the night Aristide was forced out of the country, has played no small role in orchestrating Haiti's recent social/humanitarian disaster. Fortunately, however, our country is not preordained to play a destructive role in Haiti, even if we have an under-acknowledged colonial legacy.

On a recent trip to Haiti, I found that many people were perplexed by Canada's current policy towards their country. Those I talked to generally had positive things to say about Canada's role after the 1994 restoration of Aristide. Some people asked if Canada's Haiti policy changed because Paul Martin took power. Others pointed out that it might be Ottawa trying to curry favour with Washington after not (officially) joining the Iraq debacle. (One person thought it might have something to do with Canada never having its own colonies: Haiti is just the right size, he said.) Whatever our government's motives, the Haitians I talked to all said Canada is currently playing a destructive role in their country.

Ten months of Canadian-backed terror against the poor of the hemisphere's poorest country is enough. It's time to change our government's anti-democratic and élite-friendly policies in Haiti. Haiti solidarity activism, which has been slow to take off, should become the Canadian left's top foreign policy concern.

Why Haiti more than other conflicts?

Canada also has a significant presence in Afghanistan but the domestic situation there is substantially more complex. The occupation in Afghanistan is not so clearly anti-poor or anti-democratic. The constitutional order Canada helped overthrow in Haiti represented the poor majority and it is the poor who currently face the brunt of the repression.

Opposition to Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine is critical but U.S. opinion/action is of overwhelming importance to change. Successful Canadian solidarity work could (and should) move Canada towards the position of the rest of the world: condemning Israeli policy at the UN, which would certainly be of some help to Palestinians. But without the U.S. halting its vast sums of military aid and continuous UN vetoes it's unlikely that the Canadian left could accomplish a great deal more.

Iraq is clearly a larger humanitarian catastrophe than Haiti but again we have little control over Iraq's destiny. In Haiti, on the other hand, Canada is acting aggressively to legitimize the murderous installed regime by giving cash, through Paul Martin's recent visit and by playing host to the recent Montreal conference with some of the Haitian Diaspora. Canada is also in charge of the entire 1600-member UN police force. The UN police are coordinating with the Haitian police — increasingly reconstituted with former military officers — that are responsible for a large number of the political assassinations.

In our age of “war on terror” the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine obviously take on an even greater political significance than the immense suffering of those countries' inhabitants. The conflicts contribute to racism against Arabs and Muslims in Canada, for example (all those anti-Arab rants in the Asper-owned papers.).

In the same way, the overthrow of Haiti's elected government and the recent deterioration of living conditions are intertwined with deep-seated racism. Mainstream reporting about Haiti has a significant undercurrent of “look at those poor blacks unable to govern themselves.” The discussion about turning Haiti into a UN protectorate is just the extension of this racist idea. (Iraq is stable enough for elections but Haiti isn't?).

More fundamentally, it's not a coincidence that the campaign to de-stabilize the country gained momentum as Haiti prepared to celebrate 200-years of independence. The world's powers have never taken kindly to Haitian independence; not when slaves defeated the English, Spanish and French empires between 1791 and 1804 nor when the Lavalas government broke ties between Haiti's police and the U.S. in 1999. (This came four years after the Army, created by the U.S. during its occupation of 1915-1934, was disbanded.)

Haiti's anti-colonial, pro-black and anti-oppression symbolism is an integral part of its history. The slave-holding nations, hoping to crush its example, refused to recognize its independence. For 60 years the U.S. refused recognition and the colony of Canada, with slaves in Montreal until 1834, wasn't a great deal kinder.

The right, especially the active white supremacist elements in the Republican Party, have used Haiti to advance their racist world view. But the left, aside from a few black Pan-Africanists, has done little to combat the right's racism toward Haiti and has mostly forgotten any connection with Haiti's inspiring example of human liberation.

“Brothers and friends, I am Toussaint L'Ouverture, my name is perhaps known to you. I have undertaken vengeance. I want liberty and equality to reign in San Domingo.”

How many of us have read about Toussaint L'Ouverture? Or the slaves who liberated themselves, their island and provided support for Latin American independence? Our children should learn about Haiti's shining example of fighting human oppression, not just about how that country is very poor.

If we want to move forward with our struggle for liberation we need to be grounded in our successes. All the more so when right-wing forces use Haiti's successful slave rebellion to humiliate and destroy its people today.

Haiti's social movements, I was told by people there, have enough strength to once again overcome the country's small élite and create a more just system. But foreign powers are interfering and supporting Haiti's élite, moving the balance of powers in the élite's favour. That is why our solidarity is of utmost importance.


For those interested in organizing or taking part in demonstrations (planned for Saturday, February 26) in Canada or throughout the world commemorating the one year anniversary of the overthrow of Haiti's constitutional order get in touch with Anthony at

For those interested in bringing Haitian speakers to Canada or the northeast of the U.S. get in touch with Yves at (514) 807-9037 or

We are all Documentarians

A little something for the culturally-inclined among us...

We are all Documentarians
By: Hadji Williams

Back in 1999, I taught a college class on marketing and pop culture. I asked every student to bring in their favorite CD because music is a major gateway into a people’s culture; and in order to market to a people you have to understand them and understanding their music is a great place to start. The plan was for everyone to bring in something they were into—ideally everyone’s tastes was a little different—and we’d all learn a little bit about each other then discuss how those insights could apply to marketing.

As the teacher, I brought in my favorite CD at the time—Slick Rick’s The Art of Storytelling. When it was my turn to play my CD I rushed to the end and cranked up the live version of Lodi Dodi and let it bang. As Rick flowed eccentric, the entire class just gawked at the speakers like it was alien talking. Out of about 25 students around 20 were white and all were under 25. They had no clue who or what they were hearing. Not one of ‘em.

About halfway thru the cut “Kelly”, this little blonde girl who couldn’t have been more than 20 smiles all knowingly then screams out, “That’s the ‘Snoop Dogg song’!” A couple other kids chime in with “oh yeah, she’s right” and a couple knowing head nods. She continues, “Why is this guy singing Snoop Dogg’s song?”

I tried explaining that Snoop Dogg’s Lodi Dodi was a cover (a bad one at that) of one of the 3 or 4 greatest songs in the last quarter century but they weren’t hearing it. They knew what they knew and they knew Lodi Dodi was Snoop Dogg’s. Period. And what’s worse is they were then and now, no different from millions of folks who are filled with misconceptions about our culture and communities. Anyway, that’s when I first realized that black folks and the hiphop community at large has to be responsible for documenting and preserving its culture and artforms itself.

“We have an overarching goal--the world of
manifold civilizations animated by the vision of cultural equity.’’
—Alan Lomax, 1977

Last year, I dropped a joint called, “Will the real Documentarians please stand up?” I spent much of that piece complaining about how mainstream America and corporations were misrepresenting our culture and communities. Well, this year I’d like to try something different.

Number One: Stop blaming the obvious. As people of color we (myself included) have to stop blaming white people (or most of them), corporations and the mainstream media for portraying our cultures and communities in negative light. Why? Because for the most part, they’ve established a good 600-year plus track record of marginalizing and commoditizing communities and cultures of color at almost every turn; and that’s just on this continent alone. At some point, being surprised or just angry about something that’s par for the course just becomes a waste of energy.

Number Two: Define yourself first. As black folks, Native Americans and Hispanics, we should all be able to agree on at least one thing: If you don’t tell your story someone else will tell it for you; and if they’re not part of your community and don’t respect your community, they will tell your story wrong until you force them to do otherwise. Consequently instead of waiting for Viacom, Condè Nast, Clear Channel, Rolling Stone, etc. to get it right, we need to commit to getting it right ourselves and stop relying on them to do something they have no interest in ever doing.

Number Two (a): Stop supporting those who co-opt and misrepresent us. This one’s easy to me. When we see niggers, bitches, hoes, pimps, etc. in the media, we need to stop supporting those outlets. We need to take our dollars and patronage to outlets willing to portray us in three dimensions, just as they do with whites and other communities.

Number Three: We need to demand better of ourselves as artists, as consumers and as individuals. One of the reasons you see a lot of clowns in the media, is because unfortunately, we keep giving them a lot of clowns to choose from. When you drop that 16 filled with negativity or that video filled with hoes, you give everyone that’s against you an opportunity to say, “See, I told you so… That’s how they are!”

Number Four: Educate. We have to commit to educating those outside of our communities about what we truly are. And most importantly, we have to refuse to accept their ignorance or arrogance for getting things wrong. Teach those who want to learn and destroy the lies of those who want nothing more than to spread them.

The kids in my class lacked knowledge because of the ignorance of their community. They spread their ignorance because some people just arrogant enough think they have the right to speak for everybody, hence, most of the crap you see in the media and history books, etc.

As people I believe that our first mission is to love God, next-- love each other; and lastly: love our culture and communities. So my mission for 2005 and beyond is to respect, embrace and document my culture and wherever the opportunity allows, help others do the same. As a writer and author, my contribution will obviously start with my pen. But whether you’re a DJ, an emcee, a B-Boy/B-Girl, a graf writer a fashion designer, a writer or whomever, we all play a role in documenting preserving and elevating our culture. And again, because all of us are consumers each and every one of us can play the greatest role in this by simply supporting those who are doing it right and refusing to support those who do otherwise.

Don’t sleep; we are all Documentarians. We are all vessels for our heritages. We are all contributors to our culture. We are all recipients of those who came before us and struggled and sacrifices. We are all part of the same family. Consequently, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we as individuals and as communities are portrayed properly. We are responsible for what we leave behind. We’re the only ones that will ensure that our respective cultures, artforms and heritages are properly preserved and passed on. If we don’t take control of our culture and tell our stories someone else will—and it will be same folks who think Snoop Dogg wrote Lodi Dodi.

“Practical men often regard these expressive systems as doomed and valueless. Yet, wherever the principle of cultural equity comes into play, these creative wellsprings begin to flow again…even in this industrial age, folk traditions can come vigorously back to life, can raise community morale, and give birth to new forms if they have time and room to grow in their own communities. The work in this field must be done with tender and loving concern… This concern must be knowledgeable, both about the fit of each genre to its local context and about its roots in one or more of the great stylistic traditions of humankind.”
—Alan Lomax

Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: HOW TO SAVE YOUR JOB AND YOUR LIFE FROM CORPORATE AMERICA, (, coming March 2005.) It’s hiphop’s first success guide for business, culture and life. Email him at:

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Do you like him?

Full of excitement and anticipation, I waited. Just as I had waited for the big Michael Jackson interview a while back, I waited to see and hear what President Bush would say in his interview with Barbara Walters. Would he hang himself as Michael had done?

As I watched, one thing became clear. No matter how disgusted, disappointed of disturbed I am by our current administration, Bush is likable.

He reminds me of the old, out of touch guys who I used to help as a bank teller my sophmore year in college. Sure they said things that made them look stupid and narrow- minded. But, you just wanted to hold their hand and explain to them how to balance a check book.

Still, it takes more than a warm fatherly quality and a great grin to run the country.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Not one damn dime

Bush and crew are getting ready for the gala affair- the innauguration of the president who wasn't really elected, again. The soiree is going to cost $40 million dollars. If people and their corporations have that kind of money, hey, why don't they give a little to people and places that really need it. Should I start the list? - schools, children, seniors, veterans, the sick, poor, infirmed, those of us lucky enough to be well but in need of social services for ourselves, neighbors, friends, families?

I received this email about 10 daze ago, but now it seems really relevant:

Not One Damn Dime Day

This was forwarded to me by someone I admire and respect
and I thought  it would be an easy way for us all to
make a statement about how we  feel about the state of
our nation and the world.

Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not
One Damn Dime  Day" in America.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is
happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a
24-hour national boycott of all  forms of consumer

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend
money.  Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn
dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one
damn dime for anything for 24 hours.  The object is
simple. Remind the people in power that the war in
Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible
for starting it and that it is their responsibility to
stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that
they work for the people of the United States of
America, not for the international corporations and I
Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and
funnel cash into American politics.

There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left
or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn
Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open
your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.  For 24
hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to
remind our religious leaders and our politicians of
their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and
give America back to the people.

Until there is a way to systematically and frequently show our disdain for the way the president and his cohorts are handling this country and involvement in the world, let's participate in Not One Damn Dime day because without our hard earned money and a willingness to consume, there will be no money for the corporations to scratch the back and other parts of Mr. Bush and his administration.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Who's the biggest loser

I watched the Biggest Loser finale this week, and I felt like the biggest loser on the planet. OK, the people on this show got very healthy and slim, but the game show/survivor vibe of the show was really disturbing, and addictive, to watch. Did it make me feel better that I'm not obese, or did the sight of overweight people stabbing each other in the back for $250,000 really entertain me. I have no idea, but I'm glad the contestents are living a healthy lifestyle, but I pledge not to watch a single episode of The Biggest Loser 2. I hope.

Check out the site and see the Biggest Loser's new body.


Wait, Why Are We In Iraq?

The search for Weapons of Mass Destruction is over and nothing has been found!!!

So, uh, why did we go to war again?

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

CBS Fallout

So news of the CBS fallout is all over the news.

And while I understand that it's a major journalistic scandal, I can't help but feel like everyone is overreacting. Maybe part of me is so jaded that I have come to expect this kind of thing from mainstream news. And maybe part of me wonders, "What if CBS had misinformation about John Kerry?" How much would people be upset over this story?

Armstrong Williams was caught accepting money to push Bush administration policies and it's not hitting the headlines like CBS News.

-Jean Chen

Disenfranchised DC-folks Forced to Pay for Inaugural Security

So, catch this:

The people of Washington, DC, who overwhelmingly voted for Kerry, and who--because they are not a state--lack voting representation in Congress, are being forced to give up their security dollars for the Bush inauguration. Traditionally, the feds have paid for inaugural security, but the Bush Admin is giving DC the big middle finger. DC should give it right back and refuse to provide security.

Read more here:

(An excerpt)

Now this is some bullshit. Asking a bunch of black folks who didn't even vote for him to foot the bill.... The city should refuse to offer security.

U.S. Tells D.C. to Pay Inaugural Expenses

By Spencer S. Hsu

D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects.

Federal officials have told the District that it should cover the expenses by using some of the $240 million in federal homeland security grants it has received in the past three years -- money awarded to the city because it is among the places at highest risk of a terrorist attack.

But that grant money is earmarked for other security needs, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a Dec. 27 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Williams's office released the letter yesterday.

Williams estimated that the city's costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.

"We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities," said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor's deputy chief of staff. "This is the first time there hasn't been a direct appropriation for the inauguration."

The New Man at DoHS

His name is Michael Chertoff, and Elaine Cassell thinks he's a gremlin in the vein as John Ashcroft

This from her June 9th Op-Ed piece:

"But now I have a new gremlin to watch, someone who is as intent on undermining the law and Constitution as Ashcroft. I am referring to the man behind the criminal prosecution of terrorists, Michael Chertoff. Chertoff, former chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, and a scary looking guy if ever there was one, has been elevated to the level of Court of Appeals judge--the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. What's so scary about Michael? Well, besides having no judicial experience and being a right-ring radical who does not believe in the Constitution and wants to rewrite federal law and rules of procedure on an ad hoc, case by case basis, as it suits him, nothing I guess.

A good place to look for Chertoff's legal philosophy is in the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui , now taking place in the Eastern District of Virginia. Chertoff is not the prosecutor of course, Paul McNulty of the Eastern District is. But Chertoff is McNulty's boss and he is calling the shots. So Chertoff argued the government's case in the super secret hearing before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals last week. The government is trying to block trial judge Leonie Brinkema's ruling that Moussaoui and his lawyers have access to the government's star witnesses against him. The government has refused and appealed. Judge Brinkema, who still believes in the Constitution, rightly ruled that to deny Moussaoui that access is a blatant violation of the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Finance Director Indicted

You never know if a story like this is the end or the beginning of an even bigger travesty. It'll be interesting to see how the Clinton Scandal Evasion Squad handles the mud from this story as reported by

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Finance Director Indicted

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's former finance director has been indicted on charges of causing false campaign finance reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department said Friday.

The indictment of David Rosen, unsealed in Los Angeles, focuses on his fund-raising for an Aug. 12, 2000, gala for Clinton in Los Angeles. The New York Democrat was still first lady at the time.

While the event allegedly cost more than $1.2 million, the indictment said, Rosen reported contributions of about $400,000, knowing the figure to be false.

The indictment charged that Rosen provided some documents to the an FEC compliance officer but withheld the true costs of the event and provided false documents to substantiate the lower figure.

In one instance, Rosen obtained and delivered a fraudulent invoice stating the cost of a concert associated with the gala was $200,000 when he know that figure was false, according to the indictment. The actual cost of the concert was more than $600,000.

Each of the four counts of making a false statement carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines upon conviction.

Black Conservate Sucks at Bush's Teat

From the National Association of Black Journalists

NABJ Blasts Armstrong Williams-White House Deal
Calls on Papers to Drop Williams' Column

WASHINGTON - The National Association of Black Journalists calls on the White House to rebuke those in the Department of Education who used taxpayer dollars to pay off conservative commentator Armstrong Williams in an attempt to influence public opinion on administration policy.

Furthermore, NABJ is disappointed that Williams chose to accept a $240,000 payment from the administration to promote its education reform law on his TV show and in his newspaper column and not disclose that relationship to his viewers and readers, as reported by USA Today in story that ran Friday.

NABJ calls on all media outlets - radio, television and print - that feature Williams' show, use him as a TV commentator or run his syndicated column to drop him immediately.

"I thought we in the media were supposed to be watchdogs, not lapdogs," said NABJ Vice President- Print Bryan Monroe, an assistant vice president-news at Knight Ridder. "I thought we had an administration headed by a president who took an oath to uphold the First Amendment, not try to rent it."

According to the USA Today article, the Bush administration paid the conservative pundit to promote the No Child Left Behind law and wanted him to urge other black journalists to do the same.

"He's lost his credibility," said NABJ Vice President- Broadcast Barbara Ciara, managing editor-anchor at WTKR-TV in Norfolk. "He's tainted fruit. And he's unfairly indicted all commentators who have their own independent opinion, don't need a script from the administration and don't need to be paid off."

Armstrong is not a member of NABJ, but clearly would have benefited from being surrounded by journalists who have appropriate values and ethics.

"While it's clear that Williams is a talk radio commentator and has long since abandoned any pretense of being a journalist, his actions still taint those who share the values and ethics of journalism, no matter what color you are," added Monroe.

In 2004, NABJ president Herbert Lowe created an ethics committee, chaired by Maidstone Mulenga of the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, to help articulate and codify ethical guidelines for our members. The committee's report should be released in the spring.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

We are the world... No, WE are the world! No WE are the world...

It's amazing, this whole tsunami aid thing... Countries are actually fighting to see who's the most chaitable. The US went from 35 to 350 Million. Japan has pledged somewhere around 600 million plus, Australia's giving... The UK is pledge some insane amount... Athletes and entertainers are recording songs, donating game checks, salaries, socks, canned goods, you name it.

It's beautiful. I think.

Part of me feels like it's become this perverse pissing contest to see who can help more, not so much because we (folks outside of southeast asia) can relate to the suffering, but because we've all got something to prove to ourselves. It's as if we've all decided that we're gonna prove to everyone that we're not as bad as our respective histories have proven that we think we just might be.

There's been so much suffering in the world, past and present, so much hate, so much war and violence, so much hypocrisy and so much greed and so much indifference to it all... And we always excused it as "'they' had it coming" or "'we' were just defending ourselves."... or "manifest destiny"... or "it's really not 'our' problem"...

The great thing about natural disasters is everyone even the most guilt-ridden of us can say, "I had absolutely nothing to do with this!" It's a lot easier to help in those instances, because you can get your hands dirty without asking yourself if they were dirty from the start. I think that's why we ignore the suffering in Africa so much. Deep down inside we all know on some unspeakable, almost spiritual level that there's not a governement or a society in the last 1000 years thathas benefited directly or indirectly from the suffering of African countries... Whether it's blood diamonds, slavery, oil, miliary outposts, multinationals, or simple cultural theft, we've all had a hand in their suffering. And ignoring them is the best way to forget about that. It's similar to why Americans almost never talk about Native Americans. Ever. Because we all know that whether great granddaddy like injuns or not, we're (immigrant and native born) all the beneficiaries of a fairly recent and colossal continental genocide.

When I see the tsunami victims on TV I weep like everyone else. But I think that like many, I take a perverse sese of comfort, even as an African-American in knowing that It wasn't my fault in any measureable way. Maybe that's why I'm cutting a check like everyone else.

Hadji WIlliams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save your job and your life from Corporate America. Hiphop's first success guide for business, culture and life. ( You can reach him at:

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

things that make you go hmm...

The US government is sending over 350 million in aid to tsunami victims, which is great. But we're spending one billion a week in Iraq.

Let's not forget what is happening in Iraq! Five more US troops were killed today and the governor of Baghdad was assasinated.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Tragedy du jour or bias?

I just saw an amussing comic on the tsunami relief effort:

It featured a helicopter labeled, "US concern" caring a care package labeled, "relief" to Sri lanka... in the foreground stood starving Sudanese folks watching the aid package go by. It got me thinking: What's our (the world's) deal with helping Africa? Or maybe it's as simple as the fact that the Tsunami/Earthquake is so recent, while the hundreds of thousands of folks who've been slaughtered in Rwanda, Darfur and other regions in Africa, coupled with the massive AIDS pandemic is simply "yesterday's news"?

I don't know if human beings have an endless supply of sympathy or empathy for each other... i knwo at some point we have to pick our battles and help those we can, or those we seem to connect most with; but i'll be damned if Africa doesn't seem to get screwed in this whole deal year after year. Then again maybe it's just me... Maybe everyone's doing enough and there's just more suffering than relief in the world and we just have to suck it up and be grateful for not being on the receiving end as much as others have been/continue to be. I dunno.

CNN released a study in the last few days that said that America spends less than half of one percent of its budget on non-military related foreign aid. Makes us look pretty bad, don't you think? Americans spent over a billion dollars last year on fastfood alone according to the "Super Size This!" documentary (which by industry accounts was way more accurate than Michael moore on his best day.) It's weird having a president brag about $35 million in foreign aid then couple hundred million, knowing that we blow ten times that on grease alone...

Anyway, I just think we have to do more... At some point we all--the entire world--have to commit to being servants and not just consumers or conquerors. At some point we have to see that we are a part of the same human family and that our differences should strengthen us and not divide us. We just have to do more for each other...

Don't we?

hadji williams is author of "KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save your job and your life from Corporate America" hiphop' first success guide for business, work and life. ( Reach him at

Shirley Chisolm, RIP

When I heard that Shirley Chisolm died the other day, to be perfectly honest, I thought she was an old R&B singer or a Gospel singer... Maybe I was thinking of Shirely Ceasar. I know it's a shame not to know that Mrs. Chidolm was the first black woman elected to congress and the first black person, male or female to run for president... And as a black male, her struggle is the reason I have many of the rights I enjoy and often take for granted today. Come to think of it, for a black person to not know Shirley Chilsom is like a modern black baseball player not knowing who Jackie Robinson or Curt Flood was.

But again, when I heard the news that Mrs. Chisolm died, I didn't know who she was.

News of her passing also got me thinking about our public education system and our sense of civcs and history in America. The only thing I learned about black folks in high school is that MLK, JR said "I have a dream," Muhammad Ali was a famous boxer with a big mouth, Rosa Parks was too tired to get up, and Maya Angelou wrote Phenominal Woman to make cool hip white women feel good about themselves. For anything else, make that everything else, I had to go to a library or hope that someone in my family had the info I was looking for. (Like being able to tell me who Shirley Chisolm is, for example.)

It's pretty sad how we measure the importance of people. We know all about Princess Di and Fergie... We know all about the cast of Friends and Sex in the City and the Sopranos... We know more about Lewis and Clark than Pochahantas or Sackejewia(sp)... We honored Ronald Regean for seemingly weeks after his passing. Same with Nixon. And if it weren't for that biopic, we probably wouldn't be saying much about Ray Charles other than that we was the guy who sang, "Georgia", "America the Beautiful" and "Hit the Road, Jack"...

Our sense of history, civics, and who/what is really important is a strange bird, indeed. Regardless, RIP Mrs. Chisolm... I'll really miss the beautiful music you made.

hadji williams is author of "KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save your job and your life from Corporate America" hiphop' first success guide for business, work and life. ( Reach him at

more on blogging diversity...

Ah the joys of diversity discussions...

first off, I don't think anyone's ripping me; i think we're simply disagreeing, which is what good discussion is all about--hearing different sides and dialoguing accordingly. Besides i've got reasonably thick skin. so, keep it coming, one and all.

I don't believe in a colorblind society. I don't believe God made everyone different just so we could pretend that we're not. In other words, a Zebra isn't simply a horse with stripes. I think difference is a good thing. In fact, I think God appreciates difference a whole lot more than we as human beings do. We're the ones that seem hell bent on making everything fit into whatever boxes that we're comfortable and ignoring or ostracizing what doesn't.

Back to colorblindness. Big mistake. Being colorblind is a really nice way of saying, "we are incapable or respecting different races, cultures, etc.; so let's just pretend it doesn't exist." The solution or strategy depending on how you look at things it to get people to see the beauty and possibilities in differences, not in similarities, which may have to be forced or fabricated just to maintain some false sense of unity.

As it relates to the online community and blogging, you're right--you have a whole diversity of views just on this blog and within this community alone. My only problem is when it gets potrayed as only being one way by others. For example, if MSNBC or ABC were to mention this community they're be more interested in what you have to say than what others in this "room" have to say for obvious reasons.

And you're right, no one knows what any looks like out here unless you share that info or post a picture of yourself. That fact alone begs a very serious question: Are mainstream outlets intentionally and purposely highlighting only white bloggers and online community hosts? I mean given the diversity of views within any culture, race, gender, etc. You'd think they'd find someone of color on accident alone, no? Unless of course they're choosing to ignore those folks...

hadji williams is author of "KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save your job and your life from Corporate America" hiphop' first success guide for business, work and life. ( Reach him at

Sunday, January 02, 2005

diversity in blogs pt. II

I think folks misunderstood my complaint/analysis... Is there genuine ethnic and socio-economic diversity within our online communities and blog world? Yes. Is it as diverse as it could/should be? No. Will that change in due time? Probably.. guess it depends on how you define "change" and "in due time"... My guess is in our lifetimes diversity within online communities will be a moot point as everyone with a pulse will probably have a url or access to one.

My problem is not with who speaks as much as it's with who gets heard. As it stands right now, the media and society at large is still pretty whitewashed and is still highly myopic in its acceptance of divergent views and perspectives. And as it relates to bloggers, just as it relates to the so-called "youth", people would still rather listen to/acknowledge whites/westerners/mainstream americans above all else as if they're qualified to speak for everyone else.

To a certain degree perception is still reality; and if the preceivers still have the power to dictate who gets heard and what gets said, then we don't have true diversity, not by a longshot. Consider, Tom Brokaw recent retirement.He's being replaced by MSNBC's Brian Williams and countless folks in the media are hailing this as a move towards a fresh perspective? Can someone explain how replacing an old white male corporate mouthpiece with a young white male corporate mouthpiece is anything remotely progressive? As I've noted in previous pieces on the lack of diversity in our foreign policy and media, the biggest proglem is expanding the conversation to include others not already at the table.

Regardless of what the actual figures and data may be, the fact is the only bloggers that get heard and that are being hailed as authorities on anything are run almost exclsuively by whites--young, old, educated, poor, rich, etc. My problem with that is precisely what everyone who's ripping me is saying--there are so many voices online, that it's idiotic to consistently focus on the same group as if they're the only ones with something to say.

Anyway, if everyone's okay with the status quo of random chocolate chips in the cookie dough, then so be it. I'll just be the lone nut on this one. But trust me, who gets to speak has a great deal to do with what is said. And who decides what gets heard has even more to do with what problems get fixed.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

All Bloggers Ain't White

It's 2005 and I still feel like I'm way too alone in my quest for the holy grail of diversity. I saw Time's mention of Bloggers in its "people of the year" list. But I'll be damned if they only highlight white folks. I mean "Wonkette"? Is she not the most overrated broad with an ISP or what?! Actually I take that back--she's got a place out there, as we all do.

But what frustrates me is that cyberspace was supposed to be the cure-all for this white-wash in the media, wasn't it? It was supposed to be the one venue/vehicle for everyone, black, white, asian, hispanic, foreign, domestic, rich, poor, etc. to have equal footing. But I wonder...

I've been online in one form or another for about a decade now and short of sexual fetishes, athletics and music, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of diversity out there. Still. Every Blog that's seems to get any burn whatsoever is run by a white male or a white female; and for a little diveristy, they'll throw in teenage, seniors, rural and collegiate variations thereof. And when it comes to the big boys, NBC, FOX. ABC, and CNN, etc.'s idea of a blog is a staff reporter/ intern posting some corporate approved drivel on their heavily filtered homepage and calling it "the people's voice"...

I'm sorry but Gideon Yago, Mo Rocco and Wonkette don't speak for me. Neither does Jeanne Garofolo, Al Franken or John Stewart and his crew. Nope. When I say "diveristy" I don't mean blondes, brunettes, readheads and gay or pseudo-hipster/wannabe-outsider versions thereof. I mean people who are actually darker than a suntan and not because they fake-baked or sprayed their way into it. I'm talking about people who live in the communities that 70% would never voluntarily visit under any circumstances. I'm talking about listening to the same people we might normally call the cops on because they always manage to "look suspicious" to us. I'm talking about actual Americans.

Sooner or later, someone's gonna look at the Census figures and realize that America is about as White as it's ever gonna get. Ever. Sooner or later ever other person walking down the street will be non-caucasian. And sooner or later, we're actually going to have to listen to them. And not just the two or three of them that we're "comfortable with", but all of them. All of them. And call me crazy, but I think that's a good thing. Cause I bet those folks actually have something half-way intelligent and insightful to bring to the party.

Ironically, I'm ranting and raving solely thanks to Farai Chideya and Jean Chen--hardly old white folks'... Unless they've been pulling a "white chicks" on us all. But beisdes them, name someone who isn't "mainstream" that the mainstream media listens to. Point is, Blogging, like every other invention and advent has its possibilities. I just hope it doesn't go the way of 99% of what the media puts out now in the form of news and entertainment.

Just my two cents.

Blog till their brains cramp; blog till their eyes bleed. Bring the pain--people don't listen until it hurts.