I would call the death of a 17 year old boy tragic under just about any circumstances I can think of. My choice of words would not be effected by the race, creed, or culture of the victim. Since the incident occurred, I’ve heard countless reports, re-tellings, statements of rage, and excuses as to why/how this whole thing even happened; And quite frankly…I’m sickened by the whole damn thing. Each time there’s a violent incident in the U.S. where injustice is called into question, the citizens of this country create the same polarized atmosphere that brings up discussions/debates on everything from race matters to the legality of owning weapons, and everything that pops up in between. Every civil rights lawyer, lobbyist, racist with an agenda and asshole with a sounding board (including me) jumps up to muddy the already murky water. Somewhere in the process, there are real people that get lost in the shuffle, and when no one’s looking, they end up surrounded by silence, nursing memories and trying to move on with their lives; and in the end, the very fiber of America is effected. Maybe just this one time we could cut through a little of sensationalist red tape and eliminate a whole lot of the inflammatory comments that will be re-broadcast a million times in front of useful information that could be used to move the situation, and the people of the affected communities forward.
Let’s start by acknowledging some of the basic truths about ourselves as American people:
- We’re all racially biased. Our country has been riddled with it from day one when fellow Americans first convinced themselves it was okay to claim the Native American’s country and needed a way to justify it. It’s who we are. It’s what we teach our children, and it’s present in every aspect of our uniquely American lives.
- We’re a violent nation. Not because we have guns, but because we’ve used guns and any other weapons at our disposal to promote our agenda from the very beginning. We became a prominent Nation because we kicked other’s in the ass. It’s what has paid off, and we’re sticking with it.
- Justice is always more defined by those in power, then it is by those that suffer from the effects of injustice. And those that suffer from injustice are only interested for as long as the uncomfortable feeling of injustice lasts. Once they become comfortable with the discomfort, the outcries stop, the rage passes, and it takes an even greater injustice to make them cry out again.
Let’s be clear, I’m not anti-American, I’m not anti-guns, and I spend a great deal of time advocating for justice. I am a man who has been an American my whole life, and I can’t think of a single day that these three things weren’t true; and the circumstances around Trayvon Martin’s murder, unfortunately, won’t change that. However, in every instance that our nation is plunged into these turbulent circumstances, whether it’s 911, a school shooting, or some other heinous crime; there comes an opportunity to challenge and explore our own individual humanity, and ask ourselves…what IS just?
In order to pursue justice, don’t we first have to pursue the truth? As citizens that elect/employ individuals to protect and serve our interests, are we even interested in the level of integrity those appointed conduct themselves with? Don’t we want to believe that if we found ourselves in a difficult situation, whether as victims or perpetrators of crimes, that the truth would be sought, as well as a solution that best serves the interests of the whole community? Does our America really include justice for all?…or is that just something that sounds sweet when recited in a pledge?
I don’t pretend to know what happened that night. I wasn’t there and I don’t have all of the facts. I know that there are two sides to every story, and we’ve only heard bits and pieces. I know that there are no instances where two people are involved where both don’t play some role in the outcome. I know Trayvon is dead. I know George Zimmerman is alive…and I know the truth is still buried.
This situation challenges us all because it forces us to revisit some very painful and very American issues. We know that there has always been a double standard on justice. We don’t like to say it out loud or take ownership of it…but we all know it’s true. In America, justice can be bought, delayed, ignored, an even fabricated. There are wayyy too many tools created for this sole purpose. It’s why we have so many laws written with so many words, it’s why we have so many lawyers, it’s why we have so many jails, so many politicians, so much crime, and so little real justice. This is the double standard that defines America: Create justice for some while committing a blatant injustice against others. It was Columbus’ America, it was Geronimo’s America, it was Jesse James’ America, it was Abe Lincoln’s America, it was Jim Crow’s America, and now we have to decide if it’s Travon Martin’s America.
Be Human. Be Honest. Be Just.
This by far as to be the best message have heard yet from any celebrity involing the Trayvon Martin incident.
I would like to extend my very deepest sympathies to the family and other loved ones of murdered teenager, Treyvon Martin. I am very sad today (and am certain the whole of Ireland is) to learn of poor Treyvon’s terrifying ordeal and horrified by the fact his known and named and admitted killer has not been arrested, despite the crime having taken place a month ago. This is a disgrace to the entire human race.
For those out there who believe black people to be less than pure royalty, let me inform you of a little known, but scientifically proven, many times over, FACT. Which after reading, you will hopefully feel both very stupid and very sorry. For you dishonor your own mothers and grandmothers.
EVERY human being on earth, no matter what their culture, creed, skin colour, or nationality, shares one gene traceable back to one African woman. Scientists have named it ‘The Eve Gene’. This means ALL of us, even ridiculously stupid, ignorant, perverted, blaspheming racists are the descendants of one African woman.
One African woman is the mother of all of us. Africa was the first world. You come from there! Your skin may be ‘white’.. because you didn’t need it to be black any more where you lived. But as Curtis Mayfield said.. “You’re just the surface of our dark, deep well”. So you’re being morons. And God is having the last laugh at your ignorant expense.
If you hate black people, its yourself you hate. And the mother who bore you. If you kill or wish ill on black people, its yourself you kill and wish ill on. As well as the mother who bore you.
When you dishonor the the utter glory and majesty of black people, you lie. Your heart lies to you and you let it. Despite seeing every day, all your life, how you and your country would be less than wonderfully functioning and inspiring to the world, without the manifold and glorious contributions made by the descendants of African slaves, who did not by the way actually ask to go to America and leave their future families there to be disrespected for eternity.
What are you doing hating yourself by hating your brothers and sisters who daily show you nothing but inspiration and love, despite having NOTHING, in their own country? Despite having barely a chance of anything, because of racism. Despite being granted no ‘permission’ for proper self-esteem.
These beautiful people continue to believe in and even manifest Jesus Christ better than you do. That alone could stand as the greatest reason your racism is blasphemy, were it not for all the other reasons.
These people you hate and fear ARE the body of Christ, just as we all are. Every child, woman or man. And they know it. Maybe thats why you cant bear to look at them. Because you see Jesus Christ and you cant stand the light.
Stop this ridiculous and uneducated attitude. You would be dead without black people. Think of all the greatest music ever composed. The greatest songs. The greatest inspirational heroes.. Muhammad Ali, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Soujourner Truth, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield. So many absolute angels, sent from God.
Without the inspiration of these people many millions of so-called ‘white’ people, including myself would not have had the strength to pay the price of life.
And black youth in America. I’m talking to you here too. I love you. So I don’t mean to sound cross, I’m just being a mother.. Why are you killing each other? Why are you hating yourselves? You are the most important people God ever sent to this earth, every man, woman and child among you! Don’t let uneducated people win and take your self-esteem or your esteem for each other, and make you kill each other. over guns, drugs, bling, or any other nonsense.
You are now entering YOUR version of a sort of civil rights movement and you’re gonna see history being made in what has certainly the profoundest potential to become THE most wonderful country on earth. Because soon ALL ‘isms’ and ‘sits” will end. including racism, as the people of the earth begin to understand, we are all one.
We came from one mother. We are all brothers and sisters. And we CAN get beyond this ILLUSION of separateness. With prayer and love. It CAN change. It WILL change. And YOU guys (young people of all kinds) are the ones who are gonna GENTLY change it. And you know where it starts? With MUSIC.
Don’t be guided by rap. Gangsta or otherwise. Sure.. enjoy it.. adore it.as I do.. but realize this.. rap ain’t about your civil or spiritual rights, baby boys and girls. It.. along with most music nowadays.. is about falsenesses and vanities. Bling, drugs, sex, guns and people- dissing. Its giving you the message you ain’t ‘good enough’ if you don’t have bling and ting.. and money. Or if you’re not what it deems ‘sexy’.
(This is true of all popular music not rap alone. I know. Its tragically true of all popular youth culture the world over).
Poor Curtis Mayfield must be crying all day and night ALL day and night in heaven, every day and night.. To see what has been so successfully achieved by those who sent guns, drugs, and bling to squash the civil rights movement. Now you all don’t have to be murdered by racists any more.. you’re murdering each other FOR them! And your parents and grandparents are left crying.
Go back to strong black musical guides who left you information in the 60s and 70s. when they were living through the civil rights struggle. Curtis Mayfield. The Impressions. Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson. Sing back the Holy Spirit ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as those artists did.
Forget bling. Forget “Get Rich Or Die Trying”. That is an evil message. Evil my dears is only life backwards. Turn it the right way up. With music. The messages American black youth are being given through music are not about the spiritual and therefore strong and conquering but PEACEFUL making of YOUR country into the wonderful place it secretly is and can be.. BECAUSE OF YOU, and BY YOU!!
You know not how you are adored, appreciated, valued, loved, cried for,smiled for, prayed for, all over the world. You know not how much inspiration and uplift-ment of heart you give to millions just by your presence on earth.
These musical guides will give you self-esteem. When you have self-esteem you can achieve anything. You can stand in the street as many did yesterday and change your country peacefully and with song. Chant down Babylon as the Rastas say. Rastafari will also give you self esteem. Investigate it.
You will notice, my beautiful sons and daughters, when you study, as you must, footage of all civil rights gatherings, how singing and music and sound and voice and the Holy Spirit were all employed and were so much part of the energy which moved things along.. just as running was in the South African gatherings I saw on tv in my own childhood, which inspired me to survive my own horrors.
What you listen to musically and whether or not you employ the Holy Spirit’s highest will for your life is whats gonna make you transcend all you’re having to suffer (the worst of which is low self-esteem.. or esteem based upon material ‘success’ or ‘sexiness’)) as a result of being the descendants of people who didn’t ask to be stolen and leave you where you are. Delete bling. Get conscious with your music. Demand conscious music from your artists. Go back to the artists who left you proper guidance.
This is some serious stuff and we (all manner of musical artists) are too silent on matters of enormous spiritual importance. Lemme ask you.. Jayzee and Eminem et al. Why was it always the black people only worked in the post rooms of record companies, which was always in the basement? Why was it that as each floor went up the skins got paler till it was fuckin ghosts at the top? And all us artists.. even me.. said nothing? Those buildings (record companies) always struck me as being a microcosm or painting of America, racially speaking. Christ almighty.. if its like that in the music business how is anything ever going to change?
We, musical artists are too silent on important stuff. And it is our job to be the gate-keepers of truth. ALL the people of this earth must come together eventually and see that we are one. ALL artists must stand up. Black, white, yellow, green, pink, fucking polka dot.. and be a light in these times.
The world is going to shift massively this year.. spiritually speaking. Musical artists are to be a massive part of that shift. Get up, lets all of us. And light Jah fire.. and BE lights.
Where’s the fire gone from music? Where is the love? the oneness? The knowing that music CAN and WILL move things in the right spiritual direction without hatred or violence? We must box clever. Sing the devil to sleep at your feet. Thats what Curtis teaches. He is the master of ALL musical masters. forget, forget, forget and forget again bling and guns and drugs and the worship of fame and money. Its time to wake up. We KNOW the power of music. Why aren’t we using it to change anything important?
Musicians all over the world should now gently demand this child’s killer be arrested immediately and the family of Treyvon Martin be immediately apologized to upon bended knee. Frankly. I myself would like an apology! America is a country I love and adore. what this man has done is un-American in the most horrific extreme.
Him not being arrested is extremely embarrassing and does absolutely NOT paint the true picture of of a country and a people who for the 90% majority are the kindest, most loving, intelligent, and wonderful people you could know.
Please.. ALL Americans should deplore this crime. As should ALL people of ALL nations. And deplore the fact this man has not been arrested. All Irish people should do the same. And I ask that we here in Ireland should express through our American embassy that we would like to see this man arrested this very minute. Because racism is not acceptable. Nor is vigilantism. And this was very clearly in no way at all a case of self-defense.
I leave you with some lyrics of Curtis Mayfield’s which I feel are appropriate for this situation. I am certain Curtis would have wanted to contribute to discussion on the issue of Treyvon’s murder and the condition of young black people in America today.. so here goes.. the song is called This Is My Country.. from the album of the same name.
Some people think we don’t have the right
to say its my country
before they give in
they’d rather fuss and fight
than say its my country
I’ve paid three hundred years or more
of slave-driving sweat and welts on my back
This is my country
Too many have died in protecting my pride
for me to go second class
We’ve survived a hard blow and I want you to know
that you must face us at last
And I know you will give consideration
shall we perish unjust or live equal as a nation?
This is my country.
Whitney Houston gets the special issue treatment from Ebony magazine. I wonder how much music is in the vaults that’s worth releasing?
*Disclaimer- I know at times I can come off harsh, but I mean no disrespect to any artist living or dead. By no way am I trying to place any person’s life over any others. But I have to ask, have we lost the last of our Icons?
The other day our world was rocked, we lost WHITNEY HOUSTON. Like damn homie, we lost another BIG NAME. The news of Whitney’s untimely, premature death brought CNN’s regularly scheduled Saturday night programming to a freeze. The news was all Whitney. We wanted to know what happened, and CNN was ready to deliver. Similar to when the King of Pop passed, Whitney (Queen of Pop) brought the world to a pause. Even in death she owned the moment.
Shortly after I thought to myself, have we lost the last one? Is there another artist who blew up in the 80′s capable of shutting down CNN? Of course the name that immediately that pops in your head is Madonna. And I am sure the day the we lose the Material Girl the world will come to a stand still. But after Madonna who else? Michael is gone. Whitney is gone. Luther is gone. Will Prince bring the world to pause when we lose him? How about George Michael? Billy Ocean? Lionel Richie? Boy George?
Once again I am not trying to place more importance on someone’s life, but losing Whitney so close after Michael you realize that “Damn Whitney AND Michael are GONE!” Simple and final. Like half of the Beatles are gone; half of the 80′s Mount Rushmore of Music is gone. Madonna is left standing, maybe you can throw Prince in there. But after that it is on to the 90′s.
“The loss of Whitney Houston is painful. I remember meeting Whitney for the first time when I was 15. She was the ultimate legend. The ultimate woman. Not only was she confident, poised, stunningly beautiful and intelligent, but she was sincere and kind. She took the time to make everyone feel like they were very important to her. I, like every singer, always wanted to be just like her. Her voice was perfect. Strong but soothing. Soulful and classic. Her vibrato, her cadence, her control. So many of my life’s memories are attached to a Whitney Houston song. She is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us.
God bless her.”
Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.
Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
Check out Don Cornelius getting his Soul Train line on.
The visionary behind the Soul Train Franchise was found dead this morning at his home in California from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Don Cornelius changed the face of television and the industry of music by creating a TV show specifically for the black audience. Prior to Soul Train, there was no such music programming on television. Soul Train, which first aired in Chicago (locally) in 1970, quickly became a popular platform for the hottest Soul/R&B artists. The show aired nationally from 1971-206. Not only did it introduce many of the top artists to television, but it also showcased the “Hip” culture of Black America. While performers such as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Barry White graced the stage, viewers could also enjoy watching teenagers dressed in the latest fashions groovin’ to the music. It was like a Saturday morning House party with top notch entertainment…and everyone was invited. Mr. Cornelius will always be remembered for his contributions to music, TV, and Black culture. UML salutes you.
Damn they say death comes in 3′s huh? Well looks like we lost our 2nd person today. TMZ reported that Heavy D died today.
Rap legend Heavy D — one of the most influential rappers of the ’90s — died earlier today … TMZ has learned.Heavy D — real name Dwight Arrington Myers — was rushed to an L.A. hospital around noon today … and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1 PM. He was 44 years old.We’ve learned a 911 call was placed from Heavy’s Beverly Hills home around 11:25 AM to report an unconscious male on the walkway .When help arrived, we’re told Heavy D was conscious and speaking — and was transported to a nearby hospital.He died a short time later.Cops are investigating the death — and so far, there are no obvious signs of foul play.TMZ
I jumped on the Amy Winehouse bandwagon late. Sometime during the promotion of her second album Back To Black I jumped on the wagon and told dudes to move out the way. From that point I was waiting for new music, that exclusive leak from the drip drips. Well as you know it is not going to happen with her recent death. And from the sounds of it, there wasn’t much new music that is of quality. So I will make due with the scrapes, and I have my doggy bag ready.
The world will finally get to hear the music Amy Winehouse was working on before her unexpected death earlier this year. According to a press release from her English label, a posthumous collection of unheard studio tracks, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, will be released on December 5.
The 12 tracks on the disc were put together by Winehouse’s longtime collaborators, producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, and will include songs she recorded before, during and after the releases of her two studio albums, 2003’s Frank and her smash 2006 breakthrough Back to Black. “It was said by all who worked with Amy that she never sang or played a song the same way twice,” read the release announcing the disc. “It quickly became apparent to Salaam and Mark that they had a collection of songs that deserved to be heard, a collection of songs that were a fitting testament to Amy the artist and, as importantly, Amy their friend.” – MTV
Hopefully this will be the best of rest that they give us. And not just some studio practices that they will over produce and feed to us like it is the best thing since sliced bread!!
I couldn’t make this story up if I tried.
Former Weezer band member turned artist Mikey Welsh’s death Saturday at the age of 40 was a shock to many fans.
But People magazine reports the bassist eerily tweeted the time and place of his death two weeks prior.
According to the publication, Welsh wrote a note on the social networking site on September 26 which read, “dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today.” He then added a second tweet that said “correction – the weekend after next.”
According to Chicago police, Welsh was found “unresponsive and not breathing” on Saturday at the Raffaello Hotel. He was reportedly in town to see his former band perform Sunday at Chicago’s RiotFest. As of Monday, a cause of death had not yet been determined.
If you were to know me in the 90′s then you would have known I loved me some Aaliyah. She was Daily Fresh before fresh was Daily! She was Janet Jackson if Janet didn’t grow up in the Jackson household and was born about 10 years later. The aura that surrounded her was one of cool. And since I consider myself cool, I recognized it. Cool recognizes cool and Babygirl looked familiar.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of her untimely passing. And I can say for once it seems like it has been 20 years since I saw her, which is strange for me. Usually years fly by like weeks for me and I look up and mad time has passed. But certain things don’t feel like yesterday, for example my Grandmother passing seems like a lifetime ago. Big and Pac and my days at GSU seems like a lifetime ago. However, things like high-school seems like yesterday. Jordan hitting his last shot with the Bulls seems like yesterday. Ninja’s wearing S-Curls and starter jackets seems like yesterday. Follow my train of thought here? Things that are irreplaceable will have you missing every moment they are gone.
So today in the midst of all the tributes, I will toss a waffle into the cosmos and think of a time when an Angel played on stereo.
Damn, it is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since Pac left us. But this September it will be just that. To commemorate the date, XXL has a feature on 2Pac that speaks with his father, the Outlawz, Mutulu Shakur among others. His father Bill Garland added….
“[Tupac] cared for people,” he said. “That was his main thing. He really cared for people. I think that’s why he would get so upset when people tried to question his commitment, his love for Black women or Black men. The East Coast/West Coast, you know, that’s a fabrication. I don’t have to begin to tell you that. So when that was questioned, it bothered him. Because he would give his heart or soul. He was a giving person. He would give anything to people. He would go in a store. [If there was a] Black man who couldn’t afford a $1,500 pair of boots, he would buy ’em for him. Think that Black man would ever forget Tupac? That’s just the way he is. But I don’t think that he did it for that. He did it because he had it, and he didn’t. That’s the way he is.”
The special issue will hit stores August 16.
It didn’t take long for recriminations to start flying, after the sad news of Amy Winehouse’s death. There were tweets asking why the label had let her go on tour so soon after getting out of rehab (though, of course, a label can’t stop an artist from touring) and, according to the Independent, her label, Island Records, had criticised her management for letting her tour. Yet anyone who’s ever known someone close to them descend into addiction would be aware that alcoholism and drug use are monstrous beasts that can be next to impossible to battle, both for the person in the throes of it and the people around them. And when the battle is lost, everyone is left asking themselves what more they could have done.
We don’t yet know the cause of Winehouse’s untimely death, but the issue of “duty of care” has been debated in the music industry before. Two years ago, after the death of Michael Jackson, the In the City music conference featured a panel about it. Former head of Island Records Marc Marot announced that he wanted new guidelines which could mean artists whose health is damaged by substance abuse or self harm, rendering them unable to perform, could face suspension from their label. He spoke about having halted the recordings of one of his artist’s albums after realising she was suffering from anorexia, and making sure she got professional help. Chris Difford of Squeeze pointed out that, back in the day, his A&R man was actually his supplier of drugs, and manager Colin Lester said it wasn’t up to him to sort out his artists’ personal problems.
A manager I know who looked after a drug-addicted artist explained the moral dilemmas he was faced with, describing how, on a trip to New York, his artist was determined to go out on the streets to score drugs. “What was I to do?” he asked. “Either I could let her endanger her life, going to a dangerous area and not even knowing what was in the drugs she scored, or I could sort it out myself through a reliable dealer.” Keeping her captive against her will would’ve been illegal. It’s possible that having a fully booked schedule of appearances may also play a part in such decisions, as well as the fact that a manager is employed by the artist – not the other way around. Not complying with the artist’s demand could end up getting you fired.
In the UK, substance abuse is prevalent in all sorts of professions (media included). When I first arrived here we sometimes used to joke that while it used to be the case that record labels and managements worried about their artists’ rock’n'roll lifestyles, now the artists fretted about the chemical intake of those charged with looking after their careers. How could they turn around and criticise the artist for using drugs when they did so themselves? And would they want to? Wouldn’t that mean that they had a problem themselves? Drug addicts are notorious for being in denial.
Being on tour can be particularly bad for artists with a predilection for drugs and/or alcohol. There can be long periods of waiting around in strange dressing rooms and hotel rooms, nerves that need to be calmed before going on stage, then the hours of trying to wind down after the emotional high of the show – and there are plenty of hangers-on who are ready to supply the artist with controlled substances, hoping to walk away with a wild story to tell all their friends about how they partied with someone famous.
All of this is exacerbated by the fear the drug-addicted artist has of not being able to perform – both literally and creatively – without the “aid” of these substances. It’s no surprise they choose to ignore the huge amount of time-wasting their addiction is responsible for (let alone how drugs and alcohol can make you think you’re writing something great when it’s actually rubbish).
We all become culpable by glorifying drug addiction among artists and praising autobiographies by stars such as Keith Richards, calling their drug abuse legendary. While discussing the issue of the tiresomely named “27 club” a record label executive posed the rhetorical question: “How many artists do you know who created their best work after getting clean?” Well, I know plenty of artists who descended into drug abuse and never created anything worthwhile again, if they created anything. I know plenty of artists hooked on drink and/or drugs who never produced anything worthwhile at all, and I know plenty of artists who never abused drink or drugs – and yet they created great music. Even the greatest artists have only a few truly great albums in them. The ones who have more are usually extremely productive during a relatively short time (Stevie Wonder and David Bowie come to mind).
The “duty of care” the music industry should provide is to truly acknowledge addiction as a disease, as Russell Brand pointed out in his poignant tribute to Winehouse, not a path to greatness. Unfortunately it’s a disease rarely recognised as such by the person in the throes of it. It’s true that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to save themselves A recovering addict once told me that there are five steps to recovery:
1. Realising you’ve got a problem
2. Realising that you can’t deal with it on your own.
3. Picking up the phone to call for professional help (and this has to be done by the addict; no one else)
He said that usually the addict has to go through these five steps a few times before they settle on step 4. He also said that more often than not the addict has to hit rock bottom before they get to step three, and that no one but the addict can force any of these steps to happen. I guess Marot’s suggestion would speed up the process of hitting rock bottom, but would it be taking the “tough love” concept too far?