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Guest Post from @Justin_Alan.
Allow this blog to serve as my inner reflection and scattered thoughts. Allow these words to be my written tears, my unreasonable hopes, and my universal plea. My story is similar to that of many New Orleanians; a story of denial, confusion, depression, resentment, anger, survival and resiliency. Exactly six years ago, my family and I did the usual routine, packing only basic necessitates, for what we expected to be a short three-day trip. Except this one was different. This one didn’t yield mercy. This one was the one that generations of New Orleanians feared. We first traveled to Houston and eventually Dallas. I remember frequently crying to myself; knowing that my city, my family, my life as I knew it would never be the same, for better or worse.
Tyler, the Creator won an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. I was really happy for him (so was his Mama… she caught the holy ghost…). For some strange reason, I felt like I won. Hey, if people can be excited about Beyonce being pregnant, I can be excited for a kid promoting radical self-expression. I think in this moment of economic uncertainty, it’s even more important to just go out and do what you feel and do what you want to do.
That night people on twitter were upset that Tyler won because he’s an atheist and he cursed in his acceptance speech. I also thought it was annoying that major portions of the speech were censored… I would rather hear the statement in context and decide its merits for myself. Besides, if you are going to promote music that is about sex, materialism, and vulgarity why is it such a big deal when the people speak about those things? Anyway… I’m just ranting. Tyler, the Creator for the win… SWAG
You can find all the episodes here
Awkward Black Girl is an independent web series that can be streamed on Youtube. It stars Issa Rae and an ensemble cast that uses humor to tackle issues like race, gender, sex, and the cumbersome idiosyncrasies that make life dynamic. Most of all, the show is really funny! The storytelling in the show feels very human, and it adds a comedic vulnerability that richly describes even the simplest of social situations.
It’s refreshing to see independent media that features diverse and multidimensional characters. However, even more interesting than the show’s quality are how the show started and the methods for sustaining it. Issa Rae described the show’s inception in a post on the Huffington Post:
NBC television show”Community” just put up a video featuring a Donald Glover best-of reel. Most people are familiar with Donald Glover due to his rap persona “Childish Gambino”, but he is also a very funny comedian. I think this brief video of clips featuring his character Troy Barnes, really shows off Glover’s versatility; plus, they are just really funny. SWAG.
This is a best-of reel from season 1:
And if you don’t know Childish Gambino’s new record is coming soon
As many may know, the English riots began in response to the shooting of a Black man, Mark Dugan, in North London. The man was armed (and possibly a drug dealer), but the circumstances surrounding the shooting are dubious at best. Initially, people took to the streets to protest his death; however, this inciting incident was only the beginning.
As the participants broadened, the riots were no longer an explicit reaction to state-sponsored violence against Black people. Soon, a narrative of resistance against multiple layers of political and economic repression, as perpetrated by the state and capitalist interests, began to emerge. This emerging resistance narrative was troubling to those in power, and they used a combination of state-repression and media fear-mongering to distract people from the structural oppression that motivated the riots. The following is a useful example of how television media outlets attempted to frame the riots as criminal, and not political, acts of chaos while also muting any sort of nuanced explanation of the feelings and experiences of those who chose to participate.
So, I am fortunate to have met so many wonderful people in my 23 years on this planet. One such person is my friend Patrick, who I met while we studied abroad in Bolivia. At some point, I’m really going to have to sit down and talk about how important that trip was for my identity. Until then, just know that Patrick (and the other students on my trip) is awesome.
Patrick has a lot of interests and can hold a conversation with anyone on just about any subject matter, but there are few things that draw out his passion like the environment. While in Bolivia, Patrick did an independent project on solar panels in rural villages that was extremely insightful. Patrick is the type of environmentalist who engages the people as much as he does the science and the policy, which is refreshing. Currently, he is in Brazil working on environmental projects. Patrick always takes the time to observe how a particular community functions, and using this context, he shows how a particular technology impacts a people’s way of life. Most importantly, Patrick’s blog demonstrates how a people’s social organization impact a technology’s implementation or effectiveness, an undervalued point of analysis in many development circles.
The debt-ceiling deal had me depressed. I was so upset that I wrote that I was done with Barack Obama. This deal was,in my lifetime, the single-most spineless sacrifice of the citizens’ interests in the name of political compromise. Seriously, I think this deal was on-par with the Hayes Compromise of 1876. While the Hayes Compromise ended Reconstructing, this debt-ceiling deal (and its surrounding narrative) is a major step towards collapsing the welfare system in this country.
The “deal” calls for 917 billion in cuts, with 570 billion coming from “nondefense discretionary spending”, which is money that goes to education, job training, health research, border security, infrastructure, environmental and consumer protection, childcare, law enforcement, etc. Basically, these are the cuts to the services that affect our daily lives, and represent a marginal improvement over Rep. Paul Ryan’s austerity plan.
Some of the feedback for this site has been to challenge me to highlight solutions in addition to critiques. So, I would like to highlight an organization that is offering an alternative model to profit-motivated work. This is an organization called “Common Ground Collective”, who provided services and goods to people after Hurrican Katrina in New Orleans. This interview does a good job of defining anarchism from the leader’s perspective, as well as really proving that alternative models to capitalist social organization can be successful. SWAG
Typically, when I choose to highlight an artist, I like to wait until I have a coherent presentation of the artist’s vision, personality, and weaknesses. However, sometimes the music is too good to wait for a broader context. Daley, a singer from Manchester UK, has the kind of artistic talent that is undeniable. Daley is so staggeringly gifted that I want to share his music with you all before I even have a chance to digest it. So this is a rushed, and very general, reaction to my first time listening to this album.
The Revolution Will Not Be Actualized is a series about austerity policy and the anti-cuts movement it spawned. After beginning to write a few articles, I realized that I needed to disclose why I was writing about austerity and what it means to me. The elimination of public services is not some abstract government policy; it is a lived experience. It is an experience that I am living right now.
My parents work for a small adoption agency that specializes in finding homes for Black children in the child-welfare system. This is arduous work, but I have seen the reward that comes with giving a child a chance to know love. There was a child with severe autism that rendered him unable to speak and made it difficult for him to remain in one place or follow instructions. My father made it his mission to find this boy a home that could cater to his specific needs, and he eventually succeeded in finding a Black two-parent family for this child. After being in the home for three months, the boy could now communicate, follow instructions, and have self-control. Because of the work my father did, this boy now had a chance to experience a loving home, and it has completely altered the course of his life.