Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Bling because I'm Happy - by Marc Lamont Hill

Found at

The Barbershop Notebook: I Bling Because I'm Happy
By Marc Lamont Hill, PopMatters.
August 5, 2005.

There's a disconnect between the New Black Church and the hip-hop generation. Money, however, is the language preached from both sides.

In a desperate attempt to fend off boredom, I found myself at home on a recent Saturday afternoon flipping through television channels in search of a diversion. After a few minutes, I stopped at one of the local public access stations, which was re-broadcasting a Sunday service from one of the area's largest and most popular churches.

By the time I tuned in, a middle-aged preacher was nearing the climax of his sermon entitled "The Lost Generation." "Kids growing up today don't care about nothin' and nobody," he insisted while dabbing a silk handkerchief against his chin to save his Armani suit from his own sweat, "All they want to do is party and have fun."

In spite of my instincts, I continued to listen as he enumerated the faults of the current generation of "hip-hoppers" who have apparently cornered the market on sin. "Hedonistic," "selfish," "materialistic," and "lazy" were just a few of the labels that the preacher assigned to my generational cohorts. After a few minutes, I could no longer suffer his rhetorical assault and changed the channel.

Still, I continued to replay the comments in my mind throughout the ensuing week, struggling to figure out why I was so unsettled. After all, everyone from Harold Bloom to George Will to Cornel West to my own momma has publicly lamented the moral status of youth culture. Why would I care so much about a random preacher? After a few days of reflection, the answer hit me.

According to much of America's ostensible moral leadership -- both religious and secular -- the hip-hop generation (those born between 1965 and 1984) is no longer in possession of the values, beliefs, and traditions that have sustained our predecessors. In its place, it is argued, stands a selfish and hedonistic individualism that prevents our moral and social development.

Unlike many of my peers, I can accept that analysis on its face, although I tend to resist the romantic version of the past in which it is often grounded. What troubled me, however, was that the stance was articulated by a preacher, who was representing the perspectives and interests of the "New Black Church."

By "New Black Church," I am referring to the current configuration of mainline black Christianity. The New Black Church, which has taken its current shape over the past two decades, is the progeny of civil rights-era movements, but can be distinguished by its increased materialism, questionable theology, and dubious politics.

While this description is certainly not exhaustive -- the erasure of denominational boundaries and resurgence of neo-Pentecostalism (spirit-filled charismatic worship) are also critical features of the New Black Church -- it speaks directly to the contradictions between the New Black Church's own practices and its critiques of the hip-hop generation, which have been used to fuel the current moral panic.

As a full-fledged member of the hip-hop generation, the shibboleth of "keepin' it real" that informs my worldview made it difficult for me to accept the preacher's commentary, because I knew that it was coming from a profoundly hypocritical place. Who was he, or anyone from the New Black Church for that matter, to diss us for having strayed from the supposed path?

Of course, I am not suggesting that the truth-value of the New Black Church's critiques is necessarily compromised by its own contradictions. To do so would not only be a logical fallacy, but also ignores the fact that Christian faith is grounded in the belief that flawed messengers can send right and exact messages.

Although the New Black Church's claims to moral authority are certainly betrayed by these contradictions, the larger issue is about its role in replicating, reiterating, and resonating the same ideologies and practices that its critiques are intended to disrupt.

This suggests that the hip-hop generation is not as directionless as others would have us believe. Rather, we are following the flawed moral compass of the very people waging generational war against us.

Money Ain't a Thing

Since the beginning of hip-hop's "ice age," circa 1994, showboating has been a linchpin of the culture. In today's industry, no commercial rapper worth his salt appears in a video without the necessary accoutrements: shiny jewelry, expensive cars, designer clothes and large homes.

Hip-hop's baller elite have even graduated to mainstream commerce, selling everything from sneakers to energy drinks. To be sure, such decadence lends legitimacy to claims of wanton materialism and consumerism among the hip-hop generation. Yet, a brief survey of the New Black Church's leadership would yield a remarkably similar conclusion.

Hip-hop's obsession with "flossing" and "stunting" (showing off) is matched only by the New Black Church's flair for the ostentatious. Many of today's superstar preachers are similarly lavish in their public appearances. For example, televangelist Creflo Dollar (real name!) drives a Bentley and owns a private jet worth $5 million. T.D. Jakes, the Russell Simmons of the New Black Church, owns several multimillion-dollar estates.

While this is certainly not a new phenomenon -- preachers have been driving Cadillacs and wearing expensive clothes since the first amen corner was built -- the stakes have grown considerably higher given the increased amount of revenue generated by the New Black Church. Best-selling books, tapes, seminars and mainstream films have all created new sources of wealth for today's preachers by turning them into household names.

The most profitable project for the New Black Church has been the development of the "mega-church." Founded on corporate business models, these super-sized sanctuaries draw tens of thousands of parishioners per week and hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Additionally, mega-churches create huge stages for superstar preachers to perform for their congregations, which include politicians, athletes, actors, and rappers.

Despite the remarkable wealth of mega-church congregations (or perhaps because of it), it is no surprise that the most bedazzling "Jesus pieces" in the building can often be found around the necks of the people giving the Sunday sermon.

Thou Shalt Not Be Poor

Few would argue that hip-hop's hedonistic impulses aren't at least partially rooted in the belief that financial prosperity is the ultimate measure of success. Given this market-driven logic, it is no wonder that hip-hop narratives abound with rags to riches stories that celebrate the individual over the collective and the material over the spiritual.

Artists such as Notorious B.I.G., who once rapped that "God meant me to drive a Bentley," argue that their enormous wealth is a divine reward, or what Jay-Z has termed "pro-jetic justice" for their impoverished pasts. And where would they get such convoluted values? A look at the New Black Church, whose good news has been reduced to "God wants you to be rich," provides a good answer.

Through their curious readings of Bible scriptures, depictions of Jesus as wealthy and belief that people are poor because they "ain't living right," the New Black Church reinforces the tired conservative argument that the problems of the disadvantaged are self-inflicted.

While gospels of prosperity have always been commonplace within the black religious tradition -- leaders from Sweet Daddy Grace to Elijah Muhammad have, to varying degrees, promised wealth as a consequence of religious devotion -- "name it and claim it" mantras have moved from the margins to the center of the New Black Church community.

Word-faith pastors no longer preach the virtues of struggle, sacrifice, or redemptive suffering, instead exhorting the poor to "get right" with God by accumulating capital for themselves. As word-faith preacher Creflo Dollar explains on his website, "When you find out how to live your life according to the word of God you will become a money magnet."

Of course, becoming a money magnet requires the congregant to share their bounty with the church. Dollar tells his congregation, "God is not coming back to a church in debt. [T]hat would be against his word" ("Changing Your World," 27 March, 2000). In other words, salvation comes with a price.

To ensure that the people pay it, many New Black Church pastors are beginning to ask their members to bring in tax returns to guarantee appropriate tithing. Others request that members submit their entire checks and allow the church to manage their finances in order to certify that they are appropriately sharing God's grace with their spiritual shepherds. Can anyone say Suge Knight?

The connection between New Black Church theology and hip-hop's materialism became no more apparent than when rapper Mase staged his 2004 comeback. As one of the pioneers of the shiny suit era, Mase was the poster child for hip-hop's bling-bling agenda. Disillusioned with the immoral underside of the music industry after becoming born-again, Mase retired from music to devote his entire life to the ministry that he built and modeled after his mentor and pastor, Creflo Dollar.

After being called back to the game (by God or his accountant, depending on who you ask), Mase dropped the disappointing Welcome Back LP. While the album was devoid of profanity, violence and sex, it remained chock full of pro forma references to his wealth of money, cars, homes, and jewelry. Although it was a commercial flop, the album was celebrated by the gospel community for its "positive message," which can be summed up by the final line to his verse on Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" remix: "I'm healed, I'm delivered, I'm rich. And it's all because of Him."

Poli-what? Poli-who?

When the Wu-Tang Clan released the single "C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)," the song reflected the hip-hop generation's developing profit-driven consciousness. It is this belief system that substantiates many critiques of the hip-hop generation with regard to its lack of political focus and activity. Despite the culture's ability to galvanize millions of youth, American hip-hop has become increasingly divorced from concrete political action.

With the exception of the intriguing but shortsighted "Vote or Die" campaign, the hip-hop generation has failed to live up to its political potential and muster a legitimate large-scale movement in the interest of social justice. Of course, comparable claims can be made about the New Black Church, which has grown increasingly detached from politics except under very opportunistic circumstances.

Since the days of slavery, the black church has been a fecund site for political organization and mobilization. Although its politics have never been radical, particularly with regard to issues of gender and sexuality, the church has always been a counter-public space committed to spotlighting and allaying the worst forms of social misery.

Over the past few decades, however, the church has grown increasingly unresponsive to the social conditions of its members. With annual revenues skyrocketing but less than 10 percent of the nation's black churches considered activist in nature, the New Black Church seems to have gained the whole world and lost its soul.

The development of the mega-church has created enormous possibilities for large-scale forms of social activism. Unfortunately, mega-church leadership often deliberately sidesteps controversial politics by not organizing rallies and marches or publicly supporting political candidates. Such moves, clearly done in order to avoid alienating particular segments of their congregations and losing revenue, are reminiscent of the notorious political coward Michael Jordan, who once refused to support a presidential candidate because both Democrats and Republicans buy his sneakers.

One of the more disappointing examples of the New Black Church's profit-driven cowardice came in January 2005 when President George W. Bush spoke to the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, a mega-church in Maryland. Pastor John Jenkins, an affirmative action advocate, refused to publicly challenge the President's stance on the subject because he considered it inappropriate to take a political stand against the President's policy from the pulpit.

Bishop Eddie Long, who pastors a 25,000 member mega-church in Lithonia, Georgia, encourages his members to "forgive, forbear, and forget" racism on the grounds that "we're already in the promised land" (Atlanta Journal & Constitution, 15 February 2005). By eliminating political protest from the church's agenda, these leaders effectively strip the church of its transformative potential while enhancing their own earning capacity.

While some observers have attributed the New Black Church's political passivity to the neo-Pentecostal focus on individual spiritual connectedness, the New Black Church has demonstrated that it is willing to join the political fray when the economic stakes are sufficiently high.

The best example of this came in light of the faith-based initiatives introduced by the Bush administration in 2000. In order to better position themselves to grab the money dangled in front of them, these churches have moved too close for comfort to white evangelicals on ostensible "moral issues," while endorsing horrific public policy initiatives, such as privatization of Social Security and the No Child Left Behind Act.

This proved particularly disastrous during the 2004 elections, when President Bush wooed several mega-church leaders with extremely slippery faith-based funds, ultimately convincing them to support his successful re-election bid. At least "hip-hoppers" have sold on their own terms.

Don't hate the playa

My point here is not to excuse the troubling condition of the hip-hop generation. Clearly, we have moral and ethical issues that must be resolved in order to approximate the level of service rendered by our forebears. I also do not intend to isolate or vilify the New Black Church, as they are not the first nor the only institution that fails to fully practice what it preaches.

Rather, I am responding to a pressing need to protect my generation from the feelings of moral alienation and historical exceptionalism that inevitably accompany the New Black Church's self-righteous onslaught. Hopefully, this defense will inspire the type of self-criticism and humility necessary for social change.

Marc Lamont Hill is currently working on several book projects, including "New Dilemmas of the Black Intellectual" (with Gregory Seaton).

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unexpected Sights 'n Sounds

You never know what you're gonna see or hear in the city. Yesterday (July 30th, 2005) I heard the clip-clop of horse hooves outside the front of the house and raced to the window. Six brothers were riding horses north on the fairly busy street. Later that evening (aside from the police helicopter using its searchlight overhead), I again raced to the window in the back of the house after hearing more hooves -- this time a horse was drawing a small carriage around the corner on another street. I guess they must have been returning from some event nearby held earlier in the day. I also was surprised by (and thoroughly enjoyed) the evening concert that some unseen skilled bird was putting on as he/she was situated in the tree that shades my backyard. Occasional radar-like light-blips coming from some fire-flies provided a nice visual accompaniment to the bird's song.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No Place for Me - by John W. Fountain

No Place for Me

I Still Love God, But I've Lost Faith in the Black Church

By John W. Fountain
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 17, 2005; B01

Sunday morning arrived, like so many before, with a mix of sunlight and chirping birds outside my bedroom window and a warm greeting from my tiny son, lying beside my wife and me. My wife rose quickly, announcing her plan to jump in the shower and get ready for Sunday school at the Baptist church, not far from our house in suburban Chicago, that she and our two children attend.

As for me, in what has become my ritual nowadays, I turned over and pulled the covers up around my head. Soon I overheard my 9-year-old daughter's familiar question: "Mommy, is Daddy going to church with us?"

"No-o-o-o," my wife replied. After months of my failure to accompany them, she has abandoned the excuse that "Daddy has a lot of work to do."

Sunday mornings used to mean something special to me. But I now face them with dread, with a bittersweet sorrow that tugs at my heart and a headache-inducing tension that makes me reach for the Advil. I am torn between my desire to play hooky from church and my Pentecostal indoctrination that Sunday is the Lord's day, a day of worship when real men are supposed to lead their families into the house of God.

Once, that's what I did. I am the grandson of a pastor and am myself a licensed minister. I love God and I love the church. I know church-speak and feel as comfortable shouting hallelujahs and amens and lifting my hands in the sanctuary as I do putting on my socks. I have danced in the spirit, spoken in tongues, and proclaimed Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I once arrived faithfully at the door of every prayer meeting and went to nearly every Bible study and month-long revival. I attended umpteen services, even the midnight musicals and my church's annual national meetings, like the one held two weeks ago in Kansas City.

Yet I now feel disconnected. I am disconnected. Not necessarily from God, but from the church.

What happened? Probably the same thing that has happened to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of African American men who now file into coffee shops or bowling alleys or baseball stadiums on Sundays instead of heading to church, or who lose themselves in the haze of mowing the lawn or waxing their cars. Somewhere along the way, for us, for me, the church -- the collective of black churches of the Christian faith, regardless of denomination -- lost its meaning, its relevance. It seems to have no discernible message for what ails the 21st-century black male soul.

While there are still many black men who do go to church, any pastor will admit that there are far more who don't. Jawanza Kunjufu, a Chicago educator and author of "Adam! Where are You?: Why Most Black Men Don't Go to Church," contends that 75 percent of the black church is female. The church's finger seems farthest from the pulse of those black men who seem to be most lost and drifting in a destructive sea of fatalism and pathology, with no immediate sign of the shore or of search and rescue crews. Without the church, most of those men are doomed.

But it seems clear to me that the church does not -- will not -- seek us black men out, or perhaps even mourn our disappearance from the pews.

Instead, it seems to have turned inward. It seems to exist for the perpetuation of itself -- for the erecting of grandiose temples of brick and mortar and for the care of pastors and the salaried administrative staff. Not long ago, a preacher friend confided: "The black church is in a struggle for its collective soul -- to find itself in an age when it is consumed by the God of materialism."

This preoccupation with the material world is pervasive, and has bred a culture that has left a trail of blood and tears in black neighborhoods across the country with little collective outcry from the church. Still, it's one thing for the world to be ensnared by the trappings of materialism -- but the church?

I am incensed by Mercedes-buying preachers who live in suburban meadows far from the inner-city ghettos they pastor, where they bid parishioners to sacrifice in the name of God. I am angered by the preacher I know, and his wife and co-pastor, who exacted a per diem and drove luxury vehicles, theirmodest salariesboosted by tithes and offerings from poor folks in a struggling congregation of families, a number of them headed by single women. This at a time when the church didn't own a single chair and was renting a building to hold worship services.

I wonder why, despite billions of dollars taken from collection plates -- much of it from the poor -- in my own denomination, I see few homes for the elderly, few recreation centers, little to no church-financed housing development and few viable church-operated businesses that might employ members or generate some tangible measure of return on years of investment. I scratch my head at the multimillion-dollar edifice a local church recently erected and wonder if that is the most responsible stewardship for a church in a community filled with poor families.

I have come to see the countless annual meetings and church assemblies, camouflaged as worship services, as little more than fundraisers and quasi-fashion shows with a dose of spirituality. I am disheartened by the territorialism of churches, vying for control and membership, as a deacon at a Baptist church said to me recently, in much the same way as gangs, rather than seeing themselves as communal partners in a vineyard with one Lord and a single purpose.

But even in an age of preacher as celebrity, it is not the evolution of a Bling Bling Gospel that most disheartens me. It is the loss of the church's heart and soul: the mission to seek and to save lost souls through the power of the Gospel and a risen savior. As the homicide toll in black neighborhoods has swelled, I've wondered why churches or pastors have seldom taken a stand or ventured beyond the doors of their sanctuaries to bring healing and hope to the community -- whether to stem the tide of violence and drugs, or to help cure poverty and homelessness or any number of issues that envelop ailing black communities.

Once, after a service at my grandfather's church in a small western suburb of Chicago, I mentioned to a visiting pastor that there was a drug and gang war going on in his community. "I don't know nothing 'bout that," he responded. I wondered why not. How could he not know about something that affected a community in which he was a "shepherd"?

When I returned to Chicago nearly five years ago, after living in Northern Virginia, where I worked as a reporter at The Post, I was eager to assist in the ministry at my grandfather's church. Within a few months, however, it became apparent to me that there was little serious interest among the leadership in connecting to the local community -- aside from the idea that they might potentially fill the empty pews. And I decided to leave, though not without first having many conversations with my grandfather about the implosion of church ministry.

And further contributing to my disappearing act is that, after being put down and put upon in a society that relegates black men largely to second-class status, the last place I want to feel that way is at church. And yet, in the church, where I have at times in my life felt the most uplifted, I have at other times felt greatly diminished, most often by insecure leaders. If such leaders feel threatened by your ability to speak or preach or teach better than they, or by the fact that you think differently from them, or by the fact that you possess some other social badge they do not-- like a college education -- then they perceive you as stealing a little of their sheen in the public's eyes. And you become subject to the same kind of shunning and subtle disconnection that I have seen and known in the professional world.

By the summer of 2002, there had been a myriad hurts and disappointments to accompany my disillusionment. When the then-pastor of my Chicago area mega-church responded to my inquiry about not being able to reach him for weeks, I was already bending in the wind.

"Do you have a cell phone?" he asked during a follow-up telephone conversation to a letter I had sent him.

"Yes," I answered.

"Then let me ask you something, John," he continued. "If you had a problem with your cell phone and you called SBC, would you expect to reach the CEO?"

His words blew me away.

Given the state of black men in America, given the number in prison or jail or headed that way; given the thousands of us who find our way to early graves and the black men on the other side of the guns who send us there; given the number of us who seek solace in a bottle of liquor or in illegal drugs; given the number who silently cry ourselves to sleep at night, it seems that we would make for a plentiful harvest for a church really seeking souls.

I suspect, however, that as long as our wives, our children and our money flow through the church's doors; as long as there are still a few bodies to fill the seats; as long as the church can claim a semblance of relevance to the community; as long as some of us on the outside loom as potential critics of the direction, heart and stewardship of those black men charged with leading the church, very few are likely to ever come looking for us.

I could be wrong. My criticism might be too harsh. But it is no harsher than my pain.

And so I have taken some solace in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, more than 40 years ago in his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," wrote that the church was in danger of being "dismissed as an irrelevant social club." "In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church," he lamented. "But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church."

So do I.

And come Sunday mornings, especially on Sunday mornings, I miss the rev of the organ. I miss the spiritual song drifting through the sanctuary. I miss the sight of the gray-haired church mothers in their Sunday regalia and their warm embrace after service. I miss the sound of a spirit-filled choir whose song can be a salve to a hurting soul. I miss the beauty of worship, of lifting my hands in the awesome wonder of fellowship with my sisters and brothers in Christ gathered in the house of God with my family.

"Imani, have you said bye to Daddy?" my wife called to our daughter.

"I already did," she answered.

Actually, we hadn't said goodbye. A few minutes earlier, I had called her upstairs and given her a dollar for Sunday offering and hugged her tight, unable to address her question about why Daddy doesn't go to church anymore.

Perhaps I will explain one day. Or perhaps I won't have to.

Author's e-mail:

John Fountain, a journalism professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was a reporter at The Washington Post from 1995 to 2000. He is the author of "True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity" (Public Affairs).

Copyright 2005, The Washington Post

Article found at

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lords of the Flies - by Rotan E. Lee

Lords of the Flies
by Rotan E. Lee
Posted on Thu., July 21, 2005

PHILADELPHIA'S lethal youth violence reminds me of the blunt realities of William Golding's "Lord of the Flies."

The city's young gunslingers casually use deadly force, shocking the conscience and underscoring the fact that African-American males, victims and perpetrators alike, constitute an endangered species.

The story of "Flies" is simple. During some unexplained man-made Armageddon, a plane evacuating a group of prep-school boys crashes on the shore of a tropical island. Conveniently, all the adults are killed. We then follow the boys' gradual descent to savagery and primal instincts.

A rescue appears remote and, absent the traditional symbols of authority and customs, the boys slowly regress from civility to barbarism, illuminating the seductive and corrupting influences of unbridled power.

They prove that civilization is merely a veneer. They become remorseless killers in a self-made world without rules, hopelessly lost and swayed by reckless freedom.

School shootings, daily drive-bys and roving gangs of inner-city youth provide dark visions of America. Children succumb to external influences and mirror adult behavior. They are lords of the flies, ready and able to liberate themselves from shame and self-consciousness-fully, deserting all notions of conscience and reason.

They become primitive - evolving new forms of worship and rules - leading to social regression and a frightening social psychosis (killing to bring attention to themselves and their pain).
Meanwhile, the adult population sighs about the good old days, oblivious to their wars and self-indulgence, watching cynically as guns and drugs become the next generation's endowment.

If children are little savages, then they only reflect the grown-up world, and, their behavior is a moral commentary on the primitive nature of society.

In "Lord of the Flies," the boys are not just lost; they are lost souls.

In America, the lost boys are everywhere. They kill as a means of social reckoning, an ultimate demonstration of their hardcore resolve. They attend school with casual indifference to the sanctity of life and the safety of their peers.

Their rage is not that of Paul Robeson, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown or Malcolm X - symbols of racial, political and social injustice - but of unabated pain, directionless anger and narcissistic self-hatred.

Their primitive philosophy truncates thought and reason in much the same way "Lord of the Flies" ultimately de-civilizes the boys, virtue giving way to tribal rites and ritual murder in their island version of urban gangs.

The politicians, while sharpening their images, zero in on gun control, functionally shifting the debate away from the moral crisis of America's men-children and their violent tomorrows.
In the real life on the streets, boy killers embrace a strictly Darwinian proposition. Their ruthlessness rules out any sympathy. They are spiritually impoverished and fully immoral - tough guys postured to prove a point at any cost.

Cornel West, author of "Race Matters," says, "The collapse of meaning in life, the eclipse of hope, the absence of self-love and love of others, and the breakdown of family and neighborhood bonds, leads to the social deracination and cultural denudement of urban dwellers, especially children."

Boys need a moral keel - that amazing grace that presumes to save us all. Irrespective of race and culture, the men of this nation are morally compelled to act, to resolutely reach out to some lost boy and bring substance rather than just form to the notion of role-modeling.

How can they do otherwise and live with themselves?

For those with manly purpose, this is a crying game. Making a difference requires dedication without any promise of payback.

'LORD OF the Flies" ends on a cynical note.

The children - dirty, sobbing, wild - are rescued by the crew of a passing ocean liner. The ship's captain jokingly asks, "What have you been doing? Having a war or something?"

Sadly, adults fail to understand that the games of children frequently result in mayhem and death - and those deadly diversions grossly reflect a grown-up culture in denial.

The way out, like the way in, requires a rebirth of understanding, a reason to believe, and the means to make it real.

Rotan E. Lee is a lawyer and writer. He can be heard on the first and last Friday of the month on WURD 900/AM's "Dialogues."

The above editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News on July 21, 2005

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hollywood Revisions

After introducing me to the students of his after-school Math club at Dobbins H.S., Mr. Murray asked how many of them had seen Lean On Me, the 1989 movie about Paterson, N.J. Eastside High School's unconventional and controversial principal, Joe Clark. (I was assisting the school's choir director at the school while he was there.) After a number of students raised their hands I expressed my surprise to one student nearby that so many had seen it, to which she matter-of-factly replied: "that's because it's part of our history."

History, OK. Accurate history? Well, that's another issue.

Behold ... the power of movies.

Friday, February 18, 2005

. . . and so we spark the YUBM blog

Yo. The kick-off. Been a minute since I thought to start this blog thing, so here we go! Been lookin' for a venue to post material relevant to the state of the Young Urban Black Male in America, as well as smaller, curious thoughts 'n observations (like those below) that that don't warrant full treatment on the YUBM Ministries Website. They all oughta flow nice in this venue. Thanks for visiting!


Got a really strange recorded message other day (despite the fact I'm on the "Do Not Call" list): "Hello. We have a really important message for you, but all our operators are busy with other customers right now..."


Strange (and rare) quietness on the busy intersection where I live -- very early in the morning. Long stretches of time with absolutely no traffic. Indeed, the streets do sleep sometimes.