Posts tagged with "culture"

Feral Rapper Tekashi6ix9ine Is Leading The Coup d’état Of Hip-Hop Culture

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The spectacle that is Tekashi 6ix9ine can only be described as disturbing. And, like the manifestation of Donald Trump, we have no one else to blame but our American worship culture. Similar to Rock and Roll, Jazz and many other musical inventions, Hip-Hop and rap was birthed by African American culture. The days when we saw black artists express themselves by rapping to tell stories of their experience in a country hostile to their humanity are long gone. From Vanilla Ice, Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Cardi B, Machine Gun Kelly to the grotesque Tekashi69, it’s evident Hip-Hop is forever changed. Today, any knucklehead from the richest neighborhoods, or a strip club dance pole can spray paint themselves with tattoos, don the typical rap gear and spit rhymes about the mean streets they called home, how tough and strong they are, how quickly they’ll shoot you in the face with an AK or Glock, and of course, how many “bitches” or “nigga’s” they got. Oh, and they’re all so incredibly rich that they use stacks of bills to make phone calls nowadays. Even if none of it is true.

What started out as a movement to talk about the struggles of black lives in America following the assassinations of black leaders like Malcolm X and MLK, has turned into what the rainbow pendejo exposed on Instagram Live. The Hip-Hop and rap movement has been derailed and the message hijacked by get rich quick schemes and soft porn stars that even corrupted the ones at the head of it all. Because enough money, sex and notoriety will make you give up just about anything.

As detested as Tekashi is for snitching on his fellow gang members, it didn’t stop millions of people from tuning in to his clown show to brag about his riches, and grossly flaunting the white privilege he’s loaning from the feds for his cooperation. All while boosting about getting away with murder, similar to the Klan in their hay day when they were systematically acquitted for lynching black people, burning their homes and terrorizing them from sea to shiny sea. Time and circumstance are the only difference between the two. Listen closely to the words Tekashi spews while using easy women and cheap sex tricks to gloat about getting away with behaviors no black artist or regular black folks could ever get away with.

Entering his stage with a classic Bob Marley song that turned into the theme song for the TV show Cops, featuring the arrests of mostly black people, Tekashi, flashing his expensive watches and gnashing his horse teeth bedazzled with diamonds and gold yells, “You can never do this! You can neva!” And, he’s absolutely right. Black people in similar positions can never do that. Just ask Meek Mills who learned real quick that his punishment for violating his parole would not only be swift and extreme, but it would be served piping hot by a black judge, the Honorable Genece Brinkley, who clearly had an ax to grind and to prove her loyalty like Stephen in Django Unchained. And, Mills is only one example of a long list of disproportionate punishment doled out by law enforcement.

We, The People, share very different experiences in America. And despite how cringe-worthy that reality is, that’s the harsh truth of the matter when it comes to black people. The callous killing of Ahmaud Arbery—considered a “justifiable homicide” by the local DA—is a prime example of the different lives we still live in a country that owes its glory and might to the black enslaved bodies that planted and picked crops, that help build a nation, including the White House, to amass incredible wealth and privilege only few enjoy.

“You’re a little boy. I’ll kiss you on your forehead. Sit down,” he goes on, waking up the dead with words long gone slaves and oppressed Jim Crow era black people had to bitterly swallow as they watched their country take pride in enacting the 13th amendment, all while leaving them empty-handed, and demanding they compete in an unequal game of life and the pursuit of liberty. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, boy! Sure, but you stole my boots and put thorns on the road you want me to walk on.

Inhumane doesn’t even scratch the surface of this long-standing injustice. And, the term “boy” is a hideous racist stain for black Americans, as its roots are deeply embedded in the unrepentant diminishments of our humanity. Nonetheless, millions, including Hip-Hop celebrities, tuned in to witness Tekashi behave badly. And, he’s worshiped for it, especially by our younger generation, many of whom seemingly only interested in the culture of debauchery. He’s used as a tool to sell our Hip-Hop in a market that devalues our culture and detests our existence. And, we take front row seats in support of it all. Snitches get stitches, they say. Sure, only if you’re black. Tekashi is being protected by the feds like the pope, despite his criminal behavior. And, as a gift for helping ensnare more black men who were being criminals right alongside him. Justice is not blind, it’s stupid and hateful.

That’s the only reason Tekashi can proudly disrespect black music and culture. He’s babysat by a legal system that will pay any price to keep us cemented in our societal place as second-class citizens. If you didn’t feel the sting of Tekashi, you’re not paying attention to the unwavering trajectory of our American culture. A culture that refuses to recognize how our painful history has shaped us, how it continues to inhibit our growth, hear our cries for real freedom, and call to equally benefit from our country’s prosperity.

Let me be clear. I love my country and the ideals good people from all walks of life are steadily working towards. All I’m crowing about is recognition of the ugly truths of our black lives and circumstances, and to demand change. And, that my country love me back. Not through lip service but by way of sincere actions that will ultimately bring about the equality some white people are so deathly afraid of. Paving the way with diamonds and gold for the likes of Tekashi6ix9ine and his middle finger is painfully symbolic of the unwavering disdain for us, our Hip-Hop culture and rightful claim to America.

Nevertheless, and despite all the disrespect we still endure, we must maintain a firm grip to the mighty spirit and words Maya Angelou left us with: “Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.” Marching on, black people will continue to rise, guided by the lessons of W.E.B. Du Bois to avoid the temptation to hate, despair and doubt, we shall overcome.

Keeping Up With A Dying Tradition

Adiante Franzoon is a Saamaka tribesman from Suriname. He’s the last remaining woodcarver who’s carving the way his ancestors—escaped African slaves—did hundreds of years ago in the dense tropical forest of the South American country. Adiante Franzoon is practicing authenticity in an ever increasing inauthentic world.

To learn more about Franzoon or to purchase one of his pieces click HERE.

NABJ New Orleans: A Significant Moment In America’s Journey In A City Full Of Culture And Black History

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

New Orleans can easily be described as America’s secret gem. Despite the havoc caused by Hurricane Katrina and the negative portrayal of a city plagued by violence, New Orleans stands alone in all its glory, people, culture and revelry.

This year, the National Association of Black Journalists congregated in the historic city, part of the group’s annual convention and career fair. America’s racial turmoil, like the most recent incident in Charlottesville, VA, makes the destination for the gathering a unique one that highlights who we are, what we’re capable of and what we continue to stand for as Americans and NABJ members. The struggle for equality and a more just country isn’t over but neither is our resolve and determination to fight bigotry with education, success and the most powerful armor man has against hate; Love. And, New Orleans has plenty of love, history and black culture for the greater mission to improve our world and American culture as a whole.

The Big Easy, as the iconic and beautiful city is nicknamed, was the perfect complement to highlight NABJ’s work and the people that come out to support it. People like, Roland S. Martin, Charles Barkley, Harris Faulkner, Dr. Jeff Gardere, Nyja Greene with CNN in Atlanta, Tracey Rivers with Fox 26 News in Houston, and many other prominent black figures. And, even the presence of arguably the most unpopular black woman in the White House, Omarosa Manigault, couldn’t overshadow the power of the event in a city full of life, talent, charm and charisma. And, how fitting and telling of the group’s importance, growth and impact that even Facebook joined the convention this year to recruit talent for its own innovative work across the globe.

In our current state of aggressive and divisive nationalism, New Orleans was the perfect backdrop to mark black progress in America. Black folks, specifically those that call the Big Easy home, have come a long way as a people. In the repugnant face of racism and discrimination, to a natural disaster that changed the lives and demographics of the city; New Orleanians are overcoming everything that has plagued their journey with music, food, revelry, an organic entrepreneurial spirit and a potent dose of American culture. Nevertheless, it’s clear to see, especially thanks to an administration fueling anti-American values that the civil rights movement is far from over, making NABJ’s mission and work more important than ever.

Jazz or Jass as it was first spelled, was born in New Orleans, making dancing and singing in the streets to great local bands simply a cultural norm. From Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street, the city cradles its patrons like moths uncontrollably drawn to light, despite all the effects that comes with merrymaking, and an alcohol and drugs infused atmosphere. However, there’s more than the music and revelry to talk about. The local artists on the streets hawking their goods like, Alex Lee Calacuayo, add a certain essence to the bright beautiful colors that is New Orleans and its people. Food venders, like Mr. Joe’s Island Grill—unlike some other cities in America—take a great deal of pride in what they prepare and offer. It’s a constant party that hits you all over, from your dancing feet to your mouth full of the best food on the planet. And, none of it takes away from the cultural significance that is New Orleans.

A significant perspective of NABJ’s presence in the Big Easy is the story of Palmer Park, which according to, New Orleans Historical, was named after a staunch supporter of slavery and segregation; Benjamin Parker. The white’s only park was the scene where during the Jim Crow era, during a 1924 speech, “Shreveport Mayor Lee E. Thomas, challenging Senator Randsell for his seat, drew loud applause when he accused the senator of signing a letter supporting a black man for a federal job; the mayor’s allegation sought to condemn the senator’s egalitarian gesture. Similar racism could be seen in reaction to a 1934 incident. Residents nearby the park and civic organizations complained about an unlicensed shoe shine stand, “Sam’s Shine Parlor,” which appeared in the park. The stand, aimed at people waiting nearby for the bus to Kenner, was originally chained to a tree in the park. The black vendor’s chair was removed. White vendors, like the man who sold hot tamales, were allowed in the park.”

Despite a long and arduous journey plagued with racial prejudice black people in America are still standing, and still working towards their own prosperity as our collective American values instills in each and every one of us. And how fitting that after all these years and racial turmoil’s, NABJ is still working to bring organizations together that recognize the importance and value of diversity in the work place, especially in media. We represent the spirit of Sam’s Shine Parlor.

The country is changing. New Orleans is going through it too, especially following the mass public upheaval brought on by Katrina. Walking the streets of the city you can still hear folks talk about all they’ve lost during the August 2005 storm. The breaking of the levees didn’t just spill massive amounts of water covering the city and destroying lives. Some argue that it also washed away a great deal of its culture and fast-tracking gentrification. Even so, the city full of charm with one of the best American accents you’ll hear is still thriving. And a large reason for it lies at the feet of the local population that make a living in the streets, where a great deal of the city’s booming tourism industry can be seen and deeply felt. New Orleans is not just beautiful; the Big Easy is the epitome of what we recognize as the birth of American culture.

 

Defining American Culture And Identity

By JEANETTE LENOIR

 

America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, making defining American culture a difficult task to undertake. Considering the many traditions Americans from all walks of life adhere to, pass down, recognize and celebrate, one would be hard pressed to capture all that she encompasses and constitutes. Nevertheless, the University of Michigan took on the challenge and came up with 101 characteristics that define American culture.

The “Melting Pot” has been a fitting description for as long as the question of her identity has been pondered, but thanks to the break down, specifics have been added to our cultural description. Since her independence 241 years ago, America has steadily evolved into a more perfect union representative of the many facets of the world.  People from all walks of life can adequately represent what it means to be an American.

As the world turns, including our own democracy, we decided to post this question to various Americans in New York City and other parts of the state: How do you describe American culture? As you’ll see, the question wasn’t easily answered…

 

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Suriname Day In Queens, NY

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Most people who hear the name Suriname will likely ask you where the country is located. Suriname is a mystery to a lot of ordinary Americans despite it bordering Brazil; the country just about everyone on planet earth knows and loves. Understandably, Suriname does not project ideas of Fantasy Island, sandy beaches with blue water type of get away destination for tourists. However, when you get to know this unique place, its people and culture, you’ll wonder why the rest of the world always asks: Where is Suriname?

Despite it being a relatively unknown location in South America, Suriname is celebrated every year in Queens, NY. Sranang Dei or Suriname Day just marked its 40th annual celebration in Roy Wilkins Park. The event is typically held in early August. This year it happened on the 7th.

Our nation, currently going through a very sensitive period with issues like police brutality, racism and divisiveness amongst its people, it is calming to know that America is still beautiful, still unique and still the great melting pot of the world. We celebrate culture, all cultures, despite what you may hear in main stream media, and Suriname Day fits right into our identity as Americans.

Suriname, located on the northeast coast of South America, can also be seen as a melting pot of cultures and people. The country is made up of immigrants from India, Indonesia, the Island of Java, Japan, China and Africa just to name a few. The indigenous population of Arawak and Carib Indians, although small in number, represent a large part of Suriname’s culture and identity. And although I loathe the term, Maroon, (due to its origin) this group of former escaped slaves also call the interior of the country home, and also represent the heart of Suriname.

Suriname Day brings all these people out for a day of celebration and togetherness. It’s also a great opportunity for them to enjoy traditional foods, games and music. What is special about this celebration is that it takes place right here in the great state of New York. And, you certainly don’t have to be Surinamese to come out and enjoy the festivities. These are the traditions and customs that bond us as one nation of people. This is American Culture.