Saturday reflection on Santa Monica, race and identity politics

Rosalind Helderman’s excellent Stephen Miller profile in the Washington Post got me sitting down to write this morning before heading out. That profile was just as inspirational as an impromptu visit to a Gardena music studio yesterday for a Grammy Week party to watch a showcase with organized by a black female violinist who shared the stage with Brooke Valentine, who performed a cover of the timeless Groove Theory joint “Tell Me.”

And that’s nothing to say of the fact that I shared my Eric Grant (RIP)-It Was Written story with an emcee named Cassius, whose business partner in the said Gardena studio is named Clay and reminded of Clay from a NoHo topless party at which all I remember was saying allah akbar before getting being sucker punched by a gang member/s who turned that party into a riot. Cassius and his band performed an interpolation of Pac’s “Dear Mama” that transported me back to 1996 and Downtown Business Magnets English class.

So, here I am, today, listening to dead prez’ M1 f/ K’naan and Stori James “Til We Get There” in my headpones and reading the WaPo profile of Miller, marveling at who this unknown 31-year old political operative that came up in Santa Monica to liberal Jew parents,was a sore outlier as a conservative and ingratiated himself with Larry Elder on the radio and penned some editorials in the Santa Monica Mirror. Mind you, I worked as the education and sports editor between 2010-2011, a little after Miller was a student there. He is clearly a smart guy, accepted and matriculated to Duke University, where he really stepped up his conservative game. The plug from David Horowitz to Jeff Sessions, who is now the AG of the U.S., seems like plausible progress. (If I wasn’t such as loser, I wouldn’t have impregnated a married Tanzanian national when I was a 22 year old reporter at the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Maybe by now, I’d be working at The Camstoll Group).

Ironically, today another story really struck me. As reported by ESPN.com, Michael Bennett has declined the NFL trip to Israel explicitly because the Zionist government is underwriting it. The cool thing is that Bennett, a Super Bowl champion with a platform is not just taking a position, but is also able to articulate it like a seasoned crisis PR pro.

Perhaps foolishly, I accepted the opportunity to travel to Israel as part of Project Interchange in 2002, underwritten by the American Jewish Committee. I was looking to find my Jewish roots, but instead produced a feature story that started out with a paragraph set in a Arab Israeli town living room. Yep, I took what was clearly an Israeli propaganda trip and flipped it into foreign reporting. CSUN journalism department chair Cynthia Rawitch made sure that my work was awarded several department awards and even surprised me with a $2,500 Los Angeles Times Fund Scholarship at a dinner. I was, and still am, kinda shocked at how that happened.

Fourteen years after that article was published, Israel is still up to the same tactics, lol. Not to be selfish, but it’s amazing how far a first-generation Ukrainian – a naturalized U.S. citizen – can come in this ‘Make America First’ era yet support the underdogs, the marginalized and powerless. It goes way above Obama, guys.The difference between Stephen Miller and myself is that I actually embrace and feel embraced in the multicultural and very hip-hop community in Santa Monica. In fact, today, I’m about to head back to CSUN, my alma mater, for a meet up with fellow journalism alumni and tour the campus facilities. Then, I plan to head out to a Hip Hop Caucus event, organized by Jordan Eversley, a former student-athlete who is a prototype of a political communication strategist similar to Stephen Miller had Miller came out of the hood in Chicago. Yep, Jordan is my dude, although when I was brought in to do web copywriting and blogging on the Supreme Justice campaign, there had been plenty of times when I wanted to smack him. Still, it’s all love bro. Much respect to you and keep fighting for the people.

I want to make this last point very, very, very clear: I am not a Stephen Miller hater. As a University of Maryland University College graduate student who hopes to be continue his education at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government beginning in 2018 or 2019, I believe that civil engagement is at the very foundation of a democracy in this great country of ours. I respect conservatives. Santa Monica to Foggy Bottom to Vermont to Miami. I actually want to commend Stephen Miller for his political success, not chide him. His time in the spotlight is going to end, though, and he will not be on the right side of history. I wholeheartedly disagree with his position against Muslims, as we all know, the federal judge and the appeals courts are on the side of the majority. Bottom line is that I, a Ukrainian-American with a Tanzanian baby mama, see a vastly different world than what Miller see. I am steadfast and will always remain steadfast in seeing myself in a role to support friends and associates in the Latinx community.

Why?

Because it has guys like Alex Aldana, a USC Marshall grad student, who was the organizer of the One Nation Hip Hop Summit in Santa Monica. In 2010, following an introduction by friend and confidante Leila Steinberg – who is not Jewish, contrary to popular belief, because her mother is Mexican – I teamed up with Alex and other volunteers to organize that event. It was hella memorable, and not just because it was headlined by Pete Rock and CL Smooth with a budget from the Pico Youth Family Center. But, because the executive director, the esteemed Oscar de la Torre, a board member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, supported it. It was a community building effort, one that connected black, Latino, Jewish and all cultures the way that only hip-hop can.

That’s power.

I wish Stephen Miller read this and whispered about it to his boss in the White House – for good laughs, for betterment of the nation, because it is the right thing to do.

Lady Liberty is destined to be black in more ways than one

Peace.

Follow my new Instagram account for more frequent updates than this blog. I’m trying! The #DirtyHarvardSessions at Unplugdla last night was simply unforgettable and ineffable. You had to be there. Besides the American Voices look I’ve helped champion the band for, I am of the opinion it needs a booking agent and a domestic and world tour. Can I be y’all publicist/road manager/whatever? LOL.

Back to what’s in the headline about the U.S. Mint. I came across a Washington Post report earlier about the Black Lady Liberty that actually made news in the NYT also back on Jan. 13, so fresh news it ain’t – although the coin actually drops in April. In my opinion, the very idea of a black Lady Liberty represented on a $100 collectible coin is the equivalent of any of the futuristic concept car I’ve written about for Car Fanatics Blog. Peep the archive.

Generally speaking: It isn’t ready for production and mass consumption, but previews what’s to come and imagines the future. Plus, it’s going to generate some serious coin because it’s gold and collectors are suckers for unique items. This is definitely better than sneakers, right?

The bigger picture is that this U.S. Mint move is purely a marketing carrot stick with some serious effect social innovation (that’s a phrase I heard in today’s Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership info webinar).

Of course, Harriet Tubman is headed to the dub first.

Just like concept cars are meant to be ‘out there,’ creating a coin with an American-African woman is a gesture of powerful symbolism that hopefully trickles down at a time when its needed most.

Even under an executive branch as controversial and apparently, reckless, as President Donald Trump’s.

Michael Eric Dyson is race war mongering again?

One of my bdays. Hass. Detroits own TWHEEL. Dr. Mike Eric Dyson

A photo posted by Nasir Jones (@nas) on Dec 22, 2016 at 5:27pm PST

 

It must be #OscarsSeason but it isn’t #OscarsSoWhite because … Ruth Negga? Ayo, I can’t with this preacher/author/clown. MED: niggality is a state of mind. Keep running in those circles all you want. I’m good. Moving to Dallas or Dar es Salaam and working on The American Opportunist is my scholarship and no man or woman alive is going to stop it.

I could care less about how race is perceived or not perceived in America by theatrical preachers who are also sociology professors and run their mouths to enrich their own people.

You do that, dude. I’m good.

One more thing: Tell Nas to tell Ben Horowitz to call me and contribute to a real estate capital fund to build a House of Blues in Dar es Salaam so Russians and other non-race-war-monger mobile global citizens can come down and see Distant Relatives and/or Antonique Smith and/or Dirty Harvard Biz band from South Central perform.

On #TrumpInaugural and ass-backwards entertainment politics of hip-pop

Why no one at this hip-hop media platform I contributed to from 2007-11 has bothered to call Hip Hop Caucus for a direct quote about the #TrumpInaugural perfectly illustrates the idiocy that infects the segmented hip-hop audiences today like a virus.

 This is why urban media, such as the aforementioned flagship enterprise of a Canadian-Indian owner, is generally in my good graces. Websites like this and their audiences are truly the poster child for the  post-Obama #niggality backlash from non-Black U.S. citizens. Yea, it’s true. I count myself in the latter group, but having spent more than two months total in East Africa plus fathering a child with a Tanzanian national residing in Southern California, I honestly, truthfully and candidly could not care about anyone’s opinion of me. Unless, you are in the federal government, a federal contractor or one of the 20 percent of Americans who own a passport, you are not anywhere remotely close to understanding the global political landscape nor business. We have no common ground in which to speak to each other. Get it right.

 
Bottom line is this, though. Hip-hop/rap/urban culture is stewing in its own piss and fertilizer. That is unfortunate and extends well beyond that “State of Rage” merch from FWMJ, which I am cool on buying as much as HSTRY clothing (I did order Queensbridge Bricks from Lipmatic but my kid couldn’t care less about it and that’s probably the last time I shop from that e-commerce provider).
The rest of the world is ahead. Russia’s bigger, smarter and overall, simply more pragmatic about its approach to Libya and Syria than the “exceptional” U.S. – because Obama is not a monarch, d’oh!
As far as I’m concerned, for those that are curious about what I’m doing next, well, that’s inconsequential and on a need-to-know-basis. I may head back to Tanzania or just drive L.A. aimlessly. There’s nothing wrong with Dallas or Kiev, though. Pops is still in Kiev, plus Kiev flights cost $600 roundtrip from L.A.X. and I don’t need Terrell Starr’s opinion-laden national security stories on Foxtrot Alpha to inform me about the reality in my homeland. I can do artist discovery out there just fine and figure out how to make money.
The bigger picture is I’m going to write #TheAmericanOpportunist in Dar es Salaam this summer. It’ll find its way back to the States like my private equity partner in D.C. found friends falling from the Twin Towers on 9/11/01. That’s still in Langley vaults, though, I’m sure. And I don’t care about the CIA considering it has no legs right now.

Woop-woop: John Lewis memoir sells out on Amazon, niggas

For every commercial real estate developer quip out of PEOTUS Donald J. Trump’s mouth, there’s a corollary effect. In terms of DJT’s shade at living legend John Lewis, that translates to *HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE* Amazon book sales for “Walking In The Wind,” which is a dope story I see reported by Laurel Raymond on ThinkProgress.org. How this all benefits or doesn’t benefit American national security interests is something I would personally like to ask Terry Lenzner or Terry Lenzner Jr. But Millie Jefferson at Audible, an Amazon company, should do just fine. I mean, she went to USC Annenberg School of Communication. I just live in my head, like Rohan Marley once told me he does (I still haven’t figured out how to say that in Russian, but will try some Frank Partnoy-worthy delay tactics in negotiations).

Justice Department finds ‘racial bias’ in Chicago, and that’s generally a good thing

It’s not exactly rocket science that the Justice Department is policing the police in Chicago – that is its function in the federal system of governance. Subjectively, the POTUS is a Chicagoan through and through despite writing about his experiences growing up in Hawaii, Indonesia and back in Eagle Rock, California, before transferring to Columbia University in New York and taking a $15,000 a year job in Chicago as a community organizer (I hope my guy Hustle at Hip Hop Caucus makes five times that, for real). When Barack appointed Loretta Lynch as attorney general, of course Justice Department would want to come down on CPD extra hard. That’s just human nature of political variety. In reality, how does one actually come down on police – you know, the people some of you call “pigs” or “jake” or “five-oh” – other than words, when the police have power?

The answer is nuanced. I can think of several, quite different calibered reasons why going against police is a bad idea. But that’s neither here in North Hollywood or Hyde Park in Inglewood or near Englewood, where one of my favorite exes, Tanika, is from. The homicide of Laquan McDonald was abhorrent and unjustified. That this police officer fired 15 times too many and shot to kill is beyond reproach.

As far as facts on the ground are concerned, my point of view is that of a seasoned business journalist who first started reporting news as a police reporter for City News Service. Right there, in the aging press room of the Los Angeles Police Department’s press room, I made ‘beat calls’ to various law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles basin. After four years of work at CNS I realized that the formula to get the biggest stories was to call the LAPD’s 77th Station and ask how many bodies dropped. This is not hyperbole. Facts on the ground are that violent death happens often in the ‘hood and cops aren’t always at fault. Guns and black rage that turns white hot is.

In any event, that the Justice Department is coming down on Chicago Police Department should have an volatile effect in the media, but it shouldn’t be that way. For one, McDonald’s shooter, Officer Jason Van Dyke is already off the streets and facing prison time with a first-degree murder charge hanging over him since 2015.

As a Ukrainian-American who lost a Gardena/Compton-residing, gang-affiliated friend to a fatal stabbing in high school, I generally see the course of events unfolding differently because I am also a journalist. African-Americans in general — not the entire group, since some have realized it — that the newly announced consent decree was positioned by the Justice Department purposefully to see Barack Hussein Obama off into the sunset. However, the work of Chicago police must go forward, as well. No one’s gutting the department here. There are criminals, thugs, gangsters, wannabes, kids, domestic violence perpetrators who civil members of society need to be separated from. There’s a reason police departments exist and recruit out of the community.

I really hope the Chicago community can embrace its public officials and police officers alike as this consent decree moves forward. And, I’d love to know what Hustle of Hip Hop Caucus thinks, because he’s, you know, from Chi city. S/o to Malik Yusef for the plug. Forever a fan, bro. Love.

BBC tells it like it is about President-elect Donald Trump’s right-hand man

Gee wiz. Thank you BBC News for the simple insight excerpted below. Since Harvard University’s status in getting the upper hand on #Russia lies almost Cambridge-squarely within a 36-year-old’s domain, I am rather jazzed. I’m 35 and a little jealous, even. But, as far as leadership goes, Mr. Kushner seems to have abilities. On my end, having met one foreign minister (Bernard Membe of Tanzania), a USAMB (Mark Storella) and having had an African Politics class taught by a Harvard graduate (Ernest Wilson III of USC Annenberg), I am curious to see how this story unfolds from here on out.
 
Who is Jared Kushner?
Softly-spoken and usually camera-shy, Mr Kushner is a vastly wealthy property developer and publisher who played an influential role in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and has been included in key meetings with foreign leaders during the transition period. An Orthodox Jew whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, he was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and went on to study sociology at #Harvard.