Upstairs at The Ritzy

 

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I must confess that London and I got off to a very bad start. I was initially very excited to finally leave America and experience the world outside of East Oakland, CA USA. After the heinous murder of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, the kidnapping of another 21 month old girl, and the unrest after the travesty of justice that led to George Zimmerman being found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin, I needed to get as far away from my ghetto as I possibly could.

I came to the United Kingdom for respite, but what I got was reality. Before I could officially set foot on foreign soil for the first time in my life this racist over zealous security agent spotted me; “Black man alert! Black man Alert” she must have thought. “You looked confused,” is what she actually told me.

“I’m searching for the exit,” I said while thinking oh shit, here we go again. My instinct was right. This chick started interrogating me like she was training to be in the CIA. She asked to see my passport, what do I do for a living, where was I coming from, and “Oh you’re going to Paris? Paris is expensive” then she looked at me with great consternation.

I didn’t say anything but eventually I asked her why this was happening. I mean I had already been questioned at the UK border and they approved me. I had the stamp on my passport to prove this but obviously my stamp wasn’t enough for her. Right after I asked her this question another agent positioned himself about 15 feet behind her. He was on the ready just in case I should get out of control. But I was cool, externally at least. She told me that she was with security and she could ask as many questions as she pleased. After a little more verbal sparring she finally let me go. As I walked to the underground I couldn’t help but to think about how ironic it was for me to be heading to the birthplace of modern racism for some kind of escape. I literally laughed out loud at the notion. The words fuck her resonated through my brain. I wasn’t going to let her take my joy away and I proved that by having an absolute blast in Brixton last night.

I went to an open mic event at a venue called Upstairs at The Ritzy. Brixton is like the hood area of London therefore I, being the lifelong ghetto dweller that I am, felt perfectly at home. The Ritzy is Brixton’s local movie theater and they reserve a room upstairs for artists to share their work. Now when I heard that there was going to be an open mic naturally I thought spoken word poetry—boy was I wrong. Everyone that got on the stage was a musician. The first five acts where all guitarist, damned good ones at that. One of them had a Bob Dylan contraption in the front of his face and played his harmonica while he strummed away on his guitar. There was a trio as well. The lead singer sang and played the guitar, there was a heavily tattooed sista with an afro singing back up, and a violinist in the group. They played a beautiful mixture of folk music and hip-hop. Needless to say I was enthralled the whole evening. I was also quite a bit puzzled. I wondered why does the open mic scene in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to be dominated by people who seem to be auditioning for a role in the movie Love Jones. I’m not saying Love Jones was a bad movie I’m only pointing to the fact that it came out over 15 years ago. Get over it people! We have way more to share.

At any rate, the open mic event in Brixton was amazing.  It was precisely what I needed after that lame ass woman tried to hold me up at the airport. I’ve come to far to let racial profiling dictate my mood. My European adventure is officially underway. Stay tuned for more stories.

CHEERS! 😉

 

-YB

 

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Moving Forward

3.26.12

When I hear a story about an African-American teenaged boy being shot to death by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain I want to hear the voices of other young black boys who are protesting. I want to see them in podiums and at press conferences expressing their pain, rage, and disbelief at George Zimmerman not being arrested. I want to hear the voices of the young ladies who lost a classmate and a friend to senseless gun violence. I want to see the next generation who have chosen to wear hoodies in solidarity with their fallen peer representing on television. I do not want to see Al Sharpton in a suit. I don’t want to hear his voice either.

When I see Al Sharpton fly all over the country and subsequently water down every potential movement involving black people it makes me a bit nauseous. I would love to hear a kid from the projects of Miami with thick dreads and a southern accent talk about how Trayvon Martin’s death is affecting his everyday life but instead I get another typical Al Sharpton sermon. It reminds me of how an American can travel to Seattle, New York, Washington DC, and Atlanta only to eat the same Big Mac and Coke from McDonald’s for dinner. The rhetoric of the black liberation movement has become nationalized, highly profitable (Sharpton does not work for free), and completely harmless to the establishment.

The era of Al Sharpton (and Jesse Jackson for that matter) will have to come to an end in order for true progress to be made. It’s time to let the youth who are hurting so badly speak for themselves.

YB

Lost in the Details: Notes on the Murder of Trayvon Martin

March 15, 12

It’s amazing how technical some folks get about the law when a young black man is murdered by a white police officer. What is even more amazing is the asinine things that people say when a fake cop, whom for whatever reason is allowed to carry a real gun, kills a young black man.

Let’s use the most recent case of George “The Jackass” Zimmerman as an example. The Jackass was a rogue volunteer captain of a Florida neighborhood watch group before he decided to use deadly force on 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Apparently this wasn’t your average neighborhood watch group that The Jackass was heading. It was not by any means an organization that encouraged community members to sit on their porches and document suspicious behavior, and it for damn sure wasn’t about planning neighborhood movie nights.

George The Jackass decided to follow Trayvon because he looked “suspicious” while he walked down the street with a bag of Skittles to take back to his little brother. Now I’m not sure why this is, but for law enforcement officers (and wannabes) the word suspicious is synonymous with black. I suppose it’s the American way.

At any rate The Jackass decided to confront Trayvon who was visiting his dad for NBA All-Star Weekend even though when he radioed it in to the real cops they told him to stand down. I guess he just couldn’t resist the opportunity to put a young black man in his place—which from a historical perspective, most white men can’t.

From that point on the details are sketchy as of right now. But we do know that The Jackass was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. And we do know that Trayvon was killed by a single bullet wound to the chest. Mr. Jackass has not been charged with any crime because…well he’s white.

People really trip me out in these kinds of situations. I’ve seen the extremely ambiguous self-defense laws in Florida cited several times in this non-case. I’ve also watched the news media casually bring up the fact that a few homes in that Florida neighborhood had apparently been burglarized in the months leading up to the shooting. I even saw one journalist report that Zimm—uhhh I mean The Jackass was very well liked in the community.

Oh my god. So what!

An unarmed high school students was shot to death by a man who is supposed to be making sure elderly women aren’t mugged on their way back home from the grocery store. He’s supposed to be armed with binoculars, and a walky-talky, OK pepper spray at best. So why the hell is he toting a damn 9mm pistol like he’s in 50 Cents entourage? It’s the most ridiculous thing imaginable.

It’s just as bad as when Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by a BART cop.  BART is routinely one of, if not thee, safest rapid transit system in the country. So why does a BART cop like Johannes Mehserle need a gun in the first place? The main difference between that incident and this one was the Oscar Grant murder was caught on videotape, but unfortunately it didn’t matter. People watched the video of a handcuffed man on the ground being shot and scratched their heads and said; “Well he does seem to be resisting a little bit. I mean look at him squirm. He’s being belligerent. And on top of that it was New Year’s Eve. I’m sure those cops were having a long day.”

It was this kind of not so subtly racist rhetoric that landed Mehserle a sentence of less than one year for killing an unarmed man in front of dozens of people. And it is this kind of thought that justifies The Jackass not being brought to justice after murdering an unarmed teenager carrying a bag of Skittles.

The general reaction to the tragedies of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin prove that American racism has come a very long way since Jim Crow and the K.K.K.  Just like medicine and technology racism has advanced. It is no longer out in the open like the word “nigger” but rather it is hidden in details like the word “suspicious.” Evil folks don’t hide behind sheets and burn crosses anymore. In 2012 they make up titles and get permits to carry guns so they can continue to kill with impunity and be supported by a society that will never admit that they are enabling these racist psychopaths.

Racism is in the details these days. It’s in the questions that people have and the doubt that is cast over whether or not it’s actually wrong for an unarmed black man to be murdered by a white authority figure.

Because we all know Trayvon instigated the situation and why was he wearing that “suspicious” looking hoody. And as for Oscar Grant, he had drugs in his system and he had gotten into a fight earlier that night. I mean I’m not racist but I just don’t know. It seems a little suspicious to me.

Meanwhile Oscar Grants daughter Tatiana will never really know her father and Trayvon Martin’s parents will never hear their son’s voice again.

Black men continue to be gunned down like animals while we scratch our heads and ponder about silly little details.

-YB