When my former colleague Jason Parham reviewed Stanley Nelson’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution last September, much of its retrospective content (dating back to the ‘60s) was uncannily relevant, given the growing amplification of dissatisfaction over racial inequality in this country, including but not limited to the routine police killings of unarmed black people. Parham wrote:
“It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community,” activist Stokely Carmichael said in June 1966 upon his release from jail (he had been arrested during the March Against Fear). “It is a call for black people to define their own goals.” Self-determination, Carmichael believed, was the first need of a free people.
Fugitive cop-killer Joanne Chesimard has become the first woman on America's Most Wanted Terrorists List, joining a previously all male list of super villains. Chesimard, who also goes by the aliases "Sister-Love Chesimard" and "Joan Davis," murdered a New Jersey state trooper 40 years ago today. Chesimard busted out of prison and has lived in Cuba ever since.
When Jay-Z and Kanye West released Watch the Throne last year, they did so, at least in part, to glorify things. Thing-glorification is a pursuit with a rich and not wholly invalid history in mainstream rap music. And from its opulent golden cover to its braggadocio about cars, clothes, jewelry, and women, Watch the Throne makes sense in the way that Paula Deen using whole tubs of butter makes sense—Jay-Z and Kanye West are rich men who like to revel in rich things.
It didn't take a tendency toward political correctness or what roastmaster Katt Williams called his "n****r Spidey sense" to perceive the more over-the-top racism in last year's Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav. From the blacks-only mandatory dress rehearsal to the "flying monkey" gags to the $11 worth of damage wreaked during Williams's reputed plastic-plate-and-utensil tantrum, we're pointed today to an epic tale of outrage and, ultimately, handsome compensation for the evening that set American race relations back roughly five days. We've come back since then, however, thanks to the equal time of this recent Williams tirade live from Las Vegas. Still, the network brass got off pretty easy; Jesse Jackson clearly would have cut their nuts off.