Sunday, May 30, 2010

it ain't my fault - mos def

I have to wonder if there are solutions to the oil spill problem which are effective but aren't being tried because of the effect they would have on BP's bottom line. To my naive ear: Supertankers Could Clean up The Gulf Oil Spill, BP Won’t Listen makes sense, at least once the actual leak stops.

In related news...

"It Ain't My Fault" performed by Mos Def, Lenny Kravitz, the Preservation Hall Band, Trombone Shorty, and Tim Robbins came out of a 12-hour jam session in order to help Gulf Aid, a non-profit organization created to respond to the Deepwater oil spill off the Louisiana coast

Oh Lord, Oh Lord
It ain't my fault
Mama no don't you say
oil and water don't mix
petroleum don't go good with no fish
Awww, it ain't my fault
Big Pimpin'
Big Pile of
Bad Presses
Billionare Pirate
Boiling Point
Awww, it ain't my fault
Say man: Who pushed the marshes back?
It's where the hurricane shelter
and the gardens at
Awww, it ain't my fault
Said: from the Gulf of Mexico to the broke levee wall
Something's going on and its somebody's fault.
Awww, it ain't my fault.
Scripture say:
Said they go to the rock to hide they face
Said the rock cried out "no hiding place" (3x)
Oh Lord, oh lord, it ain't my fault

There is also a live recording of the song from the subsequent benefit concert. The quality of the recording isn't as good but there are subtitles (and slightly different lyrics) along with some comments by Mos Def.

Text "GULFAID 10" to 27138 to donate $10 to Gulf Aid. Replace "10" with the number of US dollars (no $ sign) you'd like to pledge, donate as little or as much as you like. Donors will receive an automated call the next day to fulfill their pledge over the phone via credit card.

The fund will ensure all proceeds are distributed to organizations focused on supporting wetlands/coastal environmental issues & the well-being of fishermen, and the regional seafood industry.

Donations may also be sent to the
Gulf Relief Foundation
A 501 C3 Non-Profit Corporation
P.O. Box 61035
New Orleans, LA 70161
PH 504-841-2380

Thursday, May 27, 2010

is lost racist?

For a show which started off as multi-racial/cultural/national as Lost, it is a bit disappointing to think about how it ended. (Spoilers abound if you haven't seen the end.) Just a few random thoughts, comments and questions:

-The African-American father and son: Michael Dawson and Walt Lloyd
Even in a TV Guide interview, Harold Perineau (who plays Michael) had some critical comments to make about how this storyline got "resolved":

TV Guide: Were you disappointed Michael and Walt didn't reconnect before your character died?

Perrineau: Listen, if I'm being really candid, there are all these questions about how they respond to black people on the show. Sayid gets to meet Nadia again, and Desmond and Penny hook up again, but a little black boy and his father hooking up, that wasn't interesting? Instead, Walt just winds up being another fatherless child. It plays into a really big, weird stereotype and, being a black person myself, that wasn't so interesting.

-Speaking of Sayid and Nadia, it seemed unbelievable that in the "sideways" afterlife timeline, Sayid's "soulmate" was the blond Shannon instead of his childhood sweetheart. We saw his love and devotion to Nadia drive him to incredible lengths both before and after the crash (shooting himself so that Nadia could escape prison, working for the CIA, working as a hit man for Ben, etc.) but he's going to spend the next level of eternity with Shannon?

-The African drug-dealer Mr. Eko's stay on the show was relatively short-lived and he didn't even come back for a cameo in the last season, but that seems to have more to do with behind-the-scenes constraints of the actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje rather than the writers and producers of the show.

-Also a bit disappointing was the 6th-season episode "The Candidate" where the last few major brown and yellow characters (Sun, Jin and Sayid) were killed off all at one go.

-Given all the emphasis on Aaron, what happens to Sun and Jin's baby?

-What's the story behind the big statue of Taweret and the hieroglyphics everywhere? In my mind I imagine that some ancient African alchemist/numerologist/scientist/mystic was trying to find the elixir of life or a perpetual motion machine and inadvertently discovered/invented the Light at the heart of the island. A side-effect was that the land surrounding his laboratory/temple, including the statue, was transported out to the Pacific to the island. Of course, I'm not a writer for Lost so for all I know Allison Janney's crazy mother character built the statue single-handed.

-I'm still thinking about how to process Hugo "Hurley" Reyes and Richard Alpert/Ricardo/Ricardus in terms of the racial dynamic of Lost but basically they are white (and Hispanic).

See also:
Lost (&Heroes) Hate Black People

Bitch Media: The Numbers–Lost and Race and Death on the Island looks at the body count on Lost through a racial lens.

Hollywood Insider: Harold Perrineau on his departure from Lost: "I was disappointed... I wouldn't say I'm bitter" which follows up on Perrineau's comments to flesh them out and give them more nuance (i.e. walk them back).

race to fame

Kamau' SF Weekly cover May 09!

SF Weekly has an interesting article called Race to Fame on the up and coming comedian W. Kamau Bell. He mostly does thoughtful race humor.

see also: w. kamau bell - ending racism in about an hour

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

our enemy is not terrorism

"Our enemy is not terrorism, because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror, because terror is a state of mind, and as Americans we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists, because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam," -John Brennan

I heard this on NPR a few hours ago before going to work and I was so surprised I could not wait to come home and post a link. By law, each White House administration is supposed to issue statement regarding its National Security Strategy. The Obama administration is set to officially issue theirs tomorrow. But today, John Brenan gave a speech at the Center for International and Strategic Studies which is presumably a sneak preview.

Highlights: As suggested above, there is greater clarification that the enemy is Al-Qaedah rather than "Islamism" or Islam. There is also an increased focus on domestic terrorism.

Politics News: Transcript of Brenan's remarks
NPR: Obama's New Security Strategy To Stress Cooperation
AP: Obama's new security strategy breaks with Bush

and in a surprise move...

I don't know if I'm just a pessimist at heart or if I've just been watching too much FOX News lately (e.g. Pamela Gellar's bigoted tirade on Mike Huckabee's show) but I was pleasantly surprised to read on Huffington Post that a NYC Community Board gave its overwhelming support to building a mosque at Ground Zero.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"even my conditioning has been conditioned"

CNN: Updated version of the famous 1947 Doll Study
CNN: Home influence on kids and race
CNN: Race in America
CNN: Doll Study Reactions

Scene from the 1989 independent film, "Chameleon Street" (I'm going to have to see if this is on Netflix or something)

ok how about now?

Mark Williams, Tea Party Leader, Says Muslims Worship "Monkey God"
Mark Williams Apologizes To HINDUS For Saying Muslims Worship 'Monkey God'

More Mark Williams on MSNBC

okay now can we say the tea party is racist?

"It's just a few bad apples."
"They don't speak for all of us"
At least that's what the Tea Party leadership would say when confronted with the clear presence of bigots and racists at their rallies. Ok. Fair enough. But what will they say now when Rand Paul, who recently won the Kentucky Republican primary under the Tea Party umbrella publically expresses his reservations with respect to the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s? I think I understand Paul's point that he is "opposed to discrimination", but still, what good is that if deep down he also believes that private businesses are perfectly within their rights if they choose to racially discriminate? He's got some explaining to do. (He also made a terrible appearance on Rachel Maddow... even if he is going to take the radical libertarian stance on the Civil Rights acts, he could have gotten much better preparation on answering those questions.)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

mos def and k'naan on austin city limits

Austin City Limits: K'Naan/ Mos Def (Full episode)

I once wrote a poem about how Black musical forms would continually change and evolve so that by the time the next new thing came out, present-day cutting edge hip-hop would be considered ancient history; associated with elevator music and museum pieces. I even threw in a line about Yo! PBS Raps which apparently has started to come true.

Both Mos Def and K'Naan are Muslim.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

america 2001 - long hairz collective

Just continuing my Michigan musings... here is one of the few clips I could find online with music by the Long Hairz Collective. I've blogged about them before (see "i've seen ethiopians knocking out rome" and also water warriors). I could be wrong but I think they've basically broken up but the members are still out there performing and putting positive messages out there in the atmosphere.

You can download their album Dread Locks & Pony Tales over at CD Baby

Monday, May 17, 2010

never mind...

TMZ: Miss USA Champion Pole Dancer

arab-american (muslim?) crowned miss usa

LAS VEGAS -- Lebanese immigrant Rima Fakih says it was a certain look from Donald Trump that tipped her off that she had won the 2010 Miss USA title. The 24-year-old Miss Michigan beat out 50 other women to take the title Sunday night, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.

She told reporters later that she believed she had won after glancing at pageant owner Trump as she awaited the results with the first runner-up, Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard.

"That's the same look that he gives them when he says, 'You're hired,'" on Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," she said.

Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.

Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Mich., told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.

Pageant officials said historical pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title. The pageant started in 1952 as a local bathing suit competition in Long Beach, Calif.

Huffington Post: Rima Fakih, Miss Michigan & Arab-American, Crowned 2010 Miss USA

you don't fight terrorists the same way you fight rumpelstiltskin

I saw this exchange on CSPAN and thought it was pretty bizare and frustrating. Admittedly, Holder should have been a bit more confident and smooth, but Lamar Smith (and other folks of a similar mindset) are downright ignorant and dangerous.

For me, the basic question is about how the US should respond to terrorism. Should there be a targeted and defined effort with a relatively clear endgame (e.g. dismantle Al-Qaedah and capture/kill OBL). Or should there be vaguely defined war without any clear limits (e.g. a War on Islamic Terrorism or "Radical Islam")

As a Muslim and an American I can totally get behind the first approach. But in the second case I'm not sure I would trust someone like Lamar Smith to be able to distinguish between "radicals" and the rest. I'm not going to pretend to be able to see into Smith's heart but I have to wonder if he simply hates Muslims and is using the word radical as a figleaf. In any case, if folks like him end up framing the terms of the US' anti-terrorism response, we will probably end up fighting the Crusades for 1000 years or so.

Huffington Post: Lamar Smith Wants Eric Holder To Say 'Radical Islam' Or He'll Cry

And if you have the time, here is the whole hearing:
House Judiciary Cmte. Hearing with Atty. Gen. Eric Holder on the Attempted Times Square Bombing

Saturday, May 15, 2010

the definition of insanity...

Times Square bombing in retaliation for U.S. drone attacks, No connection to Islam
U.S. avenges Times Square bombing by killing more Pakistani civilians

loonwatch roundup

RAND report: Threat of homegrown jihadism exaggerated, Zero U.S. civilians killed since 9/11
Muslim Americans Must Obey U.S. Laws; Nidal Hasan Disobeyed Islamic Doctrine
Fathima Bary Needs to Read Her Bible; Final Word on Islam and Apostasy

Sarah Palin supports stoning and slavery?

the ex-muslim industry

For a couple of months now, I've been watching this controversy get hashed out in YouTube but apparently it has recently boiled over out of the blogosphere and into more mainstream news outlets.

The issue: Ergun Caner is the current Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and in some respects is a "star" in Baptist circles. A large portion of his charisma is rooted in his biography; he converted to Christianity as a teenager after having been raised in the Muslim world, in a devout Sunni household. In some versions he has even claimed a "jihadi" background. And after 9/11, based on the "authenticity" of his experience he received a great deal of notice in Christian circles while speaking and writing on Islam.

The problem: On further examination, many of the details of his biography appear to be inconsistent, false or totally manufactured. The controversy extends to where he was born, when did he learn English, when did he convert to Christianity, the depth of his Islamic upbringing and even his name (Ergun Michal Caner before 9/11 but Ergun Mehmet Caner after.)
Other bloggers and reporters have already done an excellent job of tracking many of the lies and inconsistencies. I would just add that. based on clips I've seen, Caner makes some pretty big mistakes related to basic facts about Islam (like confusing the bismillah and the shahadah or saying Ramadan has 40 days) I simply don't believe he got an Islamic education of any depth.

Huffington Post: Liberty University To Probe Seminary President's Muslim Background
Alternet: Christian Right's Favorite Muslim Convert Exposed as Jihadi Fraud
Right Wing Watch: Is Religious Right’s Star Ex-Muslim a Serial Liar?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

consequences of muslims targeting civilians

Consequences of Muslims Targeting Civilians by Imam Zaid is not a response to the attempted Times Square bombing as much as it is a historical reflection on the principle of civilian immunity in warfare. And even though I generally like what Imam Zaid Shakir writes and he made some important points here, I think in some respects the article almost inverts a common Western/Christian fallacy by comparing Western/Christian reality with Islamic ideals. One would probably need to write a whole book to do this topic justice, but the piece would have been enriched by a few more examples of the idealistic parts of the Christian Peace tradition (if only to locate it is a minority view) and some of the more pragmatic Islamic views on civilian casualties.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

more on muslim hero

Democracy Now!: Muslim Vendor Gets No Credit in Helping to Foil Times Square Bomb Plot

saladin ahmed

Continuing my Detroit/Michigan state of mind I just thought to look up Saladin Ahmed, I didn't really know him but when I lived in Michigan I'd seen him perform his poetry at an event or two and we had some friends in common. Apparently since the last time I'd seen him he's gotten married, has two kids, and has been nominated for a Nebula Award. From his blog you can find links to his biography and bibliography. I honestly don't know if he identifies as Muslim per se but some of his fantasy stories deal with Muslim identity in interesting ways. Its worth checking out.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

invincible / emergence

Thinking about Mooz-lum put me in a Detroit state of mind and made want to shout-out the Detroit MC, Invincible who was recently declared #5 on a list of top 13 female MCs (after Jean Grae, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah). Never heard of Invincible? Maybe it is because instead of selling out she turned down a million dollar record deal and went the harder route of starting her own label, Emergence Media where she and her labelmates had creative control.

Thinking about Invincible also makes me reflect on the economic and political factors in the music biz (the music industrial complex?) which constrain what kind of messages are circulated and promoted in popular culture. In other words, there is definitely a pool of intelligent, creative, talented positive performers out there. Why aren't more of their voices heard? If there has to be only one white Detroit rapper to make it big, what kind of a person would pick a misogynist who raps about killing his baby mama and date raping underage girls (Eminem) over Invincible?!?!? What are music executives thinking when they choose to support one artist over another?

see: yo! pbs raps

times square vendor was a senegalese muslim

I first saw this fact mentioned over at the Goatmilk blog, but I think it bears repeating. (Especially since I just saw some random conservative talking head use the recent incident to defend profiling and bigotry). The vendor who brought the smoking truck in Times Square to the attention of police was a Muslim from Senegal.

The Examiner: Times Square terrorism attempt thwarted by Muslim vendor

mooz-lum, coming soon!

Please visit

Pulled between his strict Muslim upbringing by his father and the normal social life he's never had, Tariq Mahdi enters college in a state of confusion. New relationships with Muslims and non-Muslims alike challenge his already shaken ideals, and the estrangement with his mother and sister troubles him. Slowly, he begins to find himself with the help of new friends, family and mentors, but when the attacks of 9/11 happen without warning, he is forced to face his past and make the biggest decisions of his life.
Should be an interesting film. The cast includes Danny Glover and Nia Long. And it is apparently an expanded version of a short film I've included on the blog before.

Myspace: MOOZ-lum
YouTube: Making "MOOZ-lum"
Examiner: 'Mooz-lum' a movie, not a person

Friday, May 07, 2010

juan cole on borders, both ancient and modern

Over at Informed Comment, Juan Cole had an interesting perspective on the new Arizona immigration law:
The [new] Israeli law resembles the one recently enacted in Arizona in one respect. Recently-arrived European Jews are demanding that Palestinians, who have inhabited the West Bank for thousands of years, must be able to show their papers in order to stay. In the same way, some of the Latinos who will be hassled by police in Arizona with demands that they ‘show their papers’ will be Hispanics, i.e. the old pre-US elite from the days of the Spanish Empire and early Mexico. The Arizonan yahoos who made this racist law to harass Latinos are recent, uncultured immigrants from the point of view of proud old Hispanic families. Others so hassled will be of mixed Latino and Native American heritage, so that some of their ancestors were in Arizona perhaps 10,000 – 16,000 years ago, but ignorant Euro-Americans are now demanding proof that they belong there.

Racism everywhere tells itself the same transparent lies about blood and soil, and makes the same sleight-of-hand exclusions on the basis of ‘purity’ of blood.

(original entry: Aparthied in Israel, Showing Papers om Arizona)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

on writing post-obama afrofuturistic latinocentric islamic poetry...

I went to an open mike earlier this week. I want/need to get more connected to the local slam scene... at the very least I want to get back into the habit or writing again. Finding an audience should be interesting...

mayda del valle - "tongue tactics"

liza garza - "my guitar"

Liza Garza jamming on her guitar... and her husband Amir Sulaiman pops in towards the end...

mayda del valle at the white house poetry jam

Wow, I can't believe I missed this... I'm going to have to do some more exploring on the white house YouTube channel... it's not just dry political stuff, there are actually some beautiful performances up there, poetry, music and otherwise...

liza garza and gritz & jellybutter - "swift's song"

liza garza - changes of atmosphere

In the name of the Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Let her ask in faith nothing doubting
For she that doubts is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed
Everything in this world cursed and lost in our forgetfulness
Why do we choose to ignore the obvious in wishful places far to distant
If we could awaken we would truly listen to meledy's they are so divine
Witness life blooming colors not apparent to our earthly eyes all the joys connected to our earthly lives are but a glimpse to what awaits
So this time i say im finally given rewind relove for the sake fully livin and desperate hope of fully dying in a pure state
My only desire but to forgive and stay
My only hope that you would do the same
Our only mercy that the Most Gracious would remember our name and with this change we begin this gracious dance, this wholesome trance
Foundation so solid nothing shakes or bothers whats rooted so deeply
We witness these mercys rescue us
We remember the Best of guides is guiding us
And with the firmness of this very step
And with our certainty of death we know that this is the most intimate carress
A kiss from the inside out
So close to truth we are now strangers to doubt
And now wether wrote in triumph or defeat
We throw our hands up in victory
This great nearer to me than the arteries in my neck
Than my heart beating
In my chest we are filled with the most gracious very breath
And finally you will kiss the truth just by kissing you
You will witness your love, loving you
And i will kiss the truth just by kissing me
I will witness my love loving me
We will kiss the truth just by kissing us
We will witness our love loving us in awe as loves descent from beneath us
Souls satisfaction, seven heavens await in atmosphere
change in change of atmosphere

2009 Changes Of Atmosphere (DWM / Fat Beats / PadBleM)
Changes Of Atmosphere EP ( Fat Beats )
Jazz Lib & Fat Lip - My Style Is Fly REMIX (KIF)

featuring Liza Garza:
A rare soul that brings in the best of spoken word & soul. A true Latina that represents her all encompassing culture with her Islamic devotion.

For more music & poetry:

Sunday, May 02, 2010


The old Afrofuturism site has been redone... and will apparently shift to a more blog-like format.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

the occasional free-associated afrofuturism roundup...

- One of these days I want to get reconnected to the poetry slam / spoken word scene out here and get back into the habit of writing. When I reflect on my older pieces I tend to view some of it as "Afrofuturistic" (whatever that means) but this summer I want to make the time to develop that more and flesh it out...

- Over at the Manrilla Blog, the post Nafs Ammarah points to some interesting connections between the film They Live and the lessons of the Quran. The post also alludes to some links between Terminator 2 and some events from the biography of Muhammad (saaws).

- Over at Post Black there is a nice interview: What is Afro-Futurism?: An interview with artist/education D. Denenge Akpem

- From the Liberator Magazine: Kodwo Eshun and Afro-futurism

- Above is a clip from the film "The Last Angel of History", an interesting documentary/surreal narrative on Afrofuturistic themes. Maybe by blogging I'm aspiring to be a "data thief"?

- The new Iron Man movie is coming out soon. I wonder how they are going to handle War Machine? Judging from the previews I've seen it seems like he is a fairly small part of the film but maybe I'll be surprised.

- Philosophical question: Is Morris Chestnut's character on the re-imagined V series Black? I mean, he's one of the reptilian Visitors so technically he's not even human but he experiences the world in a Black body. He is also a part of the subversive Fifth Column which has developed human emotions and is in solidarity with the human revolutionaries. I guess you could ask the same question about J'onn J'onzz (played by Phil Morris) or the occasional random "black" Kryptonian characters which have appeared on Smallville (see Vathlo Island). Come to think of, we could even ask the same about the unnamed title character of the film "The Brother From another Planet".

- And just for fun, a different take on Hermes Conrad from Futurama...