Tensions between keeping it street and enlightenment run deep. Prison woke me up

Big Cripp stood 6'2" with a dark caramel complexion, gangsta under his fingernails, and always strapped with the respect that comes from knocking n***as out, doing a murder bid, and surviving a murder attempt on his life. Cripp, who is also my cousin, sewed me into the fabric of a well-knitted crew, the All-Fam Team. Not only was I moving with a strong unit, but I finally had a plug that moved bricks of cocaine — as Nas said, this is a drug dealer’s destiny.

It was a few minutes after 8 a.m. in Jasper County, Mississippi. The sun was still rising, sitting just at the crowns of the oak, pecan and willow trees that populated the woods. The All-Fam Team lingered outside of Uncle’s home, a tidy white structure with brown trim. Uncle was “up the road” dropping off his baby daughter at a neighbor’s house. There were eight of us — a motley crew of blood brothers and cousins, and brothers through loyalty. The grass that we used as a driveway was more dirt than pasture. While waiting for Uncle to pull up, we leaned or sat on the hood of our cars, or sat on the driver’s seat with the door open, sitting sideways in the seat so our knees hung outside of the car. I was the youngest and newest member of the All-Fam Team, so I was reserved, listening for jewelry and hushed guidance from my drug-dealing mentors. …


Listening to Ice Cube sparked my interest in Black activists and issues, which my mentor then deepened and guided

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Raymond Boyd

Ice Cube’s “Lil Ass Gee’’ blasted from the factory stereo system inside Mr. Johnson’s black Honda Accord. I was a second grader at St. Vincent Children’s Center, a school that specializes in students with learning, behavioral, and psychological issues. Prior to St. Vincent Children’s Center, I was invisible to faculty at Columbus Public Schools. But Mr. Johnson saw me. Behind the bravado, and in his words, a “very quiet child,” he saw a Black boy who thirsted for knowledge, and was “searching for something.”

During lunch breaks at St. Vincent, Mr. Johnson would take me on excursions through the East Side of Columbus, Ohio. Before crack spots, heroin dens, and prostitution stained Main Street, Livingston and Mt. Vernon Avenues, East Columbus was the cultural hub of the city, similar to Harlem, Chicago’s Bronzeville, Tulsa’s Greenwood District or Miami’s Colored Town during the 1920s-30s. Throughout our outings, we would visit his parent’s restaurant, The Johnsons’. We’d stop at a local bookstore on Livingston Ave., or make a pit stop at the bank to cash his check. I didn’t know it then, but the intellectual exchanges during these rides are where my education — stuff that’s left after I forget everything that my teacher told me to remember — took place. …


In juvenile detention, I caught a glimpse of what funding programs aimed at helping at-risk kids instead could do

My tidy bedroom at 1784 Devonshire Road, on the northside of Columbus, Ohio, is where I learned the craft of creating Magic through my imagination. My bedroom was my ark, a planet within a universe of physical, verbal and emotional abuse that lodged inside my home. Upholding my imagination were a couple of books, and the stacks of King, XXL, Slam, and The Source magazines that were neatly stacked inside of my closet or sprawled across my bed.

I studied bylines just as much as I pored over the feature stories. When creating Magic inside my ark, I attached faces to the bylines. Inside my mind’s eye, me and my imaginary writer friends would bond over, and debate hip-hop and basketball. We traded cards and looked through Becketts together. I imagined flying to California to interview Nas, Jay Z, Scarface, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Omar Epps, among others. …


Portland’s mobilization against racism is rooted in history

Things moved to a boil in Portland, Ore., this weekend after three months of nightly protests, even in the face of police tear gas, federal agents and arrests. On Friday, President Trump tweeted about the city three times, deriding Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) as “very ungifted” and “incompetent” and threatening to “go in and take care of matters” if Wheeler did not get control of his city. …


For years, we’ve been taught that racism is rooted in ignorance and can be combated by education. That’s not exactly true. Racism was constructed by highly educated men, and used as a conduit to gain and sustain power, as well as financial gain. To truly address racism, (white) readers must move beyond just understanding how it operates, and come to terms with how racial disparity is built into the very foundations of the United States.

Highly respected race and history scholar Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist is one of the books that has been making rounds on coffee tables as of late. In Kendi’s most recent publication, the professor of race and international relations at American University pushes readers who claim not to be racist to become anti-racist — “people who support ideas and policies affirming that racial groups are equals,” despite their differences. Instead of exploring American’s racist behavior, Kendi examines his own racist practices, which is imperative to combating racism. With this, Kendi is being the change that he wants to see. While How to Be an Antiracist is an informative and necessary read, it is his National Book Award-winning, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America that deserves extra attention. If we want to uproot the current racist system, it’s mandatory that we understand how racism was constructed.


America is essentially a dream. On one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy. On the other hand we have sadly practiced the very antithesis of principles — Martin Luther King, Jr.

A cold summer is nigh. And Blacks are fed up with racial violence dished out by police. The fiery frustration seen through protests in recent weeks is reminiscent of the passion exercised by civil rights activist, Stokley Carmichael, he later changed his name to Kwame Ture to honor both president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré.

In 1966, Ture, with a loud, and intense voice asked an important question to a crowd of 600 supporters in Leflore, Mississippi. The ardent organizer asked demonstrators, “What do we want?” The protestors, who were in Leflore supporting James Meredith’s “March Against Fear,” yelled back: “Black Power.” …


An off duty police lieutenant shot and killed a 15-year-old negro boy in Yorkville yesterday when the youngster allegedly threatened him with a knife New York Times, July 17, 1964

The 1964 Harlem Riot was one of a number of race-based protests that took place in several cities across the United States during the 1960s. As elsewhere across the U.S., Blacks in Harlem Blacks reacted to racial discrimination, segregation, police brutality and social injustices that dominated their lives.

Ironically, the Harlem Riot occurred just two weeks after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. The act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and nationality, was the most sweeping measure ever adopted by the nation to guarantee racial justice. The irony lies in the fact that while the Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate against a U.S. citizen based on race or color, the discriminatory socioeconomic systems and structures long in place in the nation did not change with this new law. …


I swear to my Lord, I can see why Democracy means everybody but me — Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes. He was the inspiration behind Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, a leading voice of the Harlem Renaissance, a musical genius, a poet, and voice for social justice.

But it wasn’t always so great for the multi-talented Hughes. Throughout his career, Hughes was constantly harassed by the U.S. government for his alleged ties to communism.

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Yale University

But in places like Nigeria, France, and Cuba, devoted Hughes fans ran in packs, and they were the first recognize his promise and promise. In W. Jason Miller’s “Langston Hughes: Critical Lives,” he traces the beginnings of Hughes’ international stardom, and how it clashed with the hostility he faced back home. …


An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory — Friedrich Engels

Finding their wave during the late ‘60s, the Young Lords created some of the most forward-thinking analyses of the left’s weaknesses. They incorporated the then-budding feminist and gay rights movements into their political agenda. In addition to speaking out against racism, they offered a critique of the tension between darker-skinned mainland Puerto Ricans and the island’s lighter-skinned elites.

The Young Lords’ racial analysis of Latinx identity was discussed in public long before the topic became a focus in academic spaces with Latino studies. It was groups like the Young Lords that forced the creation of Puerto Rican, Latino, and ethnic studies departments in on campuses like City University of New York, and Columbia University. …


When in doubt, shoot. That’s how I look at — Stephon Marbury

The NBA class of 1996 was loaded with talent: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Jermaine Hall, Antoine Walker, and the point god, Stephon Marbury. Back then, Marbury and Allen Iverson’s unorthodox style of play in the NBA represented ghetto playgrounds across the world.

Marbury recently released his long-awaited documentary, A Kid from Coney Island. Like Marbury’s tatted frame when tattoos were not popular in the NBA, and his showy Brooklyn footwork on the court, the documentary is unorthodox in that is uses Claymation sequences, copied from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

About

darryl robertson

staff writer at vibe.com. contributor at salon. educated: columbia univ. bylines: XXL, Black Perspectives, Washington Post, among others blogs.

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