"A Man Was Lynched Yesterday" - Troy Davis Is His Name

>> Thursday, September 22, 2011

Despite increasing doubt of his guilty in a 1989 conviction for killing an off-duty Georgia police officer, Troy Anthony Davis was murdered by the State of Georgia on September 21 at 11:08 PM EST.

Prior to his state-sanctioned assassination, Troy addressed the family of Officer Mark Macphail.

"I'd like to address the MacPhail family. I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask...is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls."
Troy Davis

I am surprised that our brother was at peace. A peace with the Creator that a system cannot take.

I am not surprised this murderous system took his life. As William Jelani Cobb writes in "The Night They Killed Troy Davis, "Georgia's criminal justice system is a microcosm for the kind of racial disparities that plague the entire country. Blacks are 30.5% of the state's population but make up 61% of Georgia's prisoners."

And besides the false perceived correlation between Black skin and criminal pathology, like Tupac said, "They Don't Give a Fuck About Us." I get daily reminders of the lack of value placed of the life of Black men. Fortunately, I remember not to internalize these messages suggesting my life is worthless. I am Troy Davis.

The remnants of any "faith" in the American justice system has been lethally injected with disgust and a reminder of my ancestors sense of acknowledgment of its lack of legitimacy or credibility.

The only "comfort" I have is in reading Davis' last words to us all.
So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated.

I grew up supporting the death penalty. An "eye for an eye" was both the mentality of my Baptist upbringing. (And the title of one of my favorite RBL Posse albums). Before embracing Islam, I came to learn more about the disparities in sentencing in this nation.

Soon after, I was exposed to the anti-death penalty movement when Tookie Williams was scheduled to be executed. A few years later, I attended the second Stanley Tookie Williams Summit at Merritt College where I met Troy Davis sister, Kimberly. I was moved by her passionately pleas to save her innocent brother's life. But as she's pledged to keep fighting for others, I'm reminded of Troy's last message.
There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.

Meanwhile, Twitter appeared to censor the #troydavis hashtag, but later allowed #riptroydavis. A reminder of how technology can both can both connect us and be used to censor our movement.

And Mr. "High-Tech Lynching" himself, (in)Justice Clarence (Uncle) delivered the final blow when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Troy's appeal. And with Obama's continued silence, we must remember that a Black face in a high place does not equate to Black Empowerment.

The murder of Troy Davis, if he was innocent, is not justice for Officer Mark MacPhail. What sort of system do we have where law enforcement officers must work as security guards? What sort of system do we have where humans attack the less fortunate, like our homeless population. I commend MacPhail for seeking to protect the less fortunate. Too often, police only serve the interests of the powerful. I wish his family peace.

I have Georgia on my Mind, like Ray Charles. But unlike Ray, Lady Justice is not blind.

One-hundred and five years to the day after the Atlanta Race Riots, the long, murderous arm of the law continues to murder Black men.

A Man Was Lynched Yesterday. His name was Troy Davis. You will not be forgotten by me. Your assassination has made you a martyr in the movement for justice and abolition.And We Are All Troy Davis.

Letter from Troy Davis

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.

I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.

So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.

I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,


Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!


Tupac Shakur: 15 Songs, 15 Years Later

>> Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tupac Amaru Shakur was pronounced dead 15 years ago on September 13, 1996.

I still remember where I was when I found out he'd died: I was on the Encinal High football team's bus coming back from our game in Livermore. We'd lost. Riding the bus back in silent reflection, the first news we got from those waiting for us back in Alameda: Tupac died.

I hadn't been able to check out any Hip Hop websites like AllHipHop.com, HipHopDX or Davey D's Hip Hop corner all day. AllHipHop has an interesting series. "Triumphant Tragedy" discusses the range of views people have of 2pac, but how he's managed to stay in the news posthumously.

As I reflect on 2pac's legacy, I was just 14 years old when Tupac died. At the time, I could ask a girl, "Whatz ya phone #?" But wasn't ready to ask, "How do U Want it?"

Still, 2Pac's music was part of the soundtrack to my coming of age–through my chaotic teenage years through the first part of my twenties, and my later "Panther Power" driven desire for knowledge. The highs and the lows, my aspirations and failures; my complex contradictions and restrained resistance was captured by a man who died too early and was a voice for a generation.

He gave us all he was in his music, poetry, and later, film. Here are 15 2Pac songs. No particular order, just ones that come to mind.

  1. Dear Mama
  2. Panther Power
  3. Holla if you Hear Me
  4. Trapped
  5. Brenda's Got a Baby
  6. Wonder Why They Call You Bitch
  7. Blasphemy
  8. Pain
  9. So Many Tears
  10. White Manz World
  11. Me Against the World
  12. Keep Ya Head Up
  13. I Ain't Mad at You
  14. Never Call You Bitch Again
  15. R U Still Down?
By no means is this list exhaustive. It's only 15 of the MANY songs the brotha recorded for himself and us. I left out, "Smile," "Life Goes On," "Letter to my Unborn", "They Don't Give a Fuck About Us," and these are just some with social commentary. Plus, the titles make an interesting read.

Rest in Peace, 2pac. "Only God Can Judge Me."


Black, Muslim, American Post-9/11

>> Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later, as media outlets do their best to ensure the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are not forgotten, today is truly an opportunity for soul-searching as individuals, families, communities, nation-states and as lifeforms of Planet Earth.

First I wish to extend my condolences to all those who lost family and friends on 9/11. There is nothing I could ever say to fill such a loss. 9/11 was a horrible act of mass murder. Reading about the lives of those killed both saddens me, and brings inspiration as many were living amazing lives, and the families have found fascinating ways to preserve their memories. I can only imagine the feelings of pain, anger and anxiety you must feel. If any consolation, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

A month before 9/11, I'd traveled to New York. I spent most of my time in Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, but took the subway downtown to visit the Statue of Liberty. I didn't visit the Twin Towers, but I remember how they towered above the Manhattan skyline. Quite symbolic for the Empire State's capitol.

Video by Brian Bezalel.

At the time, I was working full-time at MetroOne Telecommunications' Alameda call center. I ended up being on court probation just days before, so I was no longer able to enter the Air Force as Pararescueman. I was quite upset and spent much of the night drinking and smoking with folks.

My friend Donnie called me and woke me up that morning around 8 a.m. "Yo, are you watching this?" he asked. "What you talking 'bout? I'm sleep." I respond. "Blood, turn on the TV." I turned on FOX.

Life hasn't been the same since.

Source: Rabbit's Fav Pictures

My television set showed the smoldering south Tower live. "What the f--- happened?" I asked. "This is off the hook. A plane like flew into the building." Soon after, another plane hit. And then the towers came tumbling down. Although what I saw was certainly frightening, I was never scared. Maybe being in California and not knowing anyone directly effected made it so surreal that it didn't hit me. It was only the aftermath that made it real.

Patriotism, before and after 9/11
Jamaican poet Mutabaruka, who walks the Earth barefooted, once joked, "I thank the Arab brothers, because before when I went to airport barefoot, dem security harass me. Now they let me go."

The same could be said for superficial race relations. On my August 2001 flight back from New York, I recall how a white woman–for no apparent reason–was so anxious to change seats and get away from me on my flight back to California. In fact, she sat between two fat ass dudes, all in the name of getting away from me. And this is not to mention the fear of the other woman on the flight to Chicago who also moved. To think, this was back when I was young, clean shaven and well-mannered (how times have changed).

But after 9/11, me–a Black 19-year-old high school dropout–was suddenly "American." I couldn't even get Financial Aid, but military recruiters would hound me.

In post-9/11 America, I recall the disparaging remarks towards Islam and Muslims. On my late 2001 flight to the South, I recall how a white man from Georgia pointed towards a Mexican, who "looked Arab," identifying him as "them." Me and him, on the otherhand, he said, were "Americans, and we have to stick together."

The sentiment of this contradiction I felt was best captured by J-Live in his song, "Satisfied."

J-Live "Satisfied"

The same devils that you used to love to hate
They got you so gassed and shook now, you scared to debate
The same ones that traded books for guns
Smuggled drugs for funds
And had fun lettin' off forty-one
But now it's all about NYPD caps
And Pentagon bumper stickers
But yo, you still a nigga
It ain't right them cops and them firemen died
The shit is real tragic, but it damn sure ain't magic
It won't make the brutality disappear
It won't pull equality from behind your ear

The hate that hate produced
As a Boston Globe columnist pointed out today, the legacy of 9/11 is American citizen's anger towards each other.

I remember hearing stories of harassment faced by Muslims in South Alameda County, where there's a large Afghan, Pakistan and Indian community in Fremont. My neighbors across the hall in the Buena Vistas were from Afghanistan. I can only imagine what they experienced.

I remember our Bay Area Congresswoman Barbara Lee boldly voting against Bush's use of force resolution. And the hate that was soon directed towards her.

"September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us," Lee said in a speech before the House. "Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States."

Post-9/11 treatment of Muslims

Having embraced Islam three years after 9/11, I have to wonder when I would have come to this path. Had so much misinformation about Islam not come out, I may not have sought more information. Nonetheless, with the experience of being "Black in America" way before CNN cared, I was prepared to be a Muslim in post 9/11 U.S.A. and to understand Islamophobia's roots as a tool of rich elites to fool the public.

Before 9/11, police would identify me as a BMA, a Black Male Adult. Now, I'm Black, Muslim and American (Black according to the social construct of race; Muslim by faith, and American by political citizenship). Ironically, each of these identities still feel mutually exclusive. Among Black Americans, us Muslims are just 1-2% (although a rising population). Among Muslim Americans, Black folks have a history unlike any immigrant group, and still deal with the lingering effects of white supremacy. And too often, this is perpetuated among those who purport to hold the banner of Islam.

Until I left America, I never felt I was "American." And with so many claiming to need to "take back their country," and the death and destruction taking place across the world in the name of Red, White and Blue, I have trouble identifying with that now. I struggle to reconcile this continued alienation, this "double-consciousness" while simultaneously with the need to destroy this system's destructive nature and rebuild a new just, equitable, ecological system that will perpetuate life.

"Somebody Blew Up America" by Amiri Baraka

The 9/11 attacks were the "chickens" Malcolm once referred to. "Our freedom" was under attack, but not by terrorists. The freedom we seek is constantly under attack by those who rule America and seek to enslave the world. The jasiri "real gangsters." Maybe I've watched one too many 9/11 Conspiracy Documentaries, but I can't help to believe that there were elites who were aware of what took place. I do not buy the official 9/11 narrative. What did Bush know? And what about the 9/11 War Games and trillions missing from the Pentagon that Cynthia McKinney later grilled Donald Rumsfield about? Was 9/11 an inside job? Surely someone knows 9/11 was the biggest lie every sold, but they ain't telling.

Ten years later, as some think they're saver with the death of Osama, as Mos Def rapped, "Bin Laden didn't blow up the projects." The "terrorists" attacked the World Trade Center, Pentagon, they didn't try to blow up the Buena Vista Apartments. Sadly, the mass murder that occurred on 9/11 was exceeded by the perpetual violence enacted against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and countless lost lives of America's youth fighting for American imperialism.

Immortal Technique "Bin Laden"

In closing, as a flood of thoughts and ideas race to my brain reflecting on 9/11 and the decade since, those like myself who are skeptical about the "official" story are not conspiracy theory nut cases. "I don't trust America, after watching Zeitgeist," Lupe Fiasco said.

I wish to simply express respect to those who saved and comforted and others on that day. I can only hope to be so brave when disaster strikes.

I also mourn the loss of rights in this "democracy" due to the PATRIOT Act and other President Bush-era policies that President Obama has embraced. And as a monument is erected to remember those loss, I pray we will recognize the millions of Afghanis, Iraqis who've died. And we should also recognize that it is the millions of Africans and indigenous "First Americans" whose graves America imperialism rose upon. Will we remember them?

The lives of those lost on 9/11 should not be used to wage war against humanity. Only in an Orwellian police state does endless war equal peace.

My message of September 11, 2011:
Seek, save and serve a higher level of humanity.


Fam Bam Party at Mosswood Park

>> Thursday, September 8, 2011


I was supposed to stay at home and finish the laundry, mop the kitchen, clean the bathroom, and all that other stuff. But what I look like working on Labor Day?

Actually, I started doing that stuff, but what had happened was, I got a text from Oakland poet Talia Taylor inviting me to "come party with myself and some of Oakland's finest at Mosswood Park." I was pretty sure Oakland's finest didn't mean the po-po, so when I got a call from another fine sista, I had to go.

And of course I brought my camera.

Kwame Ntoto dunks at Mosswood Park.

In the shadow of Kaiser, across from the old MacArthur Broadway (MB) Mall, the park was G-Rated shmopping (smacking and popping). After riding with the Hazmat Boys–who swooped me after I missed my bus–I stopped by the hoop courts. Last time I played hoop at Mosswood, Hook Mitchell was jumping over motorcycles.

A young woman dances in front of the DJ booth by the Mosswood basketball courts.

A BBQ and BBall contest organized by the sons of Kemba Shakur was going on. It was beautiful seeing all these young folks having fun–not to mention creating activities. It wasn't apart of the I am Oakland event, but that's my fam bam.

I headed over to the main area with my brotha from anotha, Trackademics. What I love most about this brotha is his humility. He's a dope artist with a slapping debut album, has produced beats from your favorite artists, and there's even a Wikipedia page about Trackademicks.

SLIDESHOW: Oakland Fam Bab Labor Day Get Down Photos

The Oakland Fam Bam Labor Day Get Down was really like a family reunion. It had the spirit of Oakland's Carijama, a defunct festival that took place at Mosswood park every May–prior to nigga nonsense, Oakland Police provocation, and (now Gov'na) Jerry Gentrification. But this time, the bicycle parking was Red, Bike and Green.

There was a jumper for the children (even though it was leaning like some grown folks were inside), food, dancing and live art.

Oakland artists Refa1 and Khufy were painting "Somalia" and "Unapologetically Black."

Artist and educator Karen Senefru gathers dirt to mix with sage that will be put inside a satchel for an upcoming art exhibit.

The dancing was my highlight. People danced to everything from Michael Jackson to Too $hort. And after the Electric Slide, my lil' brotha Essau set the dance circle off.

Essau Bilal dances before his many admirers.

After folks danced to the sounds of the DJ D-Sharp and Aabledee, among others, the drums took center stage. Folks were going to go watch "The Wiz" in the amphitheatre, but you can't just turn the drums off.

Jazmine Vassar leads the Samba impromptu ensemble at Mosswood Park.

Mosswood was transformed into the Malonga Center, as the sounds of samba vibrated to the top of the trees, into the dusk sky.

The video below created by Sasha Kelly of C-Proof features footage from the event and an interview with the event organizer, Travis Watts, of I-Am Oakland.


I am studying Swahili

Jambo watu! Habari gani? Mimi jina langu ni Reginald lakini mandugu mimi jina itwa Kaka Reggie.


Hello people! What's the news? (How are you?) My name is Reginald, but my comrades call me Brother Reggie.

I'm sure that wouldn't hold salt with Google Translator, but hey, I'm just starting.

UC Berkeley's Study Abroad Program has many options. And the Berkeley African American Studies Department wants students to participate. Sadly, just as we're underrepresented on the campus, we're not too often present when it comes to studying abroad.

I knew I wanted to–like Marcus Garvey–go 'back to Africa'. In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Kemet (see, Egypt) with Prof. Manu Ampim. I considered returning to Egypt, finally going to Ghana or Tanzania. Last spring, I applied and was accepted to study in Tanzania.

Map of Tanzania

I chose Tanzania for a few reasons. First, I've been interested in learning Swahili for as long as I can remember. My initial exposure to the language was either through The Lion King's "Hakuna Matata" or Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl." Later, I learned more Swahili vocabulary thanks to childhood Bay Area Kwanzaa celebrations. Words like Umoja (unity), Nia (purpose) and Imani (faith) gained special meaning.

During the Black Liberation Movement, many "culture nationalist" and others began studying Swahili. In fact, through my research on the Laney College Black Student Union history revealed that (a) members of the campus' Negro Culture Club studied Swahili, (b) students called for Swahili classes, and (c) the campus had a Swahili Club.

Finally, Oakland rapper Askari X's song, "Uhuru Sasa" and others include Swahili.

As a Political Science student, there are also political reasons. Starting with Mwalimu (teacher) Julius Nyerere. A few years ago, I was passed a few chapters of his concept, "Ujamaa." I was familiar with the word–pronounced oooh-ja-maah-ah–because it's a principle of Kwanzaa, known as cooperative economics. But ujamaa was his post-colonial treatise for the independent African nation. Another reason is because an ex-patriate community of North American Africans now reside there.

Nonetheless, as I prepare for a 2012 trip to Tanzania ... mimi nina soma Swahili. That means, "I am studying Swahili." I am thoroughly enjoying the class, taught by Prof. Sam Mchombo. I am confident that I will arrive at the University of Dar es Salaam, InshaAllah (Arabic for "God Willing"), speaking Swahili comfortably. As I learn more Swahili, and about the state of Tanzania, I will teach you more.

The video below is a Jambo song. It's a "folk song" that many use the lyrics to learn Swahili.

Asante! (Thanks!)


Welcome Black BBQ at UC Berkeley

>> Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Are you the only Black student in most/all of your classes at UC Berkeley? Well, in that way, like Michael Jackson sang, "You are not alone."

Fortunately, there are a few resources on campus to connect Black Cal students: like the Black Recruitment and Retention Center (BRRC).


On August 23, the BRRC hosted the "Welcome Black BBQ" on Memorial Glade. You may remember my previous blogs and Facebook rants about Memorial Glade (i.e. Parkour, Quiddich and weed smoke). This was different.

Although it was Ramadan, so I could not partake in the Watermelon festivities, it was a cool event. There was music, a jumper (aka "Bounce House") and a water balloon toss competition.


It was a beautiful day and a great opportunity to meet new people, and get reacquainted with others. I wasn't able to stay too long, but I got a few photos.


Chinatown Street Festival in Oakland

>> Monday, September 5, 2011

Full Circle Revue 1

What does Motown have in common with Chinatown in "the town?"


I past through Chinatown every day, so in some ways, I'm used to "the funk." But on Sunday, August 28, I was shocked at the sounds I heard penetrating the windows of my AC Transit bus. I hopped off the bus to find the Full Circle Revue on stage playing soulful hits, from Motown to P-Funk.

Bass player
Bass player with Full Circle Revue getting down in Chinatown.

Hot Stepper
OG getting down in Chinatown, to the funk.

Under the Sun
"Everybody got a little light, Under the Sun."

Besides those acts on the Popular Stage, there were plenty of vendors and other performances at the Chinatown Street Festival.

Hawaiian BBQ 2
Hawaiian BBQ on the grill

Blurred pinwheel
These pinwheels were very popular.

Music 2

This event always makes me want to study the Chinese language. Enjoy a slideshow of photos from the event.

Photos by Reginald James, courtesy of TheBlackHour.com.


Black Power Mixtape Screening in Oakland

Bobby Seale speaks

The mixtape, as Jared Ball says, is a form of emancipatory journalism. And as Black August came to a close last weekend, Oakland got a special glimpse of special mixtape.

The Black Power Mixtapes 1967-1975 features footage documenting the Black Power Movement by Swedish journalists that was "lost" for decades, found, then mixed with interviews from Danny Glover, Talib Kweli, and others by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker.

(See trailer of film below)

Panther books, posters
Above, Black Panther books and posters. Top, Bobby Seale speaks to crowd at Black Panther mixtape event.

Along with a sneak peek at the film, courtesy of Eastside Arts Alliance and Black Cinema at Large, those attending the Oakland screening of The Black Power Mixtape on August 28 got to see a few of those people documented in the film: live in person. The event featured a panel that included: Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale and former political prisoner and Oakland Community School Director Ericka Huggins. Speaking on the impact of the Black Panthers on HipHop was author, educator and poet Aya de Leon and community leader Greg Morozumi.

(Read Eric K. Arnold's event review on OaklandLocal.com.)

Aya de leon
Aya de Leon and Ericka Huggins reflect on "The Black Power Mixtape" film.

(View Slideshow on TheBlackHour.com Flickr)



Mama, I'm gone be famous! On the set of "Novo jogo"

>> Sunday, September 4, 2011

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to play a small role in the short film, "Novo Jogo." The film was written and directed by Kwesi Johnson and is being produced by CB Smith.

Johnson, of Wade Made Media, is a filmmaker focusing on the African Diaspora and he's studying film at the California Institute of the Arts.

(See Kwesi Johnson's Reel on Vimeo).

I was really excited to be involved in the production. First, I've wanted to do more acting since being encouraged by Michael Torres at Laney College, then getting further encouragement from the Black Theater community in the Bay Area. And I had my film debut in "Confined Thoughts" in 2009.

Here's a few photos from the set.

The film's star, Chee, playing Capoeira in Berkeley. I portrayed his father.

Secondly, I liked the plot and concept: the impact of Capoeira on a young man who has some serious family/domestic issues. Being blessed to have played at Malonga (then Alice Arts Center) with Carlos Aceituno while in high school – not as much as I needed – I know the impact African martial arts and spirituality.

On the set with Cat. Sadly, you may not see such beautiful smiles in the film.

Finally, I got to play the baby daddy of She Cat. She's a dope educator, organizer and poet/actress that I've met through the Oscar Grant Movement.

The Director Kwesi Wade Johnson and the Director of Photography Roy Wanguhu set up the camera mount for our car scene.

I appreciated the patience and direction of the director, and just the whole professionalism of the crew. After taking a beginning Media Production class at Laney College last fall, being on the set with folks who truly knew their craft, I was humbled to both be in their presence, but to be able to learn from them all.

When we watch films, we do not realize the amount of time and effort that goes into creating films. Even films with few people in them may have a long list of people involved in the production.

Regardless, I look forward to more opportunities to improve my theatrical skills. And, of course, I can't wait to see the final production. Until then, here are some photos from the set.

All photos by C.B. Smith.

Top photo: Me, center, smashing on my B.M., Cat, while the director Kwesi looks on.


  © Blogger template Webnolia by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP