Monday, December 25, 2006

R.I.P. James Brown

It was rather immature of me, but since I was about seven or eight years old, most things were rather not mature of me, so immature may not be the correct word. I’ll always remember getting a particular sense of pride in knowing that many of the other kids on my block didn’t have a song like “Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” that they could sing along to. Surely, most of Puerto Rican, Dominican and South and Central American neighbors had their own cultural anthems in Spanish that I was not privy to, which actually made James Brown’s classic an even more powerful statement for me because everyone I knew understood the lyrics. You had to be Black, and Proud, to sing “Say it Loud,” and once I was introduced to the 1968 classic, I was to the umpteenth degree.

One particular memory of that song was when a group of friends and I were hanging around in the old parking lot behind what was then May’s department store in Jamaica Queens. There were about eight or nine of us and we had just finished one of our makeshift baseball games in the lot. As we stood there listening to the broadcast from either New Yorks 98.7 kissfm, or 107.5 WBLS, “Say it Loud,” came on and as I was wont to do, I started singing along, dropping in the refrain every time it was proclaimed. One of my friends started laughing at me—he was actually one of my tormentors—always poking fun at me for everything that seemed to be flaws in his image. He was two years older and like me he was overweight and wore glasses, that unlike me, he had to repeatedly re-orient back to the bridge of his nose. His constant adjusting of his glasses made them a more prominent feature on his face, than mine on mine, which probably explains why he felt incumbent to always call me four eyes.

Well on this day Sam figured that I again would be an easy target because I was the only one to have stepped off the railing and doing a two-step as I sang along to “Say it Loud.” The dirt specs from the rubber baseball that we used were whisking off my hands as I clapped them together. My other friends remained perched on the railing nodding their heads. Jesus dribbled the baseball on the pavement to the beat of the song, while Javier matched his pace by pounding the bat head along the same ground. When Sam pushed off the railing where he had been leaning and trying to mimic me started singing, “Say it loud, I’m white and I’m proud,” we all stopped what we were doing and turned our attention to him. As he laughed at his own antics, we tried making sense of his delirium taking place in the foothold of the sun. We would’ve had our heads cocked and looking at him cockeyed just for playing the fool, but that he was doing his trick in directly in the path of the sun made our squinting all the more pronounced.

I’ll never forget our friend Christian looking at Sam and saying with the utmost disdain, “what the f..k are you doing? You ain’t white! Sit your fat ass down.”

Sam tried explaining his dance, that he was just mimicking, that he was just…but no one was listening. James Brown was on and while they were willing to permit my offbeat singing and dancing, the crew was not willing to condone Sam’s blasphemy.

When I awoke this morning to the news that James Brown had died I immediately returned to that scene and countless other moments like that one in the particular where Brown’s music was a permanent fixture to post baseball game sessions. As we were being reared by hip-hop, with occasional visits by our pop aunts and uncles, our “godfather of soul” stood out the most. He was the only one from his generation who when one of his songs came on the radio, the dialed stayed in place. His most popular recordings may have been practically thirty years old by the time we were listening to them in the mid-eighties, but they felt as if they had just dropped the week before.

Brown’s recordings had not only reached the legendary stature of being timeless, but they were also timely, arriving at just the exact moment to help another generation deal with the complex issues of rhythm and identity.

I have a feeling that now that now that he has passed on Mr. Brown will be in peace, but not resting. He’s probably already speaking with Mozart about a song that he’s always wanted to do with him. And if you listen very closely to the heavens and to your soul, you will be able to hear it any day now.

The Nightshift Chronicler

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Melo, My Man

The NBA just handed down the suspensions from Saturday night’s brawl. Carmelo Anthony, currently the league’s leading scorer and a contender for most valuable player received the harshest penalty, a 15-game suspension. Knicks guard Nate Robinson and Nuggets guard J.R. Smith garnered 10-game suspensions for their role in the melee and Knicks guard Mardy Collins was hit with a 6-game ban from the court.

I believe the player suspensions were fair. Although, while he threw and landed a punch, I thought Anthony deserved a suspension more in line with what Robinson and Smith received.

What upsets me however is the fact that neither coach was suspended for their role in their fracas. Broadcasters and talk-radio hosts have been comparing the Knicks and Nuggets spat at the garden to the fight that erupted at the Palace at Auburn Hills toward the end of a Pistons and Pacers match two years ago, but Saturday nights events were dramatically different. Yes there was a fight that trickled into the stands, but the comparisons between the two ends there. The Pistons and Pacers were bitter division rivals and the Pacers were the lead challengers to the Pistons throne. In Ben Wallace and Ron Artest the principal protagonists in that fight, you had two of the most aggressive and equally petulant players in the league, therefore making it almost inevitable that as long as these two players continued battling against each other on the court, there was going to be a confrontation sooner or later.

At the same time, you also had two organizations and coaches that had a considerable amount of respect for each other. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle may have been bitter at his dismissal at the hands of Joe Dumars, but he, Larry Brown, Larry Bird and Dumars did not over-hype their falling out. If they did it would be an affront to the hard-working residents of Michigan and Indiana who have been coping with layoffs and firings for the last twenty years without nearly as lucrative back-up plans as Carlisle found in the Pacers. In short, you can not blame the coaches for this battle.

In the Knicks and Nuggets battle however, George Karl and Isaiah Thomas deserve to shoulder part of the blame and punishment for their role in instigating the fight. Karl and the rest of his North Carolina Tar Heel brethren/Larry Brown acolytes need to get over the fact that Brown was fired. Making snide comments in the press and trying to elicit sympathy for Brown is absurd, a fact that Phil Jackson pointed out last month when he called Greg Popovich for advocating for Brown, but none of the other coaches who have faced “unfair” dismissals. Beating the Knicks by sixty will not avenge Larry Brown, and if Marcus Camby were to have gotten injured as he’s wont to do, or worse Anthony, during the closing minutes of that fourth quarter, Karl’s pettiness could have cost his team even more.

Secondly, Isaiah Thomas needs to reel in his players. Thomas is one of the thirty greatest players in the history of his sport and he should realize the difference between players who talk a great game and those who play one. Right now he has a slew of players who talk much better than they produce. His guards are particularly guilty as they each are trying to carry on the legacy of their esteemed coach, but in media laden New York brimming with fans ready to throw any athlete under the bus regardless of how great he is (e.g. Patrick Ewing, Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodriguez) sometimes it’s best to speak softly and play hard and let your performance dictate your legacy (e.g. Derek Jeter and Charles Oakley).

Right now it’s all speculation whether or not Thomas instructed his players to commit hard-fouls on Nuggets players going to the basket, but as more evidence is presented, it’s becoming easier to believe that if he did not do it explicitly, it was conveyed implicitly. Knocking out someone at the end of a game should not be seen as a display of pride, but rather a brazen disregard for the mission at hand, play good basketball, win games, and in the event you lose, learn from your mistakes.

The Nightshift Chronicler

Monday, December 11, 2006

Romantic Call

When this video came on, the first thing that came to mind was do these NBA cats know that they have the same fashion taste as Patra? Okay, I know many players who wear these arm sleeves first worn by AI, then female rapper Eve, probably do have some kind of elbow pain. All the exercises that they go through during the course of the year are bound to put enough strain on their elbows that they develop some kind of tendinitis. I'm not sure about some of the cats on college and in high school rocking these things though....

Anyways, the elbow sleeve was not the only discovery in this video. Little did I know/remember that the legendary 2pac had a cameo in this joint. I'm always a 50/50 cat on Pac, but I do remember enjoying his music and work when he was not involved in the east vs west fiasco.

As I continue longing for a few of those good ol' southern california days, the sight of Pac, Yo-Yo and Patra driving around, makes me nostalgic for not only the city of angels, but being young and having fun in the early 90s.

And while I'm at it, peace out to Jamaica High School class of '94 and everyone else who was getting down to Patra, Shabba and Mad Cobra back in the day.

The Nightshift Chronicler

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Ain't Sayin' Nothin'

But I bet that this dolphin would be better than half the cats out right now

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

They Shootin' 3: Expendable Black People Zones

As the fallout over the Sean Bell continues the usual jockeying over who's more "innocent" is ratcheting up in the New York media. The police officers claim that they were "justified" in shooting, which is another way of saying that they are innocent of the accusations being leveled against them. On the other side, the survivors Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield have the lack of a gun and their bullet-riddled car as proof of their own innocence. The police attorneys remained adamant that there was a fourth shooter, who miraculously has yet to appear. Along with taking needed attention from the two men lying in their hospital beds, this defiant search for the fourth shooter, presumably the lone guilty party in this case, this quest takes away from the most glaring issue: If the undercover officers were in the club investigating accusations of drug dealing and prostitution, why did they follow the non-drug carrying or prostitute bearing trio of Bell, Benefield and Guzman out of the club?

Wouldn't wielding all of their might on these three jeopardize their entire investigation?

Just a thought.

Remaining on this question of guilt and innocence for a few more moments, NYTimes Columnist Bob Herbert produced this opinion piece on the December 4th narrating another incident in which a group of young people were intimidated by undercover officers. Except this time there was no shooting and the multi-racial group of Ivy-League graduates, one bound for Harvard Law. Herbert's piece is entitled "Presumed Guilty" as in the two black men were presumed guilty of stealing the car in which they were sitting. However, as it turns out this article might have been well served being titled 'very lucky':

It turned out that the cops were acting on a mistaken computer report that Mr.
Rowley’s car was stolen. As frightening as the incident was, the four people in the car were
lucky that none of the cops opened fire. “I spent that night in jail,” said Mr. Rowley, “and
a lot of the officers told me that if this had been elsewhere — for example, if this had been
in the Bronx or Harlem — I’d have been dead.”

The quote comes from one of the victims pounced upon by the officers in front of the Union Square train station at 14th street in NY's Village.

I was alarmed (definitely not surprised) to hear the declaration "if this has been in the Bronx or Harlem — I’d have been dead.”

Are we all ready to agree that Black people living in certain sections of New York city are expendable? We know about the health concerns of living in communities without adequate grocery stores, and chemical plants that increases one's chances of asthma and lead poisoning. Should we just go ahead and list certain districts as EBPZs (Expendable Black People Zones)? Maybe come up with traffice signs, better yet, tolls to iterate that you are entering a EBPZ at your own risk.

For most of the twentieth century African Americans knew that we had to alter our behavior if we traveled through the South, the original EBPZ. The murder of Emmett Till brought these horrors to the fore of the nation's consciousness and those working in the Civil Rights Movemements of the 50s, 60s, and 70s did their best to eradicate as many of these EBPZs as possible. It appears now that we are now at the tipping point, either there's going to be a new proliferation of EBPZ as African Americans are gentrified out of the prime spaces in major cities and segregated into new/old ghettos--or and I hope this happens, that some serious changes occur and we never hear these words again "if this has been in the Bronx or Harlem — I’d have been dead.”

This would have to be a national programme, because as the case of Brandon Burks, the 16year old Michigan teen shot and killed on Sunday November 26th, this phenomena extends well beyond New York. Burks's case also involved a plainclothes police officer, this time one moonlighting as a security guard.

One might say that it's a tragic coincidence that Bell and Burk's deaths took place on the same weekend, but the facility with which African Americans have been able to avail testimonies of similar incidents suggests that these deaths go far beyond coincidence.

Police officers as a whole should not be unjustly indicted for the actions of a few.

Instead, what we need is a very frank national discussion about policing before the American nightmare of totalitarian regimes really take shape. The fact that so many African Americans in particular, and young people in general can easily rattle off incidents of harassment at the hands of police officers suggests that too many Americans are forced to vascillate between fearing officers and having to rely on them, neither of which is conducive to effective police work.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

They Shootin' 2: Legend of Bronco Blanco

I'm still thinking about the murder of Sean Bell. It's eery listening to people in New York talk about the death and rattle off the litany of names, Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart, two of the many that proceeded the most famous prior to Bell's, Amadou Diallo.

It was also this week, that I received a link to this article by John Ridley appearing in Esquire, where Ridley announces "So I say this: It's time for ascended blacks to wish niggers good luck." Ridley's article essay homes in on two events in 2001, one which he believes did not deserve the backing and attention it received by African-Americans, the death of Cincinnati's Timothy Thomas at the hands of office Steven Roach. The other event, the immense power wielded by Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell during that same year, of course climaxing with the events surrounding September 11th and its aftermath.

I would agree with Ridley that Rice and Powell do not get enough credit for their impressive professional accomplishments. I have long argued that Rice is an intriguing example of the post-Civil Rights story because her accomplishments have been superb, but her politics have been surprisingly anti-thetical to those traditionally associated with the movement. Rather than banish her, I think her presence calls for more examination of Black conservatism in the 60's.

However, it should also be noted that Powell participated in two of the most unpopular or at least controversial, and longest lasting wars in this nation's history, Vietnam, and the fifteen year's war in the Middle East. High ranking chiefs, Black or White in either of these wars, have managed to ascend to the status of their predecessors in WWI and WWII. But I digress....

Reading Ridley's article in light of the Bell incident, brought up a question, do we remember a wealthy or upper middle-class Black person being murdered by Police?

There are testimonies by figures like Danny Glover and their bouts with racial profiling, but can someone recall when one of these random, unjust, police shootings involved a relatively affluent African-American. I can't.

Some are reading this and saying a "Black person dead is a Black person dead," and that's true, but I would hope that we all could agree that class does matter. I'm not going to accept any arguments that rich Black folks stay above the fray that has to the death of our less affluent brothers and sisters, because if the police shootings are as random and inexpicably racist as we'd like to believe, then surely the cops aren't thinking, "That's Bob James, CEO of James Inc."

There's another reason that I bring this up. The Bell incident occured on the eve of the failed OJ Simpson interview and book release where he goes through a "hypothetical" reenactment of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Correct me if I am wrong, but when Simpson interrupted broadcasts of the '94 NBA finals and my friends were set to watch him and Al Cowlings escorted by police through LA, weren't they driving in a car? If I remember correctly, it was a big white Bronco wasn't it? I could be mistaken.

Oddly enough, the deadly weapon that Bell and his friends were wielding was a car. Just yesterday a police lawyer was on the air saying that the authors were justified in shooting because there was a weapon involved, "a car." A Nissan Altima to be exact.

No one should deny the fact that the officers involved in the Bell shooting believed there life was in danger when that car was put in gear. That said, we also recognize that shooting to impede the car also implies shooting to stop the passengers.

Of course it's coincidence that Bell would dovetail behind Simpson in the national headlines, random even, but no less random then the fates of these two men when they tried driving off.

Now if Ridley wants to argue that "It's time for ascended blacks to wish niggers good luck," then I hope that he realizes that he's at least a decade late in offering his greetings.

The Nightshift Chronicler

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

They Shootin'

This past weekend on Saturday November 25th NY resident Sean Bell was murdered by undercover officers. The officers were allegedly investigating a Jamaica Queens strip club for prostitution and drug trafficking, when allegedly mr. Bell and his friends who were attending his bachelor party became involved in a dispute at the club. Along with Mr. Bell, two of his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were also shot, but they have survived.

The number of bullets belted out in this shooting have evoked comparisons to the 1999 Amadou Diallo incident in which the Liberian born immigrant was shot 41 times by New York police officers as he reached for his wallet. This incident also bears a strong resemblance to the Patrick Dorismond murder of 2000 where the Haitian immigrant was murdered outside a manhattan club after a scuffle with undercover officers who tried selling him drugs.

Sean Bell's murder has brought the spotlight back on to the NYPD and the tactics employed by their undercover officers. On Sunday Al Sharpton led a march through Jamaica, Queens. The resistance struggle does not end there however, and as another series of events planned for this week attest, while all violent encounters involving police officers do not end with death like Mr. Bell's murder, they are not as rare as many people believe.

If you want to have your voice heard, there are two events taking place today in Manhattan in which you can participate:

Public Hearing on Police Brutality at 4pm
mburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801

at 6:30pm
The Audre Lorde Project, a LGBTST People of Color Center for Community Organizing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2006
Communities of Color and Social Justice Activists mobilize for Picket Line &
Press Conference outside 6th Precinct Wednesday, Nov 29th 6:30pm – 7:30pm
(233 West 10th Street)
Media Contacts:
Dustin Langley 646-354-8056 or
Imani Henry 646-342-9673,

Monday, November 20, 2006

I Shouldn't Have Left You

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without a dope [post] to step to.....

It's definitely been a minute since I did this job and I feel that I may be a bit out of practice. So please excuse me the next few days/weeks as I try getting the skills back (that's for those of you who think I have skills in the first place.)

Fortunately, two of my favorite bloggers Gary Dauphin and JB have been banging out some jewels, and I know that those of you reading from the ATL have checked out my homie Mike Molina's work. If not, please get up on it...

As for what's been keeping me away, the usual, the church and the book. The job and the book. The friends and the book. But as you could tell mostly the book. We're making good progress, it's back in production, getting typeset as I type, so pray for me that it drops on May 8, 2007 as expected.

Man since I've been away the Democrats took back control of the house and senate, and just like keeping with the 1994 retro theme of this year's midterm elections, OJ came out of the woodworks to offer a hypothetical confession. There's surely a French Philosopher out there ready to explain this OJ confession to us, so si'l vous plait hurry up and write that book so we could understand what a hypothetical confession says about the soul/nature of the American psyche/condition in this day and age.

Speaking of French Philosophers I joined the blog roll at MadMaestroNews, check out my first post over for them that I put up today if you get a chance. Okay, they're not french philosophers, they're a hip hop production collective, but these days hip hop producers might as well be french philosophers. You'll get that one later tonight when you turn on 106 and Park or whatever the hip hop show on MTV2 is called.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a belated moment of silence for Gerald Levert and Ruth Brown...

May you both rest in peace.

Till next time,

The Nightshift Chronicler

Monday, October 02, 2006

Underside of Black Income Gains in Queens

I know something is serious when my brother forwards me an article about it, which is the case with the article from Sunday’s New York Times discussing how Queens has become the first county in the country where Blacks have a higher median income than Whites have. On the surface, this article appears fairly innocent and the statistical information that it offers is relatively tame. However, once the author begins delving into possible explanations for this phenomenon the article becomes unsettling.

One of the reasons given for the shift in median incomes is the increase in West Indian and other Afro-immigrant populations into Queens. Implied is that these immigrants bring in a better work ethic and a more determined effort to overcoming the obstacles that have impeded the progress of African-Americans. What this line of argument always fails to consider however, is that West Indians and natives of other parts of the African Diaspora have always been present in the United States. There have been waves of immigration from the Caribbean and Africa for well over two hundred years. In the twentieth-century these waves of immigration have also been concurrent with African-American migrations in and out of this country.

For example, while the wave of immigrants from the Caribbean in the mid to late 1970s may have firmly entrenched themselves in neighborhoods like Laurelton, Cambria Heights and Rosedale, many African-Americans of the same age have now repatriated to southern states like Georgia, North and South Carolina, where they can get more for their dollars. There are also those Caribbean immigrants who have left Queens for the warmer climes of Florida. Thus, many of the homes who the people in Roberts’ article are proudly proclaiming have increased three times in value have also undoubtedly paid for homes three-times their size in other parts of this country.

As a person who grew up in the area discussed in this article, I also found the piece troubling because while the residents and scholars are quick to tout the income achievements, no one is discussing that the public schools, particularly at the high school level in these districts have suffered considerably during the last fifteen years. Three of the main high schools in charge of preparing students from these districts for college, Jamaica, Hillcrest and Thomas Edison, have had to overcome massive cutbacks to academic and extra-curricular programs as the white residents of these residents gave way to African-American, and now as African-American residents give way to Caribbean, African, South-Asian, and South-and-Central-American immigrants. In addition, with the passage of the Immigrant Reform and Responsibility Act in 1996, navigating the legal process has become increasingly precarious for immigrants who face expulsion from this country for minor offenses. It’s great to have a home triple in value, but what is that really worth when you’re stuck between dealing with a public education that fails to serve your children at an alarming rate, and a prison system that appears much to eager for their presence.

Therefore, when placed in this dour context the gains that this article suggests have been made by Blacks in Queens are arguably yet another pyrrhic victory.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mehret: A Documentary

I just found out about a fundraiser for this documentary taking place tonigh and encourage everyone to attend....Click here or on the title of this post for more info on the documentary.

There'll be an open bar from 7:30 - 8:30 and two screenings. The first is at 8:30pm and the second is at 10pm. Location is Southpaw 125 5th Avenue Park Slope. Complimentary Ethiopian Cuisine Provided by Queen of Sheba Restaurant.

Donations are 10 in advance and 15 at the door.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I have returned from Haiti and there’s much to report from the trip. However, because of my manuscript’s deadline and the beginning of the academic year I’ll have to keep my comments brief. So here goes…

Digicel in Haiti

On June 19th blogger Alice B from kiskeyAcity posted an entry about “Jamaica based telecom” giant Digicel’s arrival in Haiti in May. As I sat in the back seat of my uncle’s pickup on the ride from the airport and saw hordes of Digicel ads on billboards my mind ventured back to Alice’s post. My uncle, a Haiti-Tel subscriber, and DadVoila, a Comcel-Voila subscriber, thought that Digicel’s presence was tame and seemed to agree with the many of the respondents to Alice’s blog entry.

Imagine my surprise then when I arrive at my grandfather’s homestead and see a Digicel antenna staring back at me as I stood on my aunt’s balcony. There is also a Comcel-Voila antenna within range, but the Digicel antenna seemed towered over it. In a country that to my knowledge doesn’t have any skyscrapers to speak of, cell phone antennas are beginning to take that role and altering the visual landscape of the island. These enormous caterpillars are now obstructing breathtaking views of the mountains and downtown Petion Ville. These antennas are a small price to pay for more jobs and a competitive phone market where consumers benefit, at least in the interim.

Ironically enough, my little cousin who had a Digicel phone experienced the most phone troubles during the course of my trip. There were numerous times where he had to roam around his house and or my grandfather’s courtyard in search of a signal. I do not know whether his experiences are emblematic of other Digicel users’ experiences, but I could not help chuckling at the sight of him walking around the house staring intently at his phone and gritting his teeth for the appearance of more bars on his mobile, meanwhile his carrier’s antenna was less than half a mile away. C’est une comedie…

We need more people/We need better coverage

Throughout the trip, my aunts and uncles kept on reiterating that when I get back I tell my family members in the states that Haiti is not as nightmarish, or rather to use their word, “[as] diabolique,” as they think. They pleaded with me to encourage the other folks in my family to start reciprocating with the visits and to suspend with the horror stories about the country that are going to keep my younger cousins living in the states from ever developing a relationship with the island. I will elaborate more on these conversations later, but it is understood that they were rather thought provoking.

Along the same lines, one night while watching Tele-Ginen, a Haitian news broadcast, a reporter was talking with a man from Cite Soleil. During their conversation the Cite Soleil resident praised the reporter/Tele-Ginen for being the lone station courageous enough to come into Cite Soleil to see how things really are, rather than just churning out dreadful tales about the district without ever stepping foot. I could neither verify nor dispute the man’s praises for Tele-Ginen, but I did find his comments to be emblematic of the concerns of most Haitian residents about how the island is being represented.

Lighter Notes

Note 1: Never Do It Again

One of my aunts told me that I let the airline take advantage of me by not bringing more luggage/cargo into the country. Her comments made me rethink my decision to travel light, and I was struck with a moments worth of guilt for not bringing gifts for everyone. “What did it matter that my parents had just arrived here with a barrel of provisions and who knows how many suitcases,” I thought to myself, “I could’ve still brought more.” Then she cut me a look and as to reinforce her point, “never let them do that to you again,” and my guilt quickly subsided, “oui ma’tante” I will never let the airlines take advantage of me by traveling light again.

Note 2: I Rest my Case

Regular readers of this blog know about my ongoing dispute with fellow Haitian blogger The Haitian Eclectic over the Shakira and Wyclef song “Hips Don’t Lie.” I think it ranks right up there with peanut butter as great contributions, but The Haitian Eclectic doesn’t have much of a taste for it. Well, on my last night in Haiti, I was watching videos with my youngest cousin Saradia when “Hips Don’t Lie” came on. She asked me if I like the song/Wyclef and I proudly said “yes.” Saradia then announced her own adoration for this song, punctuating her comments with, “I don’t know how anyone cannot like this song, or anything that has Shakira and Wyclef in it.”

Until next time,

The Nightshift Chronicler

Monday, August 21, 2006

Press Release: Haitian History Made Tuesday August 22, 2006

Press Release: Haitian History Made Tuesday August 22, 2006

Tuesday August 22nd 2006 marks a momentous occasion in Haitian History as Ferentz Lafargue attempts to become the first Haitian ever to travel to Haiti with one bag, a carry-on at that. American Airlines, the Haitian Embassy in New York and Miami have called a press conference to mark this important event. Wyclef Jean will be on hand at the press conference to perform a reggaeton song recorded specifically for this occasion called “One Bag.” Talks are underway for a stamp featuring either Mr. Lafargue and his bag, or just the bag itself.

If successful, Mr. Lafargue will complete the feat first attempted by Jean-Jean Jean-Michel in 1976 when he tried traveling from New York to Haiti with a single bag only to be guilted by a ti-gran into adding one of her bags to his luggage after she had gone over the weight limit with her baggage.

As Marie-Lourdes Pierre-Jeannot, Haitian Ambassador to the United States said in a pre-released statement, “Mr. Lafargue’s one bag passage to Haiti ranks right up there with Garcelle Beauvais debut on the venerable Jamie Foxx show. It’s a day that Haitians every where will remember fondly.”

Additional reporting provided by The Nightshift Chronicler

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Click - Send - Kenbe La (3x)

As I prepare for my first trip to Haiti in five years, I’m already being reminded of one of the predicaments that technological disparities between my relatives in Haiti and my family in the States. Usually, whenever I’m in Haiti I take a slew of pictures. Then upon my return to the US, I develop these pictures. More often than not copies of these pictures make their way back to my relatives in Haiti. Sometimes a relative or friend traveling there brings them back, and other times, usually after much delay, I’ll walk them over to post office and mail them myself. This all sounds fairly simple and quaintly 20th century.

In fact it is very simple and very 20th century. No one has ever complained, even when once it took me a year to mail back the pictures. After a conversation with a friend last night I realized this year I might have a larger problem than my swift as molasses approach to the mailbox. Since I’m now the owner of a snazzy new digital camera that enables me to instantly see my picture taking follies, I no longer have to wait to see how my photos came out. I’m also able to prop said digital captures on flickr, kodakgallery, shutterfly or a host of other sites so my trendy friends can take a gander. This is all good when I’m lampin’ in the bay or making my way through various NY functions, but what good does this techno leap forward on my part do for my little cousins or aunts in Haiti who only care to see how they look.

The cousins who are in their teens/early twenties have access to the net at school and will spend an occasional afternoon in an internet café googling their crazy cousin in the US who’s supposedly writing a book.

Wait, just burn a cd and send them the pictures on disk you say? That would work except for the fact that there’s not a home computer to be found in the house.

I’d send down a laptop, but I’d actually have to send down for sets to make it clear that I’m not playing favorites…so we can scratch that idea as well.

Oh wait. Don’t worry your hearts. Don’t rush and take pity on my poor beleaguered Haitian clan because we’re neither poor—on occasion beleaguered—but that too soon passes. Please do not attempt to do anything in Haiti that you have yet felt moved to do in many of this nation’s ramshackle communities.

My problem, if it can be categorized as such, is that after my trip I’ll still have to walk over to the post office and mail out those pictures. I’ll have to take more than five seconds of my time to think about my loved one. I’ll have to sacrifice a few less than sterling photos to save a few cents on shipping, and to spare my aunt of curling her lips when she gets an unflattering shot of either herself or one of her children.

I guess it really ain’t a problem at all that in my otherwise click and send world, I am still blessed with opportunities to think, move slowly and write and sign an occasional note with kenbe la.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Brownsville Film Festival

As always, if you're in BK, come check out another one of the borough's gems.

Monday, August 14, 2006

You Give Me Fever

When Peggy Lee sang "You Give Me Fever" I don't think she was being literal. However, after my experience at Brooklyn's Bi-Monthly House Party in Fort Green Park yesterday, maybe Ms. Lee knew something about the power of music that the rest of us don't. After taking a few spins in the dance meadow last night I came home feeling an on rush of chills.

At first I thought it was the byproduct of the headache from earlier in the evening, itself the result of minor dehydration. When I awoke this morning to find both the headache and the chills still there, I ventured it was only a sign of fatigue. But when I couldn't stay awake for most of the morning, I finally went to the medicine cabinet--brought out the thermometer and there it was a fever....

Did Soul Summit give me the fever? I don't really know. Indeed I was captivated by the records being spun. It was good to feel my body move in ways that it had not moved in months, reminding me that sometimes it has a life of its own, its own impulses, its own ways of expression.

Did Soul Summit give me the fever? I don't really know. I didn't get too close to any of the beautiful Brooklyn people in attendance. Each sweaty body seemed to find their own patch to glean. Many more bodies stayed un-sweaty, choosing instead to cruise the meadow with their natural-hair-niggerati-fedora wearing-peasant skirt sauntering sheen that they'd rather not upset unless the right person came along.

Did Soul Summit give me the fever? I don't really know. I didn't get a chance to hear my favorite house-joint Aly-Us' "Follow Me," or Keith Thompson's "Living on the Frontline." These are my two favorite house songs each reminding me of fairer place in time. "Follow me" takes me back to my old Jamaica Queens haunts, and "Living on the Frontline" takes me back to that night in Oakland in May 2003 when everything seemed to be just right, after just recently having been so wrong.

Did Soul Summit give me the fever? That I really don't know. All that I know is that I'm laid out in my apartment, swigging Tropicana Oj as if its my last chance at redemption. There's no music ringing in my ears---just a body spent from moving to its own beat.

The Nightshift Chronicler.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Keep This Nigger-Boy Running"

Many people have been writing of late when former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett’s downward spiral began. Tony Kornheiser, co-host of the popular ESPN program Pardon The Interruption recently offered up the theory that Clarett’s downfall can be tied to the ascent of Lebron James. Kornheiser contends that Clarett must have gotten jealous of all the attention being lavished upon his fellow Ohio prep-school phenom. Unlike James, Kornheiser points out, Clarett did not have the NBA waiting for him after graduating from high school. Instead, he’d have to toil as a “amateur” athlete in college football, he’d have to wait three years for his big payday.

We all know how impatient young people, so three years must have felt like an eternity for Clarett. That eternity surely seemed longer when in the second game against Washington State during his lone season at Ohio State Clarett hurt his knee, forcing him to sit out his next game against Cincinnati. He’d miss another two games after injuring his shoulder in the Wisconsin tilt, an injury that forced him to sit out part of two others. These injuries were on top of the ones he suffered while playing at Ohio’s Harding High school, all of which combined must have exacerbated Clarett’s anxieties that his chances at scoring it big with an NFL payday are fleeting.

I have always thought however that it was not any of Clarett’s injuries that really led to him making a tragic series of decisions after launching a legitimate contest to the NFL’s policy that players under the age of 20, or whose high school classes have not completed two years of NCAA football can not be drafted. Clarett like anyone else watching the ACL tear that Miami tailback Willis McGahee suffered during that game undoubtedly shook 2003’s Fiesta Bowl between Miami and Ohio State. Many initially thought that McGahee’s injury was going to severely damage his NFL prospects and all but guaranteed that he would not be drafted in the first round of that April’s draft. In one fell swoop, all of McGahee’s college accomplishments seemed to have been nullified by an injury that jeopardized his professional career.

As Clarett’s life continued taking one tragic turn after another I imagined him standing on the opposite sideline as McGahee was carted off the field muttering to himself, “that ain’t gonna be me.” Ever since that game Clarett has been hell bent on getting into the NFL on his own terms. When his battle with the NFL over their draft policy ended with a defeat, he became even more resilient in showing the world that he was still the star tailback whose goal line strip of Miami safety Sean Taylor as he scuttled downfield with an interception return helped propel Ohio State to a National Championship.

In a tragic irony McGahee, the tailback whose team not only lost the double overtime classic, but who also appeared to lose his NFL career, has become a pro-bowl caliber NFL player. He has posted two successive 1,000 yard rushing seasons and looks as if he is settling into the peak of his career among the upper echelons of professional tailbacks. Clarett on the other hand looks to have imbibed the nightmare that everyone thought laid ahead of McGahee as he laid on the ground writhing in pain.

When he was arrested this past Tuesday with a half-finished bottle of vodka and a horror-movie assembly of weapons, two assault rifles, two handguns, and a hatchet, Clarett had fallen deeper into his nightmare. He was no longer wading in quicksand, but on the verge of putting himself in a casket.

Reporters on all the sport shows have returned to mouthing off about how Clarett is a waste of talent, using sports cliché’s like “he could’ve had it all,” “he had everything in the world,” “he’s a disgrace to ____.”

In truth, Maurice Clarett is none of those things. He is a young man that fell out of one pipeline program and into another. His “character issues” are our own societies “character issues:” materialism, greed and a penchant for luring young people into prisons. When you read the stories about him never do you hear anything about any outside interests, stints in the high school band, chess team, or volunteer work that provides the reader into who he was other than a football player. Thus one is left to conclude that Clarett could not have been anything else but a football player, and as long as he was playing football no one had a problem with that because he did it well. Or as he said in a recent phone conversation with ESPN writer Tom Friend:

I haven't done s---. I have done nothing but f------ run a football. Don't confuse yourself. I've done nothing but run a f------ football. Don't try to make it bigger than it is.'

Clarett’s quotes shortly before his arrest reminds me of the note that the protagonist in Ellison’s Invisible Man is prompted to read by his grandfather after the battle royale:

“To Whom It May Concern,” I intoned. “Keep this Nigger-Boy Running.”

Three years after he last ran a football, after Lebron became a mega-star and after McGahee embarked on one of the best comebacks in the last decade, Maurice Clarett is still running. Liberated from the battle royale that passes as college football Clarett embarked on a journey not unlike Ellison’s Invisible Man. His journey has been as surreal, as tragic and most importantly, as enlightening—or rather as visible as the Invisible Man’s. America is getting a front row seat to its closeted sport: watching niggers run. Ellison knew it, Wright knew it and if you’ve read Beloved you know that Morrison knows it.

Clarett’s name will not be place alongside Brown, Sanders, Smith, the NFL’s great tailbacks, but alongside the Invisible Man, Bigger, and Sethe. If those names don’t fit, maybe they’ll call him OJ if the jury decides to acquit.

Still none of these characters really provides us further insight into who Clarett is or what motivates and interests him. Through his conversation with Friend he’s told us not to make his plight any “bigger” than it is, so the lit-theorist in me has to oblige, even if I feel that it is a bit Biggerish.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Third World Order it is....

"You could imagine my surprise two years later in 1996 when while listening to Funkmaster Flex’s radio show on New York’s Hot 97 I heard the beginning of what I thought was Roberta Flack's pristine “Killing Me Softly.” My first thought was that Flack must have passed away, or something else tragic happened to her, because I couldn’t figure out why Flex would be playing this soulful classic on his hip hop program. Then I heard it, the Roy Ayers sample that had..." Ferentz Lafargue

Most of you were right there with me in 96 so I don't need to go on any further. As I was writing an entry on our beloved Fugees the other day I journeyed over to Youtube to see if they had the "Killing Me Softly" video, of course they did, what was I thinking. A phone call, a need to stretch my aching back, oh yes, I realized that I somehow had left the kitchen faucet on went over to turn it off. Using the opportunity to get a snack and a drink of water I didnt make it back to my screen until the tail end of the video when I caught something that shook my senses almost as profoundly as the first time I heard the group's rendition of "Killing Me Softly."

After years of hearing folks bemoaning the demise of the legendary Fugees, I think we should've seen the writing on the wall when they made this video. Clearly, they had other things in mind then satiating our wanton desires for infectious covers of soul classics....

Third World Order it is....

The Nightshift Chronicler.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rock Dis Funky Joint

I'm not sure if any rapper carried a group like Wise Intelligent did Poor Righteous Teachers back in the day. I bet if you name any other rap group you'll be able to come up at least with some kind of argument for the value of the various members. For example A Tribe Called Quest could have never flourished without Fife and even a cracked out Flava Flav somehow continues to merit participation in Public Enemy. I don't really have much else to say about this group besides the fact that I liked them back in the day...Plus I'm sure y'all would just rather watch the video then hear about the woman I used to date from Trenton who used to get really animated whenever PRT was brought up in conversation. Listen to her talk you'd swear they were the Beatles....

Without any further ado I present to you Trenton's version of Run DMC...

Thanks again Youtube for another find....

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Charles Puts Foot in Mouth....

I was all set to post on this quote made by Charles Gibson during a recent Q&A with New York Magazine reporter Joe Hagan in the magazine's June 5th edition when I noticed that I have been sitting on this for too long because a few other media outlets have already confronted Gibson on this issue.

Gibson alleges Hagan's reporting did not capture Gibson's intent, but if you look at his attempts explaining himself--it appears as if Hagan was actually dead on.

When asked by Hagan:
Will you report from the field as much as NBC’s Brian Williams?

Gibson responded
That’s because of Katrina; you saw him going down there. Now he’s in Africa. I don’t know why you do that. Why the hell do you go to Africa? It’s certainly an interesting choice. We’ll do travel, when it warrants.

I have quite a few friends who have reservations about the media's lionizing of Bono, but everyone acknowledges that his efforts are worthwhile and have had an impact. Moreover in a news industry that has become all too obsessed with the dealings of Brangelina/Britney and K-Fed or the latest missing co-ed to do enough due diligence to really educate the public on what's happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Lebanon, the last thing, even if its in jest, that any newsman should do is scoffing at another anchorman's using the American public's supposed celebrity worship to ignite a discussion on very important global concerns.

Having said a zillion things myself that should have never come out of my mouth, I understand Gibson's mistake (somewhat). So do not consider this post an attempt to start the fire Charles Gibson brigade.

Instead I would like to suggest something else, since Gibson has gone on record and proclaimed that he'll do travel "when it warrants" let's start a campaign to show him why Africa warrants travelling to. Whether your main concern is the war in Congo, the ongoing strife in Darfur or the relative tranquility enjoyed in countries such as Ghana or Tanzania I encourage as many people as possible to either email the good folks at ABC News and let them know why you think Gibson needs to get over to Africa.

They can also be reached via mail at:
You can also reach us at: ABCNews, 7 WEST 66th Street, New York, NY 10023.

This will undoubtedly not change the amount of attention given to Africa related matters as a whole, but it should further reinforce to Gibson why he needs to think twice.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

blowin in the wind

blowin in the wind, originally uploaded by ferentz76.

I am still getting re-acclimated to being back east and trying to catch up on the writing assignments that I have to turn in. Gradually, I'll start posting with some real verve again, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some images from my excursions out west with everyoe....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Post-Slavery Futbol Helix: Notes of a "Confused Haitian"

I have been slow to write about the world cup because I didn’t really know where to jump in. I had an idea for a piece about how Michael Jordan might’ve become the greatest soccer goalie of all-time if he ever took up the sport, this piece was inspired by watching footage of Trinidad’s goalie Shaka Hislop.

I’ve also been on the move too much to really sit down and flesh out that idea or anything really substantial about the world cup, not to mention some event just create their own narratives and they don’t need writing hacks like me to intervene.

All of this seemed to change however this week when I got caught up in what can only be described as Ghana-mania during my stay out here in California. Ghana-mania began last week Thursday when the friend who I was staying with in LA woke me up at 6am PST to watch the Ghana vs United States match (the match started at 7am PST and we had been out til 2am). It was a good spirited morning but my friend kept on blasting the ESPN broadcasters for being too American-centered, and she was right, they were very American-centered—but I felt for very good reason, millions of dollars had been invested in this American team that either wildly underperformed or was grossly overhyped. The broadcasters were doing their job trying to explain to the average American viewer which one it was.

It was hilarious watching the Ghanaians in attendance calling all the Afro-American players “traitors” for playing against their homeland, then two seconds later conceding that the Americans could have them because they weren’t that good anyway. Since it’d been years since I last played the beautiful game, I forgot exactly how much trash-talking goes on both on and off the pitch. Yankee and Red Sox fans have nothing on soccer fans when it comes to cutting down their adversaries. Fortunately, as a Haitian, I was playing the role of Switzerland and enjoying the serenity of my neutrality—or so I thought.

Ghana-mania was ratcheted up a notch when my friend and her dad turned their attention my beloved Haiti and our absence from the World Cup field. I made the error of telling them that Haitians are strong supporters of Brazil and many have adopted Brazil’s team as their own—an admission that led to my friend’s dad declaring “Haitians are CONFUSED.” Ghana-mania was now in full effect as the Ghanaians not only had a victory to celebrate, but a new whipping boy, the “CONFUSED” Haitians of the world.

Being the gracious host that I am I bit my tongue, and did not say anything, deciding instead to wait calmly until Ghana played Brazil in their next match—then we’d see who’s confused.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten exactly when that match was so when I got this email appeal from a friend this morning, I was, for a lack of a better word, “CONFUSED:”

"Les gaulois nos ancetres", vous connaissez bien cette expression que les francais ont utilise pour laver les cerveaux des noirs sous l'esclavage et la colonisation. Les haitiens, qui ont ete les premiers a rompre le fardeau oppresif de l'esclavage--ont toujours compris que nos vrais ancetres sont des Africains de Dahomey (aujourd'hui le Benin)...Mais parce que la region n'etait pas encore nettement separee, il est aussi possible que nous avons de meme des ancetres de La Cote d'Or--aujourd'hui le Ghana. C'est dans cet esprit chere famille que je vous encourage a soutenir le GHANA contre le Bresil dans le match aujourd'hui!! Je sais que cela n'est pas facile puisque les Haitiens soutiennent les bresiliens comme une equipe preferee, mais aujourd'hui rappelez-vous: LES GHANEENS NOS ANCETRES!!

["Les gaulois nos ancetres" this all too familiar expression was used by the French to brainwash Black minds during slavery/colonization. Haiti, as the first country to break free from France's colonial yoke, never trusted this lie--Haitians always know that our real ancestors are Africans from Dahomey (present day Benin)...of course, because this was before West Africa was divided into countries, it is possible that we do have ancestors from the region known as The Gold Coast--present day Ghana. It is in this spirit of pride in our African roots that I encourage all family members to root for GHANA against Brazil in today's World Cup Match! I know this will be hard because as Haitians we tend to root for Brazil as a favorite team, but on today let us remember--les ghaneens nos ancetres!!!]

It wasn’t the fact that I had to read French first thing in the morning that confused me, but I couldn’t really figure out what prompted my friend to send this appeal. Sure I knew she had a Ghanaian husband, so that must’ve changed her allegiances, from Ghana to Brazil, but her email had thrown a huge wrench in the post-colonial soccer matrix. Like most post-colonialists I eagerly look forward to any matches that pit the former colonizers against the former colonized (e.g. Trinidad vs. England and Angola vs. Portugal). I look forward to these matches with bated breath hoping that the former colonized will still it to their former colonizers.

However, never did I think of these matches in a post-slavery context. It was easy to laugh at my Ghanaian friend and her dad taunting the African-American players, but it wasn’t until I received my other friend’s email this morning that I realized that there really was something in those taunts, there were some traitors on the pitch, but, I wouldn’t be so quick to label the African-American players as traitors (which of course they are not). If we are talking about traitors and the legacy of slavery—and reading soccer through a post-slavery then on what side exactly should members of the African Diaspora cast their allegiances in matches where an Africanist nation like Brazil plays a African nation like Ghana?

Let me put this another way, should black folks in the Americas root for Brazil because it was the Ghanaians ancestors and their other West African compatriots who sold our ancestors into slavery?

Before I could answer this question for myself, I got a SMS message from my Ghanaian friend informing me that things were looking bleak for Ghana against Brazil—without pausing I wrote back “that’s what y’all get for selling us into slavery.” This reply had nothing to do with the post-slavery matrix that I am trying to make sense of, but was a bitter reflex response to the ribbing I took from her and her dad the previous week.

The match ended, and like most Haitians I know I am happy that Brazil won. As a futbol fan I am genuinely interested in the fate of this Brazil team as they seek to not just win the World Cup but seal a place for themselves as the greatest team in Brazilian, if not World Cup history. Their only Brazilian peers being the 1982 squad that featured the legendary foursome of Eder, Sócrates, Falcão and Zico, but which failed to win that year’s cup in spite of all the brilliance they displayed dribbling the ball on the pitch. Each time they step onto the pitch this year’s squad with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka are fending off the ghosts of that 1982 team just as they must be focused on outplaying their opponents.

Those who saw the match saw Ronaldo score his 15th goal in world cup play to become the tournaments all-time leading scorer. This historical moment meant a lot to soccer fans who saw one of the best players from the last decade do what he does best, score, but was clearly another heartbreaking blow to Ghanaians whose team was defeated 3 – nil.

Ronaldo’s goal five minutes into match may have decided the outcome, but it does little for answering the question posed earlier, on whose side are the children of the African-Diaspora to hitch their wagons when their diaspora-cousins battle those long lost family members from the motherland?

Two interesting articles on Joe Gaetjens, the Haitian born member of the 1950 US national team shown in the picture at the beginning of this post being carried off the field by his teammates; Gaetjens scored their lone goal in the team’s World Cup upset of England in all of places Brazil. (Photo courtesy of

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oaxaca Teachers Strike

As some of you might have heard teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico have been on strike since May 22nd, and have been engaged in a standoff with government officials--that at times has turned violent. The government of Oaxaca appears intent on doing whatever it takes to make the teachers to concede to their demands, but the teachers have been putting a resilient effort. This Wednesday, June 22nd, The Professional Staff Congress, CUNY's Teacher's union is holding yet another rally outside the Mexican Consulate in Manhattan to show support for our comrades in Oaxaca. If you're in NY and able to attend, do try making it out to show your support.

Labor/Teachers Rally to Support

Striking Teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico

Wednesday, June 28th

4:00-5:30 pm

The Mexican Consulate

(27 E. 39th St. between Park and Madison Aves.)

PSC-CUNY, the union of faculty and professional staff at City University of New York, is calling for a picket at the Mexican consulate to support our brother and sister Mexican teachers fighting a bitter, difficult strike in Oaxaca, southern Mexico. We call on the Mexican authorities to stop the violent use of police against the strike, and to meet the just demands of Local 22 of SNTE (National Education Workers Union). On June 14 Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortíz sent 1,700 armed state police against the teachers, bombarding them with tear gas from a helicopter, causing nearly 100 injuries and, reportedly three deaths among teachers and their children. As teachers and as unionists we must protest this outrage.

“This government is capable of anything,” one of the union leaders said, but added that the Popular Assembly “is prepared for any eventuality,” and that “none of our members will take a single step backward” (Jornada June 22, 2006). A New York Times report on June 22, describing the failure of the dawn police raid on June 14, confirmed the teachers’ resolve: “The raid failed miserably, as the teachers armed themselves with sticks and stones and fought running battles with the outnumbered police.”

June 22 marks a month into the teachers’ strike and encampment in the historic center of Oaxaca. The strike is for higher pay, but also for schools, supplies, and student stipends.

The teachers of Oaxaca and their allies in the Popular Assembly inspire us with their courage under attack and their effective organization. We call on all New York City unions, our students and other concerned citizens, to join us to protest police brutality against these teachers and to support their strike.


For more information contact Mary Ann Carlese at the PSC at

212-354-1252 ext. 225 or

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I've Always Been More of a Moet Brother

A few weeks ago while checking out Nah Right's blog I spotted a post about Jay Z's decision to ban Cristal from his 40/40 clubs and in effect calling for an all out boycott of the champagne because of remarks made by the company's president in an interview with the economist. Having never carelessly spilled a bottle of the bubbly over a bevy of video vixens and party goers, much less purchased one, like many rappers and some other select members of the "hip hop generation," I knew this boycott would have no bearing on my life whatsoever.

That said, I did think it was good thing that "El Presidente" was being more civic minded. And since he's a trendsetter hopefully this will be a trend that more rappers will follow. So with your help maybe we can convince rappers to expand the list of boycotted items beyond Cristal and to include other items whose manufacturers seem to have very little regard to their products impact in black communities. Here are my first three entries on what should be a long list of items that it would be kinda dope to see what would happen in the hood if MCs stopped dropping their brand names in their lyrics.
Smith and Wesson

Luger Pistols

Crack Cocaine

Those are my top three, do you have anything to add to this list?

The Verdict is In...But A New Battle Arises

A few weeks ago I blogged about the parent and student protests at a downtown Manhattan against the city's plans to allow a charter school to share their space while the charter school waits for their building's completion. Well it appears that the verdict came in, and on Friday afternoon the Mayor's office announced that the Ross school will not be moving into the building occupied by NEST--a public school in lower manhattan. Read the Times article(s) to develop your own conclusions on this matter, but I for one believe that it shows what capital, organization and a good media campaign can bring about.

Ironically, I spied the dispatch about the NEST parents victory while reading another article about the upcoming Supreme Court reviews of desegregation or racial inclusion policies of public school boards across the country. It seems that some conservative and anti-affirmative action groups are upset that some school boards are taking race into account when admitting students. They are angry that these school boards have the gall to make their classrooms, hallways, and lunchrooms look like the rest of the United States.

I will concede however, that I do agree with the conservatives and anti-affirmative action millitia that integrating predominantly white schools is not the ideal solution to solving the racial inequalities in our nation's public schools. Shuttling African-Asian-and-Latino-American students out of their districts does not negate the fact that there are underfunded schools in the districts that they students are shuttled out of. This is a particularly vexing situation for suburban and rural school communities where schools that are predominantly white are often lamenting their inability to attract and retain non-white students. The inability to solve or at least develop more sensible programs for public education at the k-12 level impacts attempts to alleviate racial disparities at the collegiate level---where sometimes the schools seem to be at even more of a loss on how to address these issues.

You won't find any answers here--at least not yet--but let's at promise to continue keeping an eye on these developments so as to make sure no one is caught off guard in the future. As always comments and links to relevant resources are always appreciated.

Images From The West Coast