I was on twitter the other day & saw Russell Simmons Tweet about an article he wrote for Global Grind entitled: Lockdown, USA vs. GradNation: We Have A Choice To Make:The Battle For America’s Future Rests At The Schoolhouse Door. In reading the article all I could do was shake my head because I remember Russell back in my high school & NYU days when he was all about the party & bullshit, wearing his lucky genius of Def Jam & lack of college degree as some sort of badge of honor because leave it to the Rick Rubins of the world to get a college degree, because a “Nigga ” like him from Hollis was about the money & the hustle – but I always wondered who made more money from Def Jam -Rick Rubin or Russell Simmons? I remember being in prep school & coming home to Queens when the kids in my neighborhood looked at me as some sort of anomaly as they praised & looked at Russell Simmoms, his Def Jam movement & hip-hop as the standard norm. Little did many of them know that me trying to get the best education possible should have been seen as the standard norm & that their dreams of becoming rappers, athletes & the next Russell Simmons was actually the anomaly. I had to write him a little note just to take him back down memory lane & for us all as a community to get to the real ROOTS of our problems which is far from the need for meditation time in our classrooms. I believe we can all do our part to better the conditions of our youth & the manner in which they are being educated, but if Russell Simmons’s solution is to put all his efforts in fighting for meditation time in schools, then we have a longer road ahead of us than any of us can imagine.
“A tragic crisis of enormous magnitude is facing black boys and men in America. Parental neglect, racial discrimination and an orgy of self-destructive behavior have left an extraordinary portion of the black male population in an ever-deepening pit of social and economic degradation…The Schott Foundation for Public Education tells us in a new report that the on-time high school graduation rate for black males in 2008 was an abysmal 47 percent, and even worse in several major urban areas — for example, 28 percent in New York City…The astronomical jobless rates for black men in inner-city neighborhoods are both mind-boggling and heartbreaking. There are many areas where virtually no one has a legitimate job…” READ MORE
Posted Answer to Russell Simmons:
I see that with age & maturity u have come around 2 knowing the importance of education particularly in the black community at large. I remember being livid with u & all those rappers who would boast about dropping out of school, slinging dope or not having a college education & becoming successful. Tons of kids back then looked up to u & they went on to have kids which they preached this same nonsense 2 & pointed 2 u & others as examples of why education is not that important in being successful. I remember when u were promoting Phat Farm & letting young black men know that they didn’t need 2 rock suits 2 meet with CEO’s & major biz players because you didn’t & now you are rocking & selling them suits. We as a community need to look within & remember how far & wide the messages we send goes, particularly amongst our entertainers & athletes because no matter what u are in the spotlight more often than any educator or business person & unfortunately our kids learn & pay more attention 2 to u all more than educators & business entrepreneurs outside of the entertainment biz.
Would Def Jam have become as big as it was & as financially successful without the NYU education, access & biz know how of Rick Rubin? We can’t sell our youth pipe dreams of becoming Jay Z, Diddy, Rusell Simmons & professional athletes who made it without college degrees & then take it back when it leads into a community crisis. You have to take some responsibility in the fact that you led a huge generation with offspring who didn’t necessarily see education as the key to the future & acknowledge that you were one of the lucky ones in the right place at the right time with the right idea- more of an exception than the rule.
The biggest issue in the Black community is lack of knowledge of access- there r programs, scholarships & resources available or that can become available if the community gets active in its demand, but very few have the education to even know where 2 begin the search & end up feeling defeated, helpless & hopeless. I have friends in the hasidic community who r in high #’s on welfare etc. but they find every loophole & access to resources possible to get their children ahead in life. THE ABC (A Better Chance) Program has been around for decades -my immigrant African parents were able 2 find out about it & make sure I got a scholarship that was started for inner city American Black & Latino kids, but most of the ppl who received the scholarships were new immigrants & first generation Americans- many of my black American friends had parents who had no clue about the existence of such a scholarship & just thought I was just some special breed of African when their children had the same opportunities if they only took the time to seek it. We need to focus on educating our community in finding access 2 resources & exercising their political power as other communities do to attain resources. You should be pushing the upcoming census just as hard as you pushed the vote for Obama because this determines the resources that are given 2 communities & many black ppl have some fear of the gov’t being in their biz which in the long run becomes a detriment 2 progress & access.
Another suggestion I have is instead of paying for the celebs like the Kardashians & Reggie Bush 2 fly on a private jet to bring some sort of unknown awareness 2 the plight of Africans, you work with African ppl like myself or directly with our inner city public schools in creating incentives for upliftment & empowerment like Jewish people do in creating a Kubbitz style study abroad in Africa for inner city children. I have never met an African descendant in the Diaspora, young or old whose life &/or outlook in life has not completely changed by visiting Africa. We need to rebuild the Pan-Africanist spirit in this nation & realize that the time of Pan-Africanism in America started from Harlem 2 Africa etc. was the time when we had the highest levels of educated progressive Black ppl because there was a sense of pride in knowing our history, in knowing ourselves & in knowing that we r somebody. I have many acres of land in the mountains of Ghana, West Africa that my family would be more than happy to donate in building up a Kibbutz style center to host young people from the African Diaspora- if you are interested please holla at me & let’s finish the work of Garvey, Nkrumah & W.E.B Dubois -whose resting place is in Ghana.. I would love to see you feature The Prep School Negro Documentary on global Grind as well as get behind it financially if you are really about setting an example in pushing the importance of education in the Black community because we need to allow our young people access in seeing something else different from the setbacks of their immediate surroundings & in seeing ppl just like them with even less than them being able to come up from the ashes & thrive & rise like phoenixes.
Thanks for the continual devaluing of Africa that you all perpetuate in your so called humanitarian “taking it all in” efforts. You don’t understand how much of a disservice constantly showing images of poor Africans with random, sometime lowly, western celebrities do to the psyche of the continent & the way others view us. South Africa is a bustling wealthy cosmopolitan country with poor areas just like America, but you would never know it from seeing this video. There are poor & wealthy areas in African countries just as there are in America & this whole constantly showing hopelessness & having people outside the community coming in to save & help the so called poor, forgotten & hopeless is the same relentless destruction perpetrated on Black people in America in poor communities -so please quit the shit & give the full story & the full truth or don’t bother to show up!
Where is the story about the fact that the minority Whites in South Africa still own & profit from these diamond mines & the little chump change given to the charities for publicity purposes is no where near the profits made by the owners & Russell Simmoms himself in the business he does with these owners. Let’s ask Russell if his partners in the diamond business in South Africa are Black? Black South Africans & poor non-black South Africans & immigrants risk their lives in these mines everyday to get these diamonds for the profits & enjoyment of a small minority, so keep rocking your diamonds & coming to “take it all in” at the human African Zoo every once in awhile on your private planes as the Africans sing & dance for you & their dear African Angel Kim Kardashian- WTF- It is so ridiculous that I have to laugh -what exactly is Kim “spreading the word” about?. The entire diamond game & trade is one marred with death & continual global debate & exploitation which is way beyond the pay grade of the Kardashions, Reggie Bush & even Russell Simmons who has been inducted into the game/trade. Thanks for nothing -I hope you had a good experience on the behalf of Africans but then again we are always so welcoming of the nonsense.
In the fall out of the education debate & President Obama’s move to overhaul the no child left behind laws, there have been numerous articles on the progress & lack there of of our educational system, particularly in Black & urban communities. I went on to read an article about the president of the Detroit school board, Otis Mathis , who can barely read nor write, but somehow managed to get a college degree & a nomination to oversee the academic future of 90,000 children in the nation’s lowest-achieving big city district, while Black people in his community defended the choice of having him in this position. All I could think was this is straight crazy talk! I couldn’t even read the whole article the first time around because it was so unbelievable to me as this man admitted that he is not good at reading , writing or comprehension, while people in the community defended him as being engaging & persuasive with the ability to relate & to have patience for the kids in his district who are also having problems with reading, writing & comprehension. How do we not realize that this is the problem? Unqualified & under-motivated educators are filling up our school systems just collecting pay checks & tenures without doing the job & now we want to perpetuate the problem further by having school board presidents who are unable to put grammatically correct sentences together-WTF! We have to have some sort of standards of expectations if we want to be progressive people. Doesn’t leadership start at the top? The people of Detroit know this is wrong, but somehow accept Mr. Mathis as some sort of role model for the failing students to know they can make it without reading & writing at grade level-Huh? We need to start getting serious about education especially in the Black American communities because anywhere else in the world this would sound an alarm of outrage at all the enablers who failed this man & continue to fail generation after generation while allowing accountability & culpability to be the big elephant in the room. Even in New York we allow Mayor Bloomberg to taut statistics about high levels of graduation rates in NYC public schools while at the same time telling us he has to shut down public schools & some charter schools which he put in place in mostly poor minority neighborhoods because of failing grades & low graduation rates- Huh? When are we going to be accountable & culpable in demanding our voices be heard & that those who came before us already endured “separate but equal” in order for us to be able to progress & overcome & not to have to revisit it again & again. What is the point of blaming the school system from your couch at home instead of taking the lead in changing your condition one community or one child at a time like the parents of the 13 year old Morehouse student chose to do. If you have to stay home & teach your own children then maybe it’s time to demand that some of those funds for charter schools be allocated to home schooling since parents have to do the job that their tax payer dollars spent on the public education system is not doing. The government in administering education aid & resources has resorted to the separate but equal model of a modern day Jim Crowe as they favor funding toward Charter Schools who serve fewer students than public schools with little accountability & who often only take the best & the brightest, while leaving public schools with little funding & resources to educate special needs students who need the funding & resources the most. This has all led to communities who should be working together to alleviate the gap, widening the gap in their division & fight to make sure that all the children of the community are accounted for & educated equally.
Well, back to the big elephant in the global Black community -accountability & culpability. Global Grind served it up again with some more tomfoolery in trying to make some sort of point by making no sense. They had a story about celebrities using the “N” word & referenced a few Black comedians & rappers in general, while showing videos of all the White celebrities that had come under fire for using the “N” word without any accountability & culpability of the fact that Black America has spread the word further than the KKK in the global lexicon & vernacular. When White people like Dr. Laura throw our own bullshit in our face then we try to come out in outrage without dealing with the root of the issue in understanding that if the root of the tree is rotten it can never bare any good fruit!
They had Kim from “Desperate House Wives of Atlanta” on Kandi Burruss’ radio show talking about NWA & calling out their full name outside of their initials , which led Kandi to take Kim out of the room & have her come back to apologize. They had the infamous John Mayer Playboy article & the Paris Hilton drunk hip-hop dancing to B.I.G. & throwing the “N” bomb. All I can say is does Kandi pull her Black friends aside & make them apologize when they use the word in or out of context or endearment? I am no fan of Kim but she was just saying the chosen name of the group for goodness sake-Black people need to stop with the hypocrisy because obviously the definition of the word has not changed in anyone’s mind as a term of endearment even in the Black community if every time you hear hear a White person say it, no matter the context , you feel a certain kind of way that is far from endearing. I am also no fan of Paris Hilton, but she was listening & dancing to “hypnotize” by Biggie before she threw the “N” Bomb. How many times does Biggie say the “N” word in hypnotize? “Biggie, biggie, biggie can’t u see sometimes ur words just hypnotze Paris Hilton”. Maybe she was just hypnotized like the Pavlovian dog & just repeated what she heard- so do we blame Pavlov or the dog?
The Kim & John Mayer incident is like an undercover cop setting up a perp for a fall. These White celebrities hang around Black people who use the “N” word around them flippantly, then they eventually become immune & flippant about it too, then all of a sudden people want to put the cuffs on them for using what you pushed on them- Oh Please, Black people are losing credibility in this fight so someone better get it together one way or the other in full embrace of the word or let it fully go in general! I feel the same about the constant complaining of young black men getting harrassed by cops. Don’t get me wrong I know very well that there is systematic racism & racial profiling but we can also eleviate some of it by not dressing the part. If you want to dress with your pants on the ground & exude & embody prison cultural lifestyles then don’t be too surprised when when you are treated like a prisoner. You can’t stand in the streets or hallways of your building & smoke weed & say the cops are harrassing & profiling you & filling up the prisons with young black men- you are doing something illegal & you have to be accountable for that-we can’t compare that to someone minding his own business in his suit & nice car getting pulled over just because they are Black. We have to call out the wrongs & hold ourselves & young people accountable so that we are not losing credibility in truly fighting against racial profiling, police brutality & false imprisonment of our young men & women, who are now being imprisoned in large numbers as well.
I am so exhausted with the constant complaining, blaming White people, blaming the education sytem, blaming the criminal justice system etc. for our lack of. When are we ever going to embrace personal accountability in our community? I am not saying this as being immuned from this because we all must take accountability as being part of the problem in order to become part of the solution. I know I have sat around a few times upset, angry & feeling depressed that certain things have not gone my way or that I have not been able to attain or receive certain opportunities easily & readily available to others because of race, socio-economic class, not being raised with two parents in the home & all those other crutches & sometimes excuses that we often use as a panacea for our lack of achievements & our feelings of helplessness & hopelessness as we become our own victimizers, abusers, enablers & obstacles.
My generation nor the ones after me never had the real hardships of slavery or Jim Crowe, which literally & legally made Black people less than human & with no choice nor right to an education whether we wanted it or not. I have never felt the pain of an overseer beating the flesh off of my skin, picking cotton & doing hard labor til my finer tips bled or I fainted to my death or one breath from death. I have never had to endure rape in order for my children to be free. I have never felt what it was like to live in a society that legally sanctioned me from being able to drink from the same water fountain as my White counterparts, or to have to sit in the back of the bus & give up my seat no matter where it was to a White person because they were legislatively deemed superior to me. I have never had a cross burned on my lawn & lived in daily fear of death with no justice to be had or recourse to be taken solely because I am Black. I have never been beaten, attacked by police dogs & hosed down just for asking for my basic freedom & civil rights,so for never having to endure all of that all I can do is thank those who came before me & endured so I could overcome, and for that I will be forever thankful just for life ! I and the rest of the Black community at large of my generation & after must remember this everyday as I/we start feeling sorry for myself/ourselves because something didn’t go right for me/us today & know that tomorrow is another day for me/us to try again, harder & better than before because if those who endured before me/us could rise & produce a Harlem renaissance, globally heralded Black intellectuals, A Pan-Africanist movement that showered Africa & her Diaspora in a beautiful storm of progression & new found freedoms with enlightened scholars, entrepreneurs & everyday doers at a time when all the odds & obstacles in the world were stacked against them- then what the hell do I/we have to be so down about in a day & age when information which has always been power is right at my/our fingertips – accessible & available, limited only by my/our imagination, efforts & faith!
I give thanks for life & have faith that progress is synonymous with time, endurance & effort, but I/ we will get there because the blueprint has been laid out by those who endured so that we could overcome!
“Got to be the best ..my pursuit is relentless”!!