The Break – He Won, Now What

In this episode KC, Chris, Toria, The Other Chris, John and Triana talk a little politics. They discuss Donald Trump becoming the 45th President, Barak Obama’s time in office, the black community’s approach to Trump, the Muslim ban and more.

Music: Herzeloyde – Wack

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The Break – Time To Vote

With the long election season finally coming to an end, the crew give some final thoughts. KC, Chris, Tash, Leisha, Shelby and Axel discuss how much of the attacks on Hillary Clinton are due to her being a woman, things getting nasty, the American media’s role in this election and more.

Music: Tom Misch – Risk

Please leave your comments and feedback below or you can contact us via Twitter: @BLACKISONLINE; Facebook: Black Is Magazine; Email:; Voicemail: (323) 455-4219.

The Break – The Orlando Nightclub Massacre Pt.1

In this episode KC, Chris, Tash, Leisha, Shelby, Troy, Nicole and E. Green (from the Hip Hop Digest Show) discuss the Orlando nightclub shooting. They speak on the conspiracy theories, how the media handled the situation, self hatred, straight privilege and more.

Music: Haan808 – Your Own Capacity

Please leave your comments and feedback below or you can contact us via Twitter: @BLACKISONLINE; Facebook: Black Is Magazine; Email:; Voicemail: (323) 455-4219.

The Ascendancy of Black America (Part Three of Four)

What is the power of the African-American? What makes us special, unique, or able to contribute anything of great value in the context of America? Is it our artists, our singers, dancers, our authors, our  poets and painters that grant our people an invaluable square on the quilt of this country? Is it our athletes who have broken down walls of separation in every major sport by not only their talent but their tenacity, their toughness of character? Or is it the legacy of black intellectuals and civil rights leaders, of preachers and professors who have been bold enough to stand and to decry the evils of our persecution in the face of the mighty and the wrong? It is indeed Maya Angelou and Sam Cooke. It is Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson. It is W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is all of these of course. Yet our power comes from more than any of these. The seat of our power lies seeded in a place deep within our moral memory and lights our path forward as we try to determine how it is that we as a people will win the future.

Black Americans are a proud people. And sure, we have accomplished much that gives us cause to be proud. And I know that pride may seem to be a virtue, but the truth is many people are proud. The Bible urges us, in the words of Zephaniah, “Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3). Believer or non-believer, what the Bible here seeks to tell us is what we African-Americans should from our own experience already know: that it is not pride that is the face of righteousness but humility, and that in those inevitable days which history in its cycles always brings about wherein the deeds of men are placed squarely before the judgment seat of their own consciences, our best defense from the judgment of mankind and our very our own souls is simple innocence. In our own time, we can be innocent again.

Now as I say “we can be innocent again,” I speak as to be heard. But I know that man is never innocent. We must know even as we consider the tragedy of our tribal history that we came here as the children of evil men. We made war on our brothers like evil men, as did the Native Americans even after the nations of Europe established themselves on their shores. We fell into slavery at the hands of evil men. We were sold into slavery by the hands of evil men, into to the hands of men whose wickedness was driven not only by  vendetta-less greed, but a dark and subconscious fear of everything they did not understand. And as we know, fear bubbles over into hatred and covers the land when the spirit of scorn marries profitability. Still it remains true that our mothers and fathers reaped much evil in the grounds of Africa before her soils gave them up. Just as the fathers of God’s tribe sold their youngest brother into slavery, so our brothers in Africa once sold us as Joseph into Egypt. Yet like Joseph we through our misery have gained an understanding of the price of freedom that informs us both as to how it is obtained in a hostile land, as well as how it is cultivated with people vastly different from ourselves. The answer is that we like Joseph must love our enemies as Joseph loved the king of Egypt, transcending their spiteful fear. We must love one another, coming together in what is most excellent about us, our culture and our values. Only then can we rise up and speak to America in one mighty voice in declaration of what is wrong and what is right.

Today our country is paralyzed in the twin grips of a broken political system and a broadly degenerating culture. In the first instance, the people who dominate our media and our government are so invested in exploiting their own differences, whether for money or political gamesmanship, that they bring all progress this nation could make on the problems that it faces to a screeching halt. On the other, we find that the dysfunction in our politics is mirrored by the vast fragmentation of the American people themselves. In a nation where a vast and ever heterogeneous people section themselves off according to subcultures, to ever narrowing musical and cinematic tastes, to ever more particular forms of news media, and to ever drifting standards of moral conduct, the less we are able to come together as a people in times of crisis. This problem exists for black America as much as it does for the rest of the nation. But in our case we are better positioned to overcome these symptoms of disintegration.

First however we must recognize the peculiar nature of the cancers that lie within the black American community. Yes, we understand the daunting challenges represented in our high unemployment, our high imprisonment rate, our rate of births outside of wedlock. But these problems themselves could be more effectively challenged if black America herself came together on what values she stands for. We embrace a hip-hop culture, a reality t.v. culture and a culture of materialism that prevents us from uniting as a cohesive moral force in this country. It is not that I have any problem with Hip-Hop or reality t.v. in and of themselves. There are always some things that are good to be found, (if Hip Hop were more about real love and substance in the Common and Talib Kweli variety and less about gratuitousness, and if there were actual values to be discerned in shows like “Flavor of Love” or “Basketball Wives,” I would be all for them). But the fact is that there is little nourishing substance in the art of the black community today, a community which has long reaped from the most fertile soil of this country’s great artists. Our music, our shows and our films may still make money. But little enough do they edify the soul. We need to think about the implications of that fact.

Now you might think that I am wrong, or least simplistic in placing so much significance on the impact of certain types of figures in our culture. Pardon me if I sound a little like Bill Cosby, for I do largely sympathize with the no none-sense style criticism’s he himself fielded so much criticism for voicing against our contemporary black culture. But the only partially justified indignities of Professor Michael Eric Dyson and others on behalf of our contemporary black culture aside, the source of Mr. Cosby’s righteous, albeit sometimes condescending, anger and disappointment is that he well remembers a time in this country’s history when even though the chips were stacked against us we could largely unite around the positivity of our art and our culture. (That now somewhat iconic episode of Aaron McGruder’s controversial cartoon The Boondocks wherein he brings Martin Luther King Jr. out of a forty year coma to see what has become of black America, pointedly if stingingly throws in our faces the extent to which we have sunk into a cultural perversion that serves us neither politically or socially.)

There are people in our communities of course who do not want to hear such talk. Some people like Professor Dyson are quick to point out, and rightly so, that there is a myriad of structural obstacles that still vie against black America’s equal  acquisition of the American dream. Even still, can those who might call themselves advocates of our cultural status quo suggest with a straight face that our culture sustains us now in the face of adversity as it did for our enslaved ancestors? Does it nurture us in the way that the stirring, primal and majestic melodies of our “negro  spirituals” provided hope and solace for those enduring the the cruel malice of the slave master’s whip? Does our culture today provide for the moral center of gravity upon which a Dr. King as well as a Malcolm X could stand; two men who both rejected materialism, who were both intolerant towards profane speech, who upheld a standard of black manhood which itself could only abide within it a high standard of reverence for black womanhood? Is their legacy reflected in the music of Lil’ Wayne and of Jay Z, for the most part? Are the values we teach in our churches reflected in the values imparted by the lyrical sentiments of Rick Ross or Rihanna? Do we uphold the standard of respect and admiration we should have for our women in these songs and videos of these artists, particularly when Black Entertainment Television is willing to show us these images over and over again but does not cover the deaths of Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King at the time that they happen? I speak here of the vast trends of our culture. Surely I could think of a couple positive songs that Snoop Dogg has written, but I can’t think of a single song Marvin Gaye ever sang that was demeaning to women or disrespectful to anyone. The image we construct of ourselves in our culture, that we accept of ourselves, is wholly unbefitting a great people. But it’s so easy to accept it. That is why those among us who are willing to must band together on a higher plane of cultural observance. One which upholds the higher trends of our history and which cares not to appease the rest.

I am called to remember W.E.B. Du Bois’s belief that Afro-America could only uplift itself if “the advance guard of the race,” pursued a cultural awakening within the black community.  (W.E.B. Du Bois labeled those blacks who would take up this charge, perhaps a bit snobbishly, as the “talented tenth,”) It was this conviction on the part of W.E.B. Du Bois and other prominent black artists and intellectuals including the NAACP, which prompted the direct engineering of the Harlem Renaissance, which really did elevate both black and white America’s view of the negro people. So did black operatic performance, black drama, poetry, literature and Jazz find their first major platform from which to leap into the imagination of the country at large. From this conscientious attempt to change the nation through high art did we get Langston Hughes, Bill Robinson and even Duke Ellington and these artists and many others of the time largely paved the way for every great black actor, singer and author who would come after.  Art was the vehicle by which black America reached out across racial lines because in art and literature we were able to speak a language of the heart that was defiant of our differences. What language do we speak now with our artistry of materialism, sexual gratuity, disrespect and violence? Even if we do bring people together with these, what do we bring people together for?

Dr. King described the movement he led as a spiritual movement, one in which agape love and goodwill for mankind was recognized as the central element of their striving.  In this is the ultimate show of humility. In this is the long-suffering self-sacrifice that I know some determined African-Americans will embody as they set the moral compass for this country in the 21rst century. Yet we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves to enduring the bitterness of those black people, those white people, and all those cynical voices so automatically arrayed against those who would labor to lift our consciousness to a higher state of mind. In this we make the path straight for the ultimate liberation of black America, which is the ultimate liberation of America herself. Those who carry this burden are the sons and daughters of slave heroes and martyrs. We are the Day Breakers, in the words of Renaissance  poet Arna Bontemps. Non-violent resisters of a decadent social order. But even so:

“We are not come to wage a strife,

With swords upon this hill,

It is not wise to waste the life

Against a stubborn will.

Yet would we die as some have done.

Beating a way for the rising sun…”

Obama Covers Rolling Stone, Again

For the third time, President Barak Obama is on the cover of  Rolling Stone magazine, in this month’s issuse the president speaks on the Republican party, Fox News, the war in Afghanistan, the Gulf oil spill, and his music choices. The part on Fox News is what really grabbed my attention.

Fox News,  has the highest ratings on cable news, but President Obama still isn’t a fan of the network’s point of view.

In a wide-ranging Rolling Stone interview, Obama swung back at the network that provides a major platform for conservative hosts and Republican political analysts (some of whom may also be seeking the presidency in a few years).

Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner asked Obama for his view of Fox News and his view on whether conservative mogul Rupert Murdoch’s network is a“good institution for America and for democracy.”

Obama began by saying that he will always uphold the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, and noted that United States has a tradition “of a press that oftentimes is opinionated.” There’s only been a short “golden age of an objective press,” he said. Throughout American history, he continued, there have also been publishers like William Randolph Hearst “who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints.”

“I think Fox is part of that tradition,  it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view,” Obama said. “It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

read entire article on yahoo

Barrino & Keys, What’s So Different?

We recently learned that former American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino, attempted to take her own life. This news came in connection with a relationship Barrino is having with Antwaun Cook, a married man. Since this relationship has been made public, Barrino has been called every name in the book from a home-wrecker to a whore. What Fantasia chooses to do and who she chooses to do it with is her business so I will not speak on that. I don’t know her or Cook personally and can only speculate. One thing I did find interesting was that her “relationship-with-a-married-man” situation is quite similar to another stellar musical artist’s recent situation. Alicia Keys was also involved in a relationship with a married man, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean.

In both situations, it is reported that the marriages were estranged.However, Fantasia appears to be receiving the brunt of media’s back talk. Keys was not looked down upon in the same manner Barrino is. Why is this? Well, there isn’t one answer to this. And again, I can only speculate. Could it be the two women’s backgrounds? Keys comes from a strong, single-parent family, she’s intelligent, talented and highly revered on an international scale. Barrino dropped out of high school, became a teen parent, made a name for herself on a reality television show, and plays out the trials of her life on her television show Fantasia For Real. I would have to argue that this is a major factor in the way the two stories are being portrayed in the media. I believe that people have developed ideas of these two women based on their backgrounds and it isn’t right.

Are they home-wreckers? According to the men in their lives, they are not. This is what should matter. Unfortunately, it is the beliefs of a few, the media, that influence the thoughts of many, the public. It is with poor taste that the members of the media tell these stories. Because of it, women like Barrino are looked down upon while others in her situation are not. In my opinion, the media should stick to reporting the NEWS and not the personal lives of others.

The Boondocks’ LaMilton Taeshawn Part II

I had to go back to the drawing board on this situation. My initial instinct was to have a WTF reaction – not at The Boondocks’ spoof of the Latarian Milton – but at the boy himself.  After all how many 7-year old children have the absolute nerve to steal grandma’s car and go on an under-age driving rampage AND not be publicly reprimanded by somebody? Not many.

But I realized that within my reaction came a criticism – about my people, this child, and ultimately myself as a parent. Too often I find Black folks blasted in the media for ignorant behavior, and instead of pointing another finger, I want to understand why THIS boy is getting so much face time. Is it because a 7-year old stealing a car is truly something out of this world? Or does Latarian represent something greater? Instead of using Latarian as an example of why and where we must improve as a people, let’s ask ourselves what is it about this boy that makes him commodifiable. After all, if he’s getting face time on TV, he’s getting paid. To dissect this, I must reorient how you view his video footage, so here goes.

First, here is the real news story that introduced us to Latarian Milton in April of 2008:

The first thing that struck me about this video is Latarian’s honesty. From this brief interview we learn there is an issue with mom, grandma is raising him, and there is no mention of Latarian’s father.  Keep all of these factors in mind and keep watching.

Two weeks later:

How did the news find out about this? Did Walmart call the police or is the media stalking Latarian Milton?

Here is another interview with Latarian in June of 2008. Notice his tone and body language, and really listen to what the cop says at the end:

By now Laterian is tired of explaining why he took grandma’s car. It’s such an obvious cry for attention that it doesn’t warrant repeating. Notice how the reporter plays up Latarian’s disregard for the people who he could have hurt that day and how that leads into the cops’  admission of  pressing charges to “get him into the system” because “obviously this is unusual behavior for a 7-year old” and little Latarian needs to be evaluated and treated. I’m wondering, what is Latarian’s fate if at 7 he already has a record and is being labeled as a danger to society?

Flash-forward to an interview done two months later:

Now, Latarian stays in the news, but this time it’s because he’s about to make his Hollywood debut. Are Judge Judy’s ratings that low these days? Notice how the reporter mentions the show’s producers encouraging grandma, Latarian, and the phantom mom to participate. How much of that encouragement do you think came with pictures of dead presidents on it? But again, what is the point of all this? Why? To help Latarian “get a new life, and move on” as he desires? I’m frustrated with grandma because she let those dollar signs speak to her – her smile says it all.

This year, Latarian was launched onto Comedy Central. (Couldn’t embed the link thanks to copyright, but PLEASE click on Comedy Central!)

I’m all in for a good laugh, but really what is the point of this 7-year old boy teaching this grown white man how to do hoodrat stuff? What does that even mean? And when Latarian really does grow up and tries to make a name for himself, will he be able to come out from under the “hoodrat” umbrella? Or do we already believe and accept that this child is not capable of being anything other than just that?

Thankfully Aaron McGruder and the Boondocks team saw something in Latarian, and more importantly in the media representation of Latarian, worth commenting on:

I can get behind what I believe McGruder’s intent is here. It’s pretty ludicrous to mislabel a child as a sociopath when the child is clearly begging for attention, but by doing so you write the child’s future for them. Through one really awful and childish mistake, Latarian spent his 15 minutes as the “hoodrat” representative. His real mistake – stealing the car – seems so small in comparison to him teaching Tosh.0 how to really be a hoodrat two years later. And as for grandma participating in that sketch? No disrespect to the elder, but she could take a lesson from Boondocks’ Grandpa and not spare the rod.

2 Live Crew – Worth The Hip-Hop Honor?

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion the other day after Monday night’s airing of the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. We found ourselves hovering over the topic of 2 Live Crew and whether or not their contribution to hip-hop was one worth celebrating. I flashed back to my junior high and high school dance days, grinding close to some boy as soon as I heard the unforgettable bass line and drums of  I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown). The memories were fond ones for me, and I immediately thought, “Of course they deserve to be honored – Luke and ‘nem been in the game since forever”. My friend, however, had a different perspective. As she expressed, “watching Kid Rock give Luke props for starting the booty shake phenomenon” was not something to be celebrated. I had to let that marinate.

It’s true – 2 Live Crew and their pornographic-style of rap set off a trend in hip-hop music, and more importantly in music videos. The images in those videos evolved into a decade-long parade of scantily-clad women of color, cars, and money, and giving directors like Hype Williams millions of dollars in business and a catalog of hip-hop porn videos. The beats grabbed our ears and the videos captured our attention, shouting the message, “this is the life.” Almost 15 years later, these images still resonate in all genres of music videos and the current generation is less sensitive to images of sex, and tend to express themselves sexually a lot quicker than the kids of my generation.

Nonetheless, 2 Live Crew and their brand of XXX hip-hop had it’s place in the industry, in spite of the negative effects it might have had on future generations. Luke, by his own admission, said they were surprised by their success because “they weren’t talking about shi*t “, but the music became extremely popular almost instantly. Bass and drum heavy beats coupled with pornographic lyrics equaled success for 2 Live Crew – and since they were the innovators of this type of music, an award is due.

Let’s face it: our generation is the reason a group like 2 Live Crew attained any success. Even if their lyrics were freaky, we all did what they rapped about, in spite of it’s impropriety. Like porn, kinky music has its appeal – and like in our youth, the visuals that accompany it should be relegated to “adults only”. Unfortunately, we’ve gone too far to place a cap on that imagery now, and thankfully, many of us had a balance of images to keep us from being scarred. But I wish media outlets like VH1 that are in the position to influence the current generation with their programming, gave more thought to what artists they put on a pedestal, or at least offered a balanced perspective.  After all, I can think of many deserving hip-hop artists that VH1 continues to overlook.

But maybe, on VH1’s part, that would be too much like right…

Let’s Keep the “Thug” Ball Rollin’

Slim Thugs’ profound insight regarding what’s “wrong” with sistas initiated a conversation worth continuing. Basically sistas are too opinionated, independent , and self-righteous-shocker! Any woman of black descent who never heard that must not be from America. I’m certain sistas need to assume responsibility for their part, however they are not the problem in its entirety. So why are they often portrayed to have expectations that are too high as opposed to brothas having expectations that are too low?

If brothas choose women from other races because they’re more submissive, are sistas to blame for checking out on black love because they won’t play the submissive role? Or do brothas check out when they choose a submissive woman who aspires to do nothing more than cook, clean, and suck him raw? If brothas were really worried about preserving black love, wouldn’t they seek those successful and lonely sistas from the previous blog?  If black really is black love… no one knows a brothas struggle like a sista. Where there are commonalities there are souls intertwined. Sistas can cook, clean, care for children, carry on an intellectual conversation AND contribute financially. So what’s the problem?

Perhaps brothas expectations for themselves are so low they are incapable of sustaining a relationship with a powerful, ambitious, well-rounded renaissance sista of the 21st century. Maybe because they know if their ducks aren’t in a row an independent sista may walk away before a woman who is entirely dependent on her husband. So brothas seem to choose women who are more docile, dependent and low-maintenance who require nothing more than for you to change your Myspace status to “In a Relationship” and get her some followers on Twitter.