Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

2G2K Is Back! :: On Hillary, Again, And Foreign Policy

Ferentz was inspired to write–wickedly, I must add–about Obama’s impending Hillary appointment. (more…)

posted by @ 7:58 am | 2 Comments

Monday, November 24th, 2008

The Impact of The Hip-Hop Vote

We now have some idea of how hip-hop activism may have impacted the presidential election. According to stats from CIRCLE, those under the age of 45 delivered all of Obama’s margin of victory.

Those under 30 formed the core of his victory. 23 million young voters came out, and nearly 16 million voted for Obama. He won by 9 million votes. (more…)

posted by @ 9:34 am | 1 Comment

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

UCLA Education In Action Keynote Speech

Here’s an excerpt of the keynote speech that I gave this past Saturday at UCLA, for the “Education In Action” student conference organized by APC, and a number of other student, staff, and faculty groups on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Asian American Studies.

Schisms over race and generation have defined 40 years of politics in this country.

This, in a nutshell, is the story of the hip-hop generation. It’s the story of the rise of the politics of abandonment and the politics of containment. And the sorry results are all around us.

We have the tragedies of Katrina. The hurricane simply exposed the accumulated horrors this country’s politics of abandonment have visited upon poor people of color for 40 years.

We have the biggest prison-industrial complex in the world, and an entire generation of young men and women of color behind bars in a society that no longer cares about rehabilitation, that’s about locking people up and throwing away the key.

We have an immigration system that is inhumane and out-of-date, that divides families and closes the borders even as the destinies of nations are increasingly lashed together.

We have a nation torn asunder by economic policies that have exacerbated the wealth gap and hastened an environmental collapse.

We have pre-emptive shock-doctrine wars justified by Orientalist views of the world, and a ruthless disdain for its human toll.

Folks, we have issues.

Yet amidst all of this, conservatives wanted to raise the old racial fears in this election.

They returned the election to 1968, an era when racist housing covenants had only recently been made illegal and racial intermarriage had only recently been made legal.

Of course, it was the most ridiculous kind of nostalgia–a battle for a world that was already gone. But at the Republican National Convention, I watched Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin try to hype a newly discovered breed of subhuman: the community organizer.

They blew their racist dog whistles all the way until November 4th, and not without effect. Arab Americans and Muslim Americans were silenced by the loud racist whisper campaigns, until Colin Powell stepped up to ask the right question, “So what if Obama was Muslim?” Authorities foiled at least a half-dozen white supremacist schemes to kill Obama. And when McCain began his concession speech that night by celebrating Obama’s history-making election as the first Black president, his supporters actually booed.

Conservatives all attempted to portray Obama as an unknowable Other. So maybe Obama really is our first API president? He was certainly treated like a stranger from a different shore.

And yet on November 4th, we saw past all of that.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and young people voted 2-1 to elect Barack Obama. In doing so, we became an essential part of the new majority.

Read the whole speech here.

A HUGE thank you to all of the organizers for a wonderful conference.

posted by @ 8:13 pm | 2 Comments

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

A Great Day In Baseball History

Congratulations to Don Wakamatsu, Major League Baseball’s first Asian American manager. It’s been far too long coming.

Won’t be too much rooting for the Mariners, but will be rooting for Don, who was the A’s bench coach this past year. Perhaps not so surprisingly, given the great number of them in the skipper position, Don played catcher in his college and 12-year pro career.

(While we’re on the topic, here’s a gratuitous shout-out to my childhood hero Lenn Sakata.)

Perhaps Don’s rise means that someday the great Kurt Suzuki or any API will be able to do the damn thing if he so desires.

posted by @ 1:29 pm | 2 Comments

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Happy Xmas : The War Is (Almost) Over…?

And we’re gonna celebrate with a little top-rock 6-step…

Hip-hop: The Universal Language of Peace

posted by @ 9:05 am | 2 Comments

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Your Boy Got An Award!

From the official thang…

Today Jeff Chang was named a 2008 USA Ford Fellow in Literature by United States Artists, a national arts advocacy organization that invests in America’s artists and illuminates the value of artists to society.

He was among 51 recipients of United States Artists’ prestigious 2008 Fellows program.

Jeff is the author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and the editor of Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. He most recently covered the 2008 presidential election for Vibe and Vibe.com. (And here of course!)

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Jeff now resides in Berkeley, California. He has begun writing his third book, Who We Be: The Colorization of America (St. Martin’s Press), on the cultural transformation of the U.S. over the past three decades.

posted by @ 8:05 am | 8 Comments

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

It’s A New Day

Loric Frye. Photo By Paradise Gray (c) 2008

Throughout the north side of Pittsburgh, one of the city’s three major Black districts, they lined up before dawn, hundreds deep in the 47-degree weather as if they were waiting for history to be made. Even after the polling places opened into an instant crawl, they kept coming.

And they kept coming all day.

One of them was a 19-year old named Loric Frye. Frye was a Pennsylvanian, and because of that, he was a key voter in the presidential election. Senator John McCain had staked his strategy on winning the state, hoping to steal it from Senator Barack Obama in his comeback bid.

But Frye was far from the kind of clean-scrubbed, neatly partisan first-time voter Republicans would ever think to appeal to or CNN would ever bother to interview.

Frye was a young brother in oversized pants. His young son was at home and his girlfriend was pregnant with their daughter. He had no high-school diploma. He had no fancy title. Frye was, no, still is in the process of putting it all together.

If you went strictly by the stats, he wasn’t even supposed to have found his way into the voting booth yesterday. And truth be told, he almost didn’t.

He admits that up until this year, politics didn’t interest him. Barack got his attention. But the person who really turned him around was a man named Paradise Gray, a legendary hip-hop promoter and activist, who got Frye work as a community organizer doing voter outreach.

Frye spent the year canvassing, registering and door-knocking with Khari Mosley and the League of Young Voters. He started to feel deeply invested in the election and the political process. He spent the last few weeks doing get-out-the-vote work. All politics remains local. All transformations begin with the personal.

So Loric Frye was excited to cast his first ballot yesterday.

But when he showed up with his voter registration card, he was told he “wasn’t qualified”, he said. ” Something about it was illegal.”

At first he thought it was the fact that he had been arrested once. But he had never been convicted or charged. He called Mosley and Gray. They came and took him down to the Board of Elections. There, Frye discovered that there were 6 registration forms in his name. Faced with conflicting information, including different social security numbers, some clerk had decided to qualify him.

It was true that he had moved twice since filling out his first form. When you’re young and you’re trying to get yourself together, that kind of thing happens. But he was so hyped to vote he made sure to re-register his new address every time that he moved.

When the Board of Elections official pulled out the other three forms, Frye could see that they were fakes. The registering agents were from ACORN. They had apparently used his name, invented addresses, and forged his signature 3 more times. The irony of the ACORN voter fraud case is that, in the few instances that it did impact real people, it didn’t affect McCain supporters, it affected the poor people most fired up to vote for Obama.

When dawn had broken, a massive national effort at election protection got underway, born of the nightmares from the disputed 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. It was aided in part by web 2.0 tools. A fraudulent text message and a hacker-produced email at George Washington University that urged Obama voters to show up on Wednesday were both exposed via the internet.

In battleground states like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio, the highest voter turnout in almost a century led to worries about a lack of ballots and slow lines. At South Carolina State University, a historically Black college, dozens of students were told that their polling places had changed. Student activists and the NAACP organized buses to get 32 students to the correct locations, but worried that at least 50 more were discouraged from voting.

Even Republicans circulated a memo detailing voting irregularities. Most of the incidents rose nowhere near the level of the kinds of voter suppression that Democrats faced in Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004. In fact, the first listed on the memo, an accusation of intimidation by alleged members of the New Black Panther Party at a polling place in North Philadelphia, was little more than a hilarious televised encounter between a Fox News reporter and a Black poll-watcher that seemed as if it was scripted for The Boondocks.

Republicans also explored allegations of double-voting by students in Georgia and media in Kansas who may have voted both in person and through absentee ballots, unfilled absentee ballot requests in New Mexico, missing military absentee ballots in Virginia, and calls in Pennsylvania with fake polling information.

But hours later, all this seemed moot.

As soon as the polls closed in California, all of the networks called a landslide victory for Barack Obama. The margin was nowhere near close. In the popular vote, Obama beat McCain by nearly 6 million.

Over 90% of African Americans voted in record numbers for Obama. But he also won among women, split the white working class, and picked up a much larger number of white male voters than John Kerry had in 2004. Obama’s electoral college tally corresponded to his margin of victory among young people, Asian Americans, and Latinos: 2-1.

The election of the first biracial African American president in the history of the U.S. set off ecstatic celebrations all across the country. Twitter’s server stopped for a few minutes, overloaded by messages. In Oakland, Berkeley, and Seattle, people poured into the streets and instant block parties sprung up as if it was the Bronx in the summer of ’77. Crowds marched cheering to the White House. They filled Times Square as if it was New Year’s Eve. They came 1 million strong into Grant Park to hear Obama deliver his victory speech, the very place where the Democratic Party collapsed in police riots 40 years ago.

For a small group of people in Pittsburgh, the victory began earlier that day, when an elections official restored Frye’s right to vote and handed him a ballot. For Mosley, the League’s National Political Director, a longtime community organizer and a veteran of the 2004 battle, it was a gratifying moment.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen today is the number of young African Americans from the hood that have never voted—teenage parents, the formerly incarcerated, just an incredible number of people voting,” he said. “We’re really seeing a sea change. The college students have been voting. Now we’re seeing a movement among those who never did go to college. That could be monumental not only on the local level but the national level.”

“Man, I’m happy as hell I get to vote,” Frye told Mosley. “I’m just so happy to get my voice heard.”

The victory would not just belong to Barack Obama, but to Loric Frye. “I’m hoping for change,” Frye said. “I know it ain’t gon’ come today or tomorrow, but I’m hoping for change. I’m pushing for change.”

posted by @ 12:20 am | 1 Comment

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Your Election Day Questions Answered

Got questions? Here are some important web resources that may have answers.

+ Need to find your polling place?

Check GoVote.org or use GoVote’s mobile service by texting “pp” with your street address, and zip code, to 69866.

For instance, if you text the following to 69866: “pp 144 Biltmore Ave 28801”

you get a text back that reads:

“(govote.org) Vote at: Stephens Lee Community Center – 30 Washington Carver Street, Ashville, NC 28801 (by CREDO Mobile/NOI)”

+ Want a voter guide written by young voters in your area?

Check The League Of Young Voters’ special website called TheBallot.org.

+ Worried about wearing your Obama or McCain tee to the polls?

Here’s Wiretap Magazine’s Top 8 Voting Myths.

+ Are you a student with questions about your rights?

Check this Brennan Center For Justice website.

+ Experiencing voting irregularities and need advice or to report them?

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for free legal advice. You can also visit www.866ourvote.org or www.nationalcampaignforfairelections.org or if you’re on Twitter, hit the Twitter Vote Report to report the incident.

posted by @ 8:49 pm | 0 Comments

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

This One’s For My Yellow Folks :: Kelly Tsai On The Elections

posted by @ 2:55 pm | 0 Comments

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

What Time It Is :: Wendell Pierce With The Last Word

For months, we have been telling you about how important tomorrow is. Now this is it. The last word.

We’re going to Wendell Pierce, better known as Bunk Moreland from “The Wire”. Maybe he’s a dude you look up to. Maybe he’s a dude you respect. He’s not a hater, but he has a message.

Did you think hip-hop has helped or hurt Obama in his quest to become the first black president?

Well, I’m pretty much an old head so I don’t listen to a lot of hip-hop. I mean you know, it’s cool. Uh. You know, it’s cool.

I mean, the fact is the youth of America, every election cycle has this sense of responsibility and sense of importance. But then it’s inflated because they never vote. So while every election cycle we’re like, ‘Young people gon’ get out and vote! P-Diddy said vote or die, what we’re gon’ do, you know man? I gon put this rap and talk about the real deal!’ And you ask the majority of all those hip-hop heads, did you go out and vote?

See I don’t see the lines of all those same young people that are sitting there trying to get into the Fox (Theater) in Atlanta…

But you should have seen Nas at Rock The Bells. He had 25,000 middle fingers in the air…

Right! I know. That’s big. But you’re not gonna see the same crowd outside the polling place. Cause I’ve never seen that. So if hip hop wants to impress me, bring that same amount of people and that same amount of energy at one time at one polling place.

I put a challenge out to Vibe. Show me in your December issue the pictures of the hundreds of thousands of hip-hop heads outside the polling places with their fingers up like that and their ‘I voted’ sticker on their lapel.

Hip hop has never ever had an impact besides selling records, popular culture. They’ve never made an impact on the political world because they’ve never been a part of it.

Can you imagine if we ever saw that many young people at 9am at one polling place in this country on November 4th?

I see Jay-Z sell out Madison Square Garden five nights in a row. If you would like to impress me, I would like to see those same numbers of people outside five polling places in New York City. When I see that, then hip-hop is gonna impress me.

That’s a serious challenge.

Tell ’em that Wendell Pierce from ‘The Wire’ put out the challenge. And as Bunk would say, “Ya happy now, bitch?”

posted by @ 8:23 am | 1 Comment

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