Thursday, June 25, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
i travel alot.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I must confess...
I've been to Puerto Rico. I have shed tears for it while on the Island. I have stared at the American flags flying over San Juan with the intensity that only centuries of colonization can conjure up. I have visited Spain and its monuments to the Conquest and its cohorts. I have studied the Spanish character and its Empire and have wondered "why?" I have travelled to Washington D.C. and walked around the U.S. Capitol building and pondered how these 99 white Senators and 1 "fast-talking, hustla' preacher voiced" black senator have the legally recognized power to change the political conditions on the Island.
There is someone a little fake about being proud or acknowledging what you are for only one weekend a year. I could do without standing up for hours, subjugated to second-hand weed smoke next to people from the old neighborhood whom I have long left in the past. I'd rather head out to the Island. To see people suffering so far below the poverty level, you could mistake the state of Mississippi for the Principality of Monaco.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
You know your were a colored child of the American inner city during the 1990s when Spike Lee Films were your primary interaction with white people besides your school teachers. Films such as Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever were important statements of race relations, gender and class whose content was largely underrepresented and taboo in contemporary U.S. social discourse. So I was definitely excited when my friend Aja-Monet (at the last minute...haha) put me onto this honorary Spike Lee festival they are having out in Brooklyn at the end of this month that includes poetry, film, and art.
So i put together the following three paintings in three days before the submission deadline:
The first work is entitled "Jungle Fever circa 1960" is a re-work of the print advertisements of the film Jungle Fever depicting the intertwined hands of Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham, the parents of President Barack H. Obama. Though the actual film is a product of the 1990s, its subject matter (interracial unions, especially black male/white female couples) had been largely taboo in American social discourse and in some eras of U.S. history, outright banned through miscegenation laws. The painting is a critique of the naivete of such thought and the implied inferiority of children of "mixed blood".
The second work "Black Cliffnotes" (2009), below, resulted from a discussion with a White friend who commented that his understanding of the "black experience" could be achieved through mass mediated culture, BET, and black films and depicts some of Lee's films of the last 20 years. Originally the painting was supposed to resemble an evolutionary chart beginning with a small drowning hand representing the Hurricane Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke" and finishing with Spike Lee dressed as Mars Blackmon/Kobe Bryant (from the documentary "Doin' Work) but it did not come out the way I envisioned it.
Since, we were allowed three submissions so I decided to recycle an old painting from 2005 entitled "Joker Sambo", below, which was a critique of the contemporary black condition in the United States as well as my realization that my business degree taught me how to be a well-dressed 9-to-5 slave rather than an independent thinker. The plantation has been replaced by 40 foot skyscraper and check-to-check living because it is cheaper to make a man fend for themselves and voluntary join the field than to provide their sustenance while working on it...
Friday, June 05, 2009
When President Barack Obama finally announced the location of his much-heralded speech to the Muslim world, the news came as a surprise. As a candidate, Obama had promised to give such an address during his first 100 days in office, as part of an urgent campaign to repair relations between the United States and Muslims. Observers wondered where Obama would go for the potentially historic occasion. Many believed the U.S. president would choose a democratic, Muslim-majority country for the event. Favorites included Jakarta, where Obama lived as a child. Turkey, a U.S. ally, also seemed like a good choice. Even Morocco, one of the more open Arab countries, was considered a longshot.
At Egypt's Cairo University, Obama quoted from the Qu'ran as he expounded on Islam's glories and rights, the legitimate rights of Israel and the Palestinians, Iranian nuclear aspirations, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women's rights, economic development, and religious rights and democracy in the Muslim world. The address, billed as a fence-mending mission between the United States and Islam, urged those present and the people across the globe viewing the speech on television to enter a new, productive and peaceful chapter in their relationship. Some of the critical comments on President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world neglect this obvious consideration. Conservatives will naturally be irritated by his apologetic tone over Guantanamo and his self-praise for “unequivocally” forswearing torture as U.S. policy. His defense of the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab against (I suppose) Western authorities, such as the French government, which restrict it was a cheap shot. Some governments of Muslim countries also restrict traditional dress, such as successive Kemalist governments in Turkey, and others such as Saudi Arabia insist on sartorial anonymity for women.
The estimated 2,500 in attendance at Cairo University rose to their feet with cheers and sustained applause when Obama entered the Grand Hall of Festivities, and they cheered loudly when he said in Arabic: "Salam aleikum", meaning "peace be upon you". He also mentioned the contentious Israeli-Arab conflict and called for an end to Israeli settlements and Palestinian violence, and a solution that would result in peaceful, co-existing Israeli and Palestinian states. This was an historic and massive direction change in America’s foreign policy. I hope and believe that this speech can positively impact the Muslims’ perceptions about America and Americans’ perceptions about Islam. Just imagine: After a thousand years during which Islam and Western civilization have trod opposite paths in philosophy, science, and the most basic attitudes toward relations between the sexes and the role of work in life, suddenly a young American seems to believe he can conjure up a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world".
Thematically, the speech contained important ideas that, with the power of the U.S. presidency behind them, could just take root enough to matter. He offered to help Muslim communities around the world raise up and empower their women and educate their children in very concrete terms. He sought to equalize the playing field for minorities in Islamic countries whose persecution at the hands of extremists is one of the greater blights on its record as a great religion. And he planned to do all of this from an America that does not dictate any longer its brand of democracy but rather seeks to support governments that reflect the will of their people- governance born through the power of consent.
Islam's worst enemies are within it. If wealthy Gulf Arabs want peace for Palestinians with Israel, why don't they take a fraction of their profligate spending (in nightclubs in Geneva, at bars in London, at boutiques in Milan) and redirect it to rebuilding Palestinian enclaves with schools, hospitals, food-production facilities, and manufacturing plants? We might then have durable peace possible in the Middle East...
Monday, June 01, 2009
I read somewhere that only 10% of U.S. Citizens have a passport, and was shocked to learn it. Yes, it's odd to need a passport to go to Mexico and Canada, but not having a passport means the doors of the rest of the world are shut to a person.
We live in very interesting times, and maybe having a passport, instead of being about stricter rules, could be about a nearly literal broadening of horizons. It's always been a bit of a misnomer- the "world's longest undefended border" is actually pretty well defended. But what was true before will be even more so come Monday, when the modern-day imperatives of homeland security will require Canadians and Americans alike to carry a passport in order to cross the 9,000-kilometre frontier and enter the United States.
The chaos is a bit overblown and yes, it's a new requirement, but it's requirement that has some practical value...better identification was inevitable. After four years of false starts and some minor concessions to opponents, the Bush-era Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative officially kicks in Monday, affecting travellers over the age of 16 in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, and Americans returning from abroad.
All of those travellers will now be required to have a passport or some other form of enhanced, U.S.-approved documentation. Most Americans don't hold passports - an estimated 70 per cent of them, according to U.S. State Department figures for 2008. That's raised concerns that those Americans won't bother visiting Canada, or entertain doing business north of the border, if they're now required to dole out the cash and endure the bureaucratic hassle of getting one.