Thursday, November 27, 2008

The New Renaissance: Erykah Badu

Music is an artform. I appreciate artists who set out to be bold, innovative, and uncompromising in creating the type of music they want to create. I am most moved by artists today who have the same rebellious spirit reminiscent of those folks from the Harlem Renaissance. In the same way that those artists refused to sell out and manufacture a perfectly packaged and marketed product, there exists today artists of a similar kind who will give you the truth. No matter how brutally honest or sharply poignant, there are artists today who will just give it you real.

Now of course, I don't have the monopoly on good taste, and all of this is my opinion. There were plenty of fun and even great music produced this year. But, after a year that belonged to Lil Wayne, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Kanye West (among others), one sleeper masterpiece has been a constant on my Ipod. Twenty years from now, I predict, Erykah Badu's latest will be as relevant and timeless as it is today. "New Amerykah" takes you on a journey. It is a specific journey routed in self discovery, revelation, struggle, pride, dispair, and hope.
New Amerykah: This album is pure soul music. There is a conscious message. There is something funky about it. It's a little sixties and a little modern R&B. As some points, you even think she may be high but that does not distract from the powerful imagery she creates with her shrill and soulful voice. You can listen to it from start to finish with skipping a track. The CD was a pleasant surprise as "Honey" (the most commercial of the tracks) is not like the other songs on the record. And with the election of Barack Obama, and the current debate and civil protests surrounding the same sex marriage issue -- accompanied by the release of Gus Van Zant's powerful and deeply moving "Milk" -- there seems to be a renewed sense of political activism as we all, all of US begin to take back our democracy in hopes of reclaiming the contract with the American Dream. This dream entitles us all equally to the pursuit of happiness. This message is clear in Erykah Badu's "New Amerykah." For this and so many other reasons, "New Amerykah" is my favorite album of 2008.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Aristocratic Style Icon: Langston Hughes

I have been reading more and more about the contributions of
African Americans in making this country one of the greatest on Earth. I have never studied, in depth, the Harlem Renaissance. But I am steadily learning more and more about the contributions of those young and inspired individuals. In some ways, they can be considered revolutionaries. Not only were brothers and sisters like Langston Hughes (in the picture) profoundly talented, highly drivem, and determined to be the change they wanted to see in the world, but they did so with style and swagger that many of us try to emulate today.

Langston was an American poet, novelist, playwright, and columnist best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. His contributions to Black American History are endless, and I am a new fan. He is an original Aristocrat and one of my new personal role models. You should definately read up on Langston Hughes, and the works of him and his contemporaries such as Zora Neale Hurston.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Southern Reconstruction

I was overjoyed last night and even this morning about the election of Barack Obama. So much has happened in eight years, and for it all to culminate in this defining moment, was well worth the wait. I felt a since of pride and happiness, that is, until I went to school. The campus seemed to haved had an eerily melancholy mood. There were so many sad and long faces, apparently disappointed in the loss for John McCain. That is fine, and loyal Republicans are entitled to feel that sentiment. However, there is a stark difference between disappointment for your candidate's loss and exhibiting utter disgust for the prospect that a black person will be your president. And what was I to expect? The nastiness coming from the McCain campaign and Fox News more or less tried to label Obama a terrorist, a socialist, a Muslim, a radical, a "scary" and "risky." So, sure, I can understand why those who believed all the lies and never bothered to research would be a little upset today.

Then, I entered the law school, and there was tension in the "air." People congregated in their separate corners to complain and then would awkwardly change conversation topic once an African American student would enter their vicinity. I thought we have dealt with this? Didn't this campaign make it okay to talk about race outloud? Adding to all this, numerous people have chosen to use Facebook to voice very hateful opinions. It is, as I told a friend, as would imagine many felt the day after the Civil War. It is like there has been a huge front to Southern heritage and culture that an African American has assumed the presidency. Now, clearly, this is not the feeling of ALL Southerners, but if you are honest with yourself and consider all of your southern associates and southern families, you will have to concede that somebody is burning in the gut today that their country's new leader is a black man. Mississippi's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. They cling to their strong heritage and cultural past with such a endearing white-knuckled grasp that it makes it very difficult for them to easily progress into a new future.

Obama's election is not a personal victory for African Americans. It is a notable triumph in African American history. But there is no way it could have happened if people of all races, ages, and backgrounds did not back this candidate. President Obama is our president in the truest sense. He is both black and white, and isn't that symbolic of the resolution it was going to take to bring us together. He represents Americans, each and every one of us.

African American students at Ole Miss should not have to hide their respective and understandable joy that a black person is president. Obama will be an inspiration to millions of black kids around the world as an example of what anyone can achieve. Moreover, white students who supported Obama should also be able to be excited about their candidate winning. Again, this is not a personal victory for individual African Americans, but it is a historic moment in American history. McCain supporters should rightfully feel some frustration. But no one should be affraid of having a black president.

President Barack Obama

President Obama: A Triumph for ALL Americans

I was watching CNN when at 10 p.m. it was announced that Barack Obama would be the next President of the United States. CNN's Wolf Blitzer was standing in front of one of their studio screens as they were counting down to the California, Oregon, and Washington polls' closings. He stated that they would potentially be able to make a projection. As the clocked ticked down from 10 seconds, there was a quiet moment. It was one of those moments that you hear and read about regarding what occurs before history is made. At 10 P.M., CNN cut to an American flag waving over an endless sea of American citizens and emotional Obama supporters in Chicago and announced that Barack Obama will be the next President. I felt a burst of joy and enthusiasm. Yes, it was historic that the country was electing its first black president. However, for me, it was more than that. This campaign has been a milestone in American politics. Barack Obama never ran as a black man, he ran as a candidate with a message of hope and change. This was a message that millions around the world and the U.S. could grasp after 8 long years which has been a series of tragic events, war, economic, and global crisis. If you traced this moment back to September 11, 2001, it is no surprise that after all this time, and all that has happened, people were waiting for something incredible. They were waiting for something new. Barack won because he was an exceptional human being, who happened to also be black.

This is why millions of blacks, whites, young, old, Latino, and women voted for Barack Obama. Obama changed the electoral map and managed to change red states blue. His election is not a personal victory for any one African American. His election is a triumph and a high point in American history after years and years of terrorism, fear, unemployment, and a slow decline in our national morale and global image. I voted for President Obama because I believe that his economic plan (a departure from trickle down theories) and approach to foreign relations (bringing back diplomacy) are better-situated to deal with the new challenges we faced. We have had it eight years one way, so why vote for someone who had more of the same to offer. Moreover, McCain and Sarah Palin didn't spend much time talking about their plans as much as they partook in a campaign built for parody. And in the weeks leading up to the election, the party itself began to unravel as signs of division in the camp made headlines.

It is my opinion that given the many errors the McCain campaign made, a victory for them on Nov. 4, would have led me to seriously question the political process. But again, the fact that Obama was able to turn red states blue, should be a strong indicator of how the country feels. I think President Obama is smart, and if he runs the country as well as he ran his campaign, I think we might be on an up-swing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Next First Family?

In Case You Missed: Joe the Plumber

The Aristocrat as "Joe the Plumber"
Since Joe wanted to make a mockery of the political process, then I wanted to make a mockery out of Joe, a "true" American

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why McCain SHOULD Lose

(1) Joe the Plumber: why is he giving press conferences on foreign policy regarding Israel? What are his qualifications to give a credible opinion on this issue? Why are we calling him a plumber when he is not? Why is he a campaign headliner?

(1.5) Tito the Builder

(2) Joe Six Pack: Joe Six Pack has been presented as a model for a "true" American. Presenting Joe Six Pack as a true American is implying that anyone who is not Joe Six Pack is not a true American. Speaking of that...

(3) When did being an "intellectual" become a bad thing? Intellectual republicans are being ostracized for some of their departures to Obama's camp. Imagine that, people who can rationalize and make an informed decision. But, hey, Joe the Plumber is an expert on our relations with Israel.

(4) Sarah Palin: see every post I have written about her. She is a polarizing and divisive figure. I honestly think she was McCain's biggest mistake. You cannot argue yourself a moderate and then bring on a far, far right conservative as your number 2. The more she spoke, the more it became apparent that there was no sort of formal process by which McCain chose her. She doesn't have any knowledge, or the basis to articulate an opinion, on usual things you would expect a national executive to know. Sure, she is nice and her appeal is that she is "real" and like an average [white] American. And that is why the base she mobilized so much is of one voice and one point of view. She does not present change or a new point of view. She is like George Bush. And we already made that mistake. The person you want to hang out with should not always be President. Moreover, she has been a point of division among her own party. And the SNL skits only drove home the point. She, like Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and Joes Six Pack, are caricatures for parody fodder. And like a house of cards...

(5) FOX News: Instead of spending time uplifting their obvious pick (McCain), they chose to disparage Obama. They may have done well to persuade Independants had they focused more on why McCain is the better choice instead recycling the Wright/Ayers story over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over...

(6) No Narrative, No Message, Poorly Managed Campaign: McCain missed an opportunity to run a dignified campaign. However, it seems he found it difficult to reconcile Karl Rove politics with the campaign he wanted to run. The country is more moderate, and the exhaustion with the war and worry about the economy did not create an environment in which those same dirty tricks could work

(7) 8 Years of Bush: This was going to be a tough mountain to climb, regardless of who was the candidate

(8) The Economic Crisis: McCain was sold as a military man. He stated from the very begining that he is not keen on economics...OOPS

(9) McCain's Debate Performances: The third debate was his most successful, but next to Obama, he looked old (not just in the literal meaning). In mannerisms, disposition, and ideas McCain is "old" and not an instrument of change.

(10) The Republican Party is changing: There is a divide inside the house. Some fiscally conservative Reagan Republicans do not neccessarily share common principles with Palin Republicans (the Christian evangelical right, racists, and Joe(s)). Also, fundamentally, the ideals of fiscal conservatism are something you can sell to alot of people (blacks, independents, social minorities). But if a strong part of your base is racists, offensive, judgmental, or not willing to work with these groups, then you lose the chance to expand your base and re-define your party. This is why, in my opinion, Gov. Palin was so wrong. She mobilized a specific group. But while she mobilized a particular group, she pushed out others that may have leaned McCain's way.


I just read through this post and realized how unfortunate this all is for John McCain. Ultimately, all of these reasons have nothing to do WITH John McCain. It is the people and the figures around him that has eroded his image and destroyed his campaign. Most of the attack ads against McCain-Palin were on their merits and policies. The McCain Campaign itself has been responsible for its own attack ads. Obama didn't have to do much but let them bicker from within, let Palin give interviews, let the Joe(s) campaign, and let the ignorance and racists comments at Palin rallies speak for themselves. McCain should have been more in control...but if he was in control, then I would be even more concerned if he were to win tomorrow