Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Environmental Activism is not About Carbon Emissions: A Call for A Sustainable Caribbean Plan.

by Clairmont Chung
Part I
Saving our environment is much more than carbon emissions and global warming. That is part of it. But environment is foremost about the quality of our lives. Developed nations convene global summits to discuss acceptable levels of carbon emissions and then promptly ignore any recommendations. Similarly, they either ignore even UN sponsored conferences on racism or attend and then walk out i. The result is the same because the attitude is the same. The attitude is the same because the subject matter is related and born of the same history. The quality of our lives gives way to profit. The result is a continuing attack on our environment. Environmental degradation and oppression is immediate family.

The level of particulates in the atmosphere matters little to the average citizen. For the majority of the world, environment is about the bars on our windows and alarms on our homes. Its about failing schools and healthcare. It's about expanding prisons. Its about water, Its about food and fuel. It's jobs. It's about police brutality. It's about violence in general, domestic, sexual, racial and ethnic. It is suicide. It's about plastic in our drains and now our veins. It's about animals and plants. It's about immigration and deportation. It's about us, humanity. It's about the whole thing and not just global warming.

I deliberately left a few topics like crime, poverty, and  health care out of this essay. This is intended as the first in a series of essays to introduce what is missing from the conferences and debates. People are missing as well as the day to day struggle of real families to survive and to connect and see the relationship of that struggle with environmental chauvinism.

It is foolish to reduce and isolate all that is wrong with our environment to increased levels of carbon emissions. It is much more complex because people are more complex. The basic science on climate change is that increased levels of carbon emissions trap heat against the entire planet. That heat is referred to as global warming and result in climate changes that include the extremes of weather and climate. Just as it is foolish to reduce environment to climate change, its is foolish to solve global warming by addressing it in one part of the world.

Nevertheless, here, I offer a few notes towards our need to develop policy in the Caribbean that would address the regional environment in a holistic way. I use Caribbean examples because I know it best and we cannot wait on developed nations. It does not preclude others from adopting similar applications. Climate change is happening everywhere.

USS Constitution,commissioned 1797, powered by renewable wind
 energy similar to ships involved in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and
later protected the institution of slavery.(c)rootsandculture 

Friday, February 21, 2014

One Bright Morning

by clairmont chung

William 'Bunny Rugs' Clarke, the extraordinary musician, intellectual, ambassador, Rasta MessenJah, and member of Third World ended his earthly phase on February 2, 2014. In July 2013, I saw Sly and Robbie perform at Irving Plaza in NYC. It was to be a birthday gift to self. I wondered whether they would use horns because that would be the cake and the icing. They did have a horn: a trombone. And they had Bunny Rugs.

Visions of my own transition to the ancestral realm are always accompanied by an assortment of alternatively screaming, and screeching horns. Brass; particularly trumpets, but trombones too, and saxophones of all sizes wail joyfully, happy at my departure. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Amiri Baraka on Rodney, Black Liberation and Obama.

Also titled, Amiri: Writa, Painta, Waila, Neva Bada, Booboo, Baba Baraka

by Clairmont Chung

As I contemplated Amiri Baraka's recent passing, and that of so many fighters, I questioned whether it would be as easy to redefine Amiri Baraka, tone-down his image, so as to make him more palatable, as has happened to others. Hunters and momento seekers succeeded stunningly with Mandela's hagiography: the blessed peacemaker. Something seems to happen to us when we become government. Baraka stayed away. He poses a more complex problem. He has recorded it all and made it difficult to rewrite. His work stands like thorns protecting a core.

I knocked at Amiri Baraka's front door one early Spring morning in 2009. He opened the door neatly dressed as if about to go on regular Saturday morning errands. We were both wearing Clarks, brown suede, Dessert Boots. Initially, he seemed surprised maybe expecting someone else. Sensing he was about to refuse whatever I was selling, I quickly reintroduced myself and mentioned the magic words, Walter Rodney, early in my delivery. My camera bag, tripod, and lighting equipment completed the message.

A few months earlier, we had agreed to an interview and today was the day. He seemed to relax at the mention of Walter Rodney and to vaguely recall our agreement. He did not protest. I pointed out our mutual taste in shoes. He stepped aside and waved my wife and I towards the foyer. His wife Amina poked her head around a corner, to assess the commotion and to remind Amiri the contractor would arrive at any moment to estimate the cost of house repairs. I don’t believe she remembered us.

Four years earlier, I had begun to put the pieces together for a documentary on renowned Guyanese scholar and activist, Walter Rodney. I had completed most of the needed interviews, but was missing the commentary that connected the black power movement in the Caribbean with that in the US, Africa and elsewhere as a global movement. Up until then, interviews had dealt with Walter Rodney, the personality or the ideology, in a specific place. My interview with Manning Marable had begun the wider process but that tape was stolen.

While going through the Rodney Papers, at Atlanta's Robert W. Woodruff Library, I found letters from Baraka to Rodney dated as early as 1972. Baraka had recognized Rodney's importance to Pan Africanism and wrote inviting him to Newark to address the American movement. In those days Pan Africanism was often used synonymously with socialism. From that letter we know that it was no longer just Black Nationalism, but Baraka was championing a broader socialist line in keeping with the global Black Liberation Movement:a Pan African position. He was not alone. The Black Panther Party leadership was already there.

In our interview, he identified a long standing divide that was ideological and not geographical; cultural nationalism versus scientific socialism. He and Rodney would meet the following year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and that is where our interview began.

We took 15 minutes to set-up camera, lights and audio, while I explained the socioeconomic and political importance of the Clarks Dessert Boots. Baraka had obviously done this many times. He calmly took his seat, submitted to being miked-up, and tested the sound as instructed. He seemed only mildly interested in Clarks boots but a bit more quizzical as I tried to explain the role of the boots, using the dialectic, as a prized possession among working-class and not-working-class Caribbean youth. There is no equivalent in African American style: maybe the Adidas shell-toe or Timberland's Chukka. But nothing as long-serving and as unsuited to the Caribbean climate as the Dessert Boot. The common affront is none of these manufacturers have demonstrated any reciprocal loyalty.

Baraka is a lot of things including stylish and swaggering whether in dashiki or tweeded and bow-tied. This was no ordinary style. It was bold and confident without ostentation. This was swag of a man who had met with Malcolm X and entertained Dr. King, Jr. in his Newark home. We sat for under an hour. But I got a lifetime.

He clearly had a story and a position to articulate. In his mind, if its Rodney I wanted, that’s what he was going to give and it would not be an isolated Rodney. It would be his Rodney: a global and timeless one. He needed no prompting and did not disappoint. But he did shock. But then its Baraka. I should have known.

We first met at Columbia University. He was a visiting professor teaching what we called Afro-American Literature. This was around the same time President Obama attended. More than likely, he skipped Baraka's class. I had read Baraka's book on Jazz, Blues People:Negro Music in White America, while a teenager and could hear the music on the pages. I too marched through the aisles, behind screaming horns, and out into the streets with the band as he described. Looking back much later, I think that book is as important as C.l.R. James' Beyond A Boundary, or maybe even The Black Jacobins, and does for jazz what James did for cricket and revolution. Through the analysis of cultural expression, in this case Jazz, he was able to demonstrate the unbreakable embrace between culture and revolt; expression and struggle and how what happens in the arena reflects on socio-politics and back. To understand Jazz you needed to understand all of history.

I read him in conjunction with that flood of stellar literature, art, that came out of the movement in the US: The time of Black Power. It was our enlightenment period. We had had other periods but this rivaled, perhaps surpassed, anything of 18th century Europe. It had the benefit of the mistakes of 18th Century European thinking. So once I heard he was teaching, I knew I would be in every class. I knew instinctively that this was good for us, the world, and a bad thing for Columbia's Administration.

The divestment movement was developing and would reach a head while Baraka was still around campus. I still believe his presence contributed substantially to the escalation at Columbia. Though divestment was the issue on several campuses, it was Columbia students that moved to occupy Hamilton Hall in the Spring of 1985. That spread to other campuses, but Columbia was one of the first to put a plan in place to divest and that was from the direct action of students and some faculty. Many attended his class and more were influenced by those who attended his class.

He taught “Black Women and Their Fictions” and we spent a lot of time on Zora Neale Hurston's, Their Eyes Were Watching God”. The compilation he did with his wife, Confirmation:An Anthology Of African American Women, featured prominently. He analyzed texts according to the dialectics of class struggle. He was clearly in love with Hurston: her writing too. She was before his time, of course, an earlier Black enlightenment, and probably would have been a challenge. In class, he confessed he had tried to hook-up with Toni Morrison while both students at Howard. She had dissed him. He loved challenges and Morrison must have been.

He wouldn't have minded, with his ever-present Sisyphean analogy as a refuge. We were all rolling the mythical ball uphill. Often it came crashing down sometimes on him, but mostly on the gains made by the people for and to whom he advocated. He cautioned that you cannot go wrong if you tell Black people what you think they needed to know and do. And he expected we would start the ball against all odds.

No one person is ever responsible for any movement. It is always a series of factors and personalities.

Outside the classroom something began to stir. Protest and takeover were not knew to the college campus and certainly not to Columbia. Columbia Students had taken over and occupied Hamilton Hall in 1968 as part of the struggle for Black self determination manifested in opposition to a new sports facility in Harlem. Baraka was there then too: in Harlem and active.

In the 1980s, during Baraka's teaching stint it was the Committee for a Free South Africa with the call for divestment. As he pointed out in our interview, it was the 'same struggle' ebbing and flowing. Its like a river.

By spring 1985, students channeling those students of 1968, chained the doors and slept-in, to bring attention to the injustice of apartheid. We held teach- ins in the years leading up to occupation and crowded the university senate meetings to advocate divestment. Columbia University was reported to have some 200 million invested. 

There was no more eloquent corollary to apartheid than our own history of segregation in the US. We could see fascism. Baraka had explained it to us. We talked about US segregation:class and race. Though not a placard carrying marcher he did appear and read poetry, like only he can, and that energized us and gave a sense of our power.

Never missing an opportunity, he performed on campus at the Miller Theater, Dodge Hall. Baraka on the mic, Reggie Workman on upright base, and Max Roach on drums: yeah Max Roach. Plus, Baraka was doing some percussive stuff with his vocal chords. His voice was a drum, his words bullets, like Monk played piano. 

He was a Pan African, performance artist, and Marxist. He made clear: the connection between hip hop and bebop. This was the 80s during the early rise of hip hop. The continuation of Blues People through performance. Baraka has never been late for anything. He was always ahead, well except once.

He started our interview talking about his first meeting with Rodney at the Sixth Pan African Conference in Dar es Salaam, 1973. Then we moved to the importance of Rodney. But you can watch the film yourself.


Then came the shocker. It was not what was said, but who said it. He launched into a stinging critique of the 'Black left' and urged, demanded, their full support for President Obama. He saw Obama as an extension of that earlier struggle for civil rights. I had traveled across the Caribbean, Africa and North America in making the film. I was fully aware of the global support that Obama had generated in unlikely places. I attempted to contextualize Obama's appeal: first according to race and then class. For Africans, people of African descent, the appeal was clear. How could he not have appeal to Black people given the racial history of the US and the planet?

Even Europeans, especially abroad, welcomed the possibility, and then President Obama, and I believe for what he represented as they too needed an Obama. He represented a challenge to the class based selection that characterized most elections and left the working class hardly working.

Their Obama did not have to be of African Descent, they probably would prefer not, but nevertheless she must hold the promise that Obama appeared to hold even without saying a word. 

This I believe spread throughout the world. In fact I believe it was a movement that came here rather than spread from the US outwards. In Latin America it elected Presidents there too and, in-turn, influenced Latino voting inside the US and towards Obama. That swell joined with African Americans and progressives here to elect Obama.

It was the coalition Baraka had constructed 50 years earlier in electing Ken Gibson, Mayor of Newark, with the possible exception of young White voters. Obama brought those.

I remained deeply skeptical: actually dismissive.

But Baraka's support was shocking because it came from a now avowed leftist, Marxist Leninist, Pan Africanist. And because, I did not do my usual preparation for interviews. If I had, I would have read his lambaste of the usual right-wing press suspects, or of Tavis Smiley, Cynthia McKinney and the Black Left in his The Parade of Anti-Obama Rascals. I thought our past together would have been enough preparation. He did not hold anything back. He called them Uncle Toms. Hell, I voted for Cynthia McKinney in that election. She never attacked Obama, then. She was just fighting fascism.

But Baraka made some passionate arguments describing the auto industry and bank bailouts as forms of nationalization and believed Obama would see them as such. I looked at his eyes. Everything said he was dead serious.

For not the first time I tried to rethink my position. I tried to look for something I had heard somewhere, or missed, that even remotely indicated that President Obama would move against corporate interests and commandeer its wealth for us. Maybe his stated unwavering support for Israel would be matched by unwavering support for Palestinians, Pakistanis, Black people, and human-rights. I thought about the military and the planned expansion in Afghanistan, how there and Iraq were now destroyed, and wondered where in that was any inkling that the seizure of oilfields, or whatever, would be made directly available to us without the intervention of the military, Mobil, BP, and Shell.

I was now the Black left. Or worse, I might be in the tea party. I learned this at his house. He was actually describing me. I wondered about the icy hand of the merger between fascism and corporate power and its strangle-hold on our stomachs, warming our planet and heating- up our neighborhoods. This was not about Obama. It was about us, imprisoned, some in our own homes, with flimsy overpriced alarms and steel grilled windows afraid to travel at night in areas where police and thieves roam looking for each other, locked in a battle orchestrated by that icy hand now on our throats.

Then I did something shocking. I did not challenge him. I looked at my dessert-ed feet. I wanted to complete my interview. I was on a deadline and not about to risk any interruptions; even my own. It took too much effort to get here.

A year and a half earlier, we had met unexpectedly in a Newark restaurant. Amina was with him and my wife and one daughter with me. We were the only patrons in a spacious feng-shued and upscale restaurant. We had taken our seats only minutes before Baraka arrived. I immediately saw the opportunity. This entire film was made in divine order, or so I told myself, and approached soon after he sat down. 

I  re-introduced myself, but it was clear he had no recollection of me in his class 25 years earlier. Both he and Mrs. Baraka were polite and gracious to me, my wife and daughter. I told him about the film, he said he was interested, gave me his card, and agreed to discuss it further. It took this long to get to his front door. Nothing was going to stop me.

Looking back we looked so Obamaesque in that restaurant. Two handsome couples, and child, who can still afford a meal in a somewhat upscale restaurant. It was the same look that had now been placed on fascism. In Obama, a pretty wife and smiling cute children, would be the cover. Fascism had become face-ism.

I did not call him the day before, as is customary, it was too important an interview and the time too short to risk a reschedule. So now, I would not risk it by challenging him and demanding that he showed me how is it that the auto and bank industry bailouts were nationalizations. Or that how, the bank executives who had bankrolled Obama's campaign and had reformed as his cabinet somehow can reform themselves to care about poor people:or Black people for that matter. Were these not the same bank executives that presided over the sub prime scandal that stole poor people's money: mostly Black people. 

What about the executives who flew private jets to Washington to argue their cases. Where were we in this cabinet; anywhere. Did he not recycle Bush's key people, the same Bush who Kanye said 'don't like Black people'. What about 'stop and frisk' on federal money, mass incarcerations and mass deportations. We justified it all. We said he needed experience and continuity. I shared my disbelief to my closest friends unwilling to suffer public rebuke or worse.

I agonized later, as I listened to the interview and contemplated how it would fit in the Walter Rodney story. In the interview, he proposed that if Walter and Stokely were here they too would be smiling about Obama. I felt a little sick. Imagine.

I knew the interview was gold. But I also knew it could have been platinum had I challenged him. That is how fascism grows. He had told me this years ago.

Fascism is one of Baraka's favorite targets. It seemed no class ended without it being mentioned once. He pointed out the examples of Franco and Hitler in Europe. Some in Africa and the Caribbean with pretensions to socialism, but fascist in practice. Apartheid is fascism. Its not dead. Its alive right here, right now.

His poem “Somebody  Blew Up America”, is about fascism. My own experience with fascists is that they do not or would not listen. It is that strong man, woman, who accepts no counsel. Its the inability of individuals in power to self correct, self analyze and change with the interest of others in mind: those out of power. Its the hoarding of power. Moreover, it is the inability of others with access to the source, the core, to point out the contradictions to the contradicted. Had I become that person: silent, a kind of sycophant interested only in my project?

The US and its NATO allies invaded Libya. This struck a nerve in Baraka and he struck back, Baraka style. He wrote in 2011, The New Invasion Of Africa,
So it wd be this way
That they wd get a negro
To bomb his own home
To join with the actual colonial
Powers, Britain, France, add Poison Hillary
With Israel and Saudi to make certain
That revolution in Africa must have a stopper....

In the process he did what fascists cannot do:self-correct. On Libya, I was my usual cynical self. It was business as usual imperialism. Baraka redeemed himself and in the process saved others; me included and demonstrated what was possible. But if you know anything about Baraka, know that's what he does. 

Now Syria has joined the others in the dust and guns have swung to Iran. A pattern has appeared. In whose interest, and whose bidding, is it?

Baraka can leave the Village and head to Harlem, unify Latinos and Africans to elect Ken Gibson, leave peace and love for Black Power, leave cultural nationalism and find or add scientific socialism, take or leave Obama. Its not always smooth or complete.

Baraka can be anything and always, soon enough, in the service of the oppressed. In the interview, he told me not to hold him responsible for things he said 20 years ago. It sounded incredible. Only 20 months had passed since President Obama's election before Libya happened. People change. He saw in Libya what he hadn't seen before and was courageous enough to call it.

It must be a lasting treasure for his family to know a man so intimately and a man who was so needed by our world. He did what he did for all of us, not for the money and fame. He read and wrote courageously. We are forever grateful to his family for being so generous.

Politicians and world 'leaders' did not rush to pose for pictures with him. Some wanted him dead. He was not killable. They certainly cannot kill him now. His contribution is immortal

Luckily he lived into the technological age and we have near sufficient of him to last beyond us. That's a pleasant thought: a barrier against forgetfulness and silence.

So as we contemplate his passing, know the usual suspects will rush to eulogize him and try to euthanize whats left, what he thought, his image, and in the same way they did to Mandela. I expect Corey Booker, Obama II, the ex-Mayor of Newark, now a Senator, to be one. No reference would be made to Baraka's Somebody (any four letter word) Up America or Africa's new invasion. Many decry Apartheid as some distant past, but are blind when confronted by it in the present, in the US and Israel most notably, but its really everywhere. They sidestep it so as not to upset the benefactors. We rationalize the approach because we think they have to get into power to change it. Someone said about elections, 'the government always gets in'.

That icy grip forces the oppressed to adopt survival tactics based on race first, religion first, party first, tribe first, gender first, whatever first, while not seeing that 'firsts' sow the seeds of fascism. It works great when seeking unity to seize power, but not so good after the seizure of power. And the reason is the inability to deal with inequality, the distribution of resources to all, the economics of it necessarily begins an exclusion process that dehumanizes. We become the very thing we decried.

So eulogize if you must, but know its fascism we fight and that fascism attempted to eliminate Rodney and Biko and El Hajj and Assata, El Amin, Amiri and understand why we cannot euthanize what they say. They never shut up. His works are like thorns protecting his core. No laureate can achieve that, no Peace Prize, no Pulitzer. Thanks Amiri for humanizing us with culture. We may not be able to fill your shoes or walk in your footsteps. How about wearing the same shoe?

De attacka 
Neva guh backa 
Writa, Painta, waila 
Teacha, preacha 
'mi na
Neva fear ah breda
like you neva
dappah rappa
boppa hip hoppa
Black powa
yuh neva

For Information on the film go to  W.A.R. Stories:Walter Anthony Rodney

A transcript of the extended interview is in the edited volume, Walter Anthony Rodney: A Promise of Revolution, Monthly Review Press, New York 2012 
(C) roots and culture media

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Forecast on Race in America: Passing Clouds, Sunny But Not Bright.

By Clairmont Chung

The Admission
In the sad aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict, former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin incredulously admitted on CNN that she had not ‘seen race’ in the Trayvon Martin case. She went further, adding that she had never seen race in her 20 plus years as a prosecutor. I had heard similar statements before and, though always incredible, dismissed its owners as ignorant and without any power to seriously hurt anyone anyway.  But Hostin had to have hurt many people in her capacity as prosecutor and now had a certain power as legal analyst and frequent commentator on TV with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and others. This essay is not about the specifics of racial inequality and its parents: white supremacy and monopoly capitalism. I am not writing about unequal pay, access to health care, mass incarceration, homelessness, joblessness and sub prime mortgages. It is too complex a subject to cover in an essay. I make brief references and recommend a few sources for that information and they are many. Instead, I write about a peculiar group who, all things being equal would stand as true examples of achievement; the colorblind: and particularly those of African descent. Perhaps they are not as colorblind as claimed and have chosen the massas over the masses.

I tried to contemplate what it meant for a person of obvious African descent, living on earth, let alone in America, not to see race, in the Zimmerman case, any criminal case, anywhere, on this planet. American platitudes from the highest office and cabinet about ending ‘stop and frisk’ and repealing ‘stand your ground’ ring hollow. It’s time for the expansion of a national and international movement to lift the veil from the eyes of the injustice system; beginning with a review of all verdicts Ms. Hostin, and others like her, has had a hand. Because to ‘not see race’, to be ‘race neutral’, in a racist society, is to violate its victims. To not see race is to be racist.[1] There could be no serious discussion of racial inequality without seeing race.

Sunny Hostin, CNN legal Analyst
As stunning a revelation as that was, Ms. Hostin exceeded it by adding that she did not see race in the case before, not until the Anderson Cooper’s interview with juror B37[2]. Unbelievably, it was not the history of slavery and race in America, Zimmerman’s predation, the method of Trayvon’s killing, the prosecutors’ ineptitude, the exclusion of Black people from the jury, the covert references to race by the defense, or the verdict itself, that informed Ms. Hostin. Instead, it was the interview with, a hooded, hidden, White, juror B37 that opened Ms. Hostin’s eyes. It is then that I began to see Trayvon’s killing as a ritualized sacrifice: shrouded in some kind of mystical cloud, maybe destined to change the world, yet hidden from the uninitiated. I’m speaking metaphorically and metaphysically.
On one hand, it was for George Zimmerman to act-out some ancient rite to cleanse his personal torment through a terminator-like predator syndrome, coded for activation by any perceived threat to White supremacy. On the other hand, and as a consequence, even the colorblind could now see. In a role reversal of sorts, on national TV, justice wore a hood rather than a blindfold: The juror hid her identity like a Ku Klux Klan member, but in the process lifted the blindfold off a number of eyes: if not brains.

Justice with Blindfold
Historically, the blindfold was intended to cover the eyes of justice to affect a truly blind and unbiased judgment. Initially, and arguable still, people of African descent were not citizens and not included as part of the beneficiaries of this blindness. But with admission into the multiracial mix, the blindfold became a weapon against people of African descent. Justice retired the blindfold to her closet and ruled with color-consciousness, but claimed no bias. The blindfold was originally intended to hide differences in White people and to help justice reach an objective decision: to balance the scales. In benevolent patriarchy, men decided justice is female. Race based decisions like the Zimmerman verdict remind us there is no blindfold on justice for black people. Those who do not see this, the blindfold is on them..While some of us use the blindfold to hide from ourselves. Justice used our blindfold to hide from us. After Trayvon, even the blind felt compelled to speak.

The Outing
As a result, out came a number of peculiarly situated people of African descent, like Hostin, to speak on race. Many prominent figures, some barristers of eminence, and others not so eminent came from behind the blindfold or some rock. Many African descendants, who ought to know better, had fallen into uneasy silence, totally co-opted, invested.  The sacrifice of Trayvon and, more so, the sacrilege of juror B37’s interview ‘outed’ a group of people ‘passing’ not as White, but as Black.

‘Passing’ was historically used to describe very light skinned people of mixed African and European or other descent who looked, acted, and lived White, as a way of accessing white privilege, while protecting, and advancing themselves. It was like a reverse witness protection program: where you witnessed crimes but joined the gang to save yourself rather than be a victim. It’s not peculiar to any people or race. It’s a technique applied wherever advantages are gained because of membership in identifiable groups, for example, political parties, ethnic groupings, gender and sexual orientation. Generally those under despotic rule seek to join the ruler, even if in disguise, to preserve self.

Of course, the stakes are higher, dehumanizing, when the power group seems to control all the advantages and the basis for exclusion is your ‘unchangeable’ skin or sex. Bleaching is its own dehumanization. But we struggle to explain it in the context of White privilege.  White privilege is the reward in a racist construct. Often, the privileged neither knows nor admits to privilege. There was a time when successful passing could mean life over death. But as the name suggests it was intended to be temporary; like clouds. The plan would be to revert to your true self in safer times. Evidently, those times are not here yet.

Today the terror is more sinister. In a pigmentocracy the lighter you are, the better: white is still best. But it’s more about ideas or the absence of ideas and less about color. If you were passing in the traditional sense, you could not realistically claim the absence of racism. It was the reason for your passing.  But this new group, passing as black, requires the absence of race based ideas and analysis. You can be obviously Black and still pass by absorbing the cultural norms of White supremacy. That requires colorblindness: an affliction affecting people of all hues and requiring a blindfold.  Those who cannot ‘pass’ in the traditional sense instead ‘pass’ as Black.  It’s ideological.

The Passers
You pass as Black when you enjoy the benefits of the historical struggle, but ignore any attempt at its recognition: you ignore the existence of White supremacy. Others in this group recognize it exists but say, so what: fight harder. To them the idea of reparation is ludicrous. Even some, who shouted racism from platforms in the past, now appear forgetful or blind. Some are public figures and represent their government at conferences on racism then walk out on the crucial discussions on repairing racial inequality. In their personal lives, those who can afford it, they move to completely White, or passing, neighborhoods; as is their right. They live with the trappings of privilege: exclusive schools, gated communities, and summer homes. This access was fought for by people over centuries of struggle, the majority of whom remain without access. Okay, maybe summer homes are a little too much, and not the goal of struggle, but you get the idea: it flows from assimilated upward mobility. Trayvon’s dad’s mobility played an unfortunate and cruel trick.  Intended, perhaps, to serve as a reserve of peace, the gated community became a trap.

Trayvon Martin and his father, Tracy Martin
All passers need do is close their eyes to race discrimination as a way of advancing oneself and maybe maintaining a kind of sanity. There are two groups: the blind and the blindfolded. It’s a peculiar altered state. Whereas they act like a White person, seek out and pursue all the privileges enjoyed by white people. They are able to secure the benefits fought for by those who, could not or, chose not to pass. Affirmative action access to schools and many token positions in the social and economic structure are filled by these people. Others may even claim racism as a way of advancing but soon forget. Some in this group, that see race, feel their hands tied and their mouths taped; the blindfolded. They occupy the same positions as those who see no race: the blind. So, something tragically dramatic has to happen before they say or see anything. Trayvon happened.

Racism is a reward system. 
If you play your cards correctly you can make it all the way to the top: even to president.In the past, we may have referred to this group as Uncle Toms or House Negroes but these terms have been misused. Malcolm X was attempting to make a particular point in a particular context, when he berated house Negroes as an ideological concept. It’s the same people I attempt to address now. Much of what Malcolm X said has been converted to serve the ends of these same opportunists. For example ‘by any means necessary’ is used to justify the accumulation of wealth, gettin’ mine, even by trampling on the rights and lives of others. 

But contrary to popular belief some of our most revolutionary and radical activists and thinkers were actual, if not ideological, House Negroes. Revolutions in Haiti and Berbice, and rebellions elsewhere, would not have been as successful without House Negroes. They lived near, and had access, to the Great House. They had intelligence on the comings and goings of massa, the location of weapons and the numbers of the enemy. They had access and opportunity to poison opponents and animals and otherwise sabotage the plantation production system. L'Ouverture and Cuffy were House Negroes. Servility was also attached to the House
Frederick Douglass
Negro along with a friendly disposition. Nat Turner led perhaps the most brutal revolt in US history, yet it was remarked how subservient and amiable a slave he had been. Another house slave, Frederick Douglass, would learn to read because he had access to the big house as a non-threatening boy. He would escape and put that coveted skill to maximum use. It’s not where you spend your days but the dreams you inhabit at night.

Toms and Negroes
The terms House Negro and Uncle Tom is often conflated. But not by Philosopher Dick Gregory who has credited Uncle Toms, made famous in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s[3] novel, with shape-shifting.  Shape-shifting is the ability to change shape and morph into different life forms: a skill found often in African mythology.  A hero may become a lion or an ox depending on the obstacle ahead. In the Epic of like Sonjara (Sundiata) the protagonist shifted shape. Today these ideas are associated with Voodoo and Obeah.  Stowe’s hero, Uncle Tom, remained a loyal Christian but incited escape. Escape often required a shift in shape. Nat Turner had certainly shifted his shape as a result of instructions he claimed he received in a dream. Harriet Tubman avoided detection sometimes dressed as a man. Frederick Douglas used fake identification as a prop in his own daring escape disguised as a sailor[4]. Much like the Uncle Toms of old, today, African descendants indentured to corporations are often engaged in a kind of shape shifting as a survival mechanism. They must present a face on the job and another at home.
In the supposedly post-racial era, African descendants have been incorporated within, if not assimilated into, the whole: black and white. But that too is not an exact science. That many of the passing members are, historically and currently, light skinned is more than likely due to the long history of the original ‘passers’ and the effect of White male aggression, rape, on women of African descent.  Douglass’ father was listed as an unknown White man. This has been further reinforced by the reward system set up by White supremacy where Black people consciously choose lighter partners to affect better opportunities. Its current evolution seems to be the skin bleaching phenomenon. Bleaching like passing is temporary, though you may kill yourself before times get safer.

But this is not light skinned privilege, by itself. Passers can come in any description.  Malcolm X, Detroit Red, did not make a distinction in describing House Negroes. On one hand we have prosecutors and judges of dark complexion sending us to jail and presiding over the disappearance of constitutional rights. On the other hand, many of the most fearless fighters for the rights of people of African descent were light skinned and some could even have passed for white. In fact, some were white.

Passing is not something that afflicts only people of African descent. Everyone is affected. At one time, some Jews had had to change their names and list themselves as Christian to find work. Recently, Asian media personality, Julie Chen admitted to plastic surgery to Europeanize her eyes on the advice of her boss and noted the increase in opportunities as a result. Even some White people seek to lighten their hair and eyes for the same reason.  Volumes have been written about the Whiting of Europeans; the Irish and Italians in particular.  This is not some pathology peculiar to African descendants. But Black people have borne the brunt of its negative effects and precisely because of their color and false notions of beauty, but only as a toll to secure power and control for a White minority capitalist group: the one percent.

However, this multiplex passing group is a one percent of sorts, the chosen few, enjoying these benefits and while eating at the table of white privilege, offer a few contemptuous comments to the wretched about the hang of their pants, the correct position for caps, the coarseness of speech, the importance of an education, personal responsibility,  littering, laziness and fatherlessness.  Beyond that, they see nothing and say little else. They don’t see the skin or anything deeper, below the skin. The education they speak of is not about independent thinking, but about appearance and presentation. They don’t see themselves. Instead, they look at mode of dress and appearance, the surface, things that cover skin.

Uncle Tom  assaulted by plantation owner Simon Legree
printed Circa 1883
As happened to Hostin, Trayvon forced Eric Holder, our nation’s highest justice official, to speak on race in a way he had never done. He offered his own experiences at being racially profiled even once while a federal prosecutor. We heard he had cautioned his own son on racial profiling as his dad had cautioned him. He since offered to end prosecution of low level criminal defendants for drugs and suggested we needed to take a look at the five- decade old war on drugs with an eye to reform. This was something new: maybe, its shape shifting.  Shape shifting like tom ism is also ideological. Tom in the Beecher Stowe narrative has come to personify the hat in hand servile slave. But remember Tom was beaten for refusing to whip another captive and later killed for refusing to reveal any information on the whereabouts of the recently escaped Cassy and her daughter Emmeline.

It’s hard to fathom which is worse: Attorney General Holder who knew and saw race, but said and did nothing, or former federal prosecutor Hostin, who never saw race and said and did nothing: but for Trayvon.  Even, President Obama suddenly found the voice to intone that Trayvon could have been his son. These outings and confessions ought to have caused a major shift. Don’t be too optimistic.

The Changes
Stop and Frisk [5]is now under scrutiny: even though President Obama is about to appoint its most recent public defender,  NYC Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, as head of Homeland Security. In Floyd V. The City of New York[6], Federal District Court Judge, Shira Scheindlin, in a brilliant opinion, ruled ‘stop and frisk’ unconstitutional. New York City, the recent model child of ‘stop and frisk’ has a council that is seemingly on the right path to end the practice.

But let’s not be carried away by these pronouncements and rulings. Understandably, some and particularly the passers have rushed to highlight these developments as progress. Avoiding the Voting Rights Act or the health care discussion for the moment, am I to rejoice about the return of something you took from me? Is this progress, the change? We will rejoice at the return of both: The things you took from us and the things we lost because of the things you took from us. Know the difference.

This is very little, very late, but an indication of what continued pressure can do. Perhaps, that is what President Obama meant when he said, “make me”. I resented it then and do now.  Is Trayvon’s death the requirement? My response then, as now, was ‘who do you think made you’?

Even as we rush to celebrate some victories, we are being defeated. Michael Jackson, that extraordinary artist and microcosmic conundrum of race and class with bleaching and all, reentered the news recently when his concert promoter, AEG, was found not liable for his death. Imagine his doctor, Murray, who worked for AEG was convicted in criminal court and at the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, while Dr. Murray’s employer, AEG, was found not liable.  Michael Dunn, a white gun collector fired at least eight shots into a car full of teenagers, killing 17-year-old African American Jordan Davis. Dunn is awaiting trial and claiming ‘stand your ground’. Miriam Carey, an unarmed single mother, was gunned down by security personnel in Washington D.C. while fleeing police pursuit and allegedly using her vehicle as a weapon. I promised not to talk about mass incarceration. But using the car as a weapon and eluding were laws and ideas created to target the inner-city: Blacks and Latinos. The only video circulating so far, show the police vehicles surround Ms. Carey but carelessly leave sufficient space for her to reverse and drive away. The chase should have ended right there with all parties safe.  Then there is the motorbike ‘gang’ in New York. Did the driver of the SUV not use his car as a weapon, seriously hurt somebody, and left the scene of an accident while eluding a group that included police officers. Instead, the voices are about the attack of the bikers on the ‘passing’ driver.

As I write the US Supreme Court deliberates over a White student’s claim of discrimination as a result of being rejected from the University of Michigan and because of spaces reserved for minority candidates. The tenor of the times says she will win. It says enough that the highest court is considering these issues 50 years after the march on Washington. Though Trayvon forced some important people to belatedly lend their voices to the obvious, its business as usual.

This race based access to education needs more attention, because it is the same passers who attended these same universities because of race but now are against the idea. Imagine, this court challenge amounts to people requesting a judge to force public universities to wear blindfolds.  After years of racial oppression and inequality everything is now equal. We now must all agree to be colorblind. One would think you balance scales by adding or subtracting from the left or right. The University of Texas is also in court over the issue of ending race based enrollment at public universities. Given recent decisions on Voting Rights and others, I fully expect a minimum of five Supreme Court judges to find race-based policies unconstitutional. One of those Judges will definitely be named Thomas.

But it was not just Trayvon that brought the positive results and outings. It was the voices of people like Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. It was the voices of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, Harry Belafonte and Boyce Watkins. More importantly it was those unknown voices that took to the streets for Ramarley Graham, chased and gunned down in his own home by NYPD, and Kimani Gray in Brooklyn, and many more across the United States and abroad.

There is so much work to do and its global. Trayvon’s killing and Zimmerman’s trial had global repercussions. We cannot forget the 43 miners at Marikana, South Africa, the 3 protesters at Linden, Guyana, and 70 plus at Tivoli Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica. When we calculate per ca pita the 70 plus lost in Tivoli Gardens is more than the 3000 lost on 9/11. [7] Instead of fear seizing the masses it seems to have seized the state.

On July 28, 2013, I was sitting in the Atlanta Airport, on a return trip from Jamaica, outlining a letter to Ms. Hostin, when Don Lemon popped onto the screen with his ‘tripe’ as my mother would sometimes refer to foolishness[8]. As I went through security, I was singled out; randomly they said, to test for recent contact with explosives. Angered by Lemon and now this intrusion, I realized that in ten days, I had been tested for bomb material five times. This is not a confession intended to reveal my empathy and enlist yours. This is how we are living.

Writer in Jamaica
The first was on Thursday, July 18, 2013, I was stopped at Port Authority, in New York. The officers told me I was randomly selected. They did not say whether I could leave or refuse.  There were about five officers some in the dark blue of NYPD and at least two in the lighter blue shirts of the TSA: the ones seen at airports. I guess transportation includes trains, NYC subways too. They swabbed my hands, ran the swabs through a sensor and sent me on my way: clean. The next morning I went through security at the Newark Liberty Airport on my way to Jamaica and was again randomly selected, swabbed, and sent on my way.

In Jamaica, I grounded with my brothers and sisters, ate, drank and grounded some more and soon forgot all the anxiety. Until, ready to leave from Montego Bay, I was randomly selected and tested, not once, but twice before boarding. After passing security, I was randomly selected for exposure to explosives, hands swabbed: you know the drill. I waited quietly for an hour to board, showed my boarding pass at the gate, and was again randomly selected for recent exposure to explosives. I told the security person that I was already swabbed by security to enter the area. She indicated that that was for the airport, her swab was for the plane. This is what is happening now.

Many young black men and women have been murdered by the state or those acting in place of the state. In fact, many young Black men have been killed by young black men as TV personality Don Lemon, another passer, reminded us. The Las Vegas Guardian reported Five hundred and twelve murders in Chicago for 2012[9]: President Obama’s political home state. Seventy Five percent of those victims and perpetrators were of African descent.  In these daunting statistics, somehow Trayvon’s killing stands out. It is an epic tragedy and the trial a farce like so many.

Much like Africans involved in the trade of other humans, blame must be placed where it belongs. It is a system organized and maintained by Babylon without any care of any humanity, only for the strength of its dollar.

Don Lemon, Host CNN
The Don Lemons’ and Sunny Hostins’ are chosen indeed. It is not entirely their doing. They have little power and are selected precisely because of this propensity to ignore race.  The skilled job interviewer can identify this person without a word exchanged. Anderson Cooper, for example, can select from any number of deep thinking legal practitioners but instead selects Sunny Hostin. Dr. Drew also demonstrates his contempt by selecting Shahrazad Ali as a panelist to help analyze race and the Trayvon Martin case: completing the minstrelsy. Ms. Ali’s claim to fame is a book on Black women that challenges Willie Lynch[10] for foolishness. So, an occasion for serious discussion becomes a show replete with colorful performers engaged to entertain.

Don lemon can host at CNN and emit some of the worst stereotyping and nonsensical reasoning that I have ever heard unless it was Bill Cosby or another of those passers. Then he cites President Obama for support. If he is any indication of what his kind of education can do, I caution against it. He prefaced his diatribe by warning us that Bill O’Reilly and he had agreed on these points and O’Reilly had not gone far enough. Mr. Lemon and others like him evidently hadn't noticed the killings in Black communities prior to Trayvon Martin. Or maybe Trayvon gave him license to speak: whereas before, he only mouthed the thoughts of others who seek to show why the young black male gangster model, a micro set, is a paradigm for all black males and black people. No social scientist has been known to show the relationship between sagging pants and low expectations, low achievement and prison. But Don Lemon and his mentor Bill O’Reilly have so concluded.  That he remains on air is incredible until you realize that that is precisely why he is on air. He was properly vetted. Human resources did a splendid job in finding Lemon. They know exactly what they are getting.
The establishment loves this group because they make the point, of white supremacy, better than even White men. Once passers remain as window dressing and powerless in the decision making process, the point can be made about how well adjusted the rest of us can become. It’s our potential to pass.

The random testing, just days after the Trayvon verdict, seemed not so random and I began to wonder the reason for this attention. How does one get tested for exposure to bomb making materials 5 times in 10 days? Perhaps, it was my longer beard grown to escape the tyranny of the daily razor. I did notice that more Black men had taken to growing longer beards. Perhaps it was some silent solidarity with the would-be terrorist. I am just lazy. Imagine that under the national leadership of an African descendant and an attorney general of African descent I can still be randomly selected 5 times in 10 days for bomb activity and so soon after their promised review of stop and frisk. Not even gun or drug possession but bomb. Jamaica was only interested in testing me as I left. Presumably they didn't care about Jamaican casualties, but were protecting the US: my destination.

It is October and when we celebrate Columbus Day. In true Columbian fashion, the US sets its sails abroad to recover the wealth and obedience of others by arms. My nationalists’ family rejoice in the knowledge that Columbus’ navigator was of African descent. Similarly, some revel in the fact that the current expedition’s navigator is African, or of African descent.  Like Columbus, America targets the world, but the Caribbean is special. Assata Shakur in Cuba has been placed at the head of the most wanted list of terrorists by the US Department of Justice. She is the new Osama Bin Laden with a bounty of 2 million.  She can be murdered by the state at any time or anyone acting on its behalf. Would that be black on black crime or is Columbus’ legacy living?

I hope that my analysis is wrong, because seeing race and not saying anything must be torture. If I sound like I am at the gate of color deciding who is and who is not, it is only because of the complexity of the subject and that it defies the confines of an essay. I hope that those passing are really Uncle Toms and House Negroes that can shift shape and swiftly reform as revolutionary change mongers rather than passing like ominous clouds on the racial landscape, announcing a rain that can wash color away.

Let’s be clear. Not seeing racial imbalance is, in fact, racial imbalance. Not seeing white supremacy is White supremacy. Its goal is to hide. It has always been that way, at its worse.  Sunny Hostin’s view of race was clouded like our view of juror 37. Hostin later relented and called her own view, ’naive’. Naive is a soft word. Blind is more accurate. The education Sunny received did not prepare her to analyze White Supremacy and monopoly capitalism.  It is the education that blinded her. I hope that our passers are like clouds temporarily blocking brighter skies or shape-shifters priming for imminent rebellion and we would not have to mutter as did Zimmerman, “these assholes always get away,”

The End

[1] For a working definition of racism see Huffington Post, October 12, 2013, an interview conducted by Kathleen Wells, J.D., Prof. Robert Jensen Discusses Racism, White Supremacy and White Privilege, Part 1.
[2] Anderson Cooper Interviews Juror 37`
[3] Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, John P. Jewett & Co, Boston 1852
[4] "Escape From Slavery, 1838," Today, 12 million undocumented residents of the US cannot get on that same train from Baltimore to Philadelphia and beyond unless with fake identification.  
[5] Stop and Frisk a policy credited to New York Police Department, in error, that permits the stop and frisk of Black and Brown people without probable cause or without any crime being committed. Ray Kelly is the current NYPD Commissioner and advocate for the practice.  
[7] Jamaica’s population is roughly 2.9 million, 3 million for the ease of calculation, and the US roughly 300 million. We would have to multiply the 70 deaths in Tivoli gardens by 100 to match the deaths on 9/11 to that in Tivoli. Instead of 3000 deaths on 9/11 it would have to increase to 300000 to match the death toll in the Tivoli Massacre.   
[8] Don Lemon exhorted young Black men to do 5 things in order to save the Black Community.
[9] Las Vegas Guardian Express, Chicago Murder Rate Climbs, Four More Killed and Ten Wounded Since Friday, by Douglas Cobb, July 14, 2013, “Between 2003 and 2011, 4,265 people were murdered in the city of Chicago. In 2012 alone, 512 people were murdered in the city.”.
[10] A largely discredited essay, supposedly written by West Indian planter, slave owner, Willie Lynch, instructing American slave-owners on the methods of breaking slaves. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Jay-Z Empire: West of a Stateless Mind

by clairmont chung

Barclays Center moored on Atlantic Avenue (Getty Images)
The subway train shook me from my half-sleep as we jerked to a stop. It was as if it wanted to show me something. Then I read in bold letters on the station’s walls: Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. At first, I did not understand what was happening. This was some kind of trick, payback for the things I said about capitalism. Maybe I had made a mistake and taken the wrong train. I had never heard of a station by that name in New York or anywhere. The underground dimness looked familiar. Then the conductor’s cackle announced that we were on the “2 train to Flatbush”. I relaxed a little, even smiled. This was no mistake. Then he said the name of the stop, “Barclays Center, Atlantic”. It felt like a slap so hard that I did not hear the name of the next stop: Barclays-Bergen. I was fully awake then, but train sick. Imagine, not one but, two stops in Brooklyn renamed Barclays in 2012. Barclays Bank was now back, on the Atlantic, naming stops as its debtors did during slavery. Except now it added other property: A building that looked like a ship and Jay-Z.

Down below  (c) rootsandculture
I paid little attention to the building of the new entertainment arena for the Brooklyn Nets. I treat some of these developments like the presidential elections. They are like trucks rolling down the highway, or oil tankers at sea, and you get the sense that getting in the way brings worse and so I follow at a healthy distance. But this required more scrutiny. With the city’s help, the developer used the powerful legal tool of eminent domain to clear out residents and businesses for the needed space. A bar I visited from time to time closed so that the stadium could be built. Barclays Bank paid the developer, a kind of rental fee, to place its name on the arena: but has no direct interest in developing the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, that calls it home, or with Jay Z. Even the refurbished and renamed subway station was paid for by the developer. So Barclays does not actually own the ship nor does its own Jay-Z, actually.

I can understand one corporation making a deal with another, but the subway was not owned by a corporation. Is it?[1]  How much did it cost Barclays to change the name of a subway stop and who received the money?[2] Who knew downtown Brooklyn was sufficiently blighted for the state’s highest court to find just that and order private property demolished? As it turns out, Bruce Ratner, the developer, bore the cost of the naming rights and the $76 million for refurbishing the stop[3]. In exchange for the latter he received the rights to the airspace above his ship: seriously. The naming rights to the stop is to last the same 20 years as the lease to name the center. Evidently, Atlantic-Ratner, or Roc- A- Fella[4]-Atlantic does not have the same bouquet as Atlantic-Barclays.

Somewhere I had read that Jay Z owned an interest in a basketball team. I never really followed Jay Z’s career, he came much after hip hop’s originators, and I stopped following Pro basketball some years ago, after watching a Nets versus Knicks game at the Continental Arena in Jersey. The four tickets included valet parking and cost close to eight hundred dollars. It was a gift and did not include the twelve dollar beer. The game was a sham. In my view the athletes under-performed  some deliberately. I had seen better games at the summer tournaments at Rucker in Harlem and Wingate in Brooklyn. It seemed more like worker action, a go –slow, against the owners. That was the only way I could justify that, but attending another NBA game, even for free, was out of the question. So, the New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn was background noise to me. But a ship named Barclays in the middle of downtown Brooklyn, with Jay-Z as the launching act, required a closer. 
Barclays flagship under construction (c) Nelson Brakerman
NY Daily News
Unlike Barclays, in the US, Jay Z has never been far from media cameras and our consciousness. He laid-down great beats, added serious flow with clever lyrics and created major influence. But his subject matter, though creatively delivered, remained mired in the brag and boast genre and without the promise of conscious music early Hip Hop offered through KRS 1 and others. Wikipedia says Jay-Z’s interest in the Nets basketball team is about one-fifteenth of one percent and that he paid 4.5 million for it. It isn't that Jay-Z needed another ten, or even twenty, percent return on this investment. He has a huge public persona, and a bank account to match, separate and apart from the Nets. It certainly was not intended to give Jay any control over the operation. His minute ownership interest combined with the use of the Barclays’ name in exchange for a payment, and with no ownership interest,  is proof that it is a publicity stunt for all the players but more so for Barclays and Jay Z: both of whom owned little else in the deal.

Jay-Z’s interest may be microscopic but hardly invisible. It’s the convergence of diverse backgrounds in the interest of making more money. But it reflected something worse: a return to a time when Barclays financed the trade of human cargo whose entrepreneurs sought the help of some local chiefs to execute its plan. Once that cargo reached its destination, it was resold and branded. Today, Barclays, unwilling to slink quietly into the past, instead, pays a rent -$400 million over 20 years- for its name to sit on the building and on letterheads and foreheads like a reminder: a bold brand. It has denied any involvement in the slave trade. But to now join its name, Barclays, to Atlantic is beyond bold.

Barclays’ history in the slave trade dates back to 1690. It has defended itself against these accusations by pointing out that there is no documentary, no paper, evidence of its involvement in the human trade.  But we ought to compare the trade in captives to today’s drug trade. Many have no direct involvement, but enjoy its benefits. The slave trade was the drug trade of that day. Huge investments made huge profits and banks in Europe and America made millions investing directly or indirectly in the trade of human cargo. The test should not be whether there is any documentary evidence of involvement, there is, but whether there is any documentary evidence of repudiation at the time. Where none can be provided, we can safely conclude banks and other financiers were involved in the trade and that Barclays was one of them.

Moreover, one of our preeminent historians, Eric Williams, in his Capitalism and Slavery,[5] squarely placed banks and Barclays at the table of human flesh. Its most famous officer, David Barclay, even owned a plantation in Jamaica.[6] His father is said to have owned one of the fanciest mansions in London reputed to have hosted royalty.  Williams painstakingly described the importance of banks in the trade of human cargo. Little has changed since.

Penn Station home to a growing population (c) Niko
The cargo is not as mobile as before. Some sit and stare, chronically unemployed, some addicted, some homeless, some exhibiting signs of madness, in states of despair, in poor health, stateless, all invisible. Take a nighttime walk through Penn Station, under that other New York arena, Madison Square Garden. Maybe you will see the future Barclays promises.

HSBC recently paid US $ 1.9 Billion in penalties and fines to the US Department of Justice for its admitted role in laundering drug money from Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. Banks in Mexico would load up raw cash and deliver to HSBC. Banks do not exist singularly. They operate as a cartel themselves: loaning money to each other at rates they themselves set. One example is the LIBOR which is an interest rate for banks to loan to other banks and set by a group of London based bankers which includes Barclays. So, whatever money HSBC used from the drug cartels would be of no value to it if it could not sell and share that money with its fellow bankers at rates set by Barclays and its friends in London. Even we indirectly used that money as loans and other credit purchases we now find difficult to repay. The sub-prime mortgage scam that targeted people of African descent was largely financed from this money.  Those loan rates too depended on that LIBOR rate. And the high rates we paid generated exorbitant profits off the low rates set by Barclays and friends in London. Even a fraction of a percentage point could generate millions, daily. So, much like HSBC, most other banks were involved directly or indirectly in laundering drug money and the sub-prime mortgage scam. Not so long ago, Barclays and its friends depended on the trade in captured Africans to sustain themselves. The formula still works. 
Much is made of the involvement of Africans in Africa in the capture and sale of their own people. Some of this I find unfair. Not enough attention is paid to where and whom originated the idea of a slave trade to the Americas, nor much written about African resistance to the trade. The Africans that benefited probably demanded silence and as a sign of unity. Yet, the suffering is well documented. Similarly, Africans today, the descendants of those captives now involved in the drug trade receive little of the benefits that accrue to the banks that launder the proceeds from the trade. On the contrary, they suffer all the pain beginning with surveillance, constitutional violations, and imprisonment: mass incarceration. Then the money they do borrow comes at unsustainable rates of interest. Jay-Z’s role is to legitimize all of that. But the idea is Barclays’. This system of crony capitalism does not permit the captive to own the plantation. It seeks to put the name of the most commercially successful hip hop personality on a product bought on misery and suffering, ultimately a losing proposition, yet seeking youthful and cultural relevance.

1862 Capt. Nathaniel Gordon hanged in NYC for piracy: the illegal
importation of Africans . The importation of Africans was banned in
1807. Gordon used Brooklyn Navy Yard to outfit his ships 
Barclays, with no retail banking operations in the United States, would pay several hundred million to place its name on a building and a subway station in Brooklyn without any ownership interest transferred to it in exchange. For a bank with no retail account holders, no street level banks, in the US, this means more. We know what Jay is trying to leave behind. But is Barclays trying to leave its role in the slave trade behind. Did Barclays not finance the slavers and help build their ships that brought Jay’s ancestors across the Atlantic. Many of those ships were built and outfitted right there at the Brooklyn Navy Yard: a stone’s throw from Jay-Z’s Marcy Projects childhood home and Barclays Center.

Now, I thought long and hard about writing this article. Some would argue not long or hard enough. I wanted to avoid sounding like a spoiled crab, jealous of the success of another African: angry that I am not sitting at the table with Jay-Z, political heavies, Barclays and company. Often, it is only after the very corporate power structure rejects us that we find the radical-self and the politicization needed to understand what we are experiencing. After we have done everything they asked and still are not allowed at the table, often only then we suddenly see the table for what it is: the last supper.

In reality, you are only permitted at the table when you demonstrate you know nothing. For example, some fall-out followed Dr. Cornel West’s remarks about Jay-Z’s minute ownership interest in the Nets. Most of it attacked West as that self-hating Thomas seemingly bent on destroying and attacking the African community’s recent symbols of success. Some went even further and called West’s comments racist. West had called on Jay-Z to reveal his true relationship with the Nets. Yet others decry the reason African descended people attack each other when we are supposed to be uniting in common defense. Too often, this is code for ‘shut up’. 

This is not an attack on Jay-Z nor is it an attempt to defend Dr. West. He is well equipped to do so himself. But I think this willingness to advocate for West’s silence whenever the object of his critique is of African descent is a very dangerous position. It tells us that all is not well and the merger of Barclays and Jay Z is not one of equality. It is one of the major foundations of dictatorial behavior, which permits the abuse of the rights of Africans in the name of some kind of nationalism. Silence is supposedly justified when the intended object of critique is of African descent: and in the name of unity. This can’t be acceptable. There is a long history of public debates among Africans throughout history on the issues; Du Bois and Garvey, Du Bois and Washington come to mind. Whatever the respective positions, the positions must be aired and debated. The alternative is the kind of shackles that remain on our minds: and increasingly around our bodies. The notion of unity is too often abused into meaning silence: a silence that is too often a license to do the same things we all agree are wrong when done by others.
We know Jay was a petty hustler running cocaine from Harlem to his block in Brooklyn. Then he expanded to places along the I-95. He told us this. It’s not a secret. We never held his past dealings against him. We understand the forces that drive many to the underground economies. He called his album and himself the American Gangster. He was inspired, he said, by the film of the same name and starring Denzel. In one iconic turn, the American gangster had suddenly turned black: of African descent. A documentary series followed, of the same name, which featured only gangsters of African descent. The people who came and pushed out the Native peoples, by force, seized and renamed the land, enslaved them and others, brought African people to build a system that is beginning to feed on itself, are no longer the American gangsters. The ones they enslaved are now the gangsters. We are supposed to remain silent, because Jay-Z is ‘successful’. And now, the system builders have engaged Jay-Z to reinforce that message.

Rather than sit back quietly, and enjoy the illegal gains, the largesse from illegal actions, past and present, benefiting from public ignorance, Barclays decided to engage with Jay-Z: to recapture its name and continue its practice. But then again, its history should explain its reasoning. In its most recent dabbling debacle Barclays is charged with influencing the setting of LIBOR. Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor under US President Clinton, called it Wall Street’s ultimate scandal and scandal of scandals[7]. He estimates the money lost, as a result, at 5 to 6 Trillion. This dwarfs the 3 Trillion of our money used between Presidents Bush and Obama to bail failing banks and businesses. When we combine the two scams, we get an idea of what has happened to poor communities and particularly African American communities. Understand, the failure was as a result of mortgages targeting Africans disproportionately among other working class communities. The low interest rates cooked-up in London gave the mistaken view of liquidity upon which the sub-prime mortgages were made; albeit with inflated rates of interest. The LIBOR is based in London but its effects are global and its members have redrawn, with indelible ink, the old triad of the trade in people: London, the Americas, and Africans at home and now abroad.

In the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently offered a deal to Barclays without any trial or official finding of wrongdoing: that if it paid 169 million dollars and signed a document that it was involved in wrongdoing then the matter of its involvement in the LIBOR scandal would be considered over. This is the same Department of Justice in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that, for much less, deported 400,000 people from the US in 2010 and again in 2011 and 2012.[8]  After disbursing more funds to local police departments through its Secure Communities program (SCom), together these Departments share the spoils of actual bodies off the top, for deportation. Detainees are held mostly in private prisons at exorbitant rents and then repatriated to countries south. The stops and frisks by the New York Police Department is part of that national policy and targets young African men. Do you see the turn around? The triad of Europe, Africa and the Americas has been turned on its head but the result is the same. They are returning African descendants home where possible, and destroying the homes and wealth of those remaining in the US, but the money stays among the wealth class in Europe and America. We are not supposed to say anything because they and Jay Z are now friends. We are left scrambling for the crumbs from that table.

Optimistic OWS  protester (c) rootsandculture
They no longer need to move the people to labor camps, they move them out of the labor statistics, they don’t even exist anymore, and instead they indebt the people, the survivors, descendants of captive labor, with unsustainable mortgages way above the value of their modest houses. The result is increased poverty, homelessness and despair. The African American community includes people from all over the diaspora. Foreclosures as a result of the sub-prime debacle affect 2.5 times more African homeowners than European Americans[9].  It is estimated that between 72 and $93 billion of African American wealth was lost as a result of the sub-prime scam: a significant percent of total wealth since home ownership forms a larger percentage of African American wealth than of Whites. This figure does not include the cost of deferred small business development using home equity, or deferred educations, lost retirement plans, neglected health and related debt management. This will eventually run into several trillion.

The Department of Justice and has treated Barclays in much the same way it treats thousands of its detainees: offered a deal. Barclays also paid $200 million in fines to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and £59.5 million to the Financial Services Authority. The difference is that for Barclays it’s a slap on the wrist, for us it’s our lives. If you are deportable, and sometimes even if not, you are asked to sign a non-contestation agreement, saying that the allegations are true and that you would prefer to be returned home. Sometimes this comes after serving time for a crime at the state or federal level. Sometimes the defendant would avoid jail by admitting wrongdoing without a trial: like Barclays did here. Barclays went further and offered to tell what it knows about the involvement of other banks. The reward is an arena and a subway station or two.

Banks are what they are; a cash-vac. HSBC admitted to money laundering. They are part of a system that denies any ties to organised crime and decries any attempt to associate them with money laundering. Barclays has not yet been accused of laundering drug money. But it’s like their refusal to admit involvement in the slave trade: not to be taken seriously. You may not have kidnapped a tribeswoman from Dahomey[10], placed her on a ship and sold her in Barbados. But the money derived from that trade was placed in your banks. In fact, you loaned that same money to other entrepreneurs engaged in the trade. Like HSBC, you need to admit your role.

It’s been reported that neighborhood entrepreneurs have welcomed the Barclays Center in anticipation of the development it would initiate. These entrepreneurs would not have read any of the current science on this phenomenon and moreover cannot point to any example to explain and support their enthusiasms. The fact is that Atlantic City, as an example, the resort with gambling, has done nothing for the Atlantic City proper. Just a few short blocks from the casinos and you are face to face with the old depressed Atlantic City. This is the same misguided enthusiasm of trickle-down economics. The spate of casinos on Indian lands has done nothing for the Indians. On and on big-business thinks building a cash cow in a depressed area lifts the area. The opposite is true. It simply sucks value from the neighborhood while sending the real estate prices and rents up and beyond the reach of current residents. The jobs offered are not career builders but simply the unskilled labor that big-business has always craved. You don’t need an education for those.

Similarly, Brooklyn, ravaged by recession and the mortgage scam, has lost more people than any other American city. Ratner claimed the presence of urban blight as the basis for his eminent domain claim. Many groups came out in protest, but some seem to have been quieted with more promises. Others have continued with protest. But this borough is just a shell of itself. At no time was this more evident than in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. And even as I write, there are still people without homes, without lights, without jobs, and sufficient food and all because of the city's inability to deal with the disaster. The insurance companies all caught in the ongoing subprime and LIBOR debacle are slow to respond. The hidden story is how the wealthiest city in the world is incapable of handling a disaster that some Caribbean islands experience on a regular basis. The result would be more applicants to that parallel underground economy.

Jay-Z seems unaware of the forces that drove him and others to that economy, away from the path his friend President Obama took, and instead towards the enterprise of cocaine and crack sales. The other path is one of formal education and a promised, steady, good job at a good university, bank, or similar institution or even the presidency: success. Though we can now touch it, it is actually further away. It now seems conflated into one confused mess. Jay-Z like many around the country around the world, denied a competitive education, used his innate business skills to develop and expand his empire. But seems to forget the forces that drove him, the reasons why he entered that underground economy in the first instance. As he described in the 1990s,

Blame Reagan for making me to into a monster
Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra
I ran contraband that they sponsored
Before this rhymin' stuff we was in concert.[11]

His are not words of protest. Instead, now we are asked to cheer his eventual entry into the 1 percent albeit with the same suspects: still in concert with those who continue to sell and profit off his people.

@ 40/40/ Club, NYC (Rolling Stone
In the recently concluded presidential elections, even the debates intended to educate the voter about their choice became obfuscated into some competition as if in high school. Like gladiators the candidates matched strengths in a ring where neither seemed aware they are trapped and where the winner is determined by a voice on high from a flickering image. But like the coliseums of old, in the arena, you are only the winner for so long. There is no loyalty: not that that ever made anything better. Soon the winners turn will come from somewhere, younger, stronger and better looking. The weak questions from the press, the people’s representatives in this process, reflect a similar high-schoolish understanding of power and with no follow-up questions allowed, one is left wondering whether that is the best this country can do.  Don’t get me wrong African history longs for figures of power and poise. There is no more cheered example than President Obama. But this longing for, and paucity of, figures have left us silent. It seems to have actually restructured and restricted our power. We can’t even ask a sensible question: even of Jay Z.
We seem to see none of this because we are so invested in the image of who we might be. Euros and Afros alike, but Afros, way more so, imprinted and inundated with racial hatred and oppression, seek any glimmer of redemption and so we debate on who won instead of the issues. Obama is it. But the things on the menu for discussion are not about the high percentage of prisoners and higher percentage of African descended ones, LIBOR, subprime loans, global warming and their relation. And by extension, why was Jay-Z involved in selling, whites, white lady, kane, roc: one time street names for cocaine and its derivatives. How come immigration is about who is coming and not who is going out?
Only in America, and its peculiar sense of freedom, can someone boast about the ways in which they broke the law, the amount of cocaine they sold, and become rich on those boasts. It is conceivable that had Jay- Z directed his talents at math or science he could have contributed something really important to our society. Maybe he would have risen to the top at Barclays, or created his own, and changed it for the better by admitting past wrongdoings and plotting a course of reparations and social responsibility. Perhaps that is still in his future,

For now, he is part owner of a team housed under the Barclays brand. But that was not his only achievement. He is primed for much more. He was able to send for, and have the President of the United States meet him at his house: the 40/40 club. Now, that is power: royalty. The President came to visit; and to collect the $4 million contribution Jay Z raised among his equally dazzling friends. One is left to wonder, who is guesting on whose production? Who is hype man for whom? So when the President sat down with Jay-Z we can only guess about the conversation topics. It would not be about stop and frisk. Had it been exercised with the same intensity when Jay-Z was a street hustler, he may have been in a different place. It would not be about mass incarceration and deportation, not even about the 99%, or the rudiments and origin of hip hop. Perhaps it would be about their African descended children and which financial instruments offered by which bank would best protect them from want, hunger, poverty, poor healthcare, police brutality, and unreasonable stops and searches.

Only their children would be able to afford tickets to anything at the Barclays Center. Even the subway fare has increased, its fourth increase in the last five years, and the tolls to enter New York are at an unbelievable $13.00. So those Nets fans from Jersey will have to add $50 to their tickets prices and that is just for tolls, parking and gas. Soon those within the city will be unable to leave, unless it’s permanently. Those outside will have to remain so. All this in a city that saw its income disparity outstrip national numbers and lost 23,000 manufacturing jobs in the last decade[12]. Perhaps all this is to cover the real cost of the tax breaks and subsidies given to the Barclays Center development. New York City Transit’s man on the deal, Joseph Lhota, has mayoral ambitions. Perhaps to oversee the promises made to Mr. Ratner. While the city’s current mayor exhibits national ambitions.

In 2011 New York police made 684,300 stops and frisks[13] many just blocks from Jay-Z’s 40/40 club’s second location in the Barclays Center. While in Brownsville, East New York, Crown Heights, Red Hook, and the ‘Bush’ unemployment is rampant and infant mortality on par with underdeveloped countries[14]. More than likely Jay-Z would be kicked to the curb like Reverend Jeremiah Wright should he include in his rhymes anything about reparations or the revolt of African descendants: Jay-Z unchained. Past drug sales is fine. But any rhyme of resistance is unlikely because Jay Z has made his past quite clear and his politics clearer: he cannot even understand the need for Occupy Wall Street: as he was reported to have quipped after a reluctant visit to the Liberty Plaza Park home of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

As if not enough, his empire of style and music boasts some derivative of the name Rockefeller: more accurately, Rocawear and Roc-A-Fella. The Rockefeller name just happens to be one of the central names in banking, investment and government history. You can’t wear that name and understand the 99% rhetoric. Still not satisfied, the Rockefeller name graces that law that continues to send our young men to jail in those ever increasing and disproportionate numbers. The Rockefeller drug laws are also referred to as the three strikes rule, where mostly African Americans are sent to prison for as much as twenty five years for as little as three non-violent offenses. In most cases the three offenses if treated individually would not result in any jail time. But together, its Rockefeller time, it’s a kind of death. And of course there was Attica[15]. This is what we are living under. Yet we run around with these symbols on our chests.

After prison, these young men and women, the deportees, are returned to what have essentially become Bantustans: a throwback to the apartheid era. Some of the communities are right here in the US as Ishmael Reed declared them internal colonies.[16] Gentrification is the new colonization. When viewed together, gentrification, internal colonization, stop and frisk and deportation, then add, unemployment, low wages and high subway fares a picture should emerge: of a divided Brooklyn. The minimum wage employees at the Barclays Center would have to work an hour to pay the subway fare to and from work. As for tickets, even Jay-Z implicitly acknowledged the situation by awarding free tickets to some lucky Brooklynites for his opening concert at the Barclays Center.

Of course, some of these Bantustans are actual countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa with no access to power, no access to Markets, and no access to jobs. The few jobs available include making Rocawear and similar celebrity brands.[17] Even when they work, they are unable to set the price for the things they produce or their labor and instead live on the largesse of the developed world and its agencies: hush money to governments. The governments are often placed there with the help of the US and its allies. They live on landmasses named by others and speak an official language not native to that landmass. While the US continues in open support of another famous Bantustan that has corralled brown people into an unsustainable and barren landmass and politicos make the support of Israel part of their campaign platform.

We are left to contemplate its only redeemable argument: that under Romney things would be worse. This has silenced us: we the people who waged war against slavery; waged war for the right to vote, raised our voices against all injustice, at home and abroad, are now asked to be silent. This is the height of selfishness and self-indulgence. Because what it means is that they are unable to identify their world, care little about others in the rest of the world, and those not in their world, but misguidedly do what they feel is best for ‘me’.

There was a time when the sight of an armed man on a horse caused real fear: fear of capture and return. Even now, flashing police lights and presence generate a similar fear in those who have been there: while we wear outfits, with a man on a galloping horse, and with a stick in his hand, emblazoned on our chests, as a symbol of our successful enterprise. Jay-Z’s cohorts, not to be outdone, rent their images to clothing, and vodkas and champagnes with strange names.
It's unfortunate that our own self-interest is used against us, under the guise of unity, and blinds us to atrocities committed in our name and to us. It is not a problem peculiar to African Americans. All  groups are vulnerable. Communists, Marxists, democrats, tea partyers, even capitalists: all are vulnerable and it takes real courage to resist. This transcends and includes race, ethnicity, nationality and religion. You can’t criticize the group. You’ll be branded a traitor or worse: a hater. Despite the daily atrocities meted out to the Palestinian people, many Jews remain, quiet, if not supportive. Some in the African community see this example as a model of the kind of unity needed. Now, with President Obama's resounding support of America's foremost ally, all Americans are drawn into tacit support. More peculiar is the silence from African descendants whom history has judged harshly: given that peculiar history. The majority of humans seem incapable of adhering to that overused tenet ‘do unto others’.

It’s either that I am blind and cannot see that finger on a dark hand beckoning me towards freedom or that I am right. If I am right, then that sets off a series of realizations that end badly for us all. We simply don't seem to have the capacity for the kind of fight true equality demands. I’d rather be wrong. I have my doubts. Instead we band together in groups seeking an advantage like some game of basketball or maybe Survivor; the larger the better. Those standing, or sitting on benches, bent over machines and screens should be feeling that new pain all over their backs, feet and eyes. We fight for spots in the factory knowing a step down leads to the bowels of Madison Square Garden.
Protest outside Barclays Center (c)S.Platt
getty images

Jay visited and performed across Africa. In his role as humanitarian, he joined the UN in a project to bring Africa’s water woes to world attention and was reportedly en-stooled as a Chief in Kwara State, Nigeria. The state named a street after him. We should take this as his understanding of the dynamics of power and not an opportunity to exchange trinkets. His lyrics in Oh My God suggests he was crowned King with,
I got crowned King down in Africa
Down in Nigeria do you have any idea.

Whatever the title, we should all take note of the old alliance. It is now full circle: Barclays, Atlantic, and an African Chief.

Eric Williams recounted a story involving the role of rum in the trade of humans. Rum was valuable cargo and often used to ply African chiefs, middle-persons, in negotiating price. Having already received his payment in gold coins, a ‘negro trader’ was invited aboard a ship and feted by its captain. He awoke from his drunkenness the next day to find himself branded and chained with the rest of his human goods.[18] More than likely he survived and made it to the new world. He was not the only one. Like Barclays and the other banks, these chiefs are engaged in similar practices. Are we to be accused of participating in this trade from West Europe, to West Africa, to West Indies and to the world? They are not done selling. You are sold a different image of yourself. It’s a different kind of crack: fame and fortune. The whole thing must go.

Just say no. Just say something.

[1] Metropolitan Transit Authority operates almost all the trains, toll bridges and tunnels within, and connecting to, the city of New York. It is described as a public benefit corporation: a quasi-corporation operated for our benefit with support from government, fares, tolls and property taxes. The real estate fiasco precipitated by the subprime crisis led to reduced tax contributions and increased deficits.  
[2] Wikipedia states that,  “In June 2009, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority sold the naming rights of the station complex to Forest City Ratner for 20 years at $200,000 per year”. Forest City Ratner is the developer of Barclays Center and headed by Bruce Ratner. The sale did not prevent the seemingly annual rise in subways fares a few short months after the center opened.
[3] Jason Sheftell, First Look at the $76 million Barclays Center Subway Station, New York Daily News (September 14, 2012)
[4] Jay-Z formed the independent label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 with former Partners Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs
[5] Eric Williams,  Capitalism and Slavery,  (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1944) p.48
[6] Ibid, p.101. It appears Unity Valley Pen in St. Anns and its 30 captured Africans came under Barclay control through unpaid debts. At the time of the emancipation John Barclay had died and his executor, David Barclay, was of advanced age. All but 2 of the Africans were brought to Philadelphia, USA and trained in various trades.
[7] Robert Reich, The Wall Street Scandal of Scandals (July 7, 2012)
[8] From the Departments of Homeland Security website, “ Between fiscal years 2008 and 2011, ICE removed more convicted criminal aliens from our country than ever before, with the number of convicted criminals that ICE removed from the United States increasing by 89 percent, while the number of non-criminals removed dropped by 29 percent.” How is it Barclays and HSBC never get deported are they not convicted criminals too.
[9] Melvin Oliver, Sub-Prime as a Black Catastrophe, The American Prospect, (September 20, 2008)
[10] An African kingdom centered near present-day Republic of Benin and a major source of captured Africans for labor in the Americas.
[11] Blue Magic, Roc- A- Fella Records
[13] Sean Gardiner, Stops and Frisks Hit Record High in 2011 , Wall Street Journal, (February 14, 2012)
[14] Jay-Z’s Bedford Stuyvesant, a stone’s throw from Barclays Center boasts an infant mortality rate of 14 deaths per 1000 births. In the Caribbean, Jamaica is at 14.3, Antigua is about the same and Barbados about 11.5. Guyana needs an investigation at 35 deaths. By comparison national US numbers are 7.2 deaths. These numbers are sourced from the CIA Factbook. See also , Mundi,  and,  Jennifer Steinhauer,  High Infant Mortality Rates In Brooklyn Mystify Experts, NY Times, a 2000 study but shows the lack of improvement over the past decade. Mario Sims, Tammy L. Sims, and Marino A. Bruce, Urban Poverty and Infant Mortality Rate Disparities, Journal of the National Medical Association, 2007 April; 99(4): 349–356.
[15] In 1971 New York State Governor, Nelson D. Rockefeller launched an attack to retake Attica Correctional Facility, from protesting prisoners, and in the process killed 39 people including 10 guards and civilian employees.
[16] Chris Hedges, The Idol Smasher, Thruthdig December 30, 2012
[17] In 2003 a major report showed that both P. Diddy’s Sean John lines and Rocawear were using sweatshop labor in Honduras where conditions and pay were slavelike. See Jonathan Cunningham, Sweatshop Labour in Hip-Hop Apparel, Word Magazine, Reprinted News and Press(July, 2005) 
[18] Capitalism and Slavery, p 123.