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at what point do we preserve our cultures on the radio?: connecting the past and present

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as the host of 'guess who's coming to radio??!!' (yes, this is most definately a 'sly' take on 'guess who's coming to dinner?') i make attempts to make the purpose and statement of what i do very clear: the purpose of what i do is nothing other than to bring the issues and active-ism of people of afrikan/african descent to the airwaves; in a country in which black and brown voices are rarely heard in terms of active-ism and positivity; and of course living in a city which is overwhelmingly european- i feel it is my duty to bring these voices to the air, since i am in a fortunate position to do so. 

culturally, we are all under severe attack from several forces, regardless of our station in life.  there are certain aspects of this world/society which bring us together at this point: namely, the current state of the economy in this country.  however, when looking at the issues of the economy in a very general sence, it'a all too easy to forget the connections that have linked race and class in this country.  this country, as so many of us know by know, was funded through the genocide of indigenous people of this nation, as well as the slave labor of people of afrikan/african descent, brown/'latino' and asian people.  the same people who have built this country have also, at various points in history, have been detained/entrapped by those who have, for lack of a better word, hijaked this country.  with all of this history, we are still enshrined in celebrations/national holidays of imperialists and murderers. 

despite these culturally accepted traditions ('president's day' and the like), those who have built this country are told to forget the past and stop whining, while constantly patting ourselves on the back for contributing to beating the nazis (let's not mention that the U.S. supported the supply weapons to the nazis unded prescott bush); while constantly singing the praises of our 'revolutionary spirit' of defeating the british and so-called freeing the slaves (which abraham lincoln (who WAS black- look it up... there is a book by j.a.rogers, about the 'five negro presidents'...  obama will not be the first president with afrikan blood... ) most certainly did not intend to do, unless it was to win a war)...  but!  despite state and tax-sponsored terrorism happens constantly, to this day- we are told to just chin up and stop dwelling in the past... 

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i want to sincerely thank the caller who phoned into the show last night with a statement such as this...  he claimed that we were biased by focusing on issues of a specific (black) community, as well as looking at events of the past for reference. i certainly am not upset at him; but i recognize that this opinion is more common than not.  i notice the silence of folks here in portland (perhaps do to the lack of coverage in the northwest) around the murder of oscar grant by the police in oakland.  as in most things with (literally) being a minority in portland, i cannot help but wonder if that is also because of the life of black people truly not being valued.

before people scream 'WHAT DO YOU MEAN!!!???  I THINK EVERY LIFE IS SACRED, AND I WAS UPSET AT THE KENDRA JAMES MURDER, I SUPPORT MUMIA, ETC.' i will ask a question- how many people are making connections between the massacre of palastinian people, and the outright murder of unarmed black people simultaneously?  are people working as diligently to bring awareness and actions to issues of racial profiling as they are to the issues in the middle east right now (or the issues of deforestation)?  are people making connections that a majority-black community was left for dead in new orleans, as many people of arabic descent are being left for dead thousands of miles away?

one of the responses of this specific caller was that we are beginning to move forward, due to the election of barack obama.  once again, i understand his sencerity; but i sincerely question that we've gone anywhere in terms of social progress.  As a representitive of this country (aka the 'president elect) obama is legally binded to support israel wholehartedly; if he diverts from that in any way, i highly doubt he would have even gotten as far as he did in the nomination process.  Also, during his campaign there was no mention of the majority of people in this country who live in poverty.  he constantly mentioned the 'middle class'.  there was no mention of environmental racism; there was no mention of economic disparities.  it is my belief that we have not moved anywhere, if being black in the white house means you must follow the same imperialist, pro-capitalist policies that have existed for years. 

as i have mentioned; it touches me that black youth are saying they can now be president of the U.S. what is not being discussed to these young people is that you must supress your right of true patriotism in this county- the right to actually uproot the structure of the existing government.  just because obama is afrikan and will be on pennsylvania avenue does not mean that white supremacist policies and values will wither away.  black people will still populate prisons at overwhelming rates for non-violent crimes; police and government officials will not be held accountable at the rates they should be (it's that 'wall of silence, ya'll) and our tax dollars will still be funding poor and non-white people to go kill more brown people. 

now is not the time to be idealistic that because obama will be in office next week, that things will change; obama has been open about his pro-war and pro-israel policies.  obama has been silent on the massacre of palastinians, and his desicion to speak with hamas is constantly shifting (due to the influence of hillary clinton, perhaps)...  if we expect obama to 'change' (there's that word again) anything, those who voted for him (and even those who did not) must not support him when he looks straight at you and says to support funding for another war.  or when the possibility of compulsory military service (thanks, mr. emanuel) comes up.  we must scream loudly against these actions.  we must hold him accountable for not speaking about the atrocities of the middle east with as much authority as he is speaking about pulling out money (that does not exist, as we are approaching hyperinflation) for more stimulous plans.  real change happens with us, not some guy in washington, district of columbia.  HE, is supposed to represent US, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND, and it's important not to forget that. 

with all of this, if we are to truly honor martin luther king and his legacy (which is what the show was about last night, largely) we must truly cease the idealisms about the 'dream' which has still not become a reality.  just because there are legal mandates for housing and voting rights, we all very well know that these laws are not correctly followed through (once again, katrina, the recent voting issues in florida, and the police shootings).  we need to truly examine MLK's words when he called for the self-sufficiency of people of afrikan descent in this country: he called for black people to opt for economic boycotts.  he was a major critic of the 'bootstrap' philosophy popularized by booker t. washington.  martin luther king jr. was calling for reparations for black people, which was one of the purposes for the poor peoples' march (and in my opinion, what got him killed...  vietnam was ONE thing, now, he's gone TOO FAR!).   

if we are to truly honor martin luther king jr., we must move beyond a popularized portion of a speech (without even recognizing the speech's full context- he was alluding to reparations back in 1963, in that very speech).  we mustn't ignore his call for black unity, on black peoples' terms (PLEASE GOOD PEOPLE, READ HIS SPEECHES IN FULL, FROM 1966-1968!!!).  with black unity, the whole world comes together.  when you are proud of who you are, there is no reason to hate.  if we are to truly honor martin luther king properly, we cannot forget the past, because it connects so relevantly to the present.  to take a little from MLK, we must NEVER be silent on things that matter!

the show i do is to honor the lives of people like martin luther king, el-hajj malik el shabazz, ella baker, nina simone, marcus garvey, cynthia mc kinney, angela davis, and the many pro-active-ist ancestors and present folk who work for the true liberation of people of afrikan descent, in whatever shape of experience. 

much peace to you, and thank you for reading.  stay pro-active, stay informed, and most of all, stay positive.

-jamilah

 

 

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