Hard Knock Radio (02-18-14) We speak w/ Kali Akuno, special projects director for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi and member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Our conversation starts off with reaction to the Michael Dunn/ Jordan Davis trial verdict and its larger implications.
We spoke with Kali about connecting the dots and looking at the larger issues connected with what seems to be an uptick in vigilante style killings of Black people at the hands of ‘scared’ white folks who than try to hide behind Stand Your Ground laws that now exists in 26 states.
Kali had unique perspective to this incident because he did organizing work in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina where there were a number vigilante killings involving mobs of white folks literally hunting Black people. Ground zero was the Algiers section of New Orleans, but there were also disturbing incidents on the Gretna and Dezanger Bridge where Black people seeking fry ground were shot at and killed. In the last couple of years we’ve seen high profile cases with the murders of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis..
In our conversation Akuno noted that many of these incidents seem to borrow from the same play book with vigilantes claiming they were frightened and felt threatened to death. The same excuse is used by police who have been gunned down unarmed and innocent Black people.
Kali pointed out this history of fear is rooted white supremacy and the notion that the Black people who have been killed were somehow not in the ‘right place’. Their presence is deemed out of the ordinary which leads to folks becoming suspicious and acting with malice..
We talked about ways in which people are organizing to combat this and what organizing will look like ideally as more people step up and push back.
We also asked Kali to put on his other hat as Special Projects and External Funding Director for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and give us some insight as to how people in his city of Jackson are organizing and protecting themselves given the sordid history of Mississippi and that it too is a Stand Your Ground state.
Kali noted that is organization has gotten a number of calls to investigate troubling incidents that have gone down in the state, primarily in rural areas. With respect to whats going on in Jackson, the Lumumba administration has been carefully laying down groundwork to enact bold, progressive initiatives that has gotten many people excited and simultaneously gotten many in power upset.
He noted that the state legislature is one of the most reactionary in the country and have put forth a bill similar to Michigan where the governor can arbitrarily appoint an Emergency Manager. Dubbed the ‘Takeover Jackson Bill‘, this would allow one individual appointed by the governor to come in and usurp the power of the Mayor, City council and other local elected officials. The Emergency Manager would have the power to set budgets, oversee the police, hire and fire administrators as they saw fit etc.
Kali noted that such moves were to be expected and that their response as an administration is not be shocked and surprised but instead apply their skill sets and years of fighting in the trenches to organize and employ strategies and counter measures of their own.
Kali noted one of the first steps is to raise awareness and make sure folks are in the loop as to whats happening. The second step is to organize folks on the ground and get them prepared for the latest attack and attempts to oppress folks..
As Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress recently noted whats taking place is that many of these new laws are being put in place with Black People being used as training ground.. Once the proverbial kinks are out they are then applied to everyone else who is deemed a threat or ‘the other’.
Far too often everyone ignores these laws when its hitting the Black community and literally sweep it under the rug until it’s too late.. That’s one hard lesson folks should’ve learned with the fight around mass surveillance. It was ignored when it was being used in the Black community for a couple of decades under the banner War on Drugs..
The Emergency Manager tactic was ignored and even justified by some who should know better when it was impacting cities like Detroit and Flint. Some rationalized that such places were run down and needed a change..Now they are directing it at Jackson, Ms toward a progressive Mayor who hasn’t even been in office 6 months.. Who will be next and how are we prepared to fight?
Later on in the show, we hear excerpts from an hear a panel discussion featuring author/scholar Rickey Vincent and members of the Black Panthers Funk band The Lumpen…William Calhoun, Clark Bailey and James Mott speak about their experiences as revolutionary rank and file members of the panthers and what led to them forming a band. They note that its important to keep in mind they were Panthers first before ‘rock stars’..
Hard Knock Radio (Feb 20 2014) We sit down w/ M1 of dead prez who has just returned from overseas. We talk to him about artist responsibility and commitment to social justice movements. We also talk to him about the legacy of mass surveillance and how its always been present in Black and Brown communities and was ignored and dismissed by the mainstream. M1 notes now that mass surveillance is everywhere what was once a they problem is now a we problem..
We round up our show with more interviews from the floor of the Families USA convention in Washington DC regarding the Affordable Care Act
Hip Hop Pioneer DJ Hollywood speaks about his career and the him being labeled a Disco DJ
This is our recent interview with soul music legend Lee Fields. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on twelve different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet-tender voice, it’s mind-blowing that the music he’s making today with Brooklyn’s own Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career.He’s been described as a ‘Throwback done right’.. Here’s a brief run down via his bio…
There aren’t too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist–or maybe he’s better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal.
“In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with as a young man,” so said music writer, scholar, and DJ Oliver Wang about Fields in a piece for NPR in July 2009. The latest LP from Lee Fields and The Expressions, titled Faithful Man, is the next step towards this perfection. A step that may find Fields, The Expressions, and Truth & Soul as a label, finally being bestowed the contemporary soul music crown.
Oct 22 2013 On today’s Hard Knock Radio Show, we caught up with two individuals who belong to organizations that are on the front lines of dealing with police brutality. E Da Ref of the Black Riders Liberation Party and Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party.. Both gentlemen detail the work they are doing from community patrols to education workshops to directly confronting the onslaught of police terrorism.. There’s an excellent in-depth article on the BRLP in a recent edition of the SF Bayview.. You can read about them HERE.
Carl Dix who is in the forefront of the fight to end Stop and Frisk toured the country with Dr Cornel West as part of his efforts.. Here’s some information about those efforts HERE
During our interview both talked about the need to take down the current system and replace it with one that is more accountable. They were realistic that such actions will not happen overnight , so they detailed the steps folks can take to help achieve that end.. E da Ref talked at length about an array of strategies including Confrontation Politics.
Later in the show we spoke with long time union member and activist John Reimann who talked about the larger implications that will soon unfold as result of the recent BART strike. He laid out key steps unions must take in the future and urged them to take time to connect labor struggles with the struggles everyday people are enduring.
Although the BART strike was settled Reimann felt the unions missed some key opportunities. He also talked about how the unions were forced to strike by BART management who waged unyielding campaign to ‘race to the bottom’. He also addressed the accidental killing of two BART workers who were killed by a trainee who BART management were hoping to have as replacement for striking riders..
You can get more information about John Riemann at http://oaklandsocialist.com/
We caught up with long time journalist turned rapper Rocky Rivera and talked to her about her sophomore album ‘Gangster of Love‘. For those who haven’t heard it.. Its incredible…straight rewind material. Nice beats and searing lyrics. Rocky has definitely stepped up her game..
She explained the album builds off the concepts of her first one with an emphasis on War and Love. She noted that she wanted to take time and really explore those concepts from a variety of angles.. Stand out cuts that underscore her desires are ‘Wake Up‘, ‘Call to Arms‘ and ‘Fallen Soldier‘ which is ode to 2Pac and features vocals from his mother Afeni Shakur.
Rocky noted that her journalism roots are still in tact and manifested themselves in the fact that each song there’s a sense of urgency to speak on social-political situations impacting the community…She noted that she feels like a reporter delivering important information or giving voice to points of view that are often marginalized. Once a journalist always a journalist..
During our interview we talked about her recent headlining performance in Brooklyn at Rock the Belles which was a play on the popular Rock the Bells concert. At this show there was an all female line up. Rocky talked about the importance of deejays and promoters making space to include more women. She also talked about her appreciation for the love she was shown in the East Coast.
Rocky talked about her recent move from her native San Francisco to Oakland and how gentrification has uprooted many communities, in particular communities of color. She noted that she’s happy to be in Oakland and that the energy here is good, but gentrification is still an issue that must be addressed. It reflects income disparity and a continued pattern of mass displacement. ‘That has got to change’ she noted.
We conclude our conversation by talking about her relationship with her partner Bambu who is a dope emcee in his own right.. She assured us the pair do not walk around the house battling or trading barbs with each other, but if we’re lucky they may get together and do an album called Drunken Freestyles.. With a smile, she cautioned that we should not hold our breath…