A townhall discussion on the legacy and feasibility of Reparations, featuring Dr. Amilcar Shabazz and Attorney Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, moderated by Bakari Kitwana (Executive Director, Rap Sessions). With breakout sessions featuring: Amy Hanaeuer (Policy Matters, Ohio), David Rothstein (Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland), Angela Woodson (Gelic Group / GROUND UP Strategy Inc, Former Director of Outreach for Ohio Governer’s Office of Faith-based Initiatives), Demareo Cooper (Ohio Organizing Collaborative), Shakyra Diaz (Cuyahoga Place Matters), Ed Little (The Collaborative for a Safe, Fair and Just Cleveland / Cleveland 8), Indigo Bishop (Neighborhood Connections), Basheer Jones (Cleveland...

Highsnobiety gives me the last word in their piece on How Hip-Hop Took Over the Fashion World, quoting my Black Book article from 2004: “We didn’t sell out. We brought the hood to the suburbs, Jay-Z tells me, explaining that he hasn’t acquiesced to the status quo. “Out of nothing we made something,” he says repeating a phrase he’s incorporated into his lyrics on several occasions. Then, references his King of New York predecessor, the Notorious B.I.G., he adds, “We went from ashy to classy.” It’s a fine line and raises two important questions. First, has hip-hop betrayed it’s ghetto origins as a voice for the voiceless? Second, has hip-hop’s arrival in mainstream culture changed what it means to be bourgeois?" Read the full article:...

 

On the Current Fight For Justice For Tamir Rice

By Bakari Kitwana

Originally Published on Ebony.com (June 23, 2015)

Two weeks ago today, I, along with seven other Cleveland area activists, filed affidavits with the municipal court calling for the arrest of Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback for their involvement in the killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice. Tamir was gunned down in less than two seconds in a park at a community center near his home. While many in the community have applauded our approach as a breath of fresh air toward obtaining justice, Police Patrolmen’s Association...

By Bakari Kitwana

What can I say of this beautiful, amazing and talented brother to a brother, Lasana Kenny Mack?

I first met Lasana Kenny Mack in the mid 80s when I was an undergraduate and he was a graduate student at the University of Rochester. He had just finished his undergraduate degree at Howard University. In addition to his focus on his studies, he was a very talented pool player. (Brotherman carried his own pool stick.) He was also a pretty skilled pick-up basketball player. And he wouldn’t hesitate to show off his DC style, breaking ankles of NYC kids before that became en vogue. Likewise, he was a spoken word poet, long before it was fashionable. I remember the birth of his first child around...

On Friday March 21st Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, will headline a community townhall style gathering in Rochester, New York focused on solutions to Black youth profiling and criminalization in the US. The discussion is one in a series of events that Rap Sessions is conducting around the nation in 2014 under the theme, “America’s Most Wanted: Hip-Hop, The Media and the Prison Industrial Complex.”

 

The event, hosted by the University of Rochester, hopes to engage area youth in a candid, consciousness-raising discussion about the ways entrenched economic and criminal justice public policy continue to contribute to the school to prison pipeline...

It is impossible to be Black & political in the 60s/70s/80s/90s/2000s & not have been transformed by the vision and genius of Amiri Baraka, a towering intellectual and activist who reminded us loudly and often to commit ourselves to "the tradition of our liberation struggle." Deepest sympathy to his family.

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BEYOND JAY-Z / BELAFONTE BEEF TO ACTION

By Bakari Kitwana

published on August 2, 2013...

OUR ENEMY IS WHITE SUPREMACY

By Bakari Kitwana

originally published July 15, 2013 on globalgrind.com

When I heard the not guilty verdict announced live, I was attending a national gathering of one hundred 18-30 year-old Black activists in the Chicago area organized by the Black Youth Project. The reaction of the young people in the room to the news that George Zimmerman would not be held accountable by the nation’s criminal justice system will forever be etched on my memory.

Most were shocked. Angry. Outraged. Disappointed. But their tears, outcries and rage were all accompanied with a clear and unflinching determination that this will not be the last word in the battle for justice for Trayvon Martin.

Their shock and surprised revealed that this was a profound generation-specific moment, a collective emotional response that connected to this generation in the way that the Rodney King beating affected an earlier generation—much like the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X stunned the generation before us.

The verdict didn’t come as a surprise to me. Living as a Black man in America has a strange and steady...

Rapper Lupe Fiasco made an impromptu visit to a Rap Sessions public forum on “Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama/Tea Party Era” in Philadelphia this past week, where panelists, moments before, had been debating his recent Twitter beef with comedian DL Hughley over the importance of voting.

The Chicago rapper joined the stage at the forum after seeing tweets about the discussion in progress while nearby in the city promoting his new album. He responded to DL Hughley’s claim that “when you vote or not vote, you are saying yes or no,” suggesting the rapper promotes political apathy.

Fiasco explained his belief that political engagement is bigger than the vote, and that during the Twitter exchange, he challenged DL Hughley to put his money where his mouth is and match funds to support a youth program to better the lives of rural and urban youth.

“Taking our community back is not going to happen without money,” Fiasco said reflecting on tweet discussion. “We don’t have to wait til November. We don’t have to wait to vote. Let’s put up $50,000 each right now,” he says he told Hughley.

He told the audience at Philadelphia...

Originally published on newsone.com

Political activists around the country are still absorbing the news of Geronimo ji Jaga’s death. For those of us who came of age in the 80s and 90s, the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s were in many ways a gateway for our examination of the history of Black political resistance in the US. Geronimo ji Jaga (formerly Geronimo Pratt) and his personal struggle, as well as his contributions to the fight for social justice were impossible to ignore. His commitment, humility, clear thinking as well as his sense of both the longevity and continuity of the Black Freedom Movement in the US all stood out to those who knew him.

I interviewed him for The Source magazine in early September 1997 about three months after he was released from prison, having served 27 years of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. Three things stood out from the interview, all of which have been missed by recent commentary celebrating his life and impact.

First that famed attorney Johnnie Cochran was not only his lawyer when ji Jaga gained his freedom, but also represented him in his original trial. They were from the...

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