Progressive Classics: On Yeezus and Black Feminism

image courtesy of Myspace.

image courtesy of Myspace.

 

Editor’s Note: While we like to keep profanity, violence and misogyny to a minimum on our blog, Kanye West’s Yeezus is explicit in nature. Please be aware that the lyrics re-printed here may be very offensive to some people. 

The self-proclaimed Michael Jordan of rap is gearing up to work on the “second half” of last summer’s critically confusing Yeezus, so we’re going to take a look back at our feminist deconstruction of the blasphemous collection of songs.

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Critical Ethnic Studies Conference 2013

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The Progressive Pupil team recently came back from Chicago for the Critical Ethnic Studies 2nd Conference Decolonizing Future Intellectual Legacies and Activist Practices.  Held over three days from Thursday September 19th – Saturday, September 21st and hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago and The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy Thursday, this year’s event was a unique conference that sought answers outside the academy to challenge today’s issues.

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What We Did on Summer Vacation

Principal Organizer Robin Hayes and Community Outreach Intern Shannon Shird at BedStuy Pride. Image Courtesy of

Principal Organizer Robin Hayes and Community Outreach Intern Shannon Shird at Bed-Stuy Pride. Image Courtesy of Laurabeth Lima

Thanks to your support and participation we had a great summer here at Progressive Pupil! If you were in New York, you may have seen us at the Brooklyn Artistry and Company Bazaar, Audre Lorde Project’s Bed-Stuy Pride or AfroPunk 2013. We always enjoy partnering with community-based organizations that celebrate artists of color and the diversity of the Black community. Although we recognize the significance and necessity of our social media work, nothing beats having the opportunity to meet you and chat about our work face to face. At these kinds of events, we also learn so much about inspiring grassroots organizations working to address racism.

To everyone who signed up for our mailing list, picked up a Progressive Pupil tote, t-shirt or tank top and generously gave us a donation, thank you!   We will be expanding our face-to-face outreach and look forward to meeting you outside of New York. If you know of an event in your area we don’t want to miss, let us know in the comments of this post, Facebook or outreach@progressivepupil.org. See you before next September.

The House I Live In

Image courtesy of thehouseIlivein.org

Image courtesy of thehouseIlivein.org

According to the Oxford Dictionary, cognitive dissonance is the “state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, especially related to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” It occurs on a number of levels, both individually and societally. Social worker and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary says that one example of this phenomenon in the United States is how society has attempted to reconcile its ideals of equality and justice with its harsh, dehumanizing treatment of people of color.

Watching Eugene Jarecki’s honest and personal documentary The House I Live In, a 2012 film that chronicles the U.S.’s “War on Drugs,” brought to mind this concept. In the movie, historian and professor Richard Lawrence Miller ties the history of drug laws to racist attempts by White elites to reduce the number of people of color represented in different regional workforces because of a perceived threat to White job security. Given this information, why hasn’t the U.S. government reevaluated its entire criminal justice system? Racially based discrimination is imbedded in drug laws. Anti-opium, anti-marijuana and anti-cocaine laws were all targeted at punishing and excluding people of Chinese, Mexican and African descent, respectively. This history should warrant a wholesale restructuring of U.S. institutions and a deliberate effort to undue entrenched racism.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Black Studies For Everybody

Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington.  Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.

Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington. Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.

Some people can’t understand why people concerned about racism—especially African Americans–are so upset about the George Zimmerman verdict.  Some folks think that there is no evidence to suggest that Zimmerman’s even a racist since he is Latino.  These misunderstandings reveal there remains an empathy gap when it comes to White understanding of Black experiences.

George Zimmerman is a White, second-generation Hispanic who felt empowered to racially profile Trayvon Martin.  His light skin, accent-free English and fear of Black men inspired something in the millions of white Americans who reached out to support him during the trial. His acquittal stunned us because it highlights how some people of color embrace anti-black racism.  Zimmerman’s privilege allowed him to disavow the idea that race was involved in the shooting at all.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” End Racial Profiling

Image courtesy policymic.com

Image courtesy policymic.com

On a cold, February night last year what inspired George Zimmerman to ignore a police dispatcher’s warning? Why was he sure that Trayvon Martin, 17, was a “suspicious” character in his gated southern Florida community? We’re still reeling from his acquittal, but this is the 5th part in a series that addresses the crucial question that remains on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Racial Profiling is the culprit here. The ACLU defines it as “ the discriminatory practice of law enforcement and private security practices that disproportionately target people of color for investigation and enforcement.” This happens to People of Color everyday in America.  Racial profiling creates a hostile, unfriendly environment for Blacks and other members of communities of color by keeping racism less a relic of the past and more of an incessant struggle.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Repeal Stand Your Ground

Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Courtesy Pensacola News Journal.

Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Photo courtesy Pensacola News Journal.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” – Malcolm X

The trial of George Zimmerman and his slap-in-the-face acquittal have us all reeling, but let’s channel our outrage into productivity for social change.  Trayvon Martin and his family still deserve justice. This is the fourth post in a series that addresses the question on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Stand Your Ground is the policy that allowed Zimmerman’s actions to be vindicated that night in February 2011. According to Florida law:

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” (Emphasis is ours.)

How did a policy that was crafted to protect the vulnerable and defenseless become used to justify the killing of a child by a grown man? This is because of the inherent racial injustice of Stand Your Ground. In states with this policy, Whites have a 354% likelihood of being cleared for White-on Black murder.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Real Gun Control

Courtesy KissFM104.com

Atlanta Vigil for Trayvon Martin. Courtesy KissFM104.com

We are still shocked, heartbroken and aghast at the criminalization of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of a known violent man. Instead of stewing let’s use our pain as the momentum for activism. This is the third of a multi-part series that addresses the question on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

How was a man with a pattern of violent behavior and record of mental illness allowed to possess a weapon and conceal it? How is he still allowed these rights?

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Improve our Mental Health

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This is the second of a multi-part series that offers suggestions to the question on everyone’s mind: “after the verdict, where do we go from here?”

Did you know that George Zimmerman was on a psychotropic drug the night he killed Trayvon Martin? Zimmerman was prescribed Temazepam and Adderall, which have known side effects of aggressive behavior, anxiety and hallucinations. While we know that people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators, we still wonder what role these drugs played in Zimmerman’s fear and anxiety that night when he called 911 from the safety of his car. We can’t say for sure if Zimmerman is mentally ill or not, but present in many of the current national and international debates on gun violence is the sometimes subdued , sometimes pronounced question about our collective national mental health.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Stop Domestic Violence

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Marissa Alexander, mother of two and domestic violence survivor. Image Courtesy of WCTV.

Much has been said about the death of Trayvon Martin, the trial of George Zimmerman and the ensuing acquittal . We are hurt, angry, saddened and confused at the acquittal of George Zimmerman and the denial of Trayvon Martin’s boyhood. This is the first of a multi-part series that offers suggestions to question on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Apparently, George Zimmerman’s record wasn’t relevant in the case of Trayvon Martin, despite that fact that his girlfriend took out a restraining order against him. Earlier that same year Zimmerman was charged with resisting arrest and battering an officer. It seems this man has a known violent history which, given his eventual killing of a child, makes us question if his  history would have been relevant if his and Trayvon’s races were swapped?

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