House Music is OUR Music!

Many of you all know I’m a Househead. From way back. (And I don’t mean that canned, soul-less crap you find at most dance clubs, either. )

I just wrote my first (hopefully of many) articles on House music, this one for POZ magazine. This time focusing on what house music and house music culture has meant to Black gay men, especially those who are HIV+.

At a crowded club called shelter in downtown Manhattan, the lights are dim and the music is thumping. Conversation is impossible, yet communication thrives among the hundreds swaying and stomping to house music. Some sing along, others blow whistles or slap tambourines. It may not look like a typical HIV support group. But as HIV positive black gay men face rejection from their churches and communities, many turn to the dance floor to heal from homophobia and HIV stigma. READ ON…

8 Former Black Panthers and BLA Members Arrested

Eight former members of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party were arrested today for a murder they are being accused of committing 36 years ago. Read it here.

Isaiah Washington/T.R. Knight Drama

I missed the red carpet section of this year’s Golden Globes, and was honestly to excited for Jennifer Hudson’s nomination to really care about what anyone else was doing or saying.

Afterwards, I was basking in her win!

My glimmer dulled by reports that Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington had apparently called co-star TR Knight a “faggot,” and then repeated the word in the press room when he flat out denied the allegation. Knight appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, coming out as gay, and saying emphatically that Washington had used the slur when referring to him.

So I have been trying to figure out how to respond to this. On the one hand, we don’t actually know if Washington said it the first time he is accused of saying it, although people are sort of assuming he did, largely because of the reported fight he had earlier in the season with co-star Patrick Dempsey. But then, he did say it in the press room.

So, if he said it, I don’t think there’s any defending that. I am really tired of brothas and their homophobia, and tired of feeling like I have to defend them publicly when shit like this happends.

But I am sick of the white gay community’s self righteousness, especially when it comes to dealing with black homophobes. When I read in the press that Washington issued a statement apologizing for making the statement on the red carpet, and that he had met with members of the gay and lesbian community, I wondered, which members of the gay community? Were there any black folks in that bunch of people? I know there are black folks that work for some of the usual suspect organizations that are the “official gays” to be met with when a str8 person needs something, or fucks up publicly, but sometimes I wish I knew who those “leaders” were. Are these the same people that displace poor and working class black folks in cities across the U.S. when they build their (white) gay-borhoods? Or the ones who don’t allow black folks in their clubs, like the Castro in San Fran?

Washington needs to be held accountable to them?

I think not! Beyond slurs, the white gay community is so completely organized around its hostility to blacks and black-ness that Washington, while I may be pissed with him for using the term, should not be held accountable to them. Period.

Not that this is the final word on why someone is or is not homophobic, but Washington did play a black gay man in Spike Lee’s Get On the Bus, which even in 2007, most black actors in Hollywood have reportedly flat out refused to do. Not that I’m grateful to him, but I haven’t seen anyone mention that fact.

I hadn’t intended to write this much on it, but instead wanted to point you to another blogger’s post on the issue, Jasmyne Cannick.

Thirty Strong And A Gun To His Head…Pay Attention?

Thirty Strong And A Gun To His Head…Pay Attention?

By Aishah Shahidah Simmons

There have been and probably will be numerous articles on the January 16, 2007 RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) raid of the Aphilliates Music Group studio and arrest of my brother Tyree (DJ Drama) Simmons and DJ Don Cannon. There have been and will be numerous articles on what the implications of this raid will not only have on the Aphilliates Music Group but on the entire mixtape business/game.

In the midst of those ongoing discussions, let’s not forget the reality that racism and sexism are alive and well in Ameri-KKK-a.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 marked the first day of my supporting a three day fast that Black Women in Durham, North Carolina organized to expel and heal from the ongoing collective trauma that many of us who are victim/survivors of rape and other forms of sexual assault have been experiencing ever since members of the predominantly White Duke LaCrosse team were publicly accused of raping a Black woman in Spring of 2006. Little did I know, that while I supported my Spirit Sister-Survivors in Durham, North Carolina, that another assault against a member of my Blood family was about to happen.

No one will ever be able to explain to me why the hell a SWAT Team of at least 30 strong went charging into the Aphilliates Music Group studio as if they were doing a major drug or an illegal arms bust? Why did they need to put my brother Tyree (DJ Drama) and his cohorts face down on the ground with guns to their heads? Did the agents need to ransack the studio, confiscate cd’s featuring artist sanctioned original music not bootlegs, disc drives, computers, cars, ultimately stripping the studio of everything with the exception of furniture

Based on the January 16, 2007 Fox Atlanta News edition, when one of the agents said “Usually, we find other crimes during these types of busts.” Clearly the agents expected ( possibly wanted) to find drugs and/or illegal arms. K-9 dogs whose noses are trained to sniff and find drugs, were ultimately board with nothing to do.

So the question for me and the rest of the Portnoy-Simmons-Thwaites family is was a SWAT team needed? Was this solely about mixtapes? Would this have happened if this wasn’t a Black run company? One of the claims is that Tyree (DJ Drama) was racketeering. Well, this alleged racketeer is a legitimate businessman who played and continues to play a pivotal role in the careers of numerous known and unknown hiphop artists, which by direct extension helps the recording industry immensely. Tyree ( DJ Drama) is also a partner, a father, a brother, and a son.

When I think about all of the scandals in corporate Ameri-KKK-a (Enron and WorldCom to name a minute few)…I don’t ever recall hearing about any SWAT enforced raids. I don’t recall any images of Ken Lay or other top executives of corporations being forced to lay face down on the ground surrounded by SWAT agents with guns to their heads and K-9 dogs sniffing them. For a detailed expose on the evils that corporations all around the world do and get away with legally and illegally, check out the powerfully gripping documentaries “Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room,” and “The Corporation.”

As Tyree’s (DJ Drama’s) sister and as a radical Black feminist lesbian social activist, I am beyond outraged at how the RIAA handled/orchestrated the raid. If he or anyone in the Aphilliates camp didn’t follow the directions of the agents, asked the ‘wrong’ questions,’or made the ‘wrong’ move during the raid, he and/or his cohorts could’ve been murdered in a twinkling of an eye. And for what? Selling mixtapes, which feature artist sanctioned original music?

The RIAA should be held accountable for their actions. They need to know that their violent response to addressing their accusations of racketeering was unacceptable.

There was (and is) no covert operation going on with the business of the Aphilliates; and yet the Aphilliates were treated as if they were public enemy number one.

I am explicitly clear that the music entertainment power structure has a very serious problem with people of Color making profits, on their terms, off a multi-billon dollar international industry hiphop that they created.

I am also clear that since the founding of Ameri-KKK-a, this type of state sanctioned racist and sexist treatment towards men and women of Color happens every single minute of every single day. Unfounded police raids are nothing new to countless communities of Color across this country.

So while we debate and discuss the legalities of mixtapes and the long term impact of what the January 16, 2007 raid of the Aphiliates studio will mean, we must not ever forget that innocent people were terrorized and incarcerated in the name of protecting the Recording Industry Association of America.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is a Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker and social activist who recently completed the award-winning documentary NO!, which unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities.

NO! is an award-winning feature length documentary, which unveils the realities of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communitites.

View the NO! Trailer

Read “Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology”

More on Black/Latino Anger

So a friend sent me these two postings related to the scandalous article by Tanya K. Hernandez:

1. A longer academic piece by Hernandez on the same subject.

2. A blog and debate about the piece on Oliver Wang’s blog.


The Roots of Latino/black Anger

People often talk about the tensions between black folks in the US and Latinos. Often on the Left, when people do talk about these real tensions, especially when raised by Black folks, are often told we are succumbing to the “divide and conquer” rule. You know, somehow to deal with our real diverging histories and tensions means that you have somehow allowed ole’ whitey to get in your head and twist your thoughts and feelings up and he can keep the great and oncoming revolution from happening cuz the Negroes just won’t shut up and get glad!

*sinister laugh*

Well, not quite.

In reality, white supremacy is precisely the problem. Please take a look that this controversial editorial from the LA TIMES by Rutgers University Lay Professor Tanya K. Hernandez, called “The Roots of Latino/black Anger.”

“Over the years, there’s also been a tendency on the part of observers to blame the conflict more on African Americans (who are often portrayed as the aggressors) than on Latinos. But although it’s certainly true that there’s plenty of blame to go around, it’s important not to ignore the effect of Latino culture and history in fueling the rift. ” READ THE REST HERE.

This one, I’d love your thoughts on…

The White Rapper Show

This new reality show on VH1 can be summed up in a few sentences.

  1. White rappers arguing about realness, and who’s “true” to the hood.
  2. White rappers using the N word.
  3. Female rappers calling dudes B*****S.

I’m over ALL rappers arguing about realness.

In fact, I am officially over rap.

But I do like this song…Talib Kweli’s Listen.