05-20-2018  4:54 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

US arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested a Seattle woman, conducted raids and seized thousands of marijuana plants in an investigation into what they say is an international black market marijuana operation financed by Chinese money, a newspaper reported Saturday.Authorities are still...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.British...

First class for Mississippi school after desegregation deal

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A small Mississippi Delta town whose rival high schools were combined last year under a desegregation settlement has held its first graduation ceremony.No longer Trojans and Wildcats, they're all Wolves now at Cleveland Central High School, whose seniors collected...

ENTERTAINMENT

Reggie Lucas, who worked with Miles Davis and Madonna, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning musician who played with Miles Davis in the 1970s and produced the bulk of Madonna's debut album, has died. He was 65.The performer's daughter, Lisa Lucas, told The Associated Press that her father died from complications with his heart early...

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Small clubs cross fingers for World Cup windfalls

TORCY, France (AP) — The ideal scenario for the club where Paul Pogba played football as a kid might go...

On time, on target: LeBron, Cavs pound Celtics in Game 3

CLEVELAND (AP) — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside...

US, China agree to cut American trade deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to take measures to "substantially reduce"...

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

BERLIN (AP) — On the roof of Berlin's cathedral, bees are buzzing.Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb...

Love and fire: Text of Michael Curry's royal wedding address

WINDSOR, England (AP) — And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and...

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as...

Bruce Poinsette of The Skanner News

Donald Jones latest book, "Fear of a Hip Hop Planet," will undoubtedly evoke images of Public Enemy's 1990 classic. The decision was very much intentional.

"Public Enemy in 'Fear of a Black Planet' capture how place and race are connected," says Jones. "The image of an ominous Black planet in view is a metaphor for the scary image of the Black ghetto as portrayed (in) mainstream media.  Eloquent and angry, with songs like Fight the Power, the album also harkens back to a day when Hip Hop was openly about resistance to racism.  For all its contradictions at a deep level hip-hop is still about that."

The University of Miami law professor tackles racism, classism and how hip-hop has become a battleground for understanding these issues in his new book. Via email, he spoke with The Skanner News to discuss hip-hop's role in our understanding of racial politics.

Jones says he began "Fear of a Hip Hop Planet" as a way to examine race in the 21st century.

When he grew up, segregation was very real. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin, who Jones saw speak at Morgan State, inspired him to become a lawyer.

After graduating NYU Law School in the late 1970s, he worked on cases dealing with prison and jail overcrowding, police brutality, and employment discrimination.

As a professor, he says he has maintained his sense of duty in making change.

"I believe that the real revolution must be revolution of the mind," says Jones.

"Fear of a Hip Hop Planet" asserts that the color line has been replaced by the division between the suburbs and the inner city. We live in two worlds, says Jones.

"In America of the suburbs there are economic opportunities, manicured lawns and late model cars. Here the police may help you get your cat of a tree.  But cross the line between the suburbs and the inner city and you enter a war zone.

"The old racism focused explicitly on color and created a color line. The new racism in the words of Lani Guinier is colorblind racism.  The notion is that because of equal opportunity laws if blacks in the ghetto are not succeeding economically (it) is because of cultural pathology. Hip-hop has come to define that culture of ghetto spaces. This hip-hop culture has been demonized as dysfunctional."

Jones says hip-hop serves as a convenient scapegoat for problems like violence, failing schools and joblessness in urban areas. He wants to change that narrative and points to the culture's origins.

Hip-hop arose from the economic conditions of the South Bronx in the early 70s. Its birth coincided with a massive loss of manufacturing jobs, the construction of an expressway that tore through the neighborhood, and "benign neglect" by police officers and firefighters.

"It is more than music," says Jones. "It is historically a movement for empowerment of urban youth. Social isolation produces invisibility and voicelessness. But hip-hop gives otherwise voiceless youth a voice."

Hip-hop combats mainstream society notions that vilify people living in the ghetto, he says. The music puts them on top instead of portraying them as on the bottom.

Even the often demonized sub-genre of gangsta rap plays a role in carrying on the rich tradition of Black music. Like other genres created out of Black struggle, it produces a narrative to accompany the conditions that created it.

Jones says that gangsta rap came about as part of a tradition of Black migrations in the U.S. The first was the migration north by millions of Blacks following World War I. Blues became popular during this time.

During World War 2, many Black people moved from the South to the North and West to work in defense plants. This era accompanied the rise of Jazz.

Jones says the end of the civil rights era was also a migration, where millions of Blacks moved out of the ghetto and into the suburbs. While it benefited the "Talented Tenth" who migrated, it further concentrated poverty and increased social isolation among those in the inner city, he says.

"Gangsta Rap represents the stories of the black underclass who were left behind in America's failed experiment with integration," according to Jones. "Hip-hop plays the role of a cinema verite, a film screen in rhyme in which there is a long running documentary about virtue and vice of life in the ghetto, joy, pain, alienation, anger, and even hope."

Jones likens his project to that of Henry Louis Gates, who challenged critics of the new black theatre in the 70s.  These "militant" plays often depicted white exploitation of Black people, which offended white audiences.  Gates argued that to understand the art form one had to go beyond the text to the social reality behind the dialogue that was taking place.  

"We need to change the conversation," says Jones. "Instead of scapegoating lyrics we need to focus on the social conditions which produced the lyrics."

"Fear of a Hip Hop Planet" is available in stores now.

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