Commentary By Bakari Kitwana

Remembering Gwendolyn Brooks

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Would Cleveland Officials Rather Have a Riot Than Justice?

 

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

By Bakari Kitwana

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...

Joker’s Wild

The Crisis Magazine

Like blackface minstrelsy, right-wing attempts to vilify Obama reveal the racism beneath the greasepaint.

At the height of the health care debate in the fall, former President Jimmy Carter dared to utter what countless Blacks were thinking: The rhetoric of 9/12 Tea Party protesters crossed the line of partisan bickering and, in the tradition of homegrown White supremacy, was racist at its core. Carter’s charge, like our sentiment, was virtually silenced by conservatives, moderates and even some liberals, and by the president himself. All of Carter’s critics agreed that the backlash against President Obama wasn’t about race. The contrast between their public denials and our collective gut instinct raises one of the most crucial questions for...

Obama Subverts White Supremacy Abroad

Originally published on newsone.com

Yesterday, as I prepared for the kick-off to the national discussion tour focused on the theme “Is America Really Post-Racial?” which will convene in ten US cities this spring, I received emails from around the country commenting on The New York Post cartoon that depicts a chimpanzee being shot by two white police officers. The cartoon prominently displays one of the officers saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

The commentary comes on the heels of the historic election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black president. During the campaign, Obama had been likened to the famed children’s book protagonist and monkey, “Curious George,” and numerous Americans openly expressing their...

The Post’s Post-Racial Politics

Originally published on newsone.com

Yesterday, as I prepared for the kick-off to the national discussion tour focused on the theme “Is America Really Post-Racial?” which will convene in ten US cities this spring, I received emails from around the country commenting on The New York Post cartoon that depicts a chimpanzee being shot by two white police officers. The cartoon prominently displays one of the officers saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

The commentary comes on the heels of the historic election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black president. During the campaign, Obama had been likened to the...

Don Imus: The Style But Not the Substance.

Originally Published in Newsday

When Don Imus put his foot in his mouth on the air last

week with a dirty and derogatory reference to young black women, he was

articulating a message that had been clearly voiced by Michael Richards, Rush

Limbaugh and countless others long before him. Ditto the white law students at

the University of Connecticut who donned big booties and blackface this year on

Martin Luther King Day, as well as the rash of undergraduates across the

country, from Michigan to...

The Cotton Club

The Village Voice

Armed with messages of Black political resistance, Black pride, and opposition to militarization and corporatization, designed in part to counter the commercial hip-hop party-and-bullshit madness dumbing down the nation's youth, hip-hop's lyrical descendants of the "fight the power" golden era today are booking concerts in record numbers—far beyond anything imaginable by their predecessors. Problem is, they can hardly find a Black face in the audience.

As the Coup (Pick a Bigger Gun), Zion-I (True and Livin'), and the Perceptionists (Black Dialogue) get set for a wave of touring to promote their new CDs this summer, the audience that will be looking back at them unmasks one of the most...

Jay-Z: Hip-Hop and High Society

Black Book magazine

Jay-Z likes to tell the story of the radio station that invited him in for an interview. He arrives, sits down at the mic and can't help wondering why he's surrounded by bottles of Cristal. "What's that for?" he asks. "You," the radio host responds. "Come on Be for real, man, like what—did you think I was going to be popping Cristal at ten o-clock in the morning?"

Pose a surface question to Jay-Z about his seeming obsession with all things bourgeois from the private jets to Benzes, designer clothing and beyond that have served as the backdrop for much of his highly successful rap career and expect a defensive response.

" A lot of my records, a lot of things I do I just really paint a picture, you know. And, sometimes I'm just...

Uncivil War: Inside the Years-Long Battle Over the Future of Afrocentricity and Its Place in the Black Studies Renaissance

On a bright, Indian summer day in September 1997, after weeks of tension between her and the father of Afrocentricity, Molefi Asante, Joyce Ann Joyce, who had just been appointed to replace Asante as chair of Temple University's African American studies department, stumbled upon...

The Top 15 Civil Rights Leaders of the 21st Century

Originally published with Hakim Hasan on newsone.com

The overwhelming social transformation rendered in the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement is a milestone in American history of such magnitude that it assumes a mythological quality, almost willing us to define the future in its image. But our own post-civil rights movement era requires us to reframe what “civil rights” actually means. Changes in the way many Americans have come to think of the role of government, the overwhelming influence of corporate media, the disproportionate influence of America’s super rich, and today’s activists’ focus on human rights and social justice rather than simply civil rights make the question of civil rights leaders almost passé. Old standards of measures of civil rights...

The Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 2:45pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common'...

Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 11:33am

Let’s begin with the premise that no people, culture, religious, racial or ethnic group is by definition immoral. Not acknowledging this, at the core, is the problem with Juan Williams’ gross generalization about Muslims that recently got him fired from National Public Radio (NPR). But if NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview last week with the rapper Jay-Z about his new book Decoded is any indication, it’s a message still lost on Terry Gross.

To be sure, Juan Williams revealed his bias by openly expressing his personal opinion. Terry Gross didn’t do that. Instead the bias is more subtle and...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 2:43pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 12:32pm

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter...