Black Urban Scholar Defined: Black

I know that I am one of many who ran to look up the definition of “black” after Malcolm did so in prison the first time I saw Malcolm X. I took the subsequent commercial break as an opportunity to grab the purple Webster’s Dictionary off of my mother’s oak bookcase. 

Indeed, none of Webster’s definitions  (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/black) would be descriptions that I would ascribe to myself: “very dark in color”, “dirty, soiled”, “absence of light”, “thoroughly sinister or evil”, “marked by the occurrence of disaster”. I could go on.

That is not Black.

Quite conversely:

And I am Black.

I am a direct lineage to a people that have survived the, arguably, most atrocious injustices of any group over the past 400 plus years.  From the first Africans, stripped from their homes and dragged across the Middle Passage, to the house & field slaves surviving on the plantation, to the freed sharecroppers who were in many ways worse off than the slaves, to those terrorized by the reign of Jim Crow, to those who concocted a remarkable Renaissance in Harlem, to the Mammy figures who were just mothers trying to make ends meet, to the little girls bombed at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama, to the image of Emmitt Till viewed by the world on the cover of Jet Magazine,  to the agents of change a part of the Civil Rights Movement, to the radical Black Panther Party who were tired of the status quo, to visions of Black Power personified by Sweet Sweetback and Foxy Brown, to the Sugarhill Gang’s delight that would eventually inform the culture of the entire world, to the beautiful site of weeping elders at the reality of America’s first Black President.

The Black story in America is tumultuous, ugly and beautiful. The above is a mere snippet, barely a postcard of the journey.

What it comes down to, is that Black means: survivor; in a very particular sense of the word. Hence, although it was ascribed to my people as a means of constructing the bottom rung on the racial ladder…its meaning has transformed.

The resilience inherent in the meaning of Black in the context of America snuffs Webster’s definition and replaces it as an homage to my ancestors and an implication to continue the progress.

Haiku for Haikus

Write haikus today

Like it’s English in 3rd grade.

Words instigate change.

"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are." —E.E. Cummings
Wondering What’s the Combination to My Dreadlock!: Do you know of Akua Naru?

I was sitting on campus, concurrently over and underwhelmed with all that I have been studying, namely, the system. It’s like a train roaring down the tracks polluting the air with its oppression. It felt as if I was watching from afar with binoculars in reading my books. And I could see the people dropping dead, from suffocation. The weight of the powerlessness bearing down on my shoulders manifested itself through the weight of my backpack. My mind was as cloudy as the rainy New York sky.

I was in need of new life, inspiration.

After class, the universe answered my call with the purest Hip Hop show I have ever witnessed with my own eyes and ears. Nino Brown, New Jack City type pure shit.

She spit:

“Don’t front you know this shit hot,

Wondering what’s the combination

To my dreadlock”

Akua Naru.

That was about all I needed, and it was only the beginning.

You should: Go. Listen. Now. (www.akuanaru.com)

In community with my classmates, other students and faculty Akua and her band DigFlo rocked the Fordham student lounge on the Lincoln Center campus. Undoubtedly the best kept secret in Manhattan that night!

The show was a bum rush of musicality, consciousness, flow and stick to your ribs like mama’s country grits, no sugar type lyricism. Sensory overload. And authenticity. Authenticity like the forefathers of hip hop intended.

In an intimate space, my rhymically challenged collogues (some, not all) and I went on a journey with Akua. “Run Away” paid homage to her single mother,  “The Block” artfully told the unfortunate story of too many neighborhoods, and the culmination of the show was in the performance of the title track “The Journey”. Naru’s most moving and lyrically tenacious track of the night delineated the heinous plight of Africans stolen from their homeland to become chattel status in this new place, America. The candid rhyme and delivery sent a thought provoking silence through the room.

You should: Go. Listen. Now.

Akua Naru is like a cool drink of water from the bottom of the well. For me, she is like fresh air saving those suffocating from the emissions of that train of oppression. I floated out of there; happily leaving my last $20 for a cd and a t-shirt (low key groupie status), but I had to have this experience as a part of my soundtrack to life from now on.


Go find her music. She’s on a small North American tour right now. Catch her if you can! (http://akuanaru.com/events.php)

On Troy Davis

On Troy Davis

by Me

My mind can’t help but wander,

To the years of rapings and lynchings,

To the many mothers burying their daughters.

They killed them.

And recourse was hardly something to fathom.

They made strange fruit into postcards.

Strive to imagine.

And cowards hid behind white sheets,

Galvanizing to preserve that way of life.

Vigilantes in the streets,

Inflamed crosses in the night.

Unscathed they reigned,

Status quo much the same.

On this day,

In a case rampant with doubt,

‘Ol Georgia played the almighty,

Disregarding the screams,

Deaf to the chorus of shouts,

They killed him.

Fuck a shadow of a doubt.


WELCOME!

Welcome!

If it was possible, and I had the means I would offer you something to drink. Sweet tea (as a nod to my Southern roots), a beer (because I’d like to have one too) or a nice cool glass of water, because that’s just what people do to welcome one to their space. And you are here and I appreciate it. So, welcome.

Welcome to my words.

Welcome to my thoughts.

Welcome to my heart.

Welcome to my voyage. 

I am a Black urban scholar. (Definition coming soon). I am aware that I am far from the first, and sure to not be the last. In fact, there are quite a few in my Urban Studies Program at Fordham University. A Google search, though, indicated that I am the first to claim the title. Hence, I am the Black Urban Scholar.

This blog will journal my academic journey, which is inherently intertwined with the experiences of my everyday life. They are one in the same and continuously inform each other. 

I am a Southern girl, like a curious worm entrenched in the Big Apple, just trying to pop my head out to the other side. And make sense of it all.

I, like everyone, have a lot of opinions. Those close to me have urged me to share them in some way, and if I am totally honest with myself, I have always wanted the metaphorical mic.

(Testing…1…2…3). 

So here I am! And I am glad you have stayed this long.  

Let’s try and make sense of this mess of a world. We will agree, disagree, laugh and most likely at times be implored to cry. But most of all, in my wildest dreams, this may be a venue to spark me and to spark you to do something…something for ourselves and/or something for somebody else. My hope is that this space will allow for perspectives to collide and new light to be shed. Light that will move us to do something to change something, ourselves, someone we love or some one we don’t even know; all for the better. There-in-by changing the world.

So again; welcome.