get involved: support the baltimore bail fund
One of the many ways the police use to quell dissent is to set high bails coupled with mass arrests of protesters. More often than not, the charges are for nebulous offenses like “resisting arrest” and “obstructing traffic.” The police use vaguely defined language to justify charges, which more often than not are eventually dropped at the bench. Though bails are ultimately refunded once the arrestee shows up for their day in court, the obstacle of having to pay either an upfront fee or serve jail time presents a deterrent against future action while the court process is still underway. This is particularly hard on lower income communities, who can neither afford to make bail nor take time off of work to serve time, and just happen to be the people organizing in Baltimore. One of the best ways to help the organizers in Baltimore is to support the Baltimore Bail Fund. As the uprising in Baltimore continues, the onus of raising bail money will only increase. If you’re able to contribute, please do. If you’re not, simply sharing the link will go a long way to keeping the activists in Baltimore out and working for change. CLICK HERE to support.
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
feature: zoë kravitz features boldly in new flaunt magazine editorial
Check out these stunning images of Zoë Kravitz! The editorial, lensed by Zackery Michael, features in the latest issue of Flaunt magazine and captures the actress boldly. Check out the images below (note: some of the images contain partial nudity).
By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor
ignorance ain’t all that bliss: the necessary conversation on freddie gray, the baltimore uprising, social media and social justice
Whenever racial tensions peak in America is when I really know who are my ride or dies when it comes to discussing social justice on social media. Since Ferguson, I’ve had to engage in constant purges of deleting “friends” who were saying the most ignorant shit to where I almost wanted to just go find their parents, former teachers, hell even God, and ask what happened…where did we go wrong.
By KiNG, AFROPUNK Contributor
“Looky here, America
What you done done-
Let things drift
Until the riots come.” – Langston Hughes
I think many of us neglect to realize we get A LOT of our news from social media (I am guilty of this at times). Facebook, for instance, is the one avenue to connect with a multitude of people at one time and keep up with current events…it’s almost like reading a newspaper except your friends are pointing at which articles to focus on. While this admittedly can be a beautiful thing- to have community foster at the touch of your fingers whilst engaging in proper dialogue about “taboo” topics. However, what can come from this is a) misinformation b) an abundance of bullshit c) people choosing HOW they want to be aware, consequently causing them to live in a bubble of ignorance.
One of the more frustrating things I have seen on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are people calling the rioters and protestors in Baltimore “degenerates” or “poor examples” for black people- which ultimately was what prompted me to write this article…because some of y’all are severely misinformed or just a little…confused.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “…a riot is the language of the unheard,” which is exactly what manifested in Baltimore as provoked by external sources. With that being said, let us take the time to realize how rioting is only considered “vulgar” and “violent” when it is centered around black people/ racism. We have neglected the hundreds of times where white people rioting has been considered “revolutionary” – if you need help with your history, start at the Boston Tea Party then work your way forward.
Continuing on this tangent of white people and history… I’m going to really need something from y’all white people… stay with me, have a moment of patience, and try to understand that it is very hard for me to take your opinion on how race related riots should be peaceful, should be flood of calm, how black people should be less angry, less volatile, seriously because OF COURSE it is easy for you all to say this when you are the prototype of what living peacefully in America looks like.
I will say this and I honestly don’t care who comes trying to check me. You guys do not know struggle on the same level as minorities in America. You just don’t. And it’s fine. I know some of you guys want to act like you do sometimes. But you don’t. Even if you grew up queer, in poverty, and so on and so forth- you don’t know the struggle to the extent of a black person experiencing the same exact thing. Please know, this isn’t to minimize your life journey or your plight but this is a demand for you to stop EQUATING your struggle to ours (as evident in shit like “The Whiteness Project”).
Now, we appreciate those of you who choose to be allies. It is truly meaningful and necessary that there are those of you who utilize their privilege for the better. However, if you are choosing to be an ally, guess what? You do not get to be at the forefront of this movement, you are not the spokesperson for “the minority struggle,” you are just… An ally. Your voice is welcomed but it is not allowed to drown out the most necessary ones.
I am only 21 but I am consistently tired of using my voice to explain the same things OVER and over again while tip toe’ing around “feelings,” when there is a blatant disregard for our lives on a daily basis. I am allowed to be angry, I will never condone the harm of others nor slander/libel, however I am allowed to express my grief. We. As. Black. People. Are. Allowed. And. Are. Entitled. To. Do. So. I become extremely frustrated when people attempt to “police” my feelings or my reactions because I care more about broken necks than broken storefront windows. I am not going to silence myself to cater to anyone’s desire to feel more comfortable.
We need to understand, the root of all misunderstanding in these matters comes from a lack of misinformation; however, in this day and age, it is also a CHOICE to live in a state of blissful ignorance. One of the most dangerous forms of racism is pretending it doesn’t exist. If you are online right now, unfollowing and/or unfriending people who are reposting pictures/writing status updates of the Baltimore protests and news on Freddie Gray, you are racist. If you want everyone to “get over it”, you are racist. If you are willfully ignoring protests of a system that murders black people freely, and instead focusing ALL your energy on what photo from your study abroad to make your profile picture or some plot twist on a fictional show about white people or what racially ambiguous model (because that type of pretty is easier to swallow) is wearing what ever the hell type of clothing brand, you are contributing to… wait a minute… give me a second to think…. oh yeah…
R A C I S M
This is 2015. We have access to more information at the touch of a fingertip than any other living beings in history. If you aren’t seeing news on Freddie Gray’s murder, if you haven’t BEEN seeing ANY news about the countless black lives taken every day, YOU have made it that way; there are no excuses to justify your ignorance. We, as a country, need to place racial matters at the forefront of our agenda rather than sweep them under a rug now soaked in blood. As poet and educator, Javon Johnson, says best, “if another country killed “Americans” at the rate that police kill Blacks y’all would demand war.” We may not be members of the judicial branch, we may not be members of the Senate or House of Representatives, but we are citizens, and we are entitled to demand the Constitution be applied to us: “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
So now, with that being said, I beg of you to please be aware of the media you are consuming. Be watchful for symbols of hatred in tv shows, video games, music, and literature. Be aware of the violent misogyny and the subtle misogyny in Game of Thrones, in top 40 lyrics, in John Green books, in Urban Outfitters, in your facebook “friend’s” status updates. Recognize racism for what it is. But beyond that. Recognize transphobia for what it is. Recognize homophobia for what it is. Recognize patriarchy for what it is. Recognize this broken system for what it is. Call out micro-aggressions as you see them publicly and do so loudly. Call out victim blaming. Slut shaming. Racial slurring. Call out the downplay of having privilege. There is no room for comfort for those who can’t breathe. For those who can’t exist without their existence being questioned. Understand being socially aware, being socially conscious, being an advocate for social justice and change isn’t only about tagging something with #blacklivesmatter and posting pictures with inspirational quotes and/or depressing statistics beneath- it is a constant, exhausting effort that requires you to consistently question your society, question your culture, question your peers, question your family, and most of all, question yourself. Never stop asking questions. Never stop demanding answers.
* KiNG is a 21 year old gender fluid, bisexual, biracial, spoken word poet, as well as co-founder of SLiM Poetry (an open mic at the Container Yard in the Arts District). Through writing and performing, I seek to create dialogue and develop a rapport with readers/audience members. I also intend to shatter stigma pertaining to mental health, feminism, racism, and anything social justice related as well as encourage creative communities to integrate and innovate.
‘what happened, miss simone?’ – official trailer
Watch the new trailer for upcoming Nina Simone documentary, ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’
The film (directed by Liz Garbus) explores the ups and downs of the iconic musician & civil rights activist’s complex life.
feature: protests in several us cities over freddie gray death – more than a hundred arrested in nyc rally
Last night protests took place in several US cities over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died this month while in police custody in Baltimore (sustaining a severed spine). In a move to deter protesters – and to avoid the social unrest in Baltimore sparked off by his death – more than a hundred people were arrested last night as protesters marched through Manhattan. The rally which began in Union Square was used to denounce the death of Freddie Gray and to call attention to the acts of police brutality perpetrated by New York’s own police department – many protesters heard chanting, “Baltimore is everywhere.”. Read more on the arrests here and check out some images of the protests below.
By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor
Photo Credit: @i_am_royale’s Instagram via US Uncut
Banner Photo Credit: Occupy Wall St.
joy postell – hands up, don’t shoot (acoustic)
Watch singer Joy Postell’s acoustic performance of her latest record, ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ (accompanied by guitarist Steve Francell).
“I wrote ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ to shed light and to give honor to the countless victims of police brutality. From Emmett Till, Rodney King to Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, it seems as though not much has changed. These protests reflect the amount of rage bubbling in black communities, and for me, I believe that music is one of the most powerful forms of dialogue that we have. So, I wrote the song with the intent to paint the picture of oppression against black people that has been perpetuated throughout American history. It’s time for us to unite and extend a helping hand to our fellow brothers and sisters in need.”
new music: alt r&b musician elle pierre releases new ep, ‘nele’
Listen to ‘Nele’, the new EP from alt R&B singer-songwriter Elle Pierre. The Brooklyn based Californian musician is inspired by the likes of Erykah Badu and Faith Evans, and attributes her sound, in her own words, to “inherent, deep seeded roots in gospel, jazz and soul as well her love for nostalgic 90s music”. Get into her sound below.
By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor
feature: mokshini weekly fashion illustration – ronyca
Meet Ronyca. This girl’s high top is to die for. The end – Lincoln Center
By Nadeesha Godamunne, AFROPUNK Contributor
feature: the radical poetry of abiodun oyewole (of spoken word group the last poets)
Socially conscious and politically charged—this describes the profound poetry of Abiodun Oyewole, one of the founding members of the revolutionary, spoken word group “The Last Poets”. The Last Poets emerged during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s; they were heavily inspired by the work and teachings of Malcolm X, and used their radical, rhythmic poetry as a tool for spreading awareness and ideas of self-determination and unity throughout the black community. When speaking about Malcolm X and the mission of The Last Poets, Oyewole stated: “all we wanted to do was be disciples of Malcolm, in a sense, using poetry to illuminate the same values that he planted in our heads”. Much like Malcolm X, The Last Poets were uninhibited in their mission of promoting Black Nationalism and they did so with undeniable passion and zeal.
By Damola Durosomo, AFROPUNK Contributor
The Last Poets went on to create several monumental recordings including the provocative “Niggers are Scared of Revolution”, “Before the White Man Came”, “and the renowned “When the Revolution Comes”. Abiodun Oyewole and The Last Poets are often referred to as the “grandfathers of hip-hop”; their rhythmic compositions, bold lyrics, and distinct style laid the foundation for the hip-hop movement that followed. Numerous hip-hop artists have sampled The Last Poets, and have cited them as originators of the art form. There is no doubt that Oyewole and The Last Poets have influenced generations of artists and activists. Check out some of his work below.
Blessed are Those Who Struggle by the Last Poets
Blessed are those who struggle
Oppression is worse than the grave
Better to die for a noble cause
than to live and die a slave
Blessed are those who courted death
Who offered their lives to give
Who dared to rebel, rather than serve
to die so that we might live
Blessed are those who took up arms
and dared to face our foes
Nat Turner, Vesey, Gariel, Chinque
To mention a few names we know
Blessed are the memories of those
who were there at the Harper’s Ferry Raid
Strong were their hearts, noble their cause
and great was the price they paid
Blessed are the voices of those who stood up
and cried out, Let us be free!
Douglas and Garvey and Sojourner Truth
Dubois and Drew All
Blessed are the giants that we have loved
and lost to the bullet’s sting
like Malcolm and Medgar and the Panthers who fell
and Martin Luther King
And blessed are the bodies of those
who were hung from the limbs of the sycamore tree
Who found end to their hope at the end of a rope
’cause they dared to attempt to be free
Up through the years we’ve continued this fight
our liberty to attain
And though we have faced insurmountable odds
yet the will to resist remains
Blessed are the spirits of those who have died
in the prisons all over this land
who committed one sin, they stood up like men
and got iced for just being a man
Blessed all you who will join with us now
in this struggle of life and death
so that freedom and peace will be more than a word
to the offspring that we have left
The Last Poets’ pieces are intriguing and insightful, and they are particularly relevant during these trying times that black people are facing in America. If you’re interested in exploring more of Oyewole’s work, be sure to check out his book On A Mission: Selected Poems and a History of the Lasts Poets, as well as The Last Poets’ impressive discography, available on iTunes and Spotify.
alabama shakes – sound & color
Check out the Sci-Fi visual for Alabama Shakes new single, ‘Sound & Color’ – the title track from their newly released sophomore album.