In 2015, We Continue To Be Public Enemy

By Tony Muhammad

Hiphopeducator19@gmail.com

www.tonymuhammad.com

publicenemy_logo

public-enemy

Public Enemy

When Public Enemy emerged in the late 1980s, they were considered to be one of the most controversial and outspoken groups in Hip Hop.  The center-theme to their music was and continues to be the overall condition of danger that Black America is in, the great injustices that it suffers on a systematic level; from governmental repression to corporate exploitation to police brutality, the exposing the enemy’s fear of a Black planet,” and the need for Black self-determination. Many have questioned what their gun crosshairs logo with a targeted man represents.  Chuck D, the leader of the group explained in a Rolling Stones interview on August 18, 2014 that “The crosshairs logo symbolized the black man in America.” He added, “A lot of people thought it was a state trooper because of the hat, but the hat is one of the ones that Run-DMC wore. The B-Boy stance and the silhouette was more like the black man on the target.”  In regards to the name “Public Enemy” he said that it represents the Black man as well.  “The United States Constitution once considered black people to be three-fifths of a human being,” Chuck D says. “If this is a public document, obviously we must be the enemy, so that’s where the name Public Enemy came from.”  At the start of 2015, despite all of the progress that is claimed, in the eyes of many, it is most apparent today that the Black man continues to be “on the target” and continues to occupy the status of “Public Enemy” in America.

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Student Minister Ava Muhammad

Highlighting attention to a national protest movement against the rise of police brutality and murder in Black and Brown communities, National Spokesperson for The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam, Student Minister Ava Muhammad said at a Kwanzaa gathering in New Orleans, LA on December 27th, 2014 that we do a monumental disservice if we raise our children without regard for the state of emergency that we are in as a people.  She noted that America is quickly becoming a “fascist police state.”

In mid-January this state of emergency became even more evident, more real and more eye opening as the North Miami Beach Police Department (located in Miami-Dade County, Florida) has suspended its sniper training program after it was exposed that the mug shots of Black men were being used as targets at a shooting range.  Valerie Deant, a Florida Army National African-American-MugshotsGuard sergeant, reported to the media that while practicing at a Medley shooting range, she noticed an image of her brother, Woody, among the mug shots that we shot at.  She has stressed that her brother, who was arrested in a drag racing incident in 2000 that left two people dead, did his time, is now married with children and is no longer living a reckless lifestyle.  North Miami Beach Police Chief Scott Dennis has attempted to defend the department’s use of the mug shots of Black men by saying there was no “mal-intent or prejudice involved” and that the North Miami Beach Police did not violate any policy, law or Florida Department of Law Enforcement standard that was violated. He has further stated that the department’s use of such photographs is a technique that is widely used and is vital for facial recognition drills.

Dr._Frances_Cress_Welsing_receives_Community_Award_at_National_Black_LUV_Festival_in_WDC_on_21_September_2008

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

Is Police Chief Scott lying about the common use of the mug shots of Black men in sniper training programs? Perhaps he’s not and because of his own overexposure to the common practice in such programs throughout the country he doesn’t see anything wrong with the behavior and doesn’t view it as being racist, although it is in fact racist.  The act itself is a conditioning that breeds and reinforces psychopathic murderous behavior towards Black people in general and Black men in particular.  For many decades and still up to this day, a black silhouette has been and is still used for common target practice, which it by itself to the white supremist mind subconsciously represents all Black men.  The gun itself, according to Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, author of the classic work The Isis Papers, is a phallic shaped weapon that comes from the white supremist mind used for the aim and purpose of genetic annihilation, resonating from the paranoia that darker skinned people are “taking over.” Not coincidently, these are sentiments that have intensified atmospherically since Barack Obama was voted in as President of the United States in 2008 as gun purchases on the part of white people throughout the country have increased tremendously. It should not be a shock to us that many white police officers would share these paranoid sentiments themselves. What further complicates the matter is the increased militarization of the police in recent years, as we have witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri and the rest of the country in which the police have used tanks, military helicopters and military gear against those who have been involved in the protest movement.  The use of the mug shots of Black men by the sniper training program further intensifies the reactive sickness to target Black men or almost exclusively Black men.  It will only lead to more Black men, like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, more recently Jerame Reid of New Jersey and countless others being unjustly killed while surrendering, often times with their hands up and the murderers walking away free without indictment.

Since the 1980s, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been warning us about a war being planned against Black people and in particular Black young men. Addressing the way police have historically handled Black people, the Minister said on October 28, 2007 in a lecture entitled Justifiable Homicide:

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The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

“Police were formed to catch runaway slaves, bring them back to their masters and make examples of them to throw fear into other slaves. It’s the same today. Police authorities are trained to kill, as well as to protect. But where Black people are concerned, police legitimize their mob attacks under the name of “back up.” Police back up is often no different than the lynch mobs 100 years ago. The killing of our people, shooting them with many bullets when one would have done the job. And then, that deliberative body which is to discuss the brutal murder of our people by looking into the facts, comes away calling it justifiable homicide.”

Minister Farrakhan continued by saying:

“Injustice, as I said in the Holy Day of Atonement speech from Atlanta on Oct. 16, brings its natural response no matter how long it takes. Injustice has to be answered by justice, and justice demands that what a man sows, he must eventually reap. Jesus said it well—Did he say those who live by the sword will die by marches? He didn’t say that. Did he say those who live by the sword will die by massive protest?; that those who live by the sword will die by prayers in front of public buildings and kneeling and begging and pleading? Did he say that? What did he say? Jesus said those who kill by the sword will die by the very sword that they used to kill others.”

Today, over six years later, government and law enforcement are experiencing the backlash of over 400 years of injustice in the form of protest.  Dissatisfaction in Black and Brown communities is currently at an all time high. If some form of justice is not administered, out of rage conditions in America will worsen before they improve as rebellion will move far beyond protest.  Justice, as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches us, is a human need and therefore a human right.  The American Government and local governments throughout America must confront the wrong that it has and continues to commit, seek to repair the damage that it has caused and submit to making drastic institutional, cultural and economic changes if it truly desires peace and progress. It must ultimately correspond to The Upmost Desires of a Higher Power if it stands a chance to survive. The $100 billion a year budget to maintain and expand the militarization of police units would serve a greater good if it would instead be used in the re-education and industrial and agricultural development of wasted cities and communities throughout America, with a great emphasis on impoverished Black and Brown communities.  This is a fraction of what is owed, a step in the right direction.  Change can take place in America if its leadership truly desired it.  But is the desire truly there?

I leave you with these lyrics by Chuck D from the Public Enemy song Beyond Trayvon:

FREED THE A**

MIND FOLLOWED

WITH RAPS THAT KILLED TOMORROW

CANT SUPPORT IT

FOUGHT IT

BUT SOMEBODY BOUGHT IT

COMMUNITY CAUGHT IT

BUT THE GOVERNMENT TAUGHT IT

AND ALL YOU HEARD

VIOLENCE HARD DRUGS SEX AND MURDER

SONGS NEVER HATED ARTISTS WHO

KEEP MAKING EM

STRONG AGINST THE WRONG

WHATS BEEN CREATED

BUT LOOK

MANY NEIGHBORHOODS STILL DEVESTATED

I SAY IT

FLOWS OVERRATED

SHOWS UNDERRATED

I HATE IT

WHEN IT’S DEGRATED AND DOWNGRADED

SPITTIN COPYWRITTEN

TO MUSIC

SOME OF YALL GREW UP TO USE IT

PEOPLE DONT DANCE TO IT AND JUST ABUSE IT

YALL SAY THAT

WHEN I SAY THIS

INJUSTICE STILL GOES ON

BEYOND TRAYVON

THANK YOU NME SUN

FOR THIS WORD TO THE YOUNG

YOU THE FUTURE

SAVE OUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS

chuck_d_public_enemy

Chuck D

Until next time, Allah (God) Willing,

Peace.

Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 15 years. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2009).  He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Patrick Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.

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The Black and Brown Lives Matter Movement and Why It Matters To The Hip Hop Nation

By Tony Muhammad

Hiphopeducator19@gmail.com

www.tonymuhammad.com

Wake up and realise the times
That we living in the world is getting more iller than ever
Thought we was chillin’, striving change for the better
But it was a dream like Martin Luther
He had a vision that could move a mountain
Protect one another, that’s world to my brother Malcolm
As-Salaam-Alaikum, Walaikum-as-Salaam
We want justice, police supposed to protect and serve
And then they shoot us down like wild animals
The nerve of them cold-hearted killers
With blue suits slaying our black youth
The earth cries from all the blood that’s being spilled
We need a solution fast, get Insh’Allah bill
Let me educate them, translate it meaning God’s will
It goes all in together, together how we are
To stand with a plan, provided we down to fall
And that’s the Willie Lynch tactics that separated the masses
Taught us all to think backwards – Raekwon – Wu-Tang-Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli

The title track to the new album A Better Tomorrow by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, was one of several artistic responses to the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York in 2014 and the countless others that have resulted in no justice with the murderers allowed to walk free.  This song as well J. Cole’s Be Free speak not only to the condition of police abuse and murder that Black and Brown people consistently have suffered from historically in the United States, but also conditions that have kept our communities in a perpetual state of oppression and modern-day slavery. While the amount of musical responses to the current atmosphere of dissatisfaction may not be to

Rosa Clemente

Rosa Clemente

the level of desire from conscientious artists such as Quest Love who has stressed that Hip Hop as an artistic community has been “too silent,” yet and still Nas, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Rosa Clemente, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X and others in the Hip Hop community have shown where their hearts lie and have been consistently organizing and going to the streets, facing danger with demonstrators to play their part to demand the human right for justice.

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

While systematic brutality and murder have been oppressive realities that we have faced in the United States since its inception, qualitatively, the response has been different in recent years, especially since the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012.  In fact, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has referred to Trayvon Martin’s murder as “a nail in the coffin of white supremacy” because of the level of awareness that it has sparked in our communities all over the country.  The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has also noted that the majority of the protests that have been organized throughout the country recently have been headed by women. This has made the level of intensity of the protests to be stronger than it has ever been felt because as The Minister also says “A mother’s love is second only to God’s.”  Mothers all over the country are tired of burying their sons and in practically every case for no indictment of the murderer to take place.

Eric-Garner-Michael-Brown-2014

Eric Garner – Michael Brown

On August 18th, 2014, USA Today published the findings of a seven year study conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that states that “a quarter of the 400 annual deaths reported to federal authorities by local police departments were white-on-black shootings.” It furthermore stated that “18% of the black suspects were under the age of 21 when killed by the police, as opposed to just 8.7% of white suspects.”  Official “reported” statistics are usually conservative and do not speak to the extent of the reality experienced in our communities because there are so many more unreported cases.  Nevertheless, these official statistics are still high and disproportionate. Coherently, according to a study conducted by The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, in 2012 alone, 313 Black people were killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. The report further uncovers the disproportionate amount of police harassment and incarceration experienced by non-whites in comparison to whites.

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa

What does this all mean to the Hip Hop community?  Since the early beginnings of Hip Hop culture in the late 1960s and 1970s in the South Bronx, New York (and very arguable even way before this) and now beyond, the alienated youth, mainly Blacks and Latinos, participating in its various Elements would experience constant harassment, abuse and even murder at the hands of police.  Jeff Chang in the book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation mentions on pages 97 and 98 how one of Afrika Bambaataa’s own cousins Soulski was shot and killed by police on January 6, 1975 in a way that was believed fowl play was involved. A month after Soulski’s murder, a fourteen-year-old who had been joyriding in a stolen car was shot and killed. The police claimed that he lunged at them with a weapon, but autopsies showed that he had been shot through the back.  The police officers involved in both shootings were acquitted.  Instead of retaliating with an all-out war against the police, Bambaataa, the warlord of the Black Spades himself, chose instead to bring members of the various rival street organizations together, end the violence, and build Zulu Nation and focus on developing more positive outlets for the youth to participate in.  DJs Jazzy Jay and Grandwizzard Theodore personally told me in a conversation about how the parties that Bambaataa and others were throwing in the community at the time were actually saving lives because they were keeping many of the youth off the street.

With this being said, the Founding Fathers of Hip Hop paid a price with sweat, blood and tears so that we can enjoy all of skeme-crime_in_the_city-lrgthe great things that has come out of the culture today.  We owe them not only a great amount of gratitude in words, but gratitude in the form of actual work in order to further advance the cause of saving the youth.  As it was in the early years of Hip Hop, our youth continue to hqdefaultsuffer and are in need of outlets to express their creativity today.  As it was in the early 80s, as shown in the PBS documentary Style Wars in the works of Skeme as he graffiti bombed on a New York City train “ALL YOU SEE IS CRIME IN THE CITY” with the illustration of police officer at the end with a billy club, so it is with our dealings with (mainly white) men with badges who for the most part do not understand our culture and have been trained to view all of our activity as negative with no chance for redemption.

Mural dedicated to Israel "Reefa" Hernandez

Mural dedicated to Israel “Reefa” Hernandez

Two recent incidents in Miami speak to this reality; however there are incidents like this that occur every day throughout the country. The first, on August 6, 2013, Graffiti Artist Israel “Reefa” Hernandez was tasered to death after being caught tagging on the wall of a shuttered McDonald’s. The second, on December 5th, 2014, after being caught tagging in the graffiti-filled area of Wynwood, Graffiti Artist Delbert “Demz” Rodriguez was killed when a police officer used his car as a weapon to stop him from running away.  March demonstrations and graffititagging protests have resulted in these incidents.  But after it’s all done, the

Delbert “Demz” Rodriguez

Delbert “Demz” Rodriguez

vicious cycle continues until an actual owning up of our youth and Divine Culture takes place.  We have been demanding justice all this time from a wicked system that was never designed for our benefit and will continue to deny us justice. The only sure justice is the justice that we can provide to each other and ourselves.  A New Approach is needed.

KRS-One

KRS-One

Hip Hop Icon KRS-One has been severely criticized and ridiculed, even within the Hip Hop community itself, about his self-determinist vision for Hip Hop to develop its own city.  Even if we do not subscribe to the possibility of such an occurrence in present time, the practices that we need to grow further into and maintain in this stage of our development as a people is the actual ownership of property, development of business/institutions and the accessing of resources that can serve as outlets for our youth to express themselves creatively, gain valuable internship opportunities and work training and organizing of programs that will further enrich our communities.  This falls in the same great tradition of “Do For Self” and “Establish Something of our Own” vision that great leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Cesar Chavez, Reies Tijerina, Afrika Bambaata, The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan have had for us and our communities.  The question is how much do we care and how much do we love?  Are we willing to do everything we can to save our youth? Peace.

Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 15 years. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2009).  He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Patrick Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.

Arizona Banning Hip Hop, Cultural Studies from the Curriculum; Signs of What is to Come Nationwide

By Tony Muhammad

Hiphopeducator19@gmail.com

www.tonymuhammad.com

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KRS-One

In the midst of a national protest movement against thekilling of Black youth at the hands of police, John Huppenthal, the outgoing Superintendant of Public Instruction for the State of Arizona, published a letter in which he argues that schools in the Tuscon Unified School District are failing to comply with state-approved curricula.  In the letter, the conservative politician expresses his opposition to a particular magnet school using the “African-American perspective” expressed in an article written by Hip Hop Icon KRS-One entitled “An Introduction to Hip Hop.”  In the article itself KRS-One refers to Hip Hop as “the artistic response to oppression.”  Other material that Huppenthal cites as being a violation is the use of Rage Against the Machine lyrics and literature written from a “Mexican perspective” which expose the history of non-inclusion towards non-whites in the United States.  The school district is being given a March 4th deadline to show proof that educators are teaching in compliance with the state curricula and have removed any “objectionable material” from the curriculum.  If the school district is found to be out of compliance, it will stand to lose ten percent of its federal funding for the next school year.

 

John Huppenthal

John Huppenthal

In 2010, Huppenthal, had a history course that taught history from a “Mexican perspective” banned because of concerns that the content would “promote the overthrow of the national government, “promote resentment toward a race or class of people” and “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”  This initiative was occurring at the same time that the Texas Board of Education approved of textbooks that soften and inaccurately depict the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade experience, the realities of American imperialism and the damaging effects of capitalism.

This being one of the final actions of Huppenthal as Superintendant is reminiscent of the language used in a speech by Virginia House of Delegates member Henry Berry in 1832, as cited on pages 185 to 186 in the monumental book Message to the Blackman in America by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  Berry said that those in power had “as far possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter the slave’s mind.”  While social circumstances have indeed considerably changed in the United States since 1832, the position of and the effort to uphold white supremacy as the dominant ideology has not.  5136k4f5mfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

White conservatives such as Huppenthal recognize how much of a threat teaching Black and “Latino” students the knowledge of their true history and culture poses to the white supremist social structure.  It would prompt more Black and “Latino” youth to abandon the dependency standard (“finish school and beg someone for a job”) model of “success” that America superimposes and instead adopt a more fulfilling approach that is oriented towards entrepreneurship, economic unity and community development.

 

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Sa-Roc

jay-electronica-farrakhan

Jay Electronica

The banning of artistic and conscientious Hip Hop literature is very significant for multiple reasons.  (1) It provides a creative knowledge-based alternative that many of our youth today never knew existed because of their lack of exposure to conscientious artists of today, such as Sa-Roc, Jasiri X and Jay Electronica, and the generational gaps that exist between themselves and those who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s Golden Era of the Culture.  (2) The type of ideas that KRS-One shares in the very writing that Huppenthal expresses so much concern over are not ones that are bound to the ways and operations of this present world; but rather are oriented towards getting readers to become aware of themselves and their environments and begin seeing themselves in their True Divine Light and produce something New of Substance.  (3) To inspire young people to look deeper and research the History of Hip Hop itself they would most surely come across how knowledge was used by its founders, such as Africa Bambaataa and many artists of its Golden Era like KRS-One, Public Enemy and X-Clan to uplift and unite the community.  At the root of the knowledge that was taught was The Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the most sampled voice that they would hear in the music of that era is that of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.  To allow consciousness through artistic expression would inspire young people to begin abandoning the practice of mindless consumerism and move towards a more critical mode of thinking that is oriented towards earning, saving, building, “doing for self,” and doing much needed Work among our people.

Jasiri X

Jasiri X

 

This attack on True Education through Arts and Culture should not be viewed as an isolated incident or something that will be limited to school systems in Arizona. For the past 15 years public schools, school systems and colleges and universities all over the United States have been steadily cutting courses and arts programs geared towards enriching the minds and cultural development of the youth. What has replaced them is a “teach to the standardized exam” curriculum that is leaving the majority of children throughout the country behind in terms of educational achievement, cultural awareness, creative growth and moral development. The solution rests on those who are aware of the need to develop alternative home-schooling, private education and after-school and weekend programs for our youth.  In every community, city or town the vision to produce something new and beneficial begins with one.  It’s the actual working of that vision is what ultimately inspires others to get involved and expand it tenfold.  The most important question you must answer is “Am I the one?”

Peace! Allah (God) Willing until next time!

Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 15 years. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2009).  He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Patrick Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.