Wake Up America! Here’s What to Do When Your Brackets Get Busted or Your Politics Gets Haunted

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Social Commentary

Lots of folks woke up today with one of two questions on their minds. One is “what happens next, now that their March Madness bracket got busted?” There were upsets in the early rounds. Duke had a close call in winning by one point against UCF with a last second rebound, but the Sweet 16 looks strong.

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Others woke up with the question of “what happens next with the Special Counsel’s report now that their politics got haunted?” The report is raising cheers in some circles and concern in others. It’s hard to know whether things will get swept under the rug or just swept-up in the frenzy of this political climate.

Those who study history and pop culture know there’s always been an aspect of the social/political back-and-forth where sports can help us see through the layers of the issues of the time. We see that in recent news of an agreement reached with the NFL on settling the collusion lawsuit filed by Colin Kaepernick.

For Kaepernick, the agreement didn’t come with as much money as some had hoped. But it closed a chapter in the collusion part of the story. It took a couple weeks before the agreement dollars became public. Some wonder what might happen in politics if the Special Counsel’s report isn’t made public.

To understand how sports helps explain social issues of our time, just look at the question of “what is collusion?” Maybe the settlement agreement between Kaepernick and the NFL didn’t quite explain that term. To satisfy the public’s need-to-know here’s why collusion isn’t a question that gets answered easily.

First, collusion is a kind of ‘wink wink’ that’s hard to describe. Kaepernick’s reason for bringing the lawsuit is to callout the league for keeping him out of the game because of his social justice protest. Now, exactly how they might have done that is hard to describe legally, just as in the case for a political campaign.

It doesn’t mean collusion didn’t happen. It’s just hard to describe and thus hard to prove that it happened. Second, collusion is a symptom that’s hard to diagnose. It’s obvious to fans that Kaepernick was kept out of the game unfairly. But how do you diagnose the effects of that action on the overall game?

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Intelligence officials say a foreign power interfered with the 2016 Presidential elections unfairly. But how do you diagnose if that interference had a provable effect on the outcome of the elections? That’s the ‘grey area’ that makes the actions hard to prove legally even though it obviously happened in plain sight.

Lastly, collusion is a kind of bargain that’s hard to dismiss. Think about those times when you’re shopping, whether at the mall or at a car dealership. You see a sign on the store window that says, “closeout sale, everything must go, 90% off.” Or the car salesman drops the price so low you can’t turn away.

That’s some of what we see from the Special Counsel report. Those who flirt with collusion will settle for the lowest of lows in their actions as a ‘wink wink’ in the political game. Since collusion can be hard to describe, diagnose or dismiss, we might miss the fact that it can bedevil our culture/politics like a plague.

Tracks: Erykah Badu – Didn’t Cha Know  – https://youtu.be/Np21rH7Ldto

India Arie – Get it Together – https://youtu.be/QpiWkSa19eI

Senator Kamala Harris & Cardi B Using Their Voices for Social Justice Like Two Sides of Dr King’s Dream

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Social Impact

It’s an important day in the life of America when people reflect on the social impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s national holiday sheds light on the words and wisdom from his work. For many there’re moments that stand out among a catalog of quotes, like the timeless four words of “I Have a Dream.”

This year the holiday is also when Senator Kamala Harris decided to make an announcement using four words when she tweeted “I’m Running for President!” During her appearance on ABCs Good Morning America, Harris added a personal view in saying she’s doing it for the people because “I love my country.”

Those words might easily connect with folks who think about the love King had for the people. That’s also where Cardi B comes in with her take on what’s happening with the Government shutdown. Cardi’s colorful view which went viral might also be summarized in four words; “this mess is whack.”

Harris and Cardi B are using their voices for social justice like two sides of Dr. King’s dream. Harris brings her immigrant heritage from India and Jamaica, while Cardi B’s hometown heritage is from the Bronx. Harris went from Attorney to Prosecutor to Senator while Cardi B went from the streets to major beats.

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There’re things from King that might inform Cardi B (and us) on how we take social action. There’re things from King that can inform Harris on her political aspirations. King knew our walk might take different paths but our work should help with economic, social and neighborhood-rising issues in these ways:

  1. Scholar
  2. Activist
  3. Griot
  4. Empowerer (or Empower-her)

Before Dr. King became a national-figure he spent time becoming a trained scholar. Not everybody will choose the path of getting a degree in philosophy but most of us can study a subject enough to get a Ph.D. in lifer-education. This way we’re not becoming ‘dumb and dumber’ but instead mover and shaker.

As King traveled the country he saw more examples of what kept America stuck in the racism quicksand. This led him to becoming more of an activist. An activist is to social change as a catalyst is to a chemical reaction. Sometimes sparks fly, but after a while, things change from the current state to a new normal.

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These days we’re reminded not to mess with ‘girls from the Bronx.’ That’s how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it after a political commentator choose to come-at Cardi B. Cortez took us back to earlier pop culture griots named the Sugar Hill Gang, as musicians, poets and storytellers who maintain an oral tradition.

There’s a feeling in social and political circles that a new kind of candidate needs to arise for the 2020 Presidential elections. We can’t continue on the current path where the leader acts like an emperor. We need to look to those who’ll be more of an empowerer of the community or an empower-her of the nation.

All it takes is four words to get our social-justice juices flowing. Harris made her presidential bid with the words “I love my country.” Cardi B shared her concerns with “this mess is whack.” Four words describing Dr. King as scholar, activist, griot and empowerer might help us to keep runnin’. Just think about the ‘what ifs’ and where we’d be without his ‘love for the people.’

Tracks: India Arie – What If  – https://youtu.be/Ae-i31wWxEo

Naughty Boy ft Beyoncé, Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’ – https://youtu.be/eJSik6ejkr0

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone Has Some Pondering Women’s History in Reverse #HometownChat

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Trivia: Which recording artist has been battling with her producer over future projects? (Answer below)

The back-and-forth between Hollywood and others has taken a new turn. First it was #OscarsSoWhite where black actors were left out of the running. Now it’s real talk from folks in the clubs, blocks & streets of #NotBlackEnough. With Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone some are pondering women’s history in reverse.

The original Writer/Director Cynthia Mort told Entertainment Weekly “There are very different visions of what the movie could have been and should have been…” Considering we’re in Women’s History Month, some have come out strongly against the casting of Saldana while others want to give the film a chance.

It’s possible the mixed feelings say something about how people interpret Simone’s life and legacy. It might even help explain the reactions people have about Saldana’s casting and how they interpret America’s history. It’s a question of whose version do they understand, want to believe in or rely on.

Whether in the current political climate or in matters of social justice they’re those who tend to see the history of America only in the eyes of prejudice. But learning from game changers of our past, in forging American history it’s important to see purpose too. Saldana might have taken the role based on this view.

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Simone’s music and impact were like the flipside to James Brown. She is described on her website’s official bio as a lyrical interpreter. A few of her favorite hits were remakes of prior written/recorded tracks of other well-known artists. They included Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Tina Turner.

It’s usually done with creative add-ons as artists do covers and actors do physical makeovers for a role. Recently, the artist Joe did his own take on Adele’s Hello. We’ve seen Robin Williams play Mrs. Doubtfire and Tyler Perry play Madea. Maybe Saldana saw this as a way to go deeper in her body of work.

A Simone bio quote says “…to make people feel on a deep level, it’s difficult to describe because it’s not something you can analyze; to get near what it’s about, you have to play it. And when you’ve caught it, when you’ve got the audience hooked, you always know because it’s like electricity hanging in the air.”

Is it that sort of vision that drew Saldana to the movie? It’s true for social change projects that make us feel a new sense of electricity in America. The current view is that things have gotten better over time. But there’s still a level of cultural uneasiness and displeasure that’s hard to explain/analyze as ‘strange fruit.’

Answer: Kesha

Groove-tracks: Jill Scott – Strange Fruit – https://youtu.be/OkXAxpzE6Gk?t=85s

 

Prince  – Baltimore –  https://youtu.be/Gx2PCJaisqc?t=50s