Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory may be the only person on the planet right now who I can listen to talk about the current state of racism and oppression in America. It's just too late to discuss being a victim or to pay too much attention to the illusionary, "Oppressor."

If every human being is a spiritual being having a human experience, then being a "victim" ... or a "perpetrator" are merely roles we either choose to play or "attach" to and have difficulty letting go of. (This is only background babble because by now, most folks know this already... at least intellectually, if not emotionally.)

Dick Gregory has worn many hats. Among them being, social activist, comedian, writer, and entrepreneur, grandfather, and spiritual adviser ... but the thread that weaves them all together is that he is a healer. A "social counselor" that tells both the emperor and the field hand that they have no clothes ... that they've forgotten who they are ... and like the father, chides them to the point of awareness that yes, they can and must ... do better.

Please play the video below. Like Dr. Phil, John Bradshaw, and Jesus Christ, I too agree that the burden of unnecessary guilt and shame lie at the heart of America’s ills. I hope you’ll "YouTube" all his videos. He speaks to the healing heart of us all ... black, white, yellow, brown, red … male, female ... et al ...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Black Renaissance on Pine Street

So I'm eating breakfast at this cafe on Adeline in Berkeley. The guy at the table next to me has just finished a bowl of something ... some kind of greenish cooked cereal or some sort of Split Pea soup. A short stack with home fries follows. (Hmmm ... interesting. Either this guy is from some Eastern European country or he's just a very hungry fellow who knows how to eat.)

So I strikes up a conversation. Turns out the couple are far-left Berkeley types. Not many left these days. I tell him a bit about me, and then he pauses, and tells me about this brother down in the Lower Bottom (a.k.a. "West Oakland") who is creating this whole movement around black art, music and writing.

It takes me a week, but I find the scrap of paper deep in my pocket, and read, "Marcel Diallo's" name on it, along with the words, "blackdotcafe magazine".

Google then name in, and BaM! There's all these stories and links about a new urban revival of da creative arts in an area once labeled Oakland's Buttermilk Bottom. West Oakland. Once home to Pullman Car Porters, Southern Pacific and Sante Fe trains, Chinese Cleaners, and a strip of African American bars and night clubs linked to the infamous "Chitlin Circuit" that ran under the South's Cotton Curtain, up to Harlem, across the Midwest, and even out to Northern and Southern California.

So, here's this Marcel Diallo sitting next to actor Don Cheadle. (Ya gotta click on some of these links and read this stuff..) They're talking about how developer Rick Holliday came up with the idea of renovating the dead heart of West Oakland's 7th & Pine Street area. The surprising part of all this to me is that this has been going on for some time ... and like the West Oakland Farmer's Market, far too few people know about it.

I'm sooOOOOoo glad to read about all of Diallo's work ... even though it's a bit too urban for me. But it's important ... because like the cliché says ... "the artist, the poets, and the musicians create the consciousness of the race."

We've had 30 years of Korporate State control of the music. Started in the 70s actually ... when they took the stage out and this thing called, "Disco" suddenly appeared. All that great, REAL, music ... gone. The Great Communicator (Ronald Regan) came in and university scholarships began disappearing. A tragic thing called, "Homelessness" appeared in both America's cities and its rural areas. Drugs began pouring in from "no where" and high school drop-outs were suddenly getting all the contracts that people like Aretha Franklin, O.C. Smith, and James Brown once had. The Giants of Rhythm and Blues suddenly couldn't BUY a job ... but high school drop-outs like "Too Short" and "Snoop Dog" couldn't find pockets deep enough to hold all the money that was thrown at them.

Like Aristotle once said: "You write the laws, but let me write the songs because the youth will act out the songs."

It's been a long, dark, night upon the land folks. We need visionaries of every hue at the table ... writing, sculpting, painting a path to a New Renaissance that will stop the killing, free some souls, and fill some hearts, minds ... and stomachs.

What We Believe:

"Every problem is an opportunity in work clothes."
~Henry J. Kaiser