Monthly Archives: March 2007

headlines: soldiers, liars, and farmers (r.i.p. suadda)

Dear Readers,

Another hip hop based political commentary on New York Times headlines of the day by poetess Roopa Singh aka NAXAL. Enjoy.

march 30, 2007

baghdad, iraq-so there was this woman, suadda saadoun, tall and strong voiced, the kind of woman who would bargain at the market till the sun came up, till the seller sold vegetables at prices even he was surprised at, she owned a house, one 8 remaining sunni homes in the ali salah neighborhood of baghdad, they skirt the american base like dirt rims on a gleaming car of safe, suadda the matriarch bought her home for 10 g’s, after fleeing to syria, she bought a home y’all for 10 g’s as a re-returned refugee, bought it and claimed it, made it an underground railroad for others, three families found refuge there, 15 human beings, and the other day see, to make a long story short, see, ima retell it through edward wong’s eyes, the new york times reporter embedded but now too attached to share simple facts, the way wong writes its like he admired suadda, and who wouldn’t when she was so strategic, suadda built a relationship with american and kurdish soldiers, one by one making alliances, step in one by one, come on now, step in two by two, with the young gun strapping men, and then this month the forcible evictions began in violent earnest again, suadda got ready to fight back, to resist the occupation of her small corner of land, and yesterday when shiite led forces came knocking, she let them in and dipped into the cut, called her boys on base, and had them there in no time like whut, so that was the shit, cuz the evictors backed down, and yes suadda was the block hero, neighbors came out to cheer her, for standing up, but sit back down, because the next day the shiite forces got their revenge, followed her to the market, and while she planned out the family meals, voice ready to bargain till the seller sold vegetables at prices even he was surprised at, the armed occupiers took aim and fired, they killed her, right there in the market, to make an example, and the american soldier boys, when they found out their new homie was dead, were ashen with feeling, were gray with numbness, and by the next morning, all three sunni clans from within the house were gone, got ghost, and right now, as i write, they are getting their flee on, underground railroad, help keep them safe, help see the sunnis and shiites alive under this divide and conquer collide, and help those american and kurdish soldiers to heal, cause when their tour is finally over, they must not expect adequate care, not hardly, not for real, props to edward wong and r.i.p suaada.

in other news, both rudolph guliani and alberto gonzales, top republican presidential hopeful and top law enforcement officer of the united states, respectively, are on the front page because they don’t know, don’t remember, don’t recall, appointing mob linked bernie kerik to be new york’s police commissioner or firing prosecutors across the country based on politics not performance, our top republican presidential hopeful and top law enforcement officer of the united states, respectively.

the walter reed veteran’s hospital scandal, that is, the treatment of veterans in general, has degenerated today into a lengthy article about the use of a digital medical record system, the joint patient tracking application, which is important for the veteran’s care and benefits, but discussing the issue, to this minutia, at the expense of contextualizing veteran’s care in history, is a crime, the fact is the government hardly cares, hardly has, hardly will, and no doubt it will, spend hundreds of millions to do a less than average job, taking no good care, of all of us.

finally, farmers are planting “wall to wall corn” this year, after the united states department of agriculture released a much anticipated prospective plantings report telling farmers that this would be the case, and professional citi group analyst mr. david driscoll summed it all up by stating, “the moral of the story is, if you dangle money in front of farmers, they take it.”

headlines 3.30.07

-by roopa singh aka NAXAL

headlines: alzheimer’s and recalling justice

Hi Readers,

Another hip hop based political commentary on New York Times headlines of the day by poetess Roopa Singh aka NAXAL. Enjoy.

March 29, 2007

alzheimer’s and recalling justice/
this just in/
nearly 5 million americans are forgetting everything/
and 100 years later alzheimers research/
still can’t stop/
the over war’d, over bought, over cop’d/
minds from remembering to forget/
day in and day out/
an unfathomable demise of the mind/
and i say in the name of those who suffer/
let us fight to recall/
a moment to moment justice/
for all people all of me all of justice all of yall.

alzheimer’s and recalling justice/
this just in/
the department of justice says “okay, we lied”/
8 prosecutors were fired/
last year/
another sliver of justice died/
now you know its tuff/
when its the prosecutors gettin knocked/
mccarthy era allegiance/
all the presidents men straight clocked/
the question is who takes the blame/
watch the smoke shift/
and the administration once again/
evade the flame.

alzheimer’s and recalling justice/
this just in/
reporters at the new york times/
can’t believe the dems are unified/
that the new house is tough enough to decide/
on issues of national security/
sheer shock that the dems are sticking to their guns/
in hip hop we’d say/
check one/
two/
finally you done one thing/
you said youd do/
question is/
whats this angle the republicans got/
challenging your clarity, your manhood, your thoughts/
dont listen to that reductionist shit/
surreal/
aint it/
that it comes down to this/
a high school battle/
rock/
scissor/
paper beats your fist

alzheimer’s and recalling justice/
this just in/
walmart hires from the cia, fbi, and department of no justice/
to keep its employees in line/
walmart’s founder sam walton/
had these ethical standards see/
called no matter what/
more money for me/
now 1.8 million workers/
are monitored by trained for war big brothers
a force of 4/
hundered/
400 security forces traveling far and wide/
to follow, trap, and decide/
who gets to be in the family/
of walmart/
the culture vulture travesty/
question is/
sam walton/
what kind of ethical man/
was he?

alzheimer’s and recalling justice/
this just in/
iran still holding on/
to british soldiers/
brown brothers with a white woman/
watch the lynching unfold/
a story never and forever told/
times reporter says/
iran and the uk/
are eyeball to eyeball today/
neither side ready to blink/
i feel like i need a drink/
cuz that aint half true/
we know how it goes with the red, white, and blue/
bush administration tripping with glee/
let the british do it for us/
and watch iranians go from free to flee/
instigators we are/
with over 100 u.s. war planes in the persian gulf/
15 white soldiers just aint enough/
to convince me/
the story/
smacks of distractive fluff/
hostage.

facing race: an intellectually rigorous context

Hi Readers,

From Wednesday March 21 to Saturday March 24, I attended the Facing Race Conference in New York City. The Applied Research Center and the Graduate Department at the City University of New York collaborated to create this dynamic space for academics, lawyers, organizers, and artists to build. Like many participants, I walked out of workshops and plenary’s with a glow on my face from the challenge of incorporating new strategies, new information, and new questions into my analysis of racial justice. I connected with strong folks from the around the country, and this blog should help us stay in touch. I want to hear from you: What set this conference apart? What about the conference could be upgraded for next time?

What set the conference apart?

Keynote: Walter Mosely so effectively inserted the idea of *context* into my mental domain that I am still thinking about it on the daily. Context. What is my context? How can find and apply the right context for my work? See, I know it was a good speech because it expanded the range of my questions, rather than feeding me short term answers. Mosely offered an anecdote about a public intellectual who placed his own non-filmmaking self in the context of four of the greatest filmmakers of all time. That anecdote has stayed with me too. What is the best way to contextualize myself, and why do it? I feel like it comes down to the idea that we must define ourselves, because, if not, someone else will define us.

Contextualizing the work in an Intellectual Matrix: I came back from the conference with a new and renewed sense of where my organizing work fits in. We are barraged with labels like “bleeding heart,” which distract away from the truly rigorous strategy and historical awareness that fuels every good campaign. So the conference was a strong reminder, our work lives in this context as well as in the context of living rooms, stereos, offices, and mind-numbing meetings. To be honest, I came back with a sense of relief at the visage of others who work through the mind, heart, and body in the context of doing justice based work. The plenaries were abundant with regularly jaw dropping analyses, observations, and statistics. Which brings me to my next point.

Desis in the MotherF*&%ing House: Yo, was it just me, or did Desi’s represent lovely at Facing Race? I can’t tell you how many times I was beaming proud of my brothers and sisters in the game. From Rinku Sen to the good folks at SAYA to Aladdin, to the plenaries, it was clear that Desi’s are taking a strong role in shaping the course of racial justice efforts in America. And, I gotta say, half the joy of the conference was after hours, in New York city, crawling the streets for a home to dance into. And night after night these homes were there for the finding, spaces with hip hop and bhangra mixes complex enough to make this conference goer feel right at home. From DJ Rekha at Cielo to Desilicious, I felt the formation of a new home, the visage of a place that reflects externally the nunances internally. As a Desi, an Indian born and raised in America, a hip hop head, and a serious advocate, it was affirming to be reflected day and night during Facing Race.

Art/Performance/Entertainment: Off the chain night of performance. Jen Soriano (Youth Media Council), Jennifer Pozner (Women in Media and News), and I (Political Commentator) kicked off the dancing at the end of the evening. That was us on the aisle steps, tearing it up with all the energy traded to us from the artists. Go right ahead ARC, that evening was ablaze!

What about the conference could be upgraded for next time?

This list is simple:

1. Increase the integration of performing arts into the workshop spaces.
2. Try to have more food on site, so people spend that valuable energy on building with each other.
3. Some plenary space on whats going on in NYC particularly, just to ground the whole of us in the context of the city.
4. Greater attention to the physical/spiritual health of attendees, ie. yoga, meditation, creative circles in acccesible spaces.

That’s some of my take. What’s yours?