Monthly Archives: December 2008

happy new years!

dear readers,

have fun, be safe, do You. take time to reflect if you need to, no matter what. we are a society in relative peace. lets use it, create in it, push forward in it. that is our solidarity, refined.

much love for 2009,
roopa “politicalpoet” singh


Protest against violence in Palestine (5th Ave, New York City): Thousands chanted, “While you’re shopping, bombs are dropping.”

Dear Readers,

To be honest, I’m not sure what non-violence is, but with all that’s going on I’m more curious than ever.

Big idea: Non-violence is less about the quality of ones reaction, and more about the quantity of ones present, state of mind.

A British occupier slaps Gandhi Ji in the face. Gandhi Ji turns to reveal his other cheek. But the crucial aspect here is not that Gandhi doesn’t lift his hand to strike back. No, the key is that Gandhi Ji had the presence of mind to see above and beyond the act.

I’ve been thinking more about Gandhi Ji a lot lately. It seems to me the most important global distinction is not race, is not gender, but rather the breakdown between violent and non-violent.

I grew up reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Tucked between the concrete stucco sheets of the suburbs, I peered into the pages of his juxtaposed journey through violence and non-violence. Now I live in New York City, and just the other day, on my way back from bowling at Harlem Lanes, I passed the Audobon Ballroom, where Malcolm Little cut a rug, met Laura, turned her feather-like feet out to the cold hard world. Laura, the immortalized good girl gone bad.

When I was young the only Indian person folks seemed to know about was Gandhi Ji. Here was a man who moved the world, and even he admitted to being violent towards his wife at one point in his life journey. Exactly a year ago I visited the site where he was assassinated. It is now a shrine of the footsteps of his words.

As an adult, I laid roots down in the Bay Area. I organized, protested, performed. And I engaged in discussions about non-violence. I’m still not exactly sure what non-violence means. But with war and peace raging worldwide, I am thinking about it more than ever.

Today’s Protest Against Violence Against Palestine (New York City)

I rode bikes with a sister-friend from Ditmas Park/Flatbush to Uptown Manhattan today. We spun down Bedford Avenue, through Caribbean, African-American, and Hasidic neighborhoods. And finally, after much adventure (thanks to George’s bike shop in LES for fixing my popped inner tube!), we made it to our destination. A marching home of thousands, powerful pockets of chants raised like fists, like peace signs, whole families marching against the violence in Palestine. This was not your average protest.

This poem is for the families that poured out in the thousands onto 5th avenue, a strip more packed with shoppers than almost any other. If Washington D.C. is the capital of government, New York City is the capital of capital. And capital is the blood of capitalism. So what better place to sound the drum of protest than in the midst of glib consumers, their eyes the hue of out of town glaze, their hands formed in the fists that clench shopping bags and temporary fulfillment like a shield against the cold world war.

“while you’re shopping, bombs are dropping”

trying/ a world dying to define/
do the crime/do the time
unless a violin note sublime
tilts the head back
slits the throat rack
of a land already bent back
picking cotton stuffed olives
by the sea

tune in for more.

love your fav political poet,
roopa singh

a roopa singh film: “Cultura 4 Prez,” dispatch from election day (featuring my parents, my students, the best fall tree in prospect park and music by shamik)

Dear Readers,

At least 400 of you visit this site every fucking day. Thank you. To my students at Pace in the course of my dreams, Hip Hop Politics, I Love U.

My first independent film, “Cultura 4 Prez,” is featured below. Shot, edited, and produced by: roopa singh. Music by Shamik ,


Poem 4 Me:

i’ve been away

i’m back

i’m stronger

my name is roopa singh

that’s r-double o-p-a

i’m a professor of law, hip hop, and economics

i’m battling lust and sometimes, i believe it when posers say they love me

when they don’t even love themselves

i’m like malcolm and laura on the dance floor

‘cept i’m both

i’m waiting to hear back from the tisch school of arts

because i applied to a masters program in film

so i’ve been away

and now i’m back


On my film, Cultura 4 Prez:

While government and industry both assert their authorship of the American story, the pubic has consistently voted for the arts with their hips, throats, wallets and hearts. Cultura 4 Prez, brings home this point with a vivid and grounding look at America on and around Election Day, 2008. The film poses a timely political question to young and old, immigrant and citizen; “What does change mean to you?” Book ended by scenes from Wildstyle, an iconic film that documents graffiti and hip hop poised between cultural movement and popular consumption, Cultura 4 Prez nurtures the idea that artists are core leaders of the democratic project.

A few months ago I won a teaching award which included a sum of money. With that money I bought my first video camera, a little “Flip” with an attached USB port. This camera is the first video camera to be owned in my family, and it is what I used to shoot Cultura 4 Prez. Since I don’t currently have Final Cut Pro, I produced Cultura 4 Prez in one night, using the tools I needed and burning the midnight oil at a friend’s house.

Bits of magic accompanied the creation of Cultura 4 Prez. The best fall tree in Prospect Park held its leaves for one last day as I captured its sublime representation of change. The Greyhound bus I took to visit my parents Diwali weekend broke down, and I had the extended chance to talk to my fellow passengers. My students at City College are bright pundits, and shine on camera. I was able to sneak my camera in to document my vote, and so on.

The end product is a short film with a lot to say about leadership, change, and the importance of creative mindfulness in heady political times.

Stay tuned for more dear readers. I’m a political poet, with all the news that’s fit to flip.


roopa singh

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