here’s my quick and dirty on a number of issues. shout out to anirvan and barnali, this amazing couple just did a year of traveling together without flying, check their blog: www.yearofnoflying.com.
1. on the floods, pakistan and new orleans, a call for connection: spike lee just did an interview with the new york times about his latest film on new orleans, five years after the flood. in the interview and in the film, he addresses the impact of the bp oil spill, warning people against believing the oil company when it says that most of the oil has been cleared. but what was not brought up were the floods in pakistan. there seems to me to be a clear connection between two nation states failing their underserved, overworked populations in times of flood catastrophe. america is seething with rage and ignorance, much of this energy is being funneled into virulent rivers of racism against muslims. so the obvious connection is missed. the opportunity for globalization to seep through into brotherhood and sisterhood is missed. why would a comparison be important? perhaps because placing pakistan and new orleans alongside each other could illuminate the illusory promise of nation state citizenship in general, and of military dictatorships (whether shoddily or slickly elected) specifically. perhaps the comparison could resurrect the term refugee as a potential global connector. but again, why connect with the people of pakistan when you are the people of new orleans? i believe we have something to learn from each other, i really do.
2. on wyclef’s stymied bid for the haitian presidency: hip hop meets politics head on again and again. in this instance, former fugee member wyclef jean’s bid for the haitian presidency ends with a haiti provisional electoral council ruling of ineligibility based on jean’s inability to meet the residency requirement. i’m hoping wyclef sticks to his guns and tries again. because who better than a person who moves the people to move the people? fascinating to me, throughout the run of his bid, has been the media coverage of “rapper running for president.” condescending, demeaning, flabbergasted coverage, as though there is a prescription for leadership and certainly hip hop does not fit the bill. what qualifies a person for presidency? elite degrees, elite connections, perfection? have the qualifications we hold dear protected us from shirking politicians? no. so let’s think about leadership again and again, in new and improved ways, each layer a new day.
3. a rapping professor david takes on a corporate goliath: in other news, uc berkeley biology professor tyrone hayes has been challenged for the way in which he writes emails to former employer, the syngenta corporation. but really, he’s been challenged because he dares to challenge a “monsanto wannabe.” professor hayes used to work for syngenta, a biochemical conglomeration, until his refusal to doctor data had him leave the scene. see, hayes had found that a syngenta herbicide (aka weedkiller), had horrible side effects on animals tested. syngenta continues to deny the validity of professor hayes’s research. but not only that, syngenta has it out for hayes, professionally throwing shade at hayes’s lectures, talks, with hayes’s current employers at uc berkeley, etc. the funny part is, hayes’s hasn’t been taking the shade quietly, instead he’s been responding with regular emails, written in verse/rhyme/flow. emails like: “”so go’head, bring “your boys” / cuz i’m bringing the noise / i told ya, you can’t stop the rage / you been braggin / but we’ll see who’s tea baggin / when TDawg hits the stage.” i like this cat. he has syngenta whining about how they feel intimidated by his “aggressive” mannerisms. professor hayes is supported by his superiors at uc berkeley, who say hayes has the right to free speech like everyone else. campus paper, the daily cal, reported that hayes said, “”[f]or anyone to tell me that, by virtue of expressing myself in a way that is consistent with my culture, I am unprofessional is offensive.” i hear that. nothing wrong with slipping into the language of hip hop. languages are meant to be used, meant to be learned. maybe syngenta should learn to speak it too. thanks anirvan, for the inspiration!
keep dancing readers, and i mean that. i know i’m dancing, join me.