Friday, December 12, 2014

Amel Larrieux dedicated to Jessy Molina

Until this woman gets her due the music industry ain't spit...

...from Bravebird and dedicated to the love of my life Jessy Molina.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hip Hop Overthrow

According to the great of agitators of aggregators Huffington Post...

Apparently USAID, United States Agency for International Development, enlisted Creative Associates International, a consulting firm, to invest American tax dollars in an "amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful" attempt to build a network of young people seeking "social change" in Cuba.  If they wanted to get young people to overthrow the Cuban government, Americans they could have just sent all the materialistic, nihilistic, me-me-me rappers of mainstream hip hop to co-opt the real Cuban hip-hop scene and flip it into public demand for whips, chains, and molls.   Well maybe that money is already spent paying those same mainstream rappers to keep young Americans out of the business of social change by promoting messages of tribal warfare (gang life), pleasure at all costs (sex and drug life) and money-by-any-means (especially those means that will promptly get you locked up and not voting).


On a serious note, I was recently reminded by a friend of Third Eye Movement, a Bay Area hip-hop activism movement.  Now what if the American government had invested in promoting "social change" in Americas hip hop movement?  If they find hip hop so powerful as to be key in ending a 60 year cold war, why can't they see the value of hip hop in uplifting communities suffering in the 60 years since Jim Crow?  To quote dough boy... "either they don't know, don't show, or don't care..." or maybe that money is already spent making sure Hip Hop promotes social apathy?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Stop Victimizing and Start Galvanizing

We activists and our cousin victimization addicts are complicit in creating the image of Black men as boogie men... so are we artists (and I'm being far too generous with Chief Keef et. al).  A Black man (or any woman or man) should certainly not become a murder victim for standing up to being disrespected by a punk with a gun like Darren Wilson or a pack of wild bullies led by the likes of Daniel Pantaleo.  Blaming the victim is the first step to rationalizing injustice away.  But how does believing we are victims help us fight?  And more importantly, how we do to prevent the next police murder?  Here are three ideas:

1.  Continue protesting, galvanizing ourselves and gaining allies by powerfully pointing out how the death of these Black men is injustice against all Americans, all people.  Police power being used to enforce submission of the people is dangerous enough.  Police power being used as an expression of fear against the citizens police are charged to protect is horrifying.  Continue to expose the essential contradiction:  people trained in combat, clothed in combat gear, armed with weapons of submission (tasers, clubs, and cuffs) and lethal force (guns), with a posse at their beacon call, a badge and shield, people paid to do the dangerous job of "protect and serve", those people using fear as a justification for killing an unarmed citizen is a complete perversion of the notion of society and civilization.  And Black people are yet again canaries in the coal mine.  Beware: The funny (and not at all) #Crimingwhilewhite will be a distant memory if white allies let this stand unchallenged.

2.  Challenge the other essential contradiction of a justice system that allows D.A.'s and prosecutors, trained to destroy reputations by any means, who work closely with police every day of their jobs, who depend on cops to do their jobs well, whose career advancement depends on a close relationship with cops... any justice system that allows these people to set foot near a grand jury charged with disciplining a cop is a complete and utter foolishness.  Prosecutors who lead the Grand Jury process should be pulled from a pool of defense attorneys, judges, and others completely uncolored by the thin blue line.  Here is a very clear demand with a potential victory that could have some impact on whether cops feel impunity with regard to killing people.  Don't take my word.  Listen to retired NYPD cop Noel Leader in this Essence article.

3.  Control what we can control, which is the narrative we tell ourselves about ourselves and thus generate for the general populace.  We can stop playing in to white supremacy with victimization narrative or rage without discipline, without organization.  We can support and nourish the newly politicized young people with some historical perspective on the current state of things.  Systems thinking folks...  First step?  Read this The Root article:  "More Black Men in Jail Than in College?  Why It's Not True."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#theantidote

If you read Wilson's testimony, he says Mike Brown looked like a "demon" (as opposed to maybe angry), that he "grunted" before "charging" him (as opposed to the sound one makes after being shot), that his eyes were "cold" when he looked at him. He basically described him as an animal and a monster. 






This is racism in it's purest form (and I use the word carefully). When you can't see a person's humanity because of their race. When the psychosis of racism makes you live out some horror movie where the forces of evil have a skin color... Add a gun and a badge and you get Darren Wilson.

And we are the antidote.  Our lives.  Our work.  Our art.  We have to keep our humanity and be ourselves beautifully.  Mourn the dead.  Call out wrong.  And live to create a new world!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Good news...


So I'm early these days working on a new novel, joining in with National Novel Writing Month thanks to a reminder by Myke Johns of WABE and Write Club, and I'm getting really frustrated with myself for using the passive voice.  Not for any particular reason other than the fact that I'm breaking the rule I was taught in elementary school "gifted" English.  I love you Mrs. Zimmerman, but I just got some good news... In this article, Mother Jones says that Science Says You Can Split Infinitives and Use the Passive Voice says Harvard psycholinguist Steve Pinker.  Yes they all say that.  I'm having fun breaking rules here and freeing up my free writing.  Thanks Mother, Science, Steve and even you Mrs. Zimmerman for giving me rules to use and to rebel against.  hee hee... Here's Steve Pinker on it all:



Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Keep faith in what you are up to
No matter what you're down to
#lastdollarlastchancelastbreath

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Numb Me Now Beneath the Noise...

If you know me, you know how I feel about my nephews and my sister for raising them. A while back my second oldest nephew Xavier Smooth Molina expressed anger, hurt, and disbelief about the Michael Brown murder. He's taken that emotion and put it into his drumming, trumpet playing, and vocals (the burst of emotion towards the end of the song) on this beautiful outpouring of creative critical thinking with the Dominic Minix Quartet. In the video, they re-enact the outrage and the killing... it is very powerful. Please share this, especially now as the decision on whether to charge the officer looms. This is healthy, thoughtful, beautiful democracy at work.   



The refrain, "Numb me now beneath the noise" expresses beautifully how these youngsters refuse to go numb, instead turning the madness into music. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

100 word me

Check out my homework for this amazing project I'm helping to facilitate called Clarkston Roving Listener (a program initiated by De Amon Harges of Indianapolis).  It will train children ages 12-18 to gather the stories and talents of neighbors in their community as an effort of asset-based community development.  Tomorrow we have to present 100 word stories of ourselves.  Of course mine rhymes...

I am a Black Filipino Native American Mestizo
Yale law graduate social justice activist
Revolutionary poet and community development strategist
I have seen the valley of tragedy
Watched my parents die of cancer
I have seen the sunrise of life
Caught my children with these hands bruh
And all I got is questions
And if I ever find the answer
I will pen a book, spit a poem, or sing a song
To increase human understanding
And even though I chose
Making change over money
There is not a soul on this earth

that can take a thing from me

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

100 Posts Deep

In honor of my 100th post (it only took 5 years), here is audio of my third of four straight write club victories.  Still undefeated son!  I listened to this one and actually felt certain of it's worth, which is rare.

The Write Club battle:  Shallow vs. Deep.
My topic:  Shallow

I suggest you listen to both stories as Myke Johns opening piece is a lovely take on love.  If you are short on time, my story starts at 8:37... Enjoy and share!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Glad Jack Wasn't Black

Just learned from this Huff Po article that John Mellencamp's classic rock song 'Jack and Diane' was originally about an interracial relationship.

Here's the video for your frame of reference:



Besides Mr. Mellencamp's hilarious Kunta Kente touche at the end of the Huff Po interview, there really was nothing of note here.  Back in 1982, studio execs thought he shouldn't make the song about an interracial relationship.  Stop the presses.

But as always I went to the real action in the comment section.  And there I found this useless pimple of a thought from one of those provincial provocateurs from the pro-racial slur bloc of the Generally Obtuse Party:
and this waste of eye-use from one of those people who know random, useless facts and make conversations miserable by adding said useless facts like a fart adds to ambiance:


Thanks Matt.  Thanks Lisa.  Maybe you two should hook up in the back seat of a car and prove that stupidity knows no race.  But if either of you had made a salient point, I would disagree with you both.

I am glad that Jack wasn't Black and that 'Jack and Diane' were faceless, even if they were ultimately white in the video and in most people's consciousness.  If you listen to this song, it could be as true for a couple in Lower 9th Ward New Orleans as for a couple in Orange County or a couple on the Jersey Shore.

Art should let the listener imagine and create meaning for themselves.  Now I charge a spoken-word poet to reframe the song into a piece about an interracial couple or about two girls (Jack short for Jackie) or two boys (one of whom calls himself Diane).

And oh yeah, life goes on long after the Lisas and Matts of the world take the fun out of everything.

Mazel Tov.





Friday, September 5, 2014

WonderRoot


WonderRoot is the first organization that welcomed me to Atlanta.  This non-profit offers space and access to all kinds of hard- skill training as well as use of essential resources for any sort of creative artist.  WonderRoot features a Digital Media Lab full of the most up to date Macs with the most up to date software from Final Cut Pro to Animator to ProTools to Photoshop and on and on.  It sports a full recording studio with a huge sound board and massive live recording space with mics for days.  There is ample wall space for exhibiting visual art, a dark room, a FREE performance space in the basement, a silkscreen machine and a ceramics kiln for freaks sake.   And get this, all of this is FREE for youth under 18 and $60 a year (yes a year!) for adult members.  WHAT?!!!

I've run youth programs and 24 hour lock-in art-making experiences at WonderRoot, held  popular education workshops and presented performances, edited films, shot films, and attended countless and deeply inspiring artistic experiences at this easily accessible and welcoming Atlanta treasure.  This place is the truth.  And best of all, WonderRoot is the most diverse space I have been to in what can be a very segregated artist community in Atlanta.  When I say diverse, I every mean age, race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and political perspective present at the same time talking, collaborating, and encouraging each other to make meaningful, excellent art.


I was recently honored to be interviewed by their Interactive/Integrated Media Manager Floyd Hall about my creative journey.  This is a man with vision and he's in the right place for sure.  Special thanks to him for the opportunity and shout out to Chris Appleton, the ED who is a real leader in Atlanta arts and activism work.  You can check out the interview at:

http://wonderroot.podomatic.com/entry/2014-09-04T14_00_52-07_00

If you are ever in Atlanta this is your first stop if you want to experience the burgeoning cultural explosion happening in this, the crossroads of the South.  Until it's big move across the street into a 54,000 square foot, 8 Acre campus to turn a shuttered school into the WonderRoot center for Arts and Social Change, Wonderroot is located at 982 Memorial Drive, Atlanta GA 30316.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Check out this review of the performances at the NEXT showcase... comes from Urban Lux Magazine.  The review for my performance of an excerpt from Mass Transit Muse is in the last few paragraphs.  Highlights?  "intelligently animated and soulful skit...  left an impact that resonated across the room...  Melodic scenes expressed heart felt and heart wrenching stories... took the audience on an audio/visual journey"


Orbiting a space with brilliant colorful stars, an electric glow from cerulean blues and regal magenta’s to the sensual warmth of hinted cadmium yellow hues flickering from one primary place. This is my metaphor for the setting of the National Black Arts Festival’s Salon, a NEXT event at the Hammonds House Museum in the Historic Westside of Atlanta, August 1, 2014. I felt elevated and inspired by all of the richly diverse forms of African-American art being presented. The stars of the night were visual artist Fahamu Pecou, poet Jon Goode, playwright Michael Molina and vocalist/guitarist Brenda Nicole Moorer.
Sitting on a comfortable sofa next to Pecou and Goode, in the front room of the Hammonds House Museum, I witnessed the number of people entering increase exponentially and the sounds of conversations grow louder. Meanwhile, high quality, lively videos with edited final-cuts rapidly jumping from one scene to the next projected prominently on the wall above our heads, all from Fahamu Pecou’s series “All that glitters ain’t gold.” A recent body of work that he describes as “a project that was designed around engaging with youth culture and their attraction to all the shiny things, the things we see on t.v., the glittery shiny things that appear as though they are measures or markers of success. I am challenging those ideas by saying, all that glitters ain’t gold. There’s a catch to all of it.” The video series, which targets younger audiences, are also a part of a group of paintings that cleverly speak to the subject. The effort and goal of the series, he says “hopefully will entice the youth to do further research and find the artwork and really engage critically the ideas that [are] being put forth.” (fahamupecouart.com)
Sitting to the right of Pecou, poet Jon Goode, in the true nature of a poet, powerfully addresses how his work engages youth. “When I write [my] poems, I tell you the story of me, hopefully if they’re written right, it also tells you the story of you, and in telling you our collective story I hopefully raise some questions. So often I try to provide an answer, but together through dialogue, sparked by the work, we can come to some form of solution. That is the goal, to evoke thought, to start a conversation and together move forward for a solution to our collective problems.” (jongoode.webs.com)
Our stars are in constant motion, so it was an honor for me to get close enough to talk with vocalist/guitarist extraordinaire Brenda Nicole Moorer about her unique new music and her advice to other aspiring artist. “My favorite [song] is called Bloom, it’s a very weird song; it’s a mix of everything. Its soul, it’s folk, its rock, and it’s jazz all in one. It [has] a very intricate melody that’s not very typical.” Moorer continues by sharing how she approaches her work and what advice she gives to other artist in or outside of the industry. “All of my music is about exploring yourself, discovering from mistakes, learning, growing. Bloom is also about blooming and discovering, don’t give up on your dreams and keep trying.”
As an independent artist pursuing a dream as a singer, Moorer advises, “learn the business side because there’s so much else that goes into being an artist besides just writing good songs, you have to be able to connect with people and get [your work] into hands and ears that need it, so I would definitely say, be a business savvy artist and stay true to what you believe in. When you’re singing, performing and writing, try to always have a message that you would want someone like your kids to hear in the future.” (brendanicolemoorer.com)
The intelligently animated and soulful skit by attorney, author, cultural organizer, arts advocate, and performer Michael Molina was captivating. This star merged elements of video projections, acting, singing, and rapping all in one delivery.
Molina and his two supporting actors left an impact that resonated across the room. Melodic scenes expressed heart felt and heart wrenching stories from Molina’s native home of New Orleans that took the audience on an audio/visual journey into his world. (momolina.com)
This was an evening of art, history, expression and unprecedented talent curated by NEXT co-founder and Executive Director of NEXT Faith Carmichael and team.
Learn more about NEXT and the quarterly salons and a documentary series showcasing the hottest and brightest stars of the city by visiting: next-atlanta.com
photos:  Janssen Robinson

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Time

Performed as a part of Van Jones' ArtStrike digital media art action (Click link to read CNN Story) that garnered 11 million individual internet impressions in one day, this piece was highly appreciated by Van's good friend Prince (yes that Prince!).  The piece was intended to highlight the working man's struggle in the face of shrinking economic opportunity in America and was composed after a very real run in with a neighbor who stole a MacBook I worked extremely hard to purchase out of my home.  Real life performance... Enjoy.