Jay Z is, first and foremost, a capitalist. He’s a business, man.
And as such, his social justice maneuvers are cloaked with the cape of Black capitalism.
Kaep was always a lone man standing on an island. The boycotts surrounding his unemployment only had teeth as long as no one crossed the picket line. Jay just crossed the picket line and stranded Kaep out on that island alone.
I picture Jay and Kaep playing out the scene from New Jack City…
Jay as Nino Brown: “It’s always business. Never personal.”
Kaep as G Money: “We all we got, man. Am I my brother’s keeper? AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”
The old furniture showroom at 4731 Grand River in Detroit features a mural of sign language spelling the word “LOVE.” Since 2001, it served as an arts incubator. An ownership change prompted evictions last month.
The evictions follow a host of other studio spaces for artists – including the Russell Street Industrial Center – that have closed, sold or displaced artists, said Sintex a well-known Detroit graffiti artist who used to live and work in the Grand River incubator.
“The growth of Detroit has forced artists to definitely hustle more. Instead of everyone being in the city, they are spread out more, to suburbs like Hazel Park,” said Sintex, who was born Brian Glass.
“The days of finding studios in old industrial spaces [in Detroit] are long gone.”
The new owner is seemingly the unlikeliest of evictors: Allied Media Projects, a nonprofit in Detroit dedicated to social change and “media for liberation,” according to its website. It took out a $2 million mortgage and plans to update the building to serve as its headquarters, along with other progressive nonprofits.
The goal is to use the building to “remediate the impact of gentrification at a minimum and resist the structures that perpetuate gentrification,” said its executive director, Jenny Lee.
The irony of a group fighting gentrification by committing one of its most brutal acts – eviction – isn’t lost on Lee.
“It sucks that our vision has to come at the cost of artists who have used and loved that space,” Lee said. “There’s no way around it. It absolutely sucks.”
Along with the reality of gentrification, and the system’s upheaval of the very residents who created a desirable environment in the first place, is the tragedy that artists and creatives are not respected for the value they bring to a community. Creators like Sintex Graffiti are the breath and life of this community. Activists like Allied Media Projects have long worked to protect those very artists and the residents of this community.
In the end, the economics of gentrification can pit natural allies against each other in the ongoing struggle to survive.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is on a mission it seems.
Just a few days ago, he issued an executive order apologizing on behalf of the state for its past violent treatment of its indigenous population. From The Hill:
In a historic move, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order apologizing on behalf of the state and its citizens for the past violence against Native Americans. “We can never undo the wrongs… but we can tell the truth.”
Telling the truth is a start indeed…
But he followed that up with a bold move forward. He placed a halt on all executions in his state. CBSNews.com:
“Just last year we had someone who was exonerated that spent 26 years on death row – joining the ranks of 164 human beings that have been exonerated, that have spent time on death row. It’s a racist system. You cannot deny that,” Newsom said Friday on “CBS This Morning.” “It’s a system that is perpetuating inequality. It’s a system that I cannot in good conscience support.”
He also makes some interesting remarks about the Green New Deal and about influence and privilege in the nation.
“We’ve got to reflect on this in a much deeper way. It’s all about money. It’s all about money,” Newsom said. “Two-thirds of the folks in these positions of influence as administrators – their purpose, they’re literally judged on their basis of their connections and ability to raise money. But with that comes some expectation. People aren’t just benignly writing $100 million checks. They expect something more than just their name attached. They’re going to get a return phone call.”
He acknowledged it applies to politicians as well.
“Deeply true with anyone in positions of influence, and politicians are among them,” Newsom said.
Newsom has always been a progressive politician. I’m curious to watch how California leads the nation with him at the helm.
“Drawn from the third book in the Patternmaster series (which actually kicked off the narrative in chronological terms), the story is one of love and hate, following two African immortals who travel the ages from pre-Colonial West Africa to the far, far future. Doro, a killer who uses his power to breed people like livestock, encounters Anyanwu, a healer who forces him to reassess his millennia of cruel behavior: for centuries, their personal battles change the course of our world as they struggle against the backdrop of time — master vs slave, man vs woman, killer vs healer.”
DISCLAIMER: Some of my friends reported this video to Facebook. Apparently, American history is violent and graphic, but most of all, politically divisive. In other words, this is the United States, and this is history. The accuracy of the words has not been questioned.
WHITE FOLKS: If you view this video, you should be prepared to be all up in your feelings with FEAR and FRAGILITY about how a TRUE depiction of the Democratic Party’s racist past will affect everyone EXCEPT you and other white folks. You may find yourself caught up in the current neo-McCarthyist Russian scare mongering where you believe that any negative information about the United States is the work of former KGB agents bent on destroying YOUR country.
PEOPLE OF COLOR: If you view this video, you will be reminded that the current White House occupant is NOT the first racist president of the United States. In fact, you will be reminded that at times past, the Democratic Party may have been far worse.
While SOME people FEAR this may reinforce any desire you have to stay home and not participate in US electoral politics, you may find that it is MORE likely to inspire you to get out and VOTE for the record number of people of color and women running in primaries and in the mid-term elections this season. This video may very well remind you that you have a chance RIGHT NOW to begin changing the complexion of the Democratic Party FOREVER.
EVERYONE REMEMBER: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. FEAR NOT the violent, racist history of the United States. MARCH BOLDLY FORWARD determined NOT to maintain the status quo and the tacit acceptance of white supremacy.
WE determine from here forward what type of nation we will be. Will you sit back and let the US remain weak and divided, lashing out like a bully whose only strength is superior firepower? Or will you DO THE WORK to make TRUE those shiny words in the parchment of this nation’s founding documents, that ALL HUMAN BEINGS are created equal; that hence we should ALL be afforded the SAME rights regardless of skin color or zip code or where and how your ancestors arrived on these shores?
This video is our collective history. We cannot change it. But THE FUTURE is entirely in our hands. Will you walk forward with knowledge, or continue to blindly follow the echoes of the past? The choice is yours.