Orange juice [Illinois Times; April 30, 2009]
Springfield rapper defends title this week on BET’s Freestyle Friday
If you saw Zach McCoy without his baggy jeans, oversized T-shirt and baseball cap, you would assume he’s more interested in Lord Voldemort’s latest plot against Harry Potter than the new Lupe Fiasco album. You certainly wouldn’t suspect that McCoy, a Springfield native, would stand a chance in a freestyle rap battle against MCs from places with more established hip hop scenes like Dallas or Chicago. You’d be wrong. And if you’re his competition, you’ll be sorry.
The Hype: What’s Going on with the Media’s Silence on Afghanistan? [Parlor Magazine; April 15, 2009]
There is a danger in a media that’s so beholden ideologically that when wading into unchartered waters – say, dealing with a president who was both the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate and perhaps the most hawkish Democratic commander-in-chief in a generation – that they simply remain silent.
As media organizations falter, even collapse, people are consuming news and information at a more rapid pace than ever before in the history of mankind. More than ever we need our media to tell us just what the hell is going on.
Rethinking remediation [Arkansas Times; August 14, 2008]
Bella Vista Republican’s education idea outrages alumns of historically black college
Black students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff do not exist just to play football, says UAPB National Alumni Association president Samuel Staples. They’re at the school to receive an education. Staples and other members of his organization were incensed over statements state Republican Rep. Donna Hutchinson of Bella Vista made in a recent Arkansas Times article in which the lawmaker suggested funding Arkansas universities with high remediation rates as community colleges and removing remediation courses from all public four-year institutions within 10 years .
The Rico Act [Illinois Times; June 26, 2008].
Springfield’s teenagers say there was nothing to do here — until he came along.
Just past midnight on a chilly February night, Club Chrome is heating up. The nightclub on Springfield’s south side is packed to the gills with teenagers clad in myriad shades of red, yellow, and green; the spacious dance floor has been transformed into an ersatz exercise studio as young women and girls — and a handful of boys — wiggle, twist, pop, shake, and bounce to the beats of DJ Rico P. To the uninitiated, the frenzied crowd of 15- to 20-year-olds seems to teeter on the brink of chaos, capable of blowing the roof off at any moment. They are, in fact, simply letting off steam. With all the trappings of modern teenage life — schoolwork, college entrance exams, extracurricular activities, nagging parents, and the delicate matter of arranging one’s Top Friends list — young people want and need to unwind just as much as adults do.
But in Springfield, and surrounding cities, teens have few safe options for those times when they need to cut loose and get crunk. House parties, replete with alcohol, dope, and sex, are an unfortunate but common alternative. Some young people chill out on vacant lots or cruise in traffic — long trains of vehicles meandering through the streets of Springfield late at night — until the cops shoo them away or the scene devolves into fistfights or worse. Rico Perkins saw the need.
Echoes of injustice [Illinois Times; March 20, 2009]
An Illinois author discusses his experiences in JFK’s White House as the first black Secret Service agent
One of six children, born in East St. Louis to a good-natured mother and a stern father who worked two jobs, Abraham Bolden was offered an opportunity to become, as JFK said, “the Jackie Robinson” of the White House protection detail. Bolden reported for his first shift of duty at Kennedy’s White House at midnight on June 5, 1961. He came with high hopes; he left disillusioned.
So let’s be fair [Illinois Times; August 31, 2006]
In Katrina blame game, media shouldn’t get a pass
Shockingly immune from criticism over the bungling of Hurricane Katrina have been the news media, which played a large role in bringing to light the immediate crisis on the ground — before federal officials were even aware of the magnitude of the problem, in fact. However, in the midst of the chaos, some members of the media helped, perhaps unwittingly, promulgate hurtful racial stereotypes, and others ignored the news altogether.
Life and debt [Illinois Times; August 24, 2006]
Africa needs more than just humanitarian aid
Before embarking on a five-nation tour of Africa last week, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed concern about the perception that he could deliver to the continent, as he told the Chicago Tribune, “the largesse of the U.S. government.” Though one of the most prominent and respected black politicians in America, Obama frequently tries to underplay how much juice he has by pointing out that he ranks 99th in seniority in the Senate, where he is the only African-American.
The immediate political significance of Obama’s Africa trip will be almost purely symbolic. But as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and someone whose name many Democrats wouldn’t mind seeing on a presidential ticket one day, Obama has the power to do more good in Africa, which is home more than 30 of the world’s 40 poorest nations, than he’s willing to admit.
It’s bigger than hip-hop [Illinois Times; July13, 2006 ]
Chicago convention continues effort to give form to a movement
Despite the enormous impact of hip-hop on language, fashion, and the economy, attempts to turn the vitality of hip-hop culture into sustained political action have ended up a lot like an alchemist’s futile effort to transmute lead into gold. The organizers of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which takes place every other year and gets under way next week in Chicago, hope to change that.
Exception to the Rule [Riverfront Times; April 21, 2004]
Radio host Amy Goodman blasts Bill Clinton, NPR, the Iraq war, and the mainstream press.
“The first casualty when it comes to war is truth.” Hiram Johnson, a Republican senator, said that — almost 90 years ago. Though no one would mistake Amy Goodman for a Republican (or a Democrat, for that matter), she couldn’t agree more. Goodman’s new book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media That Love Them, co-written with her brother David, throws a fact-forged monkey wrench into the war-propaganda machine.