The presidential debates are over. The debates probably did more for those “undecided” voters. How do both campaigns use what they saw from their candidates to close the deal?
Who do you think won the final debate?
Santa Monica, CA – Inspired by the grassroots movement created by Barack Obama’s historic presidential run, and his call for “Change: We Can Believe In” Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) has assembled a first-of-its-kind music compilation featuring an array of artists and material that reflects America’s diversity and taps into the creative community’s overwhelming response to the campaign’s universal themes of hope, unity and change.
The 18-song disc, titled Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement, borrows its name from one of the campaign’s central messages and boasts a stellar collection of artists from across genres, including such renowned, multi-platinum performers as Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Los Lonely Boys, Jackson Browne, BeBe Winans, Lionel Richie, Adam Levine, Keb’ Mo’ and John Legend. The project features current and classic material as well as new music heard here for the first time and speech excerpts from the Democratic nominee, which are embedded throughout the project, all elements highlight, Yes We Can.
Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement will be available starting September 19th via both digital download and hardcopy CD exclusively on the Obama campaign’s official website (www.BarackObama.com), with all proceeds benefiting the campaign’s fundraising efforts ($24.99 for digital download; $30.00 for physical CD). Following the November 4th election, the disc will be made available to the general marketplace by way of Hidden Beach’s website as well as retail outlets worldwide.
Spearheaded by Hidden Beach CEO and Founder Steve McKeever, Yes We Can came about as a result of a broad-based and increasingly urgent desire by artists and other conscious individuals to join in the grassroots efforts to bring about positive change. Hidden Beach, widely respected for innovation, quality and a commitment to social empowerment, was considered the logical place to harness this energy and bring this project to light.
The call for material and participation inspired more than 150 submissions from some of the industry’s most respected, talented and accomplished artists hailing from all music forms and backgrounds. Whether current hits, new tunes or classic tracks, central to the material chosen for Yes We Can are the songs paralleling the Obama campaign’s core ideas of patriotism, perseverance and a sense of shared responsibility, among other concepts defining this historic movement.
“This year’s election has inspired unprecedented enthusiasm and activism. Obama supporters from Nevada to New Hampshire are finding their own way to get involved– volunteering to knock on doors, registering new voters, and artists have created new works, including posters, sculptures, and music,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Moira Mack. “With the stakes so high and November right around the corner, we are thankful to all the Obama supporters who are communicating the importance of voting in this election.”
“Thanks to the hard working staff at the entire Obama campaign along with the help of some of the world’s top artists and industry professionals, we’ve created what we believe to be the first-ever presidential campaign compilation,” said McKeever. “The incredible response by the creative community to this project underscores how deeply inspiring this campaign has been across boundaries. The artists involved here truly reflect America’s diversity, and speak to a real grassroots approach to affecting change.”
Included on Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement are such songs as John Mayer’s “Waiting On The World To Change,” BeBe Winans’ “I Have A Dream,” Jill Scott’s “One Is The Magic #,” Jackson Browne’s “Looking East,” Sheryl Crow’s “Out Of Our Heads,” Los Lonely Boys’ “Make It Better,” Keb’ Mo’s “America The Beautiful,” Yolanda Adams’ “Hold On,” Ozomatli’s “Love & Hope” and Stevie Wonder’s legendary tune and official Obama-Biden Campaign anthem “Sign, Sealed, Delivered.” Several of these songs are now worked into unique “Obama” versions featuring some inspiring speech excerpts from the campaign trail.
New music featured on the music compilation include Lionel Richie’s “Eternity,” Dave Stewart’s “American Prayer,” John Legend’s “Pride In The Name Of Love,” Suai’s “Am I All Alone?” Ken Stacey’s “America,” Malik Yusef’s “Promised Land,” featuring Kanye West and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, and Shontelle’s “Battle Cry.”
Again, starting September 19th through November 4th, the music compilation will be available exclusively at http://www.BarackObama.com, with all proceeds benefiting the campaign. It will be available via normal retail channels following the November 4th election.
Samples of the material and additional background on Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement can be found at www.hiddenbeach.com.
On the heels of the successful release of his third CD, “All Odds Against Me,” Grammy nominated blues artist and son of blues legend, John Lee Hooker, John Lee Hooker, Jr. heads to Europe, Turkey and Russia to wow audiences overseas with his special brand of blues flavor.
A blues superhero, as portrayed in his animated video release “Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Pimp,” Hooker Jr. has successfully captured the attention of audiences internationally. The video animation, from Frenchman Laurent Mercier at the Callicore Animation Studios in Paris, has served to bridge the generational gap between the blues and hip hop audiences.
The video is the first of three to be released in 2008 and is included free on his enhanced CD. It can also be viewed on the web at www.JohnLeeHookerJr.com.
We interviewed Hooker, Jr., in 2004, before his debut release “Blues with a Vengeance” and are pleased that he continues to grow and delight audiences around the world. To gain some insight into John Lee Hooker, Jr. and his growth as an artist, we have updated our exclusive interview from August 2004.
After reading this interview you will see how John Lee Hooker, Jr. has evolved into a first class 21st century contemporary bluesman.
Click here to read our exclusive interview with Hooker, Jr.
Hooker Jr. and his legendary Dad John Lee Hooker
By Lawrence “eL-Train” Evans
The district will experience comedic royalty this Friday, September 19th, 2008. Who’s coming you ask? Steve Harvey? D.L. Hughley? Cedric the Entertainer? No…none of the aforementioned, self-proclaimed kings of comedy will be in town. Constitution Hall will be the hosting stage for the ground breaking Dick Gregory, influential Paul Mooney and the witty Franklyn Ajaye. Some may be well aware of who they are while others may not be familiar.
Often referred to as comics of an older generation, many of the younger groups may find themselves at a loss for describing who these gentlemen are. These are comedians who others revere (including Queens and Kings of Comedy). It is upon their backs that the Mo Niques, Damon Wayans’, Sommores, Steve Harveys and Richard Pryors stand. (Did he just say Richard Pryor? YES!) From crossing over, selflessly being a humanitarian or being a principal writer for some of the funniest moments in media history, they have all forded their own individual path and will tell a story (or more) Friday, September 19th.
I had a chance to sit down with two of the three comedians, the legendary Dick Gregory and Franklin Ajaye.
By Brandon Whitney
Obama doesn’t have to fight dirty, he just has to fight. I believe he’s doing so. When he directly addressed the McCain campaign’s false outrage at the lipstick comment, he took on a Republican machine that as successfully changed American politics into the dozens. Obama has thus far managed to energize the American public, teach Democrats how to run a successful campaign, and generate policy discussion. The last great task is to overcome the Republican guerilla tactics that have brought them to power. Obama is now the head of the counter insurgency against destructive conservative political fundamentalism.
Calling a spade a spade is powerful medicine. Obama pointing out the McCain campaign’s attempts to make the Democrats the anti-woman party as cynical partisan politics is a stroke of genius. It is engaging the enemy. Enemy may seem like a harsh title to give to a political opponent, but the tactics that McCain is engaging in, his Rovian politicking is not just destructive to the two political parties, it hurts America. A person who hurts our country for political and economic power is an enemy of the our nation and they have to be attacked aggressively.
The Democrats can win this election and by losing so can the Republicans. A small minority of conservative extremists has been running the GOP and have decimated what it once stood for. Lincoln was a Republican. African Americans, in one part of our history, supported the Republican Party. It is not an innately selfish and destructive party; it has been made that way. We cannot afford a President Palin, which is likely if McCain win’s considering his age, history of cancer, and the shorter life expectancy that being a POW has given him. We cannot afford four to eight more years of crony politics that apes the worst of third world governments. We cannot afford to be blindly led by our prejudices to elect the wrong candidate. Obama and the Democrats can stop all of this by fighting with fist and feet, knees and elbows, against the destructive politics of the right.
Brandon Whitney is the creator of Homelandcolors.blogspot.com a blog that focuses on issues that affect the African American community. He is also a frequent guest on News and Notes’ Blogger Roundtable. Brandon has political experience as an Outreach Director for the Democratic party and is passionate about being a positive force in his community regarding African American issues. He is also a frequent guest on News and Notes’ Blogger Roundtable. You can read more of Brandon’s work at Homeland Colors.
By Harold Bell
Remember, Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes? He has a new book titled, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” How about jail? He sounds like my echo. Its like he is preaching to the choir, here are some excerpts.
‘Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? “Lee, I often wonder the same thing, “Am I the only guy in the black community who’s fed up with what’s happening?”
Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’
Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned ‘Titanic’. I’ll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’
You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.
The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the ‘America’ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for (we had different modes of transportation. I’ve had enough. How about you?
I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have. The Biggest ‘C’ is Crisis!
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A Hell of a Mess. So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way.
These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
Lee, lets keep it real, they are being called “Troublemakers and Agitators.”
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm.
Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three’ referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity.
What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break!
No Lee, black folks are scared they will be kicked off the Corporate Boards, lose their cushy jobs at the networks or be exiled from the “In Crowd.”
Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?
Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope I believe in America. In my lifetime I’ve had the privilege of living through some of America’s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: The ‘Great Depression’, ‘World War II’, the ‘Korean War’, the ‘Kennedy Assassination’, Lee, don’t forget ‘Dr. King’s Assassination’, the ‘Vietnam War’, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: ‘You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to ‘Action’ for people who, like me, believe in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work. Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had ‘enough.’
Lee, with Pimps in the Pulpit and crooks and sex deviants holding public office, it sounds like good advice to me! This book should be required reading in our community. We have a tendency to listen to white folks! Some of us really think your ice is colder.
By H. Lewis Smith
In a three-way conversation between Tavis Smiley, Dr. Michael Dyson and Dr. Cornel West on the justification of blacks using the n-word, the following ideas were exchanged during the discourse:
Tavis Smiley: “With all due respect to the power of your persuasive argument, your big mama and my big mama would stand here in front of you with all of your education and say you still ain’t got no business, under no circumstances whatsoever, ever uttering that word white folks put on us to demean us—period.”
Dr. Dyson: “There’s no question about that…but my pastor and others who would say [it]—referring to their congregation and their flocks who are highly learned, deeply erudite, profoundly scholarly, and who are able to understand both the folk and the vernacular tradition on one hand and the high learning foremost tradition on the other, [said] the word in an endearing fashion.”
It appears as though an attempt is being made to soften the use and encourage acceptance of the n-word because more affluent, educated, and outwardly intelligent African American audiences claim to understand and accept the word. Thus, since these intelligentsias have placed their blessing on using the word, referring to one another as the n-word should be an acceptable practice by all African Americans—regardless of socioeconomic status.
However, the basis of this argument stands on a couple of fallacies: Many other equally affluent, educated and intelligent African Americans despise the term, disallow themselves to be referred to as such, and have eradicated the idiom from their vocabulary. As well, during the conversation of these highly esteemed gentlemen, those arguing for the n-word failed to consider an extremely significant factor that greatly affects the soundness of their argument: common sense.
Given the past history of African Americans and the n-word, plain old common sense, which is defined as sound or practical judgment, suggests that it is not intuitively sensible for an African American to accept this word, drenched in ignorance, evil, immorality and corruption. Even with a high level of intelligence—the capacity for thought especially to a high degree, common sense must factor into the equation because it is the essential, instinctual element in developing one’s first thought about a subject.
Intelligence soon follows this initial thought, serves only as support to the common knowledge and should help individuals reason with why the n-word is unacceptable: The n-word was bestowed upon African Americas by slave masters, and represents every devious plot meant to destroy the black race; thus, is unacceptable. It is bewildering how individuals of such high levels of thought are blind to the insult that lies in the term. And even more perplexing is the fact that they argue in favor of using the term—and in an affectionate manner!
African Americans are so quick to shun other races for using the term, and demand total equality and respect. But how can one demand respect when they have no respect for themselves? One of the most prevalent drawbacks regarding the supposed desensitizing of the n-word among African Americans is that it is not a global or cross-cultural movement; the rest of human civilization recognizes the true purpose in and foundation of the word. The rest of the world indeed respects Black America for its musical, entertainment, and athletic abilities, but have absolutely no respect for our cerebral mindset.
This is due in part to the fact that African Americans continue to refer to themselves as a thing that was and is meant to dehumanize the race. Although many proponents of the n-word feel that their use and definition of the term differs from other races’ application and understanding, outside races only see the stigma attached to the term and, thus, perpetuate any thoughts of African Americans with that particular perception. Their thinking is such that if a person refers to themselves as a certain thing, they will embody that image and act as such. And because a “n**ger” was viewed as a sub-human, bestial and savage, other races neglect to respect and treat African American as equals, immediately become defensive toward African Americans, and continually ridicule the race—the true persona of the n-word.
Consider most recently Beijing, China, where attempts were made to ban blacks from Beijing bars in a pre-Olympic crackdown. In addition, Milo Bryant of the “Colorado Springs Gazette,” a black reporter, was all but ignored during press conferences by Chinese officials who refused to acknowledge his presence and would only solicit questions from white reporters.
Another put down of Blacks occurred in 2005 when Mexico had the audacity to print caricatures of Blacks on their postage stamps.
Countless incidences of condescending Blacks occur around the world—even in America. However, the most catastrophic and mind boggling of these incidences occurs right here in America by Black America. The Black community has proven to be very tolerable of anything destructive, degrading and demeaning from within. The poisonous lyrics of misogyny, crime, drugs; the glorification of ‘gangsta’ life and violence perpetuated by black rappers; and the use of the n-word are all self-destructive acts that contribute greatly to the demise and unfavorable image of the black community. The rest of the civilized world looks on in amazement, taking note, and heeding the messages sent about Black America from Black America—“straight out of the horse’s mouth.” No one takes the African American seriously. No wonder!
Dr. Dyson emphasized the linguistic creativeness of the younger generations’ use of the word, changing the suffix from “-er” to “-a”; however, changing the suffix does not transform the meaning of the term. (Pronouncing the word with an “-a” at the end is quite frankly nothing more than plain, old-fashion ghetto vernacular.) Where else in the world does a race of people take a word—that embodied mental genocide and perpetuated physical brutality upon their ancestors—and embrace it affectionately and endearingly? What other race of people devises justification after justification to continue to remain shackled, confined to a certain realm, and proudly flaunts the mark of oppression, degradation?
It is definitely the black community’s prerogative to demand respect, but good luck getting it collectively! In the end, African Americans are still referring to themselves as “n**ger”—or in more modern terms, “n**ga,” deafening others’ ears to Black America’s cry for respect.
In WEB Du Bois’ all-time, modernly-relevant classic The Souls of Black Folks, Du Bois notes that “[t]he opposition to Negro education in the South was at first bitter, and showed itself in ashes, insult, and blood; for the South believed an educated Negro to be dangerous.” Then Dr. Carter G. Woodson came along in 1933 and said in The Mis-Education of the Negro: Control a man’s mind and you don’t have to worry about his actions.
Although one may be highly educated in the educational system, or mis-educated according to Dr. Woodson, one can still be a dependent or controlled thinker. Obtaining an education was once thought of as the key to release African Americans from mental enslavement. Education unquestionably serves as the essential building block in unlocking one’s mind, and teaching an individual the basic fundamentals of reading and writing, but independent thought allows one to break the chains of ignorance and enter a state of heightened mind power where common sense always resides at the right side of intelligence.
At the end of the conversation, it was duly noted that the n-word was used in jest, as was also the case between Tavis and the rapper Nas in a separate conversation on the same subject. But who’s being mocked? White slave masters for embedding in African Americans a self-destructive mentality rooted so deeply that it goes unnoticed even by African Americans who continue to carryout the plight? Or are African Americans mocking the memories, struggles and sacrifices of ascendants who knew the intent of the term and literally felt its purpose through heinous acts during the “domestication” process? Certainly, no amusement was experienced in the atrocities perpetrated upon them, all in the name of the n-word.
In 1904, black sharecroppers Luther Holbert and his wife were chained to a tree. An audience of 600 white spectators enjoyed fine treats such as deviled eggs, lemonade and whiskey in a festive atmosphere while Mr. and Mrs. Holbert underwent atrocious and purely evil acts: first their fingers were chopped off one by one, then their ears, followed by a severe beating that left Mr. Holbert with one eye dangling from its fractured socket; next, “spirals…of raw, quivering flesh” were extracted from both Holberts with a corkscrew before the couple was finally burned alive. As they drew on their last breaths, the last words they heard were the jeers of “n**ger, n**ger, n**ger.”
All of these activities perpetuated upon the Holberts were done in the name of the n-word. The most ironic part of the matter, though, is that at least one person who condones, tolerates, and embraces the n-word is a descendant of Mr. and Mrs.Holbert; thus, this proponent of the n-word agrees with the malevolent acts perpetuated upon his great, great grandma and grandpa. Is that person you? Is that person your friend, family member, or acquaintance?
Perhaps one can intelligently justify acceptance of the 300-year-old African-American Holocaust, the n-word, and the supposed progress of Black America beyond allowing the n-word to negatively affect them. But, just because one is highly educated and can precisely articulate his argument does not make him right or smart by any standard—he just knows how to talk well and conduct research.
Common sense, which does not discriminate based on educational attainments, tells African Americans that embracing the n-word affectionately and endearingly “just ain’t right and don’t make no kind of sense.” The n-word should continue to be looked upon as a disfigurement to the African-American’s psyche and buried as far below the surface as those who lived to experience the true meaning of “n*gger.”
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word. Visit UVCC online at http://www.theunitedvoices.com.