“I am Art”

1011921_472821049472445_244156984_nThe Rainbow Push Young Adult League began the 42nd Annual International Convention opened Saturday with a thought provoking panel discussion entitled, “I AM… ART”. The intent of the discussion was to explore the impact of Hip Hop on urban inner city youth and revolved around the question, “Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?”

1006259_475901442497739_1812197279_nFeaturing five successful members of the urban music and media industries like international music superstars, Lupe Fiasco and Waka Flocka Flame; Marketing and Recording Executive at Roc Nation, Chaka Pilgrim; Digital Managing Editor at Jet Magazine and Founder of The Kyles Files, Kyra Kyles; and Chicago State University professor, Dr. Gerrard McClendon; the panel discussion was masterfully moderated by Dr. Chandra Gill.

996806_475901419164408_1065597936_nThe auditorium was near capacity as music fans of all backgrounds and ages filled the seats for the historic discussion followed by an intense Q&A session. Audience members expressed delight at the genuinely candid dialogue, the intelligent and thoughtful responses of each panelist, and the intergenerational appeal that the event had. The recurring theme of the conversation seemed to be the responsibility of artists and labels as it pertains to the content of their music and how it influences youth culture.

995694_475901569164393_54410138_nArtists are so powerful and can use their influence to bring attention to issues that youth may otherwise not be exposed to. While many audience members may have been secretly hoping for a surprise and spontaneous concert, they did not leave disappointed. “I felt like I was watching history being made,” an audience member said after the event. “I was happy to see Rev. Jesse Jackson and Waka Flocka on the same stage. It gave me hope.”

I was able to take part in this by asking questions from social media! Super fun and great to have learned that Waka Flocka is actually not like people believe. He is very self-educated it appears. So lesson to the “wise” don’t judge a book by a song or a cd cover.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 2.02.17 PMAlso later I was able to go on ABC news Chicago and speak about the event! Take a look at the video here.

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Celebrating #42 Jackie Robinson

feature_jackieTonight like many nights was a night to remember! I was able to celebrate Jackie Robinson day with the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Park. Jackie Robinson’s legacy was memorialized on April 15, 2013, by fans, players and Major League Baseball, marking the 66th anniversary of the Hall of Famer breaking baseball’s color barrier. For the fifth consecutive year, all uniformed personnel at 15 different ballparks were asked to wear Jackie’s retired #42.

Where red heels have never gone before! on the field

Where red heels have never gone before! on the field

This year was especially a great time to remember Jackie Robinson as recently his movie 42 came out this month.  Baseball legends were announced and greeted the Jackie Robinson scholarship recipients. Reverend Jesse Jackson threw the first pitch in this historic game. During the game there was a reception where sports favorites such as Ernie Banks,  Billy Williams and Richard Dent (NFL), attended the reception along with Tom Ricketts, Rev Jackson & his family. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also invited the family of the 15-year-old killed from King High School , Hadiya Pendleton, who attended the game and reception.

It was also a great experience to walk to my car with ex NFL Player Richard Dent. You get special treatment when you are with certain people. Sad, but true. I was even invited inside of a fire station while walking with him (guess they though I was his daughter). Meh… What a way to end the night.

Speaking Out Against Gun Violence: A Press Conference.

Mayor Emanuel looks at the people standing with him against gun violence who have lost loved ones in his city.

Mayor Emanuel looks at the people standing with him against gun violence who have lost loved ones in his city.

January 3rd I was on the first line of seeing some of chicago prominent figures discuss the need for gun control in the city. After the Homicide rate was already outpacing that of 2012 in the first week of 2013, something had to be said…. Even more something had to be done. While I have not known anyone in my personal circle that has lost a loved one due to the horrific tragedy lack of gun control has caused, I feel deeply hurt every time I hear if another shooting. And even more hurt when the mother of a victim fights back tears as she talks about her would be 25-year-old son… (the same age I will soon turn next month)… But I digress…

The press conference, January 3rd 2013, was held at Saint Sabina Church. During this time Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced their new plans for Chicago’s community policing program and also their desire for gun control…

“Gun Control not Guns taken away” says McCarthy

McCarthy believes that with stronger gun control people will not be able to legally buy guns in bulk and then illegally sell them to others where they are used in crimes then face no consequences if they say.. “oh the gun was stolen”. A brief clip of McCarthy speaking is in the Youtube Video following this post.

One point McCarthy, Emanuel, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Father Michael Pfleger all agreed upon was that assault weapons were not needed period.

“high-capacity magazines are not designed to hunt animals but to hunt humans”

Behind the four promenant figures stood the some families of the some 500+ victims in the city of Chicago killed due to gun violence in 2012. Many held pictures or momentos of their lost loved onces. This image and the though behind who each victim was, the family they left behind, their children.. and their “what-if” stories should be enough to touch anyone’s heart.

“Chicago is the scene of this international crisis. Now we have Guns in jobs out we need more from the police, we need home land security.” – Rev Jackson

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Push at Cook County Jail

Inmates at Cook County during the Christmas service

Inmates at Cook County during the Christmas service

So I went to jail….. Yes I know some of you aren’t shocked as you’ve seen it coming. Well sorry to disappoint you but it was not for a crime. (Although being stripped of all personal belongings and walking through gates next to armed guards made me feel like I could be stuck there if they decided). I went to the cook county jail to experience Christmas. (Many of you know I do no celebrate this holiday but we will not get into the antipagan reasons as this moment) I will also have to say for the record:

It was not that bad, nor was I afraid,  I felt sad and I wanted to help everyone.. Save everyone

If I had to sum up my experience in one word it would be omgryst (oh my god r you serious tear). There were so many people locked away so many members of families with children locked away on a special holiday… No cards, phone calls to expensive to make, no family no presents no nothing. Hope in this atmosphere was dismal (if any).

Rainbow PUSH coalition and others all came to help raise spirits of the prisoners during this time, sing songs and speak good words to the members of this chained society.

I left there feeling a pain in my soul. While I was happy to leave others would never get that choice. I’m sure there were innocent people in that room. I’m sure some people were thrown away from society because they cannot afford bail and I’m sure most of those individuals will not be given the opportunity to be rehabilitated. It is a bone chilling thought.

The things that stuck with me most is the communications person for the jail telling me if anything were to happen (because I had my phone inside which they rarely allow) that I couldn’t tweet about it or anything. But also the prisoners kneeling to pray in public, I thought to myself would one of us do the same in a large group of our peers? Would you take to the floor and pray if not in church?

That’s my final thought… Too much pain in this post to event share how I feel. But how can we let people just rot away?

Sensata

Today was my first experience with seeing civil disobedience right in front of me. In what Rev. Jesse Jackson termed “possibly what Selma was to voting”, I witnessed people standing up for justice in their community. Over a dozen were arrested today in Freeport, IL due to civil disobedience against the Sensata Plant. After a day of coming together and learning more about the cause, I was extremely grateful to be there.

Sensata is an industrial plant that makes parts mostly for cars. The plant is scheduled to close next month and all jobs outsourced to China. Workers have already begun to be laid off and after today’s demonstration, the company has threatened to close sooner. Today workers spoke out about the closing of Sensata and how it has and will affect their lives.

One worker told the story of her husband getting laid off from Sensata this past summer and her worries of herself soon to be without ajob. She spoke of wondering how she and her husband will be able to support their three young children, let alone themselves. Reverend Jesse Jackson commented

“this is not a fight for severance pay, this is a fight for the salvation of jobs”.

Reverend Jackson headlined the march led by the American flag. The same flag that had been taken down and replaced by the Chinese flag while the soon-to-be unemployed workers trained their future replacements. With chants of “U-S-A” and “Save our Jobs”, the group march to the Sensata plan from a field where many of the laid of workers have set up tents and lived since being laid off. This area has been renamed Bainport because of the large stock ownership of the Bain Corporation. Reverend Jackson was the first to be arrested and the only to have actual handcuffs on his wrist. The Freeport police tried to use him as an example to others who would soon be arrested.

After being released those who protested prayed and continued to stress that this is only the beginning of a continued fight, not for severance pay but for jobs.