Literary Analysis: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: The Search for Identity and Individuality

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MARCH 27, 2007


A novel represents a work of fiction – a story that is creatively written from an author’s mind and point of views. That does not exclude fiction from the realm of reality, however. Fiction and real life interrelate in every sense; in fact, fiction always has elements of reality. Real-world experiences, people, history, and life in general are influential to a novelist and serve as a catalyst, assisting him or her to formulate ideas and craft a novel. Therefore, real life and works of fiction aren’t too far apart; they are connected – directly, indirectly, or metaphorically. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) proves that to be true, for the historical insinuations are evident.

Scholars have taken notice of Invisible Man ever since its release in 1952, and continue to scrutinize the novel for good reasons: it is fascinating; it brings forth many interpretations and debates (negative and positive); it questions one’s role in society; it addresses racism, etc. Overall, the text is profoundly powerful in all aspects. As Per Winther writes in “Imagery of Imprisonment in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man,” “Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is an immensely rich novel, which explains why, since its publication in 1952, so many readers have been, and still are, moved by Ellison’s complex narrative of twenty turbulent years in the life of his young, nameless, black protagonist” (115). The release of Invisible Man has rendered a plethora of scholarly analyses from the likes of Marc Singer, William Walling, Per Winther, James B. Lane, Eric Sundquist, and many more – touching on various issues.  However, few scholars (probably none) have found the time to address the invisibility of Ellison’s invisible protagonist and the silent generation in the 50s collectively. Thus, I will attempt to tackle many issues of the narrator’s invisibility and struggles in conjunction with the Beats’ invisibility/“the Silent Generation” in the 1950s, and the artists of that time. This is where fiction and real-life (historical allusions) share similarities. The nameless protagonist in Invisible Man and artists in the 50s are in search for two things: true identity and individuality.

From beginning to end, the racism motif presents itself throughout Invisible Man, and the prologue swiftly demonstrates that:

“I AM AN invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (3).

These opening words by the narrator do not provide his race, but the latter part of his statement provides a clear indication of who he is – a black man – from the way he states his invisibility and the historical context of his account. At the time this novel was released, segregation was prominent and blacks protested for their equality, stating similar words like the narrator’s. Because society selectively chooses to ignore his presence because of his phenotypical makeup as a black man, he is literally (and physically) rendered invisible.

The racism motif reaches its peak, physically, when the narrator gives an account of an incident in which he unintentionally bumps into a large blond man in the dark, causing the blond man to share his disgust with a racial epithet. Feeling disrespected, the narrator goes on the attack and batters him onto the ground, pulling out a knife and preparing to take the man’s life. But he thinks otherwise and comes to his senses: the blond man insulted him because he could not really see him due to his invisibility. The narrator’s confrontation with this blond man is important, because he learns the following day that a newspaper labels the incident as a mugging.  This labeling by the newspaper (white society) demonstrates the narrator’s metaphorical slavery, invisibility, and subjugation – for he is being dominated by the views of others.  First, the narrator is dehumanized by the man’s racial epithet, which prompts him to attack and make the verbal abuser recognize his individuality; and second, the narrator is dehumanized by the newspaper that labels him a mugger. The roles are reversed: the white man is not the assailant but the victim, while the narrator is viewed by the public as a criminal. Moreover, the actual incident with the blond man is ignored altogether, along with the narrator’s motives, which become invisible to the public. Therefore, other people in society classify Ellison’s invisible man’s identity according to their own prejudices.

Conversely, Ellison’s nameless protagonist mirrors the feeling many critics had about the 50s (and those who lived it) in New York, labeling the decade “the Silent Generation,” which can be termed metaphorically as the “unnoticed generation” – similar to being invisible.  Critics have had a field day criticizing the fifties for what it produced, like the major Beat writers – Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg – known as the Beat Generation. Some critics have named the bohemians of that decade as the strangest souls who wasted and abused their bodies with heavy doses of drugs and alcohol; some critics even said that they had dangerous intentions to change America.  In fact, Stephen Prothero’s article, “On The Holy Road: The Beat Movement As Spiritual Protest,” quotes Norman Podhoretz’s brutally harsh critiques in 1958 Partisan Review: “The Bohemianism of the 1950s is hostile to civilization; it worships primitivism, instinct, energy, ‘blood’; Podhoretz (the most outspoken critic of the Beats) continued: “This is a revolt of the spiritually underprivileged and the crippled of souls.” Podhoretz went so far as to characterize them as Nazis and Hell’s Angels. The Beats ignored his rhetoric because in their minds, it was nonsense. The Beats’ intentions – and those who lived in New York in the fifties – were to separate themselves and to be different from America’s norm, argued the Beats and others. Therefore, when outsiders do not understand what people do or how people choose to live their lives, they are looked upon negatively, and that’s how many critics felt about those in the fifties, especially the Beats.

Were Podhoretz’s critiques and reviews from other columnists necessary? Didn’t Podhoretz understand that people who lived in New York or journeyed there wanted to find something different and be free, especially the bohemians? Did he not take notice that bohemians were people who lived an unconventional lifestyle – somebody, often a writer or an artist, who did not live according to the conventions of society? They wanted to be different, rather than being conformists. Therefore, a couple of questions must be asked: Were the criticisms of these artists really warranted because they lived differently from how others lived? More important, were the fifties really that dull and silent?

Although Podhoretz has bashed “the Silent Generation” as a whole, those who lived in New York at the time strongly believe that their decade has been given a bad name – and novelist Dan Wakefield is one of those who shares similar views. Because the fifties has been mislabeled and tagged as being dull, Wakefield felt obligated to address the stigma. Fittingly, Wakefield’s book New York In The 50s (1992) gives a vivid light of the New York that he knew and experienced, tackling the so-called silent:

“If my generation was ‘silent,’ it was not in failure to speak out with our work, but in the sense of adopting a style that was not given to splash and spotlights” (6).

This statement by Wakefield renders truth, because the body of written works produced in the 50s (including future works that were released by the artists of that era) were abundant, from The Catcher in the Rye to On The Road, from Howl to Notes of a Native Son, and many more. So “silent” was not an accurate term at all; people just made the choice to ignore the generation altogether, because the wild and free lifestyle they desired to live were bizarre to them. As a result, their works were invisible to the public and not taken seriously. Moreover, the strangeness of the Beats caused the banning of Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, which was later reinstated; and also brought a court hearing to ban Ginsberg’s Howl. Naked Lunch was described by a reviewer as “a prolonged scream of hatred and disgust, an effort to keep the reader’s nose down in the mud for 250 pages” (quoted by Prothero, 206). Similarly, Howl was called a disgrace and protested hatred for society.

In regard to Podhoretz’s ruthless critiques, it appeared that his attitude took not a constructive criticism approach but a personal hatred stance against the Beats and their disparity with society. His 1958 article “The Know-Nothing Bohemians” verified that as he tried to debunk the Beats by scrutinizing the real-world consequences of their point of views about life, and so forth. One of the Beats could have reversed his article’s title into “He knows Nothing Bohemian,” for he does not live it. Hence, Podhoretz’s rhetoric about the Beats stems from his ignorance in not knowing what the Beats were, and his unwillingness to accept a different style of living he was not accustomed to. Therefore, he dehumanizes their character by talking down to them and labeling them whatever he sees fit: pessimists, naysayers, nihilists, troublemakers, and dangerous. Like Ellison’s nameless character, Podhoretz removes the people-friendly features of the Beats’ character, taking away their good qualities (or features) which make it difficult for others to see them as normal and acceptable humans. In all, he dehumanizes their stature and importance, making them invisible by choice.

This dehumanization theme appears in the opening development of Invisible Man, which lingers throughout. Ellison shows that with his nameless protagonist and other blacks in a high school graduation ceremony, where he is to deliver the class speech. But before he gives the speech, the narrator (and other black boys) is ordered to partake in a boxing match, orchestrated by the white men. With firm orders by the white men, the narrator and his classmates put on boxing gloves and enter the ring – where a stark naked blonde parade the ring. It becomes stranger to the boys as they are blindfolded by the white men with threatening orders to batter and kill each other: “ ‘See that boy over there?’ ” one of the men said. “‘I want you to run across at the bell and give it to him right in the belly. If you don’t get him, I’m going to get you. I don’t like his looks’” (17). The bell sounds and melee ensues – blacks wildly punching blindly, hitting anyone in proximity – to the enjoyment of the white men.

Thereafter, the white men continue their ridicule of the narrator and the boys by trickery, with shudders via electricity. Exhausted from the battle, the boys’ blindfolds are removed, while the white men place them on a wall, awaiting their bogus monetary prize on a rug. Blind with ignorance, the boys (on their knees as commanded) rush to get the money and to their shock, they are literally shocked from an electric current that runs under the rug, as the narrator shares his pain: “A hot, violent force tore through my body, shaking me like a wet rat” (22). While the boys’ laughter stems from being shocked, the white men’s laughter stems from the amusement of watching electrified blacks make a fool of themselves: “… he (one of the boys) ran from the floor amid booming laughter” (22).

Finally, after the embarrassment of the boys, the nameless character prepares to give his speech. The master of ceremony gives him a patronizing introduction, which prompts applause and laughter: “ ‘I’m told that he is the smartest boy we’ve got out there in Greenwood. I’m told that he knows more big words than a pocket-sized dictionary’ ” (23). The narrator takes the podium; he begins delivering his speech and realizes that the audience is ignoring him, while the laughing persists. He becomes nervous, mouth filled with blood, and it shows as he makes a mistake, saying “social equality” rather than “social responsibility.” After rendering his speech (and after fulfilling their comedic bone), one of the white men awards him with a briefcase and tells him to cherish it, claiming it will determine his peoples’ fate.

These episodes in Chapter One (i.e., battle royal, electric rug, and speech) do not only represent the evening’s entertainment for the white men, but it also demonstrates humiliation, animalization, passivity, and dehumanization. The grandfather’s narrator did warn his son (narrator’s father) before he died that life is a war, and to keep up the fight. War against whom? The white society. The grandfather orders and gives his family concrete wisdom: “I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction …” (13). In other words, the grandfather advises his family to uphold a dual identity: externally, they should embody the stereotypical good slaves’ motifs, which will satisfy the master; however, internally, they should carry the bitter hatred and resentment of such false identity against the master. Following this model allows the grandfather’s descendants to play a false role, only to make it appear as if they are satisfying the whites’ ego.

However, the young narrator does not know how to play the dual identity, for he does not know his true identity and individuality, causing the white men to take advantage of his passivity during the entire day’s events. Metaphorically, the boys’ blindfolding in the ring supports their real-life blindness; they are unable to see through the true intentions of the white men as they force the boys to conform to the racial stereotype of the black man as a violent and savage creature. As the men watch the boys in the boxing battle royal, they look at them not as equals or humans, but as inferior beings – as wild animals.  Although the grandfather provides knowledge to his family, it is fruitless to the narrator, because it doesn’t fully register in his head. Believing that full compliance will gain him admiration and accolade, he obliges the white men’s commands. To some extent, his beliefs prove true, for he is awarded the briefcase for his submission, but he is also tricked at the same time. The nameless character has not yet learned to see behind the masks, behind the tricks, and underneath the various covers constructed by white society. He only learns after the fact that he has been made a fool of when he realizes the phony coins, subsequent to suffering the electric shock from the mysterious rug – at the expense of his humiliation and dehumanization. This lack of awareness – blindness – stems from lack of not knowing his identity and individuality.

Ellison’s invisible man experiences being tricked again, but this time it takes on a different meaning.  He is not deceived by the white men; rather, he is fooled by a black man, Dr. Bledsoe – the college president.  While transporting a white trustee, Norton, around campus and showing him the old slave quarters and taking him to Golden Day, Bledsoe becomes furious when he learns of the narrator’s journeys: “The quarters! Boy, are you a fool? Didn’t you know better than to take a trustee out there?” (79). The narrator claims that he was told to go there by Norton, but Bledsoe does not care: “Damn what he wants. We take these white folks where we want them to go, we show them what we want them to see” (79). Feeling the college is at risk, along with his power, Bledsoe takes swift action and expels the narrator from the school, to his surprise. Ironically, to seem as a nice and reasonable man, Bledsoe gives him various letters and tells him they will help him find a job in New York, but it’s only a ploy, which the narrator fails to recognize.

Similar to the sentiment that the narrator’s grandfather tries to pass down to his descendants, Bledsoe too utilizes dual identities, but his represents narcissism and immorality. He cares for no one – including blacks – except for self. Bledsoe, being the president, uses the school to abuse his clout and gain more power, rather than achieving wide-ranging social advancement for his people and he makes that clear: “I’s big and black and I say ‘Yes, suh’ as loudly as any burrhead when it’s convenient, but I’m still king down here” (109). Bledsoe continues: “… I’ve made my place in it and I’ll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am” (110). Bledsoe pokes fun at his own race by talking in slang, using “I’s” rather than “I am” to seem uneducated like other blacks.  Bledsoe then states that when he tells the white men what they want to hear, he is able to control them.  Thereafter, his rant becomes disturbing as he claims that he would have all blacks lynched to keep his power.  Yes, such declaration by any human being is absolutely outrageous and sinister, but coming from a black man makes it even worse.  However, after the narrator has heard such unbecoming language, his trust in Bledsoe remains palpable, clearly indicating his lack of awareness because he still has not learned to look behind the masks through discernment.

Moreover, while on a bus ride to New York, the narrator meets the veteran who ridiculed Mr. Norton at Golden Day, precipitating Bledsoe to expel him like he did the narrator.  Strangely, the narrator doesn’t believe Bledsoe would do such a thing.  The veteran tells him to open his eyes and don’t take the face value of everything: “… look beneath the surface… Come out of the fog, young man. And remember you don’t have to be a complete fool in order to succeed” (118). The veteran speaks these words because he knows that the narrator is ignorant (and still shows signs of blindness) for not believing that Bledsoe is the cause for his relocation. For some reason, the narrator still has faith in Bledsoe although he has been punished by him. It is only when he learns Bledsoe’s true motives, then he realizes that he was tricked, for the letters that were to help him served as a way to hinder his progress, with punishing statements: “… this letter is a former student of ours … who has been expelled for a most serious defection from our strictest rules of deportment. The letter continues: “… it is to the best interests of the great work which we are dedicated to perform, that he continue undisturbed in these vain hopes … from our midst” (145). Bledsoe’s betrayal of the narrator shows that it is not only whites who betray and suppress blacks, but blacks can do the same to their own race.

Additionally, the narrator’s pain and bad luck persist. Like the electric shock in chapter one, the narrator suffers similar results; this time, however, it’s from shock treatment when he’s unconscious at the hospital following the fight with Brockway. The white doctors mirror the same attitude the white men shared in the opening chapter via dehumanization.  Because the narrator is unable to respond to the doctors’ question, they began to practice shock treatment on him (while another doctor wanted to castrate him) as a way for entertainment. The shock treatment causes the narrator to shake, and one doctor asserts that he is dancing: “Look, he’s dancing… They really do have rhythm…” (180-1). While the narrator hears the screams of a woman in his head, the doctors play with his head and ask him questions like: Who was buckeye the rabbit? Who was brer rabbit? The narrator attacks their amusement with his own: “He was your mother’s back door man… ‘Buckeye’ when you were very young and hid yourself behind wide innocent eyes; ‘Brer,’ when you were older” (184). Following his humiliation at the hands of the doctors, they tell him he is cured and can leave.

This episode in chapter eleven represents significance, because he has somewhat changed metaphorically. When he signs his release paper, he questions himself, “is he (the doctor) in on it too” (187)? In on what? The white suppression that haunts him. The narrator begins to think and comes to the conclusion that he is no longer afraid of men like Norton or Bledsoe, for they are nothing to him so he expects nothing from them. Moreover, the transition is quite clear, something like a symbolic rebirth – he awakes without any memory; he does not understand language; and he does not know his identity. The music and the machines’ noise collectively make him hear the sound of a screaming woman in pain, akin to a woman in labor. More important, the narrator’s metaphorical rebirth occurs with no parents; he takes on the doctors on his lonesome. The veteran’s advice that he becomes his own father is crucial, for he starts doing that by opening his eyes and looking at things differently, questioning himself and others’ true intentions.

The narrator is slightly removing the blindfold as he questions why he shouldn’t do hard labor as the doctor warns him he is not suited yet. “Take another job… Something easier, quieter. Something for which you’re better prepared,” the doctor said. These words are condescending and a racial stereotype that blacks are lazy, unfit, and do not work hard. This advice comes from the same doctor who took part in the amusement of the narrator’s humiliation, claiming he dances well as he is being shocked (which falls under a racial stereotype of blacks, something like a dancing Sambo doll), and trying to take his manhood by castration.  The castration reference by one of the racist doctors serves as a way to deny the narrator of his humanity. Clearly, a castration of one implies the stripping of his power, his ability to function, his ability to foster children, his ability to progress, and his ability to be whole – the purest form of emasculation. Nonetheless, from this episode, the narrator’s eyes begin to open to some extent; his invisibility and blindness are still intact, but he is freer and starts to find his identity in New York.

The narrator’s union with the Brotherhood shows that he still lacks individualism and has not removed that blindfold away from his eyes.  After seeing an injustice being done (white men evicting a black woman), the narrator speaks out prompting the crowd to react and take the furniture back into the house.  Cops arrive and he runs off, but hears a voice that calls him brother, a white man named Brother Jack.  Jack argues that he should become the spokesman for the Brotherhood; however, the narrator doesn’t agree and wants to think about the proposition.  Thereafter, the narrator thinks about Mary (a woman who gives him a place to freely live and generously feeds him) and makes the decision to join the Brotherhood.  Jack provides him with a house owned by the Brotherhood and strange enough, a new identity – claiming he should leave the past behind and focus on his new identity.

Joining the Brotherhood shows that the narrator is looking for a new identity (but not in the right place), and shows his lack of self-identity as he is labeled as what Jack wants him to be. It becomes apparent from the start that the Brotherhood has sinister intentions and needs him to further its cause when Emma tells Jack he isn’t black enough. Such comment proves that the narrator is unimportant to them as a human, but only as a figure and tool the group wants to exploit. In a sense, the narrator submits to white society for agreeing to serve as the black spokesman of the Brotherhood.  In more concrete language, he threatens and compromises his own identity by submitting to white men with clout.

The blindness of the narrator continues in a rally where he is to deliver a speech (in a former boxing ring), similar to chapter one. He blindly gives his speech but is criticized for how he does it by the Brotherhood:  “In my opinion the speech was wild, hysterical, politically irresponsible and dangerous.  And worse than that it was incorrect” (264). This lambasting ridicule shows that his stay with the Brotherhood would not be a long stint. Moreover, the physical battle the Brotherhood had with Ras the Exhorter/Destroyer (somewhat resembles the real-life Malcolm X) and his followers show that clearly, because he is unable to recognize his group from Ras’s.  This confrontation shows signs of unfruitfulness on both sides, because both groups are fighting for the same thing, black equality – or at least one group.

The inevitable happens when Jack tells the narrator that he must attend a meeting the following day, but it never happens.  Jack toys with him and sends him away because he is done using him, so the narrator is of no use anymore.  Once again, the narrator shows his inability to see through the masks of others when he realizes that the Brotherhood’s intentions were to exclude him from the meeting initially. The Brotherhood wants no part with the narrator, along with some blacks – feeling that his union with the Brotherhood is a betrayal to the black community.  The narrator is also betrayed again as he witnesses a former member of the Brotherhood, Clifton (who is later shot dead by a cop), selling Sambo dolls – a bad caricature of the Black culture.  The dolls are crucial and carry symbolic meanings, because although the dolls move by themselves, they need the help of strings to facilitate their movement.  This implies that Blacks continue to live under the umbrella and control of whites; blacks are puppets and whites are the puppeteers. Metaphorically, blacks are in the driver’s seat, but whites are steering the wheel.

That is evidence how the Brotherhood has used the narrator for the main purpose to destroy Harlem all along by galvanizing a riot with the help of Ras.  He learns this at the end, but it comes too late.  To a certain extent, he becomes a traitor twice: first, for working with a racist group; and second, for playing an active part in the destruction of the black community.  However, as the narrator tries to subdue the riot and explain the cause for it, Ras orders his followers to kill him by way of lynching, but he runs away and falls into a gutter.  As he lies underground, it is completely dark with no light.  He has nothing with him but the briefcase – holding almost everything in his journey for identity: diploma, Clifton’s doll, letters, etc. – that was given to him in chapter one by one of the racist men. In order to make light, he burns each in every one of the items in the briefcase. By burning the items in the briefcase, the narrator has now found his identity (or close to finding his identity) and breaks away from his past.

The narrator being in New York prompts his sudden awareness of what is real as he remains underground, rejecting the idea that a single philosophy can constitute a complete way of being, for each soul embodies a multitude of various components. Interestingly, this philosophy is what Norman Podhoretz lacks because he refuses to see others – the Beat writers in the 50s – for their multiplicities, rendering him blind to others’ diversities.  Similar to how the nameless protagonist searches for his identity in New York, people in the 50s did the same, and New York was the place for it as Wakefield argues: “Our fifties were far more exciting than the typical American experience because we were in New York, where people came to flee the average and find a group of like-minded souls” (7).

Ellison’s Invisible Man represents a buffet that feeds one’s knowledge in every aspect, every turn, every page and chapter – for it is filled with profound metaphors and real-life (historical) issues.  More important, its prolific literature is influential and continues to bring forth discussion in college classrooms and from scholars as they continue to write about it.  Ellison also influenced (indirectly or directly) books from his counterparts like Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and others. Whether one is black or white does not matter, because Invisible Man serves substance to everyone and influenced many in the 50s and beyond, including future works and American culture as a whole.  It will always be a topic of conversation for generations and generations to come.  Likewise, the Beat Generation may never be scrutinized entirely (or taken seriously by scholars) but it is catching on, because courses are being taught on various college campuses today.

Overall, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man can be described for its fame in two words: extraordinarily superb. It signifies a richly crafted – in-your-face – novel that stands firm as a classical gem and continues to engage readers since its 1952 release.

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Album Review: Uni-5: The World’s Enemy (2010) by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

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May 4, 2010


Bone-Thugs-UNI5 back coverKnown for their lightning-swift and harmonious-flow delivery, legendary rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is back with a brand new album, not as a trio, not as a foursome – but as a quintet.  After ten-plus years of working primarily as a foursome, the original members – Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, and Flesh-N-Bone – reunite to present their eighth studio album titled UNI-5: The World’s Enemy, released on May 4, 2010.

1.  THE LAW (Intro)
The introduction begins with a guy named Jared Scott, possibly with a manipulated foreign accent, defining what the world’s enemy is; in part, he states:  “What is the world’s enemy?  Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Uni-5 – the world’s enemy.  The world says, ‘don’t be surprised my brothers if the world hates you, because we have not perceived the spirit of the world but the spirit who is from God.’  Anyone who loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The spoken words have some biblical references, which are good – but the intro is forgettable.

2.  REBIRTH (Featuring Thin C)
Bone’s albums always start off with a fast-paced, hardcore song to get the mood going and “Rebirth,”  released on February 16, 2010 as the second single, does just that with an energetic beat that Bone attacks viciously and appropriately.

Featuring all five members, “Rebirth” represents a time-consuming song; in fact, it is the longest-recorded song by Bone – registering at 7 minutes-and-15 seconds long (the music video is shortened and features three members).  The length, however, is not a negative but rather a positive, giving each member ample time to address the song’s theme in his verse, while showcasing the ever-present quick-tongue delivery.

The theme of “Rebirth” focuses on artists using Bone’s speed-rapping flow mixed with its harmonic-sounding style – and the chorus (executed by Bone’s affiliate Thin C along with Krayzie’s background vocals) makes that clear:

“Everybody wanna sound like, sound like, sound like, Bone Bone Bone!  Everybody wanna rap like, rap like, rap like, Bone Bone Bone!  As we continue to pick up the pieces, they follow us Kings till the sundown – deadly issues of telekinesis, better show love or lay down (2X).”

The chorus alone is powerful and audacious, but it is hard to argue that the group’s entrance into the music business in 1994 did not influence future artists – because the Bone signature style has been influential then and now.

Overall, “Rebirth” showcases its rawness on many levels – it comes off fast, lyrically aggressive, hard-hitting, and brutally honest.   Positioning it as the opening song was the right choice, for Bone delivers by ripping it up – especially Krayzie and Bizzy.

3.  SEE ME SHINE (Featuring Jay Rush)
“See Me Shine” is a nice song that highlights the harmony side of Bone.   The melodic flow is present from Layzie’s beginning verse to Bizzy’s ending verse.

The theme of this song concentrates on haters (i.e., people who don’t want them to succeed but fail) as the chorus states:   [Krayzie] “Why they gotta hate (hate), steady hatin’ mine (mine), smilin’ in my face (face), fakin’ on the side?  They wanna see me shine (2x).  [Jay Rush] ‘Cause they don’t wanna, they don’t wanna, they don’t wanna see me shine (2x)!”

Krayzie and Jay Rush (Bone’s affiliate via Thugline Records) sing the chorus well and sound great; it could not have been rendered any better.

See Me Shine” really shines and each member does a fine job with his verse and flow.  It was actually released as the first single on October 27, 2009; and without a doubt, it was a perfect choice as a single because it is well executed on all fronts.

4.  ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME
“Only God Can Judge Me,” which features Krayzie, Layzie, and Flesh (but excludes Bizzy and Wish), is boring and has nothing great about it.  Surprisingly, the chorus is weak and does not stand out, something that is out of the ordinary because Krayzie is the mastermind of chorus-making, but he does not shine on this one.  The members’ verses and delivery are good; however, the same thing can not be said about the beat by L.T. Hutton, which can be described as simply dry.

L.T. Hutton is an incredible producer and has worked with Bone in the past with group and solo albums, but this production is not memorable.  The song simply has no flavor.  It’s like eating a chicken without any salt or any other seasoning whatsoever; it’s flat-out bland and distasteful.

The phrase used in the chorus – “Only God can judge me.” – has been used so many times, and thus become a hackneyed phrase, causing it to lose meaning despite its powerful overtone.  A new phrase using the same overtone could have definitely aided this song.

The overall aura of “Only God Can Judge Me” is boring throughout, and the beat and chorus are two disadvantages of the song.

5.  WANNA BE
“Wanna Be” literally knocks the wind out of the album.  It makes one pause in amazement and ponder. Some may even ask themselves that obvious question – “What were they thinking”? – a fitting question indeed.

It doesn’t get worse than “Wanna Be” because this song is bad.  It seems like Bone is portraying and ‘wanna be’ something the group is not – a pop group.  “Wanna Be” sounds pop from start to finish.  The pop-inspired beat is awful and the chorus performed by a guest feature sounds even more terrible.

Bone talks a lot about being unique and not conforming to the mainstream music, but this song contradicts their position regarding nonconformity – because it sounds purely pop.

The sad thing about “Wanna Be” is that the verses sound great; unfortunately, they stand alone without any supporting cast due to an overall poor execution of the song.  If this song were recorded on a different production, it would be a pleasing listen.  Nonetheless, the beat and the agonizing chorus make it unbearable.

6.  MY LIFE
Quiet-sounding, melodious, and nice are three adjectives that can be expressed when listening to “My Life,” produced by Thin C.  The chorus by Krayzie is nicely sung and meshes well with the beat.  There is not too much to say about this track, because it gets the job done and sounds good.   It’s not one of those Bone tracks that present that wow, chilling factor – but it does not matter because it sounds pleasing.

Basically, “My Life” represents a chill-type song, allowing one to sit down or lay down in a relaxing manner and listen to tranquil Bone music.  Overall, it’s an enjoyable listen, thanks to a smooth production and smooth delivery.

7.  EVERYTIME
“Everytime,” another L.T. Hutton production, sounds decent and is listenable.  However, similar to “Wanna Be” and “Only God Can Judge Me,” the beat does not help the song at all and is a weakness.  The production of “Everytime” is not as bad as the aforementioned tracks, because they belong in their own category when it comes to lackluster horror – especially “Wanna Be.”

“Everytime” simply sounds weird and juvenile; actually, the beat sounds like a cartoon production that was intended for a movie created by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

With that said, the verses are great and all five members come correct with a firm delivery.  If this song were graded with a letter, it would pass with a B minus.

8.  FEARLESS (Interlude)
Again, Bone feels the need to define the title of the album via the same voice in the intro:

“Who is the world’s enemy?  Someone who doesn’t conform to the world’s ways but with a sound mind and invents a new way.  Who is the world’s enemy?  Someone who thinks outside the box, passionate … and upright.    Who is the world’s enemy?  Someone who’s Christ-like and the world does not like.  We are the world’s enemy. “

This interlude is pointless.

9.  GONE (Featuring Ricco Barrino)
“Gone” sounds awful and does not represent the kind of music that Bone is accustomed to making; it’s definitely out of the group’s character and appears like it was rendered to attract a mainstream/pop audience.

Attracting a different audience is advantageous to an artist, but this song has gone way too far and seems forced.  The beat sounds like it was done for an artist like Sean Kingston and given to Bone at the last moment to record in chase to find a hit song.

“Gone,” which features all of the members except for Bizzy, is all over the place.  According to the lyrics of the chorus, the theme allegedly focuses on death, but only Krayzie’s verse stays on topic while the other members rap about whatever they please.

Moreover, the beat is dreadful; the chorus (executed by Fantasia’s brother Ricco Barrino) is a migraine and weak; and the overall ambiance of the song screams out pop music.  It’s one of those songs that will make some stop the CD, remove it from whatever device it’s playing in, and throw it across the room or outside the window due to its headache-prone ambiance.

The most surprising element about “Gone” is the fact that it was released as the fourth single on April 13, 2010, solidifying the notion that it was only released to capture a pop audience that would not necessarily listen to Bone.

“Gone,” an ear-annoyance, is neither single-material nor album-material – and the worst single ever released by Bone.

10.  MEET ME IN THE SKY (Featuring K Young)
From uninspiring music to brilliance, Bone presents “Meet Me In The Sky” produced by LT Hutton.  Released on March 23, 2010 as the third single, “Meet Me In The Sky” typifies a remarkable song.  The harmonies, chorus (executed by K Young), verses, smooth production, and togetherness of all the members really make this song what it is – a classic.

Classic is such an overused word that people throw around for any and every song, but “Meet Me In The Sky” is truly a piece of music that most people will listen to, love and enjoy at first listen.  More important, it has that enduring appeal and that is why it is a classic (not classic in terms of selling millions of records alone – but classic in terms of long-term replay value and being remembered years from now).

Is this an exaggeration?  Absolutely not.  “Meet Me In The Sky” is over five minutes of refreshing music that tickles the eardrums into ecstasy – so smooth, so relaxing, and such a pleasure.   Bone has produced another classic and timeless song.

11.  UNIVERSE
“Universe,” produced by Bone’s longtime producer DJ U-Neek, contains an interpolation of Al Green’s “I’m Still In Love With You.”

By definition, universe denotes the cosmos and everything that deals with space.  In Bone’s terminology, “universe” denotes a new rapping style where each member shares one verse: one member raps/sings a few lines, which is followed by another member and so forth.  It’s basically a chain-rapping approach.

This style was constantly mentioned by Bone while recording the album; fittingly, most people anticipated the best and even suggested it would be one of Bone’s greats.  Unfortunately, this song is neither great nor interesting, because Bone recorded a not-so-good song.

The new style is a great idea and Bone should definitely use it in the future, but (for this song) it was not executed in a manner that would blow people’s minds to make them say, “This is one of the best songs recorded by Bone,” because it’s not.  “Universe” is more like a sleeper-song that facilitates one to fall asleep due to boredom or skip the song to the next track.

12.  A NEW MIND=A NEW LIFE (Interlude)
Once more, Bone provides a few more definitions regarding the world’s enemy:

“Who is the world’s enemy?  That athlete or entertainer, who rose from the concrete streets of the ghetto, avoids the pitfalls and trappings of society and prevails to accomplish his dreams.  The world’s enemy?  That millionaire with no diploma, no degree, who has more assets and money that most people would see in a lifetime.   Who is the world’s enemy?  That convicted felon with two strikes, a menace to society, transforms his life and overcomes.  Thank God for hip hop.”

According to this language, an athlete/entertainer who grew up in the slums and found success in a sports league or entertainment business is the world’s enemy?  If this is true, majority of sportsmen are enemies of the world, for being an athlete was their ticket to success which allowed them to leave the ghetto behind.  With success, these athletes have become admired and loved by many, not only in the states but worldwide.  And they are the world’s enemies?

Moreover, according to this language, one who is degree-less but wealthy is the world’s enemy?  If that is true, billionaires Bill Gates (chairman of Microsoft), Steve Jobs (chairman/CEO of Apple), Michael Dell (CEO/founder of Dell, Inc.), and many more are the world’s enemies because they dropped out of college?

This is another meaningless and mumbo jumbo interlude that serves nothing to the album but album space.

13.  PAY WHAT THEY OWE
Released as the fifth single on April 20, 2010, “Pay What They Owe” represents a great song that presents the Bone sound and flavor.  In other words, it actually sounds like a Bone song and not some pop-conforming song like some of the prior tracks.

The all-around smooth mixture (e.g., chorus, production by DJ U-Neek, verses) makes this song favorable and enjoyable – not to mention the chorus which actually overshadows the verses.

The harmonic chorus, executed by Krayzie for the most part while Flesh briefly appears in the second leg with his crooning melodies, sounds amazing and symbolizes one of those classic choruses that Krayzie is known for delivering ever since his inception into the music business.   Krayzie murders the chorus with his smooth tongue.

This song is such a great listen and sounds like it was recorded in the mid 90s, so much that it could easily fit in the tracklist of Art of War (1997) without any interruption of flow to that album.

14.  FACTS DON’T LIE
Also produced by DJ U-Neek, “Facts Don’t Lie” is what this entire album lacks.  This song is nowhere near excellent, but it’s a very good song that comes off hard, aggressive and the members’ flows and delivery are on point.  The beat by U-Neek sounds mysterious and feels like an old-school production, and Bone delivers by making “it do what it do” and “cut[ting] off [the] effing light, switch!”

Bizzy, who does not have a verse but is featured in the latter part singing “these are the signs of the times (the times),” would have elevated the song if he had a verse.  Nonetheless, “Facts Don’t Lie” is a good song and has a stimulating rhythm that will cause many to vibe to the song by moving his/her head up and down.

This song ends the album nicely, but it does not make up for the mediocrity of the album.

There are many issues with this album, but only five will be touched on:  (1) interludes, (2) choruses, (3) production, (4) song-transition (and flow), (5) aggressive-less.

Firstly, the two interludes on this album are a waste of time and pointless.  They could have been placed in the introduction of the album instead of having a separate track, because they sound exactly like the intro.  The interludes sound as if they were a part of the intro and were broken up separately to make the album longer.  The interludes are nothing more than album-fillers.

Secondly, some of the choruses on this album are lacking.  “Wanna Be,” featuring an unknown artist, and “Gone,” featuring Ricco Barrino’s nauseating screams, are prime examples.  A chorus is supposed to be an element of the song that really stands out, because that is what most listeners remember when they think of a song they like.  Unfortunately, these choruses are not standouts; neither is “Only God Can Judge Me.”

For some reason, Bone looked outside of the group for their choruses, which is odd because Bone’s choruses are usually done within the confines of the group, specifically Krayzie.  Looking elsewhere for choruses is not problematic if the artist performs it well, and K Young is perfect example because he does a great job on “Meet Me In the Sky,” but the same can not be said about the other features.

Krayzie and Bizzy could have collaborated on both “Gone” and “Wanna Be” and come out with something much smoother and better.

Speaking of Krayzie, the man typifies a genius when it comes to chorus-making and chorus-execution and is the Beethoven of everything dealing with chorus, so it’s surprising that he did not take the lead.

Thirdly, there is no other way of putting it; the production on this album is tremendously weak.  Most of the beats are downright awful and sound pop-ish.  With the exception of “Meet Me In The Sky,” there is not one beat that can stand alone as an instrumental gem – not one.  Bone has a tendency to rap on any beats and make them sound good, but even Bone’s style does not complement some of the beats on this album – because they are substandard, specifically the pop-like beats.

Fourthly, the song-transition sounds out of place.  Bone’s albums typically flow like a novel; for example, every song that comes after the other sounds like it was meant to be there.  On this album, that is not the case.  UNI-5 actually sounds like multiple albums put into one without any attention to the placement of each song.  In other words, it sounds like it is set on shuffle and each song appears randomly.  It just does not flow.

Fifthly, Bone’s aggression is definitely not showcased on this album.  What happened to that fiery aggression that used to wow people?  What happened to those blistering, fast-spitting lyrics that used to make people rewind a song to find out what was said?  This album has a subdued and laid-back ambiance throughout.   The hardcore/hard-edged sound is missing.

When the word “hardcore” is used, many think it denotes songs that concentrate on mo murda, gun-affiliated, and street lyrics akin to E. 1999 Eternal.  That is not the case.  Those days of suchlike lyrics are gone (and can only be revisited by listening to the younger Bone), because Bone is not in that position anymore.  They are grown men in their mid 30s, thus reverting to those prior lyrics would be fake.

Hardcore simply means a song that sounds hard (in correlation with a great instrumental; hard thumping or soft-smoothing) and Bone delivers by executing it in an aggressive and rugged manner, such as “Flow Motion,” “Bump In The Trunk,” “The Originators” (featured on DJ Khalid’s We The Best), “Ain’t No Hoes” (featured on Twista’s Adrenaline Rush 2007), etc.  These are the types of tracks that are nonexistent on UNI-5.  Although “Rebirth” and “Facts Don’t Lie,” the only two aggressive songs featured, come off hard, they don’t have that impressive feeling like the prior tracks mentioned.

UNI-5 has some great moments but, in general, it does not capture that Bone essence, sound, and flavor.  Bone’s aura is obviously present, but the personality and characteristics are not.  It’s too relaxed, flat and boring.

There used to be a time when listening to a Bone album would bring pure excitement and phrases like “This album is raw as hell!” or “This song is off the chain!” would constantly be said.  Those same sentiments can not be said for this album, because it has no wow factor.  Moreover, it has little to no replay value.

A song that will be remembered years from now is “Meet Me In the Sky,” the best song on the album by far.

Ten years of waiting for an album with all five members finally arrives, but it fails to bring the goods.  Loyal fans, however, should definitely pick it up.

After supporting this group since its 1994 debut with Creepin On Ah Come Up, this latest release takes the unpleasant honor of being the weakest group album ever released.  Thug World Order (2002), Thug Stories (2006), and Strength & Loyalty (2007) are much better albums than UNI-5: The World’s Enemy.

From a scale of 1 to 10, UNI-5: The World’s Enemy gets a 6.5, and that’s being generous.

Nonetheless, it’s great to see all five members at full force making music.  Despite this latest mediocrity (which is better than most trash released by some artists today), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony typifies a legendary group that still has what it takes to produce another great or classic album.

***
Originally published May 4, 2010 on now-defunct Examiner.com

The Mentality of White Supremacists

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July 13, 2016


We will continue to shoot and kill Black people, because we truthfully view your existence as a threat to our society.  We view your lives as a cancer to not only America but humanity.  When we shoot, we will shoot to execute without any hesitation – for we are gods.  We are the decision-makers on whether you live or die – and the latter takes priority.  We hold the ultimate gavel.  We will not only shoot you one time, two times, three times but more than four times to ensure that you are dead.   We will watch your body spasm in distress.  We will watch you suffer as you take your last breath.  We will watch the blood vessels in your eye sockets engulf your vision until darkness becomes permanent.  We will watch blood escape your undeserving body that allowed you to function as an organism.  We will be erected firmly above your body with guns drawn until we are certain that every organ in your body shuts down.

Your loss neither moves us emotionally nor does it pain us.  We have zero empathy for your lives and feelings.  We joyfully watch your families on television as their tears flow uncontrollably.  We watch you reminisce about the good times while you are consoled.  We have finalized that physical bond.  When more opportunities present themselves, we will continue to finalize those bonds, whether you show compliance or not.  We will leave you with the lasting memory of caskets of your sons and daughters.

We will hire lawyers to argue that our lives were in danger, giving us no choice but to use deadly force.  We will lie and fabricate plausible stories, for we know our tongues hold more weight than yours.  We will provide a false narrative to the media, for we are the creation and ownership of facts.  We will focus on your past criminal record and maintain you have a history of violence.  If need be, we will excavate your elementary-school records to show any punishments that resulted from disobedience to further push the narrative of criminality.

If we are brought to trial, we will make sure that the jury is dominated by white faces.  At the end of the day, we will go home to our wives and children. We will WALK FREE and maintain our freedom, while Black families remain shock at a criminal justice system that always favored white – but never cared for your pain and plight.

The relentless assault on your suffering will be advertised nationwide.  When you turn on the television, cable-news anchors will argue how the facts show that the killings were justified.  We will employ and invite adequate Black faces to fight on our behalf – and criticize Black society for its misfortunes with authority. We will find the most menacing photographs to televise while we blame both you and them for their demise.  Because we control the media, we control the message.  We will attack you on all fronts, for we are the ownership of mass media.

When you scream “Black Lives Matter,” we will scream “all lives matter,” even though we know the system allows us to kill you with impunity.  When you cry “Black Lives Matter,” we will deflect and inquire about Black-on-Black crimes when we know it has no correlation to police-involved shootings.  When you question the criminal justice system, we will argue that the system is fair to everyone.  We will do everything and anything to justify our positions.  We will relentlessly lie until we naturally believe our own lies.  We will divert the conversation and put the blame on you every time.

You will have no choice but to pray to God, sing hymns, and forgive us for our crimes and sins. We demand that you forgive us, forgive us, forgive us – and love us and move on by accepting the ruling of the courts. More important, we demand that you have sympathy for our families during our trying times of recovery.

We will be fired and banned from joining another trigger-happy department.  However, we are a team; when we are sent home, we have enough soldiers to continue the work of harassment and violence.  We will provide special attention and harass you everywhere: on the sidewalk, on school campuses, in the park, in the workplace, inside your car, inside your houses, and everywhere you make a presence.

We do not care if you are educated with various college degrees.  We do not care if you are sickened with a disease.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a three-piece suit.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a baggy jean, a baseball cap, and chukka boots.  We do not care if you are a Black man or a Black woman – let alone if you are accompanied by your children.  It does not matter if you look suspicious or not; we will stop you, interrogate you, and antagonize you. If you become fidgety or belligerent, we will brutalize you.

We will infiltrate all of your organizations with Black operatives until they implode to nonexistence.

We want you to be devoid of self-preservation, self-respect – and self-pride. We expect you to be docile like chained dogs.  Anything that does not meet complete subjugation and compliance will be met with violence.

We work together as a team, directly and indirectly; we are ubiquitous.

We are professors at your colleges and universities.  We are managers at your workplace.   We are the CEOs at your corporations.  We are the pimp-preachers at your churches.  We are owners and executives of the major-professional-sports teams in your cities.  We are your politicians.  We are the unseen lens.  We are an institution; call it a conglomerate of endless entities.  We are everywhere, for we are a system of white dominance – and white supremacy.

Richie Incognito called “honorary Black”

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November 8, 2013


Miami Dolphins’ second-year offensive lineman Jonathan Martin made sports news when he abruptly left the team on October 28 due to constant bullying and harassment by his teammates.  Initial stories reported it started when players – pulling a traditional prank – stood up and removed themselves from the table as Martin sat down to join them, causing him to slam his lunch tray and exist the facility. Following stories focused on fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito allegedly being the main harasser, which was supported via a published voicemail where Incognito called Martin a “half-nigger.”

The Miami Dolphins took immediate action by suspending Incognito indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”  This daily-developing saga was no longer confined as a sports story; it became a national story regarding race/racism being the topic of conversation.

Knowing of the threatening language and racial slur Incognito left for Martin in a voicemail, some would think that his Black teammates would be offended and denounce such behavior, but that was not the case.  Black players have voiced their support for Incognito, stating the media depiction of him being a racist is untrue and laughable.  Cornerback Brent Grimes stated, “I don’t think Richie is racist”; tight end Michael Egnew added a similar sentiment: “Richie Incognito isn’t racist.”  In fact, since this story made headlines, Incognito’s teammates, majority of them being Black, have shown overwhelming support and have painted a positive picture of him, because he is loved and wide receiver Mike Wallace made that clear:  “I don’t have a problem with Richie; I love Richie.”

Incognito was so loved and respected that his teammates voted him one of the team leaders, despite his troubled past on and off the field.  More surprisingly, he is considered a “brother” by Black teammates and given the license to use “nigga” because he is one of them.

This distorted belief goes even further.  Miami Herald’s reporter Armando Salguero reported that a former Miami Dolphins’ player stated:

“Richie is honorary. I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not Black. But being a Black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color.  It’s about how you carry yourself.  How you play.  Where you come from. What you’ve experienced.  A lot of things.”

Salguero went so far as to report that many Black players in the locker room consider Incognito a Black person (because he talks/acts like them; thus, he’s culturally accepted) and “more Black” than Martin, who is incorrectly labeled as half-Black by some clowns in the media.

Martin’s father, Clarence Augustus “Gus” Martin, is phenotypically a Black man with a mixed background and shares President Obama’s complexion; whether he had a white parent or biracial parent is unknown.  Martin’s mother, Jane Howard-Martin, is Black. Knowing this, how is Martin half-Black when he does not have a white parent?  Do people also label Obama’s daughters half-Black?  There is no denying Martin’s mixed background via the lineage of his father, but stating that he is half-Black when he has no white parent is ridiculous.

Nonetheless, to understand the mindset of his Black teammates and why they view him as an unauthentic Black man, Martin’s background must be mentioned.  Martin is a Stanford graduate, where he studied ancient Greek and Roman Classics.  Both of his parents are Harvard graduates: his father; Harvard Class of 1978; his mother, Harvard Class of 1979.

Martin’s father holds a position as associate dean of Criminal Justice Administration at California State, Dominguez Hills and specializes in Terrorism and juvenile justice, publishing five books on the subject.  His mother holds a corporate position at Toyota as a lawyer.

The Harvard connection does not stop with Martin’s parents.  His great-grandfather, Harvard Class of 1924, studied at Harvard but was not allowed to live on campus because he was African American.  His grandfather, Harvard Class of 1956, was a professor of International Development with expertise in sub-Saharan Africa. Impressively, his family tree includes nine Harvard graduates and highly educated individuals of lawyers, professors, researchers, and other careers.

There is a long-standing notion within Black society where some believe that one who is educated, speaks/writes well, has a grasp of the English language, and wealthy is somehow not adequately sufficient to be considered Black.

Sadly, some Blacks neither respect nor embrace education – not to mention one’s individuality.  With Martin’s education, background, how he was raised by his parents, and how he carried himself, it is no surprise that he was labeled less than and not Black enough.  Incognito, on the other hand, despite his white skin, was Black in their eyes because he acted like a Black person.  Thus, he was “one of the boys,” a “brother,” and “honorary Black.”

This convoluted and downright pathetic mentality only fosters offensive Black stereotypes.  It shows why Blacks will continue to remain at the bottom of the social ladder and viewed by non-blacks as inferiors, uneducated, feeble-minded individuals, and smiling-jiving buffoons.

These types of Blacks are no different than those who stood alongside slave masters to capture, beat, maim, torture, sell, and murder Blacks for subservient power and acceptance.  These are the worst types of Blacks; these worthless dirt-scums are the real enemy of Blacks.  They detest Blacks who are successful (or those who chase success) because they themselves cannot gain it or refuse to put themselves in a position to obtain it.

Blacks are the only group of people that practice all-inclusiveness.  Jews don’t include Black into their circles and make them “honorary” Jews.  Asians don’t include Black into their circles and make them “honorary” Asians.  Italians, Caucasians and other groups don’t include Blacks into their circle and make them “honorary,” because they respect their cultures, where they come from, and their ethnicities.

Not only do they respect their cultures, they value education because it fosters success and opportunity, something that lacks with a number of clowns in Black society.

When a white girl dances well and has the ability to shake her butt up and down and gyrate uncontrollably to the rhythm, Black girls consider her a “home girl” and a part of their faction. When a white man knows how to shoot a basketball or does tricks, he is given a silly name like white chocolate (e.g., former NBA PG Jason Williams and Street-baller Randy Gill) and placed on a pedestal as if he is some kind of deity.  When a white man knows how to rap and shows his musical skills like Eminem, he becomes the “best rapper” in the world and heavily praised and loved by Blacks – and accepted within the Black culture.  Former President Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thick, and the like are other examples.

Anything that a white person does that Blacks deem impressive, he/she is instantly loved and accepted as part of the group and/or culture.

Incognito’s Black teammates can call him “nigga” at their discretion; in return, he can use it as a term of endearment with ignorant Black friends that allow him to do so.  Majority of those in his circle can be Black.  He can decide to date, marry, and/or have children with a Black woman.  He can be loved and admired by Blacks of all walks of life.  However, he will never be Black or have a true experience of Black existence.

He does not have to worry about being a target for being in an area that he does not belong.  He does not have to worry about being riddled with bullets and murdered for looking suspicious.  He does not have to worry about being stopped, frisked, and harassed by animalistic law enforcement while walking. He does not have to worry about being pulled over while driving.  He does not have to worry about being questioned for an expensive item purchased with his own credit card.  He does not need to worry about secondary treatment when he enters the emergency room. Obviously, he does not have to concern himself with being called a nigger.

Being Black is not a membership; it is an existence of black skin – an inherited trait.

There is no rite of passage of becoming Black; no such thing exists.  One does not become Black by growing up in a predominantly Black neighborhood, having predominantly Black friends, sharing similar life-experiences, having the same lingo and diction, or wearing clothing in a particular manner.  Black is Black and Caucasian is Caucasian.

Any Black person who believes white people can be considered Blacks because of a lifestyle or any similarities is a twisted-minded fool – and highly dangerous to other Blacks.  Spineless fools of suchlike will easily betray their own kind, plot one’s demise with a smile at the behest of white supremacy, for they lust for white acceptance, power, and companionship.

Whites are not honorary Blacks.  There is nothing honorable about Blacks calling a white man Black.  It is shameful, disgusting, and pure stupidity.

Movie Review: Blood and Bone (2009)

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Directed by Ben Ramsey, Blood and Bone is a direct-to-DVD martial arts movie, released on September 15, 2009 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  The movie stars Michael Jai White, Julian Sands, Eamonn Walker, Dante Basco, Nona Gaye, and Michelle Belegrin.

Leading character Michael Jai White, assuming the role as Isaiah Bone, delivers a stand-alone and explosive performance like none other.  The tagline of the movie, In A World Without Rules, He Makes His Own, and subtitle, Destroy Your Enemy, say it all and could not be more fitting.

When Bone is released from prison, he rents a small room in a moderate house from Angela (Nona Gaye), a foster mother, and prepares his mission.  He later goes to an underground fight scene and watches from afar.  He makes his way into the car of Pinball (Dante Basco), a fight organizer, and convinces him to put him in a fight with any fighter to prove himself.  The fight is quickly organized and he wins.  Thereafter, Pinball not only becomes his friend but his unofficial manager.

Although Bone wins money through his fights, these fights are not driven primarily by money but rather a “take care of my wife and kid” promise – a promise that he realizes will only be fulfilled if he gets into the underworld of street fighting and befriends and shake hands with the enemy.  Thus, that is exactly what he does.

Blood and Bone is no doubt one of the best martial arts films in years.  It is not the typical fight movie, where the main character goes to various scenes to fight the best fighters and crowned the champion after he defeats the most-feared/best fighter at the end.  Blood and Bone is much more; it has a story line (that is well written), a purpose (that is driven by reunion), and a promise (that Bone fulfils at the end).

When he completes his mission, he leaves.  Instead of taking a ride from Pinball, he walks down the street and into the sunlight with his backpack on his back like a lone warrior.  This scene resembles the final scene of Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie, where Ryu takes the same route (until evil Bison comes driving down the road in a semi truck with a wicked smile on his face).  This film ends perfectly and has room for a sequel.

In fact, Blood and Bone typifies a perfect film for White, because he is a professional martial artist who holds seven black belts in various disciplines; again, 7 black belts.  More important, what he shows in this film is something that should not be missed by anyone with an eye.

White lights up the screen with his awe-inspiring fighting style from start to finish.  The first scene (i.e., prison bathroom) of the movie depicts that when he takes out five-plus antagonists in quick fashion, leaving them bloodied, mangled, shocked and confused.  As the storyline progresses, White continues his damage in every fight scene.  Not only does he destroy his contenders, but he obliterates them and leaves spectators dumbstruck and looking at one another with the “who-what-when-where-how” questions:  who is this guy; what is he made of; when did he learn these killer moves; where did he come from; and how in the world did he do that with his hands and feet?  In no way is this an exaggeration; viewers who watch this film will perhaps have the same sentiments and ask the same questions and more.

Besides his prowess in martial arts, White’s acting should not be overlooked, for he delivers his role flawlessly.  He is nefarious when he has to be, kind when he has to be, passionate when he has to be, and cool and subdued when his role calls for it.  He excels in every facet and brings character Bone to life.

Some may assume that White is a newcomer, but he is not; rather, he is a veteran in the movie industry and his filmography speaks for itself with more than 30 appearances (e.g., Spawn, 1997; Universal Soldier: The Return, 1999; Trois 2: Pandora’s Box, 2002; Undisputed 2:  Last Man Standing, 2006; Why Did I Get Married, 2007).  He may not be as famous as Denzel Washington or Will Smith, but he represents a great actor.  When he       is featured in a film (or TV series), he does a noble job and delivers; his lastest role is no different.

In closing, Blood and Bone typifies the ultimate example of how a martial arts film should be made, with a passionate storyline and purpose, and not just a fight-only movie that ignores plot and reason.  This movie is bursting with action and entertainment, not to mention, it is the real deal.  Director Ben Ramsey, writer Michael Andrews, and every soul that participated in completing this film did an amazing job by rendering an A+ film.

However, there is one major flaw with this movie; it has nothing to do with the movie itself but rather the movie’s distribution and handling.  Surprisingly, this movie is a straight-to-DVD release and was not shown in theaters.  With so many terrible movies being channeled through movie theaters, it is a shame that this movie, which is directed by a Black man and stars a Black man, did not have that chance.  Movie studios need to get their act together, because this film should not have been allocated straight to DVD.  If studios can waste time and money releasing trash for public view in theaters, there is no doubt that a studio could have given Blood and Bone a proper big-screen presentation. Hollywood needs to wake up.

(This film also features MMA fighters Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, Bob Sapp, and the beautiful Gina Carano; the striking new face of “All My Children,” Shannon Kane, makes a brief appearance.)
***
September 7, 2009

Poetry Analysis: “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

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“We Real Cool” definitely has a powerful message behind it.  Gwendolyn Brooks illustrates the essence of troubled teenagers who will eventually suffer the ill-fated possibility that life renders human beings while engaging in the lifestyle of the streets – death.

The teenagers are obviously not too fond about attending school.  Therefore, they skip and find solace and pleasure at a pool facility.  It seems as if the teenagers really don’t care about their education and go day by day living a happy-go-lucky lifestyle.  The happiness that they are feeling by playing pool supports that theory.

They sing.  They drink.  They ignore the seriousness of life and their future.  In all, they do anything to capture that feeling of ecstasy.  A nonchalant attitude about the players’ personas clearly resonates throughout the poem.

The constant usage of the word “We” may indicate that these boys are proclaiming their arrival at the pool facility as if they have been there before.  The bottom line is apparent:  The seven young men find their comfort at the poolroom, rather than school.

For the most part, the tone of the poem is very upbeat, while simultaneously presenting a dark atmosphere.  The entertainment the boys are engaging in presents happiness. However, the actions of the boys present bleakness with the placements of the words “Lurk late,” “Sing sin,” and “Thin gin.”

These words carry unpleasant meanings.  “Lurk” implies sneakiness with the intent of doing something wrong. “Sin” implies a moral and/or criminal wrongdoing. Being that these boys are street people, it is safe to argue that criminal activities may occur via “lurk[ing] late” at night.  “Gin,” an alcoholic beverage, is not an unpleasant term; however, in the context of the poem, it implies that these boys are drinking heavily (via “Thin”) and could possibly become intoxicated, causing an unpleasant outcome.

The unpleasant tone of the poem amplifies dramatically at the end with the following statement:  “We die soon.”  This one line alone does not only present a chilling end but firmly cements their future.

In a more in depth analysis of the final line (which refers to death), the subtitle of the poem states:  THE POOL PLAYERS.  SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.  The number “seven” has the aura of good fortune while the boys shoot pool.  Moreover, the word “golden” typifies prosperity and happiness, akin to how the boys are feeling.  However, the word “shovel” signifies an ominous sign, relating to death, casket, funeral and later burial.  Brooks implies that street people will eventually die soon.  These young boys are obviously street people because they are not in school.

They live a carefree life and they could not care less about attending school, because they find it tedious.  They lack the presence of mind to grasp the importance of what school offers at the moment and how beneficial it would serve them in the future.  Such carefree mindset will present difficulties as these young boys seek employment.

Their lives have no direction and they don’t really care about anything – not even their wellbeing for the future.  They have no sense of themselves and are not aware of the importance of education, which will sooner or later become their downfall.

Their poor decision serves them no advantages in any way, because they will not be active participants in society.  Without a high school diploma, their journey to find a decent job will be limited.  Such difficulty may possibly turn the boys into criminals to obtain easy money.

Moreover, these young men are clearly dropouts and perhaps Black, supported by the lingo of the poem.  In fact, the title, “We Real Cool,” breaks the rule of proper English because it presents a slang dialect.

Even though the poem was written in 1960, it mirrors the situation of today, for many young boys and even young girls skip school every day – not to mention those who dropout.

Gwendolyn Brooks does an excellent job with this piece.  With its monosyllabic and eight-line stature, the poem is short, straightforward, and to the point.

“We Real Cool” represents an impressive piece that has a profound implication:  No education (i.e., skipping an institution of schooling that provides knowledge) and living a carefree lifestyle as a dropout will most likely lead to an unfortunate end – death.