exhaustion from the
feeling of being nothing...

the aftereffects of pressing your way...

(originally published in ON THE VERGE v1.0 e-mail monthly - February 24, 1999)

you wanna hear something really sad?

if the Malcolm X postage stamp had not been released, i might have forgotten that this month is Black History Month. and to think, Dr. Betty Shabazz died before this day came into existence...

the moment that i will probably remember most about Black History Month this year is watching the news only to find out that an unarmed African brother was gunned down by police. shot at 41 times. and what is Giuliani's solution to prevent further tragedies of this nature? HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. the NYPD has already ordered them.

a recent conversation with america went something like this:

"you know, you may want to use those 28 days wisely. come march first, i'm not trying to hear any more of this shit."

"why does the history of my people get stuck with the shortest month of the year anyway?"

"oh, please. you should be happy you even have that. besides, why are you complaining? have you seen how much black men are worth in the sports arena nowadays?"

"and what if i'd rather be reading?"


"were you listening to what i just asked?"

"no, not really. could you repeat the question, please?"

and when i ask america why the lost lives of Africans during the slave trade aren't looked upon with as equal worth as those six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, the silence is deafening. it's the type of silence that lets you know that nobody is willing to answer that question. almost as if it was dangerous to pose it in the first place.

and now, for the crux of this diatribe and some subject matter closer to that of this newsletter: will anything be said of my black techno brethren during this blessed month? who will remember the contributions of Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Carl Craig, Mike Banks and Jeff Mills, and others that couldn't even sell their records to their own people (due to the narrow scope of urban contemporary radio programming), yet pack 'em in over in Berlin? and what about our brothers in house: Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and the like? do we dare to forget our UK "jungle" brothers such as Grooverider, Goldie, Roni Size and LTJ Bukem? who will recognize Afrika Bambaataa, a visionary brother who would encourage thousands of gang leaders to battle in ways that wouldn't shed blood and brought the sound and look of hip-hop further than it had ever been? and in this world of uncompromising urban visions where everyone has to be a thug or have benjamins coming out of every orifice, who will remind brothers and sisters of the Black Rock Coalition and artists like Vernon Reid, Fishbone, 24-7 Spyz and Bad Brains? who among the darker shade won't be ashamed to say that black figures with punk rock hairdos did walk the earth?

america muttered something about "misdirected anger" and i was out of breath anyway, so i stopped. while riding the number two train down to wall street, i let a mixture of Sun Ra, Kool Keith and Shy FX massage my brain cells. a glance at my calendar told me that it was only a couple of days until march first, whereupon 365 days after that, my existence would once again become important.

{jason randall smith}

other Black History rants include:
2.24.02 - number three
2.7.01 - when you laugh...
2.2.00 - 2000 black

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