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Black Waxx tackles censorship and racism

Published Apr 14, 2005 10:46 PM

BLACK WAXX—the label that produced the “Troops Out Now” compact disk and “Over the Influence”—put together a dyna mic panel of speakers to address the issue of racism and censorship on April 10 during the New York City Grassroots Media Conference 2005, hosted by the New School. The conference was designed to encourage dialog and strategy among grassroots organizations and individuals on how media can be inclusive and accoun table to the diverse communities of New York.

Three generations of recording artistry were represented on the panel: Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets, Wise Intel ligent of the Poor Righteous Teachers and Nana Soul of Black Waxx. Also on the panel were award-winning journalist Nayaba Arinde of the Daily Challenge and publisher/editor-in-chief of the Black Star News, Milton Allimadi.

Usavior, the panel’s moderator and a founder of the Artists and Activists United for Peace Coalition, set the tone for the discussion by reading a resolution he drafted. It calls for city officials to hold public hearings to investigate charges of censorship and to present said findings to the Federal Communications Commission to challenge radio stations’ broadcasting licen ses. New York City Council member Char les Barron has agreed to introduce the resolution to the council for formal consideration.

Allimadi spoke of the dangers of believing everything you read in the paper. “You have to learn to read between the lines. [The New York Times] keeps printing stories with Black or Puerto Rican drug dealers being led away in handcuffs. That’s just a small part. Who’s flying the planes, growing the drugs, allowing them into the country? Where is the rest of the story?” he asked.

The panel was a resounding success. Said Priya Reddy of Warcry Independent Cinema, “This was by far one of the best workshops at the conference.”

Wise Intelligent of the Poor Righteous Teachers, when asked how to mobilize our youth, stated, “You have to make sure these kids’ basic needs are met before you can get them to do anything. And right now, the gangs are meeting those needs; they’re buying the sneakers and paying the bills. So they get the allegiance.”

The session was supposed to last one and a half hours, but went on for almost three. Even then, the audience seemed reluctant to leave, continuing the energizing conversation in the lobby.

Journalist Nayaba Arinde remarked, “People need to know that they are afraid of us. That’s why they come at us so hard. We need to have more forums like this everywhere, on a daily basis. Then we’ll know that we are not the minority, and that we don’t have to accept those labels.”

Nana Soul stressed the importance of engaging people who lack information on an equal level. “They aren’t lesser beings who have to catch up to you; they are the real victims of white supremacy. If you come at them from on high, you’ll hit a brick wall. Superiority and ego will never free the people.”

As far as what people thought the strategy against censorship ought to be, Oyewole summed it up best: “We don’t need mainstream radio! The Last Poets sold untold thousands of records and are known and respected throughout the world without any radio play at all. The people have the power. Always have and always will.”

Usavior, a freelance journalist, is on the steering committee for CAHM (Committee Against Hate Media) and presently works at Black Waxx Recordings, Inc. He is also the producer of the Troops Out Now CD project. For information, contact [email protected]