Justice for Trayvon

Since when is a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea considered a weapon? Apparently, it always is in the town of Sanford, FL.

We’ve all heard about this story by now, some of us later than others. Interesting that it’s just NOW generating outrage, when in fact, the actual crime occurred back in February. For those of you who don’t know, here’s the rundown.

On February 26th, while most of us were at bars or home, watching the All-Star Game, a child, a CHILD, was being murdered-a murder that was audibly witnessed by another 13-year old child. (There is so much anger within me regarding this story, I don’t think I or anyone else can write anything that will express this adequately.)

Trayvon Martin was on his way back to a family member’s home in a gated community in Sanford, FL, when he was approached by the “self-appointed” neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Now, Zimmerman felt that Martin was behaving “suspiciously”, which okay, fine, that’s how you feel. He even decided to contact the police to report this, which is also fine. What’s not okay is his vigilante decision to take the law into his own hands. Feeling “threatened” for his own life, he followed the young boy, and then shot him in the chest.

Yes, the issue here is that a young, unarmed boy was murdered, but I think the even larger issue is that his murderer is still free. Florida’s 2005 “Stand Your Ground” bill gives any ordinary citizen the right to act in self-defense, even if it means fatally injuring your alleged assailant. According to the cited webpage, “…a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.”

So what do we do now? Maybe, just maybe, Zimmerman was truly acting in self-defense. Or maybe he was trying to prove a point to any would-be criminals in his community. The only way we can even begin to hope to understand his train of thought is to get the legal system involved, to investigate this potential homicide. Trayvon Martin’s family has started a petition on the Change.org website, urging people to sign so they can present this petition to Florida’s 18th District’s State Attorney (see link below). This isn’t going to promise that there will be justice for this young boy, but it will hopefully cause these vigilantes to think twice about pulling the trigger.

Justice for Trayvon Martin

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Me, Myself, and I (co-authored by Anwar W.)

After a great discussion the other day about the demise of the beloved R&B group, Anwar (@A_Double_U) came up with the first in our series on R&B groups. Please comment, and enjoy! 

For people who long for the days when lyrics mattered, Pandora and Spotify are godsend. The other day, I was truly jamming to my custom-made Jagged Edge station, which was playing everything from 112 to Allure (I know, I’m dating myself). As I sang along to some of my favorite songs from some of these groups, I began to get nostalgic thinking of the days of yester-year. Jagged Edge, Jodeci, TLC, Blackstreet, SWV, Brownstone. The list of groups was endless and you couldn’t turn on BET or The Box without their videos crowding your screen. If you were like me, you and your friends practiced their choreographed dance moves and tried to put together outfits from your closet that resembled theirs. Nowadays, though, I’m hard pressed to name even one active R&B group…or hip hop group for that matter (yeah, we still have The Roots, but they are more of a hip-hop band. I’m thinking more A Tribe Called Quest or Wu Tang). 

112

So what happened to the group? Is it our “Me First” culture that celebrates the individual rather than the collective efforts of a group that brought the group’s demise? Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Facebook, for example, became open to everyone, not just college students, in 2006.That same year, Destiny’s Child gave their farewell performance at that year’s NBA All-Star Game. (Speaking of Facebook, their new Timeline allows users to curate posts, pictures and more from THEIR own life thus focuses more on the individual and less on their friends).

SWV

Maybe irreconcilable clashes over creativity killed them. Or maybe it was a combination of a few different factors. Whatever the cause(s), it seems to be afflicting these genres disproportionately. Groups like The Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, and Coldplay have been together for years and continue to make music as groups so what is it about the R&B group?

Where Have All the Groups Gone?

It seems that instead of creating groups, the industry is churning out a bunch of boutique labels, with solo artists being featured on each other’s songs. This trick of the trade appears to be another factor that contributed to the eradication of the group. Now, instead of having to share your earnings with three or more people, you can actually MAKE money by selling your talent, depending on your popularity. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. And speaking of independent labels…they’ve also found a way around having to function as a group. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. Although they are a group of like-minded artists that all work together and pretty much function as a group, they get around that label by marketing themselves as solo artists who roll together.

Young Money

I love a strong, powerhouse singer like Beyonce or Dave Hollister, but often, I truly miss the dynamic and range of personalities and style of a Destiny’s Child or Blackstreet. At its very essence, having a group of people who can come together and make entire album, makes the process that much more appreciated and the output that much more beautiful. Boyz II Men harmonized like few R&B groups ever could, and Brownstone shared their soul with us through their music. Those groups had that something…something that can never be replaced or replicated with the solo artist.

Destiny's Child

 

Don’t forget to check out past blog posts, and check at Anwar’s site, Let’s Press Rewind, and follow him on Twitter, @A_Double_U

The Creative Corner

A lot of my colleagues will submit creative works to me, such as photographs, poetry, music, etc., that they’re proud of and want to share with the world. I’m all for the support of fellow creative peeps, so I decided to create a tumblr page to share some of that work with you, as well as some of my own. Check it out here.

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