My Experience at the ‘Million Hoodie March’ for Trayvon Martin in NYC

Last night I attended the ’1,000,000 Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin’ in New York City’s Union Square park to honor the life of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was a 17 year old African-American teenager who was senselessly gunned down on Feb. 26, in Sanford, Florida by a neighborhood watch vigilante, 28 year old George Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman claims he acted in self-defense and currently no charges have been brought against him. Outrage at the lack of arrests in this case have spread far and wide. New York City took to the streets with their hoodies on (the hoodies represented what Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was killed on that fateful night) to express their frustrations and too demand the arrest of Mr. Zimmerman. The crowd was large and the atmosphere electric and emotional. Signs that read ‘Am I Next’ and ‘We Are All Trayvon Martin’ filled the air and chants of ‘No Justice, No Peace’ could be heard for miles.
The rally hit a fevered pitch when Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton congregated into the center of Union Square park to speak to the crowd. Trayvon’s dad, Tracy Martin addressed us by saying ‘I want New York to know that we’re not gonna stop till we get justice for Trayvon.’ An emotional Sybrina Fulton followed by saying ‘we need this kind of support, my son is your son.’ After the family spoke their pastor was asked to lead us all in prayer and in an act of solidarity we laid our hands on the Martin/Fulton family.
After the speeches were complete we took to the streets of Manhattan walking northwest of 14th street. The cops were working hard to split up many of the large groups and at times delegated us to move off the streets and unto the sidewalks. We marched on chanting ‘don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, all I have is skittles and iced tea.’ We were peaceful yet powerful. You could feel Trayvon’s spirit all throughout the rally.
As I was screaming and raising my banner all I could think about was Trayvon’s parents. Wondering how they’re enduring such agony and hurt. How they’re sleeping at night knowing what happened to their son. I also thought about the many reasons why I attended the march that day. Trayvon Martin could have easily been me or someone that I love. As the federal department of justice takes over the investigation of this case I hope for the facts to be revealed and for justice to be served for Trayvon Martin and his family. May his death not be in vain.

We Are Trayvon Martin

Editor who called Rihanna a ‘NiggaBitch’ Resigns!

Photo from

UPDATE: According to Jackie’s Facebook page Eva Hoeke has stepped down from her position as Editor-In-Chief of the magazine. The page also notes that Rihanna will be invited back to Jackie to share her feelings and thoughts on the article in their next issue. Below is Eva Hoeke’s statement:

“Because of the enormous pressure from social media, I can promise improvement in terms of language used in future issues of Jackie. Previously, I offered rectification. As I now come to the conclusion that rectification is not the right solution, I am departing. The term ‘nigga bitch” has come over from America and we have only this to describe this particular style of clothes that we can try to interpret. After eight years, with my heart and soul, I have worked for Jackie. I realize that these errors – although no malicious intent – is a reason to leave.”

The latest issue of popular Dutch fashion magazine Jackie attempts to bring their readers into the fashion forward and no holds barred world of pop star Rihanna. Choosing to use slang as their vernacular, their article boasts that Rih Rih ‘has street cred, a ghetto ass and is the ultimate niggabitch.’ Say what now? Hearing the term ‘niggabitch’ is a first for me considering I’ve dedicated a whole website to the education and understanding of the term ‘nigger.’ I’m not sure if  editor-in-chief Eva Hoeke (the woman responsible for allowing this article to go to print) thought using ‘urban vernacular’ would better resonate with her audience. It didn’t! Actually, it shed light on some of the inherent racism being practiced at Jackie. Here’s a portion of the English translated version of the article:

“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”

Due to the outcry from the public, Eva Hoeke wrote on Jackie’s Facebook page the following response:

Dear readers,

First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. And that slipped through my, the editor-in-chief’s, fingers. Stupid, painful and sucks for all concerned. The author has been addressed on it, and now I can only ensure that these terms will no longer end up in the magazine. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that this was an acceptable form of slang — you hear it all the time on tv and radio, then your idea of what is normal apparently shifts — but it was especially misguided: there was no malice behind it. We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it.

From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.


Eva Hoeke

Well Ms. Hoeke, Rihanna doesn’t believe you! She decided to use Twitter as her vehicle to voice her outrage and I’m glad that she did:

@evajackie I hope u can read English, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights! I find you disrespectful, and rather desperate!! You ran out of legit, civilized information to print! There are 1000?s of Dutch girls who would love to be recognized for their contributions to your country, you could have given them an article. Instead, u paid to print one degrading an entire race! That’s your contribution to this world! To encourage segregation, to mislead the future leaders to act in the past!

You put two words together, with the intent of abasement, that made no sense…”N—A B—H”?!….Well with all respect, on behalf of my race, here are my two words for you…F–K YOU!!!”

Freedom of Speech is sometimes taken for granted and used to insult and hurt others like in this scenario. Hopefully Eva Hoeke and Jackie will learn from this and work towards creating a publication that does more to help rather than hurt!

‘NiggerHead’ compound controversy…

It’s been a busy week for the N-word!

The Washington Post reported that Texas Governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry leases a West Texas hunting camp called ‘NiggerHead.’ The ‘NiggerHead’ compound has been a hosting place for the Perry family since the early 1980′s. The racially charged name was visibly painted on a large rock at the entrance of the compound.

Perry has fired back at The Washington Post article, stating that the word on the rock was an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.” He also added that in 1983 or 1984 his parents painted over the name on the rock.

Hermain Cain, who is Perry’s GOP presidential rival and an African-American, has responded to the recent attacks against Perry. “I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place,” he said on ABC’s This Week. I usually don’t support anything that comes out of Hermain Cain’s mouth, but in this instance I am glad to see him take a stand on an issue of blatant racism. The conservative right would disagree with my support. Instead of steering their criticism towards Perry, they’re instead drawing criticism towards Cain’s remarks. They’re claiming that Cain is unfairly ‘playing the race card’ on this issue.

Not to be left out of the discussion, The ladies from ABC’s The View chimed in. Whoppi Goldberg and Barbara Walters both used the word ‘nigger’ when reporting on the ‘NiggerHead’ story instead of using the term ‘n-word.’ Fellow co-host Sherri Shepherd didn’t have an issue when Whoppi used the word ‘Niggerhead’ but when Barbara did, she didn’t like it. She expressed to Barbara “I don’t like it when you use the word” and Barbara responded “because I’m white I shouldn’t use the word?”

Old or new, does “the n-word” have a place in society or should we consider its context? What do you think?

Should race and gender be a consideration for college admissions?

This controversial topic is currently being debated in California as they look to pass legislation
(SB 185) that would allow California universities to consider, race, gender, ethnicity and national origin during the admissions process. As a response to this debate two University of California Berkeley student run organizations have taken their sides. On the opposing end, The Berkeley College Republicans. They plan to host an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” that will charge customers different prices based upon race and gender. Here’s a glimpse of their bake sale breakdown:

White Men pay $2
Asian Men pay $1.50
Latino Men pay $1.00
Black Men pay .75 cents
Native American Men pay .25 cents
Women pay .25 cents off all goods

Berkeley College Republicans president Shawn Lewis stated “we agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point.” On the supporting end of this debate, The Associated Students of the University of California. They will host a phone bank event where students will call California Governor Brown’s office to support the legislation. Both the bake sale and the phone bank event was scheduled to take place at the same time on campus yesterday.

Race and gender will always be a point of contention in our society. While The Berkeley College Republicans certainly have a right to host a bake sale for charity they don’t have a right to insult and further oppress minority groups. Dealing with race should not be at the expense of the those who combat racism and discrimination within their daily lives. As a society we should be discussing race and how it impacts larger issues but we should also create positive platforms to have those discussions. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what California decides on.

(Source: CNN)

Revamped “Huckleberry Finn” excludes the word ‘Nigger’.

To censor or not to censor?

That is the question.

This week marked a controversial move by publisher New South Books and Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben to remove the word “nigger” from their new edition of Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Nigger is used 219 times in the original novel and will be replaced by the word “slave” in the revamped version. The censored version is an attempt to reposition Huckleberry Finn within the American grade school curricula lexicon. By censoring language are we blatantly distorting historical context? Will students get more out of censorship then provoked discourse?

I’m not a fan of censorship, especially when it relates to art and education. As an artist who often uses film and language to explore the complex word “nigger” I have experienced censorship firsthand. My film and website will often be called “N Nation” instead of its original name: “Nigger Nation.” As the filmmaker, it’s disconcerting one would take it upon themselves to edit and censor my work in the very forums it was made to be addressed, like classrooms and film screenings. After its viewing, there is always a dialog seeking to share their experiences with the word “nigger” and it’s place in society. When it is introduced as “N Nation”, it almost mutes the discussion by making it apparent from the start that this is an uncomfortable word to say, let alone have a conversation about.

Does censorship make dealing with reality easier?

I think we have to give students, teachers, and our educational system more credit in regard to addressing complex topics of discussion such as the use of a word. If the original novel is given the opportunity to be taught well in a class setting would this change its impact? Would students then be able to come to their own conclusions about Twain’s perspective and the time frame that this novel was set in?

Only time will tell if censoring The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will make for a more knowledgeable society or just a watered down version.