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Selma at CAAM In LA

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11800466_1033461986678941_3724557572329430917_n On August 9th 2015, the California African American Museum hosted its monthly Sunday cultural experience, Target Sundays. An event that brings in community members, contemporary artists, cultural historians, activists, and leaders to celebrate the diversity and achievements of the African Diaspora.

This month, CAAM offered a FREE screening of Ava DuVernay's Oscar award-winning film, Selma Movie. The atmosphere was live and joyous over the a love of art, culture, and live entertainment.

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At the event I took the initiative to interview several Los Angeles community members about their thoughts on the movie Selma, #BlackLivesMatter, the effectiveness of marches and protests, and ultimately, their definitions of justice.

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Not only did we have an amazing time under the stars, we carved out time to acknowledge the ones who've paved the way for us to be here. If you didn't make it out this month, come on out next time.  It's sure to be a wonderful time with family and friend that you won't likely want to miss!

THANKS AGAIN to Target and the California African American Museum for such a wonderful event!

 All photos + video were taken by Makiah Green.


cropped-cropped-p1130772Tyree Boyd-Pates is a man on a mission. As a writer, he aspires to expound on Black culture from a millennial perspective and unite and empower communities through journalism and social media. A Master’s in African American Studies, he also is the creator of#TheCut, a brand new podcast! You can follow him on Twitter: @Tyreebp.

Beach Streets Village Fest '15 | Recap |

IMG_8309-2We’ve all heard the old adage: It takes a village. Well, this was certainly the case in North Long Beach over the weekend...

On June 6, 2015, North Long Beach hosted its first Beach Streets Festival made possible by Metro Los Angeles, Long Beach City Council member Rex Richardson, and the Uptown Business District in conjunction with the Whole Village initiative. The atmosphere was live and joyous over the a love of cycling, community, and live entertainment. IMG_8565-2

The Whole Village initiative is a dual effort by Long Beach 9th District City Council member Rex Richardson, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board Member, Megan Kerr, and the North Long Beach Education Foundation. Its mission is to support schools and youth in the North Long Beach area, with a focus on improving conditions and outcomes for boys and young men of color. This effort is centered on four main initiatives: After-school Programs, Mentoring Opportunities, College Readiness, and Jobs and Internships to help students succeed. The inaugural Beach Street’s Village Fest was a concert to commemorate that.

Beach Street Village Fest saw the entire community come out in full force to showcase local businesses local transit, health, and recreation options. Throughout the day, people showed up in droves, many on bikes, to support local vendors and artists, who had much to say about the significance of the event.

IMG_8231Ryan Lucas, award-winning emcee & producer, better known as the “DC Gentleman,” warmed up the crowd with his rousing and insightful lyrics.  Lucas has been rapping for 5 years and cited Talib Kweli, J. Dilla, and Mos Def as inspirations for his art. When asked about the significance of such a showcase and the Whole Village Initiative, Lucas stated that “this has a high value to the community, especially Long Beach.”

IMG_8202Someone else who recognizes the value of such an event is North Long Beach native, Charlie E. Scott III. His band, Philosophy and the Scholars, an eclectic music group, gave the crowd a thought-provoking performance. After wrapping up their set on stage with live vocals and spoken word, I had the chance to speak with them about what #BeachStreets means to their community. Philosophy explained how much of a transformation North Long Beach has undergone and described it as “a diamond in the rough, uncovered.” Philosophy also thanked Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents the area, for his role in getting the event off the ground and for his support of the community. “Rex Richardson is spearheading the  movement. He is pulse of the event. He is the catalyst to the change of Long Beach,” he said.IMG_8477

Inkwell J, another native of North Long Beach, stated that performing at the festival was like coming home. She echoed Philosophy’s words when asked about Rex Richardson’s efforts in stating that, “what he’s doing is transformative” to the community at-large.

After giving one of the best performances of the day, world-class rapper YoYo, emphasized the importance of creating leaders and mentors inside the village. “We have stop sending our kids away. It’s time to let them learn,” YoYo said. YoYo, after 25 years in music, felt the necessity of performing in front of the Long Beach crowd. She mentioned that Village Fest is the type of an event “that allows her to reach back and connect to the people one-on-one.” Being able to do was an honor and pleasure for her, as she wants to clarify what it looks like to be a leader in her own community.

Similarly, the host of the afternoon, Uncle Todd, mentioned the same. When asked about the 9th District Whole Village initiative and Rex Richardson's leadership, he stated that Rex Richardson "brings  that young energy and this what the community and youth need - for the future." Something quite clearly on display throughout the whole afternoon.

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Los Rakas, a bilingual Hip-Hop group based in Oakland, California, rocked the show. Panamanian cousins, Raka Rich and Raka Dun, mentioned how important it was to perform for the city of Long Beach and likened it to performing at home in Oakland.They also mentioned the importance of the Whole Village Initiative and stated that kids who find themselves in this village should continue to “use their resources” because the opportunities are endless.

IMG_8944Shortly afterward, Blu , Exile and King Choosey blazed the stage and set up for the headlining act of Village Fest, The Pharcyde. Both groups had the crowds up in arms singing to their string of hits as everyone celebrated the North Long Beach Community.

After the performance, Rex Richardson waved everyone goodbye and vowed to do everything in his power to bring back this marvelous event to the city of Long Beach.

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Check out a FULL Storify of the whole day here of the day's best tweets.

All photos were taken by  Makiah Green.


cropped-cropped-p1130772Tyree Boyd-Pates is a man on a mission. As a writer, he aspires to expound on Black culture from a millennial perspective and unite and empower communities through journalism and social media. A Master’s in African American Studies, he also is the creator of#TheCut, a brand new podcast! You can follow him on Twitter: @Tyreebp.

The Theology of Black Unrest

In the wake of the budding unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, and the terrorist attack at Emmanuel AME, Black Christians are trying to comprehend how Christianity informs their forms of resistance. While some have dismissed the faith altogether, others are attempting to fit their radical ideologies within the confines of their faith. This dichotomy is emblematic of a double consciousness that can be paralyzing in moments of social unrest. But in order to reconcile our Blackness with Christianity, we must reexamine the attributes of God, reconsider the role of the church, and reclaim the Gospel.

In seeking to qualify God and his attributes, it is imperative that we situate God alongside us in our distresses along our quest of liberation. Much like the Hebrews marching out of Egypt from Pharaoh, Black people need to situate God in their exodus from racism.

To do so, we must strip Jesus of his whiteness and center Him in his otherness and marginalization. Instead of seeing God as a tyrant, we must reimagine Him as a God who is completely given to the notion of grace and a love that transcends human performance. Instead of requiring perfect adherence to the law, the true God extends unmerited exchanges of love and forgiveness. And the true Jesus is one who loves and forgives unconditionally, consistently empathizing with those on the fringes.

The Black soul recognizes that bigotry was not a part of the creation story, nor was it outlined in the attributes of God himself, but is still confronted with the absolute of it’s existence. But the Black soul rejects this false gospel. Any gospel with tinges of tyranny and exclusion could never proselytize this soul. In the interim, the Black soul, due to this false gospel of intolerance, attaches itself to the evidence of any faith at all, which often manifests as unrest. This unrest is indicative of the symbolic groaning of all creation—the same groaning outlined in Romans 8:22-24. A day where Black souls long for our bodies to be released from sin, suffering, and societal oppression.

In the climate of Black unrest, the Black soul is confronted with the perceived sinfulness of his/her resistance. In these moments, the Black Christian is often paralyzed, unsure of where their allegiance lies. They can either defend their blackness against the onslaught of systemic aggression, or defend their Christianity by remaining patient and complacent in their own oppression as they await spiritual deliverance.

In the same way that self-righteous Christians attempt to make amends for their moral indiscretions, the Black soul is constantly attempting to atone for the sin of his predicament - but to no avail. Unaware of the fact that the quandary of his social position is not of his own doing, he tries to satisfy the demands of white supremacy through respectability. But even after integrating, assimilating, and whitewashing, it still doesn’t remedy his distress. The sin of his skin is ever-present, unyielding to his efforts.

This devotion to respectability is so deep that it has driven some to believe that Black bodies are to be offered up as sacrifices to a fictive white supremacist, Old Testament God. From Emmitt Till to Renisha McBride, we consider these figures as covenantal lambs. But no Black lamb will ever be without blemish in the eyes of white America due to the perceived sinfulness of black skin. From Michael Brown to Rekia Boyd, these bodies are offered in hopes that they will satisfy a false god built in the image of white greed, who has a never-ending appetite for Black Death. But unlike the fabricated god of white supremacy and political repression, the real God is eternally satisfied with the sacrifice that Jesus made once and for all.

The true God is a divine figure void of the trappings of racial bias, exclusion, and an insatiable desire for destruction and demise. God, personified in his Hebrewness through the life and death of Jesus, was sent to proclaim a simple and radical message that has the power to release captives, heal the blind, and free the oppressed. However, today, that Gospel message remains largely unemployed to address societal unrest in spiritually productive ways.

In an attempt to maintain the status quo, the church has exalted white supremacist values over the true message of the gospel. Their modern interpretation of the gospel misses the opportunity to cast down the systemic apathy responsible for the Black soul’s unrest. To do so would invalidate the politics of respectability that society places on Black people in times of turmoil. And instead of encouraging righteous indignation, the church often uses religion to quell rebellion and reasonable outrage.

The indignation that should be directed towards the infrastructures of white Christian indifference is instead inverted. In the same way that victims are blamed for the crimes committed against them, the poor in spirit are met with more rules and regulations rather than support. These pillars, erected by white privilege, are so lofty that they shut out those on the margins and unwittingly cooperate with racial exclusion. Until there is an adequate gospel response to Black unrest, this contention will persist and religion will be of no utility to us.

As Baldwin wrote in The Fire Next Time, “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” I assert the same. I believe that God can indeed make us larger, freer, and more loving; it is our current conception of Him that has rendered Him null and void. God, in light of the work of Jesus, still situates Himself alongside the oppressed and afflicted. But until we reclaim the Gospel and contextualize the unrest that surrounds us theologically, historically, and spiritually, God will be of no use to Black people—or anyone else for that matter.

My (Brief) Thoughts on Walter Scott!

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There was something extremely visceral about the video of  Walter Scott being gunned down with 8 bullets. A video, with the same visceral quality that one had witnessing Michael Brown lay on the ground for 4.5 hours or watching Eric Garner gasp for air. Visceral. Visceral. Visceral.

However, for many African Americans, this incident was too visceral. Viscerally triggering something devastatingly instinctive. An instinct, I sense, so situated in survival, that it's only credit to fame is a acute awareness of systemic endangerment. Presentiment, almost.

African American men (women and children) - whether acknowledged or not - are in jeopardy inside of this society; from infancy to eldership. Their deaths: expected; Their success: mitigated - without contrition or legitimacy. Constantly being forced - even beyond the grave - to explain their existence; almost always searing the conscience. And everyone aware of  the Black condition in America is cognizant of it.

There's an implicit fatigue. An unexpressed exhaustion. An unutterable desire for absolution. A desire for miraculous exoneration.  An exoneration from a menacing white gaze that constantly threatens black lives  - especially when it relates to power and authority.

Power, in relation to the uncompromising expectation that Blacks must submit. Authority, when it comes to carrying out unlawful punishments on those who decide to leave that gaze - without remorse. It's this white gaze - and any deviation from it - is where we find Walter Scott's body lying: lifeless and handcuffed. That's the kind of exoneration Black people are seeking reprieve from. Reprieve from a state sanctioned gaze that seemingly is snuffing out Black men, women, and children routinely.

When will that occur? I'm unsure. I just know that the Earth (and its hearts) are groaning for change- at least, I know I am.

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#BlackLivesMatter

#TheCut Podcast | SAE & The PWI Problem

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https://soundcloud.com/correctivelenses/thecut-podcast-sae-the-pwi-problem-makiahisms

On this episode of #TheCut, I had a discussion with Makiah Green, the creator of the online platform @MyPWI, about the national outrage on college campuses about the recent racist remarks from Oklahoma State University fraternity, SAE.

In our discussion, Makiah and I go in depth and offer practical advice on how minority student should deal with racism on college campuses - all semester long. Do you agree?

Share this and JUMP into the conversation.

-@Tyreebp

Trust the Process | 2014 In Review

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.... Is it 2015 already?

Here I am at the precipice of a new year so excited for what it has to offer.

As I think about 2014, I must admit, it's been quite a whirlwind. Graduation, relocation, hesitation and frustration are all words that probably best sum it up. However this isn’t a something I'm looking down on. This year taught me much about God, faith, timing, and redirection. And that’s one story I just have to tell.

I can recall it like it was yesterday. Early in the month of January of 2014, I was preparing heavily to apply to several of the top Ph.D. programs and seminaries in the country in my grand elaborate plan to become the next Cornel West. Lol.

As I was preparing to work on one of my personal statements that particular morning, I stopped immediately when I overheard a voice tell me to  “rest”. Looking around to see who or what it could have been, I saw that no one else was in the room. “Rest" the voice said again. “But rest from what?" I thought. Knowing that this voice was probably God giving me direction for a transition this year, I ran to my Bible.

"And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”- Exodus 33:14

Still out of shock, I was confused. Why would the man up stairs tell me to discontinue the next step in my academic career for no plan at all – especially one with an interest in studying the Christian Faith and the Black Church more closely? But then it became clear to me that I would have no say in the matter.

Soon after, as I was preparing my Doctoral applications,my laptop (out of nowhere) got a serious virus that completely shut down the entire computer. (Yes, this virus was that bad).This was the exact laptop that had every one of the supplemental materials the Ph.D. programs on its hard drive, which prevented me from getting my applications in anywhere on time.

Taking this as a divine sign, I knew God was yet again trying to get my attention, so I forewent applying to programs, and decided to begin resting in what God had told me. Frankly, the hardest decision ever. It was soon after that  was when things started to get interesting

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way..”- Psalm 37

As I began to rest (both spiritually and naturally) from working to sort out the future, my radio show, The Corner, was on the rise and became one of the most successful new student radio shows at Temple. So much to the point, the one-hour entertainment radio show was invited by the White House to cover President Barack Obama in NYC.

Dumbfounded as to the timing of the events and The White House knowing who I was, I still found myself worrying about the future – What about my career? Where am I going to live? etc. As I hit a few bumps trying to rest,  it was then when one of my mentors gave me some of the best advice I would've gotten that year.

"Tyree, simply trust the process".

After revealing to her my frustration about the uncertainty of the future, she dropped a bombshell: "Tyree, simply trust the process."  “What’s trusting the process?", I asked. "Trusting the process is having an unwavering confidence in the positive outcome that God has destined for you", she said. "It’s resting in what God's already told you."

Taking this as another affirmation, I used it to steam roll my comprehensive exams, an academic Journal I edited for, and finally to arrive to my Graduation and to receive my Master's. However, after leaving Philadelphia and going back to Los Angeles, I would soon learn that this ‘trusting the process’ thing was going to be a lot more difficult than what I'd anticipated for...

Q-tip gave Iggy Azalea Hip-Hop 101

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Today, Q-tip took to Twitter to address Iggy Azalea about the origins of Hip Hop. In his tweets, he went into length to describe how the art form came about and it's role in Black and Brown culture.

 Personally, I admire Q-tips approach; especially as someone who is arguably one of the pioneers of the art form. He was not only firm, but gentle and that's what starts healthy dialogue. Specially when clarifying that Hip Hop is a "socio-political movement/culture" that will always remain true to it's original role .

I believe Iggy now, whether she wants to admit it or not, has officially been schooled. Now only more emcees would read this? *Sips Tea*

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Did you enjoy the tweets and see the intention behind Q-tip's words? Let me know.

Meeting The Greats: Levar Burton

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IMG_6713Many people like to ask me where my love for books comes from, and quite simply its from this man, Levar Burton!

Levar Burton well known for his portrayals in Alex Haley's Roots and Star Trek, is also the original host of PBS's children's show "Reading Rainbow". A television program, that as a kid, would have a huge impact on me for years to come.

It was watching Levar Burton’s "Reading Rainbow" that taught me as a child the importance of reading - and just how transformative it was. It also opened my mind to the world of literacy, that inevitably would start my love for academia and a desire to share it with others.

It’s Mr. Burton’s work that helped inspire me to create 'The 10 Books Every Black Youth Should Read", as well as the Diaspora Book Club. (All of which have been some of the most popular posts on this blog.) So, any opportunity to say "Thank You" and to show my gratitude to him couldn’t be passed up!

I must say it was an amazing afternoon! I'm so glad that Barnes and Nobles decided to host such an event. It's events like these with individuals like Levar Burton that make me want to continue to make the world a better place!