Adam WarRock “Ta-Nehisi” [free tunes]
For those that don’t know, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a blogger for The Atlantic, who writes about culture, race, and politics. He’s one of my favorite bloggers on the web, and you should definitely read his blog (he’s also a geek, as his twitter bio would prove). If he ever happens to hear this song, I hope he knows that I used his name because, well a) it’s an awesome name, and b) I think he’s come to stand for, at least to me, a welcome and comforting voice when it comes to speaking on race and America, specifically America’s complex relationship when it comes to race in all elements of our culture and ethics.
That being said, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about race lately. When you grow up and live in Memphis, TN, a city with a large black population kind of surrounded by a region that is for the most part heavily conservative with the reputation, whether fair or not, for being somewhat more cognizant and vocal about its own racial divide. I really have been to Pulaski, when I was an intern working in the Southeast region in college, for some reason my boss thought it was “cool” (?!?!) to take me to the founding place of the KKK. I saw the plaque. I was like, “uh, cool” and just felt uncomfortable. I mean, how are you supposed to react to that?
Growing up, I never thought of myself as much of a minority being Asian-American, seeing as there was already a huge “minority” population all around me. White was never dominant in numbers, though it always has been in a lot of ways, at least in terms of perceived status.
Maybe it has to do with the Trayvon case, and the expected reaction of news and government officials. Maybe it had to do with all the Derbyshire kerfluffle, and the requisite amount of anger and indignation that had to exist, given that the thing he wrote was so facially stupid, that it’s hard to really get up in arms, though you’re saddened if all you do is shrug and say whatever. I don’t think of myself qualified to speak on the plight of young black men because, well, I’m not black. Plus, there are others who have done so already, in a poignant, meaningful and impactful manner. Maybe it has to do with the 2012 Presidential election, and immersing myself, mostly by some sick, perverse choice, in the coverage of the GOP primaries, where race has always been, and will always be a major factor, even further highlighted by the presence of Obama as the incumbent opponent.
At the same time, I’ve just been having my own personal crisis of identity in terms of where my music, and much more than that, my own place as an Asian-American in the media should factor into my direction in life. This, on the heels of the whole Jeremy Lin thing, on the heels of coming back from KollaborationATL, an Asian-American talent showcase, and seeing the community that is built around being Asian, an identity that I never could fully own growing up and still struggle with to this day. Having grown up as a nerdy kid who never acted wannabe-thuggish, who still wore mecca jeans and enyce hoodies and talked incessantly about the Wu-Tang Clan and Public Enemy while doing my extra credit and working hard in school. There’s no question I’ve always felt different, though I don’t know how much that has to do with being a minority, or even being nerdy. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was just… different.
Memphis is a weird place, a place where the whitest suburban kids love rap music, even the racist, country ass folk. Memphis is a city where people literally do stand in front of MLK’s wreath at his place of murder and smile and pose for the camera. It’s a place where no one really cares about race, even though everyone cares about race, if that makes any sense.
Maybe I, like the rest of the country, will always be sort of obsessed with race, for better or for worse. And that’s fine, it’s something we all have to decide how to deal with. I’m just glad that I have people like Ta-Nehisi Coates to read while that conversation, both internal and public, keeps going on.
Also, no lie, I REALLY love this song:
If you’re around Rutgers University, they are throwing an incredible Geek Week from April 13 through April 21. I’m going to be performing at a Costume Dance Party there on 4/20. RSVP here!
May 12 – EGA w/ Soup or Villainz – Indianapolis, IN
May 14 – Ruby Tuesday w/ Soup Or Villainz, MC Cool Whip – Columbus, OH (inf0)
May 16 – Pittsburgh Comics – Pittsburgh, PA
May 18 – Philadelphia, PA – Details TBA
May 19 – Super Art Fight Charity Show! – Baltimore, MD (info)
May 25 – The Milestone w/ Mikal kHill, Tribe One – Charlotte, NC
July 9 – Littlefield’s w/ Michael Kupperman and Guests TBA – NYC