Speaking for the people of Chicago is not new to the 23 year old. This ain't no intro, this is the entree.
"Chancelor Bennett I'm proud of you". How many times do you think the three time GRAMMY award winner known to us as Chance The Rapper hears that a day? I imagine daily from his mother, weekly from a friend, bi-weekly from his little brother (because they probably alternate weeks of praise, as Taylor Bennett is ordering his own steps ), every three days from his love, and daily from a passerby on the street. And much deserved. In the last two years, Chance has co-founded a project to give 1,000 coats to Chicago's homeless, sponsored anti-violence campaigns for Chicago's youth on Memorial Day, debuted a song about violence in Chicago on one of the biggest late night platforms in the country, brought Kanye West and Vic Mensa to Chicago's public school youth, and revitalized the Chicago festival scene. Not to mention he organized the largest parade to to the polls, was on the most recent cover of ESPN The Magazine, and released a joint EP with Chicago's own, Jeremih . Oh, and those GRAMMYs, if you are into that sort of thing.
This is the best written breakdown of Merry Christmas Lil Mama I've seen today. https://t.co/MezfA87NTp
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) December 23, 2016
Yes, Chance The Rapper is one of those artists that not only creates amazing work, but lives passionately. He has the forthrightness of the Old Kanye, the charm of Muhammad Ali, the endurance of Harry Belafonte (I mean the man just released a mixtape last week at 90), and the humility of J. Cole. Everything he does exudes a thoughtfulness and follow through that social media activism sometimes lacks. The 23 years old comes prepared to repair what he didn't break with research and receipts. Though he has the means to ensure that the despair of Chicago doesn't affect his family, he never ignores the plight of Chicago. Every event, every project, every performance, every tweet, is a love letter to Chicago. "For Chicago". The media and our current government might be treating Chicago like a war torn country removed from the United States, but Chance won't let the city that was once one of the meccas of the great Southern migration be forgotten, or its children.
This is why, when Illinois state Governor Bruce Rauner took to twitter to praise the Chicagoan for winning big in what has come to be known the ultimate music achievement, Chance used his voice to ask for a meeting with him to talk about the plight of Chicago's schools. Rauner obliged, and the two met last week though the Governor, currently being sued along with other state officials for misappropriation of funds in Chicago's school system, still has a lot of convincing to do if he wants Chance and the city of Chicago to believe that he has the best interest of all his voters, and most importantly, the children. Chicago public schools are facing closing three weeks earlier than usual due to lack of funds.
Though not resolved, Chance remains hopeful sending this tweet:
"Chicago Public Schools and I did not lose today," he wrote. "Please don't let that become the narrative. Monday morning I'll have a plan."
Thoughhe weight of Chicago is not Chance's responsibility alone, I look forward to hearing his plan today, and helping to mobilize any efforts to make sure kids receive the best schooling not only in Chicago, but DC, NY, and cities around the country. Plan with me on Instagram and twitter.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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