Author Archives: Musa

Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB)

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Taken by me, on May 10, 2015
at the corner of Putnam Street and Franklin Avenue,
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY

 

Little about Ol’ Dirty Bastard or “Dirty” by Biography.com:

Russell Tyrone Jones Aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard, or ODB, was born in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, New York, on November 15, 1968. Having had a rough-and-tumble youth, Jones and his cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice formed a hip-hop group that incorporated symbolism from the martial arts films that they loved.The nine-member group was named the Wu-Tang Clan and went on to be one of the most successful hip-hop acts of the ’90s. Having a variety of MCs with distinctive aliases (Diggs became RZA, for instance, handling production duties), Wu-Tang spun off an array of solo acts from its debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).Jones took on the moniker Ol’ Dirty Bastard, with the reported implication that there was no sire to his particular brand of rhyming. Also known as ODB, the rapper developed a crazed, free-flowing style that incorporated singing and warbling.

Off the successful launch of Wu-Tang, ODB released his debut solo album, Return to the 36 Chambers. It reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s main albums chart and featured the singles “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Brooklyn Zoo.”ODB was also known for his shout-out rhymes on the intro and bridge to the remix of Mariah Carey’s 1995 hit “Fantasy”; he later had another hit collaborating on “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are),” with rapper Pras and singer Mýa from the soundtrack of the film Bulworth (1998). The song reached the Top 10 on the R&B chart and Top 20 on the pop chart.Starting in the fall of 1997, however, Jones faced a number of charges.

He was arrested in November for not paying child support for the three children he had with his wife Icelene. The following year, he was shot in the back during a robbery, though the wound was not severe. More arrests followed over the ensuing months, including charges of sneaker theft, missed court dates, public threats of violence to others, traffic violations and drug possession. While Jones’ media antics were often the butt of jokes, there was a terrible, real cost.By the summer of 1999, it was clear that Jones had an addiction to drugs, and he admitted himself into a rehab facility in New York. Around this time, in September 1999, he released the album “Niggaa Please”, which also reached the Billboard Top 10.

 

 

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ODB thugging
taken from http://www.hiphopdx.com

 

Here is my memory and reflection with Dirty:

Despite the images and publication created by media, he was a very sweet and humble guy in his private life. I had a change to do background vocals for Wu-Tang Clan affiliated artist. When I was chilling with them in studio in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, he showed up in the studio several times. I was not really sure if he got some cash on him at that time, because he was one of the N***as in the game, who spend all of his money they earned right after they got it in their pocket. In late 90’s the rap industry was all about gangsta. And recording and music companies were taking advantage of those talented rappers, because they know these boys in the street were talented but did not know any knowledge about the flow of the money in the industry. Dirty was one of them. He spent all the money on cards, champagnes, girls, and drugs. He was really representing the gangstas in the industry. by the way, when he first saw me in the studio he said to me “Hey how you doing, pretty Chinese lady?” I did not know he was infamous Ol’ diry Bastard, so I said to him, “I am not Chinese, but I am Japanese.” He was very embraced and sincerely apologized to me. And he said, “Wow Japanese female rapper, cool.” “Let me hear how you spit.” Again, I had to correct him that I am a singer, and not a rapper. Whenever he came to the studio, he always buy me food and drink to make sure I am alright. And sometimes he offered me some marijuana, which I always politely refuse to be offered.

Here is an anecdote I found on the web. Accordion to biography.jrank.org, the author said:
“The Wu-Tang Clan issued a limited-edition single called “Protect Ya Neck” in 1992, and news of their innovative style spread from college radio stations to major labels. Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers appeared the following year, with ODB preparing the way for the group’s contract with the Loud label by offering an out-of-control version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” before a group of executives from Loud’s conglomerate distributor, RCA/BMG. ODB showed a flair for attracting attention to the group; he once drove to a welfare office in a limousine to collect food stamps, trailed by invited camera operators from the cable-television music.

This story tells how he was humble and crazy in a good manner. He was very naive and pure, and did not know anything about society, he was used by music industry, and his producer Rza, who is living like a king in his luxury house in Bergen County, New Jersey, which was built from sucking up all the money from all the members and affiliates from the rest of Wu-Tang family.
When I heard he passed away, I had to cry. He introduced me to the world of ghetto fabulous, and law of Brooklyn streets. He introduced me to the best soul food restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. And he left me with all good and unforgettable memories and fantastic songs.

My favorite join from ODB
Courtesy of Brooklyn Zoo

 

Dirty, I will remember you for the rest of my life!

Musa Watanabe

Ol’ Dirty Bastard Biography. Biography.com. Rebiewed on May 2015. web. http://www.biography.com/people/ol-dirty-bastard-21341699

Sylvia Rivera, Queen of Stonewall Riots

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Picture taken by me , on April 7th, 2015
At Rainbow Heights Club
25 Flatbush Avenue,Brooklyn, NY 11217

Before I anything, I would like to talk about Stonewall Riots in 1969.

History.com states that…

Just after 3 a.m., a police raid of the Stonewall Inn–a gay club located on New York City’s Christopher Street–turns violent as patrons and local sympathizers begin rioting against the police.

Although the police were legally justified in raiding the club, which was serving liquor without a license among other violations, New York’s gay community had grown weary of the police department targeting gay clubs, a majority of which had already been closed. The crowd on the street watched quietly as Stonewall’s employees were arrested, but when three drag queens and a lesbian were forced into the paddy wagon, the crowd began throwing bottles at the police. The officers were forced to take shelter inside the establishment, and two policemen were slightly injured before reinforcements arrived to disperse the mob. The protest, however, spilled over into the neighboring streets, and order was not restored until the deployment of New York’s riot police.

The so-called Stonewall Riot was followed by several days of demonstrations in New York and was the impetus for the formation of the Gay Liberation Front as well as other gay, lesbian, and bisexual civil rights organizations. It is also regarded by many as history’s first major protest on behalf of equal rights for LGBT People.

Sylvia Rivera was a i-sexual transgender activist, homeless alcoholic and drug addict and sex worker, who fought and change the perceptive of transgender, and helped transgender for getting their civil rights, through her activism.  And she gave a lights to especially to transgender women, who used to have almost no choice to be sex workers to live their lives due to discrimination from society.

Actually, she is one of the first people who started to throw stone and garbage to police for LGBT rights during Stonewall riots.

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Picture of Ms. Sylvia Rivera
taken from taggmagazine

Sylvia was born on July 2nd, 1951 in New York City and died on February 19th, 2002. During her childhood she began living on the streets because her grandmother who raised her did not agree with her effeminate behavior, which resulted in Sylvia leaving her home. Sylvia identified as a drag queen and lived on the streets of New York with other young drag queens until she was 18 years old.

Sylvia was very active during the Civil Rights Movement and became a co-founder of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Ms. Rivera did end up leaving both organizations when the discussion of gay rights in New York quickly left out the rights of Transgender people. Together with Marsha P. Johnson, another Trans Activist, they founded S.T.A.R.; Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, which was dedicated to helping young homeless street drag queens and trans women in surviving on the streets and getting the services they needed.

Sylvia was at the Stonewall Inn when the riots took place between LGBTQ people and the police on June 28th, 1969. Police were raiding the bars, arresting and beating people especially Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color. After years of oppression Sylvia with others stood up and fought back. Sylvia and Marsha organized in the Lower East Side at 213 East 2nd Street in order to get shelter for homeless drag queens and Transgender Women.

I have to honer her for many reason.  I had a chance to live in the same house where Sylvia lived at the end of her life.  That was how I was connected to advocacy for LGBT people.  I have seen pictures of Sylvia everywhere in the house.  The house owner is a transgender College professor who made her transition between semesters in her late 50’s.  She used to tall me how the movement for bettering situation for transgender people, and good and sad stories about fellow sisters who devoted their lives for trans identifying people.

Due to bad publications of transgender people, like Jerry Springer Show, many people still believe all the trans gender girls are sleazy, flamboyant, and sells body for living.  Even that is not true, transgender people are still struggling with stigma from being not understood and being discriminated by society.  For example, more transgender people are still being rejected from public benefit due to discrimination.   And in jail, many transgender people are still forced to wear clothing which is opposite to their gender identify.

But without Sylvia, we would not have NYC laws like The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, enacted by efforts and lobbies by many trans activist today, who has a spirit Sylvia left behind.

As a matter of fact, we have a non-profit pro bono law firm called “Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP),” which provides free legal service to trans men and women who are low income.

Levern Cox was not to be an ‘actress” for national TV show series without Sylvia’s effort and passion.

Without her, trans people are at the stage they are now.

Sylvia will be remembered with all her legacy and grace.

Musa Watanabe

 

History.com. 1969, The Stonewall Riots, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-stonewall-riot

 

 

James Baldwin

As a an advocate for LGBT people with mental illness, I was very thrilled to see that Citytech provides a course, ENG 3403 Section D578, which students read, study, analyze and discuss about James Baldwin’s work.

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Picture of James Baldwin
New York City College of Technology
April 20,2015

ABOUT JAMES

James Arthur Baldwin was born on 2 August 1924.

Bio.com states that Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York. His mother Emma Bardis Jones divorced his father due to drug abuse when her son was just a baby. She then married preacher David Baldwin. The family were poor and a young Baldwin spent most of his childhood looking after his younger siblings.

He showed a prodigious interest in writing from an early age, attending Frederick Douglass Junior High School and then De Witt Clinton High School, from which he graduated in 1942. Baldwin became a Pentecostal preacher in 1938, at the age of 14, but gave this up at the age of 16 before winning the prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for his contributions to publications such as ‘The Nation’ and ‘Partisan Review’ in 1944.

Just before winning this prize, Baldwin lost his step-father and gained his eighth sibling on the same day – 29 July 1943. He then moved to Greenwich Village, a New York neighbourhood popular with writers and artists where he formed a friendship with Richard Wright. Through Wright, he was able to land a scholarship in 1945, giving him funding to have his work published.

After 1948, and the publication of his first major essay, ‘The Harlem Ghetto’, he divided his time between New York, Paris and Istanbul.

Baldwin drew heavily on his own life experience for his first novel, the modern classic ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’ (1953).He turned to writing plays after this with ‘Amen Corner’ being released in 1954. It looked at the phenomenon of the Pentecostal religion. This play went on to be produced at Howard University in 1955 and staged in Broadway during the mid-1960s.

His second, ‘Giovanni’s Room’ (1956), detailing issues of race and sexuality, was closely followed by his first book of non-fiction, ‘Notes of a Native Son’ (1956). Baldwin published what is widely held to be his best novel, ‘Another Country’, in 1962, developing his themes concerning the identity-forming matrices of race, class and gender.

Baldwin’s later novels are widely held to be lesser, more one-dimensional works, such as ‘Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone'(1968), ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (1974) and ‘Just Above My Head’ (1979). However, while the polemic nature of his writing was seen to diminish his fiction, it strongly informed his role as social commentator.

Collections such as ‘The Fire Next Time’ (1963) secured his position as one of the foremost essayists of his generation, as well as earning him a place on the Advisory Board to the Commission for Racial Equality (1964-66), and a prominent role within the civil rights movement.

Baldwin also published three well-received plays, ‘Amen Corner’ (written in 1958, first performed 1965), ‘Blues for Mister Charlie’ (1964), and ‘One Day When I Was Lost’ (1972), as well as a collection of poetry, ‘Jimmy’s Blues: Selected Poems’ (1983). In 1964, he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1986 received the Legion of Honour from the French government.

Between 1984 and 1987, he held several lectureships in US universities, including a professorship as the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. James Baldwin died in Paris on 1 December 1987 from stomach cancer, at the age of 63.

When Baldwin returned from France in 1962, he visited the south of America and began a tour of lectures about the civil rights movement gaining traction at the time. He positioned himself in between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

He joined author Lorraine Hansberry and actors Harry Belafonte and Marlon Brando as one of the most prominent and high-profile civil rights figures in America.
Baldwin has had a strong impact on writers of all backgrounds thanks to his defiant position as part of a minority.

In 1992, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where Baldwin once taught, launched the James Baldwin Scholars program, which helps young people in the urban area engage with literature.

Fellow black writer Toni Morrison has collected a two-volume Library of America edition of Baldwin’s stories and essays and the United States Postal Service has honoured him with a first-class postage stamp featuring his profile.

Baldwin died on 1 December 1987 at the age of 63 at his home in St Paul de Vence, France, from stomach cancer. He was buried in New York.

MY REFLECTION ON JAMES BALDWIN

James Baldwin was definitely a star during Harlem Renaissances.  When I first read his novel, Giovanni’s Room, I saw and imagined that the author should be very sensitive person.  Later find out that he was a LGBT person.

I have to give him a credit for being open about his sexual orientation and his believes during that era.

I now know African American were not allow\ed to vote til the year of 1965.  I must have to imagine there must be an obstacle for somebody like James, who is not only a people of color, but also gay.

To the best of my knowledge, gayness was listed as a mental sickness until 80’s in
American Psychological Associations (APA) standard.  Moreover, NY State Court did not recognize same sex marriage til in 21 st Century.

Probably in his day, there should not have been any name for “gay” existed.

I must have taken a lot of effort and courage to be out and be outspoken about what he was, weather or not, people would accept him as he was, as well as the sensitivities and preciseness of his words in his novels.

Because of him black is so cool now.  Because of him, being gay is so cool in year 2015/  And because of him, being different is cool nowadays.  It is just that society set the norms too straight back in the days.

James, you will be dearly remembered, honey.

Musa Watanabe

 

 

 

Aarthur Ash

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Arthur Ash Institute for Urban Health
May 3rd, 2015, in 483 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn, NY

 

I am a big fan of tennis, and I play tennis, too.

I am having a pleasure to introduce Arthur Ash, a Wimbledon Champion, former David Cup Coach, Activist, and one of the most famous African American in the history.

Little about Arthur…

According to Britannica.com, Arthur Ashe, in full Arthur Robert Ashe   (born July 10, 1943, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.—died February 6, 1993, New York, New York), American tennis player, the first black winner of a major men’s singles championship.

Ashe began to play tennis at the age of seven in a neighborhood park. He was coached by Walter Johnson of Lynchburg, Virginia, who had coached tennis champion Althea Gibson. Ashe moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was coached by Richard Hudlin, before he entered the University of California at Los Angeles on a tennis scholarship. In 1963 Ashe won the U.S. hard-court singles championship; in 1965 he took the intercollegiate singles and doubles titles; and in 1967 he won the U.S. clay-court singles championship. In 1968 he captured the U.S. (amateur) singles and open singles championships. He played on David Cup US Team (1963–70, 1975, 1977–78) and helped the U.S. team to win the Davis Cup challenge (final) round in 1968, 1969, and 1970. In the latter year he became a professional.

His criticism of South African apartheid racial policy led to denial of permission to play in that country’s open tournament, and, as a consequence, on March 23, 1970, South Africa was excluded from Davis Cup competition. In 1975, when he won the Wimbledon singles and the World Championship singles, he was ranked first in world tennis. After retiring from play in 1980, he became captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, a position he held from 1981 to 1985.

Ashe underwent coronary bypass operations in 1979 and 1983. In April 1992 he revealed that he had become infected with the virus that causes AIDS, probably through a tainted blood transfusion received during one of those operations. For the remainder of his life, Ashe devoted considerable time to efforts to educate the public about the disease.

He was a thinker in the court.  He always had a plan to win, even he was behind the game.  He did not have a big service, but his accuracy of the shot helped him to succeed in the tennis.

There was a time that his visa application for the entrance to South Africa was denied due to antiapartheid statements he made to the press, Ashe was one of several athletes whose activism helped spark the antiapartheid movement in sport. He made several trips to South Africa as a player and journalist throughout the 1970s and 1980s, each time drawing the world’s attention to the living conditions of black Africans under apartheid. Unlike many leaders of the Black Power Movement in the United States and the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, Ashe believed in open dialogue and debate with white officials in both countries, a strategy which led radicals in each nation to label him an “Uncle Tom” and a race traitor.

This explains his intelligence, and his intelligence helped him in a great deal with tennis, as well.

He was very quiet on the court.  He rarely complained to the umpires, like players today.  But he was definitely a fighter in his way.

His elegance and grace will be remembered, as well as all the milestones he made thorought his career, as a tennis player, as an activist, as and coach, as a proud black man and as a human being.

R.I.P. Arthur

Musa Watanabe

 

 

Arthur Ash, American Tennis Player. The Britannica website. Retrieved on May 6 2015. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/38179/Arthur-Ashe

Father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh

Ho chi Ho chi 2July 25th, 2014, Hanoi Vietnam
(Left) in Mo Chi MInh Museum, (Right) Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Last year, I had a pleasure of visiting Hanoi, Vietnam.  And I went to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Before I learned anything, I had an impression that Ho Chi Minh is actually a brutal dictator who tried to control the country for his own benefit.  But later, I found out that many Asian post World War II leaders are about their nationals and tried to establish identities of their own to be able to free from themselves anyway from the invasion from the West.

Hi Chi Minh should be one of these leaders who fought for the rights for Vietnam and tried to establish the identity that can be called Vietnam’s own.

Ho Chi-Minh was born on May 19, 1890, in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. In 1921, he organized the Intercolonial Union. He was elected to the Committee of the Peasants’ International Congress in 1923. In 1936, he took charge of China’s Indochinese Communist party. He declared Vietnam’s independence in 1945 and became the first president of the republic in 1954. He died on September 3, 1969, in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Biography.com)

According to History.com, Ho Chi Minh first emerged as an outspoken voice for Vietnamese independence while living as a young man in France during World War I. Inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution, he joined the Communist Party and traveled to the Soviet Union. He helped found the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or Viet Minh, in 1941. At World War II’s end, Viet Minh forces seized the northern Vietnamese city of Hanoi and declared a Democratic State of Vietnam (or North Vietnam) with Ho as president. Known as “Uncle Ho,” he would serve in that position for the next 25 years, becoming a symbol of Vietnam’s struggle for unification during a long and costly conflict with the strongly anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam and its powerful ally, the United States.

When Germany defeated France in 1940, during World War II, Ho saw it as an opportunity for the Vietnamese nationalist cause. Around this time, he began to use the name Ho Chi Minh (roughly translated as “Bringer of Light”). With his lieutenants Vo Nguyen Giap and Pham Van Dong, Ho returned to Vietnam in January 1941 and organized the Viet Minh, or League for the Independence of Vietnam. Forced to seek China’s aid for the new organization, Ho was imprisoned for 18 months by Chiang Kai-Shek’s anti-Communist government.

With the Allied victory in 1945, Japanese forces withdrew from Vietnam, leaving the French-educated Emperor Bao Dai in control of an independent Vietnam. Led by Vo Nguyen Giap, Viet Minh forces seized the northern city of Hanoi and declared a Democratic State of Vietnam (known commonly as North Vietnam) with Ho as president. Bao Dai abdicated in favor of the revolution, but French military troops gained control of southern Vietnam, including Saigon, and Chiang Kai-Shek’s Chinese forces moved into the north according to the terms of an Allied agreement. Ho began negotiations with the French in efforts to achieve a Chinese withdrawal as well as eventual French recognition of Vietnam’s independence and reunification of North and South Vietnam. But in October 1946, a French cruiser opened fire on the town of Haiphong after a clash between French and Vietnamese soldiers. Despite Ho’s best efforts to maintain peace, his more militant followers called for war, which broke out that December.

During the First Indochina War, the French returned Bao Dai to power and set up the state of Vietnam (South Vietnam) in July 1949, with Saigon as its capital. Armed conflict between the two states continued until a decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu ended in French defeat by Viet Minh forces. The subsequent treaty negotiations at Geneva (at which Ho was represented by his associate Pham Van Dong) partitioned Indochina and called for elections for reunification in 1956.

At this same meeting, Ho ceded his position as party secretary-general to Le Duan. He would remain nominally as North Vietnam’s head of state during the Vietnam War, but would take a more behind-the-scenes role. To his people, “Uncle Ho” also remained an important symbol of Vietnam’s unification. The U.S. continued to increase its support of South Vietnam, sending economic aid and–beginning in December 1961–military troops. American air strikes against North Vietnam began in 1965, and in July 1966, Ho sent a message to the country’s people that “nothing is as dear to the heart of the Vietnamese as independence and liberation.” This became the motto of the North Vietnamese cause.

On the heels of North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive in early 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson made the decision to halt escalation of the war and called for peace talks to begin. The conflict was still ongoing by September 2, 1969, when Ho Chi Minh died in Hanoi at the age of 79. The last U.S. troops left Vietnam in March 1973, and in April 1975 Communist forces seized control of Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City.

Like you have already know, reading the bio of Mr. Ho, his life mission was the liberation and by using Communism, he really wanted to build a strong country that are independent physically and economically.

This spirit still lingers on as you can see the fact that Vietnam expelled the United States.  Vietnam also still bravely confront with China for their invasion of the small island which is a part of Vietnam, and strong enough to expel any invasion to protect themselves for their own benefit.  We can here clearly see the inheritance of Mr. Ho for the nationals of Vietnam.

People in Vietnam still call Ho Chi Minh as “Uncle Ho” as a father and brother figure of their nationals, and his courage still remain in the spirit of the people in Vietnam.

I am not sure about how effective Communism will be to control and enhance the ability of productivity of in Vietnam.  But Mr. HO is a hero and will be remembered.

Musa Watanabe

 

Ho Chi MInh. History.com website.Retried May 6 2015 from http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/ho-chi-minh

Ho Chi-Minh. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 04:13, May 06, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/ho-chi-minh-9340663.