Rank your Top 5 MCs. The Gza (Wu Tang Clan, as much for his business acumen and intellectual curiosity as his music). Nas (Illmatic…c’mon son), MCLyte (the woman who stepped up the game), Kedrick Lamar (pure poetry), J Cole (always keeps it real). If I could have one more I’d say Immortal Technique or Q-Tip (Tribe Called Quest)
Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? Actually I don’t respond as much to external motivation. My community, the conditions we struggle with, continuing injustice motivates me to attempt to do something.
Do you prefer being called Black or African American? It’s about context. In multinational contexts I express solidarity by being a part of a “Black” community but I also value the political power of naming ourselves linked to African American and reinforcing our ancestral ties to the continent.
What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most? Kaleem Caire, Brandi Grayson, Matthew Braunginn. All have deep connections to the community and are determined to make it a better place for ALL residents.
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? First and foremost, recognizing the problem actually exists. I think the Race to Equity report came as a surprise to the majority community but Black people already knew the situation. The second issue is that this is a “process” community, and even if nothing gets accomplished people will accept that as okay because the “process was honored!” In other words, we tend to talk things to death.
What are your top three priorities at this point in your life? Ensuring that our children receive a quality education. That is my one and only priority.
You recently spoke at the Faith Based Q speaking series. The title of your speech was “The Least of These.” Why that title? It is clear to me that the economy of the Christian faith is the inverse of that of market economies. My faith tells me that the last shall be first and that we must become as little children to enter God’s kingdom. That is the ultimate power of the least of these. They hold the keys to the kingdom!
What role can the hip hop culture help in education? Since hip hop is a part of youth culture, it can do lots to help students learn. My research suggests that culture is an integral part of learning. Most of our prior knowledge resides in a cultural context. So, if hip hop is an important part of youth culture, it can be a tremendous leverage point for teaching young people.
Being from Philadelphia, are you a Packers fan or Eagles fan? Definitely an Eagles fan…Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick. Few NFL franchises have had the courage to select Black field generals (quarterbacks) year after years!
Besides the K12 school system, what are the biggest barriers for people of color here in Madison? Workforce development. We have a very robust economy that is almost recession proof but have had trouble sustaining a vibrant Black business culture. We finally got a Black funeral business which is virtually unheard of in most communities with more than 20,000 Black residents.
You sit on the Board of the Urban League of Greater Madison. Why are historical organizations like the Urban League and NAACP relevant today? These organizations have a track record of addressing inequity and injustice. And, unfortunately there is a need to continue to do so. Most of the major legal decisions have been championed by the NAACP either as the primary litigant or in powerful amicus briefs. The Urban League has been in the forefront of job creation and job training. In Madison both organizations are responsible for collecting important data to document the inequity.
What 3 movies best describe the black experience? Another hard one… Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Selma. (And just because I’d watch it over and over… Love Jones.)