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From the 3/5 ‘Compromise’ to the 2020 Census: African Americans and the Myriad Realities of Being Counted

“They (incarcerated people) are a dream constituency. You don’t have to build them any roads, or schools, or develop any new infrastructure to support them….and they can’t vote you out.” – Andrew Virgen, Director of Census Operations and Engagement, State of Minnesota

Incarcerated people are counted in the facilities in which they are imprisoned, not in the communities that the majority of people will return to. This means that concentrated centers of wealth are built, on the backs of the incarcerated, across small Minnesota towns that fight to build and maintain prisons. Lino Lakes, Moose Lakes, Duluth, Sandstone, real people, real towns, real people, real power, concentrated, every ten years, until the next Census.

From the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the mandate is given for a count of United States citizens to take place every ten years. The number of House of Representatives seats in Congress would be determined based on that count. The dilemma? How to count the enslaved black people of the South who numbered so many while the Northern States, smaller and fewer in number wanted equal representation. The ‘answer’ – the 3/5 Compromise. Human-beings, Black people, black human-beings, counted, as persons and property.

The result of the debate set forth in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution was a compromise, incorporating ideas of both property and person: Population would be calculated by adding “the whole Number of free persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed,” plus “three fifths of all other Persons.” Those “other Persons,” of course, were slaves. https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/the-three-fifths-compromise-rationalizing-the-irrational/

Join me in studio with Kelsey Dawson Walton, Hennepin County Engagement Division Manager and Hennepin County Census Engagement Lead; Andrew Virden, Director of Census Operations and Engagement with the state of Minnesota; Jolie Wood, with Ramsey County she is a Policy Analyst and Ramsey County Census Lead; and Bihie, local community organizer and Director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center and Hennepin County Census Engagement Partner  as we rap about the myths and realities of being counted for black people.

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More Than A Single Story: Transracial Adoptee Voices

A definition: Transracial or transcultural adoption means placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group. In the United States these terms usually refer to the placement of children of color or children from another country with Caucasian adoptive parents. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_trans.pdf

Another definition: Transracial adoption refers to the process of placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group.”In the U.S., transracial adoption is the placement of children of color or children from another country with Caucasian adoptive parents. ” https://definitions.uslegal.com/t/transracial-adoption/

One of the themes that emerges across ‘transracial’ adoptee experiences is that of the white savior. You, adoptee, are so lucky that we chose you to be a part of our family, to share our resources, to gain access to our privileges…. I wonder, given the two definitions above, two of the top choices on Google… is there a correlation?

In this segment of Urban Agenda, I’m joined by Author & Founder of ‘More Than A Single Story’, Dr. Carolyn Holbrook, Dr. Jonathan Lofgren, and Melissa Olson to talk about their experiences as adoptees and children of transracial adoptees. It’s a powerful listen. I hope you can dig it!

Aluta Continua.

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Smiling is not Resilience

Author Aundria Sheppard Morgan has just released her latest book, ‘Smiling is not Resilience, an Unfinished Memoir’, an invitation to walk with Aundria as she meets pain, heartache, illness, and unimaginable loss with such deep honesty as to compel me, as a reader, to examine my own grief.

In this work, Author Sheppard Morgan also redefines ‘resilience’, resisting the American tendency to wrap life’s tragedies into neat bows that lead to a stronger heroine at the ‘end’ of every grief. She also resists the mythologies of the ‘strong black woman’ with every part of the story she tells.

Listen in with me as Aundria shares her life experiences so candidly as to give every listener permission to sit with our grief(s), until we can pause to examine them, to reflect on the ways that we are changed, and to land wherever we land, no bow required.

We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!

Thank you, Aundria, for taking off the mask!

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The Black Family Blueprint!

Join me in studio with Ayo and Adrian Mack, Co-Founders of The Black Family Blueprint. How are Black relationships impacted by the disruption of enslavement? How is Black love marketed to Black people? Who shapes the expectations for Black love?

Join us to learn more about how “Black love is Black wealth”! (Wisdom shared from Nikki Giovanni)

You can connect with Ayo and Adrian here! https://blackfamilyblueprint.com

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The Black Press Sees Black People!

“We didn’t exist in the other papers. We weren’t born, we didn’t get married, we didn’t die, we didn’t fight in any wars, we didn’t contribute anything of significant achievement.. we were truly invisible.. unless we committed a crime. The Black Press! The Negro Press! We did get married! They showed us our babies being born! They showed us graduating! They showed our PhDs! ” – The Black Press, Soldiers Without Swords

Join me in studio with my guest, Harry Colbert Jr. , Managing Editor and Award-Winning Writer at Insight News, as we ruminate on the necessity of our beloved Black Press, from the home of The (Western) Appeal, the first Minnesota-published African American newspaper to gain national readership under the editorship of Frederick D. Parker!

Aluta Continua!

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“🎧March for me, write for me, candle in the night for me, hold your head up high for me🎤”

“…keep on throwing pride for me…and I…will…be…okay. 🎼 ” – Tish Jones

Tish Jones: Poet, Artist, Educator, Lover of Words, Founder and Executive Director, TruArt Speaks!

I call her ‘Liberation Theologian’ because every time she speaks, 🗣, she is liberating minds, challenging us to confront our fears, teaching us about how to create authentic relationships with young people, and inspiring us to believe that “We gon’ be alright!” –

Warning: She spits fire 🔥!

Tish Jones in the KMOJ Studios 2019

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“No man can live with the absence of his child every day”…

“I’m going to release my new book, ‘The Past is Perfect: A Memoir of a Father Son Reunion.” Author Alexs Pate, in studio with me in late fall 2019. “I want to talk about that absence, but also about the reunification of this family.”

“There is a space between my son and me, an emptiness. It happened over a twelve year period. It’s dark and cavernous there. Voices disappear there. No echo. He lived and had experiences, I lived and had experiences, we were separate. But knowing that the empty space exists only makes me want to know him more…”

Join me and my guest, Alexs Pate, who’s teaching us about the pain of loss and the possibility and power of reunification of fathers and their children. For every Black man who has ever lived under the myths about your absence from your children, this is for you.

https://alexsdpate.com

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Black Women Must Write, and Publish!

In this segment of Urban Agenda, I’m in studio with Rekhet Si-Asar, Founder of ‘Ink Black Ink’, and Lesley Anne Brown, Author of ‘Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black Woman to her European Son‘. Join us as we explore myriad issues that are a part of living as black women in the world, and our strivings to celebrate ourselves and our sisters!

In Black Ink (IBI) has made it their purpose to make sure the stories of Minnesota’s black communities are heard. With a FUBU (For Us, By Us) mentality, IBI strives to capture the untold stories of African heritage Minnesotans by creating and publishing a database of black writers, editors, illustrators, distribution reps and other publishing.

A Trinidadian-American writer and activist explores motherhood, migration, identity, nationhood and how it relates to land, imprisonment, and genocide for Black and Indigenous peoples. Having moved to Copenhagen, Denmark from Brooklyn over 18 years ago, Brown attempts to contextualise her and her son’s existence in a post-colonial and supposedly post-racial world where the very machine of so-called progress has been premised upon the demise of her lineage. Through these letters, Brown writes the past into the present – penned from the country that has been declared “The Happiest Place in the World” – creating a vision that is a necessary alternative to the dystopian one currently being bought and sold.

This is a powerful listen!

I hope you can dig it!

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Signify! Testify!

Black Progress in the 21st

(Re)Learning a (New) Language …. In Black

“When I hear Black people saying, “Man, nothing’s happening with our people. We’re making no progress. It seems like we’re standing in place”, I think of Moody Greene and the 200-meter dash!

When we were coming up in middle school, Moody Greene was our runner. He had terrible form for the 200-meter, wagging his head back and forth as he ran, a fact that frustrated his coach and fans, that is, until Moody won the race, when the end ultimately justified the means.

As Moody would round the corner, people would shout, “Where’s Moody? I can’t see him! He’s nowhere to be found!” It never failed, though, that as soon as all of the runners were visible on the track, there was our Moody, out front, leading the way to the finish line!

“This”, Mahmoud said, “is analogous to the struggle of Black people in the 21st century, we can’t yet see around the corner, but as soon as we do, we will see our Moody, spearheading the road to our freedom, all the way to the finish line.””

Professor Mahmoud El-Kati, Professor of American History at Macalester College

My mentor, intellectual hero and friend, shared his love of black people in the telling of this story. This is the genesis of ‘Urban Agenda’, a desire to share our history, left for us in literature, art, mythology, story, custom, language and culture by our Ancestors. It is my belief that examination and reflection at the intersection of our history and present will help us to better understand ourselves, each other, and our contributions to the world!

In this post, I share ‘The Hiptionary: A Survey of African American Speech Patterns with A Digest of Key Words and Phrases’. I hope you dig it!

http://www.mahmoudelkati.com/publications/hiptionary.html

They want me to remember. They want me to remember their memories, but I keep on remembering mine.

— Lucille Clifton.

Hey Beauty!

Welcome to your Urban Agenda!

If you’ve ever listened to a segment of ‘Urban Agenda’ you know that we hold space ‘in the village’, a beloved community of our making and remaking, a place where black lives, perspectives and contributions are amplified and celebrated!

“Language can invent anything, so make your own definitions and live as if!” In the wisdom of James Baldwin, words matter. When I say “Beauty”, I mean YOU, the listener/reader/scholar/student/critic. “Fat on That Head” under “Signify! Testify!? My way of sharing information that I hope you will share to inspire others to see Black peoples and cultures through the lens of human-beings rather than through the myths of ‘race’. When I ask, “Can you dig it?” I ask as it is defined in The Hiptionary, 1.”To understand, to comprehend, to be in the know. 2. A signature word in the rise of bebop language. Dig suggests to go deeper into something, to make sure you comprehend. Circa 1930s and 1940s bebop.

One more thing you should know before you decide to read or listen. I love, LOVE, Love, lOVE, LOve, LOVe, LOVE Black peoples and cultures and that is the basis for this work!

Hope you dig it!

Lissa

“You Have 1 Minute”

“This is a call from an inmate at the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. If you want to accept, press 1, if you choose not to accept, you may hang up. (Repeat)”

I first met Kevin Reese by phone, in 10-12 minute increments. He was incarcerated and I was hosting Urban Agenda live with in-studio guest, Vina Kay. Vina was leading Voices for Racial Justice, an organization that was seeking to garner support for its new Bridge Program, work to bridge incarcerated people with people in community to assure human connection, to rebuild relationships, and to remind the world of the humanity of our beloved who are inside.

“You have 1 minute” – during our first show together, as Kevin was giving his testimony, that voice came on, warning of 1 minute. Tune in to hear Kevin’s response from that show in 2015, as Kevin hears it himself for the first time on this episode, a free man, in 2019.

I hope you dig it.

Kevin Reese in the KMOJ Studios