Daye Jack Talks “Soul Glitch” EP

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Daye (pronounced Dah-yay) Jack, 19, is a Kenyan-born, Atlanta-raised new artist who recently signed with Warner Music. My guest this week on “International Affair”, we chatted about him recently leaving his computer science degree at New York University to become an artist, his immigrant parents’ reaction to it and his exciting new body of work, the Soul Glitch EP.

Check out the video for his newest single, “Easy”:

Thank You Bree Newsome, My New She-Ro

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Take a moment to let this image sink in.

Just yesterday President Barack Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his two-term reign. It was a rousing eulogy at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine innocents slain by a domestic terrorist using the Confederate flag as a symbol of his hatred for Black people inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. During his soul-stirring words, the President tackled head on the renewed debate about the flag, declaring it an undoubted symbol of racial oppression.

“Removing the flag from this state’s capital would not be an act of political correctness,” he said, “it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.”

As cries of protest against the flag grew this past week, I wondered who the courageous person would be to take it upon themselves and rip that s*it down. This morning, just a day after the President’s speech (and perhaps inspired by it) self-described “freedom fighter” Bree Newsome took matters into her own hands, climbed that flagpole like the G she is, unhooked the flag and brought it down triumphantly as police waited to arrest her.

I literally jumped for joy when I woke up to the news—and the fact Bree is a woman got me even more hype. She obviously understood the risks and the fact she’d be taken into custody. Her and accomplice James Ian Dyson now face three years in jail and a $5,000 fine, charged with defacing a state monument. But if this isn’t a worthy cause, I don’t know what is. That flag is more than a source of controversy for decades. It is a racist symbol that represents a war to uphold slavery and, further down the line, a battle to oppose civil rights advances. South Carolina specifically referenced slavery as its reason to secede from the Union during the Civil War and fight for the Confederacy, which makes the fact that the flag still flies over their state capitol even more grossly shameful. And in a sick twist, a Black maintenance worker was directed to re-install the flag after Bree yanked it down today, right before a WHITE SUPREMACIST RALLY was set to take place in the same place. Oh, ‘Merica.

We’re living in such confusing, enthralling, frightening times, aren’t we? So we must celebrate these victories, regardless of how fleeting they might be. In a statement to The Guardian, Bree wrote: “We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

Police ordered Bree to come down from the pole once she reached the midpoint. She turned, looked down at them respectfully (calling them “sir” and letting them know she understood she was about to be arrested) and kept moving upwards towards her mission. As she came back down she was praying, summoning the strength of God through her incredibly brave actions. It is these moments that must encourage us all to keep fighting.

Remembering Racism As A Child

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Ah, Gosford. You were a distant memory tucked away in the back of my mind until Elite Daily brought you back to life this week. What appears to be just a brief blog post shouting out a Christian church for being, you know, Christian and extending well wishes to Islamic passersby commencing Ramadan means so much more to me.

My family moved to Gosford in 1989. My sister Julie had a mysterious cough (which she still has to this day, SMH) and thinking it was due to us living on Parramatta Road, Sydney’s most clogged thoroughfare, Mum pulled us from the chaos of the inner city to the beautiful beaches of the Central Coast, joining my aunty and cousins who’d relocated months earlier. A different world, indeed.

In Summer Hill, my friendship group was a rainbow coalition: Indian-Fijian, Filipino, Lebanese, Maori. Thanks to gentrification in 2015 it’s a predominantly white area now but back then you name it, we had it. I don’t know how I knew at eight years old Gosford would be an extremely different environment for me, but I did. And it was. I experienced racism for the first time there and it was so stinging and immediate I’ll never forget how blindsided I was by it.

As soon as we moved Mum enrolled Julie and I at St. Patrick’s, East Gosford. We’d gone to St. Patrick’s in our old neighborhood so we thought we’d ease right in. How wrong we were. From the moment I started third grade (or Year 3, as we say in Australia) I knew I was different. There was only one other “ethnic” girl named Aphrodite (she was Greek Cypriot) and instead of embracing me, she stayed away like the plague. She ignored my smiles and acted as if she couldn’t understand me when I’d strike up conversation. I remember she had gorgeous thick, black curly hair and wore it in a bun every day for fear of standing out from the limp, mousey brown strands surrounding her. The other girls called her “Dede” and I thought she was a sellout.

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It wasn’t too long before I was called “wog” by the other girls. I’d heard the word vaguely before, but never directed at me. I was heated. Who the hell were they to speak to me like that? Just as I reported back to Mum I was going to have to lay hands on these racist little bitches, Julie came home from her kindergarten class one day to let us know, at the tender age of five, another student laughed in her face and told her that her beautiful dark brown eyes looked like “poo.” She cried as she shared they constantly teased her friend Michelle, the only Aboriginal girl in class. Being the protective sister I always was, I remember feeling angry and helpless. My campus was separate from my very shy little sister’s and the thought of not being able to protect her killed me. My social conscience was highly developed from a very young age and therefore I expressed myself in the only ways a child knows how: with my temper and fists. We eventually decided to move back to the city because, frankly, we missed “us” (our neighbor coming over and observing my grandmother frying kibbe on the stove with an “Ewwwww, what is that? Looks disgusting!” was probably the final straw). We missed feeling accepted and part of a community. I slipped right back into my old school, with old friends who looked and talked just like me. Those two years away felt like a bad dream and still do to this day.

Gosford, it appears, is a very different place nowadays. For an Anglican church to post a sign acknowledging their Muslim neighbors in a community that used to frown on diversity makes my heart burst. In these times when racism is viewed as a dirty word (but its results are not) you cannot help to be encouraged by small steps towards righting the wrongs of the past. That’s why we should never refuse to take notice of the pain felt by those who came before us simply because things [might have] changed in the present. And that’s why what appears as a plain sign to you means the world to me.

What We’re Missing From The Rachel Dolezal Saga

My mother hates movies.

Who the hell, I hear you ask, hates movies? Helen Kapsalides, that’s who. When I was a kid I’d sit for hours on end and watch movies as diverse as Escape From Sobibor (I was a seven-year-old World War II junkie), West Side Story (oh, how she especially despises musicals) and Back To The Future. Mum would walk in and out of the living room, looking at the screen then at me and then back to the screen again, tossing her hands up and sighing. “This bullshit. I have no idea how she enjoys this bullshit.” That’s my mum, as real as it gets.

There’s one movie, however, she absolutely loves. And she adores both versions (1934 and 1959) of it equally. It’s called Imitation Of Life. A real tearjerker. Its premise is a light-skinned young woman who’s ashamed of her brown-skinned mother. Struggling with her African-American identity, the young woman is able to “pass” as white and therefore denies her mother in very public and heartbreaking situations. Only when it’s too late does she embrace her African heritage and understand her mother’s love should have ultimately trounced societal pressure. The film was named by TIME magazine in 2007 as one of “The 25 Most Important Films On Race.”

Imitation Of Life sprang to mind when learning Rachel Dolezal’s story. Of course there’s absolutely no comparison in terms of the “race swap” and especially, the era. This is a woman in denial of her ethnicity but so much so in this real-life case that she chose to align herself with a race she shares not even a single drop of blood with. The 37-year-old, born to white parents, has been self-identifying as Black since her college years. Rachel is not only the president of Spokane, Washington’s NAACP chapter, she’s adjunct professor in the Africana Studies program at Eastern Washington University, where she teaches African and African American Art History, African History, African American Culture, The Black Woman’s Struggle and Intro to Africana Studies (according to her university bio). Her adopted brother, who is African-American, Ezra Dolezal, says he didn’t know how to respond the day his adopted sister took him aside and asked him “not to blow her cover” about having a Black father.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face to African-Americans because she doesn’t know what it’s like to be Black,” Ezra told CNN. “She’s only been African-American when it benefited her. She hasn’t been through all the struggles. She’s only been African-American the last few years.”

Much has been discussed about Rachel’s unraveling identity and the unhinged ways she kept her façade throughout the years (going as far to claim hate crimes against her). She’s now the butt of so many jokes and think pieces you can’t help but wonder that if she already was off-balance, her current mind state has to be even more stupefied.

Remember when you were young and taught that white (cough) lies eventually become bigger lies? What started as Rachel’s affinity for African-American culture grew into a full-blown masquerade she had to have known would one day be revealed. She lived with this torturous secret day in, day out. And she’s not the only one.

Back home in Australia, I know two females of a similar age to Rachel who self-identify as part Black. It’s commonly known (but never spoken about) that neither of them is. Because their “other” ethnicity is also of color, they aren’t as prone to being caught like Rachel was. These beautiful women began telling people they were Black from their teenage years, because that’s what they told themselves they were. Both were adopted by white parents and grew up in predominantly white environments. Growing up through the eyes of Hip-Hop, they saw African-Americans make such groundbreaking progress they were not only directly influenced by this minority culture, they became immersed in it and ultimately became it. That is, in their mind and the minds of those they’ve managed to convince. But just like Rachel Dolezal, deep down they live in fear those who know them already know their secret—as far deep down as you can go after lying to yourself for so many years.

When I was a teenager, my social circle was comprised heavily of Polynesians. Because of this, I picked up certain traits that would make me more acceptable and allow me to “blend in.” I had a close friend who I considered family (and still do to this day) who was Maori. She and I look like sisters and when we’d repeatedly be told this, I would take it as a huge compliment. I started wearing flowers behind my ear (the right one to show I was single, of course), learned how to understand basic Maori, Samoan and Tongan and strictly had Polynesian boyfriends. I loved the culture and the culture loved me back. I never denied my ethnicity when asked, but you best believe I smiled from ear to ear when others thought I might be from the Islands.

Taking it a step further, to this day I’ll boast with pride about my Lebanese heritage and quietly mumble about my Greek side. You know why? I don’t consider myself white therefore I don’t think anyone else should. I hold onto my Middle Eastern heritage like a badge of honor. I wear it like a tattoo branded on my face. This is because I’m living in a time where I can be loud and proud to be Arab (mainstream media be damned). Being a minority is SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF. Why? Hip-Hop told me so. My 92-year-old grandmother, though? When she moved from Lebanon to Australia in 1932 (two years before Imitation Of Life was made) she had dirt kicked in her face daily and hid her homemade food during lunch breaks at school for fear of being attacked. She doesn’t understand my love for our culture to this day because she was tragically brainwashed into thinking it was nothing to be proud of.

So while I don’t forgive Rachel Dolezal (not that it’s my place to do so) and cannot agree with nor excuse a great majority of her actions, she’s far from the first person that wanted to be something they’re not. That ended up identifying with an ethnicity she wasn’t born with but chose to assume. But as that unfortunate yet so painfully true adage goes, “Everybody wants to be Black until it’s time to be Black.” Now under harsh scrutiny and incessant ridicule, let’s see how she handles life from this day forward.