North Carolina isn’t exactly considered a hub for hip-hop, but my question is why not? Little Brother, King Mez Rapsody, Kooley High and more have made a considerable dent in hip-hop culture. Who’s next out of North Carolina? P.A.T Junior. The emcee and producer has been putting in work for a while now, dropping tapes and beats for the masses. So what happens when he takes all his talents and couples that with the stories of life? We get Learning to Live” (In A Day), his debut album.
Our introduction to P.A.T Junior is through “Wake Up,” and in it, we get the thesis of what this record is going to contain. The beat is relaxing at first, Junior spends it waxing poetic with metaphors like “Master of Disguise (the skies), iCloud my feelings.” In the beginning of the verse, Junior speaks of his own troubles, and in the second verse he transitions to speak to the listener. Junior relates to life tripping you up and falling into negative thoughts. He understands how trust can be broken, causing you to shut everyone out. All that sounds pretty heavy, but when put behind three different soundscapes and change-ups in flow, your ears will be perked for what’s next.
Learning To Live (In A Day) by P.A.T. Junior
Two-part tracks open up a world of possibilities for artists, and we’re starting to see more and more take advantage. P.A.T Junior comes through with “The Dream/My Apologies (Pt. 2).” It begins with horns in the background behind a moody bass line. In a discussion with his wife, Junior is trying to stop the petty arguing. But like all relationships, we encounter problems and issues. After seemingly stepping past those issues through romance, we’re met with "Inception." The transition is swift and isn’t as jarring as the previous one, but we have the conflict between Junior and his wife escalate. The couple goes back and forth with Junior trying everything to bring them back to bliss. The song ends, alluding to the cycle of fighting and making up, knowing they’ll be back in this spot soon.
Learning To Live (In A Day) by P.A.T. Junior
What makes Learning to Live accessible and easy to listen to is how Junior relates to the issues a lot of us are facing as adults now. In “Half Wxlves/The Mask,” Junior takes a new spin on and dives deeper into the wolf in sheep’s clothing philosophy. The first part of the song talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing, but touches on how dealing with them can cause you to question your own circle. As the track goes to “The Mask,” Junior flips the script and speaks on his own disguise. However, this mask isn’t to deceive anyone but to hide his emotions from those who prey on them.
Learning To Live (In A Day) by P.A.T. Junior
Although lyrically P.A.T Junior is guiding us through the trials and tribulations that life brings, it’s the small cohesive production team that adds color to the album. Justin Pelham, Daniel Steele and P.A.T Junior himself created the soundscape through 11 tracks (and an outro produced by Slums). The production never settles, it takes influences from many genres, including soul, trap, jazz and more. Background vocals and hooks were placed intentionally as interludes to ease the listener through the sometimes emotionally heavy content. It never comes off as forced and fits into many different pockets of hip-hop music.
Learning to Live really is a journey through adult life, relationships with a lot at stake, the black experience and so much more.
My only gripe is that for an LP, it clocks in at a little over a half hour. At the same time, in a music climate where we’re on one hype train before we bounce to the next, Learning to Live is jam-packed with content to analyze. Junior’s bars are witty, clever and enlightening on every track. From the production to the myriad of diverse guests, P.A.T Junior and his team have created something special and has me looking forward to what’s coming next from the NC native.
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P.A.T Junior has been through a ton. And who hasn’t? The amount of energy and focus needed to tackle everyday life can take a toll. Sometimes we don’t have 100 percent to give that day, sometimes the tribulations of life knock us down. P.A.T Junior reminds us that during those times, there’s a crucial choice to be made. We can succumb to our vices and stay on the ground or we can get up and push on. P.A.T chose to push forward and Learning to Live (In A Day) is that journey.
Hip-hop is in an interesting limbo right now, because although we have artists pushing a trap sound, we also have artists such as Kendrick Lamar who are paying homage to the past and progressing hip-hop forward. In yet another corner, we have underground heads latched onto the '90s and refusing to let go. P.A.T Junior is able to encompass all of these sounds and vibes in Learning to Live. With production kept in-house by Justin Pelham, Daniel Steele, and P.A.T Junior himself, we’re able to get a cohesive sound that's still diverse.
Learning to Live (In A Day) is a journey, we feel the hurt and the constant struggle to be successful. In that same breath, P.A.T Junior also helps us feel his triumph, his success and his happiness. In 12 tracks, LTL is concise, to-the-point, yet still packed with anecdotes and a call to action in these dark days.
Learning To Live (In A Day) by P.A.T. Junior
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After a summer of heightened racial tensions across the nation, Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord, North Carolina is hosting a weekly support group to help people confront and recover from their racist ideologies.
For the past month, Pastor Nathan King has welcomed about a dozen people per week into the church fellowship hall to attend weekly Racists Anonymous (RA) meetings. In an interview with WJZY, King emphasized that churches need to do a better job at fighting racism.
"I think the churches came together on civil rights," King said, "I was a product of that, but I think we got complacent and it's crept back in."
The group's founder, Carol Stanley, explained her intention in starting the group. "We're becoming clearer and clearer on the unconscious racism that we all carry," she said. "It's a way to address one's own racism as a spiritual practice and discipline."
The sessions, held on Wednesday nights, are led by a licensed therapist following the traditional 12-step model.
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On Sunday night, a federal judge ruled to not enforce the Obama administration's attempts to protect and extend civil rights to transgender students. The discussion of allowing transgender people to use bathrooms according to their gender identities has been a hot topic. North Carolina lost the ability to host the NBA All Star Game over their transgender bathroom law. The debate extended to schools this summer when the Obama Administration warned schools to allow transgender access to bathrooms.
From that came a report by the Department of Justice and Department of Education that provided guidelines on how to accommodate transgender students attending public schools. The guidelines stressed the need that these students be allowed to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. The guidelines also extended existing civil rights protections to transgender students to help protect them from harassment by classmates or incorrect record-keeping by school administrators.
After the guidelines were released 13 states sued the federal government, arguing that this extends beyond what the law says and places the in a "Hobson's Choice" position, a position which would mean the states either comply or lose millions in federal funding. Calling the joint report unconstitutional, the states asked for an injunction to prevent the new guidelines from affecting the state of the 2016-2017 school year. A district court judge approved the injunction until the matter can be resolved in courts, preventing interruption of the school year.
This news brings its own set of consequences for not only transgender students but shows just how much civil rights can be up for debate.
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While it's been rumored for a good while now, it's official that 2017 All-Star game will not be in Charlotte, North Carolina. The move by the NBA is all thanks to the state's controversial anti-LGBT legislation known as House Bill 2. The bill forbids transgender individuals from using the bathroom for the gender they identify as, among other things.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported the news, followed by an announcement from the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets.
The NBA issued the following statement today regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game pic.twitter.com/2yo1YDA2Un
— NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2016
ESPN is reporting that sources have told them that the NBA is reaching out to multiple cities to take the game over. Wojnarowski says New Orleans is now the league's focus for a location, and Las Vegas is also being explored.
The league hopes to reschedule the game in the city by 2019, which leads us to assume that they hope the law is repealed by then.
Michael Jordan and the Hornets released a joint statement, which reads: "We understand the NBA's decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019. We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game."
Until the law is repealed, this could be the first of many sporting events, among other activities, to be pulled from the state and one of the nation's largest cities.
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After watching the horrific deaths of two black men on camera last week, it's hard to come to terms with today's harsh realities. For many, we believed that police body cameras would bring about transparency and accountability in departments across the country. President Obama announced last year the launch of a three year, $75 million project to provide body cameras to local police departments. At one point we believed that the country was making strides in changing a culture of police brutality and racial profiling.
Last week proved to me how police body cameras are an imperfect ally in our fight for social justice and inequality.
Funding police body cameras is one step in the right direction but states have found ways around this push for transparency. This week, North Carolina's governor signed a bill that would ban police body camera footage from the public, unless obtained by a court order.
What's the point of having a body camera if we can't view or get a copy of what's being recorded?
North Carolina is one of a dozen states known to use the law to their advantage to keep us from holding police officers accountable. The legislation in North Carolina excludes police body and dash camera footage from open records laws which are basically your right to access information deemed public. Examples of public records are city official salary information, city budget, the number of police broken down by demographic. In some cases, personnel records provide how many times officers have been reprimanded for use of force. Every state is different when it comes to open records laws and experiences a constant policy battle to update their ancient content.
The outdated legislation is geared towards protecting police officers making it easier to keep footage exempt from the law.
North Carolina has made it okay for you to access the footage if you are shown in the video, but you cannot obtain a copy without law enforcement signing off on it. Law enforcement can deny your request for a copy of the footage for "safety concerns". If you decided to take it further after being denied, your only recourse is a judge. That means you incur court costs and legal fees in order to obtain what should readily and easily be available to you.
You know it's a bad idea when even North Carolina's state Attorney General believes the new law has gone too far.
Body cameras are not going to be our saving grace. My grandmother used to say that there's more than one way to skin a cat. The same should be said for how we go about police reform. We have people willing to protest and shut down highways, proving that Black Lives Matter. Yet we also need the community to fight policies on a state level so that we aren't forced to demand justice for footage we catch on our cell phones.
In the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile we saw the scenes captured by a smartphone. The officer who shot Sterling and his partner both were wearing body cameras that became dislodged during the altercation. The footage captured by a witness aided in launching the federal investigation into Sterling's death.
So what am I proposing?
As a political expert, I will always preach that state and local governments play a HUGE role in your EVERYDAY life. From taxes to trash pick up all the way to zoning and schools, these elected officials have a duty to serve you and their communities. On a local level, many of your elected officials who hold office represent your area and live in them. Hold them accountable. The key here is you can only do so if you participate in state and local elections. Don't just "Stand with Her". (Clinton acts like we have another viable choice. Girl, we have nowhere else to stand).
Also, stand with the people who live on your streets representing you. In holding them accountable, you can argue against legislation that allows police to fail to be accountable. The same way we were blowing up the phone when Deray was arrested is the same way we can wait outside of city hall or the state capitol building to make sure public servants are aware they can't get away with concealing the truth.
When I think about the future implications of laws like this, I remember the many black men we have had to see die on camera. I think of Jonathan Ferrell, the former football player at FAMU who was shot dead by a North Carolina police officer while the dash camera recorded the entire tragic scene. The jury declared a mistrial. I think about Freddie Gray and the altercation that we watched go down between him and Baltimore police. Three officers have already been acquitted of all charges. I think of Eric Garner and that video of officers being on top of him and imagine just what it would feel like if I could not breathe because someone didn't value basic human rights. Yet, here we are two years later and the only person brought to justice is the young man who recorded the encounter. I think about Alton Sterling and that convenience store in Baton Rouge. A store not too far from where I completed my first year of law school, a store not too far from where my friends, brothers and cousins frequent. I think about what if it had been them and there was no footage that the public could see of a merciless murder.
If the cops want to hide footage, they can't expect us to hide our phones.
I ask that you join me in a fight to keep states and local governments from finding ways around keeping body cameras turned on, securely fastened, and footage readily available for copy upon your request. If you don't want us to see what you're doing out of "safety concerns", I think we have the right to argue that black lives are of a greater safety concern.
#Stopaskingpermission to question state and local government officials. #Stopaskingpermission to push back on legislation that hinders a movement. #Stopaskingpermission to force those who are elected by you, live near you and send their kids to school with yours to be the only voice that matters in this fight for social justice.
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As a proud HBCU alum and supporter, it's always been important to me to educate others about the legacy of our institutions. Even though I graduated from Tennessee State University and enjoy rivalries with schools like Florida A & M University and Jackson State University, I'm just glad to be a part of the HBCU family. With that being said, in recent weeks I have seen reports of HBCUs losing accreditation, state legislators trying to bankrupt them, and PWI graduates questioning their legitimacy. Although the last one can happen on any given day, especially if you upset the right person, the other two are troubling and bring about an important question. Have we failed our HBCUs?
And it's time we stop asking for permission to save them.
Quick history lesson. Historically Black Colleges and Universities were started in church basements, old schoolhouses, and the homes of black families. These were just some of the very few places blacks could get a college education. They provided access to education and resources that otherwise would be next to impossible to receive. Initially, HBCUs were breeding grounds for teachers and farmers. From there the type of black excellence produced by HBCUs expanded to other areas like medicine, law and engineering. Today we have over 100 HBCUs in 19 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These prestigious institutions have produced notable graduates like Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), Common (Florida A& M University), Spike Lee (Morehouse College), Stephen A. Smith (Winston-Salem State University) and Toni Morrison ( Howard University), just to name a few.
With all these academic receipts proving that we do indeed produce the best of the best, why does society constantly question HBCUs?
Folks love pulling the accreditation joke card, but this is no laughing matter. Paine College is currently in a battle with recommendations to revoke its accreditation due to financial concerns. The college has been on probation since 2014 for not satisfying deficiencies in financial stability and control of sponsored research/external funds. So who's been playing with the collection plate? It seems as though the college has mismanaged funds and despite efforts to deal with its financial issues, the top brass has taken major blows to their payroll and football program.
To add fuel to the fire and scrutiny, North Carolina recently proposed a bill that would reduce tuition to three HBCUs in the state and potentially change the name of them as well. The bill proposed by Senator Tom Apodaca had the potential to bankrupt Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, and Fayetteville State University. What would make a state legislator think potentially eradicating three HBCUs is ok? Critics of the legislation believe that the senator intentionally went after the lower performing schools in the state because they lack large endowments and powerful supporters to advocate for new funding in the legislature. After alumni gathered together, that bill was quickly shut down.
So here's what all of this says to me. We have failed to invest in our HBCUs not just financially but also in their infrastructure. If we rally together, we can save our beloved institutions and legacy.
Former President of Spelman College, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, spoke a word in 1988 when she said, "If we can tithe for our churches, we can tithe for our schools. This doesn't mean we turn away from the Federal Government or from the private sector, but either we support these institutions or they will die."
Not only do we need to tithe our schools, we need to make sure that our schools operate efficiently and provide the best opportunities for success to students. With FOUR HBCUs having a 6-year graduation rate over 50% we have a big problem on our hands.
So instead of focusing on who is tailgating for homecoming and how great the Kappa Tea Party will be, let's focus on some real solutions that we can do before we return to the yard.
Join the national alumni association of your alma mater. From there the resources can link you with a local chapter in your city. It may seem like a club full of old people but those old people were the reason my first year at TSU was paid for. (Shout out to the Tennessee State Atlanta Alumni Chapter.) These chapters will host a fish fry or sell a t-shirt in a second if it means that one of our own gets to attend an HBCU. So join.
Invest in our HBCUs. Yes, there is the United Negro College Fund but did you know that not every HBCU is a member college of the UNCF? Donate directly to the institution. Each institution has its own committee whose sole purpose is to raise funds. Help them out and donate today. A little can go a long way.
Mentor incoming freshman. With enrollment declining at HBCUs we need to work to keep the talent that we have recruited. Be there from the beginning. I remember alumni helping move me into my dorm and making sure I was okay throughout my matriculation. I was extremely grateful for the hot meals and love they sent during my time in college. I also remember a few years back, alums started making baskets and dropping them off to random freshmen at their dorms during homecoming. Nothing says we love having you as a part of the family like a box of Ramen Noodles and Capri Suns. Grab your friends and make it a part of your yearly homecoming tradition.
Update the narrative of HBCUs. For many, we can only name HBCU alumni over 50 who have made great strides in the world. But I can name two alumni of my own who are changing the NFL like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of the NY Giants and Anthony Levine of the Baltimore Ravens. When we talk about notable alumni lets include the newer generations and remind prospective students that HBCUs aren't bottom of the barrel schools but great places where opportunity collides with excellence.
As always, stop asking permission and start saving our HBCUs. Even if you didn't attend one, you know at least one black person that has gone to Howard or Morehouse (they are everywhere). Invest in our HBCU legacy because it's one worth saving and one that started without asking permission.
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Federal investigators have closed their case into the death of a teen from Bladenboro, North Carolina. According to The Fayetteville Observer, they will also not pursue civil rights charges. 17-year-old Lennon Lacy was founding hanging from a swing set in 2014, and many people believed that he was lynched in a hate crime.
Over the past couple of years, Lacy's family has questioned many things about the case and the circumstances of his death, including the shoes he was wearing. They say that the shoes found on him after his death were not his, among other things.
A pathologist hired by the NAACP also questions how Lacy, a nearly 200 lb. teen, would have been able to hang himself in that manner. There are also conflicting reports about what happened at the scene.
There have also been claims that Lacy's involvement with a 31-year-old white woman may have led someone to plot and kill him. Additionally, the Bladen County area has been subject to Ku Klux Klan activity for many years.
After his death, Lacy's grave and memorial site were desecrated and a whole was dug in front of his grave.
He would have graduated from his school this spring.
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Daddy's Little Princess, written by 7-year-old Morgan Taylor, introduces girls to black and brown royalty from around the world. Morgan believes that her book featuring diverse Princesses and Queens will inspire other girls to hold their heads high and 'rock a crown'.
This second-grade author is no stranger to feeling like she was unworthy of royalty. Daddy's Little Princess was born from a conversation between Morgan and her father, where she told him that she "didn't feel like a real princess."
The moment is captured in the book, which Morgan read aloud at the International Civil Rights Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.
"Morgan's eyes shone bright with amazement. 'Wow daddy, all these princesses are really cool and they're brown like me. I guess I really can be a princess.'"
Morgan's father, who is the co-author of Daddy's Little Princess and a former educator, pointed out that "diversity in literacy increases the educational success of minority children." He says Daddy’s Little Princesses does the opposite as “this book excites, ignites, and educates young readers,” in an effort to inform and build self-esteem.
Check out Morgan sharing the story with her peers.
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