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Chuck D: ‘There’s a Poison Going On’

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “I want to use this as a teachable moment. All of that stuff with Flav and Bernie Sanders and the lawyers was all part of a plan. I wanted to see what happens when you present a bad look. And, it worked. I was trending for a bad look, and I thought that for more than 30 years, Public Enemy has given you nothing but good looks.

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Chuck D debuted the group’s new single, “Food as a Machine Gun.” The single features a reunion of Chuck D and Flavor Flav.

PE Leader Releases New CDs, Graphic Novel

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

It turns out the social media beef between Public Enemy icons Chuck D and Flavor Flav was a hoax.

“April Fools” – sort of.

Chuck and Flavor today released brand new music, and the relationship between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends remains as tight as ever.

In an exclusive interview with National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., broadcast live on Facebook and at  BlackPressUSA.com, Chuck D debuted the group’s new single, “Food as a Machine Gun.”

The single features a reunion of Chuck D and Flavor Flav.

“It’s the most important rap record ever,” the superstar stated.

Chuck D called the record important because it arrives at a time when many still take hip-hop for granted, and that includes African Americans and the artists themselves.

“Last year, I finished a four-year tour of the world with Prophets of Rage, and we played to packed stadiums and I watched Rage Against the Machine do a five-night run to sold out crowds in the [Madison Square] Garden. I saw how loyal their fans were and how wild they are. How much they loved their rock stars,” Chuck D stated.

“With hip-hop, our fans aren’t like that, and the artists are led by their having to get breadcrumbs.”

He said the media and others had taken away the narrative from hip-hop.

“Now, it’s time to take the narrative back from those who have side-swiped it. They need to be eliminated,” Chuck D added.

In February, news outlets reported that Flavor had been fired from Public Enemy after a dispute erupted between him and Chuck over the group’s performance during a Bernie Sanders campaign rally.

Flavor’s lawyers released a statement saying that the rapper hadn’t consented and was against the group supporting Sanders.

Things appeared to have heated up in the feud after Chuck took to Twitter and seemed to “out” Flavor as having a substance abuse problem.

However, Chuck explained to the NNPA Newswire that, while Flav does enjoy a Hennessy and chaser a little more frequently than what he believes a 60-year-old should, there’s never been an accusation of drug abuse, in contrast to the meaning that many took way from Chuck’s tweets on social media.

“Flav’s name was dragged through the mud so much in 2018 and 2019, so I had to do something to bring him up,” Chuck explained to NNPA Newswire.

“My name is kind of Teflon, but his wasn’t, so I thought this was a way of bringing him up. I had people say, ‘why are you doing stuff to Flav?’ I responded that ‘you aren’t supporting him. What are you doing to support him?”

Further, Flav wasn’t fired because “you can’t fire a partner,” Chuck D stated. “It shows you that people don’t pay attention.”

He called the banter between him and Flav a “hoax that ain’t no joke.”

“It’s a serious hoax,” he said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Chuck and Flav have worked tirelessly on the new CD.

Chuck also has worked on a second CD that includes several friends from the hip-hop community. Both CDs were released simultaneously.

With a degree in the Arts, Chuck has also applied his talents as a graphics, sketch and caricature artist.

He chronicled the past month in a journal filled with narratives and sketches, including eye-opening renderings of Prince, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Notorious BIG, and many others.

“I was dismayed about how the whole narrative of hip-hop went into the area where we only talk about dead rappers,” Chuck D stated.

“Common gave probably the most incredible performance I had ever seen on television at the NBA All-Star Game in February, and you only heard crickets,” Chuck noted.

“Pop Smoke got killed, and the media was on it, and his records rose up the charts. We went through this with Nipsey Hustle. The narrative is that you’ve got to be a dead rapper to be relevant in the news, and that’s disrespectful.

“I want to use this as a teachable moment. All of that stuff with Flav and Bernie Sanders and the lawyers was all part of a plan. I wanted to see what happens when you present a bad look. And, it worked. I was trending for a bad look, and I thought that for more than 30 years, Public Enemy has given you nothing but good looks.

“We made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but this situation with Flav got us trending more than we did then. Thirty years after I made ‘Fear of a Black Planet,’ the digital age is fixed on what they see. I was on stage with Bernie Sanders, and nobody can tell you what they heard,” he said.

Because people tend to be more visual today, Chuck said he thought he’d chronicle the past 30 days. He didn’t anticipate a pandemic.

“Just thought I’d show things in pictures with the book, and the coronavirus came along, and there was even more to do,” he stated.

The book is titled, “There’s a Poison Going On,” but the name was decided upon long before the pandemic, Chuck assured.

“It’s ironic because, for the whole month of March, there’s been a poison going on for real,” he stated. “Maybe, people will pay attention to a good look the next time and not always a bad look.”

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U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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