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Kevin Powell's Letter to Trayvon Martin "Made in our America"

Read activist and author Kevin Powell's letter to Trayvon Martin.

Dear Trayvon:

What do I say to you, man-child, or for you, that has not already been said? I've tried writing this letter to you several times, and several times the words would not come. There have been tears in their place, or immense anger, and a painfully heavy kind of sorrow. Or some debilitating element of fear, if I can be vulnerable and real with you. Fear that I might say the wrong thing, or somehow offend you, your family, or someone who may not agree with my views of our society.

But this is not a time to be afraid, Trayvon. We are past that now, and we know that being afraid to speak and do is the same as creating your own prison, and being stuck there forever. These times are demanding courage, vision, love, and the determination to make sure your death is not in vain. For in writing this letter to you I am also writing it to myself, to America, to all of us, and asking myself, all of us, our America, to be truthful, in a way we have not been previously, about who we are.

Your murder, Trayvon, is a national tragedy, and the entire world's gaze is upon us with a mixture of empathy and disappointment. Empathy because any human being, regardless of her or his background, is going to feel the devastating loss of a life, even that of a stranger. Disappointment because we in America claim to be a democracy, one that sets the standard for other countries-a great nation where there is, allegedly, justice and equality for each and everyone-yet it took over six weeks for George Zimmerman to be arrested, and only because of loud and consistent public outcries

Mr. Zimmerman may have been the man who pulled the trigger, but there are so many responsible for your life ending abruptly at the age of 17. You did not deserve to die that young, not like that, in the frightened and tormented darkness of that Sunday evening in late February.

Furthermore Trayvon, I need to state, without hesitation, to those who have been quick to say that folks like me are screaming racism for the heck of it, that I love people, no matter who they are, that I really do believe there is just one race, the human race, that we are, each of us, sisters and brothers in the human family. And I do not simply condemn racism. I also denounce sexism, classism, religious intolerance and disrespect, homophobia, a reckless disregard and bigotry toward persons with disabilities, and violence in any way-in short, every form of hatred and human-to-human madness one can name.

We cannot merely be opposed to wrong and injustice that is convenient for us. We must also be opposed to every single kind of wrong and injustice, even if it does not directly touch or affect our lives. Because, eventually, it will. And because we human beings are ultimately connected, whether we want to accept that truth or not.

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Malcolm X’s Daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, Speaks On His Legacy And Netflix Docuseries

In commemoration of the 55th anniversary of his assassination, Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, spoke out on her father’s legacy and the popular Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X? 

Speaking with Democracy Now on Friday (Feb. 21), Ilyasah praised the filmmakers behind the six-part docuseries for their work in attempting to uncover, “Who killed our father? Who took the life of a very young man who challenged the moral compass of world nations.”

Ilyasah was just two years old when her father was assassinated in front of her, three of her sisters and her mother, Betty Shabazz, who was pregnant with twins at the time. A week before Malcolm’s murder, the family’s home was firebombed.

Ilyasah has no memory of her father’s assassination which took place on Feb. 21, 1965, inside Harlem's Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm was preparing to give a speech in the venue and invited his family to sit in the front row.

“I’m really grateful that I don’t have memory as my older sisters I’m sure can recollect, being 6 years old and 4 years old, the trauma and chaos and understanding that our father never came home,” she said. “And especially to my mother who was a young woman that actually saw bullets just tear my father’s body apart.”

The interview details the days leading up to Malcolm's death, including France banning him from entry into the country three weeks before his assassination. Malcolm who was only 39 years old when he died, traveled to Europe during the first week of February in 1965. He was turned away at the airport in France without explanation and subsequently forced to fly back to London where he delivered what would become one of his final speeches at the London School of Economics.

“He realized this was bigger than the Nation of Islam,” Ilyasah explained of Malcolm being banned from France. “The Nation of Islam itself did not have the power to keep him [out of France] and France did not want history to include that Malcolm was assassinated on their land. And so that speaks volumes, and my father understood that his life was not just challenged by the Nation of Islam. It was much bigger than that.

“It’s important to look at the work that he was doing,” she added. “Challenging world powers, challenging world nations for taking control of an [unequal] distribution of the world’s wealth.”

Ilyasah also dismantles the notion that her father “miraculously became Malcolm X” after he went to prison by detailing how his upbringing shaped his interest in political activism.

“He was always a leader,” she said. “He was always compassionate, he was always a learned young man. His parents instilled specific values in him and his siblings. The importance of self love, compassion, [and] care.”

Watch the full interview in the video above (Ilyasah’s portion begins at 12:17).

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Gregg DeGuire

Jhene Aiko Reveals Release Date For ‘Chilombo’ Album

Jhene Aiko announced the release date for her third studio album and what appears to be the album artwork on Friday (Feb. 21). The album titled, Chilombo, after Aiko’s sur name, is slated to drop on March 6 and promises to be some of her “realest” work to date.

“Just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO #phew realest s**t I ever wrote,” the Grammy-nominated tweeted on Monday (Feb. 17). Aiko described the album as an compilation of her previous work. “If sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO.”

just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO 👏🏼 #phew realest shit i ever wrote....

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

if sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO 🌋

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

Last month, Aiko dropped the track “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW),” which is expected to be on the album. Aiko’s last album, Trip, was released in 2017.

See the Aiko's latest album artwork below.


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"Chilombo" March 6th 🌋

A post shared by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo 🌋 (@jheneaiko) on Feb 21, 2020 at 6:00pm PST

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Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Jojo Announces ‘Good To Know’ Album And Tour

Jojo has a new album, Good to Know, dropping this spring and will be hitting the road for a headlining tour kicking off in April, the singer announced on Friday (Feb, 21).

The album title encompasses all that Jojo has learned “in the past few years,” she explained in a statement. “Every piece of feedback, criticism (internal or external), whatever it is — it’s all just information. And it’s all good! I’ve been lucky to have the space to reflect on my own journey up to now, and I hope people can take comfort in the fact that I am not anywhere near perfect, and I will never sugarcoat anything. We're all constantly living and learning and that’s what makes this life fun.”

The 'Good to Know' tour launches at Seattle’s The Showbox on April 21, and wraps May 30, at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Presale tickets will be available beginning Monday, Feb, 24. Additional tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, Feb. 28.

Click here for more information.

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