Attention! We interrupt the usual onslaught of Eurocentric images and ingrained white supremacy to welcome you to... Black History Month! Still 7 percent shorter than all the white-people months, but we'll take what we can get, right? But white people, don't despair just because you're not centered in this conversation—you can contribute to black history, too! (I mean, besides tacitly supporting the racist system that most of the people we celebrate this month died fighting against, silly!) If my being in your presence, minding my own business, somehow causes you to feel discomfort, annoyance, or abject fear, remember: All you gotta do is make one phone call. Once the police show up, if their own racist indoctrination makes them "fear for their life"—BOOM! I'm black history, too.
"The length of black life is treated with short worth." —Black Star, "Thieves in the Night"
The EMP Black History Month celebration kicks off Saturday, February 7, with an event called "The Value of Black Life"—an art showcase and concert featuring Seattle's Draze (who helped mastermind the event) and headlined by no less than the Brooklynite Black Star Talib Kweli. (Pronounced TAH-LIB KWAH-LEE, people—if you're wondering how to say someone's name, you just gotta listen to how they say it.) "Pro-black Kweli" (c. the Roots' "Rolling with Heat") was last seen on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri—maybe you've heard of it—having police threaten to "blow [his] fucking head off," dissing how the media was covering the Mike Brown protests, and flaming the helmet of CNN house anchor Don Lemon like it was going out of style. I'm looking forward to what he and Draze have to say on the value of black life—because we getting changed out here on the daily.
The 206 chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation marks 11 years of existence this month as well—on Friday, February 6, they bring North Cackalack's beat scientist 9th Wonder to the Crocodile. Also on the bill is a powerful local lineup of rising black star power featuring Renton powerhouse Romaro Franceswa, fresh-off-tour JusMoni, and the effortless vintage vibes of Dex Amora. On February 7, 206 Zulu's celebration continues at Washington Hall with their Zulu Throwdown b-boy/b-girl championship and their Meeting of the Minds—featuring DJ/b-boy/MC/graf/knowledge workshops stewarded by some of the area's most renowned reputables (and also myself—as part of the "knowledge workshop"). To cap all that off, on Sunday, February 8, there's a free all-ages Community Green Dinner at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Sadly, Black History Month will not be kicked off, so to speak, by a second Super Bowl win by our every-blaxploitation-hero-at-once-level-badass Seattle Seahawks. Nonetheless, I couldn't possibly admire Marshawn Lynch any more for his astonishing physicality, his under-sung charity work, and most of all, his frequent and not-so-subtle fuck-yous to the foul NFL establishment. Even if this was his last gasp with us, do like Beast Mode, kids: Subvert these institutions, frustrate expectations, control the ones trying to control you. Let your work speak for itself. ("When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever." —Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation.) And, can't forget: Listen to Lil Boosie.