Right Inside You


Jermaine Lamarr Cole was born on January 28, 1985 in Frankfurt, Germany. His mother was a European woman and his father was an African American man.  Unfortunately, his father left, he and his mother soon moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was here he grew up and his love of rap began to form. He soon was put into the rap game at a very young age and this is where he began to learn the ropes of rapping from his cousin. He eventually spent his teen years posting his music on the internet under the name the “Therapist”. From here he hoped for a better chance in life and pursued that chance by moving to New York where he attended St. John’s University. After graduating with a major in communication and a minor in business, he began working as a tax collector. After recording his first mix-tape he hoped to have Jay-Z listen to it but was soon denied and his hopes of a career in hip-hop seemed to fade. It wasn’t until Jay-Z heard Cole’s song “Lights Please” that he decided to contact Cole and set up a meeting. J Cole was then officially signed by Jay-Z to his Roc Nation where he got his first record deal. J Cole has went on to write several albums each topping his previous one on the charts.

I don’t know what exactly it was in Cole’s life that has made him a very radical rapper, to be honest I don’t think you can say it was just one thing. Whether it was his struggle as a child in a bad neighborhood or even the fact that he is an African American man in a country that still discriminates based on skin color. No matter what reason he is pulling on in his songs, he finds a way to voice his opinion and views on a controversial topic in America today. In order to see the full progression of J Cole’s radicalism we have to look back at some of his earlier works.


Cole’s Radicalism

One of his first radical works was a single named “Problems” (listen to song below) where he talks about racial profiling/injustice and even about black fear of the police. In this song we hear at the beginning of verse 2, Cole talking about being pulled over by a police officer and how the relationship between a black man and the police is so poor in today society. In the lyrics we see Cole talking about how the police are supposed to keep the peace right? Well, maybe not because in today’s society it seems like they are only out to catch black men doing something wrong. This section of his lyrics show how he was driving “pretty peaceful”, but is still getting pulled over and the only reason he can think of is his skin color. He continues with talking about how he is nervous simply when a cop car is behind him and it makes him feel like a criminal. The most radical part of this song comes next when he is asking what the cop sees when he looks at him. He is questioning the racial profiling that is so prevalent in today’s society and spins this on its head when he says all the black men in the car aren’t criminals, in fact they all have college degrees. It is lyrics like this that take shots at the injustice and discrimination that has taken over the criminal justice system. Cole even talks about how African American men are being killed in the streets everyday but, don’t make the news. Instead we hear about some irrelevant story about some famous person being unfaithful. During this entire song he is questioning the whole system and how it’s crazy that we sit here and judge people because of things like the color of the skin. In the end we all have problems and I think this is radical and something my African American studies class has talked a lot about. He isn’t just attacking cops and how they are prejudice but how the whole system is flawed, making people judge each other when in reality no one is perfect.

J Cole is not even close to being done, he dropped another radical verse on the song “Fire Squad” (see song below), where he drops names of white artist like Eminem and Iggy Azalea. The verse starts at minute 2:57 and goes till 3:30. In this verse we hear what sounds like Cole attacking white artist, but in reality he is attacking what is happening to black culture. Cole said this observation came when he was browsing the jazz page of iTunes and 99% of the artist were white. He talks about how Jazz is a black form of music and was rebellious back in its day and sees Hip-Hop as the jazz of today’s society. He then recognizes how it is being taken over by white artists because it is easier for the system to realize they can sell white hip-hop so much easier than a black artist. The line, “Same rope you climb up on, they’ll hang you with”, is the perfect way to help the listener visualize how Cole sees this white takeover of a black form of rebellion. Cole says he by no means discredits white artist in this genre but, is simply noticing how yet again white privilege takes over a piece of black culture.

One of J Coles most radical pieces entitled “Be Free” (listen below), was released in light of the killing of Michael Brown. In the song we hear a very emotional Cole; in the hook we hear his voice waver as he says “all we wanna do is be free”. It is here Cole says black people want nothing more than to be free, than to take the chains off. This idea that blacks are still chained is so strong and radical because no white person wants to think that slavery still exist. This song is about so much more than just one man dying, it is the soul of all African Americans crying out for this injustice to stop. Cole as a black man sees Michael Brown as a reflection of himself and states that there is no gun that can kill his soul. This strong claim unites the black community in one single lyric to never give in to this oppression. The most impactful part of this song is the eyewitness account from one of Browns friends. Cole ensures by adding this that the injustice in this crime can never be hidden because it will always be remembered when this song is played.

J Cole just recently released his biggest project yet in his album “4 Your Eyez Only”. In this album Cole speaks out on social wrongs, black lives, and doing the right thing in a world full of wrongs. The songs are filled with moments of jazz sounds bringing his music back to the first form of black radicalism in the music industry. Cole has even refused to comment on this album stating he wants the music to speak for itself. One of his most radical songs on this record is a song named “Neighbors” (listen below), where he talks about how he, a black man, is racially profiled by his white neighbors. The song actually depicts a true story that happened to J Cole and a house he owned in a rich white neighborhood in North Carolina. He had bought the house to act as a studio/safe house for the members of his team at Dreamville, his record label. In the song he talks about how the neighbors see black guys outside smoking weed and all of a sudden they hear the police at their door. Cole goes on to say its only because his neighbors think they are selling dope, off only the fact that the house is full of black men in a rich, white neighborhood. Cole even voices his opinion of how black men feel in today’s society saying they all feel like a candidate for the fate that Trayvon Martin received, death at the hands of a racist man. He again like in past songs tries to shed light on how he is paranoid at the thought of cops and how the police simply assume they are criminal’s due to their complexion. He even ends the song on a sad note as saying he gives up on the hope of integration into white communities and even society. This song is so radical to me because the fact the song is based on a true story, proves injustice can happen to any black man no matter his status. That no matter your status in society if you are a minority, you will be subject to prejudice and racism. Throughout this whole album Cole is writing from many different perspectives and is hoping to target black youth and stop the pattern so many fall into today. He is radically trying to change a problem but not stop racism because at this point he feels like it is a lost cause, he instead wants to teach these kids they have to save themselves because the system won’t help them. Cole ends his last song on a hopeful note that maybe, just maybe, kids will understand the true message of this album that they have to rely on themselves and no one else to stop this oppression.

The last song I would like to explore is J Cole’s latest single “High For Hours” (listen below), which is brimming with radical lyrics that question even past president Barrack Obama’s character as a black man with political power. Cole starts his radicalism by attacking religion and how religion is overtaken by ego today and how they justify taking a life though their religion. He says this is why ISIS is a problem and even has a problem with how when Bin Laden was killed he say people were so happy. He even relates this to the commandment, thou shall not kill, but yet cops are still killing black men in his hometown. He then talks about a conversation he had with Obama at the White-House last year where he basically asked why he doesn’t do anything about the racial injustice since he has all the power. He says the president said he was well aware of the injustices and wanted to help but couldn’t due to politics. That being said Obama tells him to not stop fighting and that change will happen it’s just slow, but Cole is done with the gradual change and says he will keeping fighting his fight until they kill him. He ends this song with a different view on revolution and says that he used to think it was the best form of radicalism but now he sees it differently. He says it is simply a vicious cycle that gives the oppressed power that they then use to oppress someone else. Cole believes that the only true revolution happens right inside yourself, which is definitely a radical way of seeing things.

No, matter what album you are listening to of J Cole’s you are bound to hear his views on the world. You may not agree with all that he says but, there is no way you can say he is not radical whether it is his music, countless attempts to help his community, or even his recent movie that was just released on HBO,”4 Your Eyez Only.” Cole is sure to push the boundaries of American comfort in all his works and is not afraid to call anyone out for their ignorance. I think it is easy to say, “Well, yeah J Cole is radical and yes he risks a lot rapping about the radical things he raps about.” That being said J Cole doesn’t want to only be one radical rapper speaking up for the injustice of the minority population. He wants to be the powder keg that can explode due to the up rise of the minority population. In my African American studies class we have discussed that radicalism doesn’t have to be selling a radical album to millions of people. It can be as simple as listening to a radical record and making sure the message of that radical message is spread truthfully and justly. Just as J Cole says, “The only real revolution happens right inside of you.”

Well-Oiled Machine

Well I think it’s finally time for you as my reader and me personally to attack the question I have been struggling with for this whole semester. This big question, is the criminal justice system truly broken or is it functioning exactly the way it was created, is something I have pondered with. I myself, like most want to believe that it has to be broken, right? Who would create something that is skewed against an entire race, maybe in the past but not today in the land of the free where we say we are all equal. That is all nice to think but, If you think about it, America is exactly who would create a system like that, we have done it for years. It really isn’t anything new, the truth is the criminal justice system makes money and blacks have always been suppressed so why not just make it seem like they are criminal.Image result for criminal justice system working to hurt black

So this is me saying the system is not broke, that’s right you heard me the criminal justice system is not broke and it was never broken. The system that is here to protect us is a business and the owners don’t care who “buys” their product as long as they are making money. That being said for whatever reason you want to say black people make up for more of the customers and  are especially more likely to return to ‘buy’ again. You think whatever you want to why this is true but I’m going to tell you the actually reason. It’s not because blacks are criminals and deserve to be in jail. It’s not because the whole nation is racist and hate blacks so we criminalize them because of their skin color. It is because the 1% who makes money of this system would rather distract us with racial tensions then having us focus on the injustice of capitalism in America today.

Now listen I’m not saying there are black criminals who deserve to be in jail, they certainly do. I am certainly not saying there aren’t people who hate black people because they are black and no other reason that is true as well. The main reason is simply an elaborate construction by the government to keep our focus on an issue that shouldn’t even be relevant in today’s society, race. There is something I want to say as a white man. I too am guilty of buying into racial stereotypes, not because I am racist or was taught to hate blacks, but because the system has failed to teach the whole truth. Thus again keeps us uninformed and maintains the racial tension that feeds the greed of American capitalism. I personally have learned more in my first year of college about the struggle of African Americans and the true story behind race in America, then I ever learned in the other 18 years that I have lived on this earth.Image result for criminal justice system working to hurt black

If there is one thing I hope for any person reading this blog no matter your race, It is that you can’t believe and base all your opinions on what you have heard or learned about race until you really look at it from all perspectives. I know you’re thinking why would African Americans need to hear this and it’s because just because you are black doesn’t mean you know the whole truth and nothing will be changed regarding to race in America until we all recognize the true history of race in America. I know it’s not something that can change overnight but its start with educating and informing the populous of the truth, whether it be hard to hear. We will never be able to right the wrongs done onto the black community in America and we can ask them to forget them either. The truth is the past is sometimes an ugly place that we wish we could forget, but the truth is the past is what has shaped us. There are scares left on the fabric of this nation that will never fade away but we can’t look at them and see hate or sadness but instead see them for what they are scares that are and forever will be a part of us. The last thing I ask of you is to never strop informing yourself and if you want please take a look at the links I provide below. It’s just a part of what has shaped this blue eyed-view.


Taste the Rainbow

As I have discussed in this blog, racial inequality has been something our nation has struggled with for a long time. Something we thought was ended with the equal rights amendment, actually has never been stopped especially in the criminal justice system. This has been shown in cases like Rodney King and many like his. The shocking part is that it is still going on in present day America with cases like that of Trayvon Martin.

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Trayvon Martin was born on February 5, 1995, was a 17-year-old African-American high school student who lived in Miami Gardens, Florida, with his mother Sybrina Fulton. In February 2012, Martin was visiting his father Tracy Martin in Sanford, Florida, after being suspended from school. The story goes as follows: George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member in Sanford Florida was on patrol. On patrol he called 911 to report a “suspicious person” in his neighborhood. While on the phone George Zimmerman was told by the 911 operator not to approach or follow this person. However, Zimmerman disregarded the operator and preceded to get out of his car and approach the person later known as Trayvon Martin. The next moments are unclear as there is no footage of the incident but neighbors recall hearing gunshots and Zimmerman claims of shot Trayvon in self-defense saying he felt threatened, however Trayvon had no weapon on him merely a drink and a pack of skittles. In the police reports it states that Zimmerman had a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head.

Image result for trayvon martinAfter nearly two months Zimmerman is finally put on trial for second-degree murder after the tapes of the 911 calls were released to the public, multiple protest broke out, and other evidence was collected. It was proven that Trayvon had no weapon on him at the time of the altercation and was doing nothing illegal. However, Zimmerman stated he thought Trayvon had a gun in his waste band and reached to use it. The case went down as a self-defense case instead of the other choice as Zimmerman using the stand your ground rule. The jury ultimately found George Zimmerman not guilty of second degree ma slaughter. No matter what actually happened that night when Taryvon was awfully killed, on fact remains. The case was just one example of how the race of Trayvon affected all aspects of this case whether it being Zimmerman’s actions, the way the department handled the case, and even how the media received and portrayed the incident.

Many people have their own thoughts of the Trayvon Martin case and I understand that, because it can be a complicated case to break down and one that holds many emotional aspects. My view, yes me the white man going to college, thinks it was in just and yes I blame George Zimmerman for what happened and I do believe it could’ve went down a different way than it did. But, I also blame the criminal justice system that failed Trayvon and his family. That brings me back to my overarching question  for this whole blog, Is the criminal justice system broken and if so what must we do to fix it or is the system completely fine and simply working the way it was always meant to be.

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I know it is easy to think the system has to be broken right, we might not know how to fix it but it has to be broken. Who would create a system that purposely discriminates against people solely on the color of their skin in today’s society? That question while writing it made me laugh because it’s that exact thing that America was built on, a split between races. It is exactly what the criminal justice system was built on, and if the system was built on that fact that blacks are more criminal they how could it the system be fixed if it was never built to be equal in the first place?

I don’t expect you to answer this right now, hell or even accept it the first time you hear it. I just ask you to think about it and mull it over until my next post where I will break this down with clear and distinct evidence. The honest truth is until we stop believing everything we think we know and only accept what we learn to be true, we can never answer my question and can never fix the problem.

Links used: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/05/us/trayvon-martin-shooting-fast-facts/



Deliberation re-cap/ summary

The deliberation I went to in town was titled Marijuana. The three approaches that were discussed was first the approach of decriminalizing marijuana in the states but not legalizing it. they talked about how this would be more like a traffic ticket if you were stopped with pot and the benefits would be that cops could not spend as much time and the system would spend less money on marijuana incidents for the whole booking, housing and imprisonment process. This however comes with some moral objections for people who see this drug as wrong and in just. I however see nothing wrong with pot and feel as though it should be legal in all regards.

The second approach was legalizing marijuana only for medical purposes also know as medicinal marijuana. This would thus, allow people who are prescribed a card from their doctors saying they need pot for a medical cause to be able to have access to it. This would be great for people who suffer from pain from diseases like cancer and has even been proven to help people with seizures as well. The deliberation talked how this would conflict with the fact that marijuana is a schedule one drug and thus is said to have no medical purposes. However this has been proven wrong and baffles me and many at the deliberation that the government refuses to change marijuana scheduling. This also, holds the chances for people to abuse their card and get the marijuana for people who don’t need it for a medical purpose. However, that is true for any pain prescription and medication. that thus leads me to my final point on this approach and that is the legalizing pot for medical use is threatening the opioid market and manufacturers. Which is ironic because the drug company’s are huge contributors to government personnel and thus gives these people a reason to want to keep pot illegal.

The third approach talked about at the deliberation was that of full legalization of marijuana. This would be the most drastic and has a strong economical positive. That being that if legal nationally we could tax this product federally and use the billions of dollars to help with the debt of the country. This would create million of jobs and opportunities for people and also cut down on prison population and costs. This would eliminate funds going to stop this drug and fighting more serious crimes like murder. The negatives are that this drug could lead others to do worse drugs all though marijuana is not addictive in itself. I however do not agree with this and the gateway method has been disproved. The other negative would be that we would become this one big stoner nation which is definitely not what would happen just like alcohol it would be used as a way to escape our ever day mundane lives. This may not be what everyone in America thinks is right but that does not mean it should not be legal for people to decide for themselves.

In all the deliberation was a great conversation although it was heavily biased toward pot legalization and overall not being a hindrance on society. Even if that is what I believe I wished I heard the other side of the argument.

Color is King

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The phrase racial inequality holds many different emotions and views for each person in America depending on your life experience. But, what most people will think of is back to slavery or even the civil rights movement. It seems like something that has happened ages ago and is something that us great Americans have overcome and wiped out. Well that’s what we would like to think but just 26 years ago the nation was hit with the most public display of racial inequality in many years. The beating of Rodney King a black man by white Los Angeles cops in 1991 and little did we think this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Rewinding a little bit Mr. King was born on April 2nd, 1965 in Los Angeles. On March 3, 1991 Rodney King a taxi driver, was caught by cops while under the influence of alcohol but was initially stopped being stopped for speeding. He initially tried to avoid the police but, eventually pulled over after a police pursuit. A nearby citizen witnessed and recorded Rodney King being assaulted by four white police officers. Many reports from bystanders said King never tried to resist arrest but, was still tazed and beaten over 50 times. His injury’s consisted of heavy bruising, a broken leg, and a scar from the tazing.

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The four officers involved were later charged with police brutality regarding to the incident with Mr. King. They were then put on trial for their crimes nearly a year later, however were quickly acquitted by the mostly white jury. This cases ruling lead to many riots and protest in the following days of the trial. Despite Rodney King’s plead asking, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?”  However, the riots continued killing 55 people and injuring thousands more.  This event of police brutality was the first of its kind being captured on video and later viewed by the public. http://www.biography.com/people/rodney-king-9542141#acquittal-and-resulting-riots

It is events just Rodney kings that have erupted across America today causing the same type of up roar and unrest between the African American and police community. It is events, as simple as a speeding violation that are taken out of context by white officers due to the perpetrators skin color. An issue as basic as race has yet again become something that separate’s a nation that promises freedom and just for all. It is precisely events like that of Mr. King that scare me as a white man to venture into the world of law enforcement. I believe events like these should never happen, but I understand won’t change overnight. I as a white man feel like we as a nation should stop trying to be color blind. The issue is not within us seeing color and recognizing the differences many Americans share in complexion.

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The problem lies within the household of Americans where racism and prejudice is still taught whether initially or not. Ignorance is not something we are born with, in fact it is something we are taught. Now I know I can’t change the way millions of Americans think through this simple blog but, maybe I can shed a White perspective on this sensitive problem in America today. Clearly the problem has been rampid within the criminal justice system for years. In class the other day a very interesting question was posed about the justice system. The question was whether the system is broken or instead that the system is perfectly fine, but simply working the way it is designed, to keep African Americans oppressed.

I found this questioning very complex and simulating. The simply response is of course the system is broken, Rodney King’s case is a prime example how, but not all police are bad so there is the answer. Then I began to think of how there has never been a fix we are nearly 26 years later and are seeing examples just like that of Rodney King all over the media and country today. I at this movement don’t have the answer myself to that question but hope to ponder the question within this blog.

That being said Rodney king’s video is till available for viewing and can be watched by all at this link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/march-3rd-1991-rodney-king-lapd-beating-caught-on-video/. The sad fact remains as long as events like the beating of Rodney King continue, we truly will not have freedom and justice for all.


Black and Blue: A Nations Bruise

Today in America there has been a rise in tensions between African American and police communities. From racial profiling, all the way to questionable shootings between white cops and black “suspects” have shook the nation. This has led to an uproar in not only the African American Community, but also that of the police community and anyone who holds an opinion on racial disparities in America today.

I know exactly what you are thinking me being a young white man knows nothing of discrimination regarding to race and can’t possible come to understand the magnitude these events hold in today’s society. The fact is that is one hundred percent true, I have no idea what it is like to be racially profiled as a criminal due to my race and probably never will. That being said I can give my perspective as a white man on the tragedies that have been seen across the nation that claims liberty and justice for all.

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Although this civic issue has many cases to be looked at I want to first give my board view of the racial disparities in America today. Truth be told my view on the racial injustice in The United States was that of a view once skewed by stereotypes and out of context statistics.  I thought it was fact that African Americans commit more crimes and thus went to prison more. That then rolled into my thought that it wasn’t because of their race but because of the places they live and the situations they are born into. I soon realized I was the problem in today’s world of policing, police/society shared the same thoughts I did. The worst part being I want to be a cop!

The more I learned the truth about racial profiling and disparity, the more I have begun to see what lies at the root of the problem we see regarding to race in America today. It’s not the belligerent racist’s although there are some out there they aren’t the majority and are easy to point out, but the real problem is the uneducated or miss informed. The fact is, there are more white people then there are black people in America today, which translates into more white people should be arrested and more white people then incarcerated. This isn’t a race thing but simply a numbers thing. If there are more people of a certain race to commit crime numbers say they most likely will. Yet people believe what I once thought and then racial profile African Americans as criminal. This brings us exactly to where this civic issue bred from. Racial profiling is shown in charts like these:


http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/08/racial_disparities_in_the_criminal_justice_system_eight_charts_illustrating.html. It is precisely these statistics that show the root of the problem as I have said before. These numbers should be reversed based on the percentage of white Americans on the road then African American and Hispanic. Something as small as a six percent gap in police searches of cars is only adding fuel to the fire that is racial disparity.

Recently these disparities have boiled to a head that exploded with the several questionable killings of African American men by white police officers. Thus has prompted retaliation through protest and unfortunately even violence, only furthering the gap between police and the black community. It has been very clear to me that there is clearly a problem with violence between the police and civilians, especially civilians of a dark complexion. However according to a poll in 2015 most white citizens disagreed that thus was a problem. http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/HTML%20Reports/law-enforcement-and-violence-the-divide-between-black-and-white-americans0803-9759.aspx. The finding was that, “Violence against civilians by police officers is an extremely or very serious problem according to nearly three-quarters of blacks and less than 20 percent of whites.” This was extremely shocking to me that although two years ago, white Americans can just simply ignore what is going on in society today.

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The pole then continues to show a sharp divide between white and black Americans on their views of police regarding excessive force and mistreatment due to race. Although I’m being very broad I feel I simply cannot give my view on more specific examples and cases of police violence, before I address the division in America on the topic depending on one’s race. There is no way this issue can get better until it is accepted by all as a major problem no matter your race and prior experience. I hope this view can start to show a new perspective to this huge national problem.