Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CFP: Examining Race in the 21st Century at Monmouth University

THEME: Examining Race in the 21st Century

DATE: Thursday, November 11 – Saturday, November 13, 2010

VENUE: Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ

The idea of race continues to be controversial. In spite of different historical developments in various parts of the world, the meaning of race and its significance remains an open issue.

Some of the questions this conference will address are:

Why do the issues that surround race continue to be important?
Is race a useful construct?
How are systems of racial classification and identity manifested in social institutions and relationships?

We seek individual papers, panels, workshops, and posters that can include but are not restricted to the following topics:

Race and identity in different cultures
Race, gender, ethnicity, color, and class
Race in the Obama era
Race and diversity in higher education
The concept of post-racialism in history and society
Race and popular culture
Race and urbanization
Race change[s]: Racial formation, then and now
Race and identity in local and global perspective
Race, continuity, and change
Implications of racial discourse
Race and ethnicity: similarities and differences
Race and power
Race, Gender, Class
Race and Labor
Race in Politics

Confirmed Speakers:

Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley (Keynote)
Professor of History and American Studies
Associate Director, Center for Diversity and Democracy
Department of Ethnic Studies and History
University of Southern California (USC)
Los Angeles, California

Dr. Isar P. Godreau
Researcher and Director
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
University of Puerto Rico, Cayey
Puerto Rico

Dr. Paul Finkelman
President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy
Senior Fellow, Government Law Center
Albany Law School
Albany, New York

Dr. Irene Silverblatt
Department of Cultural Anthropology
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Rogers Smith
Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Chair, Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism
Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania
College Park, Pennsylvania


Please send 250 word abstracts to Please visit the website at often for further updates.

Hettie V. Williams, Lecturer, African American History, Department of History and Anthropology,
Dr. Catherine Duckett, Associate Dean, School of Science, at

-- Nick J. Sciullo

CFP: Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies at DePaul University

“Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies,” the first annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, will be held at DePaul University in Chicago on November 5-6, 2010.

The CMRS conference brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines nationwide. Recognizing that the diverse disciplines that have nurtured Mixed Race Studies have reached a watershed moment, the 2010 CMRS conference is devoted to the general theme “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies.”

Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) is the transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions of race. CMRS emphasizes the mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. CMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Call for Papers - deadline May 7, 2010

The 2010 CMRS is organized by Camilla Fojas and Laura Kina (DePaul University) and Wei Ming Dariotis (San Francisco State University) and is sponsored by DePaul University Global Asian Studies (formerly Asian American Studies) and Latin American and Latino Studies and co-sponsored by the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, the MAVIN Foundation, and DePaul's Cultural Center, African Black Diaspora Studies and American Studies.

All queries should be directed to the conference chairs: or 773-325-4048.

The conference is free and open to the public but we do ask that you preregister at:

-- Nick J. Sciullo

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hip Hop as a Military Crime?

Specialist Marc Hall, a soldier in the 3rd Infantry Division, was jailed in December 2009 for writing and recording a hip-hop song that allegedly made threatening comments in connection with his commanding officers. The song, entitled “Stop-Loss,” what the military terms its policy of holding service members past their contracted enlistment dates, included the lyrics "round up all eventually, easily, walk right up peacefully" and rhymes "up against the wall, turn around . . . Ready to fire down, spray and watch the bodies all hit the floor." The Army interpreted these lyrics as veiled threats, jailed Hall and intended to court martial him.

"Until April 17, US Army Spc. Marc Hall sat in a military brig at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, facing an imminent court-martial for challenging the US military’s stop-loss policy in a song. Saturday morning, Spc. Hall was granted a discharge by the military." The decision to arrest Hall was curious from the beginning as the arrest was carried out more than five months after Hall mailed a copy of the song to the Pentagon and shared the music with his unit. The military has commented on the case, saying “If a threat is communicated, it needs to be taken seriously.”

The case not only raises questions about freedom of speech but also the military’s treatment of what it deems potentially dangerous soldiers particularly after the tragic shootings by Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in November 2009. Jim Klimanski, a civilian military lawyer argues that the song, rather than a threat to his commanding officers, is “political hyperbole” and describes the song as “his rant on stop-loss. It's political speech."

The song, which contains graphic lyrics, can be heard here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

R.I.P. Guru. R.I.P. GangStarr?

On Monday, April 19th, Guru, one of the truly talented MCs of all time, passed away after a long battle with cancer. He will, of course, be missed as an individual artist, but most of us were introduced to him as part of GangStarr, the group he performed in with DJ Premier for almost 15 years. The two parted ways, apparently acrimoniously, in 2003, after which Guru released a number of jazz/hip-hop fusion albums and then began collaborating with MC Solar. In a letter to his fans released after his death, Guru indicated a desire that Premier have nothing to do with any future use of Guru’s name or likeness, and he called himself the “sole founder of GangStarr.” According to the letter, Guru instructed his lawyers to allow only Solar to exploit his work. reported on Guru’s untimely passing and deathbed wishes:

For both lawyers and hip-hop fans, the Guru letter raises interesting questions. Putting aside technical questions about whether the letter accomplishes Guru’s legal purpose, to what extent do we want one member of a duo or group to restrict other members from using the work or image that was developed collaboratively? In a state that recognizes a post-mortem right of publicity, Guru’s heirs can limit Premier’s exploitation of Guru as an individual. But if Premier is a joint author of any copyrighted works developed by Gangstarr, or co-owner of any trademarks or other property of the duo, will Guru’s attorneys be able to give effect to his wishes? More importantly, in a creative community where collaborations create some of the richest music, and where beefs and splits are common, do we want any member to have veto power over the creative product, possibly limiting all of our enjoyment in it? Think of splits over the years between members of major groups such as EPMD and Eric B & Rakim, or, more recently, Dipset.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guru dies; The loss of a legend

Guru passed away yesterday, the victim of cancer. Although many new hip-hop heads might not remember Guru of Gangstarr fame, Guru worked for years with many of the world's greatest artists producing a soulful and passionate hip-hop. Guru's exciting belnd of Hip-Hop and Jazz created the storied Jazzmatazz series. These four CDs contained guest appearences by Donell Jones, Angie Stone, Bilal, Craig David, Issac Hayes, The Roots, Damian Marley, Roy Ayers, Branford Marsalis, and more.

My favorite Guru product was "No More" featuring Craig David. Although many in the hip-hop community seemed to think Guru had fallen off from his earlier success, I remian convinced that some of his greatest work was with newer neo-soul artists. This record used to be a hit on my turntables and I even incorporated it into a song on my first mixtape. Also check out Guru's guest appearence on "Johnny Was" from Chant Down Babylon.

Guru released the following letter to fans:

I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.

I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody's feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.

I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Feed Your Mind: Hip-Hop Books for 2010

This is a somewhat complete list of books that might help readers as they pursue hip-hop study that have been published to date. If you've come across other books, post them in the comments. And, if you've read some of these books, post your reviews below as well.

How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine Speaks by Dave Tompkins
336 pages, Melville House, ISBN-13: 978-1933633886

Raw Law: Don Diva's Hip-Hop Guide to Criminal Justice by Muhammad Ibn Bashir, Esq.
256 pages, Grand Central Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0446509350

City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success by Nelson George
288 pages, Plume, ISBN-13: 978-0452296046

Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation by Christopher Emdin
142 pages, Sense Publishers, ISBN-13: 978-9087909864

Hip Hop is Not Our Enemy: From A Preacher Who Keeps It Real by Dr. Kenneth T. Walum, Jr.
184 pages, AuthorHouse, ISBN-13: 978-1449074241

Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon by Tayannah Lee McQuillar
288 pages, Da Capo Press, ISBN-13: 978-1568583877

Political Poetry as Discourse: Rereading John Greenleaf Whittier, Ebenezer Elliott, and Hiphopology by Angela Michelle Leonard
374 pages, Lexington Books, ISBN-13: 978-0739122846

Why Are So Many Black Men in Prison? by Demico Boothe
160 pages, Full Surface Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1425713973

Post Black: How a New Generation Is Redefining African American Identity by Ytasha L. Womack
224 pages, Lawrence Hill Books, ISBN-13: 978-1556528057

-- Nick J. Sciullo

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hip Hop and Law School Admissions?

At the Veritas Prep Blog, last month was “Hip Hip Month” which included a post on how hip hop can help law students in the admissions process. The post describes how “introspection, emotion, and brutal honesty” are qualities that elevate hip hop and these are the qualities of winning personal statements. These qualities are what makes hip hop memorable and relevant and cause people to become invested in it – exactly the reaction a potential law student wants to see from the person reading their personal statement.

Directly from the Veritas Prep Blog:

"By now, you HAVE to be wondering: what can you, the law school applicant, possibly learn from a rapper?

It's pretty simple, actually: what you can learn is how to tell a story. Rappers - the good ones at least - are ultimately storytellers. The hip hop album generally considered to be the best ever recorded - Nas' Illmatic - is basically a spoken word version of his life's journal. The late great Tupac Shakur transitioned easily from "gangsta rap" to books of poetry and back again. These guys gave us tales of their life, made the words rhyme, and put it all over produced beats and sounds. That was their way of telling a story within the confines of a particular form.

Law school applicants also have the challenge of telling their unique story within the confines of a form . . . the personal statement."

The post can be found here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Call for Papers: Civil Rights, Social Justice, and the Midwest

Civil Rights, Social Justice, and the Midwest
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
October 28-31, 2010

Milwaukee in the 1960s and 1970s was a key site for civil rights marches, particularly around the open housing movement. From 1897 through much of the 20th Century, the city was governed by a succession of Socialist mayors, elected on their platform of practical, "sewer socialism." And Wisconsin itself and its Midwestern neighbors have long been home to experiments inintentional community.

We encourage papers, panels, presentations and performances on literary, political, social, and architectural aspects of the civil rights struggle, intentional communities, and practical socialism with a Midwestern focus for the 2010 conference. We also welcome papers on other aspects of the utopian tradition - from the earliest utopian visions to the utopian speculations and yearnings of the 21st century, including art, architecture, urban and rural planning, literary utopias, dystopian writings, utopian political activism, theories of utopian spaces and ontologies, music, new media, or intentional communities.

* * *

Milwaukee has a rich array of museums, restaurants, theaters, parks, and universities for conference attendees to visit. The city boasts the first U.S. commission by Santiago Calatrava, at the world-class Milwaukee Art Museum; Frank Lloyd Wright buildings; an excellent opera company; microbreweries galore; award-winning chefs; 19th Century beer baron mansions; Lake Michigan, and more.

Please send a 100-250 word abstract by June 1, 2010 to:

Brian Greenspan
Department of English
1812 Dunton Tower
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6

Or e-mail submissions to: (please put "sus submission" in the subject line). As you submit your abstract, please indicate if you have any scheduling restrictions, audiovisual needs (overhead projector; DVD/VHS player), special needs, or a need for a written letter of acceptance of your proposal.

For information about registration, travel or accommodations, please contact the Conference Coordinator, Peter Sands, at: sands@UWM.EDU

-- Nick J. Sciullo