Monday, July 30, 2012

Is Romney Competent??

Mitt Romney is just screwing up. He's really actually starting to make me a more than a little concerned. Even though I am a Democrat at heart, I don't think Mitt Romney is incompetent.  I mean, he's running for president, and has done so for eight years; that's gotta mean you can do something right, right?  He's run a business and the Olympics in Utah as well as been governor of a state. We know he's probably a pretty good manager. 

But he's starting to really concern me because the presidency is not just about management, it has some significant optical requirements, such as…well… the ability not to look like a prick or an a**hole to foreign nations.  The people of those nations and even those of the one you represent may not like all your stances, but even George Bush  2 looked relatively presidential while he ran for office. Mitt Romney managed to turn a softball question from, of all places, NBC's Brian Williams into an insult to an ENTIRE COUNTRY.  He continually picks, over and over again, the wrong thing, or something that feels really inauthentic, to say. All he had to do after being asked about the London Olympics was say, "They're doing a great job. I understand how tough it is to run one of things things…" He is essentially doing a Ms America tour: put on something pretty, smile, shake hands, and do the royal wave…then come on home looking presidential.  But to mess up, not once, not twice, but THREE OR FOUR TIMES?!?! In under 8 HOURS?!?!  On that same day, a member of his staff talked about re-establishing "anglo-saxon" unity, he pronounced that he met with the MI-6 super secret spy agency, and his wife has entered her pet horse (all I can do is sigh on that one…who in the hell has a pet horse that is not named Elizabeth Taylor starring in National Velvet) in the Olympics. (see me shaking my head in the way black women do when they see a man who just doesn't get it…mm mm mm) 

The optics of this situation, added to all the other optics of him trying to be "down" but just not able to do it authentically really makes me think about how he would possibly run the country. This is a twitter, Facebook, I-gotta-cell-phone-and-can-take-a-picture/video-of everything-I see-and-post-it-on-youtube, kind of world.  People may or may not like what Obama is doing, but they do basically like him. I may not have agreed with Reagan, but he understood how the optics of a situation can make or break policy negotiations between politicians and foreign actors.

This video of hard-core conservative Charles Krauthammer lamenting on Romney's fiasco of a day nails the situation.  These gaffes, conjoined with not releasing more of his taxes, having swiss bank accounts and an IRA account worth $20-100 million just makes him seem pretty fake.  And whether or not you like his policies, this inauthenticity is a problem and not just as concerns getting elected. If he is elected, which Mitt Romney will we get?  Because either we haven't really seen enough of his true self yet or perhaps we've seen more than enough to know there's not enough 'there' there...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Taking back the word "Privilege" from the Mitt Romney's of the world

Privilege can be a weird thing. If not dealt with from a place of humility, it most often presents as arrogance and if taken to an extreme can cause damage. Since Sherman Hemsley recently passed I've been thinking about his George Jefferson character on his most famous show, The Jeffersons. We all grew up watching it, singing " We're a moving on up!"  He was the embodiment of the American dream that finally became a possibility for Black people in the aftermath of the civil rights movement of the 1950's and '60's. His feelings of privilege and arrogant behavior came from both his audacity and his hard work creating a dry cleaning business that finally allowed him, and symbolically all people of color, the ability to walk into and actually live in the places that had once been reserved only for those privileged enough to have great sums of money and a certain cultural background (read: white people). He had a maid and sent his son to a great school.  George Jefferson had all the trappings of wealth, quite a bit of arrogance; Sherman Hemsley portrayed him as an annoying but essentially kind hearted man. But here's why, in my opinion, we all loved the show as Americans: Mr. Jefferson was the person who hustled and fought and came out on top. His arrogance came from his absolute awe, amazement and, frankly, his feelings of validation, that he had worked hard and succeeded. "Look at me! See what the hell I did?! A poor black boy is now significant. You betta recognize!" This is privilege people understand and even sympathize with, even when you might think the person's a prick.

But privilege has a darker side. There are various degrees from just annoying to the truly dangerous.  The sense of privilege that Mitt Romney and those like him portray is what turns people off or at least makes them feel a little edgy about supporting him. His batman-style car elevator, his wife's two cadillacs and pet show horses,  and his knowledge of NASCAR by way of closeness to team owners make us feel like he's not one of us, just a slob like all of us.

My frustration with Romney does not stem from his wealth. It's the arrogance of not knowing just how disconnected he is and the impact of that disconnection; the feeling that somehow you know better than the rest of us just by virtue of being rich.  This is best demonstrated by an unnamed woman commenting from her Toyota Range Rover while waiting to park for a Romney fundraiser:

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. "I don't think the common person is getting it," she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. "Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them. 
"We've got the message," she added. "But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."

So because we, meaning the rest of us non-Range Rover driving slobs who can't go to a $75K-a-couple-fundraiser being serviced by those same non-ranger Rover driving slobs (chefs, waiters, hotel managers, janitors, parking service attendants..all those dumb people that have the right to vote), don't and can't really understand the system because they are either too young or…not wealthy. Uh huh.

This kind of thinking can lead people who have privilege to disassociate from those who are not in the same place they are. Privileged folk can put themselves and their needs on a higher level than those who do not have their same level of wealth. Since their needs become paramount, if the government services their needs, then of course the rest of the country will benefit. Well, we tried that in the 1980s. How's that working for the middle class and poor, who have seen their wages consistently remain flat or lower over the past 20 or so years??

Robin Wells (Paul Krugman's wife) writing in The Guardian, a British Newspaper, really puts this notion into perspective. She centers in on an article from New York Magazine which talks about this very phenomenon.
...As a very perceptive article in the New York Magazine, Lisa Miller describes how new psychological research indicates that wealth erodes empathy with others. In the "Money-Empathy Gap", Miller cites one researcher who says that:

"The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes the more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, ASSHOLES. (emphasis mine)"
Researchers found a consistent correlation between higher income, management responsibility and disagreeableness. One researcher interpreted her findings to imply that money makes people disinterested in the welfare of others. "It's not a bad analogy to think of them as a little autistic" says Kathleen Vos, a professor at the University of Minnesota.
Now this sense of privilege can get really dangerous, as I said earlier: Simply by virtue of some thing making lots of money, that thing or person must be taken care of at all costs. Penn State decided to sacrifice young boys' innocence because, of course, the football program was more important than anything else. It makes the town a lot of money; around $70 million a year. The program brings great prestige to the college, which in turn brings in money from alumni which allows the school to build more buildings, have more scholarships, fund the other sports teams…They seemingly calculated that a few children's innocence is not as important as a multi-million dollar collegiate enterprise.  When coaches found evidence that Jerry Sandusky had molested young boys in his care, Sandusky was not challenged. He was too important to the team. More importantly, it couldn't be said that the great Joe Paterno had a molester on his staff. What would this information do to the program?  This must be silenced, for the good of all.  People outside of the program just wouldn't understand the importance and complexity of the issue…. uh huh. ewwww…

FInally, the NCAA sanctioned Penn State saying essentially that a football program is not more privileged than everyone else. It is not okay that the College sacrificed children on the alter of money and prestige.  You must pay the price for your arrogance and criminal behavior.

It's about time that someone said that money and power and privilege do not trump decency, honesty and virtue!  You ain't better than me just cuz you got duckets!  I, and everybody else, am worthy just because; no matter how much money and power and "knowledge" one has.  Your knowledge is not more knowing than mine because you're rich. It's time for the term privilege to be taken back to its roots in virtue and humility: It's a privilege for me to sing for people, it's a privilege for me to teach and raise my kids, it's a privilege for me to have enough money to take care of my family. It's a privilege to play football. It's a privilege to be able to run for the president of the United States of America. It's a privilege just to be alive.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A stamp of approval from The New Black Man...

This weekend I was working on learning how the voice works; the science of the voice, the different ways to sing, and how best to work with it. One of my passions is to teach people a healthy way to sing.  However, while I was off taking this class, I received the following review from Mark Anthony Neal on his New Black Man blog that made my day:
"Alison Crockett will never claim to sing “for the people,”  yet with her new recording, Mommy, What’s a Depression?, in the spirit of the Occupy Movement, literally occupies Black music on behalf  of the myriad issues that affect the everyday lives of folk who can never, legitimately, hope to benefit from the lives of the so-called 1%.  With it’s double-worded title—a nod to economic realities that have looked like a depression for many even before the 2008 economic crash and the mental health issues that afflict far too many brilliant and productive citizens—Mommy, What’s a Depression? recalls a time when Black music captured the full range of human emotions, instead of simply our desires to be desired and to consume and be consumed…. 
….To call her an R&B vocalist would be too limiting; to call her a Soul artist is too conjure a tradition she is indebted to, but  not defined by.  On Mommy, What’s a Depression? Crockett’s gestures to Go-Go, Jazz, Santigold-styled Funk, gut-bucket Blues, Trip-Hop, Tin-Pan Alley, and what I like to refer to as “Cosmopolitan Soul”... "

Mark Anthony Neal
I so appreciate that he gets what I'm trying to say. I've always tried to create sound pictures; like an old fashioned black and white polaroid camera for your ears. Then my brother, Teddy, produces the track and puts technicolor on it so you can see it even better. Cameras take pictures of anything and everything, which is what I like to do: sing about what I see. Thanks Prof. Neal for seeing my voice.

For the rest of the review, click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dreams are attainable

Alison Crockett - Mommy, What's a Depression?
Buy Song

Sometimes I sit at the piano and just start to play. It makes me feel better; my anxieties disappear, my stress vanishes, and I am lifted up onto the cloud that is music.  One of my favorite singer/pianists is Donny Hathaway. I wish I could be half the artist he is. I grew up with his records always playing in my home. I loved the way he passionately sang and the masterful way he played while he did it. It was an updated version of the genius of Nat King Cole.

This week I have been moving towards a dream that I have had for myself for many many years. I have learned through seeing the possibility of this dream actually happening for me that I have been living in a place where I am not worthy of other people's notice, because me, just myself, is not enough. But I can sing though, and that makes me worthy to listen to right? But I found, through the possible attainment of my dream, that regardless of whether or not I even attain that dream, that I am worthy of notice, worthy of listening…just worthy. Just because I am -- nothing more -- nothing less. 

In this song, it's just me singing a song that I love, playing an instrument (not as well as I'd like) that I truly love to play. Singing and playing gives me such great joy. Listen to the words that Donny wrote. Listen to the sentiment. Listen…and know that dreams are attainable, but first -- you have to have them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thank You, Barack Obama!!

This picture is the picture of my check. A check for what you ask? A refund check. From whom you ask? Is it a government handout? Did someone pay back a loan you gave them?  No, this is a check from the private entity that is my health insurance company. I actually teared up when I looked at this check. No. Really. I got very emotional. For the first time in YEARS, I was getting something back from my health insurance company. I have paid out literally tens of thousands of dollars in premiums over the years and tens of thousands of dollars in uncovered medical procedures. My second pregnancy was only covered up to $4000; FOR ALL OF IT. For every test, all doctors visits, the times I had to go to the hospital because I thought I was going into premature labour, and the actual delivery itself. $4000 is all...they....covered. 

I have fought with hospitals because I had been assured they would pay for the MRI test that my doctor said I needed to take to make sure that I didn't have a brain tumor because I was suffering with significant, quick onset double vision. When you start to see double out of the blue, and the doctor has checked everything, the last thing to do is to check to see if a foreign body is growing in the brain, thereby causing the sudden change in vision. My insurance wouldn't cover the test and the doctor said he would take whatever the insurance company would pay (which would be $250 and the test was about $2500). The hospital forgot about that promise even though it was written down in their computer. I fought back and forth with this hospital for TWO YEARS.

I am healthy. I eat right. I take care of myself. I never asked anyone for anything. I paid for my own health insurance so my family would be a burden to no one. It has been a thankless and expensive position to be in for a long time. At one point, my premiums were equivalent to my child's monthly daycare payment.  I have struggled mightily to be independent but it's always been a struggle…a battle…an uphill fight.

For the first time in my adult life, I had a company give me back some of the money I paid  - - without a struggle, no uphill fight.  I didn't have to ask. I didn't have to cajole. I didn't have to be nice to the person on the phone so they would move me to the appropriate person to handle what I needed even though I was mad as hell cause I had to put out money that I didn't have in the first place. As stipulated by an element of the Affordable Health Care Act - - aka Obamacare - - which has recently come into effect, if the company doesn't use my premiums for 80% of actual medical care, BY LAW they cannot pocket the rest for profits and have to give it back to me.

There are some who don't like the Affordable Health Care Act that Barak Obama passed. I am not one of those people. I am thankful. Truly thankful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Romney at the NAACP: Using Black People to talk to White People

So Mitt Romney went to speak at the NAACP yesterday. Please listen to the above snippet of music before, after, or while reading this blog post to really understand what happened yesterday. It's very important.  The sung part is what's going on in Mitt Romney's head; the spoken part is just what the rest of us are thinking...

BTW, I've always thought it was a good thing for Republicans to reach out to black people because black people should not vote in a block. I've said this numerous times over the years. And so I give Romney some credit for showing up. This is not the first time he has reached out to black people. He's done it rather ineptly (see "who let the dogs out, woof woof video. Classic comedy) but that's how he is with everybody. He's like the generic rich guy character in an Andy Griffith episode: "He's not like anybody round heyah!  But he shore's got nice hair, Opie!"

So then he got booed by the crowd when he referred to "Obamacare" and repeated his promise to repeal it. But many pundits on the right and the left after the speech were saying things like this:
Here’s our question: Is it possible that the booing incident will actually be good for the Romney campaign?  
Some conservative analysts think it will. Their argument is that Romney will win few African American votes anyway, and that his willingness to say things he knew would be unpopular to the NAACP audience will win him support from other demographic groups. 
“This gives him all sorts of instant credibility on the Right and in the middle,” writes conservative talk show host/blogger Ed Morrissey on the Hot Air website. “The middle will be pleased to see that Romney went to the convention at all, in the face of overt hostility, plus the NAACP audience comes across as a bit immature. The Right has doubted Romney’s commitment to repealing ObamaCare at times, but this shows that Romney is willing to repeat that pledge anywhere, even when it’s guaranteed to turn the audience against him.”
or this:

headline from

and, perhaps most notably, this:
Say what you will about Romney; talk about his same-sex marriage stances; bring up RomneyCare; show Youtube videos of him calling the individual mandate a penalty/fine/tax; do whatever you want, but at the end of the day the guy has done very little during this campaign outside of having laser-like focus on the economy.Romney branded himself today as the ‘The Serious Adult’ candidate. He didn’t avoid talking about ObamaCare or any other topic just because he knew the crowd wouldn’t like it. He acted like a leader. 
“He wasn’t speaking to the NAACP audience at all,” Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said. “To his base it will make him look strong, but he never stands up to anybody else.” 
So what? Obama’s teleprompter has been telling him to tout the black hole mystery magical “Hope” and “Change” for going on five years now 
We've been bamboozled!! He didn't come to the NAACP just to talk to black people's most heralded interest group. He came just to get street cred' to show his boys, white Conservatives, that he can be tough, a leader even. Even though everybody was on to him minutes after he came off stage (as observed by me because EVERY SINGLE STATION carried the boo clip and played it repeatedly, with the same rhetoric each time about how this speech was good for Romney), the strategy still appears to have worked. No one can say he didn't try. Black people did boo him. They even gave him a standing ovation at the end!  If he doesn't get any significant portion of the black vote, he'll say, "I did my best but I'm no flip flopper; I told them what I tell everybody. Those people of color can't scare me!"

But then he showed that he knew exactly what he was doing mighty quick at a fundraiser that same night:

...Mitt Romney responded to being booed during his speech at the NAACP for saying he would end "Obamacare," at a fundraiser in Hamilton, Montana and showed his true colors when he said this: 
ROMNEY: Remind them of this, if they want more free stuff from the government tell them to go vote for the other guy -- more free stuff. But don't forget nothing is really free. 
Wow. I guess he wants to make sure he drives that African American support from 1-2 percent all the way down to zero. As Rachel Maddow noted, it was pretty obvious Romney wanted to get booed and he's not wasting any time showing us why.
I bet his political operatives did all laugh when he said, "See, I've got this plan…it'll be perfect and solve all our problems…I'll be king of the world…errr, I mean President of the United States, same thing…I'll have the world on a string…sitting on a rainbow..."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This is N-a-s-t-y, but instructive...

Doctors remove 51-pound tumour from New Jersey woman

This really disturbed me. Not because the picture just grossed me out a bit. (and it takes a lot to gross me out. I used to look at medical books as a kid to find the nastiest pictures of the human body just to go ewwwwww at them). This disturbed me greatly because this woman, who had a fast growing 51 pound tumor growing inside her, waited 6 weeks until she could get medicare at 65, so she could pay for the surgery.  She had felt something growing but didn't have any insurance and saw no reason to go to a doctor that she couldn't pay for. 

By now, she weighed more than 170 pounds, her legs were swollen with trapped blood, she was badly dehydrated, and, scans showed, the tumour - a malignant sarcoma - was crushing her inferior vena cava, one of the main veins returning blood to the heart, and putting her life in danger. 

I remember when my mother discovered that she had ovarian cancer. It was devastating to my brother and I. But she had great insurance so she got treated. However, I remember her saying how she wanted to originally wait to take social security and medicare until she was 67 rather than 65. She could not wait. Even with her excellent health insurance, her out of pocket expenses for chemo were exhorberant. She got on Medicare as soon as she could and kept her other insurance to cover the 20% that medicare would not cover.  She was lucky. Many people don't have these options.

Dupree said he would advise uninsured patients to see a doctor immediately if they knew they were unwell no matter how near their 65th birthday might be. He said the hospital would have operated on Evelyn regardless of her insurance status, but added he did not know whether doing so would have cost her more money.

Of course they would have operated!! They are mandated to do so by law (she clearly had an emergency) and by conscience.  But for Dr Dupree to say that he doesn't know if operating before she had medicare would have cost her more money is disingenuous.  Of course it would have cost her more money!  She had no insurance and obviously no way to get insurance at that time since she knew that she was A) older and B) had a pre-existing condition, both prohibitive to getting affordable insurance and C) newly purchased insurance will not cover anything for at least the first 90 days. (yes, unlike car insurance, if you have a medical problem during the waiting period, they don't cover SQUAT!!!) 

So here is the reason for a mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"): If she already had insurance, she wouldn't have waited, cost of care would have been cheaper because the tumor would have been smaller, and there could have been an easier outcome. People argue that you cannot impose commerce on people. That we shouldn't be making people buy insurance.   However, at some point, you're going to get sick. Perhaps not as bad as this. But let me tell you, as you get older, your body does some different stuff and you need more medical attention.  Shoot, when my kid had to get surgery at 5, things weren't going too well for her either. If everybody isn't already in the system, the well essentially paying for the sick, costs will never even have  the option of going down because sick people take a lot of money to treat.  The insurance company would go bankrupt. The Affordable Care Act may not be perfect, but I would like for people (especially republicans) to tell me their alternative.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Income Inequality Affects Superheroes, Too

I have just spent the entire weekend being a bit of a bad mommy and watching cartoons. Yes, I am a former comic book collector and only very recently stopped watching Saturday morning cartoons. I love super heroes. I loved Superfriends (and the Legion of DOOOOOMMMM!) as a kid. I Loved Spiderman and his Amazing friends. Then when the WB came out with a new Batman cartoon…oh, I watched it religiously. I watched Superman, the X-men (which was kinda weak) and then when the Justice League came on…ooooo! I was soooo happy.  I have now become a Young Justice uber fan and that is what I watched this weekend.

Now, Batman is the dude! He's rich, he has all the gadgets, and taught himself how to be a bad ass. No super powers. He can just knock a mutha out 'cause he's batman. Then there's Spiderman: poor, brilliant, nerdy kid from Queens who got bit by a spider and has super strength. He, too, lifted himself up and created webbing because he's essentially a super genius. But he's not just broke, he's really broke.

The Huffington Post did a comparison of each one: their income, taxes paid, where they live, the cost of their clothing even. Though it's not new information, it's shows the economic differences between the super rich and the rest of us. (Why Wayne Enterprises's CFO hasn't figured out all the money being syphoned off to build all the bat gadgets and the Frickin Justice league watchtower satellite is connected to Bruce Wayne being Batman, I do not know) They even compared the salaries of Alfred and Aunt May! The rich really do live better and they do pay a lot less as a percentage of income in taxes, as in zero in this version of Bruce Wayne's finances. They wear better clothes, live in better homes, their sidekicks eat well…they even pay less for schooling. Well, maybe that last one is a little far fetched. But the point is made: It's good to be rich. I ain't mad at them.  It would just be nice if Spidey didn't have to fight Doc Oc and the Lizard while worrying whether Aunt May will have enough social security and medicare benefits to cover her needs and whether he'll make enough money to pay off his student loan debt, the inevitable medical debt (when you fight crime even Spiderman can get hurt), and various other living expenses like rent and food. Mary Jane can't live off of love alone. Dates cost money. Catwoman just steals all her expenses, so Batman still makes out like a fat rat.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Reviews are IN....

Click here to read a review of my new record "Mommy, What's A Depression?" that Howard Dukes  has written for A lil' taste:

With Mommy, What’s a Depression? Crockett provides an eloquent snap shot of where our nation and world stand in 2012. Sadly, it’s not that different from where the world stood in 2008 when the last great soulful protest album – Nadir’s Working for the Man, was released. In times like these, it falls on our artists to give voice to the people’s rage, and on Mommy, What’s a Depression? Crockett proves that she is up to the task.  Highly Recommended.

Glad he's enjoying it! Pick up your copy today here or here!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm getting a generator

I got my power back.  No, I don't mean personal energy which allows me to think I can do anything. I mean my electricity. As many of y'all know, the Washington, DC metro area was hit with a "storm" that was not a hurricane, but did hurricane-like things like rip up four-story-tall trees and fling them onto streets and people's houses.  I felt like calling for Auntie Em and clicking my heels three times or something.  I was astonished I got electricity back so quickly at my home as I live in an area in which the electricity has gone off so frequently that nearly half of my neighbors have a generator because they just got sick of their electricity going off when a stiff wind blew by.

I'm thinking of getting a generator myself. Pepco, our local electricity provider, is sucking less now, but it still sucks.  However, the electric company is not why I want to get a generator.  It's because global warming is happening just like the scientists said it would.

"According to scientists, climate change means not only that we will see higher temperatures but that there will be more extreme weather events like the one we just experienced. Welcome to the rest of our lives….. 
Scientists’ predictions about how quickly temperatures would rise — and how rapidly assorted phenomena, such as melting polar ice and rising sea levels, would proceed — have turned out, thus far, to be conservative.
There comes a point where anomalies can start looking like a trend. What much of the country has seen the past few days is no ordinary heat wave. Temperatures reached 105 in Raleigh, 106 in Atlanta and 108 in Columbia, S.C., and Macon, Ga., 109 in Nashville — all-time highs. 
Meanwhile, the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history were destroying hundreds of homes — a legacy of drought that left forests as dry as tinder. Changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns in the West cannot, of course, be blamed on climate change with any certainty. But they are consistent with scientists’ predictions. 
It becomes harder to ignore those predictions when a toppled tree is blocking your driveway and the power is out."

Eugene Robinson puts it so well in the above quote.  I see the writing on the wall.  I've spoken to neighbors, friends, relatives…everyone I talk to is getting ready to deal with a future that has a lot more weather disturbances.  Climate change is occurring whether you believe in it or not.  You can't have lived on the planet for the last 20 years and not felt the difference between your kid-hood and now.  When there was a big snow, not only did we have power in my home, it was a once-in-a-lifetime type event.  People said they had never seen anything like it before.  We now have once -in-a-lifetime weather events 3 to 4 times a year; in all four seasons.

I don't feel the end of the world is coming but….I'm getting a generator. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gentrification's Complexities

I was flipping through Facebook recently and a musician friend of mine was talking about the issue of gentrification, which I've written about before here on the blog. She was expressing her anger at the way neighborhoods in DC have changed completely and her frustration at others not understanding her feelings of being pushed out and not valued as a lifetime resident. At the same time, my brother and my cousin sent me nearly identical articles about gentrification. One article mirrored my Facebook friend's anger at the flipping of the demographics and what it means to the Black community:
“When you hear people say, ‘the good news is the neighborhood is being gentrified,’ it just makes you feel worthless,” Donna told me.
…Because, by and large, the people moving in and making the community better are white. And now they're getting the benefits of a safer community, school reform, and economic development.  But is it true that only white people are "gentrifiers"?  Here's what the other article said:
Undoubtedly, race and class in the U.S. are linked in a complex and pretty irretrievable way. Nonetheless, they’re not one in the same. Washington, D.C. has seen an influx of middle-class black residents whose presence has changed the economic landscape of certain traditionally low-income neighborhoods — or, to put it another way, black gentrifiers. As the New York Times reported several years ago, this has even happened in Harlem.
In my song, Gentrification, I'm trying to represent the anger the person in the hood feels; similar to Nathan McCall's great book, "Them".  I wanted to address the sense of powerlessness the people of the community often feel, as well as their ambivalence toward the positive things happening in their neighborhood. There are a lot of voices: some are militant, some are despairing, some just don't give a sh-t as long as they got some weed to smoke.

To share my story, I was one of those black gentrifiers in Brooklyn.  I bought my house after I made some money from my first record with the Acid Jazz Group, Us3.  I was one of those people who planted flowers and cleaned up the streets with my neighbors. And I was frustrated with a neighbor who played REALLY loud music next door when they weren't even outside!! The nerve! The guys across the street, where the friday night gambling parties were, they just sat there and smoked weed…ALL  FRICKIN DAY. I saw little fingernail sized baggies in my front yard and said to myself, "Self, why would someone need such a…small…baggie...OHHHHHH…"  

But I'm black.  I was accepted.  And, truth be told,  I grew up listening to loud music EVERY NIGHT OF MY KID LIFE because my father was completely obsessed with music and had a HiFi system to rival a small nightclub. I grew up in the black church.  I didn't grow up around drugs, but we all have a cousin who steals right? Mine's name was Lonnie (name changed to protect what's left of his thievin' a** reputation, may he rest in peace), and mom always said just don't leave your stuff out when he comes by…temptation and all.  My husband's uncle even smoked our VCR a la Gator from Spike Lee's Jungle Fever.  So I could fit in. I was even called Mrs. President by some of my neighbors because I was the president of our block association and helped to arrange and plan our yearly block party.  But as soon as the first set of white people moved in…sigh. Everybody was like, "Really?! You couldn't have moved to Park Slope or something? This is do-or-die-Bed-Stuy, the home of Biggie Smalls…" The neighborhood corner stores started carrying soy milk and tofu, and there were sting operations to make sure that the true thugs, not the thug-lits as I like to call them, were gone. An African restaurant and the ultimate symbol of gentrification, a sushi bar, moved in down the street. 
All the economic development catered to…well…. me and people like me: young, educated, family people of a certain means who wanted to live in the city.  But I understood the anger of the community.  Heck I shared it!  When the stuff starts getting good when people like you start to leave, one might feel a sense of unfairness.  Why didn't all this happen before, when all the shootings were happening?! Where was the police presence then?! Where was the street repair and new traffic lights THEN?! Why can't a fried fish business move in rather than a daggum panini bar?!  And what in the hell is a panini anyway and shouldn't that fish in that other restaurant be cooked?! There is some justification to these feelings. That's what the song is about. That and a stank ass gorilla groove…you betta ask somebody…