By Rahsaan Thomas Journalism Guild Chairman There was a time when it took rampaging terrorists to keep people from the polls, now it’s voter apathy discouraging many Americans from the ballot box. Emancipation left Blacks as the majority in the South. Freed Blacks in five Southern states outnumbered Whites. During this period, which was around 1867, African-Americans started electing Black senators, according to the history book Enduring Vision by Paul S. Boyer, et al. The Ku Klux Klan was formed in Tennessee back in 1866. It used … [Read more...] about Topic of Discussion: Felons’ Voting Rights, Part 2
By Rahsaan Thomas Journalism Guild Chairman Many people are disgusted with America’s problems, yet they neglect the one remedy they have to do something about them – voting, a group of San Quentin inmates concluded. Felon voting rights vary widely from state to state. In California, convicted felons cannot vote while in jail, in prison or on parole. They regain voting rights after clearing parole. Those sitting in the county jail awaiting an outcome of their case can still vote if they aren’t on parole, according to Joe Paul of the … [Read more...] about Topic of Discussion: Felons’ Voting Rights Part 1
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer The association of Islam with the massacres committed in Paris and San Bernardino has lead to a backlash against Muslims. Late last year, a young man threw a Molotov cocktail at a mosque in California. Muslim women are scared to wear their hijab (Islamic head covering) for fear of being accosted. Donald Trump wants all Muslims registered in a database. A panel of Muslims housed inside San Quentin State Prison met over several days to discuss how some people view and label Muslims. Al-Amin Dawud McAdoo … [Read more...] about Backlash Against Muslims After Massacre
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer Incarcerated men impacted by California’s “Use a gun and you’re done” law sat down to discuss its effects inside the San Quentin News room with Producer Michael Bott and reporter Stephen Stock of NBC We Investigate scheduled to be aired Feb. 26 at 11 p.m. and Feb. 29 at p.m. “We deal out punishment instead of fixing problems in society,” said Bott. He became interested in doing a story about gun enhancement after learning that a 16-year-old kid was sentenced to life for a drive-by shooting where the … [Read more...] about Lifers: Gun Enhancements
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer Would being considered Incarcerated-Americans instead of prisoners, inmates or convicts, be a step toward ending mass incarceration, or a leap backwards? A panel consisting of Tommy Winfrey, Emile DeWeaver and Juan Meza sat down in San Quentin’s dimly lit gym to discuss the issue. Winfrey opposes the term. Emile is an advocate for it, while Meza sided with Winfrey but changed his mind. DeWeaver describes being considered Incarcerated-Americans as a way to stop mass incarceration. “It is an … [Read more...] about Inmates Eye Relabeling Prisoners ‘Incarcerated-Americans’
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer What can be done to return mainstream rap music back to its positive roots? The Yard Talk panel discussed how this could happen. Eric Curtis: “We understand someone will always do what others want for enough money, but there is a way to force them to produce positive music. They either go with the flow or we close their doors.” Antwan Williams: “You can’t take it back. It needs a rebirth; it needs to start all over. What you can do is start fresh, start a whole new buzz, a new crowd. If your car is … [Read more...] about Restoring Rap Music Back to Its Original Purpose
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer Can mainstream rap music return to its positive roots? The Yard Talk panel debated whether a paradigm shift was possible. Demond Lewis: “The Powers That Be won’t allow you to turn it around. They won’t give the airplay or push to positive music. How can we change something that society and the Powers That Be want? I can say I’m against that music, but I’ll buy their CD because of a cut I like.” John “Yahya” Johnson: “The media agenda is pushing cultural destruction. How do you deal with that? How do you … [Read more...] about Can Rap Music Promote Positive Change and Growth?
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer Why isn’t gangster rap music viewed simply as entertainment? In a discussion about why gangster rap has such a harmful impact on the identities of young men, the Yard Talk panel considered artists’ self-imposed need to “keep it real.” Eric Curtis: “In the early ‘80s there was positive rap; people spoke with messages about how we can make things better. It just went bad when Mix Master Spade and Master Tee’s Batter Ram came out. It was about drugs and armored vehicles … was it the industry or the rappers … [Read more...] about ‘Keeping it Real’ With Gangster Rap
By Rahsaan Thomas Sports Editor What kind of influence does rap music have? Is it just entertainment, politically driven or negative motivation? The Yard Talk panel discussed these issues, and their answers were mixed. J. “Killa Clown” Medvin, 30, is a Caucasian rapper from Santa Rosa, California. For Medvin, rap was an escape from life’s horrors, like his drug-addicted father. “Rapwas a positive influence for me,” said Medvin. “Songs like Tupac’s Dear Momma, Unconditional Love and Brenda’s Got a Baby showed me humanity and … [Read more...] about Rap Music and the Influence it Has on Society
By Rahsaan Thomas Staff Writer Green numbers 6-6-6 surround by red flames tattooed on the face of his 18-year-old son were the first thing Demond Lewis noticed in the picture. He sat on his bunk, bewildered, staring at the photo his sister had sent. He wondered why his son would think a tattoo on his face was a good idea. Then he remembered listening to Scarface’s Last of a Dying Breed. He remembered the influence rap music had on him growing up. He remembered that when the state sentenced him to 109 years to life for shooting a man in the … [Read more...] about Is Rap Your Daddy? Was Rap Music My Dad?