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Itís so clear to me what the protestersí rap is all about. Theyíre occupying Wall Street and carrying picket signs

that say things like, ďI couldnít afford a politician, so I made this sign.Ē You can trace their grievances and discontent

back to all the corporate influence which has had a huge impact in terms of all the inequalities that people are suffering from.



Russell Simmons: Occupy Wall Street Movement

Interview by Kam Williams


Russell Simmons was among the handful of celebrities making a daily show of support of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) via a very visible presence on the ground in lower Manhattan and other cities. But since the police began banning and bulldozing the groupís campsites all across the country, it seems that the activists might have lost some of their momentum. So, I decided to track down Russell to see whether he thinks OWS was just a flash in the pan or if it will be revived despite the recent crackdown.

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Kam Williams: Hey Russell, thanks for the time.   

Russell Simmons: Hey, man.  

Kam Williams: Why did you join the Occupy Wall Street Movement? 

Russell Simmons: Well, I have certainly been one of the people whoís been very vocal about the governmentís being more concerned about special interests than the needs of the people who elected the officials. Thereís always been talk about this, and now we have a chance to have a real dialogue. Wall Street controlled the future of the people participating in the occupation. A lot of pundits keep asking, ďWhat do they want?Ē Itís so clear to me what the protestersí rap is all about. Theyíre occupying Wall Street and carrying picket signs that say things like, ďI couldnít afford a politician, so I made this sign.Ē You can trace their grievances and discontent back to all the corporate influence which has had a huge impact in terms of all the inequalities that people are suffering from. If you talk about the prison-industrial complex, Iíve fought against the prison-industrial complex when I called for a repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws. The biggest impediment to get the laws changed was the lobbyists. Whether youíre talking about healthcare, jobs going overseas, or tax reform, youíre always coming up against lobbyists. Hello! So that issue is critical. And this dialogue is bringing a lot more attention to it.

Kam Williams: But are the politicians listening to OWS or to the lobbyists?

Russell Simmons: The politicians already in office donít want to change. A few might have it in their hearts to change and to start working for the people, but even some of the most progressive politicians are silent because they know that the candidate with the most money wins.   

Kam Williams: So, whatís the solution?

Russell Simmons: On the day that Mayor Bloomberg cleared out Zuccotti Park in New York, I went up to Boston where I promoted a Constitutional amendment calling for public financing of elections, a very straightforward, no-nonsense, no compromise amendment which prohibits any expenditures by any third party, by any special interests or even by the candidates themselves.

Kam Williams: That would certainly level the playing field.

Russell Simmons: Yeah, the elected officials should be working for the voters who elected them. Money corrupts the process. Why would you be giving a candidate money unless you expect something in return? Thatís why I want to get this amendment done. Itís only four lines long. This is not a partisan idea. Itís an American idea. Weíre trying to make a true democracy.

Kam Williams: Do you think the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been hurt by getting kickedout of park after park around the country?

Russell Simmons: No, no, noÖ I think itís only made it stronger. The movementís just beginning. Itís only a couple months old. I was at Zuccotti Park almost every day. The kids down there were very compassionate. They embraced the homeless, and they were even kind enough to give free food and tents to inmates just being released from Rikerís Island. And some of those people would come out of jail and find purpose in joining the movement. Unfortunately, a few were disruptive, and the media would give the bad apples the most attention and so OWSí message was being misrepresented. But OWS was only taking care of people the City of New York shouldíve been caring for. So, the cleaning out of the parks just means the revolution has to evolve.     

Kam Williams: What would your answer be to people who ask: What, specifically, does Occupy Wall Street want?

Russell Simmons: We want the government to be controlled by all the people, not by the richest 1%. Thatís always been the first demand. Thatís a simple enough message, and I think itís pretty clear now, even though much of the media has been disingenuous in its coverage. We donít want the heads of the biggest industries to make all the decisions, because theyíre not for the people. Theyíre for the corporations. Power to the people!

Kam Williams: How will eliminating political contributions help the election process?

Russell Simmons: Presently, you canít be a free man and run for office in this country. Everybody wants something! Even individuals who bundle your money want something. The system has to be changed so that the politicians will work on behalf of the people.

Kam Williams: Isnít it possible that youíll still have politicians taking money under the table?

Russell Simmons: Thatís a different type of corruption. Most people donít want to break the law. Iím concerned about eliminating perfectly legal forms of bribery. At least 4 out 5 Americans believe that Wall Street and special interests have too much control over our government. So, itís not just a progressive thing. Remember, even a whole unit of Tea Party members marched with us on the Brooklyn Bridge.  They want their elected officials to work for them, too. We see a flaw in our democracy, and thereís no reason why we shouldnít be able to fix it. We want to educate people on this one issue.

Kam Williams: Whatís tragic to me is the precariousness of the middle class. Iíve seen people lose their jobs, and then lose their home. Or get sick, and then lose their home. Or be working full-time but be unable to afford health care or to send their kids to college. A quarter of the kids in this country now live in poverty. Meanwhile, the Bush tax cuts for the rich remain in effect. Whatever happened to a living wage? 

Russell Simmons: All of those problems are what makes this so urgent. And at the same time, the stock market just rolls on. Itís a disconnect, a money grab. Things will change when they can no longer exploit the people.

Kam Williams: So, isnít business to blame for these problems more than politicians?

Russell Simmons: No, I donít fault business. If you run a corporation, your job is to maximize the return on investment for your investors. Good for you. But by the same token, we have to remember that corporations have no compassion. Thatís why legislation and regulations are necessary.

Kam Williams: Do you anticipate seeing greater African-American involvement in the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

Russell Simmons: Definitely! Veteran activist Dr. Ben Chavis is coming aboard with his long history and great record in terms of organizing. I know that when the civil rights community joins forces with the unions and with the pop stars of the cultural community, we can make this country much greater. 

Kam Williams: Are you at all worried about a possible backlash from the black community the way that Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley were criticized as being anti-Obama when they went on their poverty tour?  

Russell Simmons: No, this not about Obama. Iím prepared to go on the road to make sure that Obama gets reelected. Iím a big supporter of President Obama.

Kam Williams: And whatís up next for Occupy Wall Street?

Russell Simmons: Thereís going to be an announcement made very shortly. I canít blow it, but I will say this much: I potentially see the unions, the black Church and the cultural community coming together to spearhead a Poor Peopleís Revolution as a fulfillment of the dream envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Kam Williams: Well, thanks for updating me, Russell, and best of luck with expanding the Occupy Wall Street Movement. 

Russell Simmons: Thank you, brother.

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate as the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, and creator of the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Russell Simmons is the third richest figure in hip-hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million as of April 2011.  Simmons was raised in Queens, New York.[2] He is the son of Daniel Simmons, Sr., a public school administrator, and Evelyn Simmons, a New York City park administrator. His older brother is abstract expressionist painter Daniel Simmons, Jr., and his younger brother is Rev. Joseph Simmons ("Run" of Run-DMC). . . .

In January 2011 he stated in an interview with Allison Kugel that he is not a Buddhist as previously reported, but is a non-religious practitioner of Yoga, where he prays to the Atman, or the self. Simmons practices a method of Yoga known as Jivamukti Yoga, which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism. Simmons is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice TM can do so. On January 4, 2011 he published the book Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All, which espouses giving as a lifestyle choice. Simmons is also a supporter of same sex marriage.óWikipedia

posted 6 December 2011

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarcerationóbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.óPublishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban NicolŠs Guillťn and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Boisí Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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