2022 Freedom Scholar Dr. Jared Ball!

(BWMN)—Dr. Jared Ball, an increasingly important activist in Black radical and Pan-Africanist circles, has been named a 2022 Freedom Scholar, one of ten selected this year.

The prize—a one-time, no-strings payment of $250,000, awarded individually to all ten scholars—has been presented to renowned intellects such as Robin D.G. Kelly and many others since the Marguerite Casey Foundation created the Freedom Scholars award in 2020. Scholars are anonymously chosen by former recipients. 

“It is a surreal contradiction,” Dr. Ball commented exclusively to BWMN via email after the award announcement. “But to be reminded or made aware of the value my work has to particular peers for whom I have tremendous respect is humbling, something I cherish, and am honored by. Most of us in academia are not disconnected, ivory tower scholars. We are just marginalized, unappreciated, and under-resourced. So this award is very much appreciated on several levels.” 

Ball, the host of iMiXWHATiLiKE! with Jared Ball podcast, the flagship program of the Black Power Media collective, is a professor of Communication and Africana Studies at Morgan State University, Maryland’s leading HBCU. He is the author of The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power, of which a second expanded edition is forthcoming in the spring. Ball, a board member of The Black Scholar journal and a frequent contributor to Black Agenda Report magazine, is a co-founder of Black Power Media, which has reached a total of 21,000 subscribers since it launched on YouTube in February 2021.

According to Ball’s website, imixwhatilike.org, “Ball’s research interests include the interaction between colonialism, mass media theory and history, as well as the development of underground journalism and cultural expression as mechanisms of social movements and political organization.” As an activist and advocacy journalist, he has been a longtime public champion of radical, independent media and political prisoners such as writer Mumia Abu-Jamal and Dr. Mutulu Shakur, the alternative-medicine specialist and godfather of slain hiphop superstar Tupac Shakur.

The other 2022 scholars are: Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin of Trinity College; Noura Erakat, J.D., of Rutgers University; Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore of the City University of New York; Dr. Sarah Haley and Derecka Purnell, J.D., of Columbia University; Mariame Kaba of Pratt Institute; Dr. Beth E. Richie of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Dean Spade, J.D. of Seattle University and Olúfémi O. Táíwò of Georgetown University.

Freedom Scholars “conduct research in cutting-edge areas of scholarship as varied as feminist prison abolition, global urbanism, alternatives to movement capture, Indigenous erasure and militarized policing—critical fields of research that are often underfunded,” according to the Casey Foundation’s website.

Dr. Ball’s award is “proof that principled radicalism and constant work—his 20 years of scholarship, activism and free, intelligent community broadcasting—always wins,” posted BWMN staffer Todd Steven Burroughs on social media after the announcement. He is co-editor with Dr. Ball of the anthology A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X.

Read the Casey Foundation press release here.

-30-

Book Mini-Review: C.L.R. James, The Radical “Black European”

C.L.R. James: A Life Beyond The Boundaries.

John L. Williams.

London: Constable, 457 pp., $32.99.

The Old Man was once quite young–almost permanently so. And vibrant, always ready for socialist revolution. But not for the overthrow of European civilization and culture. In a new biography, John L. Williams pulls back the curtain just enough to show why intellectuals, particularly culturally complex ones, need platforms and bases. What results is a non-judgemental tale about a 20th-century charismatic Caribbean intellectual destined for the classroom, the typewriter, the lecture hall and the cricket field. His cultlike, harem-based sexism will rile 21st-century readers but his stamina and constant optimism never fail to impress. Most of all, James–whose long speaking and writing life spans the birth, revolutionary work, danger and martyrdom of fellow Caribbean Leftist world travelers such as Walter Rodney and Maurice Bishop–shows that revolution requires a lot of work.

A Very Belated 100-Word Review Of (The Sadly,-Now-On-Streaming-Because-It-Didn’t-Make-Enough-Movies-Money) “Black Adam”

The magic word is….uneven

It’s unfortunate that the tension between 1990s superhero-film cheesiness and 2022 superhero-film coolness makes this effort implode. A post-COP27 viewing allowed more sensitivity to how Egyptians oppress themselves with the West’s help. Too bad the film quickly traded in that theme for a third-act battle with a Hellboy knockoff and some fake AMC Walkers. God bless his soul, Pierce Brosnan, 30 years distant from the start of his ’90s James Bond, elevated Black Adam when he could (with fine assists from Aldis Hodge) but couldn’t save it. It’s not hard to see why few wanted a piece of this Rock.

My Comments on “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra” Finale (Episode 8)

Power to the Person?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is a master storyteller, and Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra attempts to be an epic story for this moment. It succeeds in being hella entertaining.

My last Ultra post was about its historical emphasis, allowing this subsequent comment to be ideological in nature. And so, clad in my dashiki, a note to Maddow and MSNBC:

The best way to fight organized fascism is an organized radical united front, not just individual efforts because the latter depends on liberal democracy working on your behalf. Didn’t McCarthyism, instead of an American movement against fascism, flow from this history?

This kind of color-within-the-lines conclusion is why what Dave Chappelle said at the end of his Saturday Night Live monologue was so important: as Black people, we are no strangers to the system not working. Sadly but not surprisingly, Maddow doesn’t have a James Baldwin/I.F. Stone-type voice who would hit that target, expressing the idea that American democracy itself is a flawed concept at its core. Nope, me no trust paleface.

And, Rachel and MSNBC, um, you might want to, um, not take off the air anyone else who speaks plainly about the current rightwingers (*cough* Tiffany Cross *cough* 🙂 ).

re: Milestone Comics’ “Icon and Rocket” Revival: Reginald Hudlin Killed Superman In The Crib! LOL!

Fighting The Power, for-real-for-real this time

Reginald Hudlin’s writing style remains blatant and strident by half. But as a former full-set Icon/Static/Hardware Milestone Comics collector (sadly, lost them in a move 😦 ), I must admit I much prefer his style to the comparatively accommodationist Milestone founder Dwayne McDuffie!

Six issues in and you win, Mr. Hudlin: the 19th-century enslaved Arnus as a Nat Turner (!) character and present-day free Augustus with a fine-ass sista amazon at his side and an assassin to hunt is much more appealing. And he had the assassin, an alien hired by the U.S. government to kill other aliens, kill a certain white infant recently adopted in 1939 by a white Kansas farm couple!

I doubt this version of Icon will be Clarence Thomas’ favorite! LMAO!!!! I’m in for the entire hardcover run! Thanks to DC/Milestone for bringing back my non-Wakandan superhero comic favorites!

Brief Thoughts As We Wait For Next Week’s Finale of “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra”

A true drama about a deliberately-forgotten time

Tellingitlikeitis/keepingitreal/keepingithunnert, etc. I have never gotten the Rachel Maddow hype. Every night I tuned in to her MSNBC show she acted like she and her research/producing staff had broken Watergate or had the Pentagon Papers! LOL! I still don’t understand that RussiaGate stuff!

So, now, to her podcast narrative series Ultra. I’m now completely caught up and I’m excited about the forthcoming last episode.

Like the greatest middlebrow magazine writers of the last century, Maddow’s clearly a very talented reporter, narrator and dramatist. But she continues her television approach here. Clearly, the ultra-patriotic American nation was not shivering in collective fear before and during World War II because of the existence of small (but well-organized and armed) groups of American Nazis and their fellow travelers; their salutes dropped quickly after Pearl Harbor. And as someone who has also studied a little of the history of 20th-century radio, perhaps it’s debatable that the radio racist Father Charles Coughlin was as politically powerful as she is saying, the same way not everyone in the nation believed Martians were invading Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. 🙂 But she’s making the same point that Pulitizer Prize-winning historian David Blight made at the end of his recent Yale conference on teaching race and slavery: these politically-retrograde people have always been here, will always master any updates to the art and science of influence and are never leaving the collective, progressive us/US at peace.