Archive | February 2007

The SuperSpade on ‘Integrating with Alternative Media’

I have recently joined a group called the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI). Yesterday, I participated in a panel discussion called “Integrating with Alternative Media,” and these are a few things I talked about:

– The importance of media & communication to revolution
– Reaching out to more people by using multimedia (audio, video)
– Reaching more people by partnering with alternative media (Public TV, Low Power FM Radio, etc.)

There’s more in there as well, including why it is important to connect and work with ethnic media, the largest for of alternative media.

Integrating with Alternative Media (Windows Media Audio, 16 min 50 sec, 7.79 MB)

One Love. One II.



The Weekly Dream: A Tree Without Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Do not remove the kinks from your hair–remove them from your brain.”
-Marcus Garvey

Happy Black History Month! I was having a discussion the other day in various circles I travel in, and the same topic kept coming up: Where is the youth’s sense of history? Technically, in America, our historical memory is extremely short. We suffer from Societal Alzheimers. I am constantly surprised at how many people do not think about or remember major events they have lived through. In the alternative, perhaps we cannot appreciate it. It is too fresh. But what ends up happening is that either we begin to take things for granted or a lot of injustices occur.

Lift Every Voice
I believe that a major source of the ills in the African American community stems from a lack of knowledge of our history, which is partly our fault and partly not. I was surprised that my little cousins did not know the Black National Anthem. And then, Garlin posted the “Girl Like Me” documentary and it confirmed what I had already seen. The younger generation do not have a true sense of history. Thus the question becomes, how can we do a better job communicating our legacy and see it as a source of strength and pride?

Some Tips

I think we must begin by respecting and educating our legacy ourselves. How many of us “older” individuals (a relative term)really appreciate our own legacies and history? Respect begins at home. This comes by educating ourselves. Read about the men and women behind the movement. Any body can tell you about Dr. King (no disrespect), but what about the Marcus Garveys, the George Washington Carvers, and the list goes on.

Next we need to realize what the generation beneath us is dealing with and the world they live in. Every generation and time has its own zeitgeist, and we have to respect that. We may not agree with it, but we have to meet them where they are. The older generation has the responsibility to bridge the gap, come to the table without judging. There are some things about us you are not going to understand, shoot we do not understand it. But we need more inter-generational dialogue in our community.

Younger cats, lets restore the respect for the Elders. We should humble ourselves enough to soak up the wisdom and the knowledge they have. Even if we feel it is outdated or they are out of touch, you can learn something from anybody-if you are ready for it.

We must realize that our history lays the ground work for where we have come and where we are going and where we are now. It is because history is more than events in time, but they represent ideologies and ideologies do not die because they are replicated and become a part of our society, systems and culture (e.g. Slave/colonial mentality).

At the end of the day, it is all about respect. We need to educate ourselves and pass it on-By Any Means Necessary.

Realize you are the hope of your ancestors and appreciate their sacrifices. The ball is in your court.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas

The Weekly Dream
Black Issues

The Strategic Fork in Africa

In chess, there is a move commonly referred to as a “fork,” where a one piece can capture two pieces simultaneously. Forks are really useful when someone is in check (your opponent’s king is threatened) and the queen (the most powerful piece in chess) is also under threat. The person in check has no choice but to move the king out of the way, thereby clearing the way for the other queen to be taken. This scenario is being played out in Africa right now.

Last year, I wrote a post entitled, “War on Africa” where I discussed U.S. efforts to expand counter terrorism efforts in Africa through two main initiatives, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative [TSCTI] and the Pan Sahel Initiative.

Recently the Pentagon announced plans to create “a new unified military command for its operations in Africa.” The aptly named Africom, was authorized by President Bush the same day Donald Rumsfeld left office. Africom’s operations will cover the entire continent of Africa save Egypt. There are few gestures that signify the geopolitical importance of a country/region than setting up permanent military command posts.

To be sure, “U.S. intelligence agents — and terrorism experts — have long been concerned about the increasing infiltration of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, especially in the northern trans-Saharan region.”

So going back to our strategic fork example, fighting terrorism is really the king that the U.S. is threatening to distract attention from what many argue is the more valuable piece (or queen) of the puzzle being cornered…oil.

So if we view security as the king, it is easy to see how the carrot of expanded military and intelligence training would encourage African countries and militias to become allies in the “so-called” war on terror. And no doubt, there will be people who we are training now that will be labeled as the enemy once their increased status threatens America’s interests.

But is oil really the queen? It make sense when we know that, “The continent (of Africa) will account for 20 to 25 percent of U.S. energy imports by the next decade.” And if you think America won’t find a way to fight a war (low grade wars included) to secure 25% of its energy needs, please pinch yourself because you are dreaming.

Nevertheless, we have China upping the ante by rapidly increasing trade with Africa to the point of doing anything to fill their insatiable hunger for oil and other natural resources with the U.S. sitting back and saying, “They just can’t sit back and have the continent to themselves.”

So when I say war on Africa, I actually mean war “over” Africa. In other words, as Chinese geopolitical influence grows, there will undoubtedly be conflicts between China and the U.S. Therefore, where would be a better place for the world’s two most powerful countries to fight proxy wars than the continent of Africa?

Unfortunately, I am eerily reminded of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885. For those that don’t know, the Berlin Conference essentially spelled out the rules by which imperial powers of the time could colonize Africa and exploit her resources. (See Scramble for Africa) Germany actually called for the conference. And where do you think Africom will be set up before it finds an African home? Germany.

Some things never change.


Stay up fam,

International Affairs

Interfaith Marriage and all that jazz…

Have you ever told your parents about someone that was tugging at your heart? How many people have had a conversation that goes like this;

You: Mom, I met this person and I think they might be the one.

Mom: That’s great honey! I want you to be happy. Now what church do they go to?

I was always wondered why this was always the first question my mother asked and I get it now, but the implications are deeper than I originally thought.

I think the chief reason why my Mom and other parents ask this question is for two reasons:

1) To gauge the person’s character since church attendance is often used as a character check
2) To see if the person practices the same faith as their child

And I think that parents should be respected for having their child’s best interests at heart. But I wonder how smooth the conversation would go if you responded to your parent’s (let’s assume they are Christian) question of where your love interest went to church by saying, “Well, actually, they go to a mosque.” How do you think your parents would respond? I know it is easy to think of your parents as the most respectful and open-minded people in the world but let’s keep it really real, shall we?

I think many parents would be taken aback and follow up by asking, “So are they Muslim?” And then I could imagine a series of questions dancing around the feasibility of two people dating that share different faiths.

Now is this wrong? I wouldn’t say so but I think something can be said for what I call “spiritual superiority.” What I mean by this phrase is the notion that spiritually centered parents often have a strong preference for three things: 1) seeing their children practice the same faith they raised them with, throughout adulthood, 2) watching their children grow up to marry someone who practices the same faith as them, and 3) witness their grandchildren be raised with the same faith as them.

Now on face value, I would say nothing is wrong with this paradigm and maybe in another post, we can talk about people who ended up practicing a new faith different from their parents. But for our purposes, we are going to look at interfaith relationships/marriage.

And rather than go into two pages worth of a post, I would rather provide the context and see where you want to take this post in the comments section. So the following are some of the questions that I would like you to chew on.

1) Would you ever date someone from a different faith? Why or why not?

2) Do you have different faith restrictions for someone you would date casually or someone you would seriously consider marrying? Why or why not?

3) Does your faith have specific restrictions on what faith your future husband/wife must practice? (And if you do know, it would be helpful if you can bolster your answer with textual support as opposed to what you were always told.)

4) Is it important that your future kids practice the same faith as you? Would you be open to them practicing a different faith from yours?

5) How would your parents react to your being in a serious relationship with someone of a different faith? And how much would their reaction influence your decision to continue your relationship?

6) Is it important that your kids be raised in household where both parents practice the same faith? If not, what is the upside of having interfaith households on a child’s spiritual development?

This should prove to be a very lively discussion,

Stay up fam,


The Weekly Dream: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

God grant me serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
-Serenity Prayer

I do not know about you, but lately, life has been coming at me pretty fast. There is always another project, another assignment, another meeting networking, etc. etc. to do. With all that ripping and running, I could tell that I was losing my mind. On top of that, I was supremely irritated. And I start acting really petty, because everything was getting on my nerves.

However, I remembered that all this stuff is really not that deep. At the end of the day, does it matter that my brother ate all the eggs? No. I believe it was God’s way of telling me to put all of my pet peeves and idiosyncracies on the back burner.How often do we lose sight of the big picture? It is human to have some bad days and to be generally annoyed with life. But if you find yourself losing it over the same thing over and over again, think, is it really worth it? For example, there is a certain individual, who shall remain nameless, that has crazy road rage. Every time I am in the car with this person, they cursing people out, honking their horn and having a fit. And my response is always the same, “Can they hear you?” Bad drivers are a constant, but if you plan for it, then it will not annoy you. Once this person began being proactive about the situation instead of being reactionary, her blood pressure improved dramatically ;).

The Point Is…Conserve, Conserve, Conserve

How much energy do we spend on stuff that do not matter? We get all worked up about things we cannot change or are insignificant. We take minor slights to heart, all the while expending our precious energy, only to feel frustrated and emotionally drained.

What is really important in this life is the relationships and connections we make. A lot of our frustrations stem from the fact that we do not have a meaningful connection either to others, our task or to some greater. We feel misunderstood. And it is common to feel “disconnected.” How do we make that connection? We can start by taking a little time to regroup and giving what we hope to get. We need to go outside ourselves, instead of waiting on someone to make us feel better. We are the architects of our happiness and good fortune. We can choose our moods the same way we pick out our clothes. Every moment we have the choice as to how to react and how we let something will make us feel.

The key to being effective is to use your emotions to drive righteous action. There are all types of forces to disturb your inner peace. However, take a moment and ask, does it really matter?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas

The Weekly Dream

Sex: Rules of Engagement for 2007

As I approach a quarter century of living, many of my peers have reached a point in their lives where they realize that sex is good, but overrated in many ways. As such, many of my peers are not virgins but are in a stage where they are saving sex either for marriage or a serious relationship. I applaud and support these efforts but in the event that you are overcome by your flesh, here is a little list I put together to help you out. (And yes my family does read The SuperSpade.)

1) Wear condoms. Unfortunately, in 2007, too many of us think that if someone looks healthy, they can’t possibly have an STD. Be safe. And for the brothers out there ending their sessions with broken condoms, that’s not cool. You are not Hulk Hogan. Stop putting yourself and your partner at risk and upgrade.

2) Stop wearing socks. (In other words, brothers make sure your feet are not crusty and ladies, make sure the toes are tamed and your feet are not crusty.)

3) Getting tested for HIV with your partner is probably one of the most intimate things you can do even if you are not planning to have sex in the near future.

4) Sexual assault is real. No one is immune to it but there are things you can do to help prevent it.

5) If the thought of having a baby with your partner strikes terror in your heart, then you probably shouldn’t be having sex with that individual.

6) I was raised to believe that men are connected to women by how much they are willing to sacrifice (time, energy, resources, etc.) and women are connected to men via having sex. This principle has proven true for me, so just keep it in the back of your mind.

7) Sex doesn’t have to be “dessert” per se. Therefore, here are some things you can do to avoid having sex:
Go out earlier in the day
Talk about your relationship with God
Don’t end up in the bedroom
Talk (Intense thought provoking discussion that can be inspired by reading The SuperSpade
Play board games
Go through photo albums
Listen to music
Go out in groups
Give yourself a curfew and have a friend call you at the appropriate time
Make your expectations known

Hopefully this helps,

Stay up fam,


Big ups to the Boogie Down Bronx!!!

I may have that saying wrong but I wanted to highlight the work of Marjora Carter and the good people at Sustainable South Bronx. The mission of SSB is to advance Environmental Justice through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by the needs of the community.

I can’t really give justice to summarizing what they do but one of the projects they are working on includes South Bronx Greenway, a “community led plan for a bicycle/pedestrian greenway along the South Bronx waterfront.” The purpose of this is to increase open space and access to the water front. Another innovative project is Green Roofs, which as it sounds is “a layer of soil and foliage on top of a building.” Some of the benefits is temperature reduction, energy conversation, storm water management, and decreased costs due to less maintenance.

This sister has a Masters in Fine Arts. Now you may be thinking, “How does one make the transition from fine arts to environmental justice?” By following your passions and not allowing people to dictate your destiny. I saw this sister doing a special on PBS and she is truly inspiring, a true SuperSpade, and a young pioneer for environmental justice.

Stay up fam,

Environmental Justice