Dead Presidents (Day #9)

Please place prep papers here (Make sure you read and respond to email article I sent)


6 thoughts on “Dead Presidents (Day #9)

  1. In the black power film it stated that there film was made in the Swedish perspective. The film did not show the whole black power movement but it shows how it was perceived in some Swedish filmmakers. Their purpose was to understand the Americans point of view as it really is. One of the people were ask how it for an ordinary American and he stated that they have more freedom of speech and that they can agree and disagree without being beaten of shot for their opinion. There reporter asked a black man what is it like coming back from fighting in Vietnam and he said that even though he was fighting for his country he was still being discriminated and ridiculed by others, he did not see a change. This film shows how blacks were treated in everyday life. It shows how back in the day racism was very bad and blacks did not have much freedom of speech. In 1967 that is when black power begin to rise, that is when blacks begin to fight for more freedom of speech and more opportunity.
    Was it just in the south were prejudice was real bad in the United States?
    Are there still whites out there that wanted racism to stay the same?
    “Fair skinned a bit starry eyed and very Swedish we disembarked on the shore”
    “I’ve been trying to get out of that gutter for the last four years but it seem like something’s always holding me down”

  2. Kyle Sittig

    While watching The Black Power Mixtape, I was particularly struck by Stokely Carmichael, who (and this is probably embarrassing) I wasn’t aware of. Someone in the documentary mentions how fascinating the behind-the-scenes videos of him were. I agree with this. While his speaking, from what I’ve seen, is brilliantly charismatic, the non-speech moments were even more powerful in enabling my sympathy. I think this is the power that narrative has. So often we are more moved by the things we see on screens that depict someone’s vulnerability and humanism. When we hear Stokely’s mother talk about how worried has been every time he is arrested. She does not talk about the significance of what he is doing, in a political sense. She does not talk about the civil rights movement. She is just worried about her child. This bond is something that most of us can relate to. We feel more attached to Stokely this way. Obviously this works in fiction as well (I have never seen so much outrage as I saw on facebook after last night’s Game of Thrones episode). In my last post I talked about the focus on day-to-day life in films like Middle of Nowhere, Daughters of the Dust, and Mississippi Damned. I think Mississippi Damned in particular has a good balance of the human aspect – that we might see while Stokely interacts with his mother – and the rage that is captured in one of his speeches. Both humanization and activism are needed.

    “It is (a land of opportunity) If a man has a little ambition – If he’s not lazy – he can make a living” – Diner Owner. Black Power Mix Tape
    “In order for non-violence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” – Stokely Carmichael. Black Power Mixtape .
    “[T]he most progressive elements of hip hop culture, represented by artists such as Dead Prez [. ..] articulate a language of protest. Yet their creative talents rarely yielded new modes of collective intervention that could forcefully challenge the existing structures of political power and corporate capitalism” (Marable 59). – “Dead Prezence”
    “The signifying difference here (that distinction between presidents and dead presidents) captures the central tension between those artisans of Hip Hop who are continuously challenged by American Dream-like success with accompanying capitalistic pursuits (i.e., economic success translated as selling out the community), and an audience within Hip Hop culture that desires its own economic success, but only occasionally connects economic empowerment to political representation.” – “Dead Prezence”
    Elaborate on the relationship between using fame as a platform to discuss issues that, as an artist, you benefit from? Is the lack of voice inherent in poor African-American life due to this?
    Would it have benefitted Stokely Carmichael’s cause more, if his “human” moments were more widely available at the time? Or is it more important that he appears as a symbol of strength?
    “Dead Prezence” talks a lot about the significance of The American Dream, as it applies to young African-Americans. Can the White-American’s longtime obsession with this concept act as a cultural bridge? (I am reminded of a scene from The Wire that shows a group of prisoners discussing The Great Gatsby in a prison book club).

  3. Moritz Christ

    Dead Presidents

    The documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2010), which I believe to be a Swedish documentary due to short sections in which narration takes place in-between the interviews that are conducted. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a documentary that discusses enaquality in American during the civil rights movement. Many African Americans have went and fought for their contry overseas in the military but have not received ecqual rights and fair treatment when they came home. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 tells the story of Stokely Carmichael. Carmichael was a young African American that like many others were unhappy with the passive approach people have had proceeded that came before him, such as Martin Luther King. In the late 60’s and 70’s Carmichael became known for his radical speeches and militant confrontation of unfair treatments of blacks in American society. It is interesting to see, that filmmakers here showed a different man, a man the had a soft spot and well spoken side to him other than what was known to the public and press. Especially the private footage of his arrestment and quiet conversation with his mother, stood out to me. It showed a more simplistic humanistic feature of a man that was driven by his ideal, anger and motivation to achieve social justice, and showed that he was also a kind loving son that was cared for by his mother. This to me was interesting as he portrayed a “hardnosed” attitude as a public figure but was also shown as a man of deep though and consideration that was somewhat “normal”. It made me feel for him and as mother as they have had to go through the arrest.
    In the assigned reading to this Assignment the Journal article presented by James Peterson “DeaD Prezence” Money and Mortal Themes in Hip Hop culture discusses the phrase “Dead Prezense” (Peterson, 2006, 895). “Dead Prezense”, is abut to the term “Dead Presidents which refers to money. On every U.S. currency paper there is the face a former presidents, therefore in the 1980’s Hip Hop culture the term of “get[ing] some dead presidents” evolved (Peterson, 2006, 896). To the author this period of time reflects upon the Hip Hop culture seen today that was influenced by the societal issues of he 1980’s as topic such as money, mortality, and power are still present in Hip Hop today (Peterson, 2006, 895, 896, 899). I though, even though that the article was though to reed, that James Peterson has made a valid point. To me it is shocking/interesting as well that the same social issues rappers addressed in the 1980’s are still the societal issues discussed in Hip Hop movies today.
    After having watched the documentary, I wondered how many of those problems have changed or are they still found maybe to the same, or lesser extend in todays society. Than I have read the article by James Peterson and was unlighted that in terms of Hip Hop’s core cultural elements of addressing social problems nothing has changes, which made me reflect, that the issues people are rapping about, are still the same. Also I feel like, that society has had made improvements. Barack Obama now has real political power whish was denied to Dr. King as well as Carmichael. To me this shows improvement but what is it worth if the majority and core problems of 30 and 40 years ago couldn’t be resolved?!…


    If a man has a little ambition, if he’s not lazy, he can make a living [In America]” (Diner Owner). The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2010)
    Hip Hop Culture’s course here was forever altered. “The corporatization of hip hop is undeniable. Since its popularization in the early 1980s, the profits of hip hop-related products have increased exponentially. (Peterson, 2006)
    “[T]he most progressive elements of hip hop culture, represented by artists such as Dead Prez [. . .] articulate a language of protest. Yet their creative talents rarely yielded new modes of collective intervention that could forcefully challenge the existing structures of political power and corporate capitalism” (Marable 59). (Retrieved from Peterson, 2006)
    in the narratives of Hip Hop culture. “Black communities like the South Side and West Side of Chicago, North Side of Philadelphia, Harlem and other parts of New York City, and South Central Los Angeles have the appearance of cities recently at war: dilapidated housing, gutted buildings, pothole-filled streets, and little economic activity” (Kitwana 180). (Retrieved from Peterson, 2006)
    Panther Party; Childrens Song: “We are sick of pigs lying (Oh Yeah) and we are sick of brothers dying. (Oh Yeah) Come on people (Oh Yeah), join in the struggle, fight for liberation(Oh Yeah). pick up the gun, pick up the gun….” The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2010)
    “Rich and famous people live here but right there on the corner they are still selling crack, heroin and there are still the same traps. Harlem is the complete metaphor for the black experience in America” . The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2010)
    Is there still an inequality in American society? Have the core issues of the 1980’s evolved or did they just stay the same?
    Is the American dream still true, can EVERY man or woman, still make it in America? Will “hard work” and not being “lazy” (Diner Quote) earn you a decent living in America?
    What is it worth if the majority and core problems of 30 and 40 years ago couldn’t be resolved, can we ever find a solution or will racial aspects forever be rooted in society?
    We have a black president in office in his second term today. What does this say about America’s progress. Martin Luther King was a man who had very political principals, which he tried to achieve nonviolently. What was his approach that was different from Carmichaels and could Carmichaels have benefitted from a less radical campaign?

  4. Nancy Chacon

    The reading connects money and mortality as well as the the political representation and economic empowerment in the term dead presidents.He talks about how many African American men are willing to die in the pursuit of money. He also talks about the power of money, as having dead presidents to represent.This is seen in Nas lyrics. He talks about the lack of presidential representation for those living in poverty both the black and brown people . The lack of presidents by those living at the bottom has caused them to be invisible basically they are not even on the radar when it comes to politics and change. Nas is able to incorporate the struggle of the black communities living in the ghetto through his music and sends the message out that they are in need of help.
    The discussion of economic and racial politics was the most intriguing. I was able to see the connection between corporate entities and plantations. It caused me to consider the fact that for minorities that is the case that institutions function much like plantations of the past.

    Quotes from readings

    failure of society, and how desperation, more than greed, can lead to radical and
    violent acts.

    Hip Hop culture, especially rap music, has paid folks in full since the early 1980s

    Presidents, dead or alive, tend to represent the middle and wealthy classes first and the
    lower and working classes second (if at all), and then only as a distant second.

    “I’m out for presidents to represent me / say what? I’m out for presidents to
    represent me / say what? I’m out for dead presidents to represent me.”

    “He’s able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without
    losing hope or forgetting the good times, which become all the more precious when any
    day could be your last.
    “if living presidents won’t represent me, dead ones will”


    How has this music and film helped those in poverty? Are these artist mentioned giving back to the ghetto?
    Who is the target audience? Are the listening to this music?
    Has this music led to change?

  5. ‘Dead Presidents’
    This movie shows that people would do anything and everything for money. These characters in this movie were dead broke and were forced to do things so that they can have some funds for the present and the future. So rubbing a couple banks and money trucks were on their agenda. I feel that that director of the movie wanted to show the audience that when people are dead broke that they are willing to do the unthinkable to make their ends. There is a song about dead presidents; the meaning behind dead presidents is dollars bills with the U.S dead president’s faces on them.

    1. “Rakim’s subtle reference to dead presidents is a point of entry into the Dead President discourse that wrestles with the sociopolitical issues that underwrite the extraordinary transfer of currency from fans to artists, from the cultural constituents of Hip Hop into mainstream American, as well as the mortal conditions that swirl around, in and through, these transactions”.

    2. “Through simple lyrical verse, Rakim’s narrator performs the thinking behind his decision to pursue dead presidents via his verbal skills and abilities”.

    3. “Thinkin’ of a master plan / this ain’t nothin’ but sweat inside my hand. / So I dig into my pocket all my money is spent / So I dig deeper. I’m still comin’ up with lint / So I start my mission leave my residence / Thinking how I can get some dead presidents”.

    Where did the term “Dead Presidents” come from?
    What did the writer/producer want to get out of the audience?
    What was the outcome when the Robbers received the money?

  6. I thought that the documentary The Black Power Mixtape was about inequality issues in America during the civil rights movement, I thought that is was terrible that African Americans were forced to fight in the war only to came home and not receive similar rights as whites. The one person that really caught my attention was Stokely Carmichael, Carmichael was a black activist in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement, he was really known for his speeches of unfair treatments of blacks in our society. The part in the documentary of his arrestment and conversation with his mother was very interesting to me. This documentary showed how motivated Carmichael was to achieve social justice for African Americans, while showing his emotional side with his mother as a son. I have always been impressed with those who believe that everyone deserves equal rights, and they are willing to fight for those rights no matter what the outcome can or may be. I think that the movie Dead Presidents is going to point out the effects of poverty than those of racism but after reading the assigned reading by James Peterson “Dead Prezence” the term Dead President refers to get the money in the Hip Hop culture. As we all know dead president’s faces are included on the U.S. currency, and because of this the hip hop using the slang “getting some dead president” which refers back to the title of the movie. I think that this movie will shed some light on the struggles of the typical African American after coming home from the war in the 60s and 70s, and not having money or job opportunities to succeed.
    1. “Even though Dead Presidents is more about the effects of poverty than those of racism, only the most naïve viewer could completely dissociate the two. Nevertheless, the Hughes Brothers don’t overtly introduce race as an issue. Instead, this is about the failure of society, and how desperation, more than greed, can lead to radical and violent acts”. (Berardinelli)

    2. “Little monkey niggas turn gorillas / Stopped in the station; filled up on octane / And now they not sane and not playin’ that goes without sayin’ / Slayin’ day in and day out with money playin’ and then they play you out / Tryin’ to escape my own mind, lurkin’ the enemy / Representin’ infinite with presidencies / you know”? (“Dead Presidents”)

    3. “He’s able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without losing hope or forgetting the good times, which become all the more precious when any day could be your last. As a narrator, he doesn’t get too caught up in the darker side of life—he’s simply describing what he sees in the world around him” (Bogdanov, Woodstra, Erlewine, and Bush 346).

    1. What forces the main character Anthony Curtis (Larenz Tate) to become a bank robber?
    2. Do you feel like in the movie the government uses African Americans just to be puppets in the war, without giving them tools to succeed after serving?
    3. What do you believe to be the main concept of this movie?

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