Above all else, I am in-equivocally an Asiatic Black Man. Dravidian (Tamil) & West Indian narratives from my paternal and maternal respectively, coupled with a National Geographic DNA test that shows markers that link me with my brethren from Papua New Guinea, the Aboriginal human being from Australia & Tasmania, the Andamanese and other Dravidians and ultimately East Africa. Along with the rest of my global black community, I am what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would have called an “Original Man”.
Sharing this narrative was important for me to do for two important reasons. First, it’s important to establish the motivation behind my weaving of this narrative into the oral storytelling of the song “Asiatics” featuring Planet Asia and understanding that it comes from a space of authenticity. The second is to understand that the piece and the idea behind Asiatics its ultimately engaging in knowledge resurrection, knowing, in Foucaultian fashion that knowledge is everywhere and is layered, and that what we see is merely that which is erudite and accepted by the current systems of power and therefore cannot be a universal truth and can be, at best, one interpretation.
The knowledge I speak of, is that of “origin”. Where do we originate from? Why does our shared knowledge point us towards Europe, Athens or Rome then to the Crusades and the Renaissance, Empire, Colonialism and Global Conflict as defining settings for the narrative that answers that question–in spite of the insurmountable evidence of our African origins, of Black Athena, of the African wealth that fueled Rome, and the whitening of Jesus after the Crusades and the Renaissance, of the wealth of Africa that empowered the West and continues to… I mean is that coltan in the phone or tablet you are using to read this on? Asiatics, therefore questions the accepted narrative and postulates that true knowledge, i.e. knowledge of self, that comes through deep inquiry and digging beyond erudite systems of information reveals a broader, more universal truth.
The irony is that this argument is put forth through Hip-Hop, an artform that reaches back into a method of preserving narratives in the shadows–such as the various oral traditions that ultimately come together in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1972 coalescing into a paradigm shift, essentially forming a new intelligent movement–a “hip” “hop”, which initially, before being co-opted for the most part, preserved the narratives that were discarded by the status quo and protected the truth brought to the surface by scholars like Frantz Fanon & Stokeley Carmichael, leaders like Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah and by activists like Assata Shakur and Fred Hampton. Hip-Hop took that truth and retold it, keeping it alive, while crack & heroin flooded the urban community and Blackexploitation manipulated the image of Blackness, so recently rediscovered into one akin to the Jim Crow narrative–ultimately creating a new psyche, one which again re-oriented the Black Human towards Europe and Eurocentric framings.
This is why I reached out to Planet Asia, an artist who has been dedicated to the preservation of HIp-Hop as intelligent movement, in spite of corporate pressure to shift it into something devoid of intelligence altogether. Planet Asia is an artist I’ve admired and as a fellow West Coast Muslim M.C., it felt appropriate and two years ago we put together a project that spoke to the youth in an African-American Literature course I was teaching at the summer at U.C. Berkeley. It was almost as if Planet Asia was guest lecturing for the project and the song Asiatics was born from it, a remix of the original joint that created a back-and-forth conversation that conveyed the message that truth lay underneath the surface and that knowledge was key.
This is Foucaultian, Intelligent Movement to the fullest, this is in the words of my sister, Aisha Fukushima, “Raptivism” of the mind–it is Hip-Hop to the core and moreover it is Hip-Hop-Ed… a genre that was created because they have hijacked Hip-Hop with the likes of Iggy and Drake…