Monday, July 14, 2008

We Are Not The Alternative; We Are The Imperative.

Rosa Clemente was nominated as the Green Party's 2008 candidate for Vice President of the United States

Rosa Alicia Clemente is a community organizer, journalist and Hip-Hop activist. Born and raised in the South Bronx she is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. A much sought after commentator, political activist, community organize and independent reporter, Rosa has been delivering workshops, presentations and commentary for over ten years.

Rosa's academic work has been dedicated to researching national liberation struggles inside the United States, with a specific focus on the Young Lords Party and the Black Liberation Army. While a student at SUNY Albany, she was President of the Albany State University Black Alliance (ASUBA) and Director of Multicultural Affairs for the Student Association. At Cornell she was a founding member of La Voz Boriken, a social/political organization dedicated to supporting Puerto Rican political prisoners and the independence of Puerto Rico.

Rosa has written for Clamor Magazine, The Ave. magazine, The Black World Today, The Final Call and numerous websites. She has been the subject of articles in the Village Voice, The New York Times, Urban Latino and The Source magazines. She has appeared on CNN, C-Span, Democracy Now and Street Soldiers. In 2001, she was a youth representative at the United Nations World Conference against Xenophobia, Racism and Related Intolerance in South Africa and in 2002 was named by Red Eye Magazine as one of the top 50 Hip Hop Activists to look out for. In 1995, she developed Know Thy Self Productions, a full service speakers bureau, production company and media consulting service. Seeing a need for young people of color to be heard and taken seriously she began presenting workshops and lectures at colleges, universities, high schools, and prisons. In the past ten years she has presented at over 200 colleges, conferences and community centers on topics such as; African-American and Latino/a Intercultural Relations; Hip-Hop Activism; The History of the Young Lords Party; and Women, Feminism and Hip Hop. KTSP now includes an expanded college speakers bureau which has produced three major Hip Hop activism tours, "Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win" with M1 of dead prez and Fred Hampton Jr.; "The ACLU College Freedom Tour" with dead prez, DJ Kuttin Kandi, Mystic and comedian Dave Chapelle; and the "Speak Truth to Power" Tour a collaborative tour of award winning youth activists.

In 2003, Rosa helped formed and coordinate the first ever National Hip Hop Political Convention that drew over 3000 activists who came together to create and implement a national political agenda for the Hip-Hop generation. 10 days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged parts of the south, Rosa traveled to the areas as an independent journalist and her on the ground reports were reported on independent radio stations all over the world, including Air America, NPR, Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now, Indy media, Hard Knock Radio and many more independent and mainstream media outlets.


Green Party Nomination
Vice Presidential Acceptance Speech

Rosa A. Clemente

July 12, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Good Afternoon – Buena Tardas.

It is with much honor y mucho orgullo that I am here today. This is a historical moment in the American Electoral Political System.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my husband Justice and my daughter Alicia-Maria. I am here today because I have a strong Black man in my life who has for the last five years endured 6 moves, seen me through a major illness and has not once asked me to stop following my quest for social justice.

My sister, Yanira Castro, who took me and my family into her home less than two months ago when we were in a dire financial situation and her husband Tony and her children Anyssa and Ismael.

My parents, Maria and Guillermo Clemente. Both born on the island of Puerto Rico, who showed me the essence of family, culture, and faith.

My best friend, in Westchester County, Tonya Alston, whose faith has carried me when I lost mine.

And my Hip-Hop generation family, activists and comrades, whom have lifted me up and whom without I would not be here at this moment. It is an important moment.

So, as we say in Hip-Hop this is shout out time.

Lumumba Akinwole Bandels, Monifa Bandel, Kamau Franklin and the entire memebrship of the Mlacom X Grassroots Movment. Marinievas Alba, Jarad Ball, Kali Williams, Dana Kaplan, Jennifer “Jlove” Calderon, her husband Hector Cladeon and her sons Camio and Gabrielle, who recently took my family in when we had no home.

Joshua Breitbart and Kat Aaroan and Deepa Fernandez. Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Hector Rivera, Djbirl Toure, Daha Allah, Ray Ramirez of the Welfare Poets, M1, Stic Man, Umi, Dedan, Don Divino, DEAD PREZ, my RBG FAMILY, Immortal Technique. Davey D. If it wasn’t for Davey D, who in 2001 ran my now infamous article on Russell Simmons and Hip-Hop, I would not be a Hip-Hop activist. Jeff Chang, Malkia Cyril my heroine in the Media Justice Movment, Kahlil Almsutfa, Julia Grob, DJ kuttin Kandi, April Silver, Toni Blackman, Kevin Powell, Suhier Hammad – yes Palestine and your people will be free – Madhis Kazha, Marta Diaz, Rolando Brown, to my family and all the founders of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention. In particular Angela Woodson, Bakari Kitwana, Jeff Johnson, Dawn Elissa Fischer, TJ Crawford, Orlando Green, John Kimand. All the new leadership, Troy Nkrumah, Heather Sanchez, the Hip-Hop Congress and Shamako Noble and the Hip-Hop Caucus, Rev Lenox Yearwood, Darryl Perkings and Liz Havastad, Adrrein Marie Brown of the Ruckus Society, Invincible.

I acknowledge the political prisoners within Hip-Hop:

afrika bombatta, chuck d, ernit panciooli who I have been blessed to be mentored by and has always supported my leadership as a woman, and have taught me invaluable lessons on how you can be great and humble at the same time.

To Sally Brine, Baschew Mchwei and Elmobe Brath. Elders who took me under their wings and let me become a journalist on the best station out there WBAI NYC of the PACIFICA NETWORK.

My mentors who have been like second mothers and fathers:

Professor Colia Clarke, who is here today, Dr Vivian Verdell Gordon, the greatest teacher I have ever had who we lost too soon Dr. James Turner whom has built the most unbelievable Africana studies department in the country, the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. Professor Nanji and Akeyel Bekeri who taught me that just because you have a degree from Cornell does not mean anything if you are not putting that degree to work for the benefit of our community. Ahki Madhbuit fonder and owner of third world press right here on the south side of Chicago.

And last but certainly not least Richie Perez– one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time because of his love for humanity, young people and commitment to social justice. I am a better person because of him. At his moment, I speak to his spirit and say, “Palante , Siempre, Palante.”

The list is not even complete – yet it is extensive and it may be a bit exhausting, but I stand here today not on my own two feet but on the footprints of all those I just mentioned. Just like one of my favorite poems, Footprints in the Sand, every one of this people, at one time or another, has lifted me and carried me with their words, support, lyrics, guidance and love. I am here today because of all of them.

People often say words can’t express how joyful they are. Well, I am from the Hip-Hop generation, and we can remix anything, Today my words will, hopefully, not only express my honor, my humbleness, but my readiness to take on this task and the responsibility that I have been asked to accept. The only way I can even begin to accept this nomination is that I must understand that I am just a vessel, a representative of the work of an entire generation, and Hip-Hop radical activist movement.

Hip-Hop is more then music, videos and bling. The Hip-Hop movement was created with the first beat box, bgirl, bboy, MC battle, graffiti tag. A movement created by Black and Brown youth in what continues to be one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. I stand on the shoulders of a generation of young people of color that are united, that clearly understand that we are suffering form structural racism, institutional racism and capitalism.

We are fighting for survival.

We fight for the faceless, the micless, the speechless.

Black and Brown and poor faces.

We are not fighting for the right to a just vote, we are fighting for the right to a just life. The government of America has perpetrated wars not only abroad but here at home:

· war on drugs

· war on youth

· war on those who fight for freedom.

We are faced with issues that are getting progressively worse:

· No livable wage

· No affordable housing

· The Aids pandemic in the African and American and Latino community. Especially with heterosexual African American women and Latinas.

· Lack of free healthcare system

· The stranglehold of media conglomerates that do irreparable damage to marginalize communities with stereotypical, racist and sexist propaganda.

We can lead the nation with a microphone. Hip-Hop has always been that mic, but now the green can be the power that turns up the volume of that microphone.

When Cynthia McKinney called me and asked me to be her running mate I immediately said yes. That is my personality. To always say yes when it is a cause that relates to justice for people.

And then I got scared. Not because I was asked, but what it means.

What this means for me and my entire generation, the Hip-Hop generation. I am honored to be part of this, because it means that we have now been asked not only to step up but to act up, to act against people who would rather see us crumble then succeed.

My friend Omowal Adowl form the grassroots artists movement asked me this question: “How did a 36-year old Black Puerto Rican from East Tremont and Harrison Avenue get on a stage to accept the nomination of the most progressive innovative political party in the country?

In order for me to answer that question – I have to start from the beginning.

I am a Bronx-born Black Puerto Rican girl, who lived in what is still the poorest congressional district next to one of the richest – Westchester County – where I went to Alexander Hamilton High School.

In September 1990, I would leave Westchester to begin my studies at the University at Albany. In the first semester I was a typical freshman. I partied, I drank and did other things that would get me on probation.

When I came back the second semester I enrolled in two classes: Puerto Rican history and the History of the Civil Rights movement. I would meet my first mentor in the struggle for justice Professor Colait Clarke. I would then meet some of the most amazing intellectuals: Professor Dr. Vivian Verdaell Gordon and Professor Loi Woens. It was then that I went from being a Puerto Rican chick from the Bronx to changing my major and running for the president of the Albany State University Black Alliance.

I would then receive a Masters from Cornell University, but remained an activist. I learned under my mentor Dr. Jams Turner, that we must be scholar activists. It may not have brought my financial success, but it has brought me personal fulfillment and joy. I have never looked back. This is how I have been in all my activist circles. From the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to the National Hip-Hop Political Convention and REACH – a media justice coalition.

But you know, in the past couple of days, people have asked me if I think the Green Party is just trying to marshal support among Latinos. I have to tell them, "I'm not running to be Vice President of a free and independent Puerto Rico" (though I kinda like the sound of that). "I'm running to be Vice President of the United States."

I’ve been asked if the Green Party is just trying to gather votes from the young people of the Hip-Hop generation by putting me on the ticket. I have to tell them, "I'm not running to be Vice President of Hip-Hop. I'm running to be Vice President of the United States."

But let us not forget that Hip-Hop is:

The mic for the micless

The face of the faceless

The speech of the speechless.

We amplify our politics, our pain, our love, our need for social justice – through the mic, the music, the art, the culture.

The Hip-Hop generation is a culture created by post Black and Brown 1969 babies, a culture that in 1978 people said would die in one year. And 30 years later, as my friend Jeff Chang tells us in his seminal book, Can’t stop. Won’t stop: “We are a generation that the United States has decided to marginalize, imprison and send to war to fight people who look like us.”

We are a generation that is clear that many of our freedom fighters whom go by the names of Fred Hampton, Mumia Abu Jamal, Sojourner Truth, Ida B Wells-Barnett, Pedro Albizu Campos, Nat Turner, John Brown, Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer: who said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

That was an extensive, yet incomplete list. However, we must remember the breadth, intellect, innovation, and vision from our people that we have been privileged to learn from and be inspired by.

When Kanye West said Geroge Bush does not like Black people, I would extend that to say neither does the establishment of the Republican or Democratic party. We will not be fooled again like we were in New Orleans.

As a journalist I felt disgusted that there were no young journalist of color receiving the means to go down to New Orleans. I raised money, went down to the 9th ward and gave money directly to our people, spoke to our people and broadcasted THEIR story. A story of struggle. A story of disappointment. A store of disbelief. But also a story of hope. A story of courage. A story of Black and Brown unity.

We cannot allow white supremacy to continue to divide us as African descendents. When New Orleans flooded, Puerto Rico cried, Brazil Cried, Cuba cried, Panama, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic all cried. We must continue to resist as a diverse people. We must organize.

The Hip-Hop duo, dead prez, in their album Lets Get Free says, “Telling lies to our vision, telling lies to our children, telling lies to our babies – only truth can save us. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but if you fool the right ones, then the rest will fall behind. Tell me who’s got control of your mind and your world view. Is it the news or the movie you’re taking your girl to?”

Those prophetic words uttered over 8 years ago still ring true today. Post 9/11 the majority of the American people have been living under a blanket of lies and fears. As a youth, particularly as a youth of color, we must tell the truth. We must be the ones not fooled. We must be the torch bearers of truth.

We Must Remember that youth have always taken risks. From the Soweto uprisings in South Africa. To African-American and Mexicano children in the 50s and 60s who walked out of schools. To the 17, 18 and 19-year old men and women who joined the ranks of the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee, the Black Panther party, the American Indian movement, the Black Liberation Movement, the Young Lords Party – young people have always been the catalyst of change. I bring these organizations up because they understood the need to tell their message and create their own media.

We Must Remember, as the Hip-Hop generation, we must make a call for media justice. Not only as something we talk about, but something that is inherent to our humanity. I often find it hard to optimistic to be hopeful, to envision true freedom and justice. In a time when this gov't is elected by elitist people or selected by Supreme Court judges, in a time when Black and Brown votes never really count. In a time when dogs that get abused get more press time, more justice and more public policies passed to protect their lives then poor and working class people.

It’s hard to imagine better times – but they are here. Our stories and this moment tell us they are here.

We Must Remember we know the world in which we live and we’ve always believed another world is possible.

We Must Remember our ancestors who broke those chains everywhere around the world, because they knew another world had to be made. The answer is not always yes we can, but We Will Do. Not always yes you can, but You Will Do.

We Must Remember the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglas, “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false.”

So for this first time in my life I have a choice and in every state where the Green Party is on the ballot – you have a choice. Lets push ourselves to achieve victory.

It may not mean moving into the White House but moving the people back into the streets and to the ballot box. As we move forward I am clear that this is a historical moment, an African-American woman, a Puerto Rican woman, woman who trace their lineage back to Africans, who were enslaved in the Americas and the Caribbean. Two women whose parents were born in different countries, but because of their skin were regulated to second class citizens. Two women who believe that in 2008 the social injustices faced by people of color and increasingly poor and working class whites will subject their children, Coy and Alicia Maria, to second class citizenship. We can no longer waste our time and energy on those who are already moderating themselves to the right.

So the question is not whether or not you have a choice, but are you ready to see what a united country can look like?

I leave you with this story: The campaign against Vieques started 66 years before May 2005. The Puerto Rican people came together and said – I don’t care if you believe in independence or statehood, but at the end of the day the Navy needs to get out of Vieques. After years of united struggle, which included Brazilians, Africans, Puerto Ricans, progressive whites, political prisoners and many others around the world who were united under the idea that the Navy must leave Vieques – it happened. On May 3rd 2005, I was able to witness a historical moment when midnight struck and Lolita Lebron and Rafael Cancel Miranda, former political prisoners, were there to knock down that gate and 50,000 people marched forward in victory and solidarity. That is resistance and we have to continue to make that happen.

As I stand here today, I know that I am in the midst of another historical moment . . .

El Maestro Pedro Albizu Campos was a Puerto Rican politician and advocate of Puerto Rican independence from the United States, and the leader and president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party from 1930 until his death in 1965. He said “When tyranny is law, revolution is order.”

The Green Party is that revolution.

You Soy Boricua, Pa'que tu lo Sepas.

You Soy Boricua, Pa'que tu lo Sepas.

You Soy Boricua, Pa'que tu lo Sepas.

You Soy Boricua, Pa'que tu lo Sepas.

Pero yo soy verde tambian.


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