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Gregg Reese

Stories by Gregg

‘Nixland—My Wild Ride in the Inner City Check Cashing Industry’

Local entrepreneur tells his side of the rise of alternative financing

"…I’m charming, I’m dashing, I’m rental car bashing I’m phony paper passing at Nix Check Cashing.” -from “High Plains Drifter,” by the Beastie Boys, 1989.

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Rev. Al Sharpton an FBI informant?

Allegations resurface on the eve of the Civil Rights Summit

Al Sharpton has never been a stranger to controversy. Bursting on the scene as a street-level provocateur during the racially charged 1980s in his native New York City, he became a polarizing figure as he led protest marches in response to the Bernhard Goetz shootings, the Howard Beach beatings, and the murder of Yusef Hawkins. The Hawkins episode thrust the self-appointed activist the role of martyr when a Bensonhurst resident stabbed the easily recognizable Sharpton in the chest, as the overweight media figure (known for his flamboyant jogging suits and gaudy jewelry) was about to lead a demonstration through that ethnic enclave in Brooklyn.

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Something from Nothing

Dayo Olopade uncovers Africa’s gift for doing more with less at the Zócalo Public Square

Ah, the contradictions that arise from Africa. Alternatively seen as a vast treasure chest of untapped resources, and as a bastion of grinding poverty full of refugees with distended stomachs begging for alms from the civilized world, its media image is a two-sided coin of polar opposites, and never the two shall meet.

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Obama aims to bypass Congress with ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative

Plan reaches out to nonprofit foundations to implement his agenda

OW Contributor President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, and his recently announced “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, might be considered his response to the prolonged inflexibility of Congress during the course of his administration. Designed specifically to target young males of color, it aims to help them economically and educationally, two areas in which assistance is undoubtedly needed. In order to do this, Obama wants to sidestep the legislative arm that thus far has rendered his previous efforts ineffective by tapping an overlooked resource: huge charitable organizations known as foundations.

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White Folks Sing the Blues?

Black leaders converge with Neo Nazi’s for a ‘National Conversation on Race’

Beverly Hills is perhaps better known as a shopping Mecca for those seeking the ultimate in glitz and glamour, but this week it was slated for a discussion on race, that problem that still irks America in this, the second decade of a new millennium. The actual venue selected, H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment), a site normally utilized for dinner/Jazz concerts, is just a few blocks from the epicenter of Rodeo Drive, with much of the same opulence associated with that more famous address.

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Astro Blackness covers self-identity and determination at Loyola

Two-day event will cover the whole spectrum of expression within the genre of Afrofuturism

So much of Black Identity has been shaped and molded in the cauldron of European tradition. To be sure, a great deal of the energies expended in the last half of the 20th century have been devoted towards a more balanced ethnic representation (hopefully) to make for a healthier psyche for future generations. But by and large, the prevailing Afro-American image is still projected through a lens reflecting the ulterior motives and morals of an outsider culture.

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The Price of Conviction

Authors Note: Last week we investigated the Soviet Union’s KGB (intelligence agency) which attempted to discredit or assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King in hopes of starting a race war during the Cold War (1949-1989). This week we investigate the FBI’s attempt to commit similar acts of sabotage.

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Overt dissent expressed in ‘Party Music’

Black Panthers used music to spread their message

Politics have arguably been a part of the music of the African Diaspora every since the first slave ship off loaded its cargo in the New World. The Africans fashioned musical idioms as a salve for their wretched existence in their new homeland.

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Toys of the Diaspora

They’re more than just playthings

The Christmas holiday stands as a prime example of an event that has strayed drastically from its original intent. The celebration of the birth of a spiritual figure that came forth to atone for the folly of mankind has devolved into an organ for blanket consumerism, especially here in the United States.

Watts Prophet founding member Richard A. Dedeaux succumbs

He was 73

Richard Dedeaux, a founding member of the spoken word/poetry performance art group The Watts Prophets, and a major influence on the Hip Hop/ Rap movement, died on Dec. 3, after a lengthy bout with cancer. He was 73.

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Wanda Coleman dead at 67

Champion of the down trodden and the under class.

“I have never been able to afford the time or money to complete my formal education; yet I have persisted. It has been a very arduous road to hoe with few joys and few rewards, loads of suspicions, rumors, misunderstandings and disappointments—and over 5,000 rejection slips. Yet, I persist.”

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Veteran’s Day 2013

Saga of the Black P.O.W.: the Flip side of military service

Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States. —Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, 1863.

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Veteran’s Day 2013

Saga of the Black P.O.W.: the Flip side of military service

Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States. —Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, 1863.

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Urban lit is academic

“Pimping Fictions” gives a scholarly overview

The recognition and exploitation of an untapped market for Black literary tastes among the working class by White publishers Bentley Morriss and Ralph Weinstock was a curious by-product of the Black Consciousness Movement of the 1960s.

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Understanding Black folks or stereotyping in 10 steps (or less)

In our post-racial landscape, advancements are undeniable, but the old stereotypes live on.

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Smart technology invades the home

No longer relegated to the realm of science fiction, the automated home is now within the reach of the everyday consumer

It might be said that the smart home is just the latest incarnation in a progression that began with the introduction of electricity into households in the early 1920s, and the rise of home appliances around the same time.

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The demonization of Blacks

A slightly different American experience

The now month-old verdict for George Zimmerma in the case of the murder of Trayvon Martin mushroomed from a manslaughter proceeding into a forum about racial conflict and the public perception of Black males.

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Out of this world: invading a literary genre

Authors discuss science fiction’s growing appeal

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Afrofuturism defined

Science fiction has spawned any number of spinoffs, among them alternative history or reality where a world is conceived in the aftermath of dramatic changes in actual history.

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Black science fiction writers of note

From Butler to Whitehead

Despite the conviction of some Hollywood gatekeepers that Black folks don’t see themselves in the future (which prompted the husband-and-wife creative team of Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander to launch “Concrete Park” on the Dark Horse comic label), Black speculative fiction has a significant history containing some intriguing chestnuts.

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Race in the U.S.: fear of the dark

America in the wake of the verdict

A few days ago, a middle-class Black couple was in Arte De Mexico, an upscale design and furniture store out in the Valley, when they struck up a conversation with another shopper, a sociable White woman. During the course of their exchange, they discovered they each had teenage sons roughly the same age.

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Life of Oscar Grant viewed

Fruitvale Station in selected theaters now

At some point in the future, “Fruitvale Station” might be seen as the breakout flick of a long illustrious career for writer/director Ryan Coogler, who is just 27 years old with this, his first feature film.

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Easy Rawlins re-emerges during the ’60s summer of love in ‘Little Green’

Walter Mosley’s reluctant detective is on the case in South L.A.

One of the intriguing aspects of contemporary literature is the author who chooses to place distance between himself or herself, and the locale they describe. Attica Locke, who writes about the South and her native Texas from her perch here in Los Angeles, is one example.

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Those who wouldn’t go

They resisted the Vietnam-era draft and now recount the consequences of their decision

One spring day, some 40 years after the turmoil of the Vietnam Era had died down, Ayuko Babu found himself in Venice Beach, examining a memorial dedicated to veterans of the Iraqi-Afghan War then under way.

Those who wouldnt go

One spring day, some 40 years after the turmoil of the Vietnam Era had died...

Congresswoman Harman speaks at town hall

Following her tenure as a multiple-term representative from California's 36th Congressional District, Jane Harman has...

Looking back at the unrest of 1992

Civil unrest has not been a major factor in Los Angeles recently, although it is...

Angela Davis still taking her message to the masses

Of all the provocative images that emerged from the counterculture era of the 1960s and...

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Spreading the culture of fear

Boston bombings intensify the spirit of global discontent

Spreading the culture of fear

Regardless of political ideology or level of sophistication, the terrorist apparatus has succeeded in spawning...

What went wrong?

Autopsy: an examination of a body after death to determine the cause of death or...

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Dirty money

"This money is so dirty it had to be laundered five times—and it still stinks."...

Long Distance Revolutionary: an uneven look at the fervor surrounding Mumia Abu-Jamal

The LAPD's history of impropriety casts an especially long shadow across the annals of law...

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp explores a cultural touchstone

Urban fiction ironically was jump-started by a White-owned company, Holloway House Publishing. Originally a purveyor...

Out of (or into?) Africa

"In the 19th century, Europe's hunger for slaves devastated West Africa. Two hundred years later,...

The Color of War: How One Battle Broke Japan and Another Changed America

On the evening of July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the naval munitions depot...

The mysteries of Black writers

The detective is arguably as much a cultural icon as the cowboy in the pantheon...

Mervyn Dymally: travels and intrigues

The narrative of Mervyn Malcolm Dymally's journey from rural Trinidad to the United States political...

Beasts of the Southern Wild blends magic, realism

The great cinematographer Néstor Almendros once noted the advantages filmmakers from different locales bring to...

Black love

One of the more curious contradictions of Los Angeles is the comparative lack of viable...

Victim of the sex trade

Young Black princess wanted by sugar dad tonight--(Los Angeles) Need a regular fix of...

Rodney King: an imperfect hero

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" --Rodney King,...

Broken windows under scrutiny at Rand Corporation

"Take a group of four year olds; put 'em at a table. Put a marshmallow...

Commissioners question police account

Community activists held a "die-in" at the corner of Fifth and Spring streets to observe...

Listen, Whitey!: book probes sights, sounds that shocked America

"They weren't anti-white; they were just pro-black." --Author Pat Thomas' paraphrase of a quote by...

Good vs. bad guys

I (once) helped a colleague collect data for his master's in criminology; he was studying...

Class A dining comes to Crenshaw

The newly opened Post & Beam has all the ingredients of an intriguing entry into...

Offspring of Kings Dream?

"Conflicts are unavoidable because a stage has been reached in which the reality of equality...

North Carolina to compensate victims of forced sterilization

Over the summer North Carolina has make strides toward offering restitution for its shameful history....

The digital playground

"African American males lag behind other groups in their information technology use, with one notable...