Reid My Mind Radio: Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back

March 15th, 2017  / Author: T.Reid

Picture of Doctor Dre, seated with a tan fur jacket with the caption, Doctor Dre The Fight Back!

Doctor Dre of Yo MTV Raps, NYC’s Hot 97 Morning Show, the movie Who’s the Man? And so much more … is launching The Fight Back!

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and now blind, this fight back is about more than you probably think.

This episode features the piece produced for Gatewave radio followed by more personal conversation with Dre. Plus, you know there’s only one way to intro this podcast… if you were a morning show listener you know I had to do it…it’s the roll call!

So c’mon yawl, listen to Dre…
>scroll down a bit, , to hear the show press play!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:
What’s good everybody?
This is a special episode so I’m going to jump right in…
it’s no mystery , the title of the episode says it all.

If you’re in my age group You remember when older folks said rap was a fad and
black radio didn’t play the music!

You remember when MTV played videos and they weren’t black artists let alone rap music.

Yes, this episode is featuring that Doctor Dre from YoMTV Raps and many other things like the Hot 97 morning show.
With that in mind! There’s only one way for me to kick-off the podcast…

Yeah, I’m gonna do it!

[Audio: From The Hot 97 Morning Show with Ed, Lisa & Dre
Music…
“What’s up yawl, whatcha got to say, who’s on the phone with Ed, Lisa & Dre?”]

TR:
Yo, TReid’s the name, and right now’s the time
Welcome to the podcast called Reid My Mind!

Cheah!

[Reid My Mind Intro]

TR:
Significant vision loss can force a person to face real doubts and questions.
Such as;
Why did this happen to me?
What do I do now?

Andre Brown has chosen to answer the last question by launching a fight;
well really a fight back.

It’s more than vision loss.

In  2008 Andre was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.

He experienced multiple complications of the disease including Charco – foot Syndrome which he says can cause a collapse of the ankle.

DD:
My vision loss came as a progression of that and not taking care of myself properly.

my vision loss was a gradual thing where I  started seeing little things across my vision. Little lines and you know things jumping.

TR:
After These lines often called floaters,  multiple surgeries to repair detached retinas,
Andre was left with some light perception.

DD:
Diagnosed as Diabetic Retinopathy but  as the Doctor said  to me , he said that’s what’s   blocking your vision, you have scar tissue in the back. He said we can’t do anything about  it until we stop the Diabetes. So once that happens then  we can do a different procedure or two to see if we can make the sight  come back.
I’ve spoken with a lot of different people and everyone has told me that my sight  returning is a very strong possibility, especially with what I am doing now.

TR:
What he’s doing now?
Simply put, he’s fighting back!

This fight is just as much for others as it is for himself.

Andre’s in a unique position to take on this job.
You see he’s been working in support of the careers of others for years.

Andre Brown, is better known as Doctor Dre, a pioneer  in Hip Hop culture and entertainment.

Starting out in WBAU, the Adelphi University radio station in Long Island,
Doctor Dre would eventually go on to record music with his group Original Concept.

He D Jayed for the Beastie Boys.

He was involved in getting one of Hip Hop’s most prolific and influential groups, Public Enemy on to Def Jam records.

Most people know him as part of the Ed Lover and Doctor Dre Duo who
hosted “Yo MTV Raps” every weekday
between 1989 and 1995; As well as
extremely successful radio morning shows in New York City between 1993 and 1998.

DJ, musician, actor, author… and now
Doctor Dre is  in a position to bring real attention to two of today’s
very significant health crisis ;
Diabetes & Vision loss.

DD:
Well we have the program that’s called Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back.

Taking the situation and being able to talk to other people and say, I can show you through  what I’m going through  that we all can change. We all can grow.

I’m finding other people that have different or similar experiences and being able to share that. So the fight back is
how do we reach out and get so many resources to work with you to try to actually change your situation.

TR:
Changing the situation by providing access to information  including;
medical, lifestyle and technology.

DD:
I’m doing a lot of Holistic medicine along  with traditional medicine to work with my Diabetes  and just to change my diet. Just putting that under better control

I’m playing the Guinea pig so everyone can  see it.

TR   [In conversation with Dre]
When you say   you’re playing the Guinea pig what does that mean?

DD:
Sometimes you have to go out and someone has  to go oh hey does that work, well I’ll try it  let’s see

I’m not bringing guarantees, I’m trying to bring choices.

What we’re doing is trying to bring those choices to the fore front. so there no longer just whispered in a corner or you have to pull this up on the Google thing… know we’re gonna say no, here’s a bunch of things here, find a way to find something that works best for you. Here are some things that are very easily at your beck and call.

And when you have options, there’s so much more you can do.

TR:
Real life style changes that affect the way we think about nutrition.

DD:
And that’s one of my goals in The Fight Back, is to change bad thinking.  The mother of 4 who works three  jobs with four kids and they have to run to McDonald’s because they  want those Happy Meals; I want to change the Happy Meal to a life meal.

TR:
Lifestyle choices are like adjusting to vision loss; it’s personal.

DD:
you do what you feel the most comfortable doing  and you work from that position. Everybody’s an individual about it. There’s no one magic thing for one person. There’s a lot of great things out there and I  am discovering those things to help  me accomplish doing other things. I’m very open to learning.

TR [In Conversation]:
What types of things are you discovering?

DD:
I have a phone I could talk to and it  speaks and dials  and talks to me.

The technology now is catching up. I believe like Netflix has where they actually have  a program that is designed so when you’re watching a program it describes everything so you get the full affect.
I’m discovering it one at a time but I don’t know the name of everything I just go wow that exists , that’s a good idea, that’s a really good idea.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
that’s Audio Description.

DD:
Yes.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
Just for full disclosure, I’m blind myself.

DD:
Oh, ok!

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
The experience is unique and different for everyone. So I’m trying to gauge what is your experience and how other people can relate and learn… whatever that is because that’s what experience is all about. There for everyone.
DD:
Exactly.

Well with me I understood simply when it was starting to happen  I said don’t panic.
I’ve become a person that reaches for solutions. And rather than falling into , oh my god I can’t believe this is happening  and go into depressed mode I said no  this may happen, this is what you may need to prepare to start doing. And I started preparing myself for it. I said you know what I said you know what  this may be, but darkness  won’t last forever. I said  you have God behind you  and God has already told you  this isn’t forever, this is to slow you down  this is just to make sure  that you can listen and hear what I have to say. And I started listening and hearing what he had to say  more than I started talking.

I embrace it. And in embracing it he has put me on a path  to help other people and to reach out and express myself not  just about the type 2 Diabetes not only about the blindness but  about when something goes on and there’s a struggle sometimes embrace your struggle to find your solutions.
It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee for a cure or a guarantee to a perfect answer  but what it does is says you know what  I’m more than what’s going on with me.
I can also work with this.

If you have a good relationship with your family, friends and  other people and reaching out. I learn every day from so many different people  and I pay attention and I  try to pass on some of the knowledge of what I get  so that people can help themselves

TR:
The Fight Back is a give and take; a collaboration.

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
So what is The Fight Back, what does that look like? in the world. Is that like a  web portal

DD:
It’s going to be a website… we’re building as we speak because I didn’t want to just put something out there … like it’s easy to say we’re going to do that  and throw it out there and  people just think that’s it, that’s it… no so I said , first thing we’ll do  is I’ll go out and start talking , build different interviews up and now it’s starting to take different testimonials  from different people  and it’s attached to other situations  also , you know I’m working with  a friend of mind from a company called Rally Wing and they had family who had diabetes and their discussing stuff with me.

Another gentlemen by the name of Marvin Mizell who is Jam Master Jay’s brother  has a company called JMJ Foundation  for the youth. He has Sickle Cell and Diabetes so connecting with his thing. there’s a bunch of people that I have connected with  and I said you know what maybe I should be that focal point to bring people together. and see if we can actually work, not just to a cure and better treatments ,but to better understanding  and better conversations

So going out now and talking to different people and listening to what their saying  how they fought back
that’s what this fight back is all about.

Bring those stories to light.
Bring this action to light!
And be a little educational, be a little entertaining, be informative, and be supportive
That’s where the strength is!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Is the reality show still a thing?

DD:
We went out there we talked to different places, everyone was excited, yeh we want to do this, yes Dre we love it. And as more we kept talking, my idea disappeared and it became this other thing. It was like that’s not what we’re talking about .

I have a little experience in creating television programs.
We’re creating our own show. Creating our own messaging, making our own venue because the technology allows us to do this.

How do we take all these different instances and work together. Instead of just having a website, a page, you know do this  and get this. No, I want you to come on, I want you to see these different testimonials to be able to reach out to like you and to say hey I want you to talk to him because your experience can help some other people. Your conversation can help someone else who may be feeling down and go hey wow it isn’t as bad as I thought or it could be really bad so we’re going to try and reach out. Go see people shake hands, kiss babies, do whatever needs to be done. We’re going to run the ultimate campaign! The campaign of life of wellness and happiness. That’s a campaign where you just can’t be elected. there is no electoral college for that!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
[Laughing!!]

DD:
I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Don’t apologize for that. That’s real!
[Laughing!]

DD:
My things are based on love
People want to sit back and talk about this guys this and this one’s that. Hate, hate!
I said, you know what man, hate carries weight! With love you can soar!
And I got nothing but love man!

TR:
When the site is completed, you will be able to learn more at Doctor Dre TFB.com.

There’s a quote I like to refer to that’s attributed to a Greek philosopher or motivational speaker depending on who you believe…
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Doctor Dre,  reacting with love
to make information more easily available , bring
health choices to the forefront,  create a place where
others can share their experiences, all while
remaining faithful and encouraging;

In this fight, there can be only one winner; nothing but love!

This is Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio;

Inserted from DD:
“Bring those stories to light. Bring this action to light! And be a little educational, be a little entertaining.”

Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Dre drop a load on em’, from “You down with MTV”]

TR:

Podcasts allow for longer exploration and intimate conversation.
In a way, I hinted to this in the Gatewave story edit.

There’s power in conversation between two people
exchanging knowledge about their shared experience.

Some things you really only feel comfortable talking about with someone who you know gets what you’re saying.
You don’t want to have to explain yourself.

The conversation could just be two people kicking around philosophical ideas.

often it’s , just talking about real practical sharing of information.
Like when Dre mentioned posting to Facebook:

DD:
One of my friends growing up he said I saw you on Facebook and I’m going how is he doing this? Isn’t he blind? And he’s like, he’s actually posting and doing this and that… I said, I have somebody doing that. The way I post is my son posts for me. He’ll put stuff up  that I need written or said or whatever we want to put on my Facebook page. So that’s fine. That’s how that works.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
You could do it yourself too you know right?

DD:
Please, I’m listening

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok so you have the iPhone and the app on the iPhone is , I mean it’s all accessible. It sounds like you mainly probably use Siri, the dictation?

DD:
Yes, I use Siri right now.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
So  you don’t use the keyboard at all, you never tried to use the keyboard?

DD:
No!  (Surprised!)

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Oh, you can absolutely. Do you have Voice Over turned on?

DD:
You know what,  I’ve been trying to go to the Apple store to sit there and have them explain everything that can be done , I do not probably have it turned on, no.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok!

TR:
Sometimes we assume that people are supposed to just know things…
Those who do, need to be more open and welcoming in order to make that information available.
At the same time remain open to receiving new ideas.

Three words that tell me Dre is going to be fine
no matter what the end result of his vision loss turns out to be;

DD:
“Please, I’m listening!”

TR:
Please, I’m listening!

Dre doesn’t know me.
He’s been around the world and has access to people and privilege.

DD:
Having reached out to people like Stevie Wonder.

TR:
Now, who am I to challenge something that Stevie says. I only say that because what Stevie means to me.

Adjusting to blindness though, is different from living with blindness all your life.

For example, I grew up only seeing out of one eye.
The challenge to me was different compared to someone who loses an eye
later in life and never had monocular vision.
I could share some information about things they should know,
but prior to blindness I wouldn’t have been able to relate to that loss.
That adjustment is the challenge. Growing up only knowing one thing is a different experience.

Meanwhile, I too could probably benefit from some of their discoveries.

Dre knows there’s so much more to learn and is open to that information for himself and others.

Our conversation though, went deeper.

Like when I wanted  Dre to know about an aspect of blindness
that is experienced and the ramifications that are felt by too many.

TR [In conversation with Dre]

We started the conversation with a little bit about  blindness and with the things people do and do not know, right. There’s all this technology, there’s so much you know going on and one of the big big issues  when it comes down to the blind community . The image of people who are blind in terms of how that’s perceived in society,  there’s a lot of negative connotation when it comes to blindness that I realized that I had and as I met other people  you know, blind at birth or blind afterward, there’s an incredible resource out here that is not being taken advantage of. So within the blindness community and within the disability community, unemployment is 70 percent.

DD:
Yes, it is!

TR:
So many people don’t even understand that. Even in just in terms of how people can do things and the abilities that are there it’s just not known. In part of what you’re doing you may not have or may have thought about it, you are going to be a representative  of that to some degree. Whether or not you like it or not, right, people are going to look at you and they now look you as he’s blind and therefore when they think of other people who are blind they will think of you. And so the things that you’re doing are going to send a positive message  not only to people who are sighted but also to other people who are blind who may have  bought into that.

I just ask you to ponder that, you know!

DD:
I hear what you’re saying. It’s very funny that you say those things. Funny not laughing wise, funny as it’s very interesting how we do that … I now the same way  I was put upon  and told do you believe you can get your sight back, I’m going to ask you those questions to… do you believe you can get your sight back?

TR:
Now, I had lots of people say they were hoping and praying I get my sight back, but
No one outside my immediate family has ever directly asked me that question.

I know a lot of people might think that question shouldn’t have been asked.
But it was part of our conversation so in no way was I offended or upset by that. This was a conversation between two people experiencing vision loss.

This isn’t some random person asking me on the street.

My answer and Dre’s response forced me to think about how I look at that question.

My answer… next time on Reid My Mind Radio!

[Laughing….]

Just playing!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Nah! My situation is totally different.

DD:
Mmm hmmm!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Number 1 my cancer is a genetic cancer. I was born  with a cancer called Retinoblastoma. I lost my left eye  as a child. The tumor overtook that eye.  I had at that time, this was in 68, well 69, radiat5ion. Thirty five years later that radiation caused another huge tumor  to grow in the back of my right eye and so I had no real choice because it was right on the optic nerve and so when it’s on that optic nerve, the next step is the brain So my choice was do I take that out  and live? Now mind you my wife was pregnant with our second child, we just moved from the Bronx to the Poconos in a house… so my right eye was removed.  There’s no coming back from that.

DD:
Ahh, yes.  You can’t get an eye transplant?

TR:
No, there’s no such thing as an eye transplant. The amount of nerves  that are in the eye  is unlike any place else. But that’s ok!  I didn’t have a choice and that’s ok, you know because I  my family, I have my little girls you know and so  my thing was like you  stepping back from the industry, my thing was I’m raising my girls you know. I’m a keep working and do whatever I can and be a  you know a help to other people  be a you know, productive member of society  and all of that and I can do that when I’m blind. I like to say the only thing I can’t do is drive.

DD:
Well that tells me a funny story that  I thrown out to Stevie Wonder about doing a movie I used to tell when I was doing interviews and I still do but know people go like you’re really going to do that and I said yeah I’m going to do that. I was being interviewed and they said Dre you gonna do any more movies and I said yeah I’m going to do movies. I said right now I’m in conversation with Stevie Wonder , we’re doing this movie called Just Drive the Damn Bus! And everyone fell out. They said for real. I said yeah and in that movie you’re going to see  Stevie and I drive the bus.

TR:
Uh huh!

DD:
They were like, how are you going to do that?  I said that’s the point, you gotta see the movie. And I was joking about it right?And then I started working with  one of my partners and we started  coming up with a concept of the movie and  it was like, this could work. I said, it’s a movie! I said, but do you understand what would happen and he said  but how are you guys going to act in the movie? I said  the same way other people act  in a movie, you hit your mark, you say your lines you keep moving, that’s not an issue.

TR:
Right.

DD:
Stop making an issue of a non-issue.  And then I told, a matter of fact I told  I was talking to LL Cool j and I told him about it and he  fell out laughing. He said you’re serious. I said I’m dead serious, your gonna do that.
I don’t walk around with dark glasses on. My son says Dad put the glasses on  stop walking around… I said no people need to see my eyes the way they are. So what, it doesn’t matter.
I say this to say this to you. We may not know the technology that will exist to help you gain sight when you need it, but I believe in my heart with what you just told me and what just trinkled through me is you and I our meeting is not coincidental  and I can’t promise this, but I just have this feeling  in my gut you’re gonna get your sight, because you need to see your kids.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Exhales!]

DD:
I know you’re saying, how can that be done? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer yet. That answer may come next year, that may come in five years, we don’t know. When I put those goals in front of me  it gives me something to shoot for. Reality or not, that’s why I say  that thing about the movie,  just drive the damn bus… Bill said, you are nuts, you’re outta you… I said no I’m not. I said because we can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Remember seeing Star Trek the Next generation

TR [In conversation with Dre]

yeah, yeah, with Jody…

DD:
LaVar Burton! He put on a visor and  he could see. But when he went to do the movies  LaVar didn’t want that visor on his face they pulled it off and put something on his eyes…we don’t know what’s coming!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Right!

DD
Now if I could get in a DeLorean and go sixty years forward and grab it and pull it back  and say here put this on it works

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Laughing….]

DD:
I don’t know!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

Right, right!

DD:
But we’re back to what the Fight Back is all about, choices!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

What you just said  helped me because the obstacles in front of me are not  necessarily just based on sight. And that goes into a really deeper conversation, but when you said  you get something from  that, there’s no way  I would want to take that away from you!

TR:
I’m not a dream killer and never want to be that!

Believing in the ability to regain sight doesn’t mean  not believing in the abilities of people who are blind.

Often though, that seems to be the message we hear from different organization in their fight against blindness.

The NY Times a few weeks ago ran an article with the headline;
The Worst that Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say
The article itself discussed some of the fears, and ways to prevent or slow
certain types of eye diseases, but
it did nothing to help ease that fear for
those who are facing  that in their present or future.

That’s not cool!

They only looked at vision loss from the medical perspective  ,
prevent the disease and there’s no longer an issue!

But there’s the society side!

That fear is what leads to people not wanting to in anyway associate themselves with blindness.
That fear and miseducation leads to that 70 percent unemployment.

But Dre’s not saying that.
His approach appears to be inclusive, holistic as in a full picture.

He’s straight up keeping his options open
I can support that!

Let’s do some shout outs!

First of all Doctor Dre,
thank you brother for the conversation,
for the courage and willingness to bring options to the people!
I hope to hear more about the Fight Back in the near future.

These next two shout outs come with a recommendation…
Audio: The Cipher Show theme[]

If you are a hip hop fan and like to hear background stories
from artists, journalists and those on the business side…
you need to check the cipher show.
Host Shawn Satero was kind enough to help make this interview happen.

It’s one of my favorite podcasts.

At least once every episode you will hear a person being interviewed say, Wow, you really did your research!”

you’ll hear it at least once an episode which lets you know it’s a quality show.

Shout out to Shawn and the Cipher show!

Shout out to Bill Adler who helped coordinate this with Dre.
BTW, Sir, please continue producing that Christmas  Mix Tape,
my daughter and I look forward to that Cipher episode each year.
No comments folks, I like the different cultural Christmas music and I ain’t ashamed to say it!

If your listening right now on Sound Cloud hit that follow button.
You can subscribe  via any podcatcher on your phone or tablet,
Apple, Android it doesn’t matter we’re outchere!

We’re on Stitcher and Tune In.

Got feedback?
Hit me at reidmymindradio@gmail.com … Remember Reid, is R E I D.

Thanks for listening!

Peace!

Hide the transcript

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Music on My Mind

March 1st, 2017  / Author: T.Reid

This episode we travel in a different direction from the past. Different from the podcast, but a big part of my life and maybe yours… Music!

A collage of musicians including The Drifters, The Coasters and Gladys Knight!

A past guest to RMMRadio returns, but this time we’re getting his recommendations for  artists and songs you should listen to, investigate, re-visit…

And now it’s time for the classics…!

 

 

Resources

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Joe Capers

February 15th, 2017  / Author: T.Reid
A picture of Joe Capers, an African American man seated on a couch staring into the camera with sunglasses!

Joe Capers

En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone and more musical artists from Oakland could help answer this question. In this  episode we meet two gentlemen creating a documentary that will help others do the same.

The second part of today’s podcast explores Hip Hop from two angles you may have not known existed.
* Krip Hop Nation, an international network for artists with disabilities.
* Hip Learning,  using the rap element of Hip Hop to help children learn science and more!

So stop what you’re doing
Prepare to hear the words they say
The only way to do it…
Press on the button that says Play!

… Oh snap, #Bars son!


Subscribe & Follow


Resources

  1. Alternative Minds
  2. Krip Hop Nation
  3. The Best of Krip-Hop Nation on CD Baby

4. Hip Learning

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good family!
Happy Black History Month to everyone…
even if you don’t feel that’s something you celebrate or even really acknowledge.
The simple truth, if you are on this planet,
chances are great that you have been impacted by African American people. There’s so much from the world of invention, science and culture. An unfortunately, that’s not discussed during the other 11 months of the year.

Today’s episode includes a recent piece for Gatewave Radio that shows how sometimes people are like pieces in a puzzle. If one piece is missing, that full puzzle can never be complete.

Following the Gatewave piece you will hear more from two brothers who in their own way are expanding Black history. And ,  making sure we know, that includes people with disabilities.

Are You ready?
[Audio: “I know you’re gonna dig this!”]
[RMMRadio Intro]

[Audio Mix: “En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone, Digital Underground and MC Hammer!]
TR:
Today, the question, Who is Joe Capers?

In the 1980’s and 90’s  artist’s like , En Vogue,
Tony Tony Tony,
Digital Underground,
MC Hammer
all had a few things in common.
They all were based in Oakland,
each made their way to the top of the charts
and Joe Capers.

In order to find out who is Joe Capers,
I spoke with two gentlemen from California’s Bay Area.
First up, Leroy Moore, originally from the east coast, raised in Connecticut and New York City.

LM:
I’m an activist, journalist and author. I also started what’s called Krip-Hop Nation with a K. It’s an international network of musicians with disabilities. My disability is Cerebral Palsy. I had it since birth.

I found out about Joe Capers when I was doing radio. KpFA out here  in Berkley. They had a radio show about people with disabilities. Joe Capers was blind African American man here in Oakland in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He had one of the first accessible home studios at that time.
TR:
That’s a full recording studio in the basement of his home. All sorts of Oakland artists from MC Hammer to En Vogue and others you may have never heard of recorded at Joe’s studio

Leroy learned of another person who could help further answer the question… who is joe capers?

Naru:
I got a call from Leroy one day, he said “Naru you knew Joe Capers?” I was like yeah Joe?

TR:
Meet Naru Kwina , an Oakland California  based artist and teacher. .

Naru:
Joe was just the coolest guy with the biggest smile.
Joe played the base, the drums the keyboards so he was a master musician.

TR in conversation with Naru:
Was Joe doing more of the production? Was he just kind of the studio owner? What was he actually doing?
***

Naru:
Listen brother! His studio was called “J-Jams Studio: Joe did everything.  He had his mix board in Braille. He recorded, he engineered he mixed, he produced. He did everything that you could every possibly do in the studio. And he had the greatest ear I have ever been around and I’ve  been doing music over 40 years of my life. If you had one note or one little thing off he knew and he would call you on it. You know because he was blind you thought you’d  get away with stuff.

TR:
Joe was a professional and  demanded that those  in his studio acted the same. Naru, who is also a rapper, and went by the name Quick back then, recalls the time when Joe instructed him to memorize his lyrics and not use written notes in the recording booth.

Naru:
I’m in the booth one day and I had my little paper… like nah he ain’t gonna know… [laughs] he was like bruh, I could hear the paper rattling in the booth. And he sent me home. He sent me home and told me not to come back until I knew my lyrics.

So he was really dedicated to the music and that dedication is still with me and when I started having my own studio and production I always said nope don’t come in here with no paper, learn your lyrics.
[Laughs] So I got that from Joe!

TR:
Learning more about Joe, Leroy was surprised others didn’t know him.

LM:
Oh my god, this man needs to be recognized in Oakland because he really changed the Oakland sound of Hip-Hop and Soul.

TR:
During that conversation between Naru and Leroy the idea was sparked.

Naru:
When I said you know somebody outta do a film about Joe, he [Leroy] said why don’t you do it. I said man, I’m not a film maker man… he said but  yeah you know people. Reluctantly, I took that upon myself.

TR:
there’s lots involved in the process.

Naru:
I just contacted people who had cameras, mics and I had to contact all the artists. I literally probably have  6 or 7 hours of interviews. Everybody from MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Dwayne Wiggins from Tony tony Tone and other people who just knew Joe on a personal level or recorded with Joe… who were closer with Joe. Some of the more interesting interviews are from people you would never heard about who Joe touched in a particular  way. I could just say that he’s still here with us because all the people he touched and how many people still  think about Joe.

TR:
What began as a 15 minute documentary about the career of Joe Capers has morphed into much more. Running his own studio known as J-Jams wasn’t solely a business venture. This was back in the error when recording music professionally required significant investment.
Large studios charged hundreds of dollars an hour for studio time.

Naru:
Joe was changing like between $20 or $25 an hour r. The quality of sound was on par with anything coming out of these big studios. Joe knew the music that we were doing.  He understood it better than some of the engineers who were  in these big studios who were used to . doing rock music or folk and country. Joe  understood the R&B  and the Hip-Hop… the need for that bottom.

TR:
While the music might be about that base, for Joe it included the chance to offer help and encouragement.

Naru:
He was also a teacher. He would take young kids off the street from time to time. Some people were actually living with him. He would teach young kids  to engineer. Pretty much gave at least  two people I know roofs over their heads until they got their act together. They might have been out doing some street business and he didn’t really want that.  So he was trying to teach people another way to make money and be successful.

LM:
Joe Capers taught newly blind people independent living skills.

TR:
Making a documentary takes a lot of patience and research. It also takes creativity. Not only in the traditional sense as in the filming and writing, but also in the approach to resolving real  challenges that inevitably arise.

In order to make up for a lack of video footage of Joe and artists in the recording studio, original animation is being incorporated into the film.

And I am pleased to report that plans are included for audio description, making the film more accessible to those with vision loss.
When complete the film will be distributed by way of local public television, online, film festivals and live screenings.
Events developed around the release of the film will include a live concert focusing on emerging artists including those with disabilities. The concert will be an annual event taking place in August. in Oakland, this now has significant meaning.

Naru:
I wouldn’t say we, I helped but Leroy was the most instrumental…

LM:
Every August is now Joe Capers month in Oakland. That’s the first  Black Disabled man that’s been recognized  by the city of Oakland.

TR:
Here’s how you can help contribute to the success of this film

Naru:***
I’m working on some more funding  right now that’s why  it’s slow going. Everything’s been like a labor of love  out of my pocket. And Leroy put some money in as well.

I have a nonprofit, it’s called Alternative Minds Foundation and so all our stuff is going through there with this film. It’s a 501-3C so everything is a tax write off for people who want to do that.

LM:
www.alternative-minds.com

Naru:
And just later on just telling people about it when it comes out. That’s probably the best way you could help spread the word.

TR:
It sounds like these two are the right   choice for telling Joe’s story.
Leroy, through his work with Krip Hop nation, an international network of musical artists including
rappers, dj’s, producers, dancers, spoken word artists and others, all with disability; have already presented an award in recognition of Joe’s contributions. This award was presented to his family in Georgia.

Naru who had a personal relationship with Joe, while not as familiar with blindness, did gain what some may see as a simple lesson, but in fact is one that advocates have spent a life time trying to convey.

Naru:
My understanding about a person who was blind  is very limited and probably very skewed. Being around Joe was very refreshing. He was just a regular person, did regular things. Loved to joke and laugh, play tricks on you  and all of that stuff. He was just like we say, a regular Oakland Cat!
[Laughter fades out]

TR:
This is Thomas Reid,

LM:
Oh my God, this man needs to be recognized.

for Gatewave Radio.
Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Taken from Rap Battle on MTV
“There’s no charity in a rap battle!”, Sway]

TR:
The first time I thought about Hip Hop and disability was just prior to me losing my sight.  It was the fall of 2003, I believe it was MTV2 who was airing a rap battle. One of the contestants included young rapper by the name of Blind Fury.  I remember thinking his opponent was corny. He got stuck on the blind and disregarded the fury.

Blind Fury by my account was indeed better and should have won that battle.  He was more lyrical,
had a method for finding out visual details about his opponents and  he had multiple flows.  I realized the perception of Blind Fury’s talent was based on his disability.

Why would blindness limit the ability to rap? It’s vocal, what’s the big deal.
Yes, battle rap might require the ability to quickly gain information about your opponent, but Blind Fury was making that happen too.

Eventually Blind Fury took his place in history with his success on  BET’s 106 and Park’s Friday Freestyle.

[Audio: From Wild Style… “South Bronx Subway Rap”, Grandmaster Caz ]

The truth is people with disabilities have been involved with hip hop since its origins.

Leroy prior to his interest in rap was into rock and heavy metal.

LM:
Ozzie Osbourne, Metallica, ZZ Top…
***

TR:
He was then introduced to Rapper’s Delight, from the Sugar hill Gang.

[Audio: rapper’s Delight, Sugar Hill Gang]

LM:
Back then you bought the record and tried to learn all the lyrics.

This is gonna be cool!

At that time I had a walker . So picture me  with my walker going to the subway to the Bronx. Here I am this skinny guy with a walker and everybody around me has muscles,  break dancing and all that stuff.
I was just a writer back then . I dabbled in poetry.  I always told myself that I want to get in the cypher
TR:
If you’re not familiar  with the ciphers,  rappers would get together to rhyme  with one another. A time to test your newly written verse or maybe freestyle. Picture a circle of rappers passing the imaginary microphone to one another. It’s a meticulous process. You wait your turn. And you better be ready because you are going to get instant feedback on your 16 bars, or your verse. This is the place where you truly hone your skills.
While the ciphers were often about seeing who had the better skills, these
groups of mainly African American and Latino young men attracted the attention of the police.
Becoming more familiar with Leroy’s presence, he was soon declared “The  Watch Man”.

LM:
Because you’re disabled  you can watch out for the cops. The cops won’t do nothing to you . When the cops came  I used to yell you know, “po po”  and they used to scatter.  They’d just leave me there with my walker  and the cops used to get so pissed off.

TR:
Leroy played his position . He listened to more and more music.

LM:
When Run-DMC came out and did “Walk this Way”  and mixed rock with rap I was like alright this is it!

TR:
[Audio: It’s Like That, Run-DMC]

Right before I was scheduled to speak with Leroy, I read an interview he did with Daryl McDaniel’s better known as DMC of Run-DMC fame.

Now, when I heard [It’s Like That] as a young teenager, I lost my  [Censored Beep] mind!

TR in conversation with Leroy:
What was that like meeting DMC?

LM:
Oh my God, you know, I told him I grew up with you… he’s like no no we grew  up together!
For me it’s one of the highlights of my journalism career.

I saw that DMC had a book out about his depression. I also knew that back in I think the late 80’s he had a voice disability. I was like ok, DMC needs to know about Krip-Hop.

TR:
And more people need to know about Krip Hop.

In general, people are uncomfortable with disability. They don’t understand what to say to a person, how to act, maybe there’s some fear of even thinking about disability…
You know what I’m talking about because chances are you experienced it from at least one side or both.

Leroy never did participate in any of those early Bronx ciphers, but Hip Hop did get into him.

One important aspect of art and culture, is seeing yourself represented on the screen, on the canvas or stage and in the music.

As a black disabled man, that doesn’t happen that often.

LM:
My father had a huge Blues record collection and of course as we know Blues artists were blind… like Blind Willie Johnson.
[Audio: “It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine”, Blind Willie Johnson]

My father liked Robert Winters. Robert Winters had Polio  and walked with crutches…
[Audio: “Magic Man”, Robert Winters]

Wow,  there’s disabled Black  men that do music!

I think it played a really big part of where I am today with Krip-Hop.

This year is our 10th Anniversary and we have loose chapters…

TR:
These include countries within Africa, the UK, Germany and Spain.

[Audio: “Tales of the Krip-Hop”, Rob da Noize Temple]

With the network formed by Leroy and co-founder Keith Jones, the two being disabled activists, the focus continues to be on education and advocacy.

LM:
So we saw Krip-Hop as a way to bring awareness around the history of disabled musicians from the Blues to Hip-Hop and really educate and to push the Hip-Hop arena  around Ableism thinking around disability and to really say that disabled musicians have been here since the Blues.

TR:
Krip Hop Nation produces live events featuring all sorts of artists with disabilities including; dj’s, emcee’s, spoken word artist, dancers and more.
They have put out 4 CD’s including their latest.

LM:
Our 10th Anniversary CD just came out on CDBaby.com. It has Wonder Mike  from the Sugar Hill Gang, DMC from Run-DMC.

TR:
Two names you are probably familiar with, but some might be new…like;

George Tragic
[Audio: “Industry Epidemic”, George Tragic]

Wheelchair Sports Camp

[Audio: “Hard out Here for a Gimp”, Wheelchair Sports Camp]

Toni Hickman
[Audio: “Cripple Pretty”, Toni Hickman]

Rap music and hip hop culture ironically was birthed to some degree from
exclusion and isolation.
Young kids from the South Bronx who  didn’t have access to much
including instruments so turn tables and beat boxing became its  replacements.
Barred from the downtown discos and night clubs; the community centers and parks became their place to party.

[Audio: “This Can’t Be Life”, Prinz D]

Hip Hop is a culture that created an outlet for expression.
It’s common themes consist of stories about overcoming adversity,
rebelling against  oppression, yet the disability experience goes mainly unheard.

Obviously this isn’t exclusive to rap ,
but this music with its infectious beats and rhymes is perfectly suited for Communicating all types of information with
the intention of educating.
Whether changing commonly held beliefs or getting young students to recall all types of information.

[Audio: “Hip Science”, Naru Kwina]

That’s where Naru saw a way to use his love for hip hop and combine it with his love of teaching.

While working as an assistant teacher he had the challenge of trying to teach science to kindergartners.

Naru:
The kids were like “uh!”

At recess I heard them all outside, they were singing this song off the radio; the lyrics were horrible. [Laughs…]
But, man, they knew the whole song….
And a lightbulb went off like huh!…
If I could turn these lessons into music like that and get these kids excited I wonder if they would learn these lessons like they learned that song?

So I did a series of songs  about the body and gave them to my students, the CD’s to the parents  to take home and listen to and then we did some in class. I mean they caught it so fast, it was amazing.

And so I was just using it in class and people kept telling me you need to market  this… you need to do this you need to do  that…
I ended up applying for my first grant. It’s a grant called  the Creative Work Fund. It was a partnership with this organization called the African Scientific  Institute out here in Oakland. We got the grant. $35,000 grant. I was able to produce a play, the CD and pay a lot of people in my community as well to perform  and got other artist involved to  record with me. That’s about 10 years ago. I’m still doing it to this day. Outperforming , online sales. It became half of my career. I’m still an after school teacher but I do a lot of Hip Science. I enjoy it!

TR in conversation with Naru:
What was that reaction like from the other teachers? Were they cool with this or did you get any negative feedback from them?

Naru:
They were amazed. First of all I don’t think any of them knew I rapped. I don’t know why but I kind of kept that part of my life separate  from working with the children and never realized that was one of my strengths.
I should have been using it all along.
I never even thought it would be anything like that. I just wanted my kids to learn.

TR:
And it wasn’t just his kids that were learning.
Shortly after releasing the CD series he received a call from a company interested in the product.
Naru:
This company, it’s called Overbrook Entertainment and they wanted to buy [laughter] my whole business. I’m like what? I’m not selling my business. And it turns out that was Will Smith’s company. He was in town  in San Francisco  shooting the Pursuit of Happiness  and I don’t know how  he got my CD’s  but his kids were listening  to it. I never finished the negotiations because  they were talking about they wanted to have all the marketing … I wasn’t looking to sell. It was like  this  is my baby right here!

I was like wow, I know I’m doing something now if their trying to buy  my company man! [Laughs fade away…]

***

TR:
Doing something now, well that sounds like Naru’s default mode…
He creates music with his daughter who herself is a singer and rapper at the Oakland School for the Arts.

Naru:
Matter of fact, the first song she ever wrote with me  she was 3. It was called love is the thing It’s featured on Rosie O’Donnell Family is a Family documentary. We did a video for it and everything. It was real cool!

TR:
Over several summers, the two have written a book that’s now complete and he and his daughter are creating an accompanying soundtrack.

Naru:
It’s called Panela’s Journey. It’s a very fanciful tale of a young girl who’s struggling with her identity  in the world and  her place in the world and wondering why the world is the way it is. She seeks refuge in a fanciful place.
That  one should be coming out soon as well. We’re gonna have some augmented reality, apps that go along  with the book.

TR:
Continuing to put out his own music, his latest project should be out soon.

Naru:
Naru and Strong Soul and we are The Living Room Legends!

TR:
I have some links on the blog… Reid my mind .com if you want to check out more on both Leroy and Naru.

Salute to both of these brothers for the good work their doing, truly expanding the culture.

I don’t know about you but I feel like I have to start producing some    more content!

n that note, make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
Go to your podcast app of choice and search for Reid My Mind Radio… that’s R E I D.
You can also follow me on Sound Cloud soundcloud.com/t-Reid.

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]
Thanks for listening.

Peace!

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Reid My Mind Radio: Meet Young Ant – First Female Rapper… who’s Blind

February 1st, 2017  / Author: T.Reid

Now way back in the days when hip-hop began
With Coke LaRock,Kool Herc, and then Bam
B-boys ran to the latest jam…
– “South Bronx”, KRS One, Boogie Down Productions

I’m Old enough to remember when people not of my generation thought rap music was a fad. They never thought it would become what it is today… a worldwide billion dollar, trend setting industry. I’m sure they never thought how this art form could end up being a bridge for a 19 year old young lady adjusting to her vision loss.

Picture of Antynette, "Young Ant" in graduation cap &gown! Split image with left side featuring Young Ant sporting a t-shirt reading "No Sight" followed by a image of an Eye with a slash running through it and beneath "No Fear". The right side image is of Young Ant with the reverse side of t-shirt reading "#Team Ant".

Young Ant, is spittin’ lyrics about her own experience adjusting to blindness. And I have a feeling that’s just the beginning… Come meet the young lady and rapper! Team Ant!!!

Hit Play below and act like you know!

 

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Transcript

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TReid:
What’s good everybody, back this week with another episode of Reid My Mind Radio and I’m very excited to bring you this latest piece produced for Gatewave .

You may think the title says it all, but there’s more…

Take a listen and I’ll be back with some thoughts.
[“Ladies First”, Queen Latifah]
[Reid My Mind Radio Musical Intro]

TReid:
Young Ant in the building!

YA:
Young Ant in the building!

Treid:
Uh Oh!

So the way I look at this; Antynette is the person, Young Ant is the rapper!

YA:
[Laugh!] Yeah, that’s right!

TReid:
Alright, so first who is Antynette?

YA:
Antynette is a young lady who has been through a lot in a little bit over a year and half and is trying to find her through it with adjusting and coping and in different techniques that I’m learning and trying to find different avenues of expressing how I’m feeling.

[Intro to “Count your Blessings” by Young Ant]

TReid:
Beautiful!
I lost my sight about 13 years ago. And so…

YA:
Really!

TReid:
Yeh so one of the things that I like to hear from people adjusting to blindness is that they don’t first start with who they are with the fact that they are blind. You said you are a young lady!
Now, tell me who’s Young Ant?

YA:
Well Young Ant is a motivational rapper!

TReid:

Maybe that’s not what you expected to hear from an upcoming rapper.

Or perhaps your image of what it means to be blind
makes it difficult to understand how this young lady
who lost her sight only a little over a year ago can talk about counting her blessings.

Well, we’re about to challenge your perception today of both
what it means to be blind and what it means to be a rap artist.

Antynette Walker, 19 years old, lost her sight in the middle of her senior year in high school.

Marsell:
Antynette was born prematurely and she had eye surgery done on her eyes at the age of 1 to correct her vision. They told me that her eyes will be just perfectly fine; in which they was over the years.

TReid:
This is Marsell Walker, Antoinette’s mother.

At 11 years old Antynette began losing her vision.
Living in Atlanta at the time Marsell began searching for a reason for her daughter’s vision loss.

Marsell:
We started taking her to different doctors, getting different tests run and no one could tell us a reason why this was happening to her eye. They just kept prescribing different glasses for her eyes and after the years went on we just started coping with her losing vision in her left eye at the age of 11.

TReid:
In 2015 Antoinette began experiencing complications in her right eye.
Still seeking that diagnosis, the family moved to Minneapolis where she was first being treated at the University of Minnesota.

marsell:

He really didn’t see any dramatic changes within her vision from when she started seeing him. And she was going in complaining about the blurriness and spottiness and these were the same symptoms and things that she was going through at the age of 11 when she lost her vision in her left eye.

He somewhat tried to make it feel like she was hallucinating and it was all in her head and she knew off hand that it wasn’t so she asked me to get a referral to a newer doctor which is at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

TReid:
Seen by Ophthalmologist’s, Neurologist and other specialists at the Mayo Clinic, doctors had a very different opinion from the original doctor at the University of Minnesota.

Marsell:
That’s when they did notice her vision was changing dramatically. And he couldn’t even figure out why that previous doctor would tell us he seen no changes.

TReid:
Despite all of the tests that came back negative and the eventual diagnosis of Optic Neuropathy

Marsell:
She woke up not being able to see anything and that point he asked for us to do Steroids with Antynette for about a week… it didn’t work!

TReid:
That day she woke up blind, was Christmas 2015!

TReid in conversation with Marsell:
I mean, you’re her mom, and you’re watching your daughter lose her sight.

Marsell:
Yeh!

TReid:
What was that like for you?

Marsell:
It was really, really stressful. I have always been that parent who where if something is wrong with your kids you find a way of fixing it.
Your kids feed off of your energy, so I had to keep being positive. I’ll go in my room I’ll cry, I won’t let her know I was crying. I’ll come back out and as if nothing happened, but you know I didn’t know what to do. I was just numb!

TReid:
This was her senior year in high school.
Antoinette should have been thinking about the prom, her future.
Now she had to return to school after Christmas break, to a whole new way of life.

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
What was that first day of school like for you?

YA:
Well, it was hard. Everything was much louder, it was just harder to navigate through crowds and different hallways. It was so much anxiety the first day going back because it was just new way of life, new environment, everything was just all brand new.

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
What was the reaction of your classmates?

YA:
Everyone was shocked. Everyone was surprised . People more so didn’t believe it because they were just like last time I saw you you were able to see now you’re blind. More people were stand offish kind of and some people were supportive because some people knew what I was going through and knew that it was gonna happen and because we were that close and we talked about it frequently. But some were rude. I think that was mainly because they didn’t know how to take it and they didn’t know what was a proper reaction.

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
That’s a mature response from you in terms of how you responded to those people who were being , you know, negative.

YA:
There’s going to be some people that you know, they don’t know any better or their parents didn’t teach them any better so there gonna you know make fun or say things that are inappropriate, but you gotta just learn to ignore it. Some people are for you, some people are against you. Not everyone is gonna be on your side.

[Song: “Team Ant”, by Young Ant]

TReid:
On the same side; like on a team!

Team Ant! That’s the official name of Young Ant’s crew, her support system her family.
working with her throughout this new journey.

Team Ant consist of her Dad,Aldo…

Marsell
He’s focusing on making her greater. He’s there hands on. It’s her message, but he knows a lot about rap so he has a big input on her delivery.

TReid in conversation with Marsell:
And are you playing the role of manager/marketer? What’s your role?

Marsell:
I am “Momager”

TReid in conversation with Marsell:
Momager
, ok! {Laughs}

Marsell:
[Laughs] It’s a new word for me

TReid in conversation with Marsell
I like it!

Marsell:
Hooking up photo shoots and videos hooking up studio time and reaching out to different people to try and get her story out there. And her father is the one that comes and oversee everything and makes sure it sounds right.

TReid::
The oldest of 4 siblings, setting an example for them is really important to Antynette.
She’s working hard at improving all of her skills. That’s Braille, navigating with her white cane, independent living skills and learning to use a screen reader and computer.

Traditionally, One of the most important aspects of being a rapper is writing your own rhymes.
At least, if you want any true rap Aficionado to take you seriously.

I had to ask…

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
Are you writing your own rhymes right now?

YA:
Yeh!

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
You’re like yehhhh!

YA:
[Laughs]

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
How do you feel about the writing? Does that mean something to you as opposed to having others write your rhymes?

YA:
Yeh, Because before I went blind I was a big writer. I wanted to be a novelist. I used to write short stories and poems and different things of that sort. So I feel like you know with me losing my sight it doesn’t mean that have to stop doing what I love doing. Now I have to be more repetitive when I’m writing the stuff so I can remember it.

TReid:
In any art form, early influences can help develop an artist’s own unique style.

YA:
My father is a rapper so I kind of grew up around music and rap music. Growing up around him, listening to him rap. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia I just grew up listening to it. Artists like Biggie Smalls, Tupac and Run-DMC and you know Snoop Dogg

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
Very nice!.
See, I made my kids, both of them, they had to learn some early Run-DMC… I’d make them learn the lyrics…

YA:
Laughs…

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
For real! I ain’t joking!

YA:
Right, get to the roots!

TReid:
Based on the artists mentioned I’d say Young Ant has some knowledge of rap music’s pioneers. She likes lyricists, music with a message and showmanship.

YA:
I like to call myself a motivational rapper. I’m mainly aiming to inspire, to motivate, to let everyone know that no matter what you’re going through and no matter what happens that doesn’t mean that your life stops just because you’re diagnosed with a certain thing or something traumatic happens in your life. People in society tell you that you can no longer go on. You can be whatever you want to be and you can do whatever you want to do if you set your mind to it. All my music is positive and clean. You know fun, uplifting and motivational.

TReid:
She’s gearing up for some live performances later this year. Like the South by Southwest festival in Austin Texas and Coast to Coast in Atlanta.

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
How do you navigate the stage?

YA:
Usually, I go on before to get a feel for the stage you know to see how big it is to see what I’m working with. And then you know once I get a feel for how big or small it is , I kind of just you know [exhale!] let loose!

TReid:
Young Ant is just getting started and open to collaborating with other artists.

YA:
I would love to do a song with Stevie Wonder. That’s like the top of my list.

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
Hold on, you’re a Stevie fan too!

YA:
Whatttttt?

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
You’ve always been a Stevie fan?
I love Stevie… yeh! Even before…

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
Now I’m gonna test you. You’re talking to a real Stevie head right now. Tell me what you like. Give me a song.

YA:
[Sings Isn’t she lovely, isn’t she wonderful]

TReid in conversation with Young Ant:
Ok!

YA:
I like Superstitious! That’s that’s my jam!

TReid:
There’s definitely something wonderful about this young lady.
Maybe it’s the inner strength that shines through her words and personality.
The determination that’s helping her adjust to blindness and pursue her goals.
She has the courage to make her way in quite honestly what’s a male and able bodied dominated genre
in the entertainment industry
which by the way, has never been that open to disability.

Young Ant though has a team.

[Song: “Team Ant”, by Young Ant]

A support system that’s lead by the two people who love her most, mom and dad.

[Song: “Count your Blessing” by Young Ant]

That’s an asset whether adjusting to blindness or starting a music career.

To listen to this track called Count your Blessings go to Sound Cloud and follow her on social media.

Let them know Momager!

Marsell:
Young Ant, first blind female rapper. You can find her on YouTube as Young ANT. On Twitter , Sound Cloud, Instagram as YoungAnt1121. Her Facebook page is Team Ant.

I’m Thomas Reid…

[Audio YA: I kind of just you know, let loose!]

TReid:
For Gatewave Radio, Audio for Independent Living!

[Sound of Record rewind]
This is why I like producing this podcast.

As a father of two incredibly gifted, intelligent and beautiful young ladies I was drawn to this story.

I understand the value of speaking with someone who has walked in your shoes.

Graduating high school is the time when you look to a future hopefully full of opportunity
. For Young Ant and anyone faced with the loss of their sight or any disability for that matter,
it’s natural to think that the opportunity has faded away.

All it takes though, is a glimpse of chance or hope to peek through.

That could be a small success.

Young Ant is only one year into her adjustment process.
Honestly, to some extent I think that process is lifelong. Not like a life sentence, but rather like a commitment.
A commitment to living the best life possible;
seeing happiness not as a destination but a daily process.

Now, you know what’s not a daily process?
subscribing to this podcast, Reid My Mind Radio…
For real though! All it takes is a couple of steps;
go to your podcast app, search for Reid My Mind Radio… that’s R E I D
and then hit subscribe.

Then become a fan!
I ‘m talking about young ant, but feel free to become a fan of the podcast too!

Seriously, I hope you all heard the character, strength and maturity like I did and become a fan of both the young lady, Antynette and of course, the rapper Young Ant!

[Song Roxanne Shante: “Got the party people screaming… “Go on Girl.!”… from “Have a Nice Day”}
Reid My Mind Outro Music

TReid:
Peace!

Peace!

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Reid My Mind Radio: At the Intersection of Black and Blind

January 18th, 2017  / Author: T.Reid

Many would assume growing up blind in the 1950’s & 60’s had its challenges. What about growing up Black and Blind attending a segregated school for the blind?

Robert Lewis at work at the Radio Reading Network of Maryland

In this latest Reid My Mind Radio you hear from the Executive Director of the Radio Reading Network of Maryland, Robert Lewis.

We talk about;

  • Attending a segregated school for the blind
  • How being blind saved his life
  • Playing music with Stevie Wonder and much more.

Plus in the special podcast edition, we include some of his personal music suggestions for those times when you just need a lift!

 

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Transcript

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TR:Happy New Year!

I know some of us are not feeling that happy in 2017 and possibly longer. I don’t know like 4 years!
Well, as long as we’re not six feet under or my personal favorite stuffed into an ern sitting on a mantle… we’re good and we can make things happen.
We can fight…fight the power!
But first a new Gatewave piece I know you’re going to like and some extra immediately following!
Hit me!

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme Music]

 

TR:
Meet Robert Lewis, the Executive Director of the Radio Reading Network of Maryland. With over 35 years in the business, he is more than qualified to run the network. We’ll hear more on that, but it’s his life experiences that are truly compelling and offer a glimpse to what it was like growing up as an African American attending a segregated school for the blind.

 

RL:
I went to the Maryland School for the Blind, here in Baltimore Maryland. It was a wonderful place to go to school. I started there in 1954. It was a nice school but in the very beginning there was one side for the blacks and one side for the whites. And you were not allowed to sleep on the white campus . The two races went together for school but after that we would go our separate ways the first couple of years that I was there. That’s the way they had the whole setup.

Things were done to you or things were done that would not be tolerated today.

In the beginning they wouldn’t  buy Black kids Braille writers and things of that nature until like 50’s or more like in the 60’s. They started doing some things for Black kids that they didn’t do before and they would do them for the white kids.

You would be surprised what we had to deal with  in the 50’s and 60’s in a blind school.

 

TR:
The discrimination, limited social interactions, like at parties.

RL
As soon as we started to dance with one of the  white girls, the party was over. That party was ended!
They weren’t going to have that.

Society makes people prejudice. If they had left us alone it would never had happen, but because the teachers and because of the house parents and so forth  letting you know that you were black, who cared?
The students didn’t care!

The Lion’s Club used to come out and deal with us.
And at one time the Lion’s Club did not deal with Black kids.

 

TR:
the discrimination lead to varying degrees of abuse.

During a school Halloween party, a member of the Lions Club was responsible for guiding Robert to his chair.

 

RL:

He grabbed both my arms and walked me backwards to the chair.
I’m a 6 year old kid and this is a full grown man and he was squeezing my arms as hard as he could to try and make me cry and I said to myself he’s trying to hurt me but I’m not going to let him know that it hurt. So I didn’t and after he got me to the chair he pushed me down with a little bit of force. That was his way of saying well I don’t really like doing this or I don’t like Black people and I don’t like Black kids.

 

TR:
There was the even more abusive punishments dealt out by those charged with protecting and educating blind children.

 

RL:
Some of the Black kids were punished to the point that we had to stand out in the hall at night with no clothes on.
First we didn’t understand it but then we realized that the person that was doing that may have had a little problem on the side.

 

TR:
The discrimination continued as Robert traveled outside of the state competing with the school Wrestling team. He recalls, they couldn’t eat in restaurants.

 

RL:
We went to one restaurant and the lady said you got to eat as fast as you can so we can get you out of here before the owner comes  back because if he saw we had Black people here he would fire me!

 

TR:
In North Carolina, it was more than getting a meal.

 

RL:
Guys jumped out of the car and came over and they were going to beat us
all up.
We had no idea … What is this all about? Is it because we are blind; no, it’s  because you’re black and you’re blind!

 

TR:
Eventually, the segregation came to an end. The children lived together.

At first the parents were very upset about it and they didn’t really want it but  in order for the school to get money from the state, they had to integrate the school.

 

TR:
Remember, Robert described the time he spent at the Maryland School for the Blind as wonderful. Discrimination and racism were just a part of his school life.

We had a lot of terrible things that we dealt with but  we also had good things because we had a lot of white friends that we went to school with that would do anything in the world for us.

Maryland School for the Blind had one of the best wrestling and track teams in the country so we went all over the place.
We learned so much and we had so much fun as far as the students together.
We had a really good soul band good jazz band.
I grew up with the Beatles . I grew up with the platters. I grew up with Elvis Presley.
Some of the kids that were white, we learned their music and they learned ours.
I would come home and my sister would say here comes the little white boy!

 

TR:
In some sense, Robert really does straddle two identities. Not black and white, but rather black and blind.
The intersection of the two present a fully unique experience.

As a young African American growing up in Baltimore Maryland in the 1950’s and 60’s , Robert observed the events taking place in his neighborhood from a different perspective.

 

RL:
I heard one day when the police came out and they sicked the Shepard on the neighborhood and one guy named frank grabbed the dog around his neck and killed him.
You could hear in the wagon, you could hear the beating he was getting.

 

TR:
The wagon he refers to is the police patty wagon used to round up and transport suspects charged with criminal acts.
Robert says that the recent episodes of police brutality in cities like Baltimore aren’t new.

RL:

When they would beat the kids in the wagon, you could hear the wagon going up and down. if they wanted to find out  if you were telling the truth they would take a phone book and put it on top of your head and then hit it with a police stick. And there were no scars. What they would do is open the window.  they’d say you can tell us what we need to know or you can jump out the window. or take the beating.

 

TR:
Once , the additional identity of being blind could have possibly saved his life. As a young boy traveling in the car with his family, he recalls when an officer stopped his father for speeding.

 

RL:
the police was giving my father a ticket and I reached out to touch his gun and the policeman stepped back and drew his gun to shoot me. My father said oh please don’t shoot my son, he’s blind. And the policeman said oh he’s blind? So he took the bullets out of the gun and put it in my hand and let me play with it . He said, I’m not going to give you a ticket I’ll let you go this time. He said, but every day  for the next week I want you to buy your son an ice cream cone and every night for the rest of the week he’d come by the neighborhood and say did your father  buy you an ice cream?

 

TR:
By no means was Robert’s childhood full of violence.
residing on the school campus during the week, he returned home on weekends.

RL:
Man it was fun because I could come home and tell  them what I learned as far as in school, but then I could get on the roller skates and skate up and down the sidewalk and ride my two wheel bike. My grandfather was a mechanic, I had my hands inside automobiles. My mother would take me to the five and dime store and let me buy a toy. She treated me just like she did all of her other kids. My cousin Mack Lewis had a boxing gym in Baltimore. He was a very well-known manager of boxing. He would train Larry Middleton Vincent Pettway… some of the big time boxers. I would go over to the gym and listen to the guys box. I’d go around listening to musicians. I went over to the stable and rode the horses. I could honestly say I felt just like any kid that could see because I really think I had some angels looking out for me. I really enjoyed hearing things and dealing with things that I dealt with  you know in the neighborhood. Friday nights and Saturday nights was a great time because everybody had a good time. They had crab feasts. They’d walk up and down the street.

 

TR:{In conversation with Robert.}
So you were not at all isolated. You were definitely part of the community  it sounds like.

 

RL:
I was part of the community, yes!

 

TR:
Community, in his neighborhood, school and even activities that lead to lifelong passions like music.

 

RL:
I got my start playing marching band music. I played Sousaphone in the band. I played the Base Drum and from there I went to a complete drum kit. Being totally blind and a drummer, drummer’s completely different than other musicians. When you go and tell people you are blind and you play drums … I told one guy and he said I mean, I could see you playing the horn, but ain’t no way in the world I can see you playing the drum set cause you blind. How you gonna find the drums and the cymbals. I play an 18 piece drum kit! I’m a very good drummer.

I played with 15 and 18 piece bands.

I played with Stevie before.

 

TR:
So we’re clear, he’s talking about Stevie Wonder.

 

RL:
He came to the Maryland School for the Blind and we played  together.

 

TR:
Today, Robert is back on the campus of the Maryland School for the blind.
Not with the school, but rather in his job with the Maryland Radio Reading  Network, a radio reading service for the blind and others with print disabilities.

 

RL:
I started as a board operator and I’d go to work and people would whisper and say is he blind? This is a radio reading service but they had no blind people working there. I started as a board operator and moved up the ladder and I became the Executive Director.

 

TR :
Some of his responsibilities?

 

RL:
Fundraising, directing,   , setting up all the program, fire those that need to be fired or hire the people that need to be hired.

 

TR: {In conversation with Robert}
What would you say are the aspects of your specific experience  that have either helped or make your job more challenging?

 

RL:
The hardest thing is proving things to people. Proving what you can do.
If I ask someone for money and they’ll say to me well what do you do at the station? How do you know if you’re on the air or not? Or how do you know what time it is? And after a while, all of these stupid questions just get to you but, you can’t let people know they’re getting to you because they really don’t know. So you have to answer those questions as polite and as nice as you can do it. You have to be nice to people and after a while I wouldn’t say you get tired of being nice, sometimes you get tired of the way people talk down to you

I love my job and I like what I’m doing. If I sit home retired I’ll probably weigh a thousand pounds.  so I’m trying to avoid that  or find something else to do probably go into some music, but right now my whole job is what I do now with the radio station and part-time  stereo sales.

 

TR:
This is Thomas Reid
{James Brown’s “Say it Loud”
“Say it loud, I’m black”
Simultaneously…
RL:
Your Black and Blind…
James Brown’s “… And Proud!
{}

for Gatewave Radio…

Audio for Independent Living!

[Audio from : KRS1 “We’re not done” “We’re not Done”… “Check this out” from “You Must Learn”]

 

TR:The intersection between disability and race, gender and other identities is something I’d like to explore more.

It’s now part of my own life experience and with people with disabilities being the largest minority group, it’s probably an effective way to promote disability related issues.

If any of these apply to you and you have a story to share or know of someone who does, please send me an email…
ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com.

It was a real pleasure speaking with Mr. Lewis and I hope to do so again. I can just imagine all of the other stories he could share.

In fact, there are more stories that were not included in the Gatewave piece.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain the level of ignorance people display in response to blindness or disability.

Some of the stories can be entertaining, but often they’re confusing. And as I like to say, you can’t make sense from nonsense.

As you heard in the end of the Gatewave  piece, Robert sells stereo equipment part time. After selling some equipment, he called the customer to check in with him two weeks after the sale.

 

RL:
He said, as long as you live please don’t ever call me. I said, don’t ever call you again? He said no, because I have to have eye surgery next week.

TR:
Ohhhhhh!

RL:
… and I know it’s only because I bought that equipment from you.

I said to him, did it rub off?
{laughing!!!}

He said please never, NEVER, never call me again!

I said, OK!

 

TR:

Recently I was reminded about someone who I knew for years, who didn’t say this to me but definitely treated me as if I were contagious!

And like Robert said…

 

RL:
Ok!

 

TR:

I wanted to end the conversation  on a positive note because we all know those haters are going to hate and ignorance is out here!

Plus it would only be right especially profiling someone who has been through all that he has and refers to his experience as wonderful. That’s an optimist folks!

I asked Mr. Lewis to give me some music recommendations. I thought I’d pass them on to the podcast listeners who enjoy a variety of music.

 

RL:
I don’t really listen to a lot of the new stuff.
If you’re a gospel person I consider the older gospel like Aretha Franklin or James Cleveland to be outstanding. If you really want to get into the going back into the world and listening to oldies but goodies and things of that nature think songs like “What’s to become of the broken hearted”. robins had some really good stuff out. “The Masters Call” It talks about a situation that a guy got involved with and was able to find god. When I’m really down if I want to hear something nice I listen to “Palisades Park” by Freddie Boom Boom  Canon which really is a very nice song to give you a little bit of upbeat or some things by gene Pitney  or things like that really will help you, inspire you music wise. Just getting a boost. Even down to Leslie Gore. I don’t mean songs like “It’s my party” but I mean really good songs that she did that were just outstanding; “Love and spoonful”. The Temptations had an unbelievable bunch of songs that really move me. I mean I love music. There’s so much music that that I really really enjoy. When you look at big bands sounds. I think one of the best instrumentals that I ever heard  in my life was Jimmy Smith’s “Mojo”. And only because no one plays an organ like Jimmy Smith. No one can move their hands and feet like he does; God bless the musician! He was unbelievable!
If you listen to that song and you listen to his right hand what he’s doing with his right hand is beyond what a musician can do. I enjoy so much of the old stuff. I mean Mandrill. I like a horn section. I love tower of Power. Ray Charles’ band moved media also have to put Jimi Hendrix in that line up. There’s so much harmony in some of the groups that came out of England. Crosby, Still, Nash &young. To me Cold Blood has an unbelievable band. They have Lydia Pense who sings for them. Oh my God that girl can sing!
James Brown’s band was fantastic. More so than his singing. His band was as tight as they come. But Ten Wheel Drive is also another tight band to listen to. And also Gail McCormick and Smith. They took the version of the Shirelle’s Baby it’s you. They have a horn section there that is fantastic. There’s nothing like 8 or 9 horns playing together like that . Like Tower Power does… My dream someday would be to play a song with Tower of Power or Ten Wheel Drive. These guys are tight!

 

TR:
Now before you go to your choice of music apps and begin listening to some of these suggestions, do yourself a favor and head over to your podcast app and subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio. It’s good for your mind, your body and your soul!

Peace!

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