Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Outspoken Trenton Activist No Longer Supports The Mayor

TRENTON-- Local political activist says he no longer wants to be a part of the mayor's team.

Wednesday morning, Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- sat down with Daryl Brooks, a former Tony Mack supporter and failed U.S Senate candidate, to discuss what he calls 'the inside truth' surrounding Trenton Mayor Tony Mack and local steakhouse proprietor Jojo Giorgianni.

In an exclusive interview, Brooks, a Trenton native, chimed in on a variety of topics. Despite being one of the chief spokespersons at a City Hall rally last June in support of the mayor, Brooks is now calling Mack an outright liar' saying that he had questioned Mack's loyalty even before he won a seat in the mayor's office in 2010.

During the course of the 50 minute discussion, the outspoken activist cited broken promises and misrepresentation on the part of Mack and his underlings. According to the hometown activist, during a phone conversation with the mayor, Brooks asked him about the recent layoff of one third of the city's police force, and the mayor said, 'f*** the police'.

Brooks went on to express frustration and disappointment with what he calls the mayor's arrogant management style. He believes the mayor has a 'napolean complex', where the motto is, 'its either my way or the highway'.

The Trenton activist left no stone unturned. He called out elected officials, religious leaders, and also what he calls 'Facebook activists' that talk a lot on the popular social media website, but ultimately do nothing outside submitting posts online.

Brooks issued a scathing critique of these leaders and said change is needed.

During the interview, the political firebrand did not hold back.

With regard to Jojo Giorgianni, he said that the owner of JoJo's Steakhouse, has on numerous occasions, openly called many African American city officials 'spooks' and other racial slurs. He went on to say that Giorgianni sells 'crack pipes' at his North Trenton store.

When asked why he has decided to come forward now after being a vocal supporter of the mayor, Brooks said that he had become so sick and tired of being lied to and that he wanted to 'wake people up'.

For more information on Brooks or his blog, Today's News NJ, click here.

Please see a video of Anwar's Reflections exclusive interview with Daryl Brooks below:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Anwar's Reflections Interviews Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele

TRENTON-- Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- sat down with former chairman of the Republican National Committee (the GOP), Michael Steele, in November.

During the interview, Steele, the outspoken former lieutenant governor of Maryland, discussed a variety of topics.

From the Republican Party's lack of engagement with voters in urban communities like Trenton to his take on local filmmaker Kevin Williams' documentary, Fear of a Black Republican, the political firebrand spoke out.

For more on Williams film, click here to view the Trentonian's coverage.

Please see Anwar's Reflections exclusive interview with Michael Steele below:

Interview with Outspoken Political Activist Has Been Pushed Back

TRENTON-- In a post last week, it was reported that Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- was going to have a sit-down with outspoken politcal activist Daryl Brooks.

Brooks, a former supporter of the city's mayor, claims he has the inside truth about Tony Mack and local steakhouse proprietor Jojo Giorgianni.

To my readers, I apologize, this particular sit-down is still in the waits due to schedule conflicts. However, as things stand now, the interview is scheduled to be released Wednesday, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

From Underdog to Overlord: Longtime Trenton Recording Artist Releases New LP

TRENTON-- Hometown emcee releases new album. Anwar's Reflections--a Trentonian affiliate-- met up with  longtime hip hop recording artist Libz Saturday afternoon at the Trenton Transit Center.

During the interview, Libz, an East Trenton native, discussed his latest project, From Underdog to Overlord, along with other issues surrounding his life and career in hip hop.

The hometown emcee started his career by selling CD's out of his car. Nowadays, the independent rap artist promotes his music online through Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and other websites.

Libz is not your 'typical' gangsta rap or party rap type of emcee. He is known for his reality based lyrics that people can relate to. Most of his rhymes are true stories. In his own words, he wants to use his music to "bring peace" especially in communities like Trenton. The new album is scheduled to be released in late January.

During his 15 years in hip hop, he has worked with many different Trenton artists, DJ's, and producers. On nine previous albums, he has collaborated with Big OOH, DJ Juice, Black Collar Biz, DJ Fatha Ramzee, Feko, Dirty Game, Doe Easy, Mitchel Hennessy, Heaven, DJ Ra Lee, among others.

In 2006, he created A Starvin' Artist Productions (A.S.A.P) Entertainment, a record label designed for independent artists on the come up.

During the course of working on this article, Anwar's Reflections came across a number of Libz's friends and colleagues that were willing to share their thoughts on his music and career.

Feko, a recording artist and producer, said that the East Trenton native's latest project is a classic. He went on to say that this LP is Libz best work yet.

One of Libz close friends and promoters, who goes by the name, IMFEELINDAT, said that the independent emcee "makes you think and reflect, not just dance. Most rappers don't give you the kind of substance that Libz does".

Recording artist Dirty Game worked with Libz on his upcoming album and said that the East Trenton native speaks for the youth. He went on to say that his music is like poetry. He doesn't beat around the bush, his music is all about each one, teach one.

Artist and producer Black Collar Biz said that with all the negativity in hip hop, Libz positive message is needed today.

Recording artist, Heaven, worked with Libz on a previous project called No Hook. She said that his music is extremely powerful and uplifting. She went on to say that Libz breaks barriers with his music because both kids and parents can listen to his album together.

BCS Records Marketing Exec, Jonathan Davis, also known as DoeEasy worked with Libz on the track No Hook with Heaven. He said Libz is really passionate about his craft. He went on to say that nowadays everybody raps about sex, but not everyone gives the audience a positive message with true meaning, the way Libz does.

For more information on Libz and his work, contact him via Twitter: @iamlibz.

Please see Anwar's Reflections exclusive interview with recording artist Libz below along with his new track Blessings Come Down:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trenton Bookstore Was Close But No Cigar

TRENTON-- The results are in. Despite all the tweeting, Facebooking, etc, Trenton used bookstore, Classics, ends up not walking away with the trophy in the PepsiRefresh Contest, but the well-liked bookstore is not deterred.

Eric Maywar, owner of the downtown used bookstore, entered his Trenton Books at Home Program into Pepsi's contest to win a $25,000 grant in early December. For more information on that, click here.

The Trenton Books at Home program provides free books to Trenton kids. For three years, this program has handed out over 2,000 books a year with the help of schools, churches, after school programs and community groups.

Maywar said that despite not winning the contest, he and the folks at Classics have learned a lot from the process and definitely have something up their sleeve for the next contest.

The used book store proprietor plans to find alternative ways to help put more books in children's hands in the near future.

Maywar went on to say that he was thankful for all the daily voting, the re-posting, the tweeting, the fliers, and the recruiting that members of the community took part in on their behalf while they were in the PepsiRefresh Contest.

To learn more about Classics Used Bookstore in Trenton, feel free to contact Eric Maywar or Laurice Reynolds at (609) 394-8400.

Former Mack Supporter Speaks Out

TRENTON-- Outspoken political activist Daryl Brooks says he has the inside truth about Trenton Mayor Tony Mack and local steakhouse proprietor JoJo Giorgianni.

In a recent phone conversation, Brooks, a former Mack supporter and staunch recall opponent, informed Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- that he has something  new to say about the Mack administration.

Anwar's Reflections is scheduled to interview Brooks Saturday.

Stay tuned for breaking news related to this story.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. King Still Speaks To Us Today

As the city of Trenton grapples with crime, political problems, and failing schools, is it any wonder that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message is still relevant to this day.

As Dr. King sat in that Birmingham jail cell in 1963, one of America's giants, reflected on some of the most explosive issues that surprisingly enough, still affect our communities to this very day.

In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, King lamented the apathy, do-nothingness, and complacency, he saw running rampant during his time.

Sadly enough, it seems as though some of those issues are still running amok in our society currently.

As I sit back and reflect on the condition of New Jersey's state capital, I wonder what Dr. King would have to say about today's state of affairs.

I wonder what he would say about today's youth, when Trenton Central High School West has a 53% drop out rate. I wonder what he would have to say about today's leadership, when many people have lost faith and confidence in those that hold executive positions in our community. I wonder what he would have to say the overall condition of the world.

Deep in mind, if I understand this towering figure correctly, I have no doubt that Dr. King would call to task those individuals (including myself) that have in his own words taken the tranquilizing drug of gradualism or succumbed to the all-too-comfortable plague of do-nothingism when it comes to today's pressing issues.

Yet, I also believe that Dr. King would not rest on this scathing critique of modern-day life. It is my belief that a man of Dr. King's stature would take it one step further. I believe Dr. King would go on to implore us to be the leaders we are looking for. I believe he would challenge and encourage us, recognizing that we, too, in his own words, 'shall overcome some day'.

In a speech, Dr. King powerfully said, "We shall overcome, deep in my heart, I do believe" quoting a folk song that eventually became a hymn.

Recognizing the trials and tribulations one may undergo as they embark on a quest for truth and justice, Dr. King said, "Before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood, and called bad names and dismissed as rabble-rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome".

Dr. King understood that any change initiative that required real transformation was going to be met with tremendous obstacles and fierce opposition, yet this towering figure continued to fight the good fight and was not deterred. In his struggle for civil rights, Dr. King was stabbed, spit on, and threatened, but he persevered to the end.

Indeed, we can all learn from his witness and testimony.

The civil rights champion went on to say that at some point, we will be able to "rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope".

Dr. King insisted that WE, and not anyone else, will be the participants in making the world a better place. Therefore, the question becomes: where do WE go from here? Chaos or Community? The choice is ours. I choose Community because I strive to 'be the change I want to see in the world' as Mahatma Ghandi once said.

Please see Dr. King video below:


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Local Activist Demands Accountability on Crime in Trenton

TRENTON-- Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- sat down with community activist Dion Clark, Saturday morning at a local Dunkin Donuts, to discuss a variety of issues, including but not limited to, his recent stance against ATV riding on city streets, his desire to have certain city council members excuse themselves from landlord ordinance votes, and his view on what Trenton should do about its recent spate of violent crime.

During the interview, Clark, a former candidate for Mercer County Freeholder, voiced concerns about four members of city council voting on landlord ordinances because they, too, are landlords. Clark argues that these individuals should not vote on matters that they could potentially benefit from as landlords in the city. To him, this presents a conflict of interest. Members of council can vote on landlord matters that include inspections, fines, rules and regulations, etc.

Others have made the case that city council members that own property and rent it out have every right to vote on landlord matters because they bring a unique insider perspective that others may not have.

Later during the interview, the East Trenton native spoke on the issue of ATV riding in the city. While speaking on this ongoing problem, Clark gave an account of a recent incident involving an individual riding an ATV near his Wilbur Section home. He said that he witnessed a young man revving his engine outside his home. When looking out his window, Clark reports that from looking at the young man it was almost as though he was looking for the police to spot him. According to Clark, this is a regular event in his community. ATV riding is illegal to do on city streets.

With regard to the recent series of violent crime in the city, Clark said city officials have not responded adequately to address the problem. He said the best way to respond to the city's crime is by adopting a 'zero tolerance' approach where both police and residents alike take action and do their part.

Clark went on to say that one does not have to visit Saudi Arabia to know what a terrorist is. He said there are communities all over America that are coping with what he calls 'urban terrorists' in the same way Trenton is currently.

Please see videos below:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Anwar's Reflections One Year Anniversary

TRENTON-- Ladies and gentleman, Anwar's Reflections, a cutting-edge local blog, survived its first year, learning a great deal about the city of Trenton and the larger Mercer County area. Thanks to all the supporters of the blog that made it possible.

In particular, I as editor and chief, would like to take a moment out to acknowledge some very special people. First, there is Meggin Sanez, Anwar's Reflections' first guest blogger. She is highly professional and her work is both practical and entertaining.

Secondly, I would like to give a big thank you to Monique Corbin, she was my camera-person on more than a few occasions, we have been friends since high school.

Third, I would like to publicly say thank you to Hallie Townsend for her support. She works diligently to teach people the virtues of online education. Visit her website by clicking here.

I would also like to give a shout-out to the Trentonian newspaper for helping me and Anwar's Reflections extend our reach.

With their help, I have been able to reach a much broader audience through their regular blog alerts. In particular, I want to thank Aaron Nobel, former editor at the Trentonian, along with Joey Kulkin, managing editor at the Trentonian. Both Aaron and Joey gave me tips to become a better a citizen journalist/ blogger.

Next, I want to give a special thank you to Leslie Taylor, a person that is near and dear to me and my family. She has consistently been there for me and my endeavors over the years. I like to think of her as my MVP (Most Valuable Player). I love her dearly.

Then there is one of my strongest supporters, Janice Flynn. Janice and I met through Facebook and she is great. I enjoy her thoughtful comments and ongoing support.

I can't forget one of my best friends, Rance Robeson II, a former classmate and colleague at Rider University. Rance has mentored me through thick and thin and is like a brother to me. So, I would like to extend a big shout-out or acknowledgement to him.

Also, I can't forget about all the community leaders that have helped me. From Daryl Brooks and Dion Clark to Eric Maywar and Baye Kemit, these individuals do great work in the community. In particular, I want to shout out Raul 'Polo' Cortes, a highly talented poet that truly loves his community and has been very supportive of Anwar's Reflections.

Last, but not least, I can't forget my big brother, Rahman, he originally gave me the idea to create a blog in the first place. I love him immensely along with my mother, Sandra, and my father, Kalaama.

For all those I forgot to mention, please chalk it to my head and not my heart.

Last year was a great year, but now is not the time to cool off and rest on my laurels. Now is the time to build off the momentum of last year and make this year better than the last. Thank you for all your support.

Best wishes to everyone in the New Year ahead.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lessons From Kwanzaa that Can Help as we Enter a New Year

TRENTON-- As we usher in a new year and await what is to come, I think now is a good time to, if ever, reflect on the importance of planning.

 While at my dad's house last week after Christmas, I was taken to a Kwanzaa celebration in Brooklyn, New York.

During the presentation, my brother, Rahman, and I were introduced to Nguzo Saba or the seven principles of Kwanzaa, a week long celebration of African American family, community, and culture originally created by Black Studies professor Maulana Karenga in 1966 (Karenga, 2002).

At one point during the presentation, there was a call and response encounter between the host and the audience. The host said, 'Habari gani' which means 'What's the news?', the audience then responded by saying, 'Umoja', which means unity.

As I sit back and reflect on the seven principles of Kwanzaa (Umoja or unity, Kujichaglia or self-determination, Ujima or  collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa or cooperative economics, Nia or purpose, Kuumba or creativity,  Imani or faith), I find that these principles can help individuals living in communities like Trenton.

As the city of Trenton wrestles with its recent spate of crime, failing public schools, and growing distrust of elected officials, the seven principles of Kwanzaa cry out for attention and immediate application. I want to be the first to say that I commit to collective work and responsibility.

Now you might ask, how does one apply the principle of collective work and responsibility in one's everyday life. I'm glad you asked. My suggestion is that instead of looking at the condition of your community as someone else's problem, try looking at it as part of your responsibility. The best way to do this in my humble opinion is to ask yourself, 'am I part of the problem or part of the solution?' The best way to deal with this question is to be honest with yourself.

For instance, if you litter, but then complain that there are too many soiled diapers on the street, you might want to adjust your attitude and be less self-righteous. Here is where you can say how you can become a part of the solution by first cleaning up after yourself and then secondly, maybe starting up a neighborhood clean-up party that you conduct every week or every other week. Or perhaps, instead of moaning about the lack of programs in your community that offer youngsters mentoring and constructive things to do, maybe you can mentor one person or just maybe appeal to your neighbors to see if they are interested in helping out and giving the community's youth something positive to do in their spare time.

These are just suggestions, but are designed to show each and every one of us (including myself) how living out some of the principles of Kwanzaa can enhance not only our individual lives, but also the lives of others in our communities.

So, I end where I started, let's plan to make the year 2012 a year filled with collective work and responsibility (along with other principles of Kwanzaa) where we actually take the first step to improve our communities as opposed to waiting on someone else to rescue us thinking that the conditions of our communities are someone else's burden or responsibility, when in reality it is not.

For more information on Kwanzaa, please refer to Maulana Karenga's book, Introduction to Black Studies from the University of Sankore Press or visit the website by clicking here.

Please see a video below discussing the history of Kwanzaa: