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Busking While Black Can Be a Serious Charge, Especially for Pannists

Author: Rudy Kendall

There is truly a high degree of irony in being a busking pannist and getting charged by the police with ''panhandling'' for such effort. What is even more ironic is the fact where one would think music is colorblind, as far as negro street performers are concerned, color like everything else in life, is usually the first thing that people see and actually recognize. Therefore, it is quite obvious that busking, despite its humble, stigmatized nature as a profession or way of life, is not an area of human activity that is exempt from racism by any means. As such, busking as a negro pannist on the streets of the USA and Europe can be an inherently dangerous occupation, which at the very least can involve being ticketed and jailed on panhandling charges. At the worse end of the specturm (as if being jailed was not bad enough), it can involve being spat on, attacked with dangerous, sharp and blunt objects by mentally unstable persons, being pepper-sprayed, having packs of dogs sicced upon you, and being forced to shell out thousands of dollars in legal fees. These things are definitely known to occur.


Neely Fuller Jr. is quoted as saying the following about racism,

The definition of racism according to the late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, who was a psychiatrist and based her unprecendeted academic findings upon the work of Neely Fuller Jr. is:


‘Racism and white supremacy is the local and global power system and dynamic, structured and maintained by people who classify themselves as white—whether consciously or subconsciously determined, which consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thoughts, speech actions and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity, including economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war—for the ultimate purpose of white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on planet Earth, the planet which upon the vast and overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-white (black brown red and yellow), by white-skinned people and all of the non-white people are genetically dominant in terms of skin coloration compared to the genetic recessive white-skinned people,’

Granted, while busking on the streets of the USA and Europe virtually guarantees that many, if not a majority of the people providing donations will be of European descent, on the flip side of the same token, it also essentially ensures that a majority of the conflict will stem from them also.

Knowing the cynical nature of many of the readers of this blog when such topics arise, I would like to remind them that before they err and decide implore all negro buskers in the USA and Europe to ''go back to their own countries if they do not like it'', that the USA and Europe were built up and developed through the slave labor, colonization and genocide of negroes. To this day, the descendants of these slaves have still not been paid reparations, even though the descendants of the slave masters continue to reap the benefits of their ancestors who became literally filthy rich through the slave trade.

In addition, the Moors (morenos) ruled Europe for 700 years in a period known as the Dark Ages, of all things. During Moorish rule, much advancement, and growth was brought to Europe through Moorish rulers and kings. 

Now that it has been firmly established that negroes ultimately have a right to busk and perform in public in places like Europe and the USA, it must be said that busking while black in such places is not for the thin-skinned nor the faint of heart. In fact, busking while black as a pannist who carries the spirit of the marginalized, early steelpan pioneers literally guarantees extensive problems with the authorities as in the days of the early pan pioneers, who often found themselves criminalized and at odds with the authorities as a result of public street perfomances. 

 At some point, black buskers realize that if they do not stand for something they will fall for anything and the more they stand up for themselves, the longer they can survive on the streets and persevere in life in general. 

Ultimately, busking in itself has very negative connotations that are attached to the profession and being a black busker in an already heavily stigmatized profession infiinitely compounds the problems that are likely to be faced. This is in spite of the fact that the art of busking is the purest form of musical performance from a performance perspective as well as an economic perspective. The busker in general performs without a guarantee of an economic return, and when economic returns are to be had, the audience has not overpaid nor have they been over-charged for their enjoyment of the performance, as people tend to give along the lines of what they can afford and what they feel the busker is worth. Thus, busking is inherently the most honest profession that comes to mind as the capitalist business model is either very limited or not involved at all in the art.

But any black busker who manages to earn a living by busking on the streets year after year is initiated enough in the profession to know that it is not necessary to ask, ''why?'' or ''Is it because I am black?'' when confronted on a constant basis with disgusting, white supremacist behavior. 

The case of the UK Steelpan Champion, the Mighty Jamma proves in fact, that a black pannist does not even have to be in the act of performing in order to be arrested/kidnapped by the police. 

The official story behind this matter is as follows,

Steel pan champ launches formal complaint after pub ban
A manager of the Hungry Horse pub in in Birmingham claimed the talented musician was trying to 'hawk' around his music
Written by Poppy Brady
26/10/2015 02:55 PM

BANNED: Mighty Jamma

STEELPAN champion Mighty Jamma has put in a formal complaint to West Midlands Police after he was arrested outside one of his regular pubs, where he says the manager has banned him without giving any reason why.
The popular entertainer, who is a national three-time champion soloist steelpan player, spent a night in the cells at Birmingham’s Steelhouse Police Station after being arrested outside the Hungry Horse pub, also known as The Beeches, in Perry Barr, Birmingham, on September 25.
He was bailed and told he could face charges of harassment, but they have since been dropped, so now he has put in formal complaints to both the police and the pub, run by brewery giant Greene King.
“I’ve been going to this pub for the past 15 years and under the last management I used to play in there for free,” said Mighty Jamma, 48
“I had been talking to friends in there about my latest CD when the management decided that I was trying to hawk round my music, which was certainly not the case. I have been playing the steelpans for more than 35 years and people come to me to buy my music – I have never needed to ask people.
“The arrest came as a complete shock as I had been sitting in my van outside the pub, when officers suddenly pulled up and asked me to step out of my vehicle. They arrested and handcuffed me without giving me any reason, despite the fact that the officer who took me in confirmed I was both compliant and polite.
“I found the whole process extremely humiliating. I am not an aggressive person – as an entertainer I am used to mixing with all kinds of people and I have their respect.”
Jamma received three letters earlier this year from staff representing HRH the Queen, the Prince of Wales and Prince William, all thanking him for sending them CDs of his music.
His enforced overnight stay at the police station last month meant that he missed his Saturday morning interview slot with presenter Mollie Green on BBC Radio WM to talk about his award-winning musical career, which has taken him all over the world.
He started jamming on pots and pans from the age of nine.
He added: “I also feel it is insulting to customers when pub managements decide they can ban you without giving any reason why.”
A spokesperson for the Hungry Horse pub said: “The Beeches is a family friendly pub and the primary concern is creating a safe and sociable environment to be enjoyed by all. The manager has the right to refuse entry to anyone whose behaviour they feel is impacting on that enjoyment of other customers.
“In this instance, having investigated the matter internally, we support the decision of the manager to bar the customer because of his behaviour. When the customer refused to leave the pub, the police were called to assist.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: “Officers attended The Beeches pub in Perry Barr on 25th September following a complaint of harassment. A 48-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of harassment and later released without charge.
“We can confirm that we have received a letter of complaint from Mr Stewart. We cannot comment any further.”



The dark brown shades of my skin, only add colour to my tears
That splash against my hollow bones, that rocks my soul
Looking back over my false dreams, that I once knew
Wondering why my dreams never came true

Is it because I'm black?
Somebody tell me, what can I do
Something is holding me back
Is it because I'm black?
In this world of no pity
I was raised in the ghetto of the city
Momma, she works so hard
To earn every penny
Something is holding me back
Is it because I'm black?

Like a child stealing candy for the first time, and got caught
Thiefing around life's corner somewhere I got lost
Something is holding me back
I wonder, is it because I'm black?
Somebody tell me what can I do
Will I survive, or will I die?

You keep on holding me back
You keep on holding on
You keep on picking on me
You keep on holding me back
You keep on holding on
You keep on holding on
You're holding me back
I wonder why, you do me like that
But you keep on holding me back
You keep on putting your foot on me
But I, I've got to break away
Somehow and someday
Cause I wanna be somebody so bad, so bad
I wanna be somebody, I wanna be somebody so bad
You see, I want diamond rings and things, like you do
And I wanna drive Cadillac cars
I wanna be somebody so bad
But you keep on putting your foot on me
And I, I believe, I believe I can break away
And be somebody, somehow, and someway

Ya see, I heard somebody say one time
You can make it, if you try
And some of us, we tried so hard, we tried so hard
I want you to know that I don't speak for myself
But I speak for y'all too right now
Ya see, if you have white-like brown skin and a high yeller
You're still black
So we all got to stick together right now
This I wanna say to you my sisters and my brothers
Right on sister
Right on brother

Dig this:
And we keep on pushing down
We've got to make it a little bit further
We've got to make it a little further
All we got to do is try, try, try
And some of us, we've tried so hard
We've tried so hard, we've tried so hard
We've tried so hard, so hard to be somebody
We've tried so hard, although, they're holding us back
And it stairs the reason, that they're doing us like that
You know what? It is
I believe, it is because we are black
But hey, we can't stop now, we can't stop now
We've got to keep on, keep on, keep on, keeping on
We've got to keep on keeping on
I know and I know and I know that you know that I know it ain't right
Oh, it ain't right, it ain't right, it ain't right
That they hold us, hold us, hold us back
They're holding us back, they're holding us back
I wonder, sometimes I sit down, sit down and I wonder










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