The Photograph that Inspired the Writing of “America.”

Posted on December 28, 2011


Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was just fourteen years old when 9/11 happened. Residing in New Jersey, Khan waiting to be of age to finally serve the United States and head out to Iraq where he passed away in Baquba. This was the photograph that Mickey Boston crossed published in The New Yorker that prompted him to release the track “America.”
Published in The New Yorker in 2008, this was the photograph that inspired and prompted Mickey Boston to (re)write and release “America.” In essence, it all started from me being a politically conscious head who is an avid reader of The New Yorker. While teaching high school, I was doing my usual ritual commute to my 10th grade homeroom, a class I always enjoyed seeing and teaching. On way to the class, I realized that I actually had an 8th grade class to teach. In any event, it did not change what I was to stumble upon in The New Yorker.

Within the issue, I crossed some photography of the dreaded war in Iraq. The photograph that stopped me in my tracks on the metro platform was the photograph of Kareem Sultan Rashad Khan’s tombstone in which his mother was pivoted behind. Many emotions ran through my soul as I stood there feeling the warm air of the subway channel through the tunnel. There was just too much for me to say and yet, I was utterly silenced, not wanting to say anything at all.

What is the connection you may ask? Where exactly am I to even begin? For those who have been following Mickey Boston (pronouced Mic-Key Boston) hip-hop know that I do have so much to say however, as a part-time photographer, I know as well as anyone that a photograph can speak and convey a million words and more than a million sentences, this photograph was one of them. Stunned, I got in my subway cart and commuted to the Vendome metro station in NDG, Montreal. On the morning bus to work, I read the article and just stared at the photograph without blinking. I was mesmorized in thought, rather taken to a pensive mode after having just recently exiled America and opting to possibly leave America behind me for good, forever.

Activist hip-hop artist, social activist, photographer, academic, teacher, public speaker, what was I to say about what I was holding in my hands on that bus on way to my 8th grade class that Monday morning? Stepping into my classroom, my Monday morning back to work was shaped after breakfast on a commute that hit me in such a compelling manner, I changed course plans for that homeroom. At the time, I was teaching at a Muslim high school believe it or not, a high school largely comprised of North African diaspora as well as a decently large Iraqi student body. Immediately after attendance, I started by opening to the very page of the photograph’s publishing and passed it around my classroom.

Before giving it around, I looked at it, my track “America” was written but never released as I thought I was done with Mickey Boston hip-hop. I felt that Mickey Boston hip-hop was done with, so was the spoken word and verbal activism. I felt that moving to Montreal from NYC had been a transition in which I would have left America behind and all of its twisted political realities, it was an exile that I wanted to actually have flush everything about the US completely out of my system. In essence, there was no hatred, simply mental fatigue of what was being said over and over on the news. I did not see my exile as an escape, I just wanted to move on with my life as an educator and show my students that we cannot be subject to mind control as people living on this beautiful planet that we, as humans, rendered unstable. But how can you leave the past behind? I couldn’t even leave Montreal behind even though I lived in America even though I was born and raised in Montreal.

The photograph moved me even when I opened up about it to my classroom of 14 year-olds, who in turn, were actually politically aware and vigiliant, this being the fact that these kids come from Arab homes, with Arab roots–undeniably they knew and know very well of what is going on, after all, their parents talk about it every night when they go back home. In essence, I do specifically recall that in 2007 Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was the 3000th US death in Iraq, or rather I-rak, as everyone would say to me in the US.

Mickey Boston – America, beautiful is my name.

Four years later, President Obama via words of Leon Panetta declared that the war and end of operations was finally completed on December 15th, 2011. Panetta stated that the war was worth the price in blood and money, as it set Iraq on a path to “democracy.” While America slips deeper into a debt crisis, Iraq sits on an oil reserve worth over 4 trillion dollars, the reality that major networks do not make mention of. Of course, this war was in America’s interest, particularly Dick Cheney‘s and his beloved Haliburton. Moreover, the aspect of WMDs is not mentioned at the volume it used to be scrutinized, the question is: is Iraq more stable today than what it was under Saddam? War was in the blueprint of the masterplan yet it is so saddening to know that out of all senetors and congressman one couldn’t even count five of whom have a son or a daughter that served in this war, let alone on the frontline. Minority troops as well as poor white Americans paid the brunt cost of this catastrophic war that only brought more negativity and hatred in this world than love on all sides.

Indeed, Obama ending the Republican nightmare took a minute. Standing there as I saw The New Yorker being passed around my classroom, I noticed that almost every student in the room gave it a good 15 second stare before passing it to the peer next to them. Indeed, the “closing” of this occupation of Iraq brings none other than an ending to a chapter in US history that claimed the lives of almost 4,500 Americans and left more than 32,200 wounded. This was a war that lasted longer than WWII as well as Vietnam in which 1.5 million Americans served. The next question is where do they go? How do they re-integrate? Why are their medical needs not met?

As the photograph passed around the classroom, I finally opted to open up and speak more deeply, I had to let it out to my room of young minds. The photograph itself captured a mother’s pain and I just couldn’t expand nor fathom on what things I saw within that photograph. In one distinct facet, the photograph itself seemed to be doctored and mayhaps shot in a controlled setting as if the mother were literally posing for the camera, in reality it was not, it was a raw reality.

In 2005 I actually commenced the writing of my track “America” as a response to this photograph, since as a photographer myself, there was much that I wanted to say. I started writing this track at my subway stop on Flatbush and Norstrand where I’d commute my number 2 train. For those who are unfamiliar with the city of NY, this is in the borough of Brooklyn. The track was revisited over and over because America was manifest to many changes, large-scale changes. The last verse of the track I wrote after Katrina and went back to it when wikileaks came out with its reports on twitter as twitter and wikileaks themselves were not in existence within the cyber nexus in 2005-2007 and 2008 respectively.

Another note is my recollection of what was going on prior the 3000th US fatality. About a week before, the American media knew it was coming, they just wondered who and from which part of Iraq. Was it going to be someone from a suicide attack? A helicopter crash? An IED? In essence, there was no press for US fatality 2998, 2999…nor was there a story for US fatality 3001 or 3002. When Cpl. Khan was the 3000th, I felt as though the media jumped all over the story and the photography. I felt that shows like The View and Regis and Cathy showcased it in a way where the 3000th US fatality was not a “Cpl. John Smith,” but a Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a “Muslim” fatality. The story of the “Muslim” being the fatality in Iraq only made the story even more sellable than what it already was. And indeed, it was a sensational story at that for mainstream media to eat up and consume.

Colin Powell asserted much about Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan’s service and passing for his country. Here I am, exiled from America and continuous in my preaching for all to never serve a government or regime that lies to them and controls what they see and hear. Truth be told, I couldn’t live in a country whose dollar bill was not even “designed” on its very own soil, but that by the ink of Bavarians in Germany alongside twisted bankers who ran the agenda of a secret society. It was high time to wake up America on my end and just release “America” without any second thoughts, it was necessary for Mickey Boston hip-hop to return to the people and nurture the decaying human condition.

This is amongst one of the most powerful pieces of Art I crossed in recent times. Sadly, I was unable to find the name of the artist and photographer to credit him/her.

As a Brown man with an Arab first name and middle name, Khan was my grandfather’s last name. It did not touch home that Cpl. Kareeem Rashad Sultan Khan had the same last name as my Grandfather General A. Khan, a member of the British Empire. Deep inside after having completed my Masters in English literature and having studied post-colonial literature I was always hurt, hurt by the way the imperialists and colonials subjegated my forefathers. I was never proud of my grandfather serving the Empire or being a member of the British Empire or having been honoured by the Queen. Undoubtely, I do wish I was there to see my grandfather and tell him how I wished he could have been wiser to not serve colonials who stole from our people while simultaneously degrading them; the ones who called us inferior and did not even let Indians play cricket or even walk near their quarters. I will never forget seeing this in a film: “Dogs and Indians out” labeled outside British living quarters in pre-1947 India.

Mickey Boston hip-hop is about the people, the people to think and ask: “Why should I work for you?” It’s a simple formula but it’s a hip-hop that counters mind control and incorporates deep psychology. Undeniably hip-hop is an instrument that travels on a two-way boulevard: it can be used as a mind-control device or rather, it’s full antithesis. Indeed, hip-hop has been infiltated by the occult many years ago and still is today. The liason between music and psychology as well as propoganda and psychology is a rather compelling one. Truth be told, hip-hop that speaks is that hip-hop that comes attired in the fabric of a voice garmented in reason. If masses are bombarded with images of 9/11 juxtaposed with terrorists in Afghanistan then they will equate what they see and compute what the source of the diffsion is attempting to convey. Logic and reason teach us not to follow what we are immediately shown yet unfortunately, masses do adhere to what they are brainwashed into believing.

The hip-hop runs deep, however investigation is required on the part of all to bring their mental station into elevation.

Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was one of 4500 vicitims of politicians who sent young men and women to war. Do these politicians sincerely care? The answer in Truth is not at all. Was the war in Iraq about “freedom” or “WMDs” and disarmament? No. It was simply about oil and what others may also incorporate as a Masonic masterplan. Indeed, like many fallen US soldiers, Khan received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. It is saddening to see such a loss, devastating to the soul especially when Paul Wolfowitz and company really dont care, in truth, George Bush Jr. does not take a moment to really reflect on the sacrifices made by True Americans even in GM factories of Michigan.

Reality is and always was that Iraq was always swimming in oil, in fact, 25% of the world’s oil production is present to this very day in that country. In essence, it was by Day 2 of the US led invasion of Iraq that US and British troops ceized Iraqi oil terminals without resistance. As result, this enabled the pumping of 2 million barrels/day. From here, oil fields, refineries and pumping stations were also sezed by the US without any battle. In a nutshell, the US went forward very rapidly and privitized their “findings.” By consequence, many testify to this day that the US locked out French and German companies from having a stake in Iraq’s oil (as they were each opposed to the war in Iraq). What this does, in context of privitization is create none other than a monopoly on Iraq’s oil. One doe not have to read Chatterjee’s book to learn of any of this.

Were US troops aware of this paper work being done in New York, London and Washington? Were US troops actually too busy trying to bring “freedom” to Iraqis and find “WMDs”? While troops were being ambushed, sniped, killed and blown to pieces, the US and UK respectively went forward in privitizing the oil and not Nationalizing it like in all other oil rich states. Moreover, as hostile mobs looted in the streets of Iraq as Saddam’s statue was being toppled, US troops allowed and watched hospitals and museums be torched as they were strictly ordered to remain stationed and solely guard and protect refineries.

Iraq started putting out more barrels on the market, 3 million barrels went up by double to 6 million barrels. Essentially, Saddam’s weapon of mass destruction was the “petrol dollar” which became a severe threat in like manner that Ghadaffi wanted to create his own African currency in which he desired to have oil traded in exchange with gold, gold that the US and Europe did not have. Over the years since the 2003 invasion, oil prices have doubled while Iraq itself is at the brink of anarchy while Muammar Ghadafi was taken out by “freedom” rebels while US and UK petrolium contracts take over Libya. In truth, it should be Iraq for Iraqis, Libya for Libyans, Saddam and Ghadaffi were no angels at all, of course.

Protecting the global supremecy of the US dollar is prioritized by all means. The US dollar itself is the world’s major currency accounting for 2/3 of the world’s exchange reserves. In essence, the world’s exports are carried out in dollars. Buying oil is conducted in US dollars. As result of this, the question arises: what if there was another currency that challenged the supremacy of the US dollar? What happens then?

The Euro was challenging the US dollar in context of Saddam Hussein opting to trade his oil in that given currency. The Euro itself, with 12 countries already using it, while another 13 stand in line for their chance, was a currency that was actually worth 17% more than the US dollar before the Iraq invasion in 2003. The “Great Strategic Prize” was protecting the US dollar and its interests. Undoubtedly, one must look back to 1973 when the US intervened with OPEC and addressed the Saudi government to sell their oil in dollars to protect the Saudi Royal Family, also known as the House of Saud and keep them in power, such can even be seen in the opening of Hollywood film, “The Kingdom.”

Deconstructing and understanding the Petro Dollar Cycle is quintessential and not many US soldiers let alone academics even know about it. If US soldiers dont know what is going on and how their government alongside bankers and economists conceil the Truth then how is it just to be sent off to the frontline? The Federal Reserve in New York is where Saudi Arabia’s House of Saud’s money is still going. In exchange, The House of Saud gets US protection as well as favourtism vis-a-vis maintaining the status quo and remaining as the regime in charge of that country. Some may recall that in the Hollywood film, The Kingdom, Aramco plays a hefty role in the presence of the Wahhabi regime/family that remains in power to this very day, a regime that is strict and does not even allow women to drive cars, where’s the freedom in that yo?

Mickey Boston - Investigative Reports

The game is very simple yet many US soldiers do not know of it and it is highly doubful that even a young and innocent Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan even knew of it. America carves up the oil industry. Furthermore, they print their own currency and with the Petro Dollar Cycle, the US created its very own customized “money tree.” Financial botany on the part of the US creates a very powerful elite that run the show while the other “99%” are left to eat the carcases and leftovers on the street. In context of military might, America’s military is unorthodox in size and grandeur with over a thousand bases found globally. The sheer size of the US military war machine is actually unorthodox in size as it is more powerful than the top 20 other countries combined underneath it. In order to maintain all of this, the US is actually on the brink of national bankruptcy to the extent that yes, it would be worst that the Great Depression of the 1920s. So, in order to survive they had to conquer Iraq’s oil and remove Ghadaffi who wanted gold for oil.

Saddam wanted to sell oil in Euros in the Fall of 2000. Iraq exporteg 3.3 billion barrels in which the US bought 2.5 billion of it and paid in Euros. Did any of the US soldiers know of this? No. Truthfully, both Gagaffi and Saddam signed their own death warrants. Saddam in this case signed his own death warrant and was placed on George Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil” alongside Iran and North Korea. When Saddam sold his oil in Euros Iraq benefitted by 17% in profits over trading in the US dollars and so the question arises: why wont other Arab states that produce oil deal in Euros instead? Today, at the of 2011 and beginning of 2012, Iran is dealing their oil in Euros, the same step that Saddam took, does this mean another US led invasion for 2012?

My only urge as a human being and hip-hop artist is to urge all to thnk wisely, to read between the lines, to not be blind and question what they see and hear. As result, I close with a testimonail from an anonymous US veteran who served in Iraq. Here is his account.

"Sometimes dogs are more loyal than politicians, so I ask my fellow servicemen and vets to question the Master's mission and vision" - Mickey Boston.

“I am a 27 year old Iraq war veteran. I volunteered to go to Iraq because the mainstream media led me to believe the US was building schools and hospitals. Shortly after entering the military despite my extensive construction experience I was trained how to shoot to kill and blow up buildings using minimal amounts of explosives. Around my 7th month in Iraq I realized we were not building schools and hospitals but instead enforcing laws the general public were uninformed of. It was at this time I began to internally side with the Iraqi people and ever since have been afraid to speak up for the people around the world the USA oppresses for the sake of cheap oil and profits for banks and department stores for fear of being branded a traitor and terrorist.

I have attempted suicide out of shame for being a part of a world war/domination in which there is no end in sight. Due to my injuries I am on VA disability and continue to live in fear that if I speak my mind on all of the horrible things the American government does to people all over the world the government will take my disability pay since I am unfit to work. My story is like many other’s but I do not seek pity instead I beg all of you to turn your attention not only to student loans and foreclosed homes in the US but to all of the sweat shops and slaves to corporate America all over the world. To the 40 year old women whom haven’t seen their children for a year or more because they work 80+ hours a week for $2 a day. To all the people all over the world that die because they don’t have health care. To the farming industry putting patents on the seeds of life. To the people’s RIGHT to Healthcare and Education being free for everyone. To corporations denying funding to free energy and cancer curing because “there’s no money in it”. To the fact that Millions marched in New York in protest of the wars when they first began and nothing happened because they didn’t see that protest is only the first step of action.To all of the gay Americans that take their own lives or are brutally beaten by their peers because the American Government refuses to agree with majority of America over gay rights sending a message that gay is wrong. To The Patriot Act being one of the most inhuman laws in free society.To the fact that anytime there is a study on casualties of war the count is always “this many American troops” and “this many iraqis” but never “This many human beings” which only divides us human beings as a whole. To the fact that our declaration of independence is from british oppression and tyranny even though we stand with Britain in these wars. To acknowledgement that we will never be able to separate the banks from government until we write a declaration of independence from inhuman banking and business practices and a  bill of rights guaranteeing free education and healthcare and a right to fair wage. I fought for the US government in the name of freedom Now I fight with the 99% for freedom I am the 99%”

The three figures are blackened. To Mickey Boston, it comes off as oil. Oil is dripping from the center facial piece, oil that is thick, mayhaps thicker than the blood that has been shed over this past decade of war. Here, if one looks at the oil and its significant thickness, one may assert that the oil is thicker than the blood and this is done for a reason: to make a statement—the blood being shed is not as important as the oil. Here the oil was the main precursor which parallels something mentioned in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” in which two US soldiers stationed on the ground in Iraq testified that the US is more interested in protecting the oil and the Hale Burton pipelines than the lives of its ground troops and servicemen.

The oil rig and gusher speak for themselves. Here the two are gushing oil mixed with blood. The three faces on the other hand are drenched in oil and US soldiers are the “minority troops” mentioned in the track who are pivoted in a war that is not being fought for “America” but rather for the blow:

…the big money lobbyist groups

that tally up invisible minority troops

[who must] swallow the umbilical juice

of unsweetened republican fruits

[they]wished upon devilish stars that shoot

beneath Hermes ties and Louis Vitton Suits.

The barbed wiring behind the three figures is placed to evoke the question of “freedom” or “occupation”? “Democracy” and “Liberation” or “Imperialism” and “Colonialism”? The US dollar bills scattered on both sides of the piece are purposely left scattered while also deliberately being faded. The money is faded in order to personify the aspect of a “mirage” or illusion. Here, the money is merely illusory…it is only real for the corrupt politicians and lobbyists in Washington, Baghdad and Kabul.

While the pills and viles of meds represent a flawed healthcare system it also stands in for the abuse these soldiers will face when they return to America; they return in a delusional state in which 1/3 of vets end up homeless and may even go as far as falling victim to drug abuse. The trauma and PTSD another aspect here, suicide has been symbolized by the nooses in which Regimental Oneton had cleverly attached as the ropes that bring up the American flags. As an Apache helicopter soars, it is the US soldiers that may be the True Americans that are deceived by their government. The M-16 and Kalashnikov are pivoted next to one another reminding gazers of the Cold War, while to this very day the Kalashnikov has become a symbol of resistance.