There is a Yellowbook commercial on the airwaves featuring David Carridine of Kill Bill fame. Three men are sitting at a conference table trying to come up with a way to drum up business for their company. One of these men is black, the other two are white. One of the white men throws out the question of where to spend their advertising dollars. The other white guy suggests that they ask the advertising guru played by Mr. Carridine. One of the white guys peppers the ad guru with questions. The answer to all of their questions is Yellowbook. The black guy never utters a peep. The commercial pans to the following quarter and the same three men are now playing music in the office and dancing it up. They are celebrating because their [sales] have soared. Now the black man is front and center and the white men are in the background. The black man is doing what black people do best, dance, jig, and celebrate. The black man offers nothing in the way of how to do business. The black man is just the entertainment. And I used to like David Carridine.
My eleven month old son was in the room when this commercial came on. His mother covered his eyes so he couldn’t see the commercial. We are not ready to let the corporate culture have unfettered access to his psyche just yet. The baby needs an opportunity to find out who he is before others try to influence who he should be. We don’t have a fear that he’ll become a jigaboo ready to dance at any and all opportunities. Our fear is that he will subtly be programmed to trust white people to take care of business and to rely on black people for the monkey business. This is the clever brainwashing that leads people to accept as true the fallacy that black people are not as intellectually equipped as our white counterparts regardless of education or experience. If we get a job or if we are accepted at a school of higher learning, it is only because of some illegal affirmative action program that unfairly favors minorities at the expense of white people. Poor white people can’t even find jobs any more because of all the partiality.
My partner and I don’t want baby boy to learn anything about the hip hop culture that the corporate music industry wants to hammer down people’s psychological throats. White people like Bill O’Reilly have allowed themselves to be programmed to think black people carry pistols everywhere we go and are quick to anger at the most benign slight or misunderstanding. Some black are. But so are some white people.
There was a scene in the movie Crash where Cameron Thayer, played by Terrence Howard, was directing a movie or a television show or a commercial for all I know. Mr. Thayer and his crew just shot a scene and called it a wrap. Fred, played by Tony Danza, was somewhat dissatisfied with the shoot. One of the black actors spoke too articulately for Fred’s personal taste. Fred pulled Mr. Thayer to the side. Fred told Cameron that the scene needed another take. The black actor needed to be more black with his character portrayal. Being a black man Mr. Thayer is visibly taken aback by what Fred was implying. We never see who or what Fred was, but he was obviously somebody who had the pull to yank the director’s chain. Mr. Thayer reluctantly submits and calls the crew back for another take so that the black actor can be more black and slur his words or use a slang or just sound more black. The character has to jigaboo just a bit so that everybody would accept the notion that the character is the typical African American male.
The idea of coherent speech from black people is an exception is reinforced through fiction like the movie Crash as well as in our reality. It was a well known joke by Chris Rock that Collin Powel is a black man that a lot of white people think “speaks so well”. Senator Joe Biden described Senator Barack Obama as “clean and articulate”. I guess Mr. Biden was pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Obama wasn’t funky and mush mouthed. And the previously mentioned Bill O’Reilly interrupted his daily television program on the FOX network to tell America how well black people behaved at the famous black Sylvia’s restaurant in Washington, DC. He was surprised to see no black people were yelling for their “mother fucking tea”.
On the flipside of this coin, the black community has allowed the dominant culture to define what it means to be black. Black people do not run the gamut but are narrowly defined by some of the most unbecoming of parameters. Black people are loud, intellectually inferior, incompetent, lazy, unethical, dishonorable, and more, or less depending on your point of view. Black men and women are supposed to be sexually starved and have insatiable libidos. The gangsta rap culture developed by the music industry does much to describe life in the black community in a lot of people’s eyes. However, one has to wonder what type of culture black people would have if we didn’t have the television, radio, magazines, movies, newspapers, and all the other mediums of propaganda doing their part to shape our view of ourselves.
Unfortunately, no matter how successful my partner and I are able to keep the influence of corporate America from our child so that he could learn his own identity, chances are overwhelming that he will still grow up in a world that will continue to see African Americans as stereotypical caricatures of human behavior. People like Joe Biden will see him and expect him to be funky and mush mouthed and yelling for his mother fucking tea.
There is a video floating around that shows a white man being attacked on his commute to/from work by a gang of black girls. The girls look like they might have been teenagers. The man looked like he was somewhere in his thirties. He has a close cropped haircut. He might have been a young professional. Then again he may have worked at Subway. It looks like the guy and one of the girls are engaged in what appears to be a somewhat heated argument over something or other. Suddenly one of the girls starts to punch him out of the blue. The man freezes for a second shocked at being attacked. The girls take advantage of the man’s confusion and start punching him again. The guy tries to defend himself but there are way too many for him to keep them away from him. I would estimate that there were maybe at least five girls involved in this attack. At one flash point, the man becomes so frustrated he draws his hand back ready to clean one of the girl’s clock when his sense of community overrides his sense of self preservation. Or maybe he just thinks he might be more severely attacked if he fights back. He changes his mind and simply covers himself up in an upright fetal position. The gang of little girls takes advantage of the man’s discretion, interprets it as a sign of vulnerability, and intensifies the attack on him. The entire attack was caught on a camera phone by another girl who was with the gang.
In their pursuit of some kind of power or control or intimidation over someone else these girls don’t realize the damage they have done to the black community. The behavior of these young women reinforces many stereotypes of negative black behavior. Too many people would watch this video and come to the conclusion that people in the black community are simply too vicious and need their disposition for violence controlled by the dominant white society. Without any real provocation all the girls went stupid against this man. People can try and justify their actions by saying that the verbal exchange could have prompted an ass kicking. But if that’s the case, why did one of the girls have a camera phone recording the incident? Could this be interpreted that their assault was preplanned?
And for what? Was the thrill of having someone allowing himself to get his ass kicked really worth all the negativity? It is rare for me to think that the police need to be involved when it comes to disciplining our community. The heavy handed approach law enforcers and representatives of the judicial system like to apply to black people seems to go way over the top in far too many cases. Black teenaged boys having consensual sex with teenaged girls are being successfully prosecuted and receiving sentences of ten years in a state penitentiary. Black teenaged girls are being punched in the face by police for breaking curfew. But if there was ever a case for black children to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law then this is surely one of them. These girls like to gang bang people on their commute? I say let them go to prison and learn what it’s truly like to be banged by a gang.
None of these girls took the time to give someone else any compassion. How would they feel if it was one of their family members who was being assaulted by a group of people merely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? What would they say if it was their mother, father, brother, or sister who was coming home on public transportation and a bunch of low lives decided it would be a cheap but cool thrill to punch and beat the shit out of him or her? Not knowing these dumb asses and judging from their shameful display of antisocial behavior it is difficult to assume if they would feel anything at all.
On the flipside I have to give credit to the white man in the video who showed considerable self-control. This man demonstrates how much he valued his community by restraining himself when most people would have hauled off and smacked one or two or all of those girls into the middle of next freakin’ week. Instead of giving in to his desire to strike back he never forgot that these were minors he was dealing with. Not too long ago there was another video of a black teenaged Shelwanda Riley being punched in the face by Dan Gilroy, one of Fort Pierce, Florida’s finest, for trying to defend herself when the police officer twisted her arm behind her back. Television pundits defended the cop and justified the punch he threw because he was being so viciously attacked by the girl half his size who tried unsuccessfully to bite him. The guy in this video could have easily beat one of these girls down and be exonerated as some kind of hero in the eyes of the dominating white mindset community. But instead the guy took all the hits and punches without much in the way of retaliation.
A lot of people see this video as justification of the subjugation of black people. A lot of people make mocking pleas for Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton for assistance. One has to wonder why these same jokesters just didn’t call for Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Juan Williams, Sean Hannity, Don Imus, Pat Buchanan, Rudy Giuliani, Dan Gilroy, the guards that murdered Martin Lee Anderson, the district attorney of Jena, Louisiana, Stacey Koon, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Mark Furman, Trent Lott, George Bush, just about any police officer in the New York city area, Bernhard Getz, Fred Thompson, or any police officer who suffers from the condition widely known as the contagious shooting of black people instead.
I suffer from no hope that this white man just so happens to be one of those truly rare open minded individuals who really sees people in the black community as equals. In fact, he is more than likely the type of guy who sees black people as uneducated, unemployed, welfare rats, and vulgar. In all probability did say something demeaning or racist or offensive. There’s a reasonable probability that one or more of these girls had a run in with this guy before and this altercation was planned to exact some kind of payback. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had met the guy and didn’t care for him one bit. But without knowing anything else about this guy I do have to give credit where credit is due. This man deserves a lot of credit for the consideration he displayed under pressure.
Not every black person exhibits the type of behavior demonstrated in this video. In fact, I would venture to say that it is pretty rare. And not every white person would pass on the opportunity to slap a black teenaged girl down even when they have plenty of cause to do so. This guy seems to be a pretty rare phenomenon as well.
The little girl’s body was found in a plastic box on a sandbar off the island of Galveston, Texas back on October 29th. The authorities announced the gruesome find and identified the girl as Baby Grace. Based on forensics, an artist was able to make a drawing showing what the little girl may have looked like. The drawing was of a blond headed little white girl. Not quite four weeks later arrests have been made in this case not too far from Galveston up interstate 45 in Houston, Texas.
According to CNN an affidavit from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office goes into detail on how this little girl was beaten with belts, picked up by her hair, thrown across the room and held under water before she died. The two year old little girl was identified as Riley Ann Sawyers and the people that killed her were her mother, nineteen year old Kimberly Dawn Trenor and her husband, Riley’s stepfather, twenty four old Royce Clyde Zeigler II. A medical examiner said the child’s skull was fractured. Her body was found by a fisherman. She was stuffed inside a blue storage container that washed up on an uninhabited island in Galveston’s West Bay.
The toddler was last seen three or four months before her body was found. After her death, her parents stored the body in a plastic container they bought from Wal-Mart in their garage for one to two months. Then they carried the container to the Galveston Causeway and tossed it into the bay and watched it drift away. Ms. Trenor and Mr. Zeigler were charged with injury to a child and tampering with evidence. Bail was set at $350,000 each.
This case is just one of the more recent examples of the widespread phenomenon of white on white crime. White people are murdering each other, kidnapping and torturing each other, sexually abusing each other in godless ways, robbing and stealing from each other, and making false accusations against each other. There are white people who are neglecting their communities, their families, their children, and themselves. But their crime rarely reflects on others in the white community.
But on the other hand black people who commit crimes are assumed to be the example of standard behavior for black people. When there is a high profile black person accused of criminal behavior he or she sets a poor example for others that has a profound and overwhelming impact on the black community. How many times have we heard something along the lines of the arrest or conviction of so and so leaves a stain on the entire black community? And yet we never hear the same equivalent of these words spoken on behalf of the white community. How many times have we heard that gangsta rap is tearing away the foundation of the black community every time someone in the black community is alleged to be a criminal? But you never hear the same thing said of white forms of music that promote anti social behavior.
According to Mediamark Research Inc, white people support the gangsta rap music phenomenon by purchasing more than seventy percent of the rap music in this country. But no one ever associates this music with the white people who do crime. However, let a prominent African American get busted for dog fighting or be shot to death by a hail of bullets and the first thing some people want to say is that hip hop is killing the black community. Why is it killing the black community when the white community is just as guilty of indulging in this phenomenon? Which music culture is responsible for Riley Ann Sawyers’ murder?
But instead of seeing Riley’s murder as a component of a larger issue associated specifically with the white community everyone is more than ready to just see it for what it was, the heinous death of a little girl. No one is asking what form of music the parents listened to. No one is making claims that this is standard white people behavior. And no one has mentioned that this is another instance of white on white crime. The purity and integrity of the white community remains intact. No one is making plans to move away from the white people who are so violent. No one is going to say property values are dropping because of the white crime phenomenon. No one is writing a book on why white people are violent and/or what white people must do to save their community.
Most people will continue to live their lives in the white community with a business as usual attitude. There will be a little talk and there will be a little gossip about what happened to this little girl. The families of everyone involved has been impacted so of course their worlds have changed. But to the general community this will be the end of it.
Kyla Ebbert is back in the news. Ms. Ebbert, the former Hooters waitress, made national and probably global when she was flying on Southwest airlines and a flight attendant asked her to cover herself up during the flight. Ms. Ebbert was so humiliated that she went on television to show everybody her skimpy outfit. Her skirt was so short that one of the networks pixilated her crotch when she sat down to keep the camera from picking up a panty shot when she sat without crossing her legs. Now it appears that the woman whose skirt was too short to be riding the plane without being covered up with a blanket has done a deal to appear on Playboy Magazine’s website. The leggy exhibitionist will be in the nude as well as wearing lingerie. This news was made public Thursday, November 15th. Since then the internet has been abuzz with people searching for information regarding Ms. Ebbert.
Whether or not Ms. Ebbert is Playboy Magazine material is not even close to being an issue here. Besides, I’ve seen magazines that exist to indulge men’s sexual appetite and some of the models that have been featured would not have been my first, second, third, or four thousandth choice. I’ve seen much worse. But has anyone given any thought as to why Ms. Ebbert is the source of the public’s new found infatuation?
Leggy women are a dime a dozen. It takes absolutely no talent. All it takes is one of these established magazines to give someone an opportunity to flaunt their body across its pages. A lot of people, like Ms. Ebbert, would jump on the chance. But why is she given the shot?
For any given opportunity there will be a multitude of opportunist lining up for the chance. With few exceptions the employer nearly always has the advantage and their pick of talent for hire. One of the few times the candidate has the advantage is when a particular candidate has gained name recognition on their own and the employer is looking to capitalize on their notoriety. Once someone has name recognition other people want to harness that resource for their own benefit. Kyla Ebbert has such name recognition thanks to a fluke that started with an opportune meeting between a closet exhibitionist and a prude of a flight attendant. Had the flight attendant kept her disapproval of Ms. Ebbert to herself or had the former Hooters waitress got on the plane with a more modest outfit things would have been much different.
A similar situation happened with Robert Bailey Jr., Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Mychal Bell, and an unidentified minor. Through a series of unfortunate events that commenced with a noose hanging from a “white” tree and culminated with a march by mostly black supporters through the streets of Jena, Louisiana, these six young men became known as the Jena Six. These young men became one of the latest symbols of discrimination that the black community suffers at the hands of the dominant white corporate community. In this particular case, these black people were discriminated against by the local district attorney’s office itself. When violence broke out between the black kids and the white kids, the black kids were the only ones charged and they were being charged with murder.
Tens of thousands of people made their presence felt in Jena, Louisiana that September 20th day and many more people who were unable to participate and make the trip were doing their best to support the marchers and the Jena Six vicariously. The fate of these young men became synonymous with the fate of that segment of the black community that is more susceptible to the effects of subjugation. Thankfully, someone came to their senses and was able to use their influence to get the local district attorney to back off of his persecution of black people. But now that the Jena Six has become a household name someone is looking to capitalize off of their notoriety.
It was rather appalling to see the photo of two of the young men from Jena posing like typical hip hop wannabes at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards and doing their best to capitalize on their newfound notoriety. Rap star posers are a dime a dozen. Point a camera at most kids in the urban area and they will automatically snap into some typical rapper stance. The photograph only reinforces people’s stereotypes of black people. People already think that gangsta rap culture is black culture. This photo does absolutely nothing to dispel that association and everything to reinforce it. And where exactly was BET when these black men were fighting for the rest of their lives? Home come this alleged black media network failed to put its considerable resources at the disposal of the black community? But now that these men from Jena have some name recognition BET now wants to harness that resource for their own benefit.
All the protest and the marches and the blog writing that the black community did on behalf of the Jena Six were not about the Jena Six. It was about the black community. It was about protesting against a system wrought with contempt for people in the black community. Although they were at the forefront of the matter, these six young men were not the only ones facing injustice. If black people simply stood by while these members of the black community were railroaded into the dominant culture’s system of injustice under trumped up charges of attempted manslaughter, we would have been that much further behind in our never ending struggle for some semblance of racial equality here in America. Yes what these men did was wrong. But to destroy these men’s life over a school fight was criminal in itself. And yet, the white men who actually initiated the entire altercation go free without a care in the world.
So the Jena Six are free to do their hackneyed portrayals of the black community that so many people in corporate America would like to see black people do on a regular basis. The new found name recognition and relatively instantaneous celebrity status for a twist of fate gives them the opportunity to take profit and personal advantage. These men who are now examples to the black community can hip hop and rap and dance and laugh and party their way into the hearts of people across America. But there may be tens of thousands of black people who probably wish they wouldn’t.
According to Mediamark Research Inc, white fans underwrite the gangsta rap music industry by purchasing more than seventy percent of the rap music in this country. It is official. By far, the largest share of gangsta rap music sales is going to white supporters. So if a lot of white people are buying this music, and a lot of white people are paying for the development of this music, and a lot of white people who control the music industry are making a lot of money from the proliferation of this particular form of music, why do so many people insist that this is a phenomenon associated predominantly to the black community?
The rap artist is the obvious front man for the gangsta rap industry. The misogynistic, materialistic, and antisocial poet that appears to say whatever he likes is actually on a seriously tight leash from his music industry handlers. The black man who talks about being a pimp on the street and slapping his bitches around, G’s up and ho’s down and all that crap, is nothing more than a bitch for a white man that mails him his check. This caricature of modern urban black culture is as accurate a portrait of the black community as the black faced and thick red lipped characters of the minstrel show were an accurate portrayal of black people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
But sadly, too many of our black children are seduced by the constant marketing and do their best to emulate this behavior. Marketing has also sold the vast majority of the public on the preposterous supposition that black teenagers and young adults were solely responsible for the development of gangsta rap music. This misinformation is widely accepted as truth regardless of the reality of white people’s participation.
White kids across the country sit in the bedrooms of their suburban neighborhood homes or in their cars, listening to the very latest in gangsta rap music that glorifies racist stereotypes and portrays black women as little more than animals and black men as borderline psychotics. White teenagers and young adults enjoy the world filled with messages of violence and materialism and image with very little recognized association. White people fund the propaganda of the stereotypes of gangsta rap culture and black people bear the brunt of the connotation. Therefore, when a black person tries to go out in society and get an education or employment, they have to prove that they are not part of the gangsta rap culture while white people are never burdened with any suggestion of gangsta rap culture.
More white people are the fuel for the development of the gangsta rap Pandora ’s Box that some people are now working futilely to close. Because of the subliminal and overt messages of gangsta rap it is the black neighborhood that suffers from the reputation of being drug infested when the reality is that drugs are more prevalent in white neighborhoods. Gangsta rap culture teaches that black people are violent when the reality is that the white community is just as, if not more, violent. Gangsta rap will make the suggestion that black people are criminally oriented when white people are perpetrators of the vast majority of crime in this country.
Gangsta rap has a huge white audience. At more than seventy percent of the market, white people are funding the development of this music at a rate that is nearly three times the number of black people who contribute to its development. The black rapper is the one making millions of dollars as the front man for this music. But it is the white dominated corporate music industry that stands to make billions off the proliferation of gangsta rap. But regardless of all this, when white people use racial slurs against black people, hyper assimilated black people, as well as people everywhere, want to focus their disgust on others in the black community and ask, why did you let this happen?
The black rappers don’t care about this duplicitous arrangement that allows white people to have all the benefit and black people suffer all the pain. The rapper’s philosophy can be summed up as, “Somebody’s got to do it. Somebody is going to get paid to do this minstrel show for white people’s entertainment. So it might as well be me. I got kids to feed.” And this misogynistic and black community hating music rarely utters a word against white people. At least not these days when it has become so clear that the white community is signing all the rap singing bitch’s checks.
If the dominant community had any integrity we would see those responsible stand up and accept their undercover role in this game that has the black community fighting for some type of relevance. It’s not enough for the black community to say that we are going to stop. Since the black community makes up less than thirty percent of the target market for gangsta rap music, if every black person was to stop buying the music, the industry would be hurt but would continue with its far larger white market share. White people need to step up to the plate and realize the fact that they are by far the largest contributor in the gangsta rap phenomenon.
Dr. Donda West, the fifty eight year old mother to mega music mogul and rapper Kanye West, passed away Saturday night due to complications arising from a cosmetic surgical procedure she was undergoing in Los Angeles according to Patricia Green, Dr. West’s publicist. Dr. West died at the Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center in Marina del Rey where paramedics took her after she stopped breathing at her home. Officially, no other information has been made available as of yet. A spokesman for the West family has requested that the family’s privacy be respected during this time of grief. I extend my deepest condolences to Kanye and the rest of the West family.
According to an unsubstantiated report off of a website out of the United Kingdom, Dr. West was having a tummy tuck and breast reduction performed. If this is the case the surgery was totally an elective. It was unnecessary.
People have a tendency to forget that going under the knife for any reason is a serious affair. Cosmetic surgeries have become routine and something a lot of people look forward to doing if they had the money. A lot of women would like to have breast implants, nose jobs, and botox injections while a lot of men would prefer liposuction or pictorial implants. But whenever one submits his or her self to surgical procedure there is always a risk of complications. Some complications can be as severe as fatal.
And for what, to obtain some standard of beauty that defies what is actually considered natural? It is normal procedure for people with the necessary financial resources to have cosmetic surgeries. But then on top of this, black people go a step further to attain standards of beauty that are not common in the black community. Blacks who can afford to do so line up to have their noses keened, the size of the lips reduced, or cheeks emphasized with implants. Not to mention black people’s never ending additional endeavors to lighten skin tones and straighten and lengthen kinky hair and color eyes. Whole industries have been developed to help black people adapt their outward appearance to more mainstream forms of attractiveness. For what?
Dr. Donda West was a beautiful woman in her own right. Ms. West wasn’t beautiful because of black standards of beauty or because of dominant standards of beauty. She was simply beautiful as a person.
Dr. West managed to raise Kanye by herself ever since his father walked out on them when he was three years old. Judging by the results in many respects she did pretty well. She had managed to become the chairwoman of Chicago State University’s English department where she worked until 2004 when she retired to work with her son. She served as chief executive of West Brands LLC, the parent company of her son’s various businesses. She was the chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization that works to decrease dropout rates and improve literacy. She accomplished a great deal and was accomplishing a great deal.
What could have driven such a woman who for all intensive purposes should have been beyond such needs for the sake of vanity? There are the usual suspects. The propaganda that bombards us from every corner television, movies, magazines, videos, bill boards, and such as that defines the foundation of beauty as waif thin supermodels with eating disorders and facial features and hair characteristics from some Scandinavian country. Most black women could never hope to even begin to reach for such standards without huge financial investments and commitments in time and energy.
So black people allow ourselves to be manipulated into conforming to beauty standards that just aren’t realistic for us. Instead of being happy and honestly content with who we are, we undergo surgeries so that we too can look like Michael Jackson, whose mug shot looks like a Caucasoid scarecrow trying to cross the highway in the middle of the night but instead winds up in the headlights of a Mack truck, or tragically much worse, loose our lives on the surgical table trying to have some elective cosmetic surgical procedure performed. And for what?
Most black women would endeavor to look like Halle Berry, who underwent cosmetic surgery and now claims not to be as black as people might think despite her skin pigment, in a Catwoman suit rather than look like Madge Sinclair, the regal queen of an African country in Coming to America. Instead of focusing on the standards of beauty that are our birthright we adhere to standards of black beauty defined for us by the dominant culture. And more of us will loose our lives trying to obtain it. And for what?
If people found a drug dealer in their neighborhood I would imagine they would call the police or the Drug Enforcement Agency or some agency authorized to remove the cretin. Most people wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate the source of the drugs negatively affecting their neighborhood. And most people would have the discretion to separate the drug dealer on the corner from the pharmacy down the street. No one would say that anybody who dealt in drugs need to be eliminated because most people realize that many drugs are actually beneficial to the community. Nobody would suggest throwing the baby out with the bath water.
But I’m amazed at the number of people who wouldn’t think to give hip hop the same benefit of doubt. Hip hop is different. People operate under the misconception that nothing is good about this particular genre of music and we would do well to wipe it off the face of the earth. It has no redeeming value. A lot of people who have good intentions, and some who are somewhat nefarious in intent, would label all of hip hop in the same class as its thuggish subcategory of gangsta rap that permeates a lot of people’s nightmares. The fact that both hip hop and its subset gangsta rap are both heavily connected to black culture is probably why people refuse to objectively separate the two.
Hip hop faces the same problem as almost every other aspect of black culture; if one does it they all do it. Whenever a black person is accused or convicted of a crime it reflects negatively on the entire black community. If one did it, we all did it until we can overwhelmingly prove otherwise and allay people’s fears. But let a white person commit a crime and the same collective grouping would never cross people’s mind. No one ever thinks that a white person committing the crime is indicative of the white community at large. So if this type of correlative thinking applies to black people, it isn’t hard to see how it could be applied to black forms of music.
People, black and white, don’t want to take the time to learn the differences of black people or black culture. We don’t think anything about applying stereotypes to black people, black music, black life, black culture, black neighborhoods, or the black experience. So if one set of black hip hop artist is negative for the community, then all hip hop artist are negative. The negative assumption is made across the board without any differentiation unless or until the black artist proves overwhelmingly that they are different. So it is a given that most people want to embrace the perception that all of hip hop music is negative.
The other problem associated with the negative versions of hip hop and gangsta rap music is the perception that the white community is blameless in the development of the gangsta rap phenomenon. A lot of people think that only our black children listen to gangsta rap and are therefore the only supporters of this form of music. But I’ve spent a lot of time working at a job that had me right across the street from a practically all white high school. Out of about fifteen hundred students there were only five that were obviously black. That would make the school well over ninety nine percent white. There were a large number of teens who would drive by with their stereos blaring and booming with gangsta rap from their cars, trucks, and SUVs.
A trip to the music store in this predominantly white area would find gangsta rap well represented along with its country music and punk music and rock music peers. Now let’s make the assumption that the managers of the record stores aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t waste their limited display space trying to cater to just one percent of the population. Therefore, it would be understandable to make the assumption that maybe these white people are actually buying this crap as well. In fact, I would make the assertion that the people who produce gangsta rap are making more money from the members of the white community with their disposable income, than it does with the black community who are more likely to be listening to a bootleg copy.
The white corporations are so overwhelmingly in control over the development, production and distribution of the various forms of entertainment throughout this country. When rap music was in its infancy it was harmless. In many respects, it was a positive influence in the community. But like a farmer who wants to assure the development and cultivation of a particular crop the industry wanted to assure the development of a certain form of rap. The businesspeople realized that there was a lot of money involved with gangsta rap. And everybody knows that money is the only thing that matters in a capitalistic system that has run amok. It is my theory that the money that seduced the white corporation into developing gangsta rap comes predominantly from white youths.
Many people want to put the development of thuggish music squarely on the shoulders of the black community. It is true that many children listen to this form of music and choose to model their lives after the totally materialistic and misogynistic thugs in the video who controls his bitches and whores with a tight fist or the promiscuous concubine who uses her body and sexuality to get what she wants. But few stop to think that these pimps and concubines are the bitches and whores of the music industry. And with relatively few other role models to form a healthy opinion of his or her self, a lot of young black people will work to emulate these negative examples. Does this make our black children the sole source of the gangsta rap institution?
The producers of gangsta rap is little different than the drug dealer on the corner. But if we discovered that our youths were indulging in the drug dealer’s products people would do whatever to run the drug dealer out of their neighborhood. No one would turn to the youngsters and say something totally insensitive to the real issue like, you are the problem because you bought the drugs. Yet, when we see the music industry feeding our children’s minds with the crack of gangsta rap, some of us don’t hesitate to point at our children and say something along the lines of you are the problem because you listen to this music.
No one ever says the children are the problem and the drug dealer is blameless. But many are content to say our children listen to gangsta rap so they are the source of the problem. No one would say run the drug dealer out of the neighborhood and shut down the pharmacy to boot. But many people say gangsta rap is bad so hip hop is the problem. It would be nice if people would take the time to really understand the issue at hand. But inevitably, it is far too easy to just scratch the surface of the matter and never get through the thick coating of misinformation.
I found this cartoon on the Mirror On American blog while surfing the internet earlier this week. The cartoon depicts a late night in a traditionally black urban neighborhood where a man has just shot another man in the back. The children in the cartoon probably witnessed the shooting. But the little girl tells the shooter that she didn’t see anything. The shooter tells the little girl that she’s a good little ho. But what really makes this cartoon speak to me is the billboard in the background of the scene selling the urban image of guns, music, and thug life sponsored by BET and the Warner Music label.
The cartoon is from Ed Gamble of the Florida Times Union and was published August 17th. It looks like Mr. Gamble understands a little deeper than most about what’s happening in the black community.
Few would argue that crime is not a problem in the black community. I don’t know a single soul who would argue otherwise. Yes there are black people killing black people in the black community. However, there are also white people killing white people in the white neighborhoods. But because there has been such a negative stigma placed on crime in the black community it is the only one that catches our collective attention so we can point our collective finger at black people and collectively say look how uncivilized you are. Black crime is magnified but little is done to correct the situation other than more police and more black people in private jails under contracts with the state.
The billboard in the background of the cartoon shows just one example of how corporate America is using advertising to sell the image of the black thug life to people in the black community. Corporate America is selling the image of a good life in the black community is the one where you can rap your life away with money, guns, bling, and women. The message from white dominated corporate America is that the only thing that matters is immediate personal gratification. The only things missing out of the cartoon’s image is the suggestion of alcohol and the proliferation of cheap fast food.
It is very true that black people are not doing nearly enough to take care of our own. Black people and black families are spending too much of their time trying to do what they can to get by or to get their own immediate gratification going on. And the age old paradigm of black people going to work in corporate America with all of the baggage that follows us isn’t helping and it isn’t about to change anytime soon. White people have described black people as lazy at work. White people have described black people as criminals at home. And the black community responds by following the script white people dictate. We simply are not doing enough to break this programming.
Some people found the cartoon offensive. It isn’t the most flattering portrayal of the black community. People will see the image and say that the Mr. Gamble was being insensitive and racist in his portrayal of black people. To say the cartoonist is being racist is to say that the society that inspired the cartoonist is in itself racist. It isn’t enough to stop the cartoonist from drawing his interpretation of what he sees. If we want to stop the image we have to stop it at its root. We can arrest the shooter, but the damage to the black community has already been done. The man who was shot is already dead.
Besides, the shooter is just a manifestation of the programming and not the true root of the problem. While some people are content to lock up another brother who made the choice to become the very definition of how white people describe blacks, a smarter move would be to do what we can to keep more black people from becoming the very characters white people say we are. We have to look at the image in the cartoon and see the complete picture. We can’t just stop and say that a black man shot another black man. That’s pretty obvious and that’s all societal thinking wants us to see.
But we have to learn to look in the background and see the messages from corporate America that is constantly telling black people how we are supposed to behave. BET, owned by the media conglomerate Viacom, and Warner Music, owned by Warner Brothers, are both white corporate entities that do a thousand times more damage to the black community than any single black person with a gun could ever do. We need to acknowledge the fact that the programming exist. Once we know that it exist we can learn to recognize it. Once we learn to recognize it we can learn to resist it. And once the black community learns to resist the programming we can learn to write the script the way we want it to playout.
A fifteen year old boy has been arrested for the murder of police officer Norvelle Brown in a black neighborhood in the corner of St. Louis. According to news reports the boy shot Officer Brown last Wednesday night because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill a cop. Officer Brown just so happened to be available. The fifteen year old got the gun from his neighbor, eighteen year old Xavier McCully. The two lived adjacent to the property where Officer Brown was shot. It is sad to see that our black children have become our nightmares.
Officer Brown’s body was laid to rest today. I surfed the internet trying to get more information on this police officer and try to see how other people thought and felt about this event. There are a lot of people who are angry. A lot of people see this situation as more evidence that this problem with our children is strictly a black community phenomenon.
The simple fact is the problems of the black community are caused by the black community. I really do understand this now. As long as we stand by and let the white community have complete and unfettered access to our children and impressionable young people we have no one else to blame. We’ve allowed an educational system developed by white people to teach our children their history. No one in Japan would let the United States teach their children about World War II. No one in Cuba would allow the United States to teach their children about the Bay of Pigs Invasion. No one in Russia would let the United States teach the American version of the cold war in their schools. But African Americans don’t have much of a choice but to send their children to the white dominated school system. White people have their hands on our children’s cradle and are ruling our world. Black people allow the white dominates to teach our children our history from white people’s perspective. It’s kind of like the fox being put in charge of educating the chicken’s eggs. It is little wonder so many black people grow up believing white people have no culpability in the black community’s predicament. When we make the decision to educate our children to the way things really went down in history we will make huge strides in regaining control of our future.
We also allow corporate America unfettered access to our population. Black children and impressionable black people who are trying to develop a healthy sense of self worth and a healthy sense of ego are being bombarded by corporate advertisements. These advertisements are designed to convince the public that our worth is so heavily dependent on what other people think about us. Commercials convince us to convince others that we enjoy a materially successful and financially content lifestyle. If we are hip we will adorn ourselves in the latest fashion statements and status symbols. And if none of that works we can always drown our sorrows by indulging in whatever product the corporations advertises as ideal for satisfying our need for immediate gratification. When we make the choice to cut off the constant messages of consumption and materialism our children will have a better chance of developing more of their spirituality.
The black community stands by as our children are attacked and are left to defend for themselves. We see our children battling the system in cases like the Jena Six where white children terrorized black children but the blacks are the only ones facing criminal charges. The black community has to play catch up in order to save fourteen year old Shaquanda Cotton from the Texas Juvenile System that was so intent to have the girl incarcerated for seven years for shoving a hall monitor. Black people stand dumbfounded as we watch seventeen year old Genarlow Wilson be convicted for aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a consenting fifteen year old girl. We are left scratching our collective heads as administrators at a Florida boot camp kills fourteen year old Martin Lee Anderson on his first day of attendance and then try to cover up the crime by contributing his death to a latent sickle cell trait. A community that does not protect its youth from predators will not protect its future.
Black people sit back and allow the music industry to push that musical form of crack called gangsta rap down our children’s ear canal. And while the music industry makes their millions and billions of dollars pushing their character altering influence, a certain portion of the black community is quick to accept the blame and absolve the music industry of any participation in the distribution of this crap. In fact, we point fingers at each other and at our children for becoming addicted it. We are constantly asking our children why do you listen to that crap. Funny all those people who think young blacks are responsible for gangsta rap never ask why do you record that crap or how much money do you earn from that crap. I guess it’s just one of those crazy unexplainable coincidences that the record industry gets rich while our children get seduced. Surely the music industry can’t be responsible.
I remember watching a television show about a black boy who was about ten years old. The boy was being stalked by a pedophile. The pedophile seduced the boy with friendship and gave him alcohol. The situation quickly escalated. The pedophile got the boy naked and was taking pictures of him when the boy’s father and police burst into room. The pedophile was arrested and the father went to his son. The boy tried to explain what happened by was too overcome with emotions and the affects of alcohol to make a comprehensive sentence. The man grabbed his son, held him, and gently told the boy it was not his fault. I guess nobody saw that show. If how we respond to musical crack is any indication people in the black community are more likely to point their finger at the boy and say it’s all his fault with all the wrath and fury of Moses casting the unfaithful to hell.
Our children grow up with celebrity role models that are constantly moving to distance themselves from the black community. Black celebrities are constantly trying to minimize their blackness and maximize their otherness. Black celebrities spend a great deal of time endorsing white standards of beauty by buying all kinds of plastic surgeries to keen their nose, reduce the size of their lips, contour their chins, straighten their blond hair and/or bleach their skin. Black celebrities will focus their attention on dating or marrying anything but someone from their own race. Who wants to be a celebrity and be identified with the black community these days? Our black celebrities abandon us to be with white people and we still chase them ready to worship their shadow.
Our black middleclass leave the black lower class and our brothers and sisters in poverty to fend for their self interest in the traditional black neighborhoods. Black people who can will make their own escape to whiter pastures and more ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Black people’s pursuit of life somewhere, anywhere but in the black community depresses the values of homes and property in the urban black neighborhoods and helps increase the value of property elsewhere.
Ironically, the only people who appear to make any attempt to embrace the image of being black are those obviously black celebrities who wrap themselves so thick in gangsta rap culture. And then no one can understand why our impressionable black youths would want to emulate the only people who are wildly financially successful and aren’t ashamed of being perceived as black. It really is no wonder why our children would want to emulate the gangsta rap culture and do their best to embrace gangsta rap values. Our children see so many black adults trying to play by the rules. So many of us are trying to get an education and trying to get jobs only to be told we’re too black or white people aren’t comfortable with such non-white ethnicity in the work environment. So many of our children see us struggle to make ends meet only to see things fall apart at the first round of layoffs from the workplace. Do we really have to wonder why our children would rather hustle on the street instead of trying to live like our example?
Honestly, for all his weaknesses and insecurities a gangsta rapper projects an image of independence and strength to a young mind trying to develop an opinion of themselves and ideas for their future. A gangsta rapper projects the image that he wouldn’t go down like a Shaquanda Cotton, a Genarlow Wilson, or the other children we’ve allowed to fall through the various cracks of the American injustice system. The gangsta rap culture offers our children more hope for material success than the black community can ever offer. Gangsta rappers don’t sit around and point fingers trying to find out why things are the way they are or wait for a consensus from others to do what needs to be done. These ghetto life caricatures seduce our impressionable black children with much more than the collective will of the black community could ever muster.
The promise of the American dream and equal opportunity is so pervasive that many of us have bought into it, internalized it, even though we see the reality of the black community crumbling all around us. The problems of the traditional black community are the direct result of black people not working hard enough to protect the black community’s interests. We have no one to blame but ourselves. I now see the light.
The wife and daughters of Dr. William Petit Jr. were murdered by two men who broke into their home early Monday morning, about three o’clock AM, on July 23rd. Dr. Petit’s wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, was killed by asphyxiation from strangulation. Their daughters Hayley, age seventeen, and Michaela, age eleven, died from smoke inhalation when their home was set on fire in an effort to cover tracks and destroy evidence. Dr. William Petit, age fifty, was assaulted, suffered serious injury, and admitted to hospital. He has since been released.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, age twenty six, and his accomplice Steven Hayes, age forty four, were charged with aggravated sexual assault, arson, robbery, kidnapping, injury to children, larceny, and, according to Connecticut state police, have more charges pending. The prosecutor wants to gather as much evidence as possible before pursuing capital felony charges. If convicted, the two career criminals will be facing death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Both Mr. Komisarjevsky and Mr. Hayes have extensive criminal records. Both were out of prison on parole when they broke into the Petit’s home. In their effort to get away from the crime scene, the two used the Petit’s Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle to ram a police cruiser. Mr. Komisarjevsky family home is relatively close to the Petit’s house. Mr. Hayes lived approximately forty minutes away.
I extend my deepest sympathies to Dr. Petit and his family. The two perpetrators of this gruesome crime deserve nothing but the harshest penalty from the law. But I have to ask where are all the questions regarding the choice of music that influenced Mr. Komisarjevsky and Mr. Hayes listen to become career criminals?
If the perpetrators of these horrible crimes were black we would spend a considerable amount of our collective finger pointing at the culture of hip-hop and rap as a major source of evils for the black community. The idea of societal pressures contributing to the development of criminal behavior in the black community is a ridiculous proposition for a lot of people. But these same carefully selected pundits wouldn’t hesitate to swear on the life of their children that what is superficially marketed as urban culture is the root of black the community’s problems.
So it would only be a logical assumption that in this corporate culture that many people believe to be free of any racial bias that someone in the media would eventually make the connection that people in the white community do crime because they are inspired by the violence promoted in country music or some derivative of rock or acid punk music.
I have to confess that I’m not much of a country music fan. The number of country songs I can name off the top of my head you could probably count on one hand. But I do know that a song like Johnny Cash’s Folsom County Blues talks about how a fictional character in Folsom prison shot a man just to watch him die. I’m not even remotely familiar with groups like Limp Bizkit or Rage Against the Machine. But their reputation for promoting less than wholesome behavior in their lyrics and to their fan base may be indicative of problems within the white community.
Yet no one ever connects the dot of country or rock music to the behavior of young or impressionable white people as aggressively as the process for which hip-hop music is propagandized to have such a negative influence on young or impressionable black people. Michael Vick has been indicted for his participation in the alleged dog fighting activity on his rural Virginia property. It hasn’t been twenty four hours and already people are making the link between his behavior and rap videos. Mr. Komisarjevsky and Mr. Hayes have been caught by police with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar and I have yet to witness a single query into their music interest.
People understand that there are many factors in the perverse behavior of Mr. Komisarjevsky and Mr. Hayes. No one would say that the superficial culture marketed as country or rock, videos or apparel, is the root of all the problems with white people who make the conscious choice to become career criminals. If we truly lived in a racially equal society, for every headline that promotes propaganda something along the lines of “Hip Hop Music Promotes Dog Fights” we’d see headlines trying to sell propaganda similar to “Country Music Prompted Mother To Kill Her Babies” or “Guitar Hero Drove Parents to Fatally Neglect Children”.