The Return of the Minstrels
Everywhere you look today, there seems to be more and more negative images of Black folks, especially young Black men. Much of it is fueled by the ignorant rap culture. This rap culture has become so popular that it has gained a certain level of legitimacy, not only in Black culture but in the wider society in general. In the process, the negative, ignorant rap culture and the destructive images that it perpetuates have become the images of Black Americans worldwide. This is what often represents us to the world. I don't know about you, but for me, this is a sickening thought.
Todays Rap/Hip Hop culture is one of the reasons why I despise modern Black culture in general..... This stuff has become poison for the so-called African American community.
What has this culture created? Yes....it has created some entrepreneurs, and a few big money artists....but beyond that, what has it really done?
We now have a new generation of minstrels, African Americans who make fools of themselves and help to support the ignorant stereotypes that some of us have worked all of our lives to disprove. Every other day there is a story about someone from the Hip Hop establishment getting arrested, running from police, getting shot, having drugs, getting indicted or involved in some sort of violence or criminality. And what is the general response of Black America? Does Black America reject these values? No..... instead, Black America and Black culture embraces them.
Flavor Flav, and Three 6 Mafia are two examples of Minstrels in action. And what does the rich White power structure do? They take advantage of the situation by making money from these Minstrels and providing them with a huge stage where audiences worldwide can see their foolishness.
Hip Hop culture, particularly the thug rap that is so popular, helps to perpetrate steretypes that say black males are ignorant, are violent, are drug dealers, are oversexed, bahave like animals, abuse/mistreat women (as the norm), are only concerned about Partying and Bull.....and are mostly concerned about their cars (a lot of truth to this unfortunately), etc etc.... Unfortunately, because this Hip Hop culture has distorted & wrecked so many brain cells, there are a lot of young Black men out there who will spend more money on their car accessories than on their children. Yes, I said it....and it's the truth! The trinkets of this culture have become more important than taking care of other more crucial responsibilities.
Flavor Flav was given a second season of his show, Flavor of Love, and it was one of the most popular shows ever for the VH1 network. Now VH1 is working on a spinoff. Of course, this kind of Minstrel entertainment has been popular before, so it's not exactly a surprise that this is what Americans want to see.....it's especially not a surprise in an anti-intellectual society such as this one.
As if that's not bad enough, rap group Three 6 Mafia-- remember the Oscar winners?-- will star in their own reality show next year. Wow! I'm really looking forward to it. As if we are not up to our eyelids in this garbage as it is.
Rap/Hip Hop culture is doing in just a few years, what it took the KKK decades to do IMO. Except that in the case of modern day Hip Hop, the destruction is more mental than physical.... but the results are not that much different in the end.
I can't lie.... I hate this stuff and have hated it for several years now.... with the exception of Public Enemy (and perhaps a handful of others) there is nothing going on with this genre.
There was a time....going back 15, 20, 25 years ago when this music called Hip Hop made you proud to be who you were. The music had a different slant to it. It made you want to research your culture and learn about the important figures who made the culture what it was up until that point. On one hand it was a tool for entertainment & having fun, and on the other hand, it was a means by which young people were educated about their past....or it at least sparked some interest. I didn't learn about Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Stephen Biko, Mandela and other such figures from school books. I learned about many of these people from Rap artists like Carlton Ridenhour (Chuck D.) who mentioned them in his music....which sparked my generation to carry our butts to a library to see what he was talking about (I spent hours and hours in libraries doing this)..... But groups/artists like Public Enemy, X-Clan, Arrested Development, Big Daddy Kane, etc.... are no longer in the forefront. Rap/Hip Hop today is much different than what it was 20 years ago. Now of course I grew up and have since become more conservative in my thinking about certain "Black" leaders, however, that time in my life still taught me to take pride in who I was and that Black people have made tremendous contributions to society. It taught me that being smart= being cool. My how times have changed.
The Hip Hop music today is basically about getting rich quick, the degradation of women, criminality, sex, violence, & ignorance, etc. There is basically nothing uplifting about the culture or the music.
In order for Black culture to really progress and to fully become great again, it will require us to break the back of this ignorant Hip Hop/Rap culture and this new Minstrelsy. This Hip Hop culture has exacerbated many of the problems faced by Black Americans today... poverty, education, children born out of wedlock, social ills, drugs, self image/self esteem, the negative relationship with the criminal justice system, etc. As long as this negative Hip Hop culture thrives, Black America will continue to deal with the same social ills. So far I see no signs that the influence of this culture is fading.
Instead, you have a lot of Black folks (including the political, religious, and civil rights elites) embracing this culture of thuggery & irresponsibility. You even have so called Black "intellectuals" like Todd Boyd and Michael Eric Dyson supporting these artists and Black men who are part of this culture by making all sorts of excuses for them. Even Dr. Cornell West (one of the few Black elites who I admire greatly) does this to SOME extent....although not like Boyd, Dyson and others.
But this sort of excuse-making does the "Black Community" a dis-service. Instead of challenging Black men, people like Boyd and Dyson reward past negative behavior and encourage more of the same. Listen to thug Todd Boyd explain the importance of Hustlin'. This guy just happens to be a thug with a title behind his name....(professor). People think that "titles" somehow change what you are inside. I just call em' like I see em'. The guy is a thug and fraud. This is the same guy who stated a few years ago that Hip Hop Culture was just as important or more important than the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's & 60's. I kid you not! These are the kinds of people we are up against. Boyd is constantly trying to gain acceptance of Rap and Hip Hop Culture....and the behaviors associated with them...he wants them to be seen as o.k. He wants Black folks....young Blacks in particular.... to internalize the images and behaviors associated with Hip Hop.
When will this minstrelsy end? Will it stop at all? When will Black men stand up and become Black men again?
This is why I am greatful for people like Juan Williams, Bill Cosby and others who have begun to stand up to this nonsense more forcefully in recent years. This is what we need more of... Black men standing up and saying enough is enough.
I would also like to see more Black women stand up against this Hip Hop culture. After all, their image is under attack and threatened just as much (and likely more) than the image of Black men. I think Black women are the key.... when they say enough is enough.... a lot of the ignorance will fall out of favor. BUT Black women have embraced this stuff more than they have opposed it. They are guilty of buying a good portion of the CD's that go to support these Rap artists. Black women are basically in a situation where they are supporting their own degradation....the destruction of their own image. INSANE but true. Will Black women ever wake up?
Here is another great article on this issue from the NY Daily News.
She was far too kind in this interview.....
Ms. Parker just had an Editorial published by the Washington Post, entitled Why I Gave Up On Hip Hop, describing her experiences with Hip Hop and the awakening that led her to turn this music off.
Read The Full Text of Ms. Parkers' Commentary Here.