Thursday, May 10, 2007


To All Those in the Black Blogosphere Who Want to Clean Up Rap Music and Improve The Black Image…

We are basically in a war. It is an epic battle to reclaim and redeem Black culture…and improve the Black image. It’s more than Rap music. I am happy to finally see African Americans outraged about Rap music and the negative images that it perpetuates. Hopefully people like Al Sharpton are in it for the long run and not just for the TV Cameras (that remains to be seen). But I know there are many like-minded African Americans in the Black Blogosphere who are getting themselves ready for this fight… for this war.

There will be casualties in this war. There will be bumps in the road. Some folks are already getting their feathers ruffled. I made some comments last week about Black men (as a whole) not protecting the flock. This was the truth! I didn’t say there were no individual men who were taking care of their responsibilities… of course there are… there are plenty. But not with the Community as a whole. Otherwise we would not see the problems that we are seeing… Bill Cosby was right when he emphasized the return to “family“. Family is something that has been dying off as a treasured social value for Black America (again… I did not say that there was not a considerable segment of Black Americans who did not consider the idea of traditional family values as something they treasured… of course we know these folks exist. But it has been eroding tremendously.) But my fellow blogger got offended when I told the truth on the issue of “men”. I call this a friendly fire incident….and there are bound to be many of those. Folks like myself will write things that may ruffle some feathers… People are going to have to develop thicker skin for this war (if they are serious about the fight). My comments were obviously not aimed at those men (who I know exist) who take care of their responsibilities. I was mainly talking about those Black fathers…those Black men in the so called “Black Community” of prominence…who have a level of power, such as doctors, lawyers, business executives…. Politicians, religious leaders, media figures…men who have had the means to have an impact, but who have not spoken out loudly enough over the years. But I was also talking, in part, to Black men in general…who have not been outraged enough.

These thug Rappers could not go to any country where the traditional family is important and degrade the young native women the way that they do the women in this country. It just couldn’t happen in most cases. Why? Because the men in those other countries would not allow it. There would be an uproar.

Folks must also be prepared to be in this ideological war for the long haul (if they are serious about it). This will be a long war…. 10-20 years would not be a surprising timeframe. It will take at least a generation, maybe two to turn this thing around. Some folks are not going to be able to make it all the way through…. Folks are going to weaken and drop out. Folks will become detractors. Folks will sabotage. There will be internal problems. But the same thing happened during the Civil Rights movement…. remember all the internal fighting that Malcolm and Martin & others had to endure? By 1967-68 only the most courageous activists and organizers were openly supporting and marching with King. Some white preachers were more willing to stand with King in his last days than some Black folks. But the Black blogosphere and concerned activists must not allow these things to slow down progress…or to become barriers to progress.

I am not so sure that this war to restore our dignity… to reclaim Black Culture (which has been hijacked by thug culture), and to clean up Rap, and eradicate the Cancer of negative Rap culture, is winnable. In fact, I doubt that this war can even be won. Because the thug Rap culture has become so mainstream and its influence is so strong that I don’t see any countervailing force that can compete with it, at least not at the moment. We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of Black youth….and Rap culture definitely has the upper hand. But rather than keeping silent, I would like to at least say that I tried.

This war will be harder to win than the Civil Rights Movement, post 1955. Let me repeat that... This war will be harder to win than the Civil Rights Movement, post 1955. I didn’t say it would be harder to "fight"… because the Civil Rights Movement was much harder to fight. But this war will be harder to win. Why? Because in the Civil Rights movement, the battle lines were clear… we knew who we were fighting…and Black folks had a common cause to unite for…and for the most part Blacks stayed united. HOWEVER, this battle that we are about to launch will be an internal war. One Black ideology against another. And the battle lines will be blurred. Your opposition could be sitting right next to you, and you often won’t even know it.

Who & what are we up against? We are up against folks who look like us…but who support the degradation of our image. The enemy is well equipped to maintain its grip on the hearts and minds of Black folks, especially Black youth. Some of them are Black professionals, commentators…Black intellectuals and the like who make excuses for the thug Rap community, and who attempt to sanitize what they do, so that their behavior will be accepted. “Stop Snitching” and the image of young Black men and women in the Rap industry are at the heart of this issue… Yet most of these same Black intellectuals don’t live in the neighborhoods where the poverty gap is widening and where violent crime is going up.

No, Rap is not directly responsible for the negative conditions that exist in Black urban America, but Rap reinforces certain behaviors that make it nearly impossible for the masses of Black people to improve their situations….to clean up their neighborhoods, to see education as something to cherish rather than something that isn’t “cool”. Etc…
These Black intellectuals (such as Michael Eric Dyson, Todd Boyd, Paul Butler and others) who are brought onto networks like CNN and Fox to speak on behalf of Black people are spreading poison. These people are apologists for the thugs in the Rap industry. They are there to provide cover for people like Russell Simmons.

One of the excuses they use is that Rappers are just expressing what they see. Bull! Half of those rappers are not part of the rough and tough neighborhoods and lifestyle that they Rap about. Another excuse that you will hear from the apologists is that it’s the White mans fault. The White man is not standing there at the video set or in the studio, holding a gun to the heads of these rappers….telling them what to do or say. Much of the specifics regarding what gets on a recording or what gets into a video is up to the artists. The artists and record and the project producers and people like Jay Z have artistic control over much of the material we see. But they are quick to blame the white man for everything as a way to avoid responsibility and sanitize what they are doing.

Black millionaires and intellectuals are particularly dangerous because their credentials provide them with some level of “credibility” in the wider society and provides them with unlimited access to mass media so they will have little problem getting their messages out. They are like wolves in sheep’s clothing by virtue of their social and economic positions. These are the men (and women) who are making money from selling poison to African American youth. If they are forced to clean up their act (and that means more than banning 3 words) then they fear that they will lose money. We must expose these African Americans who are working against the efforts to clean up Rap music and to improve the Black image…and reclaim Black culture. The thug culture MUST be pushed out of the mainstream Pop culture and (if not eradicated) must be pushed back to the fringes where it belongs…especially for Black Americans. We must shun and shame these prominent Black figures who support the degradation of the Black image.

We are also up against some young women who do not realize their worth and are willing to sell themselves short for the chance to dance half naked on a video. They don’t realize how much damage they are doing.

And then there are the young Black males who feel shut off from the wider society. Negative influences, like Russell Simmons, and 50 Cent, and the Rappers in the videos, the pro-athletes, the entertainers (and countless others) have gotten to these guys early and have convinced them that they can make it as a Rapper and NBA player, etc, when in reality they only have a very slim chance of doing these things. Since education is often not cherished as it should be in the “Black community“, these young men are left with nothing to fall back on when the NBA, NFL or the Rap dreams don’t pan out. This often leads to the other activities…the gangs, drugs, underground economies, etc.

It’s a shame that so many Black youth aspire to be thugs, rappers, NFL players, etc…rather than doctors, lawyers, firemen, teachers, businessmen (legit), nurses, scientists, writers, etc. If you were to go into poor neighborhoods… and you did a random survey of young Black men and women- asking them what they would like to be when they got older… you would likely get more answers for Rappers, Producers, Video girls (models), Basketball players, NFL players, etc…sometimes even illegal occupations because this is all they see from the streets and from media…especially MTV, VHI, and BET day in and day out….these images are constantly being reinforced. And the Rappers come and reinforce it even more in the music.

My point is…. Those in the Black blogosphere and beyond who want to fight this fight must be mentally prepared to be in this for the long haul… This will be a marathon battle. Those in the struggle must be prepared to deal with folks dropping out and folks being detractors…etc. In the end it will come down to a “coalition of the willing”. This war won’t end with the same faces and same names that it started with.

Efforts must be driven by a larger vision and not by individuals. It has to rely on systems and methods, institutions and organizations…and not by superstars.
I have been waiting years for this fight… Don Imus may have been a blessing in disguise for Black America. If we can look back on this 20 or 30 years from now and find that there was a big improvement as a result of efforts made to clean up Rap culture, to reclaim Black Culture, and improve the Black image, then more good would have come from the Imus fiasco than bad.

I’m ready to do battle. Are you ready?


Anonymous said...

I really liked this post. I think the war can be won faster (I'm optimistic). I could just imagine something happening like everyone deciding to buy different artists, some new postive artists coming up, the FCC banning certain words during times when kids could be watching television and banning those words from being played on the radio. I can just see it that someone new and creative will come along and that music will draw copycats who are doing the same positive music. I can see some really creative rappers like Ludacris and Nelly deciding to change their way, still sound great, and attract a whole new following. I can see Black bloggers getting together with organizations and using the internet in ways to send a loud message to everyone involved.
Yes there are popular gangsta rappers but some people are one hit and one album wonders. Some have been successful for a while but in the near future some positive artists could just blow up. I think lately quite a few things have happened that we didn't expect (Imus actually getting fired, the Fox debate getting cancelled, Black bloggers trying to work together, widespread attention going to hip hop even after Imus was fired, and just people being fed up, Obama raising so much money and attracting so many voters etc.). Maybe now is the time when things are going to shift. Maybe this couldn't have happened in the past but now with people using technology and learning about how to be activists things might start to change. When they do look back at this blog entry and I hope we all will be amazed by what eventually happens!

Dangerfield said...

Good post I agree with you the neanderthal aspects of hip hop need to be changed.