Friday, July 04, 2008

Hip Hop, Violence and White Men

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Honesty is incredible.

I was honest in my piece, "If You Want to Change Society...",
and the Racilicious readers turned around and gave me some feed back
that took it to a whole other level. I found myself writing so many
responses that I knew I just had to go ahead and post about it.

A reader, a white dude from the suburbs, wrote the first response
that had my wig twisted.
The comment is incredible because
we know that white kids
buy and listen to rap, but we never
hear them reflect on
how it has impacted them. The commenter,
Vodalus, speaks on violence, hip hop and being from the
suburbs. He writes,

It seems to me, as a suburban white kid, that another problem with rap music is that it conflates black youth culture with violence. It teaches non-black listeners that black youth who listen to hip-hop and dress like rappers are likely to be violent. Recognizing that this is largely a false assumption and rooting out the biases stemming from that conflation has been hard work for me. It’s also work that I don’t think I could have accomplished when I was growing up in the suburbs.

I wish that rappers would stand up and admit that they are delivering prepacked stereotypes straight to the suburbs. Not only are they teaching black youth to disrespect themselves but rap teaches non-blacks youths to fear and disdain young blacks. -Vodalus

The above comment made me wonder how T.I. and David Banner
would have responded if they were asked how do they feel about
white teenage boys consuming their music? Singing along, buying it
etc.


Someone also made a comment that reminded me that we lack
a fundamental
understanding of capitalism. Capital being productive property.
In the 1800's we Negros were productive property. Now productive property
is a house with a rental unit or stocks, bonds and dividends. Capitalism seeks
to make as much profit as possible of all capital. Hence why you can't stop
gentrification. I was reminded of this when a Racilicious commenter,
Phil Deeze, noticed how
on the new VH1 documentary on video vixens
there was no mention of the consumer.

Well of course. There will also never be any mention of the consumer,
of unionizing he vixens or the similarities between the vixens and Venus
Hottentot. Phil writes,

And, sadly the component that wasn’t mentioned was the consumer. Someone is out there watching the booty-shaking and grinding. Someone is out there buying the CD’s and going to the concerts. People of all races. But black folks are responsible for the images out there because most of the images that are out there for black folks are harmful images.
~Phil Deeze
I also read something that would have MLK break-dancing in his grave.
A commenter aptly named, Devils Advocate, made the power argument.
I ride for being a more human human, not a more power driven being.
I want to not that his analysis was both well thought out and cynical.
When I read stuff like this I think, thank god they weren't on the US
Abolitionist committee otherwise
I would be sharecropping in
Alabama right now
. Devils Advocate writes,

People are beasts who are made docile by having their needs readily met by a network made possible by advanced tools. Without this network, we would not even be having this discussion on morality.

Instead of talking about how we can make the community better, why don’t we just continue to find new ways to exploit each other’s needs more profitably? I mean, that’s what drug dealing, prostitution, and war-profiteering are all about. And hip-hop too. And academia.

Call it cynical if you want, but as I look at the empires of today and yesterday, morality (and religion) serves only to control laborers, allowing the managers to do as they please. What if the black community stopped trying to heal itself and just succumbed to that desire to exploit? After all, isn’t that what brought this nation’s founders their great power today?

Another commenter, Kjen said in 38 words what it would take me to , wink, say
in 500.

The “close your legs” argument always disturbs me because of how it continues to disempower men. It encourages men to distance themselves from the only people they have control over, themselves, and blame women for the s**t they do.

Alexandra caught something about the Hip Hop vs. America piece
that I noticed, but didn't know how to analyze. Raw Patriarchy. Remember
when David said "close your legs", then hit on Time writer Lola Ogunnaike and
mumbled on the under that he was going to open hers and she blushed!
Alexandra nails it
when she writes,
Great Post.
I especially agree with part of we don’t want to hold rappers accountable because dont’ want to hold ourselves accountable......David Banner also undermined his comments by hitting on the female panelist after she agreed with his comment. How are you going to tell women to close their legs in one breath and say I’m gonna get another open hers in another. All she did was agree with him, he didn’t have to say that.
The men act this way because women want thugs and dope dealers argument annoyed me too is he serious with that.
I am always struck by the willingness to blame the victim. I would imagine
that Sasha means well, but the trifecta of Capitalism, White Supremacy
and Patriarchy is largely responsible for plethora of ills that impoverished
Black, White Latino and Asian teens are suffering from. Here comes Moniyhan.
Sasha writes
I believe if more girls from poor communities were taught to respect themselves and their bodies, rates of teen pregnancy, stds, and generational cycles of poverty would decrease....I don’t believe in trying to force rappers, filmmakers, etc. to only create certain types of music or movies. Yes I know that the images of black people and women in entertainment is often stereotypical and indicative of how societies them but I can’t change that...you are right, after school programs are not the solution to teen pregnancy, stds, generational cycles of poverty, low academic test scores etc. If a child is not being raised properly and all the other children in the neighborhood are in the same boat, nothing is going to change that until you get the parent’s to change or someone else steps in.
I hope she isn't a teacher.

I close out with a little bit of Audre Lorde, who I have been reading
the last two weeks. You notice the influence?

Raising Black children -female and male- in the mouth of a racist,
sexist suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love
and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive. And in
order to survive they must let go. This is what mothers teach- love,
survival- that is, self determination and letting go. For each of these,
the ability feel strongly and to recognize those feelings is
central: how to feel love, how to neither discount fear nor be
overwhelmed by it, hot to enjoy feeling deeply.

I wish to raise a Black man who will not be destroyed by, nor settle for,
those corruptions called power by the white fathers who mean his destruction
as surely as they mean mine. I wish to raise a Black man who will recognize that the legitimate objects of his hostility are not women, but the particulars of
a structure that programs him to fear and despise women as well as his own
Black self.

From the essay, Man Child, Sister Outsider

8 comments:

manaen said...

I'm blown away by these comments. As another child of the white suburbs -- OC, no less -- I completely endorse Vodalus's comments. We only know what we learn and we only learn what comes before us (ignoring spiritual guidance). White suburbia's mind-bites of black culture are the news and the packaged music delivered to us for maximum $$$. Apparently the *producers* of this music, vs. musicians, figured out that more $$$ are obtained by reinforcing stereotypes than by correcting them.
.
It wasn't until I worked with a black church in Watts that I came to be accepted behind the cross-racial facades and came to be accepted by the people there as a brother, fellow son of our common Heavenly Father.
.
Their acceptance led me to drop my emotional guard and to commune with them. I learned to love them, their families, their employment struggles, and -- as intimacy deepened -- to help some in their private battles with the the abuses they suffered as children. I've seen deeper spirituality here, brought on by having no one but the Lord to trust, than I've found in my home neighborhood. The completion of this at-one-ment came with the capturing of my heart by a wonderful woman with whom I now want to spend eternity.
.
The commercial music we have before us doesn't invite this communion. Instead, it portrays to white suburbia a zoo that is to be wondered at from a safe distance. What a loss for both groups of us siblings in the same family!

M.Dot. said...

Apparently the *producers* of this music, vs. musicians, figured out that more $$$ are obtained by reinforcing stereotypes than by correcting them.
========
Uh. Wow. On one hand, we need to be able to "keep it real". On another living and breathing Lil Wayne. Not cool. Arrrrgggg.

The commercial music we have before us doesn't invite this communion. Instead, it portrays to white suburbia a zoo that is to be wondered at from a safe distance. What a loss for both groups of us siblings in the same family!
=======

How AM I suppose to listen to Mobb Deep when you write sh-t like this.
Just kidding. Rather eloquent, you are.

Le said...

Let me contribute two videos that provides what I believe to be useful perspectives on this topic. One if Eminem's music video White America which is him being a white rapper talking about how his music influences suburban kids.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=8OFR4L2tHe4

The second is a TV special on the documentary Tupac Resurrection in which rappers (including Eminem) express support for the film and for 2Pac. One of the most interesting things they say is that his music allowed subsequent rappers to be honest enough to contradict themselves (i.e. rap about women as sexual objects in one song and then dedicate a tribute to your mother or lover in another song).
http://youtube.com/watch?v=DSBuh_C7zKs

M.Dot. said...

Le,

Yooooooooo.

First of all modest bear, you research project is fresh.

Secondly, it was interesting to hear Em speak on Pac.

I am guided by the notion that our purpose is to become more human humans. As such, contradictions are tolerated and understood, within reason.

But Nelly, aka, My daughter don't watch Tip Drill denial is a sack of sh*t.

Pac is no Nelly.

Having a film background, you will will understand me when I say that the best protagonists are suffering from A MAJOR contradiction. Their tension in stories is palpable.

This is what drew us to Pac.

However, Rap Video Denial is all bad ock.

If 4 year olds learn from Baby einstein & sesame street, then 14 year olds are learning from Geezy/Wayne.....

Phil Deeze said...

Love the blog, by the way. I saw your link on Racialicious and thought I'd stop by.

Is hip-hop more toxic now than it was back in the days of Run DMC when I grew up?

Have black people reached a critical mass of what hip-hop is and what it means to the community?

Model Minority said...

Is hip-hop more toxic now than it was back in the days of Run DMC when I grew up?
====
You know. I was mentioning to Filthy that I am going to write an essay called, "Hip Hop Usta Love Me".
He responded saying that, "No M, HH ain't ever love you".

I was like Fuck that. Bonita Applebum WAS FOR ME.

Beastie Boyz. Time to get Ill. Me.

Cappuccino. The first lyrics, wait, second, after Easy Does It, that I memorized. Me.

Far more problematic. I am reading Baldwin today and Its blowing my wig back, how powerful hip hop its, and how meaningful it is for me to a.) have the tools to write about it b.) have the courage to say it.



Have black people reached a critical mass of what hip-hop is and what it means to the community?
=======
Uh. Your statement presumes that there is a Monolithic Black people.

There isn't.

Same as their isn't a monolithic Gay, Asian, Latino etc.

However, my question for you is what would be the purpose of this "critical mass" to such a "community".

I am not answering like this to be a "cow", I am answering because I am curious about what you think as well.

the prisoner's wife said...

1. i *heart* chris rock. i really don't think he gets enough credit for his keen cultural criticisms.

2. the comments are crazy & a sista like me is happy you getting your due shine. keep the conversations going.

3. i need to revisit my copy is Sister/Outsider. *sigh* raising a black man child is probably one of the hardest things to do. i see, daily, all of the things/characteristics i DON'T want my child to become, i see that the deck is stacked against him (race/gender/daddy locked up), but i also see hope. as people, we have agency, we have the ability to create the reality we want (or get damn close). all i can do is be real with him, teach him through actions how men & women are supposed to treat one another. talking only gets you so far, our kids learn by SEEing. they SEE these videos, see how we treat each other, then imitate those images on their own.

Model Minority said...

they SEE these videos, see how we treat each other, then imitate those images on their own.
===

Amen.

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