Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Who Raises the Kids, Rappers or Parents?

TwitThis



Our children's successes and our children's failures belong to us.
We are the reason.

Every time I criticize hip hop, I am dumb founded by the responses I get back.

Its like, I am talking about peoples mommas or something.

Sportaphile's insistence that it starts with "the family" is misguided, at best.

No one makes it anywhere in life without the help of several people. Whether
you are selling crack or bound for Congress. Somebody has to put you
on and nurture you. And the help does not typically or necessarily begin
or end with your own family.

I know some pretty fabulous people, I also know some amazing fuck-ups.
Many cats fall right in between.

Investment bankers, 15 year veteran d-boys, music video editors.
brain surgeons, full time cigarette hustlers. You name them. Dot knows 'em.

So I am perplexed at the "it starts at home", but what about those
for whom home is NOT where it is? Where home is a war zone.

Sniff, sniff, is that a boot strap that we are suppose to be pulling ourselves
up with.

Hip hop or rather rap music and videos carry and incredible amount of weight
with young people.

Why is that so difficult to acknowledge?

That shit remind me of the the displacement denial that people in
Bedstuy-Harlem-Forte Greene have. They think they are going to be able
to remain in their neighborhoods. But I have this little friend called the Euro,
and he is the new game in town. But I digress.

Back to rap. Rappers shouldn't carry the weight that they do, but they do.
(For the record, listening to new Busta Rhymes, Don't Touch Me,
as I write this.me likes).

I knew in April that I had to openly criticize Hip Hop when Birkhold pointed out that
not doing so constitute being similar to whites who refuse to acknowledge
racism. While Birkhold writes about the need to talk about how patriarchy
has been internalized, the need to critique it can be extended to the discussion
about the scope and extent to which our children are affected by the lyrics and
images.

He gets into what is in store for us when we decide to be bold enough
to analyze ourselves and our music. He writes,

This unfortunately means that a critique of the way hip-hop has internalized patriarchy must lead to a painful examination of the ways we have internalized patriarchy. Despite the soreness this may cause, reflection and self-critique is necessary. In many ways, refusing to engage in this reflection mirrors the refusal of many whites to admit to collaborating with racism or acknowledging that America itself is a racist nation.
What is it going to be, empathy or darwinian "my momma raised me right"?
The latter implies, I don't know what the fuck yours was doing, but mine
was on her job.

The latter attitude is what got us where we are now in the first place.
For every 1 time you point the finger at what some rapper says, you should point 50 fingers at the broken and dysfunctional homes we come from and try to fix **THAT** instead.~Sportafile

I am capable of critiquing more than one thing at a time. Are you?


As for building a foundation, I am in the middle of writing a position
paper on addressing the preschool to prison pipeline. Its ambitious,
hard, frustrating and necessary.

My general premise is that that policy and spending has to shift to
prevention and that the economic incentives to having such how Black male drop
outs head to prison must be acknowledged, analyzed and addressed
in order to make any true head way.

Is that foundation enough for you?
It's like we're making skyscrapers with faulty material and no structural integrity. We can't stand up if we're ankle deep in quicksand.

Let's work on the foundation before we start blaming ANYTHING else in the elements thats bringing us down.~Sportaphile
Penni Brown respond

We can't stand up if we're ankle deep in quicksand.

If you're ankle deep in quicksand, the last thing you're going to be thinking about is building a structure to avoid quicksand traps. Your going to be screaming, 'THROW ME A DAYUM ROPE!

Thats the point. Many young bucks don't ever receive any rope. They receive a f-cking brick necklace and a substantial amount of rap music and videos serves as a link holding that necklace together.

(Reminds me that I need to do that piece on Grand Theft Auto.)

What is the problem with acknowledge that some Hip Hop feeds the darkside within us? Why is that sh-t so difficult? Are we saying that Parents are completly absolved from parenting?No Are we saying that rappers are completly absolved from their responsibility?No. Are we saying that WE are completly absolved from our duties as those who remember WATCHED Yo MTV Raps? Maybe. Just kidding. Just kidding.

19 comments:

Dart Adams said...

I feel you on this one. I subscribe to the belief that if you point a finger at someone then the other four are pointed back at you. I believe in personal responsibility and taking account for your own ways and actions.

I can't deny (who can, really?) that the images that kids see in music videos affects them. It clearly does, even more than they may realize. If a little kid is gonna imitate some shit he saw in a show on Nickelodeon do you really think that the stuff he saw on BET and MTV aren't going to seep into his skull somehow?

Dumb rappers need teaching and smart rappers need to start teaching to ensure that we end up with more emcees in the future.

One.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

in my house me
cant speak for no one else folk
albeit i wish i could

Sportaphile said...

M.Dot

you seem to believe I don't acknowledge the problems in rap music.. I do. Im just the type of person who wants to address the bigger more important problems *first*.

Let's put it this way. If rap music simply disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow... You think black men would suddenly snap out of it and start acting like gentlemen on the street?

Would we stop dropping out of school at alarming rates?
Would black fathers stop abandoning their children?
Would young black teenagers stop getting pregnant before they can truly experience life?

I tend to think none of these things would happen. I also tend to think we all need to focus on these issues *first*.. .thats all I was saying.

I commend you on the paper you're putting together and I'm glad you're not putting 100% of your energy into blaming rap music.

It's kinda funny that you compared my first reply to bush... because I think the logic and reasoning you're displaying is VERY similar to Bill O'Reilly. Every time Fox News puts together one of those "hip hop is the devil" segments, they say much of the same things you're saying now.

Penni Brown said...

@Im just the type of person who wants to address the bigger more important problems *first*.

I hear you...but, surely you recognize that this is a diversionary tactic. It's like the grown up version of 'I know I am, but what are you?' LOL

Here's another analogy (I'm the queen of analogies lately)...When you go to the dentist with a toothache, the doc may notice that the symptom, the toothache, is a result of an abcess tooth. But, he can't fix that tooth until the infection that is causing the ache subsides.

Nobody is denying the fact that the fall of families* is at the crux of the issues we're facing as a community. But, we've GOT to address these symptoms.

*I always caution men that point the finger from hip/hop, back to the family b/c that finger is going to ultimately go right back to men. One could argue that, the downfall of families is a direct result of fewer male heads of household.*


It just occured to me that one could also argue that black men actually are heading up families...FROM the mic/the music video/the stage. Wow!

Penni Brown said...

@You think black men would suddenly snap out of it and start acting like gentlemen on the street?

Sportofile - I totally hear the points you're making, I hope you don't think I'm picking on you. :-)

Alot of young black men started wearing 'button ups' because JayZ told them to. Alot of young black men attempted to recreate that scene in Biggie's video where Puff was in the jacuzzi surrounded by girls. Alot of young black men started wearing blazers with jeans and a baseball cap because Usher did it and made it cool. Alot of young black girls wear stripper clothes to the club, b/c the girls in the music videos do that. Everytime Get Me Bodied comes on at the club, almost EVERY woman in there acts out the ENTIRE video like it's Thriller. Everytime Make it Rain comes on, there is at least one guy that throws singles down on the crowd from the VIP balcony.

So, yeah if the images in the videos changed for the better, the masses would probably imitate that as well.

Will to Love said...

Sportaphile,
What about kids who got parents that just aren't there? I know a lot of cats who feel like hip hop raised them.

While eliminating hip hop wouldn't solve any of the problems you mentioned, if there were no hip hop, do you think that we, as a society (not you personally), would think that the sexual exploitation of black women and the murder of black men by other black men was so damn normal?

What impact does the normalizing of these things have on youth and what role does hip hop play in normalizing them?

Will to Love said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the prisoner's wife said...

everyone has already said a mouthful, but i agree with much of which has already been said. i am an 80s baby & grew up listening (albeit on the sly) to hip hop while my mom made sure we went to church and sunday school. i also had both parents in the house, we traveled, i went to private school, but we still lived in the hood. i guess i'm one of the "lucky ones." i had a pretty stable family that helped me to NOT think that what ever rapper said was the truth. but you have to remember, hip hop in the 80s/early 90s wasn't the trash we hear today. sure people talked about sex and big asses, but they still blanked the words out on the radio. but i digress...

i am a teacher. i work with students that have NO (or faulty) parents, and every time i hear them brazenly singing "look back at it" i cringe. my girls think that THAT is how you are supposed to act to pull a guy, and my boys think that all girls need to be as sexually outgoing as Trina. our music is shaping the minds of our youth. period. years ago i wrote a research paper about society falsely blaming hip hop for its social ill. today, i'd probably switch my thesis up. i think it's easy for us to say..."it takes a family"...if you're already grown and can decipher what is and is not valuable. but when you're a kid, and you eat, sleep, breathe Lil Wayne, that line becomes blurred.

Courtney said...

@ Penni: It just occured to me that one could also argue that black men actually are heading up families...FROM the mic/the music video/the stage.

Say word.

That is so deep. If you have no father/male role model to redirect you where do you go for information/interaction/guidance? For many it is the 'fathers' of hip hop as Penni says! Wow, is right!!!

I liken it to when The NOI fathered the sons in Harlem/Chicago/Prison etc. and taught them how to be men. They did it in suits, with books and concern for the 'State of Black America' at hand. They did it for the sister, the brother and the family. What are the Hip Hop cats doing it for now? The dolla' and the hoe?

I love love love hip hop. But im grown and remember when there was NO hip hop. I can differentiate and decipher. I may love, but I dont live and breathe the messages like the children of the now.

I miss africa medallions and self- destruction rants. It made home life so much easier.

Courtney said...

But to get to the question:

Parents raise children. Outside forces influence them. To counteract or indulge the influences, the parents, must actually parent.

If children aren't being parented then they are being influenced by forces outside of the home.


The ground up theory holds weight: The pyramids were built 'ground up' but bombs of ignorence ruined their exterior. Thankfully they did not diminish the importance of their sheer existance.

pathanapong said...

@ sportaphile

the family issue is NOT the ROOT(s) of the problem(s). tackle it all you want but it aint gonna solve the problem just like crooked cops aint the real problem when you got an entire system set up that upholds racism/inequality.

also, it's a very individualistic approach to be like "take care of yo kids". that's part of this society's problem in the first place.

hip-hop is the most powerful and influential force today. "it's bigger than religion" like Ms. Badu would say.

it's pathetic that these so-called progressive hip-hop artists don't like the term "conscious" (*kweli*) cuz they don't wanna be labelled and boxed. tough shit, that's the industry you're in. i think they've seen what happen w/ KRS-One and they wanna avoid that and maintain their careers. protect they pockets first. they're capitalists, simply put. there are exceptions of course

M.Dot. said...

Yoooo.

Comments like these"
a.make me proud to be honest and from Oakland.

b. Make being on the margins a lil bit easier.

c. Are both affirming and validating.

Aunt Jackie said...

i am amazed when i read these post at how much hip hop passed me by and then again how much my parents kept me grounded.

Sure we had too short and too live crew and ice t with chicks with no clothes on in the 80s but i was on some other shit, some iggy pop, some fishbone, jamming so hard they too their clothes off, some roger and zapp, also taking their clothes off, some black flag, some punk rock rebellion angry music that was all about sex drugs and rock and roll.

but my home life was about family dinners and discussing w.e.b. dubouis at the table while listening to miles davis.

parents can only give what they have to give, watching the second generation of hip hop raise children changes the perspective for me..they got watered down commercialized music which wasn't for nothing but making money off images that were the real pain and reflection the crack infested 80s...

i know too many black children not under the choke hold of a toxic era casually called hip hop to believe that it can't be counter balanced.

Model Minority said...

Cracks second generation is an astute observation.

Aren't the comments bugged?

Sportaphile said...

I'm heartbroken.

I just spent 25 minutes writing a reply and it got erased while I was signing in to publish it.

this is some bullshit.

All I'm going to say now is I obviously have a fundamental difference of opinion with most of you in regards to this issue.

If you want to look at the bright side, at the end of the day I want the very same outcome that you guys do. We just have different ideals on how to get there.

Model Minority said...

I'm heartbroken.

I just spent 25 minutes writing a reply and it got erased while I was signing in to publish it.

=======
Don't you hate when that happens.
It is, however, pleasing to note that you would dedicate that kind of time. You must be a gemini/libra.

If you want to look at the bright side, at the end of the day I want the very same outcome that you guys do. We just have different ideals on how to get there.
========
Well Duh. Lolcats.
Thats why we have to be like the Republicans and let those who want the same outcomes to form like voltron to get to those ends.

Seeing as we are on the same page, realtivly, let me ask you somthing.

If I started a website, voter registration, polling, policy advocacy etc, what would be a meaningful way to allow people to facilitate working for social change, in their respective cities, while communicating suggestions challenges and outcomes via the site?
get at me on gmail with your reply, if you would like. m.dotwrites@gmail.com

neo said...

What is the problem with acknowledge that some Hip Hop feeds the darkside within us?

--Because when we do this, we point out our internal hypocrisy and thus continues the good/evil paradigm within...

Why is that sh-t so difficult?

--See above

Are we saying that Parents are completly absolved from parenting?

--Nope. Even as a kid in Nigeria my parents disallowed us from watching rated 18, 16 movies till we got to that age. Now that didn't mean we didn't steal every once in a while to attempt to watch those movies but we had an internal alarm that engaged us constantly when making those attempts.

Are we saying that rappers are completly absolved from their responsibility?

--I would hope not. None rapper could easily convince me that he/she isn't responsible for what they say whether fictional or not. Denying the power of our words is a slippery slope not worth the climb.

Are we saying that WE are completly absolved from our duties as those who remember WATCHED Yo MTV Raps?

--I would hope not. Human beings are influenced largely by their five senses, 2 of these assist with the categories of music and television.

Model Minority said...

--Because when we do this, we point out our internal hypocrisy and thus continues the good/evil paradigm within...

Why is that sh-t so difficult?

--See above
========
Are you serious.

Is it that Black and white for you?

I wager that when we DO this we know we will be faced with being accountable.

Once you have been put on notice, all bets or off. Action or INACTION constitutes and action.

" I didn't know" is no longer a defense.

Even as a kid in Nigeria my parents disallowed us from watching rated 18, 16 movies till we got to that age
======
Glad you mentioned this.

Natural part of being a child a human is being curious.

We have always wanted to do what we were told not to.

Stay out late, drink, see r rated movies...all of the above.

Swear blood, I am this close to writiting "Is Hip Hop Your Daddy".

Was saving that shit for the book of essays but, man...I got that writers itch. You know how it go.

neo said...

Nah its not b&w for me mm. On the contrary the reason it may appear on the surface so, is 'cos it leaves the decision on action or inaction in our hands and a lot of times inaction is the end result of that. Or action in some cases...but that decision and resulting action or inaction is where the wagon screeches to a halt.

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