I knew that I would never be the same when, while researching
the Beyond the Down Low post, I read a passage in Keith Boykin's
book where he describes affirming the rage or questioning the rage.
I am rage sensitive. It comes from watching the world around me,
as a child, be eaten alive by addiction. In many ways rage operates
like a stray bullets, taking out whatever is in its path.
In the book, Boykin was discussing how he was speaking at an event on
AIDS, and the women stood up and said "Sure they would have you here,
you are one of them", one of them meaning that he is a gay man.
Apparently the womans husband, cheated on her and left her for a man.
It was at that moment where Boykin pointed out that she wanted
him, to affirm her rage, but instead he questioned it by telling her that she
has a right to be angry but a conference about Black people and HIV
isn't automatically about Black men who are in the closet and
to presume that it is the same is apart of the problem that leads them
to being closet in the first place.
When you read the paper, or watch the news, think about whether the story
you are reading is raising questions or affirming passively held values,
be they healthy, racist, sexist or pathological.
I think about affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I go back and
forth with C.Dubb about what this non profit is going to look like.
I think about it when I say to myself, that there are so MANY people getting
money off of poverty that anything we do MUST be committed to being about
solutions. No more talk about the problem. ((Problem))((Solution)).
I think about affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I read Michael Eric
Dyson talking a whole bunch of yak about Tupac, as if Pac was the second
coming. Pac was an artist. He had potential. Sadly he did not live up to it.
Sometimes Dyson man reads like he is Pac's publicist.
I listen to Pac. I listen to rap. But, what is bugged out to me is Dyson's
unwillingness to question Pac or Hip Hop at all.
However, if Dyson questioned Pac he may begin to question other things,
and who know's where that may lead.
Its almost like we need a conference where we criticize each other, then decide to
take action on the issues that arise.
But that would mean taking time from Fox News appearances, conferences,
the Black Literature circuit and actually figure out sustainable ways to address the
sh-t "we" talk about on Fox News, at conferences and on the Black
I thought of how the rage was affirmed when I picked up Street Lit Review.
In many ways it is a magazine with great potential. But most of its
reviews are thinly disguised pressed releases. But for one article
on the challenges of ghost writing, I learned nothing new about street
lit that I couldn't have easily picked up by browsing a book table at
What really got me was the pages in the magazines displaying the covers
of the books. Many of them looked like stills from an R. Kelly or Young Joc
All I could think was, "Is this what we think of each other?"
Often times, I evaluate Black art by asking myself, if II came from
another country and knew zero about African Americans, what
would this piece of music, book, tv show, tell about
me about Black folks?
This is NOT to say that every piece has to be on some Fight the Power.
Because that is nonsense.
However, it must be noted how much both street lit and how much
of Snoop, 50 and Weezy says about us, as a people to each other and to
I thought of affirming the rage or questioning the rage when I was
reading Black Issues Book review and Melody Guy, senior editor at
One World Ballentine said, in defense of street
lit, "You can't force them to read James Baldwin. There is a reason
why people are choosing these stories and maybe we should
look at what is causing this hunger".
I know what causes the hunger, the same thing that sustained my appetite
for Mobb Deep, sustains and feeds desire for these stories
which ultimately play the role in feeding the dysfunction within us.
The Baldwin statement interesting for two reasons.
First, since the 4th, I have been reading
Baldwin to get a handle on how to write about my family
in an accessible an effective way.
Two, Baldwin always questioned the rage.
In many ways, the folks who want more diversity in Hip Hop,
are like the folks who want more diversity in Black book titles.
I wonder what will happen when we decide enough is enough
and that we will support both the musicians, writers and fine artists
who create images that aren't hella corny like a back to school special,
see the above Ice Cube movie, yet aren't so pathological they make
me want consider homicide because the ________ is enough.