this is gonna be long. i should probably post it on my blog, but whatever. in writing today's news okp news today, i made a few critical statements, which got me reviewing some of my current thoughts and observations. such as...
the other day in the car as i was listening to kweli, i realized that my daughter (almost 3) is probably not going to ask me what a "nigger" is as a result of a racist episode the way that i asked my mom after being called one in the 2nd grade. if i continue to play the my current musical selections (which i won't; the cut off is her 3rd birthday), she'll be exposed to the word daily, in a completely different context. how do i explain to her that "whites used to (and still do) refer to us as niggers in a hateful way, but when we call ourselves 'nigga,' it's ok. but don't you go saying that word!"
when i was growing up, buying epmd, eric b., ll, pe, nwa, kid 'n play, etc., there were definitely some questionable cuts, but they weren't singles. you wouldn't be hearing "wait 'til you see my dick" on the radio as the hook.
r. kelly, married, singing about hiding in a married women's closet as her husband comes home, pulling out his pistol - why do we get so caught up in the drama of this story and fail to see the results (death, jail time, distrust in relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, cycles of fatherless families).
we talk about free speech. okay. but what about responsibility? if i say i'm going to kill the president, the fbi will be seeing me. if i tell you in a song that i'm fucking your wife and waiting in the closet to shoot you, people want to give me an award (even though i'm still on the hook for that child porn video that supposedly ain't me).
we talk about this being grown folks music, and parent's needing to monitor what their children are exposed to. okay, but if the music is on the radio, mtv, bet all day, every day, and parents are working, trying to get by, how do you accomplish this?
we say we can't blame the music. okay. but where else do we think that that kids get their cues from? when i was growing up, i wanted the sneakers, the sweatsuits, and the rhyme skills. i messed w/ graf, started rhyming and making beats, wanted a fly girl and some loot. i was intrigued by the hustle, and had i not come up in a small town and not had parents who were on me 24/7, i could have let that intrigue get me caught up in something. even still, i did some stuff i'm not proud of now, for "street cred" or whatever we want to call it. that was 20 years ago. today, whenever i'm on the bus i hear kids cursing as if no one is around, talking about stuff that i would have gotten smacked for. they say it takes a village to raise a child, but the villagers on the bus - myself included - ain't saying nothing cuz who knows if this kid's got a gun. two days ago a 12-year old was shot by a 14-year old after an argument. seems like everyday a kid dies in philly. coincidentally, the new beanie seigel's selling well.
it ain't easy growing up, facing whatever circumstances we face. but that can't be an excuse. we're making too many excuses for why men and women can't make relationships work, why cats are getting caught up in the game, why there's a steady achievement gap between black and white students. we don't need anymore excuses. we need answers. and honestly, i don't think we're heading in the right direction. as our creative artists "push the boundaries," you have to wonder, how far can you go? what's left? but most importantly, what is this doing to us?
if it does take a village, when will we feel that it's okay to bring hip-hop back into the plan? this is the voice of the village. but when it's being controlled by money, the village is being exploited, not enriched.
we say that there is positive in the music, even if lyrics that on the surface may appear to be drenched in gun play and misogyny. it's a reflection of society and culture. okay. how do we expect kids to sift through this all and understand the good and the bad? even if they seem to get it on a conscious level, are we looking at the deeper effects? where's the balance? "some women are bitches and ho's," said a young brother on a mtv news clip, "so i treat them like that." how do you tell the difference? what makes you an authority on bitch/ho status, and what is your template?
we say it's entertainment. but honestly, what's entertaining about it?
-- now playing: The African American Student's Guide to Excellence in College on deck: another installment of Okaybooks archives: Spoken Words | Move Over Girl