Hip Hop, Scapegoating, and putting band aid's on Cancer...
It never fails. Any situation that negatively affects our community seems to some how lead to hip hop music. Whether it's AIDs, teenage pregnancy, gangs, domestic violence, guns, etc., hip hop music seems to be the culprit. While I am the first to agree the quality of hip hop music played on commercial radio and cable television has reached an all time low, I have to disagree that it is the scourge of our community. This is not to say that any medium can have an impact on people's perception of the world and the people around them. Marcus Garvey has taught us that propaganda is a weapon that we should take up in our fight against injustice since it is also a weapon used by those who have no love for us.
Hip hop culture, like any culture, can be used to build or destroy. The gods and earths say that we are in the year of building and destroying (the number 8). History has shown that many people who found themselves under the boot heel used culture to overthrow their oppressor or overcome an oppressive state of being. Frantz Fanon touched on this but it was Amilcar Cabral of the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands who manifested this idea and put the theory to work. Of course hip hop culture is not going to save us (no this is not a shout out to Mr. McWhorter). Only we can save ourselves.
I remember during the early 90s, a young man out of Texas shot a State Trooper after being pulled over. It just so happened that the young man was listening to a Tupac Shakur album. If memory serves me correctly, it was Shakur's first album, 2Pacalypse Now. The young man's defense lawyer tried to use the defendant's musical tastes as a defense. His point was that Tupac's music as well as that of the Geto Boys, NWA, and others somehow caused him to want to shoot the officer in cold blood. Of course, the young man lost the case and was put on death row.
If that defense didn't work that time, it shouldn't work now.
In western society, there is this idea that we should put band aid's on cancer. Instead of trying to fix the conditions that lead to a particular problem, we are taught to fix the symptoms. If one has a headache, one is advised to take aspirin. The headache however is a symptom of a greater problem. It could mean that the person in question has not had enough sleep or enough water. The headache acts as an alarm. Turning off the alarm does not solve the problem. This idea however permeates every aspect of our society. Whether it's religion, economics, politics, or anything else we find important.
There is no magic bullet to any problem. There is no one person you can kill to make it all go away. There is no hole in the ground where we can just insert money to fix it. Thus scapegoating does not help anyone. Well, it might help a politician get votes or an “activist” get support or a government grant, but it does not help the community as a whole. It is divisive and causes more problems.
Our approach to any situation should be a wholistic one. We must also realize that we have to get dirty. Love is hard work. So we have to pull up our sleeves and get busy. It will not be easy and like anything we invest our effort into, will take time. Don't expect overnight success. I guess this is why religions such as Christianity are successful. It is easy to expect a mystery god to come down from the sky to fix problems we started in the first place.
You want to tackle teenage pregnancy? Well, parents, grandparents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, politicians, and clergy have to chip in. Want to end black on black violence? Well, parents, grandparents, community activists, politicians, clergy, teachers, elders, and the police (yes, the police) have to chip in. We have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. Where are the guns coming from? How are these young people getting guns? Where do they get the money to buy the guns? Where are the parents? How are the police responding to this? Which government law enforcement agencies are involved? Where are the tenant associations and neighborhood watches? I can go on and on.
Unfortunately because of our emotions, it is easy to get caught up in finger pointing. Quite a few us of refuse to look at what personal responsibility we might have in the problem. We have to have the courage to realize that before we have the courage to get up and do something about it.