Yesterday we get Jim Jones. Today we’re handed a glass of the post-racial Kool-Aid.
“[Hip-hop] has changed America immensely… Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations… Racism is taught in the home… and it’s very hard to teach racism to a teenager who idolizes, say, Snoop Dogg. It’s hard to say, ‘That guy is less than you.’ The kid is like, ‘I like that guy, he’s cool. How is he less than me?’ That’s why this generation is the least racist generation ever. You see it all the time. Go to any club. People are intermingling, hanging out, enjoying the same music.” –Jay-Z, WENN via Bossip
Mmmm. *sips* Watermelon!
I think I understand where not-so-Young Hov is coming from. I wouldn’t say hip-hop’s universal appeal hasn’t helped start some conversations and merge some cultures, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s been the most integral force in the progress of American race relations. Nor would I say that because someone listens to rap and dresses like Kanye jr. they’re absolved of racism.
[Blogger's Note: Kanye West isn’t really Martin Luther King, you know. I mean, I can’t help but think that $1,000 sneakers weren’t part of the dream I read about on my McDonald’s placemat.]
The way hip-hop’s been used in popular media has done as much to hurt race relations as it has to help, if not more. The worst parts of black culture are the most readily displayed in mainstream hip-hop. In MTV and The Negro Channel’s history, there have been at least fifty Flavor Flavs for every Chuck D.
It actually takes a nation of complacence to hold us back. That’s the difference between the leaders and politicians of yesteryear Jay-Z speaks of and, well… Jay-Z.
Haven’t you ever been a token, Hova? Perhaps at some point you’ve heard one of the suits you pander to say something to the effect of, “This is my black friend, Jay. He’s a real team player. He might have fallen asleep at the wheel with the whole Island Def Jam thing, but he’s one of the good ones.”
I know for a fact that I’ve attended frat parties with white Snoop Dogg idolators who wouldn’t spit on my black ass if I were on fire in front of them. They know all the lyrics to “Gin & Juice,” though.
Yeah. It’s fucked up now.
Perhaps this is because, despite living the boss life, Snoop isn’t exactly a model of respect. I’m actually terrified of the white kid who idolizes Snoop Dogg and looks to him as an example of what we could be as negroes. Surprise doesn’t begin to express my sentiment toward Jay-Z’s citation of Tha Doggfather as an example in this regard.
On the other hand, I know some black people who hate white people like a hmmmmotherfucker but will rock steady like The Whispers to some Hall & Oates. “Regulate” aside, they’ll keep Michael McDonald on heavy rotation, but their race relations are as unhealthy as whatever Aretha’s got in the crockpot for tonight.
Another pertinent example comes from my own family history. The Mexicos actually come to you Yankee raaaasclats by way of the Caribbean, Jamaica to be precise. The closed-minded white folks on vacation I’d see at the airport drunkenly bellowing the same three Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett songs go home to ignore the coloreds who don’t braid their hair and make the most delicious pina coladas they’d ever tasted.
Sure, they dance with the hired locals at the resort the same way some coeds may flirt with clear and present danger domestically. Again, this alone doesn’t make the racists of either group any less in the wrong.
I could be a multi-millionaire rapster-slash-humanitarian, and some of my Indian friends still couldn’t bring me to their houses for dinner. The list goes on.
Racism isn’t just being called a nigger outright or waking up in the middle of the night to a flaming cross on your front lawn courtesy of the neighborhood welcome wagon. It’s everything that goes into a systemic oppression of one group of people by another. Often times it’s neither obvious nor intentional—and, despite the fact that a half-negro holds the keys to the so-called free world, it hasn’t gone anywhere.
Hip-hop is a powerful tool that can be used for great things. However, as it stands, the culture has become little more than a cog in the faulty capitalist wheel that has caused wagon of our known world to crash and collapse onto itself.
And as for you, Boss[ip] Hogg… The nerve of you people to speak on race relations. Yes, I said, “you people”. Bossip is the Maury Show of the known blogosphere. I skim your site daily in my search for negroes to please and more often than not, I’m inclined to call the entire site to task. A weaker-minded visitor might be inclined to believe he weren’t shit and could never be as much based on the site’s content. Yet, you support Jay-Z’s comment and the attached notion of a “post-racial” America with one breath and berate Taye Diggs, Reggie Bush and any other black man so much as caught in a photograph beside a white woman with the next.
I’ll remember this advocacy the next time “Bossip Staff” maliciously attacks, slanders or otherwise slights a self-hating “swirl offender.”
Questions? Comments? Requests? Need the info for my Springsteen listening party this weekend? firstname.lastname@example.org