Tag Archives: How Hip-hop Holds Blacks Back

So, we’re all wearing hoodies now? It really is about stereotypes

25 Mar

The death cult of hip-hop has been on a lot of people’s radar for the past few years. Because of artistic freedom and the romanticizing  of some hip-hop and rap stars, those sounding the alarm about this death cult have been labeled as prudes, nervous ninnies, and anti-free speech. A 2005 Nightline story by Jake Tapper and Marie Nelson looked at the links between corporate America and hip-hop

“The blueprint now is an image that promotes all of the worst aspects of violent and anti-social behavior,” said Source editor Mays. “It takes those real issues of violent life that occur in our inner cities, it takes them out of context.”

Attorney Londell McMillan, who represents Lil’ Kim and many other hip-hop performers, says the record labels and radio stations push the artists toward a more violent image. “They all seek to do things that are extraordinary,” he said, “unfortunately it’s been extraordinarily in the pain of a people. They are often encouraged to take a certain kind of approach to the art form.”

Added NYPD Commissioner Kelly, “Whereas some of the other violence was sort of attendant to the business itself, now I think they’re trying to exploit it and make money off of it.”

But C-Murder says if he projected a more benign image his career would be over. “I wouldn’t sell a record because my fans would know that’s not me,” he said. “They don’t expect me to just sit in that booth and write about stuff that the news or the media want to hear about.”

Record executive Dash adds there is a double standard between predominantly black and predominantly white music. “I remember Woodstock Part II was a mess,” Dash said, referring to the 1999 rock ‘n’ roll concert festival that exploded in a mass of riots and rapes. But, Dash said, “nothing more about it than that” transpired. “There wasn’t any new laws, there wasn’t any investigations. It just was.” 

Lest you think I am anti-capitalism, the real kind, not the corporate welfare of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, you are wrong. Most inner city neighborhoods and poor regions like Appalachia and Mississippi desperately need investment and capital to encourage entrepreneurs.  As the motto of Homeboy Industries states, the best defense against violence is a job.

Moi has been railing against the hip hop culture for years because it is destructive, produces violence, but just as important it stereotypes Blacks whether they participate in hip hop culture or not. Geraldo Rivera got excoriated for suggesting that Trayvon Martin was shot because of his hoodie. Jack Mirkinson reports in the Huffington Post article, Trayvon Martin Hoodie Comments: ‘Half Of It Is The Way The Young Men Look’ (VIDEO):

The Fox News host caused a firestorm on Friday morning when he said that Martin was shot to death in part because he was wearing a hoodie. “I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way,” he said.

Instant outrage, and a fair amount of ridicule, followed. Rivera admitted that his own son told him he was ashamed of him. But he stood staunchly behind his comments when speaking to O’Reilly. The two began talking about New York’s controversial “stop and frisk” laws, which disproportionately affect people of color. Rivera said he supported the laws, and then brought up hoodies again.

“I’m telling you, half of it is the way the young men look,” he said. “…If a cop looks at three kids on the corner, and they’ve got those hoodies up — and this is where I got in trouble with the Trayvon Martin case — if they’ve got those hoodies up, and they’re hanging out on the corner, the cops look at them and say, ‘Hmm, hoodies. Who else wears hoodies? Everybody that ever stuck up a convenience store, D.B. Cooper, the guy that hijacked a plane, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber…'” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/24/geraldo-rivera-trayvon-martin-hoodie-comments_n_1377014.html?ref=email_share

Moi wonders how many of those who were so up in arms about Rivera’s comments have practical experience living in an urban environment? Moi is a bus chick and takes the bus all over Seattle. From observation, moi can tell you that when a group of young men wearing hoodies boards the bus a considerable number of folks exit at the next stop. Or, what about the observation that in large corporate office buildings people don’t want to be the lone person to enter an elevator alone with with a well-dressed Black man. It is about perception of culture and stereotypes.

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Stereotypes can be deadly as the Trayvon Martin case demonstrates.

John Mc Whorter wrote a prescient 2003 article in City Journal entitled, How Hip-hop Holds Blacks Back

But rap took a dark turn in the early 1980s, as this “bubble gum” music gave way to a “gangsta” style that picked up where blaxploitation left off. Now top rappers began to write edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare or drugs and promiscuity. Grandmaster Flash’s ominous 1982 hit, “The Message,” with its chorus, “It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under,” marked the change in sensibility. It depicted ghetto life as profoundly desolate:

You grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate.
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way.
You’ll admire all the numberbook takers,
Thugs, pimps and pushers, and the big money makers.

Music critics fell over themselves to praise “The Message,” treating it as the poetry of the streets—as the elite media has characterized hip-hop ever since. The song’s grim fatalism struck a chord; twice, I’ve heard blacks in audiences for talks on race cite the chorus to underscore a point about black victimhood. So did the warning it carried: “Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge,” menacingly raps Melle Mel. The ultimate message of “The Message”—that ghetto life is so hopeless that an explosion of violence is both justified and imminent—would become a hip-hop mantra in the years ahead.

The angry, oppositional stance that “The Message” reintroduced into black popular culture transformed rap from a fad into a multi-billion-dollar industry that sold more than 80 million records in the U.S. in 2002—nearly 13 percent of all recordings sold. To rap producers like Russell Simmons, earlier black pop was just sissy music. He despised the “soft, unaggressive music (and non-threatening images)” of artists like Michael Jackson or Luther Vandross. “So the first chance I got,” he says, “I did exactly the opposite.”

Now, for many children of color, the worry of being held back has been overtaken by dying young. Mc Whorter and the late C. Delores Tucker, among others, were warning about the dangers of hip-hop back in the day. Their predictions have come true.

Hip-hop music and hip-hop culture is just as virulent a disease as AIDS or cancer. The lifestyle is claiming bodies all over the country. There is money to be made in this culture of death and “presentable” purveyors like Sean Combs, Jay Z, and Russell Simmons funnel resources to public relations bonanzas like encouraging teen voting to burnish their image. I’m not sure if any of the trio has been appointed an UN ambassador yet. They, like the family portrayed in the God Father want to move into the mainstream and hide the source of their wealth. The mainstream corporations who profit from hip-hop and are all too happy to let Combs, Jay Z, and Simmons front the money making machine as they are smiling all the way to the bank.

So, I guess we all wear hoodies now. Meanwhile, the body count continues.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©