Where were we and where are you going in black culture
There are a few things that I’ve recently thought about. I ran across an interesting article by Mr. Johnathon E. Briggs on teen boys. At Roosevelt University clinical psychologist Lance Williams asked teen boys to take a critical look at Hip-hop. Mr. Williams seems to feel “hip-hop today has been usurped by rabid commercialism and musical celebrations of mayhem, misogyny and materialism. He reminded the teens that from its early origins three decades ago in the South Bronx, hip-hop was meant to raise one's political and social consciousness, not dehumanize or degrade. “
Now those that have seen my www.blackentertainmentblog.com site are familiar with my views on the current state of hip-hop and the commoditization [not a true word I know] of Black African American culture. I have long held the thought that the proliferation of songs that celebrate the lowest aspects of life in America, or as human beings, has been a negative factor in the lives of Black African Americans as well as all of America’s youth. It’s nice to know that I am far from the only one to see this.
In any critical glance at Black culture today it is obvious, I think, to see that women are purely objects of sexual gratification and respect is only viewed as gained through violence. Material gain is valued over mental, and the actions of an individual more important than anything else. This is a cementing of a different thought I have also long held. Some may have heard this before.
I have thought that originally a plan of selective breeding occurred in America during the 200+ years of slavery. Much like the breeding practices used in farming, stronger Black African males were bred with the stronger Black African women in the hope of stronger slave children. In addition to strength, temperament and intelligence were no doubt factors as well. I can only assume the goal was to created the equivalent of a human pitbull. But of course we are human beings, with intelligence and emotions that expand the human experience beyond that of animals. Thus it was necessary to also break the bonds of family, and to create the impression of a lesser stature of these Africans in the American culture.
The effect was the economic prosperity of this nation, agriculture being the primary source of income for the nation at the time. In addition the growth of commerce and industrialization that occurred at that time led to the America that exists today. The economic consequences are no speculation, you can see my post on reparations to see more on that.
The effects of dehumanizing, disruption on the core family unit and forced lack of education continued well past slavery with the Jim Crow laws and segregation. The virtual non-existence of Black African Americans in any media with the exception of caricature helped reinforce the early views and efforts. Job opportunities in menial manual labor help to continue the selective breeding efforts.
But as human beings, with minds and souls, resistance to these efforts existed. The human spirit rose in spite of these pressures, leading to the Civil Rights movement. And during this time the minds of Black African Americans flourished in ways not openly seen in some time. That is to say that millions were able to gain more education and better education than ever before. Growth in every aspect of life was experienced and positive exposure in media was accepted on a wide scale.
I’m not saying that there were no intelligent Black African Americans prior to this time, nor would I ever say there were none that were successful. Rosewood (and other cities or areas in cities like Harlem) and hundreds of patents (colleges as well) prove that as being false. But the prosperity was not as widely felt by the average person. This is my opinion only, I may be wrong and my older readers can definitely correct me on this.
But as media accepted and barely included Black African Americans, as Equal Opportunity laws were enacted, and the sacrifices of millions were being accepted something changed. Most notably, in the 1990's a fledgling music genre created a splinter form that started to gain traction immediately. As that splinter grew, it became commercialized and promoted. It’s affects were to promote specific business industries, and separate the youth from the mainstream. I do mean ‘gansta rap’ as it was called then, rap hip-hop music in general today.
While there have been benefits, and the expression of thoughts is an absolute right (guaranteed by the 1st Amendment) there are problems as well. Media capitalized, and continues to do so, on this by promoting the violent and disenfranchised nature of this music genre. Unlike any other music genre, the objectification of women - especially of color - was/is on display frequently. The artists creating this genre were/are selected from violent areas of the society, above and beyond those from other parts of society. The message of this genre was promoted at the exclusion of the main music form, that had insisted on inclusion, support of the community, empowerment, education and enjoyment of life. Narcotics, long held as a cause of destroying a society, were/are now considered a positive. Consumer products associated with this genre became the new Dutch tulip craze. Forms of clothing that were long held as inappropriate for anything but sporting activities (which they were designed for) became not only common place but disproportionately expensive (sneakers have gone from $10 to $150 in my lifetime as an example). And the importance of improving oneself with education has evaporated.
The overall effect is that Black culture has become a commodity, and an expensive one. While media does contain more diversity, its focus is predominantly on the most violent, addictive and separatist nature of the Black community. Education of the youth is reaching lows not seen in decades at the least and the core family unit is more unstable than ever before (at least in my lifetime) with both being portrayed as positive actions.
All of this cannot be laid at the feet of what was once a splinter of a music genre. But that cannot be dismissed either. The effects do seem to be promoting an old theme, as I mentioned above. Stronger Black African American males (or at least more violent ones), less education, no core family units, economic dependance and the promotion of specific commerce industries, and dehumanization. Added to that is the rampant addiction of the Black African American community.
No one thing is a cause of the ills found today. In some respects acts of the past can be seen again. The question of whether this is the past repeating itself because some lesson has not been learned (or that an apology has not been given) or a new aspect of the world I cannot say. But if we do not address what is happening, if we refuse to acknowledge its existence, if we continue unabated on this path then the outcome will only be our fault.
This is what I think what do you think?