Posts Tagged ‘tragedy’

Before we begin, check out Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage.” 

I love hip-hop. It’s an amazing art form, and it’s so diverse. In light of some of the recent happenings in the world (the situation in Ferguson, MO, the Ezell Ford shooting in LA, the incident in Ohio, the Tulsa police shooting, Robin Williams’ suicide, etc), some have brought up the question of “what can hip-hop do to educate people or cause change?” In the 1980s and 1990s, artists jumped to the mic in droves to speak on messed-up situations with the government and the police (not really mental illness, though; that’s another monster entirely which I spoke on on These days, however, it seems that artists won’t speak on an issue unless there’s something to gain from it (publicity, saving face, etc). Is that indicative of artists being “owned” by their labels, therefore hindering them from speaking on issues?* Or is it just that today’s generation of artists aren’t educated on how messed up these issues are?

I think it’s unfair to say that every artist doesn’t give a you-know-what, regardless of their subject matter. I actually got into a bit of a “Twitter argument” with Lecrae over his semi-condemning of “violent” mainstream hip-hop, due to the idea that even if some music is violent in nature, it doesn’t exactly mean that all hip-hop that isn’t love, peace, and harmony is counterproductive. However, there is a tinge of apathy from the world as a whole–since some tend to devote focus to hot button issues, then move onto the next quicker than you can say “keyboard revolutionary.” Of course, human rights are something that need/deserve to be spoken on at all times. Thankfully, the message is getting across that people can’t just #TweetJustice and expect something to change overnight.

But, you combine this “where’s the next cause?” mentality with a generation that is more likely to turn Trayvon Martin into a meme, you’re asking for idiocy from the masses. Rappers aren’t excused from this. But, as “leaders” of black culture, hip-hop artists have to aid those whom they claim to represent–which is why I always applaud artists who give to charities, or do nonprofit work (or speak on these “real-life issues”). I’m also applauding the artists who have used their voices to speak on and/or out about these tragedies. As always, though, these are just my opinions on the matter. Feel free to tweet me on the matter.

*I will not go into how major label artists aren’t “allowed” to speak out (that’s another post entirely). I just wish that everyone could…put their money where their mouth is (plug, but not a shameless one).


“Not Guilty!” Nine letters that changed the world the night of July 13th, 2013. I believe it was around 10:30pm when I perused twitter only to discover the disappointing verdict of the Zimmerman trial via tweets and trending topics. I then went online to see the video recording of the verdict being read aloud by the all-female jury. Immediately after the verdict came in, a megastorm of tweets, Facebook status updates, and blog posts flooded the web. There were anti-Zimmerman comments, anti-Trayvon comments, and anti-Florida comments. Just about anything related to the trial that could have an opposition was spoken of and bared the wrath of heightened emotions and amplified scrutiny. I watched as Facebook friends and twitter followers alike shared their anger, frustration, disdain and all out hatred of the verdict. And as I watched tempers flare and hopes for justice dwindle in 140 characters or less, I sat back and thought to myself, “2013. Just how far have ‘WE’ come?”

When I say the “world” changed, I am not actually referring to the entire globe. Although I am sure the Zimmerman trial was popularized and possibly sensationalized via the media abroad. I am specifically referring to the impact the case and eventual verdict had on the citizens of the United States. Many people have taken sides and emotions are running so high that I can almost feel the racial tension in the air. While I admit I was disheartened and ashamed at the verdict and the demeanor of Zimmerman’s brother, legal team and Zimmerman himself after it was determined he would “get away with murder”, I was not surprised. This is because America has a dark history that was built on the births and deaths of black bodies. When I think of America’s terrible past and recall images of black people in bondage on plantations, slave ships and auction blocks in a time we are actually not that far removed from, it does not surprise me that a man – who the majority of America and probably Zimmerman himself consider white (when it’s opportune) – would get away with killing a black, male teenager.

Within the last 48 hours I have probably read hundreds of Facebook statuses, comments and tweets about the verdict and what it means to be black in America and I feel like this case has brought many repressed emotions and underlying feelings to light,  reinforcing what I already knew: Black bodies, especially young black males are devalued in American society. I won’t speak for other people. But, this is how I felt after I heard the verdict. And non-black people try to say the case is not about race, but it honestly is. When a black woman in Florida gets sentenced to 20 years in prison simply for firing warning shots in her home to fend off her abusive husband and protect herself and her children, there is substantial evidence of racial favoritism within the justice system. And I can’t help to bring up race and color when a black man (Troy Anthony Davis) gets executed in the state of Georgia for the accused death of a police officer, where witnesses accusations were later recanted and evidence was brought up that the cops killer was more than likely the original accuser. And there are many other stories throughout history where white favoritism in the justice system and America as a whole can be seen i.e.: Rodney King, Sean Bell, Amadou Bailo Diallo, and many more. In those cases justice was also not served. The police in those cases were not charged and never saw a day in jail.

All of these situations and circumstances lead me to believe that black bodies are not valued as much as their white counterparts. After all, black men’s chances of being arrested for a crime are significantly higher than that of their white counterparts. We (black men) also serve more severe sentences than any other group of people in America for similar crimes. Clearly, there is a double standard in this country and it leans in the favor of non-black citizens. I feel like the verdict to this trial has opened many people’s eyes to the level of inequality in America. It causes me to ask, “Are we regressing back to the era where there was a need for boycotts, demonstrations, sit-ins and far more radical means of creating ‘Change’?” Do we (black people) need to make it more apparent to the masses that equality in 2013 is not a privilege, but a human right?! These are just some of the many questions that boggled my mind and the main reason I became so upset after I discovered the not guilty verdict.

I was also puzzled by the notion that a jury filled with women – assumed to be the more sympathetic and caring gender – would deliver a not guilty verdict. I questioned, “What if it was their son?” “What if Trayvon Martin was a white child named Billy Hall and George Zimmerman was a black man named Jamal Jenkins?” Given the history of black on white violence in America I am almost certain if Zimmerman was a black man and Trayvon was a white teen and all other parts and facts of the case remained the same, Zimmerman would have at the very least been found guily of something and improsoned. Especially considering Zimmerman has had prior run-ins with the law. America is supposed to be a land that is…”Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But, it seems at some point they forgot the “All” part.

HOW DO YOU FEEL? As usual feel free to post your thoughts on the trial or anything else related to this post. But, I do ask that if you decide to post a comment please be respectful of me and other readers. This is a hate free zone. Opinions are warranted. But, bashing, name calling or any other disrespectful comments will get deleted.

The Misperception of Django Unchained

To those who have not yet watched the 2012 enigma that is Django unchained, I must forewarn you with a “spoiler alert.” It is not whatever your preconceived notions have contrived it to be. You see, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and the film’s trailers would have you believe it is an action-packed, serious tale of slave retribution and black love restoration. And they were almost right. But, there’s one not so little detail they forgot to mention and that’s the film’s comedic relief.

Why is comedy problematic?

When I first heard the premise of Django Unchained I thought it was a great idea. I, myself, dreamed of an amazing tale that people in America do not get to see too often, if ever. There I was, imagining that we – black people – would finally have a film that seriously represented the retribution we so eagerly lust for every time we think about our ancestors’ struggles in America and the hundreds of years of pain, dehumanization, servitude, and death they were forced to endure. And I am certain many black people and others imagined a similar thing. But, it seemed our hopes of a “serious” movie that would redeem us was muddled. Comedy in Django Unchained is problematic because its comedic relief is so apparent at times that it detracts from the brutality and seriousness of the era and the strict adversity black people in the Antebellum South were challenged with.

Deception creates Misconception

During the incessant promo and Jamie Foxx interviews we were never given a glimpse nor told about the comedy in the film. I would go as far as to say the movie was portrayed – by Jamie Foxx, other cast members, the director and the movie trailers – as an amazing, “serious” action film. We – the general public – were made to believe that Django Unchained was a must see movie. Some people even told me they thought it was going to be the next “Roots” or “Rosewood” and that was all because of the way the movie was promoted especially to the black demographic. And I feel that it was this deceptive promo that really upset people when they actually saw the film for what it was. They entered the theater expecting one thing and experienced another.

After watching the film I really began to think about every aspect, every perspective, and every minute of the movie. And after conversing with others and really obtaining a grasp on what the movie is, I came to the realization that with all of its grandiose promo, the comedy within the film and the deceptive marketing for the film downgrades it from what could have been a classic film to a head exploding, slap-kneed action-comedy.

To make light of numerous serious situations it seems that Tarantino adds comedy in an effort to make “certain” people feel more comfortable about the tribulations of America’s oppressive past. With that said, and without delving too deep into the ills of the country’s dark past, allow these final words to resound in your temporal lobe.

Words for the yet-to-have-seen

Although when holding Django Unchained under a microscope, it actually is a complex story with complex themes and undertones, I ask that before you watch it you take it at face value and watch it for what it is: a movie directed by a white male, portraying his conceived alternate reality with an emphasis on fictional characters and fictional actions purely for entertainment purposes. To try to use our non-fictional slave history in America as a frame of reference while viewing this film will only prove to be foolish and disheartening and will more than likely upset you, as I saw with so many black people during the movie and after it ended. And even with my criticism of the film, I can say without bias that it served its central purpose: it was entertaining. Now, the grander question we must ask each other and ourselves is, “Have we come so far from the slave era that it is acceptable for Hollywood and the film industry to make entertainment/fun/light of America’s slave past? Think about it and reply to the question if you feel moved to and thanks for reading.