Thursday, December 14, 2006
The Integration of The Hip Hop Nation
by Min. Paul Scott featured on Davey D Hip Hop Corner
Rollin' down the street, one evening, I heard the familiar boom of a car stereo pumpin' a Lil Wayne track. A glance at the car pulling up next to me revealed a white dude giving me that "what up" head nod that is usually reserved for brotha's. I gave him a friendly Black Power fist and drove away. I have had that experience many times before and just shrugged it off but I had just watched the latest police brutality video earlier that day and I just wasn't felling all that cross cultural.
Integration versus segregation has long been a debate
in this country among black folks and white folks as fist fights have broken out on both sides when someone was called a @#%$ lover or an Uncle Tom/Oreo, one
too many times. During the Civil Rights Era many in the Black community began to equate FREEDOM with Integration and saw them as inseparable concepts.
The media characterized the integrationist, at worst, as a good hearted,yet unrealistic dreamer, but demonized the Black segregationist as an evil, militant hate monger who hated all white people and sober minded negroes. While the black segregationist
wanted the right to self determination and felt that this could only be achieved by Black people doing for themselves and worst case scenario, establishing a
sovereign nation within a nation, the integrationist felt that even the worst racist, white supremacist was acting out of ignorance and if they could just get to
know us, they would eventually love us and share all of the wealth and privileges which they had accumulated from slave labor and other forms of
exploitation. While neither option was really acceptable to white America, they accepted the integrationist dream as the lesser of two evils because at least that option included white folks at the center of every discussion while the Black
separatist left them totally out of the equation.
Today the debate can be carried over into the realm of Hip Hop as many see the fact that white teenagers are getting caught up in a virtual reality 'hood that this
is somehow a sign that Dr. King's "Dream" has come true.
The white fascination with Black culture goes backwell before Rap music as the earliest white Rock and Rollers would try to imitate black folks on Saturday
night at the Sock Hop by letting their hair down and "getting a little funky." It was during the 70's that some brotha told Wild Cherry to "play that funky music
white boy" and it was not until years later that I found out that the Sara that Hall and Oates were trying to get to smile had blue eyes and blond hair. So, integration has long been acceptable on the dance floors of American Band Stand and Solid Gold, it is
the other areas of society where the problem lies.
The message that white folks are giving is that we will party with you and even dress like you (like we are going to some costume fantasy ball) but when the
clock strikes twelve, your BMW turns into a bus pass and I get in my Volvo and drive home to my cottage in the 'burbs . And on Monday morning, go back to my job
on Wall Street and you go back to sweeping trash off of Main St. While integration may have crossed the Soul Train line, it has not crossed the line of
social, economic and political equality.
Someone said that over 70% of Rap music is purchased by white people. While this may not raise a red flag entertainment wise, it is disturbing from a political
point of view. What is disturbing is that we have packaged and sold a warped idea of Blackness and while the idea of "thuggism" may be embraced by both Black
and white children, the concept is marketed to white children as a fad that they will out grow but marketed to Black children as a way of life. As the white child
has the luxury to change clothes, go off to an Ivy League School and later inherit the family business, the masses of Black children will have no such luck
and will follow that lifestyle to the prison or to the graveyard.
This is also problematic in the area of Conscious Rap. I have heard it said that some concerts by conscious rappers are mostly attended by white kids. The
question is, at what point do you get too black for even the most liberal minded white people? Our people are in dire need of the TRUTH, some of which may be
too much for white folks to handle or fully grasp the meaning. Even though some intellectual white folks will deny this, there are some things that you cannot
learn from buying Public Enemy's Greatest Hits andreading the Source, every month. As Black people there
are still some issues that we need to be able to
discuss, straight up without referencing each
statement with "it's not a black thing, it's not a
white thing" or "I'm not trying to be racist but…."
Within the broad dimensions of Hip Hop, there needs to
be a Black Consciousness Movement. As Marcus Garvey
once said Race First and Africa for the Africans,
someone must be bold enough to say in Rap music; Race
First and Hip Hop for the Afrikans! That does not mean
that Hip Hop must be totally isolated from other
cultures as African people have long freely been
willing to teach all those who were willing to learn,
even to our detriment. But as it is said no one is
going to save Black people but Black people and that
must be instilled in the hearts and minds of our
Some days, even I may feel a little
can't-we-all-just-get-along-ish and watch a Brady
Bunch marathon while Justin Timberlake is playing on
the radio. But most days I just want to be Black and
that is good enough for me.
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