2.27.2009

The Fall of Hip Hop

I like hip hop music for the most part. I've never been a huge fan of gangsta rap, but I've always been a big fan old school hip hop or more of the underground stuff. I remember being introduced to artists like Eric B. & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest at a young age and just falling in love with the energetic beats that made me just wanna move around. That's why I was excited to see this hip hop video in class this week.
I thought Byron Hurt did a phenomenal job producing the film. Here he was, a gifted black athlete who grew up loving hip hop, and then coming to a realization that much of the lyrics in hip hop music is sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and violent. He talked about being conflicted because he loved the music so much. That's why I have tons of respect for him for making a film like
this and helping open up America's eyes to this kind of trash in the media.
Hurt also talked about all of this energy being built up in places like the Bronx, where people lived poverty, and hip hop being the way to release all of that energy. Listen to lyrics of songs in the early days of hip hop and contrast them to lyrics of today. Hip hop founders like The
Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash wouldn't even make it onto the hip hop scene today because their lyrics are so mild. They didn't rap about killing one another or sleeping with a bunch of "hoes." It was about releasing that energy and having a good time doing it.
Then you have artists like Public Enemy and Mos Def who are very political. They rap about the goings on in society and are socially conscious. They may drop F bombs here and there, but it's about the context of what they're talking about. They're not trying to come across as hard or talking about it in a sexual sense. They're pissed off! Many people
let expletives fly when they get pissed; these guys are just expressing their anger with hip hop.
But unfortunately, we mostly just see guys like Nelly and 50 Cent, and guys talking about "supermaning their hoes."
We're all to blame. Artists are to blame; record execs are to blame; DJs are to blame; those of us who buy into the culture are to blame. We're perpetuating these stereotypes: that black men are supposed to be wild, violent, sexist and homophobic.
I had to watch this documentary again to get the entire concept that Hurt was talking
about. And I would recommend anyone to see it again. In the meantime, I'll just stick to my old school stuff.

2.20.2009

Equality or segregation?

The subject of race is a touchy subject for me, as I’m sure it is for most white people. I would argue that most white people aren’t racists, though bell hooks would likely disagree. White people might be guilty of stereotyping or categorizing people of other races at times, but I think a lot of times we don’t know we are doing it. That is why I don’t mind bell hooks’ book all that much. Maybe I can learn how to let go of certain racist tendencies that I may have that I’m not aware of. But hooks makes it sound like that not only are white people racist, but they all are on purpose. I vehemently disagree with this. By painting the entire white race with a broad brush, like hooks so often does, she is a racist. Isn’t that what racism is all about? Stereotyping and categorizing people based on their skin color? That’s exactly what she’s doing. But if I can learn from her terrible example on how I can better myself, then great. hooks talks about “loving blackness.” I have no problem with black people embracing their race and being proud of it. Why would I? But does “loving blackness” subsequently mean “hating whiteness”? I get the feeling that hooks would argue that it does. Someone spoke up in class and stated that she was confused to what black people really want. Do they want equality? Or do they want to continue to segregate and block out whites? That’s a totally valid question. The majority of black people that I have met seem to want equality; that is, to be treated like equals along with every other race. But then we have black people like hooks who seem to want to elevate themselves above white people as some sort of retribution for hundreds of years of mistreatment by whites. I don’t know if hooks knows this or not, but I had nothing to do with slavery and other atrocities blacks faced in the past. Unfortunately, my ancestors did. But is it right that I be held accountable for things my ancestors did? My great-grandfather was murdered. Should I go to his murderer’s posterity and demand retribution? Of course not! They had NOTHING to do with it. We should always remember our past, and learn from it. America is progressing, and we are learning from the mistakes of our ancestors. For the most part, I believe White America is ready to move past racism and all its crippling effects. But people like hooks and Al Sharpton see that white people, for the most part, want equality and exploit the situation it to elevate themselves above whites. They are a huge reason why racism still exists in America.

2.06.2009

Boys & Girls

I totally understand why women wouldn’t like to be called “girls.” It’s the same reason why I don’t like being called a “boy.” I’m 25, and though I may act like I’m 17 at times, I am by definition a man. Now if someone slips up and calls me a boy, you won’t see me flying off the handle. But it does bother me. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m trying to rid myself of childish things and become an adult.
But I don’t see the problem for me as much as I do women around me. Guys around me constantly refer to our peers of the opposite sex as “girls.” I can understand why women would take offense. But it also bothers me on a personal level too. Like I said, I’m 25. I’m done hanging out with “girls.” I would much rather surround myself around smart, thoughtful women as opposed to na├»ve, shallow girls. Plus, how can I expect others to think of me as a man when I surround myself with girls?
For me, the difference between girls/women doesn’t necessarily have to do with age. Although age plays a significant role in whether I consider a female a girl or a woman, for me, it has more to do about her personality and total outlook on life. For instance, I have met 18-year old girls, and I have met 18-year old women. Similarly, I have encountered 25-year old girls and 25-year old women.
I hold the same standards for males. Like I said, sometimes I can be downright boyish. But the point is trying to become an adult and shedding child-like behaviors. Recently, I was sitting in a steam room at the gym with a couple of guys who were in their early 20's. These guys were talking how they had come off their missions and gotten married almost immediately. Not long after that, a group of females in bikinis came in and sat down. Shortly one of the guys said to the women, “Man, I wish I wasn’t married right now.” These “boys” then commenced flirting with these women. I guess getting married isn’t as grown up as I was taught because these boys were clearly embarrassing themselves and men everywhere by trying to pick up on these girls. One of them even started doing pushups. I wanted to burst out laughing!
I guess the point of my rant is that just because someone reaches the age of 18, doesn’t mean that person can be considered a man or a woman. For me, becoming an adult is a process that doesn’t change in a blink of an eye. It takes years of learning and experimenting. Some people become adults faster than others, but if we want to be referred to as men and women, we have to stop acting like boys and girls.