'Gangsta Rap': A Favorite Tool of White Supremacy
The Imus imbroglio has provided the platform for a much needed conversation about Hip Hop. It's pretty easy to see what's coming though: yet another opportunity to bash black youth and culture. White folks, stung by the public criticism of one of their own, have clearly jumped on this bandwagon. Even a number of African Americans are starting to reflect on this issue and are looking at this in only the most superficial of ways.
In consideration of this, we should be clear that Gangsta Rap is not a natural, organic evolution of the rap music that started in the 1980's. As clear as day, it is a fabricated manifestation of a corporate America that will sacrifice anything - our culture, our youth, and our future - for the almighty buck! By putting all of their money behind signing only one kind of act, and marketing only this particular aspect of our culture, white record executives with no intimacy or interest in our community have, effectively, defined the overriding culture that defines our youth today. To be clear, Gangsta Rap is not about art, or about an honest expression of our culture. Gangsta Rap is about exploitation. It's about exploiting African American culture. It's about exploiting African American artists. It results in the sacrifice of a generation of our youth who have bought into the mellifluous but narcotic and necrotic messages that do us harm.
If I were a strategist working for White Supremacy Inc. (WSI) and looking to control, subjugate, and exploit a people that I could no longer wantonly put in chains and literally control as in the times of slavery - then what would I do? I'd endeavor to control their minds. I'd initiate all manner of psychological tactics to influence their behavior and to warp their perception of themselves and their future to suit my purposes.
Folks - the marketing of rap music is the PERFECT case study for how this is actually happening. First and foremost, it is profitable for white folks. They get us to clown each other - to glorify anti-social and self-defeating behaviors and they actually make billions of dollars doing so! Gangsta Rap can be considered a wonderful tool of white supremacy because:
1) Gangsta Rap causes black people to act in ways that directly cause our own social and economic retardation. It glorifies those things that will harm us - "thug life", drugs, violence, sexism, homophobia, incarceration, sexual impropriety, etc., while denigrating positive attributes that will uplift us like academics, respect, discipline, family focus, professional aspirations etc.
2) Gangsta Rap reinforces white stereotypes about black people. It spews language and images that allow white people to continue to think of themselves as superior, while clearly positioning black people as inferior. It preserves the exotic/raw/edgy aspects of blackness that white people want to consume, while vigorously protecting their sense of racial and cultural hegemony.
3) Gangsta Rap supports the over-all economic system that drives American society - which is capitalism. It makes white folks LOTS of money. From the WSI perspective, that white folks have gotten blacks to pay them to harm themselves is the ultimate bonus of this whole thing.
Gangsta Rap is great for white America! That African America is complicit in executing this plan is a tragedy of epic proportions. It has madeWSI untold riches. It has contributed to African Americans denigrating each other in new and increasingly injurious ways. It has caused us to embrace illegal behaviors that mute the arc of our achievement. It puts us in jail. It gets us shot and killed by each other and by law enforcement. It pushes drugs on us that further retards our ability to do anything about our condition. It exacerbates class differences within African America further dividing our community. It honors a particularly virulent strain of sexism that attacks our women in profoundly damaging ways - even negatively influencing how we think about creating and nurturing families.
We've got to see this for what it is. We've got to seize control of our culture and our music and direct it toward OUR uplift! We're being punked in the most profound way and we are an active part of it. It's not a coincidence that 'bling' is such a component of this effort. Aside from the consumerism aspect of this, critical to 'selling' this music is establishing authenticity within our culture. If African America calls bullshit on rap music, the sales from suburbia dry up the next day. Showing artists in their extravagant homes, with their ˜over the top' cars, and with their grotesque jewelry is all about trying to lure the brotha on the street to aspire to that lifestyle - thereby establishing the critical authenticity and credibility to perpetuate the ruse.
Thoughtful criticism about hip hop shouldn't be about any one individual, but about a system that is designed to keep its boot on our neck. I have no doubt that those who have been exploited, but who have made their living from Gangsta Rap, could shift their creative energies and be just as successful with other styles of music - if only given the financial and cultural incentives to do so. African America needs to offer firm but affectionate direction to our people in the rap game that gangsta will no longer be permitted. We need to generate strategic and effective activism to tell corporate America that we will no longer allow our culture to be misappropriated for anyone's benefit but our own.
It's really clear to me. This is what we need to be talking about!