Recently, my comrade nOvamatic posted an opinion piece regarding Jay-Z‘s thoughts on Hip Hop’s effect on racism in this country, thoughts which were quite baffling, if not blatantly false. After reading, I immediately felt compelled to write my own rebuttal to Jay-Z’s statement.
First, I don’t know that Hip Hop culture (sports or any other field of entertainment) is really schooling people like Jay-Z claims. Maybe Hip Hop back in ’89 or ’90; when people like Brand Nubian, Public Enemy and countless others were educating us on the regular. But today’s Hip Hop? Shawn just lost one. I find much fault with his last statement, where he implies that this is the “least racist” generation ever primarily because of Hip Hop culture. The silliness of comparing hanging out in a club to the segregated-as-ever metropolitan areas throughout the nation…or our churches…or our HOMES is foolish to me. Just because you don’t see racism as much, doesn’t mean it ain’t there. OK, so we’re fully integrated while we’re at the club, with Hip Hop being the common denominator. What does that really say about American culture? And how often does that even occur? That’s like .0001% of the average Americans time! When is the last time you were enlightened about anything in a nightclub? Jay also states that “racism is taught in the home.” Doesn’t that also mean that anti-racism is also taught in the home? Why are you giving Hip Hop all the credit?
People like to use arguments similar to what Jay-Z has stated, but it’s usually not from a minority. Honestly, I’m a little shocked. When it comes to “intermingling,” just because you’re in it does not mean you are of it. Hell, I intermingle with individuals I loathe every day of my working life! It doesn’t necessarily mean I like or understand them anymore than if I were separated from them.
The bottom line here is that Jay’s opinion is flawed all to hell. Hip Hop is not really doing that much to heal the still-gaping wounds of racism in this country. Which current mainstream rappers that you can identify are really inspiring people to educate themselves on race relations (or anything important, for that matter)? Go ahead–I’ll wait. I just don’t buy the argument Jay-Z gave. You can still be racist and love Hip Hop. You can have prejudicial beliefs and live and work around people from other cultures. You can be white, refer to blacks as the N word and still count LeBron James as your favorite basketball player. These are the types of jacked up things that have always been around. Then we have those who misunderstand and misappropriate both Black and hip-culture, to the point where they are going around clearly being something they’re not, in the spirit of being “down.” To me, that is just as infuriating as outright racism.
From where I sit, today’s Hip Hop (especially on the mainstream level) is not really educating people in any type of measurable or direct way, and I’m frankly appalled that Jay believes otherwise. If I was worth a billion dollars, my view of things would likely be colored differently as well. However, that doesn’t make it any less incorrect. I’m stunned. It just scares me that someone of relatively “new” money would so quickly change his b-boy stance.