Posted by: worinld | December 17, 2007

block party!

So, during the weekend, as I was cleaning my place, I was watching Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. First off, I think the guy is hilarious, and so that’s why i wanted to watch it. But as I was watching this, he showed a different side of him. I guess up till now, I’ve always listened to the musical guests on his (now defunct) show as folks with a real nice beat, and mostly chill type stuff. Some of the artists on there are Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Wyclef Jean, Dead Prez. I dug it. it was never mindblowing, or woah, cuz I never took care to listen carefully to some of these artists to know what they were really singing about. But i think the movie really helped explain that to me. There’s a perception of a race conflict (or perhaps war) going on in their minds, and they’re passionate in their lives and music to empower those who are being oppressed. I think a lot of people are ignorant to it, minimize it, or even mock the ongoing race tensions.  But to many of these artists, there is something that needs to be changed and stirred up in the black community.

I’m not black, and i don’t know what they know/feel what they feel/hurt how they hurt.

I have a bunch of random thoughts, and I’m tempted to put it down, but… I’d love to hear your thoughts.   I’ve kept my race out of this.  Sure, my race has suffered oppression, but I think the race tensions between blacks and whites have been longer running in this country, so perhaps start from there.

So, how far are we?  Are these tensions something you are aware of?  Will prejudice always be a cancer in our society that we can only hope to fight?  Are there responsibilities that the oppressed is not taking that they can?  Is this country ready to elect a black president?

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Responses

  1. Big fan of Chicago rap (mainly Common and Kanye), because 1) I feel like their beats are more musical, instrumental; and 2) their lyrics really focus on PLIGHT. I’m not black either, but the poetry of their words really communicates some glimpse of their PLIGHT to me.

    One thing that I noticed about some of their lyrics: they make it quite clear that urban plight results from self-propagating defects, and that status quo is NOT the answer. From “Never Let Me Down”, track 8 on the College Dropout CD (on repeat for the last x months in my car):

    “I get down for my grandfather who took my momma
    Made her sit that seat where white folks ain’t wanna us to eat
    At the tender age of 6 she was arrested for the sit in
    With that in my blood I was born to be different
    Now niggas can’t make it to ballots to choose leadership
    But we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership
    That’s why I hear new music
    And I just don’t be feeling it
    Racism still alive they just be concealing it”

    That’s only the view from beneath, of course. The view from above is that we’ve taken big strides and there’s an awareness greater than ever before. The question is, is that enough?

    The answers may vary, but I think it’s a resounding “no”. We have a VERY long way to go.

  2. Yeah, there’s a long way to go. I was watching the new Hairspray a week ago and it really hit me — these types of things (segregation, outright blatant racism, violent oppression, etc) were happening just 50 years ago. Our 50-year-old parents grew up in that time. The damage of those attitudes and actions hasn’t even bled out of our family lines yet, and won’t for quite a while.

    So while there’s so much further to go, I think we’re foolish to expect it to move much faster than it’s going. I mean, we’ve come a very long way, too. It’s no time to stop or ease off or get comfortable, but I appreciate when people can push forward while recognizing the progress that we’ve made.

  3. I’m inclined to say that Tupac has one of the greatest verses dealing with racism in his song Changes.

    I see no changes all I see is racist faces
    misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
    We under I wonder what it takes to make this
    one better place, let’s erase the wasted
    Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
    ’cause both black and white is smokin’ crack tonight
    and only time we chill is when we kill each other
    it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
    And although it seems heaven sent
    We ain’t ready, to see a black President, uhh
    It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
    the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
    But some things will never change
    try to show another way but you stayin’ in the dope game
    Now tell me what’s a mother to do
    bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you
    You gotta operate the easy way
    “I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
    sellin’ crack to the kid. ” I gotta get paid,”
    Well hey, well that’s the way it is

    We ain’t ready to see a black president? Well maybe we are progressing… although it’s glacial.


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